Bullying, Suicide, and “A Silent Voice”

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A Silent Voice

 I got to see this movie last night in the theater with my two teen boys last night. It was powerful. I highly recommend it not only for it’s beautiful animation, but for it’s story that was often sweet, infuriating, and sad.

The story opens with a teenage boy, Shōya Ishida, on a bridge contemplating suicide. He then goes into the memories that got him to that place.

During elementary school, he bullied a girl (Shōko Nishimiya) who happened to be deaf who was new to his class. Shōko soon became an outcast in her class with the other students following suit, however Shōya was the main bully. Shōko tried hard to befriend Shōya and others despite her treatment, but was rebuffed for her efforts with the bullying intensifying. Things finally come to a head when Shōya rips out Shōko’s hearing aids (not the first time) and causes Shōko’s ear to bleed.

Shōko doesn’t come to school the next day. The principal, upon hearing about the incident from Shōko’s mother, confronts the class and demands to know who was responsible for Shōko’s bullying. The homeroom teacher calls out Shōya for his behavior and the rest of his classmates lets the sole blame rest on Shōya. Shōya protests insisting that it wasn’t just him, but several of his friends and classmates as well. Shōko transfers to another school and, because of his act of sharing the blame, Shōya becomes the subject of the bullying. He is outcast, bullied and shunned by his friends and classmates.

By the time we return to the present we find Shōya as a loner. He is filled with shame and guilt for his behavior in his treatment of  Shōko and anxiety about others due to his own bullying. He is socially isolated and suicidal.

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 In a last act of penance Shōya seeks out Shōko, these many years later, to apologize to her before finally committing suicide. In the years since he has seen her, he had learned sign language so he could communicate this to her. When he finally meets her instead of apologizing to make it an end for himself,  he (on impulse) asks her to be his friend.

And so the new story begins. I won’t go into it all. There is hope. New friendships. Sadness. Old wounds. Sadness. Guilt. And pain.

It is a very powerful story. It reminds us of something that I feel sometimes that gets forgotten: what we say and do matter. We impact one another. So often it becomes easy to depersonalize another when online because we don’t see a real person in front of us feeling real pain. On top of this, we can carry this desensitization out in to the real world.

Attention Parents: This is a movie with challenging themes. Watch it anyways. Watch it with your kids. Have conversations with them around the subjects of suicide and bullying.

Please watch this movie when you get the chance. Besides the story, it really is beautifully animated.

 

 

Until next time: Happy viewing.

And if you are going through a hard time…please don’t do anything to hurt yourself. It will get better even if you don’t believe it right now…trust me…People love you. Okay?

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

1-800-273-8255

 

For Deaf & Hard of Hearing

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Now what is a “Gal” exactly???

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 Hajimete no Gal

(My First Girlfriend Is a Gal)

 

I can’t really remembered what prompted me to watch this show. I am, in general, not a big consumer of the “ecchi” humor styles of shows (despite the Monotogari series being on of my favorites), but I watched nonetheless. Usually a friend of mine watches these more often and I think I figured: “What the hell, I’ll see if I like it and tell him if I think it’s any good. And I came away liking it more than I thought I would, which surprised me.

“Gal” (Gyaru)seems to be a Japanese pop culture term that reflecting a certain fashion aesthetic. Dark tans, bleached or dyed hair, lots of make up, fancy nails, and non-traditional fashion. The (Gyraru) term seems to have originated out of a 1970s brand of jeans. However, while being a term for a fashion subculture, meanings have a way of changing and being warped depending on the observer. “Gal”, while referring to a general way of dress, has also taken on (at least in this show) to imply that the wearer has looser morals than other girls.

And we come to the show’s premise: A “loser” type of guy ( Junichi) ends up dating a “Gal” (Yukana). Junichi actually asks Yukana out after his friends set him up by putting a note in Yukana’s locker to meet him after school on his behalf. In the thought that Junichi might not remain a virgin if he dates a girl like Yukana, he asks her out. She accepts.

And that’s where the show starts out. It is ecchi…there are boobs…lots of un-naturally chesty high schoolers.

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Image result for My First Girlfriend Is a Gal

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These are definitely on the ridiculous side.

