Archive for November, 2010

Touched by Touch – episodes 1-11

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

I’ve always wanted to watch Touch. It started back in 2006, when I watched the few Hiatari Ryoukou episodes released by MJN. Back then, however, I didn’t have the Internet speed or the hard drive space to tackle the huge requirement of Touch. I promised myself, however, that I would eventually watch it.

It’s been four years since that time. I now have a computer that’s competent enough, and an Internet connection that’s very good with respect to the service our country’s Internet providers can give. It took me some time to start watching the series because I wanted to wait for the entire series to be released on DVD. Currently, there are only 54 episodes. I’m not whining, mind you, but I have arrived at a point where I want to watch the entire series even if the rest of the episodes are LD rips. I have already archived the 54 released on DVD anyway.

I must admit that I can totally empathize with Tatsuya. I recognize that I have done wrong and that I can do better, but I fall into apathy as there are times where I’ve attempted to right the ship only to be shot down, whether by circumstance or by people themselves. It’s something frustrating, and I try to cope with it by living with insouciance as Tatsuya does even if like him I recognize that I have innate talent in me, and that I believe I can be better.

Let me share something that actually happened to me last year: I was actually in top of the class during the first three months of medical school, excelling in the first three blocks. While I rested for the musculoskeletal modules, I picked myself up once again in the neuroanatomy modules and believed I did well in the exams. However, when the grades came out I was just average. It was a major blow to me primarily because I knew I topped the class in the exams. I may have gone wrong in some respects but not enough to be average. Nevertheless, that became my grade. I wasn’t honestly devastated, but it just took the fight out of me, just when I was starting to strive for what I believed to be something I could excel at.

I thus really felt the pain that Tatsuya felt during the eleventh episode: after he fought with himself and the fact that he was overshadowed by his brother through sheer assiduity, he ultimately decided to join the baseball club until Minami decided to join the baseball club to be its manager. It was a slap in the face, especially because he knew how people were pairing Minami and Kazuya together. He had enough delicacy not to interfere in the pairing of two popular and excellent individuals, even though he also had invested feelings in Minami for quite some time. He may have just walked it off and lazed it away with his antics, although I bet it was also hurting him inside. He didn’t want to upstage his brother even though he could, judging from their past, and he didn’t want to interfere with the match made in heaven with Kazuya and Minami. It’s sad. He simply deals with it through mediocrity, just like I do with my medical classes. I will be all right, as long as I can pass. That is my success. I know that it is detestable for the achievers reading this post, but it’s really how I deal with my failures in life: I try to move on as best as I can – something that shows in Touch.

That’s why I’ll keep on downloading and keep on watching. Maybe I’ll also find some answers.

Kuragehime – 06: the waterless ablution

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Little has changed in my perception towards the Amars since the first episode. They mainly serve as the comic relief of the series, and, while irritating at times, are nothing more than innocuous anyway. It has always been the dynamism of the central characters that have sucked me in, and the recent episode is proof of that.

The waterless ablution

I should have seen the episode by early Friday (and spared my pharmacology exam by waking up early), but I’ve had connection problems these past few days, so I couldn’t update as quickly as I wanted to. Mayaya is a pestilence, as always, but the other ladies have slowly been growing on me. More than the Amars, however, I admire how Kuranosuke strives in his own way to expose the Amars to the real world and attempts to let them understand that it’s not as horrible as they think it is. I also love how he’s slowly becoming more and more besotted towards Tsukimi, as seen with him being heavily affected by her small gestures. It’s pleasing to know that he appreciates Tsukimi for who she really is and not merely for her beauty.

I think that the episode’s centerpiece, however, is Shu. Inari’s quite a vicious bitch (I mean no disrespect, but she is one) to sedate Shu and then let him think that he was molested for her own selfish causes. I love how the show does the opposite of Shiki when they show evil or foreignness: in Shiki, the vampires’ eyes becoming nearly black; in contrast, Inari’s eyes become white during her crusade to bag Shu in.

I like how the four major players in the series oppose their same-sex counterparts: Tsukimi is a virginal recluse of society, but has a heart of gold; Inari, on the other hand, is a sexually-promiscuous woman who uses the act of intercourse to get what she wants. Shu is a cool and calculating man who cares for the good of his family; Kuranosuke is a childlike crossdresses who lets his impulses drive his actions.

