I dreamed about his new show that's basically just the dude being upset that women liked Madoka. A bunch of magical girls are at a magical girl boarding school, and each episode is about their vicious in-fighting, usually culminating in at least one death. Which is the purpose of the school - there can be only three magical girls at a time.

It takes a few episodes for the deaths to start. We're initially introduced to three specific girls as the protagonists, with one in particular, who's Robin Hood-themed and has invisibility powers, being set up as the heroine. A couple episodes in, Robin is thrown into conflict with one of the other two, panics, and kills her.

When she calms down, she immediately starts rationalizing what she did to herself and the two or three other kids who talk to her. Then, to drive home the point that this is not the first time Robin has killed another child, she finishes up the episode by killing three other girls.

There's a flashback episode about a girl with some sort of healing power, who we haven't seen at the school yet - we assume she's about to be recruited and will be the transfer student who becomes the new protagonist. She's trans and living with another trans girl, and it's pretty cute right until the other girl is horribly murdered. Then we move forward forty years and find out that healing-girl is the evil dean.
I feel less stressed about the pounding and relentless cruelty of our Homestuck-update-less world, and I found a perfectly good sharpened pencil somebody'd just left in the park.

Listened to the latest episode of Night Vale, and uh, was not expecting Cecil's personal growth plotline to go in that particular direction. I mean, maybe it'd been telegraphed in advance, I'm going to re-listen. I thought his vengeance would be a bit more passive, and maybe take longer to happen.

And I mean. This would be the first time they've ever actually referenced any anime at all, but... does someone with more familiarity than I have with Sumerian mythology want to confirm this, or is the ostensible pantheon of which he is some god or other's earthly avatar actually just the cast of the 90s anime Ten no SINzou?
Am I right in thinking that this is the basic gothic novel plot, as per Joanna Russ? Man. I've never been in a gothic novel before, I don't know how to do this! Do I lock a guy in the attic now and burn down the house after, or do I wait until there's been a hurt/comfort scene with the horse?

Also, I'm in Kentucky, and there's no vicars here. Would the county judge executive be an okay substitute, and if so should it be the incumbent or the new lady?

Edit: Wait, is the sexy doctor secretly my half-sibling, or a vampire???
Celty's gotta be Time - she's immeasurably old and associated with death and loss, it's pretty much her whole thing. Shizuo is equally-obviously Rage, and Anri Void.

Ryuugamine is the most protagonist-ish character, and Masaomi tells him what to do, so Masaomi is Light, I guess. Let's call him Prince of Light, because he ruins everything!

I assume the Blood aspect to mean war/conflict, but Homestuck fandom has adopted the meaning of connections/bonds, and I don't have a huge problem with that. The first would be Izaya, the second would be Ryuugamine. As alternatives, Ryuugamine could also be Hope - dude goes around believing in collective action like some kinda chump, and it works! - and Izaya could be Heart. Izaya talks about loving people a lot. The little shit.

Mika is Doom; she's double-sided and has a spare life. Seiji could be either Hope or Heart, whichever one Izaya and Ryuugamine left on the table. He believes that he's in love so hard that he is.

Walker and Erika are jointly the Thieves of Life. I guess I'd better give Shinra Breath? I don't care about Shinra, he's gross and Celty deserves better.

And I'll call Simon Space, because he takes up a lot of it, and acts as kind of an incompetent parent to the rest of the cast. Sorry, Simon, but your characterization is kinda thin.
I don't remember much of last night's dream, but it did confirm that Homestuck and Baccano! share a canon. Andrew Hussie and Ryogo Narita both said so, in my dream.

I guess this means that Isaac and Miria played the Game, given that they’re unkillable and anyway the apocalypse would have made them sad. The immortals would be in an interesting situation; they could theoretically attain god-tier and the skills inherent in that, but they would have to allow someone else possession of all of their memories and skills, possibly losing them themselves in the process.

There are at least three non-immortals who would be able to off themselves on their quest beds without much fuss: Chane, Vino, and Ladd. I can see Nice blowing Jacuzzi up "for his own good."

