Major post: a brand new theme, senescence and death, my love for Nogizaka Haruka, and the life of an otaku!

I have a new theme, if that isn’t obvious yet. This is primarily because of mellow_bunny‘s efforts: he designed my new theme from scratch based on what I wanted. Since I wanted a theme based on the color violet or permutations of it, he dutifully created my theme based on that sole desire, which is what I have currently. I love this theme a lot more than the vanilla Chocolate Candy theme I had for two years. It truly gives some sort of personality to this blog of mine, and I’m happy about that: thank you very much, Michael.

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Maestro has also done some tweaks to my site: he upgraded my WordPress to the latest version. The latest version looks great: from both Maestro’s and Michael’s efforts, I have a brand new blog. This is a milestone for me: to celebrate, I decided to write a post with the same length as my exam booklets (which are in the form of thin notebooks). (I hope reading this post wouldn’t go beyond thirty minutes, but if it does, please forgive me as I don’t have literary excursions often.)

Because I have had to fill the space of my exam booklet (the reason is really so that I could at least use it, as the booklet was, I discovered, used only by masteral students or by certain professors for their class’s final examinations), I have written about a lot of different ideas; in prudence I decided to divide the sections of this post so as to make it more readable.

Books

Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man

I’m not that artist.

I don’t even have any product of art which I could proudly call my own (as of yet). Anyway, an avid reader could recognize that the title of this section came most probably from James Joyce‘s novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. They are partly correct. If someone noted, however, that the section is exactly the title of Joseph Heller‘s final novel, they’ve hit the jackpot.

Joseph Heller was more or less known for one novel. The novel was a satire of life during war, and it established him as one of the foremost postwar American writers of the 20th century. The novel was called Catch-22. The novel’s effect on American society was so powerful that Catch-22 remains to be required reading in high schools. Catch-22 is also used as an idiom, and it is synonymous to the saying ‘between a rock and a hard place,’ albeit more modern.

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Joseph Heller’s most seminal novel

Joseph Heller is a good novelist. There is no doubt about that.

I do not think that he is a great writer, however. He did not possess the consistency of invention and innovation, and he did not have more than one masterpiece. The production of more than one masterpiece and their consistency of invention and innovation is what sets great writers apart from merely good writers (at least, in my opinion). After Heller wrote Catch-22, he no longer wrote any novels that were as good as it, and it showed in his semi-autobiographical final novel.

He was unlike writers such as Dostoevsky or Faulkner who basically wrote only masterpieces (although there were also some failings in their works, as can be expected from every human being). He did not have the depth of perception of Dostoevsky, who was able to weave different characters in different worlds in the creation of something timeless. He did not have the organized pandemonium of Faulkner who never kept to a singular style: As I Lay Dying, with its multitude of interior monologues, is very different from the streams-of-consciousness found in The Sound and the Fury; these two, in turn, are very different from the detective story cum jigsaw puzzle of Absalom, Absalom!

Despite these perceived shortcomings, Heller, I believe, possess a lot of imagination. It even seems (if Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man were to be considered a parallel of his own life) that he had sought to create another masterpiece, failing time and again. His final novel still isn’t considered a masterpiece by many. Imagination was the only thing that wasn’t dulled in him through the years, and he used what remained in him to produce a very good comic novel.

The novel chronicled the struggles of a senescent, perhaps moribund old man struggling to create the novel that would edify him as one of the writers to remember. It sadly wasn’t: I thought it was two tiers or three below the masterpieces of the universally-recognized literary geniuses of our time; it was nonetheless an enjoyable novel.

In fact, I did not even intend to read the novel at first: I was busy with my examinations, and I still had The Idiot by Dostoevsky to deal with. Dostoevsky’s writing, however, is akin to being certain of a treasure chest in the middle of a putrid quagmire: one must plod through with it, deal with the pungent explication at times; one, however, is also certain of the treasure. One only has to be persevering and determined: he is not for the light of heart, or for people with short attention spans. His explications take a long time to translate into action.

Because I did not want to read Dostoevsky during my examinations as his prose is heavy and depressing (not to mention dense), I decided to pick up Heller’s novel instead. I didn’t regret it, as it was a quick and easy read.

