Freezing Vibration: Don’t Bother

A short time ago, I finished off Freezing VibrationMy other article noted that the anime’s Bali Arc was rather inferior to the manga’s presentation.  The only thing the anime did better was fanservice, quem flocci non facio. (“Which I don’t value at a hair.”)  They did do an excellent job making one feel for the E-Pandoras, Elizabeth, and Satellizer’s struggle to overcome her brother’s hold on her; yet, most of the other characters’ development was sacrificed.  Kazuya in particular was treated as an extra number.  Also, Chiffon’s supreme moment felt rather hollow compared to the pathos one felt while reading this scene in the manga.

They also did do a good job on Charles Bonaparte, but I don't particularly like this character--though she has shown a better side of herself in the latest chapters of the manga.

They also did do a good job on Charles Bonaparte, but I don’t particularly like this character–though she has shown a better side of herself in the latest chapters of the manga.

Of course, one of the main reasons to see an action manga animated is the fights, but these don’t hold a candle to those first season.  The fights in the first season gripped the viewer such that the fighters’ clothing being torn to shreds went unnoticed.  Somehow, they built up a degree of suspense in these fights which the second season was unable to duplicate.

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So, there you have it.  The sequel fell far inferior to the first season of Freezing.  If they do make a third season, I’ll wait for the season to be reviewed before jumping in.

But, here’s to you Chiffon Fairchild!  One of the noblest exists an anime character could wish for!

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Freezing in Bali: How the Anime Falls short of the Manga

Hisashiburi desu ne, my dear readers?  After too long of a rest from writing, some commentary on Freezing: Vibration offers good warm up before I tackle more difficult articles.  I especially wish to write my article on Kouichi Mashimo’s Girls with Guns Trilogy (Noir, Madlax, and El Cazador de la Bruja).  (To tell you the truth, I did not know that this trilogy bore that nickname until this morning.)  Anyway, the present article will express how the anime handled Satellizer and Kazuya’s adventure in Bali, which spans episodes 5-7.

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These episodes number among the most painful and dark one can watch; though, as is often the case with such tales, the story is quite powerful.  After the Chevalier organization succeeds in disgracing the Mably family in revenge for Elizabeth Mably whistleblowing on the reckless way this organization handled the E-Pandora project, Satellizer sets a course for Bali in order to enlist the aid of the El Bridget family against the Chavalier Organization.  Her half-sister, Violet, runs a resort in this area.  Unfortunately, Satellizer also meets her half-brother, Louis, at this resort.  The meeting is unfortunate because Louis sees Satellizer more as a lover than as a sister, and acts on this desire in a most churlish manner.

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Okay, the preceding remark stands as a gross understatement.  As children, Louis had taken to molesting her and resumes his evil ways at the hotel.  From these experiences in her childhood and early adolescence, Satellizer developed a fear of being touched, from which she earned her nickname at West Genetics of “the Untouchable Queen.”  These three episodes show Satellizer’s struggle to break free of his hold and perform an admirably good job of demonstrating the psychology of both the victim and the fiend.  I especially like the anime’s use of chains to show the hold that Louis has on her.

Oh, I might just mention here that Holly actual has character in the manga, which is completely absent in the anime.

Oh, I might just mention here that Holly actual has character in the manga, which is completely absent in the anime.

As much as these episodes covered that aspect of the story, they portrayed the events quite well.  However, this came at the price of Kazuya and Violet’s character development, and the final victory over Louis seems rushed and less believable than in the manga.  The manga makes Violet a much more developed character.  In particular, she was the person who initially discovered Louis’s harassment of Satellizer and caused her to be sent away from the family house.  At the present time, since Louis, ostensibly at least, has a girlfriend and plenty of time has passed, Violet hoped that Satellizer might reconcile with Louis.

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And the characterization of Kazuya was miserable, as it rather has been for most of the second season.  Two scenes where Kazuya stands up to Louis made me practically cheer when I read them, but appeared trite when watched.  I doubt that this is entirely because I knew what would happen.  Kazuya has been relegated to the role of an air headed harem hero–a Tenchi, if you will.  His character has greater value than that!  The first season of the anime did a much better job in characterizing him.  After all, Kazuya drives most of Satellizer’s changes for the better.  If not for Kazuya, she would still remain the fearful, cold, and diffident character of season one.

