Category Archives: Anime and Manga

Ash Ketchum Finally Does It!

Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town has finally done it! In the latest episode of the anime, Ash defeats Leon, the standing #1 trainer in all the world, in the World Coronation Master’s Eight tournament! In so doing, not only has Ash defeated the previously-undefeated Leon, the 10-year-old trainer has finally succeeded in becoming the world’s number one trainer!

It’s been a long, long journey. After all, the Pokémon anime has been running for 25 years, starting from it’s debut episode on April 1, 1997. In that time, Ash has gone from having little apparent talent or knowledge (but a whole lot of enthusiasm) to a skilled and competent trainer. You might remember if you were following along in the early episodes, but his first two gym badges were awarded to him outside of battle, and it wasn’t until his third gym challenge that he earned a badge. But since the Indigo League, Ash has developed a lot in competency. Even though it took a while.

Since starting out on his Pokémon journey, Ash has won some significant victories. Ash progressed high in the Indigo League, which was a feat, considering it was his first tournament. Ash also won against the Champion in the Orange League, and later obtained all the symbols in the Battle Frontier, a feat that impressed Scott so much that he extended Ash the offer of becoming one of the Frontier Brains (which Ash declined). It wasn’t until Ash became the Alola champion that he was ranked among the other champions.

As a champion, Ash got to battle in the World Coronation series, where he took on (and overcame) champions such as Diantha and Cynthia, the latter of which seemed nearly indestructible when Ash first witnessed her battle. All this culminated in Ash’s battle with the world’s number one trainer, the previously undefeated Leon.

In case you’re wondering about spoilers, public screenings of Ash’s victory were displayed in public in Tokyo:

And even though the episode has only aired in Japan so far, the English-language The Pokémon Company has announced Ash’s victory on Twitter within minutes of it happening:

So no, it wasn’t realistic for you to avoid knowing this before watching the anime for yourself, especially with fans all over the world discussing it.

One question that would understandably come up is where the Pokémon anime would go from here. We already know that the anime picks up with Ash’s friend Goh, who goes on an expedition to locate the mythical Pokémon, Mew. As of this posting, we are a week away from the release of new installments of the Pokémon video games, the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet versions for Nintendo Switch. The setting for the games will be the new region of Paldea, based on the real-world locations of Spain and Portugal. If Paldea is the setting for future episodes of the anime, Ash could continue as the main character there. But as for what his goal may be, we don’t yet know, as Ash is already the world’s number one trainer. But it’s possible that future episodes may focus on new characters, such as the new protagonists Florian and Juliana.

Florian (left) and Juliana (right) as they appear in Pokémon Scarlet

As things go for the Pokémon anime, it’s when one journey wraps up that another follows close behind, and this is usually timed to occur with the release of new installments of the Pokémon games. That Pokémon’s marketing machine is well-oiled may have a lot to do with why it’s the highest-grossing intellectual property in the world’s history.

This is undoubtedly a huge day in the anime world, as Pokémon has been one of the most popular and longest-running anime of all time (this is episode #1221). But if Ash can become a Pokémon Master, and Naruto can become Hokage, then perhaps we’ll see the day that Luffy finally finds the One Piece treasure. But I’m not counting on it happening anytime soon.

Congratulations, champ! Now, what are you gonna do next?

Was the Crystal Onix Early To Terrastallizing?

When the Dynamax phenomenon was first revealed in a trailer for Pokémon Sword and Shield, some players recalled that certain oversized Pokémon had already appeared in the first season of the anime. First was a Dragonite just a few episodes in, then a Tentacruel a few episodes after that. Later, we’d see more in the appearance of giant Alakazam, Gengar, and Jigglypuff.

While it’s not likely that a connection between the appearance of these Pokémon and the implementation of a new gameplay mechanic decades later was intended as of the time of their first appearance in the anime, it’s still fun to think that they might have factored into the thinking of Game Freak as they developed Sword and Shield.

But with the upcoming Pokémon Scarlet and Violet games, there is a new mechanic, called “terrastallization”. This makes a Pokémon take on a crystalline appearance, as well as gain a new type.

