Parsee Mizuhashi: A Tragedy of a Lonely Heart

About a year or two ago I really go into Touhou. I think it started when I was speedrunning a game called Touhou Luna Nights. It’s a fun game, a fangame, and it’s a “search action game”. I like it, you should buy it, maybe speedrun it with the rest of us. We were in AGDQ 2020. None of that’s really important for the topic for today, just my musings on where it all began for me. Anyway, I dug into Touhou a bit. The music’s really bangin and I was already aware of a few tunes, even if I didn’t know that they were Touhou. One example is Phantom Ensemble.

Many of the characters are quirky and fun so everyone has to have at least one 2hu waifu. Mine is Parsee Mizuhashi (and yes we’re gonna use ZUN art)

Parsee Mizuhashi is a hashihime, a bridge guardian. Ain’t she the cutest thing? She guards the bridge between the surface and the underworld. Simple enough. Without going too deeply into lore, 2hus have some kind of magic power. Let’s see if you can guess what Parsee’s power is by seeing the names of some of her spellcards.

  1. Green-Eyed Monster
  2. Grandpa Hanasaka
  3. Tongue-Cut Sparrow

So, if you’re not familiar with Japanese fairy tales you probably won’t get it from either of the last two. Basically, these spellcards’s names reference jealousy. Grandpa Hanasaka is about a guy who kills his neighbor’s dog for jealousy, Tongue-Cut Sparrow is about a sparrow whose tongue is cut by a man’s wife because she felt that her husband was spending too much time with the sparrow. Presumably, you know that the color of envy is green so in English we say that you have “Green eyes” if you’re jealous of something or someone. Her power is to control the jealousy in others.

How did we get here though? Well, she guards the bridge. Her job is to remain stationary while she watches others pass through. This is a pretty understandable feeling for anyone whose seen their friend succeed while you feel like you’re not progressing at all. Over time these feelings turned to resentment.

Her stage music is called ‘The Bridge People No Longer Cross‘. Why they no longer cross it I do not know and I didn’t find anything in the Touhou wiki telling me why so I choose to believe she may not being the best job (or an exceptionally good job) in guarding the bridge. But the only thing we need here is that she’s guarding a bridge that no one crosses. In short, she’s lonely.

The pieces are now coming together, now we need to get to what I feel from her boss music. This boss music is crucial. It tells the story of her descent into madness. Now the music is designed to sorta loop so we’ll have to take this on a piece-by-piece basis.

The first bit is until the drums really come in (not what I think are snares that are consistently playing, the bigger ones that play on off beats). Basically, the melodic introduction. It sounds sad to me. It’s utilizing alberti bass (utilizing six 8th notes) to complement the piece, which is why I choose to interpret this as 3/4 since I feel like if it were in 6/8 it’d try to emphasize the 4th beat more. I also feel it as a one-two-three a lot harder through the half-quarter and quarter-quarter-quarter patterns that are prevalent.

Once the drums come in, it’s weird. I don’t think the drums are playing in the same rhythm structure as the melody. The drums are playing on the off beats AND they’re playing in 2 rather than three. In music, this is called polyrhythm. Through some kind of melodic magic ZUN gets all of this to come together in the bridge (heh). I interpret this as an attempt to connect to others. I play by the beat of my own drum and you yours, but we still manage to connect on one level or another, ya know? But it can be difficult at times, which brings us to the part that comes right after the bridge (heh).

So the melody repeats, faster this time. And now there’s a frantic undercurrent of sixteenth notes. Rather than moving onto a second section or “B” section, we return to the A section. The sixteenth notes rise and fall very rapidly. I feel a series of highs and lows but we’re still holding onto the main melody. This is what I consider the descent into madness.

Then we’re back to the beginning because 2hu boss fights are usually pretty short so ZUN probably didn’t compose too much.

So what I get is someone who is sad, tries to fit in with others for a brief moment, but then through a series of high and low energy moments being fill with hate or sadness becomes what they are today.

Now all of this is beautifully put to video in Neteminity Theatre 666. In their case they use ‘The Bridge People No Longer Cross’ but they capture the feelings in a similar way. But they manage to go a little bit further in their video. In the video Parsee Mizuhashi is performing on a stage. She performs her curse killing those around her, including the audience. While she seems to be cheerful as she performs the curse, at the end she cries realizing what she’s done.

If you read the YouTube comments it’s pretty clear people can appreciate the sadness of her story (they also seem to appreciate her tongue-click which is like swearing under your breath in Japan). But let’s explain what’s going on here.

The lyrics are actually quite clever (at least if the translation is to be trusted). Parsee tries to fit in with others but can’t quite get it right. She’s awkward. She says, “The withered flower falls” as she stands in the shade. Parsee is the flower. Why is she withered? No real friends, no attention, no love. Her heart is the thing that’s falling. Her heart is being corrupted. The tempo speeds up and honestly this is my favorite part. Now she is actively rejecting others. When given advice, she outright rejects it because she feels like she has to actively change herself or try to communicate with others while other people have this sorta ‘built-in’.

Now we hit the climax. Instead of trying something else or finding something or someone else she accepts her feelings of jealousy and resentment. Rather than fight it as she may have in the first act, she ‘bathes her heart in it’. She then performs the curse and wipes everyone out. But let’s take a moment to talk about the curse.

