The Nihon Revue, Episode Four

おまたせ!Here’s the fourth episode of our seasonal podcast, The Nihon Revue, featuring original cast members Sorrow-kun and Akira. In this episode we take pretension to new heights in our analysis of Wandering Son, talk about Yamakan‘s hubris, and review a Subaru advertisement. Major spoilers for Wandering Son, minor spoilers for all other series discussed. My roommates were having a party outside while this was being recorded, so don’t mind the random screams you may or may not hear in the background. That’s just them playing FIFA 11, really hammered.

As a random note, I always feel awkward saying Japanese words in English conversation. Do I use the correct pronunciation, or do I go with English pronunciation? Such a dilemma. Anyways, enough blithering, here’s the program:

0:38 Wandering Son

5:23 Fractale

10:13 Yumekui Merry

15:41 Houkago no Pleiades

19:58 Infinite Stratos

Total runtime is 26:05. You can listen here:

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And here’s the download link as well.

PS: Don’t you wish they’d just finish Madoka already?

10 Responses to “The Nihon Revue, Episode Four”

  1. My Madoka wer? :3

  2. What the fuck is Madoka?

  3. I’ll admit to probably being one of those who was a bit too harsh on Fractale. I don’t think it was good, mind, but not a horrible blight on the face of anime, either. There was probably an equal amount of good and bad in there.

    My guard was up a bit while watching Wandering Son, and I’m actually kind of glad it was. It’s kind of like when you watch something like Citizen Kane and you expect it to be all OMG Serious Business GREATEST MOVIE EVER, and you’re surprised when it turns out to be a pretty fun, exuberant flick. That’s how I felt watching Wandering Son. There’s plenty of Serious Business, but there’s a surprising amount of fun too. I genuinely enjoyed watching it.

  4. Wander Son as anime of the year? I didn’t watch it while it was airing because it didn’t seem like an appealing stress reliever, but I’m glad I have something to look forward to once my schedule frees up.

    I dropped Fractale because I found it boring.

    I have no clue why I stopped staying current with Yumeki Merry. I’ll start it up again when I feel like watching cute anime girls doing cute things.

    As for Houkago no Pleiades… I honestly thought that Nanoha was uninspired way back when it was released, but this show makes Nanoha look like Madoka.

    Also, glad to see I’m not the only one who watched Infinite Stratos for the fight scenes. Got to the beach episode before dropping it though.

  5. @ahelo
    Ending coming very soon

    Oh you.

    Fractale was a disappointment, but I do think almost everyone (myself included) had their expectations way too high, considering the people who were involved in it. Arguably, it might have been a case of too many chefs. More likely, they just lacked a clear vision for where they wanted it to go.

    I’m not sure I’d call Wandering Son a “stress reliever”. It wasn’t quite as heavy hitting as Aoi Hana, but it was a dramatic series at some points. More defining, it was an anime with a message. The comment it ended up making about gender identity is open to debate (as Akira and I… debated), but as far as directing, writing and polish is concerned, there’s no anime out so far this year that’s as good, and that includes Madoka.

  6. Honestly, I don’t think that Wandering Son is a strong contender for Anime of the Year. Something about it doesn’t click with me; perhaps it’s the characters, perhaps it’s the story. Aoi Hana has more emotional impact than Wandering Son, even if the ending is inconclusive and open-ended.

    Okay, maybe I should clear things once and for all: I initially gave Fractale a 5 because shows like Fractale (i.e. those with strong promise at first, but fumbles terribly at the end) tend to hit me hard. If the show hadn’t been so promising from the onset, it wouldn’t have such a strong negative blow right at the end. I adjusted it back to 6 because rationally speaking, there are some good things that happened in the show after all.

    Yumekui Merry has always been barely interesting for me to follow, but I have to say, the story is somewhat draggy throughout the show. It’s to the point that I wasn’t really enthusiastic in wanting to know what happens in the next episode, and I was following the show merely because I was thinking “Meh, might as well finished what I started.”

    Never watched Houkago no Pleiades, so no comment about it from me.

    Infinite Stratos is fecal material. Yes, the mecha fight scenes are nice and France-chan is likable (just like any Hanazawa Kana-voiced character), but so what? It’s not like the two really redeemed the show; they simply made the show barely watchable.

  7. Wandering Son seems to be a very polarizing show, and I think fundamentally it comes down to what you look for in art/entertainment. Artistically, I think it’s hands down the best I’ve seen all year, and I think the soundtrack conveys the mood well. The characters are very deep and interesting, and there are a lot of things that can be said of most of them, but they are not very identifiable (i.e. most of the viewership will not be able to identify with any of the main characters, which may or may not be a problem, depending on your fundamental views). The story moves slowly, but it’s consistently paced. The mood is very subdued, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

    As for social commentary, I think it may have fallen short of some people’s expectations, given the controversial nature of the main topic and the fact that it never takes a strong stance. To me, it was pretty clear from the beginning that Wandering Son was not going to be The Awakening; no one was going to kill themselves out of despair (tragedy seems to be the most effective way of making a statement). Personally, I place very little value in the social commentary in entertainment, which made this aspect rather moot for me. Rather, I saw it as a story first, art second, and as commentary third.

    Personally, I like Wandering Son the best of all the shows I’ve seen this season. But I can see how others might not enjoy it as much.

  8. I should probably rephrase something that came out a bit more extreme than I intended. It’s not that I don’t place value in social commentary, but that I feel it always, always comes at least second to narrative.

    Wandering Son never tries too hard to push a message forward, and while I think if they had done this skillfully, it would’ve been great, I’m also not upset that it didn’t happen. I’m not looking for anything to change or reaffirm my existing opinions, but rather to deliver a narrative about a life that I don’t know. Perhaps this reason, I don’t find “identifiable” characters necessary, at least not to too great of an extent.

  9. I guess that brings me neatly to Fractale. I never cared at all for the social commentary in Fractale because it seemed to be nothing more than a (fairly simple) thought experiment. It was doubly disappointing when they didn’t even take the thought experiment anywhere. The narrative depicting the people’s lives was mediocre at best. We never really got to see in depth what it was like to live inside Fractale; most of the narrative was focused on people living outside, and even that wasn’t that interesting.

    The one exception to this was the old man living alone. I think that was a pretty good episode. Though why he had to be Clain’s father is beyond me (it turned out to be completely irrelevant anyway).

  10. Going to vehemently disagree with the opinion on the ending of Wandering Son, as well as the general consensus that it’s agenda wasn’t pushed enough. The task at hand was never to champion trans-gender issues. It was to depict a group of teenagers struggling with life and growing up. It didn’t try to play up its drama because for all the emphasis fiction puts on specific conflicts, reality doesn’t wait or care at all. I will grant you that the splicing in “10+11”, while done masterfully, does stunt some level of conflict resolution, even if that episode is still better than episodes from the majority of shows out there.

    I also find it rather absurd to consider the ending in any way heteronormative. Nitori even explicitly claims “this is who I am” at the end, and Chiba’s final talk with Takatsuki implicitly exhibits some frustration with that narrow view. If anything, it normalizes LGBTQ tendencies; it points out the notion that these characters still live with the same issues and frivolities as any other person, and that they, like all other teenagers, need to pass through the phase of growing up. Of course, puberty impedes them far more than the average middle schooler, but they go on without letting it impede with their plays, their outings, or any other direct task at hand that brings actual joy to their lives. So yes, I think the ending is brilliant for its deft handling of the constant movement of life, which both plays to its strengths and neatly ties up a story that needed to be concluded at a waypoint instead of at a definitive end.

    I think I could rant all day about Wandering Son, but I’ll stop here. :p

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