Ages ago, Matt added White Album 2 to our pool of randomly-picked shows to watch, and after years of sitting on the list, we finally rolled it. I struggle to say that this was entirely a good thing, because my god, White Album 2 HURTS.
In fact, White Album 2 hurts so much that Matt and Zack end up spending close to an hour talking almost exclusively about the sheer agony of watching it! We aren’t even kidding. If you think you’re ready for White Album 2, then trust us – you’re not. But hey, you can at least swing in here and help us work our way through it! That would be really kind of you.
Forewarning for some, this is going to be a bit heavier discussion that deals with death, but it is uplifting in the end.
Many of my generation joke about how old we feel when there’s new Internet lingo we don’t know or some younger generation doesn’t know one of our favorite artists we listened to when we were in high school. It’s fun to joke about and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. However, the feeling of growing old is a very real thing. Visiting my own grandparents, my grandmother would discuss at length the struggles she faces as she grows more frail and watches those she was closest with pass on. It’s hard to accept the inevitability of growing old, let alone make the best of it.
Sanju Mariko is a story about this, dealing with the loss of your own ability as well as the loss of those around you, yet still finding a way to go on and enjoy life.
If you missed it a couple years back, there was an anime that came out called Golden Kamuy, adapted from a historical fiction manga by the same name. I ended up missing out when it came around the anime circuit but at the behest of a friend, I decided to give the manga a shot. Boy howdy, am I glad I did. This series is a really interesting story set in a unique backdrop filled with history and intrigue.
Set after the Russo-Japanese War at the beginning of the 20th century, Golden Kamuy is about a Japanese veteran of the war, Saichi “Immortal” Sugimoto, meagerly getting by through gold panning when he stumbles across a secret story about a lost treasure. After finding a native Ainu girl, Asirpa, whose family was killed for the very same treasure, the two team up to find it, facing off against escaped convicts, soldiers, and many more to find the reward. The trouble is, the only “map” to their reward was split into multiple pieces, each one tattooed onto escaped convicts that need to be tracked down in order to solve the puzzle.
Back when Ryan Lewis and Macklemore were writing the songs for their album The Heist, Ben Haggerty (Macklemore) was having a hard time coming up with the lyrics for “Same Love.” He finally decided on an idea of telling the story from a gay individual’s perspective. However, when he showed this to Ryan Lewis, Ryan shot it down immediately. He stated to Ben that there was no authenticity behind these words, and that if he really wanted to make an impact, he should tell it from his perspective. Ben rewrote the song with this in mind, taking his own perspective and feelings of support for the gay community and translating them musically. The song went on to be an anthem for the gay community and a banner for allies to rally under as they pushed harder to finally enact legal gay marriage in the United States.
As someone who likes to write in his free time, I always suffer trying to find how to write characters that aren’t the same background as me, whether it’s a different ethnicity or a different sexuality. To be honest, it genuinely is an impossible thing to try and do this by myself. I can’t understand the struggle or the abuse people have gone through for being gay because I’m just not. That is why I always talk to those around me from these backgrounds in order to help me understand on some scale, and then constantly keep the conversation going as I write. Any writer who is gay would far better be able to detail how that feels than me, and we should encourage them to write those feelings. However, for those of us that are allies, I feel that if we want to express these types of characters in the stories we tell, we have to make damn sure we do it right.
That is why I love My Brother’s Husband as a series. This short but endearingly sweet manga very much acts as an instructional guide for the ways allies can help and make the best of being the support class in the Equality Squad. Gengoroh Tagame in this manga shows people, such as myself, how to be that ally that the gay community needs, how to accept them and work with them to make a better place.
Mousou Telepathy is a story that takes a look at what having a super power most consider cool would really be like of it came with no off button. Ayako Nakano is a student in high school who ever since she could remember has been able to see other people’s thoughts. However, after being called creepy by her mother when she was very little, she’s always kept this to herself. Unfortunately, this becomes harder to hide when a seemingly stoic popular boy in her class with a very overactive imagination falls madly in love with her, constantly thinking about her throughout the school day.
If there’s nothing else that should be taken from this article, the tl;dr of all of this is:
Just because I know the destination and can name all the stops along the way doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the ride, especially when the train is this freaking jazzed up.
