Goblin Slayer and the Root of Horror

The Halloween season has given me some impetus to think about the horror genre.  A while back, an academic named E. Michael Jones was on the Patrick Coffin show explaining how he thought about the horror genre.  He has written at least two works on this subject: Monsters from the Id: The Rise of Horror in Fiction and Film and Sex with Monsters.  Jones believes that the modern horror genre arose as a reaction to the free love movements of the 19th century and reached its full flowering following the Sexual Revolution.  Many persons were hurt by the myriad problems which inevitably arise from sexual licentiousness and enjoyed a cathartic reaction from a central message of many horror stories: sex can kill you.

School Days

You all know how this story ends.  Or, if you don’t, School Days should be on your list.

School Days might be the anime locus classicus for such a theme, but my dear readers know–know even a priori–that playing Don Juan for a length of time is going to lead one to embarrassing, painful, and even dangerous situations.  People don’t like being used as playthings, and the relatives of the playthings take an even dimmer view of such conduct.  The fact that one’s partner consents to the relationship does not take away from the feeling of being used.  The Sexual Revolution tried to paint promiscuity as a desirable thing, even promoting contraceptives and abortion so that women could participate in “consequence- free” sex.

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Fantasy Galore: My Anime Picks for the Fall of 2014

My lack if focus resulted in this article’s long delay.  (We’re almost on the fourth week of the season!)  And so, this will be a brief rundown of why I decided on seven particular shows.  My dear readers might have noticed that this is one more show than I originally planned.  I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying is only three minutes long, so adding one more show did not seem like it would hurt.  Without further ado, let me start with the shows which failed to make the cut.

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1) World Trigger

Bloggers have called episode one rather dull, and I’d have to agree.  Yet, the second episode delved more deeply into our heroes’ psyches, and I found the clash of their worldviews interesting.  You might say that Kuga has more of a cowboy ethos (go 1:28 into this clip to see what I mean; though, it must be confessed that Kuga is no John Wayne), while Osamu holds to a much more civilized morality of the rules protecting one, which Kuga believes only goes so far.  The war with the Neighbors reminds me of the conflict with the Nova in Freezing–only that the necessary power to defeat the aliens is not restricted to the fair sex.

Though other series proved to be more entertaining, I would not be surprised if I returned to this show later.

Let me also mention that I hate the main character.

Let me also mention that I hate the main character.

2) Nanatsu no Taizai (aka The Seven Deadly Sins)

I read through about half of the first volume of the manga before watching episode one of the anime.  That episode followed the manga with slavish exactitude.  For this series, I consider this unwillingness to differ  from the manga a bad thing: the manga strikes me as dull and uninspiring.  I did not even have to use my Japanese dictionary most of the time–a sure sign of a mediocre manga unless Rumiko Takahashi is behind it.

Perhaps the later episodes show why the manga won the “Kono Manga ga Sugoi” award, but the blandness of the beginning overwhelmed me.

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3) Amagi Brilliant Park

The only anime which bored me more than this show’s first episode was X: the Movie.  With regards to X, I lasted five minutes and Amagi Brilliant Park bored me to tears in seventeen and a half minutes.  None of the gags struck me as funny.  This from the guy who gave us Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu?!  The passing of Shoji Gatoh’s sense of humor warrants a day of mourning for all fandom.

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4) Denki-gai Honya-san

Having seen episode one, I discerned some potential for this show.  The second half was funnier than the first.  However, an anime about the quirky workers at a Japanese bookstore had no chance of making the final cut.  Perhaps, I’ll watch this when I have more time.  (If you haven’t noticed, most of my decisions are rather cutthroat, which may be laid at the feet of the loss of leisure I’ve suffered recently.  C’est la vie!)

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5) Garo: Honoo no Kokuin

This is perhaps the best show among the anime I’ve tried which did not make the final cut.  The world of this fantasy draws one in with manifold types of conflict: witches vs. demons, demons vs. humanity, and the state vs. witches.  Note well that witches are demon slayers in this world, but that demons have deceived the king into believing that witches are plotting against him so that they might use the might of the government to purge witches from existence.  Our hero was born during his mother’s execution, and a knight was only able to save the baby, whom he has raised for seventeen years when our main plot begins.

You better believe that I’ll pick this action-packed anime up as soon as I have the time. 🙂

Just Staring

6) Terraformars

Of the many things I loathe about this show, I shall limit myself to a select few of its flaws.  Most glaring is the sacrifice of the show’s unique premise and cool characters to the goal of making this a stupid and gory horror show.  One of the reasons I despise the horror genre is that most of its tales run on stupid people dying unnecessarily and in horrific manners.  At the end of the second episode, I became sick at seeing characters frozen in terror or merely contemplating the giant, ugly humanoid cockroaches instead of using the time to react in constructive ways.  (Reminded me of Shingeki no Kyoujin to tell you the truth.)  Episode three continued the trend, and I dropped it.

