vengeance upon den Beste

you know the reason I started this blog was because a certain someone got me addicted – and I mean ADDICTED – to Haibane Renmei. Steven wasn’t content to hit me with that alone, though – I also got a triple bolus of Sugar Snow Fairy and Someday’s Dreamers to course like crack through my fledgling otaku mind.

Now he has done it again. I was actually done with Ranma. I suffered through the first disc and swore off it for good. Then along comes SDB, reviews a few episodes, and i decide well, maybe, just maybe I should give it another chance.

Behold what his machinations have wrought. I actually enjoyed the Martial Arts Figure Skating arc. I thought Asuza was hilarious. I thought the plot of the Ramen / Delivery Martial Arts episode was clever and was genuinely surprised when (and this is no spoiler) Ranma has to step in for Akane. I am 5 minutes into the Cat Phobia episode, and realized I was enjoying it far too much for any reasonable standard of sanity. All of this, while SDB actually claims burnout! Diabolical fiend!

What the hell. I’m going to find some manner of revenge. I’m going to get Steven to watch Robotech. You’ve been duly warned, old man.

Ranma disc 2

Steven and I are eerily in sync on Ranma. I just finished the Martial Arts Gymnastics arc yesterday. In a nutshell, what he said, especially about the telegraphed (spoiler) plot development. Still, while Kodachi was a waste of screen time (imagine Greta from Sugar, but without any of the redeeming qualities, and a violent streak), I had to admit that the development of the love “hypercube” (as SDB put it) was fascinating. Oh, and the conversation of the St. Hebereke gymnastics team while, ahem, under cover, was hilarious.

I still don’t quite get why Ranma doesn’t expose Ryoga, but I suppose this will become more clear.

rethinking Ranma

I was not impressed with Ranma – I barely made it through the first disc. But Steven’s enthusiasm is somewhat infectious. I wonder if I approached it from the wrong perspective; it seems more like a recurring romantic sitcom than a genuine story arc-driven plot. If I treat it at the level I would, say, Three’s Company, then maybe it will work for me. It probably also helps that Steven started in season 2, where presumably the writers had long since hit their stride. Pete theorizes that this might be the best way to approach a long-running series (and they don’t get much longer than Ranma). So, I think I will give Ranma another chance.

UPDATE: Steven discusses the plot structure:

It’s more comedic and slapstick than Maison Ikkoku but the characters are far better conceived than in Urusei Yatsura.

One thing becomes clear at this point: the series is constructed of a sequence of multi-episode story arcs. There’s an occasional one-off ep (like the “Ramen Delivery martial arts” story) but what you mainly have is arcs that cover 3-5 episodes. And that really does work pretty well. If the series were constructed entirely of one-ep stories it would come off as rather vapid. This way the stories are more deep. It keeps me coming back.

I think “vapid” and “slapstick” accurately describe my impressions of Ranma after watching disc 1 of season 1. All the more evidence that Pete’s theory is generalizable to long series. The writers simply take time to mature into their characters and flesh them out. I know I still wince whenever I see an episode from season 1 of Star Trek: Next Generation…


It was horrible. I suffered through the entire first episode, and even gave the OAV five minutes. What’s wrong with it? The overall style reminded me of cheesy Bollywood flicks from the 70s. There’s way too much gratuitous nudity of underage girls played for laughs (and the same gag, mind you, not even a new one). Not a single character has any meaningfully distinctive personality, apart from the lead girl who is described as “sweet, but violent” and hates boys. I already know how the series will end. The Chinese were drawn with the most atrocious stereotype of pursed lips and wide eyes that I’ve ever seen. I could go on, but I’m done.

my anime watchlist

AICN has a synopsis of the plot of the anime “Death Note” that makes it sound really quite intriguing:

The titular Death Note is a note pad of a shinigami (death god, comparable to the notion of a grim reaper), which allows its owner to dictate the time and cause of death for the victim whose name is inscribed on one of its pages. This is a very rule based process, starting with the clause that if no cause is specified within 40 seconds, the victim will die of a heart attack, and getting more complex from there.

Bored by the listlessness of his people, the shinigami Ryuk decides to amuse himself by dropping a Death Note into the human world. There, it is picked up by ace student Light Yagami. To Ryuk’s amusement, Light proves unphased by the power to kill, the revelation that shinigami exist, or that using the Death Note ensures that a human will neither travel to heaven or hell upon death. After using the book to kill, the only repercussion incurred is that the user’s name will be written in the book by its original shinigami owner upon the user’s death.

When it comes to shock, Light is revealed to have iron fortitude. After the ability to kill on a whim is dropped into his lap, he proves able to compose himself and push forward with his agenda.

The certainty with which he embraces that power makes Light an intriguing character.

The description of Light as a character both arrogant and idealistic make for a very righteous archetype, like a paladin convincing himself of the greater good and a ends-justify-means crusade. I am reminded of the Kingpriest from Dragonlance Chronicles as well. At any rate, I’ll see if I can find the torrents for this one.

I am also determined to watch Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei – though from what I read at Astro’s, its unclear if the fansubbers will finish subbing season 1. I’m also fascinated by the premise of Moyashimon, which has the visual appeal of a science lab on LSD. My friend Jon also dropped by Marshfield on his way home to Appleton from the Twin Cities, and brought Read or Die (the pilot as well as the full season), Ranma, Ergo Proxy, FateStayNight, Gankutsuou, Noir, and Samurai7. That’s a feast of anime that should keep me and my baby daughter fed through the holiday season (I typically watch anime while bottle-feeding her; we both just zone out and do our respective thing). Suggestions as to which I should tackle first are welcome (and requested).

I also have to get off my arse and write something about The Girl who Leapt, Twelve Kingdoms, and (waaaay overdue) Someday’s Dreamers. However, of late I’ve been distracted by something decidedly non-anime: Heroes. More on that later 🙂