As tantalizing as it may seem, there actually is precedence for such an occurrence in the anime, decades prior. To see it, we’d have to go back to the Orange Islands. The Pokémon I’m referring to would be the Crystal Onix.

In the early days of Pokémon, the Crystal Onix captured the imaginations of fans everywhere. Not just for its dazzling appearance, but also for the fact that it seemed to resist the Water types that would normally lay an Onix out flat, but was weak to Fire moves, which they usually resisted.

As it so happens, terrastallization doesn’t just change a Pokémon’s appearance, it also changes its type to whatever Tera type that the individual Pokémon has. Based on the evidence provided, we can determine the type of the Crystal Onix, as there is only one type that resists Water but is weak to Fire, and that type is Grass!

It’s interesting to think that decades prior to the implementation of terrastallization in a main Pokémon game, there was already a similar concept shown in the anime. But what do you think? Does this look like a coincidence to you? Or might the Crystal Onix have been in Game Freak’s consideration as they were developing Pokémon Scarlet and Violet?

Anti-censorship Mangaka Wins Seat In Japan’s House of Councillors

In a huge culture war victory, mangaka Ken Akamatsu has just won a seat in Japan’s House of Councillors. He ran as a member of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, and became the first mangaka to win a seat in said house.

By the way, Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party is similar to America’s conservatives, and a mangaka is an author of Japanese comic books.

This is a culture war victory because Ken has strong anti-censorship views, particularly concerning manga (Japanese comic books). He’s of the opinion that if westerners are interested in manga, they should have them as the author intended. He was also outspoken against proposed legislation which would have outlawed many doujin (unofficial, independently-made manga) because the legislation in question would have been overly strict in handling copyrights, and made no distinction between drawings and photographs when it came to depictions of nudity.

Considering this, it seems likely that Japan’s mangaka are going to continue to hold strong in resisting western pressure to adopt woke themes in their work, and with a mangaka now championing them in public office, their position is getting stronger.

Because Japanese entertainment is free of woke themes, many are turning to manga and anime as an alternative to the politically-charged comics and cartoons produced by western entertainment companies. Foreign influencers recognized that this is happening, and have attempted to include manga and anime in their sphere of influence, to various degrees of failure.

It was just last year that the president of Kadokawa expressed his belief that manga was more extreme than swimsuit content, and that he wanted the company to change so it would be more likely to be reviewed by western tech companies like Apple and Google. Because his words had the potential to cost his company a lot of money, he was made to take a pay cut, which included paying back back-pay.

Prior to his election, Ken Akamatsu was most famous for Love Hina, a comedy about a boy who made a promise to meet a girl again upon attending a prestigious university, but forgot her name. As he studies for the entrance exam, he becomes the manager of a girls dorm.

It stands to reason that those in the creative arts would take less kindly to attempts to censor them, but things aren’t always so straightforward. With western media companies, it’s usually the companies that have creative control over IPs, and the IP creator usually sides with the media company because they don’t want to risk losing involvement with their own brainchildren. Western media companies tend to bow to vocal minorities, in part because they wish to avoid the potential for negative publicity, but also because western activists tend to be entitled and belligerent. Worse yet, western media companies tend to lack either courage or principle.

Japanese media companies tend to be more principled, and what’s more, because the manga industry is highly competitive, mangaka tend to make fewer choices that would risk alienating their audiences.

Principled and based.

Japan now has someone in their House of Councillors to represent mangaka and those who read manga, and he has a strong anti-censorship position. The woke mob continues to lose ground.

Review: Girls’ Last Tour

Genre: Slice-of-life, science fiction
Studio: White Fox
Original Author: Tsukumizu
Status: 12 episodes as of 2017
Rating:
TV14
Platform: Amazon Prime

Sometimes, it comes out of nowhere: an anime that you’ve never heard of catches your attention. You give it a watch, and it surprises you because what you just saw was effectful for how understated it was, and for how little attention it gets. And it’s thoughtful enough that one can ponder its themes days after watching the finale.

