Archive for December, 2008

Best Themes 2008 ERRATA, or, I Kick Myself

(errata for the previous post)

My amazing ability to forget the most random things in my absentmindedness never ceases to amaze me. 90% of the reason I started the “best themes of 2008” post was to post this, and, yet, I completely forgot to. I get caught up in everything else I forget that I haven’t done something and don’t realize it until I wake up the next morning.

Anyway, without further ado:

Ishikawa Chiaki – Prototype [Mobile Suit Gundam 00 s2 ED1] (PV)

Ever since I watched Simoun I’ve been in love with Ishikawa Chiaki’s songs and vocals. This became much more pronounced the following year when I watched Bokurano and found myself listening to the TV-rip version of Uninstall for a week. Straight. Literally. The same 1:30 of music over and over and over and over again. And it didn’t drive me crazy. I couldn’t stop.

Granted, that provided for a strange experience when the full length version surfaced three months later, so I was bound and determined not to do the same to Prototype, which I fell in love with the minute I heard it in episode, and then forgot all about it until I watched episode 3 with the full ED animation and I had to literally stop myself from sitting around watching the ED on repeat for hours on end, in order not to ruin what would eventually be a nearly 6-minute opus magnum.*

That, friends, is the power of Ishikawa Chiaki. I love Kajiura Yuki, yes, and See-Saw was great, but Chiaki seems to have taken the best parts of Kajiura and made them better. Chiaki manages to top herself at least once a year, and this cycle is madness and is going to ruin me for music forever. Or maybe I’m just a Ishikawa Chiaki fanboy. Hell, I ordered the single for no apparent reason. I consider importing singles one of the most difficult things to convince me of, as cost + international shipping usually makes it not worth it, except for the best of the best–which Prototype is.

We’ll just say that, rather than forgetting, I was merely saving the best for last, and building tension without actively doing anything! I would have done an edit, but that seems cheating after all this time, and, besides, why not give Prototype its own post? That seems more fitting than letting it slum with the lesser OP/EDs.**

* misusing Latin in an effort to sound cool, no doubt
** joke, I think

The 2008 Best Themes Post

I am totally stealing from CCY and cuchlann, and doubtless countless others, to bring you this post, a window into the mysterious workings of musical things in my mind. Expect it to make even less sense than usual!

Opening and ending themes and sequences oftentimes hold a special place in my heart, both musically and visually. A theme I like musically, even one used as marketing to help market the band’s single to a wider audience, will frequently cause me to investigate the rest of the musical unit’s oeuvre, sometimes resulting in the new acquisition of music to enjoy for music’s sake. Other times, a theme can come, in some way, to symbolize the whole of the series for me–the case of nirgilis’s Eureka Seven theme, sakura, for instance. Paired with a well-executed OP sequence, you can sometimes find me spending time I should be doing other things sitting around and watching the same 1:30 OP or ED over and over and over again.

At any rate, OP/ED themes often provide me with a chance to revisit the moods of series enjoyed in the past, and frequently introduce me to new musical units that I might not have heard through conventional means.

Here are some of my favorites this year:

eufonius – reflectia [true tears OP]

true tears remains one of my favorite series this year, second only, perhaps, to Xam’d (I seriously did not think there would be anything to challenge true tears this year until Xam’d showed up and clobbered me), and I still have a wave of melancholic happiness wash over me every time I hear reflectia (reflectier?). I know one of my car mix CDs had reflectia and euphoric field one after the other, and that was a truly epic CD indeed.

Snow* – Chain [Shigofumi ED] (yes, the link is OP and ED, I know)

Same CD also had Chain on it. The ethereal, haunting tones of Chain never failed during Shigofumi’s run to give me the cold chills up my spine at the end of an episode. Even the happy, silly, not-mentally-disturbing ones. That kind of power tends to stick with you.

