[Gatchaman Crowds] Rui’s World – Frail Naivete

And so we keep marching on with the series of posts. This one revolves around the show’s premier mask-wearer, Ninomiya Rui, the show’s would-be-utopian benevolent dictator, and one of the show’s many unsure characters. Two small write-ups, the first focusing on his uncertainty (and on using “he”), and the second on the nature of the world, as he sees it, and wishes to reshape it.

This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that rose in my mind as a result of watching the show. There will be spoilers for the entire first season of the show.

Return to the Gatchaman Crowds Project page.

Rui and Protective Masks, The Battledress of Make-up:

Gatchaman Crowds anime episode 5 - Ninomiya Rui in his battle-dress

Man, I’m entering this one with trepidation. So, a couple of notes beforehand. I’m not interested in discussing whether Rui is a man or a woman. I can see arguments for both sides, and I don’t have qualms and won’t argue against anyone who wishes to call Rui a “he”, nor against those who wish to call Rui a “she”. I’m sure there can be fascinating discussions on the topic, and how it relates to presentation of gender and cross-dressing in anime in general (usually quite awfully, but another great show from 2013 that did this mostly very well was Genshiken Nidaime), but it’s not the discussion I wish to be having here. I’m referring to Rui as a “he” because that’s how Hajime did, and because that’s how he first appeared before us, and for a number of other small characterizations.

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Hajime, Sugane, and Berg Katze – The Nature of the Masks in Gatchaman Crowds

This post is the first Gatchaman Crowds editorial post I’ve written in three years. As such, it also contains the preamble, where I explain why I focus over characters as “masks”, because there are too many things to discuss, and it’s interesting to discuss the many, many ideas of the show through its characters. This post in particular will focus on Hajime and Sugane and how they reflect one another, and showcases Hajime’s role in the show; the second write-up focuses on Joe, Sugane, and how Gatchaman Crowds is part of a discussion and response to its super-sentai origin, dealing with the nature of heroism. Finally, the third archetype discusses Berg Katze not just as a villain, but as a Villain, someone who’s putting on a mask within the show, and who is taking up the villain role for the sake of the heroes.

This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that rose in my mind as a result of watching the show. There will be spoilers for the entire first season of the show.

Return to the Gatchaman Crowds Project page.

Preamble – People as Archetypes, as Masks:

Gatchaman Crowds anime episode 6 - Ichinose Hajime telling Nonmiya Rui he's prettier without make-up.

I keep returning to this line. It’s so important within the show.

Gatchaman Crowds is not a character-driven show. Though characters are all-important in it, it’s not they who are the vehicle of a story, but its themes are. This is one of those rare theme-driven show, where the main focus is to espouse, sometimes elaborate, and discuss themes. Which it does via its characters. There are many themes and ideas in this show in particular, not for it the narrow focus of other works, not just justice, but gamification, the nature of revolution, internet trolls, bystander effects, and more. You can read my notes on the show from when I first watched it for an exploration of those themes as they’ve come up in the show, and you can also check out my more disorganized notes from the rewatch, which are complementary and break down more things going on.

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Snow White with the Red Hair – Beyond Shoujo Bounds

Akagami no Shirayuki Hime - Snow White With The Red Hair animeThe original title for this piece discussing Snow White with the Red Hair (Akagami no Shirayuki-hime in Japanese, and “Akagami” in this piece from now on) read as “Transgressively non-Transgressive Shounen Romance?”, but as “transgressive” is not a wide-spread word, I opted for readability. But this piece needs some unpacking of terms, which will be brief. “Shounen” and “Shoujo” are demographics, with “shounen” referring to young boys and “shoujo” referring to young girls. How do you know a series’s demographics? You look at the publication where it’s released. This also means that over time “shoujo” and “shounen” have grown, at least in the west, to mean certain genre conventions. Though this is “wrong”, this colloquialism is what this piece will use (I wrote about anime/manga demographics before). As for “transgressive”, we’ll get to that soon enough.

Akagami’s anime adaptation ended its second season recently, and after watching it, I thought it is as shoujo (remember: aimed at younger girls) as they come. It’s serialized in a shoujo publication (LaLa DX), it centers around a super-capable commoner heroine, it has a love at first sight encounter in its very first episode, with the super-capable and handsome prince, and the show has all the necessary associated sparkles for the lovey-dovey sequences, balls, gowns, declarations of eternal love and loyalty and not a lot of romantic conflict or plot-progress and external conflict (we’ll get back to this). And yet, watching the second season something suddenly became apparent to me: This quintessential specimen of the shoujo genre conventions might actually not be one?

(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that rose in my mind as a result of watching the show. There will be spoilers for the two seasons of the anime series. I think due to the nature of the story, these spoilers should not impact enjoyment of the show.)

