There is a lot of overlap between the anime and gaming fandoms. Many of the world’s most popular video game franchises originate from Japan, anime’s homeland, anime and video games have, historically, faced similar controversies in terms of their content and representation of certain groups, and both pastimes, whilst once fairly niche, have now achieved mainstream popularity. Long gone are the days of being a closeted anime fan or gamer. As such, it is not all that uncommon for an anime to feature a world that operates on video game mechanics or a video game obsessed anime character. Today’s blog post will focus on the latter.
I’ll usually look less favourably upon an anime with no strong female characters (I get a real kick out of seeing my sex represented in a positive, significant way). And whilst Run with the Wind is one such show (with only one female character – and a minor one at that), I still adore the bare bones of it! It may be a bit of a sausage party, but, contrary to what you might expect, the way that our main characters interact with each other is completely and utterly devoid of any exaggerated masculinity. If anything, many of their interactions actually contain the hallmarks of, not male, but female friendships. These include intimacy, the tendency to encourage one another, vulnerability, and insight into each other’s characters…
My husband and I have recently sunk our teeth into the Danganronpa franchise. We’ve had so much fun playing the games (especially fun was being able to lord my overwhelmingly superior deductive reasoning over him) and watching its various anime adaptations. For those of you unfamiliar with the franchise (where have you been?) its premise is this: a class of elite students (all possessing an “ultimate” talent – a prerequisite for admittance into the prestigious Hope’s Peak Academy) are pitted against each other by their mysterious captor in a gruesome “killing game”. They are then forced to unravel one another’s murders in order to escape captivity.
The Danganronpa franchise places a lot of emphasis on its characters’ talents. These form the basis of their identities and factor into many of the franchise’s key events. Whilst the franchise is only ever a hair’s breadth away from becoming utterly ridiculous, some of the implications it makes about talent are quite discouraging. The fact that extraordinary talent is necessary in order to attend Hope’s Peak Academy, that graduation is guaranteed to set you up for life, and that the main course students are hailed as the hope of Japan, whereas the (comparatively untalented) reserve course students are positioned as second-rate, are frequently labelled “weeds” or “parasites”, and whose entry fees are used to fund the main course, suggests that: 1. talent is all that’s necessary in order to succeed in life, 2. is what’s most beneficial to society, and 3. that the untalented should be content to simply act as the talented’s stepping stone to success.
If, like me, you don’t possess any exceptional talents, dwelling on these implicit messages can dampen your spirits. To lift them up again, here are five personal attributes that are just as important to have, if not even more so, than talent:
Before beginning today’s blog post let me summarise the plot of Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny-Girl Senpai (since its title doesn’t really tell you anything)! It’s protagonist, Sakuta, whilst studying in his school’s library, catches a glimpse of his beautiful, yet aloof, senpai, Mai, dressed up as a bunny girl. After confronting her he learns that she is a victim of puberty syndrome – a mysterious phenomenon where the conflict that an individual experiences during adolescence manifests itself in strange and unusual ways – and that only he can see her. The rest of the show consists of Sakuta, your prototypical white knight, rescuing her and his other cute cohorts from the clutches of this bizarre condition.
The young girls of Bunny-Girl Senpai struggle to communicate with other people, to earn the recognition of others, and with their ever-evolving identities. These issues, whilst painful and unpleasant, are not altogether unusual for girls their age. Even dissociation, in response to traumatic events, is not unheard of in girls of Kaede’s age. However, as a result of these problems, the girls experience some pretty unusual phenomena. Tomoe learns to manipulate time in order to achieve her own ends, Mai turns invisible, and Rio splits into two versions of herself, a la Freaky Friday. All of this got me wondering, is there any merit in using supernatural phenomena like these to explore everyday issues? Below I briefly consider this question.
This is most unlike me, a planner through and through, but I don’t have a definite idea of where to go with this blog post. I just know that, after being moved to tears by Assassination Classroom’s second season, I want to jot down some of my thoughts about this amazing show! To date I’ve seen hundreds of anime, including many of the classics, shows that have stood the test of time and are widely considered to be the best of the best. As a result, it’s now extremely rare to find myself affected by what I watch, as most anime today simply doesn’t hold up to these classics! So when it does happen, as it did with Assassination Classroom’s second season, I want to mark the occasion by writing a few words. I’ve dubbed this collection of thoughts: “What Koro-Sensei Has Taught Me.” I hope that you enjoy reading them. A word of warning: you may not wish to proceed if you haven’t seen both seasons of Assassination Classroom, as there will be spoilers ahead! Instead, please read my review of season 1. I hope that it will convince you to go away and watch this awesome show!