Archive for the 'real drive' Category

Real Drive: Real Nature?

Oh my God, a Real Drive post that doesn’t start with a picture of Nyamo! Okay, so, she’s in it, but she’s blurry, so it doesn’t count.

Since I am one of the Few, the Proud, and the MIghty who have stuck with Real Drive from the beginning, despite it being a Cyberpunk Series from Masamune Shirow animated by Production I.G., I’ve actually found it better, overall, than what I was expecting (which was, well, a bit of a retread of Ghost in the Shell, to be honest–and while I might not care for Ghost in the Shell, it wasn’t bad, but its time had certainly come). Of course, given that particular background, why I like it is probably the exact reason a bunch of other people don’t like it, but that’s okay. And why I like it has almost nothing to do with Nyamo whatsoever. Although she still doesn’t hurt.

Real Drive, for me, has been less about the “cool technology” of the Metal, and more about the effect said “cool technology” has upon human life. We’re shown a society where nearly all wants are possible through the virtual reality of the Metal, which exists mostly upon an artificial island created specifically for research into phenomenon associated with the Metal. Hitherto, despite the heavy use of diving and etc. to resolve problems, the various episodic stories have revolved around a conflict of technology with humanity: we have the girl, born blind from birth, given cybernetic eyes, but ultimately rejecting the eyes, since they stripped her of her ability to experience sensory syntheasia; we have the young man, troubled by humanity and imbued with a passionate love for the simple life of dogs, using the Metal to swap consciousnesses with a dog, thereby escaping his harsh reality; we have gourmands par excellance, who have tasted the finest foods imaginable, but only in virtual reality, while at home their sloppy, drooling bodies contrast starkly with their choice of Rennaisance elegance in their virtual garb.

So, too, is it about man versus machine: Souta spends an inordinate amount of time struggling to find some way to defeat Holon in combat, unaware that what holds him back is not his own natural talent (since Holon admits herself that Souta could defeat her), but rather his own inability to bring himself to injuring Holon, despite knowing she’s a cyborg and incapable of feeling pain in the same way a human might be. Even when fighting against a different, more inhuman cyborg, Souta still finds himself inadaquate without support from Holon.

Despite the simple constructs of each story-episode, and despite not following the Ghost in the Shell method of quoting philosophy at you to make you realize you’re supposed to be thinking while you’re being entertained by things blowing up/Nyamo being cute, it does weave a complicated view of technology’s role in human life: good elements, such as light hints towards a growing sense of humanity in the robotic Holon, contrast with some of the more depraved elements of humanity given free reign over an essentially uncontrolled virtual reality.

“My spirits were elevated by the enchanting appearance of nature; the past was blotted from my memory, the present was tranquil, and the future gilded by bright rays of hope and anticipations of joy.”
(oh god help I’m quoting Frankenstein someone stop me)

The last two episodes I’ve seen (18 and 19) hint, now, at a “naturalization” of the Metal, of a sort of blending of the real and the virtual, where, rather than technology becoming a dominant force in human’s lives and, essentially, robotizing them–stripping away their humanity–what Real Drive seems to be pushing for is a “naturalization” of technology. This arc already hinted fairly strongly at “natural” processes taking place inside the Metal, processes similar to those that help cleanse nature of impurities. The message seems to be a much gentler one than most cyberpunk novels might seem to take: rather than an oppressive future where technology and machines rule over humans, we have a cyberpunk-ish future where the depiction is much more of a nuanced view: technology will change humanity, as it always has, and become part of the natural order of things.

It’s a viewpoint supported, in part, at least by history: the Industrial Revolution set off the Luddite revolt, sending people burning factories down, fearful of industrialization; the Gutenberg press sparked off a giant Luddite-esque controvesy even as it changed the face of civilization the world over; one must imagine that when some Sumerian scribe had the bright idea to lay reed to clay tablet that people got really mad and threw rocks at him. It’s a very current topic: Atlantic Monthly recently ran an article (where you will pretty much find the preceding sentence) which struck me as a correct observation, if not necessarily a bad one. Of course, one must also ask the question whether society as a whole is progressing forward or progressing backwards, but I’m not even going totouch that topic because my head hurts and I need to not think so much (especially not today!), but I, alas, cannot stop.

