I used to be an avid defender of sorts for slice of life anime. Now I’m less enamored by most of them but they’re still an easy watch. If Kyoto Animation’s works stand as the peak of the genre then Doga Kobo would be the middle point, generally not hitting the craft or subtlety of a K-ON! but usually being competent at fun character animation and comedic timing. To that end the first season of New Game! is well up to par, a standard slice of life wrapped in a mellow workplace story with a few good laughs and some surprising sincerity.
‘Political correctness’ is an ugly term to a lot of people. To them it represents a threat our ability to speak honestly about challenging things, a silencing of dialogues that can help us become stronger and learn new things, a fear driven act of censorship even. Especially when it comes to comedy, people see it as a threat to creativity itself. But let me offer another idea: political correctness has the power to make comedy not only more creative but actually funnier.
And you know who agrees with me? Bojack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg. No kidding, you can read his exact words right here. You know who also agrees with me? Mr. Peanutbutter himself Paul F. Tompkins. So how does a dark gritty comedy like Bojack Horseman manage to be surrounded by such sensitive people? The short answer is that ‘political correctness’ isn’t about not saying things. It’s about questioning how and why you’re saying them. And Bojack Horseman is a stellar show when it comes to self-questioning.
Rick & Morty has been all the buzz lately. And that’s great because it truly deserves it, it’s an intricate and funny and moving series. Its third season has been its most profound yet, giving genuine introspection into the character of Rick Sanchez and how toxic and destructive a human being he truly is. But that’s not what my social media feeds have been interested in. They’ve been talking about the fandom, the would-be real life Ricks who find themselves in almost every online community spewing indulgent nihilistic hatred on everything they touch.
Some friends have even expressed being turned off the series by this, which just really sucks. On one hand I can’t blame them but on the other it’s really just not fair. It’s not fair that people find themselves unwilling to have new media experiences because of hostile fan culture, and it’s not fair on the creators of earnest good works that they need to be accountable for crappy people. So what should you do if something you want to get into has a rubbish fanbase?
Sonic Adventure 2 is a pretty good game. The original Sonic Adventure was overflowing with ideas and constantly vying to be on the cutting edge of its era, but it spread itself thin and ended up being seen as an awkward product of its time. By contrast Sonic Adventure 2 is a noticeably tighter game, with a more singular and solid focus that brings everything into a more complete experience. It’s a similarly bumpy ride to the original, but it manages to hit a lot more highs along the way.
At the very beginning of Revolutionary Girl Utena we’re given a fable-like tale of a girl whose parents have died. She meets a prince in a fateful encounter, and that prince empowers her with the will to keep pushing forward. And so she decides from then on that her dream is to become a prince herself. That girl in question is Utena Tenjou. “Is that really such a good idea?”, says the narrator. After all we surely understand that princes are men and princesses are women. But that doesn’t really mean a whole lot to Utena. Utena is willing to dream, and even if she doesn’t yet fully understand the weight of her own convictions they’re still a defiant gesture — defiant of all our entrenched social norms. Utena’s one hope of making her dream a reality is to bring revolution to the world. It’s a tall order for a 14 year old but she’s giving it a shot. Her dreams will be challenged, they’ll be crushed, they’ll be rebuilt, and they’ll be re-evaluated. This is Utena’s quest for revolution.
Sonic is… well, Sonic. Very few things can compare to the way people react to Sonic. The adoration, the hatred, the obsession, the ridicule. For a lot of years I was an outside observer of the strange roller-coaster phenomenon of Sonic despite dabbling in most of the games. But thanks to the stellar Sonic Mania I’ve become genuinely hooked. I’ve been able to fully appreciate the original games for being truly great platformers but probably more importantly I’ve started to find the personality of the series endearing – quirks and all. So here I am with that mindset getting into the nearly 20 year old Sonic Adventure for the first time.
I think Puella Magi Madoka Magica is pretty neat. I wrote about it not too long ago but it’s a series I frequently feel compelled to write about. I probably consider it my all time favourite anime series, whatever the heck that’s worth. It’s a series of great craft and empathy.
One of its biggest achievements is how it pulls off its core mystery elements, which isn’t an easy thing to do. Make no mistake, there are a ton of stories that handle mystery really badly. They can be hollow or even downright deceptive. Some would even accuse Madoka Magica of this, but I’m going to make the case that it’s quite the opposite. Madoka Magica is a series that gets mystery.