You may have seen my latest blog, which was decisively non-animation. It was kind of wierd, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post it because of it. While it’s outside of my blog theme, I wanted to try out something else.
However, it’s raised a thought for me…
I’ve been considering expanding the scope of this blog. I used to want to do reviews and stuff, but now there is much more entertainment I want to talk about. I want to focus on film, but I want to try and expand to more topics on here. I’ve kind of felt lost on this blog and really wanted to change something up. This may be it, though it’ll depend on how much more active I am.
Quick thoughts, but I felt like it was worth stating. What do you think, should I expand more?
Is Net Neutrality just a tool Comcast is using to assert dominance over Netflix? Why is a Mickey Mouse trying to buy a Fox? Are corporations using entertainment industries and the internet to play a multi-billion dollar game of chess?
When I say yes, I actually mean, “Yes, but it’s probably not like that”
Here’s the story. Crazy things are happening in the world of show business. 2 mega conglomerate media corporations are doing crazy business moves to bring down one singular service that’s only been around for a decade. A half century worth of technological, art/entertainment, and media advancement dominated by two vastly different companies are being outshone by “the new guy”. What is all this, who are they, and why is this important?
This is about the stock market of entertainment. It’s Netflix, Disney, and Comcast. Because multiple billions of dollars are being thrown around, and it effects our favorite films and media. Also the very internet that brings this to us.
Hello everyone it’s AniMo and this is an Animated different kind of Monologue. Today we talk big business, and how that effects our favorite media. While this isn’t inherently animation-based, this was still a topic I wanted to touch on. In following this story, I’ve seen a narrative between the lines and it’s kind of insane. Now I admit this is a conspiracy, however the evidence does look striking.
Let’s talk about it.
Here’s the facts. Disney was worth 147 billion dollars in the stock market, and Comcast was worth 143 billion. Netflix became the newly crowned the most value entity in show business, worth 152 billion. Netflix, on streaming revenue alone, was able to generate a higher stock market revenue than the media giants. This is huge, symbolically. Think about how many companies are under the Comcast and Disney umbrella separately. Netflix alone was worth more than all of that. Netflix had explosive growth, in a few years, in the playground duel between Disney and Comcast for #1 that’s lasted over a decade.
This is where this conspiracy theory starts.
The basic assumption is that Disney and Comcast both want to win the battle of entertainment over Netflix. Duh, if you’re a multibillion dollar corporation, you would too. I argue that both giants are doing it in different ways. Disney and Comcast both really want to purchase 21st Century Fox to win this battle. Disney is on it’s way to closing a 52 Billion Dollar deal to buy out Fox, who hasn’t yet accepted Comcast’s offers or temptations. This means that Disney will control a small fuckload of the modern media. I mean every Disney princess, to all of the Star Wars universe, to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to rub elbows with The Simpsons, Fantastic 4/X-Men, and far far more properties. All of these networks don’t even consider the television stations in news, sports, and primetime. All of this is for Disney’s upcoming streaming service they’re making to compete with Netflix. Disney would also have a lot of control over Hulu, which would position Disney as the best competitor in the game.
Comcast would be severely unprepared for this battle. Comcast has a large collection of Phone & Cable TV properties, and entertainment companies ranging from NBC TV to Dreamworks animation. Comcast gaining Fox properties are also a huge boost for them as they ALSO want to start streaming on the internet. Symbolically, Disney stands more to gain and less to lose overall, and Comcast stands to lose more than they can gain. This of course is all in terms of billion dollar networks to be fair.
If Comcast does get it’s shorter end of the stick, it can pull it’s trump card known as killing the internet.
Net Neutrality is the idea of a free and open internet, and the FCC’s repeal today killed that. This gives control of the entire internet, and it’s many communication networks, to none other than various telecom corporate overlords Comcast. Comcast would have the ability to slow down consumers internet and phone speeds, and charge money for access to internet services like websites. In the context of Netflix, Comcast’s internet packages could slow down the speed of the website or deny access to users unless they pay some fee for access (on TOP of the Netflix subscription itself). They could also do the same for Disney should their Fox deal, and as a result their streaming service, become gigantic. Comcast could make it impossible to physically access these sites should be Net Neutrality sway in their favor. This wouldn’t as much be a check or balance in the competition as much as it would be Comcast rigging the game.
So are these giants playing this 3-way Chess game to try and dominate the entertainment industry?
Maybe not. Disney has been buying up media properties in film and television much before Netflix become a viable contender in the showbiz field. Comcast has been trying to gain control over the very internet for a while as well, directly benefitting from legislation intended to regulate the worldwide web. Disney and Comcast become media giants because of how spread out they are, using connections developed over years and years of negotiations. Netflix became big because they championed the new wave of entertainment consumption in a single decade, making strides to develop their brand in hugely beneficial ways that few other streamers can even attempt.
As consumers there is little, if any, way to tell if the giants business dealings are the product of taking the throne back from Netflix. We can’t tell if they’d be doing this without the threat of Netflix’s growth.
