Everything Else, Week 13: Saying goodbye to the winter season

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Most of this post is just an analysis of pupa‘s final episode, so it would be cool if people would at least read that if nothing else.

Golden Time Finale

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So to nobody’s surprise, Banri and Koko end up getting back together. Not only that, he gets his much-needed closure from Linda at literally the last second, which then allows Banri to chase after the girl of his dreams without any inhibitions. In any case, I’ve ranted long and hard enough about the main character and how much I think he sucks, so I won’t get into that particular topic here. Rather, I’d like to just mention one quick thing: the imbalance in the storytelling. Golden Time devoted episodes after episodes to destroying Banri and Koko’s relationship only to have them get back together in a single episode. Doesn’t that seem a little imbalanced to anyone else? Shouldn’t the getting back together part deserve just as much (if not more) attention as the breaking up part? Episodes after episodes, we agonized (not really, but just play along with me as if Golden Time was worth watching) as the anime slowly shit on the main couple’s relationship. Then in the final episode, all it took was a vanity mirror and a visit from Koko to joggle Banri’s memory. Oh, okay.

Nobunagun Finale

The truth finally comes out, guys. In this week’s episode, we learn that Jack the Ripper was really Florence Nightingale all along:

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In any case, Sio saves the world after nearly being tentacle-raped by aliens. And for that, her colleagues generously reward her:

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Haha, forced yuri is so funny. But it’s okay, because afterwards, Jack kisses her!

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So much for Asao-san.

pupa Finale

Yeah yeah, this was a terrible adaptation. But even though this anime failed in a lot of ways, any discerning eye could tell that pupa nevertheless had promise as a story. Too bad an anime version of pupa will never live up to said promise (and I refuse to read the manga). The final “episode” is no different. What little we get is definitely intriguing, but like every other pupa episode, it has been ruined by the the adaptation’s format, i.e. 2-min of real runtime. Still, this is fittingly the most interesting “episode” we’ve gotten in quite some time.

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Chibi Yume’s teddy bear is coming apart at the seams, because her dad stepped on it yesterday.

Analysis: This is an obvious metaphor for the child abuse that the two siblings are suffering in the home.

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Chibi Utsutsu desperately wants to get his sister a new teddy bear, but he can’t afford it.

Analysis: He wants to heal her physical and emotional wounds, but he can’t afford to do so for a variety of reasons (can’t afford to run away, can’t afford to get treatment, can’t afford to see a psychiatrist, etc.).

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It just so happens that there’s a lottery at the department store, and the grand prize is a giant teddy bear! Utsutsu desperately tries to win the grand prize, but he keeps losing. His friends even show up to give him their tickets, but it is to no avail.

Analysis: The giant teddy bear represents the possibility of the two of them getting a new father. It’s no wonder, therefore, that Utsutsu’s odds of winning are so small. Still, he wants a better father so that he and his sister will no longer have to suffer. Arita, one of Utsutsu’s friends, gives him another ticket so that our protagonist can keep trying. Arita even says, “I don’t need a stuffed animal.” In other words, Arita probably has a normal home life. As a result, he doesn’t need to compartmentalize his father into two different things: 1) the real father, who is horrible and cruel to our siblings, and 2) the abstract, conceptual notion of the father symbolized as a giant teddy bear because a father should be warm and protective of his children. Unfortunately, the odds are against Utsutsu; no matter how much he tries, he just keeps losing.

At the same time, Utsutsu has to endure the condescending remarks from one of the bunny people running the lottery: “Sorry, kid. You only get one try per ticket,” i.e. you only have one life. The bunny person continues, “Learning to compromise is a big step toward growing up.” These words echo the way outsiders can disengage themselves from an uncomfortable situation. Surely, it isn’t impossible to notice when a child is being abused, but we often don’t want to get involved. We tell ourselves that it’s none of our business. We convince ourselves that nothing can be done about it–… that the children have merely been dealt a bad hand in life. Hell, their lives suck, but hey, learning to cope is “a big step toward growing up.” So just deal with it, kid! We’ll even call it a “compromise,” so the moral obligation is now on the kid to take an active role in finding a solution to his child abuse. Finally, the bunny person gets in one last jab: “It must take real talent to lose this much!” In other words, maybe it’s the kid’s fault ’cause no parent is like that!

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In the end, all Utsutsu manages to win is a flower hairpin for his sister. In fact, it is literally the seventh prize, which is ironic because you often think of the number seven as lucky, but Utsutsu and his sister are anything but lucky. Even so, Yume is over-the-moon for the hairpin, which she happily wears because it matches the four-leaf clover hairpin that she gave him.

