NOTE: This will be a rambling post. Sorry I just really need to talk about this to keep myself sane.
So Space Brothers started airing in Apr 2012, almost 2 years ago from today. Since then it has been nothing but amazing. For a while I was pretty dedicated every Saturday working on the episode pages of Space Brothers, writing plot summaries and adding screenshots! It really let me delve deeper into the story and gain an appreciation for it.
But at what cost? I've done this with other anime like Hanasaku Iroha. I think once Hanasaku Iroha I also had similar emotions that I'm feeling now. Like I think a part of me never really considered the possibility that Space Brothers would end. So when two weeks ago I saw on MAL that it was of 99 episodes, and I just finished watching ep98... I didn't really believe it. Space Brothers over the past 2 years has been the anime I always came back to, and truly looked forward too every week.
After watching a single episode of Space Brothers, I felt alright again. Even when things got busy with school, and I basically dropped away from anime almost entirely, when I finally did get around to watching anime, I always had room in my heart for Space Brothers. It's not just the end of a series for me, it's the end of a period of life, and a reflection on what I've done in that period of my life.
I suppose this is part of the beauty of watching a series as it airs. You have regular intervals for watching something, which helps frame whatever else is happening in your life. Yeah I guess in some sense I really committed myself to watching this series, by working on the wiki each week and such. I did something similar with Hanasaku Iroha, so that helps explain why I felt so sad after that series ended as well.
And the thing is, I know there's the manga, I know the story continues and that Space Brothers manga is still ongoing. And I'm still kicking around the idea of paying for CR's full access membership and reading the manga. But at the same time like I said.. this really feels like the end of an era for me. Coming this summer, basically 2 months from now I'm gonna be graduating. And again sorry if this sounds like a super sob story, but like I said, this post is more to keep myself sane than anything. But basically I don't know what I'm gonna do. I can't go back to summers of watching anime and working on the wiki (which is what I did with Space Brothers and lots of other anime).
Then another part of me is just scrambling to find "the next Space Brothers" or "the next Hanasaku Iroha" that will tide me along and make me feel alright again. And maybe I'll have something new and fun to think and write about. But then what? Man you know, I can't count the number of times I've sincerely thought to myself over the past years "I don't know", "I give up". But somehow I've still got stuff done, and here I am graduating. Space Brothers has been a part of that plodding along, and now that it's gone I face again the "what now?" question.
Another part of me wants to start over from the beginning and live it all over again. But there will only ever be one first time, and all repeats will just chase after the first experience, which has long gone. I've done this with games in the past like the PS1 Final Fantasy games, or more recently the Mass Effect trilogy (read last year). I played the crap out of those, to the point where they no longer invoke the same sense of wonder and joy I had the first time experiencing it.
Man, yeah I duno how to end this blog without it feeling like a complete downer. Yeah I guess it's normal too feel sad when an anime you really enjoy ends, and there will always be more anime to enjoy around the corner. And yeah I've been enthusiastic about other anime, but you know there has been something really unique about anime like Space Brothers or Hanasaku Iroha. No other anime have I really been so warm-heartedly enthusiastic about. I guess you could say all anime I watch have a place in my heart, some bigger than others. I hope in the future I can continue to look back on the anime I watched and have no regrets. But again, I duno.
As some of you know, I live in Canada. You may also know that Hulu only streams to U.S. users. While sites like Funimation.com and Crunchyroll primarily stream to Canada and US.
BUT ever since the site-revamp of Funimation.com, some of its anime have switched to using an embedded Hulu video player to stream its anime. So for me, some of the anime I was previously able to watch on Funimation, I was unable to watch due to the new mandatory Hulu player for some anime (e.g. Psycho-Pass, Black Lagoon Season 2).
So until VERY recently, I kind of just let this slide, and presumed something might have been wrong with the site, not detecting that I'm from Canada and loading the right video player or something, or that it might get fixed eventually. Then I googled and stumbled upon a Hummingbird thread that suggested the extensions below to get around the region-lock.
