Michiko & Hatchin and the Prince Charming Myth
Of the many things that are shaping up to be intriguing about nascent auteur Sayo Yamamoto’s work, foremost among them is her portrayal of women. That is to say, her works are populated with female characters from a Technicolor spectrum of personality and purpose, varied and deftly shaded and as real as any male character would be expected to be. Take Michiko & Hatchin, her first outing as a series director – it might start as one-woman-army Michiko’s journey to reunite with the man who left her, dragging that man’s child (Hana/Hatchin) along for the ride, but that’s nowhere near the point. In fact Hiroshi, the missing man in question, is so far removed from the story that he eventually starts to seem more myth than being. By the end, he’s less the happy ending that our main characters thought they wanted and more an unattainable dream that they’d convinced themselves would solve everything. Yup, Hiroshi is Sayo Yamamoto’s Prince Charming.
The first time we see Hiroshi we don’t even know who he is – Hatchin runs away from her despicable foster family, and while walking down the road she fantasizes about someone coming to rescue her. While that person is never named and is framed in soft-edged sunlight, he definitely bears telltale similarities to Hiroshi’s design – the poof of hair, the lean build, the hat that he’s wearing at the end of the series. Right from the get-go, we are clued in that Hiroshi is a literal ‘dream man.’
More than that, he’s a downright legend: he looks just like the romantic lead on tv’s most popular soap opera, he’s featured in a news story holding revolutionarily large tomatoes (despite not having invented the formula himself), he rose to the head of a gang, commanding the respect of the underworld; he was the backbone of support and belief that Satoshi needed at his lowest point, and he was a spacy, gentlehearted lover that perfectly balanced Michiko out.
And for Michiko, Hiroshi isn’t just her ideal man – he’s the reason behind everything she does for a major chunk of the series. She snatches up Hatchin and later protects her because she’d promised to protect Hiroshi’s child (and probably figures it would put her in good standing with him, too); she breaks out of prison, travels hundreds of miles and gets her hands in all kind of nasty gang dealings trying to get back to him. And yet he seems to become more and more unspecific in her thoughts about him – early on there are several lengthy flashbacks about her relationship with him, as well as the photo up above. That dies down to flashes of his expression in key moments, and that dies down to words. What she thinks, what she’s sure Hiroshi would expect her to do. By that point he’s as unreal as any storybook prince Charming, a fictional fix-it that girls push themselves to live up to in order to unlock the solution to all their problems: to a bike that keeps breaking down, to a kid she doesn’t know how to relate to, to a frustrated sex drive, and a place to belong and feel safe. Hiroshi is all those things in her mind, and early on we’re encouraged to believe it with her. Of course he wanted her to follow after him, because that’s something bold and dramatic that would happen in a love story.
As the story goes on though, Hiroshi seems more and more like an excuse. What we learn about him becomes more and more distorted, like a game of telephone, until we’re left only with the idea of Hiroshi rather than the man himself. Even Hatchin, who was determined to be the grounded one of the pair, started to say things like ‘that’s just the kind of guy he is’ – without having met him at all. Flesh and blood becomes a hazy fantasy, an out, and we as audience grow more and more uncertain as to what our leads are chasing.
Wow, I stumbled across the Australian opening of Card Captor Sakura and it’s actually pretty good!
I finished Oofuri season 1 today. I expected it to be mostly pandering because of the fandom, but instead got a decent show about team power dynamics, actual realistic ballplay, the perception of competence and anxiety representation.
Oofuri’s not the most intense sports anime. Compared to others that have aired recently, Oofuri is slow. They only have two opponents for the entire season and there are no overpowered moves. But it’s slow and steady in a good way, giving attention to the support systems around the main characters. It takes the time to have moms chat about their kids and arrange meetups, the coach’s part-time work in order to earn club money, the fan club’s efforts to rally together. I mean shit, how many times have you seen moms be treated as fun side-characters?
I watched a shit ton of chinese cartoons over the past two weeks to make up for not watching any for a semester.
Samurai Flamenco: what the fuck is going on with this show. I’m still going to finish it, but I have no goddamn idea how it’s going to end. Akihbaranger had better sentai deconstruction.
Kuroko no Basuke: Basugay is still gay.
Free!: Gayer than Basugay, but unlike KnB is pretty faithful to the actual sport.
