Archive for June, 2008

Itazura na Kiss: BUBBLES! BUBBLES!

This episode was amazing enough to send my fingers flying for the nearest chat client so that I could spam my keyboard for a few seconds in order to properly convey the emotion my inner fangirl was experiencing at the moment. The temptation to do the same for this post is remarkably high, however, I feel that I must exercise self-restraint and restrict myself to a single sentence. Here it is:

fkldhfldas fsabfjsa fkjas fsda fdjas fjkdas fds fsdakifsjklfaslo flasnfpoas fsalkf m,lafs!

I feel much better. Note that I was doing this long before the end of the episode. When the bubbles popped up, it was almost too much to bear. Bubbles, sparkles, bubbles with sparkles, and sparkles with bubbles (there is a difference) are my shoujo weaknesses, and I don’t remember an instance of them cropping up in Itazura na Kiss before now, but any previous appearance of the legendary shoujo visual trope has been completely topped by this one.

Er, anyway. Illness seems to be the plot device du jour in Itazura na Kiss, since we already had Kotoko suffering from appendicitis. I was like “Appencitis again?”  when Irie mentioned it to Kotoko as a possible cause for Yuuki’s symptoms, but, fortunately, Tada Kaori is much more subtle than that. From a storytelling perspective, it was almost like she (and/or the writers for the anime version) were playing a literary prank on the viewer by baiting and switching the plot devices. I for one applaud such attempts at meta (?) humor, regardless of whether or not the intent was to actually make meta (?) humor.

Although Matsumoto had a minimal presence in this episode, the proceedings of the scene in which she was featured leaves me increasingly convinced that Irie is using her as a tool, to what end I do not know. Perhaps she is simply a pawn in the “tease Kotoko” game, or perhaps he’s simply too disinterested to really tell her he’s not that interested in her at all and lets her cling all over him because he’s, well, he’s Irie, and that’s what Iries do best. She is clearly superfluous, however: Kin-chan, of course, stirs up trouble (because he’s Kin-chan, and that’s what he’s there for) and insults Irie and Matsumoto by calling them a “good couple”, which, of course, Matsumoto repeats, because evidently she’s far too obsessed with how cool and awesome she is with a boyfriend like Irie to actually care about anything else. Irie–and this is one of those subtle things he does that gives me these kinds of impressions–simply detaches himself from Matsumoto’s grasp and gets lunch from the counter. They didn’t even make a huge deal of this. It just…happened. Like it was business as normal. If this has been a adaptation from an Ikeda Riyoko manga, that moment would probably have merited at least a triple-take and perhaps even a quadruple-take, but Ikeda Riyoko is from the 70s, and Itazura na Kiss is from the 90s. Things are done a bit differently. The fact that they don’t call your attention to these little things Irie does–either through camera tricks, the characters pointing things out or having reactions to these things (well, okay, Matsumoto had a bit of a reaction)–makes them all the more fun when you notice them. The biggest things in this series aren’t always the things that get the most screentime, no matter how awesome it was when Irie hugged–nay, embraced–Kotoko after saving Yuuki from the horrors of…whatever he had. (the actual disease name sounded as painful as the disease itself, so I promptly forgot it)

In conclusion, it’s fairly surprising that it’s only episode 10 and we’ve gotten this much relationship progress. Yes, they’re cramming the manga into the anime as best they can, but I have no idea how many volumes of manga the anime has covered so far, and I’m sitting here thinking “This was episode 10, so there’s 16 more episodes to go in this series…what the hell is going to happen in them?” It’s not a bad thing, as it’s always refreshing to know that you’re watching something that, despite barreling down the plot at mach 5, still has the potential for a lot of surprises in store, rather than the remaining episodes being a somewhat predictable coast to the conclusion. That seems to be Itazura na KIss’s big strength thus far, this sense of unpredictibility–and it is this that I think I will use to arbitrarily defend my rating of 9 for it over on MAL. Yes, the 9 was assigned entirely based on the fact that it hit that shoujo sweet spot, but the more the series runs, the more I feel it actually deserves that rating genuinely, as opposed to simply being defined as a hedonistic knee-jerk rating. It’s easy for me to see why this series was so popular in the 90s–it gets everything shoujo is supposed to do right, adds its own spin on it, and manages to be extremely well-written on top of that. It’s not the most original of premises–although I wouldn’t call it cliched, because, well, in all likelihood, it set the cliche–but, as mentioned in the previous post, originality of concept doesn’t matter.

