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Noteworthy News: BCG, DYKA, and Vidme

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.

https://www.patreon.com/whocaresaboutanime

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.

About the author

J. G. Lobo

Majoring in film studies and minoring in fields related to communicative studies and English literature, J. G. Lobo graduated with honors from the University of Nebraska. In addition to his other filmic endeavors and academic ambitions, he has since begun viewing anime through various cinematographic and scholarly lenses while inviting others to do the same.

2 Comments

  • THE WIND RISES! I never thought anyone would mention it as their favourite but you just did! Yes I love that movie and sadly it’s seemingly one of the more underrated of Miyazaki’s works. But it’s my favourite of all.

    I never thought that Miyazaki would one day make a historical title. And an important reason why I love it so much is just that I’m a history student and a big fan of the 1920-30s and the WWII era so the story simply related to me. The mood the tone and the general enviroment of that time recreated in the movie just struck me more deeply I guess. I’ve always been a little bit pro-historical than fantasy when it comes to settings. Another great example of an anime movie that brings a bygone era to life is Jin-Roh (which TOTALLY deserves a seperate podcast review but I’m still waiting on that Black Lagoon episode you promised oh no I haven’t forgotten). The solemn autumn of 1950-60s Japan (which keeps reminding me of 1980s China so even more empathy right there) just feels so chillingly great.

    Not a lot of anime focuses on historical periods, which is really a shame.

    • Greetings, Jesse!

      First of all, my apologies for the late response! (I lapsed on keeping up with the blog in recent months, admittedly.) Thank you for the insightful comment, and for sharing a bit of your own background (I too enjoy a good period piece, be it fiction or documentary).

      I must also thank you once again for the friendly reminder for a podcast episode about Black Lagoon (again, disgracefully, it had slipped my mind). All this talk about it has made me realize it’s about time I had another viewing of it anyway, and I’d sure love to analyze it critically with others. Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade is another great suggestion! I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised, but I’m still amazed that Hiroyuki Okiura isn’t a household name in many anime-related circles despite his animation credentials.

      I too agree that anime as a medium has far more potential than it is often given credit, and is today often underutilized for serious societal introspection or historical commentary (the world could use more like Grave of the Fireflies). I’m glad there are, of course, exceptions such as The Wind Rises: it’s fortunate that Miyazaki was able to create a work that was both personal and historically poignant.

      Thanks again so much for listening and reading! I’ll make it a point to either get more of the cast members to view Black Lagoon, or I’ll talk some friends with whom I’ve watched it into being future participants.

      Stay tuned!

      – J. Lobo

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