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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lost World Anime First Impressions: (Part Six)

Kino's Journey:  A pretentious work trying to be an artistic classic, but ending up more like a boring sermon.  The idea that all love is based around deceit is particularly unpalatable.  If love is always a lie, then why value it anyway?  If life is always a lie, then why even live?  The random wise phrases rattled off weren't actually wise.  Plus having just two characters, a boy and his motorcycle, is really boring.  The motorcycle isn't even sentient, so it's just a guy talking to himself.  Fail.

Kirarin Revolution:  The heroine of this show is exceptionally beautiful.  And the artist who draws her has a great deal of imagination, continuously changing up her hairstyle and clothes, so that you're almost looking at a picture collage.  The only thing that stays the same are her giant blue eyes that suck you in and her wide happy smile that refreshes the soul.  The problem is, aside from this, the story's pretty awful.  It's the typical shoujo plot where a girl ends up with two rock stars and has to choose between the naughty one or the nice one.  In addition, the comedy is pretty lacking, the voice acting is weak, and for a show about music it doesn't actually have any to speak of.  After seeing the protagonist once, you've pretty much gained the full value the show has to offer.  Sort of like that Dokuro-chan anime that was a decent first episode, but it had fully exhausted its value by the end of it.  There's no need to watch more of this show, we already know all it has to offer.  Fail.

Kita e ~ Diamond Dust Drops ~:  Come to think of it, I think I've seen this show before.  No matter, it was worth watching again.  You have a very difficult situation here.  On one hand, you have a guy who seems to understand our heroine and get along with her, but is apparently impoverished and unemployed.  On the other hand, you have a well to do guy who means the best for her, but doesn't understand her feelings or get along with her.  Her parents had already arranged for her to marry this guy, and as a bonus it will also get them out of debt, but the girl stubbornly refuses to go along with this plan.  Last time I saw this series, I was very frustrated with her not going along with the arranged marriage.  Even now, I think that would be for the best.  Even if it feels romantic to run away with a guy who smokes and plays the saxophone who's already over 40, there's no real future in it.  How will he support a family?  Will his sperm even be healthy enough to have good kids?  Marriage is for the long term, what will it be like when he dies (no doubt early due to his smoking habit) and you're a widow still in your 30's?  Worse, what if you had kids, he dies with giant medical bills from emphysema and lung cancer, and you're bankrupt while having never gone to college or gotten any type of remunerative work in your life before?

Romance is serious business.  Like the mother said, love is nice and all, but when it comes time to marry the only thing that matters is money.  If you don't have money you're going to be miserable for life, no matter who you're sleeping with.  And this isn't just about you.  Bringing kids into this world who will live in continuous poverty and deprivation is a disservice to them and to society.  The parents are thinking more clearly about the daughter's future than she is thinking about it herself.  While she's following impulses blindly, they're looking at her life ten, twenty, forty years down the road and just crunching the obvious numbers.

Yet again, it just goes to show that arranged marriages are superior to romantic ones.  She's ruining her life because this saxophone guy with sunglasses on has a sexy beard.  The boy she's dumping has never done anything wrong to her to merit her disdain.  He's practically the ideal guy.

Still, I wonder, if Japan instituted the citizen's dividend, poverty wouldn't be an issue anymore for anyone.  In that case, would it still be wise to go with the arranged marriage over the romantic fling?  If everyone had a guaranteed minimum income, it becomes really difficult to say you should marry someone for a reason other than love.  To me, arranged marriages on the basis of financial security are on shakier ground than arranged marriages on the basis of romantic security.

