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Archive for June, 2013

taiyou

Goodbye to spring (lots of shows I dropped there…) and hello to summer. There are so many check-worthy shows planned that if at least a small part of them meet expectations, we are in for a great season.

 

Watch

Tamayura -more aggressive-

Second season of my 3rd favorite 2011 show, so there is no way I would not be watching this. Strong candidate for funniest series’ title of 2013. 

Monogatari Second Season

My feelings towards the franchise are only lukewarm, but I have watched everything up to now, so no reason to stop now.

Ro Kyu Bu SS

Skip vol. 6/10 short stories, present vol. 9 as a 5-minute slideshow and just devote half the season to vol. 7. Please? I mean, you guys switched volumes 4 and 5 around and cut out 80% of volume 5 out, so I am not without hope that you can make some creative choices and tell potent material apart form crap. If you are feeling generous, leave more of the basketball in this time around.

Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou

Not being subtle about making this a Madoka clone, are we? With the show’s summary accusing its magical girls of being mere executioners and the trailer filled with talk of destruction and sin, there is little doubt the producers want things as dark as possible. As you might know from my views on AKB0048, for example, I appreciate projects bold enough to play against the odds, so I’m certainly looking forward to what this turns out be like.

Free!

Okay, KyoAni, bring on the manly men xD.  

 

High Expectations

Danganronpa: The Animation

Good premise and fan opinions, kind of reminds me of Umineko (but that was butchered, of course). Horrible PV, though.

Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi

This, along with perhaps Gin no Saji, is one of the few truly unique premises this season. Cute MC + Toyosaki Aki counts, too.

Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!

Funny idea – a more cynical Lucky Star?

 

Checking out

Kiniro Mosaic – would watch at least one cute girls slice of life per season normally, but not sure about this with Tamayura up there. We will see.

Senki Zesshou Symphogear G – the first season was quite bad, all things considered. But I am feeling signs of Aoi Yuuki withdrawal so who knows.

Blood Lad – Alright premise, the PV makes me think it is a drop, though.

Uchouten Kazoku – I get the tanuki setting, but what is the actual story?

Genshiken Nidaime – Never seen the original, but it cannot hurt to try…

Renai Lab – Not sure what to expect, will give it a try.

Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai III – Fans laud this as a step above anything else in the franchise. Hopefully that turns out to be true, as I have always been on the fence regarding the series.

Rozen Maiden S3 – I dropped S1 midway. Then watched S2 on a whim and found it really good. No idea what this will turn out to be.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya – I like Illya and all, but I am not sure how much of her character will be intact without the F/SN setting.

Gin no Saji: Silver Spoon – Full Metal Alchemist pedigree? If a show about karuta can be awesome, maybe this is not a lost cause.

What are your picks and recommendations for the season?

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madoka 3

Not long ago, Nick Calibey at A Rather Silly Blog posted a two-part response in the ongoing Madoka and Jesus as Saviors discussion. While the posts that started the discussion at Alex’s Ashita no Anime blog were written from an atheist/agnostic perspective, Nick attempted to show the themes of Madoka Magica from a Buddhist perspective, then compare them with his own Christian beliefs. I would like to offer some of my own musings on the issue, presented as a response to Nick’s claims. My upbringing and theoretical background are purely Christian (Roman Catholic, to be precise), but I consider myself a practicing Buddhist. My comments will therefore be the reverse of Nick’s – with the Christian constructs based on a more technical understanding, and the Buddhist elements coming from personal experience.

Nicks’s posts can be found here and here. As both are very long and detailed, I will offer a summary of the point discussed before offering my thoughts on it. I will strive to offer as fair a summary of the points as my understanding of Nick’s post allows (and inevitably fail to do him justice), so you may read through his posts first, or go straight to my response, as you see fit.

Nick: Madoka herself is not the locus of salvation. Madoka’s own transformation is because of the karmic power of the universe, something that while humans interact with, ultimately lays external to them, and as such it is that karmic power that is the actual saving factor and not Madoka. Unbeknownst to her, Madoka had to wait for karmic time lines to build up in order for her transformation to occur since it is karma and not herself that is the locus of salvation.

As a side note, I cannot exactly agree with Nick’s notion that karma is external to the being it belongs to. Enlightenment signifies the individual cessation of karma, and the Buddhist endgame equivalent to the Christian Judgment Day is the universal cessation of karma, neither of which would be possible if karma were external to the beings of this world. To begin with, if we assume karma to be an external force, it necessarily follows that it holds little bearing on achieving enlightenment, as most variants of Buddhist thought hold that external factors are illusionary, and the way to enlightenment is through dispelling that illusion. Thankfully, this point is not actually that important for analyzing Madoka, so there is no need to argue this.

