Some observations on Mako, Makorra and Masami from Legend of Korra

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.

 

 

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Written a lot about this — Korra and Korrasami with Makorra

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 written independently 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:

Legend of Korra, Book 3: “Change”  Criticism

Korra Season 3 Comes to An End

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  4  breakup or no breakup  they just do, both context and subtext affirms it as a romance with mutually concerted feelings — it’s pretty confusing.

Sekaiichi Hatsukoi— How Ritsu Onodera can be a good shounen protagonist in another anime

 

Yes, this is a shounen-ai anime.

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.

My foot.

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.

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Ritsu looks great when he is aroused My God such a beautiful man
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Yeah Masamune stop being a jerk

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.

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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).

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Yeah Yokozawa catches Ritsu being sexually harassed I mean well with Masamune LOL

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Free! Eternal Summer Epilogue — is it also Finale to the whole series?

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.

Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus – 10 (End) and Series Review | Lost in America: Anime & More

 

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 🙂

via Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus – 10 (End) and Series Review | Lost in America: Anime & More.

Kiniro no Corda 1 – METANORN

Kiniro no Corda 1 – METANORN.

It’s hard as fuck to dissect otome games or ecchi games and animes so I do give ample credit who can see some slivers of brillainces in these genres (there are some flotsam about)

I think this anime could have had 20 episodes given that it has such a wide range of characters. Does it do well in 12? I will give my own review but I think it can do more. Kiniro no Corda franchise to me stands out as it has an actual appreciation for music classical music and how to play instruments. Unlike Uta no Prince-sama where there are vague and even at times pathetic ways in which a character’s non-existent music sheet is developed Kiniro no Corda actually has the protagonist work to get to some level of genius.

So yeah unlike Kahoko Hino who is so absent in this anime which is supposedly 8 years after her story Kanade is less personality typed but is expressive as The Pantless Anime Blogger expertly noted.

I will give my own review shortly.

via Kiniro no Corda 1 – METANORN.

Watched Free! Iwatobi Swim Club Second Tv series/Season 2 Eternal Summer Episode 1

Massive Spoilers Ahead → take a detour if not want to be spoiled

* This is an ongoing series and as I did not cap it I am borrowing caps made by others from Tumblr but giving them credit for their work. Sorry for this.

As usual we are treated to hot, muscular, slender bodies that are associated with a swim stars’ physiques. As usual there is both heterosexual vibes in the guise of Gou Matsuoka who is Rin Matsuoka younger sister and still the rambunctious manager of the Iwatobi swim team.  Yet this anime does have the shounen-ai flare. It is marketed with that sense that it will also satiate a boys’ love niche. I don’t have any complications with that. Many sports anime of this era have these secretions (oops innuendo :)), however, I hope that it does not tone down, alleviate the complexities of the story.

When we first see Makoto trying to call Haruka from http://lolitsgabe.tumblr.com/

Many of you might be asking what story? I know that Free! caters a lot to erotica or even sexual responses. I mean many would say that it is a bit like K-On! only with guys. It’s story type is linear-based jumping from some conflict or the other. But then there were moments that it really goes full swing and caters to another level of responses; the ones that deal with adrenalin, the ones that make you want to these young adults and their inner mysteries. There are many things of Haruka Nanase that I really desire to know; quite pithy remarks that he said from the very beginning of the anime in the first TV series where he actually did not mind if he would not be called a swimming prodigy anymore and actually preferred that he becomes what can be called normal. This attenuates to what people think he is and who is. They usually just associate him to be a dry fish out of land; an oddball, an arrogant jerk but he is not that at all.

Rin and Haruka from http://agermanfulloflove.tumblr.com/

He loves swimming for the art of swimming, for the sake of swimming not to be adorned with medals and accolades. And that is something tricky at times. We see this. It is tricky because it is beautifully there and at the same time in the world of sports where one aspires to be a pioneering legend,m prefers to win as it is an arena fully based and blasted on performativity and competitiveness it feels very subtle and strong at the same time.  It leaves its mark. I don’t like that this complexity of Haruka gets toned down only to him being some babe on swimwear; no character, male or female, deserves that especially when they possess such depth. Like water he feels almost non-consequential as a calm surface but he is actually a possessor of depth.  Other details of Haruka that were not so divulged: he is very good at art — sketching and sculpting; it naturally comes to him (maybe he has some school practice because in Japanese schoold from a young age they do make you do a lot of activities both considered academic ones and non-academic ones. However, that does not deny he has a natural talent as he effortlessly understands structure and lines with shading).  This is interdisciplinary strokes as its best. When you understand God given water so well you can do well in art; swimming as he does helps him maneuver in seas and see a lot of detail so his hand muscles and perception are easily polished by swimming like that. So yeah God given talents both flow into each other like an atomic circuit.