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So, I still enjoyed the episodes, but the brevity which which the anime dealt with the story–perhaps that this kind of story could not be narrated as well through the medium of anime–diminished its excellence.  As I said, the interior struggle of Satellizer and the psychology of the victim and the perpetrator were portrayed rather well.  But, they achieved this at the price of not developing the other characters and excising most of the back story, which lent more pathos to the manga’s version.  So, this arc in the anime was okay, but chapters 39-50 were superb.

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Freezing Zero: Carrying Gender Reversal Too Far?

If any of you remember my post from that series of chain posts in the summer of last year, you’ll remember that I gave Freezing as an example of how ecchi can turn people away or cause them to dislike a solid show under question five.  (At least, I consider Freezing a solid show.  For an accurate review from someone who disagrees, click here.)  I consider myself an avid fan of both the show and the manga.  This is despite the fact that I often find myself skipping pages: for all my fears that I might be missing out on character development, it is possible to see too much of the character!  The characters are unusually likable and complex.  The grim and lethal fighting constantly make me fear lest any of my favorites are lost–even though surprisingly few of the main characters are killed in action.

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One thing which lends particular interest to the series is gender reversal.  Young men are limited to a support role and are less bellicose and concerned about honor than their female counterparts–which, if one remembers the Spartan mother’s pithy command: “This or on this,” might indeed reflect reality in certain societies.  Their female counterparts, Pandoras, serve as warriors against an alien invader and have an iron-bound sense of honor and esprit de corps.  Until now, I held this arrangement to be unique and tragic, but reading Freezing Zero, a spin-off of the main comic, has shocked me with its boot camp chapters.  Here I was, thinking that gym classes, martial arts training, tournaments, and instructional courses sufficed to transform a young woman into a Nova-killing machine.  But, a boot camp of U. S. Marine-level hardship exists for this purpose.  The instructor even strikes her trainees and physically torments them!

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As one who believes that even male trainees ought not to be struck, these chapters proved too cruel for me to read.  After all, the discipline of extra duty, punitive exercises, public shame, peer pressure, and reprimands suffices to punish infractions in the greatest military in the world.  Seeing women beaten–maybe even especially if by another woman–generates a feeling of horror and perversity.  Women are supposed to symbolize gentleness, beauty, civility, and compassion after all.  On the other hand, if this were a male instructor dealing blows upon men, I would find his conduct tyrannical; but, the feelings of horror and perversity would be absent.

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I suppose that this lies in the nature of men to strive after physical courage and hence endure blows, while the nature of women aligns itself with enforcing the norms of decency.  Indeed, the very idea of women being beaten impresses itself on the mind as the violation of the sacred.  One can understand men as fighting barbarity from without, women as fighting it from within, and thus both preserving civilization as a whole.  Some would say that I’m a sexist reactionary holding defunct mores from the past.  I say that exponents of feminism (Or perhaps I should say extreme feminism?  After all, what kind of man thinks that women ought to be relegated to a second class position in society?) sacrifice the nature of both masculinity and femininity to their idol of equality, which constantly sees female repression by their male counterparts.  Reading certain opinions makes one wonder if they think that God made a mistake in creating two sexes.

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The preceding remarks point out that men and women are complimentary not congruent.  There are certain roles which one side is more capable of doing than the other, and only an arrogant ideologue or bigot would despise the other for its incapacity.

Anyway, I shall still read and watch Freezing, because the characters are so lovable and the action so thrilling.  The scenario indulges in fantasy, but if it were necessary to save the human race by using young women as battlefield infantry, the scenario would need to be dire indeed.  One cannot but imagine that it should change the entire face of humanity and even lead to the abolition of mankind as we know it.