And, as a closing thought, here’s the cover for the Kataomoi Fighter ED single (by GO!GO!7188, who apparently refuse to disclose what their band name actually means; something involving 557188, no doubt), which you all probably already have and have seen if you have the single in a tangible or intangible format, but here it is, in all its reduced-size-to-fit-the-theme-of-this-blog glory:

I about had a heart attack when I saw this. Stop it, Yamazaki. Stop it. I don’t want to have my cause of death listed in the paper as “Overdosed on Itazura na Kiss.”

Real Drive: The Importance of Tangibility

Before we begin, I’d like to take the time to say something extremely personal. I don’t know who you are, Dear Reader, but I would like to share one of my innermost secrets with you at this time. This secret is, this image is amazingly hot:

Words fail me. It’s like Production I.G. wanted to make Nyamo porn just for me.

If you’ve watched this episode, and have actually read a post of mine before, then this should come as absolutely no surprise to you at all. I was wondering what was up with the book in the epilogue/preview of last episode, and, well, now I know.

In all honesty, literary pornography aside, episode 6 was amazing. For one, the basic message of the episode–the contrast between being able to read a book in a few seconds with the asistance of a cyberbrain (as Nyamo’s friends do, when they even bother to engage in reading) versus that of actually reading a physical copy of a book over the course of a few hours, days, or weeks being the main theme. The message, of course, was quite clear: yes, digitization gives you the ability to read a book in a few seconds–but if you’ve read an entire book in a few seconds, can you really have been said to have read it? What is the difference between simply knowing how the plot of a story goes, and actually feeling the plot, so to speak?

I can think of an example in my own life, actually. A common example I use to illustrate my distaste for the majority of what I will call “respected literature” for want of a better term is this snippet: “I read War and Peace [Tolstoy] in a weekend and got nothing out of it. I read His Dark Materials [Philip Pullman] over the course of a month and a half and walked away emotionally moved.” And, yes, that is true, I read War and Peace in a weekend, if you can call the butchering I gave it “reading” (I certainly don’t, except in the most general sense), although even then it was still the only thing I did that entire weekend, because the book is 1400 pages long. I did, however, understand enough of it to appreciate this brilliant synopsis of the book, so I guess that’s something.

By contrast to this insult to quality literature (my tongue is very firmly in my cheek as I write those words in relation to War and Peace), His Dark Materials, which is a paltry 1200 pages of YA literature, absorbed me completely and left me an emotional wreck at the end, after being taken on a rollercoaster of emotions over the course of those 1200 pages.

And, now, the point of all that book talk: the contrast between “reading” a book via the cyberbrain in a few seconds, and Nyamo reading the novel Love Letter over an indeterminate period of time is exactly like my reading War and Peace versus reading His Dark Materials. Simple knowledge of the plotline isn’t enough to make one appreciate the story of a work; you may be able to tell me exactly who did what when, but if you didn’t comprehend it, does it really matter?  You know what happened, but you haven’t grasped its importance. Or, lacking importance, you’ve also missed out on something much greater: emotional impact. Just because you know, when you sit down and fire up Cowboy Bebop (assuming we’re living in a world where there are people who watch anime enough to follow this blog or, barring that, follow Real Drive who haven’t already seen Cowboy Bebop, whether they wanted to or not) that Spike dies in the end, does that simple act of knowledge really ruin you for the whole 26 episode series? You may know that he dies, but it’s likely that, even when you reach that moment, you can still find it powerful (assuming Spike’s death was actually powerful for some people, which I don’t think it was, but this is for the sake of argument so please pretend that it did) despite knowing that it was going to happen anyway.

