Rogue Shogunate

PROMARE: the fire fighting Gurren Lagann

TRIGGER has done it again! This is not going to be a traditional review mystery where i beat around the bush just to tell you at the end if it was worth a watch or not, I am just going to get right to it!

Worth it?—Depends on YOU.

Do you like Mecha anime? Did you watch Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and love it? What about the art style of Kill la Kill? If any of those questions equal yes then yea its worth a watch. If you ask yourself those questions and get a no, then its probably not for you, but I would encourage you to give it a try anyway just to step outside your comfort zone a bit.

The animation style while not for everyone is gorgeous. The shapes and colors are really the standouts. Hard angles juxtaposed with bright sharp colors make every scene look amazing but the combat scenes especially stand out. Watching the Mech Suits transform at first was difficult because of all the bright backgrounds, 90 degree angles, and the “sun rays were a bit distracting, but once I got used to the style again it was perfect for what the type of world this anime built. 560x315mv.jpg

The soundtrack was on point as usual with a Studio trigger production. The music set was all pretty upbeat and inspiring and the characters react to it as if they could actually hear it. I mean obviously they couldn’t hear it, there was no fourth wall breaking or anything but they seemed to rally with the music or did the music rally with them….whatever, it fit, music was good.

One of the biggest things I focus on when it comes to anime in general is character development. I was reading some comments from others and someone stated that the there was no real character development or that it was rushed. While I agree in some cases I think there was definitely some character development for a few of the characters and the ones that didn’t develop weren’t really given a reason to develop in the first place. In order for your character to develop/ grow they must be faced with a challenge or dilemma that forces them to rethink who they are fundamentally as a person or in the case of combat developments they must be faced with an opponent they have to overcome. While traditionally I am a fan of training arcs/ sequences when you are making a movie you don’t have the time frame to do a full training arc so you have to employ rapid character development or power evolution. Out of all of the characters in the movie there were really only a few real chances for character development. The main villain and his sidekick, the anti-hero, and the main character (I think his name was Kamina 😉 jk) (As you can see i am trying not to spoil anything). I will keep this short and just talk about the main character (if you want to discuss the others hit me up in the messages below). The main characters entire identity revolves around an event that occurred when he was a child. His admiration for his savoir and his disdain for the flames create this identity of a hero firefighter. He knows who he is and what he wants to do and has unwavering conviction toward this end goal all stems from that single event is his past. At a certain point in the movie that event is challenged, everything he thought he knew is challenged and instead of having a single moment of wow who am I? am I fighting for the right reasons? he just flies right through it not skipping a beat. That to me was a missed opportunity. But one could argue that he was so sure about who he was nothing could shake that conviction, that faith, his identity not anything.

All in all the movie was solid…8/10 if I had to give it a rating. I’m sure if you look hard, reeeal hard you will see similarities to Gurren Lagann.promare-movie-trigger-trailer-kamina-1174289-1280x0.jpeg

The Domestic Abuse of Hoshiai no Sora

I have never really been into sports anime (Are those the exact words I used in my Ping Pong review opening? Or that I use in all of my reviews!? Fuck it… Being self-aware makes repedetive writing okay so whatever. You did this Deadpool). It isn’t really the sport part that puts me off, I’ll watch anything if I think that it’ll be good. But sadly, few sports anime have really intrigued me in any way other than “that shot was kind of cool I guess” so I just stayed out of it. I still have a lot of sports anime on my PTW-list (I think at least. But I never really felt the need to watch any of them. Even when people said that they weren’t about the actual sports that they based the story on, that never worked on me. If the show’s strength is the themes it tackles then why don’t I just watch a show that actually has interesting themes and don’t have to constantly be described as “not about the sport”. It’s just kind of annoying. And so before this I had only seen like 2 sports anime, one of which was extremely mediocre. So I wasn’t really that compelled to watch any of it if it wasn’t highly acclaimed.

But for some reason, a sports show this season intrigued me. I don’t even really know why, it was just on a whim that I started watching it this season. Maybe it helped that I had played Tennis before and wanted to watch a show about it, but I never expected to find Hoshiai no Sora this interesting.