Netflix is likely to stay growing as the streaming market defines and redefines how we consume entertainment. The frontrunners of old have to redevelop the ways they compete. History is being made, and when we look back on this war over the common consumer, who knows what landscape will have been created, nurtured or burned. It’ll likely be more clear by then if Disney and Comcast are really villianous companies trying to defeat the little guy who suddenly overtook everything. Technically, we can’t even tell right now if online streaming can sustain itself (but for now it looks like the future of technology so I’d personally bet on it growing).
For now, we don’t have time to ‘Netflix and Chill’ as everything is going to be changing drastically over the next few days. With Net Neutrality gone, it’s unlikely that Netflix and Disney won’t be burdened by telecom networks shafting their internet speeds.
In fact, as of now, the fight may be in our hands. Since I’ve spoke out against this now, this could even be my last freely published article
This has been AniMo on Animated Monologues. I hope you enjoyed this change of pace. Thanks for reading and have an animated day.
Is it worth it? You sit through and episode of anime or a film that seems to have stale images or background, questioning if anything besides maybe lips or walk cycles were even animated? Before you can answer, sustain a blow to the face of vivid color animation sequences that clearly try and make you forget the slideshow animated scenes you sat through earlier?
Luluco is a god damn joy
So, yes this is happening. I’ve seen this across a lot of anime that features high octane animated movement. It’s still images for a few seconds before something nutty happens.
Why am I complaining?
It’s not a rhetorical question I’m asking you, actually it’s what I’m asking myself, and in a confused manner. Because even though I’m not mad at all that this happens, this question has been nagging in my head every time I see a show or film that does this.
I mean, I really love watching animation for animation’s sake. I love seeing visual styles, the drawing of characters, and seeing stuff move. When the above film has the ‘still images’ I alluded to before, your forced to stare at the unmoving character designs. They look great though.
I can’t downplay the talent that the animators behind these projects clearly have because, even if in my previously exaggerated statement about not animating stuff was true (which it’s objectively not), the fact is that the animators clearly know what they’re doing. They still can draw characters and scenery and landscapes through an invisible camera lens that I couldn’t even dream of creating.
The vast majority of animation I see that does this shares this sentiment.
Even though this gif is moving (because of the camera), notice that Luluco and Justice themselvesaren’t. However, you can also tell that no one in charge is wasting this time. That’s the positive side effect of not watching objects move, you see how well the objects (in this case, a characters) are designed.
Case and Point
So these are the parts of animation, at any given scene. It’s a buildup, and then it’s a payoff. How does this contribute to the whole picture of the animation? These are framed in stories that get exciting later, so the best action is at the end, which your brain will then remember more once finished watching. We see the evolution of moving that culminates in what feels like a visual payoff. The better (subjectively) that this is pulled off, the better the film will feel overall (especially if ‘the buildup’ is also good). So, it can be fine to have little movement if you save it for later? I guess
However. I realize that it’s not necessarily a problem as a practice, but instead it tempts stories or animation that can go wrong if it’s handled lazily.
After all, if the character designs aren’t good, or if ‘the buildup’ is not worth the payoff, then it risks a weak film. It’s not going to hold up on a structural level if the writing or animation isn’t substantive the whole way through. This of course is more of interpreting the film, which’ll differ between all of us.
So then should all animation studios across the world shorten stories to be tighter on a storytelling level and make object move?
Of course not!
Sometimes it’s not feasible for studios if they can’t afford to animate every little thing, or it’s not worth it or necessary on a storytelling level. Sometimes movie or episode scenes are just people standing around talking, which doesn’t need every breath or piece of grass to move. Space Patrol Luluco for example integrates this into their style, where they’ll use simple Flash animation or camera tricks to make stuff look like it’s moving. The illusion of movement, after all, is the literal definition of animation.
I don’t think everything in a given animation should be animated. I guess it’s a plus, a cherry-on-top of any given animation experience.
This has been Animated Monologues, analyzing animation in every post. Thanks for reading and have an animated day.
Every year the Oscars celebrate the best films in all categories, and they’ve been awarding animated shorts since (almost) the beginning of the Oscars themselves. Now that the awards are right upon us, it is worth reviewing the films up for nomination. One main reason is simply that they’re entertaining, with the other being the discussion of who should win. This year is a weird one though, with some films receiving more (even if questionable) attention then others as well as differing levels of quality, it’s hard to tell who will get the Oscar gold this year. So let’s review the films as they stand, form an opinion on it, and go from there.
Hello and this is AniMo from Animated Monologues, talking about Oscar Season. This year we discuss the short nominees and the roadblocks we may run into.
Negative Space (The stop-motion entry of the year): A French stop-motion film about a man reminiscing about his late father, and how they bonded over luggage and packing bags. The boy details how you can use every inch of space in a suitcase to put clothes and more in every nook and cranny. The titular ‘negative space’ comes from that used/unused space in the bags.
