While DS is at camp and the Old Man is driving down to Tampa to see Black Sabbath, I'm left home pondering the existence of the animated universe. Not to say I don't mind being alone - I'm on vacation and being on vacation from everything and everyone is pretty crucial, I'm realizing. While I ache for my family, I also know that I need this time to myself. 'Nuf said.
It's about time I finally got around to writing about Adventure Time. I realize that, as DS grows up, our tastes will diverge but for right now I feel somewhat vindicated for putting my foot down about watching vapid cartoons that had no redeeming quality (if you want a short list of those cartoons, message me - I'm not going to be judged for my opinions of what passes for children-oriented animated fare). Even as I've recounted in the past that I've made some bad parenting decisions, I still feel at least like I steered the debate to "why is this cartoon valuable to watch?" rather than "you can only watch cartoons I deem to be okay." But out of it comes an appreciation of animation that is entertaining and trying at least to say something. Adventure Time is one of those cartoons.
But while it's entertaining, Adventure Time is also pretty dark. It's one of those cartoons that I saw a couple of minutes of and decided it was ground-breaking enough in its content that it would make up for the simplistic artistic style. But the simplistic style is also a mask; the latest episodes tell more of the back story behind Ice King and Marceline, and the story of the world that became the Land of Ooo - I would write about the specific episode, but why rehash a good summary already with my own confused, theoretical take - and the story is pretty harrowing, but with the stylized character design, it seems less heinous, somehow.
If one were to look at the more recent dystopian worlds, they usually involve some kind of huge catastrophic upheavel; in Hunger Games, it appears to be the punishment of proles who dared war against the rich; in Adventure Time, it is the apocalyptic nature of the world inhabited by Ice King and Marceline a millenium ago. So, is Ooo, then, a utopia? No way! Dystopia does not beget utopia, it only begets more of the same. It negates itself, which is why Ooo is so non-descript (how many candy kingdoms have we seen rise and fall, my friends?) - Princess Bubblegum and the rest of the inhabitants of Ooo are mutants, facsimiles of humans, anthropomorphized objects that recall a past that is so far removed from the present as to not really exist at all. This is the woo-hoo point where conspiracy theories dwell; DS watched the series Bravest Warriors and apparently there is a similarity to Finn in two of the characters so Finn is their offspring. I don't understand! But I just started watching Bravest Warriors - so far not as good as Adventure Time but I'm willing to give it a chance.
Anyway, so what? It is not unheard of for a writer to string together different parts of the same universe and call the thing a narrative. It would not surprise me that Adventure Time's creator, Pendleton Ward, has super-seriously thought the narrative through; it's just a matter of whether he can keep the show on the air long enough to unfold more of the story.
Swiped the photo for this post from Comics Alliance and their lovely selection of AT covers.
So, I'm all about Bronies right now. What? Why? You may be asking yourself. Well, after much careful consideration I've decided to out my son on this blog as a Brony. The other day I asked a colleague of mine if he was a brony and he mumbled something about never doing anything resembling broniism (I made up a word!), and I blurted out, "my son is a brony and I don't know how to support him!"
It's true. Last week he started watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and I've been watching along with him because I'm vaguely aware that MLPFiM is a thing. He's hooked, man. It's been fun to watch and I can totally see why it's garnered a much older demographic than intended. It's also, in my mind, a recent example of cartoons that stand on their own, and aren't just vehicles to sell toys.
DJ struggles with his new-found status as brony, but I think that, ultimately, he will understand that it is not that the fact that the show is geared towards 6 year-old girls that attracts him to it, but rather that it's an inventive, ever-evolving narrative that seems to round-out the mythos of the MLPs.
This is the beginning of his summer vacation so I hope to post more about the awful, awful dreck we'll be watching, along with some good stuff (fingers-crossed). Have a great summer, everyone!
I spoke about a year ago on watching the last episode of Bleach and my son walking in on the last couple of minutes and going, "what's that?" I had never watched Bleach around him or encouraged him to watch it, mostly because I thought he should be a little older. Well, this year he started watching Bleach and I figured it's good fuel for pre-teen angst (he's almost 11, now) so I let him watch it. He inhaled about 4 seasons of it before he just suddenly stopped and I think it's because the show becomes a slog during the Hueco Mundo arc, which just seems to go on an on. He simply got bored with it, like any 11-year old would. Something to be said for being a die-hard fan to endure the endless fillers and alternative storylines, which were the bane of any regular Bleach viewer (yours truly included).