The reason why Nick thinks that Madoka needed to wait for karmic lines to build up is that he equates her wish and ascension/transformation with her act of salvation. This does not, however, make much sense from a Buddhist perspective. We may of course choose to view Madoka’s wish as the moment where she makes her Bodhisattva vows. We may see her ascension as the point where Madoka leaves behind the mortal part of her journey and gains eternity. Viewed like that, the event is certainly not without meaning to many Buddhist interpretations of the story. But if we are truly concerned with a Buddhist interpretation, then the crux of salvation must be enlightenment.

Madoka long

Enlightenment cannot be granted by space squirrels (we are already born with the potential to reach enlightenment). Enlightenment is not concerned with power levels. Enlightenment is seeing things for what they are by conquering one’s attachments and aversions. Madoka was technically capable of achieving enlightenment in each and every timeline, as was every other creature existing in those timelines.

What was it then, that caused a change profound enough for Madoka to succeed in the last timeline, when she failed in every other? Certainly it was not the fact of her karmic burden and the potential power of her wish increasing – Madoka learns of her potential mid-series, long before she becomes capable of making her ultimate wish. In fact, Madoka’s impulse upon learning of the potential of her wish is to undo Sayaka’s transformation into a magical girl – a wish which would have surely ended in despair for everyone involved. No, the reason for Madoka’s change had to come later, and trying to grasp it means creating a new interpretation of the entire show for every answer proposed. Let me discuss just one possible answer.

madoka 4

From the beginning of the series, we can see that Madoka holds a deep love for others. As she gets dragged into mortal peril again and again throughout the story, the only thing that allows Madoka to overcome her natural fear of death is her dedication and loyalty to her friends. Multiple times, Madoka is ready to sacrifice her happy and stable life and become a magical girl to help out the other girls – a decision always prevented by Homura in the nick of time. The flashbacks of the original timeline show that Madoka’s love reaches even further, as she immediately extends a helping hand to the stranger-in-need Homura, and takes on the responsibility of a magical girl to save the life of the cat Amy. A deep love and compassion for all beings is one of the ideals often associated with those who achieved enlightenment, yet the Madoka of previous timelines always ended up a step short of reaching salvation. The reason for that is simple. That Madoka loved all those around her, but she did not yet love herself.

Throughout the show, basically any comment Madoka makes about herself is full of self-deprecation. She says she is clumsy, stupid and has no redeeming qualities. Upon seeing the flashback episodes, many people were shocked – how did the cheerful and confident Madoka from the past timeline turn into the frightened little girl we see in the final timeline? But it is not to be underestimated how world-changing the experience of becoming a magical girl was to Madoka – in saving Amy, Homura and the people of Mitakihara, Madoka received undeniable proof of her worth for the first time in her life. This new awareness turned Madoka into who would become Homura’s savior. But from a Buddhist perspective, there is a tragic element to the hero Madoka born that way – she chooses to sacrifice her safety for others not only because she sees how precious their lives are, but also because she considers the risk to her own life a cheap price in comparison. She gains confidence in herself when fighting as a magical girl, but that confidence is largely dependent on the new powers and abilities she gained. Even as she grows as a person, the magical girl Madoka is still limited by her aversion towards herself and her new attachment to power.

Nick thinks that Madoka became ready for her act of salvation because she had stacked up enough timeline power. I believe that Madoka became ready the moment that Homura, always bearing her burdens in silence, broke down before Madoka in a display of emotion so raw that it could not be doubted. Before the impending Walpurgisnacht, facing a battle which could only end in failure, Homura states that she will go and fight and lose everything if it means saving Madoka, because it is Madoka alone that is worth the whole world to her. And it is not the cool and powerful Madoka affirmed this way, it is the clueless and ditzy middle school girl who is powerless to help her friends. Through this display of pure love and devotion, Madoka is forced to consider the idea that maybe, just maybe, her own existence is equally as precious as the lives of others. Madoka gains the confidence she had in some of the previous timelines, but does so without becoming a magical girl. Sacrifice and power are no longer necessary for her to establish her self-worth, and Madoka is finally awake.

madoka 7

Countless times in the previous timelines, Madoka had been badgered into selling her soul cheap. But Homura teaches Madoka that her life is worth the world, and when Madoka next offers up her earthly existence, she will ask for the world in return.

The time-altering, dimension-smashing and world-rewriting fireworks Madoka shows us are impressive, but not key to her nature as an enlightened being. The fact she can formulate a karma-destroying wish in the first place is enough to show that she had fully awakened to her Buddha nature before making that wish. Madoka merely used the Magical Girl System in the most beneficial and efficient way possible – just like a farmer uses his plough to ready the field.

