Friday, June 17, 2011

At the Bottom of the Hill

A special thanks to Taylor and Clannad Central who uploaded all the videos I'm going to use for this series of reflections. I haven't heard anything about Taylor's situation, but when I do I'll make sure to let you guys know. Keep up the prayers!
I'd just had a really bad break up with a girlfriend, so I was dazed, confused, depressed, and in desperate need of company. My friend Marty made it a point to make sure I was never alone, so he started showing me the most positive anime he could find, played an obscene amount of video games with me, and made sure that I didn't feel alone. It was a pretty easy task, come to think of it, because we hung out so often to begin with.
I'd only seen Fullmetal Alchemist, and was more than willing to find out if FMA was a fluke or a sign of Japan's quality. So Marty showed me Eureka 7, which I watched in about a week (pretty good for a 50 episode show and a full load at school)! Eureka 7 is an anime I might review sometime, but for now all you need to know is that I really liked the show, and that I found myself liking this whole "anime" thing.
So far I'd seen shows about the number one thing I needed, which was hope, and I desperately needed to be shown more. Upon questioning Marty said he had this anime that he knew I was going to love, that it was the saddest thing I'd ever see, but so beautiful that if I didn't cry I simply wasn't human. I was in a pretty depressed mood so I told him that was fine with me. I felt sad, so it made sense to watch something sad and beautiful. And crying didn't feel like such a bad thing to do, either. We sat down, pizza in tow, and this is what I saw.

I never looked back.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Trolling of Evangelion: The Good

Disclaimer: If you like the show, please read the title. And then read it again. Realize this is coming from someone who doesn't like the show. I'm not going to attempt to play fair, since it's intentional trolling. Please realize that I geniunely like the parts of the show that I'm trolling, and that I'm having fun, usually at that fans' expense or at mine. Those of you who aren't having fun need to check themselves off this blog. Oh, and SPOILER ALERT! For those of you that care.
The Characters
I like all the characters in Evangelion.
Everybody but this guy:

...and this guy. What a coincidence, they're father and son!

I'm really not kidding. Everyone else in the show was understandable, easily related to, and hell, enjoyable.

How can you not like her? Seriously? Put aside the fact that we get to see her boobs, butt, or skin in every episode for a second, and actually think (something Evangelion fans claim to do all the time, but probably not with their brains)! Misato's pretty amazing. Having gone through some extremely rough situations with her parents and being unable to talk she's actually up and talking, trying to follow in her father's footsteps (even though she think she hates him). She takes Shinji in and tries to mother him, only realizing that her own flaws prevent her from doing that well. Watching her with Kaji is absolutely hilarious and awesome every time, and who can't love Pen-Pen? I dare you to not love him. How could you say no to that bloody penguin? Misato can't, and that should be more than good enough for you, you heartless bastard. Seriously, she's one the few characters that's actually human in this show. Flawed, broken, but absolutely determined to do good. She's also the only one of the three main female leads whose falling in love with Shinji did not seem pushed by the plot, which I don't hold against her. The show had shown that the two of them, despite being in the opposite camps of awesome and fail, had a lot in common and Misato geniunely cared for Shinji and wanted to help him leave Camp Fail (where Twilight: The Extended Cut is shown every night) and go to Camp Awesome with her for sex. Wonderful statutory rape sex.


What can I say about Kaji that would do him justice? No, really, I mean that. Kaji is one of the best characters in any anime I've watched, probably reaching up into the realm of my Top 5 Favorites (I should probably write that post someday...). Throughout the show, like all the characters, Kaji shows some pretty impressive flaws. His sense of humor pisses off Misato (which yes, I count as a flaw), and... that's about it. He's the best character you can ask for in any show, and he makes quite the impact in a show where there really are no other heroes besides Misato. I mean, what can't this guy do?

Oh wait, that's right.