P.S. I'm not sure if this violates site regulations? I understand we are a pro-legal-streaming site and anti-pirate site, so I don't know if this is the same as that... I mean if more people watch their stuff, shouldn't that mean more ad-money for them? Anyways my intentions are pure, I just want more people to enjoy their anime more freely, and maybe help out people who are in a similar situation as I was... and spread the love of anime. o3o
If the first 6/7 Episodes of Samurai Flamenco are a commentary or deconstruction of the superhero genre in a more realistic slice-of-life setting, then the episodes following episode 7 are a meta-commentary on the viewer's expectations. The viewer comes to expect such a deconstruction. After settling us into a familiar slice-of-life setting, with light comedy, memorable characters and good underlying moral lessons, the show flips the genre switch.
The result of flipping the genre highlights the entirely fictional nature of what we are watching. For example there are a number of times in the first few episodes where the police officer scolds Samurai Flamenco saying "this isn't some hero show, this is real life, you can't go around doing.." blah blah. Then when Samurai Flamenco finally succeeds in being a real-life hero, he is forced to face supernatural monsters.
In effect, the world of monsters and evil is set on the same level of fictional reality as the slife-of-life world we were presented in the first 6/7 episodes. So in this way, Samurai Flamenco can be seen as a meta-commentary on genre, AND how we as viewers relate to fictional characters and stories and derive meaning from those characters/stories.
I was very entertained with Samurai Flamenco's early slice of life commentary style. And I too was initially shocked by the series' almost surreal transition into a world of evil monsters. But, after some thought I'm convinced that Samurai Flamenco was up to something bigger. Namely by fusing the genres of slice of life and superheroes, boundaries are shaken and viewers are invited to re-evaluate what they are taking away from a show, and why. Why was I shocked by the transition from episode 7 to 8 when the gorilla guillotine monster appeared? What was I expecting? How did the first 7 episodes set up my expectations, and shape my experience to fall in love with the slice-of-life aspect of it, and feel so (initially) weirded out by it's surreal transition?
Briefly speaking, it is because the first several episodes set up that tone of realism and down to earth characters which sets us up for that shocking transition. However, the implications of such a transition on the shows overall themes of justice, everyday heroes and such are still up for debate. Maybe the show is saying that despite our hero's early successes dealing with small crime, in the end, heroes really only exist in fiction and it is useless to try to mimic them.
Even if you aren't convinced by what I've said that Samurai Flamenco is a meta-commentary on genre, at least I hope one can think more openly about genre, one's expectations going into different stories or while watching a show, and how the story and presentation might work with or against those expectations to shape one's experience of the story (in this case the story of Samurai Flamenco).
Below are 2 lists (S-league and A-league, S being better than A) which make up ALL the anime that I watched in 2013 which aired in 2013. They are ranked in terms of how much I enjoyed them. So the rankings are a relative indication of which anime I think is better than another ONLY in the sense that I can come up with reasons why I enjoyed some anime more than another. Different people may enjoy different anime for different reasons, I’m not gonna detail why/what I enjoyed/did not enjoy about each anime on these lists, so just take from these rankings what you will. =P Also ALL the anime listed below are available via Crunchyroll.com.
Flowers of Evil gets top for being bold, cold and ruthless. Samurai Flamenco was a pleasant surprise. It’s like a meta-superhero anime, and it does a brilliant job of commenting on social justice, heroes, idols and such, while balancing comedy, tragedy and action.
Roughly 47 of the currently 86 episodes of Space Brothers aired in 2013, and it still packs both comedic and emotional punches, with down-to-earth, memorable characters in realistic settings, dealing with realistic problems.
Chihayafuru commits to its card-game premise in an amazing way. I remember having a minor quibble while watching it that the card matches were being drawn out. Each match is framed with such intensity and a focus on characters’ psyche which can be taken as a good or bad thing. Ippo is my replacement for Chihayafuru, xD. It’s also a sports anime, but is about boxing. Having not watched an Ippo anime before or been exposed to any sports anime other than Chihayafuru , I was eager to get my feet wet in another sports anime, and it is great so far!
Genshiken is one of the first I’ve seen do the “anime/manga club” thing well. It is really smart about its humor. My only quibble is that it doesn’t make full use of its huge cast, but the story it tells in 12 episodes is fairly succinct and well done.
