I figure it would be fitting to introduce myself to the boards. I'm taking Video_Game_King's format in a lot of ways for this first post, as it seems like a nice way to lay down a LOT of writing.
Hi, I'm Little_Socrates. If you're not a heavy GB user, you probably don't know who I am, as you can see I've made very few (if any) posts on this site; if you are a GB regular, you probably would recognize me more easily by my Clint Eastwood avatar. I'm a first-year college student at UW-Madison, and I'm definitely a liberal arts kid. I also run a gaming podcast called Nerf'd, which comes out with new episodes roughly every Sunday/Monday. We didn't release last week because both Jake (my fellow podcaster, Whiskey Media username commisar123) and I got sick. Expect a new one shortly.
When it comes to anime, I'm generally a skeptic. It's hard not to be; there are SO many series out there that borrow from each other that, eventually, the time commitment an individual anime requires is too heavy to invest deeply in most of them. I also watch anime series so occasionally that I can definitely tell you the last time I finished a series, which was Angel Beats! last June. I was satisfied with it as closure; I probably consider that, objectively, the best anime series ever made, though I don't think it's my favorite. That title goes pretty handily to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Season 1, though, honestly, I haven't even begun Season 2 or seen The Disappearance. I'm also three episodes into Gurren Lagann, and have yet to begin R2 of Code Geass. I'm a bit of a flake when it comes to series.
However, when it comes to anime movies, consider me a believer; outside of 5 Centimeters Per Second, I've finished every anime movie I've ever started, and I generally revel in them. Of course, it's hard not to simply name Miyazaki films when it comes to naming my favorite anime movies, but others that certainly stand out are the film version of Air and the incredibly goofy and fun Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone. I find it tragic, by the way, that there's no AnimeVice page for Dead Zone.
I am, as you may have guessed, an anime novice. I've been following it extremely casually for five years or so, and have not read much manga to help that statistic. When it comes to manga, though, an easy choice for my favorite was Welcome to the NHK, but I also never finished the fifth or sixth volumes. However, I'm open to a lot of types of series, and based on the feedback I get here, I'll be willing to write a lot more.
Also, it wouldn't be fair if I didn't talk some about what I do and don't like about anime in the introduction section of this blog. I think anime has a great advantage in being the most advantageous visual medium to express a non-interactive long-form story that is improved by animation. That is, I think anime is the best when you're making something that shouldn't be a game or a book. Manga, of course, has an advantage in moving faster than anime, but sometimes anime is definitely the better format. When it comes to anime films, they have a huge advantage in the deliberateness of their animation; a lot of animation in Western animation seems either cheap or arbitrary, while animation in, well, movies like Mononoke Hime is always purposeful. However, anime often has a tendency to slow plot beats down in the sake of character development or filler, which can be EXTREMELY frustrating. Also, I like completely unreasonable giant robots, reasonably realistic-but-gorgeous anime ladies, moe personalities, twisted psychological anime, and Japanese sci-fi, but dislike simulation-esque mech shows, filler-based shows like One Piece, and comedies that don't at least belong to the subgenre of romance/comedy.
Now, it might seem like I am not a big enough anime fan to bother writing a blog. However, I'm taking a series of courses this semester related to Japan, those being Classical Japanese Literature in Translation, History of Religion and Culture in the East, and The Monstrous and Supernatural in Japanese Visual Culture. That means I'll be writing a lot about Japanese culture in these classes, and in the last of those three, I'll even specifically be writing about anime quite a bit. In fact, this week's assignment is a visual assessment of one of three character groups from Princess Mononoke. I figured, if I'm going to write this anyways, I might as well post it here, and if I'm going to post it here, I might as well look to you guys to also get some practice.
The basic facts:
-I use Giant Bomb quite a bit, so you might recognize me from over there.
-I'm generally skeptical of anime series and a fan of anime movies, but am still pretty fresh and am looking for more to watch and fill my palate.
-I'm taking three classes this semester that'll force me to think more about Japanese culture.
Now then, I actually have watched some anime this last week, so let's talk about it shortly! (More in-depth stuff later.)
Yes, I know that's the English dub. But I did totally watch the Japanese version with my class last Monday, I swear it! Princess Mononoke stirs a lot of emotions in me; other than Pokémon, it was the first anime I ever experienced. It brings back memories of loved ones, family by blood and otherwise. This time, however, I was more able to hone in on its thematic elements than I had previously.
Our professor advised us to look for the monster in our protagonist, but, ultimately, he was really asking us to look for the monster in every character. Every character invokes some kind of fear in the others, and a series of stubborn decisions lead to the calamity and tragedy that takes place in this movie. I'll be honing in on one particular character more closely later this week for an essay, but unfortunately the character I'm most interested in writing about is not an available option for the essay prompt. Expect a less formal blog about Lady Eboshi later this week.
Ultimately, it's hard to say much about Princess Mononoke other than those who have only watched it considering its "environmentalist" tendencies need to see the film again, this time "with eyes unclouded" by our Western culture and the modern era. There is much more going on in this film than a simple "industry bad, nature good" mentality, and it's a much more spiritual and deliberate film than many casual viewers perceive it to be. Again, I'll actually be returning to this movie at least TWICE this week, so there'll be plenty more about this film later.
Again, I watched the Japanese version, but I think I just like English trailers a little better. Of course, a lot of writing on Summer Wars was done last year, so I'm certain many people are sick of discussing it. But I'm not sure I've liked an animated film as much as Summer Wars since I first saw Fantastic Mr. Fox. Toy Story 3 obviously comes to mind, but I honestly believe Summer Wars is the more innovative and significant film. Ultimately, Toy Story 3 is an extension of my childhood, and it coming out just as all my friends were going to college was pretty devastating (read: sob in theaters) but on a second viewing the film seemed weak. Summer Wars, however, is a super-meaningful movie, and I feel like I'd need to see it again to really catch everything going on in the film.
I'd watched The Good, The Bad and The Ugly earlier in the day for the first time, and after Summer Wars I watched most of Peter Pan for the first time in ages. If I had to pick a film style that Summer Wars matched better, it would be the former; there's a distinct level of subtlety Summer Wars carries that much of animation lacks. Its metaphors (read: baseball team, the famous battle Natsuki's family had fought so long ago, the use of Mickey Mouse ears on Kenji's avatar) are far more subtle than those of most modern animation, its score employs attitude rather than specific emotion, and its characters are more ambiguously good or evil, left mostly as more human than most characters of animation.
Summer Wars gets far on its wonderful rendition of OZ and its beautiful animation, but ultimately these scenes also serve to effectively pace one of anime's better family dramas. I couldn't recommend the film more highly, and it's nice to have a new anime film I can feel confident about actually recommending to people.
That's all I've got for this post! Again, expect a couple more this week on Princess Mononoke, and maybe something more on Summer Wars. Tomorrow, I may be tackling the beginning of Darker Than Black, so if that happens, expect a first impressions blog as well. I'll also be doing more writing on GiantBomb, so follow me there, too! (Hell, maybe I'll even start writing stuff on Screened.)