Weekly Anime Round-Up (June 7th – June 13th, 2021): Race and Power in the Great Pretender, Elitist anime, and Candy Flurry

Great Pretender advertisement

Great Pretender‘s animation looks good but I haven’t been able to get into it. A “crime comedy” anime produced by Wit Studio, Great Pretender follows Makoto “Edamame” Edamura as he enters a life of crime. When he swindles a swindler (Laurent Thierry) his life changes for the worst. Beata over at Anime Feminist explores how the series focuses on race, class, and power dynamics.

Makoto takes on a robin hood role, as he steals with the goal of helping others. Beata examines how the series depicts the negative effects of “structural oppression.” The bodyguard of the drug trader Eddie Cassano, Salazar, is trying to escape his life of crime and create a safe home for his son. Eddie exploits the benefit of his privileges or as Beata puts it:

Eddie chooses to continue his criminal activities because his whiteness and wealth give him the power to navigate both the criminal and legitimate world without experiencing many repercussions.

Beata

Mob Psycho 100 art

Elitist Anime

Scott over at mechanical anime reviews discusses what he perceives to be “elitist anime.” Basically, elitist anime is supposed to be “intellectual.” These anime generally begin in 2010. Elitist is considered an insult, suggesting someone is out of touch. While Scott doesn’t wish to pass judgment or take things too seriously, he does create a list of the anime he thinks fits the “elitist” label.

Personally, I don’t have an issue with “elitist anime” if it means anime that makes you think. I have an issue with gatekeeping by fans who believe you’re not a “true” anime fan if you only watch “mainstream” series. I don’t know how the two concepts compare and they may overlap. The list includes some anime I’ve seen, some I heard of, and some I’m unaware of, Vinland Saga, Mob Psycho 100, are among my favs.

This is the concept behind this post. I don’t want this list to be taken seriously, ok? Please don’t. Let’s just enjoy anime together and not point fingers at each other at our own tastes.

Scott

Cover page of Candy Flurry chapter 1

Candy Flurry

Demon God Thadeus hopes to give the new Shonen Jump series Candy Flurry some attention. A new series with less than 10 chapters, Candy Flurry is written by Ippon Takegushi and drawn by Santa Mitarashi. The corporation called “Cyndy Toy Toy,” sell Toy Toy Candy magical sweets that grant the consumer’s candy powers. There are 100 of each type of sweet. DGT loves the Power System:

I love how simplistic it is in execution- but how much potential it has for strategy and combat. I hear about all of these complex @$$ Nen abilities and these……….ridiculous overpowered Stands, and I end up thinking “Whatever happened to the days where I can just hit someone REALLY hard and they go down?” Seriously; what the h#ll is up with Knuckle’s “Chapter 7 Bankruptcy” and that stupid “Golden Spin” bullcr@p? That……may have just turned everyone who loves the complex mechanics in a power system away, but I can assure you that this is a really cool way of fighting.

Demon God Thadeus

Demon God Thadeus sells the series, making me interested and the art style appeals to me. So I’m going to give the series a read. I hope I like it. I’m always looking for another good manga series. Check out Candy Flurry.

Weekly Anime Round-Up (May 30th – June 6th): The capitalist metaphor of Madoka Magica and Reviews of Dorohedoro and Jujutsu Kaisen

Dorohedoro is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Q Hayashida. It tells the story of Caiman, a victim of a magic attack, resulting in Caiman being left with a lizard head. I reviewed the series and considered it one of the best anime series in the last decade. Chris Joynson over at Never Argue with a Fish reviews Dorohedoro and loves the series “creativity.” He says that:

Sometimes I just have to marvel at anime. I mean there are many, many reasons why I’ve been watching it for the majority of my life now, but one of the main ones is the sheer breadth and creativity of its stories. Where else am I going to come across a show that opens with a man with a lizard head biting down some other dude’s head, only for another head to work its way up the lizard man’s throat and start talking?

