Category Archives: Opinion

Anime and the Concept of Power Levels

Welcome, weebs and authors alike, to The Aniwriter

Recently, I was watching the second season of Seven Deadly Sins on Netflix with my best friend. Its a show we both enjoy a lot so I decided to make him wait and watch it with me because he always complains when I don’t watch shows with him and then it becomes an argument and… well, you get the point. Not even one episode goes by when something that rarely shows up in shonen anime anymore became a major focal point of the show: Power Levels.

As I’m sure many of you reading this know, power levels originated in Dragon Ball Z. When Radditz first came to earth, he brought a tool with him known as a scouter, a wearable eyeglass that allowed him to sense the physical strength of other living creatures. Vegeta and Nappa also brought scouter with them to earth, leading to the now infamous scene where Vegeta screams about Goku’s power level being over 9000.

itsover9000

Something similar actually happens in the first episode of Seven Deadly Sins. Merlin gives Hawk a special earing that allows him to see people’s power levels. Additionally, the ring can also break down a person’s power level into three distinct categories: Physical strength, magic, and spirit. It is currently unclear what exactly makes up someone’s spirit, at least as far as I’ve gotten.

Some might say power levels in anime are perfectly reasonable, while others might say they are dumb and make no sense. Personally, I tend to fall in the middle. On one hand, power levels can be used to keep track of a character’s strength relative to others. This would also be good to narratively justify why one might make a rash decision, or go through a training arc because their power levels might be far too weak.

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However, I also think that, historically, power levels have just made anime worse. In later episodes of Dragon Ball Z, the numerical values associated with power levels become utterly meaningless. Even when faced with Frieza’s power level of over a million, Goku still manages to take him down despite being at a huge deficit. It often times feels like you could take power levels out of a story entirely and have a similar, if not better in quality show then you did with them.

Despite what I’ve written so far, I do not actually hate the concept of power levels. I think if implemented in a story the right way, they can be more narratively impactful. However, it is also important to recognize that a lot of stories, including the most popular ones, do not seem to do it well.


What do you guys think about power levels in anime, or in any other medium? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

In Defense of Slice of Life pt. 2: How to Define the Genre

Welcome, weebs and authors alike, to The Aniwriter

In my last post, which you can find here, I talked about how the Slice of Life genre can unfairly be labeled boring or uninteresting and pointed to shows like Spice and Wolf and A Place Further than the Universe to prove my point, which brought up a different point in the comments that I was planning on talking about in this post anyway: What defines a Slice of life?

The Great Passage

Now, I’ve come up with a few working definitions, but before I put those out there I think it’s important to know what other definitions people have used before. The most common definition seems to come from Wikipedia, in which it is described as “seemingly arbitrary sequence of events in a character’s life is presented, often lacking plot development, conflict and exposition, and often having an open ending.”

In Robert E. Brenner’s book “Understanding Manga and Anime,” He defines Slice of Life as having more melodramatic tendencies, while also acknowledging the tendency to focus on School, romance, Sci-fi and fantasy.

Other definitions, including ones from Merriam Webster and Cambridge, emphasize the fact that a slice of life focuses on the “real life” of the character or characters involved.

All of these definitions probably would have been accurate by themselves even just a half a decade ago, but the reality is that the Slice of Life genre, whether we like it or not, has expanded. As Brenner’s definition acknowledges, Slice of Life in anime isn’t just high school comedy and romance. What seems to be the problem in modern anime is the Slice of Life genre’s increase in its use of fantasy and sci-fi elements.

In that case, I would propose a definition that looks something like this:

A story in which one or more characters interact in a way that involves little to no plot progression, and which generally focuses on the character’s day to day lives.

Now, I like this definition not just because I wrote it, but because it focuses on the two things that are at the heart of every slice of life show:

  • The characters
  • The character’s interactions

The definitions previously were somewhat limiting in that they had to involve the “real lives” of the characters involved, meaning that show’s with more unrealistic elements like Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid could technically be considered not Slice of Life.

Now, looking at the definition I wrote above, how would this apply to the example’s I used in my last post?

