Varied insights on some romance anime and literature

(written on Nov. 2)

I guess that despite shooting all that flak towards A Time to Speak the novel had more of an effect on me than I liked to admit. I did not feel warm or fuzzy, however; nor did I feel awed or inspired with the book despite the author’s mastery of the English language. (Can you use shibboleth in a sentence without consulting a dictionary? That word alone was enough to wow me.) On the contrary, the novel’s aftertaste seemed like a partaking of a most unguent and sialoid gumbo without water to aid one in swallowing it. Swallowing a bitter almond with water may have been an easier task. (Never mind that it may be poison :P)

The aftertaste felt quite abhorrent that even water in the analogy fails to remove it (a decent or above average novel). Right now, I need some panacea, some elixir that altogether decimates that bad taste left in my mouth – that narrative or novel is simply that horrible in my opinion. Water simply cannot cure a strong poison: one needs a strong antidote. To exacerbate this disgust that I have right now, I read For Whom the Bell Tolls before reading A Time to Speak. This is akin to riding a rickety and rusting Ford pick-up of the 1950s after riding a 2006 Jaguar or a Ferrari. The rift is that vast, that immense, that elephantine – and I quickly need something to counteract this necrosis that’s occurring in my mind. It’s because For Whom the Bell Tolls was arguably Hemingway’s greatest work, while A Time to Speak is simply some selfish defense of the author’s acts in parliament. The former is a timeless and beautifully tragic character study of people who live in constant danger and trouble through their lives, while the latter is some propaganda (not a bad one at that), but something selfish and self-centered. I did learn about Australian history, however, so it’s not the worst novel I’ve read (I guess).

This disgust is slowly becoming an unstoppable juggernaut within my soul. Even I declined reading The Moon is Down today, arguably among Mr. Steinbeck’s better (if not best) works. Before writing about anime, I just had to get it off my mind. Now that that’s done and over with, let me discuss about what this web log is ultimately about: anime.

I was quite delighted today for I had been able to access the Internet in a café with a decent Internet connection: this was something I was not able to do for most of the time in my homecoming; thankfully, YouTube was working well in that Internet café, and so I had access to the anime I was not able to watch in my stay here. I was able to view the most recently subbed episodes of Tokimeki Memorial ~ Only Love, Asatte no Houkou (yes, I was waxing lyrical for this series [and I still do]), and Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge. Each series will be discussed further on in the following paragraphs. (These are bulleted for your ease.)

  • Tokimeki Memorial ~ Only Love

It is regrettable that although all three parts of the third episode seemed completed (note that I watched this third episode in YouTube), the final two clips broke off at somewhat the four-minute mark and failed to download, so I had to make do with some inference and just taking the gist of the story with what I have had seen.

I would affirm what other people say: this anime is a cliché in the most trite and banal way. However, it also has a charm in and of itself that makes me smile throughout the episode whenever I see any one of its episodes: aside from the lithe bodies and cute women, the protagonist isn’t really as much of a loser as his contemporaries. The situations where Aoba fall into are also really humorous, and the different personalities of the girls interested in him place it a small notch above the rest of the clichés.

The third episode was quite a surprise: Tsukasa, one of the aces of the volleyball team, things that it is fate that has brought Aoba and her together. She immediately fawns upon him, to his surprise, and selfishly decides that they are going out. This brings out problems for our hero, who receives grudge letters from the different men interested in the sporty chick that is Tsukasa.

Later on, we see that she is quite serious with Aoba. She cooks lunch for him, and though her first trial obentou was unpalatable for our hero, she perseveres and even skips that rigid practice she imposes on herself just to improve on her cookery. Finally, she made a lunch for Aoba that was delicious with the help of her childlike Home Economics teacher whose name I have forgotten. He ate it with vigor, for it was delicious, and he told Tsukasa that it was. After this moment of closeness Tsukasa returned to the gym to practice and hone her volleyball skills when it started to rain. Riku, without an umbrella, runs to the nearest shelter he found and sees Mina (the girl whom he helped in the library). She blushes, but I wasn’t able to proceed afterward.

Still, what I saw was quite heart-warming; what was even more uplifting was the discovery that Tokimeki was going to have 26 episodes. Although I was pretty confident that the show could have been done in 12 or 13 episodes, there should be (theoretically) more character development in the series if it has more episodes. That’s what I’m hoping for – if it would be a light character study on the different personalities of the show it would be alright with me, because I have no qualms with anything else on the show except its story (which is quite weak). Its music is simple yet elegant, which is the music I want; its art and animation is squeaky clean and shiny, which is also what I desire. I just hope there would be little to none filler episodes, because fillers often destroy (sometimes in just an episode) the viewer’s respect for a said show.

  • Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge (Perfect Girl Evolution)

Having read this series’s manga up to the most recent scanlated chapter while denigrating myself to trying to read manga translated in Chinese just to look at what happens further in the story, I can truthfully say I’m addicted to this series, no, franchise. (I love both the anime and the manga.)

The fourth installment of the series still took a chapter from the manga (and now, checking my collection, is the sixth chapter). I must say that the manga presented Sunako better compared to how the anime presented Sunako, especially because the manga had close shots of her being extremely beautiful, whereas the anime didn’t really show how coruscating her beauty was at that specific point in time where she drew the sword out.

Although this may just be me (and I have been extremely wrong sometimes), I think the anime would end with some closure, some definition because of the emphasis the anime places on the relationship between Sunako and Kyouhei. It seemed more or less played down in the manga compared to what I’ve seen in the anime which gives me hope that an anime-original ending will occur. I’m hoping that Nabeshin won’t disappoint me, because although it seems that the mangaka wants to prolong PGE, there’s enough material for Sunako and Kyouhei to end up together; in fact, he only needs to elaborate a little more on their characters or flesh them out a little more because what they have that prevents them from accepting each other is only their intense denial of their feelings. (Manga readers would agree with me on this; notables examples include chapter 39 and 52.) Nabeshin, hopefully, could utilize this to add a little more spice to their relationship. I don’t really desire total closure, but I really think that all it takes is a few more words said to boost Sunako and Kyouhei’s relationship to the next level. Here’s hoping.

