Analyzing “Boast Busters”

Let’s be honest. This episode is fucking terrible. It is one of the worst episodes of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. It was written by Chris Savino, who’s only other episode was Stare Master (decent), and I think it’s pretty clear why. But this is still the Trixie episode, so I cracked open a bottle of hard cider, watched the piece of crap, and here’s some words about it.

I. LOVE. TRIXIE. Don’t get me wrong. Trixie is a horrible one-off character whose sole memorable traits are her amazing facial expressions and her obnoxious voice and dialog. Of the characters with speaking roles in this show that the fandom has taken off and run with, Trixie is the one who most bafflingly was transformed from this ridiculous character in this terrible episode into one of the most hilarious and lovable portraits of failure that I’ve ever seen.

Even though I watched this episode twice very early into my fandom and found it horrible both times, Trixie is as fresh in my mind as ever. I’ve seen all of her facial expressions in countless videos and images, and heard all of her dialog sampled in countless songs and quoted in a hundred memes.

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Fucking MADLAX Episode 6 the AMV

While looking for images to use for the site’s header, I stumbled across a “Bee Train Fan Forum.” It’s actually part of a “Bee Train Fan” website, which includes both a wiki and a forum. These people will probably never know about this blog, but I’m considering them my official arch-nemeses.

Anyway, there isn’t enough to say about episode six to warrant a whole post. Most of it is dialog-driven backstory for Margaret and her maid, along with a subplot wherein one of Margaret’s classmates tries to rape her. So, I decided to make an AMV using the episode, set to Date Rape by Sublime. Enjoy!

Fun With Animation Speculation

I love learning about the hands which create anime. I know a lot of names of directors, seiyuu, character designers, etc., but there are some staff positions that are harder to nail down. For instance, it’s usually hard to determine the significance of individual writers, storyboarders, or animators working on a show, especially when their catalog covers a wide spectrum of genre or quality. Sometimes, the only real way to get a handle on who does what is to find out as many specifics of their work as possible and watch them all.

Tonight, my co-blogger(*cough*) Thoughtcannon came to me with a clip that he’d cut from Dragon Crisis episode 6. It’s a brief fight scene with animation he found familiar, and he wondered if I might know the animator.

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On the Eighth Day of Kurisumasu My Imouto Gave to Me: NONSTOP AWESOME From Strike Witches 2

Strike Witches 2 is a perfect sequel. It takes what the first season did and improves on it from front to back, with better writing, more emphasis on the characters being awesome (as opposed to just sort of being there as they were sometimes in S1), and a whole lot more memorable events. I can’t remember much about the first season—I enjoyed the characters (mostly for their designs) and the general premise, but there hadn’t been anything in the show that really stuck with me, which is why even though I felt myself being instinctively defensive of it, I could never say that much good about it.

2 cures that entirely. Almost every single episode is memorable for one reason or another, and the series is riddled with moments of ultimate badassery. Being as “moments of ultimate badassery” are always my favorite part of anime, this meant a lot to love for me. Besides that, it got rid of other things I didn’t like about the first series, like all the in-fighting that came from Perrine (this time, she’s as much of a lovable character as the rest), and general lack of presence from others (everyone gets their moment in S2, and none of those moments are throw-away.)

There’s definitely more than one moment of awesome worth highlighting here, so I’ll just pull all the biggest ones.

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On The First Day of Kurisumasu My Imouto Gave To Me: The Godmother From Sora no Woto Episode 6

(Yes, the title is a terrible Kurau ~Phantom Memory~ reference.)

It’s become a blogosphere tradition to count down the twleve days of Kurisumasu with one’s twelve favorite anime moments of the year. I participated in 2007 (though I only did moments 2—10) and sorta half-assed it in 2008, passing it up in 2009 because I didn’t watch anything that year. Ghostlightning pressured me into participating again this year since I was watching everything that came out, so I caved and started collecting memories.

This list isn’t in any kind of order. In fact, I’m starting off with one of my favorites from this year. Oh, and you’ve gotta know that spoilers are ahead.