Yowapeda: It’s shit but the bike action is fitspirational. Least gay of the sports anime I’ve seen.
Shingeki no Kyojin: I regret being so late to the titan party. It was pretty fun! Haven’t finished it yet though.
Saint Oniisan: Anime Of The Century
Meganebu: It’s shit, dropped after 2 episodes.
Space Dandy: Of course I’m going to watch this. A useless greaser and his robot dicking around and dying in space? Fuck yeah.
Watamote: I hate myself and want to die.
Kaiji: I tried to catch up again but the despair was bumming the fuck out. It’s really fucking good but you can only take so much second-hand pity in one day.
Anime I’ll be marathoning in January:
Kill la Kill
Sailor Moon new series (if it comes out?)
Revolutionary Girl Utena (again)
edit: adding both nobunaga shows and that other show with the princess dude in it.
catching up on basugay and holy shit
THIS ONE GUY IS GETTING THE SHIT PUNCHED OUT OF HIM ON THE COURTS, LIKE THEY ARE LITERALLY ELBOWING AND KICKING AND FALLING ON HIM AND PEOPLE ARE SCREAMING AND THE REF IS JUST NOT? SEEING? ANYTHING?
THIS IS WHY I LOVE SPORTS ANIME, IT TAKES FUCKING 30 SECONDS TO JUMP IN THE AIR, THE REFS ARE ASLEEP, NO ONE WILL STOP YELLING EVERY TIME THEY DUNK, PEOPLE ARE HAVING SIDE-COVERSATIONS WITH THEIR OPPONENTS EVERY 2 MINUTES AND EVERYONE IS IN FUCKING HIGH SCHOOL BUT THEY’RE USING STRATEGIES THAT THE NBA IS CLEARLY SLEEPING ON IF A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD FROM JAPAN WITH BRIGHT BLUE HAIR CAN FUCKING DISAPPEAR ON COURT
THIS IS HIGH SCHOOL AND THIS SHIT IS SO INTENSE I FEEL LIKE I’M WATCHING A GAME PLAYED BY SUPER SAIYANS AFTER THEY SAW SPACE JAM FOR THE FIRST TIME
One of my favorite things about Malik is how simultaneously image-conscious and completely impressionable he is. The strongest example of this is probably his motorcycle — he picks up a discarded magazine in the market place when he’s eleven years old, looks at a picture of a motorcycle for about thirty seconds, and LATCHES ON to that image for years. He rides a motorcycle into Domino. His post-redemption outfit is a motorcycle vest. He hitches in a freaking side car when he’s off robbing museums but still too young to drive. And the image of the motorcycle sticks with him, because it’s what freedom means to him.
And that’s so interesting to me because, in a lot of ways, that’s a COMPLETELY CLICHE image of freedom. He wouldn’t know it as a cliche, obviously, he’s lived his entire life underground. But that’s still what resonates with him: this ‘motorcycles, guns and TV sets’ James Dean bad boy vision of who he wants to be.
That’s one of the things that makes Malik so fun to write, for me. You can take these stereotyped images: smoking on a balcony above a city lit up at night, gunslinging in some shady back room of a night club, and fundamentally those still seem like who Malik is. He’s too culturally-inexperienced with the outside world to see them as anything but unironically cool. The midriff top comes straight out of a 90’s boyband, for heaven’s sake, but he has decided to rock it.
And at the same time, he recognizes the power in projecting this image of beauty-strength-power, the power of dazzling people with image and charisma. It’s his charisma that allows him to mind-control people, and he decks himself out in jewelry that matches his knife.
There’s a lot to Malik, but one of my favorite things is this very self-conscious, even pretentious, desire to present himself as the coolest-pretty-bad-boy around.
Childhood Survival Guide by Holden Dante Contreras and Darren Arthur
"Raising Charmanders, Squirtles and Bulbasaurs
because I couldn’t raise my arms in defense.”
While I’m blabbing about sub releases, might as well let you basugays know episode one of Kuroko no Basuke 2 has been subbed, like, now.
REJOICE! SAINT YOUNG MEN OVA 2 HAS BEEN SUBBED!
The adventures of Jesus and Buddha as roommates continues in this glorious installment. Clocking in at 15 minutes, it’s pretty short (came out in August with the latest volume) but it does feature a great trailer for the movie coming out at the end of October.