Management: This post is Part 1 of a cour-long project consisting of mental notes, observations, and musings of every episode of Kino’s Journey (2017). I will endeavor in this feature to avoid making any comments about the show’s technical aspects, but I may end up comparing it to previous episodes of Kino’s Journey (2003) when the story ground the former covers begins to overlap with what the latter has already explored.
In keeping faith with my love of things Kino — if the blog’s header and name weren’t enough evidence for that affection — I felt it appropriate write and publish my weekly thoughts (observations and musings) about the (as of the time of this piece) current broadcast of Kino’s Journey. The messages and lessons that the Kino’s Journey franchises has imparted since I became familiar has been tremendously influencial in how I now view the world. My recent trip to Japan as a traveler has only rekindled my dormant enthusiasm for this franchise. The full title of this broadcast, Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World- the Animated Series, is an unncessary mouthful to say though, and it’s also a chore to continue copy-pasting. As a result, I’ll just refer to the new anime adaptation of this franchise as Kino’s Journey (2017). If I feel the need to reference the old anime adaptation, I’ll just refer to it as Kino’s Journey (2003).
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Notes on Episode 1: A Country Where People Can Kill Others
Management: This country was not covered by Kino’s Journey (2003).
We begin with Kino camped outside. She muses to Hermes about how she likes to travel despite her doubts about her character’s morality. She appears to be getting ready to fall asleep. A revolver lays atop her chest. Her palm clutches the handle.
The opening scene gives the audience a simple introduction to the overarching premise and theme of this franchise. Another way of describing it from the perspective of the literary classes I took in high school. I was asked try to piece an all-encompassing definition for “poetic” based on examples of anything that I reacted to as instinctually “poetic.” Yet another means to describe it is based on the social science training in college. I asked myself while taking an anthropology course why anyone would concern themselves so devotionally to the study of culture. “The world is not beautiful, therefore it is” seems like a contradiction of logic at first glance, but for Kino, it is actually a paradox of humanity. As human beings, we constantly find beauty in human truths, because even if some of them aren’t exactly flattering, we still find those human truths relatable. It reaffirms to us that, wherever we travel or settle down, we aren’t alone. If you want to look at this dynamic cynically, as Kino’s musing to Hermes in this scene might seem to suggest, this whole quest for finding beauty in human truths comes off as narcissistic self-validation. But perhaps we, like Kino, can’t help ourselves.
Non-management: This is ZeroReq011, providing a well overdue and uncharacteristically sincere update for this blog. It’s been a long time since I published anything. In the past, I’d blame work or politics, and certainly those factors exacerbate my inactivity. But over the past few to several months, I’ve come to realize what probably played the biggest factor in holding me back from writing, and indeed, from being more productive in general. That factor was fear — fear not externally imposed, but internally manufactured. It was a fear of being compared to others.
It’s a fear different from falling behind, because I have fallen behind some of my Aniblogging colleagues, regardless. Many of them today have turned their blogging habits into full-fledged careers. Frog-kun lives in Japan working at ANN’s expense. iblessall does editorial work for Crunchyroll. The anime community celebrities that I’ve hung out with at my last convention experience are people who I could never imagine talking to casually were it not for my connections. These connections were those I’ve made with folks more famous than I.
Management: While my opinion of the show is generally positive overall, this essay, by no means, is meant to serve as a comprehensive review, but rather, as an articulation and analysis of some of what I feel is this series’ most integral and interesting themes. This post mainly references Little Witch Academia: “A New Beginning” and general elements and specific moments in the narratives of the Harry Potter franchise.
There were a number of things that I grew up on that I still look at fondly today whenever I’m feeling particularly nostalgic. The fact that I didn’t need to work, the first anime that I didn’t know was anime that really gripped me, and the Harry Potter franchise. I always thought that it was neat that the books became lengthier, featured more complex plots, and progressed into something that took increasingly higher language chops to read through with each installment. As Harry grew up, so did his readers. Say what you will about the literary quality of these children to young adult novels (the epilogue admittedly reads like cheesy fanfiction), I remember reading and re-reading each volume, voraciously, from front to back. The paperbacks of the volumes I owned began falling apart, and some of them did (like that monster of the fifth book). I got into heated debates with myself and other fans about a number of franchise-related controversies, like how the books were better than the movies and about which character should be romantically paired with who. I laughed, cried, got embarrassed and smiled widely. The world and its characters brought me a sense of immersive pleasure that couldn’t compare to anything else at the time.
It was a magical experience for me, and judging by the multimedia commercial empire this Wizarding World spawned, it was a magical experience for tens and, I daresay, hundreds of millions of people too. But then you experience life a little more and notice some things that you didn’t before, little idiosyncrasies that stem from the British author who wrote these things in. People engage with media in different ways, after all. These idiosyncrasies were even more apparent to me when comparing the Harry Potter franchise to a Harry Potter-inspired series like Little Witch Academia. It didn’t take away from what joy I felt when I first read the novels or watched the films. Nor did it reframe the stories that I cherished as a child and adolescent as this grossly insidious thing in lurking in the bowels that I now needed to purge from my system lest I be and remain an awful person deep down. And bear in mind, Little Witch Academia is just full of love for all things Harry Potter, and it illustrates that love through its numerous callbacks to its world and characters.
