Archive for December, 2010

A small update

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

I have already written several drafts with regard to the best anime of 2010, only to be blindsided by the appearance of a high-quality copy of Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. I have to be careful with prejudgment, especially because it’s been touted to be one of the best movies of the year.

I haven’t been able to access the Internet for the past several days, and I haven’t been able to hold a computer until now. I’ll hopefully update in the following days.

Bathos avoidance: Touch 92-101

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

I guess they have resolved my pending questions in episode 92: Minami clearly states that she’s liked Tatsuya for a long while, and it won’t change even with Kazuya around. I think this was a smart move by Adachi, because it did not make the series sappy with romance. It didn’t deal with a girl vacillating between two exemplary men, and thus did not waste time on that unnecessary matter. The series instead focused on building up the extant hero and heroine and progressing their characters. I still believe that it’s taken them a long while to arrive at that point, however, although the hints were already scattered throughout the series: 48 episodes is a long while.

Touch's spiritual brother

I have never liked bathos, however, and I think that as a compromise it’s better than drenching the series with tears and with broken hearts. I think of Touch as a good series because it avoids such cliches. I only like romance when it’s well-made: Honey and Clover, for example, while essentially a slice-of-life series, is a great romance because while it has its share of tears it doesn’t denigrate itself with fulfilled love. It even shows that life can make one suffer with unrequited loves, but people move on.

Touch is merely a story of enduring love. Unlike Cross Game, however, it focuses a lot more on the game itself than the subtleties of relationships among its characters. After 83 episodes, the main duo kiss once more and Tatsuya finally overcomes his selfless tendencies to confess to Minami that he’s loved her all this time. While the games themselves were intense and highly watchable, I feel that the character department of this show was lacking, even with its exemplary story. Its diffuse nature allowed for more of the series’s characters being fleshed out, but also loosened the story’s focus. I recognize the series as a great series, although I have some doubts as to whether to peg it as great or as a masterpiece primarily because I liked Cross Game more, personally.

How would you guys rank Touch, anyway?

The romantic aspect of Touch: episodes 12-89

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Of all the things that can be seen in Touch (there’s a lot, obviously, as it’s 101 episodes), it has been the relationship between Minami and Tatsuya that has affected me the most. Although the first few episodes have been red herrings with regard to the complex relationship among Kazuya, Tatsuya and Minami, I could never forget that even when Kazuya was still alive Minami was already partial towards Tatsuya: she rejected Kazuya’s advances and confessions, but kissed Tatsuya full on the lips after his loss from a boxing match. It was also obvious that Tatsuya was merely playing the clown so as not to overshadow his younger brother who has poured so much time and effort trying to be perfect.

Not many people saw it as such, however, with the majority (even Tatsuya’s parents) thinking of Tatsuya as a failure. It was only Minami who saw through the legerdemain and still thought highly of Tatsuya. Their history, after all, simply suggested that it was due to Tatsuya’s altruism that Kazuya was able to prosper and propel himself forward. If left to his own devices, Tatsuya’s past reflected someone who had more talent than Kazuya. Tatsuya just didn’t want to dampen his brother’s dreams, and welcomed the forging of a relationship between Kazuya and Minami.

Minami, however, wanted otherwise. It was quite obvious that she liked Tatsuya romantically after the kiss, and it’s kept on proving itself in the course of the series. In a much later episode (episode 89), their mother commented on the neediness of Kazuya, and she recognized, perhaps belatedly, that Tatsuya was just letting his brother flourish. My only problem was the lack of focus on the romantic development between Tatsuya and Minami, although I understand that it was for the sake of their own individual progress: the last scenes of them physically reaffirming their love for one another was in episode 44. Episode 46 was an episode full of subtle romantic banter, but there was nothing physical in their interactions.

For the next forty or so episodes, little focus was placed on the romance aspect between the protagonists: instead, Minami was slowly trying to excel as a gymnast, and Tatsuya was trying his best to be unbeatable as a pitcher and a baseball player in general. It was only with the mirror of the Kashiwaba brothers with one woman they both love that the rivalry between them as brothers and as lovers was tackled once more: in this case, the older brother also triumphed over the younger brother, with bitterness being the only passion fueling the younger brother’s life. The situation was very different, as both brothers were achievers, and the altruistic one was the younger instead of the elder. Still, one can’t help but wonder what would happen to Kazuya in the future had he lived, especially because even with his achievements Minami’s heart was always with Tatsuya, and Minami seems to be the one person Tatsuya will never give up to Kazuya despite his efforts.

I just wish there was something more visible between Minami and Tatsuya in those forty episodes. I’m not complaining, however: when an anime series forces me to stay awake until the wee hours of the morning, I really think it’s good. I still have about 11 episodes to go, but at this point I prefer Cross Game more because it was able to progress simultaneously the plot, Kou’s progress, and the subtle evolution of Aoba’s affections towards Kou. Tatsuya is a more likable character, however, and I can empathize with him more. Both series are great.

Sartor Resartus: a slice-of-life generating no emotional investment is a bad anime series

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

I just finished reading Sartor Resartus (The Tailor Retailored). I can’t say it was pleasurable, but I usually finish what I start, whether with books or life choices: I’m still in medical school, after all. It was one of the earliest examples of postmodern literature, essentially being metafictional in the sense that it’s fiction about the creation of fiction: critics have classified it as a poioumenon.

Thomas Carlyle

For me, it was extremely boring. The combination of dry and archaic wit with an absence of any plot progression was just difficult to withstand, in my opinion. It is nevertheless one of the recognized English classics, and its historical presence cannot be undermined. As quoted from Wikipedia (because I’m lazy and the short entry is quite believable, at the very least):

Poioumenon (plural: poioumena; from Ancient Greek: ποιούμενον, “product”) is a term coined by Alastair Fowler to refer to a specific type of metafiction in which the story is about the process of creation. According to Fowler, “the poioumenon is calculated to offer opportunities to explore the boundaries of fiction and reality—the limits of narrative truth.”[19] In many cases, the book will be about the process of creating the book or includes a central metaphor for this process. Common examples of this Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus and Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy which is about the narrator’s frustrated attempt to tell his own story. A significant postmodern example is Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire, in which the narrator, Kinbote, claims he is writing an analysis of John Shade’s long poem “Pale Fire”, but the narrative of the relationship between Shade and Kinbote is presented in what is ostensibly the footnotes to the poem. Similarly, the self-conscious narrator in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children parallels the creation of his book to the creation of chutney and the creation of independent India. Other postmodern examples of poioumena include Samuel Beckett’s trilogy (Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable); Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook; John Fowles’s Mantissa; and William Golding’s Paper Men; and Gilbert Sorrentino’s Mulligan Stew.

I have also read Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (because of Daniel‘s suggestions), and I have found both to be unappealing to my tastes. Both are too particularly English for me to love.

The novel is essentially an unnamed Editor writing about the complex Philosophy of Clothes written by Diogenes Teufelsdrockh. The Philosophy of Clothes is essentially a smorgasbord of philosophy, theology, culture, and a massive amount of tangents. I do recognize some of the wit in the tome and the attempts at humor, only that I believe it hasn’t aged well with regard to its comic side. Frankly speaking, it is about everything and nothing at the same time. If I were to compare this novel to anime, it would probably be a slice-of-life series dealing with the mundane coupled with a bit of wit. Hataraki Man comes to mind, although that series was a lot more entertaining with the issues it tackled. It’s also less forgettable compared to Sartor Resartus, because it at least has a proper plot that drives it forward. Sartor Resartus is a compilation of musings that were probably intriguing 180 years ago, but seem too trite nowadays. It would make a pretty bad anime series.