Friday’s Feature: Just an Update This Week

While I originally said during my anniversary I was taking two weeks off from seasonal anime reviewing in July, it turns out that due to a whole bunch of things lining up in the real world, I’m actually going to take off closer to a month, but only from seasonal reviews. The blog is going to continue having daily content and I am still going to be online (though a little less often than normal) to reply to comments and to visit everyone’s blog. Mostly. Okay, next week I’ll probably seem like I’ve dropped off the face of the Earth for a bit.

Pretty much I just can’t rely on having access to streaming services during this period of time so rather than sometimes having reviews and sometimes not, I’m just going to pause the shows I’m watching and not pick up anything new, and catch up on everything current once I’m back to my normal routine which will be July 22nd. Basically, I have quite a bit of travel ahead of me. Some personal stuff, some work stuff, some preplanned holiday stuff, and it all just kind of ended up happening at the same time.

Feature posts and top 5’s will continue as normal. I’ve also got some episode reviews of shows that were either recommended to me or came up randomly when I asked for a random episode on Crunchyroll. Series reviews will come out on Wednesday and Saturday. However my Sunday posts where I do a round up of the current season that I’ve been watching will not be out and I won’t be doing the In Case You Missed it posts on Monday. These will both resume after July 22nd.

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That’s pretty much it for this update. Hopefully you all enjoy the content I’ve got planned over the next couple of weeks and I look forward to resuming reviews of seasonal anime on my return. And if you want to know other plans for the blog you can check out my more detailed update on my patreon site.

See you soon.


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Friday’s Feature: What Does Orihime Really Contribute To Bleach?

There’s no denying that I’ve been a massive Bleach fan for a fairly long time now. It was one of the first anime I watched as an adult and it really contributed to my ongoing love of anime. However, despite finding Bleach hilarious, entertaining, exciting, and just fun to watch, the flaws of the series are pretty much open secrets not just to those who endured all that filler to get to an ending that ultimately went about sixty episodes past where it should have (though that’s debatable) but also to those who just listened in to the discussions about Bleach.

So why am I picking on Orihime?

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I’m going to put it out there, that in the first season of Bleach I really liked Orihime’s character. Then she kind of became mostly useless either sitting on the sidelines or wringing her hands in fear as everyone else contributed for a few seasons. In season 7, she had few moments of genuine cool. Really, the start of season 7 actually gave her a little bit of agency as she made her choices and worked at becoming stronger. Then she became a Princess in a cage; worse, just bait to lure in everyone else. She wasn’t even actually valuable as a hostage.

This actually isn’t a problem just for Orihime. Bleach suffers from an extraordinarily large and frequently underutilised cast. Regularly the various Shinigami are prevented from acting by the most arbitrary of reasons just to ensure Ichigo and company can actually be the ones who swoop in and save the day. Then even amongst Ichigo and his friends, the others are almost always sidelined by the final battle. They might get their match up and few moments to shine with in a fight but ultimately the show is all about Ichigo and they aren’t allowed to steal his thunder (even when it seems like they’d be better suited to take on the current threat).

However, I’m going to pick specifically on Orihime for three reasons.

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01. The show expects us to take her seriously as a love interest eventually and while we know Ichigo loves saving Damsels in Distress he isn’t the Captain of the Enterprise sweeping them off their feet. Why is Orihime unique compared to the other characters or the other girls he rescues along the way?

Part of the answer to that lies in season 1 where we see that Ichigo has some genuine feelings toward Orihime as a human being. He remembers (after some prodding) the death of her brother and how she cried. He also works to remind the brother of his love for his sister (given he empathises with the older brother’s plight). While this might not seem overly significant, Ichigo’s character is pretty insular and doesn’t have a lot of genuine connections. Other than Chad, the guys he hangs out with at school are just there. He talks to them but shows little human warmth toward them. Same with most of the girls. Ichigo even remembering Orihime (vaguely though it may be) was a pretty stand out moment.

However, the show then drops this line of thought for a lot of seasons. And I mean, a lot. While it is clear Orihime is fixated on Ichigo, he’s just doing his thing swinging his sword around and other than treating her like every other person who tries to help him out, there’s really not a lot there. Realistically, if it weren’t for Orihime’s ongoing friendship with Rukia, you might have forgotten she existed at all.

Then, we get Orihime’s farewell after she gets given 12 hours to say goodbye. For all that it makes sense for Orihime to feel the way she does as she has remained stuck on Ichigo, Ichigo’s reaction to Orihime being missing seems blown way out of proportion given how little attention he’s paid her in any of the previous arcs since the first one. The end result of this is that you often aren’t sure if this is a relationship developing or merely a girl making puppy dog eyes at an indifferent guy.

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02. The second reason I’m going to pick on Orihime is the severe underutilisation of her power. Not only is she not used well as a character, she has quite possibly the coolest power in a show full of characters with crazy powers, and other than the healing (which isn’t actually healing so much as rejecting past injuries right out of existence) Orihime almost never gets to do anything. She shields occasionally but either gets blown back anyway or just gets stuck standing and holding a shield. But that’s about as far as it goes.

Let’s imagine the fight between Grimmjow and Ichigo for a moment where Orihime is standing on the pillar looking on all frightened and concerned. She’s occasionally shielding herself but mostly she’s just standing their looking worried though her inner monologue tries to convince us she knows Ichigo will win (and hey, plot armour certainly agrees with her). What if she’d actually thrown the shield in between them as Grimmjow had tried to land a hit on Ichigo and then, after Grimmjow’s momentum was lost, she dropped the shield allowing Ichigo pretty much a free hit. Think how much faster that fight would have been over.

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Okay, Ichigo would have been ticked off at the cheap stunt, but who cares. Life or death situation people. But no, Orihime will stand quietly and wait because Ichigo asked her to. She may as well be a golden cup waiting to be claimed for all the good she’s doing as a character in this sequence and this isn’t the only time Orihime is given a similar role during a fight.

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03. Finally, worse than simply not being an empowered female character (we get that it is a male action anime and while there are some tough women in the story, it isn’t exactly the champion of equal opportunity) Orihime makes the fatal error of losing any sense of a personality. Season 1 introduces us to a girl who has had tragedy in her past but makes up for it by smiling brightly and throwing herself at whimsical fantasies. She makes creative food choices, laughs with her friends, and liberally interprets school assignments. At no point does she succumb to simply being an air-head as she is a keen observer of those around her and is one of the few that notes Ichigo’s change after Rukia arrives and one of the few who notices Rukia’s disappearance.

