Tag: Anime

On love and Ice Skating

On love and Ice Skating

Yuri on ice was an immediate hit last season for a lot of good reasons. The characters were empathic and well thought out, the ice skating animation was gorgeous, and hints at a homosexual relationship in an otherwise standard sports anime lit a fire inside fans eager to see that narrative played in something that wasn’t pornography or boys love. But Yuri on Ice goes beyond just a normal love story between two men. It’s about people passionate about the sport they have decided to dedicate every waking moment of their lives too.

The core of what Yuri on Ice is about can be seen in the very first episode, the catalyst of the story where Victor decides to drop everything and go to Japan to train Yuri. Yuri has been studying Victor for years, attempting to follow in his footsteps. He has followed his career and even got the same type of dog as Victor. Yuri very much has built his career as  a figure skater, his entire life, after Victor. screenshot-2017-01-22-12-35-19

When Victor saw Yuri skating he wasn’t just watching another skating copying one of his routines. He was watching someone who had studied that routine with passion and who was recreating it out of pure love for the art form and for the person who had developed it: Victor. Up to that point Yuri was a talented skater but he lacked a goal, he lacked passion. Yet when he wasn’t competing, when he performed alone for his friends on that ice rink he preformed a master level routine with elegance and style.

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Two years later

Two years later

I started my Anime blog in 2010 for a couple reasons. I had run a few blogs over the last couple years but I wanted to focus on write longer pieces and try to build an audience around it. I choose anime because that was one of my consistent hobbies for ten years previously. I set up the website, I looked for people on twitter to follow, and I made a big deal about entering the aniblogging space.

Otaku in review was never a huge success but I got reactions from the right people. People I respected in the anime community came out and complimented my work. I became a known quantity in the space. I started to collaborate with some of the biggest names in Anime blogging. I mark the work I did at the time as the highlight of my professional career, despite never earning a dime from any of it. I cherish every single episode of the podcast and every single blog post I ever wrote. Then I stopped. One day I just said that it was enough. I put everything on the shelf and I walked away.

yuri-on-ice-new-trailer.pngThere are many reasons why I walked away. Most don’t have to do with any negative experience that I had. Simply put, I was completely burnt out on anime. At the time new anime had entered a dry period after an extreme high point. I was getting tired of just writing and talking about anime. As I started to feel burned out I started to spend time on other hobbies, such as American cartoons and comics. I didn’t feel like I could write about those things on the site I created. Finally, I wanted more free time because my job took up a lot of time and energy. I wanted to enjoy my hobbies without having to critique them.

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Con-vergence reflection: The Internet Generation

I had the pleasure of sitting in on Charles Dunbar’s Con-vergence panel at Otakon Vegas, in which Charles addresses the issues around why other fandoms seem to be taking over anime conventions. Charles’ conclusion is that anime conventions are more welcoming places, that the anime fandom is just more accepting of other fandoms. Then there is the more bleak side of things, the theory that anime fandom is just a secondary or lesser fandom than some of the more prevalent media represented.

The chief cause of the weakening presence of anime at anime conventions is that anime is a medium, not a genre or a single show. So where a group of ten thousand people may not have that many shows in common, three thousand of them have all seen Doctor Who and the other seven thousand has seen the Marvel film adaptations. So the Iron Man cosplayer is going to have more positive attention than the Lupin cosplayer sitting in the corner. Anime is a unique beast in this respect. Single media conventions, like a Star Trek convention, assume that all attendees share at least a common cannon. Even the old school science fiction conventions were dominated by the mass media properties like Star Trek, Battlestar, and the like. With anime there can be almost zero connection between the forty year old fans drinking in a bar discussing the tape trading days and the fourteen year old girls running around in Hatialia cosplay.

The element that made anime so appealing was that it was an entire world of media waiting to be explored, but that allows individual fans to go off into a million directions. This issue can be visibly seen at conventions. There are people who go to the conventions just to cosplay, play dress up and hang out with their friends. There are people at the same event who want to seek out academic programing in order to learn more about the medium they’ve come to celebrate. The latter is a much larger and younger group, one that may never make the transition to going to panels about anime. So if their friends shift over to dressing up as a non-anime fandom that is where most of the group will go. Anime fandom on the Internet is similar. I can write my essays all I want but the mass of people looking at screen caps and writing fan fiction isn’t going to care.