It debuted at the prestigious Annecy Animation Festival in 2017, winning a special distinction for French short-filmmaking for directors Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata. This rings close and personal for both filmmakers as Kuwahata is used to watching her dad pack and travel for business. Porter realized through making this film that this is an odd, yet vital, bond that children have to make with their parents. Showcasing this film around the world has turned both directors into professionals at packing, since they had to move the whole production set around the world on multiple occasions.
As a film, it’s not super special. It’s a close-to-home story but doesn’t present enough mindset or emotion to leave a longer lasting impression. The art style is very quaint and sets up its plain setting beautifully, even if the writing didn’t take full advantage of it.
Dear Basketball (The animation veteran nomination): Kobe Bryant has retired from basketball after a long and rewarding career, and the poem he wrote to commemorate it has been animated by the former Disney legend Glen Keane. We see small snapshots of Bryant’s legacy animated into one loving tribute to his favorite game.
Keane’s animation, as usual, is very detailed and has a very smooth flow to it. Even though Bryant was the central force of the film, we can’t overlook Keane’s contribution to it. Keane has been making short films since he left Disney, and they’re all beautiful. Even if we can’t relate to Bryant’s life and his success, the film is accessible to most audiences since Bryant talks more about the feelings and dreams surrounding the game then any other technical aspect of it. While certainly not Keane’s best short film, it’s still a worth addition to his already storied legacy.
Though with his Oscar nomination came concern over a previous rape charge of his, and possible symbolic ramifications for Bryant to win an Oscar.
Lou (The Disney nomination of the year): A story about an unknown (supernatural?) force that finds lost items on a school playground that distributes everything back to the children who lost them. The Lost and fOUnd monster (using LOU because those letters are missing on the Lost and Found bin) sees a bully taking other people’s stuff, and seeks to change him around.
The tale of redemption is cute, and it hits a chord because it shows weakness in the school bully archetype (which it took too long for animation to start doing consistently). It’s short and too the point, and leaves its impression with the storybeats of the bully. It has a very Pixar style to it, and sinks in a very simple message. Lou isn’t an instant-classic Pixar short, and has similar trouble standing out in these nominees.
There is also the issue of John Lasseter, Pixar’s Chief Creative Office, and decades of sexual assault charges. Though Coco will face (and already has) similar trouble if it wins the animated feature category.
Revolting Rhymes Part 1 (Hello again Roald Dahl): A wolf walks into a diner and tells a random woman his version of a classic fairy tale. He tells the story of Snow White and Red Riding Hood, and how Red killed both of his nephews. It takes what we know about fairy tales and combines their odd elements (while still staying true to the real stories).
This was a very clever ~~short~~ TV production, and it isn’t even the full story. There is a Part 2 that wasn’t included in this submission (since it wouldn’t have qualified as a short film otherwise) that can be found on Netflix with this first part as well.
I liked how they set up the plot, but always make us aware that not everything is as it seems. The wolf’s dialogue always has this aura that there is more at stake then most readers would realize. You can see shades of the artwork from Dahl’s stories, and it works very well in the 3D animated environment. It also creates a very gentle environment for the imagination of the fairy tales to shine.
Garden Party (FROGS GALORE): A few frogs jump around a large pool and garden in the backyard of a mansion, in glorious photorealistic 3D animation. There is a pair of frogs jumping around towards each other, there is one trying to eat a butterfly, and there is a fat one having a field day in the kitchen. And the mansion has a backstory too.
It has possibly the best looking animation out of all the nominees and, on the surface, has the most basic story. The animation is very very vivid, and every single movement of the frogs is smooth to watch. As the film goes on, they reveal more about the mansion that they are in, and why the frogs get to do whatever they want. It’s a steady buildup that is worth it in the end. This makes for possibly the most satisfying ending of all the films (since the true ending of Revolting Rhymes is in the 2nd part) and the most interesting journey that the viewers could be taken on.
If it isn’t too hard to tell this is my personal favorite of the films. I root for this one because I like it’s imagery the best, it’s simple but creates the darkest aura underneath a guise. Though Revolting Rhymes is a fairly close 2nd favorite, there is something about these frogs that delights me a lot.
Who I Think Will Win:
It’s kind of a toss-up between Lou and Dear Basketball. This would give Pixar a 2 year streak for winning the short Oscar, and their 4th overall. This would also give Glen Keane his first Oscar which he absolutely deserves, since his work in animation is top-notch. These are also the 2 films most in public knowledge since Keane and Bryant have been making many public appearances for this. Lou is best known because it’s Pixar, which automatically reaches more people than most nominees, (which is wierd because they’ve lost twice as many nominations than they’ve recieved up to this year).
However, even though Keane and Pixar have outstanding reputations within the animation community, they both aren’t without company that could cause problems.
No matter how good these films are, it’s important not to undercut what’s going on behind the scenes. Even though both films have already been getting awards this Award Season, nothing is higher than an Oscar. Winning could bring some serious rammifications in their face if they award outed sex offenders as so many other Hollywood names are finally being punished for.
