DDA Top 10: Number 1…

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Here we are, after so many months. Number One. What does Doll consider the best anime of all time? Is she really doing this tired blue-balls gag?

I’ve talked about this series before, it’s buried in the comments several times throughout the blog, but I don’t prop it up a lot because of how very specific it is, and how unknown it is.

I reference Madoka a lot as an example because it’s one most people are familiar with. Like a common language for contemporary anime fans. But also because Madoka, on the whole, is probably superior to today’s outing from the purely technical level, in terms of structure, style, and literary reference.

But as we said in the beginning, that is only part of the battle.

Today we examine one of the first series I watched with my girlfriend.  She isn’t as big into anime as I am, and arguably it’s one of the weaknesses in our relationship that I wish I could share this thing with her but don’t often get to.  But this was something she wanted to see, as she heard me watching it and liked the dark atmosphere she saw so she said, sure, why the hell not, let’s watch it together.

During the course of watching this series, she came to associate our relationship with the two main characters (something apt to happen to a lot of couples, I know. Hell we did the same thing with Madoka), but this has a unique distinction.  Perhaps less so for her counterpart, but in part because I am so physically alike with the character attributed to me, and likely similar shades in our personalities, but at one point she turned and hit me in the shoulder, like really hard, shouting “what is WRONG with you?!” I share this to illustrate how close our focus character is to my own heart.

I’ve mentioned all those things in the introduction about what changes my scores.  In a sort of foreshadowing, I was essentially explaining away why this series comes in at number one.  It has girl love elements, I have used it as forum avatars and facebook icons and cosplays, and it is ripe with dark elements.  Unlike Madoka, which had darkness IN it yet is still a relatively optimistic show, this series is a grand tragedy. A Shakespearean bad end that ends in death and suffering, and that’s the end. It holds out no hope, and I love it for that.

And above all, it is, I would argue, the single best character study series in all of anime.

So with that, let me introduce you, to Dataport Doll’s Number One Series of all time. Continue reading

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Yuri Kuma Arashi: Episode 7

Black helicopters!

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This week begins with Kureha’s mother telling her the final bit of that story, about how the girls live happily ever after, and we get confirmation that it was supposed to be Kureha and Ginko.

Back from credits, and Kaoru is sleeping with the teacher…I MEAN, THAT MYSTERIOUS BEAR THAT WILL TOTALLY KUMA SHOCK US ONCE SHE’S REVEALED! Speaking of, she eats Kaoru.

Kureha is keeping vigil over Ginko.  Like a human keeping vigil over a shrine guardian or something.  The pair are now officially accepted as a part of Kureha’s home, she trusts their good intentions.

In a reversal of previous episodes, it is now Kureha that has random fantasies about sex with Ginko.

But this seems involuntary.  Could these be visions produced by Kumalia?  We could write off Ginko’s that, maybe, she was too into Kureha, too prone to daydreaming.  But this is much more “against type”, and Kureha, while accepting Ginko and Lulu’s good intentions, still doesn’t harbor ROMANTIC feelings for either.  So the fact she has this elaborate dream sequence which tries to tell her enlightenment can be found in Ginko’s vag is a curious conspiracy theory.

Adding to this conspiracy theory of Kumalia’s influence, we see Kureha CONVENIENTLY start to piece together her past, that she once had a “special friend” before Sumika and that she might have been the girl in the story. Continue reading

Sakura Trick: Episode 7

I know last time I made a joke about how Kotone was a sadistic dominatrix…but…even I am shocked I’m this good.

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Kotone wins. She just wins. Sorry, Haruka, you had a good run and all, but Kotone has such a lead in favorites points, that there is no way for the Pope to catch her now. There is no denying this fact.

We opened with the girls being “late” to something.   But the important part here is that Haruka and Yuu steal a kiss…all while Shizuku and Kotone are in full view.  They’re getting casual about this, and it’s starting to get them almost caught.  This isn’t exactly important this episode, and it’s never referenced again, but there is a recurring theme a bit of the girls getting a little comfortable with their relationships.

But as to where they will be late to, turns out it is Kotone’s pool. Yes, Kotone has a pool.

Despite her living with Shizuku and sharing a bedroom, Kotone is from a fabulously wealthy family. And it doesn’t take long for the titular wardrobe malfunction.  Poor Mitsuki…

Just a nice after-party for the festival.  And it turns out that Haruka, Mitsuki, nor Shizuku can swim. Interesting, as this pool party was Shizuku’s idea, and she is evasive as to why she picked it.