A Place Further Than the Universe

Well, this is where some of it gets a little sticky. With “A Place Further Than the Universe,” even though it might be defined by others as Slice of Life, under this definition it might not be, because even though the main girls are certainly the focus, it would be hard to argue that there is no plot progression.

The Ancient Magus Bride seems to fall somewhat more in the middle, as the show most certainly focuses mainly on Ainsworth and Chise, but there is a fair argument to be had about just how much the plot progressed by the end of the show.

Spice and wolf 2

Spice and Wolf, at least under this definition, is a pretty open and shut case. Very little in the way of actual plot progression happens during the show’s run, and the interactions between Lawrence and Holo are pretty much the main driving point of the show.

Well, that’s my answer to the question. By no means am I saying this is a perfect definition, and I would for sure love to hear some criticism and feedback, but its what I have come up with for now. I might end up following this up with a third post talking about sub-genres, but I’ll leave it at this for now.


What do you guys think the definition of Slice of Life is? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

In Defense of Slice of Life

Welcome, weebs and authors alike, to The Aniwriter.

In my time watching anime, one genre, in particular, has often been criticized as being the least interesting and lacking in a lot of substance, and that would be the Slice of Life genre. Slice of Life is a genre that fans use to describe series where the focus is on the characters and the day to day happenings in each of their lives.

I thought I would take a bit of time to talk about the Slice of Life genre in a bit more depth because I feel like a lot of those same criticisms are still very much around, even despite the amount of high-quality Slice of Life shows that have been coming out as of late.

As I see it there are two major criticisms that still get lodged at the Slice of Life genre, so as such, I’ll be making this a two-parter. Those criticisms are as follows:

  1. “Slice of Life shows often lack any serious development on the part of both the characters and the story, and as such don’t really make for interesting pieces of entertainment.”
  2. “Slice of Life shows are so loosely defined that it doesn’t make sense to call it a genre at all.”

Today, I’ll be addressing the first of these criticisms, so without further ado, let’s get started.


First, I’d like to just get this out of the way: yes, I understand that what is entertaining or even interesting is completely subjective, but to that, I would say that I think it’s important to be able to at least make an argument as to why you believe something.

It’s also a pretty grandiose claim to make that an entire genre has no development whatsoever, so I’ll address it now: the idea that the Slice of Life genre has no development whatsoever is kind of ridiculous.

Spice and wolf 2.jpg

The first major example I can give to refute this point is Spice and Wolf. The show follows Holo and Lawrence for two seasons, through all kinds of adventures and situations. Holo starts the show looking down on humans, assuming that none of them are worth her time. But, as the two continue, she comes to understand through Lawrence that humans are all living their lives the best they can.

A similar change happens inside Lawrence. At the beginning of the show, Lawrence starts out with a much more cynical view of the world. Holo, however, gets him to believe in the idea that life doesn’t have to be so doom and gloom all the time. Not to mention that by the end of the second season, the two have obvious romantic feelings for each other that aren’t just going to go away without any resolution.

Another great example of a Slice of Life with major development is Nagi no Asakura. Now, I’ll freely admit that I haven’t seen all of the show, but even despite only having seen the first 9 episodes or so, if already feels like it’s going through plenty of development. Hikari has already gone from someone who unconditionally hates humans to someone who realizes his friend might be in love with a human, and as such tries to support her.

A Place Further Than the Universe.jpg

Even in more recent editions to the genre like A Place Further than the Universe, there is obvious development in the relationships between all of the characters. Mari starts the show as an unfulfilled high schooler who wants more out of life than just to sit around and do nothing. After she meets Shirase and decides to pursue a trip to Antartica with her, she realizes there is a lot more out there that she could be doing, and that doing those things with great friends makes them much more enjoyable.

Shirase especially sees a ton of development over the course of the series. Despite starting out as just a meek, somewhat quirky teenage girl who only seems to be the butt of everyone’s jokes, she manages to finally find her place in the world. The trip to Antartica allows her to finally fulfill her dream, and near the end of the show, she manages to get some closure about her mother.

It’s also worth pointing out that among the three series I just listed that there is an incredibly diverse set of story and characters, each with their own unique goals and hopes. One thing that is consistent in all definitions of Slice of Life is a character-driven show, but that doesn’t mean a show has to sacrifice any development in order to be more character focused.