Flustered

Shu’s motivations and contemptible actions the previous episodes were given reasons, and these were heavily intertwined with Kuranosuke’s existence. He is virginal because he detests women for the most part, seeing that his father was sucked in by Kuranosuke’s mother: the incident this episode will probably not ease this fear. What he did after the incident, however, was quite a delight to watch: it was loyalty at its finest. Having been molested by Inari (how could it have been otherwise?), he drags what he believes is his filthy body to be purified by Tsukimi. His heart is only towards her, and the simple act of him taking her hand has such beautiful implications regarding his character. Although his past has given him scars towards women and has made him preternaturally dense, the fact that he trusts and relies only on Tsukimi to save him is just beautiful.

Kuragehime is just another love story. But it’s also another love story. I’ve always believed that a romance is beautiful when the major players are not difficult to root for. There will, of course, be drama along the way, but when the protagonists are noble and likable in their own quirky ways it’s bound to be at the very least great – or a masterpiece.

Kuragehime – 05: a challenger appears

Friday, November 19th, 2010

With this episode the series established its central plot, and an important secondary problem: the destruction of the current Amamizu-kan due to redevelopment. The series also introduced Tsukimi’s virtual opposite (as I mentioned in my previous post, her antipode): Shoko Inari is a woman with a progressive career. She’s also highly attractive, and very manipulative, using her body to get what she wants from men. She is a world away from Tsukimi’s virginal innocence and Tsukimi’s introversion: Inari has no hesitation to go out and be a whore to propel her career forward.

The beauty and the beast

It has become troublesome for Tsukimi because she has finally fallen in love with Shu, only to deal with him ignoring her and then seeing him with Inari. As much as I hate to admit it, beautiful women, or at least women who know how to make themselves up tend to attract men more than types like Tsukimi, no matter how beautiful she is. It didn’t help that she saw Shu with Inari and protected her from the rain.

The episode made Shu’s affections for Tsukimi clearer: he loved the attractive Tsukimi, but remains to be dense that he could not associate that Tsukimi from her normal self. While his affections for her are undoubtedly genuine, the fact that he cannot accept the totality of Tsukimi’s person lessens the probability of a relationship between them becoming successful. In a relationship of love, the good must be accepted with the bad. Ignorance excuses no one.

Somehow, Kuranosuke’s more respectable in this aspect, because he accepts that the normal Tsukimi is all right, but not if she wants to improve herself, or fight for a cause, as was shown in this episode. While he’s also quite selfish, as his acts of kindness are nothing more than acts to stoke his ego for the most part, he accepts Tsukimi as herself while prompting her to improve. His concern for Tsukimi, however, evinces itself in this episode.

It’s really a difficult thing to peg Inari as a villain of this series, since she’s really just doing her job. She’s the designated high-class whore, and it’s been working well for her, judging from the number of phone calls from her fans. She just represents the modern lady who seeks to improve herself by doing her job, whether it’s presenting or having sex with powerful men. She will be more of a catalyst to the story, proving perhaps to Shu that it’s not only appearances that matter, and providing some attrition to Tsukimi so that she will force herself to change.

Did anyone else like Kuranosuke’s resolve this episode?

Kuragehime – 04: the weight of words

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

One of my notebooks was nearing depletion after about three years of use, and so I decided to write a lengthy write-up with dedication until I filled up the notebook’s remaining pages. I decided to write about Kuragehime.

The weight of words

It is nothing funny to lose a loved one at such an early age. Children for the most part are unprepared for it and have difficulty dealing with such loss. The absence will most certainly color their maturity and define their personalities in the future (as what is visible with Tsukimi). There are certain things one should never say to children suffering from the passage of someone dear: in our block on pediatrics one of the most memorable things I’ve learned is that one never tells a child who’s lost a loved one not to cry. It’s also no good to lie about the one who died, since children, while being young, are more perceptive than they seem, and lying about who they love will reverberate through their entire lives.

A loving mistake

Despite being unprepared, however, these children’s perceptiveness must not be ignored. Even at such young ages, children often correctly understand a certain event from the priming cues that event presents. In child psychiatry, it is an absolute no-no to be dishonest with a child upon the death of a loved one. As much as we’d like to believe the contrary, children are not idiots. Honesty is extremely important so that the child can face the truth of the event, although that truth must not be forced upon the child at loss: the child must know the truth, but in his due time and in his own terms. It’s no good to shove the truth down his throat.

