The Reality of Me

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Serial Experiments Lain

After a discussion with a parent of my son’s friend, I was given what he considers to be a great, albeit confounding and complex, show: Serial Experiments Lain. He said he’s watched it about 7 times and is just starting to feel like he’s getting it.

A 13 episode show that originally ran in 1998 is a visual treat to watch, but don’t expect a light anime: this is some deep stuff folks.

The story revolves around Lain Iwakura, an adolescent girl living in Japan. It begins after a series of emails had been sent out post mortem by a classmate of Lain’s who had committed suicide.The emails stated that she was not really dead, but merely had abandoned her body and was now living in the “Wired” (what would be the internet today). Lain gets one of these email as well and off the story goes into a complex web of notions (and discussions) around religion, consciousness, technology, identity, and any number of things one could wrap into this. images (8)

Deep? Yes.

It is a show that is hard to describe and I tend to not enjoy giving the entire synopsis’s of shows anyway. If you like something that is going to challenge you mentally: give it a try.

Like I said in the beginning: the show is visually striking. Since it is a little older some of the character designs may be clunkier than you are used to.

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But the art direction and backgrounds are very appealing.

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Attention Parents: There is some graphic death scenes that may be disturbing to younger viewers. Also the subject matter would probably be boring for a young audience. This is really aimed for a late teen to adult viewer.

I liked this show. It had a lot going for it, but it deserves multiple views to really get into the meat of it. Cyberpunk, religion, conspiracy, philosophy: it has got all of this and it gives you much to think about. Not that you will necessarily make sense of it.

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Just enjoy it and don’t get too wrapped up into it….Like Lain.

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My Older Son’s “Reason For Living” This Season

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Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!

What can I say about this show…It was fun, a great concept, well enough animated, some not as great episodes, but I think it probably achieved what it set out to do well enough. To make a goofy, not too serious send up of the magical girl genre.

I first came across this show on RocketNews24 and had to show my son (15). He was so excited for it and after it came out, this show has been the one that I know I could always talk to him about since he rarely missed it.

The show revolves around 5 friends(Yumoto Hakone, En Yufuin, Atsushi Kinugawa, Io Naruko and Ryuu Zaou), students at Binan High School, who are members of  The Earth Defense Club (which just seems to be an excuse to hang out and not really do anything). Off school hours they frequent a bathhouse run by one of the member’s (Yumoto) brother. There, they are approached by a pink, talking, wombat like creature who wants them to become “Battlelovers”. To use the power of love to save the world. They are not really too interested in this offer. But once Wom-san (talking wombat alien guy) gets them to put on the “Loveracelets” the die is cast, and with these they can transform when ever evil, anger, or discord needs to be conquered with the power of love. Ridiculous? Yes. But it doesn’t really pretend not to be.

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But where does evil come from? Other pretty boys of course…Specifically, The Student Council.

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They can transform as well.

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And they have an evil alien counterpart to the Battlelover’s Wom-san… An Evil Green Hedgehog! Who, with his needles,shoots other students who are having troubles or emotional problems, thus transforming them into havoc wreaking monsters the Battlelovers will have to fight.

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And every club has to have an advisor… Why not a dead teacher that is being kept alive by the alien controlling it?

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What else to love? Well, if you were my son, you’d love all the yaoi overtones.

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But what is mostly to love, is the friendships between the guys on the show. Their conversations and comfort level with each other as long time friends is what makes for some good comedy and enjoyable viewing.

Attention Parents: Aside from the BL suggestiveness there is not too much that is objectionable. If that doesn’t bother you (it didn’t for me) then that is they worst of it. Oh yeah..There is a little incidental nudity in the bath house. Is it bad, not really. Watch it and decide for yourself if you are concerned.

And always remember about the power of  what in your life?

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Sparkles all around to my readers!

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The Power of Family

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Usagi Drop

 I was recommended this anime about parenting by Miharusshi at Anime Vios. I finally got around to giving it a watch and I have to say I loved it.

The show opens with Daikichi Kawachi, a 30 year old single man, returning to his grandfather’s home for his funeral. Upon returning he learns from his mother that his grandfather had a daughter, Rin Kaga, who is now 6 years old and that the rest of the family didn’t know existed.

