Archive for June, 2009

Who’s your daddy?

June 19th, 2009

With Father’s Day coming up on Sunday, our thoughts turn to our dear ol’ dads … or, in the case of anime and manga, the general lack of said figures.

It’s that way with a lot of parental units, really. Either they’ll make quick cameos to let us know they exist, or they’ll be explained away for some reason — divorced, away on business trips, killed in the Great Apocalypse of Tokyo-32, what have you.

That said, there are still some dads who stuck around long enough to make an impact on audiences. So in honor of fathers everywhere this weekend, we present this quick list of memorable anime/manga dads that Wilma and I could remember off the tops of our heads — the good, the bad, and the blobby:

Genma Saotome (Ranma 1/2). Had Genma not been so persistent as the head of the Saotome Anything Goes School of Martial Arts in training his son Ranma, the two never would have trained at Jusenkyo, with all its cursed springs, and there wouldn’t have been much of a story. Also, giant panda transformation! Always a plus.

Soun Tendo (Ranma 1/2). Had Soun not been so persistent as the head of the Tendo Anything Goes School of Martial Arts in marrying off one of his daughters to Ranma preserve their respective schools, Akane and Ranma never would have met and there wouldn’t have been nearly as much romantic comedy.

Hiroshi (Hiro) Nohara (Crayon Shinchan). Hiroshi’s just your average salaryman trying to make a living and provide for his family. Unfortunately, he also has a tendency to look at cute women a bit too closely (sometimes with 5-year-old Shinnosuke, at that!) and drink a bit too much while entertaining clients, earning the wrath (and a few head lumps) from wife Misae (Mitzi).

Gendo Ikari (Neon Genesis Evangelion). Nothing says fatherly love like sticking your whiny emo son into a mecha with the soul of your dead wife, having him fight alongside a girl who’s a genetic clone of said wife, and manipulating the agenda of a secret organization to advance your own personal interests. Also memorable because of Gendo’s Paradise, which I discovered a few days ago thanks to a discussion on Anime Vice sharing favorite AMVs.

Sojiro Izumi (Lucky Star). There’s no doubt he loves his daughter Konata, who resembles his late wife so much it’s scary. He taught her pretty much everything she knows about anime and video games (particularly dating sims), too. But the lolita complex … umm, kinda creepy there, dude.

Bunta Fujiwara (Initial D). The man responsible for turning his otherwise nondescript, rather bored-looking son into OH MY PIZZA MOST EFFICIENT TOFU DELIVERY BOY EVAR! Also a drift-racing driver extraordinare who subtly passes on his skills to the next generation.

Van Hohenheim/Hohenheim of Light (Fullmetal Alchemist). As the oldest person (in soul age, anyway) on this list with a mind brilliant enough to be able to forge the Philosopher’s Stone, you’d think that somewhere along the line he would have learned a bit of etiquette and not abandon his family in the name of vague “research,” only to return 10 years later to find his wife dead, his older son with an arm and leg made out of automail and a younger son whose soul is bound to a giant suit of armor. You would be wrong.

Taizo Kotobuki (GALS!/SuperGALS!). Pity Taizo. He’s upholding the legacy of people in his family who became police detectives. All he wants is for his daughter Ran to become one as well. And what does she do? She rebels and becomes a fashion-lovin’, hair-dyin’, free-spendin’, loose-socks-wearin’ kogal. Ingrate.

Dr. Tenma (Astro Boy). The director of the Ministry of Science built Astro Boy to replace his son, Tobio, who was killed in an accident. But when Astro didn’t display a full range of human emotions, Tenma promptly kicked him to the curb. Yeah, thanks a lot, dad.

Chiyo-Dad (Azumanga Daioh). Because every child prodigy should have a blobby floaty cat thingy as a father … at least according to the dreams Sakaki and Osaka have, anyway.

Isshin Kurosaki (Bleach). At the outset, it seems like the head of the household of our heroic Soul Reaper is a doting dad who dotes a bit too much for his kids’ comfort. But as it usually goes in shonen manga, he turns out to be something far greater: a guy who — gasp! — is in the same line of work as his son, except all powered up and infinitely cooler.

Richard Moore/Kogoro Mori (Case Closed/Detective Conan). Best. Detective. Ever. (Just, umm, pay no attention to how his daughter Rachel/Ran is always the one who looks after him because he’s so irresponsible, or the fact that teen-trapped-in-a-child’s-body Conan Edogawa’s actually the one cracking all those cases.)

Mr. Koiwai (Yotsuba&!). Representin’ for all the adoptive fathers out there. And boy, is his adopted daughter Yotsuba a handful: inquisitive, adventurous, green-haired. But he seems to handle things in stride, patiently answering her questions and indulging her in her flights of fantasy whenever he can.

Can anyone think of any others? Talk to us in the comments!

#AniWednesday profile: Serial Experiments Lain

June 17th, 2009

#AniWednesday is a weekly feature on Twitter in which people plug their favorite anime in 140 characters or less. Of course, we’re writers by nature, so we usually can’t keep our thoughts under 140 characters. Thus, we’ll present our expanded views here. This week’s feature: Serial Experiments Lain.

Flash back to 2000 for a moment. I had just gotten a Playstation 2 (one of the fortunate few to actually be able to find one that year) and was mesmerized by the whole shiny happy newness of it all. This was around the same time that DVDs were hitting their stride, and I wanted to watch something, anything, that was available at the local Blockbuster.