By the end of its run, Orihime may still be the one who consoles others and has a word of encouragement but all of her other personality traits have been diminished to almost nothingness. Other than the occasional silly line, she’s mostly a flat character who is almost impossible to differentiate from any of the other supporting cast members.

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So what does Orihime contribute to Bleach? She’s a plot point, a trophy, a get-out-of-jail free card with her healing ability, and an occasionally remembered love interest but what she isn’t, at least not consistently, is a character.

Again, that criticism could probably be levelled at over half the cast of Bleach, but for Orihime, who started out so dynamically, it seems like such a shame that she was reduced so much over the seasons.

What are your thoughts on Orihime or any of the characters in Bleach?


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Friday’s Feature: My Hero Academia and Hero Culture

Okay, I’ve been reading a lot of My Hero Academia posts over the last couple of weeks as my recent In Case You Missed It post kind of highlighted and what I’ve really loved about these posts is the range of issues and topics they have covered. Given how excited I’ve been about this show the last few weeks it did make me want to write about it but I’m pretty sure my thoughts are still really confused as this is a series the packs a lot of social commentary into what is otherwise a relatively simple shonen anime.

So while I’d like to delve into the school system and a few of the other issues bubbling along in this show I decided I’d start with the main point of the show and that is the idea of being a hero. When I first read the premise for season 1 of My Hero Academia and realised in the world they were creating almost everyone had a super power I couldn’t help but think of Syndrome from the Incredibles.

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It seemed like by giving everyone a hero that having powers would cease to be something special and as a result things should just level out and everyone be back on the usual playing field so how would they make that setting unique. Obviously the few without powers really did get a raw deal and would probably face discrimination (kind of directly opposed to something like X-Men where it is the minority with powers who are facing continuous discrimination) and the story was going to focus on a character who wasn’t born with a power so maybe that would be something. However, they rapidly overcome that particular hurdle by transferring a power to him (admittedly one he still can’t control properly). Whichever way, back to the original point in that you have to wonder how a story where everyone has some sort of power will actually be interesting and not just a case of endless one upping.

What Syndrome’s theory fails to take into consideration is that even in the world of The Incredibles, some super heroes stand above others. This is an issue My Hero Academia takes very seriously even if it isn’t always front and centre.

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The obvious example from season one is All Might (that name is so pretentious). He’s the epitome of heroism if one assumes all the typical clichés for someone being classed as a superhero hold true. From physical appearance and prowess to his courageous acts of rescues and even the way he speaks with confidence and yet just enough humility that you don’t want to smack him one for being completely egocentric. This is a very deliberately contrived persona that All Might has donned and his motives for it are clearly explained as is the consequence of his power quickly failing him. All Might is a symbol in this world. A world full of people with absolutely incredible powers and yet someone who is strong, fast, and good for the sake of being good, still stands above as an icon and something to strive toward for young people, and something to fear for villains.

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But what happens when his power leaves? Midoriya, being Midoriya, has learned All Might’s secret and knows All Might’s time as a hero is limited but still looks up to and admires All Might. For Midoriya, it isn’t just that All Might was strong, it was his attitude and way of living that inspired and even the loss of his physical prowess is insufficient to snuff out Midoriya’s fan boy focus.  However, I think we might all agree that Midoriya and his overall attitude is something of an anomaly in the world of My Hero Academia.

How will the rest of the world respond once All Might’s power leaves him for good, or even leaves him when he is exposed to the public? Will his many years of service and hard work be respected or will he be ridiculed and cast aside? Worse still, would he be left to the mercy of the villains who so far have been kept in check by his mere presence?

From what we’ve seen of this world and the way that it measures strength and worth, you would have to unfortunately believe that even if he wasn’t scorned he would most definitely be cast aside. Serving no further use as either a rescuer or deterrent he would literally just become another has been and fade into the dark recesses of some history book that maybe future heroes would read about. That seems a tragic ending for someone who actually served a greater good even while he built quite a good brand name for himself.

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Which actually highlights the entire issue of hero culture as it is presented in My Hero Academia. There are new up and coming heroes appearing every year. The new generation of students graduating from UA and probably plenty of less well known schools that still train students to become heroes. Each one of these would-be heroes has a reason for wanting to be a hero as we’ve seen exemplified by the students in the class. They all want to be a hero but to get there and to succeed they are going to have to beat their friends, they are going to have to put themselves first, they are going to have to brand themselves, and even then they still only have a small chance of success in an already over crowded market. Essentially heroism has become the new Australia’s Got Talent (or equivalent) and ultimately just being good at being a hero isn’t going to be enough. Everyone who got into the school is potentially good at being a hero but the world doesn’t need entire classes of heroes running around. They have to stand out even at the cost of those around them and that by its very nature would lead to some fairly unheroic personalities making it through the rigorous training processes and reaching the top.

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What I find interesting about this set-up is that normal people on the street have stood back and watched as fairly low level villains have committed crimes. They wait for a hero rather than taking action even though some of their own Quirks are more than capable of dealing with things. They hold the ‘heroes’ of the story in awe even as this show goes to great lengths to humanize the current group of students and to help us realise they are all just kids working toward a dream.

Heroism as a commodity isn’t a new notion in anime or any other story telling medium. Even Clark Kent made money off Superman through writing stories about him and we know Spider Man wasn’t above peddling his own acts of heroism for cash. And it is maybe this part of the story that really sums up this show’s comment about the modern world. Everything has a price and everything is for sale. Even acts of heroism, morals, and dreams.

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But in case that seems a little depressing, just remember Midoriya has so far managed to defy all common sense in his optimism about more or less everything so maybe, just maybe, the seeds of change are already being spread amongst the students in his class.


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Friday’s Feature: Problem Solver

I’ve been thinking this for awhile but this is probably the first time I’m really trying to write about it, but fiction is a fairly distorted way of experiencing reality. Not saying that’s a bad thing, by distorting certain aspects of what is real other points can be more easily framed and foregrounded. Complex emotional ideas that usually get swept under the rug in reality can take centre stage or we can just enjoy the fact that our heroes are all but indestructible due to plot armour.

However one way that fiction consistently distorts is that regardless of the medium  stories have this tendency to lead the audience into thinking the problem (whatever it is) has a solution. It isn’t that every fictional problem is always solved neatly or easily, but there is almost always a forward motion in stories and usually this is built around characters advancing towards that final solution whether they ultimately achieve it or not.

