Saturday, May 15, 2010

The deep mysteries of Azumanga Daioh

<-Three of the most important figures in understanding the depth present in this seemingly shallow series.

I notice a lot of people like discussing how deep certain anime are, and I think that this site should join in. Hence, I will do a deep analysis on the deep repercussions and hidden meanings in the anime “Azumange Daioh.”

Indeed, this show inspires it’s viewers to question the very nature of reality in itself, as shown by the incredibly subtle subtext placed within the series. Unfortunately, the deeper meanings about existentialism seem to just fly right over the average viewers head. For example, the first part of the series’ existentialism revolves around one of the main characters, Chiyo

Chiyo: Now then, to understand some of the theories presented in this paper, we must first understand that Chiyo does not actually exist in the realm. No, to understand the deeper secrets of Azumanga Daioh, we must realize that Chiyo is just a figment of everybody’s imaginations, demonstrating what the ideal person would be like. This is shown by Chiyo’s relative lack of flaws whatsoever. Strangely, only Osaka and Sakaki come close to realizing the fact that Chiyo does not in fact exist, and is just an idealization of people’s beliefs.

Chiyo’s status as a figment of our imagination becomes quite obvious when we think about her. I mean, when we really give her character some thought. Why would anybody put an elementary grade school kid in a high school class? Furthermore, why would that person be at the top of the class? But the most baffling part is that Chiyo manages to get along well with the other students. Most high schoolers would be annoyed by the mere presence of an elementary age kid, and yet the ones in this series have no problem with it. Factor in that Chiyo seems to rarely commit any impure act, and always acts with the best intentions, it becomes quite obvious that she is a mere figment of our imaginations, providing us with an idealized person we could never stack up to.

Chiyo’s Dad: Chiyo’s dad is a strange cat-like apparition that appears in the dreams of Sakaki and occasionally Osaka. During these dreams, he makes claims of his outrageous feats, such as being Santa Claus, while in other panels, he questions the moral content of Sakaki’s actions. From these sequences, we can conclude that Chiyo’s dad is the manga’s representation of God, due to his immense power and his methods of communication. This is more obvious when we add in that he only appears to people in dreams, and only those who understand a bit of Chiyo’s true nature. There are people who seem to think that Chiyo has a true father who is actually a human, but those people are clearly wrong. How could a normal human give birth to Chiyo, who is an imaginary being? Hence, we must turn to the series God, who makes it possible to create a non-physical life form such as Chiyo. Hence, the only explanation for Chiyo’s perfect nature and miraculous pigtails is that she was born of her father, the cat thingie that appears in Sakaki and Osaka’s dreams.

Sakaki: It should be noted that Sakaki is one of the two people that come close to realizing the imaginary nature of their rather short classmate. This is particularly shown when god (Chiyo’s dad) comes to her in a dream, and explains the secrets of reality to her. I believe Sakaki comes close to realizing Chiyo’s nature because, due to her envy of the things Chiyo does, Sakaki realizes the idealogy that Chiyo stands for, and tries to emulate it. This is furthered by God making his appearance to reward her for realizing the ideological principals set up by Chiyo.

Osaka: Osaka is clearly the wisest person in the entire group. So wise, in fact that the normal people are not capable of realizing her wisdom, hence regarding it as foolishness. The most important feat of Osaka’s wisdom is seeing through the veil of Chiyo’s existence, and realizing that she is not an actual physical being. Unfortunately, the only part of Chiyo’s ideological nature that Osaka can grasp is that her pigtails cannot possibly be ground in reality. Sadly, by viewing this part of Chiyo’s nature, the rest of her idealogy is hidden from Osaka, due to her brain not being able to comprehend it. However, God (Chiyo’s dad) acknowledges Osaka’s wisdom, and makes a few appearances to her.

