Category Archives: Post Type
I’m really proud of the group of writers we have here on Beneath the Tangles. Of varied backgrounds and experiences, they represent the blog well and are better writers than I am. And although I was actively looking to a new blogger to the group, I connected with Kaze and it seemed clear to both of us that he was meant to join our ranks. Please welcome him! You’ll get a taste of his unique perspective on Wednesday, when he’ll be sharing his first post, a very personal one.
In the meantime, get to know Kaze a little more through the Q&A below:
TWWK: How did you become a fan of anime?
Kaze: I originally watched childhood classics such as DBZ, CCS, Kenshin, and Gundam Wing. The first Japanese-dubbed anime I saw was probably Love Hina, and from there I moved onto very standard gateway anime: FMA and the big 3, and I really enjoyed them so I looked for more; before I knew it, I was keeping up with anime that was currently airing and here I am now.
TWWK: What are your favorite types or genres of anime? How about favorite shows?
Kaze: I’m willing to watch almost anything as long as it is legitimately good, but as far as favorite genre, it’s definitely romance. ef~A Tale of Memories and its sequel is still one of my favorite shows. Bungaku Shoujo is another one of my favorites, and I’m sad to see it only get a movie and a few OVAs. Other favorites include Nanoha, Katanagatari, and Hunter x Hunter.
At my church retreat this past weekend, I gave a testimony in front of the body. While I mostly spoke about my need for control (and a clear lack of control in my life), I could have talked about a lot of different ways God has worked in me. One on-going challenge for me is to stop wasting so much time. I think with the advent of the Internet, and so many entertainment options, this is as big a concern as ever.
In college, I was particularly bad with time management. I could waste an entire day doing basically nothing. I’d spend hours watching anime, reading fanfics about anime, tuning into anime music videos, and doing other endless fandom-related activities.
It must be worse today for college students with so much anime readily available.
When I graduated college, our church had a send-off for my senior class. After our dinner and presentation (the skit concerning me was entitled “Great Teacher Chuckie,” Chuckie being my nickname), we each offered some advice for the younger students. Mine was primarily this: don’t waste your life.
And while I’m not saying we should ditch all media and anime in an effort to manage time wisely, I hope you won’t waste your life being entertained. Ultimately, watching Youtube and Crunchyroll all day is meaningless. And when we realize what we can do to help others, care for the needy, and bring awareness to the suffering, all the time and resources we waste on entertainment is more than wasteful – it’s cold, uncaring, and selfish.
So watch your Zetsuen no Tempest, but then consider my advice, and go do something. After all, it makes no difference how many cool gifs we posted on our Tumblrs, but it does make a difference when we reach out and offer someone a little bit of love.
What is fandom to you?
This is the question Charles Dunbar, a friend of this site (I interviewed him once and he also gave us his aniblogger testimony), asked a number of friends and colleagues associated with anime. I was lucky enough to get an invitation to join in his Identity Project. Here’s how he explained the project:
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been fortunate to gather essays and ruminations from bloggers and fans about what fandom means to them. (I’m still accepting them, by the way.) Each one of the writers involved has chosen one aspect of their fandom and written about how it has fused itself into their lives. Hopefully, this will lead to more discussion about the changing nature of fandom, and provide some ideas on where it is going.
No surprise, I connected fandom to my faith. You might want to pop in and take a read, as I give a little bit of context as to why I do what I do on Beneath the Tangles:
As the first season of Revolutionary Girl Utena ended, Utena had finally finished successfully dueling the members of the student council. She may well have been able to enjoy some peace, if it wasn’t for the sudden appearance of a new set of duelists, each wearing a black rose, pushed forward and aided by Mikage, the leader of a strange seminar. Utena must once more fight duels to protect Anthy, the rose bride. But these new duelists are different. They are not strangers, but people Utena knows. Driven by bitterness and hatred, they fight not to take Anthy away from Utena, but to kill her. The black signet rings they wear were each worn by one of one hundred boys who were rumored to have died in a fire. Why is Mikage doing this, and how is he connected to Akio Ohtori, Anthy’s older brother?
