Misc.

Music, Anime, and Me

Shigatsu wa Kimi No Uso. Sometimes it’s better known as Your Lie in April. It’s a show about music and the way it can tear people apart and bring them together.

Nodame Cantabile. A long series about what it means to be a performer, or an artist, and trying to find love along the way.

Music has always been kind of an interesting topic for me, especially classical music. I’ve been playing violin for thirteen years, and I’ve gotten pretty good in that span of time. It’s very important to me, and it’s also very conflicting with the rest of what I do.

Violin is probably one of the most painful relationships I have. It’s something that I give hours and hours of my life of, pour my heart into, master incredibly difficult pieces and know them like the back of my hand, but with no payoff. The conflict lies in what I can feasibly do with violin and what I actually do. I’m an engineer. I belong in the sciences. I know this; all of me knows this. I don’t have the time or the dedication to make violin my living. But I still practice violin as if I’m going to be playing in Carnegie Hall one day, even though I’m well aware that I probably won’t ever even step foot on the local theater stage.

“Well, why the fuck are you still in engineering then, if you like violin so much?” This is a question I get asked pretty much every time I bring this up. And the reason is because I will never be any sort of happy in my life if I am not doing science. I love knowing how things work and making things work, designing, theorizing, drawing logical conclusions. I like the feeling I get when I write a piece of code and it runs perfectly after hours of debugging. There is no profession for me that does not involve science. I love physics and tech too much.

So where does violin fit into that world? Well, simply answered–it doesn’t. There’s simply not enough time to keep up mastery of an instrument and perform and be able to be a rocking engineer. And yet, I keep shoving it in anyways, practicing every day, because I can’t let go of it.

These anime series are like a glimpse into what-could-have-been. In another world, one where I didn’t want to voluntarily sell my soul to science, or loved math and physics just a little less–that could have been me. I could have moved people with my music. Violin isn’t just a way for me to communicate with other people; it’s a way for me to understand others as well. It’s setting up scenes I would never have imagined by myself, or finding stories that I didn’t even know I was missing.

So I envy Kaori for her ability to turn heads. I envy Kousei for having his prodigal talent realized and he himself for the strength to keep on fighting. I envy Chiaki too for his insane musical prowess, and Nodame for her dedication to her art. I see too many could-have-been’s in these characters, and it is sometimes painful for me to keep watching. Knowing that these are things I could have had or could be, but will not have by my own choice.

But I also relate too. The way they love music? That’s me, right there. The way Kaori moves when she performs? I do that too. When Chiaki looks at a piece of sheet music and has it play out in his head? Every time I play a new piece. It’s like seeing the rarely acknowledged, haphazard pieces of yourself highlighted on a laptop screen.

So I appreciate these classical music anime. They’re good to me. I’m too in love with something I have no business loving, so in the end, I’ll just love it harder and know that even without anything else, it’s already loved me back hard enough that I’ll probably never stop.

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Animu Thinks and Thoughts

Hyouka

Ah, ice cream. Technically the English translation is much closer to “frozen dessert” or even something like “popsicle,” but those are semantics that usually are good at Ruining A Damn Good Show.

Now, I gave this show a 6.5 out of 10. Do not let the rating fool you; almost everything about this show is done masterfully. The art is fucking incredible, the protagonist is great, the music is stunning (and the instrumentation is absolutely flawless), and even the supporting characters are both well thought out and interesting.

No, the reason it’s a 6.5 is because Chitanda Eru was so. Goddamn. Annoying.

See, I don’t want to go too deep into why I thought her character was a poorly written mess of Mary Sue tropes because, well, that would take entirely too long and use up too much of my precious energy reserves. But damn, I feel bad for poor Oreki for having to deal with her.
Because she’s a main character, she is huge and integral to how the show works, and therefore also manages to singlehandedly drop the show from a solid 9/10 to a 6.5 in terms of enjoyment. Chitanda Eru powers, everyone!