Personally, I’ve never really had a problem with being spoiled for things–anime, books, movies, whatever. I think I developed an immunity to this when I’d constantly check the last few pages of a book to get a total chapter count/page count (so I could see how many more chapters/pages I had left to read) and would inevitabily have important plot revelations leap off the page and smack me in the face. The first few times this happened, it did kind of make me mad, but it kept happening and I just got used to it. The important thing in something isn’t what happens–it’s how it happens. You lose the element of surprise, it’s true–but you’re surprised when you hear the spoiler in the first place, so isn’t that enough? And knowing what happens in the end allows you to better see how the writers set things up for that exact moment, which, if you like that kind of thing, can be quite enjoyable.

If you are still reading this post, there is a possibility you may want to engage in the activity displayed by Nyamo in this here screenshot.

To disrupt this tangent that has little or nothing to do with the episode at hand, the other theme the episode touched upon was the power of physical objects to connect people, which is what I promised to talk about in the title of the post and then didn’t (I will make the argument that “tangibliity” in the title has two meanings–physical and emotional tangibility. There! Post title still relevant!), but this was also extremely important, perhaps even more important than the bit I ranted about above. The novel concept of the ending of the novel Love Letter, with its blank piece of paper to write your own love letter to the one you adore after reading the book (the proper, slow way, which is the only way to read it because the author’s family refuses to digitize it) struck me as quite innovative, and it makes me wonder if someone has actually done this in real life.

Love Letter itself stands as a testament to the power of literature and stories in general to move people emotionally. I’m pretty convinced, despite not knowing a thing about the book at all, that Love Letter is a fairly typical romantic drama book, although one in the general fiction “genre” and not the romance genre, complete with all the tropes one would expect from such a novel. Assuming that the plot is extremely cut-and-dried, what matters to the reader isn’t whether or not the story is plotted well, or that the characters are believable, or any number of things that book critics like to complain about–what matters to them is that they’re swept up in a book, however typical, that’s executed so well that they finish it and take advantage of the gimmick of the novel to write a love letter to their beloved. And that highlights another aspect of storytelling that needs to be brought up: it doesn’t matter how “original” or “creative” a premise is–because every premise for every story in the world can be boiled down to a sentence or two that makes it seem horribly cliched, trite, and generic–but how well the execution is for that premise. I find people falling into this trap all the time–“this premise is stupid and dumb so I’m not going to watch/read it,” and every time it happens it’s like “yes, it may be a ‘stupid and dumb’ premise, but that’s every premise ever.” It’s not the concept that should be labeled generic, it’s the execution. It’s the difference between Da Capo and true tears. It’s the difference between Special A and Itazura na Kiss. (note that these examples are from my perspective; your mileage may vary)

One final note, and then I promise I’ll shut up: it looks like Real Drive is getting set up to be an episodic character-development/short-story type series, as opposed to having a grand overarching plot structure. I quite like the way it’s being handled at the moment, and, while I wouldn’t mind a grand overarching plot, I don’t feel it’s necessary for this series, as it’s quite good at doing what it’s doing right now.

Macross Frontier: The Legend Begins Here!

It’s okay, Ranka! There is nothing to be afraid of when you’re on the big screen!

This was an amazing episode. For one, it was the obligatory Macross “characters film a movie” episode; SDF had Shao Pai Lon (with acting and awesome theme song provided by Minmei), 7 had The Story of Lin Minmei (with Minmei played by Mylene Jenius), and now F decides to make an extended reference to Macross Zero in its movie episode (I was highly amused by the Macross Zero logo replacing the Frontier logo briefly on the second part of the eyecatch, and the credits of the movie being the credits of the Macross Frontier episode, and not the movie. We already got the fourth wall breakage with Ranka’s very own personal blogfrom the future (see right column), and now they’re doing this).

On top of this amazing moment in Ranka Lee history, however, is the rollercoaster ride Sheryl sent me on for the entire episode. At first, of course, she pops up, and Miss Macross Miranda supplants herself upon the legendary idol from the Macross Galaxy and…is promptly ignored as Sheryl walks right past her to ask how Ranka is doing. It almost seemed like a deliberate move to simultaneously aggravate the vain victor at the same time as she reaffirms her support for Ranka. “Oh,” I thought, “that was a brilliant move by Sheryl” and I started to wonder whether she really, honestly was interested in supporting Ranka, and was completely unaware of the effect her dalliances with Alto were having on the lovestruck Ranka.