Of course if they give the Oscar to the other great films than they won’t have to face this issue. Though it can be very hard to tell what they’ll award, assuming animation fan even still care enough about the Oscars on a serious note.
This has been AniMo from Animated Monologues, analyzing animation in every post. Thanks for reading and have an animated day.
Even though it wasn’t always out of my control, I should (and could) have expected myself to drop a series without a word. Even in the beginning I put myself in a wierd mindset to try and do this monthly, and it only made me want to put it off. I still have a soft spot for LGBTQ+ anime but I also realized I can’t force myself to watch it no matter how much of it I want to see.
I think it’s that I can’t give myself deadlines on this blog, because I want to keep animation more of a hobby right now while I’m in school. Or maybe it’s that I’m not in the best space to sustain a blog. I’m moved twice this year, and I’ve been setting more goals in real life to better myself. Shutting myself in a dorm for hours to watch anime/animation started to drive me crazy, so even though I still watch it consistently I’m balancing it with a more active life.
I can give all these excuses as to why I haven’t done a lot on this blog this year, but it’s honestly because I haven’t felt like writing too much. I really don’t know why though, I’m still passionate about animation, but I haven’t had enough to start writing about something I love or hate. I want to be more active writing about animation because I eventually want to work in this industry, and as of now I am not prepared.
I think my best course of action is to stop setting deadlines for myself, and try and free my mind until I have a nerve to start writing again.
This means I can’t promise when the next article is, or what it’s going to be about. Whenever it comes, I hope to make your day.
This has been AniMo on Animated Monologues, have an animated day.
So I’m sitting in my friends dorm room my Freshmen year, and I’d been staring at his manga collection for a bit (as I had been every time we hung out). He let me check some stuff out, so I randomly grabbed the first volume of Claymore, and got to reading. I found out that there was an anime version of it, so once I finished a chapter or two I ended up watching and later finishing the series. His favorite anime at the time was Cowboy Bebop, so he immediately recommended it to me since I enjoyed my first anime. So I checked out a few episodes of the dub.
A week later, I found myself in his room again babbling about how great the series was because I wasted no time finishing it.
I’ve been an anime fan ever since.
Animated Beginnings: Films to Series
By the time this event happened, I’d already been an animation fan that had been interested in anime. I’d seen some anime films here and there (Grave of the Fireflies was one of my favorite films), but I didn’t know anything about the scope of anime. So I started learning about more anime beyond the films I’d heard of. I knew briefly of films like Sword of the Stranger, Akira, and Mamoru Hosoda. But I had no idea who Satoshi Kon or Makoto Shinkai was, and I wasn’t even aware of Redline.
I still love films more than I do television series, and this is still true for anime. I prefer seeing a whole story in one piece than in increments of time, so when I got into anime I had to familiarize myself with the medium of television. I started searching for recommendations for any series that sounded interesting. It was kind of odd to have to not learn the whole story in one sitting, but I got more adjusted to it.
What made the transition easier was the realization that anime series can be wrapped up pretty easy. 13 or 26 episodes became easy for me to do, since I rarely watched live action television for multiple seasons (on my own). As I got used to college life, using 50 minutes of time to watch 2 or so anime episodes became easy for me. This was probably what kickstarted my interest and experience with anime series.
This was when I mostly watched English dubs, since I mostly was spoiled by Disney’s work on Studio Ghibli dubs had no experience in languages other than English. I watched Claymore and Bebop dubbed, as I did with many shows to follow. I experienced Soul Eater and Spice & Wolf dubbed, the latter of which was the first anime I ever called my favorite.
I didn’t stay like this for too long, because I finally got adjusted to subtitles with shows like Baccano! (whose dub I fell in love with on rewatch), Steins;Gate, and Toradora!
Subtitles: Literally reading into my media
The single biggest reason I watch more anime subbed then dubbed is because there is far more anime that isn’t dubbed, and I don’t want to exclude the chance of missing out on great shows because of that. When I started the realize the scale of how much anime exists, and how much my previous statement applies to it, is when I started teaching myself how to read subs.
Subtitles aren’t easy for newcomers to anime, and it is a noticeable barrier for people wanting to get into anime. The only way to really deal with subtitles for beginners is just watching subs, and getting used to it. I realized there really was no other way around it. Once I finally got used to it, I started to recognized the advantages that they hold. Reading out dialogue (mentally) in my head forces me to pay attention to the anime’s story. It’s impossible for me to look away or goof off while the series is playing. This helped me learn to understand the medium of anime, and most importantly, analyze it.
This became helpful when I started expanding my animation tastes into other foreign films. Once I could finally keep my attention on the animation and dialogue at the same time, it became so much easier to dig around to find animation to watch. Now that my eyes can switch between words and the story while I watch subs, I can also start to develop ideas about animation and find my favorite anime because of it.
