All in the Family

 Anime, Puella Magi Madoka Magica  Comments Off on All in the Family
Jan 292011
 

Conspiracy Theory Theater, Madoka Edition, Mark 4.

Alright, let’s run with the whole “Kyubey is behind everything” angle. Kyubey’s orchestrating this whole scenario. He gives chicks power, forces them into his little games, likely creates witches through some means, blahblah. Assuming that, for some reason Kyubey needs Madoka. There’s some reason why she’s his primary mark. He tells her she’s special. He stays with her rather than Sayaka during the “recruitment” phase. Madoka’s some sort of anime-styled “chosen one” that’s needed for whatever shit Kyubey’s scheming to go down.

First off: Why is that? Let’s make a major logical leap.

Madoka’s mom was/is a magical girl. Back in the day, I’m willing to bet that Madoka’s mom made a pact of some sort. Maybe it was with Kyubey, maybe it was with another magical pet thing. It would explain her mom’s attitude towards life, since the mom’s perspective mirrors that which Mami and Kyubey tried to pound into Madoka’s head. I’m willing to bet that the mom’s past experiences as a magical girl led to her present outlook. And I’m willing to bet that her wish had something to do with starting a family or finding a way to make her husband fall for her or maybe helped lead to her current career.

Regardless of her wish, yeah, I bet she’s a retired magical girl. And this might make Madoka special in some way. Maybe this is exceptionally rare. From the looks of things, magical girls have a low life expectancy, so to see one get to an age where she can have kids may be something pretty exceptional. Maybe some of her magical prowess has been passed onto Madoka, making her a natural for whatever it is that Kyubey’s has in store.

Kyubey needs Madoka. He needs her badly. So what does he do? He finds ways to force Madoka to make a pact with him. If granting a wish doesn’t work, drag her along to show her how serious this is. Maybe if Madoka sees how much she’s needed to fight witches, maybe she’ll pull the trigger. If that doesn’t work, arrange for the current magical girl to have a little “accident.” Make Madoka want to fill the void. Now that this hasn’t worked, go for the peer pressure angle. Arrange for Sayaka to have a character-developing moment with her sick buddy. Twist the dude’s emotions so that he freaks out and pushes Sayaka to make a pact. Maybe Madoka will jump if she sees her best buddy jump as well.

I don’t see this working. If anything, Madoka will be relieved that someone else decides to take the risk, especially if it’s someone she knows. With peer pressure failing, call in an outside magical girl to deal with the newbie. Gank Sayaka’s ass and force Madoka’s hand.

The catch is that the character Madoka best resembles is Shinji Ikari. The weight of the world is placed on both of their shoulders, and both of them cower in the face of massive responsibility. The only reason why Shinji ever got in an Eva Unit is because he saw a chick that resembled his mother about to be forced into one in his place. It’s gonna take something that severe and personal before Madoka even considers making a pact.

The Sayaka gambit isn’t gonna work. Sayaka’s gonna do her thing, only to either die or get severely hurt in the process. But that isn’t gonna change Madoka’s attitude. There’s always Homura, and even once she’s removed it’s gonna take a direct attack on Madoka’s family before she finally caves in. It might not even take the deaths of her father and her little brother before she finally caves in.

It’s all gonna come down to Madoka’s mother somehow. Her fate is going to determine Madoka’s fate. There’s no other reason why they would play up their relationship and make it parallel Madoka’s magical girling if that wasn’t the case.

Sorry to say it, Madoka’s mom, but you’re screwed.

Lonely Rolling Star

 Anime, Games, Katamari Damacy, Level E, Video Games  Comments Off on Lonely Rolling Star
Jan 252011
 

NaNaaaaaaaaaa NaNaNa NaNa NaNa Katamari Level EEEEEEEEEEEE!

So yeah, what do you do when you have all the power in the universe, seemingly god-like parents who will back up whatever choices you make because they rule over vast swaths of the galaxy, and every single alien in space in your pocket? Do you go about spreading goodwill and prosperity to lesser planets or do you go to said lesser planets and fuck their shit up because that’s an awesome thing to do?

The answer should be pretty obvious. No one’ll remember that dude that went about life peacefully doling out the goods and not asking for anything in return. Even messiah figures demand  your loyal obedience to whatever force they represent in exchange for their salvation. If you wanna be remembered, you gotta grandstand, and if you gotta grandstand you may as well go balls out with it.