This is the curse. Basically, you dress up in white and wear an iron ring on your head with three lit candles and head to your favorite sacred tree. Then you hammer nails through a straw effigy representing your target. Do this for seven days and your target will be cursed. Here’s the most interesting part. If you are spotted at any point performing the curse, it won’t work. What an interesting condition. If someone sees you performing the curse, it doesn’t work. How does this conditional play in to Parsee? Well, remember she’s a withered flower. There’s no one to notice her, no one who would notice her. I feel like if someone did, we wouldn’t be in this position in the first place.

She feels great during the curse but afterwards she feels great regret. I think in the end, Parsee actually wanted to like the other people and be liked by them in turn. This feeling wasn’t strong enough to prevent her from performing the curse and by the end she wishes she hadn’t done it. Because while before she maybe was just unsuccessful in making friends, she always had a chance to do it the next time if she were so inclined. But now? That’s gone. Now she can’t make those friends. In time she will likely convince herself that she was right and go through this loop again and again with others that she meets.

Honestly the video is just so perfect and really encapsulates what I think Parsee is.

Remember that Parsee’s power is to control jealousy. Let’s take a moment to look at the seven deadly sins which we can all remember because we’ve all seen Fullmetal Alchemist

  1. Lust
  2. Gluttony
  3. Greed
  4. Sloth
  5. Wrath
  6. Envy
  7. Pride

I tend to think of these sins like this:

Internally motivatedExternally motivated
Internal effectPride, SlothEnvy
External effectGreed, GluttonyLust, Wrath

Basically, I think of the sins in terms of what motivates what I think are actions representing the sins and what they impact. To briefly explain my thoughts on all but Envy:

Pride is internally motivated. You don’t become excessively proud because of someone else, but you also don’t actively “inflict” your pride on someone else either so it has an internal effect.

Sloth is also internally motivated. Sloth I think of as apathy, and I don’t think something causes you to become apathetic. Basically the task to undo sloth is to find an external motivation to move forward. The sin of sloth at worst will probably just create work for others but the intent isn’t to “inflict” sloth on someone.

Greed and Gluttony are basically the same sin with Gluttony having an extra step of consumption to it. They revolve around this idea of hoarding (and then consuming) objects. I interpret these as having internal motivators because in my mind they originate from desiring something normal like food or money and then taking it to excess. They have an external effect because they manifest and impact the world around you. Greed results in hoarding or preventing people from having something they may need (like food in a famine).

Lust and wrath are typically considered sins of passion and basically they’re responses to external stimuli and the sins could result in property destruction or rape (also external).

Envy is the odd one out because it’s in a box all alone. Envy isn’t just a desire for something else (which would put it closer to greed or gluttony) but a desire for something else… that someone else has. The motivation is explicitly external. The sin of envy is held in one’s heart though.

I don’t know where I was going with that, maybe a reader can help me figure it out in a comment. Bringing us back to topic though:

I think the reason I appreciate Parsee so much is I see Parsee as what I could’ve been had I gone down the other path. When I was young I was bullied mercilessly. Why? Because I was a nerd. I liked Pokemon, I liked video games, and I was very smart. I was a bit of a teacher’s pet. I’ve come around to accepting bullying as a natural part of human nature, as a tool to create conformity. But I was also very proud, so I would not conform. This continued all the way throughout high school. I’ve never felt like I fit in. When I see Parsee’s story, I wonder how much would I curse the world had I been alone even to this day. I feel a genuine connection to Parsee and her feelings because I think I’ve tasted her feelings. And because I think I know what she feels because I’ve felt it, I also think I know what she needs, because I know what I need. Affection, appreciation, love. So I guess in a way, I can love Parsee because I am trying to love myself. That wasn’t meant to sound egotistical but I think it does.

I guess in a roundabout way I made this blogpost about me instead of Parsee. That’s not my intent but I guess Parsee is an example of the core idea that I’m trying to convey.

Anyway, I’m done rambling. Glad I got that off my chest. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Parsee Mizuhashi: A Tragedy of a Lonely Heart

How Isekai Gets It Wrong

I wanna do this while this is still fresh on my mind before I procrastinate this into obscurity.

Being a proper adult with a real adult job and whatnot, I haven’t really kept up too much with the seasonal anime. That said, being a regular on /a/, I’m aware of what’s going on with the seasonal anime. One of the trends I noticed has been this abundance of isekai anime. I’ve watched a few of these or a few episodes of these and I didn’t see the appeal. I’ve been puzzling over it though. Isekai anime are clearly popular, but why don’t I like them?

This post has very likely been a few years in the making because I’ve found that I haven’t liked any isekai. I’ve found a few I’ve been OK with but I could never invest myself in any to watch them to completion. Konosuba is one of the only few that I think do isekai right. Why is that? What is special about Konosuba? What does Konosuba have that other isekai don’t? Well, enough stalling, let’s get to it.

Defining Isekai

What is an isekai? The kanji for isekai are 異世界 which loosely translates to ‘strange’, ‘different’, or ‘wonderful’ world. The main setup of an isekai is that the protagonist through some means or another is transported to a ‘world’ completely different to their ‘world’. The protagonist then has to struggle to come to terms with their new place (or lack thereof) in their new life.

Let’s make sure we also classify what isn’t an isekai. A lot of people like to point to Sword Art Online as an isekai. It isn’t. Part of the isekai genre is an inability to ‘escape’ the new world to return to the old. Even in SAO, the ‘new world’ wasn’t a new world, it was just a game. And it has gotten even less restrictive. SAO has its own problems but I’ve already made a post about it.

For the sake of ease of reading I will be referring to the world the protagonist comes from as “Old World” and the world the protagonist is transported to as “New World”.

