Anti-Magic Academy – A Jarring Mess

The anime of Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai was a mistake. From the abysmal sales numbers, to the director’s apparent area of expertise, that is the only conclusion I can make. I would like to keep this succinct, so stay with me here.
The director of the anime Taimadou Gakuen is a man by the anime of Tomoyuki Kawamura. He has two other credited directing roles in anime according to MAL, Mistuboshi Colors and Kamigami no Asobi. Looking at both anime in comparison to Taimadou Gakuen, I can see his relative strengths and weaknesses. Brightly colored characters that are appealing to the eye…

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A lolicon anime that doesn’t sexualize children and only takes advantage of them emotionally… yay!

While the settings are, as with most anime, underdeveloped.
And you know, that’s okay. With most anime, that’s excusable. With comedy, you can totally just focus on the characters doing character things without worrying about how they move in space. You don’t have to make a space appear lived in if your characters are blank slates to begin with. Believability is not a virtue every anime needs to possess-
However, Taimadou Gakuen is an anime that sorely needed it. To make use of the edge inherent to the series, to really create a strong and effective contrast between the disparate tones that define the series, the biggest failure from the production standpoint is Taimadou Gakuen‘s unbelievable world.
I have stated repeatedly that I like the way this series looks during its slice of life scenes. However, almost all the action is awful. Beyond that, the series has many scenes that should be dark and gorey- yet the focus of the shot on anything but the violence is so jarring, that the viewer is left confused rather than distraught or disturbed.
The violence is distracting. But why is violence common in this story? In other words, what is the premise of Taimadou Gakuen?

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Can I buy some contrast? The usually colorful characters just become less colorful at night, and it’s an eyesore to look at!

Well. In some sort of post-apocalyptic world, magic exists and there are witches who are born with the innate ability to control and use magic. To oppress the witches and eradicate magic, presumably so that magic like the one that rendered the majority of the Earth toxic and uninhabitable is never used again, the Inquisition was founded. They use technology and heretical magic tools, nicknamed “Relic Eaters”, to achieve that task. To oppose the Inquisition, the witches have formed Valhalla, and execute acts of terrorism.
Within the Inquisition is Anti-Magic Academy, a school where the next generation of Inquisitors is trained to hate witches, magic, and follow the instructions they have been given. The students are organized into test platoons to tackle petty crime in preparation for the day they will fight to eradicate magic once and for all, the journeys of one such platoon being the focus of the narrative. However, among these platoons of child soldiers, the 35th Test Platoon is a bit odd. A collection of social outcasts, failures who didn’t quite fit the mold, the 35th Test Platoon is more than likely to fail out of school unless something radical happens to change their recorded number of zero successful missions.

So, you can see the disparate tones from the description alone, yes? The talk of witches and the Inquisition followed by a group of outcasts struggling in school? Each arc, typically taking between two and three episodes of the anime, follows one member of the main cast as they get over their personal hangups to become more confident and trusting individuals. They become better at their role on the team…
You know, the team of teenagers which is supposed to fight terrorism oppress a race of people?
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It’s off-putting. When a character is gleefully enjoying their anpan and milk during one scene, only to find a gang trafficking the carcasses of human children a few scenes after…
You can’t help but feel like there’s something that doesn’t line up in this world. When a witch transfers into the academy in the third episode, the race that the Inquisition claims to hate, alarm bells should be sounding in every viewer’s head. The conflicts of each arc derive increasingly from the war between Valhalla and the Inquisition, and the viewer is ultimately left questioning the lengths to which Inquisition, the supposed good guys, will go to eradicate a people that perhaps aren’t intrinsically evil.
And then in the final arc of the anime, it is revealed that Valhalla may (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) be conducting sadistic human experimentation on the witches that they capture alive…
Well, big surprise! It’s not subtle commentary on the effects of hate and the ways it can be manipulated. I think Taimadou Gakuen‘s solution to its proposed problem, taking control of one’s own life through genuine and mutual trust with other people, is rather clever and empathetic.
But it all hits with a rather muted effect, because the world of Taimadou Gakuen is so muted and samely directed, save for a few moments in the second episode (a flashback) which was the one decent trade-off for the anime axing the development of the most important side character. The horror doesn’t feel like horror, so the whole thing just feels confused.
Taimadou
And speaking of confused, I already wrote quite a bit about how the first arc totally botches the characterization of both its lead characters. Basically, Takeru is a validated yet schizophrenic Jesus-like, and Ouka has been reduced to a similarly schizophrenic tsundere who is liable to just cry and spill her entire past to a man she has zero chemistry with-
Which makes zero sense because her whole struggle is rooted in the fact that her situation led her to become closed off towards other people! It makes her seem weak! In the light novel, this was all fixed, because Ouka never became so hysteric, and actually opened up to Takeru on her own terms- because she recognized his sincere efforts to reach out to her, which contrasted the prejudice that everyone else had towards her. It’s such a surprise that an anime production directed by a fanservice director reduces its women characters to incoherent victims, despite the story being about individuals trying to break down and overcome the circumstances that make them such.
And while I’m mentioning the writing, I have to explain that this anime goes so far as to contradict the message about growing from mutual trust… because the main character is a guy, and guys can’t rely on anyone. Guys can do anything if they just try and believe hard enough! Although girls still need to do that trust thing, so it makes sense for women to be dependent on men!
Seriously.
I am not kidding. This is the only analysis I can come to from looking at the changes to characterizations between the anime and light novel.