I kinda saw this coming, but yeah, I decided to put my money on something a bit more sedated and devious. I had a feeling that the Prince was screwing around and deliberately trying to start shit with the aliens on Earth, but I didn’t count on the whole thing being a huge prank/con job (Next time I hear someone refer to all of this as a “troll” I’ll scream.) to alleviate his boredom. Yeah, fucking over his underlings and a few hapless backwater humans is pretty chaotic neutral and all, but hardly sinister or evil or whatever. And that’s what makes this so awesome.

The Prince is like Kafuka from Zetsubou-sensei or The King of All Cosmos from Katamari Damacy– he’s someone gifted with far too much insight and power and has nothing better to do with his power than start shit up. He doesn’t have an agenda beyond his personal amusement, and I find these sorts of “villains” far more interesting than those with personal motivations behind their actions. The unexplainable is far more frightening and troubling than something we can quantify. When a villain poses and monologues about why he’s about ready to start an intergalactic war with Earth as its epicenter, all of the bad shit going down has been grounded in your mind. Yeah, either way you’re fucked, but at least you have that solace in your mind that you know what’s coming and why it’s coming. When you’re dealing with someone that doesn’t it “just because,” you don’t get that relief, and I find that a far more terrifying prospect.

And when you turn all of that existential fear and loathing into a comedy, then you’re rolling in the golden funniness. And really, isn’t all comedy about seeing the misfortunes of others and laughing at how they can’t control said misfortune? By ramping up the chaos with that sense of “what the fuck is going on here,” you’re making it all the more hilarious.

So yeah, the gods fucking with us is the height of comedy. Give us more. Maybe the Prince’ll get drunk next episode and blow up all of the stars in the universe, forcing baseball dude and his gal pal to roll up cats and bikes and houses to create new stars.

Magica Righteousness

 Anime, Movies and TV, Puella Magi Madoka Magica  Comments Off on Magica Righteousness
Jan 212011
 

Blahblahblah Kyubey is Satan. Everyone’s doing it. I did it the last two episodes.

Let’s see if we can tackle this magical girl shit from a different direction this week. Just to be deliberately contradictory.

But yeah, while thinking about Madoka the past few days, before the head-gaumping third episode hit, I realized that all of this was playing out like some sort of magical girl Training Day redux.

If you’re one of those weirdo anti-anything-that-isn’t-anime freaks and you have no idea what Training Day is, it’s a pretty decent Hollywood flick where Denzel Washington plays a crooked bastard of a cop who takes a newly prompted detective out to show him the ropes– said ropes consisting of robbery, drug dealing, and murder all in the name of self-gain. Bad shit goes down, but karma comes back around and bites Denzel in the ass as he gets gunned down by some Russian mafia dudes. In the end, it’s all about how you can’t be so much of a cocky motherfucker that you think King Kong ain’t got shit on you.

These first few episodes of Madoka have been playing up that whole “Training Day” angle. Mami and Kyubey have been dragging along Madoka and her buddy as they deal with witch problems. They’ve been showing the would-be recruits the ropes of being magical girls, and just like Denzel, they’re more than willing to show them the ugliness of the job. Hell, the way they dealt with the witch in the third episode felt like they were breaking into the witch’s house and blowing it away while it was sipping tea and eating cake in its dining room– not unlike Denzel busting into the drug dealer’s house, playing all nice, and then executing the bastard like it’s a daily occurrence.

That’s all pretty obvious. What isn’t quite as obvious is the whole “selflessness vs selfishness” angle. Denzel’s all about the self. The whole “serve and protect” angle of being a detective is just an afterthought. He uses his badge as a way to get ahead in life and do whatever he wants. Mami keeps on preaching to Madoka and her buddy that whatever wish they make, it needs to be self-serving. While her motivations may be different from Denzel’s (She seems to be saying this out of regret for her inability to make such a decision, what with Kyubey fucking her over by making his appearance while she was dying. All she could wish for was “don’t let me die.”), she’s still going on about how these “recruits” need to use their position as a way to get ahead in life. Even Madoka’s mom is indirectly making the argument that one should do what needs to be done to get what one wants, what with how she’s willing to play office politics to support her family. Even Madoka’s dad is proud of what his wife is doing, since it means she achieves what she wants out of life.