What Do Isekai Anime Get Wrong?

To answer this question, we have to remember what an isekai is. It seems most isekai forget it almost immediately. An isekai is what you get when you take someone from one world and drop them in a new one. This has some pretty natural implications which are very rarely acted upon.

Picture this: You come from the United States. You are transported to a world where slavery (true slavery, not indentured servitude) exists. You would expect such a person to promptly cry out against the slavery because it clashes severely with our western morality. In the case of Shield Hero he embraces it (which imo was justified) or there will be some revolution in the making. Of course, I know why authors do this. They want the protagonist to be the key feature in revolution. Who wouldn’t want to be the guy who legally ended slavery? However, due to this, they’ve created one or two problems.

The Palette Swap

Let’s first consider the case in which the western morality is secretly adopted in the new world but has yet to been realized. What you’ve done is move the protagonist from the old world to the old world with a palette swap. This is lazy writing. It comes from being unable or unwilling to create a new world so you simply recolor the old world, thus “palette swap”. This alone isn’t bad. Naturally, there are three cases of this. So let’s examine the three cases.

  • Present to Past
    • Moving the protagonist to a parallel past new world allows the author to examine the values of the past through a modern lens. We do this all the time whether we realize it or not. Fundamentally, it’s what a progressive individual is doing. They imagine themselves from the future and they are stuck living in the past. Alternatively, you can use this to examine the values of the present through an idealized past. By making the people of the past out to be happy, you can examine why people are unhappy in the present
  • Present to Present
    • Moving the protagonist to a parallel present time is the ‘What If’ scenario. ‘What if the Nazis won WWII’, ‘What if WWII never happened’, ‘What if FDR never won re-election’, or ‘What if the U.S.S.R. never fell’. Using this, the important thing (and I cannot stress this enough) is to make sure it’s sufficiently different from the old world. If the alternative history is only marginally different from the real history, then you’re wasting my time. Too many isekai waste my time with this, creating a world with different species but not using these tools for anything.
  • Present to Future
    • I hesitate to call this a ‘parallel future’ because no one knows what the future may contain. This is the appeal of this usage. It allows us to imagine how drastically our lives may change. DO NOT USE THIS FOR SCIENCE FANTASY. Only use this for science fiction. The emphasis should be on how what is extraordinary today becomes mundane in the future.

Again, you want to make sure you’re using the world to its strength. If you don’t sufficiently differentiate the new world from the old world, we have to ask the question: Why are we here? I mean we’re going to ask the question either way but if you’ve insufficiently differentiated the new world, its answer is all the more important. And the answer is naturally the protagonist. Which brings us nicely to the next section.

The Man Out of His Time

Fundamentally, you should get the man out of his time no matter what you do. What is ‘the man out of his time’? The man out of his time (or the fish out of water) is a person who is in a completely foreign environment. They don’t match the environment and the environment doesn’t match them. They bring with them their values and ideas from the old world into the new world. This is the modern United States citizen with their child labor laws being sent to industrial revolution London. They are the avatar of the audience and they are the vehicle which allows the audience to contrast their world with what could be, what would be, or what should be.

If you’ve properly differentiated your new world, using this character you can inject modern values into the new world or even examine the new values in contrast with the old ones. If the author uses this character well, the modern audience viewer may disagree with the past but at least understand where they’re coming from.

If you haven’t sufficiently differentiated your new world from your old world, the audience will then have to examine the protagonist. Which means you have to make them extremely jarring to the old world. If you’ve done a parallel present transition, you need to then make them jarring in the old world as well. I think Tanya the Evil does this well. You’re not really supposed to root for Tanya (She’s evil) but you are supposed to examine her and imagine yourself in her shoes. What would you have done differently. (I will have to do a Tanya the Evil review later but I haven’t quite finished it yet)

Ironically, if you make a completely different world, a good goal may be to turn the new world into an anti-villain while if you make a relatively similar world, the goal will then be to turn the protagonist into an anti-hero. In other words, you won’t play a villain or hero straight. If you do play a villain or hero straight you often invalidate your setup. Because again, I have to ask the question, “Why are we here?” And if you can’t justify the existence of the old world I have to ask ‘Why even bother with the isekai’?

Which is the fundamental issue with most isekai. They more often than not invalidate their initial premise turning themselves into weak shounen (which is fundamentally a wish-fulfillment genre).

Conclusion

So the general answer to the question of why I don’t like isekai is that they’re often written poorly. The reason I believe they’re written poorly is because they’re not making use of their tropes correctly. A good isekai will properly contrast the new world with the old one. It can do this either with the world directly or with the protagonist. What happens too often is that the new world is too similar to the old world and the protagonist is too blank to draw such contrasts. If you must make the new world exceedingly similar to the old world, you must, must, MUST make the protagonist jarring by the new world standards in some way (this is what I think ‘Tanya the Evil’ does well)

Anyway, that’ll be it from me today. Thanks for reading

Artemis Hunt

How Isekai Gets It Wrong

How to Fix Sword Art Online

Alright, I got into a furious Facebook discussion on why SAO is terrible and it got me thinking, SAO is actually pretty easy to fix. So let’s take it from the top with a (relatively) short blog post.

What is Sword Art Online?

Sword Art Online is known to be a popular anime produced by A-1 studios based on the light novel of the same name by Reki Kawahara. Some people have read the light novel. I have not. So everything here will be based on the animation. And I’m doing this from memory so if some of the details are a little fuzzy, my mistake. Not going to go rewatch it. Make of that what you will.