Girls’ Last Tour (GLT) features Chito and Yuuri, a couple girls journeying through a desolate futuristic cityscape aboard a kettenkrad (a small, WWII-era utility vehicle). As they journey, they converse with each other, make discoveries, and learn more about their world through these discoveries.

Here’s the official trailer:

While one might imagine a post-apocalyptic setting to be grim, dark, and edgy, GLT is lighthearted in tone. While the girls do sometimes make difficult choices concerning their own survival, the survival aspect is eclipsed by the philosophical undertones.

The Girls’ Last Tour anime is based on the manga of the same name, authored by Tsukumizu. Those already familiar with the manga will see that the anime follows the manga closely. But while the manga has a messy but emotive look (comparable to Ueda Hajime of FLCL fame), the art in the anime has a more basic, clear look. In either case, it’s clear that both manga and anime are made with a whole lot of heart.

As is typically the case for slice-of-life programs, there is a particularly strong emphasis on the personalities and interactions between the characters. In GLT, the stakes are a lot higher due to the fact that there are only two main characters.

The main characters are Chito, a diminutive and reserved character who is often quite meditative, and Yuuri, an impulsive, free-spirited person who wears her heart on her sleeve. The two are nothing alike, resulting in the two frequently expressing difference of opinion as they find themselves in different scenarios. Which is one of the joys of this show.

The differences between the two characters makes their positive attributes more evident. Chito is a bookworm, but Yuuri doesn’t know how to read, so she’s slow to see the value of books, or keeping a journal. Yuuri is more physically inclined, being a better aim and being better at swimming. Neither one of the two can do everything on their own, a point that their experiences prove well.

The two sometimes beat each other up.

Perhaps I’m imagining it, but it seems to me as though GLT does more to portray Chito in a sympathetic light. Which is perhaps to be expected concerning an introspective character in a light-hearted, philosophical slice-of-life anime. But there are times when Yuuri’s relatively care-free approach wins out, and makes Chito’s concerns seem perhaps unnecessary. One of the two is more prone to worry, and while the case can be made for that being beneficial for one’s survival, sometimes the case can be made for worrying very little.

Over the course of their journey, the girls find joy in the little things: food that they find, fuel to top off the kettenkrad, enough water to bathe in, and sometimes the odd artifact. In rare cases, they might even find another human being. And there is a lot to find in the huge, multi-level city that is GLT’s setting.

Sometimes? Often.

As one watches GLT, they may take an interest in the show’s lore. What is the girl’s mission, if they have one? Where did they come from? What is their destination? How did the city get to be in the condition it’s in? How far ahead in the future is the setting?

The show doesn’t do much to answer these questions, aside from the occasional clue. But it seems as though answering these questions isn’t the point. For all the worldbuilding that’s there, it serves the purpose of providing the characters with a setting. Having established the setting, the focus of GLT is the interactions between the protagonists. And Chito and Yuuri are two characters that reflect off of each other so well that to dedicate an episode just to expanding lore would seem like a distraction.

No one will card you after the world ends.

And when we get into the brain-fuel that GLT provides, I almost don’t care how the world ended. Besides, there are many, many anime out there that’ll happily tell you the many creative ways that the world could end. And personally, I think there’s more new ground to be covered when the purpose of life is pondered by two girls who can easily find joy in what they find, rather than be miserable that they don’t have what someone else has.

Having watched the first season, I wondered whether there would be more. The 12 episodes we have now account for most of the manga’s story. However, the few chapters that are left would only fill a few episodes. Thus, a second season seems unlikely to happen unless it involves a lot of filler. And it’s been a few years since season one concluded. Thus, it’s unlikely that Girls’ Last Tour will be picked up for a second season.

Thus, if you’re interested in how the story concludes, the fifth volume of the manga picks up where the anime leaves off, while volume six closes out the series.

Girls’ Last Tour season one gets a score of 8.5 out of 10.

Girls’ Last Tour is a lovingly-crafted, intelligent show. I recommend giving it a watch. Then, go out there and live the best life you can live.

Review: Made In Abyss (Volume 10)

Author: Akihito Tsukushi
Status: Ongoing
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Horror
Localization: Seven Seas Entertainment
Rating: Older Teen
Available to read online on BookWalker, fees may apply.

