Rural Japan in Anime – Beautiful, Powerful, and the Root of Japanese Identity


One aspect of anime that I find particularly interesting is the depiction, and use of the countryside. There are a number of series such as Durarara that focus exclusively on the big city, looking at under classes, dark dealings, and the more shadowy elements of society. But when a series is set in, or uses the countryside, we are often presented with a very different vision of Japan, especially if the series also focuses on school children (which a significant number of them do). Read more of this post

Gin no Saji and the many worries of Hachiken


Hachiken has gradually grown and matured as a character during the first, and now second seasons of Gin no Saji, he has taken a proactive approach to his life by attending Yezo Agricultural High School, despite having no knowledge or experience of working in agriculture. Watching Hachiken come to terms with the idea of killing animals for food – an obvious fact, but one that is kept at a distance by most consumers who appear to take the various cuts of meat, and other meat products for granted – thus beginning to understand the realities of working on a farm. Furthermore, we see Hachiken change the way he views school work, as he may be very good at studying within the rigid, and predictable Japanese exam system, but he has little, and in some cases no real knowledge of the physical labour required to keep a farm running. These discoveries are all part of his growth as a character, and provide the audience with an insight into the inner workings of farms and broader agriculture. But, Hachiken remains a flawed, and at times very foolish individual who is his own worst enemy. Read more of this post

Favourite Anime of 2013


It’s always a difficult task coming up with a simple list of my favourite anime that aired throughout the year, the list always seems to extend over several pages, only to be pruned and cut down to a simple selection of the series and films I truly enjoyed watching. This year I have decided not to put the anime in any specific order, or even give them a number as I feel numbering, and ordering the anime to be rather arbitrary. Apart from one specific series the anime in this list have all been equally enjoyable for a variety of different reasons. Interestingly most of the really popular series, ones that acquired lives of their own are missing from this list, largely because I found them almost universally boring, or didn’t particularly interest me in one way of another. But before the list proper a few special mentions, series that I certainly enjoyed, but have not made it onto the final list for a number of reasons. Read more of this post

Twelve Days of Anime 2013 – Vension and Pork in Gin no Saji


Gin no Saji presents us with a slightly different take on the high school drama, with an agricultural school setting rather than the normal school in the middle of a town or city. The series main character, Hachiken Yugo, represents the ultimate fish out of water, a city kid who has rushed off to the countryside to escape his parents and leave all of his troubles behind. Indeed, much of the comedy in Gin no Saji is predicated on Hachiken’s over the top reactions and inability to cope with the straightforward stresses of working on a farm. He is a character that has solely focussed on studying for exams, with no real goal in life, and nothing that brings him any real joy. By enrolling in Yezo High, Hachiken is effectively running away from his own problems and trying to push them to one side, but he is also forced to come to terms with his own failures and the uncertainty of his future. We see how almost all of the main characters have their own goals and dreams, mostly revolving around family businesses, something that Hachiken lacks. He may be very good at passing exams, producing the highest marks in Yezo High, but when characters like Tamako and Shinnosuke begin a discussion on the science and ethics of breeding Hachiken finds himself lost. He knows how to pass exams, but these characters are discussing far more complex issues than simple maths problems, they are having a discussion about something that effects farming, and broader debates surrounding to treatment of animals.

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