Changing my Taste: How I got into “girly” anime
Before I got into animation, I focused a lot on live-action film. My favorite genre for any story was easily parody. Films like SpaceBalls, Young Frankenstein, and Top Secret were cherished to me. Once I started getting into anime, this became sidelined to other genres I found myself marathoning.
Probably the biggest change in genre taste for me came in Slice of Life anime, which is likely no surprise to anyone who’s familiar with me. This stemmed from my love for anime films like Wolf Children, and shows with romance like Say, “I Love You”, Lovely Complex, and True Tears. All of these shows helped set the standard for my taste in (what have now become) my 3 favorite genres in anime; Romance, Slice of Life, and Drama.
Through these shows, I realized that a lot of well-known romance are part of the shoujo demographic. Shoujo anime/manga are marketed towards younger girls that I, as a young adult male, became a big fan of. This eventually lead me to discover my now favorite anime Ouran High School Host Club which I discussed on this blog the instant I started watching it.
Eventually I was lead to the world of josei anime/manga, which markets towards older women. In terms of the major anime demographics (shonen, seinen, shoujo, josei, and kids), josei is easily my favorite. Josei anime such as Kids on the Slope, Bunny (Usagi) Drop, and Princess Jellyfish are all currently in my Top 10 favorite shows, as well as Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu which many (including me) considered the best anime of last year.
It’s not as though this is all the anime I am or was interested in. Soon after I watched Bebop, I followed up by watching other “popular” series such as Steins;Gate, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Spice & Wolf. I even tried my hand in older
series like Ah! My Goddess which is still one of my favorite franchises in media. Around this time I found my first true “Favorite Anime” in Baccano! which held the title of my favorite series until my 2nd viewing of Ouran Host Club (In fairness, Baccano! is still my #2 anime).
Overall, I went from a screwball/parody comedy fan to a Slice of Life drama fan over the course of all my anime experience. I try and watch anime from a wide variety of genre’s to find more shows. Genre experimentation has led me to shows I adore such as The Tatami Galaxy, Wandering Son, Ping Pong the Animation, Working!!!, and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. However, this is far from the most important knowledge I gained from spending the last 2 years in the anime fandom.
Anime Consumption: Streams and DVDs
When I started watching anime in my dorm, I didn’t have cable so I was forced to stream everything on my computer. This was fine by me since I rarely watched stuff on cable as it was. I wasn’t aware that the sites I used to use were pirating sites, and I ended up switching off of them once I found it out. The biggest reason this happened was because I started learning a lot about the anime streaming market, and the dangers of piracy. As I started learning more and more anime, I tried to make it my mission to keep everything on legal sites. In doing this, I found a lot more content that I never expected to find and enjoy.
I’m still surprised sometimes how large both Funimation and Crunchyroll’s catalogs are, which is why I am loving VRV so much since I get to literally see the best of both worlds (except I can’t find Trigun on there, which has been recommended to me a lot). This kind of exploration taught me a lot about international anime licenses, which has become an interest of mine for a potential career path.
I had a DVD collection that I started for animated films, and I started eventually adding a lot of anime to that collection. My animation collection as it stands now is probably half-anime (between series and films). When I was in Honolulu, I had little trouble finding places to buy cool DVDs. Still, I’m not fully on top of my collection because I still haven’t watched a fair amount of content that I’ve bought (such as Fruits Basket, Ninja Scroll, Afro Samurai, and Wind Named Amnesia). One of my prize possessions is my Complete Collection for Baccano! which I bought a few months before the license expired.
As I started slowly becoming an anime fan, I knew that I would slowly have to dive into the single most fascinating aspect of the anime world.
Knowing myself, I figured that I would have a good time with the anime fandom. I was used to these big media fandoms with my past and vast experience in Pokémon. There was no way for me to tell if anime was going to be the same for me or not, but I found myself happy with the change of pace. Anime was how I eventually learned about reddit due to the r/anime subreddit, which was a huge help in expanding my taste in anime and anime knowledge. I still get a lot of perspective about the anime world through my time I spend there, and have met a lot of cool people from it.
In my personal life, I’m fairly open about my love for anime and constantly seek out people to discuss it with. I feel like I bring out the true otaku in people when I meet them, because these conversations tend to got from zero to one hundred once the anime connection is established. It’s always a fun discussion point with people because I’m endlessly curious about what people know in anime (do they just watch popular shonens? do they know crazy underrated stuff? do they know about the market and the industry?), and of course what everyone’s favorites are.
This is multiplied tenfold at anime conventions. I’ve only had the opportunity to attend 2 years of Kawaii Kon in Hawaii, but now that I’m back on the mainland I hope to attend a whole lot more. In this time I met a few of my favorite dub voices such as J. Micheal Tatum and Vic Mignogna. Between fan panels and industry information panels, I’ve greatly enjoyed my experiences at conventions.
