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12 Days of Christmas – Day 5 – Side Character Fascination

I’ll start this post off with a confession: I have a thing for side characters. You know, the ones who don’t get as much of a turn in the spotlight as the lucky main few; the ones who aren’t the stars of their series. Maybe they’re the ones who should be or could be, though, and at the very least, they help the stars shine brighter. I love these characters. I’m not sure why, either. Perhaps it’s that the lack of character development allows me to theorise endlessly about potential hidden depths. Or perhaps it’s just the fact that if a character has less screen-time, there’s less potential for them to be irritating. Regardless, this side character fascination is certainly there. Throughout 2010, we were presented with a wealth of delicious flat characters – ‘flat’ in the sense of a lack of character depth, of course – in anime, and I want to take a look at some of them here.

I suppose the girl featuring in my current avatar is as good a place to start as any, eh? Aoi Yamada of Working!! is largely a mystery. What we do know about her is as follows: she’s a klutzy, incredibly blunt, drama-mongering, supposedly sixteen-year-old girl who fancies herself a ‘super waitress’, has a huge collection of disguises and is inexplicably good at bugging people. Aoi is also a fantastic comedic side character. She’s entertaining and charming, and she also brings out the funniest in everyone around her, whether they’re members of the main cast or not. To quote what I said in my final post on Working!!, “I honestly think that her addition [to the cast] directly or indirectly led to each character’s funniest moment of the series”. One more Working!! character who definitely deserves mention is Maya Matsumoto, who only had her first real lines in the last episode of the series. Her obsession with normality was what set her apart from her bizarrely-behaved coworkers… and it was also what makes her fit perfectly among them, as it caused her to act as strangely as the best of them.

Another creator of hilarity and easily one of my favourite side characters of the year was Railgun‘s Mitsuko Kongou. Mitsuko toed both the fanservice character and gag character lines, but got a bit of development as well and a crowning moment of awesome (or two, arguably) to boot. She’s essentially presented as the ojou-sama with the giant ego. She’s confident to the point of boastfulness, and self-assured to the point of narcissism, and I loved her for it. We got hints, though, too, of her private persona being quite different to this – she seemed a lot milder and kinder to her friends, albeit not less boastful, telling them stories about how she single-handedly brought down one of Railgun‘s primary antagonists with ease. I think she’s fantastic, but I don’t at all think she could have carried Railgun. (For the most part, it was too laid-back for all Mitsuko all the time.) She was, however, both an excellent rival to Kuroko and an excellent unknown rival/self-proclaimed friend to Mikoto.

Sometimes, side characters don’t have terribly much to say or do. If we’re lucky, though, whatever they do end up saying or doing is hilarious. Angel Beats! had TK with his nonsensical English backed up by an array of dance moves, Seitokai Yakuindomo had Satomi Arai playing another schoolgirl lesbian in the snarky and slightly depraved Ranko Hata, and B Gata H Kei had the permanently cheerful and cheerfully frank Mami Misato. But perhaps the ultimate scene-stealer of the year was Milky Holmes‘ unforgettable Twenty. Milky Holmes actually had a few characters like this – another notable example being Arsene/Henriette’s chest, which seemed to have a mind of its own - but even in a show full of people with little tethering them to reality, Twenty managed to stand out the most. Whether he was stripping at an alarming pace, showing off his incredibly pointy nipples to the camera, moaning and screaming in Engrish about how beautiful he was, or going on a date with a hug pillow of himself, he demanded attention.

There were the usual side character duos, too. Occult Academy‘s sardonic janitor Smile and cheerful goth JK begged many questions. Why were the two of them always together? How was JK able to consume so much pudding? Why was Smile permanently wearing a smiley face badge, and what the hell was up with his giant spanner? Even more mysterious were Durarara!!‘s Erika Karisawa and Walker Yumasaki. Prone to fast-paced banter and off-the-wall conversations on topics ranging from fandom to philosophy, the two also displayed a wide variety of skills and prominent sadistic streaks. In addition, they made an excellent couple.

Lastly, we had – or should that be ‘have’, given she’s in a still-ongoing show? – Ruri Makina of Star Driver. … Yeah, she’s kind of only here because she reminds me of Utena‘s Wakaba, somehow. I’d love for her to get even comparable character development to Wakaba; I really want there to be more to her than “Her specialty is meat and potatoes!”. Star Driver, I have faith that you’ll deliver. Don’t let me down!

Okay, that concludes day five of Borderline Hikikomori’s twelve days of Christmas. Who were your favourite anime side characters of 2010?


There’s More Then One Way to Enjoy Anime – Occult Academy and Asobi ni Iku Yo!

Both Occult Academy and Asobi ni Iku Yo! have been fairly enjoyable series, not classics, but, well-suited for the laid back summer season. For me, I’ve been finding some rather incidental (and not much tied to the story, plot, or characters) ways to enjoy these anime and now that I’ve done with the Spring season, I’d like to share.

One way that I’ve been enjoying Asobi ni Iku Yo! has been some of the word play and choice by the fansubbers.

In the screen shot above, I’d like to think the use of “dogmatist” was purposeful since the speaker was a member of the Dog-like aliens that are nominal villains of the show. I had to actually pause the show because I was laughing too much.

Next up:

Wench is one of those insults people hurl at women that just make me giggle uncontrollably. I don’t know why, I just do. Other terms that’ll get a laugh from me include “strumpet” and “saucy tart”.

The time-travel aspect to Occult Academy and the setting of 1999 made me think about technological advances society has made from 1999 and today. We’re only talking about slightly more then a decade but there’s been so much change that I start feeling nostalgic. I find my eyes often drawn to the background to seek out these once cutting edge pieces of technology.