Next week, I’ll spend some time revisiting the idea of how to classify what exactly is a Slice of Life.


How do you guys feel about Slice of Life as a whole? Do you have any favorites that you would consider Slice of Life? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support The Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

My Top Ten Favorite Anime (As of August 2018)

Welcome, weebs and authors alike, to The Aniwriter

Since I haven’t had a lot of interest in watching new shows as of late, and because this will be my 300th post on The Aniwriter, I’ve decided to document my top ten favorite anime of all time. I believe I’ve explained my philosophy on the subject before, but I’ll explain it again. This list is going to be a list of my Favorites, and not what I think is the best. That is a different list entirely, and one I would be happy to make if you’re interested. With that being said, here are my top ten favorite anime of all time, as of this month, anyway.


10. Phi Brain

Phi Brain

It’s really hard to describe this show to other people and not get some weird looks. Like, its a show about people battling each other with puzzles. On the surface, it seems like something that should be in the same boring vein as Beyblade, right?

Well, yes, but hear me out. The show has a lot of has a whole lot of entertainment value, from its hilariously edgy characters to the extreme situations they find themselves in. Not to mention the surprisingly messed up backstories of its villains. For those reasons alone, it’s absolutely one of my favorites

9. Terror in Resonance

Terror in Resonance

Two words: the soundtrack. If nothing else, you should absolutely go listen to this show’s soundtrack, even if you don’t like the premise of the show itself. Personally, however, I do think the show it is attached to is worth it. Sure, maybe it’s not the most well-executed story-wise, but I think there’s a lot to relate to when it comes to the main characters. Nine and Twelve go through the entirety of the show with an identity crisis on their hands. They rebel against society because it was society’s institutions that caused them to live without knowing who they are. It seems like their in a perpetual state of being lost, and there is certainly something about that I relate to a lot.

8. The Devil is a Part-Timer

The Devil is a Part-Timer

On a much lighter note, what if the Devil worked in fast food? Yeah, this show is entirely underrated, and the fact that it didn’t get a second season makes me extremely angry. It has a hilarious premise, plus the side characters make the show even better. One of my favorite running gags in the show is how Maou thinks that getting promoted at MgRonalds will somehow allow him to conquer earth. Lucifer is also pretty hilarious the way he just sits in the apartment all day and does literally nothing. If you’re ever looking for something to just sit back and relax with, give this a watch.

7. Black Lagoon

Black Lagoon

Black Lagoon is awesome, plain and simple. I remember the first time I watched this show, and it immediately blew my mind. It was a lot like those memes with people using song lyrics and then saying “My thirteen-year-old mind:” and then showing the Kermit the frog picture. Much of that awesomeness comes from Revy, who frequently rushes in and just starts blowing everything up without much of a second thought. By the end of the series, Rock becomes pretty awesome too, especially in the last scene of Roberta’s Blood Trail, where even Revy notices a large change in his behavior. Then, of course, there are the various fights which also look incredible, so yeah.

6. Spice and Wolf

Spice and Wolf.jpg

Shoutout to one of my best friends Sean for recomending this show to me, because without him it would have never even shown up on my radar. Slice of Life really is one of the most interesting genres to me, because there are so many possibilities in terms of characters, setting, and the challenges people face in their everyday lives. Spice and Wolf, though, manages to bring together such a unique combination of storytelling mechanics, and at the center of it all is Holo, one of the more interesting main characters not just in Slice of Life, but in anime in general. Her view on life is a blend of optimism and pessimism. Lawrence is cut from a similar cloth, which seems to be why they connect so early on in the show. And this is where I make a joke about medieval economics and then move on.

5. No Game No Life

Sora and Shiro

Definitely a newer entry on my list, but none the less an important one. You might also notice about most of the entries on this list that a lot of the main characters of these shows are ones that I find extremely relatable, and Sora and Shiro are not different. Their core philosophy is that “Life is just a shitty game,” and for a lot of people, that’s true. A lot of people don’t get the same opportunities to succeed as others. Most people are born in countries where the living conditions aren’t the best and some are even born into active war zones. For Sora and Shiro, from what has been revealed about their past, it was not having parents that even remotely cared for them. Having the ability to escape to another world in which everything is ultimately decided by your willingness to succeed is exactly what they wanted.

