2014: Year in Retrospect
I’m joking, of course. While I haven’t actually watched enough anime this year to string together a top 10 anime list, I did enjoy the stuff I got around to watching. I also feel that this was a productive year for me as an anime fan and for the aniblogsphere in general.
Time for the highlights!
First off, anime.
Nisekoi is the gift that keeps on pandering.
I have a strange sort of fascination with Nisekoi. It features no innovations on the harem romcom formula whatsoever, and yet unlike so many of its brethren, it is a mainstream hit published in Weekly Shonen Jump. Even the Pentagon is embroiled in Nisekoi Best Girl disputes! What is your secret for success, Naoshi Komi? Please, enlighten me!
I think Nisekoi is “anti-romance“, in a way, which could partly explain why it succeeds as a comedy. The fact that the shipping will never resolved is a running gag at this point. It aggravates me, but in just the right way that I keep coming back to it. To put it in Marow’s words, Nisekoi is “a giant tease of fun“. (Count me in for season 2!)
Oh, and Onodera sucks.
Kill la Kill
In the end, Trigger did not save anime. The show was fun and threw together a bunch of clever visual gags and references to Western and Japanese pop culture, but didn’t tie its interesting elements together tightly enough to spin a competent narrative. In the end, I was only really watching Kill la Kill for two things: the Gamagoori x Mako shipping and the super intellectual blog analyses (this one’s undoubtedly the best). Kill la Kill made the fandom’s creative juices run high and I’m glad it exists. While the internet arguments around it were admittedly very dumb, this was one of the occasions where the fandom greatly improved my experience with the show itself.
No Game No Life
No Game No Life is probably the show I will remember most from 2014. It’s the quintessential male nerd power fantasy, but presented with so much energy and gusto it’s easy to get swept up in it. And that’s also the reason why it makes me uneasy.
I still haven’t resolved my conflicted feelings over No Game No Life. It’s certainly not as clever as it thinks it is, and the show’s sexism feels far more malicious than the garden-variety harems. Another thing that makes it different from other ridiculous nerd fantasies is the show’s tight plotting. It lacks the clumsy earnestness I enjoy about self-indulgent narratives.
No Game No Life made me realise that the one thing I can’t take seriously is people who take games too seriously. This show furiously masturbates to the idea of the PERFECT GAMER. I’m pretty sure you’re not meant to see Sora and Shiro as nice people, but at the same time, you’re supposed to idealise certain parts of them. They’re misunderstood geniuses – socially awkward and morally twisted, but enlightened in other ways. Steph represents the endearing idiots who just don’t get games and must be educated via humiliation. (Full disclosure: I’m a Steph.)
There’s no real critique about this worldview, only a few self-deprecating jokes – as if that justifies the toxic attitude and self-importance about
I mean, I can sort of appreciate the “life is a game and we should all strive to have fun” philosophy this show is going for, but it romanticises all the worst gamer/otaku stereotypes while it’s at it. The weird thing is, I think I would have loved the show whole-heartedly if I had watched it even a year ago. I’m the audience it’s pandering to.
Out of the measly number of titles I finished this year, Barakamon was my favourite. My thoughts haven’t changed since I wrote this personal post about it.
Barakamon was pure joy to watch. I felt like I needed this show, especially because I was feeling very stressed out about life at the time I was watching it. Handa’s struggles with his ego hit very close to home. While the ending of the anime was perhaps a little too rosy and sweet, I honestly appreciated the message this story was getting at.
Aldnoah.Zero was a series that started off as a fairly SRS BSNS war drama and ended up devolving into a kinky NTR fanfic with torture porn for spice.
I loved Aldnoah.Zero. I really can’t tell you why. I spent hours chuckling over Reddit and 4chan threads. As the story got more and more absurd, the memes became more and more hilarious. I wonder if this is what it must have been like to be in the anime community when Code Geass R2 was airing. A/Z is nowhere near as good as Code Geass, but both are buckets of fun.
I’m not quite sure how I have been managing to survive without A/Z in my life for the last couple of months. I started writing dumb fanfiction the other day, if that helps. HERE IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE FIRST CHAPTER LOL.
Other noteworthy shows: Mushishi, Hunter x Hunter and Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. I never got around to watching Ping Pong the Animation, but since others bloggers have spoken so highly of it, that’s first on my to-watch list after Honey and Clover and Welcome to the NHK!
Now for some personal stuff.
In 2014, I translated three light novels: Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko volume 1 and Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru volumes 2+3. This kept me extremely busy (and explains why I had no time for anime). As tedious and frustrating as the translation process is, I’ve ultimately found it very worthwhile. My Japanese has improved in leaps and bounds, and I am even considering writing my thesis next year on light novel fan translations.
Although I only just finished my undergraduate degree this year, my interest in anime and internet subculture has already played a heavy part in my academic career so far. One of my essays about K-pop and internet media was shortlisted for my university’s Best Communications and Media Third Year Essay for 2014. I wrote a blog post based on concepts from this essay identifying links between K-pop and anime fandom.
2014 was also the year I delved into progressive politics, with particular focus on feminism, sexuality and otaku culture. This was also the year #gamergate happened, a shitstorm that involved MUCH ETHICS and MANY JOURNALISMS. One of my more controversial posts criticised Random Curiosity for failing to address the harassment one of the writers was receiving. Internet and geek culture are two things I feel very passionately about, and there is no doubt I will return to these subjects in the new year.
All in all, it seems I spent a good deal more time writing about anime than actually watching it. I also posted less than last year. I’m okay with that, though. Though this is ostensibly an anime blog, I think it touches on a bunch of different topics that interest me a lot. It’s a credit to the depth of the anime medium that it can be appreciated from so many different angles. There is a big, big world outside of anime, and I think reaching out to other people and learning new things can only enrich your life.
To finish up, here’s a tentative list of posts that I intend to publish early next year:
- A collaboration post with Zeroreq011 about Inou Battle.
- Reviews of Japanese novellas recently published in English.
- Dumb Aldnoah.Zero fanfiction.
- An essay about queer representation in Revolutionary Girl Utena.
- Links to the subbed version of the Oregairu Drama CD.
- Advice on how to write better fanfiction.
- Something about maid cafes.
- A translation critique of Yen Press’s Sword Art Online volume 1.
I hope you enjoyed my posts this year and that you’ll stick around for 2015. I hope you have a Great New Year! Until next time, ciao!
Posted on December 31, 2014, in Reviews and Impressions and tagged aldnoah zero, barakamon, code geass, gekkan shoujo nozaki-kun, hentai ouji to warawanai neko, honey and clover, hunter x hunter, inou battle, kill la kill, me and my boring life, mushishi, nisekoi, no game no life, ping pong the animation, revolutionary girl utena, sword art online, welcome to the nhk, yahari ore no seishun love come wa machigatteiru. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.