Megalo Box is a reimagining Ashita no Joe, taking its classic story of the underdog boxer and setting it in a near future version of Japan where the rich live in a beautiful utopia while the poor exist in sprawling slums outside the city and aren’t even considered citizens. Junk Dog, our Joe of this series, makes a living convincingly losing matches to payback his coach’s debts to a crime lord. We see him battered and bruised, sick of this life but stuck without a way to make things better, especially given that as part of the poor class, he’s unable to get a citizen’s license, meaning he’s not even considered a citizen of this world. He spends his days recklessly driving until he accidentally almost runs over the head of a large corporation who is in charge of a new league of boxing sport called Megalonia. Junk Dog, due to his love of old fashioned Megalo Boxing, hates the ideas behind Megalonia and tells off this business woman, causing her prized boxer and devotee, Yuuri, to almost fight him before he is called off. Because Yuuri is still upset about this, he later gets a match with Junk Dog in the illegal boxing ring Dog calls home and defeats him brutally. Junk Dog wants a rematch immediately but Yuuri says he will only fight him again if he can fight him in his own Megalonia ring. This kickstarts the journey of Junk Dog to get into Megalonia and get his revenge on Yuuri.
Quick note for any Just Because! viewers outside of America: Lucky for you, HiDive got ahold of this one because still at the point of this writing, Amazon has not translated the signs and text for this show along with the official subs. So if you’re watching this show, might want to head over to HiDive for those translated signs on the last episode given the incredibly important use of text messaging in this show. Us Americans will just be over here crying and raising a defiant fist against our Amazon overlords who will still not turn over the full rights to HiDive.
Well here we are, the end is near, we face the final curtain, and my friends, I’ll say it clear. I’ll state my case of which I’m certain… This was such a good anime. Since the first episode, I’ve been impressed with this show and I’m so happy that Just Because! never let me down. Of the shows that we’ve written about thus far as a group on this site, this one was probably my favorite to watch. And now we’re at the end. I guess if the previous episodes were the wind up, this would be the pitch… and then the aftermath. Though, to be less haughty for a sec, it’d probably be better just to call this the exam arc ‘cause hot damn is there a lot riding on these college entrance tests.
We initially pick up from where episode ten leaves off, with Komiya readmitting her feelings. However, we see that she tells Izumi not to give her an answer until he passes his test, stating it with the assurance that he will. He promises her he will with the same earnest and serious face I’ve come to love on this deadpan boy.
Hmm, yes, the “I’m very tired but I appreciate you as a person” look. Vintage.
The next day, Izumi fills in Souma about what’s going on with him and his exams while Souma in turn explains his relationship with Morikawa and his plans for the future. The standout moment here, however has to be when Izumi tells Souma to stay in touch with Morikawa, as it’ll get harder to message her if he waits too long. It’s thrown out so nonchalant but the meaning is easily picked up by Souma as Izumi alluding to how they fell out of touch, bringing us back to the beginning of the series and the lost friendship they thankfully were able to rekindle. It’s a nice touch to one of the last major bonding moments these two have with each other as we head towards the end. With a promise to stay in touch with Morikawa that also seems to be an affirmation to be there for Izumi as well, Souma then throws it back to Izumi, telling him to stay in touch with Natsume to which Izumi promises Souma that he’ll tell her everything when he passes his test. A lot riding on these exams, huh?
The penultimate for the series and boy is it worth that haughty title. What starts with a innocent, though a bit existential, discussion about “happiness” steadily divulges into an all out struggle for survival as every character down on the surface finds themselves at the end of the line, finally leading us back to just before where the series all began with that beautiful opening piece that sold me on picking up this series eleven weeks ago.
What started as a gentle slope to the finish last episode has turned into an eighty degree angle slide into the finale. The is the episode we finally, finally, get a lot of the answers that we were looking for… and then a few more questions. While I had wished more of this information had been spread out or at least hinted at more in other parts of the series, I felt its delivery was excellent and the revelations interesting. Plus, given some of the information explained, it made sense for the show to wait until the very end before revealing its hand.
This episode definitely wants us to know we’re finally here at the end of it all and the allusions to the first episode are abound, particularly the constant various versions of the show’s opening motif played in every style imaginable throughout each scene. There was also of note the opening discussion about happiness that was interesting to hear as it seemed to be a direct allusion to the first few lines of the show, a monologue about how Ctholly had found her happiness finally before she tumbles off the ship and down to the surface below.
This week, we talk about the P.A. Works’ lesser-spoken-of masterstroke, Hanasaku Iroha. We discuss the balance it strikes between lighthearted story and drama, its extensive development of its characters, both main and side, and evisceration (but, you know, not like a bad evisceration).
I think that at this point in the season, I’ve become attuned to the fact that SukaSuka is a show where it feels like, and often is the case that surprisingly little happens with each passing episode. The show often manages to delve deep into some worldbuilding, or some deep discussions between characters, but often, much of what passes the time for each episode comes across as being interesting, but ultimately inconsequential with regards to the rest of the show. Although it does still dabble in some of these issues, episode 10 is different. Episode 10 has a lot to say, and what it does say at its crucial points are important. In ways that some prior episodes did not quite reach, it manages to give us the drama, the heartfelt, touching moments, and meaningful worldbuilding that some of the earliest episodes used to inspire such faith in the show in me.