Watching a reboot or sequel to a classic favorite is inevitably an awkward endeavor. I first experienced this in anime through Sailor Moon Crystal, a reboot of one of the properties that, among other highly personal things, gave me an initial push down the path of becoming a lifelong anime fan. Crystal was a homecoming at first, then a massive disappointment, then a fun return to a franchise that resonated with me unlike any other media property from elementary school through my own adolescence.
Even returning to Naruto through Boruto was accompanied by an odd feeling of time passing without me. I was never deeply immersed in the world of Naruto, or even too emotionally attached to any of the characters. Despite never finishing the Naruto anime itself, I enjoyed the time I spent watching it and my passive participation in the fandom consuming fanworks. Perhaps this is why Boruto initially registered as a fanwork itself, albeit an official one, in my mind.
Yet, Card Captor Sakura is neither Sailor Moon nor Naruto for me. Revisiting Card Captor Sakura is another, different experience and return to a beloved franchise.
“Just write down where you want to go, be it a place where you can work towards your dream job or a school where you can indulge your hobbies. Some even pick the school that’s closest to home. Any reason is fine.”
-teacher to Cocona, Flip Flappers, Episode 1
The bane of any high school anime character’s existence — which encompasses the vast majority of anime characters — is surely the dreaded career survey. I never had to fill out one myself, but I do know that my choices would have been different for each of the four years of high school: marine biologist, veterinarian, designer, and finally a journalist, the latter of which is my actual career. A career survey is often used to show an uncertain future for an anime protagonist, underline their indecisiveness, or draw out what their true passion might be, the unprofitable one that radiates disappointment when written in the career survey response box. Flip Flappers takes this one step further and adds a veneer of existential dread.
When Cocona is questioned on her inability to choose an answer for her career survey, Cocona responds, “I don’t know which is the best choice.” Not that she doesn’t know where she wants to be — although this is also proven to be true throughout the series’ first four episodes — but she doesn’t know which is the best choice. Rather than concern herself with what she actually wants or where she wants to be, she’s most concerned with making the correct decision, presumably the choice that others will deem the correct one. Any reason is fine, but Cocona doesn’t have a reason. Furthermore, she seeks perfection, not passion. (more…)
When Puella Magi Madoka Magica initially aired in 2011, watching it was an experience. Following up on my experience with Star Driver, Madoka was the second water cooler series that I participated in, eagerly vomiting my thoughts into the ether, and chatting with various people on Twitter about the show. When the final two episodes were released, I was one of the eager fans continuously refreshing their browser while waiting for translations. Watching the finale as soon as I possibly could following the fansubbed releases, I jumped into the fray that was unpacking the entire series with vigor.
A reliable constant in Japanese school children or young adults fighting off the forces of evil is the necessity to transform into something else. Something that is not quite one’s self, but also an extension of one’s self, escaping the certainty that one won’t be able to do something and entering the powerful realm of possibility that one can.