Kiyoura Natsumi – Tabi no Tochuu [Spice and Wolf OP]

I might have been disappointed with the anime version of Spice and Wolf (and I eagerly await the release of the light novels to properly judge the franchise), but this OP made the whole endeavor worth it. I like the subdued yet powerful vocals; sadly, I have no idea what else Kiyoura Natsumi has done.

Base Ball Bear – changes [Toshokan Sensou ED]

I’d liked Base Ball Bear previously from their Ookiku Furikabutte OP, which was great, but changes was amazing and provoked me to further explore their discography. They are, indeed, awesome. I loved the show, and was sad when the episode ended, but the segue into changes always made me feel better. Much, much better.


You knew it was coming. The very first thing I said when I saw the artist and title for Xam’d OP was “this song better be as awesome as the band name and title are.” Not only was it awesome, I found myself stuck on the album, EXPOSED, for at least a month and a half afterwards, and I even ordered it last trip to CDJapan. On a random whim. I am glad I did.

Kugimiya Rie, Horie Yui, and Kitamura Eri – pre-parade [Toradora! OP] / Horie Yui – Vanilla Salt [Toradora! ED]

Seiyuu pop never usually tends to grab me, as it tends more towards the bland side of pop than the good side of pop. Not so with the Toradora! OP and ED. Maybe it’s just the dirty bass, maybe it’s just because it sounds suspiciously more fuzz-pop like Momoi’s sunday early morning (best song consisting entirely of anime titles ever), or maybe I’m just tossing out vaguely appropriate musical terms in an effort to impress (trying to figure out musical genres has never been my forte), but I feel the Toradora! songs are legitimately good.

Nishikiori Ken – Ano Sora o Yuke [Tytania OP]

All I really have to say here is that he shoves the sword through the spaceships in a moment of sheer logical impossibility possibly only in an OP sequence. It is awesome. That is all.


Sound Horizon – 冥王 – Θανατος [Moira] (the PV if you think you’re man enough to handle it)

This has nothing whatsoever to do with anime (well, kind of), but Sound Horizon’s newest album, Moira, was released in October (hence why I placed the order that ended up containing EXPOSED), and, well, it was awesome. Really, really awesome. I don’t think I’m quite in the audience for the PV version (or maybe even the live DVD due out in March), but I’m definitely in the audience for the music itself.

p.s.: That’s only the first track from Moira. The next is a Russian polka, with Jimang going nuts for seven minutes. Then Ike Nelson talks at you for six minutes. Then it’s totally opera for the next hour, with whatever instruments Revo thought would sound good for the track in question. It’s truly an impressive album, and at the few lyrics I manage to understand, my mind melts. Native Japanese speakers have trouble figuring out what’s going on in Sound Horizon albums, so don’t fret about the language barrier too much.

At any rate, I think I’ve been spending way too much of my time this year listening to music. Mostly because it keeps me occupied while at work, I suppose. Or else revisiting a hobby all over again. Or something.

Happy New Year anyway, though! I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to a retrospective (it seems too self-indulgent, even for a blog, which, by definition, is self-indulgent), but if I do, sometime this week! Maybe! Exclamation point!

(errata for this post located in the subsequent post)

Toradora! [13]: Mr. and Ms. Oubashi High School

If there is a man, woman, or androgynous non-gendered person amongst you who was not moved in the slightest by Toradora! episode 13, let ye be cast out of Canann and turned into a pillar of salt and plagued by frogs and all that other Biblical stuff.

It’s vaguely kind of fitting that I topped off Christmas Day by watching 12 and 13 of Toradora!, considering that I spent Christmas Eve Day and the free moments of Christmas Day that were not consumed with Christmas Business and Family Togetherness channeling Takasu Ryuuji like nobody’s business and attacking the mess of my room that looked kind of like Taiga had passed through. I was only able to channel a small fraction of the God of Cleaning, Ryuuji, as I was unable to complete cleaning before breakfast, but I did, however, bake awesome cookies. Doubly fitting that the mid-series point is one of the most satisfying Toradora! moments thus far.