Realizing the nature of these characters adds a whole new layer of depth to the manga, taking it from a light hearted high school show to an analysis on the nature of reality, how one goes about finding god, and what must be done to find him. Furthermore, realizing this forces us to question the very nature of reality, and to realize that everything around us may very well not be real, shown by the fact that Osaka is one of the very few people capable of comprehending the nature of reality

I think the second part to recognizing the hidden depth in Azumanga Diaoh is to look at the Freudian elements contained in the cast. For example, the main teachers could be said to represent the three parts of the human psyche, as follows

Mr. Kimura: Mr. Kimura has an interesting mix of traits. On one hand, he seems to have the traits of the Id, due to his compulsions towards high school girls, and the amount of perverseness he emanates. Yet on the other hand, he frequently prays for world peace, has a wife and daughter, and donates lots of money to charities, as would be expected of the superego. Due to Mr. Kimura managing to maintain a balance between his traits that showcase the desires of the ID and the superego, we can conclude that Mr. Kimura is the school’s ego

Minamo Kurosawa: Further referred to as “Nyamo.” Nyamo always makes an attempt to prove herself to be a better teacher, despite Yukari attempting to get her to do the wrong thing. Furthermore, she almost never does anything on impulse, and always tries to convince her students to do her best, and maintains the highest moral standards. This would make Nyamo the teaching staff’s superego.

Yukari Tanizaki: Yukari, in contrast to Nyamo, will always choose the quickest course of action. This is shown in such actions as stealing her own student’s bike, and the first course of action when dealing with Osaka: violence. On another note, Yukari has almost no value for formal rules, and has no issue with students referring to her by the first name, which many other teachers would find insane. Clearly, Yukari’s impulsiveness and in the moment attitude make her the teacher’s ID.

These three combine in order to create the psyche of the school. While Nyamo and Yukari both represent the extremes of human nature, Kimura manages to find a balance between the two. Furthermore, they all attempt to cause the body (the school) to act more in line with the desires of their part of the psyche. Nyamo attempts to convince the school to act more orderly and idealistically, while Yukari’s impulses provide a bad example that will lead kids to follow their ID. Meanwhile, Kimura’s balance provides an example that allows the students to achieve a perfect balance.

As we can tell, Azumanga Daioh is actually a very deep tale of existentialism and the trials of the human psyche, and it’s attempts to alter the actions of the body. Furthermore, our attempts at grasping reality are proven futile, due to us not being capable of understanding the true nature of existence. Alas, most of the depth contained in Azumanga Diaoh is lost on the average viewer, who seems to just believe this to be an average high school comedy.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

How to get my boyfriend to stop watching anime

Previous Letter: Being in a harem anime sucks (when you aren't the lead)

Dear BryAnime

I’ve been having a problem with my boyfriend lately. He just doesn’t pay attention to me, and only talks about anime and video games. It’s a real problem, because I really like him, and we’ve known each other since we were kids. But sometimes I feel like he’d sell our relationship for the latest DVD boxset of whatever anime he’s into. Since I’m not into anime or video games, I knew this would be a problem, but I never anticipated the scale of it.

I mean, it gets REALLY bad sometimes. It really became obvious this one time we were having intercourse. You see, one night we had the TV on while we were doing it, so the neighbors couldn’t hear what was going on. Everything was going on as normal, until some anime came on, and he switched sides for a half hour. I asked my friends about it, and they said he was definitely watching the show during intercourse. I tried confronting him about it, but I couldn’t emphasize the point in words he’d understand. He seemed to just zone out and nod his head.

Well, I’d be lying if I’ve said I haven’t tried to get his attention. I’ve tried wearing cat-ears, schoolgirl uniforms, and even attempted some cosplay around him, and nothing seems to get his attention. What do you think I should do? I really wish he’d pay less attention to his obsession and more attention to me, but I can’t seem to get through to him.