Perhaps Heller aimed to write books as seminal as Joyce; perhaps it was his last hurrah: we will never know. But as a final attempt, it was good enough, although good enough is still totally forgettable.

Anime

Hatsukoi Limited to be animated

Ever since I read Ichigo 100%, I have always been a fan of Mizuki Kawashita‘s manga. It is no coincidence that one of my favorite manga is Hatsukoi Limited. While I myself am sure that most people would ignore my tastes in manga (as it is quite banal), Hatsukoi Limited is a lot better than Ichigo 100%. HL was told more concisely and saliently; in addition, despite the series being prematurely dropped Kawashita was able to construct an ending that had a wonderful closure (that is, at least, what I believe).

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I’ll be posting this until you like it.

While a lot of people would consider the premature termination of the series to be only a bane, I consider the ending to be a boon as well: because of the early end, Kawashita was forced to create a concise story; as she wasn’t allowed to waver or to enlarge the characters even further, she ended up able to deal with the different relationships among the characters as well as able to create one of the best endings I have read in a while.

Ichigo 100%, on the other hand, wavered a lot. In time, more and more women surrounded Manaka, without any progression in the story. The ending was (I believe) somewhat rushed for that series: Kawashita should have spent more time simply developing the primary characters in that series. Overall, while I still believe that manga was good, it wasn’t as good as Hatsukoi.

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The girl who should have won … no problem, she’ll be mine instead

I’m not expecting much from the series; Ichigo 100%, after all, had a really bad anime counterpart. But since the source material is better as well as more manageable (HL only has 32 chapters), I believe that even just a 13-episode anime series will be good enough. I’m just hoping that the animation studio which will be handling that will either be KyoAni or BONES, because at least I can be sure that the source will be treated with at least enough respect (and a little improvisation) as to make it at least a decent anime series.

Nogizaka Haruka and reality

This week

I have been lazy this week.

Well, I have been lazy most of my university life, but I recently took it to another level: instead of studying for my examination in Cell and Molecular Biology (I did, mind you, before the exam) I decided to marathon Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu. I have no regrets.

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Much better Shana, if you ask me.

Nogizaka Haruka is better than Code Geass?

I absolutely loved it. It did not possess any pretensions with regard to its material, and for that reason I love it and think it critically better than Code Geass. Why? If Cat in the Hat read exactly like Cat in the Hat, would anyone insult it or denigrate it? Absolutely no one would get angry. In fact, on the contrary, they would praise the book for being what it was.

I believe the show recognizes its own light mood, and this is evident in the juxtapositions of different anime series in the series. They are even having fun with the idea of meta-anime.

This is not so with Code Geass.

Code Geass believes, and really suggests from the opening premise, that it is an intelligent and cogitative anime series. In the end, however, this is just akin to reading a blurb from the back of Twilight: an incompetent book written by an incompetent human being: while the series purports itself to be the next Crime and Punishment (and I actually think that part of the series’s basis was from that novel), it is actually just another Cat in the Hat.

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Code Geass is FAAAAAAABUUUUUUUULLLLOOOOOUSSSSSSS

Would you be happy with that?

I wouldn’t, and I am not. This is the reason why I like Nogizaka Haruka more compared to Code Geass.

It is not only on a critical stance that I appreciate this anime series, however.

The life and Nogizaka Haruka: the life of an otaku

I have been an advanced appreciator of novels for most of my life: while my classmates had still been reading Cat in the Hat I already started reading Hardy Boys. When they started reading Hardy Boys, I started reading Poe. On retrospect, it would seem my dad was pretty weird, convincing a nine or ten-year old to read Poe, but he did it, and I have never looked back. I can proudly say that I have read more novels than most of my peers combined, but this uniqueness has also led me to being somewhat distant from most of my peers. I cannot talk just about people, and for the most part gossip turns me off (but I listen to it, especially if people share it to me, then keep my mouth shut). Even if I want to talk about books the only people I could really talk to are my professors in literature, who appreciate my passion for the language.

But that wasn’t all. My power levels weren’t that evident then.