Analysis: They can’t afford to heal the wounds inflicted upon them by their father, but through this ordeal, the siblings form an unbreakable bond. This bond is symbolized by their matching hairpins. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is a good ending for these kids by any means. In times of need, we make what would normally be questionable decisions in order to cope with a horrible situation. So it’s perfectly understandable that Utsutsu and Yume would form an unbreakable bond with each other in order to survive their father’s abuse. This same bond, however, cannot and should not be carried over into the realm of normalcy.

At the start of the story, the father has long since disappeared from their lives. As a result, there is no longer a need for our two siblings to have an unbreakable bond. Instead, both Utsutsu and Yume should be branching out, meeting new people, making new friends, forging new relationships through said friends, etc. Unfortunately, this unbreakable bond prevents them from doing so. So when Yume gains this “insatiable hunger for the flesh” (read: she becomes aware of her sexual desires), she and Utsutsu opt to engage in an unhealthy incestuous affair. After all, if Yume had been a normal girl, she’d fall in love with another person, i.e. not Utsutsu. But their bond is unbreakable, after all; it has helped them survive a tumultuous early childhood. As a result, it’s easy to think that this bond is both sacred and healthy, but it’s definitely not. To use an example, triage is often necessary during disasters, but it would be heartless to to apply the same mentality in most cases.

Some telling bits of dialogue:

Utsutsu: “[The hairpin] is okay? What about the bear?”
Yume: “Mr. Bear is hurt, but he’s still here.”

When our two siblings still had to endure their father’s abuse, it made sense to say, “Yeah, I’m hurt, but for now, it’s okay because at least I’m still here.” You can’t keep saying that forever though. Eventually, you’ll have to treat the wound before it festers. But unfortunately, you can tell that the siblings continued to carry this sort of mentality long after they had escaped their father’s abuse. So even though it is highly likely that they are both suffering from emotional wounds, they’ve gotten used to ignoring the pain even when they can afford to seek help.

Silver Spoon S2 Finale

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Boy, I’m hungry after watching this episode. I also like the exchange between Yuugo and his dad. You can definitely see the main character’s growth on display; he tries his best to compromise and understand where his father’s coming from, but at the same time, he stands up for himself when he finds it necessary to do so. Again, I don’t like Silver Spoon as a whole. Most of the time, the anime’s just a little too “Chicken Soupy for the Soul” for my tastes. But I like human interactions, especially when there are conflicts. Having said that, I’m not asking for outrageous, tear-jerking conflicts. I simply feel that the dinner scene strikes a perfect, realistic balance between Silver Spoon‘s slice-of-life fluff and something you’d find in your average Korean drama.

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It’s also nice to see Yuugo brush off the revelation that the bacon text from his dad had really been sent by his mom all along. Sure, it’s always nice to have our parents’ approval in everything that we take seriously, but part of growing up is realizing that our sense of accomplishment is not intrinsically tied to what our parents think of us. A lot of kids — especially Asian kids — seem to struggle with this. As for the big cook-out when Yuugo’s mom pays him a visit, it’s whatever. It’s what I don’t enjoy about the show. I’m well aware that the show’s target audience adores these moments, but they bore the fuck out of me. Oh well. I don’t hate Silver Spoon, and there have definitely been times when the narrative has drawn me in, but I can’t say I liked the anime either.

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15 thoughts on “Everything Else, Week 13: Saying goodbye to the winter season”

  1. I think that about the cookoff scene there’s also something to be said for Hiromu Arakawa definitely being into food porn. I guess that’s part of her rural heritage. FMA was never focused on this themes but it had some hints – the jokes about Ed not liking milk, the symbolic value of Winry’s apple pie, and so on – but when given free reins, she just pulled out all stops. I think the only more overt celebration of food I’ve seen in Japanese manga is Jiro Taniguchi’s “Gourmet” (which is literally a series of stories about one guy going at places and eating good stuff. That’s it). It’s funny ‘cos personally I can see where it comes from – I come from a relatively rural region and especially among old people it’s still strong the idea that food is something to be treasured and that refusing to eat something that’s available is almost an insult. Which is a mentality that somewhat poorly applies to our modern society in which we have a wasteful abundance of bad food, but that disconnect’s a theme for different shows, I guess.

