Tag Archives: Anime

Story Pile: The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated

There’s this genre, called isekai, about a person winding up in a magical world after some major event. Then there’s this other genre based on that, called reverse isekai, where a character from a magical world winds up in a normal world after some major event. And while we can absolutely argue about whether or not Ranma 1/2 is a reverse Isekai (it is), I’d like to talk about a really fun example, with a minimal expansive plot that’s basically just a fun, half-size sitcom about a character who is so much like one of my friends I kinda am concerned she’s not getting royalties.

You can argue amongst yourselves about whom I mean.

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Story Pile: Demon Slayer

Up front Spoiler Policy is that I’m not really going to spoil things in this series I’m just going to tell you broadly about the tone.

There’s this phenomenon in the conversation around pop music where all the best-selling artists of all time were born after like, 1985, a fact that makes a lot of boomer music fans kinda bummed out, because it’s a sign that the musical culture is no longer a sign of how they are the ones who dictate what is and isn’t popular. It’s okay, it’s just how time advances, but it’s also a function of how the technology for making music has just kept getting better. It’s easier to get the best version of any given performer’s art, it’s easier to distribute it faster and it’s easier to express a wider variety of ideas in a lot of different ways. Simply put, it’s possible to make things better these days.

Demon Slayer is a genre perfected.

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Story Pile: Oddtaxi

I have a concern about what I can only describe as ‘That Guy’ Media. I don’t have a precise list, but there are some kinds of media that slot into a particular space where someone, usually a white millenial guy, will exhort you that oh man you gotta check this out. And then they’ll hesitate almost performatively, like we I mean they’ve practiced this in the bathroom thinking about how we’re going to explain it to a stranger or a friend or some other captive audience, and it’ll be something like ‘… I can’t tell you much without spoilers,’ that eventually degenerates into ‘look, Just Watch It’ or something like that.

When I talked about Knives Out, in an effort to give a view on the movie that was interesting if you hadn’t seen it and interesting if you had, I did so thinking about something that was missed in the swirl of commentary about this movie. These articles aren’t being written for no reason, they’re written because I want to talk to you about something, and I want to talk about it in the context of something that I’ve watched or read or listened to. It’s when I engage with something and words about it want to get out of me.

And Oddtaxi is boy howdy the kind of series that makes me full of words. A frustratingly large number of them are “Have you watched Oddtaxi? Oh, okay.”

But talking about Oddtaxi runs the risk, at least in my mind, of making it into That Guy Media. It’s not even as pure as the Gay Effusing you get when an anime has two hot girls who like each other where a commentator just foams “It’s good. It’s good. It’s good. You should watch it. It’s so good.” for ten minutes. It’s the smug cousin of that, which lacks the purity of “Oh My God I’m Finally Seeing Media I Like,” and is instead the same voice that asks “Oh, Have you seen the Raid?” or “Do you know the twist in Fight Club?

If you’re just here for an as-brief-as-possible, why-should-I-watch-this summary, I’m going to say that I like Oddtaxi, an anime I watched in its entirety in one day and which reminds me of Durarara!! and Paranoia Agent, but less bleak or apocalyptic. Lots of competing narratives, clear use of imagery, clearly neurodivergent protagonist, great music.

Okay, so what am I going to talk about beyond the fold?

What could I talk about, if I’m not going to effuse about the text, about its ideas, or its concepts?

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How To Be: Bridget (in 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

You don’t have long on this earth. THE FASTEST SINNER WILL EDIT THE TEXT. MISSION ONE. WHATABURGER! A MIDNIGHT MEAL WITH THE DEVIL

THE CARBUNCLE ATE ITSELF! FIRST HOWDY!

LET’S GET THE MONEY. GODS PLAY DICE WITH THE UNIVERSE, WHY DON’T YOU GIVE HER A CALL. FIRST SHOWDOWN ATTACK, Crank it To 11! WORLD IS A FUCK

Round the first: Grind!

It’s Labor Day.

Let’s talk about Guilty Gear.