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A Medieval Interrogation

Having read several articles based on this series of chain posts, the thought that someone would select me as part of it never crossed my mind.  But, Marlin-sama of the blog Ashita no Anime has tagged me, so I will do my best to answer his questions and find people to tag.  Here are the rules:

Introduction

  • Each person is supposed to follow the rule of fives. You are allowed to ask 5 questions, after which you can tag up to 5 bloggers by hyper-linking to their blog; 5 questions because it’s not too many to flood another blogger and occupy too much of his/her time, but yet a large enough number to ask your most important questions, and 5 bloggers to avoid spamming. Hence, prioritize your questions, and who you wish to ask!
  • Those tagged are obliged to answer the questions in a blog post, and after which, they are entitled to create their own 5 questions and tag 5 other bloggers, so on and so fourth. You should answer your own 5 questions as well. You are allowed to tag the person that tagged you in the first place. Also, copy and paste this section on your blog so others can understand how the game goes.
  • In the case where a blogger strongly refuses to answer a question, he/she must instead post a nice anime image, wallpaper or cosplay picture, et cetera in response to that question.
  • To make things interesting, a blogger can include wildcards in his/her 5 questions by placing an asterisk, (*), after which those tagged are obliged to reveal something interesting about themselves that others did not previously know. There is no limit to the number of asterisks one can place (which means there can be up to 5 wildcard questions).
  • Anyone can feel free to start the game; you don’t necessarily need someone to tag you. Just create your 5 questions and tag your 5 people of choice. However, the catch is that you must answer your own 5 questions as well.
  • To potentially prevent an endless game, this round of games will end on the 8th September 2012, 12pm JST (GMT +9). After which, no more bloggers can tag others to answer their questions.

Here follows the questions and my answers to them:

Q1. What is your favorite anime of all time?  Then, objectively speaking, what do you think is the best anime of all time?  Explain why you chose these anime (especially if you chose the same anime for both questions).

For me, Rurouni Kenshin stands as my favorite anime.  This is the show which propelled me into anime, so I might be a little biased; but I’ve yet to find an anime which has better characterization or discusses its themes better.  This series does have drawbacks: overlong speeches, too many flashbacks, the first and last seasons are rather episodic, and the final season was badly done and not based on the manga.  (I consider that season as unworthy of being accounted with the first two seasons.)  But the first two of these drawbacks help the viewer to benefit from the technique of parallelism, which Nobuhiro Watsuki employs to great effect in delineating his characters and highlighting the themes.  I especially enjoy how similar the villains are to the heroes; but the villains deviate slightly from the right path, often having high ideals which are slightly twisted.  This makes the difference between the heroes less black and white and the characters more interesting to examine.

The fights of Rurouni Kenshin and the animation are also very beautifully done.  Kenshin vs. Saito is considered by many otaku to have been one of the greatest fights ever animated.  The tension between the two combatants is palpable, and the whole fight comes across as very realistic.  Qualities which bring the audience to the ends of their seats and makes them feel every blow.  The overall animation for the show is top notch, and the audience is treated to the bonus of seeing characters which look more Japanese than one finds in the usual anime.  May I add that this show weaves in historical detail better than any other anime?  So much so that many people (your humble blogger included) have passed Japanese history tests from what they learned on this show.

You’re going to think me very provincial; but, for my objective best, I’m choosing Samurai X: Trust and BetrayalSamurai X has more focus than the TV show, thus eliminating many of the drawbacks found in the TV show.  Also, the atmosphere is much darker and more tragic: Rurouni Kenshin makes one wish they were born a samurai and could participate in duels; Samurai X makes one frightened even to pick up a katana.  When people get cut down, the viewer feels their agony.  The swords even seem to emanate cruelty.  This atmosphere is very fitting for the dark days of the Meiji Revolution.  By the way, let me also say that AnimeNfo agrees with me in ranking this OVA as the best anime.

Q2. Same as question 1, but for your least favorite anime and what in your objective opinion is the worst anime of all time (for this question try to choose an anime for which you’ve actually watched a respectable number of episodes and try to avoid small titles that nobody has ever heard of).

My least favorite anime is Cat Soup.  My dear readers might have even been able to guess my response.  I remember reading a review that claimed anyone’s who’s not a religious nut would love it.  Though that puts it a little harshly, the term aptly fits me.  It contains a rather reprehensible depiction of God, I didn’t care for the animation, and it consists of a series of scenes rather than a story.  Fortunately, most of the details have long since been forgotten.