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Top 5 Anime of 2009

I  know everyone is making these kind of lists and that I’ve already stated my top anime of 2009 on the podcast. But I figured this is a good way to look back at the year and maybe help readers catch a few shows they  missed before getting swamped by the upcoming Winter season. I  limited the list to five because I don’t think I have seen enough shows to warrant a top ten list. Even if I watched twenty shows, it’s probably somewhere around that, picking ten is still half the shows I happened to see. 

 

I only have one rule for this list. The anime must have finished airing or being released in Japan or United States in 2009. If I have already seen the show in fansubs it becomes ineligible for the list the year it gets an R1 release. 

 

The reason for this is because there are certain films that I have refused to see until I can get them on blu-ray. So I don’t want to exclude them from future lists. At the same time I really want this to be a list of the year the shows were originally aired in Japan. So I’m going to try the middle ground. 

 

On to the list:

 

5. Clannad After Story

 

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I wasn’t completely in love with the original Clannad. It was a nice little series but, like all the key adaptations, it had some serious problems. There are just some elements that do not translate from visual novel to anime well. Clannad, and Kannon before it, get repetitive and predicable, not to mention melodramatic. 

 

Clannad After Story was able to shed most of the limitations of an adapted light novel. The concept of a high school love story being carried on after graduation was unique and presented in a way that felt genuine. Things aren’t all roses and fireworks after high school. The real world has to be tackled. Bills have to be paid. Clannad After Story, despite the melancholy and strange plot devices, is a well executed love story about two people who just wanted to live a normal life. It also will destroy your soul and reconstruct it in its own image. Just saying. 

 

 

4. Casshern Sins

 

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 I have never seen a Casshern property before watching this latest iteration of the ancient franchise. The quality of the animation alone should earn it a place on this list. But on top of the ascetic value the show featured an incredible sound track and a solid story about the fear of death and what it means to be mortal. The dark atmosphere of the series was balanced with characters that  were able to absolutely melt your heart without being obnoxious. The action was good, if a bit repetitive, but the real value of the show comes from the well presented themes. What does it mean to be mortal? What does it mean to be immortal? What is the power of hope?

 

3. Canaan

 

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Canaan is one of the best action shows that has come out in a long time. It avoids being a stoic story of bitter revenge by giving the seemingly heartless Canaan a unbelievably cheerful foil. In fact all of the dark characters have foils which gives the show a tonal balance between light and serious. The animation is spectacularly well done and the action is fast pasted and fluid.

 

The most illustrative scene is when the President of the United States proclaims “LOVE AND PEACE” to a gathering of diplomats before being subjected to a deadly virus. Yes, it goes back and forth like that throughout the entire 12 episode run.  

 

2. Ride Back

 

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Ride Back finally blends normal animation with CG mechs that enhances, not distracts, from the overall quality of a show. From the first scene, which features the heroine doing ballet, the audience is given some of the most beautiful art and animation I have ever seen in a television show. The story doesn’t disappoint either, bringing into question the nature of advancing military technology in civilian hands, the question of unlocking ones talent, and a frightening look into a powerful government based on fear of terrorism make this one hell of a loaded 12 episode near-masterpiece. The only factor holding the show back from gaining the number 1 stop is an abrupt ending that was obviously rushed due to time constraints. One more episode and this show could have been flawless. 

 

1. Toradora!  

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Nothing beats a good love story. Except a good love triangle and the only thing that beats that is a love square. Toradora! is the show that I watched the second it came out and immediately demanded more. The characters were deep, including the background characters, lead by the growing friendship come relationship of Taiga and Ruiji, the two social rejects of the school who help each other to grow together to become part of the class. 

The best aspect of Toradora! is that the audience is unsure which of the three female characters to root for because each has their advantages and failings. You want to love them all. The dynamic love story, the excellent sound track, and beautiful art rank this show above all others this year because it was able to balance humor and drama, elation and disappointment, love and hate with a masterful command of character. 

 

 

 

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to watch everything that came out this year. Shows that I’ve seen rated very highly like Bakemonogatari or Eden of the East could have made this list. But at this point I don’t know. If only I could devote all my time to anime. 

 

It is interesting to note that I mainly focus on shows that have a balanced tone. I didn’t realize it at the time but each of these shows, with the exception of Casshern Sins which is 80% “I wanna cut myself” depressing, balances serious themes with periods of light hearted fun. Those are qualities to look for in any good story not limit to just Anime.