Expansion in anime

A while back, I watched a video on shonen anime and it brought up an interesting point. The person presenting the video said that the biggest problem of shonen anime is expansion and when I think about it, I can see where he’s coming from. When the story of a shonen anime progresses, the arcs tend to introduce more characters in an attempt to make the stakes bigger and the person felt that, that’s not necessary if that’s what the story is trying to achieve. His argument was the personalising stories are what makes the stakes bigger because we can invest more in the story emotionally.

Do you agree with this? I see where he’s coming from but expansion has never been a gripe for me in anime. I’ve always thought that a big point of concern in shonen anime is crappy character development and continued over reliance on the main character. I feel that if there is going to be a large cast of characters then they need to be remotely useful, we need a reason to care about people who aren’t the main character. In a story the characters could kill God then go on to fight Ultra God in pure madness mode and I wouldn’t have a problem with it as long as the motivation for all the characters is relevant and enough has been done to establish a connection with the audience (or myself in this case) because I know that I’ll eat it up and ask for more like Oliver Twist.

Like I said, I can see why people would have a problem with expansion. Look at Dragon Ball, you just have to ask how much further they could possibly go. The point of expansion is a good one to make and I never really considered it, what would you say on this topic?

Link to the video here

Statements and shirts

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People will put anything on shirt won’t they? I’m not an expert on fashion and I’m not an expert on statements either, but I still got some shit to say on this (which you probably guessed from clicking on this post). On social media, I see people making all kinds of statements and some people taking the chance to put these statements on t-shirts and other than for monetary gain, I don’t get why people do it. I guess it’s ok if you’re saying something stupid like ‘gimme doughnuts’ but what about when you put a social statement on a t-shirt? Is it really helping to promote the statement or is it just a way for pockets to get lined?

A while back, I saw somebody modelling a shirt which said ‘fuck racism’ and I fully agree with it, fuck racism, fuck racist people, I don’t think I can say my explicit thoughts at this point in time but fuck all kinds of racism and if you support it then please know that you’re a cunt. Back to the post, I feel like putting that sentiment on a shirt adds no value to the battle against racism. If you put something on a shirt, it may show how you feel but the minute that you start selling it, it has to be asked if you feel really strongly about the issue. If a child goes missing and you put it on a shirt to promote that the child is missing, would you sell it? I highly doubt it, no parent wants to milk their child’s misfortune (well there may be two who’ve been profiting off the death of their child for over 10 years but that’s me speculating).

I’m just saying that putting a statement on a shirt and selling it, devalues the meaning of said statement in my eyes. I might even go as far to say that just putting it on a shirt even if you don’t intend to sell it still devalues the statement. Other than potential promo, I don’t really know how it benefits a cause and given the power of social media and word of mouth it seems like there are more effective ways of promotion. I honestly feel like in a situation like this, the person with the most to gain is the person who puts the statement on the shirt which doesn’t sit well with me. Personally, I don’t think that statements which reflect feelings towards society should be used for fashion, it seems like satire to me.

The elderly

You know what, sometimes I envy elderly people (ONLY SOMETIMES). Whenever I’m working and I see old people, they’re always happy (unless there are delays) and I wonder what makes them happy. Maybe it’s because they don’t have to work anymore and they have a special kind of oyster card that allows them to travel across London for free (If you’ve read this and don’t know what an oyster card is then I’ll let Wikipedia explain). It could also and more believably be that they’ve seen what life has to offer and at the point in life they’re at, all that’s left is to enjoy it (like how we’re ALL supposed to). Seriously, I don’t see a group of people appreciate the small things in life like the elderly do, whenever I save a couple of newspapers for them, they’re always so grateful because they don’t have to walk any further. I tend to deal with people in their 30s and 40s and I may not have told you about them so I’ll give it to you straight! They’re also nice people… There are a considerable of arseholes/pricks/cunts/unpleasant people (take your pick) amongst them though.