    1. I come from a relatively rural region and especially among old people it’s still strong the idea that food is something to be treasured and that refusing to eat something that’s available is almost an insult.

      I’m not sure if that’s specifically a rural thing. Socio-economical conditions can have the same effect. I’ve always lived in the city, but my mom has never allowed the family to throw anything away or be picky eaters.

      1. True that. Though maybe in rural areas there’s a stronger affection towards what is perceived as being “genuine” food as opposed to the industrial produced one (I use those commas because, funnily enough, it’s not like small farmers don’t use pesticides. In fact, my grandpa often poured plenty of powders and other stuff on this fruit, all things that he referred to with the generic term of “medicine” and never really worrying about proper doses or what they actually contained. The fact that he’s basically illiterate doesn’t help). But yeah, the general philosophy is “stuff yourself while you can because you never know if you’ll be able to do it tomorrow”.

        1. True that. Though maybe in rural areas there’s a stronger affection towards what is perceived as being “genuine” food as opposed to the industrial produced one

          Yeah, I get what you’re saying but it’s a complicated issue. I can only speak from my perspective as an American citizen, but it’s legitimately more expensive to get “genuine” food in the cities here because stuff is usually being shipped from states away. Plus, thanks to my government’s insistence on subsidizing certain crops over others, soda is cheaper than fresh water. When you spend 9 hours at work, then 2 more hours in the commute, that cheap, processed dinner starts to look mighty attractive. I hope I don’t come across as if I’m being argumentative; this is personally a fascinating topic to me even if it doesn’t have much to do with the anime itself.

        2. No, I get you absolutely, as someone who got to experience both ends of the spectrum – I grew up in near-rural south of Italy but now live in the UK, where people eats in a way that I perceive as little short of suicidal, yet I myself am occasionally drawn to it by the kind of life that you’re forced to lead. My point was mostly that even supposedly genuine food may not be so any more. A lesson that Silver Spoon teaches well is that proper modern agriculture isn’t any easier than engineering or informatics; it’s a science and requires lots of knowledge to be carried out properly. Then it’s up to you (and unfortunately also to the constraints that the ruthless market binds you with) how you use that knowledge – to boost your wallet at the expense of the consumers’ health, or to actually produce good food. We often complain about “modern food” being processed and tainted by chemicals and GMOs, yet GMOs have the potential to be less harmful than chemicals; and chemicals, in turn, have made food more plentiful and overall healthy (in the Middle Ages people would also eat rotten, infested and/or moldy stuff after all, just because there was so little and nothing could go to waste). Are there abuses? Definitely, like the excesses to which supermarkets go just to make their fruit & veg LOOK nice. But ultimately agricultural science has probably contributed as much, if not even more, than medical one to the improvement in health and life expectancy that the west has undergone during the XX century, and I think that’s a bit under appreciated. Now if only we could reform this crappy economical system maybe we could achieve a middle ground where we don’t die at 40 but we don’t do so at the price of causing children to die at 10 or so in some third world country.

          …yeah, this is going wildly off-topic.

  2. Now you have to go watch the Blu-ray version of Pupa and see all the lovely uncensored gore you missed out on. You know, the “plot” that everyone watches the show for. :P

  3. I’d say this is a tearful goodbye, but…man…
    “so it would be cool if people would at least read that if nothing else.”
    You say that as if we don’t often read everything you post, mate. haha! No worries.

    Golden Time: Wow, okay. I agree that’s objectively crappy writing. For every break down you need an equal or greater time to rebuild. That’s just how writing goes when you write realistic characters and want your story to feel real no matter the genre. Here they literally took such a long time breaking the relationship and characters down that they would need several more episodes to even get them near a relationship again.
    But then again, this sudden spout of “GOTTA GO FAST” for the “plot” is likely for the best, because at least it’s over.

    Nobunagun: Aaah~ Jacku the Rippah-kun is so cool~! I’d let him stick his blade into me, if you know what I mean. I’d let him make a bloody mess out of me, if you get my drift!
    I mean that this is only outclassed in stupidity by Nasu’s idiotic need to make Jack the Ripper into a fuckin’ loli.
    What is it with historical serial killers being made bishounen/kawaii?
    And when will we get a slice of life/shounen show detailing the misadventures of the lovably moe Manson family?

    Silver Spoon: Mediocre with some touching moments.
    About as good as it got with this season, so… Congrats, SS!