My first choice for objective worst would have been Ghost Hound had it not been for the stipulation that the show be well known.  That show entices the viewer by its weirdness, gives him enough interesting details to inspire hope that the show will become good, and makes one suffer through one dull episode after another before one is forced to throw in the towel.

If four episodes may be considered respectable, I choose Dragonaut: the Resonance for objective worst, which tries to lure the viewer into continuing to watch through having well-endowed women all over the place and a modicum of action.  Nothing else to it.

Q3. What initially led you to anime and what keeps you interested in anime?  Do you think it will continue to be a lifetime passion?  Why or why not?*

As an avid lover of pre-modern pagan cultures, such as Rome, Athens, the Vikings, and Japan, it was only a matter of time until I discovered anime.  My father used to be an avid practitioner of Karate, has a great interest in Eastern philosophies and religions, and was dubbed an honorary Asian in college.  Naturally, some of his tastes, especially for martial arts and its philosophy, were impressed on me.  In addition to martial arts, I loved watching samurai movies.  These cultures all seemed to have a strong moral bent, which especially attracted me to them.

Then, I discovered that certain shows belonged to a genre called anime.  I saw Rurouni Kenshin on Toonami, discovered the manga Inuyasha, and found myself hooked.  As for whether it will remain a lifelong hobby, I must confess to having an aversion to clinging to anything–no matter how pleasant.  Despite the fact that I do very much enjoy anime, several of my other hobbies have been pushed aside for anime, and I want to make more time for those.  So, while I can see myself remaining an otaku for several more years, I hesitate to say that it will be a lifetime passion.

Q4. Do you think it’s possible to integrate or use ecchi content or themes to enhance a story rather than simply as fanservice that detracts from the overall work?

Easily, but it’s not advisable.  For me, the best example of nudity put to good effect was in Elfen Lied, where it highlighted Lucy’s deep-set desire for innocence.  In the Garden of Eden, the nudity of Adam and Eve symbolized innocence.  Here, the fact that so many terrible things happen around nude people stresses that innocence is nowhere to be found in this world.  But, many people cannot see through the characters’ bare bodies to perceive this theme.  For them, nudity turns them away from the show.

Such a pleasant face.

Freezing is a perfect example of ecchi elements ruining a show.  Frankly, this is a spectacular show.  The only drawbacks to it lie in that the plot was rushed and not enough details about the setting were given to the audience.  It has strong, likeable characters, stunning fights, outstanding animation, a touching relationship between the hero and the heroine, and several gut-wrenching situations.  Despite all of this, several people absolutely despise this show.  They become totally oblivious to this show’s good points in the face of all that fanservice.  Amusingly, I remember one reviewer who claimed to have been enticed by the fanservice before becoming so wrapped up in the show’s action that he ceased to notice it.  How much more popular would this show have been if only they had toned down or even eliminated the fanservice?

Q5. I think many would agree that some otherwise respectable anime have been let down by lackluster endings.  What anime do you most want to change the ending—not because you disagreed with it, but for quality purposes.  Then how would you change it and why?  (I understand spoilers may be unavoidable when answering this question)

Well, the ending of Scrapped Princess seemed a little unnatural and ludicrous to me–the triangle of land and sea on which the remnant of humanity lived fitting back into the world and everything.  I would have had it end with a final showdown between the aliens who had imprisoned humanity and our heroes.  It seemed a little inconclusive in that we never meet the original foes of humanity.  Also, Leopold would get the girl and ditch the Mr. Soopy suit: the ending had me feeling too sorry for him.

Amusingly, I discovered that AngryJellyfish has also tagged me into the game with a set of five questions.  So, let me answer those five before going on to mine.

1. Which anime protagonists (if any) do you feel you’d be able to do a better job than if you were in their situation?

Well, there are plenty of wimpy heroes or harem protagonists I could do a better job than.  (I tend to be decisive and stubborn about things, which would come in handy in many situations.)  But among a slightly higher class of protagonists, I’ll select Kai Kudou of E’s Otherwise.  Basically, he lacks any kind of good sense.  Give me his power and place me in the same situations, I’d probably do better–except that I’d be a lot more boring to watch.