Jacuzzi is the Hope player, by the way, and Nice is Doom. Rachel is Void because she's associated with liminal spaces and being unseen. Ennis is Light because she's the smart girl who bosses the most protagonist-ish guy around.

Chane is Space because her storyline is about rebirth, and Vino's got to be Blood. Isaac and Miria are jointly the Rogue of Breath. I don't know what Firo is, but Maiza is his sprite.

Ronny was a game construct all along.
Does Manpain MacAran ever get to be less of a narcissist? Or does he die, so we can get a less infuriating protagonist? In real life people who react to disasters like this - like they're the only person who's been hurt, like they literally can't see other people's problems until they're shoved right in their faces - are not the heroes.

I am not the target audience for this kid's shit! Mikasa and Armin so far are much more admirable characters. Can't we kill him off and put Mikasa in charge?
Welp, that was pretty obvious.
Way to trivialize a serious fucking issue, dude. You're super-awesome.

In slightly less exasperating news, episode 12 of Psycho-Pass is on Hulu (and, you know, the usual less-disgusting-ad-ridden places), and it was a flashback episode about Yayoi. We basically learned that it is sad to be Yayoi, and also that her decision-making process is still pretty opaque even when she's the POV character. So, we didn't learn anything.

I mean, I'm glad she got an episode to herself, but given that this is only a 22-episode series and she clearly isn't destined for a major role in the endgame, I wish it had been a little less shallow.
1) I really like the setting and the casual way it's established, like the scene where Tsunemori leaves her apartment and everything in it goes dark, or the one when where we realize her hands aren't on the wheel of the car. It's unusually neatly done for a dystopian anime, a genre not known for its careful thinking-out of what technological change means: There are no random newspapers lying on the ground, as is a standard indicator of urban poverty even in the far future, and no one can find their way around without GPS.

2) But the crimes these people are solving are pretty goofy and over-the-top, and the primary villain is a perambulating cliche. How many narratives does the world need about a criminal mastermind who becomes obsessed with the law enforcement officer trying to bring him/her to justice? No, I'm serious. Let's establish a solid number on this and then perform a census.

3) Tsunemori, please become a bit more badass for me. You seem to be vaguely aware of pop culture, so you should have figured out by now that you are in the kind of show where your breed of anxious, male-approval-dependent heroine gets kidnapped and used as dude-hero bait by the supervillain. Episodes 10 and 11, particularly, should have clued you in.

4) Kougami's characterization doesn't really make any sense. He loses his shit whenever it's convenient to scare Tsunemori, then is fine again in situations that might more reasonably be expected to set him off.

5) I appreciate that Ginoza, the serious dark-haired glasses-wearing guy, 1) is not the cool-headed hypercompetent one, and 2) really resents that. He probably goes home and broods about it: "I know how anime tropes work, this just isn't fair!" Also, I think Masaoka called him "-kun" at one point. And that is funny.

6) Masaoka is totally Ginoza's dad, right?

7) The ostensible lesbian couple basically just look at things and act inscrutable all the time. I'm going to be mad if one of them ends up gorily dead for plot-propellant purposes. But not surprised. A lot sexualized female corpses in this series.
You know, the thing this series really needed all along was some sexual assault. I mean, I basically just hung on through the first season because I was waiting to see the swordswoman heroine comatose and being groped. So this is great.

The first-season episode with the guy who kills his wife for being tougher than him was also pretty awful. So, maybe I should've expected this.

([personal profile] inkstone gave fair warning, but I was foolish and self-destructive.)
1) I'm able to admire it in aesthetic terms, but yeah, I still find its basic premise exasperating.

2) Wow, there are kind of a lot of similarities between this and Homestuck. Circular spoiler:  )
It is an anime about lesbian fighter pilots. In failing to alert me to this show's existence, internet, you have been derelict in your primary duty.
I had previously expressed concern about how people who are already dead can die. It's because people in Bleach die and go to Yami no Matsuei, and people in Yami no Matsuei die and go to Bleach.
Fistfight at the symphony:

The concert never stopped, but Muti shot a glance over his left shoulder toward the box where the punches were thrown. One concert-goer described the look as “dagger eyes.”