The main focus of the series, or at least of its viewers, myself included, has been the relationship between Ryuuji and Taiga, in all its more-than-friends-but-less-than-lovers glory, but integral to that seems to be dragging Taiga out of her aggressive Palmtop Tiger shell and giving her a desperately-needed self-confidence boost. If nothing else, what binds Ryuuji, Minorin, and Kitamura to Taiga seems to be a shared desire to bolster her confidence and tame the Taiga. Ami, too, plays the integral role of serving as Taiga’s foil (and Taiga as hers), forcing the two of them to drag out new shades of personality and development as the series goes on.

If anything, the events of 13 in particular serve to heighten contrasts: Ryuuji makes a dress for Taiga to compete in the Miss Macross Oubashi High School competition, causing the entire student body to suddenly remark at how cute the Palmtop Tiger is–and, even after her outburst after discovering that her father has failed to show–devoted more to work than he is to his daughter–through the efforts of Ryuuji and Minorin (who have, of course, Had Words) still manages to win the contest. Meanwhile, in order to win the Mister Oubashi High School contest (apparently a free-for-all race around the city) to show his support and devotion to Taiga in lieu of her father (reasoning that since it’s his fault for trusting her father to show), Ryuuji forsakes his usual easygoing, casual self for a determination that lives up to his genetically inherited eyes and a savagery quite atypical for him. Or, at least, a savagery more generally reserved for polishing tables and sewing clothes.

And yet, even after Words with Minorin, even after all the various disasters that befell our intrepid protagonists, things work out as they find it impossible to actually care properly for the more-fragile-than-she-seems Taiga without actually working together. I noted with some poignancy that Ryuuji found Minorin outpacing him towards the finish line, figuring that the conclusion to this episode would involve a resolution to the Words via Ryuuji outpacing Minorin to the finish line, proving to Minorin that he was better able to care for Taiga–and to himself that Taiga was more important than the elusive goal of Minorin. And then he gets pulled down, and then she gets pulled down, and then she gets back up with a baseball and clobbers the leaders in the race, and then she bowls over the people trying to overtake Ryuuji.

And then Ryuuji, ever Ryuuji, acknowledges her assistance, gets up, heads back to her, takes her hand, and off they go to the finish line to crown Taiga, for a more poignant moment than the one I envisioned. It’s strange that a moment in which Taiga is most happy is when the seeming romantic point of the series–the relationship between Taiga and Ryuuji–seems to give way to the respective stated goals of both, Ryuuji with Minorin and Taiga with Kawamura. It’s perhaps a sign that the relationship between the four is much more complicated than it might seem on the outside, and made even more complicated by the presence of Ami. No matter how the relationship cards fall, it’s evident that the only way they will all truly be happy is if they stick together. Or if Minorin’s lesbian joke is actually not a joke at all. But I don’t think she’s that weird. Yet.

Xam’d: Lost Memories: YES.

It is hard to say how many simultaneous fanboy moments I had here, or if the word “fanboy” is inappropriate for the pure, visceral satisfaction provided here. And the series isn’t even done yet!

As Xam’d winds its way towards the sadly imminent conclusion (I, for one, will be experiencing severe Haru withdrawal, and, I suspect, many others will be sharing in my predicament), events start to coalesce: Akiyuki and Haru have their triumphant reunion (more than a little evocative of similar moments in Eureka Seven, no doubt intentional), Nakiami deals with her sinisterly megalomaniac sister, and all the minor characters wend towards whatever fate is in store for them. It’s thrillingly satisfying in many ways, as the careful, slow development of the characters begins to reach its apex.

The pacing of Xam’d is perhaps one of its strongest assets: the deliberate pacing and careful attention to detail belie the careful planning that went into the series. The concept of Xam’d as being a series held in the hands of the staff, who doles out a card seemingly at random that raises more questions than it answers, is still very much true, with a catch: the cards don’t seem to be so random anymore. Perhaps it’s just the gradual coalescence of the world over time, but cards are never played until (or, sometimes, after) they are needed to understand, and it’s not always accompanied by a dramatic gesture akin to Sakura crossed with Hikaru. You aren’t spoonfed details, you must seek them out on your own.

