Category Archives: Anime

Thinking of making some new AMVs, here’s one I haven’t shared here

Although I’m very lacking in video editing skills, I definitely enjoy the process of making these videos. The plan is to start working on one that I had in mind before. I don’t have much experience at all and jumped into trying to make these videos with inspiration from amazing AMVs that I enjoy. I’m impressed with how much of a message can come across through an AMV. There are more than one anime I watched because I had seen an AMV of it first.

It has been some time since I’ve been around on here, and hopefully that will change as well. I’ve been sort of losing myself under other things going on in my life, but now I’m trying to regain a bit of that.

Anyway here was my attempt at a sentimental AMV: A New Light Will Guide You

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Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re: ZERO -Starting Life In Another World –

I’ve been fairly distant from anime for some time, but it’s not as though my interests have changed in any drastic way. This behavior of mine actually follows my usual patterns all a little too well. I’ll become overly obsessed and absorbed into something and then burn out on it. This applies to most things in my life. Who knows when I will have those interest rekindle. Oh well, now is the time for anime again I suppose.

This anime is one I remember hearing about from a colleague at work and decided to give it go. I was interested in watching it at the time and never got around to it, so it’s been sitting in the back of my mind for awhile. Since there are just too many anime out there to worry about I’ll just have to choose by instinct what I want to actually sink my time into. That’s how I’ll approach anime for now.

As far as the story goes, after both seasons are complete there is still much unexplained. This isn’t a bad thing though! I was certainly satisfied with the stopping point at the end of season two. What I mean is that there is plenty of room for the story to grow, and that is most definitely a good thing. I’m much more used to a series hitting a stopping point and, well it could end right there, yet it develops another season and a new story picks up out of nowhere. With Re:ZERO there are obvious developments that haven’t played out yet, so the anticipation for a continuation is all the more palpable.

So what is this anime about? Well, basically a guy we know little or nothing about, Subaru, is dropped into a fantastic world out of the blue.

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Being someone who is familiar with light novels, anime, and typical story tropes, he isn’t fazed by the situation at all and begins acclimating himself rather quickly to the new world around him. Bungling along, he is helped by a half elf girl who wields magic and has a strange fuzzy companion. She seeks something that was stolen from her and Subaru wishes to help in order to repay her for helping him. So, they spend the day together trying to track down the thief and just when they seem close to meeting with this thief in person… everything goes awry. The place they come to in the night is dark and quiet and Subaru investigates alone. He peers into the room with a lantern and sees a myriad of objects: weapons, a suit of armor, chests, and boxes, but no one is around. He steps into something soft and wet, and when he looks, a horrid realization seizes him as he looks upon a severed arm lying on the floor, further away lies a mutilated corpse. Intense fear grips him and a voice calls out of the darkness. In the next instant he lies in a pool of his own blood. The half elf girl, who had stayed outside comes now looking for him, but she soon joins him on floor. He grips her hand in his own as his life flies away and promises that he’ll save her–and then he’s standing there, there back in town, back before so much began. Somehow he’s been sent back in time.

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More is learned about this strange phenomenon, or power later on, but this is one of the key features of the story. When Subaru dies, he goes back in time. Like a video game, as he progresses through the events surrounding him, the point to which he returns changes like a save point. Or at least this is how he seems to describe this ability. If he dies, he has failed, but he gets to try again. He must find a way to not only live, but succeed in protecting those important to him. By doing that he can escape the cycle of death.

My impressions concerning Subaru’s character took a downward spiral as the series progressed. His motivations and his personality became questionable, but we were just finally learning what kind of person he was before this story began. Yet he is able to change; he is able to grow. I don’t know if I’ve come this close to hating a character and than having that sentiment turn around on me like this before. Please don’t stop watching if you find yourself loathing Subaru! You’ll know what I’m talking about when you get there.

