Sunday, April 15, 2018

Astolfo is unique among Trap Anime characters

So 2017 has been spoken of as perhaps the most Trap heavy year in Anime thus far.  Even before Fate/Apocrypha started there were already YouTube videos suggesting that.  I think the most underappreciated Trap of 2017 was the one in Twin Angel Break.

First I want to explain that to me a "Trap" in the context of Anime/Manga fictional characters is a mostly Cis male character who dresses like a girl and is able to pass as one.  I prefer not to use it of characters who I think of as Transgender or even Non-Binary, (which I feel Anime definitely needs more of) and that includes the character in Steins;Gate who I wish had been handled better.  Now some might disagree on the Cisness of Traps, and that's fine I fully support fans reinterpreting characters however they want.  But as far as Canon goes I don't think the character in Twin Angel Break would boldly declare "I'm actually a Boy" if that wasn't his preferred Gender Identity.

Trap characters have been important to me as a mostly Cis-Het Male (though I've recently considered that I may be a little Fluid) who still doesn't confirm to Gender norms easily.  I would dress more femininely if I felt I could look decent doing so.  Before I got truly deep into Anime the fictional characters I identified with and liked most were almost always female.  And since going full Otaku they still tend to be, but the characters considered Traps have been the refreshing change.

The word "Trap" is not truly being used literally, the fandom generally means it affectionately.  And Western media has a long history of even the slightest gender ambiguity being a sign of depravity and villainy that still lingers even today, and has popped up sometimes in Anime and Video Games.  But the characters that define the Trap archetype have always been morally solid characters, sometimes including Astolfo the most honorable and good hearted on the show.

And now to what people actually came for, what is distinct about Astolfo at least among the ones I've seen thus far?  Making him not better but certainly notable.

It's that he is still for a Trap pretty "traditionally" masculine.  For example while other Traps might get involved in actions and fight scenes from time to time, they're not usually a type of professional solider.

Now I know it's sexist to say that is an inherently masculine straight, but that's the point.  Traps often aren't truly questioning the Gender binary because they'd just boys who look like girls by every external appearance, both physically and in personality.  They're very traditionally feminine often more so then the Cis-Women of the show.

Astolfo however is kind of the counter part to what I like about Sailor Jupiter/Makoto Kino/Lita.  I'm too not fond of the first Sailor Jupiter post I make on this blog given some of what I've learned since.  The gist is she's a character who at first glance seems like the designated Tomboy, but she does have many very traditionally feminine traits.  And some would argue Minako is the true tomboy, which has it's own poetic irony to it.

Basically Astolfo, Makoto and Minako are characters who are not simply an attempt to swing the pendulum of gender norms hard in the opposite direction, but rather are nuanced individuals.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Anime Weekly Updates, Omer 6: Citrus has ended

I finally got to see the Simuldub of the last episode of Citrus.  I have given the show a 10 on MAL.  That may seem overly generous, but ti was a perfectly solid adaptation of my favorite Manga.

I watched the permire of Cutey Honey Universe, which was fun, but I was never able to get that into Cutey Honey so I don't know if I'll be sticking with it.

I'm gonna try out some Fate/Extra.

Core 1 of Katana Maidens ended, and it was pretty good.  I hope Core ups the ante because I really want this to become the Anime of the year.

The shows that I know FUNimation will be Simuldubbing I'm waiting for the Simuldub for, as usual.  I know I'll be checking out Steins;Gate 0 and Legend of the Galactic Heroes.  I may try to catch up on Full Metal Panic in time but I doubt it.

I'm not sure I'll watch episode 2 of Magical Girl Site right when it drops, but I will continue watching it.  I have decided to simply judge on it's own merits, not caring what it says about the Magical Girl Genre or Madoka or whatever.  Being nominally a Magical Girl show is why I checked it out, but what interests me about it was more it providing a not at all sugar coated depiction of bullying.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Superhero Genre Flexibility

One of things talked about a lot with Superhero movies is how they can be combined with many different genres.  Now this is somethings that some including I have been saying since before the MCU started.  But over the course of MCU phrase three it's become a greater emphasis is how people praise the genre then ever before.

It's primarily the Films where this aspect become a big part of their very promotion, and perhaps sometimes other adaptations.  And that's Ironic because in a way the adaptations have been less flexible.

You see this ability to experiment with genre has always been in the Comics.  One of many things Frank Miller is endlessly mocked for his Film Noir obsession.  But the films especially have been fixated on designating specific genres to specific heros, if it's a Genre has two Superheros it's because Marvel and DC each threw one at it.