(This review contains commentary, and therefore contains spoilers. You’ve been warned.)

Volume 10 of the translated version of Made In Abyss has dropped, as of last week. For those who have been waiting to read this installment of Akihito Tsukushi’s opus in the English language, here you go. This installment picks up where the last one left off, wherein Reg and Faputa were fighting over the fate of the village of Ilblu, but things weren’t looking great for Reg. And with no more line of defense for the village, Faputa became free to engage in unmitigated mayhem.

If you’re new to Made In Abyss, you might expect a light-hearted romp from these cute, endearing characters.

But anyone who expects anything as light-hearted from Made In Abyss hasn’t been following along. While the rest of the series used imaginative concepts for its horror elements, Volume 10 is notable for its heavy gore. At times, I even found it hard to look at. But hey, I’ll still take it over the cheap jump-scares of American horror films.

Tsukushi is great with expansive, beautiful landscapes. However, those take an aside this time around, as much of the action takes place within the crumbling walls of the village of Ilblu. I found myself appreciating the use of perspective when communicating the enormity of the Turbinid Dragons, which tower over the protagonists like skyscrapers.

Much of this volume centers around the strangely-endearing character of Faputa, who initially engages in her genocidal rampage with a singular focus. However, when Belaf imparts his memories to her, she begins to change. But rather than cease from the aforementioned rampage, she becomes less motivated by hatred and more by duty. But even then, she develops the desire to seek her own value and live for herself.

It’s great to see Nanachi back in the action, but it’s mainly Belaf who intervenes between the two of them, and the bunny doesn’t seem to contribute much. Which lends to the fan theory that Ilblu was originally intended to be Nanachi’s point of departure, but Tsukushi changed his mind when he saw how popular the character became.

But then, Ilblu ends up destroyed, so where would he have ended up? It might be interesting to see what role Nanachi plays in future chapters.

But there’s another problem, and that’s that what was created in the village cannot survive outside it. And with the village being destroyed, Riko’s new friends are about to say goodbye. What’s more, the village’s ability to protect from the strains of ascension are dissipating, and we get to see a particularly grotesque transformation as a result.

When all is said and done, Reg extends the offer for Faputa to join the party. While many fans would crane their necks to hear the answer (especially if it’s “yes”), Faputa instead leaves us in suspense as she decides that she’ll consider it, before wandering off on her own.

Sure, she just engaged in mass-murder, but she’s so adorable, right?

So, what’s my opinion? Is Made In Abyss Volume 10 worth 1000yen (about $8) on BookWalker?

(This image was censored for this review. This scene was not censored in the English publication.)

I give Made In Abyss Volume 10 a score of 9 out of 10.

If you’ve enjoyed the series up until now, Volume 10 is a safe purchase. And I think series loyalists would appreciate the conclusion of the Ilblu arc. What’s more, the excellent artwork and storytelling of Akihito Tsukushi are also there. It’s a welcome addition to a fantastic series, and I’m not disappointed with it, at all.

Sosu.

It Happened: DeSantis Officially Revoked Disneyland’s Special Privileges

If you put money on Disney pushing sexual perversion on children without consequences, then you just lost money. But probably much less money than you deserve to.

Disney’s special privileges gave Disney the authority to operate Disneyland nearly as though it were its own separate state, granting them special tax privileges and even so far as granting them the authority to build their own nuclear power plant if they wanted to.

However, a bill was introduced which would revoke Disney’s special privileges. After passing the Florida senate and the Florida house, the bill reached the desk of Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, who signed it. Now, Disneyland has to compete fair and square with other theme parks.

Now, leftists are screeching because large multimedia corporations are being held to account and made to play fair. It’s an irony that you’ll recognize unless you somehow missed the left’s close relationship with multimedia conglomerates, tech oligarchs, banking cartels, the corporate information media, retail giants, academia, the energy sector, the military-industrial complex, among many others.

This is just the latest episode of a drama in light of Florida passing the Parental Rights In Education Act, which has been deceptively termed the “DoN’t SaY gAy BiLL” by the self-appointed thought police who believe you’re too stupid to think for yourself.