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Even though the entire rest of the story contrasts this message…

Fuck this anime.
I love the slice of life moments, and I also love the opening and ending songs. Kanako Itou songs are just great! I like the voices of the characters, and it makes me happy to see these characters that I love being happy. But it’s a serious shit show and a mistake of an anime. It takes talent to marry two disparate tones. In that way, even if the writing of the Taimadou Gakuen anime was fixed to be like the light novel, it still would fail to capture the emotions of the light novel. The darkness fails to really be dark or at least comprehensible, so the eventual victories of the protagonist feel unearned. The battles are unbelievably ugly and ineffective at provoking emotion or hype.
There are some clever things, like the perfect comedic cut at the very end of episode 7, or the way that the opening and ending themes occasionally bleed into the animation. But I think that the result of me giving the anime of Taimadou Gakuen one last chance to redeem itself in my eyes has lead me to an uncomfortable conclusion. There are no immediate or obvious ways to fix the fundamental flaws that prevent this series from success. It was a failure on multiple layers from its very conception. This was not the conclusion that I wanted to reach.
I love the Taimadou Gakuen light novel series. It can be corny, the way everyone shouts out their attacks is campy, and the story has several clear flaws- such as the noticeably weaker second half which is in some ways comparable to the much reviled Great Ninja War arc from Naruto
But, damn! The ending of the fifth volume, right where the anime reaches its anime-original conclusion, is one of the best cliff-hangers I have ever witnessed in story telling! By screwing up basically everything this arc stands for, the anime tears apart its own themes, characters, and introduces an unnecessary deus ex machina ending which fails to resolve any of the plot threads that the series devoted its entirety to setting up. So yeah, next post I want to discuss that disaster!

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Thanks Silver Link! Can’t wait to stare at more of your worst CGI to date!

I want to discuss this horrible deus ex machina which made Taimadou Gakuen the single worst anime adaptation of a light novel I have seen to date. Communicating what was lost in the translation from light novel to anime will be my last post regarding Taimadou Gakuen‘s anime. But if you want to check this either versions for yourself, the anime is watchable on Crunchyroll, while a fan translation has been posted online.

 

https://www.crunchyroll.com/anti-magic-academy-the-35th-test-platoon

https://krytykal.org/antimagic/

Now, time for me to go read a good light novel!

 

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Declaring My Intent!