As I march forward in the world of anime, these are a lot of my ideas that I hope to develop and study. I hope to watch more anime masterpieces and learn about the industry. I hope to meet more anime fans and tell them to watch Baccano! and Ouran. I hope to find more stuff worthy of writing on this blog and presenting in other mediums for discussion.
It’s been a good 2 years, and I hope this continues forward. This has been Animated Monologues, and I have been AniMo. Have an animated day.
Well, a new month has started and this should have been a new review. But it’s not, and I have to explain why
Well, now that I’m back home, I’ve been working a lot. After finally getting a job, I started occupying my time with that and other IRL activities because I spent too much time in Hawai’i doing nothing. I had almost of month of time while back home where I wasn’t watching any anime. Trying to find a job was draining a lot of energy, and I had no mental energy to watch anime. This is probably the biggest reason I started missing reviews, because I rarely have inspiration to write when I’m not actively watching anything. Now that I have a job, I’ve been regularly working anime and other media into my consumption schedule.
In terms of reviews that I was writing, I lost a near-completed draft of what was supposed to be July’s review. Losing it should not have been so hard for me, but I had a hard time trying to get back to it, but then my life schedule took over and I never got back to it. Add this to some temporary internet loss, and now I’ve missed 2 Progressive Plot reviews in a row. Since this has been on the forefront of my mind in terms of creating content on here, I haven’t been writing any other content for this blog (which I have a few ideas for). Now that I’m feeling back to normal, I’ll be able to press forward with this blog.
What I’m Going to do…
Well, I’m going to write. While trying to have a set schedule for blogging has not worked, I want to continue with this Progressive Plots series for this year. I’m going to try and write the next few posts at my leisure, so that I can better pace myself, and so I can try and get shorter-form content out. I realize that if I call it quits on Progressive Plots now, I have virtually no chance of finishing a review series in the future, so I’ll see it out. But this won’t be on a monthly basis since it’s not going as smoothly for me as I wish it was.
I won’t try to worry myself about banging out a post at the end of the month, but will instead update the blog more casually. I’ll work on a few more drafts so that I can consistently post something as opposed to all these updates.
For those of you still around that are sticking to this blog despite the lack of activity, I thank you. I hope I can pump out posts worthy of your reading about this crazy world of animation.
*Author’s Note: Not getting a review last month has been eating me alive for a while. I was in the middle of finals week, and then I had to move my whole life back home. This is me making it up to you readers, and for self satisfaction (more on that later).
Hello everybody, AniMo from Animated Monologues here with my first ever Double Feature review! As a way to make up for my absence last month, I’m adding a show to this review. Even though these shows have comparable elements, the point of this post is too review these shows on their individual merits.
One consistent feeling of mine as I’ve consumed media is my love for drama. It’s like normal life, except it’s spicier and (in my opinion) more interesting. Of course, not all drama is good, as I’m sure everyone will agree. Luckily for us, these two shows are made out of good drama. Aoi Hana (Sweet Blue Flowers) is a shoujo ai slice of life about two girls living their school lives after reuniting when one of them moves back in town after a long absence. Hourou Musuko (Wandering Son) is a slice of life drama about a few transgendered kids (featuring one girl wanting to become a boy, and a boy who wants to become a girl) making their way through middle school/social life. I quickly found myself enjoying both shows, with my positive feelings only escalating. This is good for me since my first, and even my latest, reviews weren’t as nice towards the shows I covered. Whether or not the rest of the shows will follow this trend is up to future me, and the shows I choose to review. But before we can speculate about that, it’s time to talk about…
Aoi Hana (Sweet Blue Flowers)
This seemed to be one of the most well-received yuri anime I researched before I started this review series. While there weren’t as many yuri elements as I expected in the show, there were more than enough slice of life drama elements to keep me happy.
Fumi Manjoume and Akira Okudaira were best friends as kids, but had to be separated when Fumi moved out of town. At the beginning of the series, Fumi moves back to town and she meets Akira (nicknames Achan) again where they start their friendship anew. They both attend different schools, but spend time together on weekends or time out of school. The show gives both characters a lot of room to perform and develop.
One yuri aspect that comes in is when Fumi gets in a relationship with another girl from her class named Yasuko. Yasuko tries to involve Fumi in drama productions put on by their (in collaboration with Achan’s) school. This is a bit of a dramatic focal point in the middle of the series, as Yasuko’s family gives her some shit for it and it makes other main character Kyouko jealous (she has a long-time crush on Yasuko).
The drama production storyline sees almost every main-ish character in the series interacting with each other to put together this production. There is a little sideplot with an elementary school production doing The Little Prince, which I will bring up later when I bring up that story again in a future post. It helps the story because we see one of the characters help out the lead performer avoid stage fright (the public performer in me loved this scene).
