Wednesday, October 16, 2019

2019 as been a slow Anime year for me.

Looking at the fall 2019 season, nothing already set for a Simuldub is of interest to me currently, which surprises me.  The few shows I'm hoping will get a Simuldub or any Dub fairly soon include nothing I'm super excited for.

So far I haven't given out a single 10 this year, and only a few in 2018, one of which being a show I might demote.

I'm starting to wonder if it'd be a good idea for me to take a semi break from Anime for awhile.

I think the most under appreciated show of 2019 is YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world, that show is not perfectly but I found it very very interesting and unique, I think it's a shame most people overlooked it back in the Spring season.

Symphogear XV and Accelerator were both pretty good though.

I feel bad about currently giving Sarzanmai as low as a 7, I haven't kept my promise to watch it's Dub yet, I ought to get on that and hopefully it'll go up then.

I just gave a three episode test to Isekai Cheat Magician, which is getting weekly Dub right after it's Japanese broadcast ended.  It has a pretty decent start.

I talked before about 2011 being the beginning of my personal golden age of Anime, I'm starting to wonder if 2017 was the last year of it.

Of course the last few months my mind has been on a lot of other things.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Good about Gundam The Origin

My last post about Gundam The Origin focused on what bothered me about it, but as you know I don't like to be a negative nelly, so now that the TV version's Adult Swim run has finished let's talk about what I liked.

Number one, Sayla Mass is awesome.

It's ironic really, the main selling point of this prequel was supposed the origin story of Char Aznabel (the subtitle is Advent of the Red Comet) because in our modern cynical society the backstory of a villain is much more marketable then the backstory of a hero.  But low and behold it was their approach to Char I found endlessly frustrating while his oft forgotten Imouto is what kept me engaged.

She was already the most underrated character of the franchise.  As you may recall I made the mistake of first checking out Origin when I hand't seen any other UC material yet, I knew about Char because he has an entire Trope named after him, but I didn't know he'd also have a sister.  I was worried this was a character who was gonna be fridged before the prequel was over, then when I watched the Trilogy (when the last two episodes of the Origin OVAs weren't out yet) I saw she was still around and was quite happy.

In the original show she's arguably just as important as Char and Amuro, she was present for the final confrontation, and is potentially just as qualified to be a Gundam pilot.   The problem is she kept being excluded from the sequels because the Seiyu was repeatedly unavailable, now seeing her given this awesome backstory makes me even more annoyed we have no idea what she was doing during all that stuff.  If you really want to keep milking this franchise Sunrise then reboot the post OYW UC timeline now that you have another actress Japanese fans can accept as Sayla.

I also really enjoyed everything with Ramba Ral & Crowley Hamon and their group.  They were always vital to humanizing the Zeon side in the original Gundam Anime, and this prequel managed to do them justice.

I've long been annoyed at how new installments of this franchise always seem to be behind the original in having a diverse cast of interesting female characters.  When you compare the original MSG to the major western SciFi franchises of the same time in this area it blows them out of the water.  But now it seems every new Major Gundam show just opts for having a Leia/Padme wannabe as the main female lead.  So it's amusing how it took a prequel to get another Gundam Anime I'd actually watch for the women.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

I think 2019 has been the best year for (Hollywood) Movies since 2008.

2008 produced two of my top 4 movies of all time (The Dark Knight and Speed Racer), my favorite Narnia movie, my favorite Indiana Jones film, the only James Bond movie I've really seen, the start of the MCU, and other stuff that's probably good which I haven't seen yet.

I spent most of the last decade feeling pretty underwhelmed by Hollywood movies, compared to how easy to please I usually am.  For all of 2013-2018 there are only two movies that I really loved, Jurassic World and Infinity War.  

But then this year all of the sudden they really start hitting stuff out of the part, Battle Angel Alita, Detective Pikachu, Avengers Endgame and Godzilla King of The Monsters really wowed me, then Shazam and Captain Marvel were both above average.  Meanwhile I still haven't seen the new Spiderman movie.

2008 was followed by a few years that were almost as good, let's hope the same thing happens again.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Contrived Coincidences in Fiction don't bother me

They really don't.  In Patrick Willems' notorious Plot Holes videos he says they're acceptable at the start of a story but not at the finish, I can't even concede that.  I think a lot of people underestimate just how many resolutions that everyone loves have a level of contrived coincidence to them.

Describing the T-Rex saving the day at the end of Jurassic Park as a Deus Ex-Machina isn't really true, not only was she part of the story but she was really too important not to feature into the climax.  But it was awfully coincidental, she was last seen on the other side of a now reactivated fence.

