I don’t understand the weird hatred that some people have for Mako. It makes no sense to me for people to be profiling Mako against ex-boyfriends who have abused them. Understandably, Mako has flaws but he has never been an abusive character, neither to Asami nor Korra. Treating Mako as a paragon of the perfect boyfriend is reducing his character. Mako is not meant to always be a perfect boyfriend; he is meant to be a perfect love. Which Mako actually succeeds in doing. Mako is a character: three dimensionally, he isn’t only supposed to be only be a love interest and that what made his and Korra’s relationship so interesting. They were both characters in their own right trying to make it work. And it succeeds and succeeds on many levels.
I think people are not addressing something that is extremely important. Korra and Mako are not “perfect” boyfriend and girlfriend. Not in the traditional sense anyway. Mako was made to mature before his adulthood so he has certain needs and styles of showing affection that is pretty non-generic. In fact, Korra, due to growing up mostly alone, is not really indoctrinated to popular social cues in the dating game herself. This allows an esoteric dialogue between them. One must not always look at a character as a reflection of themselves or what they would do. It can’t really be valid because of differing circumstances. I mean, Korra didn’t plan to kiss Mako beforehand neither did Mako plan prematurely to return her kiss in a full-fledged way. It happened for other circumstances.
The relationship had some mature circumstances thrown at it. It isn’t fully a standard teen romance and that is why Makorra shined. For example, Mako said it made “more sense” to be with Asami. This attitude clearly showed that like many people Mako thought that dating Asami would be prudent because Asami is, ironically, the “perfect girlfriend.” Asami is the person you can’t really be gut-wrenchingly honest with, if you are a person like Mako, because Asami behaved like a socialite. Mako aspires to be like her: content, confident and secure. However, you will notice that Mako easily opens up to Korra because Korra and Mako challenge each other and can easily be comfortable with each other. This may be intimidating at first to a person in Mako’s position who has faced so many hardships in life that reservation has become second skin and instinct to him at first. Then when Korra got kidnapped Mako realised what was really important was Korra and that confidence, security and contentment would easily follow if he is honest with himself.
Mako’s “crimes” against Asami are also something that young people, of all genders and sexes, accidentally do, it is not innately an evil trait that makes him inevitably a cheating low-life. Despite Book 2 I saw Makorra as a real substantial relationship that had real complex issues involved in it. That is why I loved it. Mako evaluated Korra’s actions and Korra evaluated his which is what true loves actually happen to do. You evaluate to make them better; the best they can be. Mako, as Korra, had some real true complications. Raiko cornered Mako into confessing about Korra but this was not really exacerbated by him from the get-go not finding Korra’s United Forces recruitment a prudent idea. Mako was essentially right. We know with experiences with Aang that Katara was his natural council and that he did less than wise things too out of being rather emotionally hyperactive or too invested. Katara was not always agreeing with Aang, in fact, in one of the most important journeys of Katara’s life Aang refused to join saying that she should forgive her mother’s murderer. Of course, I loved Zutara better because I think Zuko may understand Katara in some cases better but after much thought I must say that Aang was wiser here. Yes, Katara didn’t forgive the man but she couldn’t kill him either. Killing isn’t in Katara’s nature and Aang instinctively knew that. Like Mako instinctively understood that in her zeal to fix things as the avatar Korra forgets about repercussions about her actions. This was the first thing that happened in Republic City when she arrived. Korra went overboard with the Triple Threats making Lin question her tactics.
Where Aang does not engage in action and can pretty much be passive in his avatar duties (while more prudent in his interpersonal relationships) Korra is the antithesis. Katara gave advice to Aang to be more an engaged avatar while Mako gives advice to Korra to not be an overzealous one. I think both relationship types matter and both are full realised characters in their own right due to be able to do something like that. Mako and Katara are not merely cheerleaders. They have the capacity to understand and judge things via a rubric of their own values and ideas which are consistent with the avatars they know but they do think a bit more ahead at times.
In relation with Asami, she is the perfect girlfriend, as in socially she is. She does all the socially right things. But she doesn’t really know people deeply or innately enough to have a bond with them. I mean you will notice Asami is generally nice to everyone like in a way it was Mako’s reservation to everyone just opposite tandem. But she doesn’t really ask Mako much things or even Korra. Like she never does ask what Korra did when she was away all these years even when in the garden having tea and she never asks Mako in the carriage what it must have been like to be alone and fend for himself. She, just reaffirms her own feelings, says she feels safe with Mako and then later with Korra says that she would be unhappy if she didn’t come back after the last battle. Asami has this flaw but it was focused a lot more on Book 1 and by Book 4 well she isn’t really focused on much so it became a bit relegated but it’s still there.
So, Mako is not intrinsically a bad character. I think he has been give a bad hand and is always trying to play it well. I really respect a character who struggles through homelessness, poverty, bureaucracy, prejudices (due to his past criminal history), frustrations at being a good detective and not being able to play things out well and still care about people, care and empathize about the ones he loves and also work hard to become a more competent detective and person. Mako isn’t the socially perfect boyfriend: Mako is an all-around individual.
I actually posted a lot about this on Tumblr as fans are well, indignant or disappointed. Many are fans who are gay or who intensely love or ship gay pairings were offended by Bryan’s statement of “hetero-lens” due to its widespread spectrum implicit in the arena of homophobia. I, on the other hand, thought the comment was meh to me because it didn’t really feel I was in that category. This reviewer who has spent the majority of 2014 being indoctrinated into queer or even heteronormative homosexuality to the point that TPAB actually thought that all I watch is otome or queer animes is pretty much salient with the fact that I am/never was homophobic. I enjoyed some of the pairings in the otome show, saw potency in them and actually critiqued the execution of those shows.
I even wrote one of the longest reviews on this blog on critiquing and also praising Sekaiichi Hatsukoi which is a gay anime which pulled no punches. I really liked Queen’s Blade which is a lesbian anime, though a bit directed towards guys, had all the lesbianism, no holds barred, in its glory for the whole series. I loved Maria Watches Over Us which is a lesbian anime directed towards girls. I loved Cardcaptor Sakura and thought that Tomoyo loving Sakura or even Touya loving Yukito to be very well handled. I wanted Touya ending up with his teacher not because she was female but because I liked teacher-student pairings at that time but really hated the other character liking her teacher and marrying him after her high-school graduation though it was a totally heterosexual pairing. Because though it was not illegal it wasn’t to me tastefully written. I actually like Domoki liking Watanuki in xxxHolic and don’t like those other girls who fancy/like Watanuki aside Yuko Ichihara. And even that after layers of interactions and understandings comes about. One of my favourite anime, also directed towards girls is Revolutionary Girl Utena which shows Utena and Anthy as bisexual characters and mostly lesbians, full frontal, in the animated movie retelling Adolescence Apocalypse.
So, this opinion and article will articulate most of my feelings on the series and also on the pairings that survived. It will be long, span paragraphs and I decided after half-writing it I should also push this through some pages so please bear with me. Thank you if you read all throughout the way and Thank you for reading a bit. Honestly, this article took a long time to write — I was exposed to more material, got tired and procrastinated or cogitated a bit more. Yet I wanted this to be a comprehensive read of what I thought about Korra the series, the character and also Korrasami and Makorra. I will put briefly that I had higher hopes for the series but they were not met and as you will see this is more than any shipping or anything else.
It has to do with how TLA was handled and how LOK was handled: both are different shows and may deal with different things but have some core elements. It is the same way you might judge a reboot or even the different installments of the Final Fantasy series. It was mostly how LOK was writtenindependently in itself. How it was budget cut a lot by both Nick and how Bryke had many problems with Nick that eventual made this an internet only show that was also facing cancellations. So much so that Book 3 and Book 4 followed one after the other. Also, though I personally have nothing against Bryke I do think as writers and creators who were facing a lot of pressure that they did do some mistakes and mess up. Also Nick initially did not like that Korra was a girl and wanted her to be a guy because the Aang formula was pretty much potent still and in these series people for some stupid marketing reason and cultural biases want the main protagonist being a male and not female.
The TLA team was larger, had more writers and obviously many discussions amongst Bryke and those other people so many more ideas and expansions of concepts were apparently plausible and executed. Bryke originally wanted Toph and Azula to be guys and also wanted a love triangle between Katara, Aang and Toph so obviously that idea was scrapped by many others pitching in their ideas. Asami was initially also meant to be a villain I wouldn’t have minded if that happened because I think Spysami is pretty more interesting than thinly written Korrasami. Or, she may have been a double agent that would have proved volumes about her dexterity in general. Makorra was, as I read from Tumblr, described as the perfect pairing by Bryke themselves and how Korra and Mako were right for each other and “soulmates” — so I think Bryke’s Korrasami was done almost like a last minute thing. In fact, I don’t think they did away with Makorra either which is telling in the finale episode. I think they were confused at what to do really and thought that keeping both pairings open but focusing a bit more on Korrasami was the only thing they could do to “salvage” the series because before this finale many people had heavily, explicitly, inexorably critiqued Legend of Korra both critics and fans alike. So, LOK had a lot of problems since Book 1 that had to do and nothing to do with Makorra and pairings and stuff.
I won’t lie that I fast-forwarded to the last scene in LOK to see what happens because by this time I was kinda bored and wanted to know what happens to Korra and by Book 3 and 4 the hints of Makorra were pretty high I wanted to see if they patch up, after some time of course because some time even passed for Kataraang to happen. I was impressed with the spirit portal which became like the equatorial region of their world and that was awesome.I loved the last scene music and ambience but the pairing made me very unhappy because it was just too rushed and scatterbrained to be a beautiful buildup.
So to continue, though some fans of Makorra are homophobic; most of us aren’t. This is due to the fact we come to this show after years of watching anime shows from its infancy dealing with heteronormativity, queer sexualities (both straight and gay), performativity, and also the construction/reconstruction of identities. So, as most of us are in our late teens and twenties or even forties we are already nonplussed by homosexuality rather accepting it wholeheartedly as a romantic-sexual outcome. We have relegated our “hetero-lens” a long time ago even before The Legend of Korra or The Legend of Aang/The Last Airbender premiered. I have criticised Korra on numerous occasions and none of them were solely on ships. As listed below:
I am not partial. I have enjoyed gay pairings and straight pairings with equal zeal. I am not infected with “hetero-lens” — also I have accused Korrasami of a “hetero-lens” too. That one is that of heteronormativity. As a friend of mine stated gender or a critique of gender was not established in Korra. Korra is, as Anime Live Reactions put it eloquently, stereotyped as a strong woman/person of colour becoming bisexual and lesbian to validate her strong, “tomboy” existence. Asami’s sexuality has always been a game. She is a doll, a feminine debacle, and having Korra, a masculine, pair up with her reinforces a heteronormative way of looking at things. It essentialises that the avatar spirit is a “male” spirit with or without past lives because Wan, the first avatar, pretty much is shown to be in a relationship with Raava, a female spirit. Lesbianism, gayness or even straight-on heterosexuality is not about binary images but heteronormativity and performativity does reduce it to such.
Korra cannot be alone or be in a heterosexual relationship because that also incinerates the heteronormative way of looking at heterosexual relationships. Makorra ending in a bad note now encapsulates and also mediates on the fixation that strong men and women cannot mix. This stereotype is nothing new. If Mako and Korra could end better we would not point fingers at this rather Bolin and Korra’s chaotic end was foreseen on a lack of attraction on Korra’s part and even Bolin does not date Eska due to her domineering and inhospitable personality. Korra and Bolin are strong and do have chemistry but they end amicably, on good terms, there is hardly any name-calling and finger-pointing between them. Bolin does not ever bring up that Korra broke his heart by kissing her brother nor that he wanted Korra to apologise much because they went through things that allowed forgiveness and friendship to happen. Ironically, even Bolin and Eska’s breakup and later encounter seemed both comic but also reasonable and realistic. It was apparent that they both have considerably, without a doubt moved on. The way Mako and Korra interact are still as lovers even by the end of Book 4breakup or no breakup they just do, both context and subtext affirms it as a romance with mutually concerted feelings — it’s pretty confusing.