A costly mistake most parents commit towards their children is lying to them with regard to their (the parent’s) condition for ‘the sake of the child.’ Simple words and statements like this build up a child to have faith in the dishonesty of fantasy, even if the words were said with noble intent. Another mistake is for the parent to tell the child not to grieve: as most of us know, children don’t have a mature sense of ideation, and their actions are mostly rooted in the physical world. If a child was told not to grieve by a loving parent, chances are he will follow that command even if it will be to his detriment in the future (how should the child know how about that?). Taken to the extreme, the child may have difficulty growing up adjusted, as the process of grief was not followed naturally.

The process of grief (described properly by the thanatologist Kubler-Ross) is not something to be taken lightly, as it is only in its completion that people finally move on and face the reality of the loved one’s passage. Because of her mother’s words, Tsukimi was not afforded this normal process of grieving. It is no surprise that her current existence was majorly defined by her mother’s death as she was still unable to move on from it. Because the normal process was stilted and stoppered, it transmogrified into something pathologic. Even after years have passed, Tsukimi was still heavily affected by her mother’s death. Had she been allowed to cry her heart out or had she not been ‘pressured’ by her mother, she may have become more adjusted as a person. She may even be one of the princesses who proudly strut Tokyo. One must recall that the primordial reason to her being an otaku of jellyfish was her excursion with her mother when she was near death: the child is the father of the man.

The OP expanded further

The opening animation of the song, as I mentioned in a previous post, is full of prognostication with regard to the future events in the series. As the allusions speak for themselves, they predict certain events from the short, referential skits.

At the later part of the OP, there was a marriage skit with Shu protesting the marriage of Kuranosuke with an unknown lady. That unknown lady popped up in the preview for the next episode, and it is currently obvious where Shu’s emotions lie. While it may seem disturbing for some that Kuragehime was going to become a love story, I am enjoying the direction it’s been taking as it won’t be anything but an iridescent love story: I’ve had my fill of the Amars and they’re very good, but only as side characters. I hope they will be more than one-dimensional at the end of the series, but I’m thankful that they have shifted focus to the relationships of the main characters. Besides …

Every story is a love story

All stories eventually and inexorably deal with love. The love may not be romantic or erotic in nature, but love can never be skirted from and can never be avoided in any story, as it is a fundamental positive emotion ingrained in every human being. It’s just that the love is directed towards different objects: whether these are inanimate or imaginary, as is the case with the Amars; filial, as with Quentin Compson; or of course, romantic, as with Shu’s towards Tsukimi’s. Every story is essentially a love story, however, perverted or sublimated.

As I’ve mentioned in the previous segment, I’m not too fond of the previous focus on the Amars and their idiosyncratic manifestations of love, so I find that the current direction of the series is more interesting. By placing focus on such a paradoxical emotion among the series’s central entities, the show’s become more colorful.

Kuranosuke’s jealousy

It has already been pointed out by many that Kuranosuke is highly attractive. An unbiased observer, as observed in the previous episode, funnily pointed out that Kuranosuke was ‘ikemen.’ Whether dressed as a woman or man, he’s highly confident in his beauty. He isn’t delusional: as he pointed out, he was endlessly scouted and his girlfriends were the beauties of his place. Their bitterness towards each other, however, lead to his disappointment in them. Their outward beauty was masked by their ugliness within.

Ikemen.

In contrast, Tsukimi did not bathe in the knowledge of her attractiveness: in fact, she tried to shy away from it. She masked her outer beauty with disregard, but it’s quite obvious that she’s a kind girl. When Kuranosuke touched her up, however, she noticed her being a diamond covered with just a ton of dirt. Even then, he still wasn’t able to see her beauty, because he was so focused on her physical makeover. It was only in this episode where they looked into each other’s eyes (as Tsukimi’s disability with her vision made her braver), and he saw the beauty within and without. It was very entertaining to watch because he was in persistent denial with his feelings until he finally realized that his feelings towards her were growing. It’s ironic that despite his overwhelming handsomeness, physical charms and aggressiveness, he’s quite the underdog for Tsukimi’s heart.

I think it’s difficult to root for him, however. He can practically just walk and beauties will flock to him, whereas his brother has difficulty even having relationships with women. Shu has never been besotted as much as he is with Tsukimi, after all.