I say this but I never want to be old. I like my energy, even if it comes with the stress of stupid questions that most likely won’t bother me in a couple of years’ time. I do still wonder if the happiness is a result of growing up, or if it’s to do with the period that the elderly people I see grew up in. I know that with my generation, technology has made everything easier and the way that we go about things, we are entitled (I’m not even lying, I knew a guy who acted like he deserved the highest level of respect just for existing). I sometimes like things spoon-fed to me and I can put down activities if I don’t get instant gratification.

Generally speaking, elderly people seem to be nicer (even though, I’ve heard different) and more willing to talk. They don’t seem like they’ve got anywhere to go so when I say good morning or smile at them, I don’t get the British smile of awkwardness.

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Even Americans do it

I always thought that old people were miserable about things not being how they used to and what not but clearly, I watch too much TV. It might really be that the older we get, the more content we get with how things are (I’ll have to let you know in 10 years or something) and because of that elderly people know what and what not to be bothered about. I also have another theory which is that they’re shmoking DAT dank and don’t give a fuck anymore.

Lying…

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Me learning life lessons

Sometimes I’ve truly got to accept and engage the bad guy in me to engage the good guy in me, you know what I mean? I’m sure we’ve all been in that grey area morally (if you accept that’s a thing). We humans are straightforward creatures or at least we’d like to think that we’re straightforward but I’m not too sure that’s the case. It’s time for me to post about questionable things that I’ve learned at work and this time, I want to talk about the value of lying.

My job has taught to know better than being truthful at all times because people see that as ‘bad customer service’ (I’m not lying, I’ve experienced someone calling my customer service bad for telling the truth and I’ve had someone call me useless for it). You know the saying ‘you can’t handle the truth!’ It’s really true; people don’t like it when you tell them the truth to whatever question they might have because it doesn’t fall in line with what they want to hear. I work under (but not for) National Rail (if I haven’t already mentioned this) which means that I deal with passengers who are prone to the most bull of shit and not only that, it happens regularly (weekly, without fail). I come across loads of questions such as ‘why are the trains delayed?’, ‘how long is the train going to take to get here?’, ‘what’s wrong with the trains? Your company is terrible’ (even though it’s NOT my company, I don’t work for them) and a strong fan favourite question ‘WHY ARE THE TRAINS DELAYED!?’

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Me when I get questions

In all honesty I don’t know why people come up to me asking these questions, some of them border on stupid but I’m not allowed to say that the questions I get are stupid outside of the internet. I’m not the oracle, I don’t know the answers to the questions, the train will get to the station when it does because that’s how delays work. I don’t get told anything anyway so I find out about delays when passengers do… JUST LIKE MOST WORKERS AT THE STATION, except the manager and supervisor. Personally, I don’t understand why passengers ask because it doesn’t do much for them finding out why the train is delayed. They can always tell their manager why they’re late but they’re still going to get blasted for it (because employers have no souls) but other than that it’s a pretty useless thing to do because they’re not going to vent to the members of the train crew (since that’s what I’m there for), knowing the reason for the delay won’t make the train speed up and it’s not improving anyone’s quality of life either.

I’ve gone off topic because I’m ranting a little. What I’m saying here is that when I am genuine, everyone gets pissed off. It usually ends up in the passenger making some comment about the company that I don’t work for as if I’m meant to challenge them to a fight for talking about the company that I’m not attached to. You can get a lot of stress just for suggesting an alternative route, in my case many passengers have seen through my bullshit and they know that I have the power to communicate with trains and tracks because I’m ALWAYS sending out the specific instruction “be delayed.” Sometimes my resolve as a customer service guy is really tested because people want to ask follow ups that mean nothing (man, I’ve got stories about people doing bullshit to make me annoyed at work).

Situations like this are why I’ve learned to lie more, it actually keeps everybody happy! I don’t only lie about delays on trains, I lie about how I feel so it seems like I’m sympathising. Whenever I tell people nonsense, they can’t differentiate because national rail offers such a wide variety of it, and people will always think it’s genuine for some reason. Telling lies has usually resulted in me receiving less stress on the job and people thinking that I’ve gone through the same shit when in reality, the time that I finish work means that all the delays are sorted. Let me tell you what lying has earned me, a cheeky conversation with one of the most valued prizes in the industry which is a customer admitting that it’s not my fault, another prize which is a thank you and the best prize of all, peace of mind.