(For manga readers: I’m not a psychologist and I have not had undertaken any course in or about psychology just yet, but c52 tells a lot more than what can be seen in the surface. Subliminally, Sunako has her interests only in Kyouhei – note that she did not go to any other guy in the house when she did that. She respects him and is troubled when he does something abnormal to his character. There is a genuine care and respect between them, but this is veiled in ‘hate,’ ‘disgust,’ and her humongous inferiority complex which she has to deal with first before she can truly love him. I personally think he loves her enough already. One would not go through a test of fire had he not loved her. With that, I think re-reading this outstanding manga would be the remedy to my moribund interest in books after that vapid A Time to Speak.)

  • Asatte no Houkou

To be entirely honest, I am obsessed with PGE. I do think, however, that Asatte no Houkou is made of material better and higher than that of PGE – first, it deals with life more seriously; second, it has the atmosphere of reticence and a silent tragedy within it which is the stuff (as I’ve observed) that most classics are made up of (or those that I’ve read, anyway). It also contains a magical element or an element of superstition interwoven well with the story, which is well-thought of and well-written. Having stated the personal reasons (from the point of view of an avid reader of classical literature) why I place Asatte on a higher pedestal than PGE (and Tokimeki, for that matter), let us continue with other details of the series … after having written that, I could no longer think much about this series. I like it very much, but I ask pardon if the following sentences are a chore to read – I’m just going to write my general impressions on the series so far (aside from the write-ups that I’ve done already).

The unique and human characters (without deformation [!], which was among the few qualms that people shared in Honey and Clover) and the idyllic setting as well as the reactions of the characters in their interactions with one another makes the series highly realistic (compared to others in its medium, that is) and believable. There are no saints or sinners, or black or white in this series. There are only humans and about a hundred shades of gray. Quite a feat in a season full of cookie-cutter characters or otherworldly megalomaniacs (Code Geass and Death Note spring to mind) – a bit of realism.

Aside from that, there is also the highly evocative music and the absolutely wonderful OP and ED – I’d say among the best OP/ED combinations I’ve heard in some time. The forceful voice actors and actresses also express the nuances of their characters – their subtleties and their foibles as well as quirks – and it becomes an aural pleasure. (That’s why I like subs over dubs. Yeah, I still think dubs are worse than slavery. 😉 )

Among other values I’ve found in the anime is that it utilizes the atmosphere to show the contrast or similarity in what the characters felt. I loved that scene where Shouko and Hiro made love while the snow fell only to be overhauled by a goodbye surrounded by a heavy effluvium as Hiro went back to Japan. Those scenes were simply genius. (And that’s another parallel to a good classic – it uses its background, its environment, its atmosphere to paint the lives of its characters as well as how and why they act as they do!) The anime is not bathetic – I may have iterated this before, but I’ll just repeat it to show my strong resolve. This is what separates it from Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. It isn’t as much a tearjerker as that series was, but I personally approve of its delicacy, its sensitivity, its portrayal of man’s fragility through silence and mono no oware (the sadness of things) as compared to the gaudy, excessive, and superfluous drama that was seen in Kiminozo. That’s of course a personal opinion.

I wish this series continues to shine; I wish this series never vacillates with the excellence that it is showing right now.

* shibboleth – a watchword or test phrase (some sort of password) or a technical word

9 Responses to “Varied insights on some romance anime and literature”

  1. meganeshounen Says:

    Well, authors simply cannot please everyone with their works. But to those who can… they’re the ones that inspire people to do stuff. Good stuff, I mean.

    Oh, and I share your sentiments of watching anime on Youtube. Us poor otaku of the 3rd World…

  2. anime|otaku » Blog Archive » Code Geass: better than most (if not all) recent mecha anime? Says:

    […] My temperament and sanity has not been the best these past few days, and it is because problems and predicaments have stacked and piled up atop one another that it takes all my sanity (and a little more) to endure it without breaking down. And I’m not joking here – my problems right now, to me, are very serious and very grave to the extent that I started my own personal blog just to pour out all my angst and misgivings into a more apt place. What’s worse is that the entry I’ve tried so hard to write and tried so hard to intellectualize didn’t really generate discussion or may have been gone unread. (I’m not complaining, however; it just verily disappointed me because I spent five hours writing and polishing it – the reader as the reader has every right to skip any one of my posts, especially long and verbose ones, understandably.) I know the reasons, but the occurrence itself simply disappoints me. But again, as much as I want to rant about my sadness and my disappointments, they are for another time and place. I just wanted to make it known – in a hopefully short paragraph – how I feel right now because it would probably contribute to the detriment of the quality of my writing, and I’m sorry if you guys ever feel duped. […]

  3. Ryan A Says:

    Watching Asatte is like a bedtime story, its so mellow and touching:)
    As for Tokimeki, this is one of my tops of the season. The random comedy is fun, and I can’t complain about the girls, except Sayuri atm, but development will be nice over 26 eps.

    That portion you were mentioning about Hiro and Shouko, love, and the snow outside reminded me of a song called 18th Floor Balcony by Blue October. I’m not sure the scene fits though, the song is pretty powerful. Perhaps for the general idea of sad girls in the snow ^^

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  5. meanne Says:

    could you give more on animes than your comment, because everybody have their own opinion. My opinion is provably not the same as you so, think about I could have watch a great anime if you didn’t make me read all of those nonsense…

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