Considering that I’ve yet to see the rest of the series, and there’s still seven episodes to go, I could be dead wrong as to whether or not this will be resolved in future episodes. There’s certainly some kind of message here, even if it’s one of those series that challenge you to take it at more than face value, without any explicit cues to do so.

Or maybe it’s just the lack of Oshii Mamoru that’s causing me to like it. That might have a good deal to do with it!

Real Drive: It’s Just Intonation, Don’t Worry About It

I still can’t figure out for the life of me why no one else is watching Real Drive. I think it’s a combination of the involvement of Masamune Shirow (whom everyone likes for Appleseed and Casshern and Ghost in the Shell, which are decidedly not like Real Drive at all), the fact that we seemed to be promised hard-core cybernetic diving action with the plot synopsis, and the wicked awesome 9mm Parabellum Bullet OP theme, which goes against the general mood of most of the episodes in amusing fashion. It does take a bit to get started, but now that I’ve seen up to 11 (and I’ve been silent on it, yes, but enjoying it just the same, when I get the chance to watch some, which has been few and far between, unfortunately), I’m more inclined to agree (more) with cuchlann’s initial discussion of the series as a post-singularity tale (which I would also use to classify such works as Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou and Aria). Especially after episode 11.

Episode 11 touched the same nerve my favorite episode, Love Letter, did for books, except this time with music (classical music, even, which I will admit upfront that I have no idea how to understand in the slightest). The message here is fairly simple, and you don’t even need Eiichirou beating you upside the head with the moral of the story for the episode to work. With the books, it was content vs. experience; here, the content vs. experience is applied to the creator of “art” (or culture, if you’re feeling particularly Zentradi today). I actually looked up (and tried to read) the Wikipedia article on , which resulted in two things happening: one, I got a headache in three paragraphs; two, I wanted to throw bricks at mathematicians who think that they can be really cool musicians with the power of science.

Yes, I saw (and loved) Donald Duck in Mathemagicland, both in elementary school and in high school (when the sub decided we needed a retro break from the interim curriculum he was teaching while our actual algebra teacher was off having babies or something), and, yes, it is pretty cool that things sound pleasant to the human ear due to the collusion of incredibly complex mathematical ratios and formulae and such, but I’m also fairly certain that if someone actually held a concert with everyone in perfect mathematical harmony, it wouldn’t really be all that great.

Or, well, it would be, if the people making the music put their heart and soul into making it absolutely mathematically perfect.


As Eiichirou handily pointed out for us, getting the mathematical perfection of just intonation down is skill–a skill which he had, at a very early age, likely due to his scientific mind–but it’s not necessarily a talent. Eiichirou felt he lacked “talent”, defined by him as “love”, so he gave his violin to Kazune, who did have talent, if not necessarily the skill. Eiichirou could have made the most perfect harmonies in the world on his violin, but to him they sounded as soulless and mechanical as Holon’s defintiion of just intonation. This talent, or “love”, is also why Kazune can see his younger self in Nyamo when she plays her recorder. The recorder is a fairly obnoxious instrument, all said and done, and I’m not even sure Nyamo played it the way it was supposed to be played, but both times she busted it out, with its simple, clear notes, that you clearly cannot apply just intonation to, everyone around her smiled and simply enjoyed it. It’s a rosy picture to be sure, but considering the locale, instrumentation, and assumed skill level of the performer, it’s a testament to human feeling over cold calculation. It’s my common complaint and criticism–sometimes, something can be so carefully thought-out and orchestrated that it simply loses all of its humanity and becomes something sterile. Perfection may be beauty, but imperfection has its own peculiar lure. That is, if perfection and imperfection even exist. Which they might not.

If you’ll let me shift gears into reverse abruptly and totally screw up my transmission, I’m almost tempted to say that “content vs. experience”, mentioned above, is a running theme for Real Drive, given the nature of the Metal, cyberrealities, and the general themes of the episodes. I don’t think I can elaborate more on this until after some more episodes (or even the whole run of the series), so more on this later.

Real Drive: I Have Exactly One Thing To Say About Real Drive 7

And that one thing is: DOG MOE.

But not just ANY old dog.


My thoughts exactly, Nyamo.