A neglected girlfriend

Dear Neglected Girlfriend,

Well, it looks like you’re in a bit of a sticky situation. Either he doesn’t really care about you that much, or he does a very bad job of showing it. Why not ask him what he thinks on the situation? The fact that you to are comfortable enough to have intercourse suggests that there is some closeness between the two of you. Maybe he just isn’t very good at expressing himself? No matter what, you’ll have to talk to him for it to get any better.

Sincerely, Bryanime

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Next Letter: Being the male lead in a slapstick comedy is painful

Related Posts:
Why does my girlfriend enjoy crossdressing so much?
Why won't my boyfriend stop looking at hentai?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Anime in Focus: Serial Experiments Lain Episode 1

 You know, in retrospect, the Matrix wasn't that original

This anime was introduced to me by that one guy that I know who really seems to insist that nothing good came out after 2000. As the high priest of the Eastern Orthodox church of Haruhi Suzumiya, I take offense to that statement. However, that is not today’s point. Today’s point is to introduce you to Serial Experiments Lain if you haven’t seen it.

First episode was actually quite a trip. I got a major Matrix vibe from it, but looking at the release date, this show came out in Japan one year before the Matrix released in America.

More onto the actual episode. This starts out in a city full of unimportant people, living about their lives in the unimportant fashion that they normally do. Then we get to a girl standing on top of a building, with occasional flashes of text questioning the nature of reality. This always happens in the first episode, so I’m not about to start calling things deep yet. Then, the girl on the roof jumps off, colliding with a neon sign and dying. Then we go to the OP.

Now we go to our main character, Lain. Lain is sitting in a math class about to fall asleep, when she starts tripping out and smoke starts coming out of her hands. Meanwhile, there is a rumor running around about people receiving emails from that girl who commit suicide. Lain hasn’t heard of this because she almost never fires up her computer.

Later on, Lain decides that this interesting enough for her to decide to fire up her old computer. There she finds the email that everybody is talking about, which tells her about how the girl who commit suicide isn’t really dead. Then she mentions something about "The Wired." Then the show goes off about the nature of computers and information networks, and their effect on communications.

I was intrigued by this first episode, and would definitely like to see where this show is going.

Coming sometime: next episode

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This series is available in the Geneon signature collection for a great price, especially the individual DVD's:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why dubbed anime is Important

Alright, I’m going to do my take on the sub vs. dub debate, but with a twist. Instead of arguing why subs or dubs are better, I am going to point out when it is more appropriate for an anime to be subbed or dubbed.

1.)    American Television Broadcasts: A channel’s lineup just looks better if everything is in the same language. It’s kinda weird for the average viewer to go from just hearing what the show is saying, to reading it. Furthermore, an uninitiated viewer may be turned off by hearing things in another language. This, obviously, is why all anime on TV is dubbed.
2.)    Bringing in the n00bs: Hey, remember your first anime? I remember mine. I was a little kid watching Pokemon, dubbed. Other people will say their first was Dragon Ball Z or Sailor Moon, which they saw dubbed. Some old school fans watched Speed Racer, also dubbed. When you try to introduce your friend to an anime, what do you show them? You show them Cowboy Bebop, dubbed. We show new people dubbed anime because new people are more comfortable experiencing a new medium in their native language. Subs tend to alienate new people, while watching a show in their own language bridges that little gap between the new experience and the person experiencing it.
3.)    Slapstick Comedy: Do note that I am not referring to slice of life comedies like Azumanga Diaoh that rely entirely on being in Japan, and make jokes that revolve around living in Japan. Dubbing those things is unnatural. Yet some comedies, like Fruits Basket, are just funnier in English. I attribute it to your brain taking less time to process data from a dub, (unlike a sub, where you need to read, process, and associate with the voice) causing the joke to sink in faster. This lack of delay allows you to get the joke as it’s being made, with the accompanying visual effects. For this reason, a dub gives the optimal gag audio –visual response time.
4.)    EXPLOSIONS: Some series are just to fast paced for me to want to read. See, reading requires that I look down, and looking down brings my attention away from what is going on in the middle of the screen, and not the important parts. This is when a good quality dub is incredibly important. If I have to look down to read, I could be missing an important segment of the fight scene! Although I make an exception for samurai anime (since samurai are deeply rooted in Japanese culture, hence, never spoke English) but high octane explosives require me complete attention
5.)    CULTURE SHOCK Some things in Japan just don’t have an English equivalent. This is when a dub is great, because this allows the English voice actors and writers to put in an English equivalent in order to maintain the flow of dialogue. This is really nice, since the joke isn’t very funny if it needs to be explained. Hence, I would prefer an English equivalent to having to have a joke explained to me afterwards. Furthermore, a proper dub should go beyond just translating words, and translate the meanings behind what the original artist was saying. Unfortunately, due to cultural differences, maintaining the same meaning would be nearly impossible, since Japanese people live quite differently than Americans. This means sometimes, a dub can be more loyal to the source material than a sub.