While the Harry Potter franchise has been a wild international success, at the very end of the day, Harry Potter is a groundedly British product whose limited depictions of non-British cultures is marked by some exotic stereotypes. By contrast, Little Witch Academia is more reflective of the transnational nature of both the Potter and anime fandoms. The identity of its content is neither solely British or Japanese, nor does it treat the audience’s initial impressions of its non-British and non-Japanese elements as anything particularly special. That’s more uncommon in my line of entertainment experiences than I’d prefer.
Non-management: This is ZeroReq011, providing a long-overdue courtesy update. In brief, I’ve been fairly inactive and unproductive on social media and my blogging site as of late due to a couple of things. I’m still in that transitional stage of financial instability (aka looking for work), and I’ve been mentally dealing (or more like coping) with the mental fallout of the recent election. Reading books and studying Japanese have also taken a hit in my previously formed mental plans.
Both blues have been making me unmotivated to write or consult any talk of current events or political discussions that aren’t strictly at the local or abstractly at the theoretical level. My Twitter page is set up as a news aggregator, and those I follow have been going through different stages of vocalized grief. Me? I’m firmly still at that stage of wanting to hear less of it, and the job search has been pretty stressing on me as it is.
Management: While my opinion of the show is generally positive overall, this essay, by no means, is meant to serve as a comprehensive review, but rather, as an articulation and analysis of some of what I feel is this series’ most integral and interesting themes. This post comments on the events of Hunter x Hunter’s (2011) Chimera Ant Arc.
Meaning in language, connotative meaning especially, is not fixed. Folks possessing historical perspective are probably aware of at least a few words that, at one time, were once universally regarded with positive or neutral connotations and, at another, ended up being seen by many as negative or controversial. “Progress” is one of those words, associated as it was during the periods of Enlightenment and Modernity with those once unequivocally righteous virtues of industry and science. Industry and science have since been problematized by discoveries such as carbon footprints and nuclear energy — the stuff that could end worlds. “Evolution,” a concept related to “progress,” is another.
Hunter x Hunter (2011)’s Chimera Ant Arc frames the concept of evolution in both its more strictly physiological and more expansively utility-driven understandings. The show then ties evolution to the traditional shounen battler theme of self-improvement. Out of this relational framework, a powerful statement about evolution is made that ends up reflecting the general ambivalence the Japanese psyche has with such a concept, much like its mixed-feelings with the word “progress.” Like the word “progress,” evolution is not a concept that should be understood as an uncritical good. For evolution — like progress, industry, and science — has the power to create and inspire… and destroy and harm.
Management: Here’s the result of a tangent I went off of while trying to write something about Shelter. Shelter is an animated music video short about a girl, her dad, and the things he left behind and now help define and inspire her. Rather than a post I planned to write about Shelter’s themes on grief and family, I ended up craft a poem about my angst and my dad instead. This is only my opinion, but it didn’t come out half-bad. Feel free to comment, and please enjoy.
Very rarely, I do get terrible nightmares. They’re dark dreams. They wake me in the middle of the night or early in the morning. I end up shaking. The sun has yet risen. I feel afraid. I feel alone. In these dreams of mine, my dad’s there.
But then he’s not. Violence. Absence. I usually keep them in the back of my mind, but when they’re brought back with searing vividness, I imagine roadkill that I’ve encountered of peoples’s cats. I sometimes cry. I’m a gloomy child, you should know. I don’t subscribe to that that subconscious invincibility, that uncritical indefatigably the minds of my peers seemed to be twisted by. Scenes of battles and beatings, battings and bullets twist my mind like the shock of an animal pressed into the bloody pavement by the callous consumer car-mobile paying no thought to the creature whose bones they cracked… and ground… and spread.
Management: While my opinion of the show is generally positive overall, this essay, by no means, is meant to serve as a comprehensive review, but rather, as an articulation and analysis of some of what I feel is this series’ most integral and interesting themes.
To temporarily relegate the Danganronpa franchise’s rather passionate, colorful, and often on-the-nose discourse on hope and despair to the background, here’s a character in the Danganronpa 3 anime who caught my attention. With his status as the “Ultimate” Animator, Ryota Mitorai possessed not only the capacity to make media generally, anime specifically, that people could enjoy. He also possessed the ability to create propaganda could brainwash the masses. Willingly, in the name of hope, and unwittingly, in the name of despair, he appropriated his skills and had his skills appropriated to compel people to act.
To qualify, Danganronpa 3 rather oversimplifies the power media has at shaping viewer psychology. Animation is a type of media, and where influencing other people’s behaviors are concerned, the power animation has over our thought processes are limited and conditional. The show automatically assumes that it’s possible that media creators generally, and animators specifically, can brainwash other people at a smartphone and TV monitor glance if they’re “Ultimate” enough. The brainwashing mechanisms themselves weren’t enough to get me to muse. What did get me to ponder were the references and parallels Danganronpa 3 seemed to be subtly drawing between Ryota and Japanese artists, cartoonists, and yes… animators from that channeled their skills, willingly and unwillingly, wittingly and unwittingly, to create propaganda for their causes.
As I recount Ryota part in the story as the propagandist for both despair and hope, I’ll make some self-interjections in strategic locations to draw connections between two parallels in animated media to have made their notorious mark in Japanese history: war-time Imperial Japan and guilt, and asociality, anti-sociality and the Aum Shinrikyo cult.