So the animation features Kirigaya Kazuto. He is a gamer in high school. He is incredibly excited for the release of Sword Art Online (SAO). SAO is a fully virtual MMO where you really feel like you’re Batman Spiderman in the game. He is fortunate enough to receive 1 of only 10,000 copies sold. He logs in immediately like any normal person does. Meets his totally-not-homoerotic friend after which he is told by a Game Moderator that no one can log out and if you die in the game you die in real life. The only way to get the logout button back is to beat the game. Thus begins the struggle to beat the game without dying once.

What’s wrong with Sword Art Online?

Well, a lot, actually. Many people I talk to online say that things went down during the second arc (Alfheim). I disagree. I think it was wrong from the get-go. A lot of this next bit might sound familiar if you’ve literally seen any coverage of SAO but I have to put it in for completeness. Also I’m going to keep it to the Aincrad arc because I did say we’d have a relatively short one. If I do Aincrad + Alfheim you’ll be here all day reading this.

It has a pretty good starting premise and for 1-3 episodes it’s actually pretty good. However around episode 4-6 or so, it begins undercutting its premise by making Kirito (oh yeah, Kirigaya Kazuto’s IGN is Kirito) overpowered. He gets mobbed by like 10 guys and they can’t do enough damage to outpace his natural regen. What the $#@! And it only gets worse. Kirito goes through the motions of having a hard time but he always seems to come out ahead and it never feels satisfying. Feels like he got out easy most of the time. Even at the end of Aincrad he loses all of his HP and dies but somehow can break through the death and deal a killing blow to the final boss.

That’s not to say that overpowered characters are bad by design. We can take a look at Superman for a relatively overpowered character that is well done. Superman is effectively god. There’s really not a whole lot that can actually stop the guy barring Kryptonite (we’ll get back to that). So when your character is overpowered, nothing can kill them, how do you manufacture conflict? In the case of Superman, morality is used. Superman’s greatest foe is his own sense of morality and justice. His greatest enemy is his own naivete.

When your gimmick is “If you die in the game, you die in real life”, don’t make us follow a character that can’t die. Make us follow someone that actually struggles and fears for life.

 

Dying

“Hold up Artemis, there are at least 3 times he almost died and on the third time he did actually die,” I hear you say. Well, let’s actually look at those.

The first near-death for Kirito is against Gleam Eyes, or is it. No. It isn’t. This chump lets a ton of people die because he doesn’t want to show his two-handed skill for no reason. He could’ve won the fight at any time without incurring as large a loss of human life if he had not waited for everyone except tsundere-chan to die.

The second near-death for Kirito is when he’s paralyzed by poison and his assailant takes his sweet time killing him 1HP-by-1HP. Which buys Kirito enough time to pull a deus-ex-machina and have tsundere-chan arrive to save his ass. And then Kirito kills the guy even though it would have been more satisfying (from a writing perspective) to have tsundere-chan kill the creep.

The last near-death experience is at the end of Aincrad when he dies and somehow manages to magic his way through death when no one else can. It’s bullshit. Now you’ve done one step further. For 99% of this series there was no risk of death and when there actually is death, it doesn’t even matter?

Tsundere-chan

Let’s take a moment to talk about tsundere-chan. At the beginning of the series we’re introduced to tsundere-chan and she comes out strong like a total BAMF. She’s made to seem like someone who is naturally almost as good as Kirito. Bear in mind that Kirito had some 2 months or so to play the game in beta while this grill did not. So she’s been given a high initial rating. You see her 4 episodes later and she’s been totally domesticated. She’s cooking and stuff. Cowering behind Kirito from a creep she should easily be able to take out in seconds. Kawahara neutered this character. And he does it with every character. Any time you want a character to come out strong and define themselves they turn into harem bait. Even the guys. The guy from the beginning, his name is Klein. I just remembered it. I ain’t editing this after I finish writing it so if his name is still Klaus from paragraph 2 or something that’s what it’ll be when I hit publish. Anyway literally everyone becomes “X person”. “Blacksmith girl”. “Dragon girl”. “Black man shopkeeper”. “Best guy is a girl”. I think there was one more harem member but it might’ve come after the series. *Shrug*

The Writing Makes No Sense

I’d like to take this moment to point out that this game is definitely rated PG-13 at least. Probably rated whatever the highest rating is because you get naked and (probably) have sex. So now I gotta ask the question, why are there like over nine thousand 5 year-olds in it? Did Mom and Dad let drunk Uncle Rick watch the kids that day? Because after 2 years there’s still like a bajillion 5 year-olds and they’re all being watched by full-time starting town people.

Honestly Kawahara loses track of how many people are supposed to be alive in this game which also kinda takes away from the series.

About half-way through the series Kirito and girlfriend encounter a program (yes, a program) that looks like a little girl that they decide to ‘adopt’. Then, holy shit, she’s as broken as Kirito is. She can delete (yes, right click, delete) boss enemies and chooses to do so to save Kirito. Why, why does such a program exist. Why does it have that power either? It was designed as a psychology robot, being able to delete other programs should be well beyond the scope of its power. Then Kirito suddenly becomes expert hacker, familiar with the system intimately, and manages to save the program as an item. What? Where did all of that come from?

This guy has literally no struggles. The authors try to frame things as struggles but they can’t do it properly because the characters that they’re working with are broken. The source material has to be fundamentally broken by design. There’s no excuse for this.

How to Fix It

Alright, I could go on all day about how the series is bad. We see sub-plots that lead to absolutely nothing, yadda-yadda. But we’re already at 1300 words and I want to keep this relatively short.