When I got an Internet connection, I sought and studied how to use the torrent protocol: I did it so that I could obtain anime, and I was so enamored by the medium that I went to the extent of sleeping at 1 am and waking up at 5 at the same morning just so I can watch those series.

Of course, I also had to share it to everyone.

My power levels were … to say the least, overpowering: I even tried to convince some of my classmates to watch anime; I tried to rectify their initial thoughts regarding the medium by showing the Elfen Lied. It gave them a shock, and some of them remain anime fans to this day. 🙂

Going back to Nogizaka Haruka, I am actually dreaming of meeting another anime otaku as talented and as beautiful as that. (Of course, I’ve been writing this post, so I haven’t found her yet. :P)

I enjoyed watching Nogizaka Haruka (the person) as she discovered herself more not only as the representative fixture of their school, but also as a human being. Before she met Yuuto, she always viewed herself as a failure. With his support, however, she has become more and more of an outgoing and friendly person, and I am glad of that.

While I never was like Haruka (I was much too thick-skinned and confident back then), I love her gradual acceptance of the fact that she also possesses emotions within her. It can only improve because Shiina (thanks again, Mike) has also fallen in love with Yuuto.

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15 Responses to “Major post: a brand new theme, senescence and death, my love for Nogizaka Haruka, and the life of an otaku!”

  1. mellow_bunny Says:

    Lol, when you mention me as Mike in this post it sounds like you are talking to yourself lol. In other news I muchly enjoyed your foray in literary indulgence. As always I have nothing much to say other then keep it up. I really enjoy your writing. I was actually inspired to post something myself :)!

  2. Michael Says:

    Well. Sorry.

    But it sounded better than repeating ‘mellow_bunny’ again and again. :v

  3. mellowSPACE Blog » Delicious Post » Then there was rest. Says:

    […] just finished reading a post from Mike over at anime|otaku and I agree that this show is a goodun. It doesn’t pretend to be something it is not and thus […]

  4. miasmacloud Says:

    Michael, Nogizaka doesn’t have Schneizel.

  5. Michael Says:

    miasmacloud:

    Sorry for the long post. I hope it doesn’t irritate you or anything; I did it because of a dare, as well as to celebrate. 🙂

  6. IKnight Says:

    I don’t think Geass ever really claims to be intelligent – to quote wildarmsheero ‘it’s not Code Geass that’s pretentious, it’s the fans of Code Geass who are pretentious’. So I imagine we’ll have to continue to disagree on that one. (And even if wildarmsheero is wrong, give me a story that aspires to something (anything!) over one without ambition any day – your suggestion that NHnH‘s acceptance of its limitations is a good thing implies that the old man in Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man should have just given up!)

    I’ll be posting this until you like it.

    At this rate I’m going to wind up reading it, given how I liked Lilim Kiss.

  7. Michael Says:

    I laughed, Daniel. Hard. I still can’t stop laughing, hahaha. Not that I laughed at you, but that final statement just took the cake; please, do read it, as I think it’s much better than Ichigo 100%.

    It’s actually an assumption of mine: I think that anything aspires to be intelligent when there is a sufficient suggestion of tactics, rebellion, and chess. Definitely the chess. It’s simply something that would not appear in any anime that does not aspire to appeal to intelligence. Of course, I may be mistaken, but if I never had any aspirations with regard to being taken as intelligent, I’m going to remove those elements in my anime series. It’s either people would see those elements subtly, or not at all.

    Actually, I would have liked Joseph Heller to have given up. Catch-22 would never ever be forgotten, and it seems that it was the culmination of all his inventiveness, imagination, and innovation. But since I could purchase his final novel for a steal, I did, and I read it. It wasn’t as good, but hey – he also recognized his limitations. He knew he couldn’t do it, but he wanted to try anyway.

    The thing is, Geass could have done it. What is occurring right now is not the limitations of the series. It could have been told more tautly and more carefully, as is deserved by tales of espionage and rebellion (and tactics … AND CHESS!), but it wasn’t. They could have done without the chess and the ‘tactics,’ but as they simply had to deal with those at least they should have accompanied the ostentation with substance.

    It’s fun disagreeing with you – at least we have something to ‘fight’ about. GODDAMN TIME ZONES, I WISH I COULD TALK TO YOU ON IM.

