Considered by many to be one of, if not the best anime of all time, Legend of the Galactic Heroes is getting a new anime. It is emphasized that this is not a remake but a new adaptation, meaning we can expect things to be different this time around. However, anything different from the masterpiece of the original is probably going to be a mistake. I don’t expect this to be an improvement, let alone even on par with the original; however, having watched the series twice and with the intent to re-watch more in the future, I’ll give it a try to make a fair judgement. If nothing else, maybe this will spark some interest in the original series that although old, is no doubt the pinnacle of truly epic anime.
Although the Mekakucity Actors anime is not terribly new in terms of its announcement, it has continued to gain attention as continuous updates, particularly in the area of voice actors/actresses (seiyu). The anime releases this spring season, and it is of particular excitement seeing as it is the next step in the Kagerou Project that began with two Vocaloid albums by (my favorite) Vocaloid producer, Shizen no Teki-P (Jin). Since then, several light novels and manga have also been created as part of the series, culminating in Shaft’s anime follow-up.
The critical reception for The Wind Rises has been excellent so far. Though it doesn’t rate as well on Rotten Tomatoes as Spirited Away or Ponyo (really?!) did, it matches Howl’s Moving Castle and has received excellent reviews from some of the country’s most respected critics. Peter Travers writes, “It’s a big story, and in this landmark film Miyazaki is up to every demand. Sit back and behold.” Of course, I didn’t need to hear all this buzz to get excited about the film, as I’m a pretty die-hard Miyazaki fan. I’ll be in the theaters tonight watching!
The singer ELISA will be attending Seattle’s Sakura-Con on April 18-20, her first performance in North America. ELISA made her singing debut with ef’s opening song Eurphoric Field in 2007. She quickly gained popularity with it and was invited to perform at the following Anisama Live, the largest anime concert in Japan. Since then, she has performed theme songs for anime such as Hayate, TWGOK, Railgun, and Valvrave, although she did take a hiatus at one point. I have actually followed ELISA since her debut, so while I’m not a huge fan, I am pretty excited about this. She does try to interact with her fans, and her English, while not great, is definitely above average for Japan. I recommend anyone in the area to take the chance to meet and hear her and show her some support.
While Beneath the Tangles has aimed to be primarily a place for Christian analysis of anime, we also don’t want it to be a place where Christian discussion is a necessity. In an effort to expand the scope of the blog , one of the first things we are introducing is a short monthly anime news series. We will be introducing and commenting on a few recent happenings in the otaku world which caught our personal interest and hopefully yours, too!
If you have been paying any attention to Japanese otaku culture in the past few months, you should’ve at least heard of Kantai Collection, or KanColle for short. As the fastest growing game in Japan right now, KanColle continues to feed on its unprecedented popularity with the release of 6 nendo petit figures. Chosen by popular vote, the results are hardly surprising: Kongou, Haruna, Kitakami, Kaga, Zuikaku, and Shoukaku. I for one am delighted to see Shoukaku finally make her way into the KanColle merchandise. With an anime already in the works, along with countless other products, its popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, but I do wonder how long this will really last.
In America, when we hear an anime is going to made into a film (Battle Angel Alita, Cowboy Bebop, Evangelion, etc.), we take it with a grain of salt. Of course, it’s entirely different in Japan, where Attack on Titan is a go for adaptation into a live action film. To further wet fans’ appetites, Shinji Higuchi (the movie’s director) and his staff worked on a commercial for Subaru featuring three titans, including the one that chomped down on Eren’s mom and the Colossal Titan. These designs may not be used in the final film (I hope not – I was a little underwhelmed), but still, I’m sure SnK fans (myself included) are now excited for the movie, if we weren’t before!
What is this?! I see no anime in this piece of news! Well, that may be true, but as most otaku can attest (except for perhaps Charles, ahem,) Vocaloid and video games are two media that tie in ever so intimately with Japanese animation. As a Vocaloid fan and an addict of the Project DIVA series, the newest entry, releasing on March 6 in Japan for PS3 and Vita, has been a massive source of hype for me these past few months… and this new trailer did nothing but add to my excitement! If the language barrier is keeping you from becoming involved in the series, fear not, as I originally played the series with absolutely no knowledge of the language, so it is quite import friendly.
Black Lagoon: On Toonami – Zeroe 4
Starting March 22, the Toonami block of Cartoon Network will be airing the anime Black Lagoon. I watched Black Lagoon and its sequel last year and very much enjoyed the series. I did watch it subtitled and not dubbed, but I don’t think that will detract from the show in any way. The story revolves around a Japanese Salary Rokura Okajima “Rock” who ends up getting stuck working for contract pirates in the South Pacific. I think anyone who liked anime like Jormungand, Psycho Pass, or other intense and somewhat violent anime will like this one.
One thing I think all of us anime fans can agree on is that this medium stimulates our imagination like few others we have encountered. The idea that we see what we want to see in the anime that we watch, for better or worse, has a lot to do with the particular “lens” we bring along when we watch — which naturally differs widely among anime fans.