Chris Joynson

Irina review Jujutsu Kaisen

Jujutsu Kaisen has been a massive hit and has become one of the best received and most successful manga/anime series in years. Like Dorohedoro, I reviewed the first anime season. Irina reviewed the series and was captivated by the animation from MAPPA, “I’m pretty impressed by Mappa lately. . . they certainly know how to create some eye-catching animation.” Overall, Irina concludes what most fans of Jujutsu Kaisen have, the series is a great action shonen;

Season 1 of Jujutsu Kaisen is a strong start to what could become a future classic of action shonen anime. It’s not breaking any molds but it’s a prime example of its genre

Irina

Madoka Magica and the capitalist metaphor

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is one of those highly regarded anime you hear about from time to time. I always intend to watch it but can’t seem to find the time. Anyway, Audrey Dubois explores how Madoka Magica can be seen as a metaphor for capitalism. Using an “economic lens,” Dubois discusses how Kyubey exploits the magical girls employing them as “freelancers,” into deadly work without “protection.” Kyubey’s manipulations result in isolation, conflict, and ultimately the magical girl’s destruction.

Kyubey’s character is truly a masterclass in labor exploitation. He conditions his magical girls to view potential allies as rivals and targets the most vulnerable candidates to continue his profit machine. His exaggerated evil might help viewers recognize those manipulative tactics when they arise in real life.

Dubois

Weekly Anime Round-Up (May 23th – May 29th): A Review of Castle In The Sky, Popularity, and Quality in Anime, and the Top 5 Anime Kitsune

Laputa: Castle in the sky – image of characters flying away from danger.

In this week’s edition of Weekly Anime Round-up, the Traditional Catholic Weeb (TCW) reviews the Studio Ghibli film, Laputa – Castle In The Sky. Studio Ghibli is renowned for its high quality and innovative anime film’s. Personally, I’ve never heard of this film. I was released before I was born, so that’s likely the reason. Regardless, was well-received, garnering positive reviews and grossing over $150 million between box office, home video, and soundtrack sales. TCW has a positive view of the film:

the origins of Studio Ghibli‘s filmography can be traced back to one film: Laputa – Castle In The Sky, an action/adventure film which would centralize the ongoing tradition of Miyazaki’s magical tales, featuring gallant visuals, charming characters, majestic worlds and captivating stories that continue to enthrall folks of all ages worldwide.

Tradition Catholic Weeb

Tanjiro admiring Wisteria.

Popularity, Quality, and Anime fandom

This post was posted on May 5th but I think it’s interesting. DAZE3X over at the blog A Certain Dazed Producer, explores the relationship “between how good an anime is and how popular it is.” Anime fans have been fighting over whether particular anime is actually good or is just hype. In the past few years, popular anime like Demon Slayer and Jujutsu Kaisen has been labeled “overrated.” Anything that is considered popular or mainstream is often going to receive criticism for being undeserving of the attention. Ultimately it doesn’t matter if you think a series has worthy of praise, if people like it, then it’s going to be popular. DAZE3X, who didn’t like Demon Slayer, argues:

If we could remove the concept of popularity away from the discussions over the quality of anime, we could have much more meaningful discussions over quality. Yes, there are bound to be some people who base their impressions of an anime depending on it’s popularity. I’ve seen people use statistics to show that people watch it so it must be good. And lots of people do follow the hype train and watch whatever else people are talking about and pretty much ignore everything else.

DAZE3X

Soushi from Inu x Boku.

The Top 5 Anime Kitsune

If you’re an anime fan you have probably noticed that the Kitsune or Nine Tails Fox is a common trope in anime. Irina limits her list to “to characters that are more clearly defined as Kitsune.” So, no Naruto. In Japanese folklore, the Kitsune can shapeshift into humans and often trick others with this ability. Each tail of the Kitsune correlates with how old, wise, and powerful the Yokai is. They are considered magical and are classified into two categories; the zenko and the yako. Irina’s list includes Pyo from The God of Highschool, Mugetsu from XXXHolic, Ginji from Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits, Soushi from Inu X Boku SS, and Kokkuri-san from Gugure! Kokkuri-san. I would have added Kurama from Yu Yu Hakusho, but I don’t think he fits the criteria Irina set. Irina fav is Kokkuri-san. She states:

I sure like him a lot and he fits all the traditional requirements. And I say him but Kukuri-san actually changes gender at will. They aren’t all that worried by social impositions, or biological ones either.