Let’s be clear here, I’m not telling anyone who reads this to lie often because that’s too much effort (and it’s wrong). In fact if this post influences you, even a little to lie on the job, I take no responsibility because we all know that what you’ve read is me telling how I ignore customer service because I care about myself more. I know that from reading this, you won’t actually take this on board but I’m taking no chances.

Thoughts on Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex 2nd Gig

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(THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS)

Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex 2nd Gig, the second season to the SAC series. I’m not really sure what I’m going to say for this post so let’s just see where it goes. In this season, the story continues and section 9 are reassembled after the Laughing Man incident. In this season, section 9 are called upon to help the Prime Minister deal with a refugee crisis, as well as stopping a group of terrorists known as the individual eleven, AS WELL AS dealing with internal government corruption (so for the most part, it’s practically season one again). The thing about the 2nd Gig is that it still had its differences from season one and it helped to make it feel like a slightly different viewing experience.

The first thing that I have to mention is the layout, the layout of the episodes for the first season really confused me. I won’t say that I hated it but it did make the story hard to keep up with and it didn’t help since it GITS:SAC is one of those series where you’ve really got to pay attention to what’s going on at all times (in my opinion). I thought that this season was going to be like the first season because I checked Wikipedia and it did say that there were three types of episodes (Dividual, Dual and Individual) and some of them weren’t story based. The Dividual episodes were basically the Standalone episodes for this season but not all of them were completely separate from the story, in fact most of the Dividual episodes had a loose connection to the main story which is something that I appreciated seeing. The layout of the episodes made the story less of a chore to keep up with especially when considering that most of the story in the first season took place in the last five episodes. The story was solid, although I will admit that a few story based episodes in, I was already starting to draw comparisons to the Laughing Man story. I might mention a few more times (or I might not) throughout this post that this story was similar to the laughing man, which I feel is understandable just based on the name of this series and the explanation of what a standalone complex is.

I don’t feel like this season was as difficult to follow as the first season and the philosophy in this season was pretty much like the philosophy in the previous season. There might have been more philosophy but that went over my head if it was there (if you noticed anything then let me know). The episodes kept me thinking about how things were going to end, from when I saw Kazundo Gohda (I’ll talk more about him later) tell section 9 that they should be happy that he let them be a part of his plan, I knew that he was going to die. This was one of the few occurrences where I was left wondering what would happen as the story moved forward and it helped because I was interested in Gohda as a character. I never had to guess the identity of the main antagonist which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing but it was something that I did like in the first season and I didn’t watch a load of episodes wondering what purpose they served (because that’s what filler arcs are for). I can’t badmouth the development of the story because it didn’t stray far and it’s not like there’s a hell of a lot that you can put into 26 episodes.

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I feel like I’ve put a lot of writing here, so I give you the fist bump of reading!

One character made this story more interesting and that was Kazundo Gohda (or Goda… I’m not too sure). He was the link between a lot of the episodes and he helped the story to flow together because he was portrayed as the master orchestrator of the events that took place throughout the season, when the episodes didn’t involve him it was simple to blame him for whatever was happening and the truth is that I would happily take that over episodes which aren’t related to the story. Had it not been for the way that Gohda looked, I probably wouldn’t have paid attention to him, I feel like he was kind of like Light Yagami because he clearly wanted to make a new Japan to control himself (I think I said this about Rock in Roberta’s Blood Trail). I can get used to watching a villain stay one step ahead of the main characters without trying to hide that he’s using them and everybody else around him (I don’t feel like I’ve watched enough shows like this). I would have liked to see more on Gohda but I can’t really criticise because there was more of an effort with him than there was the laughing man. I never really cared for the individual eleven or Hideo Kuze either, I know that Kuze had charisma but I could never really get into the character, I thought he was going to be a romantic subplot for the major but the major is an ice chick so that probably wouldn’t have worked. He felt really flat as a character in my opinion and if I’m honest his facial expression matched mine when I watched him.