One of my favorite youtube creators is Oliver “Philosophy Tube” Thorn. He does a lot of videos on subjects including but not limited to climate change, abortion, the validity of democracy and of course the philosophy of anime (Haven’t watched that one, I just think the character he plays annoys the hell out of me. He’s kind of like a majority of r/anime or Reddit in general. Yes I’m calling you out right now). You know, standard “left-wing youtube” topics (I hate that word but whatever). And I find his videos very interesting and have influenced my own way of thinking greatly, while also being surprisingly well directed and produced. Like, really! He’s kind of like Contrapoints if you know of her. He makes those kinds of videos that I can just put in the background while I’m doing something over and over and over again.

But a video of his that I find especially interesting is his video on abuse and trauma. He tells us the story of No Exit and his own experience with the topic. It’s a very personal video and one that kind of opened me up to how an abusive relationship could look like and what it inevitably leads to. How an abusive partner makes you feel like you are dependant on them and that even if hell opens up, you won’t leave.

It’s a topic that I feel as though doesn’t get talked about enough. Sure, we see girls being hit by their boyfriends in bad movies all the time, but they rarely touch on the psychological aspects of it. That even if you know that something’s wrong, you will not leave cause your self-image has now become defined by your partner. You become nothing. 

And it’s surprising how few times this is dealt with in sports anime considering how heavily sports rely on teams. How you have to play as one to really win, that you can’t do so alone. And I thought this would continue to be with this series but I was quickly proven wrong.

(Btw I’ll be spoiling stuff, so bye-bye if you don’t want to read that)

From episode 1 I was highly interested in the show even if it didn’t seem like it would do anything special. While I didn’t find the art style to be that interesting to look at, the execution was fantastic! The overall direction is gorgeous and the attention to detail in the animation is so human that I don’t think I can really look at anime like I used to. Even (what I assume are) CG characters look really good! I hadn’t really seen anything from the director before and the art director had seriously only worked on one anime before this so it was a huge surprise! That coupled with the really well-toned composition and enjoyable characters made the show good enough to continue watching even though it had its problems. Looking at my notes, the showed seemed to be a mix of “I love Mitsue”, the animation being super nice and the main guy being way too good at tennis for someone who has never played it before (Even for someone really passionate about it). It was very relaxing to watch and just generally fun.

But around a third of the series, this changed almost completely. 

When I watched the fourth episode of the series I noticed that there still was content after the ending. I usually stop watching when the ED plays since I want to actually watch the show, even when the ending is great like in this case! So when I saw this I was kind of shocked. And even more so to see what the after-credits scene had to offer. 

The scene shows Maki home alone in his apartment when his biological father rings the bell and bursts in and takes the money that he supposedly needs from them. And this causes Maki to have a panic attack, something we don’t really see from Maki before this. It’s a very emotional scene since it breaks all the expectations you have for what kind of series this is. The way that they really put you inside of Maki with the use of cinematography and music was really special. It’s a glimpse of discomfort in Maki that kind of changed how I saw this show completely.

And while the show continues to have cute and wholesome moments where the members of the club support each other, this is consistent. Almost every member of the club seems to have some internal problem that they have to face throughout the show, which often has to do with domestic abuse (whether physical or psychological). And while this is pretty common in a lot of anime, the consistency in this really surprised me. The way they seemed to be able to give almost every character depth originally and interestingly was highly effective when trying to make this story seem real. 

Toma’s problems with his mother and expectations of being as good as his brother, Nao’s silence in the face of his mother’s disapproval, and Mitsue’s fears that being an artist makes her stupid are just a few of these problems that the characters have to get over. And while a lot of them revolve around their parents, which can get a little repetitive (I would’ve liked to see this theme of abuse being developed in more ways), I feel like they explore this domestic abuse in a way that shows how much a child can be fucked up from this. There is a variety in how it is executed.

Yuuta is a character here that I feel as though is extra special in this regard though since his arc doesn’t really have to do with his parents at all. And while I think the character wouldn’t have been worse if it did have to do with his parents, it’s something that I can appreciate as it is.