Christian readers might be puzzled – if I claim Madoka’s transformation was not key to her act of salvation, what would she have done if she had achieved enlightenment before a world-changing wish was within her grasp? Simply enough, she would never become a magical girl. She would go on living, saving people in the little ways that all of us can. And one day, she would die like everyone else. This is the humble Buddhist savior, working not with divine power and miracles, but with what she has at hand.

(Further reading: The Buddha and Miraculous Power)

Other points might be discussed in future posts, if time allows.

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42f97b6b_57c79010413d5c47df245207afa0bece

The folks over at Anime Instrumentality are bringing together a contest pitting the great anime songs of all times against each other. You can see more details on the project’s main site – Anime Music Tourney.

The more the merrier, I say, so I thought I would use this opportunity to post my nomination picks and discuss some of my favorite anime OPs, EDs and inserts. With the theme of the tournament in mind, I paid little attention to the visual side of things this time around. That said, the reasons each song got on the list are still quite varied, as you will no doubt see below.

(Click on the titles for youtube links to the songs.)

1. AKB0048 – Kibou ni Tsuite

There is no song in recent memory that had to carry as much a burden as Kibou ni Tsuite. It is still easy to write songs on freedom, artistic passion, adolescent dreams or the vast expanse of a future interplanetary civilization. What is difficult is twining all those themes together in a single musical feat of world-building and keeping the emotional flavor and balance of it all. Kibou ni Tsuite takes voice talent rooted in AKB48 and brings them out of their comfort zone into new and exciting territory. A make or break OP that brought it off perfectly.

2. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni – Higurashi no Naku Koro ni

Were I to make a list of the best opening sequences, Higurashi would be a strong contender for the top spot. How much less would the show have been if burdened by a piece more generic than this gateway to a land horror and beauty. Leave your sanity on the doorstep, for this is a different world.

3. Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica – Magia

Used to its utmost potential an ED or an OP is a sword, cutting deep and leaving scars that remain forever. And Magia was unleashed mercilessly, cleaving through the falsehood of its show only to reveal yet greater despair to come. Haunting and beautiful, yes, but cruel in its beauty – a proud representative of Yuki Kajiura on this list.

4. K-On!! – U&I

If you ask me for the best songs K-On has to offer, I would point you to No, Thank You, followed by Singing!. In short, Mio (Hikasa Youko) songs.

But then, U&I is less a song than a confession. It does things only an insert song can do. It takes Yui, the eternal airhead, and puts her face to face with her shortcomings. It fills me with pride for Yui, happiness for Ui. A piece that earns its greatness by being a integral part of a story, supporting it and finding supported in turn.

5. Shakugan no Shana – Yoake Umare Kuru Shoujo

It was a long time before I gave the Shana franchise a fair chance. This was one of the things that convinced me.

6. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha – Innocent Starter

The track I will forever remember as my introduction to Nana Mizuki. Not unlike the track above, this opening convinced me to give Nanoha a chance, and I regret nothing. Innocent Starter is also a beautiful reminder that even as there are beamspam battles and inhuman genetic experiments going on in the background, the first season of Nanoha is about a girl reaching out her hand to help another.

7. Katanagatari – Gettouka

(www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJk6D11xKe0&hd=1)

The “you’ve-made-Nanami-mad-now-pay-the-price” background music from Katanagatari. Of course, it was played in other scenes too, but that Ep. 7 clash remains forever imprinted in my mind.

The background choir gives this track a classic theater feel. One of the advantages of theater over recorded media is how it brings you close to the events playing out, sucking you in. But there is a terrifying element to that, as no matter how close up you are, you can only watch the events unfold, powerless to prevent the inevitable resolution…

8. Yuru Yuri – Yuri Yura-ra-ra-ra Yuru Yuri Daijiken

(www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfYHX7lwmwg&hd=1)

Rather than a favorite song, this is a hats-off to the entire musical side of the Yuru Yuri franchise – songs so thoroughly vapid as to become art. Even the typographical details of the lyrics were made with sugar-high schoolgirls in mind. But it is because of stuff like that that your defense is down by the time My Sweet Memory rolls around.

9. Girls und Panzer – Katyusha

(www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehhitnnB22k&hd=1)

Come on, it’s Katyusha. How many anime insert songs can you name that made half as much of a buzz as this one did? And it is an old classic outside the anime world, too.