Kaji's death is the turning point in the series, forcing it into a downward spiral of despair and futility. I think that with the death of Kaji any hope for, well, anything, in this show dies as well. He was the one guy consistently doing the right things for the right reasons, and with his death there's a very uncomfortable hole left. I mean, who's gonna save the world, Shinji? That's about as likely as Shinji voluntarily kissing a girl.

While she's not the most heroic character of the bunch (it's a pretty steep drop off after Misato), Asuka has several things going for her. First, she has a temper. I like temper in an anime girl, it's just in my nature. Second, her last fight scene in The End of Evangelion was one of the most badass things I've seen. 9 Evas? Girl, you rock. Hard. I haven't cheered that hard for someone in a long time, and then..... again...

What is the deal with the writer's need to make sure that no awesome characters live? OK, that's technically not true. Asuka does live. But she's stuck with Shinji, a fate worse than death. I mean, someone that indecisive stuck with an awesome girl like her? Yeah, don't make sense to me either.

Yeah, Asuka has flaws. Tons of them. She's ill-tempered. She's immature. She puts all her self-worth in her ability to pilot an Eva. Her abandonment issues are expressed by her constant bullying and inability to be nice to anyone but Kaji (but being cruel to Kaji puts you out of the grasp of humanity anyway). She falls in love with Shinji. But hey, so do the rest of the female leads, so we'll just chalk that up to the plot.

The rest of the characters, while not nearly as cool as those three, are enjoyable and easy to sympathize with, which is a key aspect of this series. If you can't sympathize with the characters then you're stuck(which is why most harem anime is doomed to fail). While Rei has the personality of vanilla ice cream when it's revealed why this is case it makes a good deal of sense. So even while I don't like her she's at least understandable.

Tokyo-3 is a marvel of imagination. When I first saw it in the Rebuilds I was truly impressed with how it was fantastical yet felt so real. I mean, a city that can come up out of the ground after a fight? Why hasn't anyone in the real world done that?
Not feasible? I don't believe you. Try again. Harder.
The show's designs mostly make sense (disregarding the mechincal trigger on a gun the size of a skyscrape) and are as utilitarian as the tools who made them. The plug suits also work out, despite being an obvious attempt at fan service. All the human stuff looks like it belongs.

Most importantly, however, this show knew that it had something to say and made me want to find out what it was. It's very difficult to get me to actually care about what happens, and Evagelion through the characters and the desperate feeling of trying to say something got me hooked. I knew that whatever the show was trying to say it meant legitimately, which excited me after I got the bad taste of Shinji and Gendou out of my mouth. What did they want to say? What was so important that they would take someone who's an anti-hero in the literal sense and make a show about him? What were they going to say? As the show got darker I wanted to know more. Hell, I wanted whatever they had to say mean something, even if it was about one of the two Ikaris. Hell, maybe they would try to redeem those two! T'was a long shot, but I hoped.

And that's a rare thing that only the best of shows inspires, even if its only for a second. Hope. It's the ability to carry on even if nothing seems to work. It defies reason, emotion, religion, politics, you name it and hope will trudge through it. A lot of people take hope from stories and use it to carry forward, and this show has the capability of doing that. That's high praise for any show, and I give it to Evangelion. I like the fact that something so depressing as Evangelion can inspire. From someone who overall doesn't like the show that's pretty high praise, and I would like you all to congratulate me for being so high-minded. Thank you, thank you, I'm here on this blog for awhile.

So, Evangelion has good points. Hell, it's got excellent points. But does that make it a classic in my book? Come back next week and find out what I didn't like in The Bad.

Please offer prayers for my friend and Youtube uploader, Taylor. His family is in an emergency, and because of this he couldn't help out with today's post. I offer my condolences.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Nightmare I Had

Last night I went to the hospital for horrific stomach pains. After a blood test and a CAT scan they said it was probably extremely bad gas. I got home at 3:30 am, doped up on pain killers, and had one of the weirdest nightmares ever.