Now he's watching Codename: Kids Next Door with the same relish as he did with Bleach or Scooby-Doo. Just have to chalk it up to him being 11 and the content not being very heavy. I'm kind of glad he didn't go for the angsty Bleach arcs; let him be a kid for a little longer.
The last episode of Bleach. Never thought I'd see the end of this anime, for realz. I started watching it via Netflix in 2008 or so. I never even considered introducing it to DJ because it's really for older teens, and as far as I know he didn't seem interested, anyway, but the night before last I was watching the very last episode, was halfway through and DJ walks in and says, "what's that?" I explained and he decided to watch the last episode. I said, "are you sure you want to start with the last episode? Don't you want to see the earlier stuff first?" But he was all whatever so, whatever. He hasn't been clamoring to watch any more of it, probably testament to how boring the final season was. Oh well, it's something he'll probably get into in a few years.
The show we've been watching avidly, though, and this is one of those Bad Parenting Anime Moments, is Gintama, based on the manga by Hideaki Sorachi. It's a gag manga, and the anime follows the manga pretty faithfully. I like how it takes place in an alternative Edo (the continual return to Edo in Japanese media has been an interest of mine), where aliens come to earth and take a liking to Japan and so they settle there. The samurai fight back but are overpowered by the alien technology, and now samurai have been discredited and restricted from having real swords. So Gintama, a former freedom fighter against the aliens, is an odd jobs samurai who is helped by an alien girl named Kagura and a student samurai, Shinpachi. DJ is still wrapping his head around the aliens in Japan and the fact that Kagura is an alien yet Gintama is okay with her, but he loves the overall story.
The show's for older teens and adults, kind of like Bleach, and there is actually more adult situational stuff than I'm comfortable with. But I can't help it, it is a funny show and even though some of the humor is geared towards 10 year-old minds, it's not something 10 year-olds should probably watch. Maybe I'm being too much of a prude, but that's kind of a moot point, anyway.
Haha, the last time I posted was last July, so fast-forward to January 2012 and Happy New Year! Will update soon with what DS and I have been watching - right now he's going through a Speed Racer redux, and it's been fun to go through the episodes we have on DVD. Not so crazy about Scooby-Doo anymore, which is sad in one sense but I think there'll always be a soft spot in his heart for those meddlin' kids and their dog. His advancing age (he's almost 10) makes me think he's ready to handle Gatchaman so thinking about changing back to the 1-DVD-at-a-time plan with Netflix and go through the ouvre again - I think I'm ready to go back and tackle these, as well, now that I have a bit more Japanese subtext under my belt.
Was going to post tonight about the new Citizens Co-op that opened up in town this week, in my least-neglected blog The Accidental Environmentalist, but decided instead to bring news of a favorite anime I've been watching, the adaptation of the manga Sket Dance. It's really very funny and I'm surprised it isn't more popular. I always think that this is because it is something specifically geared towards my age-group (old enough to know better than to get sucked into anime and manga), but maybe it's just that this is an anime that doesn't really have a niche audience. I think the manga is probably pretty popular and I'm resisting reading it until I've watched all the episodes.
Perhaps the reason why I like it, besides being really funny, and perhaps also the reason why it isn't as popular is it is really a narrative about, and hommage to, manga and otaku. There seems to be a growing snobbery in fan communities about "otaku pandering" and I don't really understand where it comes from; it's probably the awareness of a sub-genre of late that dotes on otakus in the storylines and perhaps that is seen as breaking the fourth wall, or something. I see it as just what it is, a sub-genre of narratives that talks about something that a whole, small segment of the manga and anime fan base are aware of and the rest of the population who enjoys this media is not as educated about. I happen to be in this last category, so I like storylines about otaku and enjoy it as part of the broader narratives that play into manga and their anime adaptations, or original anime works that create subtle subplots that take this fan community into account. I have no examples so please don't ask me - yes, you have correctly guessed that I generally talk out of my ass on my blogs and welcome.
Sket Dance constantly breaks the fourth wall of otaku pandering by affectionately calling up each formulaic meme in manga and Japanese culture throwing it out there for laffs. And that's okay. It's funny and endearing for those reasons, as well as the well-developed world of Sket Dance characters. It's one of those stories where I want to get a Sket Dance wrist band but realize I am too old to sport this stuff anymore.
SMC is a very, very neglected blog so don't expect many posts constantly. I mostly use this as a venue to talk about cartoons I'm watching with my son or my growing obsession with current and old anime. For more blog posts on what I'm doing, please see The Accidental Environmentalist, my less-neglected blog about living environmentally.