anime for kids

Don has suggestions for child-friendly anime. I can’t express enough gratitude to him for this.

I think I’ll start saving up for Binchou-tan next for my daughter (now 4). She also (somewhat surprisingly) enjoyed Someday’s Dreamers, so I would like to add that to the recommended-for-kids list. Small girls really seem to relate to the whole “magical girl” genre, and my daughter in particular was quite taken with the idea of a magic bracelet/ring that she can use for her “magic power”. Plus she got hooked on the theme music almost as hard as with Sugar.

Glie topology

Don highlights a thread at the Old Home Bulletin Board that attempts to map the town of Glie. The basic data are estimated walking speeds and times of travel. It’s a pretty laborious task, but I think that the end result (while surely consistent with the data) is just not a good fit with the essence and basic symbolism of Haibane Renmei.

The main issue is that the Wall clearly must be circular. I have been exploring the circle symbolism in my ongoing series of posts on the topic; that the Wall could be anything other than a circle would break the integral symmetry in a fundamental way.

Any attempt to map Glie simply must begin with the basic assumption that the Wall is a circle, and that the town is near the center. I don’t doubt that reasonable estimates can be attained, but I also note that Glie is not a three-dimensional universe – Glie is fundamentally a two-dimensional plane. Steven has also noted that time itself doesn’t seem to be truly linear, in Glie it is always what time it needs to be. The spacetime topology of Glie may not be continous enough to map!

UPDATE: Shamus has a nice screencap that shows the apparent curvature of the wall from the inside is much tighter than it would appear from the outside. More evidence that Glie is strange, topologically speaking.

orphans and accents

I’m in Seattle for a conference but just had to finagle web access to see what the other otaku are up to.

Steven, Pixy and Don discuss how often anime characters are orphaned. They speculate it may be to save costs for hiring seiyuu, though Pixy suggests it may also be a plot device. I haven’t seen most of the series they mention but the trend is certainly evident even in the small sample of anime that I have seen.

In Sugar: A Little Snow Fairy, not just Saga but also Sugar appear to be fatherless. Also, Studio Ghibli films seem to be particularly taken with orphans – Kiki’s Delivery Service and the ultra-downer Grave of the Fireflies come to mind (and they came close in Totoro!). Of course, all the haibane in Haibane Renmei are orphaned in sense.

I can’t comment on the anime I haven’t seen, but of the ones I have that do follow the trend, it seems that the orphan status is more oriented towards making the characters seem more vulnerable and thus sympathetic. Watching, I tend to give the orphaned characters more benefit of the doubt.

Also, Shamus is watching Someday’s Dreamers (which I finished too, but have yet to post my review. slacker!) and notes that Yume’s rural accent is portrayed in the dub as a deep south dixie drawl. I remember being a bit bemused at this but it grew on me. Also, Runa’s urban accent is portrayed as a New York street accent, which I think is rather appropriate. My own observation of Tokyo certainly brought New York to mind – in terms of attitude and energy.


Steven mentions how the series Azumanga Daioh was utterly ruined by the presence of Kimura, a middle-aged male characer whose sole function is to be the resident lecher. I haven’t seen the series and given the negative reaction Steven had to it (and the negative comments by others), probably won’t bother.

But what is interesting is a comment that a Korean friend of mine made when watching Haibane Renmei. Anime is popular in Korea and my friend spoke enough Japanese to be able to follow the sub. Her reaction to seeing the character of The Master (Kana’s boss) was immediate and visceral – “that guy is a pervert!” Surprised by this, I asked why, and the answer was simply “perverts in anime are always drawn like that.” Apparently it’s the small eyes, the semi-baldness, and the cylindrical head silhouette.

Looking at screen caps, the Master does resemble Kimura, and also resembles Councillor Furusaki from Someday’s Dreamers. What to make of this I don’t know. Haibane Renmei is as sexless a series as you can find, and Someday’s Dreamers was every bit as warm and serene as others have noted. Yet, the character archetype in question is indeed always associated with young girls (Kana and Jessica for The Master and Furusaki, respectively). Is there some cultural subtext here?


