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Friday, November 29, 2013

Saiunkoku Monogatari Out, H2 In:

I misjudged Saiunkoku Monogatari from its initial episodes.  What looked like an interesting romance story between an Emperor and his first imperial harem courtesan became a long and arduous study in feminist man-hating nonsense.  Every single male in the story is shown to be somehow hapless, worthless, or villainous.  They always need bossing around by girls, or looking after by girls, because none of them are capable of anything on their own.  All these boys are constantly quailing in fear whenever a girl looks at them crosswise and they're all quick to praise the girls around them as being much stronger, much more courageous, much more intelligent, much more responsible, much more honest and better than them in every way.  They're generally all needy for a woman's affection whereas none of the women are interested in a male's affection whatsoever.

While the women go around running the kingdom, leading the merchant's guild, using magic powers that the men don't have access to which easily allows them to destroy whole enemy legions of troops, and so on, the men pine away with longing for our main character Shuurei who relentlessly refuses to take pity on any of them because she's more interested in working hard and rising in station.  She's the living exemplar of the phrase 'women need men like fish need bicycles.'  To make matters worse though, Shuurei still has the contemptible fetish of women that they'd rather be raped by a bad boy than be treated gently by an honorable man.  So the story constantly has boys stealing kisses from her against her will, and despite the fact that she's a cold bitch in all other cases, she goes all gooey eyed and teary for a villain who had through murder and terror risen to power in rebellion against her own governorship, simply because he kidnaps her and forces her to serve him.  It's like 50 shades of grey or something.  Does every girl secretly want to be raped, in which case, we should just rescind the rape laws already?  Or is it just the sorts of girls who enjoy these works of art, so that it only feels like they totally dominate the female population while actually only being a vocal minority?

In any case, so long as women keep pushing the ideal of bad boy vampires and bandits kidnapping them and ravishing them as their ideal version of romance, they have no grounds to complain when men actually take them at their words and assume 'no' always means 'yes.'  How much harm has this stupid sexual fetish among women done in the real world?  How many decent men have been spurned, and how many cruel scum have been rewarded, because of this twisted, sick nature in women?

There are endless other objections one can bring against Saiunkoku besides the feminism, like how unfair it is that some random people can use magic while no one else can, or how ridiculously bad the fight scenes are choreographed and planned, or how long it takes for anything to happen in a seemingly endlessly long 78 episode series, but in the end all of those objections could have been overcome if only the story had had one genuinely pathetic female and one genuinely admirable man, so that there was at least some semblance of balance in the story.  If the author had just admitted that it was at least theoretically possible for a man to be better than a woman, I could have endured the show to the end, but even that compromise is apparently asking too much with this light novelist.

With this show kicked out of my rankings, a new show is needed to take its place.  But there's nothing to worry about there, because the incredible manga-ka Adachi still has one more baseball anime up his sleeve.  Made in 1995, H2 is the story of a pitcher who thought his career was over due to a debilitating injury, gradually falling back in love with the game again and starting to play out his dreams once more from the ground up.  In doing so, he meets a lot of irreplaceable friends and girls who are attracted to his earnest and diligent sportsmanlike demeanor, creates a bundle of precious memories -- and of course the anime series ends before the actual manga ends so I guess that's it.  Because of this fatal flaw, where H2 randomly cuts off before any dreams can come true, I can't praise it as much as the show deserves.  The other two Adachi baseball anime series, Cross Game and Touch, were allowed to continue to the very end, so H2 will always be the runt of the family.  Even so, Adachi is a godlike writer and practically anything he touches turns to gold, so snagging the rank of 158th out of my top 160 anime rankings is well within H2's capabilities.

As just an aside, I'll point out that the male and female characters in H2 are lovable and admirable, to the point that it doesn't even feel like gender matters anymore.  They're just good people all around, from a human standpoint.  Instead of man-hating feminism, if we had transitioned to a gender-blind world like you see in Adachi's stories, how much better would life be, for all parties?

In other good news, Doremi fansubs has rapidly finished subbing Yes Precure 5 GoGo episodes 38 and 39 in the last two days.  This means there is only one unsubbed episode of Pretty Cure, the entire franchise, left out of some 450 episodes, episode 40 of GoGo.  And given the pace Doremi fansubs has been on recently, that one last episode is likely to be subbed any day now.  Once this one last episode is subbed, the best franchise in anime will finally be available to the English speaking world.  The #1 show of all time, in other words, the greatest work of art ever produced by mankind, will finally, finally be ready for viewing for this generation and all the generations to come.  And it's not like Precure ends here.  Right after Doki Doki Precure ends, Happiness Charge Precure begins, and the producers have already said they hope for there to be many more seasons after Happiness Charge as well, such that the #1 show of all time will only increase in value every year.  Just from next season's new title, I'm pretty charged up with happiness already.

By finishing Ojamajo Doremi a few days ago, and now Yes Precure 5 GoGo, Doremi fansubs may just be the most valuable sub group ever.  Thank goodness they were around, or else so many artistic classics would have been left to rot in Japan forever.  The anonymous individuals who volunteer for this group are more heroic than any soldiers or senators will ever be.

The winter 2014 anime season has been previewed by Cart Driver, and it looks rather grim.  Aside from Saki's new long-awaited season of mahjong joy, I can't say I'm looking forward to a single new series.  Sakura Trick, Nisekoi, Wake up, Girls!, and Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiinda ga might be good, but that's just wishful thinking.  Last season I was sure Golden Time would be good and it ended up sucking.  Now I can't trust anything before I've seen it and confirmed its worth, and even then I tend to hate the show just a few eps later.  What are the odds that any of these shows will measure up to Outbreak Company?  Or even Noucome?  I just don't see it, which means most likely we're going to have to live with Saint Tail as a ranking show for a lot longer than I would like.

There are some good things to look forward to in 2014 though.  Dragon Ball Kai is definitely coming, and the conclusion of the Naruto and Bleach mangas as well.  Most likely the Naruto and Hunter x Hunter anime will also conclude this year in a satisfying manner.  There's nothing better than a long series with a proper ending, which is why I have Naruto at such a vaunted position as 4th in anticipation of this 2014 event.  2014 is looking to be the end of an era.  The premiere shows of the 2000's are disappearing, and being replaced by rising stars like Jojo's and Shingeki no Kyoujin.  Who knows what the future of anime will look like, but it's going to be totally different from the norm we've grown accustomed to over the last decade and more.  Without Naruto, Bleach, Fairy Tail or Hunter x Hunter airing anymore, it's going to feel really lonely.  Let's hope new artists are competent enough to fill in the gaps.

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