Let’s Watch No. 6 – Episode 4

Last time we ended in Inukashi’s hotel where Nezumi told Shion that if Shion learned the truth and continued to try to save No. 6, that Shion would become his enemy. There was also some kind of message from Shion’s mother, but the message seemed to be some kind of code. Let’s find out what happens.

Episode 4 – Demons and Saints

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The episode starts with a scene to help fill in the blanks a bit as to where the message from Shion’s mother came from and why Inukashi was examining the note for Nezumi. It also seems that Shion’s mother is under some kind of surveillance by officials, who anticipate Shion’s attempts to contact her.

Shion’s mother reads Nezumi’s message: “Shion is safe. He’s escaped to West Block. Nezumi.” She next quickly writes a message to send back: “Living-Kitchen, around 13,000, Latch Building, Three Down, Zero Confidence. Tuesday”

It was a bit confusing at first from the last episode, because it seemed like Inukashi was the one who had made contact with Shion’s mother. We see now that it was indeed Nezumi, using his robotic rat, who made contact and Inukashi was merely hired to examine the meaning behind the note Shion’s mother sent. I can see why Nezumi would need some help deciphering this message and its meaning.

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Inukashi: ” ‘Latch Building’ is the name of a newspaper. I managed to figure out where one of their former employees is located…and he has quite the interesting connection to No. 6.”

Inukashi was indeed able to help figure out the meaning of this message, so with Inukashi’s knowledge in hand, Shion and Nezumi set out to the streets. The market of the slums are quite a contrast to the streets of No. 6. Here in this outside world thieves run rampant and a few dead bodies lying around are of little concern. If a thief is shot at with a gun it’s just an everyday occurrence. In this world, so unlike what Shion has grown used to,  Shion finds himself displaced and in trouble as he tries to cope with the reality of what the world is like and the people who live there. This naivete of Shion’s has a way of making Nezumi lose control of himself, likely because Shion’s vulnerabilities make him nervous.

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Nezumi: “You really piss me off. Listen up. I’ll tell you one thing: no one will save you here. Stop asking questions about every damn thing and protect yourself at the very least.”

Such a speech would have more impact if he hadn’t just saved Shion a moment before. That’s right, just moments before saying this Nezumi helped Shion out. Obviously Nezumi cares about Shion, which is why Shion unnerves him the way he does. The worry and fear Nezumi has concerning Shion are probably not even understood by Nezumi himself. Caring for others is something foreign to this dog eat dog world and so Nezumi finds himself in a situation he isn’t emotionally prepared for.

After a few scrapes on the streets, Shion and Nezumi find there way to the Latch Building Press former employee, Rikiga. Upon meeting with Rikiga we learn that Nezumi is some kind of performer under the alias ‘Eve’, but what Nezumi does remains vague and unexplained, though he is possibly a stage actor.

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Nezumi asks if Rikiga knows Shion’s mother, Karan and after Rikiga takes a  look at Shion, he becomes convinced that Shion really is her son and invites them up into a hidden room to continue their discussion. Here Rikiga explains he was once suspicious something going on in No. 6 when he was younger and part of Latch Building Press. This was when he was acquainted with Shion’s mother, who was interested in the article that Rikiga was working on at the time. Now though, Rikiga is involved with some shady business where he is ‘recommending’ women to No. 6 officials. Nezumi sums up Rikiga’s situation pretty well: “Ah, so you’ve forgotten about what you’d intended to do in the first place and spiraled into ruin.”

They don’t learn much more and Shion, fed up by Rikiga casually talking about his dirty business, even attacks Rikiga, but is dragged away from him by Nezumi before he causes any serious harm. It’s hard to say where Rikiga stands concerning  No. 6, but it seems that there may be people associated to him and Shion’s mother who know more to these mysteries. Just before they leave Nezumi recognizes a man in one of Rikiga’s photos although it isn’t explained who the man is or how he relates to Nezumi. The discovery only adds to the mystery of what Nezumi already knows about No. 6 that hasn’t been told to us yet.

While back in Nezumi’s home, Shion pushes for more information, wanting to know more about Nezumi, but Nezumi pushes him away with warnings that a person shouldn’t get too close to someone else. But this is a narrow minded view that I can’t agree on. In fact it sounds like Nezumi is trying to convince himself of these precepts that he’s lived by up until now. Despite what he has said in this episode, he has done the exact opposite time and time again.