Robinson said Muti merely paused longer than would be expected and then continued on to the third movement — after getting a signal from someone up in the box.

“Mind you, he never stopped conducting,” Robinson said. “He very gracefully, without missing a beat — literally — he brought [the second movement] to a very quiet and subdued close, while still looking over his left shoulder.”
Though I do feel the need to put its title in quotes there, to prevent anyone from thinking I would voluntarily double up an exclamation point.

This is an anime by the director who did Baccano!, based on a light novel series by Ryohgo Narita, the guy who wrote the Baccano! light novel series, with the same basic structure as Baccano! - but an even less cohesive plot, and, obviously, an extra exclamation point. It is hard for me to discuss without constantly referencing Baccano!, is basically what I'm saying.

The series is set in modern-day Ikebukuro. As in Baccano!, there is a massive cast of characters whom the opening credits carefully label one by one, to help us remember their names. However, there are two in particular who are always pretty close to the center of the narrative. One is Ryuugamine Mikado, a typical high-school boy who you can tell is supposed to be the protagonist, his friends point out, because of his name. He moved to Tokyo from his quiet rural town in search of excitement, which he finds in the form of bountiful silly gang violence.

The other is the Black Rider - an allegedly-androgynous-but-really-clearly-female underworld courier who dresses all in black, rides a silent black motorcycle without lights, is apparently invincible in combat, and never takes off her inexplicably non-black helmet. There is nothing underneath the helmet; she is a headless Irish fairy called a Dullahan, really named Celty Sturluson, and she came to Japan twenty years ago in search of her head. I tried to keep this character description short for symmetry with Ryuugamine's, but it wasn't possible.

(Incidentally, given Narita's amazing track record with non-Japanese names, I am 100% confident that "Celty Sturluson" is a totally normal name that you hear every day in Ireland. It's just like how my real name is "Americany Björnsson."

...it pains me to write this, but: I'm really afraid that the man may think Ireland and Iceland are the same place. I wish that Celty's inappropriate patronym weren't the only evidence for this, but he also seems to think that Valkyries are an Irish thing.)

Other characters include Ryuugamine's friends from school, Masaomi and Anri, who have Dark Secrets; Celty's smiley-but-skeevy roommate/manager/lover Shinra, an underground doctor who is clearly lying to her about some sort of Dark Secret; a yakuza guy named Shizuo with anger management problems, who is ostensibly a normal human, but throws vending machines around, and whose Dark Secret is actually just sort of pale gray at best (it's refreshing); a sneaky, unpleasant "information broker" guy named Izaya who is ostensibly a normal human but can cut you to ribbons really fast, and who has a Dark Secret; a black Russian guy named Simon who runs a bad sushi restaurant, and it's supposed to be funny that he's bad at Japanese and runs a bad sushi restaurant, and the way he's drawn is also awful; two cheerful-but-off-kilter otaku, Walker and Erika, who cannot be said to have a Dark Secret as they are not in fact very secretive about it; and a broody guy named Seiji, his silent, passive girlfriend, and his manipulative businesswoman older sister Namie, all of whom have Dark Secrets.

I'm leaving a few people out because they so far haven't done much. Maybe they were important in the books. Anyway: like Baccano!, a large cast, most of whom end up being surprisingly likeable - but it's hard to care about them quite as much.

The overarching structure of the first twelve episodes - it's hard to call it a plot - is that Ryuugamine becomes interested in finding a friend of Anri's who's gone missing, and by extension in a mysterious internet-based gang called the Dollars. As he wanders around Ikebukuro getting to know its bizarre residents, his path frequently just barely misses intersecting with Celty's in her search for her head.

Celty is essentially indestructible, and can manipulate a black mist constantly pouring from her neck to form weapons, catch people falling from great heights, see around corners, etc.; however, she can't talk, and communicates by typing very quickly into her cell phone and showing people the screen. Ryuugamine's superpowers are his self-conscious internal monologue and unrequited crush on Anri. These traits, of necessity, give Celty less dialog, but more cool entrances and scenes in which she destroys evildoers. I find this ratio acceptable.