Then she kissed Alto–in front of Ranka–and played it off as a joke. At that point, I had literally no idea what was running through her mind, or whether she had a mind and wasn’t running on a tank full of crazy. Of course, Ranka sees her kiss Alto, and promptly marches off to announce to the director that, yes, she will play the part of Mao, thank you very much…which, of course, means that she gets to partake of her very first kiss with Alto. And then, with the heat of the spotlight focused on her at the premiere, Sheryl offers words of praise and encouragement towards Ranka.

It was like a light bulb went on in my head.

It’s entirely possible that, on some level, whether conscious or unconscious, Sheryl really is acting with the best interests of Ranka in heart–she’s just doing it a la Sheryl, which of course means some seriously tough love for Ranka. It may have just been this isolated incident (I would have to go back and rewatch previous episodes to judge this more honestly, but I will be paying attention for it in later episodes), but in this episode, it almost seems as if Sheryl kissed Alto not only to tease him, but to intentionally motivate Ranka to get over her wishywashiness and take the all-important first step towards stardom. And she may not have even done it intentionally, or maybe she did–as I said above, her innter workings are somewhat of a mystery, and it’s unclear how much she is working for herself and how much she is working for others and oh God my brain it’s melting and running out my ears make it stop

Regardless of the motive behind Sheryl’s actions, one thing is clear: because of them, Ranka Lee is now a minor celebrity. And with the status of minor celebrities comes…photo shoots! I am now hoping with fervency that Kawamori Shoji, since he’s already busy breaking the fourth wall whenever he can (notice the addition of the Sheryl Nome and Klan Klan blogs on the right, as well) will see fit to authorize the release of the Official Ranka Lee Photo Album to her throngs of adoring fans (i.e. me and the 99,999 clones I created of myself for occasions where multitudinous throngs are needed to accomplish something of importance to me and keep in cryogenic storage in a secret underground labratory protected by a natural labyrinthine network of caves). Not for my own personal use, mind–for science.

Code Geass R2: Exploitation of Pinky Promises

You’re sick, Lelou. Sick. Sick sick sick. Li Xingke, you have my full blessing to be pissed off in this instance.

Er, well, I’m pretty sure that the week-gap between episode 8 and episode 9 was not a chance to give the animators a break from their hard lives toiling away at drawing Kallen’s impressive assets. That in particular seems to have become a labor of love in this season, which I suspect is Goro and the rest of the staff reacting to fandom in general. I mean, it’s obvious just from looking at the danbooru tag that there’s C.C. and Kallen (in a virtual dead heat for top spot), and then there’s everyone else. This is obviously intentional on the behalf of the production staff, because Goro, like other directors in the anime business, likes to give the fans what they most want, and what they want is: Kallen’s posterior. And C.C. eating pizza, which I noted made it’s triumphant return this episode, Cheese-kun and all.

Derailed by derrieres, sorry. What I was trying to say was that the break wasn’t there for a break, but, rather, to concentrate as many “Holy shi–” moments (both plot-related and the aforementioned) in this episode as possible. Either that, or this was just a way for them to apologize for the week off. Or something. The major plot development this time around is, of course, Li Xingke enacting a virtual coup d’etat in the middle of a wedding ceremony (the man has class, I must admit, because the only time people ever say anything at the “If there is anyone who objects to the union of this man and this woman, let them speak now or forever hold their peace” bit of a wedding is in fiction where it’s turned into this massive dramatic moment of climatic catharsis. Extra points to the writers for not actually saying the line, but instead just giving you the shocked expressions of everyone as they stared at the spectacle). Of course, this coup d’etat quickly becomes a power play by Lelouch (or perhaps I should refer to him as Zero? There seems to be a distinct difference in his personality when he’s in the suit and when he’s out of it; this was probably there last season, but it’s definitely there now that Zero is almost an entirely separate and distinct personality from Lelouch himself) to try and lever himself out of the dire straits Schneizel has placed him in.