The overall story follows the development of Junichi and Yukana’s relationship. It is going from the surface to something deeper. What Junichi finds, and I am happy that he does, is that Yukana is a person. Someone with greater depth and kindness who is actually a bit conservative with her affections (despite teasing him every so often). Yukana is very self possessed and isn’t going to even kiss someone who isn’t serious about her.

So what we get with this show is somewhat less ecchi comedy, but more of a high school rom-com. There are the ecchi elements that are to be exploited to be sure, but I felt the point of the anime ended up the development of a more mature relationship between the two protagonists.

This does lead to some confusion I guess…What did this show want to be? An ecchi comedy, fan-service-a-thon, a harem, a rom-com? It kind of attempted to be all things and so never became as good as it could have been I suppose.

The big issue I have with this show was oddly not the ecchi fan service….

It was with this fucker.

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While Junichi’s friends were kind of annoying, this character was repulsive. He likes little girls…he is very vocal about how he likes little girls…the joke is that he’s a future sex offender. That shit isn’t funny. Normalizing pedophiles is not funny or good. Sure, everyone around him in the show comments that he’s not right, but he’s there to be some bit of comedy. It’s not funny.

Attention Parents: This show is ecchi. Heavy fan service. Lots of skin (although no nudity). There are many sexual jokes. There is also a sex predator. You have been warned: do as you will.

This show wasn’t spectacular, and not my usual style of show to watch, but despite this I still enjoyed it. I liked seeing the development of a real relationship between Junichi and Yukana and seeing Junichi’s vision of Yukana evolve over time. The fan service is just kind of there…the supporting characters are just kind of there…the art is decent. It was the relationship for me. Give it a look.

Until next time: Happy viewing!

 

I Watched It…Enjoyed It…But Something Bothered Me…

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Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor

 

First off, let me get this out of the way:

I enjoyed this show. The animation was decent. The story, while not mind-blowingly original or particularly innovative, was still enjoyable enough to watch. The characters were also pretty cliche for the most part.

Yet…I enjoyed watching it. Was it a favorite? Absolutely not. I will probably forget about it in time as it’s not particularly memorable. But I don’t regret watching it.

I’m not even going to go into detail telling you about the show, but if you don’t know about it already here’s a link to get you up to speed:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akashic_Records_of_Bastard_Magic_Instructor

 

But some things about the show did get under my skin a little bit….

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 THE GIRL’S SCHOOL UNIFORMS!!! Ye gods it bugged the hell out of me! Yes, yes, I know it’s fan service, but they are so ridiculously pandering I just found it horribly distracting how stupid they were! I know this is some immature male fantasy image that is found in anime/ manga/ American comics/ video games, but can’t they try a little harder to make a good story rather than going cynically for the fan service?

Here are the boy students in contrast:

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 I couldn’t find many images, but trust me: The male students are not wearing crop tops and booty shorts!

And please for the love of all that is holy, would someone explain to me…

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…Why Sistine has “neko” ears???? No one else does! No other student. Not her parents. Unless I am totally forgetting something or someone, it’s only her. This seems to be a very cynical ploy to sell a main character by making her extra cute with her cat ears or something,  but perhaps I am judging this too harshly.

Attention Parents: There is fan service in this show. There is the obligatory beach episode. Standard boob jokes. Person walking in on a group of girls changing scene. Sexual innuendo is present some as well. You have been warned.

Attention potential viewer: It’s not a horrible show, but it tries to make up for it’s lack of originality with rather blatant fan service. It’s not the first show to do this (of course), and it’s definitely not going to be the last.

Watch it…or not…it’s okay, but it’s a way to kill some time.

Until next time: Happy Viewing!

Awkward Sweetness

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Tsuki ga Kirei

This a good, low key, sweet show. I enjoyed it quite a bit, not for it’s action or intensity, but for it’s genuine, quiet, awkward sweetness.

It follows the budding relationship Kotaro and Akane, two students in their final year of junior high school. Kotaro is a bookish aspiring author and Akane is an accomplished runner in her track and field club. Despite running in different circles, they develop a friendship and eventually start dating.

The show really plays on the awkwardness and embarrassment of a first love as well as what it is to be at a very self conscious age. The supporting characters are also nicely included and the messiness of relationships and misunderstanding get a nice treatment as well.

The animation was enjoyable for me and I liked the OP.