As I am now six posts through my seven post Silver Link marathon, I figured it was finally time to fully explain what my intent is. As someone familiar with the idea of “death of the author”, I always feel like I must justify my attempts to justify my actions. But in blogging, it’s hard for me to say that my posts are really the central focus of the blog. Especially when I write a series of posts like I am doing with Silver Link anime, I think understanding the intent informs the reader about my perspective on the anime that I am writing about.
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Most obviously, the first of the Silver Link anime I reviewed this year was Imouto Sae Ireba Ii. I posted that on December 31st, New Year’s Eve. While that may not seem important or significant to you, it may make more sense if I explain that I posted my first anime review on January 1st of 2018, and that post was also about Imouto Sae Ireba Ii. One of the themes of the Silver Link reviews was reevaluating my stance on shows I perhaps didn’t give a fair chance to originally, anime I hadn’t looked at critically. In the case of A Sister’s All You Need, I was able to understand what caused such acute frustration in my original post. There were several moments that were basically character assassination that completely trashed the otherwise mediocre anime. It turned the otherwise motivational story of a quirky author into “good women submit to men’s passions and recognize their place beneath them.”
Stuff like that just really gets to me! Like, go away essentialists! Stop thinking that people have some inherent value system, because people change over the course of their lifetime! Stop caring about ancestry, stop forcing people to follow goals they set years ago, and teach people to actually care about life and happiness instead of one life-defining purpose. If things, even concepts like religion or goals, define someone’s life, that should be seen as tragic, not something to be celebrated…
Anyway, I got off on a tangent. But you can see why I conversely ended up enjoying Yuri Kuma Arashi, which is all about the degeneracy of abstract values that end up controlling individuals. What a feels good message.
But if you’ve been following along, then you know that Yuri Kuma Arashi, like Chaos;Child were both Silver Link anime I enjoyed despite not being directed by Shin Oonuma. I thought they were both well-directed with plenty to love about them…
However the next and final Silver Link anime I wish to cover is not that way. If I were to compare it to one that I have already covered, it would be similar to C3 in that its direction often damages my suspension of disbelief- however, this anime never has any standout artistic shots like C3 had on rare occasion. The chill scenes are fine and dandy, but the edge that comes from this specific anime as an adaptation…
Well, the atmosphere never lands during the torturous moments because of a combination of bad direction and awful adaptive choices. That’s easily the most damning failure of this anime.
So, now that I have hinted about it enough, I shall confess:
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Tomorrow I will post my review of Taimadou Gakuen: 35 Shiken Shoutai, otherwise known as Anti-Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon as an independent anime in a similar style as I have done for the rest of the Silver Link anime I have reviewed recently. I will discuss its direction, and the failure of its tone. However, the biggest failure with the anime is that it’s a horrible adaptation.
And I’m all for adaptational changes. My favorite anime is Monogatari, and if you have read and watched Kizumonogatari especially, you would realize that both versions were created to use their medium to the fullest. That’s one of my favorite things about the series. However, Taimadou Gakuen has issues that run down to the core. The light novel series it came from should never have been adapted in the way that they were.
That’s why my intention is to discuss why Taimadou Gakuen is one of the most infuriating anime I’ve seen. Since I have not given any of the other Silver Link anime such attention, I figured it was necessary to explain myself. After I post the review of Taimadou Gakuen as an individual anime product, I will then make a second post about how its final arc compares against the fifth light novel it adapts, and the repercussions that has on the themes of the narrative.

Do you think that I have a personal grudge against this anime?
If your answer to that question is yes, then you are correct. But just because I have an opinion about something doesn’t mean I can’t bring up valid criticism of it. Helping people understand what I want out of the media I consume will hopefully help convince people to stop defending stories that are contradictory to their core themes. Like-
A series doesn’t have to be well-written to be enjoyable. But I try to recommend based on inherent appeal achieved through explainable techniques, rather than my whims. For instance, I don’t like Serial Experiments Lain because I’m not technophobic and pseudo-science based monsters just rub me the wrong way. However, I realize my distaste for it does not reflect on the quality of the show. If someone asked if I would recommend it, I would probably do so because I like a few of the technical elements of the anime and think it has enough merit that other people may enjoy it. On the other hand, despite enjoying some bits of the anime adaptation of Taimadou Gakuen, I would never recommend it for a viewer looking for a good anime to watch for their own enjoyment.
Though there’s a lot to learn from other people’s failures, so I totally recommend watching it if you want to try to understand some of the forms an artistic failure can take!

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And it ain’t ugly all of the time! Just skip the battles and any scene at night and it’s actually really nice to look at!

A Hidden Gem – Baka to Test

When I look at next season’s lineup of over 40 new anime, I almost feel overwhelmed by the chance of missing out on a great anime. Roughly every three months, I’m forced to take stock of the shows that had the most potential that I missed out on, adding them to an infinitely expanding to-watch list. I also have to come to terms with the fact that I’ll end up watching all the wrong shows, rushing to catch up with the best of them after all the hype has already past. I didn’t check out Planet With until after it finished airing! What a loss!

And so, with that pain in mind, I can say that I understand the pain of keeping up with seasonal anime. If you’re involved online or even in real life with circles of anime lovers, chances are that you need to keep up with the seasonal stuff to not be excluded from the memes. Like, I hated watching Darling in the Franxx, but at least I got to complain with other people online about it. But you can really lose out just following the seasonal anime. Since I’ve been an anime fan for almost four years now, I’ve had time to steadily push my way through a lot of anime from the late 2000s to early 2010’s.
But what about the newer anime fans, I find myself wondering. What kinds of anime do newer fans who tire of seasonal anime end up watching? As I can only speak from experience, I would guess anime that is accessible and anime that’s mentioned a lot online, through memes and stuff. They’ll probably see stuff like Death Note and eventually Evangelion, but when do they get around to watching the stuff like Higurashi or Toradora? Why would they risk watching a show with no discussion around it that doesn’t have a 9.0+ score on MyAnimeList?
So. Obviously from my intro, I want to sell the 2010 Silver Link anime Baka & Test: Summon the Beasts as an anime worth watching. But on what basis do I assert this idea from? Well, let’s talk about what Baka to Test meant to studio Silver Link! Most obviously, it was their second anime production-

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So intimidating!