The catch is that neither of the new girls seem like the types to go that route. Madoka’s buddy wants to use her wish to help cure her pseudo-boyfriend of whatever ailment that’s keeping him from achieving his dreams. Mami cautions her about this wish, asking if she’s doing this to help him or if she wants him to turn around and praise her for her willingness to use her wish on him. Mami’s bit there is a little ambiguous. She wants the decision to be made for the right reasons, but which one of those reasons is the one Mami feels is the right one? The natural assumption is to think “doing it for him” is the right one, but based on everything that Mami and Kyubey have said, I gotta think it’s the opposite. This wish is the only wish you’ll ever get, so if you make it to cure a friend you should make sure that you get something out of it other than the warm fuzzy feelings in your belly. The girl obviously digs this boy, so she should use her wish to help him and help herself get in his pants.

So yeah, a lot of the series has been playing up the self-serving angle of things. Many of the characters feel that this is the right thing to do. Then again, much like Denzel getting gunned down at the end of Training Day, Mami gets her head bitten off by a tea-sipping Jack-in-the-Box. So are we really supposed to buy into this selfish ideal if you’re gonna get butchered for believing in it?

I’d actually argue that what gets Mami killed in the end is the fact that she wavered in her selfish attitudes. Right before she gets decapitated, she has a tender little moment with Madoka. Madoka gives her a traditional magical girl speech about friendship and not being alone. Mami breaks down and shows some real emotion, admitting that her “cool” attitude was just a facade that kept her from crying all the time. And what is her reward for having that “breakthrough?” Death.

If anything, we’re seeing that the generic magical girl attitude of “togetherness” is a bad thing in the context of this world. The instant you let your guard down and think about something other than yourself and doing what needs to be done, you’re gonna get fucking killed. Mami didn’t get to where she was by thinking about others. While Madoka’s mom is clearly doing what she does for the sake of her family, Madoka’s dad also makes it clear that she enjoys her lifestyle– it isn’t just a matter of “doing what’s right for the family,” it’s a matter of “I like doing this, and it’s a happy coincidence that it puts food on the table.”

So, the message isn’t quite the opposite of Training Day’s, but it’s close enough. The main difference is that, as far as we know, “doing as you please” has yet to result in “doing evil.” It’s clear that the witches are the real evil in the world, hurting innocents and the like, so the “anything it takes” attitude is justified. With that, the series can support its selfish attitude.

But all of that hinges on the idea that what these magical girls are doing is right. Kyubey’s still suspicious as all gets out, but it could be a matter of him doing whatever it takes to right wrongs. Witches need to be stopped, so what does it matter if a handful of little girls have their lives ruined if it means more people are saved? If that’s the case, Kyubey ain’t Satan, he’s God letting Job get fucked over to prove a point about the resilience of man.

In all honesty, that might be just as fucked up as Kyubey being all Faustian.

Last Slug Standing

 Anime, Level E  Comments Off on Last Slug Standing
Jan 182011
 

Why didn’t anyone tell me that Gogo Fucking Yubari sings the opening theme from Level E? Kinda shocked that it’s a halfway decent song given the fact that so many other anime themes come off like Level (Mickey) D, but yeah. Could do without that lameass pause in the music video, but what do you expect from music videos?

Cool song. Awesomer anime.

So yeah, the alien dude is royalty or something. This is totally matching up with my Magical Boyfriend theory from last week. Not only is this dude a alien with magical hippie powers (Hell, even his home planet is renowned for its pacifist nature.), he’s the planet’s goddamn prince! That makes him even more of the ideal magical home invasion partner, if it weren’t for the fact that he picked the wrong apartment. If he’d just picked the chick next door, this would totally be a reverse Ah! My Goddess.

And all of that makes even more sense given the fact that the original Level E manga came out in the mid-90’s. Most recent shows skew more towards the harem end of things, but back then otaku were perfectly happy to just have one subservient chick humping the audience cipher’s leg. Blame Tenchi Muyo or something.

