The Queen’s Gambit and what we talk about when we talk about “anime”

Prior to watching the latest Netflix thing that everyone is talking about, The Queen’s Gambit, it was pitched to me by several people as “basically an anime.” Half of the time I saw someone talking about it on social media, or heard one of my friends chatting about it, The Queen’s Gambit was placed side-by-side with an anime-style narrative. I even joked about this myself, saying that it was Shion no Ou — a psychological thriller anime series about a girl who plays shogi — with substance-abuse issues.

The Queen’s Gambit isn’t the first live-action television series that has been compared to anime, nor is it the most frequently-referenced piece of media in a side-by-side comparison. In my esports travails, “anime” often becomes a short-cut for a specific type of narrative, usually in reference to a scrappy upstart team or player making their unlikely way through a gauntlet of strong challengers. Elizabeth Harmon, the wide-eyed lead of The Queen’s Gambit, follows a similar narrative, albeit with a lot more nuance, especially when it comes to her being a prodigious woman in a remarkably male-dominated field. (Watch the show. It’s good.) The constant comparisons of The Queen’s Gambit to anime television series also offer a framework for discussing what we mean when we talk about “anime” in the west, why it’s referenced as a narrative framing device when it’s actually a medium, and maybe a bit of pleading on my part to use a different comparison.

Is The Queen’s Gambit anime?

Are esports anime?

Why ask questions with such a seemingly obvious answer?

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Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul and Riko’s Last Dive

“My mother is waiting for me, after all!”

-Riko, Made In Abyss, Episode 13

Outside of an affirmative yell and calling Nanachi’s name, this is Riko’s last statement within the scope of Made In Abyss‘ 13-episode run. Her mother is waiting for her. She wants to continue adventuring immediately (despite a near life-ending injury among other things). Riko’s entire journey through the Abyss began with her desire to see her mother Lyza again while living in the massive shadow of her mother’s legacy.

(spoilers for Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul)

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Screaming from an office on the 63rd floor (nearly 3,000 words on Reeve Tuesti)

Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VII Remake are anime series, right? Okay, good.

I don’t usually spoiler tag anything because I make the assumption that readers are coming with the knowledge that there will be spoilers but just in case: major plot spoilers for all compilation Final Fantasy VII material including the original game, Remake, and related games/media like Dirge of Cerberus.

Here is way too many words about Reeve Tuesti. If you actually make it to the end of this, thank you. Also, wow. 

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Visual Paneling in Sing “Yesterday” For Me

Paneling — separating out specific still panels like in a comic — appears frequently in anime. Part of this is simply because the source material for many anime comes from manga, and transferring those panels to isolate specific characters from others is an easy visual transition. At other times, it can be used to more clearly show characters’ relationships with each other in an easy-to-digest visual format. Paneling additionally conveys a deliberate thought process especially if panels are revealed in a certain order with precise timing — Masaaki Yuasa’s Ping Pong: The Animation immediately comes to mind.

In Sing “Yesterday” For Me, paneling is used to frame characters’ memories in specific ways that convey their perspective on others or how they subconsciously see other people without them ever saying these thoughts aloud. Panels appear in flashbacks and introductory episode titles, framing how characters think.

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The 2020 Gal & Dino Lookbook

Gal & Dino isn’t perfect. A similarly esoteric follow-up to Pop Team Epic from Jun Aoki and his team at Space Neko Company and Kamikaze Douga, Gal & Dino is comparatively slow, replacing frenzy with a relaxed slice-of-life feel. Pop Team Epic fans may be (and have been) disappointed with this first episode.

But someone on staff knows their fashion magazine photography and I am here for it.

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