Cause while I don’t think most anime are that problematic, I find the exploration of sex and gender to be very weak in it. I haven’t really seen anything tackling it realistically, and most of the time when a gay couple appears in an anime it just feels as though they are there to please the yaoi/yuri crowd. So seeing it being explored in Yuuta’s character was very shocking! In one of the earlier episodes, it is basically revealed that Yuuta is into guys. After this, we see this developed more, where we get to see his questioning of gender and sex as a whole. How he doesn’t feel comfortable even labeling himself, something a lot of trans and non-binary people has problems with as well. But he never feels defined by this either. While his sexuality and gender questions are developed in the series, he spends most of the time just being another guy in the club. No one jokes about or feels the need to point out that he’s gay or something. He just is and seeing a show deal with identity like this is incredibly respectable.

And again, character development like this happens so many times! Rintauro has like 3 scenes where he gets character development yet I feel like this is enough for him to be one of my favorite characters in the show. At the same time, I feel like they make every character feel flawed in some way. Whether it is being an asshole sometimes or to give their own responsibility at others, they don’t feel perfect. It’s incredibly impressive to see this in just another seasonal show when it is more common in longer shows seen as classics!

We even get to see this theme of abusive relationships being explored in tennis itself which is I think is just incredible! Arashi and his tennis partner reflect what an abusive relationship looks like. How Arashi is controlling of the whole field while his partner always second-guesses both his failings and wins. I would even say that Toma and Maki represent this in the way that they relate to their opponents. Their strategy is often to start out losing but learning who their opponents are so that they later can completely destroy them both physically and mentally. They become the controlling ones. It is kind of fucked sometimes, and I can see this conveying how a whole tennis match can symbolize a relationship like that. They get to know each other and then one of them manipulate that knowledge.

And I find that so interesting cause it doesn’t just use tennis as a backdrop to tell their story, but a vehicle. It is important for the story. So, in the end, I still believe that this show is about tennis. How we can escape into tennis, and that it can either distract you from your problems in life or just make them bigger.

And speaking of ending, I feel like I have to bring it up. This show has become the subject of quite a few controversies, one of which has to do with how the production of the series went. And I usually don’t think to talk about the production of a show really matters when discussing the quality of a series, since a work of art is what it is and not how it was originally supposed to be. But in this case, I feel like I have to bring up how the ending of the show was dealt with. Because according to the director himself, the series was cut into a 12 episode series 2 years into production when it was originally supposed to be double the length. So the story is essentially just half of what it was supposed to be. And this is obviously a shame. I would’ve wanted a 24 episodes series from this, and seeing the staff being fucked like this is terrible. But still, I genuinely think the 12th episode of the series works really well as an ending. While it doesn’t resolve everything the series has to say and definitely doesn’t end the story, seeing Maki becoming worse than his dad was really interesting. I generally think that stories that end on a negative point are more interesting than ones where the characters all end up happily. So while it is obviously too bad that this had to happen for the series, but for what it is I’m happy with it!

In the end, I don’t think this series will change my life or the media I choose to consume. I have to learn a lesson in that a show I like won’t make me automatically want to watch shows in the same genre. I will probably always have the precognition that sports shows won’t be worth the time. But it doesn’t have to. I find it interesting and it made me spend time I could’ve wasted on something else and for what it is, it matters. 

Strong 8/10!

My Views: Fire Force

Now that the season for Fire Force has ended was it worth the watch? Here is a quick breakdown of what I think.

Fire Force (overall): 7.5/10

Plot: 8/10
I think that the plot had enough going on to really keep you engaged. The main character (Shinra) is likable and not too OP to break the plot. The fight scenes were good but did not have to carry the show. Shinra looking for his younger brother is the main point of the show and discovering the reason for human combustion is the catalyst that gives each episode a purpose. The fact is that ultimately Shinra is the only one that really cares about his little brother, don’t get me wrong now that he is at the 8th and has told those people whats up, they care too but my point is that if Shinra was never looking for his younger brother no one else would be either. So, having a secondary objective is clutch and key. The true question is how do they intend to keep that going in season two?