I understand that there were a lot of things that couldn’t fully be developed on so I won’t go into that but I will say this, I enjoyed the animation so much more. The animation was so much smoother this season and it resolved one issue that I had with the major which was how inconsistently she was drawn. I can’t explain why but I really couldn’t let it go when I was watching the series and I was happy to see it remedied. Lately, I’ve been finding that when it comes to anime, the quality of animation impacts my viewing experience and there are only a few exceptions to this. I have to admit that I hold anime up to a high standard and I feel like some shows have suffered from poor animation (cough, cough the early episodes of Dragon Ball Super). The animation in anime is generally presented beautifully and I can find myself lost in the presentation of a show (you’d be surprised at how anime grabs you when you’re on the drugs). The soundtrack was a decent listen, it’s not like it added anything for me but I did bop my head a few times; with that being said, I’ll admit that there’s no GITS:SAC track that will beat this one for me in my opinion:

There’s not much more to say on the 2nd Gig in my opinion, this season does certain things better than the first season but I feel like it won’t give you much in the way of new things. Before watching this series, I read that it was a masterpiece and whilst I can see why people would love this, I can’t say that I agree at the moment.

Other thoughts:

  • Most of the members of section 9 didn’t receive much more character development and the ones that did weren’t significant. They did give Saito and Paz episodes of their own which allowed me to learn their names and that’s always good
  • Gohda’s death was deserved but not extremely satisfying
  • The Tachikoma provide the most emotional moments of the series which is weird to me because they’re robots
  • I want to know why the opening has words in Russian, it works but I want to know
  • No Aeria Gloris 😦

 

Quick question time!

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Question time

Very recently, I watched an episode of Everyday Struggle with 21 Savage, Savage was talking about his album and how he didn’t put out a lead single and the reason for that was that he didn’t want to release a song which suggested to the fans that they had to like it. He said that he wanted to release an album with music and let the listeners decide what songs they’d like on the project. I won’t even lie, I found this take so interesting because whenever I hear about an album, I’m always wondering what the lead single is going to be since I’m so used to it.

I’m sure there have been a lot of albums that have been released without lead singles but on the spot I can’t remember (and I’m too lazy to use Google to help me come up with an example). Since I always expect a lead single from an album, I don’t really give any thought to the significance of it. I will say this though, whenever I hear a lead single from an album, the quality of the song sets my expectations for the album.

I feel like 21 Savage was able to get away without releasing a lead single based off the buzz of songs like ‘No Heart’ and ‘X’ so people may have felt like they knew what to expect despite not knowing what to expect. If this wasn’t the case, it doesn’t stop it from being an idea that makes a lot of sense, although it is a bit of a gamble. In my opinion, one of the best ways to build hype for something is to keep people waiting, even if the project doesn’t come up (Detox).

At this point you know how it goes, I’m going to ask a question now. Do you think that albums need to have lead singles and why?

Link for the Everyday Struggle episode with 21 Savage.

Quick question time!

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Question time

I’ve got another question today! How would you feel about the afterlife if it was a situation where we had our consciousness uploaded into a cloud which was based on a paid subscription?  You could get a gold package or something similar where you enter the cloud rich and live a good life, more opportunities are given to you which makes it easier to stay with the package and you’re one of the first people to get choices like tickets to prestigious events, or general luxury stuff. Of course for this, you’d have to die with a lot of money in your bank account. There would be other packages as well which depend on the subscription your consciousness chooses once you die.

This basically means life version 2 which sounds great in a way (possibly). From your perspective would you consider it a good thing? Would this kind of life give you some incentive to work harder to live well in the afterlife? Does this scenario seem like some freshly pressed bullshit to you? I ask these questions because a few years ago, I watched a video that was along the lines of this subject and I didn’t know what to think. I then thought about it a while ago and concluded that this concept sucks in my personal opinion.

