Butterflies and chainsaws

Merry's eyes: leftovers from Katanagatari?
Merry's eyes: leftovers from Katanagatari?

I might follow up to five shows this winter, the most in years. In order of interest, they are:

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica
Fractale
Kore wa Zombie desu ka
Yumekui Merry
Gosick

Random notes:

• Do lepidoptera frighten the Japanese? When I see flocks of butterflies in anime, it’s usually a prelude to danger or horror, e.g., the blue butterflies in Paprika. Butterfly motifs seem to be one of the signals of a witch’s presense in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica.

• Visually, Madoka is the most eccentric show since Trapeze, combining Shaftesque art and animation with architecture from Unhappy Hipsters and monsters from RatherGood.com.

• The first clue for me that Madoka might be darker than most magical girl shows was the announcement that Yuki Kajiura was doing the soundtrack. I recently put together a two-hour program of music by Yoko Kanno and Kajiura. I was impressed once again by the width of Kanno’s range; she can do anything, from intensely dramatic to cute and silly. However, Kajiura’s music, good though her pieces are taken individually, eventually all sounds pretty much the same: cool, minor-key, introverted, a little exotic, a little strange. ((I was surprised that Kajiura placed first in zzeroparticle’s recent anime composer poll. She’s good, but not that good.)) When a show fits her abilities, the results can be very effective, e.g., Noir. Madoka thus far is another good match for her.

• How dark will Madoka be? Possibly very dark, indeed. The silliness in the opening, I suspect, is a deliberate bait-and-switch. Update: Really, really, really dark.

Would you trust Mami's little smile?
Would you trust Mami's little smile?

• Discussions of Fractale so far have mentioned such works as Dennou Coil, Ghost in the Shell, The Matrix, The Naked Sun, etc. I’ll add one more: the trio looking for Phryne reminded me of the duo in Brazil who wore the caps with very long bills.

• I can understand the Fractale committee’s frustration with fansubs, but their action means that people outside Japan now have the choice of a) hoping that it will soon be licensed and available for a reasonable price; b) breaking the law; or, c) joining twelve-step programs to overcome their anime addictions. I really do want to play by the rules, but the case of Dennou Coil indicates that I can no longer expect that all first-rate anime will licensed during my lifetime.

• A frightening thought: boys will cosplay as Ayumu as he was garbed at the end of the first episode of Kore wa Zombie desu ka, and pink chainsaws will be the most annoying props since Wolfwood’s cross.

Avert your eyes: one of the characters in  Yumekui Merry (shudder) smokes.
Avert your eyes: one of the characters in Yumekui Merry (shudder) smokes.

7 thoughts on “Butterflies and chainsaws”

  1. There’s a myth that butterflies are (or represent, or are the messengers of) human souls; so they’re good or bad omens, depending on. Several anime use them as a general “occult stuff here” signal, if not “death here”: xxxHolic, Hell Girl, Red Garden…

  2. So basically, all the people I’ve been directing to Fractale on Hulu/Funimation are not going to be able to watch in North America at all.

    Except if they download a fansub, or go to a non-legal anime viewing site.

    So basically, they’re giving up all chance to make North American money for at least a year, while allowing illegal sites to make money off their stuff. Yeah, that’s sure to accomplish your business goals. Sure.

  3. Oh, wait. They’re claiming not to have defaulted on their agreement with Funimation. They’re just delaying until every unauthorized version on the Internet disappears.

    They also demand immediate world peace, to be worshipped in Shinto temples as gods, and that thousands of fluffy bunnies spontaneously hop up to the studio and begin performing Swan Lake.

  4. This is turning into a “stages of grief” thing….

    Out of curiosity, I went and looked for some offending fansubber sites. Not too astonishingly, they seemed to be folks who weren’t too concerned about whether anime was already licensed or not. One claimed to be focused on serving people outside Funimation’s license area — though if that were so, you’d think they’d be focused on country-anonymizing or non-English languages, instead of what they’re doing.

    Prediction: heck will come down on them, and it will bring heck down on all other fansub and scanlation sites. The offenders will act all self-righteous about it.

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