Aside from Miss I’m-Curious-And-Fuck-Your-Personal-Space, everything else is so high on the enjoyment scale that I actually kept watching the show even though I wanted to strangle a two dimensional character. Houtarou Oreki’s character design and art is some of the best I’ve seen for any character; in fact, the art is why I started watching this in the first place. The details are amazing, the facial expressions are out of this world, and Oreki exemplifies the quality of the animation.

Another thing I really appreciated about the show is that everyone clearly has some human flaws (besides Miss So-Moe-That-My-Flaws-Aren’t-Actually-Flaws) and clearly shows development. Houtarou is brilliant, but so lazy that he cannot bring himself to do anything without outside motivation. Satoshi is cheerful and a hard worker, but is plagued by the fact that he will always be second best to someone else, no matter how much effort he puts into it, since he has no outstanding talents. Ibara is tough and resilient, but breaks down easily when things that mean a lot to her go wrong (A Corpse By Evening, Satoshi’s feelings…). The cast easily carries the show.

Hyouka is a show without an obvious storyline. It doesn’t follow one plot, and it doesn’t have one huge insurmountable obstacle. Rather, it’s like interconnected vignettes. One arc in this show can take one episode, or it can take six. It takes whatever time is needed for the story to be told properly, but doesn’t stretch it out unnecessarily. And also–I like the ending. I like the vagueness and that it doesn’t devolve into romance. Sue me.

So here’s the thing about this show. If Chitanda Eru doesn’t drive you absolutely shit bonkers insane, then there is very little I can really criticize about this show (not that I’m that much of a critic anyways). I’ve heard complaints that it’s slow and such, but that’s in the description–Slice of Life, so it says. The way that the mysteries are presented is so engaging, you can participate in the mystery solving as the characters do. Immersion!

Do yourself a favor. Watch the show. It’s brilliant. Just try not to let Miss Unholy-Child-Of-Modern-Anime-Waifu-Tropes ruin it for you.

 

(Ah, also–has anyone else noticed how Houtarou and Satoshi are drawn like aged-down, anime expy’s of Sherlock and John from BBC’s Sherlock?)

Image result for oreki houtarou vs. Related image

Image result for satoshi fukube vs. Image result for john watson bbc

Even their eye colors are similar!

 

now please excuse me i need to play with my cat so he stops scratching at my door my god he’s so fucking needy

Animu Thinks and Thoughts

Mirai Nikki

Or, as you all know it, Yandere Prototype 1.0.

Yep. This fucking show. Cause we all really needed an excuse to revisit our daddy issues and obsessive behaviors and murderous tendencies and ahahahahaha what do you mean you’re taking me to the police I haven’t done a single thing wrong HAHAHAHAHA asylum? but that’s for crazy people, not for pure, innocent souls like meeeEEEEE–

This show holds a special place in my heart as the first one I ever watched to completion and the first anime I ever found any sort of enjoyment in. It’s not the first anime I ever saw (I swear to God Bob made me watch so many fucking shitty ass animes that we only ever got through an episode or two of), but it is the first one where I was actually kind of engaged with the characters and plot.

Something about a massive massacre four episodes in just gets to me, y’know?

Honestly, I liked this show. A lot. I love the premise of power battle royale, especially ones that leave the characters floundering in grey morality. I mean, we got Yuno Gasai right here, who is the poster child for Needs A Lot of Therapy. Bitch is crazy. And I love that the entire show is based on the idea that this bitch is, in fact, absolutely shit bonkers out of her mind.

Mirai Nikki is, to me, one of those shows that don’t seem so bad on the surface. Battle royale to become a god and your main weapon is a future-seeing diary? Sounds edgy as fuck; let’s do it. But then you get psychological. Then you see the sheer abuse that’s poured onto these high school kids. You start seeing Yuno teetering on the edge of insanity. You have Four being raped all throughout her childhood, with her guardian being the facilitator of her abuse. See, the thing about Mirai Nikki is that it starts making you think about what effects your actions might have on people. Granted, they probably won’t be as extreme as ENDING THE WHOLE UNIVERSE, but it becomes increasingly clear that all these terrible things that the main characters are doing is an aftershock of what happened to them in their lives. This anime can very easily be written off as edgy and emo unless you take the time to dive a little deeper.