Final notes

I sought to write this post topically, since there are a lot of interrelated but highly disparate issues that the current episode tackled. As the puzzle slowly gets constructed, the pieces more and more become connected to the picture. I’d assume that the mystery woman will present complications to the love triangle being fomented by Kuranosuke’s jealousy. She will either be interested in Shu or Kuranosuke, and will be a confounder to the major players involved.

I really don’t think Shu’s turned off with the normal Tsukimi, although I will have to see the future episodes to really tell. The incident during the previous episode was just one bad fluke, after all: he saw her at her worst. Sooner or later, he will have to see her as she really is. I am patiently waiting for the role the new lady will play, since she, at a physical level, is the antipode to Tsukimi: she is quite stylish; she looks mature; and seems social, too. She’s one of the princesses that Tsukimi dreams one day to be (even if she is already one).

Kuragehime: the contemptible Amars

Monday, November 8th, 2010

While I like Kuragehime, I must admit that I have little love towards the Amars, especially towards Banba and Mayaya. Although I’ve alluded to this in my previous post, I’m saying it clearly in this one: I don’t like the lifestyle of the Amars, and while they have every right to do what they want to do with their lives that does not mean I approve of their parasitic existences.

Someone on /a/ called people out (including me) saying that we only dislike the Amars because they’re not the usual beautiful and sexualized beauties we see in anime. He or she argued further that if they were men, we would sympathize with their existences just because of the proximity and similarity between those men and /a/nons.

I vehemently disagree, however. I don’t dislike the women just because they are both unsociable and ugly (although it’s much easier to dislike someone ugly than physically beautiful, that is true), but because in addition to being unsociable and ugly, they’re also offensive and obnoxious creatures.

One of the most endearing caricatures (if not avatars) of male otaku the world over is Madarame. He is the personification of the otaku archetype. While I must admit that his countenance does not make him easily endearing, it is his actions and his quirky kindness towards his friends and other people that made me like him, not his being a male otaku.

I’m an anime fan, but I’m also irritated with other anime fans. Just because other people are anime fans doesn’t make them someone I’d automatically like, although that characteristic would make them easier to like. I dislike Banba and Mayaya not merely due to their physical ugliness, but more importantly because of their ugly personalities. I don’t find Banba’s actions towards Kuranosuke defensible; I find much contempt in turning away someone who honestly just wanted to join in. My perception of her only worsened when she equated the kindness of Kuranosuke to a permanent provision and depersonalized him into a bringer of meat. The only reason that would exonerate her to some extent was that if she was mentally retarded (which is highly possible, actually). If she wasn’t, though, there is absolutely no excuse for her actions: her face is just the ‘urine on top of the turd.’ It just makes things worse.

Mayaya’s less offensive and more obnoxious, but I also don’t find their stance towards parental dependence noble. I find it rather insulting to those who act as real children. Other than Tsukimi, the Amars are already more than thirty years old. I just don’t think it’s good for anyone to rely on one’s parents for support when one’s already that old. I’m also not one to sympathize when these Amars look at reality from some imaginary catafalque: they do not even want to recognize that there is something fundamentally wrong in their lives and in their way of living. Their physical ugliness just makes things worse, but I doubt that it is the sole source of disdain from watchers like me.

Devil’s advocates will probably propose Katsuragi Keima from The World God Only Knows as an unforgivable otaku. The thing is,

(1) He’s not thirty years old. He’s barely into his teens – and he at least goes out of their house.

(2) Despite how he looks, he is very responsible for his tasks.

Just the first defense alone would exonerate most of his faults. It’s undeniable that a male otaku trying to save the world from destruction despite his unwillingness, as some sort of antihero, perhaps, is more sympathetic than a realistic caricature of uncouthness and physical homeliness. Isn’t that common sense?

Kuragehime – 03: the issues of withdrawal and the OP expounded

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

I watched the third episode of Kuragehime twice these past few days, and it has both that foreignness and familiarity that drags me closer to it: it has been consistently brilliant, as what can be expected from Takahiro Omori, and yet offers no easy answers to the problems of the main characters.

Before I explicate on the episode itself, let me place focus into the opening animation of the show. Like other great shows, it subtly offers a background of the conflict and some possible plot points of the series. What I initially thought to be mere references to enduring movies and movie franchises has actually something beneath it established through the archetypal characters referred to. (more…)