Yup, Ghost in the Shell is coming back again this year. Last year they did a loose retelling of The Stand Alone Complex series or even the series in general with Ghost in The Shell: Arise which actively explored Makoto’s army history and the beginning of Public Security Section 9 which is the paramilitary operations that handle tough to crack down cases, and also functions a bit differently than police or army. It is a median of sorts in a world where armed forces are as extreme as the terrorism or criminals they fight.
Arise episodes were long, as in feature length movie length, and reintroduced concepts from all the media related to the series. Arise was additionally noted to reintroduce Makoto’s original look from the ’95 (or ’96) movie with basic front bangs (not the curved ones) and a younger major. Her clothes also mimic the original movie but had some of the glossiness of The Stand Alone Complex series minus the overtly exotic or outre sexual look. Her original look is still pretty popular due to its classical imprint and it looks like it will be continued in the 2015 “retelling” of sorts of the original Ghost in the Shell. It is to mark 25 years of this innovative and philosophical anime that made it an international phenomenon with its still unique concepts of humanity, cybernetics, personhood and identity.
I am totally psyched to see this movie 😀
(Below is the Anime News Network article)
(picture from Ain’t it Cool News http://www.aintitcool.com/node/69962)
With all the Korrasami and what not tags being interjected I decided I had pretty much had it with Legend of Korra. I was disappointed from Book 3 though I was suspect from the beginning. The way they treated Mako and Boilin was deplorable the way they treated Makorra was horrendous and then how they progressed Korra’s character was deplorable. All of these things were pretty stupid and so sexist (both for men and women) All I can say that I hope fanfictions come about that end these at the very end is one of the only partly unbiased write-ups I had read.
You can celebrate any ship and not celebrating it is not homophobic unless you actively declare that gay couples are bad or something — I don’t do that what I must state here is that this is preposterous and the perpetrators of bad writing and scapegoating a same-sex canon but also annoyingly allowing Makorra to continue is pretty much a bad move. I literally was like WTF? Guess what even I did see the signs I also saw signs of Borra. I saw Boilin like Korra a lot but Korra did not choose Boilin because Boilin is someone Korra can’t be personal with — Mako even till the end was a person Korra could rely on in battle and also in well psychological positions. Asami goes and helps gives Korra support as a cheerleader but she hardly does things to help her much. I mean even if Korrasami happened give it more than just her bring Korra tea (which is a good improvement i respect I admit that and also love, both platonic and romantic, because in Book 1 when Mako wants to give Korra tea she seethes and say bol it himself). Yet it is not so strong enough as Mako keeps on professing love to actually get going. I just feel no one cared about both relationships. As someone said online it is pseudo-lesbian though she was happy because no relationship straight and gay can happen with just flirtations ill scripted and nothing pretty much well fleshed. Many people would say that as it is a gay-ship it needed cover but even Katara and Aang had stronger non-verbal ways of romancing that people may not have deemed cool enough for a coupling. The potential was there but it was not nicely done as even subtle Makorra. In fact I wasn’t even thinking Makorra (though at first I loved them) when the first times Korra looked at the stadium and Mako looked at the island dotingly but that was a good nonverbal gesture they actually well made good use of. All I can say it’s not groundbreaking, it’s actually pretty gender normative and totally unfair to Asami.
All Korra can say is that she dated all the people on Team Avatar what a bunch of crap
Not to mention that she is dating the ex of her ex and what more is that Asami cannot also get out of this viscous love triangle and choose her own road. Pretty much pathetic.
It’s something official for me that Avatar people cannot for the life of them write satisfying romantic endings. First, they somewhat rushed Aang/Katara relationship then they hinted strong at Korrasami but also hinted Makorra. What I want to say is that none of this isgroundbreaking at all for anywhere. Please don’t flame hear me out. They just did to extend a novelty. They did this to make bandwagon people happy. Korra and Asami are so friendly with each other they have less chemistry than Korra did with Boilin. Also, by doing this they essentially showed how the avatar spirit is more or less a “male” spirit.
This sort of thing is frequent in yaoi literature. Korra is a girl and if she is bisexual marvelous but by accentuating the differences between Asami as a “girly-girl” looking person and Korra as a more masculine person they pretty much made the whole relationship heteronormative as usual. If Korra ended up with Kuvira eventually I would have appreciated that even as they are each others’ equals. So is Mako and Korra to many extent. They made Asami pretty much soft and feminine like 90% of the time to complement Korra’s “masculinity” but they also wanted some space for Makorra. I would have respected this relationship more if it was even eventually developed with Jinora as she became older. Because the sort of understanding Jinora had with Korra and Korra had with Mako is pretty elementary in any relationship.
Also, by showing they migrated to the spirit world was also indicative to that “yin | yang” feminine and masculine presence in a heteronormative stance. They won’t ever show Mako as a “feminine” though at many points this season he is and Korra is “masculine”. I realized that it is also pretty cruel to suggest that strong woman can’t be anything aside bi or lesbian — this is pretty common in mainstream culture. Strong men are either made so macho that you have to think them as totally straight and strong women are shown to be either gay or bi or something. Both of these procedures are quite conforming to mainstream tactics.
I love Shoujo-ai and Shounen-ai couples when they make sense. In fact, one of my favouritecouples is Anthy and Utena from Revolutionary Girl Utena, both are girls. What I loved about them is that they broke away from their heteronormative practices to be the “one” for each other. In the end, Utena was not a masculine person or feminine person neither was Anthy.
The Korrasami ending was just like Ginny/Harry in Harry Potter — it was poorly executed had no flair and was shoved right at us. This pairing was non-existent and had no bearing until the end as well. Asami hardly knows Korra and they hardly know each other other than friends so I found this relationship so thin. Can I accept it? If it develops more I can but I just don’t see as romantic. Also, it’s just too predictable. It was a cop-out. You know if Emma from Once Upon a Time ended up with Regina that would be more pretty because to me it is a good relationship and also because they have had more actual revelations with each other. This was just lazily written. Also there was no natural chemistry even when Korra and Asami were sitting together at the end and talking about life together.
The only pretty part was how they looked at each other in the end. I seriously still thought that was an over-exaggeration.
Yet this is not to offend Korrasami fans. In fact though I liked Makorra I will be honest — if they executed Korrasami better and dropped all those heteronormative markers like they did with an anime like Revolutionary Girl Utena I would be very, very , very happy. But they totally messed it up. Also, I had a feeling that after Book 3 they wanted a new male character to be Korra;ss love interest it was kinda showy of that but then decided on Korrasami at the end. It pretty much looked like that.
This is just me showing how Korrasami made no sense. It was literally just a deux ex machina that Bryke put at the end because he had to make fans happy some way.
Yup, Avatar series can’t write good love stories.
I wrote this and I know it is important concerning how biased and well sequestered all LOK ship fandoms are:
I can see that there is a collective immaturity or even ferocity in shipping in LOK that was not so prominent in TLA and not so prominent in many fandoms. I think this is also due to ages of people participating and also ages of the shows. I mean Naruto came to an end but many fans were not rabid about their disappointments nor were they gloating. It was show that stayed around for a long time.
Makorra fans are acting too angry, understandably, but still very badly executed. Korrasami fans are using this to validate themselves, be mean to Makorra fans and basically annotate every Korra/Asami scene into Korrasami which even Borra and Makorra fans can’t do because there was good development at times so no need.
This culture of ships and shipwrecking is very toxic. I mean do not just like a fandom ‘cause it;s cute like it because it has substance, Like other fandoms that are not your OTP also for that think on it and don’t hate easily. I can see that many shippers are young people and also as this LOK is younger and had lesser episodes than TLA people in scarcity of time, episodes, space and writing decide to exaggerate or expunge things.
Please be respectful. Makorra and Korrasami are pretty much both canon. Korrasami is about to happen (or not fully) and Makorra happened and might continue (or never again) both even in the end Korra showed signs of both interest in Mako and also in Asami. Maybe, as she is exploring herself she wants to see who she can fall in love with truly as her OTP.
No need to say a pairing validates you or not because I think if you are gay or straight your relationships are better than how both these ships were written. Also look at Korra and Mako and Asami as characters independent of these relationships.
I also wrote this:
I think Korrasami is also a revenge of Bryk against studio and Nickelodeon. It just feels like they wanted to say “fuck you” to the studios that always tore apart their ideas, made them cancel, made them fire crew members, make them cut out things. I do not know if the Korrasami kissing alternative ending is the original endings but apparently that was changed. In all honestly Bryke is killing two birds with one stone: making fans happy and also giving a hell lot of trouble with those studios. This make good sense as they cannot work on Avatar soon and I think it is also because of those suidio problems mostly. I feel bad for whatever Avatar endured. Korrasami assuages the pain for them in a way but it also shows how all their creativity to even make both Makorra a bit work better and Korrasami a bit written better was thwarted. What problems LOK had to face.
honestly I’ve clearly offended a lot of people, but I’m not sorry. No matter how you look at this, this was bad writing, bad writing for makorra, bad writing for korrasami, bad writing just in general for korra and all these characters, and this is how the show ended. I’ve been here since 2012 defending this show throughout all the crap and now there’s nothing left so, especially knowing they changed the ending….yeah I’m going to be upset.
Not many. Not so standardized as the mainstream way of looking at it. It is heteronormative. By making Asami pretty much a bimbo throughout the series and Korra a jock is heteronormative be it a straight or gay representation. They didn’t do that with Aang and Katara. Katara is a very balanced person and so is Aang. Also they have both similarity and differences.. Guess what they are both benders, both spiritually inclined elements (air and water) both at the end stronger people with each other and also independently. You do not see this with Korra and Asami it recycles the same bogus trifle that Mako and Korra was accused of sprouting. Just some sentimental hugs. Asami is not integral to Korra’s development as an Avatar as much as Mako was in Books 1, 2 and even 3. Nor was she there so much before Book 4 in the development of her personhood. It is a very badly executed relationship like Makorra. They just want people of the young generation who never knew mainstream homoerotica squeal over this. It is stupid to think people are that simplistic. Once I remember that a guy commented how a villain of Final Fantasy X-2’s dress was so hot and a girl commented that it makes her look like a herpes infected hooker. As a stereotypical response he said that maybe as she is a girl so she is saying that. Then that girl said that she was bisexual girl and implying so she knows female sexiness. Korrasami should have been better written if it was to be canon. Not mitigated into something typically expected. A girl with muscles, masculine girl, is usually depicted to be queer for all the wrong reasons just like an effeminate man is. These are tropes that persist so nothing innovative was done with Korra. She as a “male” spirit bounded with a female spirit. If it was better written I would have no complaints. I wanted Katara to end up with Zuko but easily accepted her with Aang because they were not lazy, they wrote very well how a crush became a love. This is lazy writing. You like it that’s great I would have loved it if they didn’t put in mainsteam cultural biases of how same-sex couples are like.