4. Robotics;Notes

Robotics-Notes_03-23-18

Two Words: The Opening. No, seriously, this shows opening is absolutely hype. I honestly might have to bring back opening of the week just to do a post about this show’s opening, because I love it so much. Yeah, it is pretty generic J-Rock, but Junjou Spectra by Zwei gets me hype every time I listen to it. However, it is not just the music in the show that makes it one of my favorites. Robotics;Notes has a wealth of interesting scientific lore. One of the most interesting parts by far is the Condition of the two main characters: Elephant and Mouse Syndrome. The former causes your perception of time to slow down, while the latter speeds it up. Without giving spoilers, the show is able to use this fictional condition to some interesting effects.

3. Oregairu

Oregairu

Some might look at this show and think: “with a title like that I’m sure it will just be some generic garbage.” Now, to be honest, if you talked to me right before I started watching this show, I wouldn’t have blamed you. The English title is “My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU,” but at first I didn’t really feel like it was worth watching, and I sort of just started it on a whim. However, after having watched through the show, I changed my opinion a lot, and now we’re here. Sometimes it can be hard to know who you should really be letting into your life. A lot of people act fake, either because they want something from you or because they think being friends with you will offer some kind of benefit. Oregairu is a show that exposes that kind of fakeness and lays it out for everyone to see, and that’s what I love about it.

2. Fairytail

fairy-tail

Fairytail was, in a sense, a lot of my childhood. It was one of the first shows I watched when I discovered what anime was, and ever since then, I’ve watched it religiously. More and more viewing of the show has lead me to realize that it is most certainly not the greatest show out there, but its one that’s been with me for a while. If you had asked me in 2016 whether or not this show was my number one, I would have said yes without hesitation, but after seriously thinking about this list, there really was only one answer.

And for my number one…

1. March Comes in Like a Lion

March comes in like a lion 3

There isn’t much I can say here that I haven’t already said about this show in other posts. In fact, I think the last post I wrote about the show probably explains my feelings the best, so check it out. But, In summary, March Comes in Like a Lion provides a cathartic experience for me that no other show has. From its incredibly beautiful visual presentation to the characters whose lives sometimes feel more real than my own. If I could get everyone I know to watch one show, it would be this one.


I know I always ask a question at the end of my posts, but this time I am genuinely curious, what are some of your favorite anime? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

Megalo Box Episode 10 and the Scorpion: Why Nanbu Deserves a Bit More Sympathy

Without knowing much about the show, you might take a look at a picture of Nanbu from Megalo Box and think he’s kind of a terrible person, and this is not entirely wrong. Nanbu is very much a wolf in sheep’s clothing, even despite how obvious it is he is a wolf. He spends a lot of the show pretending to help JD, only to betray him afterwards.

In the show’s most recent episode, Fujimaki, the man supporting Nanbu and Joe in their efforts to reach Megalonia, reminds Nanbu that they are not there to win. The only reason he decided to support them in their efforts to reach Megalonia is to force Joe to throw the fight so that Nanbu could pay off his debts to them. When Joe finds this out, he gets rightfully angry, questioning whether or Nanbu even thought he could win.

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Fujimaki goes on to describe Nanbu later on as a scorpion, and compares him to the main character in a story about a scorpion who needs to cross the river, only to betray a frog that agrees to help him. When the frog asks why the scorpion stung him, the scorpion basically replied “I had to.” However, I do not think that story is necessarily the most accurate description as a whole.

Screenshot 2018-06-09 22.24.04

For starters, Joe throwing fights at the beginning of the show was the only real way that he could make money while fighting and not get caught. Even despite his manipulative behavior while managing him, Nanbu was in a way helping him by letting him fight while making sure he was ok. Without the money he got from fighting, JD could have ended up homeless, and possibly dead. It would not be the easiest surviving as an undocumented person living in a big city.