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When Stories Leave Us Behind – Empathy and The Narratives of Adaptations (In OreGairu)

In case you’ve missed it, FLCL (pronounced ‘Fooly cooly’), which originally aired in 2000-2001 is getting a direct sequel, which will air in 2017. Most people’s response has been “Why?” I sought to calm these people down by reminding them that no matter how bad the FLCL continuation is, they’ll still have the original, untouched. But is that really true? One of the reasons Tolkien’s estate had been so reluctant to allow for movies to be made off of his work is the knowledge that the total mindscape of a franchise is indeed affected by all that it contains. Then again, look at Psycho-Pass’s 2nd season, or Batman versus Superman: Dawn of Justice, where the argument is that the new people in charge of the franchise don’t really understand what made it good to begin with, and don’t understand its core messages. So we use this argument to do away with dissenting evidence. Then again, we also see this argument with reboots such as female Thor, or black Spiderman, etc.

OreGairu S2 episode 5 anime - Yukinoshita Yukino thought Hikigaya Hachiman would understand her

And this is what it really comes down to; just as we dismiss the latest creation as outside “canon”, for not getting the original, we fear that somehow, we’ll be the ones left behind, where the newest creation will reflect on what the original has said and ruin it for us – not just our memory of it, but what it even said to us. And this is one of the reasons fans of source material are so often unhappy with adaptations: There are as many narratives on what the material really says as there are people who consumed it. This is unsurprising, because we filter the material through our own understanding of the world, and our own media preferences, until the effect of the media on us, through us, is as unique as the experience of having consumed it (and might be different should we revisit the material later on).

(This post will have very light OreGairu (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU in English) seasons 1-2 spoilers, mostly of a meta-nature, discussing where the story went rather than its details.)

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Concrete Revolutio – Cold War, Sizzling Justice

Concrete Revolutio - A Superhuman Fantasy animeWriting on Concrete Revolutio with my set of intentions, at this particular point in time is like trying to defuse a bomb while riding a jet-powered unicycle, riding on the back of Godzilla. The simple solution would be to pick but one ball, and trust the rest of them to take care of themselves. However, I’m going to be greedy, I’m going to be human, and attempt to succeed in several of these tasks I set myself out to accomplish.

The first task is that I want to get people to watch this show. I believe this show is good, on a small and personal character-moment level, and on a bigger social-commentary level. This show engages in a dialogue with its existence as a media piece, with other creations in its specific genre (of superhero narratives). The show even goes boldly into taking a look at some of Japan’s more turbulent recent history, while casting reflections on Japan’s current political discussion. This show is very much worth watching, and as such, a write-up about it that would be spoiler-free and aiming to convince people of that fact would be something I’d be happy to see written, as the show’s second cour is going to air starting next Sunday, and I’d like people to give it a chance. However, that’s not the style of write-up I’m more interested in writing, so I’ll have to balance the two, and this write-up will contain a fair amount of spoilers, but should be readable even if you are yet to watch the show’s first half.

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Moon Hunters Review – A Question of Time

If I had to answer whether Moon Hunters: A Myth Weaving Game by Kitfox Games (which I backed on Kickstarter) is worth your time on a yes/no basis, then I’d unhappily choose “no”, as it’s a very close thing. It might be the game for you, and I didn’t suffer playing it, but you usually have better uses for your time, especially when you consider just how much time this game asks of you. Time is what this is all about. Time and content: I’ve played this game a number of times, with all classes but support, more than once with most, and beat the end-game boss a number of times. Each playthrough of the game is quite short, ranging from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on how well you’re doing and the size of the maps.

Moon Hunters: A Myth Weaving Game

The game is designed to be played multiple times, except where it is not. You only get to visit 5-6 locations in each playthrough, which provides a reason to play again, and again. Right? Well, except I rarely encounter new options, even 5 hours into the game, and less as I reached 7 hours. Not every location or every setup will appear in each playthrough, and not in every playthrough will you have one of the traits needed to make use of it, so you’d think they’d let you play through every locale the map generates each time, or most of them, and you’d still have reasons to play again for a new map, and to try a different combination of options, so why don’t they?

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Fate/Zero – Flawed Characters, Urobuchi’s Style, and Series Composition

Fate Zero anime 2nd season posterWhen Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary) ended in late 2013, I wasn’t terribly pleased with it. Beyond anything else, I thought that it could’ve easily been better, if not in terms of poor directing in its last two episodes, and its mismatched tones, and other issues, then at least in terms of emotional investment in a certain event, and thus in one of the two main characters of the story. It felt frustrating, that a show missed its mark with what could’ve been an easy change. And that in turn led me to solidify my thoughts on why I wasn’t as invested in Fate/Zero which I watched a couple of years prior – I felt that the show, which wasn’t bad, could’ve been so much better.

This post is going to cover an assortment of topics, as they all tie into one another. It will mostly revolve around and use Fate/Zero, both as the object discussed, and as an example for these other topics: Series composition, the act of deciding which part of the story will go where in the story, and how much space it’ll receive. Story structure with regards to revelation, character involvement and emotional attachment, and Urobuchi Gen’s specific quirk in this regard, and some thoughts on how it might tie to Visual Novel writing, as well as thrillers and tragedies. Hopefully these topics, and how they’re interwoven, will all be interesting.

(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that rose in my mind as a result of watching the show. There will be spoilers for Fate/Zero, and as Fate/Zero spoils Fate/Stay Night, that will be spoiled as well. There’ll be meta-structural spoilers (I’ll discuss the form of the storytelling) for Gargantia in the Verdurous Planet, Madoka Magica, Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary), and Psycho-Pass’s first season.)

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