Papika, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Let’s go adventuring again, okay?

Flip Flappers Papika Cocona adventure

Flip Flappers is the type of anime that invites dialogue—character-driven, stylish, rich in symbolisms, and, perhaps most importantly, darker than its visuals would suggest. However, for all the attention that Flip Flappers has received, surprisingly little has been written about Papika.1 And for a good reason.

Papika is the literal and metaphorical manic pixie dream girl for Cocona. But little more.
Continue reading

Memory and Musubi in Your Name

Time will unbind our memory glue
and I’ll be as nobody-ish as all of you. — Marceline

Kimi no Na wa Your Name comet Mitsuha

Kimi no Na wa Your Name comet Taki

The most beautiful aspect of Your Name (Kimi no Na wa) is how it weaves its various themes to form a coherent labyrinthine story, waiting to be untangled by the unsuspecting viewer. Its take on the body swap plot allows for much more complexity and poignancy. The film also integrates seamlessly two main threads—the struggle against a terrific fate and the love between the two leads.
Continue reading

The cyberpunk cities of Tsutomu Nihei’s Blame!

Walk along, and you’re six hundred foot under Manhattan. You’re at approximately 30th street or something. You’re in the middle of the greatest city in the world. Nobody even knows you exist. Nobody has a f-. Nobody has a clue. It’s just… It’s just… Beautiful. — A sandhog, on water tunnels1

Tsutomu Nihei Blame

Sometimes, in the dead of night, I would go on long runs. I had been doing so for years. Back when I still lived in Palo Alto, I had two favorite routes that I still recall vividly. One is through the suburban streets, passing by piles of leaves and urban forestry, among the modern-traditional McMansions, Tudor homes, and Bohemian backyards. The second runs along the highway, bordered by endless panels of noise barriers on one side and an expansive desolate marshland on the other.
Continue reading

Reading Ryunosuke Akutagawa: Self-Cultivation, the Plotless Novel, and Nichijou

Take my Akutagawa Prize!

Nichijou Akutagawa Prize

My summer reading included dozens of short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa collected in two books. Akutagawa’ position in the topography of modern Japanese literature has been widely acknowledged. Indeed, one of the most prestigious Japanese literary awards is named after him, the Akutagawa Prize. His role in literature—self-cultivation, aestheticism, and intellectualism—cannot be understated.
Continue reading

My Momentary Loss of Humanity

On a Tuesday evening in December of 2015, I was confronted with my ugly inhumanity.

At the time, I was a junior clinical clerk on my night shift in the cardiology department. It was a slow evening in Ward 5C as usual. Patients of less severe conditions tend to be placed here. After all, this is not 5D, just a short hallway away, which houses higher risk cardiology patients.

I was chatting with a fellow junior clerk GL when the intercom calmly announced, “9595, East Campus, 5D.”
Continue reading

Breakaway Phenomenon and Escapism in Amanchu!

McDIVITT: They want you to come back in now.
WHITE: Back in?
McDIVITT: Back in.
GRISSOM: Roger, we’ve been trying to talk to you for awhile here.
WHITE: Aw, Cape, let me just [take] a few pictures.
McDIVITT: No, back in. Come on.
WHITE: … Listen, you could almost not drag me in, but I’m coming.

But he wasn’t. Two more minutes passed. McDivitt starts to plead.

McDIVITT: Just come on in …
WHITE: Actually, I’m trying to get a better picture.
McDIVITT: No, come on in.

Excerpt from Packing for Mars, Mary Roach1

Amanchu Teko lying on ocean floor
Continue reading

Witchcraft and Occult Philosophy in Flying Witch

So witchy!

Flying Witch Makoto so witchy

While performance of witchcraft in Flying Witch is sparse, it would have been enough for executions in the 15th-early 16th century. The defining blueprint for witch-hunts at the time, the Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches, 1486) traces all supernatural as commerce with demons. The anomalous symptoms of demonic possession is illustrated in three levels: 1. psycho-physiological possession (e.g. infertility, erotomania, epilepsy, melancholia); 2. epidemiological possession (e.g. plague, leprosy, mass hysteria, mob behavior); and 3. climatological possession (e.g. changes in weather, affected livestock or crops, sudden famine or flood).1 Akane, the most prominent witch in the anime, has at various points displayed her powers in these areas.
Continue reading

Quarter-life Crisis in Shirobako

What’s in the box?

Shirobako Miyamori

Shirobako follows Aoi Miyamori, a production manager at Musashino Animation, as she navigates the anime industry, acting as the liaison among all the branches and people involved in making anime: directors, key animators, CG animators, inbetweeners, writers, voice actors, et al. She has the perfect vantage and cheery front to be our illuminating guide. However, although she enjoys the satisfaction of episodes released, the collective efforts come to fruition, and the upward mobility of her friends in their respective careers, she struggles to find meaning in her own work.
Continue reading