First, he told Shion to forget about his mother, but he is the one who initializes contact with her.  Next, he told Shion that no one would protect him, but what does he immediately do afterward? Now Nezumi preaches about how getting tied up with others will only end badly, but this is what Nezumi has already set out on. Why save Shion in the first place? The excuse he uses is that he was merely paying him back for what happened in the past, but anyone can see through his facade.

Later, Shion is set to work by Inukashi, probably in payment for the information that was provided about Rikiga. For whatever reason Nezumi decides to insult Inukashi’s mother and this leads to Inukashi trying to ambush Nezumi in the night while he’s alone.

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“You’re already no longer who you used to be.”

Even Inukashi has picked up on the changes going on with Nezumi, who has begun to let his guard down and who is allowing his emotions to show through when he’s around Shion. Nezumi manages to pin Inukashi down at knife point, but before the situation escalates any further, Shion shows up which allows Inukashi to break free and retreat with his dogs.

One thing I wonder is how in the world could Shion not have seen all of those dogs or Inukashi as he made his way over to Nezumi.

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As they make their way back to Nezumi’s home Shion makes a proclamation that he will try to make a living outside of No. 6 now, but also states that he cannot forget about his mother who lives there. He can’t forget her or leave her behind, but what will he do about it?

The episode ends with Shion’s mother receiving a message from Shion:

“Mom. I’m sorry. I’m alive and well.”

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Let’s Watch One Punch Man – Episode 1

I started hearing a stir about this new anime called One Punch Man right around when I went to Anime Weekend Atlanta.  While there, I witnessed a few trailers that looked not only made the anime look interesting, but impressive as well. Recently my friend has also been telling me good things about the anime, so I finally got around to taking a look myself.

I have to say that so far this has been one of my favorite viewing experiences in a while and it’s just getting started. Let’s begin with episode 1:

Episode 1 – The Strongest Man

To start things off, we’re in a modern world where super heroes and super villains are a thing. There is even something called the Heroes Association. Currently, a powerful villain is terrorizing the city and causing serious destruction, but don’t worry, there are super heroes on the way to save the day, like Smile Man and Lightning Max. Yes, I can already tell that this anime doesn’t take itself too seriously, but I can’t wait to see what happens next. Things aren’t looking good for the city as the Heroes Associate scrambles to rise against the threat.

Enter our hero, who arrives on the scene in spectacular form:

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“Just a guy who’s a hero for fun.”

The monstrous villain goes into a rant of rage, appalled that such a person should challenge him, who is the epitome of furious destructive power. And what does this so called hero do in response? A single punch that utterly destroys the super monstrosity, yet the hero doesn’t seem very pleased.

The scenarios and situations hilariously poke fun at super hero stories and tropes and so far it’s genius. While somehow managing to raise the tension with epic fight scenes, One Punch Man also throws such comedic twists in that I can’t help but laugh out loud as I watched this.

So the story is that Saitama decided to become a hero three years ago and somehow became this overpowered superhero that he is today.

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Saitama three years ago

Apparently the training he underwent was so difficult and arduous that it made him go bald and become the most plain looking guy on the planet. After achieving his dream of becoming a hero, Saitama finds himself in a lackluster state–because all it takes to defeat his enemies now is just one punch.

He reflects on himself:

“There’s no sign that the evils of the world are disappearing. It’s still the same as before I became a hero. In other words, you could say that I haven’t made a difference. I’m not necessarily sad about that. But something’s been bothering me lately.”

“As the days pass, my emotions grow more distant. Fear, tension, joy, anger.. I don’t feel any of them anymore. In exchange for power, have I maybe given up something essential to being human?”

With such thoughts brooding in his head, he goes to sleep. Suddenly he is awoken by an attack on himself and his home. The enemies are strong and fierce which takes Saitama by surprise. As he realizes his enemies are the real deal we see a bit of his old self come through as a light fires in his eyes.

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“This rush! This tension! It’s been so long, I’d forgotten… the exhilaration of a real fight!” The excitement and thrill of a real challenge is just what he needs.

Unfortunately he can’t sleep forever…

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…and has to wake up as the strongest man, where one punch is all it takes to defeat his enemies.

