Archive for September, 2010

On nihilism

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

I’ve never tried to dissemble my real personality in my writings, and I don’t think I will start soon: I’ve been engaged in a war against my urge to collect vintage video games via eBay for nearly a year now. While I can’t say that I lost the war, I also can’t say I have won: there are some times when I’m able to rein in these desires and not purchase anything for months, but there are also times when my resolve was just too easily broken (these were certainly at low points in my life).

rei_noizi_2

I can easily say that I won this week’s battle, however. Instead of purchasing another impractical collectible, I instead channeled my spare time into reading novels and used some of my excess funds to purchase a pristine copy of Andrei Bely’s Petersburg. I have already somewhat triumphed on the wastrel in me, as in the previous weeks I’ve settled for one dollar items and nothing else. While I don’t know when this current self-control of mine will terminate, I do know that I’m trying to restrain this said impracticality by channeling my time into books. It has been decently successful: I think Devils is the first novel I have completed in four months.

Devils is one of the major novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky. As he is universally recognized to be among the best writers of all time, even his minor works are better than most of other authors’ major novels. Devils, like his other major novels, was a great novel. Unlike his other novels, however, this was primarily a novel of ideas. Nihilism was a budding idea among the youth at the time of the novel’s writing, and Dostoevsky wanted to offer his own opinion with regard to it: it is all the more impressive in retrospect because Dostoevsky was able to predict what would happen to his beloved Russia years from the novel’s publication. In addition, Dostoevsky differentiates the true nihilist (Stavrogin) from the politically-leaning ‘nihilist’ (Verkhovensky), alongside many other things. It’s a brilliant political tract, although it most definitely can’t be read without focus or lightly, like all of Dostoevsky’s major works. I have written about it to some extent in the past, but it was only this week where I re-read the novel and finally finished it, too.

As an idea, nihilism is extremely unsustainable (without going to its denotation), because it’s essentially a belief in nothing. It’s not anarchy, for example, which is the upheaval of the current social structures and burning that to the ground. That’s not a belief in nothing. When one truly believes in nothing, one shouldn’t care if no one else has faith in that belief: after all, he believes in nothing, not even himself.

Even at a cataclysmic event will not be enough to trigger a widespread belief in the beauty of nihilism. Nihilism is essentially a one-man show, something that even post-apocalyptic series and anime do not show within its characters. Man must believe in something for him to continue existing. Whether it is in God or in himself, he attempts to find meaning in the chaos that surrounds his world. This has been the case in a lot of anime series dealing with disaster, from Bokurano to even Neon Genesis Evangelion: even Shinji ultimately just wants to be accepted; Rei wants to be loved and so does Asuka.

Can you really believe in nothing?

Seikimatsu Occult Gakuen 11 – wow

Monday, September 20th, 2010

I’ve been busy for the previous week, so I’ve only watched the most recent episode now. That was awesome, even if I was forewarned by /a/’s denizens of transformation sequences. I’m sure that the mediocre episodes in the middle of the show were to build up this final arc, and its beginning was awesome.

I don't know why, but she reminds me of Gambit.

I don't know why, but she reminds me of Gambit.

One of the few reasons that I kept watching Occult Academy was Maya. She is very multidimensional. It’s hard even pegging her as a tsundere, because she’s too complicated to be limited to that archetype. She despised Bunmei because he was an idiot and a coward, and that’s a normal reaction among most people. When she slowly got to know him, she also realized that he wasn’t such a bad guy after all. It was great seeing her good side towards Bunmei this episode with her trying to cheer him up after what he did for her in the previous episode. As much as I hate to admit it, they’re probably going to end up as a couple by the end of the series, with Maya being the more masculine between them.

While this episode wasn’t exactly original, it was well-executed and had good twists in it to keep me grinning until the episode’s end: the lechery of Mikaze, Maya’s kinder side, the vice-principal’s transformation, Mikaze as dark mage – these were all brilliant. The series suffered through its mediocre middle part, but if it will end as well or even better than its beginning, it’s probably going to be one of the better shows this 2010. I’m also glad that Anime no Chikara will finally have a keeper on their hands after the previous busts: it was great seeing the true colors of two of the show’s more recognizable characters and the explosive start to the finale of the series.

For those who haven’t started watching this series yet, watch it! It will pick up eventually. 😉

Why I prefer Takashi x Saeko

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

I can’t explicate based on logic as to why I like High School of the Dead, but I can unequivocally say I love it. Much of that love is towards Busujima Saeko, who, aside from being terribly attractive, can fight and is very useful. I mostly love High School of the Dead because of her.

Most of my top anime involve love stories: I’m really just a guy who likes a well-told romance. While romance is not the focus of High School of the Dead, there is an explicitly implicit tension among Saeko, Takashi Komuro (the main protagonist), and Miyamoto Rei, a close friend of his in the past. I recognize that the creation of a couple probably isn’t even in the mind of the mangaka writing the story, but if I were to choose, I hope that the ending will have Takashi and Saeko as a couple.

