Gargantia Metanarrative

Going on a limb to interpret the latest episode of Gargantia, I draw from the form of despair and sense of stress that NEETs have to deal with. Since talking about that episode of Gargantia invariably means spoilers, I’ll talk about what I mean by despair and stress first.

Well, first, read this post and get on the same page, if you haven’t already. I’m just going to take a shot at the next stage of the NEET stimulus package.

The average NEET probably wants a reasonably paying and steady job. I say this because the demand for those jobs are always pretty high; that’s why they are relatively hard to land in today’s economy (Japan and elsewhere). The societal pressure is, as understood by the NEET or freeter, a form of reinforcement of these kinds of cultural norms. And of course if you do have a steady job that brings in good money, staying single means you can go to all the offkais you want, cons, wait in line for goods, whatever. Living the single life, instead of living-with-parents-and-waking-at-odd-hours life.

In 2013 terms, it’s no longer clear if becoming a NEET is really socially unacceptable, because people understand the truth that it’s hard to get a salary job as a young person in Japan, even if it’s one of those “success” indicator. The subsequent problem with NEET-ness is well documented in terms of getting that late start in life, being able to plan for retirement, etc. Not sure if that has much of a bearing on Gargantia’s narrative, but it’s worth noting.

And the way I see it, it’s all in the head anyway. Much like Ledo’s understanding of his predicament by the end of episode 10, being a NEET/freeter can feel stifling, as if you are cornered with no way out. Getting a job NOT as a fresh grad is harder than getting one as someone who’s just out of college. Companies naturally would wonder why you didn’t get a job the first time around, at least in the NEET’s head that’s what goes on. Settling into a strange pace of life trying to make part-time jobs can make it harder, just like doing anything else while working the graveyard shift or simply having to deal with a normal workday. Worst of all, you can fall into a habit, develop a rhythm living the NEET or freeter life, assuming your situation is stable enough. And the longer you fly in that standby pattern, the harder it is to land a permanent job or break out of that funk.

Invariably, unless it’s a planned period of NEET-ness, NEET status tends to continue for a while. Truth is, I think most people, eventually, get back on their feet. And in truth, there’s nothing Gargantia can do to solve the root problems–unemployment, societal expectations, the way employment works in Japan, all that jazz. All it can do is encourage people to feel better about themselves, and show that while they may be victims of the situation, they can do something about it.

(Mild) SPOILERS.

Mayta is that mechanics girl last episode...

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AnimeNEXT 2013 Wrap

The con intersected a tropical storm on Friday. Thankfully things cleared up mostly by Saturday morning so the grass, despite still full with moisture, didn’t give into muddy slides. And this is important at AnimeNEXT 2013.

Since its relocation to the Doubletree / Garden State Expo Center right before the anime bubble burst, it’s got a lot of grassy gnolls and alcoves for photographs. In fact, down the road from the con, there’s this place called the “Palace” where large halls are rented out for elaborate weddings (and wedding photography) and other events. (Like the NJ State Bar Exam.) In other words, it’s great location for cosplay photography.

In exchange, the location is pretty horrible for the usual hall cosplay photography since there really isn’t a large, open and centralized area unlike, say, the water fountain area at the BCC or the main lobby at the LACC. It’s hard to find where everyone is. Even Animazement has the front lobby area, and its glass-y construction means you can see both the indoors and outdoors areas easily, increasing its effective size. At Anext, there is actually a place where cosplayers congregate, which is to one side of the Doubletree, by the so-called red docks. But it’s like, way to the side and you wouldn’t even know where to look unless you knew.

The blurb about cosplay is just so you guys know why I was there: take cosplay photos, and write about Sayo Yamamoto and Hiroshi Shimizu.

Shimizu is a veteran animator. He has a lot of key animator credits, but from what I can gleam during the two sessions I was there with him (who accompanied Yamamoto basically at all their events, neither had a solo thing) he mainly picked up the slacks from a lot of the bigger productions. And this guy is really an animator in the industry sense of the term, as he crunched out some genga during one of the panels while we did Q&A. He averages maybe a sheet every 250 seconds or some such. (As an aside this is why Hirosh Nagahama can sketch for everyone during his autograph sessions at AZ, like Shimizu at ANext.)

I got Lupin on a shikishi, can’t really ask for more than that…although I could’ve asked for, say, a Michiko instead. Sayo Yamamoto is, well, a bit stereotypical artist-y Asian woman. I think she’s probably just slightly younger than I am. Despite being talented I think she’s still got a lot of ropes to learn in the industry, so to speak. There’s not a lot to say, Shimizu is quiet but articulate when speaking, and Yamamoto is a bit flighty. The interpreters were not too helpful but it was what it was, nothing I haven’t seen before since the conversations can get down to the nitty gritty.

The only real takeaway is that Yamamoto is working on a new thing and it should be pretty cool. And somehow she is a fan of Yakushimaru Etsuko, which is to the surprise of no one.

The rest of the time at ANext I hung out with @7thwraith and his friends. Lots of words were spoken, jokes cracked, good times. I learned a lot about ANext cosplay culture that I never was interested in but am kind of now. There needs to be more Producers, surely. Since these guys are local to me, this is possibly some exciting news, who knows?

This is probably the first time I ate at the con for con food, the whole time. Actually, mostly in the Doubletree because the hotel had at least real food for prices that aren’t outrageous. Because parking is a pain, kind of. One of these days I’ll just go to Mamoun’s on my own, and I can possibly claim having been to all three locations!