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Image result for Tsuki ga Kirei

Image result for Tsuki ga Kirei

I’d like to include the OP….I just couldn’t find it. 😦

Attention Parents: This is a sweet show. There is no fan service, curing, or violence to speak of. Will younger kids be entertained??? Maybe, maybe not. It’s a slow paced, quiet show.

I really like the show. Give it a watch if you like a sweeter, quiet style of show….the ending made me tear up…I’m such a softie.

Until next time: Happy Viewing!!

 

*images on this post are not owned by me*

Change is Inevitable

First off: Hello! I have been off of here for a while. Not avoiding my blog per se, but resisting writing by a combination of prolonged procrastination and distracting myself with other things ( The weather has finally been nice in Wisconsin). I will try to start writing more again because I do feel a little better when I do.

I got to thinking about parenting and anime again recently…a big surprise given the content of my blog.
What got me thinking was how I have been letting my younger son watch a few things that I previously had kept him away from. This is only makes sense as he gets older though.

As kids get older, they mature (hopefully), they are able to take in new information, and react to it in a more thoughtful way. Parenting is not static, your approach and how you view your child needs to evolve over time.

With some shows, I have just allowed it. Other shows, I still restrict. And some I will watch with him, so as to discuss the content of what he watched to monitor how he is reacting to the more controversial parts of a show.

The series that got me thinking about this was the Monogatari series. I love this series (as many of you may know already). He’s been bugging me for a long time to watch it and I have always responded with a resounding : “Nooooo”.

At some point I changed my mind. Why? I have no idea.

Araragi is a bit of a cretin…

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He creeps on Hachikuji…

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And then there’s Kanbaru…

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So there are many reasons as a parent to have reservations. However, I realize he is getting older and stuff he discusses with his peers are just as awful.

But the thing that made me have the most reservations was in Nisemonogatari…You know what it is…everyone knows…the toothbrush scene. I don’t even like this scene. It’s creepy. It’s the thing I dislike about the series the most. Nisemonogatari is my least favorite of the series, but it does have some great conversations and exposition that becomes important later.

So…I have been watching the series with him. He saw the toothbrush scene…How did he react? With extreme discomfort. Good. He should. He said it was one of the most uncomfortable things he’s watched. I’m happy he felt that way rather than complacent.

I think that is a side benefit of being a fan of anime (and this can apply to other media as well) when your kids watch it. It opens the floor for discussion. A myriad of issues can be discussed that may not have come up otherwise. I can talk with him and express my view that Araragi is a creepy dude in many ways, I can steer him to think about these things, and I see what he is thinking.

Now that being said, the Monogatari series really is great in many other ways. It is a dialog heavy show with rapid fire wit and discourse, which is why I love it so and wanted to share it.

Sometimes you take the good with the bad, but opening a dialog helps frame the bad in a new context.

Watch anime.

Watch anime with your kids.

Watch and discuss anime with your kids.

These are just some thought that crossed my mind of late.

Until next time: Happy viewing!

 

Non Anime Fun

Okay while we all love anime there are other things out there…calm down, I’m not blaspheming. I still love my shows, but there are other ways I keep myself entertained as well.

Here’s a few things of late:

Walking and Pokemon Go. The weather has finally gotten nice again which means It’s time for me to go wander in parks go and catch Pokemon sometimes (yes I still play sometimes) and take photos sometimes…just on my phone for fun.

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Image may contain: tree, sky, ocean, plant, outdoor, nature and water

Eat Your Science with Alton Brown.

 Alton Brown (Good Eats on the Food Network) came to town to do his live show a couple of weeks ago. My younger son likes Good Eats, as do I, so being a bit of a cook we went to see his how. It was a great time. More stories and comedy than cooking and science, but still a really good time.

 

The Book of Mormon

 The spectacular Broadway musical from Trey Parker and Matt Stone. I took my older son to it last week and it was absolutely wonderful. Hilarious. Outstanding singing and dancing. Humor that you would expect from the creators of South Park.

 

Preacher

 This show based off the comic book by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon is great. The first season is available on Hulu. Great story, acting, and boy does it get brutal at times. Give it a watch! (not for kids)

Aside from that we are getting ready to hit Anime Central next weekend. What have you been doing besides watching anime?