I don’t hate Korrasami. I hate how all relationships was written in LOK. It was stupid. A canon lesbian relationship needs to be beautifully written not so “oh I hug you and you hug back” — Asami was pretty much a effeminate bimbo. I hated how they wrote her. Here best action scenes were in Book 1 and 2 then went downhill. Korrasami the way it was written is the stereotypical way of writing or looking at female/female relationship with one “masculine” and “feminine”. Korra may have told her insecurities to Asami but this was not stressed (or developed) what was stressed is that Korra is looked at as a “man”. People cannot write any relationship nowadays without a heteronormative circuit be it straight or gay. That is what got to me. I would have loved Korrasami if it was not so rushed and written with the same care as Kataraang was written. It was written badly. I am happy if you shipped them because I am always happy if a shipper’s couple becomes canon regardless of it was mine or not. But it was a cop-out as in how it was written. Because of that they also did not completly extinguish Makorra. Mako and Korra still have chemistry. Mako loves Korra still (she does too) and possibly is thinking of courting her in future. Which is kind of sad. That they don’t know what to write. This sort of bullshit is not new think of Cloud from FF7 and you get the same results Korrasami should have more intricately written because if it is to be the canon relationship the writers should show it better.
Apparently, not as much as you. Firstly, speak properly. By being so thoroughly aggressive you allow discussions to go nowhere. You can tell me what you love about Korrasami aside the generic “cute” slogan. Secondly, stop being overly sarcastic with people who do not agree with you. There is nothing “wrong” about a pairing like Korrasami if it was beautifully executed. It was not. It was a cop-out even at this point if she dated Boilin that would be a cop-out too. If she dated Mako it would partially be a cop-out but Mako has been changing as Boilin. So yeah in the end none of the relationships were balanced. It was lazy storywriting.
It is pretty obvious that that was attempts at bullying but it is true what I said. You want a strong same-sex couple then make Kuvira available even from Book 3 and you get this better. Or write Asami better and then we can appreciate it more. Asami was supposed to be a villain first, then she is a hero but still compared to Sokka and even Suki pretty badly developed and she is basically just a socialite who wears clothes and acts nice.
I don’t know for sure if the kiss ending was the original but apparently the original ending was changed and I think it was either Korra going off by herself or with Mako but to make fans happy these conclusive matter was dashed and to keep spectacles alive.
All the materials above are from tumblr. All I can say is that I thought about them a lot before coming to that conclusion. Korrasami, the way it was depicted, was a gender normative, heteronormative way of looking at a same-sex relationship that conforms to the very gender roles that we assign males and females. Korra is pretty much the yang male spirit and the effeminate Asami is the yin female in the crudest of forms.
Watching the anime Shirobako at this moment. I am really interested in this shounen which deals with anime making and production. The characters have nice design distinctions (actually, the male characters do I wished the females did as well). The males are so nicely distinguishable I was really, really taken to that as well. Sure, there are the general attractive guys but there are some that look what you may say “average” faces but not so average physiques. Also fat dudes and clean cut hair dudes with bearded dudes. This is for even people who seems support staff. But most of the girls are still moe fair how boring. C’mon guys make the girls fat too or cute or even muscular as Mikasa from Shingeki no Kyojin 🙂
Apparently the animator/director or storywriter actually based many of the characters on real people who work on this industry.
It is about a young man named Ritsu Onodera who is painfully shy from romance and any kind of love life. When he was younger he was seemingly betrayed by a older boy he loved and as he was not the social-sort and always a bit timid he resigned to not really be in love.
Unfortunately for Ritsu, the very boy or now man enters into his life ten years later in the Marukawa publishing house’s Shoujo Manga division. This man (boy) is Masamune Takeno who was once known in school as Masamune Saga . They both do not recognise each other, obviously, due to ten years of absence in each other’s lives. Yet Masamune later on looks closely and realises it’s his first love and decidedly declares to a reluctant Ritsu that in a year he will make him confess his love for him again.
Ritsu is obviously 100% annoyed. This man broke his heart and now attempts to be so casually engaged with love again. Apparently, Masamune mentions that it was Ritsu who had done the betrayal and not him. This also confuses Ritsu because Ritsu has no recollection of ever hurting Masamune. Yet Masamune seems interested in not losing Ritsu this time and for establishing love once more.
Can these two stay together or will there be no way to0 resolve what was probably miscommunication and hurt on both ends?
That;s basically the entire show. The worst thing is it is not nicely executed. One will see this show for its beautiful graphic and colour palette, to see some of the inner workings of a manga publishing house, to see lots of snogging between attractive men and the minutiae of life with attractive men. I know I enjoyed those moments.
Did I like the couples or did I care about them?
Fuck not much.
Seriously, I do not want to offend any fans nor do I want to offend the mangaka but this is very badly executed, even if the singular idea of reuniting love or accepting love is not bad.
I was introduced to this series I think when I was looking for titles as such. I took a small break from it but returned to it a year later because I actually liked the character designs and the real-world based setting. So my chagrin lies on the fact that a potentially good story is quite weak in structure be it symmetrical or semi-chaotic.
I admit I liked rewatching the series for its fluff factor which can be just zoned in to moments but I did not particularly care about any of the characters except Ritsu Onodera and Takafumi Yokozawa which is a bit sad as there are many characters so XD
This isn’t going to be a regular review as it will mostly focus on my personal reflection. It is also going to be LONG and SPOILER FRENZY based on both seasons and the movie.
Despite me not so interested in this anime I can write long about it. I guess I have a lot of opinions on the series. I do like its fluff and that makes it re-watchable but I felt it had more potential that could have easily been extracted and executed yet alas that did not happen. Oh well onwards!
The main couple, Ritsu Onodera and Masamune Saga/Takano are a bunch of incompatible, uninteresting, too-sexualized, too passive-aggressive, non-flirtatious, non-talkative, stalemate (checkmate), misunderstanding, extremely poor communication bunch of lovers you could see. Their singular spark comes alive in really off-hand and pretty much coerced kisses between the two. Yes, and if you know the shounen-ai dichotomy you are well aware that Masamune is Seme and Ritsu is Uke and that the Seme is supposedly the action-taker.
Masamune is a drab guy who somehow thinks that coercively kissing Ritsu is the only way to rekindle what may have been a genuine first love or even a crush. I see most of the action of their youth being taken by Ritsu and also accelerated by Ritsu with only erotic or semi-romantic actions being boredly or even honestly initiated by Masamune, Fast forward 10 years later and Masamune is still kind of a prick who acts all high and mighty.
I can understand that he has a developed a “killer attitude” in the workplace yet with Ritsu he is not as understanding as he should be nor is he tolerable or a person who respects another’s private space. I can understand the separation has instilled in him a desperation that he longs for Ritsu but dude grow up you guys had a huge break and are at a deadly impasse don’t jerk Ritsu about.
What this so-called couple needed was good-old fashioned talk-therapy between each other. I mean even as the anime is expiring and both have kissed each other’s faces off but Ritsu doesn’t know why Masamune thinks he has abandoned him and Masamune shrugs off Ritsu;s complains that he was brusque and insulting to his feelings post-coitus.
In my opinion, Masamune is a culprit. No matter how you look at it you saw that Ritsu is a mild mannered person and anti-social. Laughing like that after sex when Ritsu asked him did he really love him and not affirming his belief is actually a very nasty thing to do. Obviously, a sheltered and even looking like a bullied person, Ritsu would think that Masamune is just passing time with him as he does in the library reading (though they did once lock the library and got a bit hot there).
I admit that Ritsu’s escapism is also at fault. If Ritsu just told Masamune straight off that he is being a jerk and he shouldn’t take his feelings lightly even if they are a bit intense I know this whole situation was avoidable. Yet Masamune did everything to initiate it. Even 10 years later he brushes it off as he was going through a lot then with his parents divorcing and how he was a bit of a punk then but that still doesn’t really excuse him. If he is so keen on wanting and loving Ritsu he should just be there for him and prove his love because all those years back Ritsu did all that so now it’s his turn.
No, he doesn’t do that; the guy just prances around and just sexually harasses Ritsu whenever and wherever hoping that Ritsu will relent. At times Ritsu does and they have weird knocked-out kind of sex that Ritsu either intentionally blocks out or has a hangover and kinda doesn’t remember (O_O :/). Instead of also informing him that he had sex Masamune does the whole you don’t remember speech over and over like they are on some of eternal repeat.
Yeah, it gets that annoying. Not to mention Masamune withhelds information; he is as bad as shoujo-stereotype heroine (as in bodice-ripper) implicitly telly Ritsu that he is not an innocent though obviously Ritsu is sexually still an innocent and quite untainted in his analysis. At the same time he is explicit as a harlequin man doing coercive action hoping it would be similar to affirmative action (I kid you not). Thus he is a merging of two tropes that bring out a bad synergy rather a positive or even tolerable one. Ironically, the best synchronized trope mix is Takafumi Yokozawa who is an ex, friend and colleague of Masamune and also his eventual lover Zen Kirishima (more on that later).
Masamune later on in the movie decidedly and finally apologises to Takafumi for in a way jerking him around. In some ways Masamune blinds himself of the dedication that Yokozawa puts on him. In my opinion, Yokozawa first two TV series is a complete asshole. It also doesn’t help that Ritsu becomes too passive about him. I understand Ritsu’s reluctance to have a verbal spat with a company senior but a few choiced remarks would have been helpful especially at one time Masamune points out (coming to the rescue) that Yokozawa deliberately did not pay attention to Ritsu’s work. Not that he pulled the classical jealous bitch and sabotaged it he just didn’t give it the attention it deserved.
Yokozawa lashes out at Ritsu because during university years Masamune was a wreck not able to cope with anything, becoming devoid of everything around him and naturally he blames Ritsu’s sudden disappearance from Masamune’s life as the sole cause to his psychological breakdown. Masamune does not especially since we see in the last episode of the 2nd TV series that Masamune’s parents were pretty negligent about him and also they were on the turn for a nasty divorce.
Yet Yokozawa thinking Ritsu is Masamune’s kryptonite is not abnormal nor unfair though his treatment of Ritsu is pretty unfair. Takafumi thinks that Ritsu is like a tease who specialises in breaking hearts which is a far cry from who Ritsu Onodera is. Not to forget that Masamune doesn’t really translate Ritsu as Ritsu as in he admits that Ritsu has changed a bit 10 years so Ritsu has obviously matured so he doesn’t know him much anymore. This “stranger” attitude is how Masamune handles the Yokozawa-Onodera situation though he deeply suspects that Yokozawa is being a bitch to him. Takano does not really blast Takafumi much for being a bully to Ritsu which is also something I hated.
That is why Masamune is such an incompetent lover. Aside his kissing vibes and actions he hardly understands Ritsu nor is engaged to Ritsu as a person. The mangaka just treats these people as instruments of romance rather than actual invested lovers. I read in wikipedia that Shungiku Nakamura actually wrote Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi as a spin-off to Junjou Romantica which I am partially familiar with. Nakamura may have just treated this as a pet project or something because to me it is not the best first lobe in the world <sweat drop> On the contrary it trivializes the precepts and concepts, of love and romance to a certain degree though to give it credit it has a few gem moments.
My favourite character is Ritsu Onodera. As a character he is the best written one in this series. Though a traditional uke in some design blueprints and precepts of personality he is ambitious, non-conformist at some turns, not a belligerent hardass nor a complete doormat. In reality he is more fiercer than Takafumi and Masamune.
This young man of 25 has more spunk and direction than the 27 year old annoying git Masamune. Ritsu has an impressive family history in the publishing industry but decides to just escape from it. Masamune does say one valuable thing: your lineage is just a surplus, a little ladder that gave a small boost it isn’t you in your entirety and it won’t qualify you or your work if you don’t understand or are conscientious. That is the most valuable gem in the series and Ritsu is a living embodiment of it.
Ritsu would have better in a shounen anime or another drama where he is bisexual or a thought experiment of an anime. This is my own personal thing but I can easily visualize him in a university drama like Honey and Clover or a male model in Paradise Kiss who is Yukari’s classmate/lover/friend. I can imagine him as a ninja in Naruto or a detective in Death Note or even Misa Amane’s co-star who is rightly suspect and discovers things about her. I can even imagine him as Prince Tutu, and extension of Princess Tutu. Or even as a cast of Free! or Haikyuu!! Yes, I can imagine him like this because Ritsu Onodera is so beautifully delicate and strong, such a large potential of attributes and personality with a repertoire of diligence and finesse that I seriously think he is wasted as just the love of a guy named Masamune Saga/Takano.