Subaru is a true imperfect hero who must change and grow. What ended up impressing me most about him was his capacity to forgive. It doesn’t become much of a focus of the series or anything, but simply a part of who he is. Because of his ability to return back in time upon death, Subaru sees many different sides of people depending on how the events play out. Sometimes such people might treat him coldly or in unimaginable ways. Yet you can tell he holds no malice for them. It makes me wonder if I could do the same if I were in his place. I hope I could anyway. So yes, the characters are well done and actually show growth, which is something of a boon in the series I watch lately.

Another satisfying element to this anime were the fight scenes. The were choreographed well and tense. Some anime I’ve watched hype up their fights only end up giving you the dull and predictable. Unfortunately that included some anime that had fighting as one it’s main features. It’s nice to see something more original for a change.

Overall I was very pleased and hope that the anime adaption continues.

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 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.

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.

 

Let’s Watch No. 6 (Episode 2)

Episode 2

Around four years have passed and I find that Shion has been relegated to a menial job managing parks for the city. He no longer lives in Chronos, where the more elite of society live, but now lives in Lost Town, a more middle class part of the city. We find out that this is all because of his involvement in aiding Nezumi in his escape.

While Shion is working, the park robots that he and his partner are monitoring discover something, a person. When Shion and his partner arrive on the scene they get a closer look:

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A strange festering black mark on the neck is the only clue to mysterious death of this individual. The scene cuts away to the opening and we assume that the case is handled as expected.

Later Shion meets with his friend Safu and afterwards it becomes clear that Shion is still not able to fully understand his own feelings toward the path given to him in life and his place in the world. He no longer aspires to the prestige of those chosen for the Special Course, but at the same time he wonders what he is trying to accomplish in life now. Safu sees that he no longer has any attachment to his former aspirations. Safu has continued on with the Special Course and has passed a selection test to study abroad in No. 5. She then asks if Shion is jealous.

Safu: “You’re jealous, aren’t you?”

Shion: “Sure am!”

Safu: “Liar. My specialty is brain function, behavior modification, and hormonal relations. If you were jealous of me, spending time with me like this should cause you anxiety. If you were feeling anxious, you would be excreting a type of corticosteroid from your adrenal glands… ”

Shion: “I get it, Safu […]”

Safu: “You weren’t feeling the least bit of anxiety; you aren’t jealous of me at all. If you were, you wouldn’t be able to smile like that. […] It must be because we are looking forward to different futures. Shion! Just what are you thinking? What is it that you wish to accomplish?”

Shion: “My wish…I wonder…”

Just as the night’s winding down, Safu comes right out and says it:

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Not quite as blunt as the picture, it’s still out of the blue and Safu, with her overly scientific disposition (which reminds me of Leonard’s mother in The Big Bang Theory), makes it even more awkward of a request than it already is. It makes me wonder if everyone has this disassociation toward love or if this is only specific to her.

Shion turns her down, but asks that after her two years of study abroad that she asks him again. Safu brightens up and is about to head off home when Shion and Safu are interrupted by a rat.

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The rat crawls up Shion and speaks! Shion immediately realizes that it is Nezumi controlling this robotic rat and runs after it as it scurries away. The rat however gets away and Shion returns home.

The next day, upon arriving at work, Shion talks to his work partner about the mysterious death the other day. Apparently the death has been reported as nothing but an accident, which Shion severely doubts. He asks his partner if the authorities are manipulating the news and his partner quickly scolds Shion for voicing such thoughts, reminding him that they are ‘loyal citizens.’ It seems that openly criticizing the government is a punishable offense and adds to my view of how this government operates.

Suddenly his partner becomes old and withered before Shion’s eyes. Once again a black mark has appeared on the victim’s neck, but this time something else happens.