Content Warning: I’m going to have to put some disclaimers up for some political information around Bridget and trans identities before I get into the meat of things, so if you’re not interested in that and you’re already aware of this situation just jump three paragraphs.

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Story Pile: Revolutionary Girl Utena

When I hear people talk about ’90s anime’ it seems to be used to refer to the early 90s, with long-running, heavily episodic series that often didn’t have satisfying endings, but that was okay because you were always there for the ride. Stuff like Ranma 1/2 (take a drink), Yu Yu Hakusho, Sailor Moon, and Dragonball. Thing is, while that stuff has lasted (and is great and fine), that is the early 90s. Seemingly split in half, it’s the late 90s where the anime making a splash in English language areas took a sharp turn; you got Cowboy Bebop, Serial Experiments Lain and Trigun, all anime I remember watching at the time. I don’t know if I saw the change at the time, but I do now in hindsight.

Revolutionary GIrl Utena was one of the Very Noticeable anime of the late 1990s; from that period when suddenly the anime you were getting were a bit less ‘whacky hammerspace’ and a bit more ‘you need to watch every episode and also here the villain fist-fights a rogue kangaroo.’

Revolutionary Girl Utena is visually splendid, has lovely music, is steeped knee-deep in metaphorical symbolism, and queer in the way that its faintest fig leaf stands between it and the audience. It’s a fairy tale but one where the fairies are like, the horrifying kind. Revolutionary Girl Utena was my, and many other anime fans’ introduction to an anime that resisted easy answers.

Anyway, there are some sort-of-spoilers after the fold, if you really care about spoilers for a 25 year old anime you weren’t going to watch don’t lie to me.

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Story Pile: Moriarty The Patriot

Understand that literally anything that gets compared to Death Note has an uphill battle with me. Fortunately, Moriarty The Patriot isn’t like Death Note, in that it’s a fun anime about an interesting character. It doesn’t rely on a lengthy sequence of connected cat-and-mouse ploys to hook you in or arbitary ambiguated rules that make for world-affecting crime wizards in a society that cares an inexplicable amount about their impact. On the other hand it’s good that it doesn’t have to compare to Death Note because the alternative is comparing it to Sherlock Holmes and the character there of Professor James Moriarty, with whom this anime has nothing in common.

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Representing Fights With Kenpachi

Alright, let’s talk about a pet theory about a manga I stopped paying attention to and which wasn’t really made with a coherent explanation in mind by an author who was extraordinarily checked out in varying stages of the production. This is fanfiction but admit it you are here for it because you weren’t going to go check if I just said this authoritively.

Let’s talk about Yachiru, one of Bleach’s many dangling threads!

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Story Pile: Fullmetal Panic

I promise I’m not just an immense mark for millenial-focused high school alt history, it’s just come up twice.

Fullmetal Panic is kind of a greatest hits of 1998 to 2004 ‘anime’s subject material. It’s a highschool drama, it’s a gifted child narrative, it’s a mascot-based comedy, it’s a Highly Marketable And Merchandisable mecha and military kind of story that includes most of your greatest hits, including in a fairly economic way, the three flavours of Waifu; Big Sister, Little Sister, And Miscellaneous.

It tells the story of Kaname Chidori, an ordinary high school girl who has the Techno Renaissance in her head (but she doesn’t know that), and her new classmate, Sousuke Sagara, an ordinary highschool boy who’s a former child soldier transferred to the school to serve as Kaname’s long-term bodyguard because there’s multiple non-state actors (and state actors) that would use her head full of super-science ding-dongery to take over the world, deployed by the NGO Mithril, who are technically mercenaries, but the kind of mercenaries who seem to largely be paid in justice and are often scrabbling for money.

The mecha are detailed, the helicopters are realistic, the gun nerdery is (I’m told) extremely in depth and all of these components are brought together to tell a story that kind of runs in three basic lanes:

  • Super-science conspiracy stuff
  • Mecha battles with ‘small scale’ tank-comparable mech
  • High school comedy nonsense

Spoilers for the anime and light novels to follow.