As we can tell, there are lots of situations when a dub is more suitable than a sub. It’s times like these when I want to smack the nearest guy who says subs are always better. Anyways, tune in next week, where I take the opposite side of the coin and explain when subs are better than dubs

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Artist Profile: SabreTooth Fox

 Previous Artist: Egg Finger

SabreTooth Fox's Deviant Art page

This week I’ve decided to scale things back a bit, since the last couple of artists were significantly bigger than me.

Also, I’ve decided to add some variety to this section. Instead of the usual artist’s who work with drawing, paint, or photoshop. Instead, I decided to do a feature on one of the people at my college who specializes in the creation of stuffed animals. Since she has a deviant art profile, it only makes logical sense that I feature some of the stuff from her site.

Starting with a group shot:

As we can see, she does a lot of stuff varying from humanoids to chibi stuff, to downright amorphic blobs. Personally I think her chibi stuff is the best, due to the limitations of the medium. Some of her humanoid stuff starts looking like it’s intended to be used in voodoo magic, for better or for worse. This one’s pretty popular around ye local anime club…

Although I have not watched Hellsing yet *dodges gunfire* Many people like it. Certainly takes out the threatening aura Alucard usually has…

These next two are just cute…

The top one is apparently from Di Gi Charat I believe.

Lastly, we have a recent work, a scapegoat from Yu Gi Oh

This one was being passed around at the last anime club meeting.

Don’t forget, Sabertooth Fox does do commissions, so don’t be shy about requests.


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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Anime in Focus: Coyote Ragtime Show episode 2

Previous Episode

This episode is available on Funimation’s website, FREE!

Alright, after a really explosive first episode, Galactically famous Coyote ( general criminal mastermind) Mister is seen going to another planet, looking a picture of some girl with pink hair. At the beginning of this episode, we see how that girl, named Franca, is doing. At the moment, she’s running a bar on some backwater planet. Meanwhile, we get to hear about Mister’s incredibly… colorful criminal record. Meanwhile, Marciano is pulling a coup at… whatever criminal organization she works with.

Anyway, Mister barges on into this bar right in the middle of a large brawl. Due to his reputation, Mister isn’t generally well received among the people there. A gunfight breaks out, causing Mister and Franca to be saved by…. Those old guys in Cowboy Bebop? This show just can’t stop making references to Bebop, can it? Not that that’s a bad thing. After Mister and Franca break out, we get some exposition about what exactly is going on. Apparantly, something is going to happen on the planet Graceland in about a week that will cause it to be destroyed, and Mister has to find some treasure on the planet before time is up. Also, for some reason Franca has a rocket launcher hidden nearby. It seems like EVERYBODY has a rocket launcher in this series.

After a rather interesting chase scene, Mister, Franca, and his crew head off to Graceland, being chased by the government and Marciano’s 12 sisters.

From this episode, we can gather that this series likes to move very fast and feed you details as it goes along. I personally love the attitude, because it forces you to care about the little details, and makes you want to learn more. Should be doing the other episodes of this series sometime soon.

Next Episode

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