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A wasp comes out from the blackened skin. Somehow this wasp must act like a parasite, feeding off of the host. When the wasp is ready to hatch it seems that is when the host dies. The Security Bureau members arrive on the scene and after reviewing Shion’s past, apprehend Shion, who was found unconscious at the site. Shion isn’t explained why he is being apprehended. While be transported, Shion realizes they aren’t going to the Security Bureau and asks what’s going on. A recording of what he said earlier to his partner concerning his suspicions of the authorities manipulating the news of the mysterious death is played back to him. Instead of the Security Bureau, they are taking him to the Correctional Facility under suspicion of discontent. I see that people under subconscious can basically be put under arrest without trial. Unable to do anything to struggle, Shion settles down resignedly.

The car they are riding in comes to a stop on a bridge, where a park robot block the path. When one of the guards goes to check it out, Nezumi launches his ambush and effectively subdues the entire team and steals the car. Shion and Nezumi don’t get far though, since the security members have a mean of remotely controlling the car. They abandon the car and escape by having the rat robot take Shion’s ID bracelet (being used to track him) and lead the chase away from them.

In the end, they must escape through what looks like a water filtration plant, whichtakes them outside of No. 6 where reality awaits.

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No. 6 reminds me of Jagura’s city in Wolf’s Rain, a first world city that is ignorant of the problems around it and life others face outside of its walls.

Let’s Watch – No. 6 (Episode 1)

Hello. This time I’m going to be doing something different for me, which is, I’m going to be posting my summary, thoughts, and experiences while watching an anime.

Characters

Shion – One of the main characters of No. 6, the anime starts with him celebrating his twelfth birthday. As a child with a very high IQ, through various exams and assessment tests, he has been chosen for a Special Course for the elite.

Nezumi – An escaped prisoner of the Correctional Facility, Nezumi finds his way to the Chronos district, where Shion lives.

Safu – She has been Shion’s friend for apparently a long time and his in the same class as him.

Impressions

I’m behind on what I’ve wanted to watch over the years, so I decided to give No. 6 a try. That’s not to say that I’m not watching other anime, but this will be what I’ll focus on right now. As far as how the future is depicted in No. 6–it gave me similar vibes to Psycho Pass, where people are accessed and placed into society accordingly. Unlike the society seen in Psycho Pass however, the government is much more authoritative almost on a disturbing level. Moving ahead a bit, upon arriving at work, Shion must recite an oath, “I swear my loyalty to an unchanging city.” To be a part of a citizenship that requires this kind of servitude is scary to say the least. An unchanging city? Should not a society change according to the technological advances and cultural shifts that define how people live? Change is an inevitability that must be accepted. People cannot bind themselves forever with such oaths as this and stay stagnant or unmoved, rather people must move forward with new ideas and learn to let go of foolish traditions.

Before I go on rant … here we go.

Episode 1

Things start off with Nezumi running through the sewers, being pursued and shot at. The scene cuts away to Shion, who is daydreaming in class, while Safu, his friend, his giving an advanced presentation on the brain and its functions. Shion, like the others in the class, are gifted children who have been selected and placed here to learn by their advanced assessment. The daydream occupying Shion has him imagining himself floating amid the vast space of sky as the wind of a coming storm sweeps him away.

After school, Shion and Safu head over to Safu’s grandmother’s house to celebrate Shion’s birthday. On the way, we get a glimpse of what the city is like, which is has a few technological nuances to what modern cities have now. We also learn that a typhoon will be heading through the city.

After the birthday celebration, it’s strange to see how Shion reacts when Safu kisses him on the cheek before he leaves, because he doesn’t seem to understand where such affection comes from at all. Even Safu’s explanation for why she kissed him is given scientifically, which makes it almost seem like imitation rather than expression. It makes me think that they really aren’t normal at all. As the wind and rain continue to pick up, the structure people are calling the Moondrop begins to ‘cry,’ which has something to do with the storm.

At home now, as if to confront the facade of what this society is, Shion shouts out at the storm unable to truly understand why he does it. He is being led down a predetermined path, controlled by a society who punishes anyone who does not conform to its views.