I know I said that life version 2 sounds great in a way, because there’s a lot to enjoy about life but it also means in that situation, I’m probably going to have to go through a lot of the same nonsense I’ve gone through and will go through in my lifetime. There might be a chance for me to live well but there might also be a chance that I’ll live terribly and Lord knows that I’m not going to be stuck in the afterlife, working a job that I don’t want, getting paid barely enough to keep a low level subscription running and having what might turn out to be ultimately useless worries in the pursuit for a better subscription package. I know I’m going to die one day and something like this doesn’t make the idea more comforting for me, if I’m honest, I might as well be dead for good if I’m going to have to go through something like that.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while then I’m sure you know, I like things easy and I’m lazy. I personally wouldn’t consider going through life twice if it didn’t get easier the second time without me having to do anything. That’s just me though, if you were in that situation, would you be willing to subscribe?

Thoughts on Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex

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(Possible spoilers)

Can you believe that as a guy who calls himself an anime fan, I’ve only just watched Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex? Even worse, I’ve never watched the movie (the original one). Please reserve all of your judgement for me until the end of this post as I continue to share my thoughts on this series and not explain in any way, shape or form why it took me so long to get around to this. When I first heard about GITS:SAC one word came up and that was philosophical, that led me to believe that this would be one of the most philosophical anime I’d ever get to watch in my lifetime and… I haven’t lived long enough to confirm this so I’ll get back to this in about 30 years. There is a lot of philosophy in this anime and it does cause deep thinking which is always good, in fact I’m pretty sure that a few episodes touch upon topics that go over my head. Moving on, the series follows section 9 as they track down a hacker known as the laughing man, this isn’t the only thing though as they also go through many other situations which gives some insight into specific characters.

The first thing I have to say is that I feel as if I might not have understood the series and characters as well as I could have given that I haven’t watched the film. Only time will tell if this is true, anyway I did manage to see that it was an interesting plot and I didn’t know what to expect from it. There are two types of episodes: standalone episodes and complex episodes and in my opinion it was a lot easier to be invested in the complex episodes because those were the ones that made up the story. I didn’t really mind what the standalone episodes had to offer because a lot of philosophy took place in those episodes and it allowed for thinking without paying any more attention to the series than needed since standalone stories were limited to one episode. Due to the nature of the standalone episodes, I felt that the season was unnecessary extended especially when considering that most of the episodes in the series are standalone episodes. The complex episodes clearly show that the story requires 100% concentration, it’s not one of those ones where you can doze off during a few lines and still have a general idea of what’s going on, YOU WILL GET LOST! The truth is that you should be paying attention when watching anime anyway but because of the layout of the series, it was hard to keep track of the story. The complex episodes were split amongst the standalone ones and most of the story took place in the final few episodes, which for me made a task of remembering what happened and piecing everything together. If I had to guess why it was like this, I’d say that it made for a way to insert more philosophy in the series as it would have most likely been confusing if there were too many topics being tackled in the main story.

I wasn’t very invested in any of the characters, in fact you might have noticed that I didn’t write the names of those in section 9 at the beginning of the post like how I usually do when writing up my thoughts on anime series. The truth is that their names frequently escape my mind, I only remember the major (whose real name wasn’t revealed until a couple of episodes in), Batou, Togusa and Aramaki without much trouble which is because they get most of the shine in the series. The characters mostly seem like they’re standard get down to business people and I’m assuming that because of the nature of their work, much isn’t meant to be left in terms of personality. It’s not a problem that I didn’t connect with the characters because I don’t think that the series ever intended for that and this isn’t the first time that I haven’t connected with characters when watching an anime (Kurozuka and Shaman King to name a couple). I know that there’s a second season so maybe that might provide some character development, if it follows the same formula as the first season.