I’m not entirely sure of the reasoning behind this move–clearly he used Xingke to make his own job of defeating Brittania easier in general, but it’s not entirely clear why Zero would throw him away like this, and thereby making another enemy. The resolution of this particular turn of events, however, will have to wait until next week, where we find out that everything went According To Plan, and whether or not that Plan is beneficial to Tianzi or Xingke at all. (interesting side note–according to Wikipedia, “Tianzi” is one of the infinite ways to render the characters for “emperor” in Chinese, 天子, into Latin letters (via the pinyin system) although, of course, you render this in Japanese as “Tenshi” leading to some rather strange confusion on my part while watching this episode. All is understood now, though. I think) Depending on how this little arc goes, either we’ll be left with a Lelouch who is just as bad as the father he’s fighting against, or else we’ll have a moment wherein it is revealed that Lelouch is not as bad as his father is. It’s not entirely clear which way the series is headed at this point, but those seem to be the most likely paths. I’m hoping for the latter, simply based on the much-loathed past couple of episodes of Lelouch having emotional issues pointing towards the fact that Lelouch is conscious of what he’s becoming, and wants to stop things before they get any worse. Of course, I’m now wondering if the Big Plot Twist at the End will turn out to be everything gone according to plan–Charles’s plan, of course, in preparing Lelouch for the Emperorship (I don’t know how he could have that much foreplanning in store, but maybe that second Geass power of his is clairvoyance). Or something.

I am rather upset by Zero’s rather abrupt stance because the bits of backstory we were given for Tianzi and Xingke were quite well-done and touching, in the way that only a “kind-hearted child empress overpowered by eunuchs lusting after power (since they have nothing else to lust after, being eunuchs)” story, however brief it might be now, can be. I think that, as long as said eunuchs get other, more vital parts of their bodies lopped off, I’ll be plenty happy, regardless of what happens to Tianzi and Xingke. Well, okay, unless they die horribly.

Final thought: it’s been mentioned several times (although I don’t know where, if anywhere in particular) that, in the world of Code Geass, there is an awful lot of power invested in extremely young girls (Tianzi, Kaguya, and Nunnally now). If I were to say, that this was symbolism; that, perhaps, the aggression of Brittannia in general and Charles in specific, could be described as “rap

Err, no, no, I won’t say that. Nothing to see here, move along. Carry on about your business.

The Daughter of Twenty Faces: Soupy Symbolism

That is perhaps the most unappetizing soup I’ve ever laid eyes on. For one, it’s yellow, for two, it’s got those round yellow things floating in it, and for three, it’s laced with poison.

What better way to symbolize the dreary dullness of Chiko’s life at “home sweet home”, where her “loving” and “adoring” (of her rare piece of jewelry) aunt dotes upon her? I mean, soup is seriously all this woman can cook. And it looks like the most bland, tasteless soup I’ve ever seen. Hence why I think something’s up with the soup, more than the poison it contains. When Chiko was “kidnapped” by the “monstrous” Twenty Faces, she ate rather heartily (and often prepared the food herself) but, at home, all she ever got to eat was soup and bread. It’s a totally minor point in the overall scheme of things, but the food at both extremes of Chiko’s life–the bland soup at “home”, and the sometimes rather complicated meals with Twenty Faces’ gang–seems to reflect her surroundings. At home, for instance, she lives a dull, dreary life because her aunt serves it to her; however, with the gang of thieves, she quite enjoys life, and has a more varied diet to go along with it.

I probably just made that entire paragraph up (since that’s what analysis is), so here’s something only tangentially related to soup: the direction the first time she’s given the soup in this episode. It struck me as particularly good (or bad, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference, and I really don’t know in this instance) with the various camera angles of Chiko’s motionless face, the sinister whispering in the ear, and (this is my favorite part) the violin in the background track rising to a crecendo as Chiko spoons up some soup and swallows it.

The rest of the episode seemed to be setup for the rest of the series, as Akechi gives Chiko his bet: find Twenty Faces before he does. It’s also now quite obvious who the mysterious “detective girls” of the ED are: they are Chiko, Tome, and Haruka. How that third one ends up in all this mess, given her actions in this episode, is a mystery still, but I’m sure she’ll have a change of heart, however reluctant or forced it may be.