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Rin’s mother has disappeared and this leaves the family with the question: What to do with Rin? There is much discussion about how everyone else cannot take her and it is suggested that she be placed in an orphanage.  It is at this point Daikichi steps in and said he’d take her, at least for the time being.

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From this point on Daikichi and Rin’s life changes. Daikichi gets an education of what it is to parent and raise a child. He has to deal with how it impacts his work and how he views the world through the lens as a caregivier. He gets her into school. Deals with her new friends. Meets other parents. All while trying to figure out what happened to Rin’s mother and why she left.

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I won’t go too much into what else happens in the show since I don’t want to ruin it for those who choose to watch it.

I will say the following about it. It was beautifully done. The story is sweet. The characters are likable and have depth. The soundtrack is good, especially the background music. The animation is quite beautiful and well directed. I recommend this show wholeheartedly.

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Attention Parents: There is nothing that is objectionable in the show. No fan service, violence, or cursing. What you may find is that, depending on you and your child, that it may be cause for some discussions around death, divorce, and the meaning of family. However, this is not a bad thing and can be just be the kind of thing that adds to life. So take that less as a warning and more of an opportunity.

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Remember: I am not a writer or a critic, just a dad who likes anime.

Why I Haven’t Got My Older Son a Dakimakura

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I just finished 2013’s Love Lab and was pleasantly surprised. Love Lab is an adaptation of a 4 panel manga that was put out by Dogakobo animation (Who also did Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun and Engaged to the Unidentified). Set at Fujisaki Girls Academy the story follows Natsou Maki, the student president, and Riko Kurohashi, an athletic tomboy.

Both of these girls are admired by the student body.

Natsou for being a model student who is poised and reserved.

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And Riko for being forward and outspoken.

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At the outset of the show the two characters don’t know each other. They meet when a teacher sends Riko to the student council office to deliver something and Riko walks in on this:

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Natsou making out with a hug pillow. Natsou has never had a boyfriend, much less even talked to a boy, but is dying to have a romantic relationship. She enlists Riko to help her conduct “love labs” to find out what boys like and how to be more appealing. Riko gets roped into this because she gives Natsou the impression that she is more experienced than she actually is (due to her own embarrassment of being inexperienced with boys). This is where the story sets off from.

The animation is decent, nothing groundbreaking, but good. The comedy is what sold it for me. It is not ecchi, just silly. A lot of it stems from Natsou, whom all the students see as perfect, is a bit ditzy and out of her mind.

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She often comes up with elaborate set ups of  how to get boys to notice and fall in love with her that are not well grounded in reality. Riko, while inexperienced, does have some sense and is frequently trying to bring Natsou back to reality.

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Which often involves Riko hitting her with a paper fan.

If you like silly school based shows, this one is for you. It is cute and the comedy is pretty good. I had found it randomly on HULU and thought I’d give it a try. Like I said in the beginning, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this show.

Attention Parents: There is not a lot that is objectionable. No fan service, or ecchi stuff. No cursing that I remember. Aside from some minor fights, no violence of any real merit. There is one scene, however, that made me cringe a little. There was a part where the student counsel are answering questions about love from anonymous letter. Someone wanted to know if boys liked “tan” girls. Natsou took it upon herself put on “black face”  while singing “Oh my soul sister”to get an idea of what that would be like. I found this to be unfortunate and not very good comedy.

That being said. I won’t get my son a Dakimakura because: 1) He’s not on the student counsel. 2) He’s not old enough. 3) I’m not paying for it. and 4)I don’t want this to happen:

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Score 1 for Dad.

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When Little Girls Want To Rule The World.

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They will…

I love this show. The concept, artwork, story, and the randomness of it all.

The show follows the main character Asuta Jimon , a middle school age boy, who had just run away from home due to issues with his father. He encounters a little girl, Kate Hoshimiya, who knows it is her fate to conquer the world. She recruits Asuta to her secret organization, Zvezda, and makes him a private in her small (but effective) force that will help her take over the world.