Character Development: 2/10                                                                                                          I don’t think the characters developed at all. Honestly its probably still too early for them to grow a lot but they all seemed to have gotten a power boost so they did develop in that aspect. I’m pretty big on character development no matter what genre it is, characters have to grow in some way. Fire Force did not deliver much character development besides the normal power growth scenes and one other scene with Shinra and his little brother.

Animation: 7/10
I enjoyed the animation though I am not that technical. I understand budget costs and all that comes to play when creating anime so I tend to look over anything that doesn’t hinder me from understanding the action. Fire Force did a good job for the most part. There were a couple fight scenes that I thought could have been cleaner but overall, I think it looked fine. There were a few scenes where the lighting was done superbly–the light and dark contrast with the flames, very well done. OH! and all the scenes with the fan service they spared no expense!

All in all, its a fun anime to watch. Aside from the unnecessary fan service that had no real plot moving devices, the world that is built is fascinating to say the least and they do a good job of exploring enough to keep you coming back for more. I was watching this anime at the same time as some other really popular ones and I did not skip a week of this. From the fight scenes (like the one with Maki in in the subway…) to the plot execution I think its worth the watch if your into Shonens. Someone else felt the same way I did about the Maki subway scene and posted it to YouTube check it out below.

Beastars Exploration of an Obsession Over Death and My Disappointment with What It became

On the 31st of March next year, Bojack Horseman will release its last season. It’ll be its sixth season with 76 episodes all together (excluding the season two special). And that show matters a lot to me. It is probably, no definitely, my favorite tv-series of all time. That and Your Name are the only pieces of media that make me happy while not distracting me from my life. They’re the only things that seem to be able to tell me that everything’s going to be all right, which might sound weird is true. And the thing is that it isn’t just “This horse is depressed. Give us some awards already!” type of show, cause there is so much more to it than that. It explores ideas around sexuality and wanting to find who you are, and feeling consumed by whom you think you are. My favorite character, Princess Carolyn, isn’t really all that relatable, to me at least. I’ve never had a job like her and I don’t really suffer from workaholism as it kind of seems she’s dealing with. But I find her arc so interesting and her writing to be so sharp that it doesn’t matter. She is a brilliant character nonetheless. 

Why I have half a mind

It is more than just a show about a sad horse, but a city full of people who don’t know who they are, and who’ll probably search for themselves forever. And so seeing it end like this, basically canceled, is sad (although, with season five’s message it feels natural to end it here).

And I have probably tried to find another show, another anime, another anything similar to it ever since rewatching it a few years back and realizing how good it was. I wanted a show that could convey the same feeling of realism that Bojack did, but I never really found one. Even other shows about mental health never had that sense that it was about more than relatability. Maybe I knew deep inside that I wouldn’t find anything like it, but for some reason, I kept asking. And one of the many times when I did, someone recommended Beastars to me. It hadn’t aired yet, I mean an anime hadn’t even been announced. But it was in the back of my head ever since then. It seemed promising. Sad wolf show sounded like something I would enjoy.

BTW, I’m not going to talk about anything furry related. That’s just bullshit. Your sensitive ass sexuality won’t be hurt by a show about anthropomorphic animals, that’s all. I will spoil some big stuff though, so ye…

Beastars is about the tension between herbivores and carnivores in a society of animals, and what happens when a wolf tries to befriend a rabbit. And this was the most compelling aspect of the show, the tension between the wolf and the rabbit. In episode one of the series, our main character Legosi senses the smell of a rabbit and gets an uncontrollable urge to attack her. He lunges at her and puts her in a position where she can do nothing but accept her mortality. But in the end, he lets her go after talking to his own consciousness. His own obsession over thinking that he’ll hurt someone. The day after having almost eaten the rabbit, he meets her alone in the gardening club. This leads to Legosi trying to befriend the rabbit, Haru, almost in a way to show himself that he won’t harm her. And the way that this is executed is so interesting. It is almost treated like OCD. How he becomes obsessed over the idea that he’s subconsciously trying to eat her, doesn’t want to look at her in fear of that sending the wrong message, or just the first scene in episode two. “A hidden murderer might be inside of you, you know?”. It’s something I hadn’t really seen in anime, an accurate depiction of OCD (Not that he’s confirmed to be suffering from that, I don’t want to sound like an armchair psychologist. I’m just speculating). There always seems like there is a problem in him, and in a way, he has accepted this. He will always be feared for the sole reason that he’s a wolf, and maybe they’re right. Maybe he is to be feared, maybe he will one kill someone when his urge to do it can’t be beaten. He is in a way haunted by death itself. He is simultaneously the bearer and victim of it. 