10. Ojamajo Doremi – Ojamajo Carnival

(www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NLwkQ6gYg8&hd=1)

There was one karaoke outing with my non-otaku Japanese friends where somebody felt like risking their dignity and chose a somewhat embarrassing song to perform. Before long, things started escalating with ever weirder song picks until things ended with half the room singing the above. Oh the memories xD.

11. Yosuga no Sora – Hiyoku no Hane

(www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiIu9GIMAbY&hd=1)

If you thought great openings necessarily go along with great anime, think again.

12. Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu – God Knows

(www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kA4tGu60mo&hd=1)

Does this require any introduction? 2006 was the year when I first started watching up to date anime fansubs. Haruhi turned out to be a very, very good place to start with.

13. Tamayura – Okaerinasai

(www.youtube.com/watch?v=shti_u9dZ6w&hd=1)

When you knew all good things,

all beautiful colors in the world,

yet knew nothing of the world.

Welcome back, to that time.

May I glomp the lyrics?

14. Idolm@ster – Yakusoku (TV ver.)

(www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwvMN5Yl3NE&hd=1)

The full length TV version – people who have seen the show will know how that every detail of “how” this was sung is important – the overly long intro, the vocal switch etc. Every time you listen to this, you remember the goose-bumps of one of the best scenes in the anime.

15. Shinryaku Ika Musume – Shinryaku no Susume

(www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FdjNIihAGU&hd=1)

There is some territory popular music will not dare tread upon, but anisongs are too wacko to care. (But it is a beautiful song about peace and understanding each other!) Had to pick between this and Happy New Nyaa.

X. Soul Eater – Strength

(www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8-zdFCpRmA&hd=1)

You know how you are always bound to forget at least one favorite when nominating a lot of things? This fits the bill for me in terms of this tournament. By far one of my favorite ED themes. Where many EDs fail to contribute much to the series they represent, Strength spins a completely new, unnerving story. It shows a possible dark future where the main characters have failed in their quest, serving as a perfect balance for the more light-hearted elements of the show. Even without the anime connection, though, Strength is a really powerful piece.

Of course, there are many great tracks that I could not fit into my ballot. Which is why you should go and cast your vote for them. Have a fun tourney~.

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PM_K-ON_091-099*

The very first set of the Precious Memories TCG now joins the sets available for the Precious Memories Lackey plugin. And it’s huge as hell >_<.

Starting with this set, the Activation Timing part of the effect for Event cards has been separated from the rest of the card effect text, making it possible to look for Event cards with the Timing filter. We will gladly accept help with updating the previous sets for this change, so drop a line below if you happen to have some free time on your hands.

Update Only / Lite ver.

If you’re updating from the Kokoro Connect release. Update contains only K-On! Part 1 cards.

  1. Download the update files here.
  2. Place the .txt files in your “LackeyCCG\plugins\purememo\sets” folder (Overwrite the old .txt files when prompted.)
  3. Place the .jpg files in your “LackeyCCG\plugins\purememo\sets\setimages\general” folder

Full version

Contains everything released so far.

  1. Download the files here.
  2. (If you have downloaded the plugin before.) Replace your “purememo” plugin folder with the new version above. Make sure to make a copy of any decks you have already made before overwriting the old folder. (Decks are stored in the purememo/decks folder.)
  3. (If this is your first time downloading.) Install Lackey and unpack the plugin into the plugin folder.

Contents

Current plugin contains card images and translations for:

  • Girls und Panzer set
  • Yuru Yuri set (+Promos)
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica set (+SP, +Promos)
  • Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate (+Promos)
  • Kokoro Connect (+Promos)
  • K-On! Part1 (+Promos)

If you are only interested in the translation/card data, download and unpack the plugin, and look for the .txt files in the “purememo/sets” folder. Drag-and-drop the files into your Microsoft Excel (or equivalent) for easy access.

Girls und Panzer, Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, K-On Part 1 sets and assorted Promos translated by Cytrus (me).

Puella Magi Madoka Magica and PMMM Special Pack card translations by Marlin-sama at Approach Phase.

Yuru Yuri set card translations based on the work by Bakkin Translations.

Kokoro Connect translated by Liang Shi Yi.

Contact

Comments and corrections are welcome in the comments below or at preciousmemoriesplugin@gmail.com We will gladly accept help with text editing for future sets, so drop a line if you are interested in helping out. You can also request sets you would like to see out first.

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1-PM_KC_R&B_R1

Kokoro Connect now joins the card sets available for the Precious Memories Lackey plugin.

Credit for the translation goes to Liang Shi Yi. Much of the database work for this release was handled by Ivan Lim.

Update Only / Lite ver.

If you’re updating from the KoiChoco release. Update contains only Kokoro Connect cards.