It is apparent right from the comics how some genres suit certain Superheros more then others.  But it's not as rigid.  Wonder Woman and Thor aren't the only Superheros who've encountered ancient mythologies.  Spiderman (and Superman in Prequels) isn't the only one to deal with High School Drama.  And obviously Frank Miller isn't the only writer to draw from the Film Noir well.

Now the serialized nature of Comics gives it more to let the same Superhero, which is why TV sometimes does more of this, or used to.  Smallville did a lot of experimentation.

But even understanding that reason for it.  It bothers me to hear things like the WB being concerned Wonder Woman and Aquaman can't both be about mythology and so they decided to down play the Greek Mythology aspect of Wonder Woman, and that's probably why the gods were killed off in the back story.

This is another reason why I'm glad I've gotten into Anime.  Anime truly surpasses even Superhero comics with ti's ability to flat out defy Genre.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Anime Weekly Updates, Omer 1: Magical Girl Site and others.

If your confused by the title I'm using the Karaite reckoning of the Omer, today is the Feast of First Fruits and so the first day of the Omer.  Also the last day of Unleavened Bread.  Though by the time I actually post this on the Blog it might actually be past Sunset and thus Omer 2 already.  I have no idea if I'll keep this naming formula all the way through Pentecost.

First of all I decided today to watch the first episode of Magical Girl Site.   The buzz on twitter is that this is the latest Dark Magical Girl show, the latest Madoka imitator, and to some who's read the Manga the truly worst extreme.  Something a Madoka defender like me should be arguing against blaming Madoka for.

I actually liked the first episode.  It's dark in a very different way, and those people who Anime to do more to provide commentary on Japanese culture this show is doing actually doing that more then any other Dark Magical Girl show does.

It provides a graphical brutal depiction of bullying, reminds me of why I love the movie Odd Girl Out and am annoyed by the massive praise of Mean Girls which is still ultimately a cartoonist depiction of the issue.

As I've said, a big factor in my opinion on any Dark story is how it ends.  What people who seem to already know the Manga are saying is that this story is totally hopeless, but it wouldn't be the first time I've disagreed with people making that assessment of something, just look at my endlessly complicated relationship with Batman V Superman.

And the very start already has my Yuri Googles shipping them.

Prior to today, I watched more episodes of X and have put it on hold.  I watched the High School Fleet OVAs which were fun.

I added Dragon Ball Z and Full Metal Panic to my MAL even though I haven't watched any of them recently.

I haven't watched this week's Simuldubs of Katana Maidens or Death March yet.  Katana Maidens may get it's own post on reaching it's half way point.

For Citrus I'm enjoying the Silver Twins arc, and for Overlord II I'm loving how it's picking up now.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

I was cited in an Academic Paper about Madoka Magica.

And I learned about this because of the comments section on Digibro's Subreddit.

Shoujo Versus Seinen? Address and Reception in Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011) Catherine Butler

 It's a good article even though I'm not sure yet how much I agree with it's conclusions.  So I am recommending it in-spite of how I'm about to get a little reactionary concerning how I was referenced.

I'm referenced in the footnotes of Page 8.  Later in the References section the specific blog post they link to is my post from December of 2015 titled Is Madoka Magica a Deconstruction?  And that's unfortunate since back then I defended classifying Madoka as a Deconstruction but have changed my mind on that since as shown by everything I had to say about the show in 2017.  In posts like Anime Deconstructions and Subversions and Madoka Magica was not Mean Spirited.

In general I'm uncomfortable with being classified as a "Senien" (Does my age actually qualify me for that label?  I honestly don't know, I turned 30 on Halloween of 2015 and when I first watched Madoka was either earlier that year or in 2014,) Western Male who likes the show because of it's perceived rejection of traditional Mahou Shoujo which was never me even when I made that 2015 post.  I have been a Sailor Moon fan since long before Madoka existed, there was a time when I would have hid that, but that's long since gone.  I even defend Wedding Peach.  I like most of what I've seen so far of Pretty Cure and Cardcaptor Sakura, and I'm very interested in Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne.  In fact it's only because of my watching Sailor Moon on Hulu that I wound up checking out Madoka to begin with.

 I'm not sure it's fair to classify Glass Reflections in that context either, he has a positive review on Sailor Moon up now as well.

My objective throughout my Madoka posting of 2017 was to fight against the perception that ti's very existence is some attack on the Magical Genre.  And I intend to do that more, one is idea that can only work as a YouTube video however.  And I also want to write something about how Madoka uses Faust on my Comparative Mythology Blog.

To me Madoka, Yuki Yuna, Nanoha and Prisma Illya may be officially marketed at males, but they still ultimately embrace the values of the traditional Magical Girl genre, no matter how different the approach is.

Still, I appreciate the Free Publicity.

Monday, April 2, 2018

I'm still Watching Anime

Now that the Spring season has ended I decided to start checking out some stuff that wasn't Dubbed.

