What Medieval Otaku’s Been Doing, Part II

Below are various shows I’ve been watching but have yet to finish.  Many of them are quite old with the oldest produced in 1978 and the latest in 2014.  Tomorrow or the day after, I propose to finally get around to writing about how I feel about the new season.  Let’s get started!

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1) Space Pirate Captain Harlock

Many of my dear readers may not understand the appeal of a thirty-seven year old anime.  After all, the animation is rougher, the action less fluid, and the characters often downright cartoony–a trait undesirable for many anime fans.  Also, the opening song is much more military sounding than in those found in contemporary shows.  Perhaps, it is the differences which make it my recent favorite.  Captain Harlock is a singular figure.  At first, I thought of him as the prototype for Alexander Row of Last Exile, but Captain Harlock is not a Byronic hero.  After watching over twenty episodes, Harlock’s personality strikes one as rather similar to Robert E. Lee’s.  (An article on that forthcoming.  And yes, my reference to General Lee in a prior article was not random.)  You’re not going to find a character comparable to one of the South’s greatest heroes in contemporary anime!

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That Captain Harlock fears not to include issues which might be termed politically incorrect adds to its charm.  Who can forget that great moment where Daiba shoots down the World government flag?  Then again, the setting condemns the general apathy found among a humanity which only busies itself with pleasurable goods, comfort, and money–a society very much like our own.  The show may also be interpreted as blatantly supporting a patriarchal system and classical virtues with its juxtaposition of the society of the Argo to that of the Mazone or the commercial, pleasure-loving society of the earth.

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At any rate, Captain Harlock is filled with tons of surprises which are sure to delight the viewer.  I can’t recommend it enough.

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2) Eureka 7

This show has a lot of heart.  Neither the action sequences nor the plot are its strong suits but the dynamic between the characters and the philosophical and literary ideas the show attempts to portray.  One priceless moment comes when the high priest Norb declaims to Dewey Novak: “Are you trying to be a Raskolnikov?”  Which makes me wonder in what ways Dewey is based on Dostoyevsky’s most famous character.

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At the moment, I don’t consider this piece to be the best Dai Sato’s worked on, but it’s still a very good show.  I’ll write more about it when I finish the last ten episodes.

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3a) The Fruit of Grisaia – ★★★★

3b) The Labyrinth of Grisaia – ★★★★

3c) The Eden of Grisaia

I ought to have written about this franchise earlier.  All three of the installments have been greatly entertaining for how it examines the darker side of human nature without becoming soul-crushing.  All the same, one is shocked by the amount of mental, physical, and sexual abuse many of these characters go through.  Yuuji stands as the deepest harem lead I’ve seen in recent years.  It is also curious how they work in a military angle into the show, and the story is capable of being surprisingly touching as well.

Yes, it's a fanservicey harem anime which examines the dark side of human nature.  What will the Japanese think of next?

Yes, it’s a fanservicey harem anime which examines the dark side of human nature. What will the Japanese think of next?

Watch it if you can endure some bloody, disturbing scenes and the above subject matter.  Yuuji has a particularly awful life story.

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4) Urusei Yatsura

It’s going to take a long while to plow through this show’s 195 episodes, but I can report loving every minute of this comedy so far.  One is amused by how it makes fun of both traditional Japanese society with its time travel episodes and mocks the Sexual Revolution in the present.  (The manga came out at the tail end of the 70’s.)  Who could be a better representative of the insanity of the Sexual Revolution than Ataru?  He refuses to be tied down and tries to ingratiate himself with each beautiful woman who crosses his path.  In doing so, he misses out on the one woman thoroughly devoted to him, Lum, and his passing fancies bear no fruit at all.

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Be sure to watching this hilarious comedy.  The other works of Rumiko Takahashi’s I’ve read are not nearly as funny.

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5) Hyouka: You Can’t Escape

That I have not managed to finish this series since I started it a year ago is something of a wonder.  The story is rather slow, having boredom as its central theme; so, I might be forgiven for taking so long to finish it.  The main way the heroes attempt to relieve boredom is through solving mysteries, with Chitanda being the impetus and Oreki the master sleuth.  One is tempted to think of Oreki as Sherlock Holmes.  But, the two have a crucial difference.  Holmes does all in his power to avoid boredom and resorts to cocaine when all his efforts prove vain.  On the other hand, Oreki just accepts his “grey life,” to which he would not add any color without Chitanda’s prompting.

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Watch it if you love mysteries, interesting characters, and beautiful animation.

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6) Strange +

Speaking of boredom, that was probably my main impetus for picking up this short.  It proved entertaining to watch this team of trouble contractors or whatever you want to call them get into various scrapes for six episodes; but the story is rather vacuous, and there are much better comedies.  Naturally, I dropped it.