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This darker side to the apparently peaceful and prosperous city is represented by the appearance of Nezumi, an escaping prisoner of the so called Correctional Facility. From the first moments in episode one  I can clearly think that something is wrong with this society, as I watched Nezumi, who looks to be the same age as Shion, being hunted down by people with guns. A little excessive right? Although there are times when it is hard to tell how to treat youth when making judgments on morality, I can say that such a heavy punishment as death does not belong in any society I would wish to live in. Clearly there is something wrong here.

So, Nezumi breaks in Shion’s room and the two meet for the first time.

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Rather than becoming uneasy or afraid, Shion wants to help him and seeing the injury on Nezumi’s arm asks to help treat the wound. Even Shion is unable to come up with the reason why he decided to help Nezumi, but I think like his yelling, Shion is finding an outlet to disobey the system set out before him. The unnatural way in which his life has been bound acts contrary to his deep down subconscious and  Shion wants to rebel in some way without being fully aware of it. The situation calms down after Shion convinces his mother over a communication channel to be left alone for the night.

When Nezumi asks Shion if he knows how No. 6 came to be, Shion answers, “The Babylon Treaty. In the previous war, a race that lost the greater half of its inhabitable land outlawed all armaments, and created a city state to govern the remaining six areas. And No. 6 is one of those areas.” This explanation by Shion is given laugh by Nezumi, but nothing to show why. In the end I assume that this information was likely fed to Shion hiding the true origin story of these six areas denoted by number.

In the end Nezumi briefly stays there and leaves before Shion wakes up and the episode ends with someone from the Saftey Bureau showing up to the house .

Some additional thoughts

It’s interesting to see how No. 6 divides out its class and how people live in these classes by comparison. Shion, with his high IQ and high assessment, is allowed to live in Chronos, what seems to be the nicest and extravagant living quarters of the city. But as we’ll later see, this can all be taken away by a government that is in complete control of its citizens.

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A picture of Chronos

Immortal Life – Gift or Curse?

To be immortal is to live forever and maybe that would be a good thing, except than you would have to live beyond the lives of those around you, including those you hold most dear.

Hello again and welcome to the continuation of my Immortal Life series. This time I’ll be writing about those who have to live with their immortality and who at one time or another fall to despondency over their own existence.

What is an unnaturally long life like? How do they perceive the world around them? And how do those living such long lives cope with their existence?

I’ve always had a fascination regarding what an immortal life might be like. What comes to mind is, that if you were immortal or had the capability to live beyond a normal lifespan, inevitably you would outlive those around you: your friends, your family, and everyone. If that weren’t enough, you would also be living through even more technological changes and advances than what a usual lifespan will go through. It’s hard to imagine what that would be like. I mean, I struggle sometimes to realize how much has already changed within my own short life, but to imagine someone living through different era’s of history… is another beast altogether.

Much like how there are people who can’t adapt to the changes of technology in their lifetimes, I wonder if an immortal would face similar challenges. Is the mind forever molded from the age it reached maturity, or can the mind continue to change grow perpetually accepting new age after new age?

But my thoughts are wandering a bit off track. What I want to focus on here are the problems that  immortals have with coping with their unnatural existence.

Trigun

I’ll be leaving Hohenheim alone for now since he’s been a recent subject, but I’ll come back to him a little later. Right now let’s see about the legendary outlaw, Vash the Stampede from Trigun. To start off he’s not immortal, but he does live far longer than a human does. Vash is in fact not human at all, but a being refered to as a ‘plant,’ being who are used as black boxes of technology. Despite his cheerful and silly bravado, Vash carries with him the history of the world which humanity has crash landed upon. Vash lived before this eventful crash and continues to live among the people who have managed to survive on this planet, but his fate is tied to another, his brother, who causes destruction and death in stark contrast to Vash’s hope for love and peace. The responsibilities Vash carries allow him to overcome the growing fears of and within himself.

How does this come about? As Vash comes to realizations concerning what kinds of powers he is capable of and how those powers can be used as a means to create terrible destruction, he grows afraid of that power inherent in himself, but as Vash struggles against his brother and continues to uphold the principles that he regards with high respect, Vash begins to accept that power within himself as being yet another part of him. Out of all characters of fiction, Vash is a very strong contender for the number one for me. He lives by principles of which I think anyone should strive to uphold in their own lives. The path he takes is not easy, but it is worth it because of that.