With the first being a 2009 visual novel adaptation by the name of Tayutama, which by all means looked like an early 2000s visual novel adaptation. I refuse to sit through it for the sake of this review, if for the visual aesthetic alone. I hate the character design of generic visual novels! Too much hair, too many accessories!
And then the miracle happened! With Baka to Test‘s success, Shin Oonuma became the de facto series director for most all of the good Silver Link anime going forward! He brought with him a talent for making the visually engaging shows that define Silver Link as a studio for me. His most impressive (in my eyes at least) credits before this include directing the ef: anime series, as well as directing the ninth episode of the original Bakemonogatari anime. An episode I remember for a certain reaction image…
Shin Oonuma went on to be the director of anime like Chivalry of a Failed KnightWatamote, and Prisma Illya bringing his striking color palette to each one! And it’s really only because his directing style is so reminiscent of the Shaft style that I was interested in this studio in the first place. However, Baka to Test is also a fantastic anime in its own right! From all the Silver Link anime, Baka to Test remains the best selling only preceded by the memetic Non Non Biyori! (closely followed by the first season of Prisma Illya)
So if you wanted me to quantify its commercial success, that’s the metric and source by which I judged it. But beyond its impact and social validation, I also believe that Baka to Test is an artistic success.
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Do you remember how much I felt like CursedxCubexCurious often had visuals that just didn’t work? How the fight scenes would have awful digital-esque filters used to simplify the backgrounds? How the light would cut at weird angles and the shadows looked disgusting? Well, that’s all here- just done a million times better.
And that comes down to the difference in tone between C3 and Baka to Test. While C3 takes its premise of high school kids fighting evil cults with complete seriousness, Baka to Test recognizes the struggles of the cast as what they are- small adolescent flights of emotion. The forced dramatic lighting in C3 is so obviously forced that it further cheapens the already ineffective drama, whereas the forced dramatic lighting unfitting the situation in Baka to Test is a punchline in itself! An effective contrast between the perceived weight of the drama on the characters versus the often frivolous nature of the problem-
And if you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you’d know that I usually refer to bad third person narratives as patronizing. Jokes like this would normally come at the expense of the character, distancing the viewer from the character to laugh at them. However, that is why the cast of Baka to Test is so stellar. Baka to Test was written with one value at the core of its interaction-
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Perspective.
This awareness of perspective is the single thing that elevates Baka to Test far above most other comedy anime I have watched. Hideyoshi, who in other series would just be a gag character defined by their gender ambiguity, is an ambitious and talented actor. Akihisa, an idiot who wastes his budget on erotic pictures, is able to become serious and passionate for the sake of others. Yuuji, a lazy tactician type who relies on logic, respects hard work and passion.
Yet, we don’t see all of that immediately. We don’t always understand why a character might feel the way they do towards another from the beginning. We understand that the characters’ perception of one another can be flawed and insensitive, because we feel that as an audience! So when another character mocks their friend for dressing up like a girl, it feels like you are there sharing in the joke. When a character misunderstands something, you don’t feel as annoyed as you otherwise might-
Because rather than focus solely on being misunderstood, Baka to Test subtly explores the act of misunderstanding one’s friends.
In other words, Baka to Test is a well written comedy that feels sincere to the core! Despite its trope-y characters, each one of them feels like they exist for more than just the jokes and situations played out in the run of the anime. They fit together as a group better than almost any other in anime with fantastic chemistry! While the first season of the anime has a far higher density of jokes, the second season has some fantastic moments of pure character development and catharsis
To translate that further, it means that the early mechanism of laughing at the characters’ failures naturally turns into actual attachment and empathy towards them. Ultimately, you end up cheering for the characters, celebrating their accomplishments and gaining respect for them. Which, not coincidentally, is the way that most everyone ends up becoming friends in this anime. Which, not coincidentally, is also the way I end up making most of my friends.
In the end, Baka to Test is a show that reminds me of my own life. The good parts of it, at least. I don’t expect many other people to have the same connections to this show that I do, as friendships often form over the weirdest things. I just have such a patronizing view of people, I couldn’t help but feel my heart warm up watching these characters come to understand one another just a little bit better. It was a situation that was so nostalgic, so real to my own life, played out with a surprising amount of subtlety, I couldn’t help but fall in love with this series.
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So, despite Chivalry of a Failed Knight being the Silver Link anime I think is the most consistent, Baka to Test is my unquestioned favorite from their lineup. It is far from an unpopular anime, as practically every IRL weeb friend I have has loved it, but it is over 9 years old now. Some anime may be forgotten to time, but I definitely don’t want this to be one of them. So, I would recommend this anime as strongly as possible, with the brief sidenote that this is a comedy anime. A nine year old comedy anime seems like a bit of a risky investment for a thrifty anime watcher-
So why don’t I offer you a special trial run!
For those of you who are unsure about watching Baka to Test, I suggest just watching episode 8 of the second season. It’s basically an encapsulation of everything I love about the series! You don’t need to know anything about the characters to enjoy it on its own, but if you can’t stand the episode, then I don’t think that you would enjoy the rest of the series. If you do like what that specific episode had to offer, then there’s plenty more where that comes from!