The alphabet soup crowd in Disney’s employ spoke up in protest, and even though the protest was an utter failure from a numbers perspective, Disney’s upper leadership decided that they wanted to avoid any bad press, so they decided that they’d create content that exposed more children to sexual perversion.

Which, by the way, is the exact opposite of what you’d want to do if your aim is to avoid bad press.

Sure, the leftist journos celebrated Disney’s bRaVerY, as one might expect them to. But that’s one circle jerk that left out the general population, who didn’t respond as kindly:

Over two-thirds of people are less likely to do business with Disney in light of their desire to expose children to sexual ideas, and about the same amount are likely to seek out family-friendly alternatives to Disney.

Disney doubled down, as one would expect from a fanatical leftist. So, DeSantis decided that if Disney is going to get into politics, they’re going to lose the special privileges that were previously afforded them by the state of Florida.

This is how we win. Challenge the fanatics, and force them to show their true colors. The only thing the left knows how to do when challenged is to overplay their hands, so they’re going to behave predictably when things aren’t going their way. Then, make sure they experience their well-deserved consequences.

Also, as relates to corrupt entertainment media companies like Disney, one should seek out alternatives. It’s not even as hard as you might think. Putting aside The Mandalorian, Star Wars hasn’t been doing that great lately. And as for Marvel, things have been coming apart since the conclusion of Phase 3. Disney has a bunch of classic movies that you probably saw as a kid. But putting that aside, Disney doesn’t really have much going for it on Disney+.

Before seeking out entertainment alternatives, I want to point out that the idea that the heroes of entertainment media must inform people as to moral principles is a misguided notion. The fact is, entertainment media is just made up, and shouldn’t inform anyone’s moral compass. I point this out because too many people point to their entertainment as something that informs them of their virtues, as though this was necessary to justify it.

The fact is, entertainment is only supposed to be entertaining. That’s the entire point.

Your best defense against malign influence in entertainment is understanding that your moral values are decided independent of the entertainment you consume. Hopefully, you understand that watching a show about an unethical hero doesn’t mean you should emulate his unethical actions.

If you’re seeking alternative sources of entertainment, I can recommend manga and anime. While Japanese entertainment has been the target of negative press in recent times, this is largely because the corporate media understands that they have no control of Japanese entertainment, outside of perhaps a few localizers.

From Mobile Suit Gundam 00

What’s great about anime and manga isn’t just the esoteric appeal, it’s also that many, many genres are represented. Some anime are comedies, some are horror. Some anime are adventure, others are drama. Anime is great because you’ll find something for you, whoever you are.

Another great thing about anime is that it’s produced in a culture that is untouched by cancel culture. Thus, the writing is not inhibited at all by the delicate sensibilities of a bunch of screeching snowflakes who seemingly have no idea how to ignore something that’s not according to their tastes.

From Cardcaptor Sakura

Another great thing about anime is that even the stuff that’s made for kids doesn’t insult their intelligence. Of course, a lot of it is made with the expectation that you’ve done your diligence as a parent and have already taught your kids that cartoons don’t teach them how to behave.

I’m going to reiterate this because it’s really important: Parents need to do their due diligence by teaching their kids that cartoons do not teach them how to behave. It’s not as easy as just telling kids as much, raising children actually takes effort!

Because my generation is familiar with the likes of Family Guy, American Dad, and King of the Hill, they should understand that there are cartoons that kids would not appreciate as much, and some that aren’t made for them. In anime, there are many cartoons that were made for grown-ups, so grown-ups aren’t being left out.

From Ghost In the Shell, an anime with a more mature edge

There are alternatives to Disney, and some of them are vastly superior. With western entertainment companies increasingly going woke, our best bet seems to be anime. If you want a suggestion in addition to the other anime pictured, Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki is generally considered a great place to start. Really, just about anything by Miyazaki is considered a classic.