It’s almost sadly poetic the circumstances that led to The Scene in episode 19–as Haru came into terms with herself, Akiyuki lost his sense of self. Haru came to understand herself through Tojiro’s nasty methods of trying to make her a prime fighting machine, while Akiyuki found himself sheltered and protected by a mysteriously ill yet kind and genial woman named Sumako. And it’s interesting, too, that Sumako is Tojiro’s mother, and doubly so that Akiyuki, in his lost sense of self, reminds Sumako of Tojiro. Sumako earnestly tries to help, or at least support, Akiyuki through his crisis, while Haru finds herself restricted by her son. Both Akiyuki and Haru are able to find and grasp their own understanding of self (Akiyuki, in particular, seems to have grasped much more than that, but full synchronization with the Xam’d) through the assistance of mother and son, but in opposite ways. They both leave an thank-you note for Tojiro and Sumako, respectively, but while Haru’s note for Tojiro is intended to be sarcastic and nearly mocking, and summarily angrily kicked aside in a furious rejection by Tojiro upon discovering it, Akiyuki leaves behind a sincere, earnest, and heartfelt thank you that will no doubt be received with love and warmth. Tojiro rejects what he cannot acheive

There’s a lot that could be said about this particular snippet of Xam’d that my brain is having a difficult time processing it and trying to turn it into some kind of legible, if messy, prose. What does it mean, for instance, that Tojiro restricts Haru from Akiyuki, when his own mother thinks Akiyuki resembles him? For that matter, if Akiyuki resembles Tojiro, which one of them is true and which is false? Is Tojiro’s bitter and cold disregard for Haru’s fixation on Akiyuki a sort of post facto jealousy? And let’s not forget that Tojiro was supposed to have died in the war, but that Akiyuki’s own father helped save his life. It’s a massive web of complexity that doesn’t even seem to have a center or even a focus, just tangled strands that intersect at odd points.

Such is life, I suppose. And yet we cannot seem to live without having connections to other people, for even when those connections cause us pain, they seem to be essential to survival.

(No, I have not forgotten about Nakiami, and, in fact, I keep feeling bad for not discussing her, for what’s going on with her now is just as interesting, but I think the fact that I sync up on some kind of deep level with Haru and Akiyuki keeps overshadowing poor Nakiami. Then again, I watched most of Eureka Seven more interested in Renton and Eureka, and then 48 hit, and Dominic and Anemone’s reunion was, and remains, the most memorable moment of Eureka Seven to me, so, perhaps, there is still hope. Maybe. Or maybe that will be a rewatch job…)

Mobile Suit Gundam 00: UNITY


After work yesterday, needing a break from some of the sonic insanity that had transpired all day at work, I stuck the Gundam 00 soundtrack in my car as I drove home. I had noticed before that Kawai Kenji’s score for the series sounded awfully similar, with many of the tracks (at least on OST 1) providing various interpretations of certain musical leitmotifs that cross and intercross between the various tracks. Before, I’d kind of ignored it, not thinking ill nor good of it, but I stuck it in and then I thought “wait, this is Kawai Kenji and Gundam, there’s got to be something here” and, while stuck in traffic, decided that leitmotifs, far from being musically bland, served the purpose of “unifying” the various factions of the first season, and of humanity in general–the leitmotifs are performed by different instruments on each track they are present, and, thus, humanity is various interpretations on a single theme. And then, earlier today, I watched episodes 10 and 11, which more or less justified that rush hour train of throught.

Let’s clarify that a bit.

One thing that seems to happen in 00 a lot is that, as it’s wound on, everyone on all sides has suddenly started to seem a great deal closer than they did at first. Sumeragi went to school with Billy Katagiri and Kati Mannequin; Setsuna was a member of the terrorist cell that killed Lockon’s family; Soma/Marie and Allelujah were, essentially, two sides of the same coin. It adds dramatic weight, but the connectedness of everything seems to take on especial meaning after 10 and especially 11.