But the characters. Oh boy. There’s not that much left to be said about Yuno–she’s crazy, she’s stalkerish, she’s a homicidal maniac. Moving on. What’s much more interesting is how Yukiteru develops throughout the anime. He starts as a shy, kind of bland boy who takes more interest in observing than actually doing. Fifteen episodes later, he’s murdering people he called his friends ruthlessly and unapologetically. Refreshingly, he’s not a white knight. He makes terrible, horrible mistakes that are never really forgiven, and he learns the hard way that death can’t be turned back.

Impressively enough, every character in this huge cast is unique and memorable. I actually did not have that much trouble telling them apart or remembering why they were important. While they all suffer from a case of Tragic Backstory in some form or other, the anime is good at making you care about all of these tragic backstories–not least because almost everyone’s demise is treated with respect and gravity.
Also. LITERALLY EVERYONE IS CRAZY. Like none of them should be allowed to touch a fucking spoon, let alone run the whole goddamn universe. I’m not sure what Deus Ex Machina was thinking when he decided that these candidates were Good Ideas, but man, he fucked up some.

Favorite Character of the Series goes to Aru Akise, though.

This white-haired genius almost destroyed all the best laid plans with just perception. He doesn’t have magic powers; he’s just a badass normie. This kid is brilliant. He’s manipulative, cunning, and, well, gets his head taken off by Yuno eventually (and literally) because she is a Crazy Jealous Girl. And he’s a little gay, and who doesn’t need a little gay in their lives?
Seriously though, he is by far my favorite character in this show. I really enjoyed seeing him being able to pick apart motives and plans in seconds not by the use of a diary, but by his own intelligence. He’s also honest with both himself and others, and is the first to recognize Yuno for who she only is. I give Akise the title of Best Boy (which, in this cast of Everyone Is Fucking Ax Crazy, might not be saying too much…)

I like dark stuff. I like the supernatural, fantasy, horror, thriller sort of thing, so Mirai Nikki was actually right up my alley. That’s not to say it was without flaws, but it was something I actually watched all the episodes of and it held my interest while I did so. If you haven’t seen this show yet, it’s a good show if you like all of your cuties broken and all of your morals grey. Or if you like interesting character development, paradoxes and time travel, or fighting-to-the-death plot points. If you like a complicated plot with a complicated resolution, and a myriad of conflicting emotions for most of the characters, this is the show for you.

On the other hand, if you just want straight diabetes, Ore Monogatari!! is all yours.

This show gets a good 180 on the rating scale of enjoyment.

Peace,
theweebcorner

Misc.

The Official Semi-Log Scale of Weeb Enjoyment

I’ve found that in rating anime, things tend to be “it’s shit, but this is even more shit, and jesus christ this is all shit but they can’t all be 1’s either,” so I end up giving 4’s to things that are just. Really. Bad. They just aren’t WORSE than other things, so I can’t justify giving them 1’s.

The same goes for the upper end. I give some really, really good shows like 6’s or something because I can’t justify them being equally as good as another show. But that’s not reflective of how much I liked watching it.

See, the problem is that we assume a direct linear relationship of any given anime on a very limited scale that directly relates how objectively good an anime (with subjective ratings, of course…) to how much you subjectively enjoyed it. A 10/10 anime, while only 1 number higher on the scale, gives me infinitely more enjoyment than a 9/10 anime.

So, in order to rectify this problem for my personal self, I present an alternative:
a semi-log plot with the logarithmic scale along the x axis.

Now, you might ask, what is a semi-log plot?
Honestly, it’s pretty simple. It’s a logarithmic graph where only one of the axes (x or y) is scaled logarithmically (usually to base 10). The other axis is scaled linearly.
In this case, the x-axis is the one that is plotted on a logarithmic scale.