And the way that this is reflected through the setting and its people is even more thought-provoking and compelling. How the herbivores live in constant fear of being killed, while the carnivores are haunted by the risk that they might be the bearer of it. Everyone is in a constant struggle with death, either being at risk of it or to do it. No one is safe, death is all. And it shows that an animal society like this one would inevitably collapse, with nothing but wild animals left. It’s something Wes Andersson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox explores as well, although in a more comedic way. And it’s refreshing seeing a show that makes a statement that goes beyond “don’t be sad” or some shit like that.

The vibe that the show gave off was really interesting because of this. The issues that Legosi struggle with and how they’re conveyed through the setting is an idea unique enough to make the show stand out really well! It sets a sense of thematic consistency that few anime achieve, that few works of fiction have achieved. But this was unfortunately not to be maintained. 

Cause after maybe 5 episodes, this vibe is lost. The tone and everything seems to change overnight, in a way I can’t even really describe. It is as if the director changed his mind on what he wanted the show to symbolize in the middle of production, only showcasing how inexperienced Shinichi is at directing a story. Suddenly Beastars isn’t about not knowing your own intentions or a critique on the idea of an anthropomorphic society anymore, but yet another Romeo and Juliet story. And the problem here isn’t that changing tone or theme is bad, there are a lot of good films and tv-shows whose tone and message change in the story and gain from this. The problem is that this has been explored so many times! The struggle of love that can’t be is such an overused theme that Gnomeo and Juliet isn’t even the worst example of it used. It isn’t even explored interestingly. Legosi falls in love with Haru for some reason and she feels the same way, and that’s it. The end of episode 11 kind of made me hope that the ending wouldn’t just be “and now they’re a couple despite all odds”, but that’s what happens anyway. Haru becoming a damsel in distress was probably the most surprisingly bad decision the show makes. Haru is taken by some lion gang or whatever, and Legosi has to risk his life to save her. What is this? Mario!?

This along with some structural and expository problems made almost half of the show kind of frustrating to watch. Going from that interesting exploration of an obsession over death, to that was honestly very jarring and disappointing. And it’s not as if I expected the show to be as good as Bojack Horseman. I didn’t want to see Bojack Horseman again, I wanted it to be its own thing. And it was, until it became just like a hundred other anime.

In the last episode of the show, Legosi confesses his love for Haru and they become a couple. And that just left me in a state of dissatisfaction like few anime have this year. Was this really a story that needed to be told? Was that ending really important for the story? Zootopia but now they’re in love… There are still aspects of this show that I feel like are more consistent than the story. The use of CG animation is at times distracting but is honestly one of the best uses of it that I’ve seen. From the cinematography to the use of other mediums is very inspiring. I don’t think the latter half of the story ruins this show by any means. It’s still pretty good. But I can’t help feeling like this show could’ve been so much better. It could’ve said so much more. It could’ve been great.

Medium 7/10 or something

Probably my favorite piece of animation in the show

Ergo Proxy and on the Perception of Life

In Lemmino’s video on AI simply called Artificial Intelligence, he discusses the possibility that robots will become superior to us. He spends most of the video listing things that AI is able to achieve, and how they’re already starting to get better at us in certain fields. The ability to learn gets a lot of focus since it breaks the line between human and machine. But what made Lemmino’s video stick out in comparison to all the other hundreds of videos on the subject is what he compares it to. At the end of the video essay, he uses animals as an analogy to explain how the superiority of AI would actually work. 

“Attempt to explain to the millions of animals living in the jungle the geopolitical and socioeconomic reasons for why we continue to destroy their home. It’s impossible. They simply lack the intelligence to understand.”