Equipped with the 00 Raiser, the 00’s Trans-Am system has some decidedly Newtype-ish effects: suddenly, people are capable of sensing other people that they know and do not know. Soma/Marie senses her beloved Colonel, and (perhaps most importantly) Saji senses Louise in her A-Laws unit. It’s an ethereal awareness humanity doesn’t normally experience, and seems to be on the same wavelength that the Innovators use for their silent communications.

I can’t quite remember what Aeolia Schenberg said when the unlocking of Trans-Am occured (and I do not have an easy way to find out, sadly), and even though his plan is still shrouded in mystery and unknown factors (and, as I thought, much more complicated than it seemed at the beginning), if the 00, Trans-Am, and the 00 Riser are all integral parts of his plan, it’s starting to seem strangely like the way out of the labyrinth he left behind is not Libbon’s tactics of domination through being the Illuminati of the world, but, rather, the unification of the world through the realization that humanity is, essentially, one: hence the corruption of the 00 into : two interlocked 0s, different yet part of the whole.

Dripping with obvious and pendulous symbolism? You bet.  And yet, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed when the giant infinity mark appeared at the end of the episode, while basking in the post-Prototype haze (that is the most amazing Ishikawa Chiaki song I have heard to date; I’m amazed at how she tops herself consistently). Gundam’s never really been known for subtlety, though. Mizushima has more Gundam in him than his Gundam background of Zeta and nothing else would suggest.

Toradora!: The First Fight

Now they have a lover’s dispute of sorts, and they still don’t realize things! Of course, Taiga actually, genuinely mad at Ryuuji is a frightening thing to behold…

I’m not for sure what, exactly, transpired between Taiga and her father (and I don’t think we’re supposed to know that right now), but he doesn’t seem like the bad sort. Then again, sometimes the bad sort has the nasty habit of looking like the good sort, so it does get hard to tell. My guess is a communication error between father and daughter, but it could be any number of things.

Strangely, too, Ryuuji is the one who is actively seeking out his father’s identity, whereas Taiga is rejecting her father. Ryuuji has no father figure, and his mother’s effectively useless for all intents and purposes; hence, then, his propensity for household chores. Yet the same lack of a father figure prompts him to berate Taiga violently–this is the first time in the entire series that Ryuuji has actually acted like anything resembling a “dragon”–until he realizes he’s doing it for him and not for her. Even after he apologizes, Taiga goes to actually talk to her father, leaving us with everything but the subtlety of a “TO BE CONTINUED…” placard.

Contrasts seem to be the name of the Toradora! game: Taiga projects strength externally but is weak internally, whereas Ryuuji is weak externally (in the sense that he doesn’t live up to his fearsome appearance–and is it just me, or does no one else really care about how he looks anymore?–and his lovably non-masculine habits) but strong internally. Minori acts like a lunatic, yet the lunacy is a cover for her own insecurity (of a different nature than Taiga’s, I believe); Ami is aggressively outgoing because she’s spent her life at the whim of other people, leaving her essentially lonely; and Kitamura…well, okay, he’s as dense as a brick.

The actual series itself follows the contrast: the comic situatiuons the characters find themselves in frequently lead to not only immense mirth but a nigh-obligatory episodic Downbeat Intropsective Moment, and the Moment is made all the better by its genesis in and divergence from the silliness. The bright colors that dominate most of the episode tend to turn from bright and cheery to moody hues tinged with black during such a Moment. Even the name of the show is a contrast: とらドラ, “tora” written in hiragana and “dora” written in katakana.

Contrast is, more or less, the blood upon which a romantic comedy (or even just a romance) thrives. It’s the law of magnetism: opposites attract. It’s kind of hard to say why, exactly, there’s an emphasis on contrasts–not knowing the ultimate outcome, and the ultimate outcome is not likely to come with episode 25, depending–I can’t really make a definitive statement on why the deliberate focus on contrasts both inside and outside characters, if there even is one. Perhaps it serves merely to accentuate the ambiguous nature of the main relationship: they’ve great chemistry but seem completely oblivious to this fact, and pursue their own interests while at the same time supporting each other. Yin and yang: one cannot exist independent of the other. For all intents and purposes, it seems Ryuuji didn’t really “exist” as he does now (he was distinctly aloof before Taiga had her way with him) before the start of the series, and Taiga was busy being sulky in her messy apartment to actually have a life.