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How To Be: Akane Tendo (in 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

You know it’s not an intentional thing, but it seems that in the month of February, How To Be returns to the world of Ranma 1/2. Ah, what a wonderful world, the world where we have characters who fight with brooms or teleport or turn into gods and throw lightning bolts. Who are we going to visit here, in this mysterious world of creative martial arts?

Oh wait it’s in the subject you clicked on to go read this.

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Story Pile: Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku (?!)

Wait, didn’t we do this a fortnight ago?

Yes.

Yes we did.

Because this series is that good.

See, I saw the opening to Wotakoi on Youtube. I went: Oh that’s really cute and the premise is fun. I should check this out. And then we cough watched the anime. I was smitten with it, I found it exciting and interesting, and started quoting things from it back and forth with Fox, and eventually got to the point where I was sharing bits of it with friends on Discord and eventually calling Hirotaka the one good gamer boy. I may have even tried a t-shirt design. Do you know how rare it is for me to shell out for volumes of manga? The last one I got was Monster, and before that? Ranma 1/2.

This is a really good manga.

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Sticker: Tama Go-Ju!

This joke is far too niche, but if you (‘ju’) are an egg (‘tamago’) who had a realisation reading Ranma 1/2, then I have made a sticker for you. Just you.

Here’s the design:

And here’s how it looks on a hat:

I don’t think of Smooch Month as ‘Ranma month’ but this is the inspiration that struck and this is the result. Enjoy this eggy joke that I won’t wear myself. I made something for you! And the cheapest way for you to get it is to buy stickers, over on Redbubble!

Shipping Lanes in Ranma 1/2

Oh hey Talen’s talking about Ranma 1/2 everyone is it February is it smooch month oh wait it is and oh yeah he is and you don’t get to control my decisions, Dad. Anyway, what else do you want out of me in smooch month? We’ve talked about how it’s hard, we’ve looked at game mechanics, we’ve even busted out a visual novel (that’s all Mass Effect is and you know it), and now we’re onto me bellyaching about Ranma Fandom Beefs that could now be my adult children if I wasn’t a Millenial who spent too much time buying avocado toast and sexting to ever get a real job and a family.

Anyway, let’s talk about the weird shipping of Ranma 1/2.

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Story Pile: Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku

Smoochy anime undeniably focuses on a narrow age range. I think of the vast majority of anime I’ve watched with a ‘romantic’ theme tends towards the romantic interaction between ‘the traditional’ anime protagonists, which usually means a pair of 14 year olds. There are of course, exceptions, but by volume, you’re going to see the Default, and that means that you usually see fourteen year olds.

This is not the way of all things, of course. If we cast our minds back to the works of Rumiko Takahashi, creator of Ranma 1/2 (oh no, is this going to happen all this month again?), she did a long-running slow-boil romantic comedy story called Maison Ikkoku. Basically, as long as there’s been rom-com anime, there’s been rom-com anime about adults.

And this is one of them.

And it’s really good.

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Story Pile: Violet Evergarden

Violet Evergarden is a 2018 anime about a young woman recovering from the experience of being one of the best soldiers in a war that doesn’t matter any more, and finding ways to fill the hollowness that follows. Based on a set of light novels written by Kana Akatsuki and illustrated by Akiko Takase, it was turned into an anime by Kyoto Animation, written by industry veteran and kind of titanic presence, Reiko Yoshida.

This is really wild, by the way – this is basically the main work done by Akatsuki and Takase, but Yoshida wrote the screenplay for The Cat Returns, Digimon The Movie, the OAV series Saiyuki, Scrapped Princess, School Rumble, Genshiken, A Silent Voice and she was the script supervisor for K-On! and this is just the stuff I think you’re most likely to recognise by name. Like, this is someone’s first-major-success light novel that got picked up by a big studio for a Netflix release with the writing being handled by a twenty-five year veteran of the anime industry.