Irina

Weekly Anime Round-Up (May 17th – May 23th): Nami remains weak, The Dystopian Deca-Dence, and an Interview with studio Tonton

Kid saves Nami from Big Mom

In One Piece, Nami has always been weak. Oda seems to have deemed the comic relief or fanservice. It not that One Piece doesn’t have strong females characters either (Big Mom, Hancock), so I just don’t get why he kept her so weak. Redgeek in his post, “Welp, At Least She Tried [One Piece 1013],” seems to agree with me, ” Yep, I’ve given up on Nami. She’s gonna stay a weak fighter forever. …Hmm?” He believes that Zeus is going to make a comeback. I thought that Zeus was gone for good. However, considering that Oda gave him some backstory I think that Redgeek might be right. I also agree that Ulti and Page One are uninteresting villains and I don’t care about them either. As Redgeek puts it:

On the bright side, Ulti’s down for the count! Yay!!!!! I’m sure I haven’t mentioned it at all on this blog, but I don’t care about either Ulti or Page One. So glad they’re KO’d.

Redgeek

Deca-Dence the dystopia

Irina reviews the anime series, Deca-Dence, a surprising anime I reviewed last year. Irina loved the animation from Studio NUT, ” the actual animation of DECA-DENCE is just wonderful . . . In any case, it’s a well-done anime that looks good in just about any episode.” Like most people I was surprised by the twist and Irina thought it was helpful to the narrative:

I do think the surprises it injects into the narrative actually serve to flesh out the themes and messages it’s going for rather than to simply be a cool thing for the audience. And as such, it works best as an integral part of the viewing experience.

Irina

Fan animators create Naruto OP

Studio Tonton has created an OP to pay homage to Naruto. Despite its quality, the video is made by amateur animators. The Sakuga Blog interviewed the producer, Blou, to discuss how the video came to be. Sakuga Blog has praise for the video:

I wouldn’t fault you for assuming that they’re a professional animation production company with quite a lot of talent at their disposal. Now, a trained eye will quickly tell you that the sequence actually has a distinct indie flavor, but that only makes their technical and creative achievements all the more impressive.

Sakuga Blog

Weekly Anime Round-Up (May 10th – May 16th): Simping for Snipers, Battle shonen’s male-centrism, and Anime’s relationship with media

Redgeek reviewed chapter 311 of My Hero Academia. The shocking ending of the last chapter revealed that Deku is being hunted by a woman with a sniper Quirk. She also has Overhaul with her. The villain isn’t conscience and doesn’t seem dangerous, not to mention that Shigaraki and Mr. Compress destroyed his arms. Redgeek speculates why he might be present:

we know he wants to heal his mafia boss so… What if he wants to make some sort of deal with Deku? Maybe Overhaul tells him everything he knows about the main baddies’ current location and/or what they’re up to and he convinces Endeavor to let him heal Eri’s grandpa.

Redgeek

Battle Shonen’s male-centrism

Alise Miller explores women in shonen. She points out women are often ” the damsel in distress, the “strong” female who gets mocked for being too “manly,” the faux action girl who’s talked up as badass but never seems to do anything important . . .” Miller points out something that I’ve noticed, even when female characters are considered good fighters when it comes to the Big Bad they’re sidelined. While she credits Black Clover for “making some strides,” with female characters, they still fall into typical shonen tropes. She writes:

The start of Black Clover gave me some reason to be excited for the women onscreen. Women fight competently alongside the men instead of being cast aside. . . However, the kind of screen time girls and guys get is clearly different. Many men, including the secondary characters, show significant character growth throughout the series.

Alise Miller

Anime and the media

Scott over at mechanical anime reviews writes about the relationship between the media and anime. I avoid discussing the often childish gatekeeping and oversensitive fanboys that can’t tolerate even mild criticism of their favorite anime, not to mention the troll that deliberately triggers fanboys for clicks. Scott notes:

The nitpicking can come too far though. Especially with articles recently focused on the growth of the industry or articles about certain concepts. I think when talking about anime fandom in general, there is something wild about how people get defensive about their positions. I remember seeing some buzz recently where an older anime fan attacked the article for explaining how the anime fandom has exploded recently when that line was not even the point of the article the person wrote in the first place? Audience matters when writing an article because it is hard to write an article about everyone

Scott