I had a distracting physical reaction to early episodes of Mysterious Girlfriend X: I salivated a lot. This reaction didn’t come out of hunger or fetishistic pleasure, but because I was watching an anime about drool-swapping lovers, which made me conscious of how much saliva my own body was passively generating, like feeling the need to blink while watching a staring contest. This created a cycle where watching a new episode meant swigging down a lot of my own spit, and feeling increasingly nauseous each time more saliva welled up in mouth. This was novel, not only because I’ve never felt nausea in reaction to much of anything I’ve watched before, but also because it was the first time I could recall having a strong physical reaction to something onscreen separate from any emotional state. And that felt weird, and discomforting, and made me consider watching my Secret Santa’s other recommendation, a generic-looking harem comedy called Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi, but I kept going. Not only because I really don’t like harem anime comedies, but also because I was just interested in what I was watching, even as my body took four episodes to normalize.
Just when you thought you were safe, and had time to rally your defenders to your walls, I return…
I’m like the last three minutes of Valverave. Just when you thought I was done…
It’s a cruel opinion, but I had assumed for a long time that Psycho-Pass wasn’t popular on its own merits. I had figured that folks were so starved for a third season of Ghost in the Shell that they’ll take something that only vaguely resembles it, like dating the sister of the girl you really had your eye on. There didn’t seem to be anything special about the early episodes of the series, the ones that focused on procedural investigations of bizarre murders. The world it inhabited was drab, the characters were broad strokes who didn’t feel very real or dynamic, and the actual procedural aspect was mundane. Folks sometimes joked about the series being CSI: Anime, but it lacked the rhythm of investigation that makes NCIS, Law and Order and CSI so compulsively watchable. So since there’s nothing special about this, I surmised, folks must just really want a new cyberpunk anime. I know how egotistical that line of thinking is, but it took me a long time to lose that feeling, so it seems worth mentioning. I eventually found my own reasons for liking the show, in part because it honestly got better, but also because it did a good job reconciling its earlier episodes into a cohesive narrative, and a good rumination on justice in an unjust world. The final result is a show that feels more true, perceptive and relevant to the real world than anything Ghost in the Shell or most other science-fiction anime have come up with so far, despite its flaws.
I learned to loosen up in my attitudes towards anime this past year. When I started writing reviews, I was a Serious Man, who wanted to show the entire Internet how much of a Serious Thinker I was about cartoons, which in practice, meant furtively searching for every small bothersome flaw in a cartoon, writing them up and deducting points from a score using a completely arbitrary algorithm that made less sense the more I thought about it. “Oh, this anime is kinda funny, but its sci-fi made no sense! And why did this thing have this other thing that I’d seen before? Two stars!” But I learned to chill, in part because I came to accept that the most consistent and sane way to review anything is to measure it against its own expectations. Since a lot of anime is meant for children or otaku, you have to treat them differently than more ambitious anime made for a different audience.
In no particular order, and for no other reason than this is an especially easy slice of content to produce in a short period of time, here’s what I’m watching that’s currently airing and what I think about it:
I enjoyed Idolmaster, but not enough that I ever thought that I wanted a second season. But here’s something fresh: a chibi series of shorts with a much more impish sense of humor than the original series. It riffs off of the original’s in-jokes and character humor, so I don’t folks who haven’t seen the 2011 series will enjoy it, but it feels fresh enough that I’m beginning to think I wouldn’t mind another, fully fleshed-out season.
12 Days of Anime is a project about anime in 2012 from bloggers where they post their favorite moments in anime starting on the 14th, posting every day until Christmas. I hope my subscribers enjoyed yesterday’s exclusive Days post. “What post?” you say. If you have to ask, you haven’t given me enough money yet.