I don’t know what I’m looking for when I watch anime. Do I want something with good animation? Do I want something to relax to? Do I want a thrilling story? I don’t know. I don’t have any specific preferences.
Because of that, I can’t really explain my anime taste to anyone. I joke a lot about liking harems and light novel adaptations and whatnot, but when it comes to my absolute favourites, I don’t know how to describe them. Maybe it’s because they don’t fit easily into a single genre, or perhaps it’s because I can’t think of a particular reason for why they’ve captured my heart.
Despite not being able to describe my tastes, however, I am certain of one thing: my taste has changed over the years.
(This post might be about porn, but it is completely SFW, I promise. No lewd links or images here! If you want porn, go look it up yourself.)
Episode 3 of Re: Zero introduces a character who is, quite literally, a white knight. Reinhard van Astrea is a member of the Royal Guard and is apparently so powerful and righteous that he’s known as the Sword Saint. He is also, incidentally, a minor character.
As anyone watching Re: Zero would be aware, the character with the white knight complex is actually Subaru, a hikikomori who is summoned from modern Japan, armed with only a cell phone and his wits. If Reinhard is supposed to represent the unattainable white knight ideal, then Subaru is the white knight whom the audience can relate to, a hapless young man who struggles through life (and multiple deaths) in the best way he can manage. So far in the story, he is motivated almost exclusively by his desire to save the girls he meets from death: initially the heroine Emilia, and later the twin maids Rem and Ram.
We’re not told much else about Subaru (to the detriment of the storytelling, frankly), but we’re expected to immediately understand and accept his obsessive desire to save these girls he barely knows. Why?
Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There was bound to be controversial anime. Not only is the author of the original Gate web novel, Takumi Yanai, a former member of the JSDF, the JSDF uses Gate characters on their recruitment posters. It is no surprise that from its very first episode, Gate has attracted criticism for its right-wing and nationalistic overtones. Even The Diplomat Magazine weighed in on the issue, describing Gate as one of many recent “military moe” series to use cute girls to sell JSDF propaganda. 
I found it surprising that Gate’s politics would garner so much debate on places like Reddit. It’s nice to see that so many Western anime fans are familiar with the debates around Japan’s wartime atrocities. On the other hand, Japanese perspectives on the anime are being ignored here, which is ironic considering that the whole point of these discussions is to shed light on the Japanese cultural and political context.
I wrote this post in an attempt to address the imbalance somewhat. This isn’t a rigorous study or anything, nor should you consider the excerpts I’ve translated a representative sample, but it should give you an idea of how some online commentators have been approaching the issues. I also decided to include some Korean perspectives as well, simply because a good deal of the Japanese commentary on Gate has been in reaction to what foreigners (mainly Koreans) have said. However, bear in mind that I can’t read Korean, so I am really just reporting on the Korean reactions that have been translated into Japanese.
tldr; 2ch users angrily insist that Gate is “just an anime” and that Koreans and leftists should stop being offended. Blog reactions have been more varied and nuanced.
I’ve talked about translation quite a few times already on this blog (see here, here and here), but I thought it would be a good idea to talk specifically about the theory behind translation – and why you in particular, as an anime fan, should give a crap.
This will be a series of posts that covers a major translation theory/debate every week with a key focus on how it applies to anime and its fandom. I’m writing this for a non-specialist, non-academic audience, so I’ll try not to sound too technical or dry. Translators might find some of this stuff relevant to their craft, but this isn’t a guide on how to translate.
Hopefully, after reading a couple of these posts, you’ll have a more informed opinion on key fandom issues such as fansubbing, localisation, faithfulness, and, of course, DUBS VERSUS SUBS.
But before we get started, we need to ask ourselves the obvious question.
Happy Valentine’s Day/Singles Awareness Day, my readers! <3 Froggy
Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a heartwarming and romantic day, but anyone with exposure to reality knows that’s not how it works for most people on most years, even when you are in a relationship. When it comes to Valentine’s Day, anime stays true to its general disregard for reality and how relationships work. Most Valentine’s Day-themed episodes are excuses for harem and romcom antics and a bit of cute fluff. As much as I love that stuff, not much of it tends to stand out.
But some Valentine’s Day episodes are really special to me. Some of them really do understand how it feels to be an awkward teenager with a crush. So to celebrate the occasion, here is a quick list of my favourite Valentine’s Day episodes.
Note: There are spoilers for the series listed in this post, so be warned.
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!
Aldnoah. Zero‘s a funny anime for me. Although I was only ever capable of taking the narrative half-seriously at best (as my dumb shipping posts should attest), I actually did find the themes interesting on paper. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I found how others reacted to these themes interesting. After watching A.Z and reading the reactions on Twitter, Reddit and MAL, two questions have remained on my mind ever since: firstly, what does it mean to be rational? And secondly, is rationality an ideal worth pursuing?
I’ve been thinking about Bobduh’s essay lately. Despite the trollbait title, it actually does provide a nuanced argument about how people consume media – at least as far as one’s personal politics goes. For those who haven’t read it, the basic argument is as follows: a little self-scrutiny goes a long way. Thinking hard about why you like certain things is ultimately a more fruitful avenue of discussion than hiding behind self-defence measures, like claiming “IT’S JUST FICTION” or assuming everything you like is “SODEEP”.
What struck me as most interesting is this idea that all media propagates messages, whether consciously or not, along with Bobduh’s claim that a message unexamined is a message believed. The latter is not entirely true in the strictest sense – not paying attention to the racist overtones in, say, H.P. Lovecraft’s works doesn’t automatically mean you’re a racist. If someone posed the question to you whether you condoned racism or not, I like to think you’d say no if you consider yourself as a decent person. But in not engaging with active criticism, you’re passively endorsing values you don’t agree with, or at least letting them go unchallenged.
I think this is particularly important in anime fandom, especially considering the realities of Japanese nationalism and soft power. In this post, I’m going to build on Bobduh’s argument that you should be engaging in serious critique rather than using your media solely to validate yourself, and I’m going to apply that to the broader political context behind anime’s production and consumption. I think it becomes easier to seriously examine your own personal politics when you zoom out and explore the macro-politics. (Because these are big, complex issues, don’t take my post as anything more than an oversimplification. The idea is just to get you thinking about how the personal and the political interact.)
Basically, your taste is bad and so are you and so is Japan and so is the rest of the world.