I’m watching Vinland Saga, and so should you

     What do you usually think when somebody tells you a particular anime is based on some more or less true historical events? Chances are that it’s yet another take on Oda Nobunaga with some weird spin – all the characters are girls or the setting is changed to a high-school, or something in a similar vein. If not that, Japanese do love a good old Victorian setting, Alice in Wonderland included (or no Alice, for a change). One way or another, in all likelihood I‘d freak out after hearing that such a thing like Vinland Saga does exist. Really, what are the chances that a Japanese dude could make a compelling story about damn Vikings? With no anime girls (pretty much), no high-schools and (virtually) no slap-stick comedy?

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Scattered Thoughts – How Boogiepop adaptation failed its first arc

     Show, don’t tell. That’s probably the most important rule of any film or TV show. Instances like Bakemonogatari are very scarce, and even there the visuals are not the least important element of the story. It seems like the easier route is to stick to the rule and avoid exposition dumps as much as possible, and then it should be ok. It’s true that the new adaptation of Boogiepop light novel series doesn’t tell. Only the problem is that neither does it show.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai Miyashita Touka

     It’s a very unforgiving job to try to adapt Boogiepop. If you watched any of Junji Ito’s anime adaptations, you should know how that sort of thing may play out. It’s just that another medium isn’t always capable of retelling the same story without some important pieces being lost. A non-conventional retelling might do the source justice, but so far Boogiepop wa Warawanai has received nothing but conventional adaptation, and it doesn’t really work. Why?

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Scattered Thoughts – Archetypal side of Hisone to Masotan

     You probably have heard about Hisone to Maso-tan (otherwise I wonder what brought you there). The other part of the title might seem too mysterious, because I’m not talking about the so called character tropes (you know, tsunderes and stuff). We’ll get to that. Lately I’ve been reading some Carl Jung and similar stuff for fun and that actually has been quite educational, thought provoking and, well, fun to some extent. For those of you who don’t know, Jung was one of the minds behind contemporary psychoanalysis (you know, Freud and stuff). One moment it suddenly dawned to me that there’s a deeper layer that can be extracted from HisoMaso. It’s not just a tale about the confrontation (particularly woman’s) between love and work.  Well, I still know next to nothing about psychology and similar matters but I tried to dig deeper and my thoughts and interpretations seem to sort of make sense, so I guess good for me.

Hisone to Maso-tan poster

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Scattered Thoughts – Dissecting Tomie

     Yep, the title is a pun. A bad one. You’ll get it. Let’s move on.

     I’ve already written about Junji Ito and anime adaptations of his manga. Gyo was a failure through and through (Ufotable, what have you done?) and quite recent Junji Ito: Collection, while it had several stronger stories, was equally forgettable at best. It turns out that Collection also has 2 special half-length episodes that I recently watched, episodes that feature probably the most famous character Junji Ito ever created – Tomie. Knowing what a catastrophe Collection was, I was inevitably cautious but at the same time I tried to remain as optimistic as possible. Tomie, one of the first published stories (in 1989) by Ito so far has inspired 8 live action films and a TV drama. You’d think that the source material should be strong and compelling enough so even the terrible production of Studio Deen shouldn’t be able to destroy that, right? Ito is far better at writing short stories, so Tomie truly looks like one of the best options out the huge catalog of Ito’s manga. Yet, after watching the specials I can do no better than to laugh at all the improbable events and question who on earth could’ve created such a ridiculous, silly, unbelievable and, well, bad story.

Tomie beautiful manga

The gorgeous star of the show

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Scattered Thoughts – throat singing (and a bit of Shigurui)

     Did you know that a single person can sing 2 different melodies at the same time? Sounds a bit insane, doesn’t it? How on earth a single person could possess two throats or something? In fact you don’t need to visit Chernobyl (sorry for the bad joke) to be able to perform throat singing, otherwise known as overtone singing. I’ve known about this amusing technique for some time but what did surprise me, was to find it used in the soundtrack of Shigurui, anime I reviewed several weeks ago. As far as I know, no other anime soundtrack uses the technique so it is pretty obscure to say the least. Well, going into details about it doesn’t really concern neither anime, nor manga, nor Japanese culture (for the most part) but I think the more people will hear about some obscure trivia (that to me is quite interesting), the better. Don’t fear some basic physics stuff ahead, I hope I’ll make it comprehensible enough.

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Scattered Thoughts – what do I listen to?

     There probably isn’t a person who would say with absolute confidence that music has no part in their life. Music naturally is also a part of anime community, although not many people try to analyse it apart from stating that for example “Kajiura, Kanno and Sawano are cool” (love them all by the way, in that order). Listening to anime OSTs isn’t what I’d consider my hobby but I try to pay as much attention to it as I can. If an artist proves to be entertaining, obviously I try to dig deeper. As working in anime industry isn’t always what musicians only do, over time one band or another comes under my radar, so that’s what I’m going to talk about today – 5 Japanese artists/bands (that not necessarily have strong ties with anime industry) that I came to love.