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K-On!! 1-6 and "How It Compares To The First Season"

The post title is actually a joke, I’m making fun of some people today. You see, when K-On!! began airing a while ago, the first thing that happened was people comparing it to the original show. Some people said that it was similar, but a lot of people were dissecting it and saying how it was vastly different. These kinds of differences are pointed out as being very subtle, and as a veritable connoisseur of subtlety in anime, I was intrigued by the argument. Most specifically, I was interested when 8c did a massive post about the perceived differences between K-On!! and K-On! as of… well, the first episode. Now, you may also know that I hate it when people make sweeping statements about shows after only one episode, but being as I hadn’t finished K-On! I just took their words for it for the moment. But now I’ve finished K-On!  and caught up on K-On!! so here’s what I think.

I think it’s been too long. I mean, 8c wasn’t the only one talking about these differences, it was pretty wide-spread. But… this show aired a whole year ago. I can see people noticing differences, but we’re talking about really subtle differences. Don’t you think there are some things that you might have forgotten? Don’t you think there are some things that your mind might have embellished? Don’t you think that, you know, waiting a couple episodes before making statements might give you a more well-rounded view of the series?

Aside: Did anyone else think that the outfit in front looks like Hinamori Amu's uniform in Shugo Chara?

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A little background music, please……

To be totally honest with you, my feelings towards Bakemonogatari on a basic level are not very strong. It’s not a show I’d feel comfortable talking about like I would a normal show, because I don’t think Shinbo or Nisioisin would want it that way. I think if you made a statement like ‘Bakemonogatari is good’ for any reason, Nisioisin would look at you funny, and Shinbo might punch you in the face.

Nothing about Bakemonogatari should ever be called ‘good.’ Not the characters, not the plot, not the dialog, nothing. Because being ‘good’ is not what the story wants, and it’s not what the creators would have striven for. Bakemonogatari is just itself, and should be discussed as such. It’s a take it or leave it type of series that isn’t going to apologize or explain itself. So when I talk about the series, I am not going to talk abut what the series is in terms of comparison or quality or anything – I’m only going to tell you how I react to it.

And I like that about it. However, like I said before. My feelings aren’t THAT strong towards it – the simple reason being that I’ve seen a lot of stories like this, and I’ve seen them done better.

Nisioisin is a guy who’s style is all about subverting everything that’s popular. Generally, Bakemonogatari is a story that pretty much looks at all the light novels out there like Shana, Zero no Tsukaima, Haruhi, etc. and flips it on it’s head into something that blatantly tears through those things while simultaneously emulating them. All of the classic situations you expect from a rom-com light novel are hideously twisted into something monstrous and bloody.

Where have I seen this before recently? Ah, of course, Kouji Kumeta’s Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, a series that takes all of the tropes of the harem comedy genre and eviscerates them while systematically working it’s way through the blackened veins of Japanese society’s flaws. It’s only fitting that they’d have the same creative team work on the anime adaptions of both works.

So yeah, I’d say Bakemonogatari is to light novels what Zetsubou Sensei is to anything Ken Akamatsu has ever written. And since I love Zetsubou Sensei, it’s no surprise that I would also love Bakemonogatari.

However, love it as I may, I don’t love it in a special way. Bakemonogatari doesn’t necessarily stand out to me. It feels like it’s a subversion of light novels, which is fine, but it’s not really anything beyond that. It has nothing that makes it come into it’s own beyond the long-running joke that is it’s very nature. The characters, situations, and dialog are all such perfect and purposeful subversions that they cannot escape into being something real.

And as I said, it’s only because I’ve seen this done in better ways that I feel less strongly about it. Nisioisin’s Zaregoto is a very similar story to Bakemonogatari in some ways. It is mostly constructed of extremely long conversations with very strange people, and it does a lot of subversion of the mystery genre as well as the same otaku concepts deconstructed in Bakemonogatari. However, Zaregoto sets itself apart by really bringing the characters to life beyond their stand as parodies. The main characters are given enough personality and history beyond their mere subversiveness that I feel attached to them and, you know, kind of don’t want them to die.

And Zaregoto isn’t alone, pretty much any of the kind of stories you’d read in Faust or generally from authors like Nisioisin, Kouhei Kadono, OtsuIchi, or Maijou Otarou, will be subversive of otaku culture and concepts in their own way, so any of the stories with a life or standing on their own will be more effectual.

