One of the most notable things about the Baccano! anime is its non-chronological storytelling, how the show weaves together several different storylines, with different characters or focus for each one. The show is so well known for this aspect, that when I came upon a project last year that spliced the entire show so it’d be told in chronological order, I felt bemused. The way in which Baccano! is told is a large part of the show’s identity, and I’m going to look at it and some other examples and counter-examples here.
I’m actually going to begin by a counter-example, to better clarify what it is I wish to try and explore. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya’s first season, in its original 2006 broadcast, cut up the chronological order of the episodes. Each episode on its own did not involve temporal skips, but the episodes aired in the following chronological order: 11, 1, 2, 7, 3, 9, etc. For the DVD release and when the second and first seasons aired together, the chronological order was the one chosen.
(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 show.)
For those who don’t know, Light Novels are short books released in Japan, aimed at young adults, and would usually be considered to be novellas in the west. As a medium, they could technically have a variety of genres and tropes, and yet, just as anime has things we consider to be “genre-tropes”, the same is true for Light Novels. This article will try to pinpoint what some of them are, what people are referring to when they say “This is so LN-esque!”, and how they affect characterization of characters, and the effect it has when adapting them (and some western books as well).
Kyon narrates, wryly.
First, to get us started, here is something I consider a quintessential example of light novels, which isn’t actually from any given LN, but had been written by myself:
“He stared intently at her shapely leg, while thinking wryly to himself that he understood her completely in that moment.”
And if you think that this isn’t typical of action LNs, then to reinforce this is about style, here is another quote I whipped up in half a minute:
“He smirked, holding his sword confidently in hand. He could see the course the fight would take, if you could even call it a fight, as he was sure he knew all the moves his opponent would take.”
Light Novels not only would fail according to the Hemingway App (which redlines your text based on Hemingway’s style), and Stephen King’s advice in “On Writing”, but are very intensely modern, in the sense that they put the individual at the center. Well, time to break that down.
So, another season of anime reached its half-point and it’s time to watch my mid-season impressions, where I talk a bit of the show and rate it.
Due to how many shows I have to cover (15), I’ve cut them into two halves, sorted alphabetically. The shows within each episode are sorted roughly by excitement generated within me or how good they are. I’ve also bolded in the following lines what shows I’ll recommend people without reservations.
The first post (this one!) will cover: BlazBlue: Alter Memory, Coppelion, Galilei Donna, Gingitsune (Silver Fox), Kill la Kill, Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary), and Kyousougiga (Capital Craze). The second post will cover: Log Horizon, Nagi no Asukara, Outbreak Company, Samurai Flamenco (Samumenco), Strike the Blood, Tokyo Ravens, Unbreakable Machine-Doll, and Valvrave the Liberator’s 2nd season (Kakumeiki Valvrave).
Kill la Kill:
To those who don’t know, I avoid reading most online discussion of this show, so the hype and anti-hype and plain old disappointment won’t affect me too much (I try). So, what do I think of it? I think it’s a very interesting show. The clothings as an external power source that runs counter to normal shounen sensibilities where true power must originate from within, and clothing as dignity/humanity had been very real thematic threads in the show’s early episodes, until it came time to shed them as second-hand skin, and to proudly don one’s clothes, and be proud of not wearing one’s clothes… I feel the yarn had got a bit tangled for the writers in that segment, but since it’s early, not every reversed thread must truly find its way into the final tapestry.
The source of power still seems a very relevant thread in this tale, and I’ve noticed that not only are the antagonists in this show potential shounen-show characters/allies, but a few of them could even be the stars of a shounen action show in their own right, especially considering what happened in episode 6, where Sanageyama had to show his will for power was greater than everything else, his desire to win, to fight a strong opponent, and maintain his dignity. I’m still curious about all the “Balance of power” talk we’ve had, and hopefully the lessons of Nazi Germany and the George Orwell references in episode 1 (both 1984 and The Animal Farm) wouldn’t just be discarded from here on out.
I really wonder what the show could do with more money. The artistic direction and use of stills is brilliant, but it’d be nice to still see it augmented with more money. The musical direction and the choice of classic pieces throughout the episodes greatly enhance the experience of watching this show.
Episodes Watched: 6/25 Current Grade: A? Some episodes are amazing, some episodes are really good, a couple didn’t hit the mark, and within each episode there are also moments of greatness within an ok episode and weak moments in a good episode. So I’ll give it an A? for now.
This post will be a rare collection of odds and ends. I’m just undergoing major crunch at school this week and will resume normal posting on Sunday. Also, some Endless Eight thoughts at the end.
So, what to expect in the week or two to come:
There will still be a Friday Figure post later today (it’s Friday here).
There are a couple figures I have taken photos of which will go up sometime next week, I have three figures in the mail, and another magazine with an accompanying figure.
It is currently GenCon, the biggest RPG convention in the world, set in Indiannapolis, and there will be a post on stuff I found interesting from it after it ends (probably a Monday post, will probably give people a week to recover and tell us what’s hot, a Monday post could only be about the big news).
I am going to cover the Ribbon Drive game, where you tell the story of people on a road-trip, which can be played on an actual road-trip.
Whatever else catches my attention enough to blog about.
I will try to finish some extra entries and put them in the “Drafts” section to ensure that if I suffer a crunch, there’s a ready-made entry to go up.
When you can’t let eBay go, when you really should.
Now, for a random anime thought, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya anime had finished its now infamous Endless Eight run, where the characters undergo a time-loop, and the watchers had to more or less undergo it as well, watching the same events unfold with minor variations over 8 weeks’ worth of episodes.
Now, I have not watched the episodes yet, and am waiting for the new season to end. I did however have a thought from the second week on how it should end. I don’t know if that’s how it did, but that’s how it should have.
Basically, the time-loop was caused by Haruhi enjoying herself so much she didn’t want the summer vacation to end. What was necessary was to make her await what’s to come in the school-year more than she enjoyed the vacation she just under-went.
Solution? Kyon should have asked her out, for a date next week, after the summer vacation ends. Of course, if she had enjoyed the date too much, or hated it too much… but that’s the dangers when you’re playing with someone who’s effectively God.
I’ve ordered the third volume of “The Melancholy of Haruhi-Chan Suzumiya”, the parody/comedic version of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The limited edition came with a short “The History of Itsuki Koizumi“, and what interests us, a petit nendoroid of Yuki Nagato as an otaku. This is especially interesting to me, as while I don’t speak Japanese, I certainly can’t read it!
BTW, I also got a copy of Tony Taka‘s “Shining World” artbook, so that’s what Yuki is standing on sometimes :)