The weight of time in anime and manga

Kamina and Simon from Gurren Lagann; no idea who drew this, sorry!

I consume a lot of anime in a purely superficial way; I watch it and enjoy it, but then forget about it. My favourites are those that burrow deeply into the subconscious, with certain moments and images able to rise back into mind at any given time; often, years after I’ve seen them, but why? Why is it that these particular stories have captured my heart and not others?

Continue reading “The weight of time in anime and manga”

The tide of violence

Thorfinn the Viking

I’ve read only 26 chapters of Vinland Saga so far but its quality is such that I have to admit it’s already one of my favourites.

Thorfinn is the main character, an Icelandic warrior joined with a band of Viking mercenaries sailing the seas of Europe and sacking the villages and cities of Norman France and England. His talent as a fighter is chilling, if just because he’s still just a small boy!

This had me hooked straight away. You have this kid (a rag-doll, really) fighting in a bunch of gruesome, heavy battles, cutting the throats of soldiers and decapitating their Captains for the rewards.

It doesn’t shy away from the violence or cruelty of the infamous era of the Vikings, but there’s more to it than just brutality.

Continue reading “The tide of violence”

Azure paler than the sky

Jury's duel

Revolutionary Girl Utena is one of the most inscrutable anime I’ve seen. It’s like half of me is struggling to keep up with what I’m seeing, while the other, at some base level, just instinctively feels it and understands. I suppose you could call this confusion. Or schizophrenia. Whatever. Episode 29 is my favourite of the series so far, and definitely the one that best represents what I love about it.

Jury is on the brink of defeating Utena in their duel, all she need do is finish her opponent and be done with it, but she gives up instead; the sky grays, the rain falls and the match is over, but why? Why, having fought so hard, did she just give up?

Utena is all about this kind of theatrical epiphany, a duel of adolescence where every emotional facade is shattered, emotive in the way that the landscape shifts with mood, attaching life-changing significance to every word spoken and movement made. It’s apocalyptic romance.

For a while I tried to write an interpretation of Jury’s duel, but I’m not sure that’s what I want to do anymore. It’s like trying to put into words a beautiful painting, words just don’t capture it. Utena remains as inscrutable as ever, but it feels special. You just have to see it. That’s the best I can do.

See You Chinese Electric Batman

This reminds me of Mouryou no Hako!

It’s interesting how Darker than Black never explained what has ‘sealed’ the Earth’s sky, caused Hell and Heaven’s Gate to appear and triggered the world’s first generation of contractors; and quite frankly, if it turns out to be aliens from the Moon, I’d rather not know, but my point is, ambiguity is exciting, and yet like everyone else watching Ryuusei no Gemini, I was confused by its last episode, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing either.

Immediately after seeing it, for the first time in years, I went looking for interpretations on every forum and blog I could find. Did the lack of a ‘conventional’ end ruin the series, or merely add to its mystique? Does the ambiguity equate to bad writing, or is it intentional?

Continue reading “See You Chinese Electric Batman”

The harsh beauty of Tsutomu Nihei’s Biomega

Looking out on Tsutomu Nihei's new world

Happy new year, everyone! Time sure flies and it’s now looking likely that this blog will live to see it’s fourth anniversary on the 4th of March, which is just… surreal!

This time of year also provides me with the rare opportunity to immerse in some new worlds of fiction. Last year I fell under the spell of Legend of the Galactic Heroes, but this time it was to be Tsutomu Nihei and his six volume Biomega that caught my eye.

Nihei is probably my favourite mangaka. It’s not like I’ve read a lot of manga, but this guy has held my admiration for a long time, ever since I stumbled over his first series, Blame!, where the dialogue is sparse, action is rapid and landscapes are wide, sprawling stretches of textured emptiness.

Continue reading “The harsh beauty of Tsutomu Nihei’s Biomega”