Wow, I almost ended it with that! I can’t believe I almost forgot! I have to talk about the music real quick!
The background music is really good! Love some of the tracks! There’s this one track that sticks with me, that I recall every time I rewatch Kizumonogatari
But both openings, as well as the first ending song, steal the music department for me!
And in the department of their visuals…

I’ve confessed to not liking character montage openings before, haven’t I? Yep. Yep. Probably too many times. But hey, when it’s for a character comedy and it’s done in a way that shows the characters and the tone of the show…
Well, how can I complain? After watching this show five times, a personal record, you would not believe how charming I find the little stuff in the first opening’s animation. For instance, at around the 0:22 second mark, the “avatar” of the red haired girl Minami drops to the right of the screen. Immediately after, the avatar of the orange haired girl who loves her flies across the screen. The title card is the chased away by these two running across the screen!
And then that over the shoulder look that Nishimura, AKA IRON MAN, has at 0:49! And then there’s the classic running sequence…
But there’s also those beautiful sylized character images!

Man, every character has two really great background worthy poses! In many ways, the second opening is less impressive and memorable than the first, but it amped up the sylizations, and they make for good phone backgrounds…
What. Are you going to tell me that the ending of the second season also has fantastic stylization in its visuals?
Well…
I would agree with that, but I don’t really like the song as much. And compared to the banger that was –

O UCHI NI KAEROU!

– I just can’t say that I’ve walked back from classes jamming to any other ending quite like I have for that first ending theme! It’s probably one of my favorite ending themes of all time from one of my all-time favorite anime.
So yeah, if your only impression of Baka to Test up till this point was nosebleeds and Hideyoshi gender jokes, then I suggest that you watch that episode- Season 2, episode 8. Funimation literally has the entire series up with English subtitles on their Youtube channel, so I linked to that earlier. It’s not much of a commitment, but maybe it will show you what I’ve always seen in this series.

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It’s not like I’m forcing you to watch Baka to Test

Maybe you won’t find it special. Maybe you won’t consider it a hidden anime or a gem. Maybe you won’t even find it entertaining. But if you can see what I see, understand why I feel the way I feel, even if you don’t share the same feeling, then I think it’s fine to be satisfied with that. Just knowing that I was able to adequately communicate my feelings is enough for me!

Trying to Fall In Love – Bloom Into You First Impressions

While everyone else is watching out for the new season of anime, I’m still searching for the best anime from 2018! I was planning to already have more stuff out by now, but my commitment to finishing what I started has kind of eaten into my time for reflection.
So, Bloom Into You– What’s it about?
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Well, the most accurate way I can describe it is that it’s the story of a girl in love with the idea of falling in love. She pines for the moment when she can fall head over heels for another person. But in spite of, or perhaps because of that idealization of love, Yuu Koito has never fallen in love. It’s an interesting enough starting point, but the main romantic interest of the series has the most potential to me.
Touko Nanami is a senior classmate to Koito, who also claims that she has never fallen in love. When the first episode ended with the confession of Nanami to Koito, I was admittedly confused at where the story would go. However, despite Koito’s admiration of Nanami, she does not feel the same as her senpai. She doesn’t sprout wings and fly on the wind of passionate teenage love.
It’s an interesting dynamic with some potential. However, I only watched three episodes for the sake of this review. I have no idea how it will turn out, and from what I’ve seen, the side cast needs to step up a bit more. I like watching Koito play out her conflicting emotions of jealousy, guilt and admiration, and I like watching Nanami open up- but I don’t think that’s enough to carry a 13 episode anime.
Bloom Into You feels one-note so far, and while it’s a pleasant note, it needs a little bit more oomph! There are some nice directorial moments, but I’m not sure I’m sold on the artstyle.
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The character designs have shiny hair that I kind of end up staring at. They are also kind of simple looking, which looks really weird when they are right next to a heavily textured wall or some attempt at photo-realism.
Like…
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I can normally ignore the background stuff, but when they try to be impressive with their tracking shots, I can’t help but stare at the texturing on the stones and stuff. I can’t help but be put off by the patterns of wear on the backgrounds! It just really puts me off from investing in the characters, because the characters don’t make instinctive sense in the fictional world.
In a story about subtle emotions, such a disconnect can be fatal.
With all that said, I don’t predict this to break my top 3 anime of 2018, but it has the potential to be one of the better anime that I’ve seen over the past year. I’m going to keep watching it and see if it can survive my strict standards!
I’m planning on tomorrow being my sixth Silver Link anime review out of seven! It’s a classic in my eyes and almost every anime fan I’ve met in real life has loved it… but there are some seriously mixed opinions about it! Maybe too mixed for me to even write about in the short time I have! There’s also the option of trying to write about it with my brother again…
Or I could talk about my changing impression of it over time…
Or I could just stick with the formula of talking about the message of the anime, appeal, and my opinion of the visuals and et cetera.
Not too sure at the moment, but I’m keeping my options open for that. It’s not a serious anime, but for some people the topics might be serious to them. That’s the kind of stuff that interests me. The stuff I don’t intuitively understand.