Teens, Fandoms, and Parenting

Parenting teens is a minefield at times. The amount of content from the entertainment industry, and it’s resulting fandoms, is immense. Mind boggling really. But…I think this has been the case in most of modern history. Each successive generation looks at that their children and what they like as teens and thinks: “What the hell? It wasn’t like that when I was younger.”

It wasn’t. But that fact shouldn’t paralyze you.

I had some thoughts about this. It comes from my own experiences as a parent and from my former life when I worked with teens. Take the following words as a point of view, not a parenting guide. Everyone has to figure stuff out on what works best for them for themselves and their family.

I am a nerdy dad. I like a wide variety of music. I watch anime, sci-fi/ fantasy, and am mildly literate in the world of internet memes. Having two teen boys, I do okay. I can connect with them on things that they happen to like.

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 But is it that simple?

Yes and no.

It’s not enough to have off beat interests. It also means being interested in your teen’s world.

Teen years are one of increasing independence. Their peer group becomes a lot more important. They try on new personalities. Develop their own interests.

As a parent this is both cool to see and potentially frightening and sad. That kid who was once super dependent on you, now is less so. They don’t think the stuff you like is that cool anymore. They like stuff that is weird that their friends introduced them to. You have lost influence. In losing that, it also feel like you lose connection to them. That’s hard.

So what do parents do sometimes? They try to reconnect with their kids. Show them things that you think are cool. Criticize the things that they like also happens.

This works and doesn’t to varying degrees.

In order to bond with your teens, what has kid of worked for me, is joining.

“Joining” is a term that I picked up from my Family Therapy background. It means just that. You “join”, or ally, yourself with another person.

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 So how do you do this with your teen?

What do they like? Do they watch anime? Vampire Diaries? Steven Universe? Do they play Undertale? Overwatch? Listen to some band you have never heard of?

Find ways to ask them about it. Not in an over bearing way.

Watch an episode of their favorite show with them. If the show isn’t something you would typically like, is there an element you do like about it? Why do they like it? Why is it cool to them.

Sometimes the answers will surprise you. I never would have given much thought to Steven Universe if I hadn’t listened to my boys talk about the messages around inclusion that the show has. That’s cool! And it’s cool that they value this!

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 What about the music they listen to? Let them play you the music they like. Find the elements that you can appreciate about it and tell them. I don’t like every song that my boys like, and they know this. But I also don’t tell them that what they like sucks…when you do that you shut down communication. Find out what they like and why.

Having an interest in what is important to your teen goes a long way.

Having said this, here is the crux: It has to be a genuine interest. You can’t just be feigning interest to push your point of view. They can sense that.

Does this mean you need to like or validate all things? Absolutely not.

But by joining with your kids to see why they are fans of what they are fans of helps open dialog.

I’m never going to validate things that are openly racist, homophobic, sexist, or abusive and my boys know this. I will have that discussion with them.

Which brings us to fandoms…

It is where people go from liking a thing, to the online (sometimes obsessive) fan expressions of devotion to what ever that thing may be.

Fandoms can run the spectrum from being positive or innocuous to creepy and/or abusive.

Be aware of this as a parent. If you are able, talk to your teen about it. If you have a concern: express it. This doesn’t mean trying to ban them from being a fan or viewing fan material online, but do talk honestly about your concerns. Teens should be given the tools to know to draw appropriate boundaries between themselves, what they like, and unhealthy expressions of what they like. There are people in fandoms that create creepy content (why does there need to be MLP porn?) and people who get abusive online about their fandom. Have conversations about this.

This is an incoherent post, I know.

But it had some thoughts IU wanted to express.

Until next time: Happy viewing!

Feel free to comment.

 

 

“Your Name” at last! *spoilers*

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Kimi no Na wa

  I, like many people, have been waiting all year for this to come out.

 Last Sunday I was able to go see it in the theaters finally. Myself, a friend and my boys all went to see the English dub version.

 It was excellent.

 Beautiful.

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Image result for kimi no na wa

 The story was great. A little slow in the start, but that was to be expected. And at times, almost made me cry. Very sweet.

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 Radwimps provided the music, which was also great.

Attention Parents: Just go see it!

 

I loved it. I hope you do as well. I really don’t have anything else to add.
Until next time: Happy Viewing!