First, I understand that Rei has suffered much due to Shido’s actions. She had gone back a grade even though she was an excellent student, and to her, Takashi wasn’t around to comfort her. It can be implied that Takashi probably told her to face reality, as he was never the kind of guy (as we see more and more of his character) to placate women: he’s more of the guy who tells it straight even if people don’t want to accept it. Rei explains that she got tired of waiting for him, and as Hisashi was a more caring guy, she just went out with him instead.

I utterly loved this scene.

I utterly loved this scene.

The problem I have with this defense of Rei is that if one really loves someone, one doesn’t let anything limit him or her from expressing that love. The same can indeed be said of Takashi, but I think any guy would get turned off from a girl who acts bitchy towards that guy, even if he tries to understand that girl. Rei did not clear things up and she did not have any intention to until Hisashi died. This alone is enough to condemn her actions. Had she truly loved Takashi, she would have told him straight up that she was struggling with the events in her life and that she loved him despite everything. She didn’t do it.

But Takashi is a guy! He should be the one to make the first move!

The problem with this is that you don’t want to anger a raging lion. Rei verbally abused Takashi, and it showed even in the post-apocalypse. Any guy would be irritated, if not downright pissed off with being cursed and bitched upon, and I think Takashi just walked away. Takashi may have problems with his ability to show his feelings, but Rei had the bigger problem with the inability to control it.

As I see it, it was Rei who traduced upon their pinky promise. Takashi just suffered quietly and persisted. Not even her current flirting or words could change what happened in the past.

In contrast, we have Busujima Saeko.

Saeko is pretty much someone newly introduced to Takashi, and were it not for the apocalypse would probably never have been acquainted with him. Saeko is pretty much the positive antipode to Rei: she’s quiet, deliberate, and cunning, but she also has her problems.

This is purely personal, but I think she is more physically attractive than Rei. Having said that, I admire her qualities, both good and bad, as evidenced more clearly by the ninth episode of the anime series (and the later chapters of the manga). I do believe that there was only some attraction to Takashi due to his manliness, but her feelings developed later on and was made more obvious in the anime counterpart of the series.

She is not needy, unlike Rei. Most of her conversations with Takashi end up pleasant, with her not asking anything from Takashi. In her emotions, however, it is quite obvious that she is invested with Takashi, and it only becomes more and more perceptible as the series progresses.

Much of her character can be deduced from her sharpness in understanding other people: during Rei’s recovery in the Takagi house, when Rei was flirting with Takashi, she quietly waited outside and for her turn. In the anime, this was after that night in the temple, where maybe something more than saliva was shared between them. Did she berate Takashi? She just entered and stayed quiet.

She understands that it is the apocalypse, and that loyalty between a man and woman is pretty much very difficult to maintain. So what does she do? She recognizes that she is a woman, and if there is ‘anything that Takashi needs, I can present my womanhood (paraphrased).’ It’s the kind of love that is not suffocating or wanting, but ever-present. It’s that kind of love that is quiet and pensive, yet passionate. It’s a love that’s quite opposite to what Rei currently shows to Takashi: it is devoid of jealousy or of need for compensation.

This happened because Takashi saw her true self and accepted it (maybe in more ways than one). Her simple recognition of who Takashi was and her acceptance of him and her self is just a delight to watch. Besides, it would be a more special ending by going against the grain, right?

Reflections on High School of the Dead

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Yesterday was a holiday due to the celebration of Eid ul-Fitr, or the end of Ramadan, the Moslems’ holy month. Being a Christian, I did not celebrate with them, but I celebrated due to the free time it gave me. Instead of using the free time to study, I watched until the most current episode of High School of the Dead. I think it’s a great series for what it brings: it has gratuitous amounts of hot women and violence.

I could say that it’s a bad show because it doesn’t appeal to me philosophically, but that would make me both a liar and a hypocrite, because I love it and enjoy it. Aside from the improbable physiques and beauties of the girls (and Saeko’s near-impossible antics with her body), the show is as gritty as it gets: when there will be a global catastrophe, the only law is anarchy. I understand that the girls were illustrated to titillate its prospective (male) watchers, because while it would be quite interesting to feature mediocre-looking girls with the same guys struggling through the zombie holocaust, it wouldn’t be as inviting. I certainly cannot hide the fact that I’m enjoying the show because of the female bombshells that inexplicably collected themselves in Takashi’s group, but I am also enjoying it due to the character dynamics that evinces itself in the different personalities within the group.

I think it says a lot about my preferences when this is the only picture on HSOTD on my folder.

I think it says a lot about my preferences when this is the only picture on HSOTD on my folder.

I also cannot hide the fact that I’m particular toward one girl, and that girl is Busujima Saeko. Among the group she is the most useful; she is also level-headed and can cook. She’s also the most attractive to me. I liked the ninth episode because it explored her history a little bit, and also because of the dynamic sexual tension that just oozes (from the ‘wet’ jokes to her confirmation that she was, really, sexually aroused). Whether it was resolved or not is still up in the air, but I’m more inclined to think that the zombies clustered around that area because of a certain occurrence that was prefaced as the background faded to black (I would have loved to hear her moans).