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What makes this show entertaining to me is was how it follows the “bad guys”. Yes, I know other shows do this: One Piece for example, I just like the tact they are taking. It is like that are following the weird bad guys in a Power Rangers series, only the “bad guys” are far more interesting than the “good guys”. The good guys they fight are called White Light. White Light work to help the Japanese government and are Zvezda’s main obstacle. White Light, while the “good guys”, are shown in a critical light that blurs the line of who is “good” and who is “bad”.

The other entertaining tact they take is the use of a little girl as the leader, who while ambitious to take over the world, is also a little girl.

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And she is also hilarious…

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The show does go off on a few goofy tangents.

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And there is General Pepal who I would love to cosplay as. I mean the man has a bad-ass mask, is an ex-gangster,and battles while eating cake. This is a role model if I ever saw one.

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The show is just a great deal of fun. I enjoyed it. You may too.

Attention Parents: There is some cursing. Revealing outfits if that bothers you. And a few ecchi sight gags (but not many) that will probably go over your kid’s head.

If I was ever given the choice, I’d follow Kate. “May The Light of Zvezda Shine Throughout the World!”

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The Challenge of Raising Otakus

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So my son (11) who won the cosplay contest earlier this month at Anime Milwaukee got a bag of some promotional materials and such for winning. He got several show postcards including the “Dog & Scissors” postcard pictured above.

He said: “Dad, I think I want to watch this show.”

“Of course you do…but no.”

“Why not?”

“Not appropriate for you.”

“Awww.”

And so it goes. So many times as a parent you have to explain to the child (who often knows why fully well) why he can’t watch a show.

Many anime are geared to older kids and adults. Sifting through it all to find what he can watch is a challenge at times. However, I am a fan and so is his brother. This both helps and hinders the issue.

He will often want to watch what I, or his brother, has watched even though he knows he can’t.

Attack On Titan for example:

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Just a bit to much violence and bloodshed for his age. But he knows about the show, knows what happens, still not allowed to watch it.

There are the shows I let him start without realizing where it was going and had to stop him from watching after a few episodes.

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And then the shows I let him watch even though there were scenes that were going to get me in trouble.

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(I can’t excuse that oversight).

This is a challenge of any parent really. Deciding what entertainment content is appropriate for your child to watch. The difference I think lies in the amount of anime that is available is wide and can be intimidating. The other is the voracity with which a young anime fan can consume content. My boys like their shows and watch a good deal of differing shows.

Besides the content viewing there is how they express their fandoms. Going to a convention, if I am not careful, will leave me broke. They love their shows and would like all associated merchandise (and lets be frank: there is some cool anime related merchandise).

And if your partner doesn’t like anime….

Well, my wife isn’t a fan. That is cool too, people like what they like. This can be a point of contention too. What you may see as being a show that is fine to watch, your partner may not having no context or experience with the genre. My son understood that Kuroko, in A Certain Scientific Railgun, was the standard pervert character that will act like a creep. He knows her behavior is inappropriate. My wife, seeing her out of context, gets very disturbed by Kuroko’s behavior. Is she wrong? Not exactly, but context is different to the regular viewer vs someone just walking by and seeing the pervert character doing something creepy.

So there are challenges with raising otakus, but that is being a parent.

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By the way the wife took away his “Dog & Scissors” postcard, gave it to me and said: “He doesn’t need something like this.”

I have it now….

 

 

Cyber Bullying – Ignoring Is Bliss

I’ll pass this along. It is a subject that needs addressing.

Zyrogate Faine

Cyber bullying. One might say it is a rite of passage, which everyone goes through.

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Dear Cyber-Bully,

Let us start with you, a.k.a. the coward who hides behind the monitor and throw darts at the person you dislike. Whoever you are, you will most likely not look up the actual person in real life, and tell him/her “You Suck” in the face, even if he/she really do suck that badly.

Instead, you send these simple messages with a direct intention to lower their self-esteem. In a sense, it is a form of self-indulgence where you simply want to bring others down and make yourself feel superior than them.

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But here’s the cold hard truth: When you press that “Send” button, you are actually admitting defeat, admitting that they are so much better than you, that you have to resort to such criticism to make yourself ‘feel’ superior. So in actuality, you are the loser!…

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