ReLIFE: Graduation and its Distinctions

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 ReLIFE Episode 11: “A Trip to the Past.”

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Anime is already inundated by show after show of high school settings. It can get tiring after a while. I, therefore, couldn’t help but be intrigued by a 27 year old male protagonist looking for full-time work.  Expectations were betrayed somewhat when, one contract and one pill later, he got enrolled for high school looking ten years younger. I enjoyed it though. The show has its combination of high school shenanigans and old man jokes. I graduated from university recently and my back sometimes hurts.

As a fellow recent graduate, I found the male protagonist’s career troubles in ReLIFE relatable. I’ve felt the pressure of finding and working a job that’s financially sustainable and spiritually rewarding. The job I had until recently satisfied neither of those qualities. It was long hours of grunt labor from a demanding boss for menial pay and the expectation that I’ll eventually work my way up. And in the brief time that I’ve been employed in this line of work, politics specifically, there’s no shortage of people from the other factional camps undermining each other, suspecting each other, gossiping about each other, saying mean things towards each other.

It’s the kind of pettiness and nastiness that you expect that people, having graduated from school and/or aged enough, would have grown up and out from. Depressingly, exhaustingly, and perhaps even maddeningly, that’s not necessarily the case in either political America and corporate Japan. Kaizaki learns that lesson very harshly. To shake him out of his funk and find steady employment, he re-lives his high school life one more time for some healing… except that, as it turns out, high school life can also get pretty petty and nasty. And so, from a less than original premise, we get a somewhat novel perspective: high school life from a struggling salaryman.

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School-Live!: A Tale of Living Off of Moe Slice of Life

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.

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One of the things I admire about anime narratives are their potential for creativity. Now, some people might accuse the medium nowadays of being inundated with show upon show centered around  moe, peddling moe in the sense people generally seem to associate that feeling with: “cute girls.” Doubly so if the moe happens to be situated within the slice of life genre: “doing cute things.” While experiencing moe or declaring something to be moe isn’t limited to moe slice of life, or “cute girls doing cute things,” there certainly seems to be a consensus among anime otaku that “cute girls doing cute things” is one of those things that are typically designed to embody or arouse moe. There also seems to be a consensus that there’s an awful lot of anime featuring “cute girls doing cute things” nowadays.

In the midst of so many shows featuring this trope, you might ask what’s so creative about a show as seemingly redundant as School-Live! Moe slice of life can be considered a tested and tired thing. Simply put, this show uses the language of moe, the language of slice of life to re-frame how we experience familiar scenarios and inspire reflection on larger themes. The scenario is psychological survival in a zombie setting. The theme is living in spite of that. That theme extends both literally to the characters of the show and figuratively to the characters in the audience watching the show.

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“Identity through Inou-Battle” or「エンドレスパラドックス!!!」

Management: Somewhat of a general review, somewhat of a thematic analysis, and somewhat just two anime dorks having fun with words, roleplay, and other nerd geek weaboo stuff, this is a collaboration work between ZeroReq011 of therefore it is and Frog-kun of Fantastic Memes. Sentences, images, and perhaps some voice impersonation was contributed jointly and staggeredly by the both of us in creation of this piece.

ZeroReq011: It’s a pseudo-harem set-up day at school. Four girls. One guy. The standout quirk of said guy is that he’s a–

Frog-kun: Zero, what are you–

ZeroReq011: INVASION BITCH

Frog-kun: O-Oh my God…

ZeroReq011: Don’t worry. She respawns.

Frog-kun: W-W-Why…

ZeroReq011: Because chuunibyou. Chuuni. I’m practicing my chuuni impression for this piece. You like it? Come now, you know I’m not actually evil.

Frog-kun: …r–

ZeroReq011: –ight then!

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When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace. Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de. Inou-Battle for short. The one guy and four girls (okay, five girls, but her ship’s sunk pretty early on) are inexplicably granted superpowers. Naturally, they continue with their commonplace school lives.

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I Have No Friends and Must Win | Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3, A Review

Management: This is a comprehensive review of own devising, where I go over a pro and con analysis of the material in an attempt to convince people to watch the show-in-review. Hopefully, in encouraging people in general to watch things I think are interesting, they’ll at least somewhat know what to expect while watching. For clarity’s sake, I’ll emphasize this: the review isn’t meant to be so much holistic as it is coverage of what I believe is of core importance to the show. 

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From the surface, Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3, or C3-bu for short, looks like it’s going to be K-On! with airsoft. It could also turn out to be Girls und Panzer, but with airsoft. Maybe Upotte!!, but instead of real guns, airsoft. Sabagebu! Its name translates from the literal Japanese equivalent of “airsoft.”

Not quite. Unlike all these aforementioned shows, C3-bu’s not treating girls with airsoft as fun and games, or airsoft as fun and games, or even airsoft as war as fun and games. It’s treating airsoft as war. And it’s treating war as war, and war is zero-sum. For the player of fortune, for fortune of victory, the fighting ends and fortune’s achieved only when one side wins it all and the other falls to hell. Other conditions notwithstanding, victory’s assured when the enemy side has been all shot. It is imperative that at least you must survive. It is imperative that you survive. You must survive. You are the player of fortune, after all. The player of victory… victory… victory…

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…believes Yura after a certain point. It’d be closer to the mark to say that C3-bu’s more like Evangelion.

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Kokoro Connect: A Glass Half-Empty

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 essay, in particular, is about Kokoro Connect’s final arc, Michi Random, though the show does contain specific references to its first arc, Hito Random.