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7) Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru (Manga 2.5)

Speaking of better comedies, here’s an excellent example.  The style of animation takes some getting used to: we pan from panel to panel as voice actors speak the dialogue.  You might think of it as a dramatic reading of a manga.  Why am I watching the Manga 2.5 version instead of the plain old anime?  Because this show came up when I hit the random button on Crunchyroll one day.  This comedy features a goofy and slightly crazed heroine who is a joy to watch.  The show drives much of its comedy off of the maid cafe where the heroine works, and I cannot but recommend this dramatic manga to anyone looking for a laugh.

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11 comments on “What Medieval Otaku’s Been Doing, Part II

  1. JekoJeko says:

    Thanks for linking to my article! I should have probably condensed that essay even more, but oh well – going on for so long while writing it was my own way of alleviating boredom. 🙂

    I liked the comparison between Oreki and Holmes. I’ve heard some people critique him as a ‘lesser Sherlock’, but he’s really a different person with his own goals (or lack of them) which makes him a joy to follow throughout the series. I can make a good case for Makishima from Psycho-Pass being a ‘lesser Moriarty’, but Oreki stands upon his own merits and flaws.

    I should probably check out the Grisaia franchise some time, maybe once I’ve run out of Shirobako to enjoy.

    • You’re welcome! The interesting thing about Oreki compared to Holmes is that Oreki seems to have the mental capacity of Holmes but not his drive. Oreki’s laziness might be seen as the limitation preventing him from becoming an exact facsimile of Holmes. And, I can certainly see Makishima as a lesser Moriaty. That’s part of what made his character so much fun.

      You’ll either like Grisaia or be rather disturbed by the whole thing. I doubt that there’s a middle ground. 🙂

  2. “You’ll either like Grisaia or be rather disturbed by the whole thing. I doubt that there’s a middle ground.” There is indeed a middle ground. You can pick it apart, dislike its flaws, and stop watching after the first season. I ended up disliking Grisaia’s later episodes but acknowledging that the first three or four episodes were strong. But I was not disturbed. Grisaia is not disturbing compared to real-world problems (e.g. Abu Ghraib, the Greek economy, Fukushima…)

    • Well, I suppose one can take a middle position, but some parts of Grisaia are downright disturbing. Perhaps, not as disturbing as evils in the real world, but cannibal sex parties must be disturbing on some level–even fictional ones.

      • I stopped after the first season, so I don’t think I saw the sex parties. In general, however, this reminds me of the show “Now and Then, Here and There.” It tried very hard to be dark and edgy and it really failed to move me. By comparison, “Corpse Party -Tortured Souls” was clumsily done, with lower production values, but the writing seemed more sincere.

        It’s hard to make truly ugly art. Unfortunately, a lot of hack artists screw up attempts at pretty art, producing semi-ugly art – and then pass it off, pretending that they had been aiming at true ugliness.

      • That’s what a friend of mine dubbed it when he saw Amami’s teacher and class representative doing it while human flesh was roasting on the fire. Rather perverse!

        I can see the comparison to Now and Then, Here and There, which was a much more moving production. It’s pretty hard for a harem anime like Grisaia to be moving, but Eden of Grisaia has at least one such scene so far.

        I disagree that it’s hard to make truly ugly art. Modern art is almost universally so, and the trend seems encouraged. Perhaps, they try to hit at something sublime, whether deliberately aiming at ugliness or not, but the final product comes out purely ugly and usually insulting.

  3. MIB says:

    “Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru” is such an underrated show. it seems to slip under the radar of many fans and it seems the international license folk too.

    It’s been 5 years and no UK DVD release which is a shame but the fact it’s become obscure is the reason, despite being superior to so much of the pish that gets licensed at the drop of a hat. :/

    • I wholeheartedly agree. Soredemo Machi comes close to being as funny as Azumanga Daioh. I wonder why I had not come across it until I hit Crunchyroll’s random button.

      And yes, one wonder’s what’s going through licensors’ minds when so many dumb and ephemeral shows get an English dub. Most surprising for me is that no one has picked up GJ-bu–another hilarious show.

      • MIB says:

        I didn’t like what I saw of “Azumanag Daioh” but then again I only saw a couple of dubbed episodes when we had the short lived “Anime Central” on TV a few years back. Since I hate dubs and the script was translated that might explain it… :/

        I don’t think I know GJ-bu either I’m afraid. Another great show which is still in floating aimlessly around in the ether is “Nichijou”.

      • Yeah, I watched the subbed version of Azumanga, which is likely head and shoulders better than the dub. The show does take a while to warm up. It also has the funniest scene in any anime I’ve watched. GJ-bu has incredibly likable characters, though I’m not sure if the comedy is for everyone.

        That’s another reminder to watch Nichijou. So many people enjoy that show that it’s a wonder that it hasn’t been licensed.

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