Break things down as simply as we can, what is SAO? SAO is a shounen anime with no threat and side-stories that go nowhere. Without the struggle, there’s no point to making this a shounen series. The most enjoyable scenes of this anime were the slice-of-life scenes and the whodunnit episodes in the middle. So how do we fix SAO? Simple. We focus on what it does well and drop what it does poorly. If SAO was purely a slice-of-life anime it would actually be quite decent. The action scenes (while well-crafted) are pointless because we know Kirito will win. Every. Single. Time. Remove them. This life-or-death game isn’t life-or-death. It’s just life. And since it’s just life, just make a slice-of-life anime about a man and his waifu in a medieval world. The music is excellent. The stories are fun enough. At least this way, I’d be forced to give you a 6 for being meh rather than a 1 for being awful. Do something about your characters. We see some characters for all of one episode before they’re relegated to the harem and exist to be an extra voice in a later scene.

So yeah, that’s my fix. Make it full-on slice-of-life. Problem solved. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

 

How to Fix Sword Art Online

Rant: Sailor Moon Opening

Okay, this was not the blog post that I had planned to work on today but whatever. I gotta get this off my chest. Why the FUCK did (and I’m just gonna guess here, feel free to comment if I’m placing my blame incorrectly) Viz Media change the theme song so drastically for Sailor Moon? This is really important! Listen to the Japanese opening

I don’t know what feeling you get off of this, but I get this kind of romantic Swan Lake, rock/romantic fusion, Phantom of the Opera feeling from it. I don’t even need to understand Japanese to get the meaning. I don’t even need to have watched the anime to understand the feelings. It has this wistful touch to it, as if the romance is fleeting. Like, you only get one night to be with the one you love and after the night has passed you’re sat there just reminiscing about what was and imagining what could have been, what should have been. It’s painful. Now let’s listen to what Viz Media did to such a treasure

I don’t want to say that it’s bad. It’s not bad. Standalone, it’s fine. There’s not much wrong with it. They picked an okay singer. Tolerable. There’s a pretty cool guitar solo. But it feels like it lost something. It feels like it lost the emotion from the Japanese version. Maybe it’s because the singer is much younger, and has lost that ‘matured’ timbre that I associate with the Japanese version.

The lyrics also seem to have taken a very distinct change. The Japanese lyrics, again, maintain this wistful feeling.

I’m just about to cry — moonlight
I can’t call you, either — midnight
But I have a simple heart, so what can I do?
My heart is a kaleidoscope.

I want to, but I can’t. I can’t stop myself from feeling this way. My heart is a kaleidoscope what does it even mean? That’s the point! A youth not understanding her feelings, so she has to find other ways to describe her feelings. Contrast that with the sort of battle-focused lyrics of the English version. Why. Why did you change the song from a beautiful soliloquy into some generic ‘power of friendship’ song?

My hypothesis and I don’t have anything to back this up is that to my knowledge they both aired on Toonami (which is where I watched it) around the same time. It might have been changed to sort of be ‘DBZ for girls’. Which is a damn shame if you ask me, Sailor Moon is far superior to DBZ. I said it. Come at me. While we’re at it, Sailor Mercury best sailor scout. Fite me irl.

But I’ve never read the manga, I didn’t watch the entire series. It was a villain of the week series to my recollection, similar to InuYasha? Maybe I should go back and watch the 200 episodes? Maybe not. I just appreciate good music.

So that’s my piece. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Rant: Sailor Moon Opening

Aho Girl

Aho Girl is about a girl who is totally fucking retarded. The show is totally fucking retarded. Yet I can’t stop watching it. What am I doing with my life.

aho-girl

Aho Girl is a short anime (I think every episode is like 15 minutes). It’s a collection of short little stories (5-10 minutes apiece) and they’re all dumb. The characters are all degenerates (except Sayaka, you’re an angel).

329377

Akutsu is a violent domestic abuser in his early years thanks to his experiences with Yoshiko. Yoshiko (‘Aho girl’) is a retard with a magical ability to make everything around her get dumber. Sayaka is a pure angel that has no reason to be in this anime. Yoshiko’s mother is a degenerate who (on screen!?!?!!!) admitted to effectively raping Yoshiko’s father. Oppai Incho (yeah, who remembers her name anyway?) is a delusional stalker. There’s some delinquent that also suffers from stupidity. Oh, and I guess Akutsu’s sister also has that curse. And there’s a dog that is pretty much a bro? Dog’s cool I guess. His name actually is Dog. Guess whose pet he is.

There isn’t an overarching story. It’s just the lives of these people. This anime being short is actually a point in its favour because it’s so bad that you can’t get attached to characters (except Sayaka, and she only sticks out because she’s normal) but it’s also so bad that you have to watch it. Also, the opening theme is extremely catchy. It’s like this rap that at one point goes all opera and then becomes a rap again.

I guess this anime subscribes to the ‘Family Guy’ approach to comedy. Hit the audience with something mildly amusing, and then move the attention to something else mildly amusing. Since you never have too much time to stew on how stupid what you’re laughing at is, it’s good enough to keep you amused for the 15 minutes.

Overall, I’d say watch it. It’s so bad it’s good. Thanks for reading.

Aho Girl

American Cultural Appropriation

This post isn’t getting much of a draft process so it won’t really be the same quality as the other posts that I’ve done but I do want to get my piece in here. I’m literally just stream of consciousness-ing this post.