This is honestly my opinion. I think in all those incarnations he would work in publishing because he has a literary and artistic talent that is quite beautifully presented if not wholly fleshed out. Yet he can work on other things I can see that capacity for it. Masamune, on the other hand, can be the archetype seme and just be that; his character is narrow and static. Ritsu’s is not.
I was not happy with Season/Book 3 and I was hoping that Korra Book 4 would be better. So far, it is. It is asking integral questions about authority and also how misshapen and totalitarian authority can be when power is not rightly exercised.
As fans has suspected Kuvira from Book 3 is the main antagonist of this Book. Like Ozai and also Hyoung-Ting, Unalaq and Amon (won’t include Zaheer as he was not trying to be leader rather just get rid of the Avatar), Kuvira has become corrupt with power. In so far that she is now exiled from the Metal City of Zang Fu (I think that was what it was called) and is trying to reunite the Earth Kingdom and being labeled as “The Great Uniter” by her supporters and enemies alike, both with admiration and disdain.
This is shown in Episode 1 titled “After all these Years” which is taking place after three years of the Book 3 climax. A lot has happened, Republic City has finally accepted Spirits and the Spirit Wilds are flourishing with a good coexistence (we also see the homeless guy that Korra met on the very first episode make good friends with many; funny that he is still homeless right though?) . Asami has become a person charged with a trans territory rail line construction which she successfully completes that allows Ba Sing Se and Republic City have constant travels. She is hit on by Prince Wu whose Aunt was Hyoung-Ting and though he is not as eccentric as his aunt he is as prideful and foolish. Mako is ordered to be his bodyguard and this is a job that he wants desperately to get out off though does properly (though by the penultimate moments of this episode we hear that Wu wants Mako too much to be his bodyguard and personal relations to be secured doesn’t allow Mako to get out of it).
The Air Nomad are now dressed differently. Their clothes now accentuate a wandering nomadic aerial mobile design as in acrobatic with gliders attached to their clothes like stunt performers. Kai has grown up and is in a long distant relationship with Jinora and Opal with Boilin. Boilin has become from comic relief to Earth Kingdom soldier, so has Varrick and Ju-li. Batar, Opal’s oldest brother is engaged with Kuvira, which is also a cause of family friction. Opal thinks Batar and Kuvira has betrayed her mom. If you guys recall Suyin was anti-monarchy all the way and now her own are beelining for it — not a good situation.
Opal and Kai has come to aid a kingdom that are being attacked by robbers. Ever since Zaheer killed Hyoung-Ting we saw Ba Sing Se in chaos and now still some remnants remain. Opal and Kai are not warmly greeted as the village leader wanted more recruits but they show themselves capable of administrative fair ways of solving a situation. This is antithetical to Kuvira who has a lot of authoritative power. She captures a bunch of bandits by putting metal around their arms eyes and feet then bundling them up as heavy sacks (how Nowatak and Torlak were shown to abuse wolves in Book One). Then when one of the bandits try to apologize she even seals her mouth with metal. Then she says the only way they can save themselves is by relinquishing this lifestyle and just opt to join her. The bandits, fearing for their lives, do as they are told. Kuvira smiles that despot’s smile of triumph.
Then she attempts to bully the village leader into signing a contract of protection (like Yakuza and Mafia and dirty politicians do) saying that she will help them with food, water and troops only if he supports her. There is a campaign for her also by many people who want her as new Earth Queen and not Prince Wu (leading to a humourous pie in the face in crowd where Mako saves the dude and reminds him, while he gasps, that he is allergic to bee stings not strawberry). The village leader rejects her offer.
There is a gulf between Opal and Boilin because of this. Opal is angry at her brother and Kuvira for ditching her mother, the matriarch of the steel clan and also going so far out away from all the clan stood for (and then suddenly hearing they are engaged made her angry). She does not like Boi8lin helping Kuvira but Boilin believes reuniting and helping the Earth Kingdom is his calling. Then Opal and Kai attempt to get supplies but they are stolen by robbers (bet Kuvira was behind that) prompting the village to sign the contract making Opal become more frustrated and Boilin more confused.
The end shocks everyone. Everyone thinks after three years Korra is finally making a full recovery reappearance to Republic City. Tonrak is surprised and says that Korra has been writing for six months from Republic City and that she is okay and doing well.
So, where is Korra?
Hair cut short. Using only one bending style. Earth. And Wearing green clothes of the Earth Kingdom she is fighting in a cage match of sorts with another woman but loses. The owner comes and angrily gives her due but of course says she lost him some. Then remarking that she loves “like that Avatar girl” and what happened to her. Korra truthfully answers she doesn’t know.
While in episode we see the ravages of power and totalitarian that Zaheer and even Amon was afraid of (yeah their execution was batshit crazy but not all their ideas were) we also see the vulnerabilities and caustic repercussions that comes through poverty. The fact that in three years no one is really helping these villages is sad.
Also while Kuvira is getting mentally and physically strong, psychologically preparing herself for power, authority and the confidence she is earning in getting a chance to be Queen — Korra has lost a lot of Avatar qualities and is now shown to be unstable and weak. I think this is why they decided to pair off two women in the end as a form of acceptable dichotomy. After all all the main villains has been male and she defeated all of them but none of them were once her protector and comrade but now this one is. This fight I think is going to be the most important and difficult fight that Korra will ever fight as both the Avatar and Korra.
This is where, if the series pulls it off, LOK is going to be more mature than TLA. Yes for once they got some stuff down after Book 2 right. Yes, more mature. Because Balance isn’t about I think learning any new bending or just making a tyrant pay for their crimes. It’s about Korra keeping her title, spirit, selfhood, body and soul intact, focused, preserved, synchronized and finally evolved. Because all the battle she is fought now has attacked her personhood in these ways and it has made her break — Kuvira may do more damage than all three guys combined. How will Korra survive this? Will she herself break the Avatar chain to show that people can make hope for the future without avatars? I am actually excited to see what happens.
That is why the episode 2 is rightly called “Korra Alone” (a nod to ATLA’s “Zuko Alone”) and like Zuko who decides to travel alone to reclaim his title and earn it as noble, just prince of the Fire Nation Korra too now reclaim herself and also earn her Avatar title. Korra’s body is so badly undone after the poison that she can’t walk and she can’t properly eat or sleep. Her mother becomes rightly worried and says though they had agreed not to interfere with her recuperation she is not getting better so she must go and visit Katara.
It is a grueling process of recovery with Katara. She gets frustrated but when after six months of physical therapy at least allows her to walk she decides to go off to Republic City because she wants to be Avatar again. Actually, she first loses with fire benders in a training (a nod to first season’s first episode where she was able to completely take each and every one out) then on her journeying she loses to common bending thieves (a far cry from Book One Korra who takes on Triple Threats and actually throws a fire bender throw a store’s glass window). Not to mention what also gets to her is that Tenzin thinks that she should not be ashamed of her convalescence but Korra isn’t used to feeling weak. Unlike Aang who fostered a sense of vulnerability losing his culture, kin, fellow benders (which Katara mentions as a sense of spirit uplifting so Korra can finish her therapy) Korra has been strong o entitled to strength so she cannot understand how weak feels.
This was the epiphany I was waiting for the entire Book 3 so I am happy Book 4 delved into it. Korra has been avoidant of her weakness in situations; she tries to forget Amon, Unalaq and even the Red Lotus but she can’t anymore. Korra must acknowledge that she is human and that she has both weakness and strength. She must acknowledge her spirituality. Of course, Korra doesn’t necessarily at first. After losing the fight with bandits she cuts off her hair to sever her ties to Avatar position and throws away her water tribe arm band and decides to fight in underground Earth Kingdom battles. She had tried to meditate in the Spirit World’s tree of time unable to reach Raava. The spirits, a cute yellow and green one especially, wants to help. But Korra refuses. Like Zuko she is used to feeling alone or doing things alone.
This episode was a masterpiece in showing Korra; of all the Books this one episode actually did a magnificent character sketch on Korra. Who and What she is and feels. Korra thinks by fighting she can reclaim herself and that is where she errs. The spirits have rightly realized that Korra’s problem is spiritual.
Korra’s mind now emits an old, poisoned still long-haired Korra all wild as she was in the end of season 3 and that Korra is winning the battle because she is strong and ruthless with a vengeance. Korra encounters her especially when she is weak or is in horrendous doubt about what to do. And she gets beat up a lot by this chaotic Korra projection.
The yellow and green spirit, disguised as a dog, comes to Korra and growls at the chaotic emittance making Korra realize that this is real. The spirit wants Korra to acknowledge that her problem is spiritual. Then he skillfully if not without a fight with chaos Korra leads her to a periphery between Spirit and Normal world where Korra succumbs to her wounds and collapses. Person who helps her get better as she awakens after some time is none other than an old Toph who affectionately says it’s good to see “Twinkle Toes” again.
This was a very well written episode. I am happy they finally acknowledged that Korra needs a spiritual overhaul. But one thing I think as a fan I notice is that Zaheer is not really her only “mad man” that enabled a weakened Korra. All her opponents till now has gotten through to Korra in a bad way. In this way I think LOK is more mature than TLA because Ozai did not feel so personal to Aang as all these villains were. Now I wanna see how Kuvira and Korra fight.
It was nice what Katara said to Korra during her therapy that she doesn’t know what is beyond the pain but wouldn’t it be interesting to know?
Korra now must become a balance of both her as a person and Avatar and to do that she must be united in mind, body and spirit. And maybe then in the end she might be the last Avatar. The world’s balance might be decided as a new era of people being people and the Avatar cycle coming to a fruitful and good end.
You know when I saw Fushigi Yuugi what made me like it? Yeah Miaka got a guy kinda easy, unrealistic there, but her love was never smooth sailing — Tamahome and her had lost of tame but crucial arguments and didn’t just go out on flirting first they knew each other as people before they fell in love. This was beautifully contrasted in Yui who just was attracted to Tamahome and she was the perfection “anti-otome” symbol of the show. This is also done in a Shounen anime where in Rurouni Kenshin Kaoru and Kenshin are also not on each others’ kimonos and the attraction “anti-otomo” symbol was Megumi who was very attracted to Kenshin but well it was always made clear that her feelings are like a little cough compared to the entire respiratory that was in between Kenshin and Kaoru.
Now Seth Adam Smith may be a Christian dude and we may not have much in common but his article actually made a lot of sense. Don’t trust me, read on:
Our society places a lot of emphasis on feelings. We are taught that we should always follow our feelings and do whatever makes us happy. But feelings are very fickle and fleeting. Real love, on the other hand, is like the north star in the storms of life; it is constant, sure, and true. Whenever we’re lost and confused we can find strength in the love that we have chosen…
Love is so much more than some random, euphoric feeling. And real love isn’t always fluffy, cute, and cuddly. More often than not, real love has its sleeves rolled up, dirt and grime smeared on its arms, and sweat dripping down its forehead. Real love asks us to do hard things—to forgive one another, to support each other’s dreams, to comfort in times of grief, or to care for family. Real love isn’t easy—and it’s nothing like the wedding day—but it’s far more meaningful and wonderful.