And while certainly a non-defeatist attitude or a desire to be proactive might be admirable personality traits, hopeless optimism that everything could be solved is probably not. When we think about some of the situations anime protagonists are faced with and yet mostly they still say cheesy lines like:

I mean, they are wonderfully inspiring quotes that make you feel you can get out there and accomplish anything you put your mind to. But they don’t really deal with the reality most people face everyday. Changing things is sometimes not a matter of having courage but one of opportunity and those are few and far between.

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And sometimes you could try as hard as you like but without others being on board you may not succeed. Also, sometimes you don’t have endless chances to try once more. Sometimes you’ve tried and failed and that ship has sailed off into the sunset when you were not on board (I do mean a metaphoric ocean going vessel here and not a relationship).

That isn’t to say that there aren’t characters out there expressing a more down to earth view of things.

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However, that is why Kunikida is not the main character of Bungo Stray Dogs. He can’t be a main character with that kind of attitude. He exists to be a voice of logic or reason that others (those who will be the main character of their story) fight to overcome. In truth, he is directly positioned to be seen as unhelpful and negative at times and as the person who has a defeatist attitude. Comparing him to Atsushi (who is actually the main character of Bungo Stray Dogs for some reason), Kunikida is smarter, more focussed, and infinitely more talented. And yet it is Atsushi’s never say die and charge into the den of your enemy approach that ultimately saves the day in the final fights though there is a lot of giving up at smaller challenges earlier in the season (what exactly did Kunikida do for the entirety of season 2?).

Then we have Hachiman from My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU. From a casual observation he flies in the face of every other protagonist out there. He is the star of his show and carries with him a negative and self-destructive mantle that he absolutely refuses to change.

He doesn’t want to change, he doesn’t see his personality as a problem, and has more or less given up on expecting anything from the world. Yet then we look at the plot structure of this story. Almost every episode (or arc as some go over multiple episodes) deal with Hachiman having to address a problem and solve it. He may whinge, drag his feet, and act indifferent but even though his solution is unconventional and usually leaves him burned, the fact remains that he continues to act on behalf of others to bring problems to a solution.

The one problem that he refused to address is the problem everyone else in the series is forced to address and that is his own anti-social attitude which as he points out probably isn’t that big of an issue given he’s hardly the first teenager to go through high-school without friends. It becomes an issue though when it becomes apparent that a lot of what he says is an outer facade rather than his true feelings.

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And then of course we have Kirito from SAO who faced a problem so extreme that even with a never say die attitude and you never know until you try still couldn’t win so broke the game. While there might be a touching message about the power of emotions and desire the reality of that situation wasn’t just distorted it was completely thrown out the window for narrative convenience. Of course, any other ending wouldn’t have really worked at that point so we’ll just go along with it.

Fiction is a mirror for the world but it isn’t a true reflection and this is seen clearly in this idea of solving problems. Some things once broken can’t be fixed. Others require a work around, acceptance, or sometimes a tactical withdrawal (otherwise known as running away with purpose). And while all these ideas appear in stories, the overwhelming majority of fiction has a protagonist confronting a problem (regardless of what that problem might be) and in some way dealing with that problem (even if the protagonist ultimately does not succeed).

What do you think about fiction and how it constructs reality? What are some of your favourite quotes from anime protagonists as they go to confront overwhelming danger? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


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Friday’s Feature: Why is Natsume Yuujinchou Still Endearing After Five and a Half Seasons?

There’s no mistaking that I truly love Natsume Yuujinchou. You just need to look at the sheer number of posts I’ve tagged with Natsume to know that I not only like watching it, I like to talk about Natsume, a lot. I don’t remember who recommended it to me or why I tried it initially, but I know that once I started this adorable show I never could stop. Even when I ran out of episodes I would happily go back and just watch them all again. Had a bad day at work, or a bad week? Take a double episode of Natsume and go to bed smiling. As I watch season six of this show week to week, I began to wonder how this show has retained its magic formula and even managed to become more entertaining with time given so many shows, particularly ones where new seasons just keep getting added on, become progressively less than what they were.

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I started making a list of all the great things about Natsume. The list got extremely long by the end so I ended up condensing them into a few main points:

  • The characters particularly the central characters of Natsume and Nyanko-Sensei.
  • The episodic format of the show with themes and character growth that run through the series.
  • The feelings this show inspires in its audience.
  • The art and animation while not the most brilliant ever perfectly fit the show you are watching.
  • Every opening theme that has ever been attached to this show.

There were quite a few other points on the initial list but that isn’t surprising given I love the show. However, making this list actually helped me figure out exactly why this show succeeds season after season.

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Reason 1: The way the characters are presented to the audience.

In so many long running shows the main protagonists (and a lot of the support cast) either have a single defining personality trait or goal. Or, worse, the characters actually lose any defining trait over time slowly becoming generic and featureless in amongst a sea of other characters.

Natsume defies this trend in storytelling. He starts out fairly generic, as do most of the characters in the show, and the show has gradually fleshed them out over nearly six seasons. The affect of this on the audience is essentially feeling like we’ve naturally gotten to know someone. First introductions are fairly superficial and then we’ve slowly been allowed to see who they are underneath those initial impressions.

And this doesn’t seem accidental. Within episodes we regularly meet the yokai of the week and are given one impression before Natsume looks deeper and we realise the other side of the character. This pattern repeating over longer periods of time with the human characters and recurring yokai seems like a deliberate thematic choice of the show as it examines who Natsume is and who he is becoming.

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Which, is the second part of this story. The characters are changing. Even as we get to know who they are or who they were (through flash backs), events in the seasons we’ve seen have changed them. There’s no magic reset at the end of the episode so next episode everyone is back to the cookie cutter model we start with each week in a true sit-com style. This is an ongoing story and these characters are dynamic even if the slow pace of the show sometimes makes it seem like little progress is occurring.

Clearly Natsume, as the title character, has experienced the largest growth and development as he has slowly opened up to both human and yokai characters. However, he isn’t along in this constant change and you can see Nyanko-Sensei has softened significantly toward Natsume since season 1. His threats to eat his human companion have diminished and even when they are inserted they now seem half-hearted. He offers advice more freely and is more willing to warn Natsume of danger. He’s gone from being curious and self-interested to being genuinely fond of Natsume and this relationship is really interesting to watch.