I think I need to go watch some Christopher Lee’s Dracula movies or Silver Bullet in order to cleanse the memory of this show from my system.

Shigatsu

7) Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (literally “April is Your Lie”; aka Your Lie in April)

This is another good show which I’m declining for the nonce.  The anime promises a good story, where a depressed youth rediscovers his joie de vivre through music and meeting a vivacious beauty.  This title will be saved for when I feel in the mood for a romantic, slice-of-life anime.  Thanks to David A and iblessall for the recommendation!

Anime that Made the Cut

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1) Inou Battle Within Everyday Life

The fifth spot in my watch list was opened for this show.  I have to watch Trigger’s take on a supernatural harem anime set in high school!  The first episode was highly entertaining in both its characters and the comedic scenario of members of a literature club gaining super powers.  As of yet, I wonder whether any of them are actually into reading books.  The literature club might as well be the GJ club.

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2) Akatsuki no Yona

Like Knights of Sidonia, I did not particularly care for the manga, but I enjoyed the first episode of the anime.  I lay the responsibility for my renewed interest in this story on the voice actors, who bring the characters to life in a way that the mangaka could not on the page.  Let’s see how long this tale of war, intrigue, betrayal, and romance holds my attention.

Cute and Deadly

3) Madan no Ou to Vanadis

Reading Jusuchin’s articles on this show convinced me to watch it before I saw episode one, which confirmed my decision.  A perfect show for a fantasy lover: the characters stand out, and the show includes plenty of action.  Our hero and his captor have an interesting relationship.  Does Eleonora want Tigre for his archery skills or romantically?  Will she do anything about saving his fief of Alsace?  The Eleonora’s personality seems reminiscent of the eponymous protagonist of Medaka Box.  (No, I haven’t seen this show yet, but I’ve read a few articles on it and a few chapters of the manga.)  This show stands a high chance of rating a 9/10 if they do everything right.

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4) Shingeki no Bahamut

I would not be surprised if this became the best show of the season, though it shall receive stiff competition from Hitsugi no Chaika (At least one of my dear readers is rolling their eyes, but I have faith that the second season will surpass the first!) and Psycho-Pass 2.  In episode one of Shingeki no Bahamut, I loved the references to Terminator 2Gun x Sword, and Devil Lady.  This action packed series boasts a good sense of humor and very idiosyncratic animation.  I look forward to watching this show.

Danna to Oku-san

5) I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying

At only three minutes long, this anime can easily fit into anyone’s schedule.  The married couple reminds me of Saki and Kousaka of Genshiken; however, Hajime is much more likable than Kousaka.  I look forward to watching this odd couple every week, though some gags fall flat.

Too rough

6) Hitsugi no Chaika 2

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7) Psycho-Pass 2

This article is already long enough, so I won’t describe how I feel about those last two shows.  I confess that my goal of determining which of the new shows I would watch preventing me from watching Psycho-Pass 2 at all and gave time for only one of Hitsugi no Chaika.  That will change shortly!  How does my watch list compare to yours?

Long Awaited Manga Reviews

Remember how I promised  that other half of manga reviews a very long time ago?  Here they are!  My promise of that time and the one made just a few hours ago doubly bound me to write these reviews, and I hope that they shall be to your pleasure.  If not, may you enjoy your displeasure.

Picture of good ol' Revy.

Picture of good ol’ Revy.

The titles which I propose to review are Genshiken, Kurenai, Sengoku Youko, and Hanako to Guuwa no Tera.  The last one is a horror manga which I highly enjoyed.  Horror stands as one of my least favorite genres nowadays.  In the past, I used to get a kick out of watching Hammer Films’ Dracula films and werewolf movies of all sorts.  It was fun commenting on how the movie makers would mess with the lore attached to these creatures.  I loved the Gothic style of the vampire genre, and the fright of a big bad wolf coming at one with your only hope being a well placed silver bullet.  Now, horror movies are overly gory, and I find myself less intrigued by them.

Christopher Lee as Dracula

Christopher Lee as Dracula

Hanako to Guuwa no Tera by Sakae Esuno attracted me from the start because they melded horror with the private eye genre.  Our hero runs  an agency dedicated to ridding the world of harmful “allegories.”  These allegories are based in Japanese folklore or the fads of popular culture.  The interesting thing about the monsters here are that they derive from people’s unbalanced states of mind.  The detective, Daisuke Asou, has collected a couple of allegories in his line of work, some of which give him power.  One, named Hanako, acts as his information gatherer.  Our story begins when Kanae Hiranuma seeks Asou’s help in ridding an allegory which has been haunting her: the axe man under the bed. For this reason, she has not been able to sleep in days and is petrified to stay in her own room.  Doesn’t it sound childish?  This haunting begins a long, happy relationship for the two of them.

