Inuyashiki Ep. 1 and more

Hmm. Hmmmm. Sorry, I’m just at a loss for words. Well, not really. Here comes a bunch of words about the episode. Upon first impression, however, I have to admit the anime left me in an odd place. Inuyashiki is certainly different. It’s not often that an anime protagonist is a 58-year-old man with the charisma of a tin can. Shortly after being diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer, Ichiro tries to deliver the bad news to his family. He’s a very meek man, though. He’s incredibly soft-spoken and passive. He might look like he’s pushing 80, but when I first heard him speak, I thought I was listening to a kid. And for a variety of reasons — some his fault, some not — Ichiro’s a huge disappointment to his children. Hell, he can’t even tell his own wife that he has skin cancer. But I can’t blame her. She asks him point blank, “What? Is there something you want to say?” And if you think her words seem harsh, watch the episode. She doesn’t sound uncaring. She simply sounds like a mildly annoyed wife, and who wouldn’t be in her position? She just had to clean up dog shit. On the other hand, he needs to speak up, but he just runs away. I suspect this is not new behavior. I suspect Ichiro has often run or shy away from difficult situations.

I guess what I’m saying is I don’t pity Ichiro that much. After failing to talk to his own wife about a very serious and necessary subject — for Christ’s sakes, man, you are going to die in three months! — he runs off into the night, sobbing to his dog because he doesn’t believe his family would even cry for him. He might be right… but still… Look, terminal cancer sucks. Your children not respecting you sucks. But people can’t read minds. And if you’re this passive, then what do you expect? No one deserves respect simply because they’re old. Therein lies the issue. I don’t automatically venerate the elderly. Blasphemy, I know, but in my eyes, respect has to be earned. That doesn’t mean I think we should disrespect people until they prove themselves, but hey, if you people treat you as though you don’t matter, maybe it’s because you act like you don’t matter. Don’t like that? Then do something about it. And the truth is, by being meek and passive — by running away from his problems — Ichiro is the one who dehumanizes himself. By not being assertive, by not asking for what he wants, by not having self-respect, he dehumanizes himself long before the aliens ever could.

Oh yeah, the aliens. So uh, it’s not clear what the aliens are doing on and around Earth, but they accidentally kill Ichiro and some kid. Well, let’s unfuck the situation and just restore those two back to life. Unfortunately, they don’t have organic matter on hand. They simply have weapon parts. As a result, our protagonist comes back to life as a robot. A very dangerous robot. So we get the usual “What am I? I’m a monsteeeeeeeerrrrrrr!” schtick. Ichiro no longer has to worry about stomach cancer nor does it appear he ever has to eat organic food again (maybe he’ll still need to “refuel” in some other capacity). On the other hand, he laments the fact that he’s unable to cry even though he’s sad, and he blames it on the fact that he’s no longer strictly human. But when he runs into a bunch of punk kids picking on some former vagrant — the man’s apparently not homeless anymore because he’s managed to rent an apartment — Ichiro springs into action. Very specific action. After driving them away with a pretty laser show, he somehow uploads a video of these kids being sociopaths, and IDs them to the rest of the country. That’s some superpower, alright. It’s not entirely clear who’s in control. I don’t think Ichiro’s the one who did all of that, but yeah… More importantly, the good deed of merely stepping in allows the old man to suddenly be able to cry as if he’s still human.

But that’s curious, isn’t it? Why would a robot need to cry? And why couldn’t he cry before? Well, the first question is unnecessary if you really think about it. Why would a robot need to human skin? In order to look human, duh. So why would a robot need to cry? In order to feel human. So like a lot of stories involving human-like robots, androids, replicants, and what have you, it’s as if Inuyashiki is trying to say that it doesn’t really matter what you’re made of on the inside. You can still have personhood. Conversely, those kids might be made of fleshy matter, but they’re clearly monsters. They have no regard for another living being, so who’s to say they’re human at all? And the reason Ichiro can cry at the end is because he’s finally earning it. He didn’t just walk away. He’s actually doing something. And when you perform a good deed, you earn respect even if it’s only self-respect. It doesn’t just fall in your lap. Again, I would argue that even before the alien encounter Ichiro had dehumanized himself. I don’t blame it all on him. I’m not saying he deserved to be disrespected by his kids. Nevertheless, we are ultimately responsible for our lot in life. As the old adage goes, be the change that you want to see. If people don’t care about you, do something about it. So I don’t think the lesson is, “Hey, let’s just respect old people more.” You gotta earn it, man.