Readers may know that I am a bit of a manga fan. I read a lot of trashy manga like Yuusha ga Shinda and Kumo desu ga, nani ka? Though that’s not to say I can’t appreciate a good Hajime no Ippo or Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures. No I have no read One Piece. No, I’m not going to read it any time soon. I’ll wait for the completion. It’s bad enough Miura is stringing me along with Berserk. At least Togashi has Hunter X Hunter moving along nicely =D

Anyway, there’s a manga that became very popular and has finally hit the west in the form of My Hero Academia. My Hero Academia is the story of how Midoriya Izuku becomes the greatest hero. They spoiled themselves in the first chapter or so, don’t cry to me. Izuku lives in a world filled with people that have superpowers. He was born without superpowers and he has an unfortunate fascination with heroes just like any of us. So he wants to be a superhero but alas, no superpowers. He does get to eventually enter hero school with a small loan of a million dollars the superpowers of the greatest hero in their universe.

When you think of superheroes, no matter where you are in the world, you probably think of Marvel superheroes like Iron Man and Spiderman. These movies are very common throughout the world. While manga do often have people with unusual powers, the ‘hero’ character is really an American thing. Rugged individualism is an American ideal. Many heroes in the series were easily inspired by American comics. The Symbol of Peace – All Might wears red, white, and blue. He names his attacks after states and his strongest attack is ‘The UNITED STATES OF SMASH”. The man is always optimistic and willing to face danger headlong because he is the embodiment of heroism. It’s so inspiring to see All Might, not only a great hero, but a likable hero. He’s not rude, he’s overly polite. He’s not unapproachable, he’s incredibly friendly. All Might gives hope to those around him.

I feel like Horikoshi really loves America and American culture. And his love of the United States can be found in My Hero Academia. I love this manga because (in my opinion) there isn’t a single bad character in it. I wish I saw more Tooru Hagakure (pun intended) but overall, very well done.

We live in an era where certain individuals will vilify a person for borrowing from culture outside their own. They say this is offensive to the cultures, and that everyone should just stay in their own culture boxes and leave well enough alone. But I disagree. I have never connected so strongly to a manga (Berserk may have come close) as I have to My Hero Academia. I’ve never been so invested in so many characters in a manga. And I believe it’s not only because Horikoshi has written a good manga, but because I can feel the appreciation for American culture in this manga. This man (probably) loves America, and loves American media. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I celebrate this! I wish we had more mangas about different aspects of American culture! This is wonderful!

This is why I don’t understand how ‘cultural appropriation’ is a thing. Really, I’m so very pleased by this cultural appropriation. I would welcome Horikoshi into my home. There was a video that went somewhat viral, maybe a year ago of a black girl harassing a white boy because he had dreads. It seems she interpreted it as some kind of insult. But I don’t understand why. If she has cultural ties to dreads, shouldn’t she be happy that people from outside her perceived ingroup can appreciate dreads as well? There was a story a while ago about a young girl that loved tea ceremony and I believe she posted images in traditional wear. She received many hateful comments for this, saying that she was ‘appropriating Japanese culture’, and that it was offensive to Japanese people. These people weren’t Japanese though. When the Japanese people finally made a response, they were very thankful that the girl appreciated their culture so much. The girl did the research and actually invested herself in tea ceremony. She was celebrating their culture, not mocking it.

I wish that all of these people that think of cultural appropriation as a thing would see it for what it is – flattery. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. There’s no reason we should not be able to appreciate another person’s culture. Appreciating their culture is what makes the world great. These people claim to support multiculturalism, but everyone has to stick their own culture? That seems contradictory. It elevates tokenism to being the standard, rather than something we would openly find distasteful.

So long story short, I want to give another ‘Thank you’ to Horikoshi. You’re doing a wonderful job mate. Every chapter keeps me on my toes and all of your characters are wonderful. I love it. And thank you for loving American culture, loving my culture as much as I love my culture.

Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

American Cultural Appropriation

Date A Live

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So I am a member of certain Facebook groups that share images. Some of these images get me a little interested in the source material. Date A Live seems to have some really cute characters so I decided to look it up. Tags… MECHA?!

SOLD!

I’m not sure that the ‘mecha’ tag is being applied properly. Mecha usually involves GIANT FUCKING ROBOTS THAT MANLY MEN PUNCH OTHER THINGS WITH. But in this show the only things vaguely mecha are the outfits that some of the girls wear. And quite frankly, that doesn’t cut it for me. And they’re not even used all that much to be honest. Most of the girls in this show are fodder.

In Date A Live, the world is being ravaged by ‘spirits’. They’re supposed to cause ‘spacequakes’ when they arrive but apparently that gets turned optional real fast. Probably because doing an evacuation in every episode would be a waste of time and totally boring. A boy promises to meet his younger sister (ugh, siscon) in front of a restaurant even if a spacequake evac occurs. Whoops, you can probably guess what happened. The boy, I guess we can call him Shido, it’s his name after all. Shido goes to the restaurant and whoops, there’s a fight going down. Then his sister bails him out and he’s told that he needs stop all of the spirits (conveniently female) from rampaging by dating them. I… what is this plot even…

Now you can probably see the problem right away.  Women don’t always take kindly to guys dating other women. And apparently his ability to stop them from rampaging is entirely dependent on making all of the spirits love him simultaneously so I dunno mayne. This is just a disaster. And of course there’s a human interested in him and that causes problems to. And it gets so terribad that at one point he is dating 3 girls at once and you can tell the writers have never been on a date before because you can’t leave your date unoccupied for 30+ minutes and ‘nothing happens’, mmkay? Ain’t no way that girl gonna be okay with you unless she’s not interested in you. But yeah, that happens.