I’m going to start spouting silly romantic platitudes any second now. Instead, I’ll apologize for the lack of productive activity lately, as my productive activity has been turned towards trying to graduate (three days!) and also to not go insane before then. This involves copious amounts of doing things I keep forgetting to do, like “have fun” and “exist” and also “what kinds of nonsensical conclusions can I derive from the sources provided to make a paper that will enable me to not fail?”

Xam’d: Lost Memories: Pensive Payoffs & Coalescing Free-Floating Thoughts

Yet Another Haru Fanboy post is brewing somewhere here, no doubt, but I’ll try to be evenhanded. Emphasis on “try.”

This post is, more or less, going to cover a huge, expansive swath of Xam’d time (from 12 to 17), and, since in that huge, expansive swath of Xam’d time there has been quite a lot of goings-on (notably in episode 14), is probably going to serve more for me to get my thoughts straight on the series (as they frequently tend to be, since I think best by writing and not just sitting there), and I fervently hope I can do justice to everything that deserves to be addressed without boring nearly everyone else on the planet with it, but, alas, on the latter I doubt it will, less because of impending Haru-tangents and more because I’ve been getting the feeling that I’m probably going to have to rewatch the series at least once or twice if I really want to get justice done.

The most obvious starting place right now would be episode 14, a fairly critical turning point. Akiyuki and Nakiami return to Sentan Island while Akiyuki accompanies Nakiami to the northern Tessik Village, whereupon they reunite with Haru and Furuichi, neither of whom seem particularly thrilled to see Akiyuki–Haru because she’s trying very hard to be a Gritty Dispassionate Soldier (and, to my delight, failing), Furuichi because he, well, he’s got a bone to pick with Akiyuki. Or, rather, not a bone, but a Hiruko.

The twisted triangle between Akiyuki, Haru, and Furuichi that so dominated the first half seems to be a key factor in a major theme of Xam’d: that time-honored standard of having someone next to you, to believe in you, and to support you. We see, almost casually, when one of the while-haired children (not the Fantastic Children, mind) informs Haru that she must “guide her Xam’d to the gathering place”, that the implication is that a Xam’d cannot exist inside one person without there being someone else to guide and shepherd it along. Akiyuki handles himself fine with Nakiami’s help throughout the first part, but he’s driven, more or less, by a desire to see and communicate with both his home and with Haru, so we could apply a little interpretative liberty and state that the thought of Haru was enough to keep him from turning to stone.

Meanwhile, of course, Furuichi is nursing a Hiruko of his own, while still clinging on to the shards of hope that he can somehow convince Haru that he’s pretty good looking and available and willing. But Haru, of course, is still stuck on Akiyuki, even when she’s trying very hard not to admit it, leaving Furuichi’s feelings unrequited, leading, essentially, to his Xam’d spiraling out of control, being unable to control himself, and setting off on a destructive rampage, literally forcibly consuming Haru, who refuses to see him as anything other than a friend.

Of course, the conclusion of this whole mess: Haru thrown in military confinement, Akiyuki spending too much time in the Xam’d form and forgetting who he is, and Furuichi, in what probably wins the “most disturbing scene of the year” award, commits suicide. Furuichi’s conclusion seems to be the most logical: rejected by Haru, he succumbs to his own despair and offs himself. Akiyuki’s memory loss and entrapment within the motionless, fixed mask of Xam’d, stems from Haru’s rejection of him, too, as she explicitly told him that the last thing she wanted was for him to return, forcing her to tell the military about him. She loves him, but she wants him to stay away; if a Xam’d requires the knowledge of love, or what have you, from some outside source, then that kind of rejection would seem to embody itself in Akiyuki’s silence and amnesia. It isn’t a full rejection, but it still has a negative effect.