Yeah, real love is not supposed to be just cuddles and kick (that’s a good title for an otome XD) it supposed to have something in it that can be worked out. All those animes of old 80s and 90s actually tried to “make love” as in more meaningful than sex or even kissing or seduction and it worked. Nowadays characters fall for each other because they are “pretty”, “hot” or “cute” Hell Rurouni Kenshin is a shounen anime and Kenshin is not the sexiest guy (though to me he is) in the show apparently Hiko, his teacher holds more candles and so does Aoshi and Sanosuke. Kaoru is considerably less attracted than Megumi even Yumi but their love makes heart throb. Miaka is less attractive than Yui and also Tamahome is not attractive than Hotohori or even the villain Nakago but their love is real and that what also made those works masterpieces.
So, I wish that today’s market also looks at these things. Yes I know that otome is also for fun but you see this mentality in all shows I mean seriously in both Log Horizon, Sword Art Online, etcetera that couples fall in love way too easily or the girl or guy character is a “type” that must be fallen in love with. I also saw this Blood-C where the antagonist was rooted for as a great person because he did so much for Saya. Hello, no, he did those things because he was selfish and wanted Saya to change — on the contrary Blood + had Haji and Saya going through a lot then thry became love not some selfish guy trying to change someone or kill others just to see if his love can be experimentally come true. Which is the lousiest. So fail Blood -C compared to Blood + and guess what many love stories nowadays fail even the sort of actual cuteness of Goku and ChiChi or Bulma and Vegeta.
So, yeah love, real love takes both effort and the cuddles so yeah writers write more substantial things again 🙂
Watched Free’s ending last week. It was enjoyable though nothing really new. Haruka Nanase did exactly what was expected of him. I am happy he did not forfeit swimming, though I hoped he approached it his way more. After having an epiphany abroad in Australia with Rin’s foster parents and Rin he decided to pursue swimming professionally. Now he knows the world is bigger. Now he does care about timings and competitions. I am happy he wasn’t resistant. Just displeased that he let go off his awkwardness with these elements of professional swimming so easily. I am not saying he should’ve quit but Haru’s originality is that he loves swimming for swimming so he should still focus on that and additionally include the professional factors. As he mentioned he is not like Rin. Which makes sense. Rin is always attempting to best at the usual way. Haruka does not. That is understandable. That is distinctive of them and that integrity should be kept.
Makoto and Haruka are back to being good though Makoto’s passivity is so annoying at times. Look green eyed pretty stop acting like a simpleton. You and Haru had a fight. You were attempting to be a good friend but Haru snapped at you it’s okay to be mad at him. So, be angry. Makoto’s impassive nature at this got me really annoyed. It is inhuman to make him Haruka’s emotional punching bag. Though Thank God Haruka realized that he acted like a bitch to Makoto and genuinely apologized. Makoto decided not to become a professional swimmer and went to university instead. That was okay though. The series does focus on Rin and Haruka and Haruka as the swimmers.
Apparently, as I learned from tumblr, missed it in episode, Rin swims for Australia now and Haruka Japan. Nagisa, Rei and Gou attract new members for the high school team after Makoto and Haru graduate and well they get 6th place in Nationals. It is the standard ending. All happy but not so bad.
The episode ends with the sign “For the Future” as Haruka and Rin face each other off in a swimming competition some time later. It is not a large time lapse they dont look older. It is probablyb just a year or so later.
How did I find the series? Well it was a good sequel. It got better than its 1st TV series and polished on Haruka’s character growth, mental breakdown and eventual confidence. It actually did focus on other characters’ confidences too. If 1st TV series theme was friendships and team spirit this Eternal Summer was focused on personal bonds and confidence. Though fans rightly were on annoyed (as seen in Tumblr) that Sousuke’s aftermath was not revealed much. We now know that Sousuke can’t swim professionally as he has injured his arm. His swimming dream ended but there is no mention of any other dreams.
For a show that shows a former swimsuit model getting a new dream as a teacher that was pretty unfair. Well, no one aside Goro Sensei got to know about Ama Sensei either. That was I think the only enigma they preserved or just ignored to address.
So, is this the end of Free? Will we see another TV series or movie to show how Haruka and Rin managed as professional swimmers. Or a new Free with a new cast that are in Iwatobi swim team with our old main cast as their teachers or mentors now? Well, Free ended pretty much to everyone’s tastes being satisfied. I do hope another series of it comes out with a bit more tricky, out of norm ideas.
I just saw the end of DRAMAtical Murder the TV series based on the yaoi game of the same name. If those of who don’t know DRAMAtical Murder (DM for short) is also produced by the same creators who made Togainu no Chi, Sweet Pool and the lesser know semi-furry themed yaoi game Lamento — yeah, it is made by the distinguished boys’ love producer NiTro+CHiraL. This post does have spoilers as most of my posts. Spoilers on DM and also other Nitro-CHiraL stuff.
(Ok I started writing this like some days ago but posted it now)
DRAMAtical Murder is the second time their series was made into an anime. And yeah, it was an improvement if Togainu no Chi. Not that I had the same complaints as the fans of TGNNC that it was not fair to the game, in my opinion, it was a good adaptation of a game that uses points of character elimination (as in character death) to actually progress with story. I am not really going to talk about DRAMAtical Murder in full in this post because a) I need pictures and b) I will make an in-depth review of the whole series and c) I will do an episode by episode review as well as I watched attentively the whole series.
Chiral is the artist who helps write, I assumed, most of the original framework for these yaoi stories and she does a great enough job. NiTro+CHiraL is known for his deep and riveting storytelling and DRAMAtical Murder was no exception. I will not lie I do want more layers in the story but given it is a yaoi visually based game with routes involved I do applaud its integrity to make somewhat impressionable stories if not altogether remembering. Its premises are always something that can twist the ordinary but not so overly shoujo or shounen; it has its own directory of both powers, minutiae of everyday life and a cast of characters that will pervade or not.
The problem of adapting is that it is by the book. Some people hate when loyalty to a medium is severed. I myself complain at times of the same thing. Yet the medium is not a novel. It is a route based game so certain deviations are put as in an anime adaptation you will see all the routes somehow balance one another. The storyline is almost verbatim to what people had experienced in the different routes in the game (minus of course NiTro+CHiraL’s infamous bad endings which are graphically violent, bloody and disturbing to say the least really scary shit). I feel that to fans it is a good treat of seeing their beloved characters in motion and doing things without that multiple choice menu meaning someone else is doing the actions for them and as it is animated it now has cinematic pace. Yet my nagging feeling is that is it always necessary?
Togainu no Chi had an ending that actually carried on the story a bit. People hated it because there was no conclusive coupling. I actually applauded there wasn’t because the decision would be too sudden and too misplaced: though they hinted some Rin/Akira tension mostly because of all the routes that was in my opinion and even on a good pace the best ending of them all but I am not complaining because I am satisfied because that was not conclusive either. And it was also deviated from Rin’s route. So, there was no real coupling and it just focused on Akira’s growth as a person. It was a bit dark and murky but given the circumstances I preferred it the way it was. Of course, people hated it. I for one was happy seeing Akira realizing his destiny at stopping Shiki and just going for it. Shiki himself, like some Voldemort character, has accepted Akira as his rival, though Nano was always his obsession rather than rival. It made sense to me as the series was more or less based on Akira just realizing what and who he is and going on from there.
DRAMAticak Murder follows the same themes only different storytelling and other minor or major differences. Firstly, you will immediately notice that its art and animation is not dark and gothic inducing as TGNNC and that it has brighter colours. It is more based on internet, web, digital applications and interfaces so it also has a neon tint and timncture in colouring. Also it does not have character elimination much. It actually allows any character to become more ruthless rather than just die of your choices or presented circumstances of said choices. So if your route character becomes evil you either suffer or become as debased as him so in that way the bad endings has a darker flare than TGNNC but I guess because of the way it is presented it was somewhat tolerable to me though it is as dark and twisted as TGNNC. If you have a good ending what I enjoyed is I think many other characters can move on with their lives too. I am happy that this is not self centered. I mean why should the main character be so valuable as to always affect others so exponentially. And because it has less character elimination you feel overall happy getting a good ending.
DRAMtical Murder TV series or anime was a more heavy experience than Togainu no Chi the anime. This was both good and bad but mostly it is good. TGNNC was a bit lacking in story narrative that is okay because it was NiTro+CHiraL’s first work so it can have a few scratches here and there. Watching TGNNC felt ok, but it was a very loose and elastic experience. You feel that there are plus points but that this anime needs more to be 12 episodes long and it isn’t. Rather I was more interested in seeing how Akira and Shiki settle scores in the end. That was my feeling for it; I have mixed feelings. With DM those were not so much there. They imp-roved on their story execution and each epiosde was loaded. Yes, for a 12 epiosde anime arc I will say loaded. It can do better but what it did was not so bad. It focused on Aoba Seragaki and also on the emotional turmoils and formations of the other characters a bit too. Each episode after epiosde six felt like a mini route or mini arc on helping both Aoba and a character that has a route and that is pretty good. This sort iof execution was missing in Togainu no Chi anime because well TGNNU was a bit more difficult to arc and branch as character selection in game that led to routes were I think pretty sudden death too. Though some trhings in DM may remain a mystery it is not so nagging. The anime covered pretty much all the bases.
Each character was given ample enough time for a 12 episode arc; each character had someone else they hated or disliked or even pursued which was detailed. There was no one really wanting because if you see the series in one go even you will notice that it gave every major and some minor event in DRAMAtical Murder the game credence and attention. That is a good feat for a 12 episode anime arc that played around with a yaoi game that had many routes. There were both slice of life activities, both character arcs and details about the main plot. The series is character driven more. It is not shounen or shoujo that each thing is easily cured by a fight or interaction so they did focus on some messy things and some communication/ In shounen you have elaborate fights, in shoujo you have elaborate interactions in DM you can a equal pacing of talking and some reveals. Some may say that makes DM boring and they might not like it. I understand this. It is not a regular anime. It is yaoi based anime that left all the sex and sweat off. Except for some tame shounen-ai moments you get nada and I appreciate that too. The anime is not aimed to be yaoi. It is meant to please fans, attract new viewers and probably just mix some ingredients together. If it was yaoi you would find it in the hentai section.
The minor characters in the anime are still minor characters here. One of the mot crucial minor characters here is Sei Seragaki. Sei’s existence is pretty much tied up to Aoba realizing some stuff for himself and he is mostly used as a plot device. I actually mention Sei because Sei is a character I really love. I think even the two fuckers Virus and Trip are given more exposition in the original game (if you get bad routes) than Sei. Sei is both a noble and a very good natured character. He wants the best for his younger twin brother Aoba and wants his end as he has suffered a lot and now wants freedom from it. Because his physical state is so bad he knows he will not survive thus asks Aoba to use his scrap of destruction (he had the scrap of creation) to destroy him. This is where I wanted severely for NiTro+CHiraL to deviate from the original script and just go ahead and keep Sei alive. Ren can do something else to keep on living so it is important to me that Sei should have been given a second chance at life. Instead, they followed it to much on the script only deviating that Virus and Trip (because I think in the original it was not) calls Aoba to inform him that Sei is in the hospital after a year has passed from the Endgame. I mean it took Ren a year to live in his new body as Sei has told him to use his but if Sei was so damaged I think it would have been suitable that his body die out. I know the soul can triumph where the body can’t and now Ren is no longer Aoba but a soul independent I think he can somehow get a new body. I am thoroughly displeased at Sei’s death as to me he was the best innocent there was; though he says he is responsible for helping Toue Konzerin for long I do believe he was always treated as a lab rat thus he is more a victim always than an perpetrator.