Celebrating the Degenerate in Yuri Kuma Arashi

It’s all about love.
Yep, surprise surprise, an anime with a title that has been translated as “Lesbian Bear Storm” is about love. Truly the hottest take of hot takes.
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But what if I were to say that it is all about arbitrary and unnatural dichotomies that human society likes to form in regards to sexuality? But not in the typical way.
Rather than focus on the oppression of lesbians or other vague, arbitrary groupings of people, Yuri Kuma Arashi does something interesting by having all of its actual characters be lesbian girls. Guys in Yuri Kuma Arashi are mostly ignored, except for a few instances where they appear as plot devices. I’d guess that there exist more guys in the fictional world of Yuri Kuma than are explicitly mentioned…
But the world building in this anime is non existent! Which I can understand given its surrealist, fairy tale aesthetic- but this show is actually really hard to watch unless you’re really talented at the art of suspending your disbelief! The art, novelty, and tone go along way to helping you out with that, but I don’t blame anyone who can’t sit through this anime.
So- what exactly is the premise of this anime?

In the past, humanoid bears coexisted with humans. However, a meteor shower that fell onto Earth had a strange effect on bears throughout the world: they suddenly became violent and hungry for human flesh, spurring an endless cycle of bloodshed in which bear ate man and man shot bear, forgetting the lively relationship they once had. The “Wall of Severance” was thus built, separating the two civilizations and keeping peace.
Kureha Tsubaki and Sumika Izumino are two lovers attending Arashigaoka Academy, who, upon the arrival of two bears that have sneaked through the Wall of Severance and infiltrated the academy, find their relationship under a grave threat. The hungering yet affectionate bears, Ginko Yurishiro and Lulu Yurigasaki, seem to see the bear-hating Kureha as more than just another meal, and in getting closer to her, trigger an unraveling of secrets that Kureha may not be able to bear.

Premise according to MAL

To me, that sounds like Attack on Titan, but with teenage feelings of love replacing teenage feelings of societal frustration. Melodrama replacing action. But that isn’t especially the case with this anime.

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That’s how bears work!

With the bears, they are only dangerous when they can isolate a human student, thus I expected a wolves and sheep kind of scenario. But that wasn’t especially the case either, and that is because of our protagonist Kureha. She practically leaps at any opportunity to confront the bears, and she will always leave the safety of the group to do so. It’s not safe or rational, but when we speak of rationality, is the group mentality of the humans logical?
As the anime progresses, we learn that the group of humans is based on exclusion and shunning. They find common ground in their mutual hatred and fear of their common enemies. However, their enemies are not the bears alone, but whichever human stands out the most. It’s notable that despite them all being lesbian women, a sexual identity which many would think important, they still discriminate based on their differences. Almost as if groups are totally arbitrary to begin with!
What I find more interesting here is that there is no inherent value to be found by remaining part of the nondescript group of humans. No sense of special pride or purpose that endears people to take part in radical groups in real life, it’s really just a basic “us vs them” mentality. And that’s enough in the world of Yuri Kuma Arashi. It is a caricature, a pointless hierarchy, a straw man of conformity that benefits no one.
But what is the meaning of this conformity? And what is the symbolism behind the lesbian bears attacking lesbian humans and killing them?
Well, what behavior categorizes the humans in the show? Conformity is certainly a major part of it, but remember that my theory is that this anime is all about love. Because of their conformity, the girls lack passion. Even though they are all lesbian, none of them engage in intimate relationships with one another. Those who attempt, invariably die- save for the protagonist, who rejects her humanity.
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The bears are the opposite. Their relationships are passionate, intimate, sexual, and selfish. They have clear motivation, unlike the humans protecting their ill-conceived social structure. However, their desire is to often monopolize their significant other. To devour. They represent the opposite extreme to the humans.
Both are horrible.
So uh, the conclusion is basically says, “Hey, if your society is completely incapable of accepting your happiness, it’s okay to live outside it.”
Which is kind of a given. There’s some deus ex machina to get there, which feels a bit obnoxious even with that fairy tale aesthetic…
The voice of the author God approving of the main character’s decision feels like something straight out of a bad kids show. Like, they went out of their way to contrive so much drama, but then the climax isn’t even worth all that buildup…
Save for a few scenes. This was a cute anime at times, so if I had to summarize my thoughts it would go like this-
Mediocre overall, with novelty and style as its main appeal.
If we’re talking about all that though, I would feel sad if I didn’t mention the opening theme-