Let’s Play Life Is Strange Episode 5: Polarized (continued)

Join me as I play the conclusion to Life Is Strange. It has indeed been a strange journey. I’m a sensitive guy, so it also became hard sometimes to keep it together. As far as the ending goes, I think it could have ended better.  Throughout the game there were times where I thought that the writing  needed a little help, but overall I enjoyed this game and had a lot of fun playing it. I would definitely recommend playing Life Is Strange and experiencing it for yourself.

Let’s Watch No. 6 – Episode 3

So far we’ve seen a little of what it’s like to be a citizen of No. 6. What’s disturbing is how much control the government seems to have over its citizens. It’s already been shown how dissent can lead to a person being immediately arrested without a trial. Now Shion, possibly framed to hide the truth behind the mysterious wasp incidents, has escaped No. 6 with the help of Nezumi. What will happen next?

Episode 3

After discovering the squalid life of those outside the city boundaries, Shion takes up abode with Nezumi. He hasn’t been told much yet and I assume that Nezumi knows quite a bit more about the goings on of No. 6 and its government. While Shion takes a bath we glimpse a disturbing sign that he may be afflicted by the same mysterious parasite that killed his co-worker.

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Afterwards, Shion approaches Nezumi wanting to get into contact with his mother. He’s told to just leave it alone and forget about her, because such ties only put him in danger. Nezumi also reveals that not only has he been using his rat robot to keep an eye Shion, but also to try to find out the secrets of No. 6–a weak point for him to exploit. Shion then asks whether Nezumi has heard anything about the wasps, but the two are interrupted when Nezumi notices something strange and asks if Shion is alright:

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Black marks have appeared on Shion’s hands and Shion realizes what this means.

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Shion freaks out and begs Nezumi to immediately cut the thing out of his neck. Pain and suffering wrack his mind and body as the parasite seems to be in the final stages before hatching. Shion next says, “just kill me.” Nezumi however reminds Shion of his mother and Safu and what his death would mean to them as Shion struggles against the tortuous pain. Shion fights through while Nezumi operates with a scalpel, making an incision along the black festering mark and is able to remove the pupa of the wasp.

I presume that when Shion and his co-worker came into contact with the victim they found, that they too contracted the same parasite. Somehow Shion’s body has been able to fight off the parasite longer than his co-worker was able to. The after effects to Shion’s body are a sign of this.

After Shion is laid to sleep after the ordeal, the scene cuts away to Safu, who is on her way to No. 5. Safu reflects about a conversation she had with her grandmother before leaving concerning Shion. She had been feeling depressed, but her grandmother comforts her reassuring her that two years isn’t such a long time to wait to see him again.

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There’s something strangely disconcerting about the Twilight House. Apparently this facility acts like a retirement home or nursing home, but I can’t trust it.

Shion later wakes up and quickly discovers the changes in his appearance in a mirror and is frightened by what he sees. His hair has turned stark white and a strange pinkish mark runs along his body from head to toe. In denial, Shion collapses to the floor and holds himself. Nezumi harshly comforts Shion, trying to make Shion see that his life is important. Shion is able to calm down and they later discuss the pupa which was removed from Shion’s neck. This conversation leads to Nezumi’s disclosure of his views on No. 6:

Nezumi: “Let me tell you something about that city: It won’t accept anyone who doesn’t comply with complete obedience. That’s what happened with you, right? It won’t allow any foreign substance: those who disobey, or say something contrary to its philosophy. The city was established with that intention.”

Nezumi also concludes that Shion must have felt the deception somewhere in his heart, for Shion to help Nezumi, an escaped prisone, and to openly suspect the government of manipulating data. Nezumi thinks that these wasps are also a control by those in power to get rid of any “foreign substance” in their city.

No. 6 is merely a fabrication, a lie held over the people living there. When we see what life is like beyond its wall it becomes much clearer.

Nezumi: “An entire people that never doubt the information given them. An ignorant, arrogant, blessed people.”

Shion wants to seek the truth about the world and to understand the reasons behind everything.

I can’t understand Nezumi’s complete condemnation of No. 6, because its obviously only those in control of the city who are at fault. Yet Nezum is excited to see what happens when all of these parasitic wasps hatch. I know his hatred for No. 6 runs deep, but that hatred is misguided a bit. Why include the innocents? Why isn’t there more of a distinction for him? I would want to only overthrow the government, to free the people from its binds.