2. Which popular anime series do you not like, or find overrated?

Any of the Big Three.  Even if they are entertaining, how can one justify creating a series of several hundred episodes without any closure in sight?  Why would one give so much of their precious time to just one series?  It appears absurd to me.

3. What manga or anime series would you like to see fansubbed/scanlated in your language, or licensed in your country?

Americans have it too good.  It seems that everything is sooner or later available to us.  So, I’ll have to go with the classic Ashita no Joe as a series which I’d like to see licensed in this country.  It’s very highly regarded among the Japanese, seems to have really strong characters, and Hajime no Ippo, which I highly enjoy, was likely based on this–the main difference being that Ashita no Joe has an anti-hero, while Ippo’s your perfect hero.  So, if Funimation or another company were to license boxed sets of this, I’d be one of the first to buy it.

4. What series would you recommend to someone who has never watched any anime?

That series would be Fullmetal Panic Fumoffu.  I’ve successfully hooked several people on anime through this show.  You see, most people expect cartoons to be centered around comedy, which is why Fumoffu, a show which nearly makes the viewer die laughing, offers a great introduction.  From there, you can expand their perception of the stories a cartoon may convey.

5. Do you have any weird anime watching habits?

Well, I always have to be drinking something when watching anime.  This beverage is usually tea.  Sometimes, I see it as a good time to break out some hard liquor or port–even if the anime does not require it.  If I have friends around, I’ll offer some kind of alcoholic drink.  Though, this turned out to be a big mistake one night, when a friend of mine and I were watching the sequel to Geobreeders.  I’m not sure whether it was the two bottles of wine or the fact that we were talking too much, but we did not remember a single thing about the OVA the next day!  Which may mark the only time alcohol has caused me to forget things.

If I’m not drinking something, then I’m oiling go stones, which certainly counts as weird.  However, it’s not as much fun to play go if the stones aren’t shiny!

Now for my questions and answers:

1.  How else are you involved in Japanese culture?

In my case, I love martial arts philosophy and used to practice Judo and Aikido, the latter of which I’d like to return to someday.  I study the Japanese language, read light novels both in Japanese and English, and would love to graduate to more sophisticated Japanese literature.  I also enjoy Japanese teas and wish to study their tea culture more.

Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido

2.  What anime turned you into a fan?

In case, you forgot.

3.  Who are your two favorite Japanese VA’s (one male and one female) and two favorite English VA’s (also one male and one female)?  For the English VA’s, you can substitute actors in another non-Japanese language.

I used to be more into this facet of fandom than now.  But, here are my favorites:

Ken Narita, especially for his roles as Sesshoumaru of Inuyasha, Jeremiah Gottwald of Code Geass, and Durand of Le Chevalier D’Eon.  I particularly love deep and powerful voices.

Megumi Toyoguchi, especially for Revy of Black Lagoon, Yao Sakurakouji of Miami Guns, Layla Ashley of Avengers, Honoka of The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye, and Reni Vikuro of Innocent Venus.

Kirk Thornton for his roles as Hajime Saito of Rurouni Kenshin, Jin of Samurai Champloo, and Brandon Heat of Gungrave.

Laura Bailey for her roles as Michel Volban of Glass Fleet and Sylvia Ban of Solty Rei.

4.  Out of the shows you’re currently watching, which is your favorite?

For me, the answer’s Hunter X Hunter.  I love how much intellectual prowess the fights and the obstacles placed before our heroes require.  This makes is different from the run-of-the-mill shonen.

5.  What is your favorite era for anime and why?

My answer combines two time periods usually separated, but I feel that the earlier one still strongly influenced the latter: the late 90’s through the early 2000’s.  Some of my favorite shows were produced during this period.  Also, computers played less of a role in the animation of these days than now, and I particularly like the human touch one sees in these shows.
Of course, the anime of prior eras relied even less or not at all on computers, but the character designs were not as elegant.

Well, that’s enough writing for one post.  I’m trying to think of people who haven’t been tagged yet.  Here it is:

ChibiOtaku010

Naru of What is this “Culture” you speak of?

John Samuel of Pirates of the Burley Griffin

SnippetTee of Lemmas and Submodalities

Exiled2Oblivion

I hope that you enjoy this little game!