Spring 2013 Anime Season Preview


So as the 2013 winter anime season draws to a close we begin to look forward to the spring season, one that has numerous interesting series, and a few that look to be potentially fascinating but I have yet to make up my mind on. I have to admit that I never really look into a new season until just before it begins, I also rarely watch the preview videos because I have yet to watch one that really demonstrated clearly what the series would be like. Instead I simply prefer to base my initial viewing off of the art, synopsis, and any other material that might be about such as manga adaptations, or original source etc. It is also very hard to really come up with a clear understanding or any real idea of what the season will be like purely based off of the series previews and ploy synopses. You can get a general idea of what a series may involve based on artwork and description, but from past seasons, and years there are always those hidden gems that at first look dull, boring and generally flat but turn into something that is truly wonderful. In a similar vein, there are series that start off well, but ultimately lose their way and become disappointments despite the talent and ability behind them. Read more of this post

Girls und Panzer – Review

shot0257Girls und Panzer is absolutely brilliant and sits as a perfect example of how even the most innocuous series can be turned into a veritable masterpiece with the right direction, writing and a truly engrossing story that has been created by a group of people who truly love classic war films and all they entail. I, like many others on twitter, was quick to laughingly and quite ironically proclaim this series to be the best of the season and perhaps the year just before it premiered. However, having sat through the gripping action, wonderful character development, and truly superb soundtrack it is safe to say that I can now, entirely un-ironically proclaim it to be a spectacular success. I have never really had any problems with the ‘cute girls doing cute things’ aspect of many anime, finding the ordinary, if rather romanticized portrayal of Japanese school life often charming and entertaining. What we find in Girls und Panzer however is an entirely different take on this well warn aspect of anime, and while it still has cute girls doing cute things, the constant presence of tanks and the important part that they play in life helps to subtly change the way this anime portrays the lives of school girls. Read more of this post

Boku wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai NEXT – Unwilling to change


Over the last few episodes we have seen Kodaka’s inability to change, and his unwillingness to even consider the idea that there are those who may care for him as something more than just friends. He is a character that is stuck in a particular way of thinking and viewing the Rinjin-bu, and is someone who fears the change that accepting the girls feelings may bring onto the club that he holds so dear. As we have seen during the first season, and throughout the run of Haganai, Kodaka is an individual with a complicated past, and has to deal with the scared faces of those around him due to his English parentage. As a social outcast, labelled as a yankee, and effectively ignored or avoided by everyone in school, Kodaka has lived a relatively isolated life, other than caring for his sister Kobato. This also means that his life has been incredibly simple until he started attending the Academy and in a way had very little to worry about, although he obviously felt a little lonely. By attending the Academy and then helping to form the Rinjin-bu with Yozora, Kodaka has gained a good group of friends as he has wished for, but in doing so his life has become far more complex than it once was. Read more of this post

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT – The artist formally known as………Pegasus……


One of the most fascinating elements of Haganai is the way people approach the notion of friendship and what it means to be popular. As we already know from previous episodes, and indeed, previous season, the members of Rinjin-bu all have rather curious, and at times, warped perceptions of what it means to be popular with others. Furthermore, the various characters that occupy the Rinjin-bu are also (mostly) oblivious to the fact that their very presence within the club, and the increasingly close relationship that these characters have constitutes a form of friendship. Rika and Kodaka are clearly conscious of their current situation; although in Kodaka’s case we get the impression that he remains oblivious to everyone around him. Haganai also helps to present the notion of judging a book by its cover in relation to its central characters, particularly Kodaka and Sena. In the most recent episode for example we learn more about how Sena is viewed by the rest of the student population through the ranting of Yusa Aoi. Read more of this post

Does anime promote an orientalist view of Japan: or, a case of ‘lost in cultural translation’? – Part 1


When viewing anime, it is possible to see how it, as a cultural medium, promotes an orientalist view of Japan with its astonishing visuals, along with the numerous exotic and strange creatures and creations. Anime as a Japanese cultural commodity incorporates elements of the country’s history, society, and culture into its myriad stories and settings that range from the historical through to contemporary scenarios, and near future, along with fantasy settings that take their influence from a mix of traditional Japanese culture, dystopian and cyberpunk settings. It is therefore a very broad medium, and one that has become increasingly popular in the west, with films like Akira and Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (spirited Away) garnering significant critical acclaim (Ebert, 2002; Maslin, 1990; Mitchell, 2002; Horwitz, 2002; Turan, 2002). It has been argued that Japanese culture is ‘odourless’ (Douglas, 2002; Koichi, 2002), one without cultural or social roots, a form of ‘soft power’ that can change its form or shape depending on where it is. Koichi (2002) argues that anime doesn’t look Japanese, describing this aspect of Japanese culture as ‘mukokuseki’ (something or someone lacking any nationality), thus implying that anime lacks racial or ethnic charactertics and therefore cannot be culturally embedded (Koichi, 2002; 317). If the characters within anime are a part of mukokuseki, then there is a necessity to add something else that embeds anime within its culture and society. The use of historical events (in the case of Akira), or cultural artefacts (in the case of Sen to Chihiro) can be viewed as an attempt to ground these films in a very specific time and place. Sato (2004) suggests that, according to Japanese intellectuals, Japanese traditional beauty, which ‘resides in subtle layers of mysterious darkness is being wiped out by the flood of bright electronic lights of western technology’ (Sato, 2004; 343). This attempt to regain the ‘harmony of Japanese culture’, and a unique Japaneseness further reinforces animes’ promotion of an orientalist view of Japan by highlighting the essence of the orient in western imagination (Sato, 2004; 341). Anime emphasis Japan as a place of romance, exotic beings, and haunting memories and landscape, while also further stressing the distinction between Japanese culture and that of the west (Said, 1978; 1). Read more of this post

Does anime promote an orientalist view of Japan: or, a case of ‘lost in cultural translation’? – Part 2


Cultural Imperialism:

Sterling (1990) argues that Japanese ethnicity happens to embody no element of historicity or locality in the American eye, and that the cyberpunk films such as Akira are effectively a part of a globalised, and arguably Americanised culture (Sterling, 1990; 72). This argument is therefore suggesting that Japanese anime lack historical imperatives and are no longer grounded in local culture, they are instead a product of a globalised, and arguably, Americanised culture. In this respect the exoticism and ‘otherness’ of anime has been integrated into a broader Americanised culture as a form of cultural imperialism, thus allowing Japanese cultural products to be viewed as something weird and wonderful, while also maintaining a sense of familiarity (Said, 1994; 200). The use of ‘new’ and ‘traditional in anime like Akira and Sen to Chihiro helps to differentiate between one culture and another, creating a boundary between globalised and Americanised culture and the traditional overtly ‘Japanese’ culture. The ‘new’ technology demarcates a modern, consumerist Japan that is obsessed with gadgets and neon; this cultural imagery of technology has, as McKay (1997) argues, ‘come to dominate our iconography of (American) modernity’ (McKay, 1997; 16). Read more of this post