Look at the computer in the corner :)

More old computer goodness

A 2fer here, look at exaggerated roundness style and the TV/VCR combo

Monochrome cell phones screens

CRT TVs that took up so much room

Of course with time travel, sometimes things get overlooked. In this first screen shot, it appears that there’s poster of Lebron James in the corner. I could be wrong about it being Lebron James, I’m not much of a fan for basketball, but it certainly looks like him.

In the next screen shot we see the future phone at work. It certainly wouldn’t look out-of-place in the near future but when it was brought back to 1999, it should have been the cause of much amazement and wonder to the people of 1999. Maya should be dumb-founded over this phone but she starts using it like it’s normal for the day. Which it isn’t, the first camera phone was also the first color screen phone and it wasn’t introduced until more then year later. It retailed for roughly $500 dollars and featured a 0.1 megapixel camera and a 256 color screen and even that phone would have looked primitive compared to the future phone.

Even finding these small mistakes is fun.

I’ve mentioned before how I was a fan of science fiction long before anime and I love it when an anime can speak to my SF side as well. It’s become obvious that the people behind Asobi ni Iku Yo! love science fiction on a fairly deep level. The references to Star Trek weren’t that hard-core:

I so want a holodeck.

Beam me up Scotty.

But then they mention Clarke’s Third Law:  Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

How can you argue with a show that quotes Arthur C. Clarke?

Just like how it’s impossible to not enjoy it when an anime like Occult Academy includes awesome, over-the-top faces.


Filed under: anime, general anime interst, science fiction

[lvlln’s Take] Summer 2010 First Impressions – Ookami-san and the Seven Friends, Highschool of the Dead, et al.

Alright, the Summer 2010 anime season has started, and pretty much all the shows I’ve been keeping an eye on have had their 1st episodes air. I’ve already written on Amagami SS, which I found to be rather plain, but there are other shows I’ve been paying attention to that I’ve actually enjoyed a lot more.

I wonder if those pussy gloves will ever be explained or just be one of those in-jokes.

Ookami-san and the Seven Friends

A surprisingly entertaining first episode. I had passed it off as just another high school romantic comedy before this season started, but its amusing take on the Cinderella story both sets it apart from a regular romcom and leaves me wanting to see more of its “adaptations” of children’s stories. The protagonist and main love story is pretty typical, and that fight at the end reminded me too much of Shirou from Fate/stay Night – the obvious parallel with his protecting Saber from Berserker’s attack – but Ookami-san herself was very likable. Not many boxing girls in animu. And Satomi Arai as the narrator is great. Her distinct voice works well for the cynical and sarcastic narration that keeps breaking the 4th wall and is a pleasure to listen to overall (though there are others who don’t like her voice as much as I).

Way to be useless, Rei. Hopefully you'll make up for it in future episodes.

Highschool of the Dead

Zombies and fanservice! That was pretty much what I was expecting, and that was the 1st episode. Darker at some parts than I expected, but also kept a sense of humor. The two bffs who died about halfway into the episode was a great example of the show’s dark comedy.

Rei was very annoying, which is a shame, because her voice actor Marina Inoue is capable of so much more. I’m not expecting big things from the story, but if it can keep up the good action and the fittingly ridiculous comedy, this could be very good. Yukari Fukui is yet to be heard. That I’m very much looking forward to.

I've never seen School Rumble, but Shino reminds me a lot of one of the characters from that. I don't think I've ever seen someone so blatantly and unapologetically raunchy, though.

Seitokai Yakuindomo

Wow, this is dirty! Its style of dry humor isn’t unusual in anime, but I’ve never seen it taken so far. Almost everything out of Shino’s mouth is something related to sex in the raunchiest way possible. Like talking about the tightness of her lips. And it’s all at a breakneck pace, hitting us with jokes continually before we’re given a chance to recover. I like it, though not everyone seems to. I didn’t expect much out of this show, but the level of comedy in this first episode leaves me impressed. I’m definitely going to be watching more.

I do appreciate that Anime no Chikara is using fresh material. I had no idea what to expect from Maya, and I'm glad I didn't.

Occult Academy

It certainly doesn’t hurt that Maya is an Akiha lookalike. She was my favorite Tsukihime heroine, after all. After the disappointment of Sora no Woto and the mixed reactions that Senkou no Night Raid got, I wasn’t expecting much out of this 3rd Anime no Chikara project. Given the topic of the show, I was expecting something a bit dark and moody, but what I got instead was something that was pretty wacky and funny. A lot of physical/visual comedy was used to good effect, and I enjoyed seeing Maya’s various deformed reaction faces. Can’t say much about the story which I found to be a bit confusing, but I think it would be better if the show never got too serious. I’m not alone in being surprised and impressed by the silliness in this 1st episode.

Also, Kana Hanazawa playing the possessed girl was a blast to watch/listen to, especially after hearing her as Tenshi last season in Angel Beats!

Others

So I’ve been more or less impressed with the stuff I’ve seen so far. Perhaps my expectations were just too low going into this season – the only show out of these that I had been remotely looking forward to was Highschool of the Dead, and even then, I wasn’t expecting anything more than some mindless violence. But, 1 episode in, there are a bunch of shows that look promising this season.

  • Nameless already made a post on the 1st episode of Mitsudomoe. I couldn’t make it past about 5-8 minutes. The art style just put me off. That first gag with the misinterpretation of “anything goes” was pretty funny, I’ll admit. And it has received some positive reactions from various other blogs. It’s just that I just feel dirty watching it.
  • I also could only make it about 1/3 of the way into Shufuku no Campanella. The colors really were nice, but that was about it. Everything else was generic and way too sugary sweet.
  • I haven’t gotten a chance to check out The Legend of the Legendary Heroes yet, but it’s on my list.




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