Even Reiko, Natsume’s deceased grandmother has been given character growth as Natsume has slowly learned more about her. The end result is a world that feels incredbily rich and populated with real characters that over six seasons you’ve become friends with yourself and you genuinely care for.

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Reason 2: The overall themes of the show strike directly at the heart.

Okay, that was cheesy, but it is Natsume so it kind of had to be.

But really, the experience of watching Natsume, is one of trying to understand what it means to be human and the choices people make and why. For all the fantastical creatures and goings on, it is a story about the choices you make in life and the consequences that come from them as well as one that focusses very much on the connections that result from encounters with others.

In this the episodic nature of the show really helps it to succeed. Characters can enter the show for an episode or two and drift off only to return a season of so later but the connection they forged still exists. What this allows is for the show to never overly clutter itself with too many characters at once and we’re never wondering why such-and-such a character is even in a scene because other than Natsume, none of the characters are guaranteed an appearance if they are not necessary to the story. Even Natsume occasionally gets written out of his own narrative in order for the focus to be where it needs to be.

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For a show that is regularly as sickeningly sweet as Natsume, it knows when not to pull a happy ending out of nothing and it isn’t against leaving the characters wondering if their choice was wrong. It also doesn’t shy away from the darker side of human nature when you think about how most of Natsume’s relatives have treated him and still speak to him and about him. What makes this show a bit different is that it doesn’t wallow in its own darkness or exploit it for sensationalistic purposes. The darkness is there, but like everything else, Natsume chooses how and when to confront it and when to leave things be. It is a very real part of the narrative and while sometimes you may actively dislike a character, generally speaking you are supposed to if that is the feeling you are getting.

After five and a half seasons, my current thoughts about Natsume are that this is actually getting better as it goes. The show continues to weave backstory and lore into a world that already feels rich and real and continues to have Natsume face situations where we confront the human and inhuman equally. Hopefully season 6 can continue to shine.

There were a whole bunch of characters and ideas that I love about this show that I restrained myself from rambling about, but seriously, I’d love to know your thoughts on Natsume. Do you think Natsume has gotten better or is the charm wearing off after so many seasons?


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Friday’s Feature: Mid-Season Thoughts On ‘KADO: The Right Answer’

At episode 6 I had to admit I had fallen completely in love with this anime. There’s someone in the real world who I think will love this show but they won’t watch it until it finishes airing but at the end of each episode I want to talk to them about it and hear their thoughts. They’ve now banned me from mentioning anything that happens because they want to enjoy it for themselves and that’s fair enough but it means I’m wanting to talk about this show so much and really don’t have an outlet for it. (On that note, spoilers if you haven’t watched up to episode 6 will follow).

That’s part of why I would recommend this anime 100% even though it isn’t finished airing (and I rarely recommend unfinished anime because too many take a nose dive in the second half). But even if KADO follows that trend and does deteriorate into nonsense as the season continues, these first 6 episodes give more than enough reason to watch and discuss this show.

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Certainly there are points to be made about the visuals of the show but I’m not really interested in that aspect at this point and time (although, mostly I think it’s been pretty with the possible exception of a few moments where the characters have gone a bit creepy momentarily). What is really grabbing me about this show is thinking through this scenario if it actually happened.

The list below severely simplifies the plot from the first 5 episodes (in the process leaving out a lot of interesting thoughts and concepts raised by the show but we’ll get back to that later):

01. A cube appears and swallows a plane full of passengers.

02. We learn the passengers are fine and will be released but the being from the cube wants to negotiate.

03. As part of that they want to give all of humanity a source of unlimited energy.

04. The UN attempts to control this new energy source and Japan, the nation that received it complies but only because they’ve got a scientist who has already figured out how to make the energy source anyway.

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Even if that were it for a plot and no further curve balls were thrown, that is more than enough to get my personal curiosity fired up. Of course what most people are wondering is what zaShunina is up to in just handing humanity unlimited energy. A popular theory I’ve seen is that it is the usual alien gives double edge sword and sits back and waits for humanity to destroy itself. Certainly that is a possibility and would fit with what is happening in terms of the UN trying to muscle Japan into compliance, mostly urged by the US and Russian representatives (and did anyone else find it odd that the whole UN Security Council other than Japan actually agreed on something).

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I’d like to believe the anime isn’t going there, though events in episode 6 make me a little suspicious of zaShunina. His ‘next’ step concerns me a great deal both in terms of what it means practically and in terms of what he will need to do to accomplish such a goal. Still, if he isn’t out to destroy humanity (or see us destroy ourselves) I have to wonder what his overall goal is. Is he just benevolent and wanting to improve humanity? That seems unlikely although I’ll admit that is probably my own cynicism coming through more than any evidence from the anime.

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Then again, part of me wonders if zaShunina is actually the one in charge of this at all. I remember when we first met him he kind of was constructed by the cube itself.  As they have very carefully avoided actually asking him anything about himself of note (other than where he comes from) it is quite possible that zaShunina’s intentions are irrelevant as he might just be an agent for an as yet unseen factor in the background. That might be needlessly conspiracy theory-ish but it makes a lot of sense when you consider the nature of zaShunina’s appearance and the fact that he seems to have a check list of objectives but doesn’t explain the reason for them outside of general terms that could be misconstrued.

Moving on from zaShuina himself, the reactions of the people and the world in this anime to the events feel very real. Life in Japan, after the initial surprise of the cube arriving, returns to normal outside of a few interruptions to the airport itself and the episode 6 temporary evacuations of certain districts as a precaution. The media are camped outside the cube and reporting regularly, there are photos and the like being sent around on social media, but for most the cube is a curiosity. While some of the more extreme were protesting the Japanese government’s refusal to comply with the UN, the majority of people kind of went about their daily life.

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For some, this might be a problem because we’re used to seeing Hollywood movies where everyone just kind of stops in their tracks or runs crazy at the mention of the arrival of aliens. Remember early scenes in Independence Day when the President makes a speech about the cities where the space ships were headed and how he asked those who felt compelled to leave the cities do so in an orderly manner and then there was just absolute chaos? We’re preconditioned by movies to think that a world changing event will actually be world changing.

