Month: March 2009

Question?!?!

Okay, so I know everyone is talking about bailouts and we’re all just sick of hearing about it.  But I was sitting here thinking, where was the bailout for Geneon and ADV?  You know, for things that actually matter.

I’ve also heard rumblings of some wanting to bail out these dying newspapers…where was the bailout for Newtype USA?  I mean, at least you got a sample dvd with that, which is more than a newspaper has ever given me.

I’m being facetious (mostly); I don’t believe in bailouts.  I think companies should have to stand on their own.  I was as upset as anyone when Geneon ceased US distribution and was even more upset when I went through the same “anime discontinued halfway through the season” experience with ADV.  But as a result, the industry was forced to adapt.  Now, instead of paying almost $30 for a single disc with four episodes, we can buy a series (or even half of a series) for $40-$80.

However, even though I’m glad to see that anime as a general rule is less expensive, I still miss Geneon and ADV-and I’m  saddened by the fact that the reason they went under is because so many people out there wanted it all for free.  As these things usually seem to go, it’s those of us who were willing to pay a fair price for something we love who are now paying the highest price-how much anime is out there that we will never get to see (or started and never got to finish)?  And all because people felt they were entitled for free to the things the rest of us were paying for.

Lesson 10: Keep Getting Better

I originally ranted this to a friend of mine to illustrate a point about business.  However, the idea behind this lesson isn’t just a business one, it really pertains to anything you do in life.

I think one of the most prominent and also the most valuable lessons anime has to give is the concept of always improving.  Getting stronger, faster…better.

Look at how many shows are based on this concept.  Goku and his friends in “Dragonball Z” spent all their time training in special gravity chambers and doing who knows what else to increase their power levels.  Vash the Stampede in “Trigun” continued to face opponents more difficult than the last.  Yusuke and the others in “Yu Yu Hakusho” continue training and improving to meet the next threat to the world as we know it.  Inuyasha was totally incompetent when he got the Tetsusaiga, but he learned to master it because that was the only way to survive.  Kenshin Himura of “Ruroni Kenshin” started out battling a relatively easy opponent in Sannosuke, who then became his friend, but as the story progressed they had to step up their game, learn new techniques-who doesn’t love deadly secret techniques?!-and even ally with some former enemies to defeat the increasingly dangerous foes coming their way.  Ichigo from “Bleach” had to train to learn this, train to learn that, train to get the name of Zangetsu, train to achieve bankai…and even though he’s defeating people that would have been unimaginable in the past, the opponents of the future are even stronger so there’s no time to slack off and quit training, training, training.

This lesson is a daunting one, especially for someone like me who is generally lazy.  I want to get to a point where I can rest and say, “This is enough.  This is where I want to be.”  But anime teaches us that to do so is to lose.

There will always be someone ahead-even if that “someone” is just our own personal goals-that is stronger, waiting for us to try to defeat them.

Lesson Nine: Sometimes Our Best Friends Are Just Assholes

Lately I’ve been feeling like this blog is getting a little too personal but then I remembered it’s named, “Everything I Need to Know, I Learned From Anime” not “Everything You Need to Know, You Can Learn From Anime.”  So anyway, as the title of this post might lead you to believe, my best friend is an asshole.  It’s an issue I’ve been struggling with for quite some time, but more lately than ever.

I was talking about this post idea with my brother and we had “Cowboy Bebop” on the brain, so we were talking about the Spike/Vicious friends-turned-enemies dynamic; the Gren/Vicious relationship and the “Do you have a comrade?” quote at the end of that arc; even the Jet/Fad buddy-turned-betrayer episode.  Thinking of these examples, I wondered if perhaps the post should be titled, “Sometimes Our Best Friends Are Just Assholes…Which is Why We Have to Kill Them.”  Believe me, it was tempting.

Instead, I thought of “Gungrave.”  This anime really drew me in when I started it; the two guys, Harry and Brandon, pals for life, watching each other’s backs, kicking ass, working their way up through the underworld, making it to the big time.  I thought of how Harry used Brandon for his own ends, looking out for number one and all of that.  And, of course, how when Brandon couldn’t bring himself to kill his best friend, his best friend killed him.  The story continues with Brandon’s resurrection and path for revenge, to take out Harry like he should have long ago…only to once again, not pull the trigger.  Watching it, I was extremely frustrated.  Kill him, already!  He’s not the friend you once knew, he killed you for crying out loud!  Twenty-six episodes of heartbreak and betrayal and no revenge?!

I told Brother that to this day, I’m conflicted about that ending.  He said to me, “I think that’s supposed to represent how, even though things had changed, they both just wanted to go back to the way things were in the good ol’ days.”  For a moment, I was speechless.  Dumbfounded, because I felt like an idiot that it was so obvious and I hadn’t seen it.  All this time I had been putting up with my asshole best friend because I was trying so hard to go back to the way things were.

…So I guess the question now is: Am I Brandon and forgive him, going out in a blaze of glory and futility together?  Or am I Spike and pull the trigger?

Figuratively speaking about the trigger.

Maybe.