The combination of the lullaby-like music and sexual visuals is… something novel all right! Basically the tone of the entire show in a nutshell! Basically, what I get from it is-
There’s nothing unnatural with sexuality and intimacy. If your society doesn’t see the value in intimacy, then maybe it deserves to degenerate. If the ideal of your society is exclusionary, then maybe that ideal should degenerate as well. Maybe if you think that love should be a purely selfless thing, or maybe if you feel like duty should come before your own personal passions, then maybe you should become a bit more of a degenerate.
Idyllic purity is not inherently good or valuable. For instance, all the worst people I know are children! Purity when it comes to sexuality though…
Unless you are totally asexual, then you need to be able to have a give and take relationship. You have to come to terms with your own desires as well as the desires of your partner. Being purely one or the other can be disastrous or abusive without any intent of being so. And I think that’s an interesting component of relationships that media underutilizes.
So yeah, flawed as it is, I’m glad that Yuri Kuma Arashi is all about love.
And one last time for the people in the back-
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How to Adapt a Visual Novel – Chaos;Child

Perspective is one of the most under appreciated devices in all of storytelling. It’s so fundamental, some people hardly recognize how it shapes the emotions felt within the run of a narrative. The difference in intimacy of first and third person narratives can not be understated, as there’s a certain ethos that naturally extends from the decision of deciding on a perspective. It’s the difference between watching someone experience claustrophobia, and being made to feel claustrophobia yourself. Continue reading “How to Adapt a Visual Novel – Chaos;Child”

Talking Mob Psycho 100 and Reigen Arataka With My Brother!

This Saturday, Fandom Events brought the premier of Mob Psycho 100‘s second season to several American theaters. As a fan of the series, I tried to get as many people as possible to come with me to see it in theaters. My two weeb friends from college hadn’t seen the original series, and my weeb friend from my neighborhood had his job to go to. Unfortunate…
But at least my brother has good taste! So he came with me to see it in theaters! I happen to really like watching Mob Psycho 100 with him and so I thought it would make sense to include him in a brief post about his feelings on the anime. I also wanted to test this Q&A style as a format, but I don’t think it turned out very well…
Considering my tight schedule involving meatballs and visual novels and my plan to have a half decent post about Chaos;Child wrapped up by tomorrow, I think I’m just going to have to leave it as is. So uh…
Spoiler warning for Mob Psycho 100‘s first season! And also a grammar warning, since I tried to type it as accurate as I could to his words.

“Don’t lie- Everyone loves money.”

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– Some middle school age Mob Psycho loving otouto