The problem with romance is it comes and goes like the wind.  You're in love today and tomorrow you're not.  This causes breakups and divorces, kids without fathers, and in the end no kids at all as people selfishly choose themselves over the future of mankind.  Arranged marriages solve this issue the only way it can be solved, by forcing people to live up to their responsibilities once more.  I do this not in order to shore up people's finances, though divorce and illegitimate children is the leading cause of poverty, but in order to shore up peoples' souls.  When people are truly together, for better or for worse, they improve.  Being needed, having responsibility, owning something enriches the human spirit.  In contrast, never being relied upon, never being reliable, and never belonging to anything distorts the human spirit.  The more freedom we give people romantically, the more likely they are to muck it up.  Adultery, divorce, separation, staying single, becoming a slut, breaking up, whatever the issue, it's practically the universal conclusion of all romantic love.  You could say it's simply not natural for people to be free to choose who they mate with, and this unnatural state leads to ruinous lifestyle choices, sort of like how Indians, with no natural resistance to alcohol, all end up alcoholics and destroy their lives.  The whole world is suffering from fetal romance syndrome and romance poisoning, romance hangovers, and romance blackouts.  It's an epidemic of childlessness and fatherlessness and lovelessness and honorlessness that's leading to the decline and fall of entire countries and entire races, whose populations are simply in freefall.

Arranged marriages are for life.  Once you get used to the idea of being with someone for better or for worse, you can learn to love him over time.  And honestly, it's that time, trust, and sense of permanency that's the real love anyway.  All that passion for saxophones crap is just lizard brain hormones.  It goes away in a couple weeks.  If you know your relationship is permanent, you'll invest more in it because it's the only way you'll ever be happy.  I do not doubt for a second that if the arranged lovers in this show had just invested in their relationship, they could have made it succeed.  Neither was a bad person innately, there was nothing communication and compromise couldn't have solved.  The success rate of arranged lovers across history is astonishingly high.  Wives did not complain bitterly about their lives every day and cry into handkerchiefs.  Before romantic love began, arranged marriage wives and mothers were perfectly content with a stable family, a respected position in the world, and the power of managing the household.  In fact, the further we go away from arranged marriages and into romantic love, the less happy women are according to their own self reporting in polls.  Meanwhile, married men benefit dramatically, living an additional 20 years compared to single men, and children with married parents are far less likely to be criminals or have illegitimate children themselves.  They also have lower divorce rates, lower drug use, lower suicide rates, and lower everything else.  Marriage is the natural and necessary state for all humans on this planet, male or female, old or young.  And arranged marriage has been shown definitively to be the only way for the vast majority of people living today to achieve a married life for themselves and their children.  Romantic love has simply failed.  It has failed to keep families together, and it has failed to have children in the first place.  Thus, all we're left with is a return to arranged marriages, whether your arranged partner has a sexy beard, a saxophone, sunglasses or not.

Point being, I disagree with the decision this girl made.  But the show was judicious enough to show the argument from both sides, so I like it anyway.  It was a well-framed contemporary human drama that plagues us every day, and needs to be discussed seriously just like it was in this anime.  As such, it's a solid beginning to a good series of what seems to be like many different romance stories in one.  Pass.

Koi Koi 7:  Awful show.  The ecchi content is continuous and blatant, made all the worse by the slipshod art quality.  This worthless short guy with glasses who has absolutely no quality that could ever inspire romantic feelings is simply handed an angel girl who automatically loves him for no reason and shoves her bosom in his face.  The comedy isn't funny and the action, which seems to serve no purpose in this series, is also worthless because it fails to abide by mechanics and resource management, the fundamentals of any good action scene -- whether it's Fate/Etc, One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, or Hunter x Hunter fights are always complicated, strategic, back and forth struggles where you have to put all the pieces together to win.  In this show the girls are just all powerful and easily destroy anything that opposes them by using totally unexplained and unlimited abilities they just pull out of nowhere.  I find this anime offensive on so many fronts.  It's an embarassment to ecchi shows, an embarassment to comedy, an embarassment to action, and an embarassment to romance.  It's awful at every single thing it tries to do.  It's like the anti-anime.  The anti-christ.  Someone put a stake in it.  Fail.

