It’s hard to remember that it’s been this year, as it was a Fall 2013 carry-over, and it ended without a big bang, but Kill la Kill aired this year, and it actually had a couple of episodes that spoke to a very specific part of me, a part that might not be seen all too often, but my episodic write-ups are the best place to see it. That part is the part that likes semi-obscure symbolism, reads occult and religious literature, and cares more than a wee bit for exciting infodumps, and then dislikes how shows use them.
Infodumps! Glorious Infodumps!
I often call this sort of thing “The Neon Genesis Evangelion Effect”, though it’s older, you can see it in most 2-course or longer series, such as in Code Geass, Eureka 7, Wolf’s Rain, and even in Visions of Escaflowne, where there’s a mystery, there’s a “real truth going on behind the scenes”, and often it’s semi-mystical in nature. Almost makes one think of Planet of the Apes. Well, Kill la Kill certainly had it, and though I’m not entirely fond of this phenomenon itself, I’m always intrigued in how it manifests.
I like fighting games. I’m sort of a masher who learns some tricks further and uses them. For much of my life, I’d lose myself for an hour or two in front of a fighting game and feel much refreshed afterwards. Soul Calibur 2 had been my favourite fighting game for many years, and my 2nd most-favourite game is Arc System Works’ BlazBlue, the latest iteration of, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma, is my favourite.
For those who don’t know the game and might wonder what it’s doing here, it’s part of a sub-genre called “Anime Fighting Games”, where characters have much more mobility than in games such as Tekken, Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat, and things progress much more rapidly. Back in July, the biggest fighting games gathering in the west took place, Evo 2014, and I’ve watched most of the BBCP streams, and from the top 16 onward, a legend was born. A legend named Tiku.
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!, localized as “Chuunibyou, Love & Other Delusions” in the west, or known simply as Chu2Koi, was a show I watched in November 2013, and quite enjoyed. I’ve enjoyed it enough to give it an 8/10 score, when most RomComs hover around 7 if they’re good, and 6 if they’re not. It had some delicious drama, it had good acting (Fukuyama Jun is my favourite), it was beautiful, it was heartfelt, and it felt genuine, exactly because it dealt with the fantastical, in a manner not too dissimilar to The Fisher King.
Oh, it shouldn’t have been, but that’s “drama” for you.
(Sorry about the lack of post yesterday, got engrossed in a book and stayed up all night to finish it. Today will have two posts, enjoy!)
So when season 2 was announced for January 2014, I was quite excited, my main problem with most romantic stories, which is even more prevalent in anime, is that once the couple “gets together” and overcomes the “real difficulty” of admitting to each other and to themselves how they feel, and get over whatever outside interference there is, the piece just stops, and we don’t get to see an actual couple having an actual relationship. Chuunibyou Ren (the title of the second season) seemed to promise it’d give us exactly that. But it didn’t. Oh boy, did it not.
Sturgeon’s Law states simply, “Ninety percent of everything is crap.” And well, it’s certainly true of anime. We have certainly had shows this year with promise that simply fail to add up to anything meaningful (Kyoukai no Kanata / Beyond the Boundary, see episodic write-ups), shows that just don’t know what to do with all the material they do have (Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta / The Pilot’s Love Song, see episodic notes), or shows that didn’t know what to do with storytelling and contained poisonous subtext (Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei / The Irregular at Magic High School, see episodic notes, see editorial on its subtext).
Behold Barney the censored smudgy purple monster thingy. Scary.
But if 90% of everything is crap, then not only is the average thing crap, but being crap is being average, and nothing out of the ordinary. But every so often comes along a show that fails on every single account, that you’d be hard pressed to find a single positive thing to say about it. This year, we’ve had such a show, and its name was “Pupa”. Yes, indeed, the sign was on the wall, with a name all too similar to “poop-ah” as some people referred to the show (not really, but they certainly should’ve). This show was terrible on all fronts. How terrible? That I dropped it 12 minutes in.
For those of you who don’t know, the 12 days of anime is an event anibloggers engage in, where they relate 12 moments that are related to anime from the past year – moments which made them smile or angered them, from current shows or older, moments where they went to conventions, made dramatic poses, sung the Poke’Mon song at work, etc. Though I don’t celebrate Christmas, I’ve decided to join once more this year. You can read all the of the category’s posts (including last year’s) here. This year I dropped the ball on getting reddit participation, so you’ll have to do with me.
That’s how Durarara!! makes me feel, which makes it worth noting for that fact alone.
My so-called 12th moment isn’t actually my least favourite, but the one I came back to the most times during the year. I’ve watched Durarara!! back in March. I’m fond of revisiting moments in media I enjoy, especially in the couple of months after I finish it – a favourite half episode, a favourite 20-40 pages sequence of a book, etc. But every so often there comes a work where “revisiting moments” from it quickly turns into revisiting the entire series. It’s happened to me with series such as Code Geass, and with books such as Stephen King’s The Drawing of the Three (2nd book in The Dark Tower series), but it’s happened to me even more with Durarara!!
The most impactful moment of the year for me is a speech, which ran more or less continuously for nine minutes. That’s quite a long speech, and something that is easy to mess up, which makes how great it is all the more impactful. The speech in question appears in episode 9 of Maoyu (Maoyu Maou Yusha / Demon King and Hero), which aired this year. “The Red Scholar” spread knowledge and science to better the lives of the hungry poor, which has the political Central Church denounce her as a heretic, and then she gets a chance to make a speech in front of the people, a very moving speech, a defiant speech, about life, and the human spirit. You can and should watch the speech here.
“I am human!” – A moment of triumph of the human spirit.
You can watch the speech here, it does omit what others do and say afterwards, but this is the important bit. I heartily recommend this show, which I wrote an editorial about – the speech is good on its own, better after you watch the show, and the show is worth watching. Just how good is this speech? After seeing Armin’s ridiculous speech in Shingeki no Kyojin I had to go and watch this speech to see a speech done right, where the emotions are conveyed by more than just a character shouting.
Tomorrow I’m going to post the anime moment that had left the deepest impression upon me this past year. I’ve already written of 10 moments, but here are nine more moments that I thought merited a paragraph each, of an exciting, impactful or “other” moment in my anime-related life from the past year. Why nine? Because tomorrow is the tenth, the big one (Order of following moments is arbitrary).
Moments will be included for: Sword Art Online, Samurai Champloo, Oreimo, Little Witch Academia, Suisei no Gargantia, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, Valvrave the Liberator, ToraDora!, and Kyoukai no Kanata.
This sense of wonder, isn’t this why we’re here?
1. Little Witch Academia – A Simple Joy: This had been 20 minutes, and, well, just like the previous moment, it filled me with inexpiable joy. I felt like the character had in the opening sequence, I felt like I did when I’ve been taken to the cinema to watch Disney films as a child. There’s nothing extraordinary going on here, but as an experience? It struck me to the core, and I’ve rewatched it several times since. It’s not simply childish, it made me feel like a child, a much worthier feat. Every time I rewatch it, I get more excited, this is probably my #2 moment of the year.