It is also important to remember that Nanbu’s training is a large part of the reason Joe was even able to get to Megalonia. It is fair to say that Joe had a lot of natural talent, even before they began training for Megalonia, but there was no way he was going to make it there withoug Nanbu’s connections or his ability as a coach. This is not to say that the relationship they have during this period is not manipulative or possesive, far from it. But, it is important to remeber that Nanbu is not just a bad person.

Again, none of this is to say that Nanbu is a great person, or even a good person, but like every character, and even just like with people, pointing out only the good or only the bad in someone will never give you a wholistic view of that individual. Doing good does not negate doing something bad, and vice versa.


What do you guys think of the Nanbu as a character? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

Does Anime’s Mainstream Success Lie in the Normal Feel of Mainstream Anime?

Whether we like it or not, anime is becoming more and more a mainstream phenomena. Shows like Attack on Titan and My Hero Academia are receiving significant attention, and Netflix, a streaming giant, has put 8 billion into releases this year, including the critically acclaimed Devilman. Fortunately or Unfortunately, that attention is not being split evenly across many of the new shows coming out.

Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan’s mainstream success can be attributed to its assimilations to currently popular trends. As many have argued, the Titans, the show’s main villains, so to speak, play on the same tropes that make Zombies in movies like World War Z do, and the show’s main lead, Eren Jaeger, fills the role of the aggressive male lead that fills most of popular stories.

My Hero Academia.jpg

My Hero Academia is no different. Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has created a hunger for hero filled stories among the popular conscious, and being one of the few Hero stories to reach the medium of anime, and the even less common achievement of being a hero story that is popular in Japan, it, of course, made it outside the anime community in the west. While on the surface My Hero Academia may seem to still be dominated by the culture of its origin, the group of super high school students known as class 1-A is still extremely reminiscent of Super Hero groups like The Avengers and Justice Leauge found in American comics.

Not often do shows considered classics by anime fans like FLCL or Gurenn Lagan escape the word of mouth inside the community. Even Ghibli films, which are undoubtedly anime and have reached lots of mainstream success, do not often get talked about as being apart of anime because their appeal is much broader.

Fooly Cooly

What anime’s recent mainstream success really comes down to is its ability to produce shows that are far more accessible to western audiences. Sure, the continued success of anime in the mainstream and a growing community has allowed for more niche shows like Kemono Friends and Umaru-chan to continue being made, but it is not these shows that are driving the medium more and more into the mainstream.

What Japan wants and what western audiences want are a lot different. The west wants the next Game of Thrones or Walking Dead, while Japan is more than happy just getting another season of Idol Master. The reality is that anime’s mainstream popularity has more do to with shows that appeal to western audiences than anything that is particularly unique to the medium of anime.


What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

Can We Trust Rei?

Rei Kiriyama from March Comes in Like a Lion has largely been defined by his inability to take action rather than anything significant he has done. He is passive, Indecisive, and has only recently in the show discovered that he wants to be good at Shogi, something that has alluded him for most of the show. However, Rei is also angry. He hates losing just as much as anyone else, he hates seeing the people he cares about hurt in any way, but he often times lets himself get consumed by that anger.

 

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*stare*

 

When Rei gets angry, much of the world around him becomes a blur. Time and Space become foreign concepts, as he only focuses on the things in front of him, be that Shogi or the Kawamoto sisters. He knows not a steadfastness nor calmness and has become prone to letting his emotions cloud his judgment.

During the show’s first season, this happened rarely if ever, and most of the time it was justified, like after his match in episode 11, where all of his frustrations came out and he roared on screen for a solid two minutes. He yelled into the sky about not knowing where to go, and what he should really be doing, and it was ok because it made sense.

However, with the advent of March Comes in Like a Lion’s second season came a transformed Rei Kiriyama, one who exhibits those fits of emotional rage much more often, and as we have learned from of the show’s minor characters, are not always justified.

Goto, the man dating his adopted sister, as the audience see’s through Rei’s eyes, is an asshole, in every sense of the word. He’s manipulative, does not care about anyone else, and is only using his sister for his twisted, selfish gain. At least, that is what Rei’s portrayal would have you think.