We ran into some random Makoto-P who was volunteering at the con. It was kind of amusing. Also kind of strange interacting with people who just do it differently. I guess that’s just how it goes. I also ran into most of the rest of the guys I always see at the local East Coast events. Ed’s industry panel was pretty much just unhinged. One margarita was all you need man. I said hi to EJ, who is someone new to this scene, for sure. There was no new announcement at the Aniplex panel, but I guess that’s to be expected. Man, imagine if you’re this Cali guy and work sent you to a con in New Jersey! I have way more sympathy for him than the Texans.

Loot:

Loot

Yamamoto and Shimizu’s autograph session gave away these Fujiko Mine anime posters if you wanted something to get signed by. The 4 scribbles? Moon Stream baby!

Also, Doujin Press was there. Pretty snazzy.


Con Contra 2013

OreImo is not this cute

Con season this year plans out to be something like:

Animazement: all done, just waiting for their charity auction. Since it is for charity after all, let me spill the beans a bit–the guests donated a lot of stuff at Animazement for charity, and the con charity auction ran too short to get to all the items. There are about a dozen or more stuff, as a result, that’ll probably get eBay’d for charity. The funds will probably go to OK tornado victims and for Touhoku relief. The items, I had a chance to look at them, and there were sketches and stuff. I have my eyes on two specific items: autographed scripts from Chihayafuru S2. It’s great, because I’d like to have one, and I won’t really think twice if someone outbids me on them, just because, you know, it’s for a good cause and I can put the money into use for something else.

Anime Next: June 7-9. The schedule is here and unlike last year there is no iM@S panel. Unlike last year there is an Aniplex panel. And unlike last year I didn’t have two weddings that I had to be in back to back. Not expecting much from Sayo Yamamoto but it would be nice if I can get her to sign something. Like, I don’t know, maybe a copy of Arakawa UB? I love that OP. Maybe I can catch Moon Stream there instead of AX? I mean, I plan to see Vertical anyway so that’s one conflict I can definitely live with.

Origins Game Fair: June 12-16. OK, this is just FYI if I’m missing for a week.

Anime Expo: July 4-7. Well, I don’t know what I’ll be doing there but I’ll probably be doing more press stuff. Hopefully I can catch up with all the twitter and blogging boys and girls. I might even get to go to a Megumi Han panel for once. I guess it’s time to dig up interview questions because some of these folks are at least interesting from that sense.

Otakon: August 9-11. Should be one of the best Otakon ever in terms of guest roster. Yoko Kanno brings all the old, decrepit, fallen-off-the-wagon fans to the yard. Too bad she’s not playing in Camden Yard or something, as the Orioles have away games that weekend. Joking aside it should be a good time and it will be a very trying 3-day period, with so much content overlapping each other.

And that’s really it. I expect I might attend NYCC, and I might attend, as a super long shot, AWA, even if it’s not really in the cards. I want to attend AWA this year, let’s put it that way, but I don’t think I can justify the time off or the flight.

Anything else interesting going on?

 


The Garden of Rainy-day Sinners

Awkward pose for an awkward couple

It took me 3 tries for Hoshi o ou Kodomo, so if it takes 3 times for Kotonoha no Niwa then at least I can do that in nearly a third of the time. It’s at least gorgeous enough to warrant watching it three times.

But yes, I’m still not sure how to react to the film. My initial feelings are both somewhat moved and yet slightly enraged at the odd composition of the romantic relationship. It all came together in a way that just felt a little wrong. It doesn’t, thankfully, take away the underlying emotions and the way The Garden of Words wraps around you and moves you.

I think you really have to go into this show without knowing what it is. The revelation later on int he film is a little disruptive and even if you’re a big fan of indie Japanese cinema you might not quite have it all planned out. And if you’re not, then this is probably not the kind of anime you expect.

It is the kind of anime Shinkai fans expect however. Visually it is beautiful. Tokyo has never been this gorgeous. Short of flooding this post with caps let’s just say that the Blu-ray can’t come to my house soon enough. [Especially since it's in an order with the Festiv@l of Winter blargh, which means it'll probably get here when I'm not home @ AX.]

First contact

So many rainy sunshine cuts, so few rainbows. It’s not Shinkai to do rainbows, I guess.


All I’ve Got Are Stinking MADs

Convention season is also remembrance season. Spring is, for me, always a time to get excited. It’s when I fell in love with things like Sakura Taisen and Tsukihime and other nonsense that I can only look on fondly as memories, plastic figures, and a lost seashore of words as grounded sand by the passage of time on the internets.

I was just in the mood. And maybe you are too, to remember a couple old MADs that accompanied my recent fandom: Love Plus and the Idolm@ster. Or maybe they’re new to you?

It’s weird, because they do mark the points when I my tastes decided to change. In the Love Plus case, though, I was already playing the game around launch so maybe it was already too late.

I would like to thank the guy, who made the MAD, that made me first pay it any attention:

You can catch it at its original location on Nico (man, 2008 was not all that long ago). A high-resolution version can be found here. And, there’s sex bomb, a follow up.

The great thing about this video is that it doesn’t take much to understand what’s going on. The song is catchy, and it’s in English. The humor translates well without any meddling. It even has that iM@S feel within the concept–a gang of entertainers, being entertaining by being themselves. Sure, it’s still full of in-jokes, but that just adds to the flavor, not a requirement to get it. The follow up video is the same, too.

Less I could say about this pretty neat video featuring Love Plus (the original) and Nene the virtual girlfriend. I think it speaks for itself. And it doesn’t take an in joke to explain much anything. Familiarity with Love Plus just makes this video more striking.

You can find it on Nico and Vimeo. Only half a million views since 2010, this is pretty obscure relatively lol.