What resulted was a visually sumptuous anime, with worldbuilding that sought to explain uneasy peace between city-states negotiationg the aftermath of a war, and how people in those places were both affected, and unaffected by it. I found it challenging to watch, and even more challenging to explain — you might notice, so far, I’ve mostly pointed out things that aren’t very difficult to justify (this is an anime that has a lot of pretty visual work in it), or is just accounting the vital statistics.

One of the easiest ways to talk about media, especially in the format churn this blog asks, is to speak about what other people think as a thing to disagree with. To let people voice their opinions (as I curate them) and then speak against them, or concur with their better, more well formed words. It is an act of synthesis; to listen and to restate, perhaps with subtly different words, perhaps with violently different. It lets me turn a consideration into an argument, or an exhortation. Not just ‘here’s what I think,’ but ‘here’s what I think about what this person thinks,’ as opposed to spending my energy on stating wholly and sincerely what I feel, and letting these words impart in your mind my feelings.

It seems churlish to do that when it comes to this anime about a woman whose job is to do exactly that.

I wish to speak of Violet Evergarden.

And importantly, I want you to understand how this anime made me feel; what I thought of it; why I love it, even with the unpleasantness.

Nonetheless, a content warning for the series;

  • this is a series that overwhelmingly features grief and tragedy, in very personal ways.
  • There is parental bereavement,
  • dead children,
  • suicide attempts,
  • a number of episodes show clear violence with guns.
  • There is also a theme of age differences in romantic relationships, which while never sexualised (it’s kind of a sexless series), is still present in the series at several points and not exactly handled in a way that I would trust.
  • This is a series where people cry a lot.
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Decemberween: Other People Watching Haikyuu!!

Do you remember at all, how earlier this year, I talked about how Haikyuu!! is a really good anime about stories, and has really appealing male characters in it that could be important to romantic narratives? I really liked Haikyuu and I watched all of it I could, and then, because apparently I watched a bunch of clips on Youtube for the article, the Dread Algorithm threw some videos at me, suggesting I check out professional volleyball players or coaches reacting to Haikyuu!!.

And I’m a games academic.

So I was really interested.

First up, there’s Coach Donny at Elevate Yourself, and I hope by the time this article goes up he’s finished with season 3, but he at this time has no idea that it’s an entire season that’s one game…

Playlist: Haikyuu Videos + Reactions (Round 1)

And next up there’s Victoria Garrick, the USC Libero, responding to the anime with a special focus on Nishinoya, the team’s libero.

Playlist: ALL VICTORIA GARRICK HAIKYUU REACTIONS

What I find amazing about these videos is how often these two people who know volleyball pretty well, can look at the anime depicting the sport, and have similar or the same reactions – how they can both give an informed reaction to the same content, which suggests that the anime does a good job of representing something real.

That’s really cool and it’s very interesting. If you liked Haikyuu and wanted to know more about it as a representation of a real sport, this is a way to recontextualise what you watched.

Decemberween: Nixie 2: The Nixie-Ing

Decemberween posts vary between two choices: Either hey, here’s a cool thing that you can partake in right now, and go check that out, and it might be a useful thing to fill the time you have in December where you may want something that isn’t going to stress you out, or, hey, here’s one of my friends, and how great they are, because they make me happy and my ability to be happy is already an extremely weird thing so I’m going to treat this as the proper Christmas season miracle.

So let’s talk about my disrespectful internet daughter, because she is great, and she is sweet, and this year she’s doing something that’s really impressive.

Now, you may remember that earlier this year — if you’re a real Nixie fan — Nixie and I did a long form chat on Ai: The Somnium Files, which we did before knowing that the sequel to Ai was going to be announced. We talked about how we learned about the game, about how we connected, and what it’s like to know or care about Content Warningy media. We also talked about specific characters, and how character archetypes can make life easier for writers, but also how things that broke archetypal structure could resonate with us.

Anyway, Nixie went back to school this year.

