March 9, 2014 § 2 Comments
Nagi no Asukara is the story of two subsects of humanity: land-dwellers and sea-dwellers. As the culture of humanity on land grows, the more separate the culture of the sea becomes. Catastrophe draws ever closer as the population of the once-vibrant sea community dwindles, and the near-forgotten sea god preparing to freeze the land, tipping the balance of power back to the sea in the distant future. Faced with this calamity, four junior high school students, the last of the sea population’s youth, are caught in the friction between land and sea.
Four friends from a village beneath the ocean become unwitting ambassadors to a village on land when their own school closes down due to a lack of students. Tensions run high between the children from both the land and sea; however, as Nagi no Asukara progresses, individuals begin to form strong relationships, romantic or otherwise. These bonds lead to additional tension and understanding as the adolescents struggle to express or hide their respective emotions while a calamity looms in the horizon.
The two paragraphs above are plot synopses for the same series: Nagi no Asukara. One focuses on the social and political narrative within the series, while the other focuses specifically on the character relationships. Chances are, if you are a viewer of the series, your emotional investment is firmly entrenched in the latter, rather than the former. It’s difficult to care about the overarching narrative of the world slowly going into a deep freeze when all you want is for Miuna Shiodome to find her happiness. It is a credit to the writing of Nagi no Asukara, headed by series composer Mari Okada, that it integrates both stories so well.
March 7, 2014 § 8 Comments
My father lost his job this past January, coincidentally while I was paying them a short visit. It did not come as a surprise to him and – although I wouldn’t put it past him to hesitate discussing his emotions with his daughter – he seems pretty happy about retiring for good, puttering around the house playing Myst or Riven for the 15th time or reading The Hunger Games.
One of the reasons he cited for being fairly happy was that he hadn’t liked how his workload had continued to increase in the latter part of his career. He had felt pressure to be on-call at hours outside of his scheduled work time, and had seen others’ personal lives slowly assimilate into their office lives until they were nearly one and the same. Specifically, he had seen this in his younger peers, and assumed that they would hire a younger person to replace him, who would be willing to do all of these things.
I pushed back, citing that in such a poor economy, companies know that they can get away with overworking younger individuals, often in ways that are significantly detrimental to their physical and emotional health, because said individuals don’t have a choice. The job market is so poor that they will push themselves in lieu of having any social life or significant relationships, because they need the money. Companies know this and take advantage of it. It is not simply that they want to push older workers out in favor of younger, fresher talent, it’s that they additionally want the largest amount of work done for as little money invested as possible.
March 4, 2014 § Leave a comment
A pitfall I fell into during junior high school was making tenuous and superficial friendships based on my concentrated efforts to fit in with my classmates. This would come back to haunt me my second year when I missed nearly two months of school due to illness. Keeping up my studies by sending in homework and reading the textbooks at home, I did not fall too far behind in schoolwork. This was fortunate, as it meant that I could go back to school once I had wholly recovered instead of continuing to wander around the house, lonely.
The night before returning to school, I dreamed of how my reintroduction would go. I would command attention as soon as I walked into the classroom. Everyone would be concerned about my welfare, asking me where I’d been and if I was okay. In these delusions, I somehow forgot that I was a self-centered junior high school student who had not opened up to anyone prior to falling ill.
March 3, 2014 § 5 Comments
“No matter what anyone says, I own the ground I stand upon. That’s the first step to conquering the world.”
-Kate Hoshimiya, World Conquest Zvezda Plot, episode 1
While driving to work last week, I glanced towards the on-ramp immediately before my exit, as I usually do. Accelerating down the on-ramp was a large, black sport utility vehicle. Judging the distance between my speed and theirs, the length of the on-ramp, and the distance that I was traveling on the highway, it appeared to me that I would pass the entrance before that vehicle. I sped up a bit, just to be safe. Simultaneously, they sped up and continued to accelerate. I sped up a bit more. They continued accelerating. This went on until I was forced to slow down, allowing the other car to merge onto the highway ahead of my vehicle’s position. The interstate belongs to no car, but at that moment, that sport utility vehicle owned the highway, and I had been thoroughly conquered.
February 26, 2014 § 4 Comments
“I believe there are three ways to make people happy. There are those who make many people happy throughout the world, there are those who make those around themselves happy, and those who make themselves happy.”
-Mayu Shimada, Wake Up, Girls! Seven Idols
Considering the three options above, Airi Hayashida is most successful in making those around her happy. She is the least naturally-talented, admitting in her audition paperwork that she has never sung nor danced before, and wants to become an idol to improve her confidence. Airi is two red hair ribbons away from being Haruka Amami (The Idolm@ster) with Wake Up, Girls! treating her inner demons with genuine care. We knew that Airi would not quit, and that the group would somehow find a way to both keep her as a member and stay together under Tasuku Hayasaka’s tutelage; however, the nuance with which Wake Up, Girls! presents her situation allows the series to shine above its other idol brethren.