But once again, I’m not complaining about Bakemonogatari – I enjoy it enough. There’s nothing wrong with a brilliantly constructed and versed subversion of light novel concepts – it’s just not something I can feel close to. Much as I love Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei as a franchise, it’s never really been able to become one of my favorite shows because it is strictly a comedy and doesn’t appeal to me in the way other stories would, and while I think Bakemonogatari does some things to make itself and it’s characters memorable, it will still see a similar reaction from me.

Maybe I’m just desensitized after all, seeing as I’ve been seeking out stories like this for years, having read the novels like this and watched almost every Shinbo show – there’s just not anything new for me in Bakemonogatari. I wonder if those who really have their hair blown back by it will feel the same way when they encounter more of it’s ilk.

But anyway, I guess I should also talk about what I think of the things in the show, right? Well, for starters, I don’t feel the ‘Senjougahara fascination.’ I will say that she’s beautiful, her dialog is pretty fun, and I think that her moments of weakness sell her as a character. However, I don’t see anything that would drive me to devotion or fascination. Her playful nature is not unlike that of Horo of Spice and Wolf, Rahzel of Hatenkou Yuugi, or even the Haruhi-ster herself, and I like any of those three boatloads more than Senjougahara. I don’t think Mayoi or class rep-chan have really done enough to comment on them, but both are pretty fun.

Oddly enough, I’m enjoying the males in this show more, and the one I’m the most ‘fascinated’ with is Araragi. I do love how Nisioisin brilliantly subverts the classic light novel hero. You expect a guy who is supposed to have a personality that is relatable to otaku with an added dash of virtuosity and stupid luck, but Nisioisin tricks us by giving us that character with an added dash of ‘nutcase’ and the fact that he’s a recovering vampire. I’m really hoping we see more interesting things from Araragi (like how he repeatedly beat the shit out of and groped a grade-schooler then laughed about it victoriously) – Nisioisin did a very similar character in Zaregoto, and when that guy showed his stuff it was nothing short of amazing, so I want to see that in Araragi as well. I also want to see more of that new girl with the bandages – she’s hot.

Uh, final thoughts, the guy who Araragi comes to for help is cool, I want to see more of the little vampire girl, I thought is was totally fucking awesome how episode 3 and most of 4 and 5 all took place in exactly one location but I never got tired of it, Shinbo continues to be god, I think the ED for eps 4 and 6 was drawn by the author of Q-Ko-chan who is another Faust conspirator, love Staple Stable, but I liked the first op most, I will be somewhat disappointed if neither Araragi nor Senjougahara dies in a brutal way by the end, uh, yeah, that wraps it up.

Oh, and sorry for dragging you all the way out the The Shotgun Dance for this post, but I like the atmosphere here for this post. Here’s your transport vehicle back home.

Related Posts:

Eastern Standard remains the place to learn about these kinds of authors, I suggest reading everything on his site, then heading over to the blog for actual updates. He has a review of the Bakemonogatari novel as well.

I did a brief ‘review’ of Zaregoto myself and I talk about light novels and Faust all the time on my blog (yes, the best search term to use there was ‘Andrew Cunningham’ lol)

Ghostlightning has been blogging Bakemonogatari episodically and he’s the one who issued this challenge to me of writing about it episodically, which I will be from now on.

FLCL Ep. 6 – i think i can, i think i can, i think i can, I think I can, I think I can, I THINK I CAN!!!!!!!

Post BGMI Think I Can – The Pillows. And since this is long, just listen to a few more pillows songs (all in ep).

A post in the Epic Journey. Contains FLCL spoilers. Continued from here.

Rewatching and posting on FLCL has been a really crazy experience. Aside from it now being the anime I’ve watched the most times total, it’s also the first that I’ve watched so many times in such close proximity. When I think of the long road I’ve trekked from hating rewatching to obsessing over it (see: Epic Journey) I really feel I’ve come a long way. Ever since the journey started, each show I watched made me want to watch it again, but I could never bring myself to until FLCL simply forced my hand and drove me to watch it 3 times over. It’s greatly opened my mind on rewatches and introduced me to just how powerful they can be, as now I can safely say that with this post, I have achieved a full understanding and love for this show after half a decade of watching it. So let’s get this show on the road! IT’S THE CLIMAX!!!

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