And does anyone know what the hell was up with that powered suit-guy-thing? I’m not entirely sure why they’re breaking time-period with such an anachronism, but I’m willing to go with it if they handle it well. I’m not quite sure what “well” means at this point, but I’ll willing to make the best of it. At this point it’s fairly ludicrous (even by the standards set by the series previously, whcih scored pretty high on the “ludicrous” scale, although this is a different kind of ludicrous) and a bit of a suspension-of-disbelief jolt, but we’ll see how that pans out.

Tetsujin 28-go [2004]: “Good or Bad, It Depends on the Remote Control Box”

Sadly, this screenshot is from the “Bad” side of things. Poor Tetsujin.

Tetsujin 28-go is, of course, quite awesome, thanks to Imagawa Yasuhiro. It is not quite yet on the level of Giant Robo, which is unspeakably awesome, but Giant Robo is kind of a high bar to reach, even if you are Imagawa, so that’s perfectly fine by me. What it is, though, is great retro anime, and we already know how much I like my retro anime. I’m not really all that far in the series, having seen just beyond the first arc, featuring Dr. Furanken (who has the exact same design as Professor Von Vogler in Giant Robo; I suspect this is because Yokoyama Mitsuteru, like Osamu Tezuka, liked to re-use designs in all his manga, although it may have been that Giant Robo cribbed character deigns from all his manga–who knows) and his wayward monster (no, you can’t spell his name “Franken” because it’s written with three kanji and not katakana), which served both as an introduction to Tetsujin 28-go, his eternal rival Black Ox, and Shotaro, the child detective who controls Tetsujin. With a remote control. With two levers and three dials. It’s slightly more believable than the method employed by Daisaku in Giant Robo, namely, Daisaku shouting incredibly vague commands into his wristwatch and Giant Robo somehow knowing exactly what Daisaku wanted him to do. Then again, the robots in Yokoyama’s manga actually had a mind of their own, of sorts. Giant Robo demonstrated it by crying. Tetsujin demonstrates it by rampaging across the city until someone finally grabs his remote control and stops him.

Which brings me to the title of this post, and to the apparent overall theme to the series: weapons can be used for good or evil, depending on who controls them. It is a theme that’s cropped up in mecha anime ever since, to a greater or lesser extent, but it’s strange that, in Tetsujin 28-go, this is represented in the same robot. I’ve no idea if this is in the original manga or not, and I suspect watching Gigantor won’t be of much help, and I don’t know where to begin looking for the manga. If this is in the original manga, then it’s rather strange that Tetsujin 28-go–the grandfather of all anime involving robots–should touch on such a theme. It’s most likely due to the proximity of World War II and the atomic bombings.

At any rate, the backstory of Tetsujin 28-go is as follows: Shotaro’s father, the creator of Tetsujin 28-go, seals the machine away and kills himself, because he (of course) has created something that should not exist on Earth. That something is likely Tetsujin itself, and, of course, when his apprentice Shikishima activates a certain control device, a chain of events is launched which results in Tetsujin marauding down Tokyo like a man in a rubber suit in a Toho studio. Shotaro seizes the remote control and restores order, of course, but now is forced with the task of controlling the iron behemoth.

The dual personality of Tetsujin, resting on both whether or not his remote control is being operated and who it’s being operated by, is a reminder that technology, especially technology as impressive as a giant robot (or, say, a nuclear weapon) is innately dangerous and deadly to human society, and must not only be policed by human hands, but by the right human hands. Tetsujin 28-go is, of course, a hero to Japan, both in and out of the context of his universe–but that’s only because he’s being used in the right manner. Sometimes. The last episode I watched (6) featured the plot development of Kenji Murasame (who, by the way, is so totally not Murasame the Immortal) stealing the remote control from Shotaro, leading to the screencap above. I expect a reign of terror to begin, and possibly resulting in the Good Guys using Black Ox on the side of good to stop Tetsujin on the side of evil while they conspire to steal the remote control back from the side of evil. If this is indeed what is going to happen, then it will only further drive home the point that technology is only governed by human hands–as Black Ox is most definitely Tetsujin’s rival, and by reversing the alignment of the robots leads to some extremely confusing action scenes indeed, as you start cheering for the robot that the series isn’t named after. Or something.