For this purpose of Weeb Enjoyment, the x-axis will be a “how good is it” rating on a scale of 1-10. HOWEVER, because this is a logarithmic scale, x will actually be a function of y–namely, x=log(y), assuming that log is the base-10 algorithm. This means that the value of y, at x=10, will be 10000000000, or 10 trillion. The y-axis for us will represent How Good This Shit Actually Is. That’s a scale from 1-10 trillion, which is a far sight better than 1-10. You can graph this expression in your calculator by using f(x)=10^x. (but don’t, because that really won’t get you anywhere)

Because the default log expression of x=log(y) is really…imperfect for how much I like things (and seriously, a scale from 1 to 10 trillion is way more precise than we need for our purposes), we need to modify the equation.
First, we realize that the base does not, in fact, have to be 10, though for purposes of computing, it is easiest to be base 10 (unless we want to work with the natural log, and I don’t in this case). Also, how the graph looks can be modified by putting a multiplier in front of the exponent, which is how we’ll handle the graph so that it can be base 10.
Then, to account for how graphing this shit actually looks, we’ll put in a function multiplier and move down the graph a little. The resulting equation?

f(x)=2(10^(.213446x))-2

The resulting graph looks like this:

graph_20170517_144749

Now, why 0.213446, you might ask?
Because that’s the number that gives approximately f(8)=100.
Any anime up to 8 on the regular linear scale can be rated on the enjoyment scale of 0-100, 0 being total shit and 100 being yeah, this a damn good anime. And, to me, an anime of totally “meh and just half okay”–a perfect five–does not give that much enjoyment. At all. So the 21.349 score it gets on the enjoyment scale is actually pretty accurate.

But above 8? Oh boy, we getting into the masterpieces here. You don’t just enjoy them, they aren’t just good–they are another level. This graph reflects that, because from 8-10, the scale goes from 100 to 270.5. Boys, this is the elite part of the graph. This is where you start picking and choosing. This is the cream of the crop. This is where the graph actually matters. These are the anime you would die for. This is where the distinction “this anime is too good to be with the plebs, but not good enough for it to be in my top ten” comes into play.

The range of 100-270.5 isn’t meant to be taken on the same level as range 0-100. Anything above 100 means that I had a damn good time watching it. It’s all about semantics and decimals from there on out, which I think is awesome. Any rating I give above eight will be allllll about that enjoyment, which means the corresponding “enjoyment number” from 100-270 is actually far more important than a decimal number from 8-10.

Link to graph for those interested

So yes, let’s use a better graph with better representation of what anime is really like.

Animu Thinks and Thoughts

Hotarubi no Mori e

This movie can basically be summed up as “man, white haired anime boys ruining your life.”

I mean, I really don’t know what we were expecting, though. The entire premise is a relationship where touching the dude kills him. You know it’s going to end badly. They literally don’t belong in the same world.

But even so, the entire time, you’re screaming, “YOU FOOLS! Please don’t do this to us. Please don’t do this to yourselves. BE HAPPY. STOP FALLING IN LOVE. Or break the spell! Break the spell and touch him and live happily ever after and, and–” continue to devolve into crying.

…yeah. Why were we expecting a happy ending again?

Oh, that’s right. Because we want to cheer for Hotaru. We want her relationship with Gin to be more than just happily frolicking under the summer sun. Since this is a story that is solely focused on the relationship between these two characters, all we really see is how much that relationship has affected the other. The movie is like a glimpse into what-could-have-been. In a different dimension, in a different world, they could have been each other’s forever. They could have never met. Instead, and perhaps most tragically, they’re stuck right in the middle. Hotaru will go on for the rest of her life, comparing every boy she meets to Gin, except none of them will match up because none of them are a forest spirit who defined her entire childhood.

The movie isn’t tragic just become some dumb boy died. It feels tragic because the death of Gin marks the end of Hotaru’s childhood. It is the dissolution of her youthful dreams and a harsh reminder that everything must come to an end. On Gin’s side, it is tragic because he never had the chance to experience much of what life had to offer–love, uncertainty, independence. Just as he was beginning to understand the world outside the mountain forest, it all came to an end. His tragedy was the untapped potential of a life not fully lived.