He can even take a bath!


Kid tested, Nyamo approved!

So, yeah, episode 7 of Real Drive (I’ve taken to referring to it as Real Nyamo with my friends, if only because Nyamo is awesome) was a ton of fun, and, as a devout fan of dogs, I quite loved it (see above), and its touching message about the relationship between man and animal, but I have to admit that it was a total fluff episode. So you get this post instead. I am going to go watch 8 now. There might be a more serious post to come but not necessarily!!

P.S.: I don’t care what you say, Real Drive is awesome. It may not be the most potent science fiction anime out there (especially not one with Shirow’s name attached), but who cares. It’s a ton of fun. As I commented to a friend earlier today: Reading/watching/listening to something is about entertainment first. Intellectual stimulation is a bonus, but I would like to point out that intellectual stimulation can and frequently does crop up in the strangest places. For instance, I could talk about the inversion of the Holmes/Watson relationship in this episod

Okay that’s enough of that.

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.

Real Drive: Sunglasses Are Expensive and Dangerous Business

Them’s some expensive designer sunglasses. Equally funny is how not one, but two pairs of these were destroyed over the course of a day. You know that whole guitar-smashing at the end of a concert thing that The Who started? Imagine Bono crushing his expensive wraparound sunglasses after every concert (and fundrasing event speech or whatever it is he does), and that’s a fair idea of the amount of valuable material destroyed in this episode.

The prevaling theme of the episode, though, in contrast to the Nyamo-centric screenshot up there (I swear, I really can’t help these cute-girl-centric screencaps. It is one of my many “failings”), actually involved her brother, Souta. Souta, of course, is a hard-line, no-nonsense kind of person, and also wants to learn every martial art in the world (for some ungodly reason). Of course, no matter how good he is (and we saw this in episode 4), he still can’t beat Holon, everyone’s favorite Kawasumi Ayako-voiced android. They pressed this point fairly hard early in the episode, before cutting to Nyamo antics revolving around the horrifying debut of the Iron Schwarz (for the record, the better anime name involving the word “Schwarz” is Schwarz Bruder from G Gundam, but it’s hard to top German ninjas). It was with some relish I noted that the Iron Schwarz, despite being an android and all that, obliterated everyone who got in his path, until Nyamo showed up and started dodging his grasps. Effortlessly. “Hah,” I thought, “outwitted by a girl! Take that, hardcore Metal superstar man!”

Of course, this confounds the programming of the Iron Schwarz android, and it chases her all over town until she bumps into her brother and Holon at a Metal fight club cafe, at which point it becomes a do or die showdown between Souta and Iron Schwarz. I also relished the “coincindental” way the announcer for the Metal fight just happened to coincide with the actual brawl going on in the club. Yes, that’s a age-old technique and it’s probably cliche by now, but it still amuses me to no end when things like that happen. At any rate, Holon is quickly dispatched by the rampaging Iron Schwarz, leaving Souta to fend for himself, which he does relatively well.

Except that, in the end, he still owes his victory to Holon, which technically means that he was still unable to best an android in combat unassisted. Holon was simply following her programming, presumably (pretty complicated programming, if you ask me), This raises an intriguing question, namely: in an age of machines, is it truly impossible to survive without their assistance? Souta uses Holon to train/spar, and is deeply resentful of her computerized brain with perfect recall (and perfect calculation), and however nicely her programming phrases her criticisms of Souta’s fighting ability, it still seems to gouge him deeply. Although he did defeat the Iron Schwarz android, he did not do so on his own, and only though Holon turning off the lights (disabling the android’s sensors) was he able to claim victory. Had it been Minamo pressing the light switch, it wouldn’t be quite the same. Since Holon pressed it, Souta’s victory over machine is due in large part to…another machine. People in modern society can’t live without their computers without suffering through a period of psychological withdrawl (I know that I couldn’t live without a computer with an Internet connection at this point), and, in fact, not having or being able to use a computer is a serious detriment to functioning in modern society.

