Okay, so as I mentioned in my last post, I recently watched Noragami. Like many other anime series aimed at teenagers, Noragami is an urban fantasy, one that imbues old myths and traditions (in this case, Shinto gods) with a sense of hipness and adventure. You can see this reflected in the character designs, music and aesthetics, but the overall plot invokes this theme as well. The protagonist is a stray god (or Kami) who strives not to be forgotten by humans, and the heroine is an ordinary high school girl who gradually comes to appreciate the Kami.
Once you dig past all the flashy battles and shonen shenanigans, Noragami boils down to a rather universal dilemma: In this (post)modern world, how do we humans find fulfillment? How do we tell right from wrong? Like Haibane Renmei, which I discussed not too long ago, Noragami is about spirituality, but it isn’t necessarily about religion in the organised sense. Rather, it’s a work of pastiche. That’s why the world it depicts comes across as both familiar and strange, especially to Western eyes.
Other bloggers have dissected a great deal about Noragami through a Christian lens. Once again, I’ll point you to the good folks at Beneath the Tangles for various discussions and links. What I want to talk about in this post is the act of pastiche. How does pop culture (in this case, anime) reinterpret religious motifs? To what end?
Before I can discuss those questions in detail, we need to take a not-so-brief detour and talk about religion itself.
If I were a Magical Boy ©, I would like to be a really kawaii dude, not like those lame dorks in Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!.
Because Froggy is away in the Philippines, twelve guest writers will be blogging about anime and/or Christmas. Today’s guest writer is Monobear from Danganronpa, a sadistic bear and the principal of Hope’s Academy.
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the TV series ending of Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
One of the things that’s always escaped me is what Japanese people think of Japanese anime. Looking at the sales figures provides you with some measure of an average Japanese anime fan’s taste, but what about their first-hand reactions? People generally know about 2ch, but what about the Japanese aniblogsphere? Do they have a comparable blogging culture to ours, with there being a general (though somewhat skewed) perception of “blogger = elitist/critic/hipster/etc.”?
As of now, I’ve only just skimmed the surface of the Japanese aniblogsphere, but the early returns suggest to me that their blogsphere has evolved in an entirely different way from ours. English aniblogging is a niche over here, with a small number of bloggers holding a large amount of sway over a relatively closed community. The Japanese blogsphere, meanwhile, is huge. Compare the scale of their aniblog directory to Anime Nano and you’ll see that blogging for them is a rather established thing. The blogs are even being ranked in terms of some kind of arbitrary scale that I have not quite worked out yet.
Naturally, this suggests that the Japanese blogsphere is more likely to represent the mainstream Japanese fan’s opinion than that of a “snob”.
In this sporadic series of posts, I’ll introduce you to a Japanese aniblogger’s website, tell you about their tastes from what they’ve written about themselves and then translate one post which I feel is representative of their writing style.
First up: Uozanankyoku from To Love Ru Love. As you might be able to guess, he likes To Love-Ru.
There you go, you can learn something new every day.
One of the most common complaints critics have about anime is that they pander to the otaku. Because fanservice and stock anime characters do nothing to further the plot or the themes of the narrative, this is generally perceived as an example of poor storytelling.
My intention with this post is to challenge this assumption.