On the whole, though, it is a touching story. It’s meant to make you feel and perhaps not take everything for granted. Hotaru’s choice to move on with her life instead of grieving endlessly for Gin is one of the most painful and heart-wrenching decisions she could have made–and also the most mature one. And personally, I find it interesting when not every story has the fairy tale ending (though I could have forgiven that for this one………).

Be warned if you decide to watch it, though. White haired anime boys will ruin your life.

I give 8.75/10 (145.47 on enjoyment scale). Now excuse me while I sob into a pillow and find some fix-it fanfiction.

 

P.S. : “Reviews”, such as this one, are filed under Animu Thinks and Thoughts because I don’t like doing the traditional anime review where I ramble about story, characters, sound, art, blah. I just want to talk about the things that stood out to me, whether that’s good, bad, or in between.

Misc.

Free! and Related Things

So, we’re all aware that in 2013, Kyoto Animation made a fun little thing called Free!:Iwatobi Swim Club
make us free na splash kasenata–
and it veritably exploded with a giant-ass fandom of mostly teenage girls screaming about shirtless boys with heavy, unresolved drama mostly due the lack of ANY SORT OF COMMUNICATION. (*Note: at some point, I’ll do an actual full review on Free!…probably.)

WELL FEAR NOT MOTHERFUCKERS I TOO SCREAM ABOUT THIS SHOW (but only internally)

Listen. Free! was the third anime I ever watched to completion (the first two were Mirai Nikki and Prince of Stride: Alternative) and the first one I ever watched to the end by myself (note 1). Thing is, I saw it in 2016, a good few years after the show had ended, so I never had the chance to ride the hype train that came with it.

See, I was a competitive swimmer in middle and high school. I mean, I wasn’t good, and I sure as hell never made the Nationals team, but I do know how swimming works. And, you know, I love swimming and water. Essentially–a normal, human-like version of Haru, minus all the talent and athleticism.

So I wanted to hype with this show. Swimming was legitimately the only sport I had ever enjoyed doing, and I felt like I could relate to these swim team struggles.

AND THEN.

KyoAni says “Heya mothafuckas look what we got for you. A TRILOGY OF MOVIES. IN 2017. Aren’t you excited?”

And I said, “YES HELL YES my god do I get to jump on the hype train now ????”

Because listen. LISTEN. This was the first anime I ever saw that actually sort of aligned with my real life interests. ANd HNNNNGH there are new movies and shit and hnnnngh hype train inc. Cause dude. I want to see the Iwatobi team getting closer. I want to see the development of the Samezuka team. I want to see Ikuya and Asahi again. AND I WANT TO SEE POST-FREE HARU SO ALL MY DREAMS OF HARUMAKOTOKYO CAN BE CANONICALLY CONFIR–I mean what. I said nothing.

gay boys on ice in water is a wet dream, y’all.

and yes. pun intended.

 

*Note 1: I have a not-friend-only-best-buddies dude, whom we shall refer to Bob, who is a gigantic fuckin’ weeb. Much of my anime experience has come through him, since he more or less “pays” me to watch anime with him. By that, I mean he gifts me random video games and shit inside video games, even though I’d probably do it without that incentive just because we’re not-friends-only-best-buddies. Bob is a dick, Bob is loud, Bob likes samurai, and Bob is a lonely piece of shit who wants to make me suffer. Bob makes me watch a lot of anime.

Uncategorized

Welcome

I’m glad you’re here. Stay for a bit. Let’s indulge in Japanese culture together.

a.k.a.

THIS IS MY SCREAMING BLOG WHERE I WILL SCREAM ABOUT EVERYTHING

*ahem*

In all seriousness, I like thinking about and analyzing things that I consume, whether that is books, movies, music, or–in this case–anime.  I’ll talk about pretty much every anime I’ve ever seen, and whether I liked or disliked it. (Fair warning: anything I put in here is more or less my opinion. Discourse is welcome. Hatred is not.)

So!

Welcome aboard, and let the ships sail!