Hey all it’s your favourite old man Valence back with another Winter Season anime preview that was probably posted too late such that by the time you read this you’d have watched the shows already, but heck it, let’s get right back into it!
This year’s Cosfest XII is currently being held from today, the 6th of July to tomorrow at the Downtown East D’marquee, Singapore. Cosplayers, fanwork circles and anime/manga enthusiasts alike gathered in the swarm of people to mix around in the circus tent and on the sunny field. This year’s Cosfest would not have been complete without the convention trademark maid cafe, the Toki Doki maid cafe with its maids, butlers, and even its associated merchandise, as well as the event stage, with karaoke performances and a runway for cosplayers from around the world to show off their talented cosplay. The event served as a great opportunity for cosplayers to not only do what they like, but also know more people through the swapping of coscards and get inspired for future cosplay.
This “reporter” managed to slip into the crowd despite his busy exam schedule for some quick photos of the event. Click through to see them all.
To put it simply, it has been one month since Saeki went missing. No-one seems to know why she went missing, or the truth of it, so no-one knows of Kasuga’s involvement. Being confronted by Saeki’s friend, Kasuga breaks up with Saeki after a month of silence. He comes to an epiphany when he sees Nakamura in a field of flowers from Les Fleurs Du Mal – he realises the reason behind Nakamura’s feelings, and his fault in leaving her alone: before Kasuga, she was alone; now she is again.
It’s surprising how far we’ve come since the aniblogosphere’s main impression of Aku no Hana was “Potato: The Anime”. From a show simply lampooned for its atypical choice of rotoscoping and its abandonment of the original manga’s moe character designs, Aku no Hana really hits close to its main audience through creating scenes in which, as far removed from reality as they seem, draw sympathy and empathy from the audience. In the previous episode, Kasuga screams to the heavens that he was an empty shell – in a way, yet another “wall” of his has been broken. He comes one step closer to understanding his true self in admitting that he, too, has been deceiving himself: he seeks to be like his idol, Baudelaire, arguably a brilliant deviant despised by society, because he didn’t want to be an ’empty shell’. In a sense, he seems to be doing things solely because he is told to: even the dramatic classroom scene from Episode 7 was triggered much in part by Nakamura. He appears to want to be a literati, a normal person to his “angel” Saeki, yet he wants to be a deviant, or behaves like one, to his idols Baudelaire and to some extent, Nakamura. Simply put, he does not understand the reasons behind what he does. He is a living mass of existential angst and confusion. AKA he is a teenager.
Even his confession to Saeki about how he wasn’t ready to face a “flesh and blood copy” of his “angel” is pretty understandable: crushes in highschool are common, but who dares to face them? The themes in this show, as far removed from reality as they seem to be presented, are in actuality all easy to understand. Social anxiety, angst, growing up, and more, Aku no Hana seems to be the bildungsroman for the modern age.
The final scene was excellent too. As much as he behaves as a deviant, his reaction upon realising that he ‘hurt’ Nakamura seem pretty common, almost painfully generic if it were any other anime, yet strangely apt for this show. Speaking of strangely apt things, one scene that really hit me this episode was not the dream scene, or even the break-up scene, but in fact, it was the scene in which Kasuga was eating dinner with his parents.
Let’s start with the set-up for this scene. The scene is shot from outside the kitchen, leaving the characters involved right in the center, especially Kasuga. While admittedly, the way Kasuga acted while depressed- the slow movements, low voice thing- wasn’t anything particularly new, it was, for me, the seconds that followed afterwards that were particularly poignant. I estimate there were around 10 seconds of Kasuga’s parents continuing what they were doing until his mother breaks down.
Contrast this with the way she was behaving when Kasuga was speaking. While the dad seemed occupied with the television, yet still talked to Kasuga, she continued eating her meal, as if with relish: it is until he leaves does she stop, and only after a long time does she show emotion. Hence the way she is presented is reinforced with what happened previously: aside from being a self-blaming emotional wreck, she still finds it somehow important to preserve dignity in front of her son: by acting nonchalant, as if nothing had happened, it was her way of coping.
In the seconds that followed afterwards, it was as if they both knew what had happened, and what would happen.
Even though I felt that Kasuga’s way of acting wasn’t new, his choice of words was what really made the scene even stronger: even after an entire month, during which the parents have likely pretended that nothing had happened, Kasuga is still wracked with this sense of guilt that continues to plague him: he is “sorry”, “very sorry”. He is sorry to his parents, he is sorry to Saeki, he is sorry to himself, and he soon finds himself sorry, too, to Nakamura. It is as though he had been wracked with a lifetime of unpaid debts – that “all one’s life one pays”.
Perhaps the choice of the TV programme lent itself to the mood as well. Two comedians doing rapidfire standup comedy, their jokes indistinct, meshing into the background as Kasuga talks, like noise. Their chattering creates this effect in which the scene is somehow in reality, yet lends this discordant effect to the scene. Kasuga is arguably the only one really talking, yet it is still a conversation. Ideas and messages exchanged, emotions evoked, tears shed. The way the scene opens and ends – with a cut of the television, with its inane comedy, seems to be a metaphor for these character’s lives, and perhaps our own- the way the characters do what they do, and the same for us all: isn’t it all very funny?
I’m so slow on anime release news, I had no idea this even existed. Some quick notes.
