The secret life of the otaku

(dengar is the newest addition to this blog, which brings our numbers up to 3 and closes May’s recruitment drive in fine fashion. He’s based in Boston (United States) and with Celeste in Vancouver (Canada) and myself in Cambridge (England,) we’re an international bunch, which is sure to prove interesting. Anyway, it’s now time to let the dust settle on this new format, so, please enjoy dengar’s first post, and, here’s the future! Thanks for sticking with us until now!)

How would you like to be thought of as a weird, socially inept person who has an unhealthy obsession with imaginary characters? While harsh, these unfortunate stereotypes of otaku are certainly widespread.  After hearing the same generalizations again and again we expect our friends and family to mischaracterize an otaku as someone obsessed with watching cartoons, playing dress-up, and reading comics. Understandably many anime fans choose to stay “in the closest,” and hide their interest.

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Walking Away

Something has always bothered me about the ending of Samurai Champloo. It was an ending that haunted me for nearly a year after finishing the series, its memory resurfacing every time I thought about it. Midicronica’s “San Francisco” was in many ways a fitting ending for an anime which drew so heavily from hip-hop and reggae culture, but there was somehow a disconnect. Samurai Champloo’s ending always struck me as unbearably happy, like the colors on the screen and the chords of the song were attempting to sweep something under the rug. As the anime ends, the journey is over, and its end is just like its beginning: three people, alone. Continue reading

Gren’s eternal smile

If I had to condense my love for anime into one single moment, I’d choose the scene when `Space Lion` begins playing in the 13th episode of Cowboy Bebop (Jupiter Jazz.) It is one of the first times I can remember feeling a pang of bitter-sweetness whilst watching anime: the sadness of Gren’s passing tempered by Spike’s and Faye’s return to the Bebop; that Jet can’t really hide the fact that he truly gives a shit about them but, like a grumpy Dad, is too up-tight to admit it, and Gren’s death-wish to be cut adrift amongst the stars and sent drifting towards Titan. Alone.

“I see. You are Spike. Julia was always talking about you… That your two eyes were of different colours… That’s what she said… That you get a strange feeling when you look into his eyes.” — Gren

A strange romance springs forth from the snow-capped streets and cold, gray clouds, and from the elegant, softly-voiced Gren himself, an angelic hermaphrodite in love with Vicious, yet broken by the betrayal of their friendship. His sad, tired eyes and knowing smile are captured and carried beautifully by `Space Lion`’s warm tone of resignation. It’s a spine-tingling moment.

“Next time, let me see a Matsuri Special.”

Something about the transience of adolescence never fails to inspire. More often than not we wake up, 20, fully grown, and confused as to how we got there. For this reason, mangaka like Kamio Youko are a particularly rare breed. Time and time again, she manages to lushly recreate both the frame of mind and the emotional state of adolescence for her readers. Matsuri Special, her latest manga in a successful career is no exception.

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An exciting announcement

When I browse through this blog’s archives, I see that my first post was on the 4th of March, 2006, and, since then, I’ve published 304 more. Every post has been composed in my voice, from my perspective; there’s a consistency of opinion at work here that can only be attained over time, but, also, a sense of predictability, too. Sometimes I find myself going over old ground, saying the same things time and again.

I really appreciate my readers, every single one of you, and I hate the idea of this blog becoming boring.

This was all going through my head when I quietly published my ‘Help wanted!’ page a little over 1 week ago. In the four years since this blog began, I hope I’ve established a certain way of looking at anime and if there are just a few others out there like me; people who, perhaps, have been reading this blog for a while and share a similar philosophy towards anime, then I think there’s a chance here for us to create something special.

Hence, the ‘Help wanted!’ page, and, furthermore, I should introduce my first ever co-blogger, Celeste! She’s been a regular commenter here for a while now and, in that time, has shown herself to be a thoroughly eloquent and thoughtful anime fan, one that I’m delighted to have join me. Barring any last minute hitches, her first post should be published at some point on Tuesday and I really hope that you are able to receive her writing with as much enthusiasm as you so often do mine.

(There’s still space open for perhaps one other writer to join us here at this blog, so, please do drop me an e-mail if you’re interested in giving it a shot.)

Eden in name only

Hiroki Endo calling his manga ‘Eden‘ is a hint. Eden is supposed to be a paradise on Earth, but Endo‘s version is more like Hell. It’s sarcasm on his part, I think, because this is a contrary and brutal series, where anything that’s good is crushed and anything that’s innocent is (often literally) raped. For the last few days I’ve hardly been able to believe my eyes whilst reading this; everyone keeps dying, and even those who do survive, do so minus their humanity, or, even worse, minus their eye-balls. Continue reading

The Transience of Anime

I often analyze myself in terms of what I’m watching and why I’m more attracted to certain anime over others. I find it easy to forget just how niche a lot of what I’m watching really is, only to then realise I don’t know what’s popular any more, or understand why, or even care. I’m sure I used to care, and that worries me, because I feel so out of step with other anime fans at the moment. Continue reading