P.S.: Shotaro is the craziest ten year old ever. 1) He has a snappy fashion sense, much like Daisaku (and far better than my own) 2) He can drive a car 3) He is already a detective 4) He is macking on the police chief’s secretary. Considering that Shotaro is where the term “shota” comes from, this might be somewhat understandable, but still.

kure-nai: The Fate of a Kuhouin Woman

Apparently life in the Kuhouin household is even worse than what we already know about it.

I just want to say that, yes, incest is bad. And before you incest fetishizers get on my case about it, yes, it can be hot (because I’m fairly certain that there isn’t a thing on Earth that someone can’t find sexually arousing–I mean, in a world where people have married the Berlin Wall and attained sexual pleasure with it, anything is possible), but, thanks to the Westermarck effect such an incestuous relationship is condemned to fantasy forever–unless, of course, the siblings are never raised with each other and are not told of each other’s existence, in which case it’s hard to call them “siblings”. But there’s something just a bit…strange about forced incest. Or something.

I’m completely unclear as to the parentage of Murasaki–I’m trying to figure out whether her mother–her real mother–was a Kuhouin woman or not. I’m sure it’s been mentioned in a past episode and I’ve forgotten about it, but it’s just confusing me.

But that’s kind of unimportant considering what happened these last two episodes (I hadn’t watched 8 yet because I thought I had, but then it turned out I hadn’t, which I rectified when I finally got around to watching 9). The prior episodes of light silliness/mild drama have served as buildup for episode 9, focusing on Shinkurou’s relationship with Murasaki. The fun thing about episode 9 (well, okay, it wasn’t fun, but you know what I mean) was that, despite all of Shinkurou’s boasting that he could protect Murasaki from the Evil Clutches of her brother, he rather decidedly does not, and gets beat up instead. If we recall, Shinkurou decided to join Benika’s orginaization after she rescued him from terrorists, although only after they had killed his parents. The reason was, of course, he wanted to be strong and protect people…except that Shinkurou is anything but strong. We’ve seen this countless times before in the series–refusing to confront jerks on a train, being unable to accomplish any kind of mediation job without resorting to violence and awakening the bone-blade-thing, etc., but never is his very weakness driven home so hard as it is here, where, despite his weak and feeble efforts, he simply cannot rescue Murasaki from a fate she obviously dreads, leaving her to simply acquiesce to her brother’s demands.

Murasaki does this, of course, because, as she just revealed not five minutes earlier, Shinkurou is someone who means a lot to her–he’s someone who, despite his flaws as a person, has showed her true friendship, kindness, and–perhaps more than anything else–respect. He means so much to her, that she’s perfectly willing to sacrifice her own freedom simply to ensure that he lives on. It’s painfully obvious that she doesn’t want to do this, but, alas, if she doesn’t, then she truly will be unhappy, because despite his protestations to the contrary, there is no way you can “protect” someone if you’re being clobbered with high heels, and he would have been killed, and then she’d just have to go back to the Inner Sanctuary anyway, except this time Shinkurou is dead.

I’m fairly certain that Murasaki sees Shinkurou more as a replacement for her own birth mother than as any kind of intimate lover (although, given some of her recent lines, who knows what’s running through that child’s head), so, most likely, she went with her brother simply to avoid the pain of having another parental figure die. I can’t quite remember if her mother’s death was somehow related to her in some way (I believe it was, somewhat indirectly, but I’m kind of fuzzy), but even if it wasn’t, having two such figures die in relatively short succession would be nothing short of traumatizing, especially for a child that age. Perhaps she made the decision as much to spare her own pain as that of Shinkurou’s.

Also, is it wrong for me to want to see Renjou get punched in the face–hard–by Shinkurou? That would be an excellent series concluding scene, I think. Maybe with Murasaki biting his ankles.


I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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a ridiculously long and only partially organized list of subjects


June 2008