In a society with complex machinery, is it possible to continue life as it was prior to the introduction of the machines? Real Drive doesn’t seem to think so, through this episode, although, now that I think about it, previous episodes as well touched on this a bit. I don’t think it’s necessarily a statement that we should scrap all machines and live as we did before the Industrial Revolution, but it’s an observation of the modern state: when you have machines, you are reliant upon them, and, resentful though you may be of it, they become almost essential to the running of ordinary and extraordinary life. Which isn’t good or bad, it just…is.

I hope that all made some kind of sense. I’m too busy trying to figure out what Holon’s face looked like when she looked miserable for Nyamo. The world may never know.

(P.S.–Listening to the JUDY AND MARY album “Magical Diving” while writing this post. Strangely fitting, if in name only)

Real Drive: Virtual Sexual Depravation

Nooooo, Minamo! Don’t think about what the word “orgasm” means! That way lies madness!

So Real Drive seems to be settling down into a kind-of episodically serial format, where each individual story takes up an episode or two, but characters progress along the way. I also couldn’t help but notice that a lot of the focus is on Minamo’s character more so than Haru, a fact which I probably shouldn’t like but which I don’t really mind. And it could be that they’re just holding back the Haru-plosion for later in the series. At any rate, the interaction between the two is lovely. They’re a perfect pair–Haru’s doubts and fears are removed simply by being in the energetic presence of Minamo, making them excellent partners in this diving detective business.

And what a business it is. Real Drive wastes no time getting to the seedier side of technological progress, smacking the viewer full-on with a laundry list of bizarre sexual fetishes (having an extended female orgasm while also having a death experience? I don’t think there’s a proper paraphilia term for that!) made possible through the advent of the Metal. Like Dennou Coil before it, it explores aspects of the virtual as they apply to the real world. Whereas Dennou Coil explored the more philisophical side of virtual reality (yes, I’m shamelessly self-whoring; sorry about that), Real Drive seems to be intent on exploring instead how humans use or abuse this technology.

In episode 4, the first “case” for Haru, he gets to rescue a lost diver from the “torments” of his own personal sexual pleasure. A sexual pleasure so intense, that even Haru, who at his age should have no sex drive to speak of, finds himself caught in the allure of it. Minamo, meanwhile, has no idea what an orgasm is, let alone the whole complex act of copulation itself, and it’s her simple, childish devotion to Haru that pulls him out of the erotic grip of the siren. I found that strangely touching, in a way, both that Minamo was that devoted to Haru, and that Haru recongized the difference between reality and fantasy, the latter amplified by technology. The power of actual love (which I guess is the best way to explain the relationship between Minamo and Haru) conquers fantasy and all that jazz.

Whether or not MInamo was tacked onto the series due to the demands of the anime market or not, as mentioned last time, doesn’t seem to apply much here anymore, neither does it apply to many other series. Most writers of most series have the skill to pull off a convincing character, regardless of whether or not they were tacked on there to be nearly superfluous in the first place. The focus on Minamo tells me that maybe Shirow had her in mind for the protagonist/”narrator” all along, which is fitting: she’s an innocent 15-year-old with no cyberbrain, so she’s literally looking at the world of Real Drive with similar eyes to the viewer. And, in the end, it doesn’t matter for what reason a character is in a series for, as long as that character contributes in some way, small or large to the story, the setting, or the overall appeal of the series.

And I still maintain that Minamo is quite cute, thunder thighs and all. It’s nice to see a different-yet-attractive character design in anime!

Real Drive: Cyber-Diving Old Men and Kawasumi Ayako Clones

Production I.G., Shirow Masamune, and Furuhashi Kazuhiro have collectively lost their minds. And it’sawesome. And, yes, I skipped over all the old men diving naked and etc. for a pretty picture of Aoi Minamo, who is awesome in multiple ways.

But, yes, they’ve lost their minds. Furuhashi Kazuhiro has a rather interesting track record: he directed Binchou-tan, which is the cutest thing that I haven’t seen all of ever, and Zipang. I assume that Real Drive is more like the latter than the former, as I have yet to see any cute anthropomorphizations of charcoal show up in Real Drive, but that’s not to say that it won’t happen. Because, at this point, Binchou-tan could show up and it’d probably make sense in the context of the series.