Don't worry.  It's available in English.

Don’t worry. It’s available in English.

This story really shines in the way the author delineates relationship between the characters.  This draws one into all the struggles which they endure against allegories, and the wide variety of opponents keeps the reader turning pages.  This manga has ended in 2010, and consists of just nineteen chapters.  The manga also really shines in creating a likable couple.  Too many series have rather annoying couples, which make one wish that the author had not bothered with a love interest.  But, Kanae is quite capable, and there is the right amount of tension between the two to make for an interesting dynamic.  I recommend this better than average manga to you horror fans out there.

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Now to review the most problematic manga for me: Genshiken.  As many of you know, this manga focuses on the otaku lifestyle of the club members of a club known as Genshiken, which means Society for the Study of Modern Visual Porn–I mean, Culture.  My biggest problem with this manga must lie in that I am not otaku enough to relate to any of the characters.  As a matter of fact, Saki is my favorite character, and she only joined Genshiken so that she could hang out with her lover, Kousaka.  I can’t help but feel sorry for her in that Saki must endure the porn and ero-game loving ways of her partner.  Now, this makes for great comedy, but a guy has absolutely no excuse for using pornography if he has a lover.  After all, is not having the thing better than a mere vicarious experience?  Anyway, Saki herself brought up this complaint.  She has the patience of a saint when it comes to dealing with the idiosyncrasies of her boyfriend.  (Not that  I approve of sex before marriage, but such relationships at least offer the chance of leading to marriage, while pornography is engaging in an empty activity.)

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At any rate, a college freshman named Sasahara is brought into the group and enmeshed into their otaku lifestyle of ero-games, anime, conventions, porn, and video games.  The story often succeeds in being hilarious; but there are too many problems of identification for me, and their preoccupation with porn irritates me.  So, I won’t be getting the second omnibus volume.

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Even bald men deserve to be loved.

Kurenai is a real joy for me to read.  The fights are very well done, and the humor driven off of the harem situation is most amusing.  Women can’t seem to help falling for the strong, modest, reliable Shinkuro.  But, the author presents us with some very likable characters, even if some characters are rather stock–heck, all of them might be stock characters to tell you the truth; but, that only speaks to how well the humor and plot are executed.  This show also uses a favorite trope of mine: a young man is in charge of taking care of girl much younger than himself.  (Perhaps the reason for my predilection lies in that I have a sister 10 years younger than myself, so identification is easy.)

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Shinkuro works as a dispute mediator–more like a dispute finisher considering most disputes are ended with his fists–for a capable, mysterious woman named Benika.  At the start of the manga, we already know that he’s been taking care of Murasaki, a young girl from a powerful, incestuous family.  You see, she’s been destined to marry his older half-brother.  She warms up to Shinkuro because of his gentle and strong nature.  However, her family comes after her, and Shinkuro must display all his martial skill to finally free Murasaki from this fate.  Then, the action turns toward a criminal syndicate, which decides to make Shinkuro himself a target.

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Besides the fights, this manga excels in delineating the relationships between the characters, i.e. Shinkuro and his ever expanding harem.  The manga manages to balance the romance and slice of life chapters very well with the action packed ones, which means that the reader is never bored.  Everything works to keep the reader turning pages, and I look forward to each new chapter of this ongoing manga.

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Lastly, I was fortunate to find the manga Sengoku Youko.  This is another ongoing manga, but it’s set in fuedal Japan as a historical fantasy.  This manga is a very character driven work, the fights and the plots are rather simplistic.  The characterization goes a long way to make up for these flaws though.  I must comment that the setting feels much like Inuyasha: youkai and samurai are juxtaposed to each other during the Sengoku Era.  Also, traveling is a major part the action, and the side characters all display prejudices of some kind or another, human-hating youkai or youkai-hating men.

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Our heroes, Jinka, Tama, and Shinsuke, meet while the first two were on a bandit hunt.  Tama unsuccessfully tries to convince the bandits that they are leading an immoral life.  At which point, Jinka, a hanyou, is forced to beat them all down.  Jinka has a strong prejudice toward human beings, while Tama, a fox youkai, believes humans and youkai must be judged on an individual basis.  Their adventures lead to them picking up one more party member and discovering an insidious plot by Tama’s mom and her human lover.  This is a great manga for light reading, especially if you liked Inuyasha.

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I hope that you enjoyed these reviews.  Pressing work will deter me from blogging for at least a week.