The characters in this show have a lot of potential to be complex. They have all the ingredients for it. I see it shining in the hot fire in Haruka Nanase’s eyes, or even Rin’s atypical sharp, sharp toothed smiles or gestures. When Rin is sad it fades but the visuals of this anime are excellent. From the very first season/Tv series I saw that in each slide; the colour palette is crisp and tantalizing fluid, like some segments of water; the colours have an aquamarine tint to them. Also the characters at this point are 2-Dimensional. They have a lot of eccentric qualities that merits beautiful narratives. The only “normal” bishie is a chibi-type Nagisa who jumps on and about but as this second show’s first episode showed that even has a muscular trait that sets him out: it’s his strong calves. That is actually very good for breast stroke because the calves work as a sort of pulley effect against the water (in my understanding; also he does say he specializes in breast strokes). Yet he even he wields more than a fanboy status and has all the qualities these seniors (excluding Rei who is his batch mate) have. Rei has proven he is a prodigy in his own right.  Going up against Makoshiba Rin’s school captain, when he is still a novice and doing pretty good.

Haru also has the proclivity to just bare himself; I nicknamed him water exhibitionist XD from http://azbees.tumblr.com/

Of course, like the first TV series there is a complication. Only this time it’s not Rin being a jerk it’s his boyfriend friend being that. Sousuke is the new character introduced. We see him already in the the opening theme. Let;s say he is designed to be Rin’s Makoto. He has similar traits to Makoto. The hair is darker brown and the eyes are aquamarine. But he does scream that. Only thing is that he is not at all like Makoto who is quite sweet. Like Rin’s previous attitude he has a big aggression. And yeah it is directed to Haruka. I am already guessing why. He must think Haruka is destroying Rin’s aspirations and that he doesn’t deserve Rin’s strong feelings or friendships. That part is quite predictable.  Though I am happy there is a new character I just don’t like the fact that he is the typical “buddy-fetish” one. I hope they don’t narrow his dimensions. Sousuke Yamazaki can be more than eye candy and also Rin’s substitute boyfriend. I wonder if Sousuke actually is angry because he feels that Haruka torn his swimming partner too? Though I would actually find it interesting if Sousuke wants to throw down Rin from his captain position and say he thinks Rin is too emotional to be a swimming athlete. That would be a total u-curve and I would appreciate it a lot.  I think fans may find that also an appealing surprise.

The first episode mostly shows the bodies; the flexible, dexterous swimmers are all lining up, warming up in a way for summer may be coming soon and they want to sharpen their reflexes and breath gauge before that happens. Of course, this allows multiple fanservice to be showcased with some slice of life warm stew put into the mix. The Iwatobi Swim Club lacks facilities and also people, in contrast Rin’s schoo, Samezuki Gakuen, has people trying out all the time and have a good handful of members. This paucity is nicely shown in the absurdly hilarious way in which Haruka and friends try to recruit models using weird amateur film slides and modeling their physiques and expertise to a crowd, a bit surprisingly, full of girls. They, ironically, find this to be too brazen and whisper this amongst themselves. The Iwatobi Swim team realizes the lack of suitable members or fans. Rin is promoted to captain, reluctantly, but he seems a very good leader: all he has to do to recruit members is to give a few trial specs (there is a actually a standard  they have to beat in their academy to actually make it to the team whilst Iwatobi has to be happy with any volunteer) and they go at it. In the midst of a bickering Gou and Rei, a sighing Nagisa and an optimistic Makoto Haruka tells how he feels. He would just like to have a member who likes swimming much to the dismay of Nagisa. A sliver of the gem in the episode (will Sousuke be that one?).

The ex captain from http://azbees.tumblr.com/

I was a bit surprised that Rin has not transferred to Iwatobi school as of yet. I was pretty surprised to see him. Apparently, this is not well discussed but it is shown in a small flashback that because Rin swam with Haruka in a tournament as part of the same team though they are not it did cause repercussions; maybe severe ones. Rin said he will fix it. Unfortunately, his captain handed him the mantle as the fix. Maybe he thinks he is doing Rin a favour as an Olympic swimmer doesn’t swim always with a group he favours or likes or his friends. Clearly, Rin is not too happy about it. Maybe, there is some disparity over what he really wants. Though in a later segment he clearly states, or rather ambitiously, that his goal is the same; to swim in Nationals and go through to the Olympics. I was a bit surprised because I though like Haru he wanted to swim with his friends; maybe, he wants both and the first tv series was dedicated in showing him that he wants both. That is not bad at all. Rather it adds to his character and doesn’t make him a whimsical bumpkin.