From Spirited Away

The flow of the era is coming around to our favor. But in the time that it takes for companies like Disney to learn their lesson, they have to take a few hard hits. In the time that it takes for that to happen, it’s not a bad idea to find some alternatives. At this point, anime and manga seem like the best way to go. And why not go for it, if you haven’t already? You’re likely to find something that you like.

You might even find that you’ve been watching anime, and didn’t know it.

From Pokémon: XY

Crunchyroll Dropping Free Simulcasts, Sentai to Withdraw 60 Anime From Platform (pay attention to headline)

According to Bounding Into Comics, anime streaming platform Crunchyroll is set to end their free simulcast program, which presented anime at no charge with commercial interruptions. Not only that, they’re pointing out that Sentai Filmworks is withdrawing 60 anime from the platform.

Because both stories are being presented in the same headline, it may appear that the two are connected. Which they are, by virtue of the fact that both stories involve Crunchyroll.

From the story as presented, one might even get the idea that Crunchyroll would be done with simulcasts, altogether. But in typical journalist fashion, the clarification comes a couple paragraphs in:

“For the Spring 2022 season and future seasonal releases, Crunchyroll will update our offering on simulcast titles by subscription tier. To view new and continuing simulcasts, a premium monthly or annual subscription will be required.”

So, Crunchyroll is still doing simulcasts, as a paid service. I get that Crunchyroll is not viewed in a favorable light, but does the headline have to be worded in a way that allows the reader to make the worst assumptions? Journalists know that many people just read the headlines as they browse, so they word their headlines in a manner that cultivates the assumptions of those browsing, while burying the real story a couple paragraphs down, knowing that it’s usually the first paragraph that’s sampled when the page is indexed by search engines.

I usually like Bounding Into Comics, but I’m disappointed with how they handled this. Tsk, tsk.

Having said that, I recognize that the anime community has legitimate grievances with Crunchyroll, largest of which being that they have a bad habit of using the platform to express their own political biases, which is especially inappropriate considering that what’s localized is Japanese content, which came from a culture that doesn’t have the same California-metro culture that embodies the bulk of misguided activism. Then there’s the fact that they’ve thrown a huge chunk of their budget behind High Guardian Spice.

It’s my opinion that translations should be handled in-house, by the original producers, as they (along with the author) would have the best idea which cultural elements are most significant to the work. And for that matter, they’d likely also realize that consumers of Japanese animation are not babies, and would therefore be able to comprehend that something originating from Japan might have Japanese cultural elements. It’s also my opinion that the producers should be the main distributors, not some middle-men such as Crunchyroll.

While localizers may be loathe to admit it, they’re still in competition with pirates. Even as far back as the mid-2000s, teams of free localizers could produce a subtitled version of an anime episode within days or perhaps even hours of its broadcast on Japanese television. While professional localizers may claim that they’re producing a higher-quality product months (or even years) after the original broadcast, the fact is, for the typical anime fan, even a cheap-o pirated sub will do.

Considering this, it’s easy to see that, as is the case with simulpub with manga, simulcasts are the best that anime publishers can do when in competition with pirates. Even then, it’s still not enough to sway those willing to wait a couple days if it means getting the product for free.

Thus, it becomes a practical course of action for publishers to appeal to those willing to financially support them by ensuring that they don’t have to wait for it. Otherwise, fans might find it more appealing to wait for their peers to translate anime and manga if it means it becomes easier to fill up their tanks.

What’s more, that popular anime can flit from one streaming platform to another might make it hard to follow anime with a license that changes hands from one streaming service to another. If you follow a great many anime, you might face the expensive decision of subscribing to multiple streaming services at a time.

Of course, many of us might remember a time when anime was a far more expensive hobby. Remember when an anime movie on VHS could set a person back as much as $50?

Crunchyroll just lost a lot of content, and they just became less appealing as a budget option.

The Metaverse Has a Catgirl Police Force

As quick as I may be to pick on the Metaverse, I can admit when they have something great. Such as their community of unofficial catgirl police.

Yes, they do have such a community. And no, they don’t police the Metaverse in any official capacity. They’re called the Loli Police Department (LPD for short), and they’re a community that roleplays as police officers in VRChat.