Quite frankly, I think there’s too much filler. The highlights of the series can be chopped down into 2-4 episodes really. You really only needed maybe 4 of the ‘core’ characters. to tell the story (if we’re calling it that). Maybe that’s the problem. There are characters introduced as main characters that literally turn into side characters. Abomination. I feel like the show may have been entirely filler. I didn’t get a clear sense of direction. What am I being told? And where are my giant robots?

That being said, we do have some shining light. Kurumi is one of the cutest things I’ve seen and she’s crazy to boot. Why do I like ’em crazy? I don’t know. I just do. Sue me. Anywhere, here’s a picture of her.

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The other shining light is the music. Seriously, the music to this anime is way too epic compared to the quality of the anime itself. It just soars majestically into the horizon on the back of a flying MECHA dolphin.

Without a clear sense of direction, terrible dialogue, terrible characters, I cannot in good conscience recommend this anime. That’ll be it from me though. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Date A Live

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

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[Image taken from CrunchyRoll]

Is it just me or is the geometry necessary to pull of that tail kind of… impossible.

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is a cheerful little anime about… Miss Kobayashi… having… a… dragon… maid. In other words, exactly what it says on the tin. Miss Kobayashi gets plastered one night and meets a dragon in the suburbs. Why no one else saw this dragon is completely beyond me. So in her drunken stupor (I can’t believe they make us wait for the last anime for the backdrop to this anime either) she says that the dragon, named Tohru, can live with her as a maid. For some reason or another Miss Tohru says yes. And the rest of the anime is pretty much cute girls doing cute things.

Miss Kobayashi is a pretty blank slate. Her only distinctive character trait seems to be her love of maids. Which only seems to exist as kind of motivation to kickstart the series. Nothing really wrong with it, but it’s not really discussed much. I think that the anime is really about Tohru, which… we may have expected since she’s featured exclusively on the cover I posted above… huh.

Tohru is a cheerful gal and she seems to genuinely love Kobayashi (for good, spoiler reasons). She’s always trying to get Kobayashi to eat her tail for some reason… I wonder if it’s a gag that’s better explained in the manga. It just became a running joke and it’s not terribly funny. I believe Tohru is used to sort of describe what it’s like adjusting to a new life and whether or not she can accept the consequences that come with it. It’s not a terrible message to work with, but if that’s the topic then this anime fails spectacularly. Such a struggle is only really brought up between the moments, and doesn’t appear to be the focus of the anime.

You may be familiar with this little thing:

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This is Kanna Kamui. She has become something of a meme for some reason or another. She’s actually incredibly adorable. Seeing a starving individual, without even asking Kobayashi, she goes to fetch them some food. She also has one of the sweetest voices I’ve heard in quite some time. I feel like she exists to be memed though. Not sure if that’s because I saw the memes before the anime; but watching it, I couldn’t help but recognize why the memes came into being. Kanna is just too meme-able.

There are some things that play against it. Three of the five dragons are pretty useless to the story. Fafnir, Lucoa, and Elma. My suspicion is that they were supposed to represent separate parts of Tohru in her decision of whether or not to stay in her new world. Fafnir would have represented Tohru’s doubt. Fafnir reminds Tohru of the limited lifespan that humans have, and that one day Miss Kobayashi will die… what then? Lucoa is a bit more moderate, and her actions seemed to be designed to help Tohru realize what she has in her new world. But I don’t think she really wanted Tohru to remain, as Lucoa seemed to enjoy stirring up trouble. Lucoa is the throwaway huge breasted character, so she isn’t terribly important. Elma came in rather late (episode 8 or 9 I think) and had such little screentime, I don’t think there’s much to say about her. But because Elma is successfully adapting to Tohru’s new world, my guess would be that she’s to represent what Tohru could become, a normal human.

I really do think that the description cute girls doing cute things is really all we can work with. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with that at all! I loved it! I was smiling for almost the entirety of the anime and I may now have diabeetus thanks to how sweet some of the characters were. Overall, I highly recommend it. It’s not difficult to watch, there’s no clock running, it’s just… fun. I do hope that there’s a season 2. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

The Testament of Sister New Devil

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[Image taken from CrunchyRoll]

This review covers Seasons 1 and 2. It is implied that there will be a Season 3.

This show is all over the place. So the premise of the show is that Basara (not to be confused with Subaru who was often called Basuru from Re: Zero) apparently always wanted a little sister and his father up and found two sisters for him. I… I’m not making this up. The two sisters wind up to be demons fleeing a war that were attempting to use his father to secure safe lodging. The next part of their brilliant plan is to forcibly oust Basara and his father from their home. Just like the current migrant crisis (political humour… check). Unfortunately for the girls, Basara and his father are in fact not retarded and highly resistant to the charm magic they were using. So they were sorely mistaken if they thought Basara and father were going to take that shit lying down (like the United St…). But get this, Basara is so cucked that he lets the two demons stay in his home after he kicks their ass out. Because… they’re family now? I don’t even…

The redheaded broad is apparently a princess whose power is the envy of the demon realm so she has to hide. Only she’s shit at it because everyone and their dog seems to know where she is. So much so that some people were already observing her from the demon realm and the hero village. Shit man, why even mention that she’s in hiding if it’s all moot three episodes in.