After the production storyline, Fumi and Yasuko have a break up, which stirs up some more drama in the whole friend group. It also causes a drift in Fumi and Yasuko’s relationship, and the tension that results from is a great showcase of the writing and development in the series. Fumi and Achan grow a lot during this because Fumi turns to her for comfort. We also watch her relationships with everyone else change as they adjust to their friends not dating anymore. Even though we learn a lot about them during this time, it’s still apparent that Fumi and Achan’s dynamic is the main and most consistent driver of the series. I couldn’t tell if the show wanted to imply any romantic tension or feelings between them. This could have been a burden on how their relationship was written, but the rest of their relationship was handled well, so it wasn’t a hinderance.
More than anything, the thing that I loved about the series was how maturely everything was handled. Too many times I’ve seen romance in anime handled between very immature characters, be it because the characters are too immature to move forward or because they just handle their relationships in an immature fashion. However, this show seemed to have no problem writing a lesbian relationship and making it feel so normal. I feel like this kind of normalcy and maturity is unnoticed and underrated in modern anime, especially ones that tackle these more progressive topics.
Speaking of which…
Hourou Musuko (Wandering Son)
When I first started this review series, this was one of the shows I knew I needed to cover. I’d never seen it before, and it fit the criteria perfectly, being the only transgender-related anime I know about (unless you count traps or genderbenders as transgender anime). I’d also heard from many people that it was a good drama series, so I was interested.
Let’s make one thing very clear, this is the best show I’ve seen since I first watched Ouran High School Host Club (over one year ago). I didn’t given a series a 10/10 score upon my first viewing during that entire time, and this show finally broke that streak. To say it lightly, I adored this show, and it was refreshing to finally view a show that made me remember why I spend so much time with anime. Now that my gushing is over, let’s get to the more analytical parts of the review.
The series took little time to set the tone of the show. We learn quickly that the show is about Nitori Shuuichi (a young boy who wants to become a girl), and Takatsuki Yoshino (a young girl who wants to become a boy). We see their middle school lives, and their interactions with their friends and classmates. Saori Chiba used to be a good friend of them, but they’ve had a bit of a disconnect due to some romantic drama they encountered before the events of the series. Chiba and Takatsuki both had feelings for Nitori at the same time, and this caused a huge fallout between them. These 3 are the central characters of the show, and their dynamic with each other is a great driver for the viewers.
Possibly the biggest benefit of the show is the serious tone that they approach and the subject and characters with. Takatsuki faces many internal dilemmas about comfortability in gender, and applies this by wearing boys clothes . Shu is portrayed as a boy who feels uncomfortable with himself because of his birth gender, and it’s easy to tell that he’s more comfortable when he’s dressed as a girl. When other people find out about this, we have to sit back and watch them take on a lot of punishment from the society around him. This is portrayed in the form of mass amounts of bullying and awful rumors that create problems in school. Situations like these are packed with emotional turmoil and tension, which are aided by how well this reflects on and develops the cast. Unfortunately there is a greater stigma surrounding feminine males, which meant that Shu got the bulk of the negative reactions from his classmates and contemporaries.
The other characters don’t face a lot of the same issues, but instead act well as friends to Takatsuki and Shu during the series. There is something about Chiba’s blunt/straightforward personality that I was extremely invested in, and she was my favorite character because of it. Chizuru probably would have been my favorite girl if she wasn’t so…unhelpful. Her heart is undoubtedly in the right place, but she’s just too nutty to truly shine (and her friend Momo was kind of wierd). Sasa was also peppy and eccentric enough for me to immediately love, but she didn’t get enough screentime to possibly mediate the many tense situations she was involved in. Shu has an older sister who disapproves of his lifestyle, but it’s clear that she loves him as a family member and friend.
The show overall wraps itself into a great package of drama and heart, and it reminded me why I love anime so much. It’s also boosted my motivation to treat this review series better!
This has been AniMo for Animated Monologues, analyzing animation in every post. Thanks for reading and have an animated day.
Human relationships are always evolving, as are the ways that humankind itself evolves. Throughout human history, technology has evolved in a way to help grow every medium of communication. The term ‘Hyper-personal’ has been used to describe the farthest extent that people take social media communication. Nowadays, we see this happen with people over-sharing information on social media. Whether this is a good or bad thing is up to interpretation. The 2009 Stop-motion animated feature Mary and Max explored a Hyper-personal relationship that started, and flourished, using letter writing. Despite being an older platform for communication, the ways that letters were used in the film exhibit many traits of a slightly-anonymous hyper-personal relationship.
The term ‘Hyper-personal’ comes from Joseph Walther, a communication professor from Singapore. It helps describe behavior seen over communicative technologies. It comes out of a greater sense of connection exhibited from communicative technology. It’s common to see people become really personal, really quickly after using such mediums as the internet or print sources. There are multiple reasons this happens. It starts with senders that can edit their perceptions of themselves to fit a specific persona that may not necessarily be true of their real selves. Specifically, it gives leeway to only portray positive images about themselves for another party to receive.