Kokoro Toshokan:  A masterpiece.   When the anime just began, I was amazed at how beautiful Kokoro, our female lead, was.  When I heard her speak to herself in the mirror, I had to pause the show and find out who was this beautiful voice giving life to the character.  The answer I found was Chiwa Saito, someone I've overlooked until now in all of her more famous works.  But as Kokoro, in Kokoro Toshokan, she displays a quality to her voice I had never heard before.  Chiwa Saito is Senjogahara from Bakemonogatari, Akemi Homura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and numerous other extremely famous roles.  But I feel like her playing of Kokoro is the best performance she's ever done.  It was enough to immediately place her in my best anime voices list.  Fascinatingly, there's been a side benefit to watching all this old anime, and that is I keep finding these beautiful voice actresses and actors whose careers have spanned many years.  I'm dipping back into their pasts and tracing them back to the present, and coming to all sorts of fascinating discoveries.  Chiwa Saito is rated the 11th best voice actress in Japan, and until seeing this episode of Kokoro Toshokan, I didn't know a thing about her at all.  I'm so lucky to have 'discovered' her through this obscure show, and now each time I listen to Senjogahara in the present, I will be keeping in the back of my mind, "This is Chiwa Saito, the same voice that produced the kind and vulnerable Kokoro, that's playing the mean and manipulative Hitagi right before my eyes.  That's just how skilled she really is."

As though the art and voice acting weren't enough, the music is this beautiful classical accompaniment, very much like Aria or Tamayura.  A soothing, sometimes melancholy song that's always conveying the gentle mood of the show.  And the plot to the first episode, at least, was simply perfect.  The first day on the job, Kokoro proudly loans out a book, reminding the kind-looking lady who borrowed it that it is due back in one week.  When the week passes and the book isn't returned, Kokoro is distraught to believe that the girl she was so friendly with and looked so trustworthy had simply used and betrayed her and the library by keeping the book and fleeing.  It wasn't just the loss of the book, it was her loss of innocence and trust in mankind that was at stake.  If such a nice looking lady was really just a thief, who else in the world could be good?

So nervous about the fate of this book, Kokoro embarks on a dangerous first journey in her life to town on her own to track down this borrower and get the book (and an explanation for what happened) back.  She learns that the lady moved during the last week, which explains why the book wasn't returned, but doesn't explain why she wasn't thoughtful enough to leave it with a friend to return, call them and explain, or do anything else but just steal the book and run.  Feeling like her last lead is gone, Kokoro is crushed.  She doesn't want to return to her sisters at the library empty-handed, having completely failed her first and only task so far as a librarian.  But she has nowhere else to go as the sun is setting in this foreign town.  With only a tiny cat-shaped purse in her lap, she just sits there disconsolately crying at the bus stop, not sure whether to stay or go.  That's when her older sisters come in a car and offer her a ride home.  They then tease her a little about the trials and tribulations of being a librarian, before telling her to open the sack in the back seat.  It's the loaned book, which the person who moved had mailed to them -- the mail had just reached them a day late is all.  The book also included a letter, which apologized for not being able to see Kokoro again.  Kokoro, now a complete mixup of feelings in her chest, asks her sisters whether the true job of being a librarian is believing in people.  Which is such a profound statement, it just takes your breath away.  Maybe not just a librarian, maybe everyone's true job, is to believe in each other's essential goodness.  If we don't, what awaits us?  Down the path of distrust and contempt, can any flowers go, or would we all just become weeds trying to choke each other out for every last drop of sun and soil?

I don't know where the story can go from here.  After such a perfect episode, that made you want to cry it was both so sad and so soothing, why even make an episode 2?  Where can you go from here but down?  Nevertheless, on the strength of just this episode alone, I suspect it too will be entering my rankings.  Obviously, this show is a keeper.  Pass.

He is My Master:  The story itself is awful.  The stupid alligator coming out halfway through the episode was just the breaking point beyond which the series lost all credibility.  However, I can't totally discount this show's worth because it's really good at ecchi fanservice.  Those maid costumes in the opening that they're about to get into are smoking hot.  All the great angles during the bathing scenes, the girls caught undressing in their underwear, everything's executed brilliantly.  It doesn't hurt that one of the girls is blonde and twin-tailed.  Unlike Koi Koi 7, which doesn't understand the allure of women and just sort of throws them out like expired bread onto the street, this show knows exactly how to create provocative situations while still not undermining the girl's innocence and modesty, which doubles the effect.  If you want to look at girls and you've already seen To Love ru, Strike Witches and Mahoromatic, then this is the show for you.  Pass.