I would like for Saeko and Takashi to end up together and there’s already a quasi-confession from him, but in my experience these kinds of ladies (beautiful, cool, untouchable) end up shafted or dying at the end of these kinds of series for the sake of the childhood friend or the previous lover. I was aroused with the sixth episode, but the ninth episode was just more stimulating to me. As they progress on their journey Takashi unknowingly has three beautiful women in competition for him.

It’s not intellectual; sometimes, it’s even quite farcical. But it is a most entertaining watch.

The Tatami Galaxy (Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei) Special – 01

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

I’ve had this for the past few days (thanks again go to J-pwq), but I never had time to watch it due to pending examinations. It’s roughly a third of the length of a regular Tatami Galaxy episode, and is essentially just an extra. The special nevertheless still remains true to its roots, with the characters essentially the same from the series: Jougasaki drops everything upon seeing Kaori and Akashi remains to be the quintessential cool and helpful girl.

Kaori can now hold his hand back.

Kaori can now hold his hand back.

For all the indolence that Higuchi exudes and enacts, he has painted in his imaginative story an accurate portrait of the personalities of the series’s central characters. It’s only seven minutes, anyway. Watch it!

Diving with elephants?

Diving with elephants?

The ‘epilogue’ of Ane Doki

Monday, September 6th, 2010

The epilogue is actually anything but open when one takes it in the context of the series. Remember her condition: ‘when you get older, and your feelings still haven’t changed, let me hear you say that again.’ No matter how his friends goad him to pursue Sakurai (very possible to be even more attractive), he stays mum on the matter. He also didn’t arrive with any girl. Moving is something major, and I think if he really had a girlfriend she would be around to help him do it. From their conversation, however, it doesn’t seem he’s seeing any girl (again, he’s being goaded by his friends to see Sakurai).

anedoki

Kouta quips in the ending that ‘as long as I don’t forget these feelings …’ and Natsuki reaffirms this with ‘Definitely some other time.’ In the epilogue, upon his return to town, Natsuki lay in wait at exactly the same spot with a very smug, knowing smile. This is in contrast to the time where they first met, where she talked to him with a straight and serious face. The ‘I love you’ in white background doesn’t even have to specify whether it was Kouta or Natsuki who said it, just that it was said and that no matter who said it would probably still mean the same thing (it’s probable even both of them said it!).

Although I wish just like any other guy for a better closure, this was done very well for a discontinued manga.

(Yes, I actually like Mizuki Kawashita’s works. I hope this gets a proper anime treatment by Kasai Ken’ichi and J.C. Staff.)

Some summer anime and their movie counterparts

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

I have pretty much been floating for the past few days: the days really just fly by, and since I’ve once again loosened my rein on my studies, after some time it’s already night and I haven’t done anything of value in the day. I’ve also discovered a good Japanese band because of Ryan, so thanks to him for Fujifabric: I’ve spent a significant amount of time listening to all their released music and separating music I like from the music I am indifferent to. They’re a great band, especially with some of their songs. I doubt there will be any releases in the near future, however, as their lead vocalist and lyricist died of unknown causes about a year ago. I feel that I will return to anime-watching once I filter through all their songs: I want to know all their wonderful songs so I can construct a playlist that I can to again and again.

I found this to be hilarious.

I found this to be hilarious.

I’m not really disinterested in anime, I really just haven’t watched anything lately, and even I don’t know why. I guess it’s because of the time I spend playing DotA, a game that has once again become very interesting to me. I did watch two movies in the past few days, one being Shallow Grave, and another one recently released, which is The Expendables. Because this is an anime blog, however, I think it’s apt to include Shiki in my explication of Shallow Grave.

One of the things I feel turn people away from Shiki are its characters. There’s no one particularly endearing, and as of episode three, most of them are obnoxious. The pink-haired girl was a disgusting stalker; Natsuno, on the other hand, is nothing short of a prick, and the character introduced on episode three is someone both creepy and bitter (and ugly, too). Shiki excels in creating a scary atmosphere, primarily because the people that populate the rural town are disturbing existences.

I think the series is similar to Shallow Grave: it’s a good film, but it’s also a film I will not watch again if I could. The central characters were perverse and depraved despite purportedly being educated people. The film is a wonderful snapshot of the nether parts of humanity, the darkness within every single one of us. It works well as a thriller, but it’s just difficult to empathize with selfish bastards who care for nothing but money. It was indeed ingenious and well-directed (Danny Boyle of Slumdog Millionaire, after all, helmed the film), but it was a depressing film: redemption with the central characters was as impossible as Batman killing people. It was a simple film, but its suggestions were frankly something I don’t want to entertain as they were so bleak.

In contrast to the depth of Shallow Grave, there is The Expendables. As an action film, it was good, but as anything else it was pretty bad. There was so much that could have been done with the all-star cast that was not executed properly. It was a great time-waster for what it was worth, and I think that was all Stallone really wanted, anyway. I think that he’s the master of wasted potential after all. It was an enjoyable ride, but it was nothing more.

I don’t recall doing anything more than that. Current series don’t really invite me to watch them, although I’m trying to keep up with High School of the Dead (which is also quite similar to The Expendables).