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In the span of a few short months, Makoto Shinkai’s latest anime film, your name., has become one of the top-grossing films in Japan of all time, surpassing even Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle. The film is nothing less than a cultural phenomenon at this point, tapping deep into the anxieties of a post-Fukushima Japan while telling an emotional love story. Personally, I think it’s great, but I won’t be talking about the film itself in this article. The question I’m interested in here is one that interests many of us and yet involves no spoilers—how does your name. fare overseas?
I’ll be moving to Japan next month. I haven’t decided how long I’ll be staying yet, but for now I’ll be starting a new job in Tokyo. If you’re in the area and want to meet up, feel free to send me a message.
I’ve never understood the hipster mentality. While it’s true that not all popular things are good, I don’t see the point of getting mad about the duds or attacking the fans for being mindless sheeple or whatever. Take Sword Art Online, for instance. This series has a laundry list of flaws but the Youtube reviews in particular blow them way out of proportion. What is it about SAO that inspires so much ire? I have no idea, since its narrative flaws exist in just about every mediocre anime ever. Even if I disliked the series, it’s just not worth the energy to rant about.
The above paragraph is fairly moot since I actually like SAO, and I wrote multiple articles this month apologising for it. On Anime News Network, I wrote a piece on Reki Kawahara’s career, arguing that he’s improved as an author over the years and that SAO is mostly the product of his amateur web novel author days. On Crunchyroll, I praised SAO‘s visuals and pointed out that the anime is a good adaptation of the novels, all things said and done.
All this SAO talk was in anticipation of the Ordinal Scale movie. I was particularly looking forward to it because I got the opportunity to write interview questions for the creators, and I knew beforehand just how much love and hard work had been poured into it. The film was a pure fanservice from start to finish, but let’s not interpret that in a negative light. I think iblessall put it best in his review of the movie:
…it was delightful to see Ordinal Scale speaking a language only those who care about this franchise—warts and all—can understand. In the moment when we see Starburst Stream unleashed once again or Yuuki’s spirit embracing Asuna as the Mother’s Rosario Sword Skill appears in a burst of purple lights, the film clearly, unavoidably asks but one thing of its audience: “Remember. Because if you remember how you felt when you watched Sword Art Online, this is for you.”
I’m sure that this film has its fair share of detractors, but Ordinal Scale was unquestioningly Sword Art Online at its best (to me, at least). Can we finally agree that SAO has its legitimate good points?
These monthly update posts are starting to get repetitive. I keep complaining about how I haven’t been doing much blogging lately and coming up with vapid excuses for my lack of activity. So I figured I might as well fess up now and admit that I’ve turned into a riajuu pig lately.
Somehow, after all these years of only loving my waifus, I have become interested in a 3D person. This month, I have been engaging heavily in filthy, degenerate behaviour. In other words, going on dates. Whenever I think about what I have become, I think that I should explode.
Long story short, I haven’t been doing much writing lately.
In October 2016, a friend of mine launched a website called Anime Feminist. I’m really surprised at how well it’s been doing so far. Although I’m not actively involved with creating content, I’m close enough to the action to see just how hard the staff has been working to keep things going. It’s been a real privilege to see the results of their work, and I hope that the site meets all its funding goals in 2017.
I’ve already talked about my motives for supporting Anime Feminist elsewhere, but I do want to talk for a bit about how I first became friends with the site’s editor-in-chief, Amelia Cook. Looking back, it was a rather unlikely friendship….
Today’s post will be short because as the title subtly implies, I’m somewhat pressed for time.
2016 has been a crazy year in world politics, to put it lightly. Anti-globalist sentiments and nativism aren’t anything new in the scheme of things, but they were big factors behind some of the major political decisions of this year. Yet in spite of all the heightened anxiety about immigration and foreign trade, globalisation continues to truck on with no sign of stopping.
The anime industry is becoming more international. In 2016, we got a US-Japan anime collaboration in the form of the SHELTER music video, and we also got to see Kimi no Na wa break records around the world. And these are just the most obvious things that happened this year. These days, more and more foreigners are working in Japan’s anime industry (see: Thomas Romain’s cool website for aspiring French animators), and online streaming is getting bigger around the world. It’s never been a more exciting time to be an international anime fan.
Sure, the world might be fucked in the long term, but at least I’ll be watching good anime until the apocalypse…
Earlier today, I started a new feature series at Crunchyroll called Novel vs Anime. Basically, I compare novels to their anime adaptations, commenting on things like prose, art style, adaptation decisions and so on. My plan is to combine my love of Japanese novels with my appreciation of the animation side of anime. In short, I’m trying not to be that guy whose sole contribution to the discussion is “the source material is so much better!”
My first article was on No Game No Life, a show from 2014 which has become relevant again because of the upcoming movie announcement. Writing this article made me realise how hard Atsuko Ishizuka was carrying this series. If she’s not directing the film, I will boycott it aggressively. If you haven’t seen No Game No Life, you should at least check out the first episode, which Ishizuka directed and storyboarded herself. I’m still ambivalent about the series as a whole (which my blog posts from 2014 may attest to), but I enjoyed revisiting it.
It takes me time to read a novel series and compare it to its corresponding anime adaptation, so I don’t know how regularly I’ll be able to write these articles. (I’m thinking once every two weeks or so?) But it’s still something I really want to do for Crunchyroll. If all goes well, I can do these features alongside my weekly Found in Translation articles.
In the meantime, I’d love to get some feedback for the “Novel vs Anime” feature. What sort of content do you want to see? What sort of series would you like to see covered? If you’d like to request a specific series, please fill in this form.
Also, please note that for articles published on Crunchyroll, I can only cover series that are available on Crunchyroll and which I can access legally in Australia. But I will consider writing about interesting novels for my blog too, so feel free to leave a comment here about what you’re interested in.
In any case, thanks for all your help and support! I’ll be very busy writing things this week, so watch this space for more news and developments. Bye for now!
Despite not being much of a fan of those “cute girls doing cute things” shows, I did like this one. It captured a specific, ephemeral moment in time with seemingly effortless grace. “Finding the magic in the everyday” is a recurring theme in Naoko Yamada’s work, and this was definitely on display with K-ON!.
However, unlike many viewers, I didn’t cry when I watched the ending of K-ON!. I wasn’t like Azusa, who didn’t want those blissful high school days to end. I suppose my attitude was more like that of the four seniors, who had appreciated their lives at high school to the fullest but were now looking forward to what the future would bring. Even though I have no idea where I’ll be in a year’s time, the future has stopped feeling scary.
I’m graduating from university tomorrow, and I don’t have any regrets.