So yeah, looks like we got some sort of sci-fi Yojimbo/A Fistful of Dollars/Last Man Standing situation brewing. Except replace Japanese Backwater Village/Generic Western Town/Nonexistent Texas Border Town with the whole of Earth. We have to alien races, who are naturally at odds with one another, in a tentative ceasefire with one another. They won’t fuck with humans for some reason (Prophesy of the chosen one coming from Earth? Need for oil/gold/other valuable resource? People are super tasty?), but each side seems like they’re itching for a reason to throw down and blow up shit.

And here comes the proverbial Man With No Name. Except he’s a pretty boy bastard with amnesia and lots of entitlement issues on the run from his royal duties. Not exactly the “playing each side against each other” type, but he’s liable to fuck things up regardless. You know, what with his nonchalant (possible) murder of one of the Discothequeians or whatever they’re called. One side goes batshit insane, the other’s likely gonna want to take advantage of their slip-up and get in on the blowing up shit. Same results, different method.

Y’all should also know by now that I’m totally digging the amoral nature of the alien dude. I love how he’s so flippant about his actions, intentionally leaving out important deals like “I killed the mugger dude” while playing up the fact that he helped out some defenseless girl on the street (And seriously, why in the hell do people go down back alleys like that? It’s like you’re going out of your way to get robbed or raped or murdered. Not that I can’t believe someone having that sort of fetish, but damn, said fetish is epidemic in anime. Not unlike vague wasting diseases and the lack of a Y chromosome in males.). I can’t help but think that his “amnesia” bit is just an act that he puts on to get away with his deviant, chaos-spreading antics. So maybe he is deliberately trying to cause shit on Earth like some sort of yaoi doujin version of Toshiro Mifune.

Also, EVIL CAT. I knew something was up with that cat. Didn’t peg him for a mobile surveillance camera, but that’s cool too. Kinda disappointed he isn’t the ugly slime slug in disguise, who can also talk and takes offense at everyone calling him ugly, but whatever. EVIL CAT. Between this and Yumekui, this season is trying to one-up last season’s Age of Tentacool.

Also Also, the neighbor chick is awesome. Not as awesome as podgirl from Occult Academy, but I dig this chick for her unexpected mad skills. Knowledge of security tech is uberhawt.

Swan Lake

 Anime, Games, Haiyore! Nyaruko-San, Video Games  Comments Off on Swan Lake
Jan 162011
 

You know what. I’m gonna keep on writing about Nyarlko. Not because it’s good (although it’s gotten better). Nope. I’m gonna do this shit because no one else is doing it. That’s what the cool kids do, right?

Am I a hipster now, father? Father? Are you listening to me, father? FATHER!

So yeah. Evangelion shit and Cthulhu shit. Totally makes sense, since both are about breaking down like a little pussy in the face of horrific monstrosities from the great beyond that want to fuck up Earth for no damn good reason. Even when you have your own Elder God jacked up with super technology, and even if you’ve read all of those nasty tomes and got your Cthulhu Mythos and Library Use stats up to 99%, you still lose all of your SAN and lose the game.

But if you wanna talk about true madness, you gotta look at the WonderSwan reference. Dude. Seriously. WonderSwan? I know it did decently over in Asia and all, but really? Are the modern-day otaku that have been weaned on the DS and PSP gonna have any clue what that is? Isn’t that like someone busting out a Commodore or a ColecoVision on Big Bang Theory when the only old school system anyone would recognize is an Atari? Having the balls to bust out that reference should cost you 2d6 SAN minimum.

But  yeah, the WonderSwan is one of those unattainable artifacts that I always wanted, if only for the potential novelty of busting it out at school or at work, having people ask me something like “Hey, is that the new Gameboy,” only to look at them with a smug smirk and say “Oh, no, this is a motherfucking WonderSwan, biatch!” Except the barrier wasn’t really the money. It wasn’t like the Neo Geo of my youth, where the insane price was the sole thing keeping me from getting one. I could go to Babbage’s and gawk at a Neo Geo. The only way I could lust after a WonderSwan was if I looked longingly at web pages and shit. I guess I could have paid out the ass and imported one, but that shit is just as insane as the seeing it referenced in this anime.

Oh yeah, at that fish grew legs. That was perfectly normal and predictable. Especially given how much that obnoxious shounen griped about it before we finally saw the proverbial money shot punchline.