That’s really cool! And she’s been hardworking and focused on her homework and doing her best with the online teaching format she can! She’s been reading her books and she’s been getting her work done, and through it all she’s been wonderfully honest and sincere about it. Sorry, I can’t talk, I’m busy. Here’s some of my homework, what do you think? Thank you for your thoughts, but I am going to focus on this myself.

Nixie is really great. Now, you may be surprised to know that she isn’t already some kind of educationally pedigree’d person! She’s after all, a relative expert on a lot of things, and willing to share that knowledge, in sometimes remarkably approachable, clear ways for people who normally think of people like her (tiny internet gremlin girls) as being ‘outside’ of those conversations. You might know that as Miss Nixie Is Typing.

Lords knows I do.

You also might not realise it, but Nixie is one of those people who can be considered part of the editorial staff here on Press. I talk to her about ideas for articles, and sometimes she has some reaction to the idea, and that’s encouragement I need to go ‘oh yeah that’s cool, let’s do that.’ I watch some anime or play some games on her advice, just because her aesthetic preferences all go outside of my default.

Oh, and she’s one of the few people I know from my real life who have had the temerity to sass me in front of my students.

Consider: Nixie. Won’t you?

The Caprice of Haruhi Suzumiya

Anime is an art movement that has encapsulated thousands of different competing threads and there’s no true centralising canon because it’s fragmented across all sorts of cultural anchor points. Australians of my age that are into anime so often got started because Aggro’s Cartoon Connection screened Sailor Moon, the ABC screened Astro Boy, Cheez TV screened Teknoman and SBS, in the late 90s, screened Neon Genesis Evangelion, meaning that those four anime are sometimes seen as ‘common ground’ topics. Common ground for one age bracket in one country, and even then, only sometimes.

There are some events that can be looked upon, in the english-speaking anime fandom, though, in terms of their impact on shared cultural spaces, typically conventions, but also just, anime releases that somehow managed to be widespread enough at the right time that they became foundation to the conversation. The big three of Naruto, Bleach and One Piece. Evangelion movies. Fullmetal Alchemist, then Fullmetal Alchemist again. A collection of trans girls and boys and nonbinary people that can trace a lineage from Ranma 1/2 through to Kampfer and Haku and Soul Eater and maybe a few tracing lines to Vandread.

There is a category of people I can annoy enormously by responding to a Touhou picture with which anime is this from?

There’s only so much room for any given series to suck up a lot of the oxygen in the fandom space. You can’t typically have five or six ‘big name’ anime that ‘everyone’ has an opinion on. One of those ‘event’ Anime, that rose, became incredibly prominent, and then deformed the culture at large, becoming one of the rings in the tree trunk that is this strange cultural enclaves, was the enormous franchise known as Haruhi Suzumiya.

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Isekaidon’tknow

The Isekai genre is an immense, sprawling forest of trees, each with twisted and interconnected roots. Vast and towering trunks loom high above, stretching off and up into a dreaming dark, leaving us to step between them, and peer down into the pools of collected water between them.

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The Contention of Haruhi Suzumiya

Anime is an art movement that has encapsulated thousands of different competing threads and there’s no true centralising canon because it’s fragmented across all sorts of cultural anchor points. Australians of my age that are into anime so often got started because Aggro’s Cartoon Connection screened Sailor Moon, the ABC screened Astro Boy, Cheez TV screened Teknoman and SBS, in the late 90s, screened Neon Genesis Evangelion, meaning that those four anime are sometimes seen as ‘common ground’ topics. Common ground for one age bracket in one country, and even then, only sometimes.

There are some events that can be looked upon, in the english-speaking anime fandom, though, in terms of their impact on shared cultural spaces, typically conventions, but also just, anime releases that somehow managed to be widespread enough at the right time that they became foundation to the conversation. The big three of Naruto, Bleach and One Piece. Evangelion movies. Fullmetal Alchemist, then Fullmetal Alchemist again. A collection of trans girls and boys and nonbinary people that can trace a lineage from Ranma 1/2 through to Kampfer and Haku and Soul Eater and maybe a few tracing lines to Vandread.