Yet, what we see in reality is quite the opposite. Though there have been mass protests and the like to various election outcomes and situations in various countries, for most people they’ve kept going about their daily life. While most people have a vague awareness of situations occurring, they don’t know the details nor do they really care very much unless it directly impacts upon their daily life. You might disagree with that but when we look at the numbers protesting compared to the numbers just going about their business it is clear that the majority would prefer to maintain a status quo life-style even if they take to social media in the evening to pass on a few memes without really troubling themselves to act.

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KADO latches on to this notion, that people prefer their daily routine and the things they understand, and uses it to its advantage in forging what is becoming a very believable storyline, even with a premise that seems incredibly far-fetched at first glance. Of course there are characters directly effected by the events and they are responding. Of course governments are troubled by the offer of unlimited energy. There’s so many ways that could politically and economically go wrong and yet could have an extreme benefit if used appropriately. Of course scientists are fascinated by the chance to go further and research ideas that they couldn’t have before. But for everyone else, other than a possible flight delay and a traffic jam, life is going on. The more socially or politically aware individuals would be watching the news to keep up with developments, but during the day they go to work and things move on (whether for the better or worse is something the show hasn’t commented on in any way at this point).

KADO has totally won me over at this point. It is science fiction done very well. No sensationalist fight sequences to entertain the masses, but a tight focus on the human condition in the face of one very clear intrusion into the normal world. The reactions and flow on effects to that intrusion have been handled with care and what is being woven is a fairly compelling story that asks us to really consider the idea of humanity and national borders, yet at the same time doesn’t seem to want to preach its own brand of morality (at least not at this stage). And that isn’t to say that sensationalist fight sequences aren’t entertaining or a part of science fiction, but at its core, a good sci-fi really should get us to re-evaluate ourselves and the world at large, and KADO has succeeded admirably at that.

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If you haven’t given KADO: The Right Answer a go yet, this is the one show from this season I think is unmissable. Certainly there are more sensational shows, and shows that look prettier, or move at a faster pace, but none of the shows this season have made me want to think and talk as much as KADO has.

What do you think so far about KADO or what is your theory about zaShunina?


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Friday’s Feature: Examining the Pointlessness of Arguing About Subs or Dubs in Anime

You know when I first started writing features I was pretty positive that this was the one topic I was not going to touch. Mostly because it has already been argued to death and also because ultimately what this post is going to come down to is that it is about personal preference so there is no right side of this argument. Hence the title. It really is a pointless debate/argument/war and all it does is split anime fans when, let’s be honest, whether you watch subs or dubs you are still a fan of anime.

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The problem is that so many people get it into their head that their preference is somehow actually the ‘right’ way to view something and then there is this stubborn refusal to accept that someone else might choose to view it differently. So what are the main arguments in favour of subs and why don’t they make much sense from a logical standpoint?

01. They allow you to get the authentic experience. Assuming you believe the sub-titles are actually in anyway accurate or capturing the nuances of the langauge being spoken. Seriously, the subs are as bad as the dub if you are actually going for authenticity of the story. Learn Japanese if you want the real story and then realise that sometimes those changes they make to the dialogue actually do make the story more accessible. My Japanese is dreadful but the more I learn the more I realise that neither subs or dubs are giving me a particularly genuine anime experience but I’m still getting a good story so I don’t much care.

02. Dubs are dreadful. Which would have been a reasonably accurate statement about twenty years ago. Seriously, Sailor Moon voice acting has a lot to answer for and it wasn’t even the worst of the 1990’s dubs. And yes, I went through a period where because English dubs were fairly dreadful, that I wouldn’t watch them. What has changed now though is that a lot of the English dubs are actually quite good with some actually good performances and sometimes fairly contextualised content that make the story really enjoyable. I will point out that the reuse of voice actors in English dubs is a bit of a problem because there is a vastly smaller pool of voice actors to draw from, but even this is improving.

03. You just should watch subs. Unbelievably, this argument comes up time and again. This is not an argument. This is what you resort to when you realise that the only two arguments you actually have in favour of your view are more or less invalidated by the current state of dubs.

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However, the arguments for dubs are just as weak.

01. I don’t have to read and I can enjoy the story more. Okay, valid point if reading is an issue (and in an anime like Steins;Gate where the dialogue hits you a million miles an hour from multiple characters and the dub is pretty good, I might even agree that this argument has validity rather than trying to read half a screen of multi-character dialogue). Mostly though, subs don’t interfere with the viewing experience. You can see your entire television (computer, device) screen at once so your eye is capable of reading that one line of text that is usually quite large in terms of font at the bottom of the screen. Still, given this one comes down to individual enjoyment, it’s kind of hard to refute.

02. Insert something semi-racist here about listening to Japanese. Yep. People who are anime fans actually mock the language and culture that produces the shows they enjoy. This argument isn’t even really worth getting into. It’s right up there with the ‘you just should’ argument for subs.

03. Hmmm… Oh right. There isn’t a number 3. It really comes down to not wanting to read or not liking listening to Japanese. There’s really no other argument that gets put forward consistently as to why dubs might be better.

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And all of this brings me back to my initial point. This is a pointless argument. People will watch what they want and in a way they enjoy it. Rather than fighting over which is better, shouldn’t we all just celebrate the fact that the anime fan-base world-wide continues to grow and that we actually have options as to how we watch it?

Finally, just so that I’m not tempted to come back to this topic any time soon, I’ll make my preference clear. When I watch by myself, with one or two exceptions where I either only have access to a dubbed copy or the dub is genuinely amazing, I watch subbed anime. Why? Because I’m trying to learn Japanese and amazingly enough just recognising one more phrase as I watch today over yesterday is pretty fun. That, and I started watching anime in the 90’s when dubs were horrible and then when I picked up anime as an adult I got used to watching badly fan-subbed anime on YouTube. Okay, some of it was fairly well fan-subbed but that didn’t change the fact that the majority of anime I managed to watch before legal streaming services were a thing,  were subbed.

However, I have a very limited pool of friends that I can talk into watching anime and over half of them will not watch subs. So, when I watch socially I almost always watch dubbed. You know what, anime is still fun regardless of whether it is subbed or dubbed.

Feel free to share your preference below or comment on the ongoing war between subbed viewers and dubbed viewers. Let’s kick the conversation into gear and actually have a conversation rather than a flame war.


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Friday’s Feature: You Have No Power Over Me – Man vs Self

This is my last feature for March and my last feature for now on conflict so I’m ending the month with Man vs Self. If you’ve missed any of the previous posts on Man vs Man, Man vs Nature, Man vs Technology or Man vs Society be sure to check out the posts.

