Greetings readers, both new and longstanding!
Once again, I find myself apologizing for a lack of output on this blog. At the very least, perhaps I can be granted some additional leeway for my lapse in concentration (particularly in November) due to 2016’s truly historic presidential election (alas, that is neither here nor there on an outlet dedicated to anime-related projects). For Americans of all stripes, it was strenuous to say the least.
Hopefully you’ve been keeping up with Did You Know Anime? as par the course. For Season 5, we were fortunate enough to start on October 31, 2016: What better way to commemorate the occasion than with an episode centered around Soul Eater narrated by Lord Death himself? My sincerest thanks to Mr. Swasey for his time, and also to Mike for once again putting everything together with skillful editing and direction. There are a number of other surprises in store for DYKA fans (including a Season 4 finale for the Pokémon faithful, and a long-awaited First of the North Star installment) that are sure to be a treat. Innumerable thanks are owed to everyone involved.
Meanwhile, I was also invited to assist my friend Tony Whatley II (a.k.a. “Black Critic Guy”) with a truly ambitious endeavor: a multi-faceted salute to Studio Ghibli films featuring a whole host of anime reviewers and YouTube personalities, including yours truly. I was tasked with providing a memorable take on Ghibli’s indelible, underrated classic Only Yesterday (1991) which finally saw its North American home video release this year.
(If my spoken words sound familiar, you’ve probably already read my analysis either here or on thepulppress.com!)
And, unexpectedly, to commemorate the conclusion of over a month’s worth of toil, Tony subsequently asked me (along with the rest of the special guests) to name my favorite moment from a Studio Ghibli film. On the spot and off the cuff, I mentioned a memory of mine from a more recent Ghibli creation: Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises (2013).
As to be expected, I rambled more than my fair share, so in the interest of time Tony edited my audio contribution somewhat (while still managing to retain the crux of my response). The reason I chose this scene in particular (follow the link for the video) is because it unexpectedly injected a profound takeaway for me more than any other singular moment in the entire feature: the duality of humanity, namely our penchant for creativity and our simultaneous propensity to use technology for ill ends (almost) as often as we utilize it for any greater good.
Largely true to his real-life counterpart, aviation engineer Jiro Horikoshi didn’t want to design aircraft for war or destruction; fed by childlike romanticism, his lifelong ambitions were to propel mankind forward via his designs. Reiterating the point of duality, however, as an adult he fully realized that once any of his blueprints became realized constructions, their commercial purpose was largely out of his hands; he suspected they may well be employed as combat instruments for Japan’s Imperial forces (albeit to his chagrin). Yet, despite all his internal reservations and consternation, Jiro figuratively lands on the side of pro-technology: as an inventor, he chooses to place his faith in people, and in the future that his inventions may very well help shape.
This motif of optimism in the sciences reminded me of an earlier work directly influenced by Miyazaki himself and directed by none other than Jiro’s voice actor, Hideaki Anno: Studio Gainax’s Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (1990–1991). Following the escapades of a young inventor named Jean Ratlique, Nadia showcases Miyazaki’s own love of aircraft and positive outlook concerning scientific progress. It was wonderful to see these themes reiterated all the more strongly in The Wind Rises, because as recounted in the documentary The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (2013), Miyazaki has strong emotional connections to Japanese aircraft of his childhood (circa WWII).
His father, not unlike Jiro, worked on the manufacturing of aircraft which were eventually used in combat against the Allies. Known for the vehement anti-war messages found throughout his oeuvre, Miyazaki was able to somewhat consolidate the conflicting feelings of admiration for the past (including the aerodynamic designs of Japanese fighter aircraft) and disapproval of pro-Imperialism within himself through films like The Wind Rises. Hopefully, such efforts have functioned as a sort of personal catharsis for a man who, like many now gone, has lived most of his life in the long shadow cast by World War II.
Before my quick update becomes a lengthy exposition, I shall attempt to conclude this post on a lighter note: I have now created an account on Vidme, which is officially the coolest new startup in the world of online video uploading. So far, I have found them incredibly creator-friendly and an excellent addition/alternative to YouTube. If you’re a creator of any type, novice or veteran, check them out! Your favorite online personality may already be there waiting for you.
My account: https://vid.me/JonnyLobo/
Did You Know Anime? account: https://vid.me/DidYouKnowAnime
Future installments of the Who Cares About Anime podcast can be found on YouTube and Vidme, as well as the usual suspects of iTunes and, of course, right here on the blog. (No, of course I haven’t forgotten about the podcast…we’ve all just been terribly busy, as of late.) If I haven’t mentioned previously, here’s a link to my own Patreon page: if you want to sponsor a cast for just one dollar, you’ll have your name/username/channel featured in the video description of that particular installment! Pretty nifty if you ask me.
Thanks for watching, reading, and listening everyone! Stay tuned for more awesome content in 2017.
– J. G. Lobo
© 2016 (text)
Update: Due to copyright issues with the Soul Eater episode’s YouTube upload, this post has been updated using the Vidme version.