Friday, October 16

Bakemonogatari / 化物語 receipe of success?

According to sources, Bakemonogatari, the relatively unknown and under-the-radar series when it started took the fandom by storm as the DVD and Blu Ray sales of 1st volume shown. 56,000 is a very good figure, beating even moelicious, overhyped K-On! by wide margin.

For Japanese anime industry standard it is a fantastic figure given it is not very hyped up like K-On! or have illustrious predecessors like Macross Frontier. What more, Shaft is often running short of animators (they still advertising for qualified animators) so a lot scenes were minimized or replaced with stock footage, turning it into glorified drama radio. I even read rumors of Shaft Studio often racing against deadline all the time due to lack of manpower.

The series also use a lot of fast cuts to minimize action and some episodes have more talking heads than anything else. What worked for them is judicious use of all anime female trope they can muster and one straight talker in Hitagi Senjougahara who seens to be antithesis of what is considered as standard moe label. She is easily the most popular female character after Mio from K-On!. Not to mention, Akiyuki Shinbo, master of minimalist and creative camera angles is helming the series. If anyone looked into his filmography, one will struck by how many unusual anime series he made like Starship Yamamoto Yoko or Soul Eater. However sometimes he can overboard like looping jokes of nose bleed seen in Mariaholic. I often remarked on how well he seems to be doing with minimal approach, he often let the audience to fill in the blanks instead of telling the audience the entirety of the story he presented. And it worked beautifully in some series like Bakemonogatari.

With all these stacked up against the success, they managed to strike gold. Remarkable.

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Cosmology of Miyazaki Movies Pt 3

Metal is not featured in any noteworthy manner in Totoro but it is the centerpiece of story that drives the story forward in Mononoke Hime. However, in Totoro, the bath bucket is made of metal so it is maybe an analogy of security that holds family together as Kusakabe family minus one was having a good time in hot water bath. As noted above, the single musket ball that embedded into pig god is the one that turn into raging, angry demon that lay curse on Ashitaka which later on prompted him to seek cure with answers from place that produces these musket balls. Metal also shown as main component of weapons used in the movie, arquebuses, swords, armour, lances and weapons in general. It is main element of death and destruction with other 4 elements above which gives Mononoke Hime a bleak and gloomy atmosphere since it is about incoming war between 2 forces that have lost patience with each other as man in search of advancement, encroach steadily into the sacred forest that inhabited by these unforgiving spiritual entities. The only positive force that used as comic relief somehow is the Kodamas, little white spirits that made chime noises in the forest. However, when Shisigami was shot and subsequently went into rampage looking for its head, the Kodamas are the first and most numerous victim; showing the death of innocence in face of war brewing around them. Metal was also used in pots, factory tools when the townsfolk loyal to Lady Eboshi in manufacturing the weapons, death begets death as these connections meant to show.

Earth is a maternalistic symbol that grows thing, a giver of harvest that enables life to start. In Totoro, this aspect is not really touched much but a significant scene where Satsuki found King Totoro sleeping is in the small burrow in the ground. Perhaps it is analogy of earthly pleasure of life and security. In Mononoke Hime however, it is mother lode of death again, as the iron ores were dug from it to be turned into weapons. The barren wasteland around Lady Eboshi's city is also shown, it is cloak of desolation and death as no trees grow on it and no single life can be seen too. Earth also used part of human strategy to stop the onrushing wild boar assault, the humans planted few mines to decimate the ranks of animal army. An earthly, sticky and worm like feature also a cloak of death for the angry god spirits, both boar gods were covered with it when they were cursed themselves to be demonic form that is responsible for Ashitaka's predicament in first place.

It is clear from this use of Oriental concept of elements, Miyazaki creating movies based on these elements to express his thoughts on situations and characters presented.

Thank you for reading.

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