In this season, Utena, Anthy, and the student council members tend to take a back seat. The center stage is instead handed to the minor characters, giving us a chance to see them in a completely different light. Hidden motivations and feelings that we never guessed are revealed, adding a brilliant new dimension to the story. I really enjoyed discovering more about them and their relationships with the main characters. The episodes featuring Wakaba were especially good, and really gave more depth to both Wakaba and Utena.
We’re also introduced to Anthy’s older brother, Akio. While we’re never given full insight into his character, we are given glimpses of just how important he’s going to be for the rest of the series, as well as to his relationship with Anthy.
This also ties in with another huge part of this season: foreshadowing. Much of it is very subtle, only hinting that what little things it was showing us would later become very important. In a way, it became the underlying tone of the entire season. Episodes tended to end on a slightly unresolved note, leaved an inconclusive feeling. The end of the season, in fact, seemed to me to be slightly inconclusive in and of itself. While I did find this a little irritating at times, it worked very well when it came to leading up to the next season.
I do have some complaints, though. The duels were more predictable than the last season, making the episodes far more repetitive, almost to the point of giving the season a “monster of the week” feel. As well as the foreshadowing worked, very little of the plot was actually revealed, which was frustrating, and what plot the season did have was rather confusing. These faults are not unforgivable, but they were still there nonetheless.
I watched this in the remastered Japanese audio with English subtitles. The sounds were very clean and clear, and the voice acting was great. The animation had also been cleaned up, making the colors and lines seemed much sharper. The extras on the DVDs included some fun stuff like interviews with Kunihiko Ikuhara, an old Utena promo, and trailers: not too much, but I enjoyed them anyway. The box-set also came with a booklet filled with interesting extras, such as episode commentary by the director, interviews with some of the staff, and art galleries.
This was a great season, despite its faults, and the remastering made it all the more enjoyable.
Review copy provided by Nozomi Entertainment
If there’s a consistent criticism of volume one of Steins;gate, it’s that the opening episodes are cold and inaccessible, with characters that are difficult to initially connect with. These issues are long forgotten by the start of volume two of the series, which follows self-proclaimed mad scientist, Rintaro Okabe, as he deals with the consequences of the time machine he and his colorful team have built. In fact, the story and characters have become so compelling that viewers will be glued to the action of part two, not because of the premise and unique feel of the series, but because we desperately hope to see Okabe fix the future and rescue the other characters from sometimes horrible fates.
The focus of the second half of FUNimation’s captivating series is on Okabe as he does everything humanly possible (and impossible) to reverse the effects caused by his tinkering with time. Most of these episodes are particularly intense, as character origins are revealed, a sinister and violent society closes in, and mysteries of the past and future are unraveled. But the show doesn’t leave us cold – it’s particularly intimate, as viewers see and feel what Okabe does on his very personal missions.
Extraordinary. I think that might be the best catch-all to describe Steins;gate, the unique and riveting series recently released by FUNimation.
The premise is pure science fiction. Between attending lectures on time travel and dodging away from an imagined organization that has it’s sights set on him, self-declared mad scientist, Rintaro Okabe, runs a motley lab out of his apartment in which he creates “future gadgets.” He and his brilliant team find themselves inventing a machine that is capable of sending messages back in time. Though excited about the discovery, they soon discover that manipulating time has dire consequences, not least of all because the covert society tracking Okabe may not be so imagined after all.
An outline of the story gives the gist of the plot, but it doesn’t convey the uniqueness or excellent execution of Steins;gate. The tone of the series is almost claustrophobic, exemplified by the small apartment in which much of the action occurs, the bland tones used to animate the series, and the choices in animation, including the extreme close-ups and other angles at which the “camera” often focuses. But further, the series is as much mystery as science fiction, and also contains plenty of comedy, angst, romance, and yes, moe (which plays a purposeful role in the show and it’s setting of Akihabara).