And, as you can see above, Kotone isn’t going to have that.  The look on her face as she drops the inflatable for the whip is priceless, and the music playing along is just the best.  It wins not only best gag award, but my love as well!

We’re pretty deep into the episode, about eight minutes already, and there have been quite a few good gags, and the fanservice, while THERE, isn’t as obnoxious as it could be.  The worst of it comes when Mitsuki arrives, but the fact that it is the living embodiment of a troll-face Kaede that’s attacking her, elevates it -slightly- to the point where I don’t feel the need to facepalm, at least. I think because it’s being honest that she’s doing it to get a rise out of Mitsuki, and the show isn’t insulting our intelligence by making it “innocent” breast grabs. We know why it’s there, they know why it’s there, and even Yuzu knows why it’s there.  No need to stand on ceremony.  So while I wouldn’t go so far as to say I enjoyed the fanservice, I also was much more willing to suspend my disbelief because…that’s just Sakura Trick.

But, in a most surprising twist, Sakura Trick decides that the beach episode is the time to hit us in the feels.

…And fucking how. Damn, guys, you made full body contact on this one. Continue reading

Sakura Trick: Episode 6

My feels!

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What else do you do for a Valentine’s Day episode? Well it wasn’t thematic or anything.  At least not in-universe.  But structurally, Sakura Trick celebrated the day of love by paying attention to all three of the relationships on display. Yep. Three. Even Yuzu and Kaede, as only-friends and straight-men as they are, got some development this week.  It was quite lovely all around, I must say.

The girls are still working on their play, sewing costumes and making a few set pieces for mood.  Kotone and Yuzu scheme to have the party spend the night at the school. Yuzu asks the teacher…who tells them to fill out the forms in a voice that is the essence of not-giving-a-fuck.  Everyone seems on board for the plan, though Yuu and especially Shizuku seem more reluctant.

Some reminiscing about middle school, and the girls realize that Shizuku went to her own middle school by herself (at least among the class).  We get some backstory about how she and Kotone got along growing up, being cousins and all.  Kotone says they were just swell friends, but Shizuku remembers it as Kotone constantly enjoying seeing her cry.

…Mental note, add a check mark under the column of things I share with Kotone.

Kotone, in a fit of flirting, hits Shizuku for embarrassing her.  Oh yes, definitely a dominant sadist.

…What? Continue reading

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

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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

Sakura Trick: Episode 2

Much like being paranoid if people ARE out to get you, are they still Yuri Goggles if Haruka is always right about it…

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Before we tackle this week’s Sakura Trick, I want to make a brief aside regarding the controversy over this show.

Well now that that’s over!

No, honestly. Because, as someone who likes to be pleasantly surprised and avoids a LOT of fan discussion (why my KILL la KILL reviews have always been slim on the symbolism, but I have more for that in the relevant pages), the only way I have heard about this “Sakura Trick Controversy”…is through rebuttal posts. After rebuttal post, after rebuttal post.

So I will say here as I have commented several times throughout the week: I am no moral crusader. Look at this blog. It should be obvious I just don’t give enough shits about humanity to burn a lot of energy on that kind of thing. But more importantly, as someone who has been told that my existence degrades all women, as someone who has had, not internet lurking trolls, but flesh and blood people, whom I am acquainted with, in the course of conversation say that my sexuality degrades half the species for embodying too many lesbian stereotypes, with a look that for the good of Women’s Lib I will repent my life choices now that they have pointed it out to me…

Fuck you.  Fuck your self-righteous high horse. Fuck you with your self righteous high horse.  Telling a woman her sexual preferences (not orientation, as some of you may be quick to get indignant about. Preferences.) are degrading to women IS NO DIFFERENT than telling another woman she is a slut when she sleeps with “too many” guys.  It is a form of shaming based on what she likes. You should be fucking ashamed. Who are you to argue that because someone enjoys it (between consenting adults*) that it is “wrong”? Weird, absolutely. Strange, yes.  Self-isolating even, possibly.  But “wrong” is not one of those words.

The idea that female-on-female sexuality is inherently exploitation by virtue of its existence is the most ironic form of patriarchy. By adopting a stance that is knee-jerk counter to that which is considered “demeaning” without consideration of context is silly.

