DDA Top 10: #3: Shinsekai Yori

Shinsekai-Yori-episode-4-screenshot-003

If you have any pretense to watching this show and haven’t done so yet, you should consider this your last warning.  Part of the fun in great storytelling is seeing the themes that were subconsciously reinforced throughout your viewing experience bloom like a flower in the climax.  And Shinsekai Yori does this in perhaps the most spectacular example of any anime.

Of course, at that same token, Shinsekai Yori (From the New World) is, truly, a series that DEMANDS multiple viewings to fully absorb what you’ve seen. So spoilers may not even matter all that much in this story.

I have said it in the past, and say it now: Shinsekai Yori is the greatest science fiction anime of all time.  There is absolutely no contention on this point as far as I’m concerned.

This has been in my post queue for some time.  But, recent current events have made it quite relevant.  And the story’s messages are merely that “this is complicated”. Full of warnings, portents, and red flags about how we think, how we treat each other, and how we view the state and enforcement of order. But short on actual solutions. Continue reading

Cut Away Review: Shinsekai Yori

(Another archiving review from MyAnimeList, this time 100% spoiler-free! A look at what I would defend as the best science-fiction anime ever.)

ohysShinsekaiYori-08CS-EX1280x720x264AACmp4_snapshot_0542_20121116_140500_zpsaf2902be

First off, let there be no doubts that Shinsekai Yori is a quality show, and every criticism levied is done so in the interests of the undecided viewer and objectivity.

Shinsekai Yori is probably the best example to hold up when warning someone off the “anime is a genre” trap. Because it should not be viewed by people who simply consider themselves fans of anime and manga. Not to say those common elements don’t exist, but there is a far better, more descriptive way to explain it.

Shinsekai Yori is a masterpiece of science fiction.

That probably won’t sit well with some people, but it’s the truth. At best, you can just broadly say it is in (more socially acceptable term) speculative fiction, but Shinsekai Yori is the definition of what science fiction is: It uses fantastical elements to explore the human condition in spiritual, sociological, and political ways.

Once again let it be said, Shinsekai Yori is a quality show. But it cannot be recommended to -everyone- simply because it is a pretty anime. If you are not a fan of science fiction as a concept, Shinsekai Yori will probably not sit well with you. The most apparent problem with this is the beginning. It is slow in the terms of plot. That is because, again, like many science fiction novels, it chooses to focus first on universe building. This isn’t any worse or better, it’s just the stylistic choice of the novel, and the show sticks to the novel quite well.

Speaking of which, there are lots of elements that will feel like a book on screen, the least of which aren’t several time skips that most television seeks to avoid.

Even among all these warnings: Science fiction fans who -want- something intellectually challenging may be put off by certain details. These are almost always cultural differences. Without spoiling, but as a general example, whenever the government or ruling body holds a policy that treats people as inferior, expendable, or second-class in some way, in anime it is typical that it slides by without much comment, merely being accepted as “for the common good” (this occurs a lot in Ghost in the Shell). Whereas in Western sci-fi, that is usually the sticking point for most plot twists and paradigm shifts. That is not to say there is not an opinion presented, but it is not -direct-, and that can infuriate some science fiction fans. So, advice towards them: Go in without expectations.

It is also science fiction in that the plot is the primary device, not the characters, though they are well developed enough to sympathize with their plight and even pick favorites.

There is indeed homosexuality presented. But again it is mostly in a sense of showing how different this society is. On top of that it is not fan-servicey in the least. In fact, though I am a considerable distance from a yaoi girl, even the boy-on-boy was endearing and tastefully handled, in my estimation. It would do the entire industry some good if more television handled it this way.

One thing that I can’t praise the show on much is the animation. Though I only jumped in around episode 17, I marathoned the entire series in a night. But nothing particularly jumps out at me as a “moment of badass” for the series. Other than the flashbacks during the “introductory” phase of the show, which were quite effective and chilling in an Akira tone.

I will again say: if you are on the fence about this show, it comes highly recommended. But if you are vehemently against any of these stylistic choices (the sci-fi nature, the novel-on-screen, the plot-as-driving-force) then it would be hard to blame you for not enjoying it, it simply is not for everyone. But neither is The Lord of the Rings, Citizen Kane, or Batman, but that doesn’t make them bad.

100th Post: The Anatomy of Yuri Goggles: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Flowers

1386286786534

Evidence is Not the Same Thing as Proof

So throughout the past months in KILL la KILL I have made several jokes regarding Yuri Goggles. This is a subject of some personal fascination for me. And since this blog exists to let me yap about what I want, let’s take a deeper look into this issue.  All the more fitting now that Nobunagun and Sakura Trick have worked their way into my blog.

Be warned, ye enter forbidden, uncharted waters.  I might ramble for hours. Who knows? Anything could happen! Come see Anna be academic serious less of an asshole! After all, it is the 100th post.

Yuri Goggles, for those who are unfamiliar, is the term applied to when a viewer interprets a scene between two characters as being homoerotic, specifically between two women.  The resulting girl on girl isn’t outright stated to be romantic, but is merely one of many ways to interpret art.

There are various types of goggles, too. The term “goggle” simply means you have put up a lens through which you are passing information through with a specific objective.  This applies to anything, including counterpart Yaoi goggles. More familiar, you may be aware of the whole “proving God” argument. If I am someone of faith, you cannot disprove to me that a miraculous event was not God’s will. If I am someone without, you cannot prove to me that it is. Both are sets of goggles towards which bias enters, and the degree to that lens, that is to say, the degree of the warping of the information being given to you, will vary from person to person, issue to issue.

This association leads many to dismiss any interpretation that may lend itself to Goggles, But I think in the case of Yuri Goggles, we have to dig a few steps deeper to understand their usefulness.

For the record: We will be addressing MANY examples, and some are series that we have not covered. If you wish to avoid spoilers for these shows, abandon hope. Continue reading