I should probably mention that Basara is a hero village exile because he blew shit up when it hit the fan. This dude stole a sword and went on rampage so Basara blew him up (somehow) and now Basara uses the sword (not sure why). Apparently the sword has a special ability which erases magical power but the caveat is that it can only be used as a counter attack. Which… doesn’t explain why the sword’s power didn’t stop Basara’s explosion… huh. On top of that, the ‘counterattack only’ rule kind of goes out the window by episode 4 or something which is kind of a drag. It even gets mentioned in Season 2 where the dude literally says “I THOUGHT THAT WAS ONLY SUPPOSED TO BE USED AS A COUNTER ATTACK” and I’m shouting at the screen “I KNOW, RIGHT?”

If there’s any consistency in the show, it’s that the rules are inconsistent. The plot is inconsistent. And I think some key pieces of source material may have been left out. Basara’s father saves a poor kid falling out of a building and that kid has one or two lines. And that’s it. Mind you this kid was saved during episode 1 or 2 in a 10 episode season. Like… what was the role of this kid? What point did he serve? Why do I even care? And the fight scenes are absolutely terrible. Jesus christ, a fight scene is poetry through fists and these fights are just a fancy effect or two and done. There’s little to no background to the fights other than “Me gud, you bad”. Our characters are very reactionary. Were it not for the demon realm trying to get their hands on princess, this show would just be a bunch of sex scenes. There’s nothing motivating the characters to move forward. They just seem to want to hold their ground.

Honestly, I’m wondering if the adaptation was made for its sex scenes but its sex scenes are mostly used as plot convenience or dialogue dumps and I don’t even understand what the point of it all is. Most of these scenes don’t even have proper setup.

Anyway I’m trying to think of something good to say about the series but I can’t. This series is terrible and I cannot recommend it to anyone. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

The Testament of Sister New Devil

Re: Zero

This one has been in the queue for a while because I’m always late to the party but really because it has impressive plot. I mean, look at that plot.

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No, not everything I do can be motivated by cute anime girls, gimme a break (Seriously though, Rem best girl).

A lot of people have hyped this one and I figured with cute battle maids, it can’t be all that bad, right? Right.

So Re: Zero tells the story of a useless idiot that for some reason is called to a fantasy world. He expects the whole protagonist thing where you’re ‘The chosen one’ but finds out that he’s totally fucking useless. His only power seems to be to return to a very specific point in time every time he dies with all of the knowledge of the life he had before. I know there’s source material that I haven’t read, but I don’t think it’s accurate to say that his power is to rewind time but rather to send his consciousness back in time. It is through repeatedly dying that Subaru solves the various problems that come his way.

Subaru is the inversion (yep, gonna have to use that word again) of the typical video game (not saying that this is a game) protagonist. Comparing Subaru to SAO’s Kirito or Log Horizon’s Shiroe, he’s useless. He’s closer to Kazuma from my recent KonoSuba review. His only talent (and it’s a damn good one to be quite frank) is his ability to send his consciousness back in time (I swear that has to be his real ability despite openings suggesting otherwise). Because it allows him to navigate ‘Dead Ends’ similar to the quickload function in my visual novels.

This sort of power is kind of a mess to deal with because it’s so easy to make it seem like a deus ex machina device and in reality it kind of is. What I like about the way it’s executed here is that Subaru has to die first. And it might seem terrible but I think that’s the most important part. In other series this power might be activated like a ‘Get out of jail free card’ but Subaru actually has to experience the full death in order for this power to activate. Which can be excruciating because it can take a while to die.

Unfortunately when your character can return to a save point, it can make relationships between characters difficult to effectively establish because you’re playing with cause and effect. What this means is that you have to rely more on character interaction itself.Not saying that it’s a bad thing, just that it’s something to consider and all things considered I believe Re: Zero effectively executes this. And I do like how the various tragedies that happen to Subaru turn him from this otaku that was happy to find himself in the magical world into this man that has died several times and quite frankly doesn’t want to deal with this bullshit anymore. And the transformation is effectively communicated because you can easily see the intermediate steps, very well done.

My main complaint with the show is motivation and plot. Quite frankly, there isn’t any. At the end of the second season I find myself asking ‘What was the point of all that. What have I learned’. And I don’t think I’ve learned anything. So it feels like everything was pointless. Now you could point to the Royal selection process and say ‘Aha! That was the plot you nimwit’ to which I’m going to have to say ‘No, no it is not’. You are confusing ‘backdrop’ with ‘plot’ Understandable, yes, but they’re not the same thing. The backdrop is something that may set things in motion and continuously acts from behind the scenes. The plot is our reason for moving forward and quite frankly, there isn’t anything. Nothing feels natural.Most of all, Subaru’s feelings for not-best-girl. Subaru says he’s motivated by Emilia’s smile and whatnot but something weird happens and it gets to the point where what was once sweet and charming becomes downright deluded and creepy. And there are things he says that make me cringe. Jesus Christ dude.

Okay, maybe I’m being unfair to Emilia because Rem is just everything I need in a woman and also because her character is probably the most fleshed out one of the main cast post-resets. But the amount of character in the characters is remarkably tiny. We only really get development of Rem. I’ll also remind you that Rem probably has one of the most beautiful, heartfelt confessions in anime history and her character is also great and Subaru still turns her down. SUBARU. WHAT. ARE. YOU. DOING.

Overall, a very beautiful anime with some epic music. While the anime wasn’t as great as I was led to believe, I definitely enjoyed watching it even if it didn’t really make any sense. If another season comes out, I’ll probably watch it. Those are my thoughts, thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Re: Zero