I’m not going to lie, this is my favourite type of conflict. It seldom gets to take centre stage as normally this is a conflict that runs as a B Plot to the main action, but every now and then you get a story that puts a character’s inner conflict front and centre and does it in a relatable and entertaining way. Then there’s Tokyo Ghoul which has a perfect set up for a nice inner conflict and after a few freak outs early on just kind of dismisses any further inner conflict in favour of all the action focussed conflicts they can throw at you.

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Anyway, Man vs Self is pretty much what it says. The character is their own worst enemy. The only thing standing in their way is themselves and their doubts, their fears, their confusion, their inability to take action. These stories are great because with the exception of the superbly over-confident, almost everyone can relate. Even if we’ve never gone through exactly what the character is going through we can feel their uncertainty and hesitation and inner conflict and we know how incredibly debilitating those feelings can be.

Why does this type of conflict work?

01. It pairs well with other conflicts. As I said earlier, there are only a few stories where man vs self is the only focus of the story. Mostly it sits as a character drama or side story as we wait for the character to overcome this personal block before they can take on other conflicts in the story. Its effective and doesn’t feel like padding because it is relatable. That said, when done poorly, it mostly just feels like a character flinging emotions around and dragging the pace of the story. A real understanding of nuanced expression is kind of needed to pull this one off and do it well.

02. Relatability. This is human drama at its most basic. Even if you don’t interact with others or have conflicts within your family or with the society you live in, even if you face no natural disasters or murderous robots, you do have to face yourself every single day. And very few people love who they are every single day. More importantly, we doubt ourselves, we second-guess are choices, we hesitate at crucial times, and we regularly create drama where none exists. This is real life and seeing it play out in stories where the hero doesn’t just grab his sword and run into the fray but actually looks at the situation and feels his own vulnerability have a great deal of appeal. Of course it kind of takes some of the wish fulfilment out of the story.

03. The emotional affect can be enormous. From watching March Comes in Like a Lion I know that each week I’m a little shell-shocked at the end of the episode. It isn’t that anything big has happened as in most episodes very little actually happens. But because of the relatability of Rei as a character (or at least his struggle to keep moving forward in the case of his own depression and doubts) and watching this journey unfold, I find myself remembering a lot of the moments where getting out of bed for another day just seemed too hard or I’ve wanted to escape from a situation regardless of the consequences. The story hits hard and admittedly this impact will be different depending on how well you’ve related to the character and the set-up and your own experiences, but when you find the story that you connect with, this type of conflict is the one that is going to get under your skin and become truly unforgettable.

How does this work in anime?

Case 1: Yuri On Ice

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One of the really interesting points of Yuri On Ice as a story was the lack of antagonist. Even the other skaters weren’t really antagonistic. There was some rivalry but this was not something Yuri was trying to overcome. He was trying to overcome his own fear and lack of self-worth. He was never bad at skating (he made it to the grand prix the year before even if he came last – which still made him sixth in the world). He was never weak. He just couldn’t deal with the pressure and expectations of such a big competition and his perceived failure shattered what little confidence he had.

While Victor becoming Yuri’s coach certainly acted as a catalyst to Yuri turning things around, it can be clearly seen that Victor did not know Yuri well enough, or understand Yuri’s mental state well enough, to actually help him overcome it. Yuri had to find that himself. Admittedly, it was Victor’s arrival and attempts to coach that spurred Yuri into action.

However, because the conflict of the story was Man vs Self rather than Man vs Man, Yuri not winning the gold is still a perfectly fine ending. The point of the story wasn’t to crush the opponents. The point was to see Yuri finally skate the way he knew he could in a competition (and you have to admit taking out a world record is a pretty good consolation prize). Yuri has conquered his inner self and his final performance of Yuri On Ice shows that to the world.

Case 2: Soul Eater

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For a show full of external conflicts, Soul Eater continually returns to the characters themselves and overcoming their own inner weaknesses. Maka demonstrates this type of conflict numerous times throughout the series.

Unlike Yuri, Maka comes off as confident. She studies hard, has a clear dream, and is determined to succeed. Yet, despite her hard work, Maka and Soul hit a real snag early on causing them to lose the souls they had so far collected and sending them back to step one. This gives Maka’s confidence a real hit early on in the series and the few times she is reminded of this failure we see her try to resolve herself but we also see her obvious frustration. Soon after her confidence takes another hit when Professor Stein easily takes down both her and Soul. She is forced to face her own weakness and again this causes frustration.

However it is Soul’s injury that he sustains while protecting her, after she’s engaged in a fight that she could have avoided and if she’d been a bit quicker thinking things through could have escaped, that really hits Maka’s mental state hard. For a long time after this, Maka is withdrawn and struggles to work with Soul or even look at him. It strains their relationship and their partnership as weapon and meister. Because mental stability is needed to bring out their full power, to resonate, and to fight, this inner conflict faced by Maka continues to dominate a lot of screen time as they face progressively harder villains in the story.

In honesty, it is this part of Soul Eater that I love. The fights are cool, the villains zany, the pace works well enough, but it is all pretty typical action anime. It is the character focus, and particularly Maka, that really drew me into this world. Without this inner conflict getting played out across the series, I doubt the show would have left much of a lasting impression on me.

Conclusion

Man vs Self can be highly satisfying to watch as a form of conflict. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. As many characters have proven it can be highly entertaining when you are at war with your inner voices. However, this type of conflict does allow that exploration into some of those denser topics such as depression and anxiety and it is great to see some of these ideas get a little bit of screen time as it gives people a little insight or gets people talking about the ideas.

That is the end of this series of posts on conflict. I’ve certainly barely scraped the surface of any of these ideas so I guess I’ll revisit them at some point but for now I’m going to move on to other ideas for awhile.

What is your favourite man vs self anime or character suffering from inner conflict?


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Friday’s Feature: I Am Not a Slave – Man Vs Society

My focus for March on conflict in stories continues as we look at Man vs Society. So far I’ve had a brief look at Man vs Man, Man vs Nature and Man vs Technology so if you missed any of those be sure to check out the posts.

Man vs Society just lends itself to dystopian futures, though obviously this isn’t the only way this type of conflict plays out. Essentially this occurs when a character, or group of characters, feel trapped or oppressed by the society they live in. Whether this is because of overt government or military control or whether it is simply because of societal norms not matching their personal views, the character feels obliged to rebel or escape from this oppression. It’s definitely a theme most viewers can relate to.

