“The story is a little unusual. It has very few elements that are intended to hype up the viewers’ emotions. Instead, by seeing the characters go through whatever they do, the viewers can reflect on their own experiences and feel something. I think that’s the kind of story it turned out to be.”
Haibane Renmei is a life-changing anime. For twenty years its gentle, reflective, yet unflinching portrayal of its characters pulling each other through their darkest moments has been planting its redemptive seeds in the hearts of those who see their own darkest feelings reflected in its story. It’s a small story, not about facing down world-shaping conspiracies or unspeakable horrors – not that kind of darkness – but about facing down the personal, internal emotional struggles, facing the darkness we turn upon ourselves.
Weirdly, despite (or maybe because of) it being my favorite anime of the 2010s, I haven’t really spoken much at length about Girls’ Last Tour online. Well, that’s finally changed thanks to my panelist pals over at Third Impact Anime, who were kind enough to invite me onto their podcast to spend about two hours discussing the show (and about 45 minutes discussing other stuff too)! I’ve been a fan of their panels and podcasting work for a while, so it was a real treat to get to talk with them on the show!
I talk with Austin and Andrew about the premise and format of the show, the talented staff and cast behind the series, how we got into it, what stood out about it to us initially and this time around, the significance of the setting and the items they find, what the show has to say about hope and hopelessness, memory and meaning, mono no aware, the strength of the anime’s sound design, anime vs manga, sub vs dub, and more.
When I heard in 2020 that a new Higurashi series had been greenlit, I had no idea what to think. This is very much in line with the appeal of Higurashi (aka When They Cry) as a franchise – there are few things it delights in more than pulling the rug from beneath your expectations, than keeping fans uncertain of how to interpret what they’re experiencing. Having now watched the new Higurashi series – Gou and Sotsu – I… still don’t entirely know what I think. So I’m gonna write a blog post to try to figure it out. I haven’t really done that in a while.
“Anime Shorts” is a fun and strange look at a side of anime you don’t often get to see, looking into short films (under 45 minutes) and short-length TV anime (under 15-minute episodes) to see what creators can do when they get the chance to experiment, and how the world of shorts is also a hotbed of up-and-coming talent. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIhZ-MlCQ4Y
“Pure Illusion” is a dive into the ways that anime uses characters’ dreams and memories to put their deepest emotions on display. The power of animation provides an excellent playground for creators to come up with new ways to represent mental space, and this panel takes a look at these to break down what they have to say. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kF2COeGIAaA
If you enjoy them, feel free to leave a like on the video, or leave a comment to share your thoughts!
I presented a bunch of panels this year at Virtual Naka Kon 2021! One of them, Giant Robot Anime Through The Ages, didn’t have any copyrighted clips to worry about, so I’ve posted it up on Youtube! It’s about the decades-long history of giant robots in anime, from the 60s to the modern day.
I don’t get to do this one at cons as often because there’s usually somebody else who’s already doing a robot panel, so this is a good chance to get to see it!
Slightly different from what I usually write; I just finished a fun, crafty little project that I thought I’d share.
If you’re like me, you’ve got waaaaaay more media than your shelves could hope to contain: DVDs and Blu Rays, CDs, figurines, books… you get it. Well, in order to make room for the amount of manga I have, I’d started to double-stack the books on my shelf – put half the volumes of a given series in front, and the other half hidden behind it. It was sad to have to hide half of the books in order to make room, and I wanted a way to be able to display all of them. I couldn’t easily find any risers that would fit my bookshelves the way I wanted, so I took matters into my own hands.
It’s a bit different from the in-person version, since I had to remove the copyrighted clips and replace them with additional spoken content. I think it turned out pretty well; give it a watch! If you haven’t gotten to see one of my panels before, this is a great opportunity.
Hey, guess what! I made a whole website! Based on my panel! About Symphogear! In the style of a late-90s/early-00s Geocities fan shrine! I’m super excited to share it with you! I talk about the origins and the staff and the themes and the characters and the plot and the music and why I’ve grown to love this goofy dumb show so much! Check it out! And remember: Watch Symphogear™!
“I wanted people to understand Lain, the girl. Ultimately, I want them to love her.” -Yasuyuki Ueda
Serial Experiments Lain came out in 1998, twenty years ago. It was the cusp of the new millennium, and the world was changing. The future seemed so close. With the rise of cyberpunk, sci-fi had started to become less speculative and more rooted in extensions of contemporary modernity. The internet was on the rise – AOL CDs were everywhere you looked, after all. Anxieties and excitement about technology were rampant: the dreaded Y2K bug was almost at hand, and the dot-com bubble was well on its way to full inflation. And Lain was determined to be a show fit for the coming of the 2000s.
“A journey from which you can never return. Treasures that you can never again acquire. Your very life, which once lost will never be restored. Nearly all things in this world will never go back to the way they once were. Understanding that, people still continue, even today, to get up and take another step forward. Spurred on by the thought of viewing a landscape they’ve never seen before, they keep on walking. A longing for the unknown, you see, is something not a single soul is capable of stopping.” Continue reading →