Lesson Eight: “Love” is Hard-Even for Pretty People

A few nights ago I was watching the last disc of “The Story of Saiunkoku” (season one, of course.  Will I ever see season two?  Who knows).  Anyway, I made a comment to a friend of mine that it just wasn’t fair that Shurei was surrounded by all those beautiful boys and here I am surrounded by…well, piles of manga and anime and little else.  Friend reminded me that Shurei is not real, which didn’t really alter my sense of injustice at all.  Because I think we do run into Shureis at different times in our lives…that popular person that seems to have all the hottest people clamoring for his/her attention.

For funsies I thought, “If I were Shurei, who would I choose?  Seiran, who is so gorgeous and loyal and an ass-kicker?  The energetic, rugged-yet-insightful Ensei?  Eccentric-but-entertaining Ryuren Ran?  Creepy-but-driven Sakujun Sa?  Or rich, loves-you-more-than-anything Ryuki Shi?”  I immediately narrowed it down to two but then I had a serious conundrum and was soon relieved that it wasn’t my decision to make.

However, this little imagination exercise reminded me of not so long ago when gasp! I did have my fifteen minutes of popularity.  I remembered how my friends laughed at my problem: “I’ve never had people like me before-what do I do?  I don’t know who to choose!”  In the end, it was easier for me to get rid of all of them than have to choose one among them.  (I should probably add a disclaimer here that none of them were gorgeous loyal asskickers, rugged-yet-insighftul, so on and so forth.)

Don’t get me wrong-I’m not saying we should just be passive and take what seems to be the only person in the world who is interested.  I’m all about being selective and not settling for anything less than what you deserve.

But sometimes it may feel like if only we were more popular and had more people to choose from, things would be so much better.  So much easier.  But if we were surrounded by dozens of equally-beautiful people who were all totally crazy about us…how could you choose?   Or does the fact that you’re pursued by suitors who are all more or less the same become so boring that you’d rather not have any of them at all?

Lesson Seven: Only a Badass Can Wear Girlie Armor

When I first started watching “Saint Seiya” and found the protagonist’s armor was called Pegasus Armor, I was skeptical.  The characters Unicorn and Cygnus didn’t help alleviate that skepticism.  The Andromeda Armor and Nebula Chain just finally blew me away.  This was ridiculous!  These manly men, in Pegasus, Unicorn, Swan, and Andromeda Armor?

But what can I say, they’re growing on me and these guys are tough.  I saw a poster today for a karate meeting or something and on the poster were pictures of a tiger, a cobra, and a dragon.  My brother was making fun of it and I said, “No kidding.  If they were really tough guys, they’d have pictures of a pegasus, a swan, and Andromeda.  Then we’d know they mean business.”

I’ll be the first to say I don’t like my men in pink and I will also be the first one to make fun of a guy for choosing that color.  However, that’s how I know that you must be an especially tough guy to pull it off because if I’m making fun of you for it, then a million other people are trying to pick a fight with you too.

The more I thought about this, the more gender-questionable anime boys came to mind.  I thought of the first time I saw Kurama in “Yu Yu Hakusho” and was nonplussed by his Rose Whip.  With his soft, sophisticated voice, such stylish metrosexual clothes, and a Rose Whip, how dangerous could this guy really be?  His weapon is a rose.  And then there’s Kazuki from “GetBackers” who is so androgynous that you think he might be a girl at first and it becomes a running joke in the series.  Kazuki with his ferocious weapon–strings.  Oh, and don’t forget Yukimura Sanada in “Samurai Deeper Kyo” who dressed in drag…for no real reason I can discern; I think he just thought it would be fun.  (Yes, I know it was supposed to be a “disguise” but c’mon, you really think he couldn’t have found a better disguise?) Unfortunately, the more I pondered, the more conflicted I became.  These are some of my favorite characters!  What does that say about me?  I don’t like girly men!  Am I going crazy?  Could this unlock the secret to all my failed relationships?

The answer is no.  Kurama, Kazuki, and Yukimura have a couple key things in common: they are among the smartest characters in their respective series, generally the first ones to figure out the current devious plot and they are all among the strongest characters in their respective series.  That is why they can get away with dressing like women and having weeny-sounding weapons-because they are badasses and they will f— you up.

Lesson Six: Paprika IS the DC Mini!

I suppose it’s worth noting that the very first Blu-Ray movie we bought was an anime–Paprika.

This movie is about a device-the DC Mini-that can access dreams. However, everything goes out of control when people not wearing the device end up in the dreams, dreams are in reality, and it doesn’t appear to matter if you wear the device or are just exposed to it. It’s kind of a mindfuck of a movie, but that’s what makes it entertaining.

Here’s the problem, though: the DC Mini isn’t just some far-out concept thought up by silly Japanese people. The movie is the DC Mini.

I say this because ever since I watched Paprika several days ago, I’ve had absolutely crazy dreams. I’m a naturally crazy dreamer so I didn’t think things could get much weirder, but oh they have. My brother, on the other hand, said he quit dreaming years ago but now, after Paprika, he’s dreaming again. Vivid, crazy dreams at that.

So you watch a movie about a device that goes haywire so that just by being around it, dreams start seeping into reality…only to realize too late that by watching the movie, in reality you start having crazy dreams.