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This type of conflict works well on both small and large scales. Whether the conflict is within a family and the child wanting to be free of their parents’ expectations, set in a school with students feeling oppressed by the rules of the environment, workplace, or even the entire country, most members of the audience can understand how a character might feel in the situation, even if they don’t directly relate to the type of control being exerted. However, as I said before, this type of conflict also works excellently in science fiction and forms the basis of a large number of dystopian texts. Fear of control and fear of losing freedom linked to events and trends that we already see around us is a great way to build relatable conflict into a story.

It’s pretty easy to understand why Man vs Society works as a type of conflict but let’s look at the main reason why it is effective.

01. People are constantly attempting to balance selfish desires with the basic instinct of connecting with other people. It is a conflict we face everyday as to whether we act fully as ourselves or act in a way in which others find acceptable. For some this is a major conflict because who they are is so vastly outside of the expected norms whereas for others it is a fairly minor conflict in most situations, but it is an internal conflict that everyone faces every single day. Seeing a character make choices to defy those norms and to act on their own desire (whether it is a good desire or not) has a real appeal to audiences. They see these characters as brave or as true individuals and whether their actions have merit or not they are associate with desirable character traits. The fact that a lot of these characters succeed at causing change in the society they are acting in (whether that be the smaller or larger scale) really plays into the wish fulfillment that people have for making a difference as an individual. In very rare cases we see these characters faced with failure but then they are still seen as noble for having made the attempt.

02. When played on the larger scale, this can lead to some very cool stories. Bring on the Hollywood movie where the single character rallies the downtrodden and brings down the government. It’s sensationalistic but it is so fun to watch play out even as you wonder what would happen on the day after when they now have to face the reality of a transitional government system? But that is not the point of the story. The point is the uprising and the success.

03. A lot of the time these stories challenge viewers to question what they accept as the norm. They make audiences think and reflect about the expectations we have of others. While they may probably won’t change too many people’s behaviour they at least start the conversation about why certain things are the way they are. It lends itself to being the starting point of a dialogue that might be badly needed.

How does this work in anime?

This is one type of conflict we come up against time and again in anime and it isn’t surprising. Japan is an incredibly ordered society (not overtly oppressive but there is a lot of social pressure to conform to expected behaviours).What is interesting is how characters in anime respond to the pressures they face as, unlike so many Hollywood movies, their first impulse isn’t usually to bring things crashing down but rather to work with people to bring about change. That isn’t to say there aren’t some characters reaching for the explosives.

Case 1: Psycho Pass (not yet reviewed)

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This was probably an obvious choice for Man vs Society but what I find interesting about it is how many characters are trying to work within or outside of the social norms surrounding them. The three main examples are below but pretty much every character has some sort of conflict with the society in this anime.

Kogame is an obvious discussion point. Originally an inspector, after the death of a colleague he became obsessed with revenge and he became flagged as a latent criminal. Even after this he continues to pursue revenge for his friend regardless of whether that puts him in direct conflict with the Sybil System or his current colleagues. He literally throws away everything for the sake of bringing down his target. What makes this interesting is that it is hard to decide whether Kogame is actually wrong for this approach.

Makishima is similarly working outside of the Sybil System though in his case it is because the system does not actually recognise him in the first place. His crime coefficient can’t be measured and so the system cannot judge him leaving him feeling alienated from everything. I’m still not sure that is sufficient justification for intentionally helping other people beat the system to commit horrendous crimes,  but it does highlight the dissatisfaction felt by those who feel ignored by society.

Though if both Korame and Makishima are finding ways around or defying the system, Akane is the character that honestly understands that the system is needed, even if it isn’t perfect. That doesn’t mean she accepts everything at face value and isn’t going to work to change things, but it does mean that she accepts her limitations at the time. While the end of season 1 may have seemed unsatisfying to some people, I preferred this ending to the usual blowing it up and thinking everything would be better approach. Akane understands that her society is not in a position where it can function if Sybil stopped immediately even as she has learned that the Sybil System isn’t the ideal solution that people have been told.

Case 2: The Devil is Part Timer

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This is an interesting anime in terms of how it sets up the conflict. Originally Maou is the person in power apparently oppressing humans and generally doing all the things you would expect from a demon in control of a country. However, he is overthrown and forced to flee. He ends up in Japan with limited use of his magic and no authority. However, instead of surrendering to despair, Maou sets about conquering the new world through working his way up in a chain food store?

While this concept is played for laughs there’s quite a few moments when you are forced to consider what is really going on with this story. Could Maou actually succeed at rising to a position of power from part time worker? That’s basically the question they want us to consider. Because as kids we’re told hard work will help us move up and rise to the top. We are told this over and over. Yet the reality is most people won’t. Maou, a demon lord, succeeding at rising as fast as he does to shift manager raises some real questions about what it actually takes to get ahead (admittedly the anime isn’t really interested in dealing with the topic seriously).

Even then, the challenges Maou faces are regularly not from his home world. He faces challenges of rival shops, needing identification, paying rent, and even his housemate getting scammed online. All of these things highlight the way people get cornered and trapped everyday by the mundane functions within our society and given they at times stump a hero and a demon from a world of magic is both hilarious and incredibly telling of how complex life really is in the modern age. My number 3 reason why these sorts of stories work was because they challenge us to think about what we accept as the norm and The Devil is a Part Timer beautifully highlights some of the things that are considered everyday and yet create challenges and complications for people just trying to live. It doesn’t tell us to eliminate these things, merely asks us to look at them from a different point of view.

Case 3: Terror In Resonance

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It would be impossible for me to visit the idea of Man vs Society without looking at this anime. This story tackles acts of terror head-on from the viewpoint of two would be terrorists. That said, it isn’t willing to really take on the role of terrorists, choosing instead to make the main characters opposed to actually killing anyone even as the commit various crimes and destroy massive amounts of property with explosions.

What is interesting is that the main character ultimately only want their story to be heard and believed but they know early on that even if they simply told their story and released it online it would be buried, covered up and denied. They had to make enough of a scene that it could not be covered up any more. Their actions and logic might be faulty but the actual criticism that stories that need to be told aren’t getting the attention they need, and that truth has become incredibly irrelevant to global discussions, is well made and quite timely.

This anime makes it clear that it isn’t about what is right or wrong. It isn’t even about what you can prove. It is all about how people perceive things that matters. Nine and Twelve take advantage of this and allow people to perceive them as terrorists because it suits their interests. The story isn’t perfect but it definitely has a lot to say and the journey is quite an interesting one.