Silver Spoon is a coming of age story. It does a good job of looking at agriculture in a fun way, and making us more aware of how much we take from nature in living our lives.
I had a hard time placing TWGOK3 between the S-league and A-league. Like Genshiken and Samurai Flamenco, it is really smart about its humor. Despite this I still found some of the supernatural elements a bit silly. It pulls a huge reversal near the end which really deepens/darkens Keima’s character and his role. Yamishibai did some crazy stuff in such short time (4 minute episodes). The sound, voice and art work is spot on, and had me in chills each week.
Watamote’s anti-social/socially-anxious protagonist should strike a chord with geeks everywhere. There’s a little Tomoko in all of us isn’t there? I found myself swaying between sympathizing with her and being angry with her. It hits on teenage social issues in a fresh, fun ironic, cynical way. I also had a hard time placing Watamote. If I were to make further changes, I might switch TWGOK and Watamote for Genshiken and Silver Spoon respectively.* (see final note)
Kill la Kill and Attack on Titan were both pretty enjoyable, but I don’t think they did enough with the ideas they were exploring, and tended to be showy. Zetsuen no Tempest and Eccentric Family suffered from cases of the ‘moving mouths’ syndrome. Tempest had some neat ideas with time travel, 2 god-like trees, magic, murder etc. Eccentric Family also had some nice themes of family and nature, but it ended up feeling kind of shallow, while Tempest didn’t really integrate everything well enough.
In no particular order, these are anime which aired in 2013, which I did not have time to watch, but wish I did get around to watching. I have no doubt that these anime would shake up the rankings quite a bit.
If you want more of my thoughts on Flowers of Evil, Nagi no Asukara and Kill la Kill, check out their discussion threads. Also I commented on some of the anime on these lists in previous blogs, feel free to check those out too (blog on Flowers of Evil, blog on Space Brothers). =P
Remember these rankings only indicate relative enjoyment. I took something unique away from each of the anime listed above. As always thanks for reading, it was fun considering the anime I watched this past year in a relatively holistic way. Feel free to leave a comment with any thoughts on the above anime or other anime recommendations!
Also feedback on this blog’s format are much appreciated (length, style, picture use). I tried to be brief with my comments, but I had also considered splitting this into 3 blogs. Otherwise, merry Christmas, happy New Year and good luck to everyone in the upcoming year! =)
Here are pictures of my rough rankings. Haha, I guess if you really want, you can cross-reference these pics with the final rankings, but don’t read into them too much. Also the reason I considered MAL ratings (what I ranked each anime on Myanimelist) is because I only rate anime after I watch all the episodes, and after giving it some thought. So looking at my ratings helps me remember what I did/did not enjoy about that anime.
The more I think about it, the more I want to shift around the ratings. =P So I will say that the rankings which I feel a little uncomfortable with are S4-7 (Chihaya, Ippo, Genshiken, Silver) and A1+3 (TWGOK + Watamote). Which just means I’m not sure which I enjoyed more, since they are all so great in their own ways! xD.. and ties are no fun. :P
I have never been able to put into words why I dislike battle threads so much until now. It's because underlying all Battle threads is aggression. It puts two characters from two different anime and reduces them to ONE characteristic, their power.
Instead of having Battle threads, why don't we have "Friend threads"? Take two characters from different anime and consider how likely or unlikely they are to become friends, or get along, and explaining why. This would involve a deeper consideration of each character's personality, behavior and psychology, and would NOT reduce each character to just their power.
I think maybe part of the reason Battle threads are getting out of hand is because of the inherent aggression that underlies them. If we flip the switch and start making "Friend threads" I think it could make these forums a lot more warm and enjoyable for everyone. For me at least it seems a lot more fun and positive to consider how two characters might become friends than to consider how they might beat each other up. But again this is just an idea.
Perhaps we could create a new concept page for these "Friend threads" and go from there. If it were up to me I would abolish Battles threads entirely, have Friend threads as a replacement, and put more focus behind discussion threads and encouraging users to post their thoughts about the anime they're watching. But hey this is just an idea, take from it what you will. And as always, enjoy your anime!