Tuesday, September 30

Moe/ 萌え

Definition: oe (萌え, Moe? /mo.e/, pronounced "mo-eh" literally "budding", as with a plant) is a Japanese slang word originally referring to fetish for or love for characters in video games or anime and manga. (Wikipedia, 2008)

It's difficult. They immediately become the subjects of lolicon fetishism. In a sense, if we want to depict someone who is affirmative to us, we have no choice but to make them as lovely as possible. But now, there are too many people who shamelessly depict (such heroines) as if they just want (such girls) as pets, and things are escalating more and more

- Hayao Miyazaki

The anime maestro like Miyazaki is expressing worry about anime fans hyper emphasize certain traits of female character while ignoring the rest. That shows how powerful demand is, to have a "moe" characteristics. That to me, is a symptom of selective viewing by anime fans which undermine the character real strength and integrity. It is tough to have normal, mentally matured female anime characters in current mainstream shows. Miyazaki style female characters are very notable for their strength, courage and believable human traits but to have him prompted such opinion means this aspect was often overlooked by his audiences.

Few like Shinbo made this a running gag in his latest series, Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei. He shamelessly portrayed the girls in very compromising scenes that is designed to create the moe as form of mockery; the characters doing 4th wall jokes hitting on this at the same time.
Sometimes I do wonder if people watching anime for story or just more baser fulfillment of certain paradigms (hence my largely negative outlook of shows like Lucky Star). A thing come to mind when I did a review on Haruhi, I commented wryly if the most fans were watching it for sheer brilliant discussion on science fiction concepts like Singularity or powerful questions of "Why are we here?" or checking out the short skirts of their school uniform and other physical traits for moe appeal (Asahina Mikuru is good example here). Even Macross Frontier has to morphed the idol image to be more moe (Ranka Lee's signature pose) versus a more traditional idol star in mold of Lin Min Mei ( in form of Sheryl Nome). It is as if Kawamori put these 2 idols and have them fight each other as statement of his view on the issue.

Ranka Lee

Sheryl Nome

Another troubling aspect is the focus on childlike qualities to elicit the moe appeal. I do wonder if it issue of most anime fans simply refuse to grow up and the market feeds on their insecurity/fears of adulthood in vicious circle. Asian culture itself venerated youth appeal especially females as purity of essence for thousands of years. No exception here, from China to southern archipelago of South Pacific. Japan just take the step further and twist it into more sophisticated childlike infatuation art. Some social commentators even went as far that 30 something Japanese women actually has to resort to giggle like a school girl or cuddle a teddy bear in order to get hitched by guys. Seriously, WTF.

Strike Witches

Demands fuel supply and such as moe now becoming more pervasive as anime fans with money demanded it in home market of Japan. To me, it is a self made vicious cycle; studios keep churning out the moe anime at the expense of good storytelling and fans to lap it up without restraint, demanding more. "Moe" should be a bonus, not a driving force in anime storytelling. A good example is the recently concluded (when this post is made) Strike Witches. What is the point of this anime if not appealing to twisted segment of anime population that can't grow up? It is troubling enough to note that all the principal female characters are very young looking but the final nail is the fact they don't wear pants. The fact it is quite popular disturbs me even further.

I have grave misgivings for future of mainstream anime.

Miyazaki's complaint
Balanced Wiki entry

Friday, September 26

Tora Dora HQ Preview

Here you go. Looks good, will follow this one with interest.

Earlier entry

Sunday, September 21

Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae/ 地獄少女 三鼎

I am waiting for this popular series, wondering if they can repeat the magic established in Season 1 and 2.

Trailer looks interesting so far.

Saturday, September 20

Friday, September 19

Chaos;Head/ カオスヘッド

This anime caught my attention. The story is about brutal murders of young people. Takumi is a recluse shut in who somehow have detailed information from a mysterious poster on Internet about the murders. Soon to be aired in autumn.

Based on game by Nitroplus and 5pb. Madhouse will be responsible for the anime.

Anime trailer

Taken from Wikipedia:

"During the month of March 2008, one month before Chaos;Head's release on April 25, 2008, Chaos;Head ranked fourth in national PC game pre-orders in Japan. Chaos;Head came out in third place in sales ranking for the month of April 2008. Chaos;Head became the 16th bestselling visual novel in Japan during the first half of 2008"

More details here

Tuesday, September 16

Spirituality in Anime for Consumption

This paper attempts to account for the cross-cultural phenomenon of the popularity of anime, Japanese animation, among the younger generation in the U.S. It focuses on the religious aspects of the ¡°cultural difference¡± accounts of the phenomenon considering audiences cultural consumption of the media as the process of integration of cultural resources into their everyday (religious) lives. This study argues that anime's cultural manifestations of ¡°integrative spirituality¡± of Japanese culture well correspond with the young spiritual seekers who are characterized by the subjective, autonomous, reflexive construction of religious identity from a variety of sources instead of a religious tradition. Their cultural consumption of anime, which is based on their dismissive attitude toward both organized religions and American popular culture, contributes to the construction of their alternative religious identity.

A paper that is exploring religious connection and influencing agents between USA and Japan using anime as medium. Pretty insightful discussion, moreso considering how different the main religion of the said two nations. I do distinctly remember some outcry amongst Christian fundamentalist when Princess Mononoke was aired; citing it is pagan heresy that is unsuitable for pious, God fearing kids in America.

Looking at this angle, the writer to bridge these 2 but it is very open subject, not easy to be pigeonholed at all.

Spirituality in Anime Full article

Shikabane Hime / 屍姫

I will watch this despite the apparent cliche for 2 things. ANGELA for her beautiful singing voice and GAINAX for their whacked out animation.

The story about some supposedly dead school girl (what else?) have to do some voodoo stuff to kill 108 corpses. Cliche as hell.

Hopefully it will be good.

Kurogane no Barrel/ 鉄のラインバレル

This anime caught my interest for mecha/sci fi theme but one name turned me off, GONZO. I would not expect this anime to be anything but more flashy stuff. I have no problem with Hisashi Arai, the character designer but GONZO send a chill down my spine.

Hopefully I am wrong.

Monday, September 8

Mysterious Gundam Trailer

What is this trailer all about?

Maddox 01 Metal Skin Panic / メタルスキンパニック MADOX-01

From old OVA, made in late 80s. The OVA has bad story, simplistic dialogue, very angular character design and laughingly cookie cutter villain.

Awesome power armour design though.

My first anime, Voltes 5/ 超電磁マシーン ボルテスV

Original theme of Voltes V

The singer herself in live concert, 8 years ago.

Nostalgic and it bring tears to my eyes. Good old shit.

Made by Tadao Nagahama stated to be aired around 1976 ,the same man who gave us Tosho Daimos.

Thursday, September 4

Shigeru Komatsuzaki

One of the famous/legendary illustrator who is well known in Japan for his works on model kit art covers. Among people paid tribute to him in the short video is Leiji Matsumoto and Hiroshi Fujimoto.

Short history on him. I love his visions for the futuristic vehicles and off course, Mecha Godzilla.

Museum dedicated to him

Russo- Japanese Anime collobration, First Squad

Movie trailer, supposedly inspired by this

music video made in Russia for band Legalize. Studio 4C responsible for it and due to popular music video, investors decided to pump money for a movie treatment.

Official Site

Wednesday, September 3