The LPD acts out scenarios for fun, often for their own amusement, but sometimes to the bewilderment of onlookers. And because they’re trying to do it right, these catgirls are in the anime style.

It may be a little nitpicky to point out, but a more fitting name might be Nekomusume Police Department. The word “Nekomusume” means “catgirl” in Japanese, though one can also suggest the word “Nekomimi”, meaning “cat ear”. Under their current appellation, one might get the wrong idea of what the group is about.

When I first saw this group, it brought to mind a similar concept conceived years prior by anime artist Kanzaki Hiro:

It may be true that the Metaverse is a sad digital substitution for the real world, but for certain subcultures, the LPD might be a welcome sign that creative visions such as that of Kanzaki Hiro are coming progressively closer to reality.

Now for the part of the post where we “go there”. I know that for a lot of people, police women are considered attractive, and for others, catgirls are attractive, so there’s a lot of potential for wide appeal. For those with highly-specific strike zones, the LPD might end up being a selling point for VRChat and the Metaverse.

Why stop with a team of catgirl police when there is so much more potential for digital public servants with animal ears? Is a team of bunnygirl nurses far behind? Or how about rats that sell insurance?

Why Konata Izumi Is Such a Sad Character

You may remember Konata Izumi as that happy-go-lucky character from the anime and manga series Lucky Star who is a regular fountain of pop-culture references.

Right from her introduction, and throughout the series, she’s depicted as plucky and snarky. What’s more, she indulges in a high volume of entertainment media, has little filter, and happily embraces the title of “otaku”, a term with a negative connotation in Japanese culture because it means “fanatic”, and is used to describe a person obsessed with entertainment media to the detriment of career and personal development.

However, Konata is a sadder character than meets the eye. Because Konata is a fictional character, it’s easy to take for granted that she’s the way she is because that’s the kind of character the writer wanted. But in real life, people’s personalities don’t develop in a vacuum, there are reasons people are the way they are. To the surprising end of developing Konata’s character, there’s a moment in the anime that shines some light on her background, and her character becomes far more understandable.

Early on, Konata’s friends visit her at her house. While there, they find a photograph, and mistakenly identify the woman depicted as Konata. But Konata corrects them, pointing out that the woman in the photograph is her mother, Kanata.

Then, Konata drops the bomb. She casually reveals that her mother is dead, and that she had committed suicide.

Then, it all starts to come together. Konata’s heavy consumption of entertainment media is a coping mechanism, and her lack of filter and willingness to take on a title that most would consider undesirable just for identity demonstrates the kind of detachment that would naturally come with the kind of person who came to the point that they don’t care what anyone thinks.

And Konata came to that point in an attempt to cope with a broken family.

The fact is, spousal abuse is an epidemic in Japan, and in many cases, the abuse escalates to the point that the wife commits suicide. When this is the case, the woman may be leaving behind a family that attempts to cope in ways that they don’t anticipate.

While Konata’s character remains light-hearted through the rest of the series, from that point on, she appears in a slightly different light. One’s family life, particularly in their childhood, plays a huge role in how that person develops. Behind Konata’s low-filter, carefree attitude hides a tragic family life.

When Lucky Star really took off in popularity, anime fans everywhere developed a huge nerd-crush on Konata, seeing her as a character that they could identify with, and in many cases, she was declared a “waifu-character”.

But considering her family history, a man that finds a woman like Konata would have to make sure that she feels loved, rather than treat her like merchandise.

“The funniest people are the saddest ones.”

Confucius

Pokémon is Not As Childish As It Looks

The idea that Pokémon is a childish game has been around for quite some time. It’s a superficial observation, which does hold up to an extent. But some of the themes of the Pokémon games are quite a bit darker than they get credit for.

Let’s examine some of the themes of each generation of games, one at a time.

Generation One (Kanto)
Shows how casino gambling can be used to fund genetic engineering experiments which culminate in a psychotic, telekinetic battling machine.

While Team Rocket were certainly the bad guys in raiding the corporate offices of Silph Co., let’s not forget that Silph was developing a proprietary PokeBall that bypasses the will of a Pokémon and guarantees its capture.