         Edgy Anime Teen: So, what did you think of Mob Psycho 100‘s first season?
“I liked it. It was exciting and it was action-y.”
         EAT: How would you describe the premise of Mob Psycho 100 to someone who
has never even heard of the series?
“A group of people with special powers called espers try to take down like-spirits.”
But is Mob Psycho really about defeating spirits?
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“No. It’s also about controlling their powers and not using them to hurt anybody. And they’re also trying to take down an evil organization, Claw, which is also a group of espers trying to use their powers for evil.”
I always thought it was more focused on Mob trying to grow up to
respectable person despite his powers.
“And yet again to my point about controlling your powers.”
Okay, moving on. What were your hopes for the second season?
“Oh, I was hoping for action. Between Reigen and Mob’s friends and Claw.”
So you just mentioned Reigen, Mob’s role model and self-proclaimed psychic.
What do you think about him as a character?
“I like Reigen. He’s like really… what happened at the beginning of the premiere with him trying to promote himself through his book- I really admire him for that. He’s just really funny at times, and sometimes when he tries to be inspirational, it just doesn’t work at all.”
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So then, you don’t hate him for being a con artist who uses Mob’s powers for
profit? For not being a real psychic?
“I don’t really hate him for that. It just makes him even more of an enjoyable character for me… just how funny it is. It kind of works that way in real life with like people trying to use other people to promote themselves and their businesses.”
You don’t think that’s wrong?
“I do. It’s just that… in terms of characters, it’s not very uncommon to see someone do that.”
Even though Reigen is the main role model in Mob’s life?
“Well when Mob first met Reigen, Reigen sort of helped him, like helping him to learn his powers for good, and not for evil like that yellow haired guy [Teruki] did.”
But Mob tries to repress his powers and emotions because of it. That’s why his
powers build up to 100%, and then he becomes arguably more dangerous than
he would be if he just let his emotions out to begin with.
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“I would argue that if he let his emotions out, he would be even more dangerous. With Teruki, he was hurting more people, and he was hurting more good people. Like with Mob when he reaches 100%, it’s usually because someone pushes him, and that’s usually because someone tried to hurt Mob and his friends.”
Then, is it okay for Mob to hurt bad guys? Even though they are pathetic?
“I mean, it depends on what they’ve done. With Mob, he used his powers when he was a kid because people were trying to hurt his little brother.”
But Reigen is a con artist, doesn’t lying to people hurt them? How can you say
that you like Reigen if he’s such a questionable role model?
“Because even with that issue with him, he’s still someone they can like trust. Because when they were in the Claw headquarters thing, he was still actively trying to protect Mob and his friends to stick up for his morals.”
Some people say that lying is immoral. But isn’t Reigen’s advice to Mob rooted in
a lie? Reigen gives advice about psychic powers while pretending to be a
psychic.
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“Well Mob had his problems before with controlling his powers. What Reigen did was try to make Mob a good person.”
But Mob is a psychic. Reigen compares psychic powers to knives, as if they can
only hurt people. Because of that, Mob always hated his own psychic powers.
If Reigen had been more honest, couldn’t Mob have ended up understanding his
powers better, and grown up a happier person who doesn’t have to hide their
emotions? The first episode of the second season was all about how Mob’s
powers could be used in ways that didn’t hurt people. How they might actually
bring joy to people’s lives. What do you think about that?
“Well if Reigen never told Mob that, then people like Teru, who went on rampages because of their powers, Mob would have kept doing that. Without Reigen telling Mob that powers shouldn’t be used like that, he would have hurt more people.”
Then you think that Mob wouldn’t have acted morally if it weren’t for Reigen?
In other words, do you think that Reigen was irreplaceable for teaching Mob
not to hurt other people? Aren’t a lot of people moral? Surely there are better
role models out there? I’ll get to the point, why do you think Reigen is Mob’s
role model instead of someone more understanding? Why not just have a moral
and responsible psychic instead of a fake psychic?
“Because people couldn’t have done what Reigen did. What Reigen did was let Mob know that he knew what he was going through.”
So it was relatability, then?
“Well, when Reigen first met Mob, Mob like expected a really high level psychic to be learning from. And Reigen may not have been that person, but what he did for Mob was he helped him through his issues by being relatable.”
So by letting him know he wasn’t alone in his struggles?
“Yes.”


By the end there, I felt like I was really dragging stuff out of him, so I sent him off after that. Can’t have kids staying up too late, ya know? Besides, I feel like my line of questioning was a mistake. I’ve already read through the entire manga, so my mind is all like “Reigen, Reigen, Reigen, Dimple, Dimple, Dimple!”, while my brother is still like “But what about Claw? What about the evil organization?”
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I’m a full-on character guy that’s already experienced the catharsis of all the battles, so I end up forgetting that other people are still hyped for the action part of the series. Personally, I’m just focused on the coming of age story of a certain psychic with a dumb haircut. Hopefully I can make this into a learning experience, and better accommodate my brother’s views when I’m trying to write a post involving him. Otherwise, the discussion feels less like a discussion and more like me ruthlessly grilling my brother for information, just trying to provoke the answers I want to hear. (which is not the point)
Which seems to be the rule when I’m bugging him a little over half an hour before his bedtime! I won’t deny that he’s totally unused to explaining himself, but I think that’s a valuable skill for him to develop.
At least I can say that Mob Psycho 100‘s second season had an entertaining first episode. The second half may have been mostly anime original, (from my recollection), but it was a sensible inclusion. It was more of a standalone episode than a standout episode, and it kind of just summarized Mob’s current state of mind on his journey to become a young adult. The downside of that is that any more filler will begin to wear on me, so please Mob Psycho 100
Get on with the main plot soon!