And it just occurred to me as I was working on this post that that ending qualifies as a Eucatastrophe, a term J.R.R. Tolkien coined.
Eucatastrophe is a neologism coined by Tolkien from Greek ευ- "good" and καταστροφή "destruction".
"I coined the word 'eucatastrophe': the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argued it is the highest function of fairy-stories to produce). And I was there led to the view that it produces its peculiar effect because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth, your whole nature chained in material cause and effect, the chain of death, feels a sudden relief as if a major limb out of joint had suddenly snapped back. It perceives – if the story has literary 'truth' on the second plane (....) – that this is indeed how things really do work in the Great World for which our nature is made. And I concluded by saying that the Resurrection was the greatest 'eucatastrophe' possible in the greatest Fairy Story – and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love."
― Letter 89
In his On Fairy-Stories Tolkien describes eucatastrophe further:
"But the 'consolation' of fairy-tales has another aspect than the imaginative satisfaction of ancient desires. Far more important is the Consolation of the Happy Ending. Almost I would venture to assert that all complete fairy-stories must have it. At least I would say that Tragedy is the true form of Drama, its highest function; but the opposite is true of Fairy-story. Since we do not appear to possess a word that expresses this opposite — I will call it Eucatastrophe. The eucatastrophic tale is the true form of fairy-tale, and its highest function.

The consolation of fairy-stories, the joy of the happy ending: or more correctly of the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous “turn” (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale): this joy, which is one of the things which fairy-stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially 'escapist', nor 'fugitive'. In its fairy-tale—or otherworld—setting, it is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of 
dyscatastrophe, of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.

It is the mark of a good fairy-story, of the higher or more complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give to child or man that hears it, when the “turn” comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and having a peculiar quality.
― On Fairy-Stories
And indeed the most notorious Eucatastrophe Tolkien wrote is largely a contrived coincidence.

Ya know what really ancient narrative can be accused of being very contrived?  The Book of Esther.  Think about it, so much of the book revolves things like the King having just read the right random thing in the chronicles.

The late Chuck Missler used to say in response to those objecting to Esther because God is never directly mentioned, that Esther is all about how coincidences are God working undercover.  And since I support Death Of The Author I can apply that theory about coincidences to any fictional Coincidence that helps save the day in the story I really like.

"What about Coincidences that result in bad things happening?" you may retort, well Romans 8 which Chuck Missler also liked to quote, says "All Things Work Together for Good".  Ya know I'm surprised we don't mention that verse more often when arguing for Universal Salvation.

Let me end this post with one particular contrived coincidence I like that many fellow fans of that Anime may have never thought to think of as one.  Back in June I made a post on the character arc of Misaka Mikoto in A Certain Scientific Railgun S.

Spoilers below.

 In summery it's about her learning the importance of turning to her friends for help.  During the Febri Arc, the third act of the season, in episode 21 Misaka is thinking of doing again exactly what she did in the prior arcs and try to handle everything by herself.  But then at exactly the right moment Kongo calls her to talk about something perfectly relevant, by sheer coincidence.  And that helps her make the right decision in that end.

I've watched most episodes of this show 3 times now, on both the second and 3rd viewing this Chuck Missler on Esther argument entered my mind when this scene came up.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Pretty Cure movies and the Miracle Lights

I've noticed that among the people actually talking about the Pretty Cure franchise on English Language YouTube there is an intense hatred of the Miracle Lights which play a role in most of the PreCure movies.  This really bugs me.

First I feel like noting how none of PreCure's western fan-base has ever actually got to see any of these movies in their initial theatrical release, so none of us have experienced what that sequence is actually supposed to be like.  And related to that is how really none of the Western Fan-base has ever been into PreCure while actually being in the intended target audience's age range.

James Rolfe has often complained about how movies theaters try to do anything interactive anymore like in the Rob Corman days.  This is the kind of thing he's talking about.

First and foremost the Miracle Lights sequences always reminds me of the audience clapping to bring Tinker Bell back to life in the original Stage Play of Peter Pan.  Movie incarnations of Pan always struggle with how explicitly they want to break the Fourth Wall for that scene.

This is why I love the Miracle Lights sequence, and I envy those who actually get the see these movies in theaters twice a year.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

What have I been up to?

I watched Godzilla King of The Monsters recently and it was great.

For Anime I've spent a lost of the last few days re-watching Steins;Gate, that show totally holds up on re-watch, Replay Value started doing a series of Analysis videos on the show.  And I watched it via Sony Crackle, though it doesn't have the OVAs movie or 0.

And I just before starting this post watched the first two episodes of Seraph of The End, it's interesting.  That was also done via Sony Crackle.

For weekly shows I'm currently following.

YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world continues to get more intriguing with each episodes, it really annoys me that this was among the Spring shows most people ignored.

A Certain Scientific Accelerator has not disappointed, Raildex is continuing to strive for being my new favorite franchise.

Symphogear XV is pretty good, if this does turn out to be the last season I think it'll be satisfying one.

And then I'm following the Adult Swim releases for Gundam The Origin (which I already saw in it's OVA form) and Lupin III Part V.  The latter is proving to be a more then worthy addition to the franchise.

I've also been checking out other Lupin stuff from time to time.  Besides the Red Jacket series I've seen everything Dubbed it's currently possible for me to see.  So seeing more Red Jacket is my priority lately when I get in a Lupin mood.