“But women only find bad boys sexy, and like rough sex, and enjoy submissive sex BECAUSE they are programmed that way!”  Okay. Let’s examine this. Who programmed the foot fetishist? The stone butch? The vore enthusiast? Was that programmed? Or is it…possible, I might be stretching, but is it POSSIBLE, that Human sexuality is complicated and doesn’t always have a root cause embedded into social fabric? Okay done with that part.

“Wait, Anna!” Sigh, goddamnit what? “Sakura Trick is predominantly written by men!” To me this is only an issue if they are trying to present a series that is “down with the struggle”.   Or, a series that marginalizes female homosexuality in any way.  This is only an educated guess now. But…this does not appear to be part of the genre (yes. Genre. And we are using it correctly) in Japan of raping lesbians straight.  Call it a big goddamn hunch that Sakura Trick will not end with them all hooking up with dudes. So neither of these “diminishing” qualities apply.

If that happens, then we’ll talk. Until then, you shut your mouth, and don’t waste our time with your White Knight bullshit.

Indeed, I have always felt that society can be corrected THROUGH peoples sex drives.  Cure militant Islam in the Middle East? Well, enough teenage boys who realize they don’t need to wait to see a woman until they’re 40, and enough teenage girls who realize they can actually have companions their age, and the problem will right itself! (kidding aside, such things actually HAVE been happening in Iran, for essentially those reasons).  And, in the case of making homosexuality “more mainstream”, Sakura Trick may be the way to go.  Infiltrating society not from the moral temple with safe, harmless lesbians, but with fanservice lesbians who can be connected to as REAL PEOPLE.

Let me tease that, I have been working on a lengthy essay regarding Yuri Goggles, and I will get into these topics more there (to be released by the end of Winter season), so I will be really hammering at this.  But I’m already 700 words in and haven’t talked about the episode yet. Damn. You see what happens when you piss me off? Don’t do it. It’s a storm of hate and bile.

Alright let’s actually talk about ANIME for once! Continue reading

Sakura Trick: Episode 1

Won me over, with cautious optimism.

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If you missed it last season, or are a newcomer, every season, as a personal challenge, I try to watch something outside my comfort zone. That is, outside the usual action romp, space opera, philosophical bent stuff that I normally take part in.  Last season, if you’ll recall, Outbreak Company filled that role (with Fantasista Doll filling that role previous).  That had mixed results, but overall? I felt enriched by the experience at least a little bit, so this is a tradition that I have no intention of stopping.

This season we feature Sakura Trick.  Straight up, no holds barred yuri series. A rather…slice of life romance. None of these are really inherently positive words to me. They speak of status quo (that most dreaded of crutches), static characters, and lots of…referential humor, “look at this and laugh, peon!”, and female sexuality played for laughs.

Luckily it’s not the case here. or not entirely. I laughed a LOT at this show.  Not at everything (Haruka’s over-the-top panic attacks were mostly frustrating, and the “you’re a pervert!” gag is SO DEAD PLEASE STOP), but a lot of jokes worked.

So Sakura Trick appears to be adopting the 11min-mini-episode format.  Stories which are self-referential, but independent. For practicality reasons, I’m basically going to refer to this divide only as a plot summary buoy.

So we start off with our viewpoint character, Haruka, the night before her first day of High School.  She is interrupted from her sleep my her best friend, Yuu.  She rings up her cell, reminds her of one specific thing to remember, then hangs up. This repeats. I liked the gag. I admit it.  It actually did a very good job of establishing this friendship and the dynamic involved without a lot of needless self-narration as is typical in poorly-made slice of life shows.

And cue credits! And this opening….I actually liked it.  Not the best this season, not by a long shot.  But the song is good, and the animation sequence is…eh, in places. Cute in others.

The girls meet up at school, finding they are in the same class, but to Haruka’s dismay, unlike middle school where they sat one in front of the other, they are on opposite ends of different rows.  Haruka reminisces on how things were in middle school, and how she’d love to help Yuu on her homework…and arguably the best gag in the episode when in the course of her memories, memory-Haruka is confused and they have to ask the smart girl in the next row, butting in on her nostalgia.  I laughed a lot.  Way more than I should have, really.

We’re definitely getting the strong sense from Haruka that she is…I don’t want to say manipulative, exactly…that’s a harsh word for it. But she does bend a lot of information in the most sympathetic way she can.  The reason the head gag works so well is because it is real-life intruding on her romantic memory (romantic in the sense of dramatized).  So this feature of the way the world works for her makes it that much funnier.

Continue reading