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Bungou Stray Dogs and Takuya Igarashi’s Visual Comedy

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It’s been a short while since we’ve seen Takuya Igarashi and Yoji Enokido together. The last time they teamed up as director and series composer/screenwriter respectively was 2014 Spring’s Captain Earth. Prior to that, the two worked together on Star Driver. Captain Earth started off strong — especially when it came to visuals and cinematography — but lacked Star Driver‘s self-awareness and over-the-top silliness while telling a similar story of adolescence and robots.

In fact, as a director and writer team, Igarashi and Enokido often seem more at home with comedic moments,  or combining over-the-top comedy with a few poignant emotional narratives, than he does when attempting something wholly serious.

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Madoka, Madoka, Madoka, and Me

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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.

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Search For Your Love: DokiDoki! Precure

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Watching Dokidoki! Precure is similar to revisiting Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars without the sepia-tinged glasses of nostalgia. When I was much younger and discovering anime through borrowing VHS tapes from a store in Boston, Sailor Stars was an experience. It was completely new to me and my friends – having only seen the North American dubbed seasons – and we ate it up. I often revisit Sailor Stars, in spite of its many issues and it’s place in my personal viewing history, as it has a lot to offer in the form of a magical girl template. A template that Dokidoki! was all too eager to follow.

By throwing in everything and anything, Dokidoki! diffuses a viewer’s focus enough to make them care about very little in the series, as there’s simply too much to care about. Additionally, it spins its wheels in the middling episodes, wasting the momentum gained from Cure Ace’s introduction along with pushing the character of Regina completely aside before reintroducing her as a key component of the series’ finale. I did struggle to watch at times, which naturally raises the question of why I bothered to finish it at all. Admittedly, much of this was driven by nostalgia, as one of my favorite series, Sailor Stars, drew a clear road map that Dokidoki! followed to both its benefit and detriment.

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The Doubting Homura

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“Won’t you believe in the answer that the one you have protected all this time has found?”

-Madoka Kaname, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, episode 12.

When I was young, my mother would walk every Sunday to the Roman Catholic church down the street with two neatly-dressed, freshly-showered children in tow. We were hardly kicking and screaming, but like most children, my brother and I were often reluctant, and found various, harmless ways of entertaining each other in mass: singing hymns in horrible British accents, or providing whispered commentary on others’ outfits. That being said, there were times when the messages from the mass would truly engage me, when I found the stories themselves interesting, and I would listen with rapt attention, in spite of the fact that I wouldn’t be able to contextualize these messages until I was much older.

One such story that stands out in my mind is that of the apostle Thomas, not necessarily due to the message of the story itself, but my mother’s relationship with it. Every year, shortly following Christmas, my mother would look forward to this particular piece of scripture, involving Thomas. When I was around eight or so, I remember asking her why. She looked down at me with a smile from the seat on my right and said something to the effect of that it was the one time when a passage directly referenced her: a person who believes in spite of not having seen.

Truly believing in others, after all, is one of the most difficult things to do.

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Chaos is in the hearts of everyone: Madoka, Usagi, and placing your faith in humanity.

“Is Chaos gone?”

“I think it went back to where it belongs.

“Where it belongs?”

“Yes, back to people’s minds.”

-A conversation between Sailor Galaxia and Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars, episode 200

Placing your trust in one other person is difficult. Placing your trust in the entirety of humanity is nothing short of godlike. Before Madoka Kaname made her wish, Usagi Tsukino set a guidepost.

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