    I still love you, Daniel! <3

  8. elvyse Says:

    Love the new theme, well done mellow_bunny!

  9. Baka-Raptor Says:

    while the series purports itself to be the next Crime and Punishment (and I actually think that part of the series’s basis was from that novel), it is actually just another Cat in the Hat.

    Sounds like Kaiba.

    I’m assuming you haven’t started Kaiba yet because you haven’t yet bashed it for being the embodiment of pretentious crap.

  10. Michael Says:

    Baka-Raptor:

    No, I haven’t started on Kaiba yet.

    I will watch it soon. I’ve often trusted your sagacious judgments, so I’ll watch it maybe after I download Legendary Gambler Tetsuya. :3

  11. IKnight Says:

    I would tentatively suggest that Geass is not a tale of espionage and rebellion, but a tale of theatricality and FABULOUSness, and also that real tactics are very hard to put on screen. (LotGH tries, but even with several characters narrating what goes on it’s a struggle and it’s all borked by being in 3D anyway.)

    Anyway, nice theme and I still love you too.

    /me touches Michael

  12. RyanA Says:

    I’m going to have to change my refresh time on your blog, for some reason it takes 3 hours to refresh >.> and then I’m late to the awesome post.

    Pretty theme, it makes it more enjoyable, also isn’t the fab purplish color one you like? Lavender was it? 🙂 yaay

    Second, Hatsukoi is totally on my “to read within the month” list, I took note when you mentioned it before. Also, Nogizaka is yummy, though I’m only 4 episodes in and will catch up by this evening. I, too, very much like Haruka’s newfound self-assertion; she’s becoming strong…

    Cheers Michael!

  13. Camario Says:

    While I can’t exactly say anything about Nogizaka Haruka per se, let alone Ichigo 100%…there’s nothing wrong with liking any anime title in particular better than Code Geass…or even, perish the thought you might say, the opposite of that.

    I think Code Geass is definitely full of theatrics and being over-the-top, first and foremost, but there’s also enough rebellion and pseudo-tactics for those mildly to moderately interested in those. Sometimes the combination works, sometimes it doesn’t.

    Me? I try to take a little bit from both columns and I’m usually happy enough, more often than not, though admittedly less so in R2 compared to the first season.

    But trying to compare Code Geass with Crime and Punishment seems futile. I don’t think the series is trying to be some sort of literary masterpiece, even if it may share some themes or superficial similarities with those…but at heart it’s meant to be fun, not profound. If that’s enough to make it pretentious, so be it, but all in all, I think it’s entertaining with a few laughs and interesting toppings every so often, which is just fine for me. Nothing more.

  14. Michael Says:

    IKnight:

    FAAAAAAAAAAABUUUUUULOOOOOOOUSSSSSSSSSS!

    If Geass is a tale of theatricality and FABULOUSness … well … it is.

    /me touches Daniel

    Ryan:

    Maybe you should clear your cache, or something? I did that. Maybe it will help you, too.

    Yes, I totally love lavender. It’s FAAAAAAAAAAABBBBBBBBUUUUUUUUUUULLLLLLOOOOOOOUUUUUUUSSSSSSSSS!!!

    That’s what rocks in Nogizaka Haruka.

    Camario:

    I have no qualms whatsoever with liking anime worse than Code Geass. I like Gun-doh Musashi, and I also like Zaizen Jotaro. Oh god, /me facepalms.

    I was just turned off from the ‘tactics (lulz)’ and the ‘chess games’ in the series. They really disappointed me, because a lot of people expected an intelligent show what with the espionage and all.

    I admire you. I mean, while I can speak about my love for Geass, I can’t speak about it as positively as you. 🙂

    Oh, the C&P comparison was because Lelouch reminded me of Raskolnikov. Whether that will be true by the end of the series, we shall see. But the intelligent, anguished, and ‘virtuous’ nature of Lelouch can most definitely be seen in Raskolnikov. Plus, they are very idealistic people. I hope I called it right.

  15. GlenStef Says:

    Hi,
    searchin for it and found here 🙂

    Thank you
    GlenStef

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