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Author Archives: Frog-kun

Revisiting Re:ZERO: Some Observations in Retrospect

re-zero-yay

Re:ZERO was one of my favourite anime series of 2016. I remember being kind of skeptical about the series at first since it seemed like your cookie cutter isekai anime, but I ended up loving it by the end. It had some interesting things to say about the hero’s masculinity, and plus it had some of the most memorable side characters I’ve seen in this subgenre.

Now that the Memory Snow OVA is finally just around the corner, I found myself revisiting Re:ZERO and falling in love with it all over again. I read the first two volumes of the short story collection (短編集), which focus on the slice of life antics of Subaru and co. that occur between episodes 11 and 12, and was surprised at how much I liked it. I thought that most of my fondness for this series comes from the side characters, worldbuilding and the harrowing adventures, but somewhere along the line, Subaru and his friends have grown on me. At least, I wasn’t bored reading two volumes worth of stories about them where nothing much happens.

I’m not going to bother summarising what happens in the stories themselves, as those details don’t matter much to me. Some other dedicated fans have probably already summarised all the books anyway. What I am going to do is list some things I thought about as I was revisiting this series for the first time in two years. Spoilers for the anime to follow.

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The Witch of Tata: Social Commentary Through Isekai

Tata

The Witch of Tata (タタの魔法使い) by U Pa is one of the most interesting isekai light novels I’ve ever read. I’ve mentioned it before as one of the better examples of its genre, but I want to go into more detail about what makes these books so interesting now that the second volume has hit Japanese bookstores.

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August 2018 Update: Comiket Sucks

Comiket1

It is pretty interesting to see how Comiket has been mythologised, both inside and outside Japan. Just like Akihabara, the electric town, Comiket has become a symbol for the Otaku Lifestyle. Every year, hundreds of thousands of anime fans from around the world gather at Tokyo Big Sight to get a taste of this time-honored otaku tradition.

Many come away disappointed.

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How a Not-So-Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom: On Privilege and Idealism

I think about privilege a lot. It’s something that I suspect a lot of children of immigrant parents have to think about, especially when they grow up listening to stories of their family’s poverty. “We worked so hard so that you could live well!” my mother has often told me. “Appreciate the sacrifices we made for you!”

As a result of these constant reminders, I’ve never doubted for a moment that I’m privileged for growing up in Australia. But it has been a lot harder for me to figure out exactly how my privilege affects my life, besides an abstract notion of “having more food and money.” The thing about privilege is that its hand is mostly invisible, and so even if we can detect some of the benefits, we often don’t notice how it seeps into our very way of thinking.

These days, I think of privilege like this: it’s a cushion that gives you less things to take individual responsibility for. Like how “male privilege” insulates men from having to think about protecting themselves from sexual harassment in public places, or how “white privilege” stops white people from having to worry about being stopped by the police just because of their appearance, the privilege of growing up in a developed nation absolves us from making decisions about our health, education and finances that we’d struggle to navigate if left to our own devices. We benefit from society’s collective knowledge, even when we understand very little of it.

The worst thing a privileged person can do is pretend that the invisible cushion is the result of their own handiwork.

realist hero

That’s what I think about when I read How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom. It’s the kind of story you’ve probably seen before, about a person from the modern world going back in time or into a fantasy world and advancing their societies using modern knowledge. Somehow, this average shmuck has all the specialist knowledge and administrative expertise to enact sweeping social and economic reforms to immediate success. We all know that things aren’t so simple, but it’s a thought experiment we like to entertain because a part of us thinks that we’re cleverer than the people of long ago.

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June 2018 Update: Oops, I burnt out on light novels so I’m now going to talk about video games instead

Detective Pikachu

So in my last blog update post, I said something about how “light novels are cooler than anime”.

Turns out light novels are actually bad.

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May 2018 Update: I’m A Twenty-Something Year Old Anime Journalist, But I’m Being Swamped By Light Novels Because They’re Cooler Than Anime

llenn

Hello, friends! I just got back from a week-long trip to the Philippines and am typing this blog post in a state of bone-dead exhaustion. So I’ll keep this month’s update brief.

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Mari Okada’s Biography is NOW Available in English + An Exclusive Interview!

anthem-of-the-heart-2

It’s finally out!

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I Translated Mari Okada’s Biography

Hi all!

I’m thrilled to announce that Mari Okada’s biography From Truant to Anime Screenwriter: My Path to “Anohana” and “The Anthem of the Heart” will be getting an English e-book release on May 4, published by J-Novel Club. You can read a free preview of the book’s prologue at J-Novel Club’s website, and you can pre-order the book from Amazon here.

okadabio_cover_400

If you’re a subscriber to J-Novel Club and you pre-order the premium ebook, you’ll enter the draw to win a shikishi signed by Mari Okada herself.

I’m biased – I’m keen on promoting this book because I translated it myself. Hopefully if this sort of book sells well, it could pave the way for more English translations of books about anime creators. So if this sort of thing interests you, please do buy the book!

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February 2018 Update: Time For a Change

ai

Moving house is a pain in the butt. This is true no matter which country you’re in. This month, I moved house to west Tokyo. I really like where I’m living now because I’m within cycling distance of most of the anime studios in Tokyo. But moving to a new house was actually way more stressful for me than moving to Japan in the first place, mainly because it was my first time going through a Japanese real estate agent, buying my own furniture and setting up gas and electricity and whatnot. So in a way, this past month has felt like I’m finally moving into Japan for real.

I also happened to meet my fellow ANN Tokyo Correspondent for the first time last January, and this was the first month where we ate out together after going to an assignment. Since ANN is an international organisation where most of its members work remotely, I don’t often experience that feeling of socialising with my colleagues. My life has been all over the place in these past few months, but now I’m starting to feel like I’m settling into my job. It’s a nice feeling.

At the same time, I think it’s time for a change.

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January 2018 Update: Ethics in Anime Journalism

violet evergarden

People like to complain about journalists a lot. Readers routinely vent their frustration at Anime News Network for whatever reason. For example, the latest This Week in Anime column had a vocal minority of people accusing the website for being “insulting and derogatory” because the writers used the word “heteronormative” in an opinion piece.

Of course, there is more to ethics in journalism than picking the “right” side in the culture wars. So I would like to dedicate today’s blog post to some of the ethical concerns I deal with as an anime journalist on a day to day basis.

Any opinions expressed here are my own and don’t reflect the stance of Anime News Network or Crunchyroll.

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