Here recently in the past few years it seems like society has become more and more obsessed with junk, or at least old second hand items. The topic of junk items have appeared in music such as Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop”, TV Shows like American Pickers, Storage Wars, or Pawn Stars, and it is even prevalent in the Hipster sub-culture who proclaim how innovative they are in their style though they obtain the articles of style from second hand shops and such. It’s easy to see that rummaging has been a large part of human culture throughout time. As the saying goes one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
Even anime at times has tackled the topic of junk hunting. In the anime Gundam ZZ, the main protagonist Judau Ashta is a junk dealer, and even at one point in the show as a spoof of the gundam franchise they replace the head of the Gundam from the previous series with a scrap head from a Zaku after it is damaged. In Gundam 0080, a mobile suit that was used in the last fateful battle of the series was rebuilt from junk parts. In Cowboy Bebop, the crew of the bebop hunt down a VCR from a man selling them as antiques though as Spike says, it’s just a bunk of “junk”. Junk has had its place in several different anime, and for various reasons. Though it’s usually for one episode, a character has to rummage to find something useful to them.
As anime fans, we tend to have a little bit of a collector in us. We like things, whether it is collecting DVDs, manga volumes, figures, or any other sort of anime memorabilia. The fact is that we like to have things. We like to have things so we can show it to our family or friends, or just to take the simple personal pleasure in having said in our possession. The thing about anime though, is that it can get really expensive. Anime boxsets often retail between thirty and seventy American dollars or even more depending on the rarity of the anime. For example, the licensed boxset for the second season of Big O is going for over two hundred American dollars on ebay. Needless to say, anime can be an expensive hobby.
Now you’re probably wondering how all of this relates, and what it comes right down to is an experience I had recently over the weekend, and it involves my best friend. My best friend, is a junk man, and he spends much of his days riding around in truck scouring the side of the road for junk that people have tossed. Ninety-Nine percent of the time he hunts for metal, and scraps it as a source of income, but every once in a while I receive a phone call where he says: “Hey, I found something you might find interesting.” Now before you all go to thinking: “He had to steal that” understand that I’ve been on junk trips before with him, and you would not believe some of the things that people throw away. I once found a complete set of encyclopedias on the side of the road, all in excellent condition. I’ve found a box full of toy NERF guns (darts and all) that were recent models. I also found a stack of board games, some even unopened, just tossed out for the trash man to pick up and take to the landfill.
With that in mind, I once again received that phone call where my friend tells me he found something I may like. This time though he said it was a box of video game manuals and Anime DVDs. At first I didn’t think it would be much, but I even found myself surprised with what he brought. Just have a look at this picture.
In this bundle we have the first two seasons of Ranma ½, the perfect collection Excel Saga boxset, the first three DVDs for Witch Hunter Robin, and the first DVD for Ergo Proxy. I remember seeing these boxsets on the shelf at best buy for forty dollars, but now these are all mine and I got them completely for free. Now I won’t lie and say they are in perfect condition, because the DVDs do have a few scratches on them, but other than that it’s in impeccable condition. The boxsets look as sleek as ever, and there is no damage to the cases, and they still have their inserts. I’m not certain if they play yet, but that is a venture I will look into soon. Still it is amazing enough that a treasure such as this was simply found on the side of the road.
So to all of my fellow anime fans and friends, don’t ever look down on your local junk man, dumpster diver, or pack rat. Instead befriend them, learn what they are all about, and let them learn a little about you. In the end, you’ll have a great friend, and every once in a while that friend might drop something pretty cool off at your house. Believe it’s totally worth it. Happy Hunting guys!
Here recently I finished one of the most controversial animes that aired in 2013, and that is Sword Art Online. Personally, I enjoyed it (you can see my thoughts on it here), but when I went to look at other reviews I was rather stunned by the reactions I was seeing. The one that struck me the most was how there was a very large dislike of SAO’s main character Kazuto Kirigaya, aka Kirito. There were all sorts of complaints about how he had no personality, how he was overpowered for unexplained reasons, and how he caused the female cast line to fall into the background as tired tropes of female sterotypes. The analytics of Kirito were pretty much all over the place. Personally, though I could not understand where the frustration was coming from, and I was asking myself: “What’s so wrong with Kirito?” I liked him, and I thought he was pretty badass in a lot of his sequences.
That being said, Kirito is not a perfectly rounded character, because he does have his faults. Predominately being the one thing that gives most people a problem with characters like him, and that is a sense of something to relate too. When it comes to Sword Art Online you don’t really get a sense of what Kirito is all about, other than he’s just badass for the sake of being such. Does that make him a bad character? I would think it doesn’t. Despite the elements that Kirito lacks, we the audience, still don’t want him to lose. We effectively want to see the hero win, and seeing that character overcome extreme adversity is really what the badass hero is all about. It’s the embodiment of the human nature aspect of wanting to see good overcome evil.
To understand the aspect of these characters you have to understand their key elements that make them up. A badass hero is above all else confident in his/her ability, courageous in the face of overwhelming opposition, and has a moral compass of some kind, even if it is slightly broken. Kirito from SAO still has all of these elements, but what is it about Kirito in particular that causes viewers to not connect with him as they would Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop, or Edward Elric from Full Metal Alchemist?
I believe that it is because the badass hero aspect is a tried stereotype that has been done over and again, and it has been done better in many cases. Also it is the fact that viewers want to see unique aspects to characters, so they can be awesome and relatable at the same time. Spike is a chill dude that can kick ass, and Edward has a height complex and a short temper (no pun intended) while still being able to kick ass. Kirito on the other hand is just able to kick ass. So in a way the audience is sort of asking: “What else can you do?”
Is that fair of us as viewers though? We still take a lot of appreciation in seeing the hero win. I know I was on the edge of my seat and all excited when I would see Kirito fight in the amazing action sequences of SAO, and I was happy to see him fall in love with Asuna, despite the nature the show took with the relationship. I believe it is fair, because as human beings some of us will like things that others may not.
In the end, I don’t think Kirito can stand up there with great badass heroes that we all know and love, but I don’t think that makes him a bad character either. Kirito is just a decent character that can do awesome things. So in a way we the audience like what Kirito does throughout SAO, but that is not the same things as liking Kirito himself, and that I believe is what a large part of where the dislike for Kirito comes from, and what is ultimately “wrong” with him.