It's a pretty meta show. At one point Ryuugamine runs into a girl in the street, knocking her down, and is forced to hide her from a pursuer in his apartment, where he learns that she has amnesia. Masaomi, upon hearing of this, informs him skeptically that the girl is supposed to also be a transfer student who was his childhood best friend, and preferably a queen. (I do think he went off into a different genre at the end there.) Walker and Erika base certain important life decisions on a fortune-telling system involving violent manga, and Shinra, when Celty's hands are otherwise occupied in doing violence to his person, is able to hold up her end of the conversation by means of his knowledge of genre conventions.

It's got some of the same oddly casual brutality as Baccano!, though not quite as intensely; the major conflict of the first arc is resolved, not by indiscriminate slaughter, but by means of a flash mob. Still, there's a lot of surprising unpleasantness from likeable characters. I personally don't really have a problem with this. It for me is a feature rather than a bug when a narrative does not attempt to justify an obvious fondness for bloodshed as having something to do with justice or protecting the weak. (Bleach and I had a very unpleasant breakup.)

There is, however, somewhat more violence towards women who can't defend themselves than in Baccano! I would say that this was happening in some misguided impulse towards "realism" in the modern setting, but the most egregious incident involved a woman strapped naked to a table so a mad scientist could force his four-year-old son to operate on her without anesthetic. Not so much with the realism. Also, there's obviously a certain amount of racism in the form of Semyan. So, some problematic stuff in there. I am mostly able to tolerate it thus far, but your mileage may vary.

...Can I just say that I used to live twenty minutes from the place, and I cannot take this show at all seriously when it talks about how scary Ikebukuro is? And it does this all the time. Sorrowful voice-overs about the darkness of the city and suchlike. I'm getting the impression that that you're supposed to go into it thinking of Ikebukuro as a place full of gangs and crazy bullshit, but... I am just unable to suspend my disbelief. I find Baccano!'s portrayal of Chicago more plausible, and Baccano! thought that people in Chicago were named "Jacuzzi Splot."

And I mean, I understand that many Japanese people would, with some justice, see Kentucky as a horrifying dystopia if they knew more about it than "that's what the K in KFC stands for." Also, I work for a criminal law firm and routinely take calls from drunk dudes who have stabbed other drunk dudes. So maybe my opinion as to what qualifies as "scary" is, itself, problematic. But my living room probably has a higher crime rate than Ikebukuro. It's where people buy used manga and visit the cat cafe. (This cat cafe was on the top floor of the department store shown during the credits, by the way.)

Clearly I was not plugged in to some sort of commonly-accepted Japanese narrative of the place during the period in which I was wandering vaguely about its bookstores and curry places at all hours. Perfunctory research suggests that this drama may have something do with it.


Oct. 8th, 2011 08:23 pm
Nero Wolfe, Baccano!, and Roger Zelazny's A Night in the Lonesome October all take place within the same continuity. There was a full moon on Halloween in 1944.
(And it was a torrent which, for the first 90% of the film, had wildly inaccurate subtitles that couldn't be turned off, which finally disappeared at the end.)

It looks like Cave Story is probably some sort of Laputa fanfic, given Cave Story spoilers )

Also, the film itself is Nausicaa's lighter-weight twin. I had not realized that they were so similar.

If you stripped all the self-referential symbolism out of this, you would be left with,

1) Scenes of Utena and Anthy giving each other meaningful looks.

2) Scenes of Utena and Anthy kissing.

3) A scene where Chu-Chu gets stuck in Nanami's nose.

To which I have no real objection. I mean, it's a worthy enough goal for any film.

I don't think it's actually possible to spoil anybody for this movie, but here is a cut, just to be polite. )

May. 16th, 2011 08:27 pm
Having finished Utena, I now need another anime to watch while I use the treadmill. Suggestions?

("Go outside" does not count. It's muddy.)

Stuff I've watched, with my star ratings. )

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