There is a category of people I can annoy enormously by responding to a Touhou picture with which anime is this from?

There’s only so much room for any given series to suck up a lot of the oxygen in the fandom space. You can’t typically have five or six ‘big name’ anime that ‘everyone’ has an opinion on. One of those ‘event’ Anime, that rose, became incredibly prominent, and then deformed the culture at large, becoming one of the rings in the tree trunk that is this strange cultural enclaves, was the enormous franchise known as Haruhi Suzumiya.

Continue Reading →

Story Pile: The Great Pretender

Anime is a crapshoot.

This slot has been tied for The Great Pretender for the better part of a year. The plan was, after seeing it, being so intrigued with the opening, that I’d watch the whole thing in the first few months, once Crunchyroll had it on their ads-paid area.

When I felt it was time, I watched the first two episodes.

Thought about it…

And stopped.

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The Callomania of Haruhi Suzumiya

Anime is an art movement that has encapsulated thousands of different competing threads and there’s no true centralising canon because it’s fragmented across all sorts of cultural anchor points. Australians of my age that are into anime so often got started because Aggro’s Cartoon Connection screened Sailor Moon, the ABC screened Astro Boy, Cheez TV screened Teknoman and SBS, in the late 90s, screened Neon Genesis Evangelion, meaning that those four anime are sometimes seen as ‘common ground’ topics. Common ground for one age bracket in one country, and even then, only sometimes.

There are some events that can be looked upon, in the english-speaking anime fandom, though, in terms of their impact on shared cultural spaces, typically conventions, but also just, anime releases that somehow managed to be widespread enough at the right time that they became foundation to the conversation. The big three of Naruto, Bleach and One Piece. Evangelion movies. Fullmetal Alchemist, then Fullmetal Alchemist again. A collection of trans girls and boys and nonbinary people that can trace a lineage from Ranma 1/2 through to Kampfer and Haku and Soul Eater and maybe a few tracing lines to Vandread.

There is a category of people I can annoy enormously by responding to a Touhou picture with which anime is this from?

There’s only so much room for any given series to suck up a lot of the oxygen in the fandom space. You can’t typically have five or six ‘big name’ anime that ‘everyone’ has an opinion on. One of those ‘event’ Anime, that rose, became incredibly prominent, and then deformed the culture at large, becoming one of the rings in the tree trunk that is this strange cultural enclaves, was the enormous franchise known as Haruhi Suzumiya.

Continue Reading →

Story Pile: Sk8 The Infinity

Why now? Because it’s not Pride Month material, but it’s really close.

Sk8 The Infinity, stylised as SK∞ THE INFINITY, is a high water mark in the long-established genre of The Not Gays. Incarnated in this case as a classic ‘sports’ anime of ‘two hot boys and their mutual special interest,’ a genre deftly feigned by this year’s Misplaced Smooch Month Anime Haikyuu!!, Sk8 The Infinity is a Studio BONES production, with the talent of Hiroko Utsumi, formerly of the other most recent triumphant entry in the Not Gays genre, Free! which was about a heroic group of anime swimboys banding together to fund an animation studio, and also the anime adaptation of Banana Fish, an anime in the comparatively small Actually Gays genre.

And Sk8 The Infinity is, as much as this genre goes, real good.

Look, ‘good’ is a weightless word, all it tells you is I liked it, and I liked this. I liked this anime a lot and I think the story as much as it can signals that a bunch of these hot boys are kissing and it’s cool and the music is great and the sense of kinetic motion is excellent and the villain is ridiculous and the cultural insights are perfect and the boys are really hot and it’s great. I enjoyed it a lot.  If you’re just looking for some extremely lightweight, predictable anime about hot boys who probably kiss, then you should check out Sk8 and then get an AO3 account for what I am sure must be an absolute torrent of fanfiction.

For those who want more, gunna give you a plot rundown and some light spoilers after the fold.