A receiver of this kind of information generally overestimates their similarities with a sender, which in itself can only come from very limited cues. It’s important to remember that all of these messages and conversations are traditionally sent from messages which can be edited, planned, and changed before sending. This channel of communication also runs without inherent limits on time, even if everyone is communicating on different times. This helps people change their feedback, and overall opinions on any given situation. Not only do people have different perceptions on other people, but can now create a new perception for themselves. Generally the interactions defined by hyper-personal relationships come from online sources in general, however it’s not internet exclusive. A story like Mary and Max showcases hyper-personal communication through letter-writing.
Mary and Max is a film made by Australian animator Adam Elliot, and focuses on the lives of the 2 titular characters. Mary is a young Australian girl who just wanted a pen pal, and randomly chose a name out of a phonebook to find the name of Max. She starts writing him one day, out of a general curiosity and a desire for a friend in her life. Max is a 40 year old man living in New York with Asperger’s Syndrome as well as other emotional problems. We see their lives grow for a span of about 20 years, where Mary and Max spend all that time exchanging letters about a wide range of topics that over unimportant topics to extremely personal details. What really gives the film its power is from the many personal issues both protagonists face. Mary starts off as a lonely child with uncaring parents but faces issues such as alcoholism and suicidal tendencies as she grows up, and Max is a man who deals with a mostly parentless past filled by many traumatic bullying experiences that sometimes cause mental breakdowns and high class anxiety attacks. Yet throughout every issue they have, they manage to stay happiest when writing to each other and telling each other their lives. A lot of this is because they become very interpersonal very quickly.
The relationship becomes hyper-personal almost immediately in the film. When Mary sends her first letter to Max she includes a lot of very personal information. She quickly talks about her parents and pets, and the relationship she has with them. Being an eight-year-old, she had little trouble asking him if he knew where babies came from. When Max responds, he also gets really personal with her. Every time he refers to his therapist, he writes his full name down. Max also details his Overeaters Anonymous meetings, as well as why his parents were never in his life. On the 2nd letter we heard a lot more personal details from each side, where Mary talks about her loneliness, and her neighbors history in the military, and Max talks about his detailed eating schedule and favorite lottery numbers. Throughout the film they share a lot of raw information about each other, which is filled with dark backstory and deep issues that are in desperate need of fixing. While many traits of hyper-personal communication are shown, it still doesn’t portray the full scope of the theory.
While Mary and Max shows the two protagonists grow very close very quickly, it generally doesn’t follow every detail of the theory as written. They write each other letters, and this gave them a lot of room to exhibit the many traits and ideas presented by hyper-personal theories. The theory describes falsified or exaggerated persona’s exchanging information to each other. In the film, Mary and Max sent each other unedited pictures of their daily normal selves and tell each other a lot of raw, truthful information. They don’t even have a lot in common either, and they never thought they had a lot in common. Despite this, they still communicate and maintain a pretty personal relationship. Their friendship rides a lot on simple kindness and the willingness to respond to each other. It also helps that most other relationships they have in their lives are incredibly unstable, (at least the one’s that actually lasted). Them keeping in contact likely helped keep them grounded when their worlds around them would collapse. Even though their communication and feedback follows the same pace as Hyper-personal relationships, it doesn’t generally follow the other substantial criteria. The lack of a falsified or exaggerated persona on both ends disagrees with how Hyper-personal relationships are thought to function. This isn’t necessarily an issue on the end of hyper-personal communication as a theory, but is more of Mary and Max being an odd case study in general.
Hyper-personal communication is simple, has predictive power, and can easily explain behavior over the internet. It’s unfortunate that an idea like this can’t be fully explored since it is so hard to control enough to test via social experiments. This still takes into account how easy it is to get in a hyper-personal relationship over the internet, which likely happens everywhere in these technological days. It seems like anyone gathered in like-minded communities can easily find people to communicate with, giving this idea so much practical utility across the world. We may be used to it on our Facebook or Twitter pages, but Mary and Max applied this to a completely different platform. The relationship that Mary and Max had is one of the most well-written in animation, and rightfully carries the enjoyment of the film.
This has been AniMo on Animated Monologues, thanks for reading and have an animated day!
After many hours thinking it over, I have decided that I have to cave in. I officially have a Twitter account now! Since I don’t have it on mobile yet, idk how much I’ll update while out and about, but I will try and use it as much as I can. I started it because it’s a form o social media totally new to me, and I want to try and keep in touch with the parts of the internet that Twitter loves. It will be a reflection of AniMo, and is not a personal twitter, so it’ll mostly follow pop culture people and will be posting about entertainment related things. If you would like to, you can follow me!
One of the reasons I don’t spend too much time on here is because I am on reddit so much. Since I end up writing and talking a lot on reddit, I decided to create a subreddit for it! It isn’t just dedicated to me, or the animation I am interested in. I want it to be a space for everyone to talk about the different pop culture or entertainment interests they have, and practice writing/discussing it. It’s my first time creating a subreddit, and one of the first chances I’ve got at moderating. I hope you all stop by so I can hear from you!
That’s all for now. Mary and Max post coming soon, and possibly something related to all the anime films I have been watching.