I just don’t know where to begin when talking about Robotech. I first saw it in college – during final exams week of my first year, in fact. It astounds me that I even passed my exams, let alone maintained a decent GPS, given that I spent all my time that week in the dorm TV lounge with my stack of bootleg VHS tapes. I’d set alarms to go off half an hour before my exams and race across campus to take the exam, and then come straight back like a moth to flame. Food was pizza delivery and cokes from the machine across the hall.

Come to think of it, perhaps my daughter has inherited some of these bad habits…

Anyway, the story was amazing and still holds a unique appeal over my imagination. If you’ll pardon the pun, Robotech was the protoculture for the otaku culture of today, here in America. It legitimized animation as a mature storytelling medium.

And the visuals! the bridge bunnies. Captain Gloval aghast as the antigravity drives tear loose from the ship and go on their merry way. Khyron and all his infinite insanity. The Dadedalus maneuver. Lisa. Roy’s heroism, Rick’s infatuation, and also that other character, M. what’s her name, you know. Whatchamacallit whoever. The return to Earth, the Ontario quadrant disaster. The final assault, and New Macross City. And of course, the SDF-1 – magnificent. Only the Starship Enterprise rivals it for sheer nobility of design.

Of course I am a fan of the first arc most, the Invid arc least. But the character of Dana Sterling is easily my most favorite character in the entire series. And that’s the real point of Robotech – the characters, and the peoples. Many mecha series focus too much on the technology, but Robotech used its technology like a stage and spotlight – mere foils for the chaacters that inhabited and used them. Not to say that some pieces of technology didn’t acquire personality in their own right – SDF-1 being obvious, but also Skull-1 and Dana’s tank. But even if Robotech arose from three rather average anime series as source, the sum was much greater than the parts, and that’s the mark of true anime.

UPDATE: For Steven the bridge bunnies below the fold.

Continue reading “Robotech”

new Earthsea trailer

Studio Ghibli has posted a new trailer for Gedo Senki online. Ged/Sparrow has a lot more screen time in this one. It’s wierd, but his boat is exactly like I imagined it. I still have no idea whether this is going to be a disaster or a masterpiece – possibly neither – but at least it is going to be pretty.

AICN also reports that a special preview of the film will be held July 7-9 in 17 selected cities. 20,000 fans will get invitations to the screening by lottery.

Earthsea synopsis via UKL

via Don, a synopsis of the upcoming anime adaptation of Tales of Earthsea by Studio Ghibli. LeGuin herself was given the synopsis by the director. She writes,

Studio Ghibli and Mr Goro Miyazaki recently sent me the synopsis of their forthcoming film, Gedo Senki (Tales of Ged), which is to be released in Japan in July 2006. I asked if I might post the translation on my website, and was kindly granted permission. Any inquiries should be directed to Studio Ghibli, please, not to me, as I have no further information concerning the film, and of course will not discuss it until I have seen it.

— UKL April 21, 2006.

The film will apparently not be a retelling of how Ged came to be the Lord Archmage, but takes place after he has already become the great wizard of his destiny. There are familiar faces from the early stories, though.

My crazed obsession Totoro

Steven has been watching My Neighbor Totoro, and comments, “I watched it twice, and I’m still not sure what story it was telling. I’m not even sure there was a story. In fact, I’m not even sure there needed to be one.”

Try watching it 50 times!

True story – when I first saw Totoro, my daughter was about two years old. I actually picked the movie up in the $5 bin at Wal-Mart. I brought it home thinking she’d like it.

She became a Totoro addict. There is something in this movie that is like crack for little kids. I don’t just mean she wanted to watch it often; I mean she wanted to watch it eight times a day. In succession. Back to back.

After dealing with tantrum after tantrum I finally had enough and sent the damn disc to my parents’ house a thousand miles away across four state lines. As far as my daughter knew, we “lost” it. Somehow we weaned her off Totoro.. though my sister, evil incarnate that she is, suddenly “found” the disc and sent it back.

I hope that it won’t be toddler crack like last time – especially since my daughter is now four and maybe if her reaction to the film is non-insane, I can actually enjoy it myself. I am quite keen to see whether the 4-year old in the film matches up to the four year old on the sofa. When we were watching Sugar, she was kind of indifferent to the Kannnon character who was also her age, but as Steven mentions, in Totoro the four year old actually acts four years old. So, it will be quite interesting indeed to see whether my daughter recognizes a kindred spirit or not.