Week in Review, 5/22-5/28

haruki murakami underground


Been a strange, busy week, and I didn’t quite manage to watch much anime. I’m supposed to be working on my dissertation, although I can’t quite claim to have made as much headway as I believe I should’ve.

By the way, I gave blood this week! I’d signed up for it a few weeks ago, so it wasn’t to do with the attack in Manchester. I was a little surprised that they would let me donate since I’m a foreigner, but I’m really happy that I could. I’m type O-, which means I’m a universal donor (my blood can be transfused to anyone), and I started donating blood right away when I became old enough to. If you’re able to give blood, I would strongly encourage you to go out and do so; I know not everyone can, and you shouldn’t feel badly if you can’t, but if you can, please consider it.

Anonymous Noise, ep. 7

Gueeeessss whaaaat? Momo’s terrible! In fact, Momo is even worse than he has been so far! For fuck’s sake, Nino, stop pining after this creep – ugh, I don’t care how much you cherish your precious childhood memories, this guy is absolutely bad news. Sheesh, he manages to both encourage the guy who has a crush on you to assault you (rape is manly!) and makes it clear that he wants to control you as a possession. Eww!

Have we hit peak absurdity yet, by the way? We’ve got two bands comprised of high schoolers who are almost all friendly with one another, and whose identities are secret from the world (and likewise a mystery to some of the members of the other group), and of seven of them, six go to the same school. I almost feel a sense of admiration for the sheer guts it takes to commit to something so totally off-the-wall and impossible to believe.

Thank goodness we’ve got Miou around.

Starmu S2, ep. 8

Y’know, I am starting to feel a bit uneasy about the pacing here – the show is two-thirds done, and noises keep being made about needing to actually pick which of the second-years will be playing roles in the play, but nothing has actually been done about that.

I have enjoyed this season a fair bit, but I’ll admit I could’ve done without the whole Ageha storyline. The show both didn’t seem to give it quite the screentime it needed to be compelling and gave it more screentime than felt warranted, as odd as that may sound. The fact is, with the amount of screentime it got, it couldn’t really elevate above the sort of status as any of the fairly inconsequential angst cases in each episode, which also meant it feels like it sapped time that could’ve been better used for other purposes. The boys of Team Hoshitani have been a bit neglected this time around, and I find myself a little disappointed, because while they’re certainly archetypes, they nevertheless wormed their way into my affections last season.

Anyway, while on some level I recognize that I should feel some sympathy for Ageha’s plight, the boy was simply too creepy in his obsession for me to get behind a redemptive arc for him.

Bahamut: Virgin Soul, ep. 7

Well! The whole sure has been dug now, huh?

Better episode than the previous, although it seems I may be in the minority on that particular sentiment. I was a little thrown by the way they handled the scene involving Nina failing to become a dragon, though, as it felt like it was halfway between trying to be serious and trying to be funny, and it didn’t quite hit either. And, too, if it was meant to be a bit humorous, well, feels rather incongruous given the circumstances in which it happened, huh?

I’m still worried about Charioce’s story becoming one of “oh, no, I have realized the error of my ways, how could I have ever used public executions to draw someone out of hiding and enslaved an entire portion of my kingdom’s population?!”. Nina’s shouting at him after the sentencing and his body language and reactions to it during that scene are keeping that fear of mine alive. Ditto for the fact that Charioce was unable to kill Azazel due to Kaisar’s interference.

By the way, the three-way swordfight – that feel when your liege and your love/hate boyfriend are trying to kill each other, amirite? But I’ve been told I’m supposed to be shipping Kaisar with Favaro. Sorry, didn’t see the first season!

A Silent Voice

I saw it! And I am going to do a full review. I will comment at this juncture, though, that there was one particular event in the final third of the movie which genuinely was so bad it almost ruined the entire film for me. I also am a little dismayed that they couldn’t manage to actually get a deaf voice actress to voice Nishimiya; I realize that deaf voice actresses may, in fact, not exist in Japan, although I do suspect there are probably some deaf actresses floating around. (Actually – did you know that pop star Ayumi Hamasaki is slowly going deaf?) That being said, I did enjoy it on the whole, and its motivated me to finally get my arse back in gear and go read the rest of the manga (I’ve read about three volumes).

Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche

This just seemed like the right thing to pick up off the shelf this week in light of a terrorist attack occurring in the country in which I live. I’ve had it on my shelf for several years now, but the two times I tried to read it before, I just wasn’t in the right state of mind or feeling. I’ve carried it across an ocean and across a continent in the time I’ve owned it, and, this time it was the right time to read it. My mum bought my copy for me used at the Harvard Book Store (not affiliated with the university); they’ve got a pretty good used section, and you can hear the trains in the tunnels below if you venture into the used section. If you’re ever in the Boston area, you should check it out…

Underground’s English title I think gives a different impression of what sort of book this is than I think it turns out to be. Murakami does spend time questioning what Aum Shinrikyo’s actions and existence mean about Japanese society of the late 20th century, but the bulk of the book is given over to interviews which he conducted with survivors of the sarin gas attacks of March 20th, 1995; he also interviews some members of Aum itself. It is interesting to note the points at which survivor testimony intersects, although these moments are comparatively few. The point of the book, ultimately, is to let the people he interviewed tell their own stories, not to necessarily track down the exact “truth” of what occurred on the subway that day. He does provide some guidance in terms of the events in a more “factual” sense (perhaps, even, a legal sense) by prefacing sets of interviews from people who were on the same train with the basic outline of the perpetrators and their actions that day, but this operates as guidance rather than in-depth lessons.

I enjoyed the insight granted by Murakami in his discussion of his approach in finding interview subjects, and then in the method which he utilized in conducting his interviews. Perhaps this portion should be required reading for anyone who would seek to interview people about trauma which they’ve undergone…

It is too bad, though, that about half the interviews which were included in the Japanese release of this book are not included in the English translation. This isn’t acknowledged in the book, but its easy to notice because Murakami states that he interviewed sixty-something survivors, but if you check the index, there’s only about thirty survivors listed as having sections. I’m not sure why there is that difference – perhaps some interviewees didn’t wish to have their portions made available abroad? It’s still a very good book even in this reduced form, but its hard for me to let go of the fact that I am only experiencing it in that reduced form.

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1 Response to Week in Review, 5/22-5/28

  1. barak says:

    I personally don’t worry about Charioce making a 180 degree turn personality-wise, it doesn’t really have a precedent in the show. For example Azazel in the first season was rather a rotten piece of shit (still hilarious, though), and while he has been promoted to antihero in Virgin Soul he still displays a lot of his original villainous traits, including his arrogance and aggression, and penchant for viciousness. I have no doubt that if things went his way and he had managed to reinstate his race and himself in his old position he would just continue where he left off. (Not quite sure after this last failure of his, though, it’s been so thoroughly humiliating that it probably broke him at least a little.)

    Charioce may end up getting redeemed in one way or another, but I don’t expect it to be a sudden, complete change of heart.

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