Conclusion

There are so many other anime I could have gone into for this topic. Jormungand, Bleach, Sunday Without God, No. 6, and so on. Even My Love Story has the basic notion of defying expectations when Yamato is forced to defend her choice in Takeo to her friends. Basically Man vs Society is an inevitable conflict as we try to balance individual ideas and goals with overall benefit for the masses so these sorts of stories aren’t going anywhere and that’s probably a good thing.

What is your favourite Man vs Society focussed anime or what is your favourite dystopian movie?


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Friday’s Feature: It’s Out of Control – Man vs Technology

This is my third post for March on conflict in stories and as the title says I’m looking a Man vs Technology. If you missed my previous two features check out Man vs Man and Man vs Nature.

Man vs Technology is pretty easy to define. Something has been built (either by man or by some sort of advanced species, or by some ancient civilisation) and for whatever reason it is wreaking havoc. Usually in the form of mass destruction of humans. As a general rule these are cautionary tales and haven’t really changed much from their use in Greek mythology. Prometheus stealing fire from the gods and giving it to man and being punished for it. Flash forward to Frankenstein (also subtitled ‘The Modern Prometheus’), or look at the Alien movie franchise with its installment ‘Prometheus’.

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There is one area of ambiguity in this type of conflict in that some of the technology we’re talking about has will. Think about the terminator and self-aware machines consciously deciding to wage war on humans. But other technology in question just loses control or has unintended side-effects (terrible movie but The Core is a great example of stuffing something up with technology and then needing technology to fix it – albeit totally implausible science being applied).

As indicated by the longevity of this type of story and the fact that the basic narrative model is pretty much unchanged, this type of conflict works really well. Why?

01. People fear what they don’t know. As evidenced by our long history of persecuting people for saying things that go against the accepted norm of the time period. We’ve just moved on a bit from arguing about whether the earth is flat or not (or at least most people have) to arguing about whether gene splicing will actually lead to mutant super-powers.

02. A lot of these stories are built on actual technology or ideas in the current society so allow people to connect current trends with the problems in the story. While time travelling robots seeking a single woman to kill might be far fetched, the idea of computers ‘thinking’ is not. And what if they did decide the world would be better if they were in control?

03. Mostly these stories are pretty straight forward. We’re either dropped into the problem straight up or we see the development of the technology that will inevitably go out of control or cause some problem. And we almost always end with some moralising by the characters about how we should respect and be cautious around technology or new ideas.

How does this work in anime?

This is an interesting point because while anime is full of giant robots and the like, almost all of these stories are focussed on the human conflicts being played out behind these. Very few actually directly look at the Man vs Technology aspect. It’s more Man vs Man reinforced by improbable tech. So with that in mind I’m going to look at three anime that each have aspects of a Man vs Technology conflict but none of them are really true examples of this story as they also draw heavily on other types of conflict.

Case 1: Heavy Object

There’s a lot of Man vs Man in this story with different nations pitted against each other but if we look at Qwenthur, the engineering exchange student, the conflicts he faces are almost all (with one or two exceptions) to do with how to stop the seemingly unstoppable objects.

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There’s a wide range of objects as each core group seem to have at least one, and they fight on a variety of terrain. Seeing Qwenthur running around on the ground trying to avoid being squished, or clinging hopelessly to the outside of one of these massive structures is fairly engaging. What works well with each of these are the weaknesses Qwenthur exploits. They are the human errors in design or use. There’s a clear message where the military groups have all but put absolute faith in their objects and yet these objects are human designed and flawed because of that. It’s in that respect that this part of the story squarely falls into the Man vs Technology category. It both applauds the achievements of man’s ingenuity and use of technology and cautions us about becoming too complacent because of it.

Case 2: GATE

This is kind of the opposite of a Man vs Technology story, though I guess if you were on the side of the fantasy empire it’s very much a case of completely unstoppable technology in the hands of your enemy. If you haven’t seen GATE, essentially a gate opens up in Japan and from it streams an army of armour clad soldiers and beasts from a different world. They are quickly subdued (though not without fair numbers of civilian casualties because even low technology is effective against families shopping) and Japan organises to send their military through the gate to secure the other side and then… Not sure if they are conquering, friend making, or hunting resources for expansion or some combination of all three really.

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Why include this on the list? Because of the gate itself. What is it? Where did it come from? Why did it open? They’ve established a base on the other side but what if it closes? While these questions aren’t addressed in the two seasons of this show, the story and essential conflict between worlds only exists and only continues because of the gate itself. Destroying the gate, assuming anyone could figure out how, would essentially shut down the war. Amazingly, very little attention is given in the story to the nature of the gate and that feels like a lost opportunity.

Case 3: Katanagatari (Not yet reviewed)

This story revolves around Shichika and Togame trying to track down 12 Deviant Blades. There’s a whole bunch of political mumbo-jumbo as to why they should do this but the deviant blades themselves are representative of man over-reaching. Essentially a swordsmith created 1000 swords in practice for the 12 deviant blades. Those who wield the 12 blades are severely effected by their poison. However, as this swordsmith could see into the future, the design of many of the swords surpasses anything that should be possible in the current time and most people wouldn’t have a chance against a deviant sword wielder.

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Enter Shichika, the seventh head of the school Kyotoru style of sword fighting (that conveniently doesn’t use a sword). The origin of this style is closely tied to the creation of the deviant blades but I won’t go into details as it is better to find them out as you watch.

What works with this story is that the technology is fantastical for the time period being represented. While some of the swords look like swords, most defy the logic of the time. But rather than reject what they can do, they are still called swords and simply labelled deviant. The collection of these blades dominates the majority of the story and there are some interesting discussions around the nature of the blades and their creation as the story progresses, as well as whether they should be allowed to exist or not.

Conclusion:

Yeah, I know, I didn’t include any giant robot stories here. As I said at the start, the issue with most of these is they step squarely into a Man vs Man style of conflict with the technology not being a point for discussion or moralising (mostly). Possibly Code Geass and the F.L.E.I.J.A comes close to where even the characters in that story look at the destruction and cringe.

Still, there are always small cases of Man vs Technology interwoven into larger stories and with the world the way it is, this type of conflict isn’t going anywhere.

Over to you: What are your favourite examples of Man vs Technology conflicts?


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