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Gunslinger Girl: Social Welfare Agency, I Really Like My Life Here. July 2, 2006

Posted by Samurai Tusok in Anime, Gunslinger Girl.
7 comments

In cases such as these I'd like a hand. Don't wake me up without a master plan.

I was initially oblivious to the marketing appeal of Gunslinger Girl, an anime which features a prepubescent girl solemnly holding up a SIG-Sauer P239 as its primary promotional image. Yes, I am the special kind of numbskull who fails to notice the combination of submachine guns and forlorn innocence as a calculated attempt at moé appeal.

Gunslinger Girl’s premise is that of a near future Italy in which a counterterrorist group, euphemistically known as the Social Welfare Agency, ‘rescues’ young girls in critical physical condition and discarded by society. Then they turn them into doe-eyed killing machines with cybernetic enhancements.

It’s the kind of fiction-packaging whose depth is seems to be visible from the surface: “Does military exploitation know no limits?! God save the children!” The kind of conceptual substance that appeals to resolutely self-serious anime fans who think Ghost in the Shell qualifies themselves as deep-thinking existentialists.

However, this smattering of speculative fiction tropes becomes nigh invisible at some point, mostly because Gunslinger eschews high octane action scenes in favor of decorating each moment with the elegance of neoclassical Italian scenery and solemn piano music. As it stands, gunshots are few and far in between — with every bullet acting more as an infrequent exclamation point than as pure visceral thrill.

This is because the meta-sci-fi existential implications of Gunslinger’s premise are secondary to the interpersonal relationships and character drama. Rather than being concerned with what is ethically humane or not, the series chooses to focus on the girls’ traumatically sheltered lives and their arrested emotional development.

As a series of relatively self-contained stories, Gunslinger strikes an elegiac chord primarily through the awkward relationships of these girls, particularly with their Handlers, who act as paramilitary surrogate father figures, most of whose parenting styles are some variation of Tough Love.

If Gunslinger Girl can be faulted for anything, it is that it has no concern for anything resembling a larger plot or resolution. Even though each vignette is placed against the backdrop of a war between the fanatical Republican Faction and the morally ambivalent Social Welfare Agency, the relationship between it and the character drama is tenuous at best.

Inevitably enough, one starts to recognize that Gunslinger is not about bad-asses in kawaii dressing designed for people with a lolicon fetish. But rather, Gunslinger cuts to the heart of what what moé appeal is really about — the need to protect and nurture that which appears to be in need of protection.

These girls have nothing left to live for, but yet they are placed in a conscienceless existence devoted to murder. Thus, they are constantly working for the approval of a welfare organization that has little to do with the humanitarian, waiting for the day they die knowing that they can never grow up.

The Secret Ingredient: Cultural Repackaging X! June 26, 2006

Posted by Samurai Tusok in Anime.
2 comments

 

Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z

 

Naughty Ninja just discovered a very bizarre magical bishoujo revisioning of the Powerpuff Girls, which suffice to say is the strangest cultural feedback loop I’ve seen. It defies Understanding, and by that I mean, trying to comprehend it in some form other than a mindwank academic fuckpiece piled with CTheory-type textual hypnotics.

I mean think about it: The Powerpuff Girls was born from a mutant blend of exported Japanese kawaii aesthetic crossbred with the aesthetic affectations of children’s storybooks. And now Cartoon Network wants to take that and pump it BACK into the J-pop machine.

Crazy!

 

Naughty Ninja recommends the following related links, she came across them mostly because she was dying to know what the magical transforming sequences looked like:

Official Demashita!Powerpuff Girls Z trailer on YouTube – Features glimpses of the revamped Professor, Mojo Jojo, Mayor and Ms. Bellum.

D!PPGZ Wikipedia Entry – Small and not entirely well written, but details some of the key differences between the original and upcoming series.

Online Power Puff Girls Doujinshi at Snafu Comics – Fans claim the new anime series is based on this, or “how things should have been done”. Enjoy the doujinshi for what it is, with cameos from Samurai Jack, Courage the Cowardly Dog, and Dexter the boy genius. Unfortunately, it features tasteless energy balls in the first arc. It makes up for it with Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon parodies in the second.

Ouran High School Host Club: Let’s Have a Romantic Love June 25, 2006

Posted by Naughty Ninja in Anime, Ouran High School Host Club.
82 comments

The Host Club

There’s little dispute among most that ‘harem anime’ love comedies thrive on formula. Few distinguish themselves beyond the pretty boys and physical comedy for one to be even worth recommending against another. As Theodore Sturgeon put it so eloquently, “Ninety percent of everything is crud.” However, every once in a while, a promising gem emerges from the rabble. After all, Sturgeon’s famous words also implied that ten percent of everything ISN’T crud, and that in my opinion, is certainly the case for Ouran High School Host Club.

Its clear that Ouran is unapologetic in getting its shoujo on — an immense amount of roses, sakura petals, and intricate lace borders decorate the opening sequence (as well as in the episodes themselves) with a clear ironic intent, and bounces to the beat of an opening theme reeking of hyperactive genki energy. The opening theme, Sakura Kiss, has the earnest Chieko Kawabe sings, “The reason for which people fall in love, is different for everyone but– maybe you’re my love.” the last hopeful sentence sung in sweet Engrish.

Maybe You're My Love?Essentially a fast paced comedy, the titular Host Club of Ouran is an exclusive social group where six gorgeous boys surround themselves with things of beauty and using their refined manners to entertain female guests with innocent fliration. The most engaging component of Ouran is in the intense polarization between its protagonist, Fujioka Haruhi, a “studious commoner” student on scholarship who could care less about the high society trappings of opulence, beauty and wealthy refinement and Tamaki Suoh, the Host Club’s reigning bishounen King.

But the show’s penchant for the unapologetic does not merely lie in its self-conscious air of visual winks and nudges, but in the metafictional gags as well, which while not entirely novel are witty enough in execution. In one instance, Tamaki declares, “Yes! This is a love school comedy to begin with! Haruhi and I are the main characters of this love comedy. Obviously, the rest of you are homo side characters.” He finishes by brandishing a stick and drawing a line between his importance to the plot and the supporting characters ostensible destiny as mere filler.

Haruhi, the Studious CommonerIt has been pointed out by viewers that Ouran has the potential to be the next Fruits Basket, but seven episodes in, and we’ve yet to see any deep emotional confessions, romantic hijinks, relational development, or dark and painful familial past. The general flow of the show seems to swing between two basic plots: Tamaki’s awkward and bizarre attempts to gain intimacy with Haruhi and his crusades towards granting the wishes of the heart to men and women alike.

If there’s anything it can be faulted for, it’s that it doesn’t give much of an impression that it plans to go anywhere in particular with its premise. Nonetheless, even though I may not know what’s going to happen at the end of the road, I’m pretty much enjoying the ride.

Tamaki, the Host King.

Related Links Sakura Kiss, Anime Opening – On YouTube. Not of the best quality, but you can generally get the feel of the series.

For Richer or Poorer – A large fansite dedicated to both the anime and manga title. Holds an obscene amount of content: information, profiles, summaries, screen captures, galleries, a forum, etc.

Ouran Koukou Host Club Icon Awards – As always, livejournal supplies a healthy amount of fandom, both in healthy and wanky variants. This particular community concentrates on themed icon contests.