As I said, Vash, along with his power, carries with him a self imposed responsibility for the lives of the people on the planet.

Here are some thoughts from some characters during the manga:

Luida: “However many year pass, he sees so many people’s faces… as they live and die on this planet.”

Wolfwood: “Is this his attempt at absolution? Is that what this is?”

Luida: “That’s a foolish question. You’d know it just by looking at the scars on his body. If his scars were erased, thatwould be using his true immortality.”

Later…

Wolfwood:Amazing don’t you think?”

Luida: “Yes, indeed. He knows the name and face of everyone who lives here.”

Wolfwood: “What an idiot.”

Luida: “Seriously. To live a long life… or to die a difficult death… He does nothing but nice things. In the months and years he’s on this planet, he comes into contact with many people… On this planet, his friends die, his acquaintances are murdered, and some friends even point a gun in his direction… He continues to wander through his own hell.”

Wolfwood: (“…is he …smiling? Spinning ’round and ’round… teetering dizzily… all alone… rescuing so many… his scars and his troubles multiply.. A true gun-man… who only looks on the bright side of life? Right? Vash the Stampede?”)

Fullmetal Alchemist

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Well you saw it coming,  it’s Hohenheim’s turn, so let’s get to it!

Originally the slave to an alchemist of the king of Xerxes, Hohenheim’s destiny changes after being chosen to give blood in an alchemical experiments which in turn create ‘Homuculus.’ Later, through the design of Homunculus, both he and Hohenheim essentially become living philosopher’s stones, created from the 1,072,658 lives inhabiting the nation of Xerxes. From the moment which Hohenheim obtained this unwanted immortality, he is given power, sadness, and, what may have kept him going, responsibility.

Shortly after this horrific event, Hohenheim begins to seek out those who reside within himself, knowing what path he must take against ‘the Little One in the Flask, Homunculus.’ He both begs their forgiveness and hopes for their help. In time he has the chance to speak with all of 536,329 souls , who support him in this path.

Hohenheim is able to move on toward the future, but at times during his life he suffers against his existence. The most poignant visions of his suffering are the nightmarish images that paint himself as a monster.

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It is the nonhuman nature of his existence which drives at his sanity and self-loathing. What I mean is, Hohenheim remains the same in his appearance despite the number of years which go by, but those around him age and eventually die which make him feel inhuman. As Hohenheim compares himself in this way to others, the reality of his existence haunts him, yet he is able to find happiness and a purpose through both the love of others, and through the will of the souls he is attached to. Eventually during his journeys across the land, Hohenheim finds love in the village of Risembool and begins a family, a wish he once shared long ago while he still lived in Xerxes.

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It may be that the genuine affections of this struggling man were able to finally give him back his belief in his own humanity.

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Hohenheim: “I’ve witnessed many deaths since gaining this body. But I was able to suppress the sadness by telling myself that death is just a speck in the grand scheme of things. Whenever I’d witness something beautiful or wondrous, I’d accept this body, thinking it’d give me time to see them all… That’s how it’s always been for me. Until I met you and had kids, Trisha.”

“I never age, but I’m watching my kids age and grow like trees… I’m terrified all of a sudden. It reminds me that I truly am a monster.”

Trisha: “You know… someday, I’ll turn into a wrinkled old woman who looks like a monster. But no matter how I end up looking, I’ll always be happy to take a picture with the family where everyone is smiling. So please.. stay with your family. Don’t distance yourself from us and leave us alone. Don’t hurt yourself by saying you’re a monster.”

Hohenheim: (“I was planning to accept this body and continue living like this. But I’ve changed my mind. I want to age and die with Trisha and the kids.”)