I feel bad about how many shows of the last few seasons I wound up dropping.  I hope for Fall I do better.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Tolkien and Wagner?

First I want to say that I haven't seen the recent Tolkien biopic and so am not at all influenced by it's contribution to this controversy.

The question of whether or not Tolkien was influenced by Richard Wagner, a famous  19th Century German Composer, has long been a matter of controversy.
 Some critics have suggested that The Lord of the Rings was directly and heavily derived from Richard Wagner's opera cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen, whose plot also centres on a powerful ring.[54] Others have argued that any similarity is due to the common influence of the Volsunga saga and the Nibelungenlied on both authors.[55][56]
Tolkien sought to dismiss critics' direct comparisons to Wagner, telling his publisher, "Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceases." According to Humphrey Carpenter's biography of Tolkien, the author claimed to hold Wagner's interpretation of the relevant Germanic myths in contempt, even as a young man before reaching university.[57]Some researchers take an intermediate position: that both the authors used the same sources, but that Tolkien was influenced by Wagner's development of the mythology,[58][59] especially the "concept of the Ring as giving the owner mastery of the world that was Wagner's own contribution to the myth of the Ring".[60] Wagner probably developed this element by combining the ring with a magical wand mentioned in the Nibelungenlied that could give to its wearer the control "over the race of men".[61][62] In addition, the corrupting power of Tolkien's One Ring has a central role in Wagner's operas but was not present in the mythical sources.[63][64]
Some argue that Tolkien's denial of a Wagnerian influence was an over-reaction to the statements of Åke Ohlmarks, Tolkien's Swedish translator, who in the introduction to his much-criticized translation of The Lord of the Rings "mixed material from various legends, some which mention no ring and one which concerns a totally different 
ring".[65][66][67] Furthermore, critics believe that Tolkien was reacting against the links between Wagner's work and Nazism.[68][69]
The character who Wagner (And Fate/) fans usually know as Siegfried is who Tolkien fans usually know as Sigurd.

Most of this debate is about the Ring Cycle/Volsunga Saga.  However I made a post nearly 4 years ago called The Holy Grail and The Silmarills, in which I argued the Silmarills, particularly the one Beren and Luthian obtain that winds up in the possession of Earendil and Elwing, was inspired by a Germanic alternative Grail tradition that began with Wolfram Von Eschenbach's Parzival.  However it's not fully developed in Parzival alone.

Richard Wagner composed an Opera adaptation of Parzival called Parsifal.  I have never watched this Opera, but from my googling it seems it does include the Grail being a Jewel of Lucifer's Crown detail.  Once I again I site Jason Colavito.

So I do think Wagner was an influence, but nothing in Tolkien is a one for one allegory of what he was inspired by, it all changes and blends together.

But what I'm most interested in is the main reason Tolkien may have wanted to distance himself from Wagner by the 30s and 40s.  Hitler and other leading Nazis as well as their spiritual fore-bearer Houston Steward Chamberlain were huge Wagner fanboys.  Tolkien in-spite of his own reactionary tendencies absolutely hated the Nazis.

I don't think Wagner would have approved of the Nazis either, even Chamberlain never actually met him (he only married his daughter).

Wagner was guilty of some casual Antisemitism, debates about characters in his Operas being coded negative Jewish stereotypes are not settled, but we know he was mainly because of a piece of non-Fiction he wrote that was mostly just him saying Jews can't make good Music.  Which is mostly just proof he never saw Fiddler On The Roof.  Conspiratorial Antisemitism began emerging after the Dreyfus affair that started in 1894 over a decade after he died.  I don't think Wagner would have supported the Holocaust.

Some have even argued for a Marxist reading of Wagner.

So the Nazis and other Right-Wing German Nationalists were into the Aesthetics of Wagner, not the Substance.

In the modern context of comparing early 20th Century Fascism to the modern Alt-Right, what happened to poor Wagner I view as parallel to the Alt-Right's appropriation of Anime.  Too many normies are now assuming an Anime Avatar on Twitter always means being a Trump supporter.  But a lot of Anime is inherently Counter Culture, there is no way to form a Fascist reading of Ikuhara, YuriKuma Arashi is both pro-Gay and pro-Immigration, Penguindrum and Sarazanmai are heavily anti-Capitalist and Utena is absolutely anti-Patriarchy.  For examples of Leftist Anitubers just look at Pedantic Romanic and Zeria (both Lesbian Trans Women) as well as Shonen Ronin and Posadist Pacman.

Fitting then that Anime is the one of the few places modern Media references Richard Wagner without intending it to be a Nazi reference, most recently in the new Boogiepop and Others (Digi thought the Wagner references were removed because he didn't make it far enough).

In Hollywood Rise of the Valkyries is always used as a musical Godwin's Law.

Sadly the Anime Abandon episode on Harlock Saga states the Tolkien and Wagner connection as fact without acknowledging that there is dispute about it.