Now you have to understand, I wasn’t really an anime fan at the time. Had no idea such a thing called “anime” even existed. Sure, I had watched a run of dubbed Sailor Moon episodes and had the pleasure of watching most of the unedited, subtitled run of Crayon Shinchan on KIKU-TV, but I didn’t realize those were anime per se. So when I was browsing Blockbuster’s section, I came upon the anime section and thought, “Hmm. Mature animation. Looks kinda interesting.”

And there was quite a selection, too. Cowboy Bebop. Trigun. Ghost in the Shell. Akira. Dragon Ball Z. The stuff most anime fans recommend to their friends to get them hooked on anime. Me? I picked … Serial Experiments Lain. The reason has since been lost in time — maybe I was attracted by Yoshitoshi ABe’s character design? The cyberpunk vibe? I was just tired and wanted to just pick  SOMETHING as my free rental? In any event, it was a bit difficult to understand at first, but I ended up sticking around and watching all 13 episodes.

The story centered around Lain, a rather quiet high school girl who lives a mundane existence until a schoolmate commits suicide. From there, she’s introduced to and becomes immersed in the Wired, the series’ version of the Internet. I don’t want to reveal how exactly this plays out (of course, if you want to cheat, there are many sources on the Internet where you can learn about the full plot), but let’s just say that it’s like a more cerebral version of the Matrix, without all the fancy-dancy bullet-time sequences.

There are several elements in Lain that made this series memorable for me:

The opening! Every episode (except the last one)  began with the same phrase typed in Japanese in red on a white background as a voice cackles, in English and with evil delight, “Present day. PRESENT TIME! MUHAHAHAHA!” This is followed by some static (in which Lain’s head is faintly visible), and then the haunting opening theme, “Duvet” by Boa (the British alternative group, not to be confused with the K-Pop/J-Pop singer) kicks in, set to footage of Lain in different settings and crows. Lots of crows. Check it out here.

The storytelling! This is one of those series that isn’t told straight through, instead relying on tantalizing bits and pieces here and there that you have to assemble to figure out what’s going on. Lain’s true identity is a part of that puzzle-forming process. There’s just something that feels off-kilter about the show — sometimes Lain is quiet, other times she’s recognized as a key figure at a nightclub. And you never know what quite to believe and what to dismiss as fiction … that is, until the very end, when things come together quite nicely.

The humming wires! If you’re a fan of telephone/electrical wire architecture, this is your show. They’re EVERYWHERE in this series. In different colors and shades, to boot. It’s quite surreal.

So that’s a quick look at Serial Experiments Lain. If you can find it somewhere — the DVDs were made by Geneon, which means they’re out of print — by all means try it out. Can’t say everyone will like it, but it certainly has enough charms to impress.

Blogosphere LEVEL UP!! Otaku Ohana’s amazing debut!

June 16th, 2009

Before I get into the actual topic of this, the first blog entry ever in Otaku Ohana, a quick tangent: I love how the old tokusatsu series like “Kikaida” and “Kamen Rider V3″ had episode titles that spouted such hyperbole, like, say, “Enter, Hammer-Jellyfish! V3, Unleash Your Killing Technique!!” (yes, this is an actual title). And thus the idea behind the title of this entry was born.

So aloha and welcome to the project formerly known as “Project B,” Otaku Ohana — a look at anime, manga and video games from the perspective of your Honolulu Star-Bulletin tag team in fandom, Wilma Jandoc and me, Jason S. Yadao. No doubt most of you came here following the link from today’s Cel Shaded, but for those of you who came via other means, here’s the Twitter-ized version (140 characters or less!) of why this blog now exists: Cel Shaded in print once weekly = not enough room. Intarwebz = LOTS of room. Otaku Ohana = Cel Shaded coverage + Intarwebz space. Yays!

The blog’s name may need a bit of explanation to those of you not familiar with Hawaiian culture. “Otaku,” you’re probably already familiar with — if you’re reading this, you’re probably well-versed in anime and manga fan culture enough to know that it refers to fellow fans like you. But we’re also all friends here, right? Friends who know what words like “shonen,” “moe,” “yaoi” and “hentai” all mean without my having to define them every time I bring them up? (I’d probably need several columns to define the word “moe” in particular, and by the time that’s done, I’ll probably have forgotten what I meant to write about in the first place.)

Thus the other half of this blog’s name comes into play: “Ohana.” As Lilo in Disney’s “Lilo and Stitch” imprinted upon my mind several years ago (mostly because she and other characters said this line about a zillion times), “Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind.”

That’s why Wilma and I agreed that “Otaku Ohana” was a fitting name for this blog. There’s a whole virtual family of otaku. Just look at the blogroll on MangaBlog for proof — there are a number of  blogs devoted just to manga. And these bloggers are a rather tight-knit bunch of people, with conversations among them flying around daily on Twitter. I’ve even had the pleasure of meeting two of them in person — guide Deb Aoki and Gia Manry, leader of the Anime Vice Squad — and thoroughly enjoyed my time talking to them. (It was actually a conversation Deb and I had at the last Kawaii Kon that got me thinking about starting this blog.) If this blog can be as entertaining and informative as what Deb, Gia and others before us have accomplished, we’ll have done our jobs.

Regular programming will begin momentarily. Mind our dust for a bit, too … I must confess, Wilma and I are both still getting used to the system and what it’s capable of doing. For now, though, please sit back and enjoy this link to a music video featuring some plants and some zombies, and a tune that has lodged itself in my brain no matter how many times I try to get rid of it.