Anime can be questionable. Like, extremely questionable. It’s not always like that, but more than enough happens to be premium Don’t Show This To Your Parents content. To some being mindful of this comes with a sense of responsibility to condemn messy works. To see them as not only problematic, but also morally wrong. To tell people that they shouldn’t like the things they like if they do questionable things. So I guess we need to talk about why it’s okay to like anime despite all the crappy stuff it does.
So WWE just did their first ever women’s royal rumble match. It was mostly great but it left me with a lot to unpack. A lot of good stuff to unpack but also a lot of bad stuff.
NOTE: THERE ISN’T A NEW MY LITTLE PONY SERIES. THIS WAS A HYPOTHETICAL PIECE I WROTE FOR EQUESTRIA DAILY. BUT I THOUGHT IT MADE SOME NICE POINTS ABOUT THE ACTUAL STATE OF THE SERIES IN 2017 AND WAS WORTH MAKING PUBLIC.
Hasbro has announced in an investor call a spin off show of My Little Pony focused around a bat pony named Sweet Velvet and her friends. While set in same world, Velvet’s adventures take place outside the kingdom of Equestria. Hasbro hopes to target boys and girls equally with the show and impending toyline. Only this picture of Sweet Velvet was shared at the time of the call.
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.
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.
One of the reasons Neon Genesis Evangelion stands as one of anime’s biggest cultural icons is the boldness of its framing and shot composition. Nothing that came before it and very little that came after conveys quite as many things as Evangelion does in the dynamic composition of its space. Most vividly this is seen in the construction of Shinji’s space, cold and distant by default but veering on tense and claustrophobic in moments of conflict. In the first episode of Evangelion alone there’s a lot to pick at in the way Shinji is framed, and we’re going to do just that.
I have no hesitation when saying there has never been a better time to be a fan of western animated television. More things have grown on me, blown my expectations away, touched me and brought me to tears from this medium than ever before. But none with the sheer emotional gravitas of Bojack Horseman. That a sneering pop culture satire built around so many unlikeable individuals could carry this much sincerity and vulnerability itself is a feat well beyond many of its peers, but that it never lets go of that dignified seriousness and takes it into so many dark and extraordinary places is what puts it at the apex of its craft. ‘Fish Out of Water’ is at once one of the most ambitious and most tragic episodes of the series. It’s wonderful, it’s funny, it’s experimental, it’s deeply painful, it’s Bojack Horseman.