First Impressions

Nostalgia, Touch, and Mix: Meisei Story

When Cross Game initially aired, the small handful of western Mitsuru Adachi went to work, attempting to spread the word of a bestselling Japanese artist who was an unknown in the west. Touch, a domestic phenomenon in Japan, was cited in tandem with Cross Game as his most influential and greatest work. Although Cross Game is more accessible — especially for western anime viewers — and modern, Touch is Adachi’s magnum opus. Mix: Meisei Story is Adachi’s latest, set in the same universe as Touch, decades later.

It’s impossible to talk about Mix without mentioning Touch, but not for the reasons you may think.

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Kappas, kawauso (otters), Mawaru Penguindrum, and more early Sarazanmai speculation

One of the most striking images from the main Sarazanmai preview trailer is of a red stain expanding outwards from an icon of an otter in a heart. The stain looks like a blood droplet spreading across Asakusa just above (or below in relation to this map, which is rotated) the Sumida River. Sarazanmai‘s Asakusa policeman duo of Reo Niiboshi and Mabu Akutsu appear to set this reaction in motion by throwing their hats in the air and yelling about extracting desire — complete with a transformation sequence that includes a lot of rising otter icons and the character “吸” for sucking or extracting. Given that the basic outline of the story involves three junior high school students transformed into kappa in search of tiny balls (shirikodama) inside the anuses of kappa zombies, Reo and Mabu’s presumed transformation where they “milk desire” is already an interesting addition.

The relationship between kappa and otters (kawauso) goes back to Japanese folklore, much like the existence of the shirikodama itself. Sarazanmai director Kunihiko Ikuhara used a kappa and otter motif around the parents of Mawaru Penguindrum‘s Ringo Oginome in a rather insidious way that could tell us a lot about his plans for a similar motif in Sarazanmai.

Major spoilers for Mawaru Penguindrum.

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A slightly-too-early primer of Kunihiko Ikuhara’s Sarazanmai

In two weeks, director Kunihiko Ikuhara’s latest original anime, Sarazanmai, will air in Japan. I’ve found few anime as immersive, both coy and direct with their symbolism, and as emotionally-affecting as Ikuhara’s original works, which include Revolutionary Girl Utena, Mawaru Penguindrum, and Yurikuma Arashi. They all have something important to say and reward watching (and rewatching) with a careful eye. To say that I’m looking forward to Sarazanmai is an understatement.

I rarely preview series, but in the interest of digging into Sarazanmai as soon as possible, and organizing my own thoughts before the first episode airs on April 11, here is a collection of themes that the series may be looking to tackle, based on the information available thus far and Ikuhara’s previous work.

This won’t be as in depth regarding some of the names behind Sarazanmai outside of Ikuhara and a few others. For more on that check out this post at Sakuga Blog. Also special thanks to Good Haro for translation work and providing additional pre-release material.

Major spoilers for Mawaru Penguindrum.

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For Eiji— with Love and Squalor (Banana Fish first impressions)

“What happens to who?”

“The bananafish.”

“Oh, you mean after they eat so many bananas they can’t get out of the banana hole?”

“Yes,” said Sybil.

“Well, I hate to tell you, Sybil. They die.”

“Why?” asked Sybil.

“Well, they get banana fever. It’s a terrible disease.”

-an exchange between Seymour Glass and six year-old Sybil Carpenter, A Perfect Day for Banana Fish, J.D. Salinger

Feature writers are gifted with dialogue. Their task is to then craft a story around those words, which can be a blessing and a curse. How much should be left on the cutting room floor? Should you, the writer, become a narrator?

How much of yourself should you put in a feature?

The line between feature and fiction is often blurred. Authors of fiction draw on their own experiences. Their works are full of personal anecdotes and even when a writer tries to avoid taking a more personal tack their point of view will subconsciously bleed into their words.

What does this have to do with J.D Salinger’s A Perfect Day for Bananafish and Akimi Yoshida’s Banana Fish manga, or the recent anime adaptation?

What is a bananafish?

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To be a center — Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight Episode 1

“The normal happiness, the pleasures of a young girl, all burned away to aim for a distant twinkling.”

-Giraffe, Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight, Episode 1

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