    Pupa: This was a show that I was really excited for. I could tell your gears were turning over analyzing this story, too. It wasn’t overly complicated, but the way it told its tale left it open to analysis and interpretation, which even despite the runtime made it far more interesting and satisfying than the manga, which up until the point I read was almost as disappointing as the Bunny Drop manga (which holds the place of “most disappointing and gross source material I’ve read”. It’s a sin the show was chopped to bits, censored like a madman and given a run of a fly’s lifespan.
    _It makes me wonder if maybe the more obtuse and metaphorical moments of this show were actually due to that restriction or due to the director’s influence. I don’t like Evangelion, but to mention it again, there were certain moments (i.e. the murder of Kaoru by Shinji’s literal hand) that were made more tense and meaningful due to budget constraints. What if, given cartblanch, the show would’ve just been an animated form of the manga? The most interesting aspect of the show, it’s vagueness, would’ve been lost and instead we’d get a gorey imouto story?
    Who knows, ay? At least we got something genuinely interesting, if not frustrating due to the runtime, out of Pupa. I doubt we’ll be seeing anything quite like it for some time to come.

    -Aside from your analysis, which made this episode far more interesting and genuinely made sense, I like how the derpy pink bunny was like a doofus angel. Just the screenshot alone makes it look like the most goofy messenger from on-high. I doubt this metaphorical imagery was accidental too since there’s no reason the bunny suit should have wings or for there to be God rays coming from behind him.

    1. Silver Spoon: Mediocre with some touching moments.
      About as good as it got with this season, so… Congrats, SS!

      Samurai Flamenco was brilliant. I don’t know what you’re talking about!

      What if, given cartblanch, the show would’ve just been an animated form of the manga? The most interesting aspect of the show, it’s vagueness, would’ve been lost and instead we’d get a gorey imouto story?

      Well, surrealistic films have been made, and I’m not saying the short pupa episodes have been surreal, but I doubt its atmosphere would’ve been difficult to maintain with a bigger budget. If a full length adaptation ended up being literal, it’s not like some force of nature made the animators and storytellers cop out entirely.

      1. “Samurai Flamenco was brilliant. I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
        HAhaha! I forgot about Samumenco.
        And KlK
        I’m proven wrong. haha

        “If a full length adaptation ended up being literal, it’s not like some force of nature made the animators and storytellers cop out entirely.”
        Hrm That’s true. Kind of makes me wonder what a Pupa film would be like in the hands of a Kubrick disciple.

  4. I can see the pupa adaption is so bad that its message is severely clouded. Its one of those are humans monsters or monsters(something thats different than us) monsters type stories.

      1. I disagree with you on that. Only time a adaption should be different if its to improve the story which never happens in anime for some reason. There are visual adaptations that are equal to or better than the source material but anime for the most part should just follow the manga step by step.

  5. Golden Time: To think that I originally liked what they did with Banri’s memory loss. But then there came Ghost Banri… The end felt so much like wishful thinking, except I didn’t really care enough to have anymore to have any wishes left.

    Nobunagun: I fully expected to hate this show and only tried the first episode because I had time. I didn’t hate it. I actually enjoyed it. Why? It’s goofy and stylish and fast paced enough to work without thinking. Your second screenshot shows an example of scenes that really pushed my anime auto-content-filter (active so I can enjoy a show despite such content). But take a look at all three screen-shots together, and tell me they’re not visually creative. (I hated how did the foreigners lips, but I liked most of the rest of the visuals: the shadowplay in the first screenshot, the over-the-top lilly-pinkishness of that contentwise awful scene, and the bodylanguage and shadowiness-before-a-starry-sky of the final screenshot. The show had a lot of such scenes, and I liked them. (Screenshots well-chosen!)

    Silver Spoon: Only watched the first season. This sort of reflects my response to season one:

    Oh well. I don’t hate Silver Spoon, and there have definitely been times when the narrative has drawn me in, but I can’t say I liked the anime either.

    Except that something about the maincharacters (Hachimen and Mikage?) irritated me to the point of making season 2 unwatchable for me. To this day I don’t know what it is. Otherwise I would have watched the show for the good bits, I think.

    Pupa: I’m pretty much on board with your analysis of this episode. As to the series: What a waste of potential. This is a teaser: look, we have the talent to make a good anime out of the material, but, well, we didn’t get the resources. Waste of potential. Waste of potential. Waste of potential.

    I do read most of your posts, but I don’t have much to say, because, mostly, I’m an intuitive watcher.

    1. The compositions of the scenes in Nobunagun aren’t bad. I just really really dislike the color palette most of the time. Just too many saturated purples.

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