As an art, adaptation is a lot like translation—you can’t expect an adaptation to be exactly the same as its source material. Novels can be great at showing introspection and getting into the characters’ heads, while animation has to rely on visual shortcuts in order to get the same point across. Just because an adaptation omits something from the novel doesn’t mean it’s worse off for it. I find it incredibly fascinating to examine the choices anime directors make in order to bring a story to life through a visual medium.
With that preamble out of the way, let’s kick off the first issue by looking at a popular light-novel-turned-anime from 2014: No Game No Life! (This article contains light spoilers for the first four episodes, so be warned.)
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’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.
They’re just silly cartoon characters. For God’s sake, they probably don’t even talk your language. And yet somehow, you feel a quasi-spiritual kinship with a fictional character. DOESN’T ANYONE UNDERSTAND THESE FEELS???
To entice you to read this post, here is a picture of two guys kissing from one of my favourite shows.