On Cyclicality and Stasis in Endro

Episode 7 of this season’s Endro concerns itself with Princess Rola’s attempt to understand the other party members of her beloved Hero. Throughout it, she comments on how any given action of a character, usually a fairly benign one, calls back to similar behavior on the part of said character’s predecessors. Given that this is the 999th Hero party and the fact that Rola has read about every one of them religiously, she possesses a vast database of knowledge. It would be easy to see otakudom in her actions here; she seems to perceive the past Heroes and their comrades as traits before people and perceives the members of this new group through these traits in a codified fashion, rather than receiving them head-on as the people they are.

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Yuri Visual Novel Review: Heart of the Woods

Heart of the Woods is a self-described “modern-day fairy tale”. With a little bit of trimming and the removal of sexual references, it could easily fit alongside any book that your mother read to you as a child. As a genre, the fairy tale occupies a special place and duplicating its unique qualities is not an easy task. While belief in supernatural beings is still common in our society, fairy tales play a special role as the remnant of a more local mysticality, a belief that magic could be found right outside your door. At the same time, while more medieval societies believed in the existence of dwarves, elves, and magic wholeheartedly, the contemporary fairy tale is a fable, containing a broader truth but couched in the knowledge that none of its events could actually take place. But while elves may not be real, they certainly stand in for something that is.

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On The Rules of the Game and Complacency on the Brink of Death

In Jean Renoir’s 1939 classic, The Rules of the Game, a group of bourgeois “friends” spend their time partying on the eve of what would eventually reveal itself to be the world’s deadliest war. There’s not a care in the world, except towards questions on who is cheating on who with whom. Aside from the somber Octave, played by Renoir himself, the characters show little concern for what’s going on and even when emotional, treat everything as a bit of a game. That is, until these silly antics escalate on account of no one taking anything seriously, leaving a man gunned down, something explained away as a chance accident.

The satirical nature of the film is clear. Due to the immense wealth of these upper-class French citizens, they’ve been isolated from the concerns of the outside world, including the oncoming war with Germany. After all, they’re rich enough that even life under the Nazis wouldn’t be so bad, right? Of course, that’s not the case. Ultimately, someone will die, but even that will be excused by the morally bankrupt French bourgeoisie. Even the Jewish Marquis shows no fear, brushing aside the murder; only Octave is truly concerned. And so ends the film, as everyone abdicates blame, settling instead for a return to the jovial party they came from. When the world falls apart, these people won’t fight, they’ll simply keep up their play. Continue reading “On The Rules of the Game and Complacency on the Brink of Death”

Kaguya-sama: A Marxist Analysis

Kaguya-sama is a series that’s deeply concerned with conflict, in all of its forms. As the opening narration describes, even romance, that oh-so-sacred space where human beings can directly connect with one another, is ultimately a battleground, a place of division where the strong conquer and the weak submit. This is a very intriguing hook for a romantic comedy, a genre which typically shunts its power dynamics off to the side, barring those cases where they’re used to fulfill the fetishistic desires of their audiences. To pose a romantic relationship as one that bears significant similarities to that of a master and slave or a boss and worker is a strong statement on the way in which all aspects of society, including those that tend to be regarded as pure, are mediated by the general social dynamics which are always present. The satirical nature of this statement does little to temper the implications which are present; in fact, it only reinforces them, bringing the work to its fullest conclusion. What’s key to understand is that the show does not portray the leads’ error as being their belief that there are tensions in a relationship, ones indicative of hierarchy and class. Rather, it posits that conflict is the incorrect way to resolve these contradictions. Minor spoilers for the manga, though nothing that would ruin the story for you.

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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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