Jon Del Arroz on Passive Anime Protagonists

On his blog, author Jon Del Arroz has some interesting comments on the passive, weak male protagonists who often star in anime high school rom-coms. Excuse me while I quote him at length:

I had an interesting discussion with a friend last night as we were digging far too deeply into anime. Almost every anime show (especially those set in a high school environment, which is the majority of them), have male protagonists that are your classic gamma male archetype. They are socially awkward, especially around women. When encountered with women they go into a crazed frenzy, female worship, nosebleeds, slapstick failings. We’re supposed to root for them to get the girl in spite of their failures. And sometimes we do, but we can’t help but wince every time they enter the scene with their female counterparts, who are usually far more composed and cooler than they are. Continue reading “Jon Del Arroz on Passive Anime Protagonists”

The Origins of Superheroes (and Magical Girls)

This is showing up on blogs I frequent, and I think it’s relevant here. Alexander Macris has divided superhero origin stories into three types:

1. Ordinary person accidentally becomes extraordinary through chance.
2. Determined person becomes extraordinary through dedication and will.
3. A person born with extraordinary gifts lives up to his birthright.

 He describes these three origin stories as “proletariat, bourgeoise, and aristocratic.” The examples he gives are interesting but not unassailable. For example, he holds Superman to be “aristocratic,” since he has superpowers on account of being an alien, but Superman is also a farm boy who learned values of honesty, honor, and hard work before moving to the big city, which would put him more-or-less into the “bourgeoise” category—and yet calling a farm boy “bourgeoise” sounds decidedly strange.

I wanted to add a fourth type of origin story, but John C. Wright beat me to it:

4. Ordinary person is selected to become extraordinary through the intervention of a higher power.

This is the origin story typical of magical girl warriors. Generally, they are ordinary schoolgirls selected by talking animals from space or from fairyland. They are frequently reluctant and would rather be ordinary girls, though there are exceptions.

Even those of the “deconstructive” brand of magical girl fall mostly into this category: Phantom Thief Jeanne, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Princess Tutu, and the girls of Magical Girl Raising Project are all selected by godlike powers, and even Madoka is harassed into a Faustian bargain, which is almost but not quite the same thing. What makes these girls different is simply that the powers who’ve selected them turn out to be infernal rather than higher.

By contrast, the typical cute witch falls into Macris’s third category: cute witches usually come to Earth from space or from fairyland and use their powers to help mankind.

Of course, some titles will change things up. Some magical girl warriors are also cute witches from fairyland, such as the Fairy Musketeers. And Sailor Moon falls into both categories, since she is an ordinary schoolgirl who receives her powers from a talking cat, but is also a reincarnated space princess and rightful ruler of the Solar System.

Evolution of the Magical Girl Anime

Featured image: “Magical Girl of Valentine’s Day” by ElynGontier

I’m busy with school, and I’m also digesting the annotations from my editor. But in the meanwhile, I refer you to The Hyped Geek, which offers yet another article overviewing the evolution of magical girl anime from Sally the Witch to the present day.

Being one of those who grew up on anime, one of my biggest and most secret fantasies was to become a magical girl. That’s right; minute long transformations with colourful lights, a cool signature outfit, speeches of love and justice and a cute animal sidekick as a guide.

While that’s how many of us would think of it, it’s a pretty generic view of what constitutes as a magical girl anime. There’s a lot more to the genre than cute young girls with powers, saving their loved ones, or even in most cases, the world, as different anime bring different and new elements that have made the magical girl genre so renowned today. So get your transformation items ready as we go through the most influential magical girl anime from its inception until today. [More …]

One of the reasons I got into this genre in the first place is that it’s narrow enough in its concerns that it plays out over time like an ongoing conversation. One cartoon or comic will come out, and another will build on it or respond to it. So, for example, Revolutionary Girl Utena is an answer to Sailor Moon, and then Princess Tutu is an answer to Revolutionary Girl Utena. More recently, Puella Magi Madoka Magica was a major game-changer, and then Yuki Yuna Is a Hero responded to it. I think this is why magical girl fans so preoccupied with tracing history, because this genre is an ongoing dialogue.

Girl Got Game II: The ‘Revolutionary Girl Utena’ Rewatch, Part 8.5, Addendum

Yesterday’s post on the 1998 Revolutionary Girl Utena visual novel for the Sega Genesis is quite popular for some reason, so let me add a few more links of interest.

I have located exactly one walkthrough for the game, presented by Rouroni Kaji on GameFAQS. It’s a text file that briefly outlines the different game paths and lists what you need to accomplish each of the game’s nine possible endings. It’s a brief outline, with no images or description, that’s meant to be used in conjunction with the game, so it’s more-or-less unintelligible by itself.