If I still engaged my philosophical side, or even engaged it regularly then I might say that this anime is one that I’d be calling a masterpiece a couple of years down the line. It doesn’t mean that I can’t see some of the greatness that was displayed, in fact, I had to go back and rewatch the final conversation between the major and the laughing man to understand what was going on in terms of the laughing man as a character and a concept. I liked the critiques that the show had on individuality, to think that a group of robots who constantly synchronised with each other became more individual with each sync was interesting, not to mention it led to a conversation about what makes them individual, I felt like it was a reminder that no two people can ever be the same, even if both go through the same things. I know that the meaning of the conversation was even deeper, given that they also talked about things such as experiencing death and if it made them any closer to being like a human. The laughing man was a lot deeper than I expected and in the end, his purpose seemed to be non-existent pretty much due to the involvement of other people who added their own meaning to what he stood for in order to fit in with his narrative (kind of like feminism on social media).

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Deep Jeffrey is trying to come back

If it wasn’t obvious before, then I can say that I’m not used to watching anime like this, I usually see loads of fighting and moments that make me shout ‘jheeze!’ however I can appreciate when an anime makes me think.

Outside of the individuality subject, I did see that there were plenty of wisdom nuggets and a few of those things stood out to me. The major telling a villain to change himself if he had a problem with the world was one purely because it goes against what I think but when thinking about it, it’s a lot easier and more realistic than trying to change the world. There was something said in the twelfth episode which I don’t remember too well, however it was along the lines of disagreeing with vicarious living and detaching yourself from reality and it’s something that I agree with because I don’t really see the point of treating somebody else’s achievements as my own.

I think because of the layout of the episodes, my impression was ‘ok, so this is happening’, if the standalones were put together and the complex episodes were put together, or if there were less standalones, I would have appreciated this series more. It wasn’t as if the layout did any serious damage to the series, especially considering that the first three episodes were standalone episodes. I also didn’t know how to feel about the ending if I’m honest, I don’t think it was crappy, just convenient. Shit really went down in episode 25 and then in the final episode, it turns out that it was all planned. A lot of characters started getting added closer to the end of the series which I felt could have been developed on earlier at the expense of the standalone episodes and I felt that because of the amount of antagonists that were there, it was easier to remove the laughing man from that role and in the end, I felt that the antagonist who was punished was unworthy of the role.

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What the show might have well said to me about the antagonist who got in trouble

The series had me feeling that I have to watch the movie because I’m curious to see what it’s about (I mean the original, not the Hollywood remake, I heard Scarlett Johansson and everybody else in it sucks… Scarlett Johansson is still a very respectable woman and on the off chance that she reads this, I want her to see that I want to spend a day with her, respecting her).

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Fist bump of Scarlett Johansson respect

Other thoughts:

  • The soundtrack for this series is amazing and I’m hoping there’ll be more to enjoy in the 2nd Gig
  • Aeria Gloris!!!
  • When I watched the opening credits for the first time, it made me wonder if I made the right choice giving up the drugs.
  • The plot of some of the standalone episodes were a bit complex (yeah, I said it)
  • Maybe it’s me but I thought the drawing for the major was inconsistent.

Rap is an art

Music is an art, I think rap is an art as well as other kinds of music but because I listen to rap more than I do others, I feel like I can personally relate more to what I’m saying if I describe rap. To be honest, I could never change my view on rapping being an art just because of how I’ve personally learned about how diverse it is as I’ve listened to it over the years.

A while back, I was thinking as people usually do and a couple of songs popped up in my head which made me realise how many styles of rap there are (again) and within those styles of rap, there are sub-genres which involve different things like the beats and the delivery. The lyrical content is sticking point for me when I understand the lyrics because the lyrics could be a critique of society, a group of catchy one liners that happen to rhyme, a story, some bragging, or something else that I haven’t mentioned.

As I said before, this could be said of other genres but I mostly listen to rap as my song of the week posts will tell you. Some people talk about rap having gone downhill in recent years and all that jazz because people mumble and the lines are hard to understand. I used to agree with it but the truth is that, with every era of rap, the genre diversifies and allows for more potential greatness within the genre. Every rapper plays their part and whilst not every rapper is good, they bring something to the table because they appeal to somebody.

Music is something that does a lot for those that listen to it, or at the very least it does a lot for me. Like I said before, rap is an art; hopefully one day I’ll be able to explain it better but for now I’m going to appreciate it.