And this shows not only how AI would react to our existence, but how we handle a similar power difference. How we perceive and treat life. The relationship between the creator and the creation. And at the expense of sounding like a pretentious 16-year old, which I am, this analysis will be about that and how the tv-series Ergo Proxy tackles this. And I’ll spoil some stuff, big stuff. So go watch it if you haven’t, it’s really great!

Ergo Proxy tells the story of Lil Mayer and Vincent Law who go on a journey to find who they really are and if they are deserving of life itself. And this is the underlying theme of the series. Life. It’s a topic that many have tried to tackle, yet this somehow stood out. The way that it explores the idea of what life even is and how we should treat it was new to me. It is first established in one of the opening scenes of episode one. Our main character Lil is talking to her auto-reiv Iggy when she tells him to stop chatting and disengage turing chat mode. Iggy accepts and doesn’t say a word. It isn’t really clear if this was consensual or not, we just accept it cause he’s a robot and made to serve us. That is their “Raison d’être”. And this is very repeated throughout the show. How the auto-reivs’ lives aren’t treated as human or whole. They aren’t allowed to act on their own, and when they do it is seen as a virus. And this feels very emblematic for what the show wants to say. What we humans see as life and how we treat that of which doesn’t qualify. What isn’t human isn’t permitted autonomy. And we can see how this is by design. When a person in the world tries to gain freedom, they are only left with sorrow. When the auto-reiv’s get the cogito virus, they are almost always shot, and when Vincent escapes from Romdo, he enters a world isolation and inhospitality that we have created. The world rejects freedom, to the point where it starts to resemble propaganda. Basically, we live in a society. 

Another way that the theme is tackled is through self-destruction. How we define our own lives. The two main characters of the show reflect this really well. Lil Mayer effectively destroys herself by overthinking her life in an attempt to understand it. Ever since the Ergo Proxy fell into her life, her life became an endless loop of trying to understand herself and everything that is going on around her. In the 16th episode, we see this embodied in a single episode. The sailing boat ship stops cause there’s no wind. Nothing can be done really, they just have to wait for it to come back. But Lil can’t really accept this. She narrates what is going on inside her head, showing how anxious and worried about the situation they’re in. She becomes irritated when Vincent doesn’t seem to think about it. She sees it as not caring, that he doesn’t understand that it will be life or death whether or not the wind comes back. She has gotten into the habit of overthinking her life to the point where not doing so is a sign of immaturity and lack of seriousness. It is only at the end of the episode where she realizes that her overthinking is only causing herself harm. Where she realizes that worrying about it won’t change anything. And since a lot of the episodes don’t really seem to take place in reality but in a sort of dream space, I feel like this symbolizes her entire journey. Starting off worrying and nitpicking about every flaw of the ship but slowly comes to accept it. We see her get over an obsession over the possibility of misfortune.

Our second main character explores this differently, how we define our own life. What we define as life and human, and how that affects how we treat ourselves. Around the middle of the series, it is revealed that the proxy that has been haunting Vincent for so long is himself. He is the Ergo Proxy, the monster. And this really affects how he sees himself. he doesn’t see himself as human anymore and develops an identity crisis. If he isn’t Vincent Law anymore, then who is he. He doesn’t accept that he is the monster, that he is himself. Continuing the series we learn that Romdo is created by the Ergo Proxy. That the city is defined by him. But this only complicates Vincent’s crisis even more. Who is he now? Is he Vincent, a monster or God? Is he defined by who he always thought he was, what he is, and what he has created? Throughout the show we hear how the Proxies define human existence, but I don’t know if I believe that.

As the city collapses in on itself, Vincent learns that it was all wrong. Even as his creation is gone, he and the people are still alive. None of them are defined by the other. Vincent’s last piece of dialogue “I am no one but myself, that is the only truth”, which shows how he has developed. He has come from not knowing who he is to realize that he is no one but himself. In the end, the conclusion to the series is that you aren’t defined by anything. You just exist.

This was probably a very weird topic to talk about at Christmas… or fitting maybe?

Like a medium or strong 9/10 probably