Lucky Star: Informal Inter Isolated, or nichijoukei par excellence

In his video essay “TARANTINO | Let’s get into character”, YouTuber MUST SEE FILMS identifies two dualistically juxtaposed character states in the films of Quentin Tarantino: “informal” and “dramatic”. The former is “a neutral … state that a character expresses when alone or relaxed in comfortable company”, while the latter is “a heightened … state when they take on a certain kind of persona.” He illustrates these two states inter alia through the famous apartment scene in Pulp Fiction and the dialogue that precedes it. From that characters Jules and Vincent are in their car driving to the place to that they arrive in front of the apartment door, their dialogue consists of informal, (seemingly) narratively inconsequential small talk about the French term for cheeseburgers and foot massages. When they subsequently enter the apartment, they shift to a dramatic state of serious and aim-oriented action (MUST SEE FILMS).Read More »

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Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory is a(nother) turn for the franchise

At long last, the new season of Full Metal Panic! has arrived. For me and (I would imagine) many other anime fans of my generation, this is a big deal. Full Metal Panic! was not only one of my initial major introductions to the medium, but in a lot of ways the representation of an era. While not particularly seminal, it was a staple for the 2000s with its mishmash of the many things that the medium had to offer at the time; from past genres such as mecha to new emerging genres such as high school comedy and romance. To quote Tristan Arkada from his Crunchyroll Anime Lightning Round: “it has almost everything that … anime was from the 2000s”. Although as Arkada in the same breath points out, the medium has evolved significantly since then – not only in terms of its style(s), but an entire new generation of anime fans has come to fruition.Read More »

The Rapeman and Terkel in Trouble: The anti-moral story

When consuming any type of story, it is of standard occurrence that one is left with a message to take away from it. What is commonly described with the phrase “moral of the story” is the concluding outcome of a narrative’s cause/effect-chain and dramatic structure – the point where the audience is handed a lesson based on how the story has played out. We see it perhaps most clearly in children’s fiction, but it’s a basic feature in storytelling in general. But what happens when the concept of a “moral of the story” is subverted through negation?Read More »

Inside Mari and the other gender

Mangaka Shuuzou Oshimi is an avid explorer of sex, gender and sexuality. From adolescent stories like Avant-garde Yumeko and Sweet Poolside to explorations of sexual desire in Devil Ecstasy and Yuutai Nova, he has repeatedly delved into fascinating questions on the topic in often times uncomfortably intimate detail. Boku wa Mari no Naka, or Inside Mari, is without a doubt his most thorough work in this regard to date. Following twenty-something hikikomori Isao Komori who one morning finds himself inside the body of high school girl Mari Yoshizaki, the series poignantly uses a (seeming) body swap premise to investigate questions of bodily experience, performativity, and the divide between the Self and the Other.Read More »

Why the train scene in Spirited Away is my favorite work by Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki’s decisively strongest quality as a filmmaker has for me always been one very specific thing: immersion. As cliché as it sounds, the sentiment of “being sucked into the movie screen and the world that it presents” is the most accurate description of my viewing experience of his films. Through the fantastical and elaborate settings, the detailed designs and consistently high-quality animation, the unique tones of Hisaishi’s scores, and the dynamic sense of pacing, they present other worlds that are at once exotic and inviting. And no other of his films captures this otherworldliness quite as exemplarily as Spirited Away. Why? Because of its embodiment of isekai.Read More »