I dreamed that a friend of mine and I (whose face I do not remember) were yanked into hell willingly, where we attempted to make a deal for power... if we did a few tasks. Each task (now very fuzzy) was stranger and more amoral than the last, until finally the two of us could no longer endure. We demanded our immediate release. The demon that was keeping us down there (known to us as Minerva or Athena) started to show us the contract that we had written, when I grabbed it and tossed it into a nearby lava pit. Blue-white light pierced through the walls, and the whole room started shaking. The old hag known as Lust ran by, terrified. As I reached out for the light I woke up with a start.

Pain meds have some interesting effects, don't they?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Coming Soon...

OK, OK, I better explain, considering that just putting up an image won't explain what's going on. For those of who you were following my previous blog The School's Trees you're probably wondering more than anyone else. To clear up a few things:
-No, I am not redoing my Clannad posts from that blog. I'm transferring them over.
-That being said if I can clean up any bad writing that I made (especially in the earlier posts) I will.
-How's this different from a redo? I'm not starting from scratch, and I'm not going to re-watch the show.
-That being said (again) I'll probably do a few extra posts here and there. Commenting on the openings was something I didn't do the first time, I'd like to add that in.
-I will not be transferring anyone else's blog posts from The School's Trees. My blog posts are a single narrative, and that's what I'm transferring.
-This will not compete with my time on Evangelion. If the two have an argument with time Evangelion will win out, if only because I've started a bit of a firestorm on Facebook with my wonderful posts.[/sarcasm]

So expect that next week as well!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Trolling of Evangelion: Opening

Disclaimer: Once again, this is all opinion. If have this idea that Evangelion is God's greatest gift to all mankind then not only will you not like what I have to say but you probably shouldn't read it, because this is where the trolling starts.

Opening's are very important things to analyze, because they can tell you a lot about the anime. Take, for instance, FMA Brotherhood's first opening, "Again"

This opening tells you in a minute and a half what the show is about, and it does it in the most awesomest way possible (yes, I said it like that). Granted, FMA is a classic, but so is Evangelion. In fact, it's the classic that made our generation of anime plausible. So it's gonna have a kick butt opening, right?

... no... It's not...

HORNS? Really? Something this upbeat for a show that's about the end of the world? Call me picky, but nice upbeat horns do NOT communicate "end of the world scenario" to me. Unless they're badly played, but even then they only spell the end of the world for the dummy who's playing them, not the whole world itself. I've heard this show is just downright depressing, and it starts with ****ing horns?

It's almost as bad of a musical choice as the music at the end of the second Evangelion Rebuild movie.

(Go to about 9:20 on the video if you don't want to watch the rest, although it makes the disconnect even worse if you do so)

"But it's children singing about hope", you'll say. Um, yeah, the people on the screen are talking about the end of the world. I don't think of children singing when I think end of the world and the possible deaths of millions. I think of properly dark and awesome songs. So it's not like they ever learn their mistakes. The theme song just doesn't fit my vision of what Evangelion's opening would be. "But it was in the 90's", someone's gonna say. "They didn't know any better". Don't insult Evangelion, or people from the 90's for that matter. Good music is timeless, and always has been. The particular meanings of music may fade (Gregorian chant was based off of bar songs, for instance), but the music itself? If it's good it'll reach out to everyone. If this show is supposed to be the messiah of anime, it needs the messiah of openings. And it just doesn't have it, which flies in the face of everything I've ever learned about anime. This is not a good sign for those who wish to tell me that this anime is good.

OK, I need to calm down. I need to listen to something good. Excuse me.

OK, I feel better. Thank goodness there's anime out there that know how to make a proper opening.

EDIT: Someone pointed out my mistake. Evangelion was written in 1995, not in the 80's. I would like to say this is because of misinformation given to me... but it's not. I goofed. Oh well. Hope it made for some laughs while the mistake was there.