My Complex Feelings on 2018’s Perfect Film

Liz and the Blue Bird is a fantastic movie. On a purely technical level, it may be the most impressive work I’ve ever seen and it’s certainly one of the most emotionally resonant ones I’ve witnessed. Many people, my girlfriend included, have already declared it as the best anime ever made and I truly understand how they can do so. But… I can’t. I love this film but I’m incapable of fully embracing it in quite the same way that others do. Its connection to Hibike Euphonium, a series which I’ve come to view as one of the most disappointing that I’ve ever seen, is something that poisons my enjoyment of Liz. That I still believe it’s a 10/10 movie is a testament to how good it is. Yet, it could have been my favorite film of all time if it were a standalone work and I’m sad that I have to say that.

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A Magical Escape from Crushing Capitalist Adulthood – Ojamajo Doremi

Elementary school was a happy time. It was a period where I knew and liked just about everyone in my classes, something that would not remain true as I moved beyond primary education. I experienced so many things that I simply haven’t been able to in the time since. The straightforward joy of running around under the hot sun, sweat dripping down my neck as I desperately tried to avoid whoever was “it” in our daily games of freeze tag. The cooler, air-conditioned fun of spending recess indoors, playing Pokemon Crystal through an online emulator because my teacher was nice enough to let me, though we weren’t allowed to play Runescape. Sneaking into an unoccupied house so that we could play our gameboys for longer than our parents would allow us on a nice spring day. Life back then didn’t feel as it does now. Politics existed, I could certainly feel the effects of racism, but there was an intangible sense of connection between my peers that hasn’t existed since, fading as the hegemony of capitalism became more noticeable and routine to my growing mind.

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The ACTUAL Problem with Anime Subtitles

Have you heard the story of what happened during Yuri on Ice’s run? Early in the show, Victor asks Yuuri if he has a girlfriend, using the Japanese word for woman, “onna”, which is a natural way of trying to figure out his proclivities, if you know what I mean. From here on, when referring to potential or past lovers of Yuuri’s, Victor is sure to use the gender-neutral term “koibito”. Yet, the subs, at least in the initial airing, gendered this term, continuing to use girlfriend. In an ordinary show, this would be a frustrating decision, but a harmless one. In this series, one that consciously portrays gay characters throughout its run, a mistake like this is glaring, hurting the subtle romantic back-and-forth that takes up much of the show’s first half. While we can talk all day about how lover isn’t a perfect term, or how partner or SO convey nuances not contained in “koibito”, it can’t be argued that in this case, girlfriend was the wrong translation, one that’s actually managed to reach the ears of many anime fans due to the show’s high-profile nature as a queer work. Yet, Yuri on Ice is far from the only instance of this happening. Anime translations regularly remove gender neutrality present in the Japanese script. While it’s fine to add a gendered pronoun to a sentence that initially lacked one when we know the characters’ gender for certain, it frequently creates large issues in regards to queer characters. Subtitles are often, unconsciously to be sure, a tool of cisheteronormativity, entirely confusing viewers as to how scenes should be read. I can certainly imagine some watchers being perplexed as to why Victor, one of the gayest men alive, would assume the guy who clearly crushes on him has a girlfriend, even after being told that he doesn’t. This, indeed, is the actual problem with anime subtitles.

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[Script] Beautiful But Boring – Anime’s Original High Fantasy

Record of Lodoss War really is a beautiful show. The animation is far from perfect, and entirely serious fight scenes are often portrayed simply by sliding a cel all the way across the screen, but it does an excellent job at rendering a high fantasy in world in motion. Every locale that you’d expect in this kind of setting is rendered in remarkably beautiful ways, from the dark forests to the pastoral grasslands, and the bountiful kingdoms to the deepest lairs. Whatever image you have of Tolkienesque worlds is represented here, almost exactly as you would imagine. That applies to the characters as well. Their designs are hardly original — though the sheer length of the elves’ ears is an interesting decision — yet they’re simply wonderful to look at, perfectly embodying the archetypes they were a part of and carrying a sensibility that reminds the viewer of Yoshitaka Amano’s art. This is, of course, adapted from a series of DnD sessions, and the entire project looks the part.

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Bloom into You is the Queer Yuri Anime we Needed, and Here’s Why

In chapter 1 of the Bloom into You manga, as protagonist Yuu turns down the boy who asked her out at the end of middle school, careful paneling keeps older student Touko out of frame, aside from a somewhat solemn shot of her glancing at Yuu. Instead of showcasing the upperclassman, attention is paid to Yuu’s body language as she tenses up while rejecting him before calming down after he accepts it, shown on the next page so as to provide a sense of catharsis upon flipping. This leads into an uneasy page composition wherein we as viewers are only able to see Touko’s grasping arm, while Yuu expresses concern at the face which is hidden from us. Suddenly, this   face is made visible as she asks the pivotal question, implying her own interest. Yuu, attempting to avoid her comprehension of Touko’s question, grows increasingly uncomfortable, and once again her facial expression is hidden. This continues until she brings Yuu to her face, forcibly confessing and denying her the chance to avoid engaging with the situation. This expert sequence is something that could only be done in a manga, one made by an expert of the craft at that. It was one of many that I thought the anime would fail to live up to. However, the voice acting of the anime’s version fully communicates Yuu’s tension, relief, and then plunging back into anxiety. The excellent cut of Yuu pulling her arm back only for Touko to yank it forwards works together with the ripple that the motion creates, the aforementioned voice acting, and the stellar music to not only communicate the manga’s core in this scene, but to elevate it. In effect, it transfers the original’s beautiful charm while adding its own understanding of these characters. This scene’s conclusion, of Yuu seeing their clasped hands in Touko’s eye, is not present in the manga, and demonstrates this expertly. It’s rare to see an anime so clearly understand its source. It’s far rarer for that to lead to one of the most important queer works in the entire medium. But this start may have been a bit abrupt. Allow me take a step back before we begin in earnest, as the backstory here really is quite important.

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Day 12 – Anime’s Eternal Brilliance in Shirobako

Unlike the other shows I’ve discussed, I did not watch Shirobako in the order I’m talking about it. No, I watched it for the first time as it aired, loving the hell out of it but without the series having any great effect on me as an individual. What’s important is the time that I rewatched it, that having been only last year.

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