Kurenai:  This show in contrast has no redeeming qualities.   The art is ugly, the women in it are ugly (body and soul), the male lead is this annoying guy who does everything halfheartedly, and the drama surrounding the whole setting is just unnecessary and over the top.  There's nothing worse in this world than older women with flashy lipstick and pencil thin high heels, wearing red, while smoking, thinking they're all that.  They're pretty much the ugliest things in the universe and should just be shot on sight.  No matter how much I criticize this show it just isn't enough, it's far worse than any words can describe.  Fail.

Lamune:  I can see why westerners make fun of anime sometimes.  This show features a girl so milkwater, so mild, so slow and with such a high whiny voice that only a very deranged section of mankind could be attracted to her.  She is quite pretty, with beautiful purple hair, a slender body and good fashion sense.  But it's all spoiled when you realize she can't even get up out of bed without help and takes forever just to put on her clothes.  I think all of this is supposed to make her look cute, but I'm just worried about the children's IQ if anyone chooses to insert sperm into her.  They spend all day getting a few vegetables from a garden.  If their work were translated into wages I'd say their maximum productive power is around five cents an hour.  The lowliest stoop laborer from Mexico is infinitely superior to our heroine.  Plus, I dislike how this boy takes everyone for granted.  He's overly rude and mean (which, strangely, is the normal way to attract girls, so I guess that part is just realistic.), and he doesn't take advantage of his neighbor who clearly thinks the world of him, blushing whenever they hold hands and the like.  Furthermore, he has this considerate little sister who's always looking after him and he just brushes her off every day like another piece of furniture in the house.  Given that he has brown hair and she has blue, there's a chance they're not even related too, which means he might be ignoring two girls who love him instead of just one.  Why is this guy so dense he can't notice these opportunities?  Better than Kurenai, but still not good enough.  Fail.

Love Love:  This is precisely how not to do ecchi shows.  Just throw an abundance of girls at the guy and immediately show off all of their panties and have every girl accidentally fall on top of him into erotic positions.  No story, no originality, not even an attempt to deliver enough content to justify this show as anything other than porn.  In He is My Master, there's plenty of interesting characterization going on, like the relationship between the two sisters, the sisters and their parents they ran way from home to avoid, the Master and his servants, and some of the characters who have yet to be introduced yet who will serve as their friends or rivals.  There's a lot more than just panty shots and body contact to sink your teeth into, which gets you invested enough in the girls to actually care when you get to see their bodies.  This was just a lineup of meat being sold to market.  It would've done well if it was an infomercial for an Ottoman sultan to pick and choose from for his daily needs.  Honestly, I feel like anime has come a long ways since stuff like this was made.  The art style is fine, but this kind of sloppy presentation pretty much doesn't exist in anime anymore.  I don't watch High School DxD, but even it has a convoluted plot to keep viewer attention.  Queen's Blade actually had a pretty interesting plot, ignoring all the ecchi.  We don't just show off girls at slave auctions anymore, like the Kentucky Derby, we much more enjoy putting them through their paces and watching them not at their lowest points, but in the moment of their greatest splendor and pride.  It's fun watching the evolution of anime from Green Green, This Ugly but Beautiful World, and Love Love to the more mature and inspired ecchi of today.  Even when it comes to meeting primal instincts, there's still ways to become more refined and get better as a culture over time.  Fail.

Lovely Idol:  This is like the predecessor to Idolm@ster.  They're trying to do many of the same things, but they aren't nearly as good at any of them.  The large cast, the song and dance routines, the artwork, the manager main character, everything is worse.  Even so, the idol unit is such an innately appealing story that this version works too.  Idols are the finest girls imaginable, people who work hard, try to be beautiful, and maintain their purity throughout the process of show business.  Very unlike the rock stars of the western world, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, etc, who all just flaunt themselves for money.  Lemon Angel Project was pretty terrible, so not all possible idol stories are automatically good, but there's a much higher percentage chance of working than if you were to discuss any other theme.  If you realize this was made in the ancient days of 2006, before animation budgets or computer graphics could do the amazing things we see in Love Live today, and lower your expectations accordingly, Lovedol should be fine.  Pass.

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