Sei’s death is very unsatisfactory to me. In Togainu no Chi many characters die due to your choices and though many find it sad I accepted it as a narrative route strategy . With Sei my acceptance is mired with vexation at best, it is quite thin. To kill of a character that may have potential for other things is surely very pathetic. It doesn’t fit either structurally or artistically with the entire story. In the end Aoba evolves himself and his power a lot. He becomes able to do both what he was designed to do and also pick up Sei’s quality (as Ren projected himself into an ALLMATE puppy). Ren then, not as Aoba’s consciousness anymore or Aoba anymore, due to the grand scheme of things became his own entity. So, in the end there is a lot happening to Aoba and people around him. Sei is not given a chance to evolve though his character is such that because of possibly neural pathways he shared with Aoba (as their hair was connected as birth making them conjoined to a degree) he may have a natural telepathic link with him. To ensure his death was final he decided to tell Aoba to destroy that link so that he can ensure that after his physical body dies nothing fragmentary even has a chance to stay behind. I find Sei interesting so I did not value his character profile as some moody guy who just wants to make his death final. It is stupid and quite arbitrary for him considering there can be more done for him.
In the end, DRAMAtical Murder is enjoyable. It is something if put more thought into can actually expand bigger. But no one really want to do that. So, it just became a copy of the game add hoc which is somewhat frustrating. I do think this yaoi or otome or harem franchises should grow a pair and evolve themselves. Tenchi Muyo did it long ago and I was so pleased that in Tenchi Muyo in Love 2 there was a form of conclusion or even aftersense. I think these animes need more screen time, more substantial writing, more everything…I could actually see some if not many rhyme battles happening in DM, many more plot twists, many more antagonists and a lot of even traveling other places but not they are happy with just adapting with the same formula as game. I won’t lie there were times I fan girl squealed and there were moments I liked but I do want more substance in my anime.
Make no mistake, Kuroshitsuji is Ciel’s story in every sense. Sebastian is a co-lead, certainly, but his role here is more or less written – it’s Ciel’s which continues to write itself as the story progresses. I’ve said this before, but Kuroshitsuji is primarily a tale of victimization. It splits the world into two camps, victims and those who exploit them, and in most cases it’s pretty easy to tell which group each character belongs to. And when characters try to claw their way from the first group into the second, we invariably get tragedy – tragedy like the story of the Noah’s Ark orphans. There can be no doubt that they were victims of society’s cruelty (this episode alone reveals the full extent) yet they made victims out of scores of other children thinking it was the toll required to stop being victims themselves
Another anime review of Kuroshitsuji Circus Hen by Lostinanime so I thought I would share 🙂
As usual this post will be MAJOR SPOILER inducing and will SPOILERS for all Kuroshitsuji media like 1st TV series, manga, and 2nd TV series with the new series which is actually an extension of the first TV series story-line in both manga and anime.
I know I didn’t do a whole series review. It will take time for me to do that. I was on vacation last week and I hadn’t properly seen the whole 10 episode series of this story arc yet. Those of you who know Kuroshitsuji know that Circus Hen or that Book of Circus is one of the most crucial story arcs in the Kuroshitsuji main manga and anime. The manga is not finished yet but this is one of the most riveting, dark, sad and alarmingly unpleasant story arcs in the main story line. I give Yana Toboso props for writing this arc because I think it was not easy for her. Also, this non-ease is illustrated by being introduced to so-called “antagonists” that many fans of the series and also manga had grown to love and also empathize with. Though we had this already with Madam Red I think it got exponentially bigger with the Noah’s Ark Circus troupe.
I am not really telling the story of Circus Hen because it is available in full form in Kuroshitsuji Wiki and also a good synopsis is available in Wikipedia. Let me just say the Circus Hen introduces some characters who unfortunately do not stay with us in the long run and some others who are better off dead and buried under tons and tons of brick. Others I know I will miss a lot like really a lot because they are the embodiment of a form of nobility you don’t inherit. Basically it is a mission Phantomhive is handed that elucidates and exposes that Ciel underwent when he was 10 and a weirdass fetishist guy called Baron Kelvin who wants something that only Ciel can give (apparently at the end he can’t). The Circus, Noah’s Ark Circus, is made up of people like Joker, Beast, Jumbo, Doll, Dagger, etc who are kidnapping children for Baron Kelvin. It also introduces another fetishist called the Doctor who is severely and disturbingly into body modification. All these characters save Snake die brutal deaths. Joker and Doll, in my opinion, really did not deserve them because they are really good people who got stuck with the bad lot. I know the others are not bad people either but the high wire trope were becoming too systematized into killing and hurting so it’s not that they deserved death (I am never gonna be a fit person to say anyone fictional or otherwise did though some atrocious individuals are unanimously agreed by fans that they are better off rotting) but I think as they died in battle with Phantomhive’s army (his other servants) it was just the situation that made their deaths acceptable enough. I do feel bad for both of them as to me both parties were used as pawns rather than individuals. That was the most painful bit for me. I think if all of them, Phatomhive’s army and the Circus troupe, got together they would know how similar they were.
I think there are 2 reasons why the first adaptation did not have this story included with the canon first TV series (not that 2nd series is not canon but the 1st is actually more manga involved and follows the Toboso’s original stories pretty much on the dot). First, it is technicality. Book of Circus is an arc that has more spoilers than many arcs, and it is very long (this series had 10 episodes devoted to it). If you want a viewing audience to want suspense at what happened or going to happen to Ciel Book of Circus is too telling in a way. It also elevated the Undertaker’s role more than previously shown (which I really liked) and depicted a lot that could not be shown in the first anime TV series. It would probably lengthen the 26 episode structure and I think as that is the standard anime set the producers decided why not. Also as the manga is not even finished now it wasn’t the right choice to put so much information in.
I think the second reason is more important. Book of Circus shows a very nasty and bad side of Ciel. In fact many people hated Ciel’s behaviour in Circus Hen where he is culpable for mass murder, emotional manipulation and blackmail of a more or less an innocent and does pretty much malicious things. In the first TV series Ciel was depicted almost as a textbook victim and a classic apathetic type individual who due to facing torture and losing so much (mostly his childhood innocence) was molded into more or less a cold, calculating coerced adult sort of creature who did not truly like himself or what he did but managed to survive on some form of idea concerning getting revenge. His childishness remained, however, as he never truly suspected the Queen, the person he followed, to be the very person responsible for the crimes committed against him.
Ciel is very aloof and cold in Circus Hen and no one really questions him because no one really knows him and Sebastian is not really a type to question; as a demon, like Ryuk the Shinigami in Death Note, his task is to be amused and help Ciel accomplish his goals. Those goals are limited but that is what Toboso unknowingly perhaps shows — demons are more limited creatures than humans. True, Sebastian is physically very strong and has lot of finesse and skill but as he is a demon he is always contract bound and has to be loyal to Ciel without much question. Ciel is very detached in Circus Hen and this is how Toboso shows the nature of his abused self and his fears and terrors. As I never read the manga I did not know that Ciel had a great aversion for blood due to being always around it and bathed in his own when he was sold as a “pet” to a perverse cult that enjoyed sadism performed on children. But in Circus Hen anime it is horribly shown that any form of bloodiness really upsets Ciel. Also it was mentioned by fans who read the manga that Ciel hated being touched also because what the cult did. And he also suffers from asthma. We see all of these in Circus Hen anime adaptation.
It is a good thing that Circus Hen was adapted later (for me it’s ok either way) because Circus Hen is actually a very weighty and dark arc in the series and as many fans disliked what Ciel did that reaction was a reason that people promoting the anime series would want it excluded so that when people see in development that Ciel does grow it would be easier to digest. Actually from what I read from fans in a forum Ciel does visually regret his actions in Circus Hen as in later chapters he is shown to be more quiet and reserved and somewhat shaken. I think the first TV series was also aimed with making Ciel and Sebastian more consistent in the usual anime fair from what I read on fans reaction on the manga it is not always like that in the anime as Ciel and Sebastian do act a bit more erratically there. Circus Hen adaptation did however bring some manga bones into the story because apparently Sebastian is always teasing Ciel and making even at times condescending remarks at him which is very absent in the 1st TV series and also 2nd TV series (with the 2nd series much had happened so Sebastian probably thought it wiser to keep his mouth shut).
But in this anime finale Ciel has another minor breakdown and Sebastian really can’t soothe him (it seems demons do not know basic human behaviour as shown at how Sebastian was a bad cook when he started working for Ciel as human taste alluded him so he had learn what it might be). The first breakdown in Ciel is deviating from what the Queen ordered him to do which also made fans and me to a certain degree angry and kinda disappointed — he decides to burn all the children kidnapped by the circus and Kelvin mansion as he could not see his old torture chamber replicated. This was done with the breaking point of Kelvin’s Doctor started replicating the torture he faced on another child (in an earlier episode of this series it was shown that she was a flower girl that was kidnapped; it was very sad seeing her cheerful and laughing face become well dull, automaton lifeless. I seriously wondered what happened to these poor children). Ciel could not bear it any longer. Seeing all of these brought the 13 year old back to his memories when he was tortured and almost left for dead when he was 10 by a cult who really were a bunch of fuckers that should rot in hell. Sebastian as a demon loves debilitation and destruction so he only mentions once that Ciel is deviating from what the Queen had ordered so but then Ciel persists in using his pentagram seal that he wants this and Sebastian is contract bound, well the demon puts the place on fire and does what he is told.
Ciel later after everything is over mentions that he was totally broken when was stabbed and tortured on the slab (the same thing that happened to the flower girl in Episode 9) pretty much indicating that this was his breaking point again. Ironically, Sebastian seems pretty non-creative or rather wants Ciel to gain his revenge a bit by engulfing the manor in flames the same way that Ciel’s own manor was engulfed in flames on his 10th birthday destroying his family and life. Probably, it was to make Ciel forget that he had lost so much but it was pretty generic way to destroy a manor.
This is one of the first times in the Kuroshitsuji media that Sebastian is shown to be useless to Ciel’s actual well being. Truthfully, it is subtly there in every crucial arc. Sebastian really does not know what’s best for Ciel and that is because he is a contract demon so it is not in his nature to know basic emotions and ethics; he may mock them but does not truly know them. Also wanting to eat a soul is never really the best for anyone; I think we can get a universal consensus on that. That is why demons can only approach really abused and depressed individuals who are so muddled that they are not in their right minds when they make contracts such as this. Of course both Ciel and Sebastian have major evolution in the 2nd TV series. Ciel becomes more astute, forgiving and well matured and finally as a demon he feels he can finally escape who he is and actually live a full life (not scream at Sebastian to come devour his soul which was kinda kiddy but yeah I think by doing this the show reminds us that Ciel is still a kid). Though Sebastian still is contract bound and I did not enjoy Ciel being so awful behaved and belligerently teasing Sebastian about it what I did like is that both of them had a definite evolution on who and what they are. It is true by the end of 2nd TV series Ciel had lost all those who was important to him in a way and I felt really sad at the sudden loss of others of him as well but given his life it was obvious that he could not be with them anymore. I think this was also there when he had finished his revenge so maybe Ciel knew that it was impossible for him to keep what he once had but ironically he could have it partly if not all but given that the Queen wanted him dead and all the trials that he faced it was really evident that being Earl Phantomhive was useless. Ciel may have had Elizabeth’s love forever and maybe have married her but yeah he could not keep his title as noble society was against Phantomhive.