King’s Game Ep. 2

Boy, that OP sure was something, huh?

King’s Game walked up to the edge, then immediately backed out. It looked as though Natsuko would be raped, but it turned out she was just putting on an act. The show didn’t even have the balls to end the episode on a cliffhanger, thereby making us wonder if the guy was going to go through with it or not. Maybe that’s for the best. I don’t know if I’ve ever found much substance in shock value. Plus, the whole “Is rape justified if it would save both parties” is not exactly a thought experiment I particularly want to explore. At the very least, I wouldn’t expect King’s Game to answer the question in any meaningful way. So instead, Natsuko goes completely 180. Any sudden change in personality is jarring, but somehow, it feels a cheap here. But at least it was unexpected?

That’s more than I can say about Nobuaki’s flashback. Have you heard the tragedy of Daisuke the wannabe rockstar? Well, don’t bother. It’s so predictable and bland that I was just dying for the episode to end. Kids receive the King’s orders, kids think it’s a joke, it’s not a joke, someone die, kids get scared, more people die. We got this same basic plot structure last week, so seeing it again was redundant. The show tries to get you emotionally invested in Daisuke by going on and on about his dreams to be a musician. I can’t speak for everyone, but it didn’t work for me. He dies pathetically, and I’m just waiting for something juicy — anything — to happen.

But what is juicy? Do I want to see these kids get tortured or sexually assaulted? That’s really hard to say. The cop-out answer is to simply say that I’m bored. That nothing I see here is remotely original. It’s easy to say, “Just tell a better story.” And I guess that’s true. For something that should feel like a page-turner, King’s Game is rather bland. I’m not dying to see what happens next. But what would make it a page-turner without making the show too trashy?


Black Clover Ep. 2

I shut the episode off at the 10:45 mark. Instead of grown-ass Asta screaming every line at me, I got chibi Asta screaming every line at me in a flashback. Also, Black Clover has one joke at the moment, and it’s content to ride that joke into the ground: “Hey Sister, will you marry me? No? WELL, I WON’T GIVE UP.” So I’ll do it. I’ll give up. I give up on you, Black Clover.

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4 thoughts on “Inuyashiki Ep. 1 and more”

  1. I don’t give a damn about Black Clover and King’s Game manages to go full retard (and not in a good, fun way) just in its second episode. Damn, that was fast. I thought it’s going to go downhill in its third or fourth episode. Lololol!

    Let’s go straight to Inuyashiki and… it was as bad as I expected. Ugh… I’ll present why I think it was bad in three points.

    1) Underdogs: Most people love underdogs, right? There is just something compelling about the struggle of someone from the bottom of the barrel to rise to the top. Unfortunately, a lot of underdog stories from Japan (not just anime) cheat. First, those authors are just so lazy to come up with a sympathetic and interesting protag to root for, so they just make everyone insufferable assholes. (Except the heroine. I don’t know if this also applies to Inuyashiki, but it is for other stories) I mean how come you won’t root for the only likable character in the story, huh? And damn, Inuyashiki follows this formula to the point I genuinely think it could be a parody.

    Then the protag shall struggle to rise to the top and win everyone’s love and respect with blood, sweat, and tears. Or it used to. Now, all the underdogs just happen to have the strongest power (I’ll use magic as an example here) hidden within themselves all along (i.e. his weakest magic turn out to be the strongest magic, his inability to use magic turns out allow him to use a super special weapon that hates magic, his magic is the weakest but he has the special power to be the strongest for a few minutes, and so on.) or to be given or inherited the strongest power (i.e. he turns out to be the chose one, he carries the blood of a hero or king that gives him super special magic, a god just give him super special magic, and so on.)

    Inuyashiki is in the second category. He just got transformed into super special cyborg commando by some aliens. So, does he really earn that moment of humanity? Yeah, I know power is more than just having it but also on how it was used. It just feels cheap. Besides, I don’t think the story is going to go into the “What is humanity?” issue in a more thoughtful manner other than a cheap attempt to be thoughtful. This isn’t a cyberpunk story.

