Thirteen years later we finally know

Too late we get the establishment acknowledgment of what we knew already. There was a reason that two million marched in London against the war, millions more worldwide to try and stop it. We knew it was pointless and would only lead to more misery, that the reasons for it were lies, that it couldn’t stop, wouldn’t stop terrorism and –surprise surprise– it didn’t.

London antiwar protesters. From Wikipedia

When we marched we were told we were fools at best, naive idiots, complicit in Saddam’s crimes. The low end estimate of the excess deaths caused by the War on Iraq is in the neighbourhood of 1-1.5 million; considering what happened after the war and occupation ended, that is probably far too low. How much better would Iraq and the world be off right now had the sensible people not listened to and enabled the warmongering duo of Bush and Blair?

I blame Heinlein

It’s a day that ends in a “y”, so Sarah Hoydt must’ve said something stupid again. Yup:

The main reason I like first person singular is that for a moment it tricks you into that space behind the eyes of another person, relieving the loneliness of that narrative voice that can only ever describe your own life.

This is a universal and enduring quality. I’ve had teachers tell me — and to an extent they’re right — that first person is “less believable” because you KNOW you haven’t done those things.

Who believes that? Seriously, who believes that? Nobody, that’s who. First person singular is how you tell what you did this weekend to your cow-orkers around the water cooler on Monday. Nobody would confuse that with what they did that weekend. But that’s not the annoying thing about this quote. Rather, the tone of voice is what grates. I blame Heinlein for this. He was a master of selling total bullshit with a straight face, sounding authoritative even when it was clear he was talking out of his hat. But filter it through 3-4 generations of right wing imitators and it becomes what you see here: all the bullshit, none of the authority.

That Kuma Miko ending

Kuma Miki: no thinking needed for girls

Kuma Miko was billed as a light hearted, cute comedy about Machi, a middle school priestess of a tiny little village out in the sticks and Natsu, her bear guardian/god of the temple she leads, as she wanted to start high school in the big city and he was doubtful about whether she was up to it. From the start there were hints of something nasty lurking in the show’s background: Machi was less of a protagonist and more of an object of suffering as Natsu sets her challenges while her uncle Yoshio ropes her into his schemes to revitalise the village. In the process what looked first like a typical anime foible turned into something more serious as it becomes clear Machi suffers from some sort of social anxiety disorder, not being able to cope well with anybody from outside her tiny and aged village. It all felt mean spirited as none of the adults in the series seemed to either take Machi or her obvious issues serious.

Kuma Miki: no thinking needed for girls again

It all came to a head in the series final. Episode eleven saw Machi entered into a local idol competition in Sendai, freak out and run away. You’d expect that the final episode would feature some sort of resolution, as everybody comes together and give Machi the strength to overcome her fears. Not the most original of endings perhaps, but it would’ve been decent enough. Instead we got Machi fleeing back home after she made her comeback to the stage and everybody delighted she did so. Ibless, among others, thinks this was a deliberate sendup on the part of the anime team:

from whatever motivation, the anime staff decided to manifest a certain perceived subtext within the original manga and highlight it through the show in a subtly deconstructive way designed to examine the disturbing implications of the source material’s setting.

I’m not so sure. It might’ve been deliberate satire, a rejection of the conservative and somewhat vile subtext in the original manga, but I never quite got the impression the animators disapproved of this subtext, unlike frex this Twitterer. Rather, it comes over a cackhanded attempt to craft an original ending to the series that re-established the status quo in the spirit of the manga. And even had it been intended to mock, Poe’s Law comes into effect, as clearly a lot of people including me did take it at face value rather than as satire. Moreso because its ideology isn’t that far removed from other anime series, just more open. That idea that community is more important than your own personal wishes, that girls especially are just happier and better off staying home, that’s not that far from the surface of other slice of life series. It’s just that Kuma Miko is especially nasty about it.

Not that I actually disagree with any of this



It takes a ten minute video for professional John Lennon crossed with Sasquatch impersonator/Youtube anime critic Digibro to grope towards the same idea as Damon Knight managed to express in one simple sentence: “science fiction is what we point to when we say it”. In other words, that on a certain level the quality of a given anime is determined by the sum of opinions about said anime and that as opinions shift, the critical consensus about this anime will also shift. Not the most stunning of insights, but anime criticsm is indeed roughly on a par with science fiction criticism fifty years ago.

Farewell Flying Witch

Flying Witch: flying for once

Flying Witch went out on a double bill last weekend, having kept up its high quality throughout its run. This was a show that if I had my way, would’ve run forever, the perfect way to start a lazy Sunday morning. Especially since one of my favourite gags from the manga hasn’t been used in the anime yet. It’s been funny, it’s been relaxing, a real balm to start the week with, as engaging in its everyday life scenes as in its more supernatural aspects.

Flying Witch: flying for once

What I especially like about Flying Witch is the sense of family it has. You can see that five out of the six people in that screenshot above are related. Akane (extreme right) and her aunt (extreme left) have the same sticky out bits of hair, while they and the titular flying witch, Makoto, share a *ahem* similar build. Kei too, to the right of his mother, shares her hair style, while Chinatsu looks more like Makoto again. When they’re in motion these similarities are even greater and it helps set the series apart. Their interactions which each other too are natural in a way that you don’t see often in anime. Chinatsu is the most believable little sister/niece character I’ve seen in a long time in how she acts around her brother Kei and her two cousins Makoto and Akane. I hope we get a second season, or at least an OVA of it.