Character Study

Yayaka’s World (and a few stray thoughts on Flip Flappers’ Pure Illusion)

yayaka and chemical plants flip flappers OP serendipity, flip flappers op yayaka blows up chemical plants in front of a fence, yayaka in the flip flappers OP serendipity

Yayaka is an intriguing character. Her story isn’t unique, but her presentation throughout the series leads to some of the most compelling scenes in all of Flip Flappers.

She straddles two worlds and is torn in opposite directions. She’s an odd woman out to Cocona and Papika’s burgeoning relationship but also a key part of their primary trio. She is a necessary catalyst in their Episode 12 reconciliation but in reuniting the two, sidelines herself in the process. At the end of the series, all Yayaka can do is cheer them on, physically restrained by Cocona’s pet rabbit, Uexküll.

(more…)

Knowing What She Knows: Tsubasa Hanekawa

hanekawa tsubasa owarimonogatari sodachi, you're not trying to be happy hanekawa to sodachi oikura, hanekawa and oikura owarimonogatari, sodachi lost, tsubasa hanekawa talks to sodachi oikura

“You’re not happy because you’re not trying to be happy. Nobody can make someone who isn’t trying to be happy into someone that’s happy.”

-Tsubasa Hanekawa to Sodachi Oikura, Owarimonogatari, Episode 5

Had this line been spoken by anyone but Tsubasa Hanekawa, it would have rightfully been dismissed as a treacly platitude, meant to prod the recipient into action. Instead, it acts as a powerful summation of all that Hanekawa has gone through in search of her own happiness and self-acceptance. Hanekawa was in Sodachi Oikura’s figurative shoes not long ago, and remembers all too well how she blocked out vital parts of herself in pursuit of perfection rather than addressing her innermost desires and seeking out personal contentment.

Owarimonogatari‘s Sodachi Oikura offers not only a reminder of the Hanekawa of Nekomonogataris past, but additionally provides a mystery on which the new, self-assured Hanekawa can cut her teeth.

(more…)

Tippecanoe and Pariston Hill Too

pariston hill, pariston, 13th hunter chairman election arc, hunter x hunter, hxh, election arc

Following Chimera Ant – where Hunter x Hunter challenges humanity’s collective existential crisis in an arc that is equal parts uplifting and depressing – manga artist Yoshihiro Togashi knew exactly what his emotionally exhausted viewers needed. Someone to hate. Pariston Hill fits this role perfectly.

(more…)

A Life in Stasis: Chisaki Hiradaira

chisaki hiradaira, nagi no asukara, nagiasu, nagi-asu: a lull in the sea, chisaki, salt flake snow

“Because, I have to change…so…”

“So that’s what ‘change’ means to you?”

“I mean, that’s what it means to become an adult, right? You can’t just keep thinking about yourself, and you have to keep moving forward.”

“So that’s why you’re neglecting your feelings, because you can’t forgive the person you are now.”

-A conversation between Chisaki Hiradaira and Tsumugu Kihara, Nagi no Asukara, episode 9

Five years following the above conversation, Chisaki’s childhood friend – and the object of her affection – Hikari Sakishima, emerges from stasis underneath the sea. He is unchanged from his 14 year-old self, both physically and mentally, while Chisaki, having spent those same five years on land, has grown into an awkward 19 year-old.

Although the term “arrested development” is no longer used in developmental psychology, a loose definition of the term applies to what Chisaki has done to herself in these five years without Hikari and the entirety of the hibernating sea community. Forcibly separated from her family and friends in the Ofunehiki accident, the broken 14 year-old Chisaki is taken in by Tsumugu’s grandfather. She graduates high school and looks after her surrogate grandfather while Tsumugu attends university. Her conversations with Tsumugu, when they do speak to one another, are stilted and punctuated with short phrases and long pauses.

There is little to suggest, in what we see of their relationship as well as Chisaki’s interactions with others, that Chisaki has allowed herself to grow at all. The scenery of Nagi no Asukara visually and aurally reinforces Chisaki’s state of mind. Cheery sunlit images of a lazy seaside town are replaced with the color palette of a constant sunset. Instead of the relaxing sound of ocean waves, the ominous dull thudding of ice floes can be heard. Like Chisaki, the town may have aged five years, but it too has gone into hibernation. The series constantly reminds us – through her character design and casual remarks from friends and family – that Chisaki is now physically 19; however, she hasn’t allowed herself to live through the past five years without Hikari, placing herself into a forced emotional stasis.

(more…)

From this pile of dust into the ideal woman: Nadeko Sengoku

nadeko, bakemonogatari, monogatari, kuchikawa, nadeko medusa, nadeko snake, sengoku nadeko

“Acting nice is a childish profession – pretending you’re someone else, and at the same time, selling yourself.”

-Katherine Hepburn

Watching the fall, for lack of a better term, of Nadeko Sengoku is fascinating. It runs parallel to the cliched response upon seeing a trainwreck – “I simply could not look away! It was awful! Let me tell you how awful it was in gory detail!” – with an added air of delight. Typically, when we watch our idols “fall,” be them the quiet, pretty, girl-next-door, or the latest and greatest in pop music, there is an air of superiority that we’re encouraged to feel while watching the entire event.

Yet, I did not feel superior to Nadeko watching her cavort in a pool of blood. I was rooting for her. I wanted her to destroy everything.

(more…)