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Scattered Thoughts – Fate/Cooking vs Fate/Umu

   Winter season was blessed (or cursed depending of your perspective) with two Fate shows, but hardly anyone talked about them. The first one, Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan isn’t precisely a normal show because it’s being released only once a month by ufotable. Moreover, it’s not even a normal Fate, but more about that later. In the other corner we have Fate/Extra Last Encore, a Shaft title, boasting of having the brain behind the whole franchise – Kinoko Nasu – on board. After Apocrypha people may have become too full of Fate or otherwise I don’t know how to explain lack of interest in these shows. On the other hand, Fate has become a nine-headed dragon and each of its new heads seemingly gets more and more unlike what people expect Fate to be. Tackling such a beast always demands more than starting yet another stand-alone show. The current situation of Fate isn’t necessarily a bad thing but sometimes it even looks like a certain show manages to keep afloat only because it’s attached to the franchise and not because it’s good by itself. Different as they are, stories of a single franchise should be comparable to a certain extent, shouldn’t they? So let’s try to look at what these two shows can offer.

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Scattered Thoughts – Ito Junji: Collection and how to fail at horror

     It’s no secret that this season’s biggest horror anime isn’t that great. It’s really a shame because manga of Junji Ito usually is very entertaining. On the other hand, the outcome was to be expected to some extent – a previous attempt to adapt Ito’s manga also failed horribly. Then maybe Ito’s works aren’t suited to be animated? Looking even more broadly, are horror stories capable of evoking that specific emotion in an animated form? At least to this question I have an answer, and that is yes. So let’s look at what Collection did wrong, comparing it to some better representatives of the genre.

     ///EDIT: last night Super Eyepatch Wolf uploaded a video about Collection, and it’s not unexpectedly right to the point. I’m not sure I can add much to the discussion, but this piece is already written, so oh well. I guess I need to execute my ideas immediately…///

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Scattered Thoughts – Koi wa Ameagari no You ni and Rashomon

     For any anime lover Koi wa Ameagari no You ni should be a known thing this season regardless of how you perceive a possibility of a romance between people with such a huge age gap. Even if you aren’t cool with the premise, I think the way the story evolves is far more enjoyable than an average anime and I probably don’t even need to mention the quality of visual storytelling – at least for me the show is always a joy to watch. Rashomon on the other hand may have escaped your radar, because it’s a short story written in 1915 by the acclaimed Japanese writer Ryuunosuke Akutagawa. You may ask what that has to do with this anime, and I can answer that actually quite a lot. So much that I wouldn’t be surprised if Koi wa Ameagari no You ni itself had been named Rashomon. Bear with me for a little while and let’s find out why.

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Scattered Thoughts – Saya no Uta and morbid curiosity

     Fuminori was sitting in a place that should’ve been a café. Yet it clearly wasn’t. Everything seemed a perfect nightmare material – every single object there looked like it was made from living flesh, various internal organs, and gore; walls, the floor and the ceiling included. Even worse, next to Fuminori sat the creatures. Apparitions so hideous that the shortest of glimpses at them could haunt you the rest of your life. Their stench reeked of everything a normal person would keep a distance of a mile or so, and their distorted gurgling voices squealed barely understandable words. That wasn’t all – Fuminori knew that these monsters once were his dear friends, now completely unrecognizable and so disgusting he could barely retain his calm. Fuminori was the only normal being in this warped place, and it wasn’t a nightmare, it was his reality, and he was alone in it.

Nice world, isn't it?

     So cheerfully begins Saya no Uta, a visual novel created way back in 2003 but still retaining its uniqueness in the medium. There’s probably no reason beating around the bush so I may as well use the trump card that should get you interested – Saya no Uta was one of the first creations of Gen Urobuchi and the team at Nitroplus. Nitroplus is best known for releasing the acclaimed Steins;Gate visual novel and also for being involved with Fate/Zero novels, that also incidentally were written by Urobuchi. In Saya no Uta the man clearly didn’t hold back and pumped the visual novel full of depressing and sometimes disgusting content that would never be tolerable in, say, an anime. Usually art is consumed in order to be entertained, but Saya no Uta isn’t anything I’d call a pleasantly enjoyable experience. The dark side of it is interestingly captivating though. If you aren’t against some morbid curiosity, that is. Bear with me for a while to find out more, but only if you’re brave enough. I can’t stress enough that Saya no Uta is aimed to mature people, and only those with high tolerance levels. (more…)