Some Conclusions

The life of an immortal among mortals can be a life of loneliness and despair. Yet, among such a life there is the greater possibility of love and acceptance. Even someone as disconnected from the natural flow of humanity may find their place and purpose in life and it keeps them strong to face the isolation of immortality. Fight against the darkness in your heart and find the answer.

As Vash would say, “This world is made of LOVE and PEACE!”

Immortal Life – The God/Goddess Figure

When considering immortals or long lived beings, it shows that sometimes they carry with them other unnatural powers that together with their longevity, give an existence which forms the basis for their own mythology. To say it another way, the immortal may become the fabric for the tales and myths of the future because of the powers and influence they have used in past. Yet, the immortal lives on among those myths and tales. They have a unique perspective on the truth of those myths and they continue to influence the events of the world around them.

Sometimes the influence of their power leaves an impression where the individual is revered as a godly figure.

Fullmetal Alchemist

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Hohenheim from Fullmetal Alchemist is an example of this phenomena.

From the context of the story, the nation Xerxes, where Hohenheim becomes ‘immortal,’ resembles the Western civilization of Rome. It seems to be powerful, influential, and advanced beyond the other civilizations of the time. The fact that later alchemists and alkahests attribute Xerxes as the root of their development gives further credit to this idea.

After Hohenheim becomes the last survivor of his nation, he travels the land and lays the foundations for both alchemy and alkahestry. Since Xerxes was the fount of knowledge at the time, Hohenheim is likely the last person who knows how to use alchemy and because of this the teachings he spreads are influential in the development of the Eastern and Western civilizations.

Edward: “Xerxes, huh… I remember reading about it in the tale about the Sage of the East.

Fu: “Sage of the East?”

Edward: “Yeah, a fairy tale about the alchemist who introduced alchemy to our country. It’s a legend aobut the sole survivor of the Xerxes Kingdom, which was destroyed in one night, and how he arrived in Amestris, just recently founded at that time, and spread alchemy throughout the country.”

Fu: “In our country, there’s a legend stating he arrived from the west. Alkahestry as we know it today is a combination of the skills he brought us and Xing’s technology. […] We refer to him with respect, as the “Sage of the West.”

Spice and Wolf

Another character in anime, Holo, while not holding influence over the technological advancement of her world, did develop an influence common for her era, the harvest goddess.

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Although she is not necessarily immortal, Holo does have a much longer lifespan than the humans around her. Originally Holo comes from somewhere in the north called Yoitsu, and winds up in the village of Pasloe, where she acts as the Harvest goddess, ensuring the livelihood of the people with her powers over the crops. Eventually she becomes nothing more than part of a legend, myth, and ritual that continues on despite losing its full meaning. With the rise of technological advancement in farming, Holo is no longer relied on as she once was and she decides to leave Pasloe in search of her long ago home.

Onimonogatari

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As it might happen, immortal beings may also simply feed into their own mythology and history by their actions. The unearthly power of the vampire known as Kiss shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade, or better known as Shinobu Oshino from the Monogatari series, at one time had people worshipping her as a goddess.

Living a solitary existence in Antarctica after nearly escaping from a strange entity, Shinobu makes an incredible leap off the continent and lands in a lake in Japan. The water from the lake becomes a rain that saves the surrounding area from a drought and the people who live there think that Shinobu is a goddess of the lake.

Conclusions

Although the longevity of these characters was not the factor which made them seen as gods or goddesses, it is the perspective that remains with them which is important to note. They have become a part of a fabled history of forgotten times. Their powers and influence were of such unbelievable make, that they live on as legends only and not as truths. It would definitely be weird to know as immortal that those ‘legendary’ events were real and that you were a part of them, yet have those same events glazed over as nothing but fable.

This manner of immortal life works fine if they were born into a time where informational technologies are far less prevalent than today, but for those of the modern era it would be more difficult to remain unknown. Modern born immortals could still become a part of urban mythology, but challenges to avoid surveillance and witnesses to the truth would be considerable.

It is interesting to think about how an immortal perceives their own history and how that effects them in the present.