Hi, all! For our last round-up post, we kind of switched things up a bit, focusing on posts of our own from the blog that we really enjoyed from 2017. However, there was a lot of great content that came out in December, so we felt that it would be a huge shame if we just passed over the month altogether. To fix that, we decided to do a combined post for December 2017 and January 2018, and man were there some solid picks for this one. Get ‘em while they’re hot (from the last two months but hey they’re still warm in our hearts)!
After expertly dissecting the fifth episode of Flip Flappers back in November and the clever ideas the show presents about historic lesbian themes in Japanese media, The Afictionado revisits this particular hellish landscape of Pure Illusion and compares similar ideas in Revolutionary Girl Utena about growing up and escaping negative social restrictions on homosexuality in order to find a better life.
I loved Flip Flappers when I saw it as it was airing and after hearing about the crazy and amazing themes people discuss about Utena, I think I’ve become a fan by proxy. I’m definitely gonna try and watch this apparently awesome show soon.
Recovery of an MMO Junkie: In Defense of an Anxious Protagonist – Maya Phillips
Maya Phillips writing for Black Nerd Problems writes a fantastic article about the typical tropes around anxious characters and how MMO Junkie just destroys any pre-existing notions with a very real-feeling main protagonist and a story that supports her personal growth without changing who she is or what makes her as a character amazing.
Hygge in Video Games – Satchel Drakes
For anyone who’s following this season and hasn’t seen Laid-Back Camp, you are missing out on one of the purest and gorgeous shows of this season. From the insanely detailed and beautiful drawn background art for the show to the highly accurate camping techniques that feel more like fun little facts rather than in your face education to the warm and cozy feelings the show exudes from each episode of cold winter camping with warm layers and hot soup by the fire, this show is the comfiest thing ever created. And it’s been a shame that for the longest time, I could find no word for that kind of comfy. Similar to schadenfreude, there seems to be a term in English that’s sorely missing.
The incredibly clever and multitalented Satchel Drakes from Satchbag’s Goods answered my plea: Hygge, a Scandinavian word for that very feeling of comfort. In his video, he goes over the ideas and styles that have evolved from this idea and what all the word means in the grander sense of media, with an emphasis on video games. This video is very cool… and comfy!
While not anime related, Mike Rugnetta of PBS Idea Channel, Crash Course, and podcast Reasonably Sound fame does an incredibly deep dive dissection of the hilarious use of the word “boy” from the famous and infamous McElroy Brothers three and their many and varied uses of the term, going beyond normal definition and evolving the word into something unique and all their own. If you like some interesting philosophical thoughts on silly things or are interested in sound design and music as a medium itself, you may want to support and/or follow Mike over on Drip. It’s some really good stuff!
Super Lady by Tsundere Alley
And for something fun (because I wasn’t able to read a lot of stuff these past two months and Tofu took a couple of mine cough cough), here’s a happenin’ song from the artist Tsundere Alley. Tsundere Alley uses the Future Funk genre with inspirations and sampling from anime and anime-style themes to make some really fun and upbeat songs that always seem to get me in the mood for some slice of life hijinks. Check it out!
Musings on After the Rain and Twin Peaks – Atelier Emily
After the Rain is a series that I have been thus far approaching with some degree of trepidation – as we discussed in our most recent podcast, I feel as though this show could have a genuinely touching and interesting story to tell, but it needs to handle its subject matter very carefully. In a post that initially caught me by surprise, but immediately made sense upon contemplation, Emily discusses the relationship of Akira and Kondo as a sort of early-stages semi-parallel to that of Special Agent Dale Cooper and Audrey Horne from David Lynch’s early 90s classic Twin Peaks. While the piece initially intrigued me simply as a callback to one of my favorite series of all time, the piece does a great job of really contextualizing a lot of the issues that put me so squarely in the “cautious but excited” camp for After the Rain by detailing how these age gap relationships can be vehicles for genuinely interesting character growth, but also addressing the need for these relationships to not progress into anything romantic. The piece’s setup of Dale and Audrey as essentially a blueprint for how After the Rain can succeed is an interesting point to make, and it’s one that, to me, makes perfect sense. This one is well worth the read if you have any degree of interest in After the Rain or Twin Peaks.
Jeko’s most recent piece has a lot going on in its compact space – discussing the (relatively) recent Earth-chan meme and its evolution, how permutations and perceptions of that have affected folks’ relationship to and identification with both the character and the planet, how this has expanded into the virtual space of VRChat, and, ultimately, a fairly lengthy overarching discussion of moe, specifically with regards to the desire for identification with moe by the viewer and the eventual “becoming” of moe. In the usual sense of more academically-leaning articles such as this that are heavy with critical discussion (a sustained use of the research of Patrick Galbraith, for example), this particular piece would lose quite a bit of punch through just a simple summary of the piece, considering each point of discussion is given a pretty deep dive when their turn comes around. The dual interaction of wanting to defend Earth-chan and simultaneously embody the character, and by extension breaking down any boundaries between the Earth itself and its inhabitants is particularly interesting, for example. Having been following the growth of VRChat myself over the last month or so, the discussion of its use as a vehicle for the desired embodiment and identification component of moe is fascinating, and it’s a discussion that is absolutely worth your time. Overall, this might have been my favorite piece from January, so this comes highly recommended.
I know it’s still a bit early in the Winter 2018 anime season, so it’s a bit early to call it, but I’m pretty sure Yuru Camp is destined to be my anime of the season. It just hits so many highs, with incredible, realistic characters, the comfiest atmosphere ever (or hygge, as one of Mythos’ picks calls it), and honestly making me want to go camping. This interview with the show’s director, Yoshiaki Kyougoku, translated by MagnAvaloN gives a lot of neat insight into the philosophy behind the show and the source manga, and it says quite a bit about why the show is the way it is. It’s a neat little dive, so if you’re interested in the show, check it out!
Hag’s post caught me pretty much at the perfect time – I had just finished Nier: Automata about a week prior, and the week I finished Land of the Lustrous, I went to dig through my WordPress feed and found this. Excellent timing. Delving into some mild spoiler territory for both discussed works, Hag’s post digs into some of the nitty-gritty existentialist ideas that crop up in both series, focusing mainly on how they work within a sort of evolutionary framework. It reminded me quite a bit of the critical theory of Posthumanism, discussing the evolution of mankind, even to the somewhat ironic point of mankind eventually being replaced in some capacity.
Anyway, Hag has a lot of really thought-provoking things to say about both series here with regards to the transformation of the earth, the legacies that mankind leaves behind through other beings, and the evolutionary processes that Nier and LusLand both touch on. For sure check this one out.
The Backloggers 3rd Anniversary – Continuing the Rocky Journey – The Backloggers
I’m not one to normally choose posts from our own blog, but we as The Backloggers hard as it is to think, just recently hit our three-year anniversary, and we rung it in with another anniversary post. A lot has happened this year for all of us, and we take some time to do some personal reflection, but we also detail what’s to come for us. There isn’t exactly much to plug or summarize here without just going into detail, which you should just get through reading the post. Thanks for sticking with us!
Well, hopefully you found a post somewhere in here that tickled your fancy! It feels like each month we’re down a crew member for these things (R.I.P. Matt, who is in work hell), but thanks for sticking with us! Since we were covering about two months this time around, I’m sure there’s some great content that we missed out on, so if you have any other recommendations, shoot us a message here in the comments, on Twitter, or wherever! Here’s hoping your new year is off to a good start, and here’s hoping it continues like that! Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see y’all in the new round-up next month!