Going back to Circus Hen, what fans really hated, as did I, that Ciel ordered Sebastian to kill Doll/Freckles. It is actually the worst thing Ciel ever did in his life. I think he realizes this later because by the 2nd TV series Ciel has become in many ways like Doll by the end. In the manga, I read in Kuroshitsuji Wiki, Ciel is more cruel to Doll. When she arrives seeing the mansion burning she tries to hold Ciel and asked what happened but Ciel pushes her away and I think meanly say that he had killed all her loved ones. In this anime, however, Ciel’s breakdown rage is omitted to show that Ciel is pretty numb and devastated that in his broken state when Doll in rage and sorrow charges head on with a dagger to attack him he just mentions Sebastian indicating that he wants her dead. Of course, he was in Sebastian’s arms all this time. And he admitted to Doll that his Smile persona was a lie and all the emotions associated with it but I deduce that he was partly lying. Like Alois/Jim in the 2nd TV series Ciel is still at that point where he can’t accept genuine affection from people as Toboso had once said about Alois/Jim that it is very hard for an abused and tortured person, downright scary, to see actual and genuine love and warmth. And in his really messed up state he asks Doll to be killed which is very cruel. I did wish that Doll had survived. I really liked her. Maybe, she is still alive? After all we never do see her dead as we see the others. Of course of the main circus crew Snake is the only one who is alive. In the manga Ciel says cruelly that he employs Snake as a butler in his household for a “pet” effect because he never tells Snake that the others are dead. In the anime they didn’t show this as of yet but fans mention that Ciel actually is hiding his real emotions (as usual). Due to his actions he had employed Snake as a form of reprieve because he was responsible of killing the others. A fan mentioned that this may be also he felt excruciating misery for killing Doll for Doll did genuinely care about him. Doll really reminded me of the demon Hannah who became so akin to human and fell deeply in love with Luca and Jim that she just wanted to be a family with them.
I really mourn for Doll and Joker for these characters really got to me. Joker said that he knew he was doing something wrong but he just couldn’t bear poverty and destitution anymore especially for his friends and other children at the workhouse. Nobles make an unfair and discrepant society and then use the manhandled to do their dirty work. Joker is more of a victim than Ciel but like Ciel and Jim they are more alike than each party care to know and acknowledge. Unfortunately, Joker does not really get what happened to Ciel but hearing the Baron finally reveal it, I think he did feel sorry for him but the situation is that that all parties are too acclimatized to their abuse. That is why I got mad that Ciel said indirectly that he killing Joker is nothing personal and that it was natural for him to want to protect what he loved. But the world exists for the sake of stealing and being stolen from, according to Ciel Phantomhive (:/), and that these two sorts of people can only exist, so, it is without any malice that Ciel says he steals their futures now. That is pretty pathetic coming for a guy who made revenge his only goal in life to reclaim some of the dignity he had lost. By saying that Ciel don’t you realize how stupid you are sounding? Then what will living for revenge even accomplish seeing that you are going to, according to your logic, lose your dignity again right for if you steal back something that can again be stolen then why sell your soul to a demon for something like that for even your satiation of it was short lived? Yeah, a kid in adult clothing, a poor tortured kid. By this time Joker is so demoralised that he hardly can question what Ciel has spoken. To be honest, Joker is so much like Ciel in the abused department that I can understand his despair and sadness very much. I think what angered me a lot, but was expected given the situations these individuals faced (and as Jim/Alois also faced), is that Ciel doesn’t recognize that both he and Joker are the same. They were both pawns who were used (Ciel still being used) as an entertainment or tool for those mirthless, lifeless pieces of shit nobles.
I think for Toboso Circus Hen was a treatise to what the abused, mentally, psychologically, emotionally and physically go through. They are so confused, upset and scarred that they do fail to recognize the humanity that they themselves have in others. As I said Toboso wrote beautifully this arc, this is to me the most beautiful arc of the series (aside the Jim/Alois storyline) because by the end of it Ciel has become aware what a flawed and broken individual he really is. Without such an epiphany it would be really difficult for him to start growing up. And as this arc was, as I learned from Kuroshitsuji Wiki or I think some other site, after the Curry Challenge episodes, we do see Ciel gestate a different kind of attitude by the end. In flashbacks, we also see the Jack the Ripper arc where Ciel faces Madam Red — I think aside fandom pleasing the flashback also served as a method to show the levels of Ciel hardening his heart. Sebastian is obviously fascinated that when he mentions that Ciel should not feel sad about Madam Red’s death but Ciel, shocking Sebastian, had said that he was not sad as Madam Red is just like a learning experience (:/) and that she got what was coming to basically. Sebastian becomes really delighted and we are shown a motif with Ciel in what feels like a British style of Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa anyway :)) and the voice over of Sebastian says that Ciel will trample over anyone and everyone,(we are shown pictures of a bloodied and fallen Elizabeth, his army even Prince Soma), to get to his goals and that is also what is beautiful (well to Sebastian) about him.
Ironically, by the 1st TV series and the 2nd TV Series end we see that Ciel did the opposite of everything Sebastian had anticipated. By that time the Great Fire of London was incorporated also to Ciel’s ascension out of the Queen’s trap and live for himself for once. And his aims became almost heroic and selfless because in the end he also did want to stop London from burning down. In the 2nd TV series Ciel does leave to start a new life not reminiscent of his one tied to a duplicitous monarchy. Thus he did everything in a bit of reverse of what he was blinded by at first. Ciel is by the end of the series more attuned to who is and what he wants: he wanted freedom from his abuses and the person in relation to those abuses. His title did still link to that terrible position in which he would always be targeted so he happily resigned it. The Phantomhive name which he wanted to restore actually became meaningless because now he wanted to live solely for his own individuality. That is one of the best charter progress for a person ensnared by abuse and revenge. Circus Hen is one of the aspects that enabled Ciel to think more differently about who and what he is because obviously he felt something strong both in resentment but also empathy about the troupe. They were lost souls like him and maybe that is why it was so hard to actually face them.
Going back, Ciel may have hidden most of his actual feelings concerning Madam Red because in her casket he had repeated affectionately what his father had once told her — that her hair like licorice burning in the sunshine (as seen in the 1st TV series). But going back to Circus Hen this dream of Madam Red is sort of instrumental to the coming events that Ciel will partake in. Ciel shows almost the same exterior regarding the death of the Circus and the children. However, this time he does make a more stable contribution for his actions. I think the anime added and rather elaborated what Toboso wrote because fans were also quite angry (well, I was really disappointed too) about what Ciel said concerning the death of the children. Well, we are shown he is affected by their deaths but as usual decides to be quiet about his feelings — yet looks on an young girl selling oranges whilst getting on a train and says to Sebastian to buy one. This train is going to the workhouse that Joker and the others felt compelled to protect. In the journey Ciel felt that the children would not recover from the strain that they experienced. He felt this as he was once in their position, and on the slab when he was brutally impaled, when he felt completely broken he made that contract with a demon. That was what he felt made him recover as he now had something, someone that his as he puts it “mine” and he was able to work through a recovery. Well, Sebastian was the only demon there. The children were young and would never be normal. Sebastian smiles and says that his deduction is arrogant. Ciel says that though he is arrogant, he is not arrogant enough to believe that he can save those children from what they endured.
Fans were still outraged by this. To be honest that is a pitiful deduction. It is, I think Toboso’s way of showing Ciel as still immature and a very traumatized child, because only a child will focus so deeply that the universe seems to revolve solely around them. Because fans made a right explanation — not all people need the demon contract to survive, not all people would need Ciel to recover and they could do these things on their own. Ciel was acting as a mutilated child when he spoke. Deep inside him his ideals of being noble hero were squashed against a psychological dilemma that didn’t rupture in time (that is why the OVA depicting him as Hamlet is spot on). Of course, the workhouse was not taken care of by Baron Kelvin and it fell to ruin. Seeing this really disturbs and shocks Ciel to the core.
This is when poor Ciel has another breakdown laughing maniacally he says to Sebastian that the troupe was protecting something that did not exist. Vile, stupid and struggling desperately to attain unattainable, that is what Ciel thinks humans are and says so to Sebastian. Who seemingly agrees, but not fully. Ciel’s hat’s ribbon becomes suddenly loose and flutters away in the wind. Sebastian also makes no real attempt to catch it. Both he and Ciel seem confused and befuddled. The black ribbon goes in the air and images of a happy Joker coming and bowing are shown then the rest of the troupe doing their specialties are shown happily together. Ciel looks on, in what feels a mixture mourning and amazement, the gravity of both makes his face cast a shadow, with his lips open, mouth slightly hanging, of something akin impenetrable gloom. Suddenly Doll comes first also dressed in her altered costume of white then all the Noah’s Ark Circus individuals become as they were without their body modifications. True beauty in what they originally were. And Doll also unspoiled by prosthetic tampering runs towards them and is accepted by her family. Sebastian agrees that humans are more complicated than demons. They possess ludicrous dreams, make endless excuses and do a lot of vile things to get what they want or desperately try to get what they want but somehow they can also recover, come back or do something more unexpected than before that is why they are also interesting. As the black ribbon flutters, which suggested the gravity of mourning and it was beautifully done truly, Circus Hen anime ends with Sebastian smiling as he realizes that humans are always interesting.
When Ciel had Sebastian kill Doll/Freckles The Undertaker was nearby. And he chastised Ciel in monologue for his actions. Saying that he has warned Ciel that he must take care of his soul, because everyone is given one. He had told Ciel not to abuse his power time again and again. But he has. And this will be detrimental to no one but Ciel. He will realize what he has lost only after it has been extinguished, when it crumbles and decays. And so The Undertaker rightfully stated that Ciel is his own demise, or rather the path leading to his own demise. Because he decides not to actually think before he does actions (as seen he is completely blank at the moment) and that is why he will lose more and more until he has nothing. Of course, at that moment Ciel did not recognize this. But the end of the 2nd TV series we see that when Ciel is turned into a demon he does realize that he had been undone by no one but himself. It was probably very painful for him to leave everyone behind but he had no other choice anymore. Yet, one think The Undertaker was wrong about that Ciel has now even both as a human and a demon got some enlightenment in his understanding of things. Probably he now knows that his soul is very important and when Sebastian and Ciel jump into the void he does want a more ideal and a more empathetic world and wants it more than anything. And he had seen it, slivers of it, in Jim who he ultimately accepted as an image of his own. An image he won’t ever erase. Jim may also have wanted him to be a demon not only as revenge on Clause and Sebastian choosing Ciel as a favourite dish but also to free Ciel from his contract. Jim is evidence of the great God Given adaptability of humans that demons truly lack.
In Circus Hen I felt really sad that Joker died. Joker is the irreducible protagonist/antagonist of this arc. I really understood why fans love him as I grew him to love him too. His death left a very deep impression on me as characters can do. I felt an inexplicable pain. Seeing his sadness, rage and also helplessness at being used as a pawn and being bled to death was so anguishing for me. Ironically, he is the true noble of all the series combined. Because he was loyal and tried his best to help people but he was guilt stricken at what he had to do because he reluctantly did those things. I think that is why he could not have a love with Beast (on side note: Sebastian having sex with Beast was pretty unexpected and how casually he does not take off much kind of shows that to Sebastian seduction and sex is purely business :P) because she can only think of running away. Joker could not run away. As it shows in his flashback that being in the manor Joker conceives that humans will always be dissatisfied because Dagger looked unhappy though they were not living the gutter anymore. But Dagger wanted to play but was lacking a leg to run about. But then Jumbo helped him up and they could run along and play. We see an intimate moment with Joker and Beast, almost close to touching hands distance, where Joker comments if he hand another arm he could carry her. This line is symbolic for Joker because that is what he is about; he has been carrying the burden and responsibility of all the people who relied on him. That is why he could not reciprocate Beats;s affections because she did not get this about him I assume. She was thinking that they should run away but Joker could not because he was already so intensely involved with his troupe, his family, running away would be a betrayal to them to handle the burdens by themselves. And he was not of a character to do so.
Joker is one of the most heroic characters in the series. I think Ciel becomes almost like him in the end. Joker is truly one of the most memorable characters in the series and I do love him a lot. I love his strength and his redemptive qualities. I love how beautifully deep down he is kind and contemplative, and socially aware. That is why sadly the nursery rhyme of Tom the piper of only being able to play over the hills and far away is associated with him and the Circus. They were not analytical (a fault Ciel too has) that what was happening to them, how their prosthetic were made from the children bones they had abducted how Kelvin gave jackshit about them and how if he had done more he might be able to have peace. I really think if Toboso continued his storyline it would have been beautiful because he is much like a cool protagonist, at times more than Ciel.