The characters of Steins;gate are particularly memorable. Okabe reminds me of a favorite character, Vash the Stampede (Trigun), in terms of being portrayed as a humorous caricature, whom we get to know better and better as his humanity is revealed through unimaginable circumstances. Other characters include Kurisu, the young genius who will long be remembered as a prime example of tsundere; Daru, the overweight and perverted hacker; and Mayushi, Okabe’s childhood friend who becomes a most essential part of the plot, particular as this DVD set reaches it’s cliffhanger climax.
The voice cast excels in these meaty roles. Mamoru Miyano is particularly memorable as he digs deep to express voicing ranging from maniacal laughter to deathly distress (sometimes in the same breath!). The English voice actors have much to live up to, but do a good job in bringing their own quality to the characters. Again, the actor playing Okabe is a bright spot, as J. Michael Tatum delivers a strong performance doing the English version of the mad scientist.
The FUNimation release is relatively bare on extras, though voice acting aficionados will enjoy the fun insights provided by the company’s VA’s on commentary tracks. The set also features an interactive map of Akibahara, showing important locations in the show. The Blu-Ray DVDs are of the expected quality, though perhaps they’re not a necessary upgrade over DVDs.
Volume one ends on a cliffhanger (though the time travel focus of the series perhaps makes it a bit less shocking than it would otherwise be), but it’s not necessary to keep the viewers entranced. The story, characters, style, and depth of Steins;gate make it so that most viewers (and certainly this one) find it impossible to resist watching the rest. It’s among the best releases of FUNimation’s recent slate, and one of the best anime of recent years.
Review copy provided by FUNImation.
OVA Collection (BD/DVD Combo)
Tenchi Misaki, a typical high school boy, has the responsibility of attending to a shrine his family cares for. Fulfilling a lifelong curiosity, he enters a cave which legend states has been sealed in order to confine the horrible demon, Ryoko. Little does Tenchi know that his accidental release of the sexy demon will lead to the arrivals of two alien princesses, a Galaxy Police officer, and the world’s greatest scientific genius; a battle among genius criminals and goddesses; a fight for Tenchi’s affections; and the fulfillment of his destiny.
Out of print for many years, FUNimation has surely brought joy to many fans by releasing the classic OVAs, available for the first time on Blu-Ray. Tenchi Muyo has a dear place in my own heart, since it was the first anime that hooked me, back in the early days of Cartoon Network’s Toonami block. I was eager to see how the series held up (and how it looked on Blu-Ray).
Approaching the series with a critical eye, rather than with the nostalgic glee with which I normally watch it, helped revealed the show’s faults. The script is sometimes terrible, as the early part of the series contains a lot of nonsensical actions and dialogue by the characters. The English language screenplay actually improves upon the direct translation, though it can’t correct poorly constructed plot points, like Tenchi sleeping on the roof of the school the entire day before awakening to a revenge-minded Ryoko.
The writing gets stronger and the inconsistencies start to fade as the series progresses, though. We get to know each of the girls intimately (more so than we get to know Tenchi, who is famously declared unnecessary by the series title) by the end of the series, and they are classic characters: the wild and needy pirate/demon, Ryoko; temperamental and prim princess, Ayeka; her responsible and slightly mischievous younger sister, Sasami; serendipitous and empty-headed police officer, Mihoshi; quirky scientific genius, Washu; and even the cabbit/spaceship Ryo-Ohki, who is also of the female persuasion.
It’s a Wonderful Life. Charlie Brown Christmas. Polar Express. Love Hina.
Yes, you read that right. Among all these classics, I include Love Hina among my required Christmas viewing every year. The Christmas special for the show is my favorite episode of one of my favorite series, and is my favorite Christmas anime episode among the many I’ve seen.
Love Hina is an angst ridden show, and this specific episode is full of it. Keitaro is excited, thinking that Naru may confess to him (or at least give him a gift), and is heartbroken to find that she apparently still harbors feelings for her former tutor. All this while Keitaro works himself to the bone to get Naru a meaningful Christmas gift.
The angst in this episode, and in other shows like it (ex. Maison Ikkoku), works because we like the male lead. In Love Hina, in fact, Keitaro is the better person of the potential pairing. Naru is more attractive and much smarter, but she’s also weak-hearted and all too often unkind; Keitaro, on the other hand, always puts others above himself.