For those that missed the news, Makoto Shinkai’s newest movie, “Your Name.” (Kimi no Na wa.) recently released in Japan. And it’s a huge hit. In fact, according to Anime News Network (ANN), “Your Name.” is probably going to be first non-Miyazaki anime movie to earn over 10 billion yen. Moreover, ANN also reports that the movie is being liscenced for release in 85 countries and regions. In short, Shinkai’s new film is poised for some unprecedented international success.
I recently visited a department store near Kyoto station, hunting for a power converter so I could charge my laptop. The store was split into 7 floors, each selling different products. Most were immediately recognizable: “Men’s Fashion,” “Women’s Fashion,” “Books,” and so on. One floor, however, was mysteriously labeled “subculture.” Of course, I had to check it out. As expected, the floor was full to the brim with anime, manga, trading cards and arcade games.
I recently watched Only Yesterday at the Cornell Cinema (highly recommend it!) and the show really got me thinking about the role of rural settings in Japanese popular culture. Note that I didn’t just say anime there! I’m broadening my horizons a bit this week. To which end, we’re going to start with some cultural background. Modern Japan has a bit of a problem: during the postwar period, the country urbanized at an unprecedented rate (if I recall correctly, it was the highest rate in history, though I don’t have a source for that).
I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite some time now. Since about the middle of RWBY volume 3, in fact. However, I kept putting it off to make sure I addressed the topic appropriately. Well I’m going for it now, so no turning back one way or the other. Oh yeah, and beware of spoilers.
When I went home for winter break and saw The Prince Who Turns Into A Frog broadcasting on television for the twentieth time since its first airing in 2005, I still felt the nostalgia that only certain dramas can evoke in me. The plot is quite cliché and unrealistic at times, but it is one of those classic dramas that unknowingly makes you accept the impossible for the hour that it broadcasts just so you can immerse yourself in the romantic fantasy of the drama. As expected, The Prince Who Turns Into A Frog revolves around the love story between a poor girl and a rich man – you know the gist. But their relationship is actually much more complicated than you think, with Shan Jun Hao, the CEO of a hotel chain, constantly getting into accidents and losing his memory and Ye Tian Yu, an ambitious gold digger, falling in love with the contrived identity she gave Jun Hao when he first loses his memory. Not to mention, Jun Hao was already engaged with his childhood friend Fan Yun Xi when he falls in love with Tian Yu after Tian Yu takes care of him while he remains clueless about his own past.
For those who haven’t met me in real life and those who haven’t read the blurb at the end of this blog, let me tell you a not-so-secret secret. I’m a huge fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Not just the “has merchandise, owns the whole show, owns the whole soundtrack, owns the whole manga” type of fan. I’m also the “goes to anime conventions to give talks about what it all means” sort of fan. And for lack of a better topic, I’m going to use that presentation’s content for this week.
First order of business: if you haven’t checked out Ajin yet (airing this season), then go watch the first episode to see what you think, especially if you
were a fan of Tokyo Ghoul or Parasyte (seriously, this main character is Kaneki and Shinichi all over again). At the very least, check out some GIFs, because my topic for this week is Ajin’s animation style. I was recently talking about Ajin with friends, who told me that they liked the story but dropped the show because they found the entirely computer-generated animation unbearable. So, I thought I’d take some time to discuss the role of CGI in anime.
After all, Ajin isn’t the first out of recently released animes to rely almost entirely on computer generated graphics.
When you think of a harem anime, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? I’d be willing to bet that, for most people, it’s something like Clannad (or maybe Moster Musume if you’re into that kind of thing). Of all the genres out there, I think this one is criticized more than any other. And with good reason, I might add. Harem shows tend to abuse tropes and character archetypes much more than other genres while failing to apply any interesting development to those archetypes.
I’ve written posts like this one for the last few seasons, so I figure I ought to keep up with the trend. Of course, I’ve also been horribly wrong about the things I say in them and had to post revisions to my hype train. So this could be a terrible idea, but I think it’s always good to let people know what’s out there. Speaking of which, I want to point readers to a handy site: Anichart. This is the site that I’ve been using ever since I began watching seasonal anime, and I find the layout super convenient.