Nezumi takes Shion to a hotel run by an acquaintance, Inukashi (Dogloan) who has a message from Shion’s mother. Despite what Nezumi had said earlier about Shion needing to forget about his mother, he obviously was the one to get into contact with her. Shion thanks him, but Nezumi makes a declaration:

“If upon finding out the truth… you still intend to protect No. 6… When that time comes… You will also become my enemy.”

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Does Nezumi know the truth? He seems to know something more to No. 6, but he hasn’t revealed this information. We’ll just have to see what happens next.

Let’s Play Life Is Strange Episode 5: Polarized

I don’t know what I was doing the other day, but I suddenly realized that the final episode for Life Is Strange must have come out and proceeded to start playing. For now I’ll have to put a pause to my videos playing episode one and work on these instead.

I am prepared for an emotional ride. Come join me.

More to come!

Escaping from reality – A look at Paranoia Agent

When life gets hard and the world seems to be crumbling around you, sometimes you want to give in a little. Maybe it’ll be easier not to fight back and run away instead. No. You must step over the crags and move past the debris through the adversity and pain, and you will find the path. It is difficult, but it is there and you must take it, because you can hold the world together in your stride.

Hello again and welcome, this time I’ll be taking a look at one of my favorite anime, Paranoia Agent. The director Satoshi Kon brings us a world terrifyingly familiar to us with a style that leaves deep scars on our psyche. Despite the realistic approach of how he depicts the world, there are times when the psychedelic and fantastic weave their way in, entrancing us all the while.

Paranoia Agent is a psychological thriller with deep messages about society as individuals and as a whole. The story starts off with a character designer, Tsukiko Sagi, being pressured to come up with the next big hit after having created a famous and widely popular  character called Maromi, a pink “kawaii” looking dog. On her way home from work she is attacked in the night by a boy on roller skates wielding a bat. The aftermath of this attack relieves her from the expectations that were being forced onto her. She is suspected of having fabricated her story of the boy by one of the investigators, but soon more incidents begin to occur.

We can feel this way in our own lives–the pressure to succeed or the pressures of society pushing against us, and then we too almost wish for something, anything to happen to put an end to our fears we place on ourselves. Whether it’s work, family, or religion, it doesn’t matter what causes these sensations within us, but there are times when our obligations become burdens that weigh us down. The stress of living to the expectations of others, or the fear of not knowing where your life is heading, or even the monotony of everyday life–it becomes our demon to face, but we must face it, challenge it, and conquer it in order to live free.

Continuing with Paranoia Agent, the story goes on with reports of a person that people are calling “Lil’ Slugger,” or “Shonen Bat(Bat Boy),” who is attacking people. At first these attacks seem to be random violence, but the victims all share something in common, and that is that each them had problems in their lives that they wanted to escape from. The line between reality and fantasy starts to blur as the situation escalates. What we eventually realize is that Shonen Bat has been transposed into the world through the people wanting to escape. They need Shonen Bat, because they can’t face there problems.

At the time I watched Paranoia Agent, I was reading a book I lent out from the library, Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture which talked about Takashi Murakami’s and other’s theories on post-war Japanese culture. The book analyzes anime, manga, and kawaii culture and tries to explain the reasons why such a culture has come to be. The book claims that it is a culture that has grown out of an atomically devastated Japan; through its dependence on the United States; and escaping reality through consumer culture. The book’s title, Little Boy, refers to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, one of the most traumatic and events in history. Within the book we have the idea that the modern Japanese culture has been born out of this post-war trauma.

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It seemed to be perfect at the time for me to be reading this and then happen upon Paranoia Agent, where I was immediately in the opening greeted by the image of the atomic bomb’s mushroom cloud. Eventually, when the truth of Shonen Bat is revealed, we see that he was just another expression born out of the same mold as Maromi. The ideas which breeds this kind of escapism allows people to shy away from reality by watching their favorite shows such as the Maromi anime and forget their troubles.

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People stop facing their problems and instead use these fantasy worlds to feel better about themselves. They fervently buy the merchandise and sink into the fantasy further while forgetting that it is a fantasy world that they are investing in. Maromi has become the representation of a false solution–a way to escape a from reality that is harsh or hard. It sounds all too familiar.

What we mustn’t forget is that the real world is waiting for us whether we like it or not.