Lately, however, I’ve come across the idea of “headcanon.” I take this word to mean the individual fan’s ideas of back story, or character qualities or experiences that we never actually see “on camera.” The word seems to stand opposite to “canon,” which as we all know refers to things explicitly seen or stated “on camera,” or included in the authentic back story to the show in question.
Now surely the development of headcanon is nothing new. I was not around when the original Star Trek series aired, but I would hardly be surprised to learn that the personal history and back story for every character from Capt. Kirk to Uhura, from Spock to Dr. McCoy, were entirely worked out — if not by the original authors, then by the fans. And I would likewise be certain that there were heated and impassioned conversations about the characters’ personal histories, likes, and dislikes among Star Trek fans of the 1960s, just as there are for Naruto fans today.
The idea of headcanon took on an entirely new level of applicability once I joined the Vocaloid fandom a couple of years ago. I have been involved in synthesized or digital music as a hobby for some 25 years, which means only that I approach the Vocaloids as primarily a hobbyist and a programmer. I see them as musical instruments. But of course this is only half of the interest in Vocaloids to the fandom, or perhaps only a quarter of the interest. In addition to the songs themselves and the voice banks that are used to make the songs, there are also the anime-character-like manifestations of each Vocaloid, most of which derive from the original box art. And where such box art was lacking (as with VY2) or mostly lacking (as with the new ZOLA voice banks), fans quickly stepped in and made their own art to express what they thought their favorite imaginary pop singers looked like.
Of course, we cannot get to know the Vocaloids through any anime series — only through their songs, and through what other fans say about their songs. While this idea is not original with me, I’m fond of saying that Vocaloids are very much like actual living pop stars. For example, like Justin Bieber, Kagamine Len has a discography, as well as a worldwide network of producers that write songs for him, and an even larger worldwide network of fans. Perhaps the most important difference between Kagamine Len and Justin Bieber is that Kagamine Len doesn’t actually exist.
We Vocaloid fans are unable to resist plunging into the realm of headcanon, it would seem, by making up our own stories about our favorite Vocaloids. I experienced this recently with particular strength when my copy of the ZOLA Project arrived in the mail. Almost before I had them installed on my computer, I had worked out part-time jobs for them, as well as ages that differed from canon but made more sense to me. I was just about to decide which of the three was married when I had to make myself stop.
We anime fans all too often take the same kind of plunge with anime, even though we are given a much larger amount of authentic material to work with. And as with the Vocaloids, your ideas about the characters’ histories and extra-canonical experiences in a particular show may differ from mine, or be more or less developed than mine. But if one thing is clear, it is that we cannot help ourselves. Whether for Vocaloids, Harry Potter, anime, or you name it, we will develop headcanon.
Since I first began to question myself several years ago about why anime had me so deeply in its grip, I have always been fascinated about the effect anime has on my imagination, and apparently not on mine only. I wish I were able to come up with smarter-sounding reasons as to why these things we call anime characters draw us in, to the point that we make fanart, write fanfiction, and of course develop headcanon. So far the best answers I can come up with are Because we love these characters and Because we find it enjoyable to imagine such things, but I am certain that people better educated in psychology and literature can come up with better answers, if not truer ones.
Perhaps the development of personal headcanon is our way as fans to put our own seal on our experience of anime. Whether or not we can explain it, I would suggest that we continue to enjoy it. I am not sure, but I have a suspicion that this too is something uniquely human that we all share, and by which as anime fans we can understand each other, at least to some extent.
It was quite a week for spiritual and religion tinged articles in the anime blogosphere, headlined by Alexander’s still on-going series entitled, Madoka > Jesus. Here are his posts thus far:
- Human vs God
- The True Sacrifice
- Benevolence Given Freely
- Madoka Succeeded, Jesus Failed
- Madoka is More Plausible
Nick Calibey responded to Alexander’s post with his own article. [A Rather Silly Blog]
Stardf29 reviews episode 3 of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet and makes connections between the importance of “thank you” and life lived less legalistically. [A Series of Miracles]
D.M. Dutcher compares Kirino’s treatment of her otakuness in Oreimo to how Christians often treat their faith. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]
In another post, he makes some great comparisons between the humorous hero, Vash the Stampede, and Christ, as well as to scenes in Trigun: Badlands Rumble and the “problem of pain. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]
Japes, who guest-blogged for us earlier this week, is off and running on his own aniblog, beginning with an introduction of his theology. [Japesland]
Japes also brings his faith into a defense of Vocaloid as an artistic expression. [Japesland]
Medieval Otaku points out Christian theology and themes in his review of several manga, including Superior and Vinland Saga. [Medieval Otaku]
So…the Jesus and Buddha characters of Saint Young Men are now being used to market fashion merchandise. Interesting. [Anime News Network]
As part of the Something More series of posts, each week Beneath the Tangles links to writings about anime and manga that involve religion and spirituality. If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK if you’d like it included.