 

Screenshot 2018-01-13 10.55.10
*more stare*

 

As was shown in episode 24, Goto is not exactly having the easiest time. Yes, he is married, but his wife has a terrible illness and has been in a hospital for a while. Goto has spent all that time alone, worrying if that day will be her last. He does date Kyoko, but it is not as if he’s being manipulative. In fact, it is Kyoko who is actively trying to date him, possibly to escape her own feelings of loneliness.

That same episode shows that Goto rarely gets any sleep, and when Kyoko insists on staying at his apartment, she feels bad because she knows that he’s having a hard time, to the point where she starts crying while sleeping next to him.

A similar situation happened in episode nine with a character named Junkei. During a previous episode, Junkei had beaten Nikaidou during the Newcomers Tournament by default because Nikaidou passed out due to his illness. Part of this was attributed to Junkei’s more defensive Shogi playstyle. Enraged by his friend’s illness, Rei vowed to win the Newcomer’s Tournament.

However, It seems like Rei decided to unfairly take out some of that anger on Junkei, describing him as a monster waiting inside a cave. Junkei was just following one of his passions, Shogi and Pidgeon racing, and as a is shown in the following episode which depicts his backstory, not only is he just pursuing his passion, Rei and Nikaidou are two people Junkei admires for their ability to keep going no matter how hard it gets, something he admits he has struggled with.

 

Screenshot 2017-11-25 14.23.31
Kind of…

 

None of this is to say that Rei is a bad person. It is apparent based on how much he does to try and help his friends that that is not the case. What is clear though is that, like all humans, Rei is flawed. He is prone to the same reactions that everyone is, and because he always took the path of least resistance, he has never learned how to deal with strong emotions. What needs to be questioned is not his character, but rather the perception of the world that Rei has, as a black and white world where everything can be easily defined.

Anime Strike is Dead. It’s About Time.

Being able to stream anime legally and not having to deal with bad subs or low quality on illegal sites at a relatively low cost has been one of the better things to happen for the anime community in the last decade. Companies like Crunchyroll and Funimation have meant a lot more anime for a lot less. Netflix continues to have the problem of not knowing what a simulcast is outside of Japan, but I’ve already talked about that in a previous post. Anime Strike, however, has been even more of a thorn in the side of the community for the past year. But, after Amazon realized that they created a garbage product, Capitalism finally won out and they officially ended Anime Strike.

Allow me for one second to just dance on its grave, and bask in how terrible a service, and an idea, Anime Strike really was. They were taking what were arguably some of the best shows of each season, and hiding them behind a 15 dollar a month paywall. Even people who already had Prime video had to pay an extra 60 dollars a year just to use the service at all.

Now, with Anime Strike gone, all of the anime that were Anime Strike exclusives have been transferred over to their general prime video library. As IGN pointed out in an article, this includes things like Land of the Lustrous, Made in Abyss, and one that I’ve been interested in for a while, The Great Passage.

Some have tried to argue that the idea of having exclusives at all is not fair, but one, exclusives are what makes a service worth getting in the first place, and two, that was not even the problem. The problem comes when corporations who do not understand the medium they are getting into in the slightest come in an create an unnecessarily high paywall for completely unjustified reasons.

Anime Strikes end is a good thing for the community. It means that good shows will not have to be hidden behind greedy business practices and a lack of understanding on the part of Amazon.


What are your thoughts? Did anyone actually have Anime Strike? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and bye for now friendos!

Reflecting on the Works of Mamoru Hosoda

While Makoto Shinkai has been sprung to the forefront of the anime directing world the recent massive success of Your Name, my school winter break was filled with two of the works from a director that often gets brought up alongside Shinkai: Mamoru Hosoda.

The first of those works that I watched was The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, the story of a girl who, quite literally, leaps through time. One day she is cleaning up her classroom and hears a noise coming from the chemistry lab. She then gets scared by a shadowy figure, falls on her back, and before she knows it, is traveling through time.

The stories main lead Makoto is, of course, the center of all this. At first, she uses her newfound powers for benign things, like going back a day so that she could enjoy the pudding that her sister ate without her permission, but as the emotional stakes of the story increase, her priorities in how she uses the power change. This all builds up to the climax of the story which, I’ll be honest, I felt a bit lukewarm about.

