1. When people refer to an actor’s show-stealing performance it’s most often an exaggeration, a way of saying you appreciate that individual’s charisma/expertise.
Jack Nicholson steals Easy Rider. The movie belongs to him: it gets interesting when he shows up, it makes sense when he’s around, it becomes a chore to watch once he leaves.
No offense to Dennis Hopper or Peter Fonda intended, I respect the hippie-era white guy listlessness they were channeling in their subdued performances. But, Nicholson. Man.
2. If I ever tried to write about Brandon Graham’s Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity I’d start with the magic of its first four pages.
I’d try to find words to describe the feeling of both serenity and anticipation I got from reading them. The images are relaxed and multitudinous at the same time, laying out an expansive area that assuages the eyes with cartoon simplicity while still feeling vast.
They breathe, and they’re not overwhelmed with a bunch of bad coloring, which for my money is still one of the most offensive thing about mainstream American comics: all that horrible coloring.
The careful details in these pages are presented in creamy pastels so you can glide over them or inspect closely and either option feels completely natural. Reading Alphabet to Infinity is such an easy and lush experience, I’m going to stop trying to describe the magic of it before I embarrass myself.
3. On Sundays I retreat to my room and get quiet and reflective. By the afternoon I’m flipping through comics I haven’t read in a while. Last Sunday was a Yukinobu Hoshino day.
Yukinobu Hoshino writes science fiction manga, most often in short stories (probably the ideal format for science fiction, if we’re being honest.)
2001 Nights is a collection of stories that were published in the nineties by Viz Comics. You can get them in either 3 volumes or 10 issues. They deal with space exploration, some are serious and foreboding, some are lighthearted, some are just plain weird. They’re all pretty great.
Yukinobu Hoshino’s expertise is in putting ideas that make you think for a minute into easily digestible narrative chunks. A lot of what you’ll see in the manga isn’t especially well-drawn, though the way he puts his pages together, with huge swaths of black and lots of overt photo referencing, make this feel like a restrained, mature sf comic for adults belonging in some kind of science magazine where you get to read a chapter once every month, instead of all at once like I did on Sunday.
I think my favorite story is the one in which a planet named Lucifer is discovered at the edge of our solar system, and Hoshino puts together a convincing account of how the planet might live up to its namesake. It’s a little indulgent, fetishizing Judeo-Christian religions as obliquely as the West fetishizes Eastern mysticism, but it never strays far enough from Hoshino’s scientific leanings to become totally silly.
4. Anime season previews are horrible. For those of you not in the know, a big to-do in the anime blog-o-sphere is to talk at length about your impressions of the first episodes of anime when a new season begins in Japan. It generates a lot of discussion and traffic, so lots of people do it, even the Anime News Network.
The simple truth is that it’s comfortable and easy to muster up the willpower to watch a brand new show for twenty four minutes, get the slightest idea of what it’s about, and yammer on about it while everyone else does the same. There’s no implicit expectation of thoughtfulness or insight, people just match up their raw jabbering reaction with each other. And so much anime tv isn’t even a thing, but rather a collection of tropes that eventually might build to a thing, so you can watch 24 minutes and see absolutely nothing new or even slightly challenging.
So this season it happened again and despite my best efforts I noticed it, and like every year the dialogue turned into a discussion of how wacky the ANN forums are, and how fandom sure is an endless hall of stupidity mirrors you can’t help looking down. Except I don’t really want to look down it anymore. It’s exhausting and there’s no reward, except feeling better about yourself if you’re insecure, I guess.
What’s my point, other than criticizing ANN and anime fans because I’m an out of touch (probably jealous) curmudgeon?
5. My point is if anime is lazy and hackneyed (and it often is), the people writing about it are twice as lazy and hackneyed.
Or else why is so little written about Genius Party and Genius Party Beyond?
Studio 4°C put out these two anthologies of anime shorts 7-8 years ago. They’re made up of fully-formed 15-20 minute nuggets of anime, intensely director-fueled pieces of (dare someone say) art.
I guess ANN did review the first movie, and a couple of anime blogs did, too. But in every writeup I found in google, each short was reviewed with a meager word count in comparison to how long a single ANN episode preview typically runs.
So either people have more to say about a twenty-four minute first episode of pablum than eclectic, visually inventive anime shorts, or…
6. Otaku don’t care about auteurship.
They don’t care, except in the most broad, simplistic circumstances, like Yoshiyuki “Kill ‘em all” Tomino (a brilliant nickname because he kills so many characters in his stories, you see), and Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell 2 was about his dog, lol!)
I could keep going on, listing otaku shorthand for various anime directors, but this is a depressing activity.
7. If you think I’m straw-manning because Genius Party and its sequel weren’t licensed in North America, think again.
They both can be imported from Australia. And if people lacked the resources to import, they could always download it illegally, you know, like ANN does for anime season previews to things that haven’t been simulcast.
ANN didn’t write about Genius Party Beyond because they weren’t interested in conversating about it. Neither is most of the anime blog-o-sphere. But ANN is interested in telling you about the first episode of Date A Live five different times. And you’re interested in reading it.
Heavens to murgatroyd.