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The Connection of Haruhi Suzumiya

Anime is an art movement that has encapsulated thousands of different competing threads and there’s no true centralising canon because it’s fragmented across all sorts of cultural anchor points. Australians of my age that are into anime so often got started because Aggro’s Cartoon Connection screened Sailor Moon, the ABC screened Astro Boy, Cheez TV screened Teknoman and SBS, in the late 90s, screened Neon Genesis Evangelion, meaning that those four anime are sometimes seen as ‘common ground’ topics. Common ground for one age bracket in one country, and even then, only sometimes.

There are some events that can be looked upon, in the english-speaking anime fandom, though, in terms of their impact on shared cultural spaces, typically conventions, but also just, anime releases that somehow managed to be widespread enough at the right time that they became foundation to the conversation. The big three of Naruto, Bleach and One Piece. Evangelion movies. Fullmetal Alchemist, then Fullmetal Alchemist again. A collection of trans girls and boys and nonbinary people that can trace a lineage from Ranma 1/2 through to Kampfer and Haku and Soul Eater and maybe a few tracing lines to Vandread.

There is a category of people I can annoy enormously by responding to a Touhou picture with which anime is this from?

There’s only so much room for any given series to suck up a lot of the oxygen in the fandom space. You can’t typically have five or six ‘big name’ anime that ‘everyone’ has an opinion on. One of those ‘event’ Anime, that rose, became incredibly prominent, and then deformed the culture at large, becoming one of the rings in the tree trunk that is this strange cultural enclaves, was the enormous franchise known as Haruhi Suzumiya.

Continue Reading →

Story Pile: Zombieland Saga

Something had to be this month’s anime (so as to just not overload the Story Pile with being about anime this year), so your choice was deniably gay boys or definitely trans girls, so spin the wheel and here we are.

Hi!

This is an article about Zombieland Saga, an idol anime. To get into it we’re going to talk about some spoilers, we’re going to talk about the genre, and we’re going to talk about genders, but to get there, we’re going to have to talk about dead girls. Like, actually, literally, really dead girls. They died, and the series makes comedy out of it but undeniably, this is a series about a bunch of teenaged girls who died. If you’re not here for an anime which literally hits a child with a car in the opening minutes, as in ‘pair of minutes’ – then you can totally afford to skip this anime. Okay?

Content Warning: Child Death, abusive business practices, and some body horror! For comedy!

I’m also going to talk about this series without any concern for spoilers. If you just want the general ‘hey, Talen, do you think I’d like Zombieland Saga?’ the response is ‘I mean kinda?’ It’s about as good as it looks. It’s completely unremarkable as an idol show, from what I can tell, the songs peak at ‘eh’ and there’s pretty much no compelling reason to watch it except as it relates to the inclusion of some fun Pride-related stuff. It’s available for free to watch on Crunchyroll.

I can’t just say ‘watch one episode and ditch on it’ because the cast largely doesn’t show up until episode three, and that’s when you’ll know if you care about the characters at all.

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Game Pile: Hard Wired Island

Disclosure: I backed this book on kickstarter, and contributed art to it. I designed the flag of Grand Cross. I was not paid for this work, and asked for my payment to instead be given to charity. I’m friends with the developers – like, we know what kind of anime one another likes.

Let's Talk About Hard Wired Island

You can go get Hard Wired Island on itch.io and DrivethruRPG.

 

Story Pile: BNA

BNA or BNA: Brand New Animal or Oh No I Guess I’m Hot For A Tanuki Girl Now Does This Make Me a Furry is a 2020 anime from Studio Trigger, the people you recognise the second you see their animation work, formerly of Kill La Kill, Little Witch Academia, DARLING in the FRANXX, SSSS.GRIDMAN, Promare, and a ton of other work including Indivisible, Flip Flappers, KILLER SHERLOCK, Akame ga Kill!, Steven Universe, Sword Art Online, and Space Dandy, and only one of them I made up.