There are two swimming matches in this episode. First is a sudden 400m Freestyle medley suggested by departing captain Makishoba of Samezuki Gakuen with the Iwatobi team. In that one it is hinted that Rin did beat Haru again. This is what I like about this show. Haru is not some stereotypical Shounen lad always winning. He actually loses and doesn’t care and attempts to learn from it.  It is also good sportmanship from Rin not to gloat. There is a potential, a watery fire, inside Haruka. There is no reason to oust him as his rival anytime soon. Rivals are not always made by wins and loses it is made by perseverance, compatible wavelengths and a deeply respect and understanding between two individuals. And if your rival is your friend you are at times lucky methinks as you can trust that there will be less foul play in the field.

Before the second match the team heads to their old Iwatobi Swim Club building which has been reconstructed (weird whacky way in which the construction company meant to bulldoze it suddenly had a company shutdown and their old teacher, Goro, decided to buy it partly and salvage parts and just rebuild it).  Their own pool is still dirty and closed for winter and as it is open-air it would be unpractical and against regulations to swim in it. They swim in the club instead prepping for the match while Sousuke (not revealed at that time) carefully observes Haruka.

Sousuke from http://akanenishihara.tumblr.com/

In the second match, which is like a general non-pro tournament, Rin and Haruka go off against each other again. With innuendo laden speech said beforehand (how Rin plans to make Haruka’s cold face heat up O_O)

from ganta again

and then with crisp visuals they show them underwater. Their speedy swimming is captured in gaspy faces as though…you get it. But then technique overpowers fanservice. Rin who was in the lead sees Haruka gaining up after the turnover. Haruka realizes that Rin has much practice than him, though he mentions he has been training, so he conserved his energy but then went full on to catch up to Rin. I actually started cheering as the adrenalin got high. They both finished at the exact same time getting a new record in the tournament and Rin high fives Haruka. Then happily said he knew he would get him fired up to which Haruka remarks that he is still normal.

High Five from http://agermanfulloflove.tumblr.com/

Afterwards he get treated to a visual feast. Not of swimming bodies. But of a cleaned Iwatobi pool. And submerged and floating in them are lovely cherry blossoms. Haru remembered that Rin wanted to swim in a cherry blossom filled pool when they were young,. Making captain means he deserves a nice surprise. The tactic didn’t work to recruit anyone but at least Rin gets what he wanted. Well, during their bickering it starts to suddenly winter rain and they head in. That is when Rin asks Makoto and Haru what they plan to do after high school as he clearing swimming that swim route or plans to. Makoto laughs it that he is undecided. Haru honestly answers with a blank. Making Rin realize they haven’t thought of anything yet.

The visual treat I took from http://f-uwa.tumblr.com/
Namasu at http://kara.sunoo.me/ made this beauitiful gif

This angle is organic and nicely done that I liked it  a lot. Like many young adults and adolescents high school is the pinnacle of existence as in you do that and other things thinking it is permanent. It never is. Haruka is too obsessed with swimming so he hardly thought about it. Makoto’s laugh (as I realized after reading Tumblr posts that suggest that once he was suicidal) is an aversion technique at times. Perhaps he is so used to the team especially picking up Haruka and all that (bromance to the max) that he hasn’t gotten or doesn’t want to think about a separate life. Makoto, from my experience of the character, is at times cheery because he gets depressed and sad easily. He is more attached than Nagisa and at times uses smiles as a way to hide his worries. I am also thinking that Makoto may have already decided what he wants and just doesn’t want to say it yet. Probably because Haruka also gets sad intensely from time to time. I was thinking Makoto may have decided to go to university but feels panicky about leaving the others. It happens amongst friends of such closeness.

Makto and Haru from http://ganta.tumblr.com/

That is pretty much the episode.  It ends with Sousuke joining Rin’s academy and we finally getting to see his face on screen pass OP theme. It the preview it shows that he haughtily corners Haruka. Already ready to start the tension of competition.