    2) Is this a parody?: I mean the sadporn level in this premiere is high enough to reach the point of parody, right? This is not a story that explores the reasons about why middle-class, old man could be unhappy or unsatisfied in his life in a good and mature way. This story could be great if it is that story, though. A lot of men, especially older men, have been conditioned to believe they need to bottle up all of their “unmanly” emotions. (I don’t think this reason applies to the protag, though, because he runs away from his problems, not bottling it up.)

    Unfortunately, the author is lazy and chooses to path of least resistance and just make everyone around the protag insufferable assholes. Bitchy wife? Ungrateful children? Smug, petty millennial? Holy shit, the only human beings that we’re meant to sympathize with are just two old men! Ichiro and that homeless dude that just want to reunite with his estranged wife, but he can’t because those EVIL TEENAGERS just can’t stop themselves from SETTING HIM ON FIRE!!! (The dog isn’t a human being, so it doesn’t count.) Could you tone down the bias a bit, author!? What are you trying to make here!? SAO for old men!? Old Nipponjin also need a Kirito figure in their life!?

    3) What is the author trying to say here!?: Is this story just going to have Ichiro save Japan from the evil millenial from the beginning to the end? I mean have you look at the promotional poster and image of this anime? It got Ichiro go cyborg commando on another cyborg commando but he is a young man and I assume he is evil because Ichiro can’t be the bad guy there. Yeah… If this is what this anime trying to do, I don’t think I can watch it.

    Seriously, the life of a young man or woman in animeland is hard. If you’re not being exploited and sacrificed by the old people for their own benefit in the name of the “nation,” the “greater good,” the “tradition” or “duty,” you’re those radical, extremist rebels that has to be eliminated for the good of the old people… I mean the greater good, the many! All the problems in Japan… I mean animeland are all caused by those ungrateful, radical youth! Life in animeland is just awesome! Yay!

    1. If it wasn’t apparent from my post, I’m not a fan of Ichiro. Meek, passive people annoy the hell out of me. My initial reaction to the first half of the episode was, “Well, if they were trying to garner my sympathy, they failed, ’cause I don’t respect this dude either.” I don’t think the wife was bitchy. The kids are “ungrateful” in a sense, but they’re typical teenagers. That’s like getting mad at your dog for shitting in the house. If the kids don’t know better, it might help if the father isn’t always walking around like a sad sack of potatoes. This is why I interpreted the show in a different way. It’s not about “these damn millennials don’t respect their elders at all!” It’s more, “Shit, what have you actually done to deserve respect? You’ve been gainfully employed and you provide them with a roof over their heads? That’s what you’re supposed to do!” Channeling Chris Rock a bit there.

      Regarding respect and humanity, he performed an action worthy of respect. That doesn’t mean he’s now an individual worthy of respect. He performed one duty. He did the right thing. It doesn’t matter if he got his powers by happenstance — and it was also mere coincidence that he happened to be nearby when the kids attacked — but he still chose to intervene. It was the right thing to do, and credit’s where credit is due. There’s an entire series to go. He’ll save more people. No one’s saying we should worship him yet, but I think you’re being a bit harsh.

      1. Oh no, I didn’t mean to imply that you’re a fan of Ichiro in my previous post. You already make it clear that you think Ichiro is as responsible as the other members of his family for their current situation. I just want to present you and the other readers of this blog my take on Inuyashiki. I’m sorry if it does come out like that.

        My take to this anime is similar to you: “What have Ichiro actually done to deserve respect?” Providing for your family is a given, not a f*cking merit badge. I realize I’m too harsh on my wording, but honestly I’m just taken aback at how heavy-handed and on the nose the entire thing was. It’s frankly irritating.

        As an Asian, I’m frankly sick with how a lot of old people demand respect or some shit simply because they are born first or their lives are more difficult than yours, or parents who demand respect from their children just because they gave birth to them. It’s like it’s the children’s fault that they are born to this world. I mean how f*cked up is that? It’s like you’re watching a tv show where you’re the one who must push yourself to like the show and its characters instead of the tv show working hard to make you like it and its characters. It’s wrong.

        I mean what’s next after this shit? Should someone entitled to get laid with you because he/she is nice to you? I’m just so pissed off about the entire thing that I can’t even give credit to Ichiro where it’s due. I guess he did the right thing at that moment. Sorry for the outburst. I’ll try to be better about it next time.

      2. To be honest, if this kind of heavy-handedness and raising points that are not only not interesting to me but I also disagree with continues on, I might have to re-evaluate and upgrade my rating on Concrete Revolutio.

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