Anime roundup 7/26/2013: The Safety Dance

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Gatchaman-2 Gatchaman Crowds #2 – Gatchaman Crowds has declared its thesis topic, which is the gamification of human interactions as mediated by the Internet.

Gamification is, broadly, the application of game-like scoring systems to Internet sites which are not themselves games. You might get points for every post you make in a forum, or achievement badges for performing actions which the site wants to encourage. Here it appears as GALAX awarding points to the people with first-aid expertise for helping out.

There are echoes of it too in Hajime and Sugane’s argument. Sugane’s complaint can be boiled down to, “But you’re not playing the game right!” And Hajime’s own socializing through GALAX seems to be operating in ways it can’t score. Throw in the apparent overlord of GALAX having “broken wings”, in JJ’s words, and I believe we are heading for a message about the relative power of algorithms and humanity.

Of course, being episode 2, it’s not going to be that simple.

DayBreak-3 Day Break Illusion #3 – Oh, but the possessed person wants to die, so moral quandary solved! That was a disappointment. Interesting, though, that they really have gone with Madoka’s solution.

I have no idea where this is planning to go next, so let’s have a digression about names. Unlike in English-language fantasy, where you have to go and consult enormous reference books to tease out the hidden meanings of the author’s selected names, a writing system where names use ideographs can put its puns right out in the open.

Thus our four core magical girls all have names which match their cards. Akari’s given name (which also happens to be a perfectly normal Japanese name) means “light”, her mother’s, Hinata, means “sunny place”, and the family name, Taiyō, means “sun”. Luna Tsukuyomi’s given name is obvious, but her family name starts with the character for “moon”. Seira Hoshikawa’s family name likewise starts with the character for “star”, which can also be pronounced sei, like the start of her given name. And Ginka Shirokane’s family name contains the one for “gold” or “money”, and her given name the one for “silver”.

Space-Bros-66 Space Brothers #66 – So the crusty, possibly insane alpha pilot with the mysteriously inconsistent disability turns out to be a serious guy with a pragmatic outlook on life after all. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fictional work stop to show any part of a proper pre-flight check before.

It was a great juxtaposition to have Sharon’s letter waxing lyrical about the joy of flight against Mutta being variously abused and stressed out as he struggles with how hard it is to do properly.

Given the otherwise mostly sensible attitude the old guy is trying hard to instill in Mutta, that command to fly between the other trainees stands out for its ludicrousness. But that may have been an attempt to teach another lesson about something that’s led to many plane crashes– the difficulty junior pilots have in contradicting senior ones even when the aircraft is clearly heading for trouble. It may be that Mutta was supposed to refuse assertively.

Eccentric-3 The Eccentric Family #3 – Satomi Suzuki aka Benten is Mary Sue, if you think about it. There is not a flaw in her beauty, intelligence, or strength, so that Yasaburō has a crush on her even though she probably involved in his father’s death. For that matter, she was somehow able to defeat a tanuki who was capable of turning into a mountain. While most of the human residents of Kyoto have to stick with their own species, she’s able to associate with tanuki and tengu as well as the human elite. And of course, since she’s so pretty and smart and generally awesome, a powerful tengu has given her his stash of magical artifacts.

If she were the heroine, she would be insufferable. But she makes a good antagonist.

HxH-89 Hunter x Hunter #89 – What Gon and Killua have to fight, in the form of Knuckle and Shoot, is really their own weaknesses personified. Knuckle has a good heart, like Gon, but is so nice that he’s more comfortable educating his opponent than going for a full-strength fight. Gon, we’ve already seen when he had to fight a Chimera Ant one-on-one, has the ability to accept that sometimes it really has to be him or his opponent.

And with Killua’s self-protective reflex hypnotized into him by his older brother, versus Shoot’s own native cowardice, their match is likely to be less a fight than a game of chicken.

Here’s the thing, once again, that puts Hunter x Hunter head and shoulders above most of its shōnen competitors: that it’s really less about the actual punching and martial-arts moves, and more about what’s going on in the fighters’ heads.

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