About the question that what they will be when they graduate high school. The whole ending thing was somewhat dedicated to that:

Yeah Run thurst from http://hcandersen.tumblr.com/

No, he is supposed to be an actual cop not a stripper. Yeah, I know hypnotic hips (laughs). Makoto becomes a fireman, Nagisa an astronaut which was one that really confused me (I did not know he was interested in those things like that but yeah I am all for it), Rei is a scientist and Haruka aside from some mermaid shots happens to be a chef  (cooking mackerel all the time gets you places I guess).

The show may be centering on the narrative that you may have a dream in sports but if you don’t make it or after that you might have other dreams. I think I really liked that they are going with this message. Many a times we think Rin is just pursuing Olympic medals because his father had him and his sister and couldn’t go for it. I think he is forgetting that his fathers dreams may have changed or that he had other dreams. The anime may be showing that there are more to sportsman than sports and that your God given life is not over till its over and that you can do many other stuff you want to do. Though yeah the ED theme is also sexy but it does bring out that message too,

Overall, if Free! can break its own confines and just be complex as well as fanservicey from time to time it can be very interesting. A lot of shows, recently, have been so fanservicey that it would be nice to see non-fanservice qualities in a show that is so liked for fanservice. Breaking its presumptions and just upping its game.

* * Vistit http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/free!-eternal-summer for fun gifs and caps

Slam Dunk — One of the classics

The Shohoku High School Basketball Team along ...
Image via Wikipedia

Slam Dunk is probably one of the most memorable animes from the 90’s and actually one of the best animes of all time. I was, however, introduced to it when I saw it in 2008 (MANY YEARS LATER I KNOW) when they aired it in Animax. Now most people know that most popular animes focus on martial arts, fantasy, comedy, blood, gore pretty boys, pretty girls, action and/or drama with a combination therewith — Slam Dunk did not really have those but did have them in another way. It packed tons of comedy, had some violence in the form of fighting, had drama and was able to install pretty boys and pretty girls without having the otaku (Japanese denotation) — its most unique feature is that it was primarily a sports anime and its main focus was basketball and how protagonist Hanamichi Sakuragi learns how to play it and becoming an athlete in his own way.

Hanamichi Sakuragi is one of the most memorable characters in anime — initially he is an academic failure, schoolyard “gangstar” and never romantically inclined (he has so many rejections that it makes many of us happy with ourselves) — enter Haruko Akagi, a very beautiful young highschool freshman like him and attends Shohoku High with him. Seeing his height and athletic build she asks him if he wants to play basketball — this begins the journey that is Slam Dunk.

What he starts out initially to impress his crush turns out to challenge him and make him stand out. The young Hanamichi is good at fighting but can he fight without fists? Can he dodge without letting others get to him? Can he defend without a foul? Can he master the slam dunk, three pointer and the rebound?

This anime is beautiful because it fuses a fantastic sport with the actual trials and tribulations of life — if you know nothing about basketball be prepared to learn with Hanamichi in an effective, non-boring manner that’ll stick.

Every character in this anime has such three dimensional substance that one cannot refuse to love them. We have Hanamichi Sakuragi the loveable lead but his “rival” and opposite Kaeda Rukawa — who is handsome, cool, attractive to girls (got a big fan club) and is the apple of his crush’s eye — unlike Hanamichi he seems so not reactive about things and is only emotional about basketball; the only thing he and Hanamchi share are bad grades.

The captain of the Shohoku High Basketball team, Haruko’s older brother, Takenori, is fierce and passionate of his team and basketball and he is not gonna let anyone mess it up. Though he is kind of shown as an unattractive character aesthetically I find him quite handsome and amazing as a personality. Then of course there is Ryota, a guy Hanamichi feels like his pal on the team and Mitsui the rebellious troublemaker, the judo captain who wants to recruit Hanamichi for his tea and Hanamichi’s gang who also attend Shohoku.

Aside from our main characters at Shohoku there are other teams that serve as rivals to it that increases both the intellectual and entertaining quality of this entire series. The main rival — compatibly — is Ryounan and its ace player Akira Sendoh (guy is hard to miss with his signature Guile-like hairstyle) who is more matched up with Kaeda but finds a rival in Hanamichi. Then of course there are the top players of Shoyo and Kainan (who are the undefeated champs) It takes Hanamichi a lot of practice and laughs along the way to hone his skills in the entire series. The series does not only focus on Hanamichi’s basketball development but focuses on how other characters grow too in their skills and learn to find their strengths in the court. It really does illustrate how athletes live, grow and learn.

It is also one of the longest series with reasonable sized episodes coming up at 101 episodes (it has memorable opening and ending themes as well)

Overall Slam Dunk will remain as one of my favourite animes of all time and one of the best animes to come hit the storyboard.