Where do we see ourselves as we watch anime?
Owarimonogatari & the Courage of Choice
We are always starting down our pasts when we look to our futures. There is no past that vanishes once it becomes a memory—stories last forever until forgotten, and the stories we don’t forget will last forever. Swallow down your memory, reject a past. An end, a beginning.
All you can do is make the choice to move forward.
I Could Never Stop Time, nor Could I Hold to Its Passing: Reflections on Glasslip
It’s never explicitly stated, but at the end of Glasslip, at the conclusion to a brief and fitful summer, Kakeru Okikua leaves town to continue accompanying his famous piano mother as she tours the world… just as he has always done. Behind him, things have changed forever in the group of friends. It’s a momentary glimmer, but the effects will live on long after the sparkle has faded.
Glasslip is a reflection on the nature of time. It is about the impermanence of life, about the transience of our temporal existences, about the significance of these fleeting events of the past we call memory.
Snapshot of a Human: Reflections on Death Parade
Could you be an arbiter?
“Where am I? Who am I?”
“You’re an arbiter, made to judge the souls of human beings. The game you will use? One known as life, capable of revealing the greatest darknesses and greatest glories of the human spirit.”
Allow me to suggest that we all possess, in varying degrees, a desire to be an arbiter of the people who surround us. That there is an inhuman, unsympathizing Decim within each of us who seeks to judge—fairly or not—on the basis of our unavoidably limited experiences with other individuals. Yet, fortunately, we all also possess the capacity to emulate Chiyuki and her desire to reach out and understand the humans who are at once laughably simple and impossibly complex.
Akame ga Kill: A Reflection on the Futility of Violence?
So, I’ve been watching Akame ga Kill for a while now and I’m starting to wonder if there’s actually more to this show than just extreme violence, no censorship, and an infatuation with grisly deaths. Is it, perhaps, a reflection on the futility of violence as a solution or as a method for change disguising itself as a cheap shounen thrill fest?
I’m well aware that on the surface, this seems an absurd suggestion—I myself, after the first episode, felt that Akame ga Kill did nothing less than glorify bloodshed by “justifying” it through the immorality of those who were being killed. 17 episodes and a few heartbreaks later, I’ve realized that, for all the characters who have died and who have been introduced and died, Akame ga Kill, Night Raid, and the Jaegers are no closer to any sort of resolution to their conflict than they were at the beginning of the story.
AKB0048 First Stage: Dreams, Performance & the Machine
I’ve always had mixed feelings about Japan’s idol industry, and AKB0048 First Stage [Satelight, 2012] is kind of the perfect review of everything I find enchanting about the system and everything I find terrifying and troubling about it. Like many anime shows that heavily feature music, I seriously believe in the unitive and uplifting abilities of music and, perhaps even more than just music itself, performance. Having been a part of a show choir for three years in high school and one year in college, the similarities between idol performances and show choir performances have always struck me. (Don’t know what show choir is? Here’s a video of a nationally renowned high school show choir from California.)
So, the trouble comes when I have to compare the affection for the past and resonance with my own experience generated by these shows to the dark side of the industry such shows sometimes tackle, but often gloss over. But before that, have some tunes!
Gundam Build Fighters: When Toys Come to Life
Gundam Build Fighters [Sunrise, 2013], as a glorified toy commercial, stands at the fascinating intersection between art and commercialism. As most involved in the anime fandom know, these foreign cartoons are almost always little more than an advertisement for their source material, and Gundam Build Fighters has the slightly more unique distinction among them by being an ad for model robots rather than an narrative product.
This in mind, it is all the more marvelous that Gundam Build Fighters is simultaneously a triumph of creative narrative entertainment and intelligent advertising—but more than that, it’s a beautiful affirmation of the importance of fun, play, and sheer joy. How incredibly ironic that such a blatantly commercial enterprise should leave us with the final message that to sacrifice the love of something in the pursuit of material success is the worst kind of destruction that can be inflicted on our souls.