I watched three episodes of Slow Start, it's a solid Cute Girls show I'll probably watch more later.

I've watched the four Episodes released so far of that Fate/ Cooking show.  It's an amusing little side story.

I watched a few episodes of A.I.C.O. and have mixed feeling about it.

Hugtto PreCure remains a pretty Magical Girl Show.

For Simuldubs I gave up on PopTeamEpic, the rest I'd been covering I'm still following it.  Katana Maidens is still the best.

The lack of activity on this Blog lately has been a combination of a sudden surge of things I wanted to do on my other Blogs.  Combined with my starting to do what others are doing and use Twitter for expressing random thoughts on stuff I recently watched.  Like this Pretty Sammy Thread.

Some of what I plan to do on the Comparative Mythology Blog is Anime related.

I'll hopefully have a lot more to say once the Spring Simuldubs start.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Barry Dennen is still the best Pontius Pilate

I just watched the NBC's Jesus Christ Superstar Live Performance of Easter April 1st 2018.  I enjoyed it, it was very good. 

Ben Daniels as Pilate was solid, but Barry Dennen is still the best.

My parents had the original LP of Jesus Christ Superstar back in the day, and we'd rented the movie a few times.  So this Musical was a big part of my childhood.  Me and brother used to sort of act it out as we listened to the Album.

There was a phrase my time as an Evangelical Fundamentalist that I came to share the same hostility many of my fellow Fundamentalists have for it.  One disparaging reference to it exists on my Prophecy Blog.  But while I still consider myself a Fundamentalist I've mellowed on things like that.  Yes some Biblical Inaccuracies in it make a little uncomfortable then others, mainly the "heal yourselves" part.  And Andrew Loyd Webber probably doesn't share my theology, but the Author is Dead and so there is plenty of value someone who does think Jesus was God Incarnate can take from this musical.  Because we also Believe Jesus was Human and sometimes we downplay that out of fear of disrespecting His Divinity.

So before the start of this year I hadn't watched or listened to it for quite awhile actually.  Then it so happened that a month or so ago we obtained the 73 movie on DVD and watched it.  And then I started looking for related YouTube videos of various kinds.  If anyone actually follows my Twitter you may have noticed my Tweeting about it a bit, like saying I'd like to see productions that get creative with the genders of the characters since Mary as the only Woman is a dated aspect of the Play that could use some updating.  And I've said plenty on my Blogs that can justify even having Jesus be played by a Woman.

If there is one area where I feel Jesus Christ Superstar is more Biblically accurate then most dramatizations of The Passion you see now days, it's in the characterization of Pontius Pilate.

The Gospels paint a relatively sympathetic picture of Pilate.  Many feel the Gospels inherently contradict what Josephus had to say about Pilate, but I feel that ignore the context of the picture Josephus paints.  And Josephus was not an eyewitness to Pilate's Governorship anyway.

Hollywood has a tendency, especially in the Old Epics, to have Rome=Fascism. Since Mussolini was a wannabe Caesar anyway he and Hitler both borrowed a lot of Roman Imagery, so it happens to come naturally for Roman imagery to evoke Fascism.  And since Pilate kind of represents Rome in The Passion narrative, plenty of film depictions have him be like Conrad Veidt in Casablanca wearing a Toga.

And then Mel Gibson's attempt to capture the Gospel's more sympathetic characterization kind of made him come off as...... I don't wanna say "weak" but as not someone you'd expect be a military Governor.

This Musical manages to find the right balance for how to depict Pilate.  And much of the credit for that goes to Barry Dennen playing the role in the original LP, the original Broadway run and the 73 film.  And so when I say he's the best Pontius Pilate performance, I don't just mean in productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, I mean period.

It's interesting even to compare the different performances Dennen gave.  He seems kind of like he was cast for his acting more then singers, though he had been in other Musicals.  So on the original Concept Album his performance isn't quite as polished yet.  You need to see the 73 film to really see him shine.

He has that particular kind of Accent that I see Actors us only when they're playing Patrician Romans, and that Nerds of my kind always love listening too.  I'm not an expect on counting Meter, but I think some of the Trial Before Pilate is in Iambic Pentameter.  But I also like the more subtle things that he was only able to do in the Movie.  Like how he uses his Hands during the flogging scene.

However I feel the key place where other Pilates fail in comparison is in those last few Lines he has at the very end.  Which Barry Dennen delivered very intensely and loudly, what some might call "overacting" but he sells it perfectly.  And it's those final lines that make me as a fan of Anime Dubs kind of want to hear the role portrayed by Crispan Freeman (something else I already mentioned on Twitter), maybe he's the one person who could compete at delivering those lines.