This arc really sheds a lot on human apathy and empathy, and it was also a critique of society and social injustice. Toboso really did well writing this arc as it was poignant and something that stays with you. Ciel made a huge mistake by listening to much to the Queen and the Noah’s Ark Circus’s demise is evidence of it. Now he has to pay the price, as The Undertaker stated, for thinking too callously and presumably rationally and not emotionally. And those acquainted with the Kuroshitsuji 1st and 2nd TV series know that he does. Yet he also matures from it. When he sees the black ribbon floating and the Circus troupe Ciel is seized a great sadness. Maybe he realizes then what he had done. After all isn’t his goals also as worthless as what the Circus had>? To protect a house is also his cause and so he too realizes what they would have realized later or more so if they had been introspective that they were being used so their ideals and dreams are better off put somewhere else.
I really loved the ending theme of Circus Hen anime. In some parts Ciel is animated almost with an adultish sort of body or what anime characters 17 and older have (maybe they did try to aesthetically make Ciel look more adult) but the ballad in darkness in a bathtub is a great touch. Over all as an extension of the first series I really loved Circus Hen. One prominent difference about this series compared to 2nd TV series is that it had less shounen-ai which is good in my opinion but it was still there. Not just copious amounts that disturbed the flow. It had all the makings of a great story arc. I do not why they took 4 years to animate it though as the 2nd TV series was in 2010 and we only got OVAs after that. One question:
What is Ciel and Sebastian’s outcome after the 2nd TV series? I am more interested on that. Though Toboso was involved in the 2nd TV series it wasn’t her original idea and according to the Kuroshitsuji Wiki she had mentioned that if the 2nd TV series happened not to pretend that the first didn’t happen and that is what the producers did. The 2nd Tv series is connected to the first and that is how it also progressed.
I am very curious and hopefully God let me watch what happens to Ciel afterwards. C’mon I really want to see what Ciel and Sebastian do after the 2nd TV series so people start animating it already! And hopefully we all get to see it soon! 😀
The VideoGamesaNewYork store in Manhatten has like all types of video consoles, games and even stuff to make your own controllers! Either way you will get to see stuff that is both rare and popularity. Apparently, they don’t stock based on item popularity they stock based on collectibles and various paraphernalia
The entire 2nd TV series was building up to this moment. The moment Haruka would snap. It wasn’t easy to watch. Yet, also the entire episode was geared on it exponentially. This was episode 9.
It made me really sad. It was cathartic as a visual medium and storytelling apparatus. I was really engrossed by his mental exhaustion. So much so that I actually didn’t want to see the stretch. I decided to wait and pull into what I saw disaster coming this way and it was awful.
Like Haruka I too stared in completely amazement, as he limpidly stared into the glossy lights of the swimming arena blankly as though caught in an asphyxiating tremor, not weakness but not strength, just numbness. I knew it — he can’t take pressure. That is a flaw but not to deride him: it is the most human thing elaborated with both visuals and Haruka’s face hanging in defeat (as rinsbae in Tumblr also noted). Haruka had a mental breakdown. It was cleanly understood. He just couldn’t take the pressure. Everyone was down on his throat about his freestyle swimming and it got to him. The propensity of the pressure they gave him was too much. From his school principal, to Rin and his teammates, to teachers to random scouts — everyone was thinking that Haru was a swimming machine and they just wanted to see him perform. And it got to Haruka. He always stated that “free” even short for his style and short for “freedom” was the way he swam. It is not that in competitions he didn’t feel pressure it was still amicable pressure. It was when his entire existence was just bounded, as in being defined by others as only a thing he had to do nor else it made no sense, to his “freestyle” then it lost its freedom. It became really corrupted to him. It became something vicarious and not something that he himself understood as his own, as his self, it became a projection alone as a trick. Haruka never swam for that. To him swimming was both aesthetic, talent but also empathy and a portion of his soul transmuted. It just lost that integrity when the pressure to perform came in.
Even the genius hurts and gets defeated when encountered with such negative social icons of perfection.
Such pressure to perform to an angle that is “full” not “fullest” but rather typed on as something like technical, technicality and reduced to the methodology of technique alone made Haruka lose it. Everyone felt that he could succeed and that success is very well, only defined, by the scouts’s eyes beholding that image of excellence rather than all the emotions, efforts, energy and sweet exhaustion that prepares and is parcel to the entirety of the art. Haruka felt reduced to a mechanical image. Like a wind-up doll he felt meaning castigated, chastised his soul made into a minimal binary of “performing well” and “not performing well” — in that moment, swimming lost meaning to him as something he bonded and became bonded to; it just became a game, a series of performances. Ironically, Judith Butler would call this “performativity” and I go with that theoretical and philosophical practice. It became difficult for Haruka to process his feelings, all his life, from the first season he had a tenacity, a firmness, to love water but also be ordinary. It was crucial to him not to be determined as a prodigy. Maybe, one will say he is a loser but to him the prodigious title was encapsulated with problems. It did not make an appealing gesture, it brought an attention to him, a mechanical and detached attention rather than an enormous empathetic one. To him competition was an event that made him win affection, bonds and a sense of camaraderie-ship with his friends. Swimming was always that to him and competitions expanded that sequence of events, perhaps not chronologically yet astute and enabled his need to breathe and be calm and live a full life.
Swimming had lost that when it became only a sport. Only something that just defined him as an athlete but not a person. It became a lose and cheap term for him. He also got horribly afraid. This was not something he wanted. Not something he was prepared for; the territory and the way it was expressed was not him. He got naturally afraid and did not know this water, this water of only being a sporty person or oriented only in sports. His prodigy is not limited only to performances. So, he got tired and stopped. He was afraid and also this scouting thing made him feel less of what he was. It just made him sad.
Running, it is painfully obvious how this is getting to him:
So, he stopped.
The nightmare that Haruka had was equally terrifying and expressive of performance and what is integral. Like overactive enthusiasm and logical theory it makes him feel claustrophobic and feel wooden. It was very nicely done to explain his psychological state:
This part was a very good development of a character. It was both telling of him and telling of socio-economic and socio-cultural norms that are and should be open to critique. Is an athlete only a name, a performance and a title? To Haruka it was not. Water and understanding water is a large part of his life in fact from the Free! Wiki you can read the director say that water is a vehicle of expression for him. It was a way he communicates. He did not want his communication to be only treated as something like this; something just as a race to determine fastest or slowest. That is why he communicated a breakdown. He stood still. His watery tongue was dry and could not reach his kinesis and state of being.
Haruka Nanase had a mental breakdown.
Was it necessary? Yeah clean as day and night it was. Everyone was so excited that Haruka was a dream of potential success. No one asked if Haruka wanted that kind of success and that kind of exposure. Makoto never asked directly and sure as hell Rin didn’t either. Haruka is subtle — his face in silence makes small ripples and in those silent ripples his body language also moves and wrinkles what he feels. Haruka did not know what to feel because everyone is counting on him to make an impression. But to Haruka he doesn’t want to make one. It is tiring doing that.
In Tumblr many had made gifs, graphics out of this and I remember lingering on a set of images showing Haruka stopping and Rin blinking and interspersed with the confrontation they have at the end. It was heartbreaking to watch a genius, a human character to lose in something that he so passionately loved all because of pressure and apathetic views and intentions of treating him as a performance. It really got me.
With this I think the story wants to question if someone’s love for a sport is just a fancy consumption? Shouldn’t people ask what and why they do so elegantly a sport or an art or a science and actually be understood as whole individuals whose success is not truly always a title but rather also a universe of their own, sacred God-given right to explore and know themselves and others. It is the human element that seems to be askew or replaced by just a perfunctory need to consume brilliance. This brilliance lives short. Like a firefly or butterfly destines to die with so many probabilities of feeling incomplete coerced brilliance makes a beauty into a capital, a taxation of exhaustion and defeat. The Tumblr user yannychigi also beautifully wrote on this:
Can I just give my two cents on this one.
To Haruka, he and the water share a bond no person can ever hope to understand- intimate but based on respect.
What I’ve noticed is that the water is like some sort of mirror. It shapes into form based on the feelings of whoever enters it’s territory.
In this case. Haru.
When Haru’s mind was clear and free of any doubts or insecurities, the water danced with him. Every swish, every splash collided with Haru’s movements.
And it was beautiful.
But during the regionals…
Haru was in darkness. So the water mirrored his heart.
Because there was hesitation and fear…the water hesitated as well.
Instead of syncing with Haru’s swimming, it became the chains that binded Haru to a hault.
And so Haru stopped.
And the chains were no more.
It was almost like the water itself wanted to tell Haru…
“You’re heart is not Free”
“That’s enough, Haru”
“Don’t struggle anymore”
In the entire series, both Free! Iwatobi Swim Club and Free!Eternal Summer, you have never seen Haruka break this badly. Or get mad so furiously. When Rin wants an answer, when Rin wants to know how could he just throw away his future — Haruka just snaps some more and becomes volatile. He just can’t take this impending question of future and a potency of what might be termed as “prodigious future” because to him it feels lifeless, antagonizing and thoroughly not him.
Though we are very close to the end. This was riveting. It was very hard to watch but also very important to the narratives of everything. What do these young men want? What do they need? Rin was at failure to understand that he had trained for this challenge and this moment for almost all of his life. Haruka hadn’t. Haruka may be a genius but his life has run along pretty smoothly till now. What so-called ordinary people may not find challenging prodigies can find frustrating, bothersome and many a times defeating. Haruka did things with ease so a challenge like this was also something he never faced before. Things came to him easily enough just not this. It was very difficult for him to understand this. It was him reaching a point he didn’t before. It was scary, confusing and he didn’t know who to ask to help him. It just happens to be something that he couldn’t overcome at the moment.
It might be pathetic but it’s real. Haruka may be using a bit of escapism but I understand him. Humans are not trained for perfection. They are more inclined for error. It was egregious for everyone to heap all their little toxic bag of expectations on Haruka it was also a limit on him and a non-skill in him to not be dexterous about this. He could have just swam and not care about if he came second or third — he could have swam at his own pace and be happy that what he was feeling regularly or the feelings most intimate to him: loving the feel, heart, texture and mobility of water. But of course he did not know that. Haruka is not really prominent troubleshooter. We have seen this earlier when Nagisa showed up and he couldn’t do much or even recognise that Nagisa is feeling troubled. It is good that by showing this Haruka may have broken the “Mary Sue/Gary Stu” position he had with most people who knew him (audience included). Not to mention he seems a bit repenting about the situation as he feels he let his friends down. Maybe, he also feels he let himself down too. A situation like this is very painful.
Will Haruka get out of this? Maybe, but I had said earlier that even if Haruka did nor fully get into swimming competitively it did not mean anything because he will still be a great, prodigious athletic swimmer. In fact, he could get into professional swimming and also leave it after he felt it satisfied his cravings and be a chief or something else as the chief avatar we see him in the ending theme “Future Fish”.
What matters is that we are being broken out of the idyllic for and of Haruka’s character. All of this has made him more human and more relatable and more of a person than a frigid character. It added layers to other distinct parts of him.
For that I am happy that they took this route — it was very sad and empathetic, very heartbreaking seeing him like that vulnerable and tired and I respected that he did what was honest of him.
Haruka Nanase is growing up. Maturing into a more substantial personal character.
* I know I said I might do an episode by episode summary and analysis but it is getting difficult. I might just do a full review. However, I was writing about episode 2 individually so I might put that up. I am sorry if I disappointed anyone though.