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As much as viewers of Kokoro Connect such as I may exclaim from the top of their Internet lungs Himeko Inaba being “GREAT SO GREAT WHY IS INABA SO GREAT” forever infinitum eternity etc, in truth, I don’t personally find her the most relatable character in the show. To be friends or even more-than-friends with someone like that in real life (if not with Himeko exactly) would likely be a dream come true for many fans of her character. Consensus-wise, the character that I found most relatable is decidedly less liked, not in the least due to her to her rather souring behavior in the show’s last animated arc, Michi Random. A girl so considerate, even-tempered, and sweet suddenly making an about-face and turned into this really sullen, angry, nasty bitch.

A lot of viewers felt disgusted by this newest attempt at “forced drama” gone too far. They felt betrayed that this bright and social character they liked or tolerated suddenly become bleak and anti-social. They couldn’t understand where her shift in attitude came from. They turned their backs to the story, deeming it contrived even in light of the show’s premise. They turned their backs to her. They might have gone back to waiting for Himeko to be adorable or awesome again, except this girl’s raining on Himeko’s freaking parade too.

So why do I find her relatable?

The simple fact is that Iori Nagase’s me.

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Monogatari: Is She My Sister?

Management: While I overall hold a positive opinion of the Monogatari Series, this piece in no ways serves as a comprehensive review of the series, but rather an articulation and analysis of an interesting set of ideas brought up.

I’ve also written a response to this. Check it out.

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A Peculiar Adult Threesome 

A particularly enduring presence in a lot of recent anime is the lack of presence of a certain, rather important demographic of the human race… adults. Much of the time, if any adults are present, they’ll appear in limited numbers, with limited screening time and limited spoken lines.

Monogatari plays a bit with this trope, a demonstrable lack of any adults appearing in the show at one time, not because the show itself only seems to fleetingly recognize the existence of the adults in the everyday. It’s because the main protagonist, Koyomi Araragi, only fleetingly recognizes the existence of adults in the everyday. In fact, it’s a habit of his not to realize anyone aside for himself and his immediate circle of loved ones, his sisters featuring rather prominently. Karen and Tsukihi, after all, people that he would protect and, if it comes to it, die for.

The lense we, the audience, look through when watching the show comes not from a impartial third party, but rather from an unreliable narrator. Everything we perceive in Monogatari Series: First Season (Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari, Nekomonogatari: Kuro, and Kizumonogatari, whenever in the far future it comes out) and parts of Monogatari Series: Second Season (Kabukimonogatari and Onimonogatari), in other words,  is what Koyomi perceives, and perceptions are something that tend to be colored by the perceiver. Whenever we watch a story in Monogatari with Koyomi as the narrator unfold, we aren’t seeing the story on its own unfold before our eyes. We’re seeing the story unfold through Koyomi’s eyes, who tells us the story as he sees it. And what he sees may not match up with other people see, such as adults. Something like that is immediately apparent upon beginning Monogatari Series: Second Season.

The exception to this peculiar world view of his comes from three even more peculiar adults who happened to be colleagues from university. They’re adults, sure, but they leave such an impact on Koyomi that he has really no choice but to acknowledge them. Well, that might not be entirely true for one of them. One of them’s a friend of his, Meme Oshino, that he spends the better part of Bakemonogatari working with.

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The other two, on the other hand, leave indelible marks on him from limited contact.

The con-man, Deishu Kaiki…

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…and the hero of justice, Yozuru Kagenui.

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A Love That Cannot Be | White Album 2, A Review

Management: This is a comprehensive review of own devising, where I go over a pro and con analysis of the material in an attempt to convince people to watch the show-in-review. Hopefully, in encouraging people in general to watch things I think are interesting, they’ll at least somewhat know what to expect while watching.

While White Album 2 shares namesakes with the earlier White Album, outside for a same universe, same songs, and some nods, White Album 2 is its own separate story. As such, the quality of the latter’s narrative has no effective bearing on the quality of the former’s. There’s a link after a certain point in the essay where there’s a video sample of some of the music and cinematography that I recommend listening to and screening.

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“Are you pretending to be alone? But why, why are you on my mind?
Before I knew it, I was drawn to you more than to anyone else.”

“What should I do so my heart could be reflected in this mirror?”

I know I’m going to antagonize a lot of people when I say I dislike shipping…

…but I dislike shipping.

Shipping, of course, usually entails the romantic pairing of one character to another. With the exception of anime that stylize themselves around the whole affair, I dislike it because it kind of tends towards imperialism of the viewer. When it comes to shows that even whiff of romance, never mind why a certain couple end up together towards the end, if they end up together towards the end, or even if the romance was crucial to anything within the narrative, people will get mad because their ship didn’t succeed. I’m not saying all shippers are invested enough in general about the ships they invariably end up supporting each new show to get upset, but shipping itself tends to breed strong feelings of what “should be.”

And if what “is” doesn’t match up to their expectations, some end up frothing vitriol and perhaps other obscenities at their victorious shippers peers and, for that matter, the rest of the community at how much the show sucked, or at least was significantly worse off for them personally, with minute, if any, regard toward its craft or message.

So it fills my heart with a sort of derisive pleasure to see a romance like White Album 2, a love triangle, no less, produce such a sobering consensus among its shippers by the conclusion, regardless of which ship officially won. It goes something like…

…not like this.

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