First impressions aside, the first episode of OreImo served as a short, simple “recap” episode and sets the tone for the rest of the series. Reminding the viewers of the “life counseling” and awkward brother-sister tension that made season 1 so popular, while hinting towards the eventual actions of characters from the gaming club, Kuroneko, Saori and of course, our main characters Kirino and Kyousuke.
“We need to turn Kirino back to her old self.” Either I’m missing something in the episode, or there’s something that’s unrevealed yet that only Kuroneko and Saori can tell. Perhaps the entire point of Kirino bringing Kyousuke to Akihabara was to show us that there was indeed, a change in Kirino, but whether it was for the best or not, we do not yet know. This would obviously, not be obvious to Kyousuke if it is indeed true. If anything, a change can allow for further character development.
Yet readers of the light novel are once again, treated to hints for “Shironeko” making an appearance: the romantic relationship between Kyousuke and Kuroneko should be explored even deeper in this sequel, so I would expect at least some episodes to revolve around this and any repercussions it may have. Expect the main points of conflict to come from interactions within the KKK.
Kyousuke’s seeming inability to do anything of note in this episode, in a way, simply portrays him as the character he is – a teenager. He’s angsty as hell and awkward about it. If only to drive the point home further, his reaction to Kuroneko’s kiss in the flashback only shows us how he is simply unable to deal with such feelings. The feelings of a teenager growing up, doubting his own thoughts and feelings. That’s his main character trait, of course, in my opinion anyway. Awkwardness and being manipulated will likely be the main sources of comedy for this sequel.
Quick note on episode: Art, animation was just as crisp, if not crisper. Better animation and production values. Music was decent, especially the ED. Manami will likely play a larger role in the sequel, but the episode alone isn’t enough for me to gauge the value of the sequel. Let’s hope for the best, ok?
As you can tell, I haven’t written anything for ages. So yeah. Hi everybody. Hope you missed me.
Well anyway, in case you haven’t been keeping up to date on twitter trends and recent anime series, at the end of Tamako Market, KyoAni released a semi-cryptic trailer with amusingly enough, nothing but Yuuta pinching Rikka’s cheeks and the message: “Contract Renewed”. Reactions to this possibly being the announcement of a second season have varied from “OMG YES I LOVE THAT SHOW SO MUCH YEAH” to “FUCKING HELL SUCK MY DICK YOU FUCKING MONEY-GRUBBING CUM-GUZZLING SHIT OF AN ANIMATION COMPANY! FUCK YOU.” Here’s my take on it.
They say that one day, science may be able to solve everything in this world. Perhaps, there is a limit to human knowledge, and by extension, progress: there could be one day where the world has reached its maximum level of advancement. In a sense, Psycho-Pass takes this reality and runs with it: regarding the truth behind the Sibyl System. Not merely a system run by pure advancements in cybernetic technology, but one literally incorporating human brains. It grants these minds increased processing speed through parallel computing, a concept explored in manga such as the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. Simply put: together, they are god.
Psycho-Pass has always been about the fallacy of utilitarianism. Heralded often as the best system, its ultimate flaw lies in the definition of the ‘majority’. Just as the rioters from the previous episode moaned, those who never suffer under the system, do not understand its faults. Likewise, here we could say that 247 minds sacrificed their material beings to serve the country. It is the ultimate Yellow Prison project. From death row prisoners, to the cogs in the machine of society. With advancements in human-body technology even the loss of one’s original body is no longer anything to be worried over: it can simply be replaced.
Strangely enough, the system, despite its cold nature, somehow seeks to emulate mankind: the bodies feel pain, the system headed by human-like mascots, and even the complete abandonment of a standard gun to one that makes shooting seem like the wielder was an unwilling party – the system renounces its status as god, and presents itself as something that is ultimately human. This is what Kouzaburou embraced: the system is a hidden god. Yet here we see a triumph of the individual mindset over that of the utilitarian: the idea that one’s own personality, one’s own self should ultimately be of greater weighting than anything else, even the fate of society as a whole.
Psycho-pass is set in a futuristic, modern society. Technology has advanced to the point where it all becomes sci-fi: morphing guns, holographic technology, cyborg bodies. Through the use of the Sibyl System, society reaches maximum efficiency by making all possible decisions preemptively: the whole of society is but its own engine. Everyone is deemed to be a part. Everyone is assigned a role, and by extension, a fate.
This is exactly how Makishima becomes an interesting character: he is aware of his individualistic tendencies, his strong personality and the exact problem of the system. And in some aspects, perhaps this system is but a reflection of our current society: one that seeks to minimise tradition, maximise efficiency and eliminate risk. One that is becoming encroached by the advent of technology, technology that seeps into everyday conversation and practices. A society that is constantly advancing in terms of technology but seemingly retreating in terms of the progress of the human mind.
We are a society that wants to eliminate risk. We are utilitarian. We want to ensure the greatest success by doing what others have done: to follow set paths, like instructions, to the end point. When have we decided that society is a machine, not a collective? This is exactly what makes the episode so hard-hitting: what are we all, but cogs in the machine called God? For it is ultimately we who decide our own fates, yet we all work together to make it out of our own reaches.
PS: It’s interesting to note how they say that they are the only country governed by law. What has happened to the rest of the world? Have they all paid the price for not adopting the Sibyl System?