Meanwhile, while Akiyuki drifts around, meaningless, and with his own disembodied spirit (I’m pretty sure that the floating eye thing is supposed to be Akiyuki’s sense of self; it eats the food he cannot, the attachment it has to him, and the sense that it’s guiding him all seem to point to it being a kind of reflection of himself), and winds up in the care of a mentally unstable person (or is she unstable? I don’t know), Nakiami, ever the unloving type, finds her heart softened by a young child in possession of a Xam’d in a town along the way to Tessik Village. She intially doesn’t want anything to do with him, but eventually sacrifices her Kayak and travels with him to Tessik. Naturally, of course, if the goal of those who are linked to a Xam’d is to help assist the Xam’d to the gathering place, then Nakiami seems to have found hers, along, perhaps, with a sense of purpose not granted by working with Akiyuki and Raigyou, and someone to protect, however reluctantly she might admit it to herself.

Meanwhile, after throwing Haru in the brig (or whatever them landlubbin’ military types call it), Toujirou becomes even less of a human than he was before (mostly as the result of a demand for research results in a short period of time), a feat I thought impossible. From threatening the very researcher he’s supposed to be assisting conduct research (who, himself, has much more personality than I assumed at first glance), it’s getting increasingly clear that he’s acting less and less logically as his sense of desperation increases. It’s almost telling of how far he’s gone when Prois, who’s always seemed to be an apathetic assistant to Toujirou, steps into Haru’s cell, delivers some rather esoteric semi-insults, and then loudly announces that she forgot the key, and that it’d be really nice if Haru wouldn’t escape in the next, oh, hour. I think, more than anything else in the past eight or so episodes, that was the development that shocked me the most–having perceived her as apathetic, that she’d actually do something contrary to Toujirou seems inconceivable, although, given her nature and strange fondness for Haru, it’s not totally implausible.

I told you, he’s inhuman.

And Haru! Oh, yes, Haru! More than nearly everyone else, I’d be tempted to make the argument that she is intended to be the main character and/or protagonist more so than, say, Akiyuki or Nakiami are supposed to be. The concept itself is nebulous, but so much of what happens seems, more or less, to hinge on Haru that she seems to be more important than nearly everyone else, despite not actually doing much of anything. I think, more or less, that I’ve explicated most of my thoughts pertaining to her developments already, but I do want to mention several things: one, she is now fast approaching the upper echelon of characters I like, the kind I actively admire, more for the fact that they go to nearly absurd lengths to stand up for their own personal ideals–in Haru’s case, openly inviting sexual harassment from Toujirou (causing it herself, even) to demonstrate that there is nothing he can do to dissuade her from her desires and will.

Two, and this is probably utterly weird, but Haru gets extra points for being so downright pensive and melancholy all the time. Although I’m positively overjoyed when she smiles for the first time in I don’t know how long when she’s given the opportunity to escape, I cannot help but think that it looks positively unnatural in screencap form–it’s warm, pleasant, and utterly satisfying in its in-show context, but as a screencap, well, she just looks deranged. Considering that my favorite image of her is from the OP and is currently spending a ridiculous amount of time as my background on various electronic devices (as well as my representative portrait of choice on IM clients), this might just be some kind of absurd fixation on her frequently moody state of mind due to its possible relation to my own, rather than being owed to a failure of the art style of Xam’d being unable to translate into still images with ease.

I should probably end this post before it eats up my life trying to put all these stray thoughts about the series into words–I will probably save those for the inevitable rewatch, whenever that might happen (I’m looking at you, DVD releases, whereever you are). There’s still a lot left unsaid, but some of that is still ongoing and might change between now and later, and I need to not think for a few precious more hours before work on my final papers of the semester (and of my undergraduate career, one hopes).

In summation: need more Haru, STAT. 50cc, please, intravenous.


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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December 2008