NisiOisiN and the deconstruction of language: a primer to discussing Owarimonogatari

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That’s an intimidating title, I know. In many ways, NisiOisiN’s approach to psychoanalyzing human behavior is no less complicated, owing to his strong grasp of the Japanese language and the ways by which he manipulates it in order to subsume the many “apparitions” that pepper his thematically chaotic stories. Be it a story about a young girl pushed to the brink of desperation due to a life of domestic violence, or the fantastical pursuit of an object of affection that transcends time and even death itself, NisiOisiN has always approached his stories through the thoughtful deconstruction of the language of his characters, introducing a thematic “object” that is subject to identification as the show unfolds. And this need to “identify” is central to the existentialist dilemma of “knowing thyself”, as is exemplified by the many arcs that focus around specific heroines and the “apparitions” of which they are tasked to come to terms with.

But this is where we run into the main issue of NisiOisiN works: its reliance on the deconstruction of language — and not just any language — but the Japanese language. Here, I discuss some of the paradigms of NisiOisiN that will allow us to gain a better understanding of the context behind his manipulation of language, which will hopefully serve as a useful primer for the upcoming episodic review articles I will be writing on Owarimonogatari. Continue reading

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Anime and the Love of Headphones 4

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Hey guys! It’s been a while, but time for another segment on Anime and the Love of Headphones! In this installment, we take a look at one particular pair of headphones featured in the first ending theme of the Spring 2017 anime Sakura Quest! Continue reading

[Editorial] Anime for the Uninitiated

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“Hey, you watch anime, right? What’s a good recommendation?”

It felt like some kind of trap. Having just returned from a 10-hour stint in the laboratory, I wasn’t prepared to answer that sort of question. If anything, it felt like an ambush after having opened the door to the game room in a humble effort to see if anyone was around. True enough, there they were: two of my flatmates — one sociologist, the other a philosopher — sitting in the middle of the room, listening to the strained screams of a desperate Kirito slaying a wolf in the open fields of Aincrad as the closing act of the first episode of Sword Art Online was flashing across a 52-inch television screen.

“Yeah, I’ve never watched much anime before, and this was what he suggested I watch.

As if searching for a response, the philosopher seemingly scanned my expression, which was a mix between exasperation and confusion. On the one hand, there was the desire to throw out a random title and retreat out of sheer exhaustion from the toils of the day that was — a well-earned pint of Guinness and a soft pillow was a tempting prospect at that point — but at the same time, I was pondering why on earth anyone would recommend Sword Art Online as an introductory title to someone so obviously uninitiated to anime in the first place. Continue reading

Bakugo VS. Uraraka: The Heroic Attitude and Anime

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It was probably only a matter of time until I’d find myself writing this article. Since its premiere back in the spring of 2016, My Hero Academia has always proven itself as a different breed of superhero shônen battler, particularly for combining its strong core thematic on the heroic attitude with its strong ensemble of character archetypes that drive this idea forward. And given its context in the academic setting, it sets itself up for a useful comparison between heroism and the intellectual model of the mind. In other words, the world of My Hero Academia is one where heroism is quantifiable in terms of both academic and social merit. This is the reason why Deku’s character resonates with us not simply due to his underdog nature, but also because of his heroic attitude that exemplifies the true qualities of the hero we all aspire to become. And by extension, we realize that regardless of our situation, we all can become heroes in our own way.

And this is the reason why Uraraka is so enamored by Deku — his tenacity to pursue a goal as lofty as becoming the no. 1 hero in spite of his own insecurities is nothing short of amazing. And though Uraraka might not be privy to the sort of circumstances that surround Deku’s own inherited quirk, she nevertheless resonates with his desire to become a hero, and so she associates herself with him if only to try and have some of that heroism rub off on her.

Which is why I believe episode 22 of My Hero Academia was the catalyst for making me put thought to screen. The heroic attitude, which I keep alluding to even in my old entries on this show, was on full display throughout the episode; it rocked my perceptions of what a shônen battler can achieve, and gave me an entirely new sense of respect for Uraraka as a whole, and the sort of message she conveys to us as viewers. Continue reading

Wataru Uekusa: The Existential Crisis and Anime

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Remember how I promised I’d bring out more editorials? Well, here’s me keeping that promise.

I’ve always wanted to do a series revolving around the actual creators behind the content we enjoy, and so for these next few editorials, I’ll talk about Japanese artists — illustrators, writers, directors — and the type of influences they bring into the works they create.

For this editorial, I’ll be talking about Wataru Uekusa, a relatively low-profile artist as far as anime is concerned, but a well-known illustrator who possesses a very unique art style that combines deceptively juvenile characters with violently surreal artistic flourishes. So sit back and relax as we explore more about the colorfully chaotic world of Wataru Uekusa.

(NB: this article has a preamble, but future articles will simply head straight into the topic.) Continue reading

Anime and the Love of Headphones 3

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Helloooo there!

Since I’ve decided to let the season finish itself before returning to weekly thoughts, I figured I spend the time returning to some of the unique articles that I had stashed away in the back of my head. In particular, it’s a return of the prodigal Anime and the Love of Headphones segment, where I talk about all things gloriously audiophile and anime. Indeed, I’ve noticed a small spike in viewers looking at the old posts — in particular, a comment from a certain Shawn Cayago requesting for more. Don’t worry buddy, your words have been heard.

For this entry, we take a look at none other than our headphone-clad digital princess, Hatsune Miku. Though she isn’t strictly an “anime character” per se, her origins in the self-published music and arts community earn her a special place in the hearts of anime fans, alike. So sit back and enjoy this short return to our introspection into animated figures gracing the frames of real-life audio equipment! Continue reading

[Essay] Chitose vs. the World: the Millennial Struggle and Anime

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Let’s get the obvious out of the way, first. Chitose Karasuma’s character from the show gi(a)rlish number can be insufferable at times, where she often comes off as ridiculously obnoxious or self-entitled. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration, either, to say that her unwieldily attitude was the reason that many people dropped the show early on during its Fall 2016 run. There’s also the fact that some people unfortunately compared the show to Shirobako given its setting within the anime industry, which made it subject to slews of criticism that smacked down on the show’s overly caricature-ish depiction of the anime production process (and I’m talking to you, Kuzu-chan).

But on closer inspection, the show seems less a satire on that industry than it is, really, a satire on the millennial mindset and the struggles they face in the modern day workplace. And this only becomes much clearer come the latter half of the series when it explores the troubled career paths of its two industry veterans, Momoka and Kazuha. This also probably lends more strength to the argument that anyone who felt irked by Chitose’s unruliness is perhaps not so different from her in a more literal sense. But take note, Chitose being a satire on the millennial mindset means that she is obviously exaggerated, meaning her character is pretty much the personification of anything and everything that infuriates you on Facebook or Twitter multiplied by ten. So even if you refuse to see yourself in her, that’s probably just a sign that the issues of the troubled millennial are not so estranged from you as you’d like to think. Continue reading