Getting Along with Hopelessness: The Existential Joy of Girls’ Last Tour

Part 1: Zetsubou~, Zetsubou~, Zetsubou~

…So there was no hope after all. All those years, toiling away alone…. But well, now that I’ve failed…I feel so relaxed.
~Ishii, Chapter 16

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Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryouko, localized as Girls’ Last Tour, is a series by Tsukumizu that focuses on Chito and Yuuri, two girls driving around a post-apocalyptic world in a Kettenkrad, continuously moving, scavenging for food, shelter, and fuel wherever they can find it. It’s a Sisyphean existence where nothing is gained or accomplished past being replenishing their reserves to keep moving. They have no purpose beyond continuing their own existence.

Most stories set in a post-apocalyptic, posthuman world¬† would focus on the existential despair and dread of being alone in the world, without purpose, and constantly confronted with mortality. However, when Girls’ Last Tour delves into these ideas, it does so in a way that I can only describe as “existential joy.” Continue reading “Getting Along with Hopelessness: The Existential Joy of Girls’ Last Tour”

Bugshrugs: My Thoughts on Piracy

Boy, piracy sure has been a hot topic in the anime community lately, hasn’t it? Hulu has removed their free subscription option and removed much of the anime from their back catalogue. Anime Strike’s double paywall and inaccessibility in regions outside of America causes controversy. Many people were forced to actually confront Netflix’s model of only releasing airing anime after the series has finished when they got the rights to the highly anticipated Little Witch Academia. Crunchyroll came under fire for quietly lowering the video quality on much of their back catalogue.¬† And most recently, the most well-known and popular anime torrent site has shut down. So the conversation has become incredibly relevant again. Which of course means it’s time for me to weigh in.

Short answer? I’m not anti-piracy. Continue reading “Bugshrugs: My Thoughts on Piracy”

Bugshrugs: Anime is not Anime

Fairly recently, a debate broke out in the anime community after moderators on Reddit’s r/anime board banned discussion of the music video for Porter Robinson’s “Shelter” on the grounds that, despite being animated by a Japanese studio (A-1 Pictures), it’s “not anime” because of an American creator’s involvement. This upset many people who saw no reason not to define it as anime, and the whole “what exactly is anime” argument broke out again.

I think I’ve come to a pretty clear stance on where I draw the line that everyone’s trying to discuss (anime is an animated product in which culturally Japanese creators have the biggest influence), but I’m actually going to take another stance in addition to this: anime is not just anime. Continue reading “Bugshrugs: Anime is not Anime”

Third Seat by the Window Episode 2: A Hole in the Water

Buggy and Chris are joined by Amphituber to talk about the horror genre in anime and to try to get to the bottom of why exactly it has a reputation of sucking. Continue reading “Third Seat by the Window Episode 2: A Hole in the Water”

Born With a Silver Spoon: The Themes of Silver Spoon

A quick note: if you haven’t already read it, I would highly recommend reading my previous blog post on the setting of Silver Spoon, as the setting is a highly important lense the themes of the series are viewed through. In addition, this post will contain spoilers for the manga past the point the anime covers. As it’s a slice-of-life, there aren’t any groundbreaking plot twists, but if you want to experience the manga entirely for yourself, you should do so before reading this article.

Silver Spoon, as a slice-of-life, has a plot that’s going on mostly in the background. However, it does have very strong themes that are presented almost immediately.

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“There’s a saying in other countries that saying those born holding a silver spoon will never want for food as long as they live. It’s like a symbol of prosperity.”
“I’ve heard that in some places, they give a silver spoon to a newborn in the hopes that they will never have to worry about going hungry. Times are hard right now in this recession, but you could say that all the kids born into farming families had a silver spoon because they don’t have to worry about not being able to make their livelihood.”
~Mayumi Yoshino and Aki Mikage, Chapter 63

The idiom “born with a silver spoon in his/her mouth” is generally used to describe someone as being born into wealth and privilege. It’s a good idiom in a lot of ways. Silver implies money. The fact they’re born with it in their mouth implies that no work needs be done and that others will provide for them. But, most importantly for this series, it implies that the subject will not want for food, one of the most basic needs of humans.

Silver Spoon focuses on that last part and consequently twists the meaning of the idiom a bit. You don’t need a lot of material things other than food. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have money; if you can eat, you can survive. And if you can produce that food by yourself, that’s what truly makes someone blessed. That’s why the school hangs a silver spoon above the dining hall: to tell the students–and the reader–that wealth is not nearly as important as self-sufficiency. Continue reading “Born With a Silver Spoon: The Themes of Silver Spoon”