On one hand, her friend also being a time traveler was a really great twist ending, and the fact that the writing drops hints of this early on. On the other hand, though, the motivations established for why he comes back are a bit too abstract for the movie’s feel. It tries to go in a more arthouse direction, but the rest of the movie kind of clashes with it.

The other movie I watched this break was The Boy and the Beast, the tale of an orphan boy who discovers an alternate world in which animals live in their own society after running away from home. This boy, Kyuta, is then taken in by Kametetsu, a warrior who has been training to take over the position of ruler of the land when the current ruler becomes reincarnated into a god.

While I might have enjoyed The Girl Who Leapt Through Time more, It’s fair to say that The Boy and the Beast is overall a better movie. It has a great eye for background and details in both the human world and the animal society, and its animation is also much more lively.

The Boy and the Beast also enjoys a much more developed set of characters in Kyuta and Kametetsu. Their interactions are always either funny or heartwarming, and the attention to detail in their character is some of the best from an anime movie in a while.

I am also glad to say that I have seen both of his other feature films, Summer Wars and Wolf Children, both of which are also worth a watch if you haven’t seen them.

Wolf Children

Summer Wars

After watching a most or all of both men’s discography, I can honestly say that I much prefer Mamoru Hosoda overall. While Shinkai may have a similar cinematic feel to Miyazaki, Hosoda’s films all usually have strong characters and themes revolving around family.

When watching a Hosoda film, I can feel the intimacy between the characters much more than in Shinkai’s works, whose films sometimes feel overproduced. Hosoda’s films are much better for feelings of loneliness, or worse depending on your reaction.

I also look forward to seeing his upcoming film Mirai to the Future, which, based on the trailer, looks like it could go a lot of different places. Much love for that man and his wonderful films.

P.S. probably gonna do a review of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time after I rewatch it cause I have a lot more to say about that movie.


Thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

The Best Part of Food Wars: Populism

Since starting Food Wars and admitting to my friend Sean that I had unnecessarily judged the show based on the infamous “Foodgasm” scenes I have come to really love the show for a couple of reasons. One, because basically everything in the show so far, as of episode 10, looks amazing, and because Soma as a character is a lot more likable than your average shonen protagonist.

Sure, if you were to base his character on just the first couple of episodes then you might be able to say that Soma is extremely stereotypical, but what has become apparent as I reach the end of the first cour of Food Wars’ first season is that Soma represents a lot more than just a shonen protagonist who is good at cooking.

The best thing about Food Wars so far isn’t that it’s about cooking, or that the school’s system of competition actually leads to some genuinely interesting ideas for food that I otherwise would not have known about, but rather that Soma is a populist hero rather than a normal one.

Totsuki, the world-renowned cooking academy, in many ways represents the interests and the ideas of the elite and the food establishment. Most of the students who go there are rich, and a lot of the people early on who we see as having a significant advantage over other students are the ones who have money.

Many of the students and faculty who attend the school also have an idea about cooking that only dishes that fit the mold of “fine cuisine” are fit for consumption. The show demonstrates this idea in the first episode when Soma sits down next to someone who is obviously rich and the two start talking. When Soma tells the student who is attempting to transfer to Totsuki that he works in a small diner, the student immediately kicks him off the bench and starts telling him how worthless he is.

 

Screenshot 2018-01-02 02.23.33
Yeeeet!

 

This sort of elitism and snobbery throughout the show so far has made Soma, without even taking into account his own personality, a much more relatable character, but what makes Soma even more enjoyable is a character is the way he embraces his populist ideals.

Being a member of the elite of the food world is never something Soma strives for. All Soma wants is to surpass his dad in skill, and to return to Yukihira, their restaurant, and cook for people. He has taken pride in his cooking style and the unique mix of culture he brings to the table.

Food is food, and no matter what a person chooses to eat they should not be shamed for liking it. Soma’s brand of cooking populism is something I can one-hundred percent get behind. Not only does it make a great underdog story, but it adds a unique dimension to Soma’s character that would not be present otherwise.


How do you feel about Food Wars? Is Soma’s character good? Bad? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!