  1. Download the update files here.
  2. Place the .txt files in your “LackeyCCG\plugins\purememo\sets” folder (Overwrite the old .txt files when prompted.)
  3. Place the .jpg files in your “LackeyCCG\plugins\purememo\sets\setimages\general” folder 

Full version

Contains everything released so far.

  1. Download the files here.
  2. (If you have downloaded the plugin before.) Replace your “purememo” plugin folder with the new version above. Make sure to make a copy of any decks you have already made before overwriting the old folder. (Decks are stored in the purememo/decks folder.)
  3. (If this is your first time downloading.) Install Lackey and unpack the plugin into the plugin folder.

Contents

Current plugin contains card images and translations for:

  • Girls und Panzer set
  • Yuru Yuri set (+Promos)
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica set (+SP, +Promos)
  • Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate (+Promos)
  • Kokoro Connect (+Promos)

If you are only interested in the translation/card data, download and unpack the plugin, and look for the .txt files in the “purememo/sets” folder. Drag-and-drop the files into your Microsoft Excel (or equivalent) for easy access.

Girls und Panzer, Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate sets and assorted Promos translated by Cytrus (me).

Puella Magi Madoka Magica and PMMM Special Pack card translations by Marlin-sama at Approach Phase.

Yuru Yuri set card translations based on the work by Bakkin Translations.

Kokoro Connect translated by Liang Shi Yi.

Contact

Comments and corrections are welcome in the comments below or at preciousmemoriesplugin@gmail.com We will gladly accept help with text editing for future sets, so drop a line if you are interested in helping out. You can also request sets you would like to see out first.

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1-PM_KSC_R&G_R2

As a surprise release, the Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate set has been readied for the Precious Memories Lackey plugin.

Update Only / Lite ver.

If you’re updating from the Madoka release. Update contains only KoiChoco cards.

  1. Download the update files here.
  2. Place the .txt files in your “LackeyCCG\plugins\purememo\sets” folder (Overwrite the old .txt files when prompted.)
  3. Place the .jpg files in your “LackeyCCG\plugins\purememo\sets\setimages\general” folder 

Full version

Contains everything released so far.

  1. Download the files here.
  2. (If you have downloaded the plugin before.) Replace your “purememo” plugin folder with the new version above. Make sure to make a copy of any decks you have already made before overwriting the old folder. (Decks are stored in the purememo/decks folder.)
  3. (If this is your first time downloading.) Install Lackey and unpack the plugin into the plugin folder.

Contents

Current plugin contains card images and translations for:

  • Girls und Panzer set
  • Yuru Yuri set (+Promos)
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica set (+SP, +Promos)
  • Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate (+Promos)

If you are only interested in the translation/card data, download and unpack the plugin, and look for the .txt files in the “purememo/sets” folder. Drag-and-drop the files into your Microsoft Excel (or equivalent) for easy access.

Girls und Panzer, Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate sets translated by Cytrus (me).

Puella Magi Madoka Magica and PMMM Special Pack card translations by Marlin-sama at Approach Phase.

Yuru Yuri set card translations based on the work by Bakkin Translations.

Contact

Comments and corrections are welcome in the comments below or at preciousmemoriesplugin@gmail.com We will gladly accept help with text editing for future sets, so drop a line if you are interested in helping out. You can also request sets you would like to see out first.

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PM_MDK_P-[011_R1]

The Madoka Magica card sets (Base + SP + Promotional Cards displayed at the official site) are all ready for your Precious Memories Lackey plugin. You can download them here (or the Mediafire mirror).

If you’re updating, replace your “purememo” plugin folder with the new version above – just make sure to make a copy of any decks you have already made before overwriting the old folder. (Decks are stored in the purememo/decks folder.)

If this is your first time downloading, just install Lackey and unpack the plugin into the plugin folder.

Current plugin contains card images and translations for:

  • Girls und Panzer set
  • Yuru Yuri set (+Promos)
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica set (+SP, +Promos)

If you are only interested in the translation/card data, download and unpack the plugin, and look for the .txt files in the “purememo/sets” folder. Drag-and-drop the files into your Microsoft Excel (or equivalent) for easy access.

Credit for the Puella Magi Madoka Magica and PMMM Special Pack card translations goes to Marlin-sama at Approach Phase.

Yuru Yuri set card translations based on the work by Bakkin Translations.

Comments and corrections are welcome in the comments below or at preciousmemoriesplugin@gmail.com We will gladly accept help with text editing for future sets, so drop a line if you are interested in helping out. You can also request sets you would like to see out before others.

Read Full Post »