There is also a playthrough of the English fansub by Geek Sentai on YouTube. It’s divided into parts; I post only the first here.

It’s not exactly exciting to watch; visual novels are sort of like adventure games minus everything that makes them even slightly interesting.

‘Sailor Moon Crystal’ Season 4 Confirmed

Moonkitty recently tweeted the news: the struggling and embattled Sailor Moon Crystal is set to see a fourth season, which will be in the form of a two-part movie.

“The same director” means Chiaki Kon, who did a lot to rescue season 3 from the problems that plagued seasons 1 and 2, by ordering revamped character designs and improving the animation.

Otherwise, I don’t know if this is good news or bad. My opinion of Crystal has been mixed, as you can see here. A two-part movie for the Dream arc, however, might be a good idea. If they’re not working to put out an episode on a bi-weekly basis, they might have the time they need to produce something more polished.

There was confirmation as far back as late January that this was going to happen, but there’s been little other news since then that anything was in the works.

Sailor Moon’s official birthday is June 30th, so that is apparently the reason for the announcement of the fourth season, which took place at a live event as Sailor Moon News explains. I chastise myself for having forgotten such an important date. I’ll send her a “belated birthday” card.

The live event also featured some info about the new stage musical, which is unfortunately irrelevant to us over here as the musicals never make it across the Pacific, not even in a subbed video.

Signal Boost: ‘No Gods, Only Daimons’

No Gods, Only Daimons is the new military dungeon punk novel from Hugo-nominated author Kai Wai Cheah, who happens to be in my writers’ group.

Cheah is a military veteran, so he knows his stuff. He writes technically dense military action told through rapid, clipped sentences. He has both a vast knowledge of his material and an excellent command of his prose.

The post-World War III world is a radically different place where magic and technology have become one in the violent struggle for global influence between nations. The rising powers of Persia and Musafiria are challenging the longtime dominance of the weakened Western powers, as the increasing use of magic provides them with a more level playing field.

Supernatural creatures from other planes are summoned and wielded as readily as machine guns and explosives by the special forces of the rival militaries, the most deadly of which are the elite contractors for the Nemesis Program. Both conventionally and unconventionally trained, the Nemesis Program is the hidden blade of the Hesperian National Intelligence and Security Agency, a weapon as lethal as it is deniable. But although they are given considerable leeway, not even Nemesis operatives are allowed to covenant with archdaimons… which poses a serious problem for Luke Landon when a simple assassination of a scientist goes badly awry.

NO GODS, ONLY DAIMONS is the first volume of The Covenant Chronicles, an exciting new supernatural Mil-SF series by Kai Wai Cheah, the Hugo-nominated author of “Titan Strike.”

Enter the Wrongthink Sci-Fi Giveaway and Get You Some Freebies

Robert Kroese, author of Aye, Robot, is giving away free books. These are books by authors who’ve been lambasted, harried, blocked, or banned by science fiction’s publishing gatekeepers for being insufficiently politically correct.

Kroese explains here. You get seven books just for entering, including Brian Niemeier’s Nethereal, which I’d been meaning to read for some time now. That’s one I got to watch from the ground floor as it went from being a self-published longshot to having its sequel win a Dragon Award.

There’s also a chance to win seven additional novels when you enter.

At the time of this writing, there are two days and five hours left to the giveaway, which you can enter here. Tell them the Deej sent you. In fact, use my link, which gives me more chances to win.

EDIT: I just realized I watched this Robert Kroese from the ground floor, too. He used to run the Mattress Police blog, and I remember when his first novel, Mercury Falls, was a work-in-progress. Cool. I have to admit I haven’t read his books (yet), but I do know he’s a really funny guy with a cutting sense of humor you don’t want to stand in front of. I once crossed wits with him and lost.

Hat tip to Carlos Carrasco.

Parallels Between Buddhism and ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’

I stumbled upon this post from 2011 on Listless Ink, a post entitled “Birth of a Goddess, Madoka’s Path to Nirvana – A Study of Buddhism,” which examined parallels between the hugely successful and highly popular 2011 magical girl anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Buddhist doctrine. It’s a thoughtful and convincing essay.

It contains spoilers, of course, for the anime in question.

Let us stretch the parallels one step further. Before nirvana, all consciousness are born, die, and reborn as beings in the six domains of the Desire realm: God realm, Asura realm, Human realm, Animal realm, Preta realm, and Hell realm. This is the wheel of life, the place where Samsāra occurs.

It is surprisingly neat how the characters in Madoka Magica fit into these realms. For example, the deva that occupy the blissful God realm are way more powerful than beings in all other realms. Among their powers include a sort of telepathy and illusion construction. Moreover, one particular class of deva are passionless and sexless. Indeed, this seems a bit reminiscent of Kyubey. [more…]