Weird as it may sound, I judge an anime by how many screencaps it nets me. I screencap things on my first run-through an episode or movie, and obsessive-compulsively: if something flashes by my eyes and I miss grabbing the screencap, I will jump backwards in the movie as many times as needed to grab it. Annoying, I know. I wouldn’t want to watch anime with me either!
Much as I’ve been enjoying Star Driver and Kuragehime, the compulsive urge to screencap just hasn’t taken me. I assumed that I’d broken my habit of pausing somehow; that I’d returned to sanity. Then, on a whim, I downloaded Future Boy Conan and realized that I was still the most annoying person on earth to watch anime with.
Dragon Ball Z, Slam Dunk, Bleach, Hajime no Ippo. Most shonen series are based on physical activities like sports or fighting. Surprisingly, the general shonen formula can also work well with a non-physical activity. In Bakuman, J.C. Staff and NHK successfully tell a shonen-style story about two aspiring manga creators. The result is an interesting show that I anticipate watching each week.
The older I get, the more I start to wonder if the messages in anime are still relevant to my life. I’ve even started getting self conscious about what I watch. After all, what long term artistic value is there in something like To aru no Index Season 2? Don’t get me wrong, Index is a fun show, but it’s generally not very thought provoking. So when I hear about a more mature show like Bartender I get excited. Finally, a show I can watch and still feel like an adult! I was generally impressed with Bartender. However, I think the show erred by relying only on episodic stories instead of doing multi-episode arcs.
The above image is from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, but one would forgive you if you had to double take; the second half of episode 5 feels like it’s from a completely different series. Not only has the art style completely shifted, so, indeed, has the tone. Gone, for the most part, is the rapid-fire banter; the colours are washed out and the main character, believe it or not, is an old man.
As much as I love Kuragehime, and as much as I have to say about it, I find it a little bit hard to write about. It hits a little close to home for me, and sweet as it is I really wish I didn’t relate to it as strongly as I do. The girls depicted in the series are less-than-ideal. They’re too short, or too round, or don’t pluck their eyebrows and wear old gray tracksuits. Moreover, they’re all completely obsessed with their own niche interests, shunning the world around them and the company of half the human race in the process.
I’m a fairly proud person: I take two showers a day, have plucked my eyebrows meticulously for years now and get too-expensive haircuts. The reason I relate to “the Sisterhood”, as Funimation refers to them as, is because I completely understand how they ended up that way (so to speak). Simply put, they can’t figure out how to be girls, and so they hide in their otaku-doms, sneering but avoiding the Popular Crowd.
My confession is that I can’t figure out how to be a girl either, irreverent of my pride or my grooming. Let me show you how those misfit girls become who they are.