I’m not really sure where I get this from, but I picked up a very noticable old-school Western science fiction riff from these first two episodes. I think it’s the world setup, maybe. I don’t really know where this feeling comes from, but the thought I had running throughout both episdoes was “wow, this feels old-school.” It’s not retro like Project BLUE: Earth SOS was retro, but it’s definitely got an older kind of sensibility coming from it. It feels kind of like Shirow channeled the spirit of Arthur C. Clarke and added pantyshots. That may not be the right author comparison, but I swear it feels like a modern version of something from a distant age.

The other fun thing about the series is the crazy pairing of the main characters. We get Haru Masamichi, who’s been stuck in a coma for fifty years and therefore looks like a wrinkled old man. We’ve got Aoi Minamo, a cheerful and upbeat fifteen year old girl who is apparently doing a school project or community service project at the hospital with her classmates. Iit’s a crazy age gap between the two major characters in a series. I’m guessing it’s done this way so that Minamo can act as a kind of foil for Haru, and vice versa.

And, speaking of Minamo, I am really liking the character designs in Real Drive. For one, the girls in the series aren’t impossibly skinny. Look at Nonaka Ai’s character–she’s got some heft to her. Not quite the heft of the dorm manager in Blue Drop, but enough to make you feel weird when you hear Nonaka Ai’s voice coming out of her. The rest of the girls we’ve seen in this series thus far haven’t been quite that extreme, but even Minamo has some flesh on her bones. The other characters (Souta, Haru, Eiichiro, and Holon) stand out from each other just fine (especially Haru because he’s old while everyone else in the series hasn’t aged at all in 50 years).

The other thing I want to mention is Minamo herself, or, rather, her presence in the series. As above, I assume they’re planning to use her as an age foil for Haru, but her appearance kind of jolted me a bit (and not just because I wasn’t expecting that pantyshot). Prior to her appearance, I thought that we’d have a series that dealt with adult characters (and most of the characters are, in fact, adults). When she showed up, however, it took me a few minutes to track and change my view of the series, especaily because given the serious tone of the series before that moment, the lightheartedness/cuteness snapped me into a different kind of mood.

Probably Minamo, in all her glory, exists in Real Drive as a direct result of moe and its far-reaching influence on anime. I’ve heard it said that it’s practially impossible for an anime to be successful if it doesn’t contain a cute girl of some kind or another in the series, the series would inevitably be much less of a success than it would be if there was a cute girl present. And I started wondering, would Minamo exist in Real Drive were it made in 1988 instead of 2008? Perhaps she would, but then she might be an older, more mature, no-nonsense woman, and not the cheery and genki and other bouncy adjectives Minamo that we have.

It certainly seems to be true; much of anime fandom, myself included (so don’t think I’m getting on my high horse and talking down at you) enjoy the series we do in part because they have cute girls in them. I can quite honestly say that, for me, enjoyment of the girls is a secondary or even tertiary reason to watch and enjoy a series. I’d argue (and will argue, once I get the time to sit down and write this post that’s been brewing in my head for months now) that, in anime, enjoyment of the women in a series is and pretty much has always been an integral part of anime viewership. What separates the hardcore moe afficinados from those who watch older series isn’t necessarily that the former is overly girl-obsessed and the latter is all about otoko no roman; even the manliest of shows from the 70s and 80s and even the 90s have their fair share of token eye candy female characters. The difference is in the kind of girl the girls are.

I’m not nearly well-read enough on pre-2000 anime compared to post-2000 anime (my major weakness, I’ll admit, but one can’t know everything), but from what I’ve seen (especially the really old series like Super Diminsional Fortress Macross, Mobile Suit Gundam, and Zeta Gundam) that there’s no less an element of tacking on female characters in series that don’t really need them, but the kind of girl they are is distinctly different. There’s probably more series nowadays that are heavily cute-girl-centric, I’ll admit that, but there’s a lot from earlier decades that got swept under the rug never to be mentioned again. It’s one reason I find criricisms of the moe phenomenon from fans of older series somewhat perplexing–it’s the same thing, it’s just a different kind of girl. It’s like the age-old argument between Western comics fans and manga fans: Which is more degrading to women, comics or manga? The answer is, of course, both are capable of being incredibly degrading and incredibly empowering. It all depends on your taste, and what you’re used to seeing. And taste varies wildly across the board, so there’s no accounting for it.


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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June 2023