BNA starts out with a tanuki girl crossing the boundary from conventional society to make her way to Anima City, the one city on earth, we’re informed, where human-animal hybrid shapeshifters can live, outside of the oppression of people who don’t transform, and therefore, view those who do with a sort of fundamental dehumanising horror. It’s, you know, furry racism, except handled a little bit less embarrassingly than normal.

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Story Pile: Tenchi Muyo (Kinda)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one, or one like it.

The story starts in a remote, boring little bucolic space where nothing is happening but there’s talk about an old mystery that connects to a family line. Our hero, Tenchi Masaki, wants to go explore the interesting thing, but his grandfather tells him he has to do his chores, instead. When he slips from his grandfather’s attention, he winds up exploring an old cave he’s been told not to, whereupon he gets a sweet laser sword that’s a relic from a more civilised age, and also wakes up an ancient demon, which kicks off a series of events resulting in his whole house being teleported next to the same bucolic shrine, meaning it’s easy to hide spaceships coming and going, and you don’t have to draw as many backgrounds in a city or non-major characters.

Along the way, he discovers the demon is actually a cool space pirate who wants to jump him, she’s being hunted by a haughty princess, who wants to jump him, and then a steadily coagulating core of Other Girls arrive to join in the queue of Wants To Jump Him.

It’s not a hentai.

There’s spacefaring adventurers, battles with galactic criminal types, a vast interstellar empire, and deep powerful forces that well up from inside Tenchi (who is secretly a prince).

Now I may have described The Most Generic Anime Plot ever, but the good news is that’s because I also described The Most Generic Anime ever, an anime that has been part of the background of anime for a while now.

Content Warning: Mentions of incest.

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The Cataphasis of Haruhi Suzumiya

Anime is an art movement that has encapsulated thousands of different competing threads and there’s no true centralising canon because it’s fragmented across all sorts of cultural anchor points. Australians of my age that are into anime so often got started because Aggro’s Cartoon Connection screened Sailor Moon, the ABC screened Astro Boy, Cheez TV screened Teknoman and SBS, in the late 90s, screened Neon Genesis Evangelion, meaning that those four anime are sometimes seen as ‘common ground’ topics. Common ground for one age bracket in one country, and even then, only sometimes.

There are some events that can be looked upon, in the english-speaking anime fandom, though, in terms of their impact on shared cultural spaces, typically conventions, but also just, anime releases that somehow managed to be widespread enough at the right time that they became foundation to the conversation. The big three of Naruto, Bleach and One Piece. Evangelion movies. Fullmetal Alchemist, then Fullmetal Alchemist again. A collection of trans girls and boys and nonbinary people that can trace a lineage from Ranma 1/2 through to Kampfer and Haku and Soul Eater and maybe a few tracing lines to Vandread.

There is a category of people I can annoy enormously by responding to a Touhou picture with which anime is this from?

There’s only so much room for any given series to suck up a lot of the oxygen in the fandom space. You can’t typically have five or six ‘big name’ anime that ‘everyone’ has an opinion on. One of those ‘event’ Anime, that rose, became incredibly prominent, and then deformed the culture at large, becoming one of the rings in the tree trunk that is this strange cultural enclaves, was the enormous franchise known as Haruhi Suzumiya.

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How To Be: Rock Howard (In 4E D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

It’s April, it’s Talen Month, and that means we’re going to talk about a character I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time, and a character who I have a deep appreciation for. There’s not a lot of characters that fit in that mould and work well with 4th Edition’s heightened adventure reality, but when I had the idea to tackle this character, I did so with full and wholehearted knowledge that damnit, I wanted to take care of this character in my month.

We’re going to talk about how you can become Rock Howard.

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5 Things In Robotech That Still Rattle Around In My Head

What, didn’t I just Story Pile about Robotech? Yes I did and in that I told you nothing about the actual stuff that happened in Robotech that I loved. I told you about how Robotech doesn’t exist, and how it’s embarrassing to be a fan of it.

Fuck that, here’s stuff from Robotech that lives in my head rent free whenever I think about the sci-fi Epic. Context? No, you don’t get context. Now buckle up and jam on your thinking caps.

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