Generation Two (Johto)
Team Rocket cut off the tails of Slowpoke to sell for profit.

Later, in what can be called a TI’s paranoid delusion having come to fruition, electromagnetic waves were employed that literally drove certain creatures within its area of effect berserk. If all you know about Team Rocket is the buffoonery of Jessie, James and Meowth, you’re not getting the whole story.

Generation Three (Hoenn)
We get to see both sides of the climate change extremes.

With the Hoenn remakes (Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire) came a postgame episode that showed all of Hoenn being threatened by an impending meteor impact. The Devon corporation proposed teleporting the meteor to an alternate dimension, where it would strike a different Hoenn region in a different timeline, instead. Yeah, for an alternate Hoenn region, it could have been death from above, with no warning and no way to respond.

Generation Four (Sinnoh)
Hoo, boy. This one is a whopper. Where to begin?

The bad guys resemble a sci-fi cult. Like many cults, the group exists for the aspirations of its leader. Cyrus doesn’t share his true motives with the rest of Team Galactic, which involves wiping out the entire universe then replacing it with an emotionless universe governed by Cyrus. Grandiose, much?

In the anime, Cyrus meets his end when he’s killed by Giratina. If you don’t know what a Giratina is, it’s a Lovecraftian monstrosity that was banished to a different dimension for it’s violence. Considering what animals in this world do just to stay alive, to be so violent to end up banished to another dimension for it is quite a feat. And judging from the condition of the Distortion World, Giratina might not have learned its lesson.

Generation Five (Unova)
The theme of this one is philosophical, but goes to show that the popularity of an idea can cause people to give up something that’s clearly to their benefit to keep. Behind it all is a cultist who stands to benefit from everyone else giving up their Pokémon, and he actually came up with a plan to change society, first through persuasion, then through peer pressure. When his plan fell apart, he pretty much went insane, even as far as railing against his adopted son, and not accepting that he lost.

In the sequel game of gen 5, the bad guy attempts to murder the main character.

Generation Six (Kalos)
Are you sitting down? You might want to. The bad guy wanted to wipe out all humanity, except for whoever happened to be in his little team, with the Malthusian reasoning that there wasn’t enough resources to go around. Like many who think like that, he’s as enthusiastic as he was because he fantasized about being the one to manage all the world’s resources.

In the anime, Lysandre became one of the few humans to have been killed by a Pokémon, when he was killed by Zygarde (Bonnie’s friend Squishy shared in the guilt). It’s hard to imagine anyone shed a tear for him, but Malva might have. She was Lysandre’s girlfriend, and a TV anchor. So yeah, in Kalos, a Malthusian infiltrated the tech industry and the mainstream information media. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Generation Seven (Alola)
As much as I’d like to say that things cooled down since gen 6, gen 7 depicts a monolithic corporation endangering two universes for selfish reasons. Then there’s all that Lillie had to go through. That poor girl watched in slow motion as her family was torn apart, first when her father disappeared, then when her mother went insane looking for the ultra beasts, then when her brother ran away from home. In the original Sun/Moon, Lusamine ended up in an intermittent coma due to the cells of Nihilego remaining in her brain, and Lillie went to Kanto to search for a cure. If Lillie grows up to be normal it’s going to be against some pretty steep odds.

The Ultra variants of Sun and Moon have a postgame story where Giovanni enlists the bad guys from different regions, from different grimdark timelines where those bad guys succeeded in their plans. Considering how screwed up some of their plans were (see above), that’s a lot to contemplate.

Generation Eight (Galar)
The bad guy imprisoned a cosmic dragon, and slowly tore it apart, one fragment at a time, to continually extract energy from it. By the time the player encountered the thing, it was nearly a skeleton of its former self. What’s more, the bad guy was willing to risk a catastrophe for the entire Galar region, just to solve an energy crisis that would have been centuries away from being significant.

Is this to say that Pokémon is mainly about its dark elements? Not really. If anything, Pokémon is about the connections that one can form as they meet people who share their interests. But to dismiss Pokémon as being merely childish is to demonstrate how easy it is to hide an edge behind a disarming exterior.