My former orthopedist's office did indeed lose all my X-Rays. We hates them, we does, my preciousssss.

I am now up to the episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena aka Shoujo Kakumei Utena aka (for no apparent reason) La Fillette Revolutionaire, (the anime, not the manga) called "Nanami's Egg." I have concluded that Utena is not just the most whacked-out anime I've ever seen. No, it is the most whacked-out thing in any media I've ever seen. Whacked-out-- and also erudite, sexy, disturbing, thought-provoking, and very, very funny. I'll write more about it when I finish it, because right now I haven't a clue even where to begin.

One of the odd things about it is that patterns of imagery are set up very carefully and consistently, but in a way which doesn't give you a means of interpreting them. For instance, Nanami is consistently associated with or in opposition to or equated with or even turned into animals of various sorts. Why? What does that mean? I have no clue.

Naruto, a manga by Masashi Kishimoto, is about a kid named Naruto who lives in Ninja Land. Basically, everyone's a ninja, and so Naruto, a rascal with a good heart but not too much upstairs (he'd get along great with Saiyuki's Goku), wants to be the best ninja of them all. But everyone treats him like an outcast. Turns out that an evil fox spirit attacked the village, and could only be quelled by transforming it into a baby boy. That's Naruto-- who could turn back into the evil fox spirit at any moment.

(ETA: As pointed out in comments, the fox spirit was actually implanted in Baby Naruto, not transformed into a baby.)

Volume 1 was OK but not my kind of thing-- it really seemed aimed at ten-year-old boys. But I wanted to study some good manga fight scenes, so I jumped ahead to volume 5, which was about the ninja exams. I figured that would be wall-to-wall fighting. But it turned out that volume 5 was about the ninja written exam. It was friggin' hilarious. Like this part, from memory, of Naruto's classmates' thoughts as they contemplate questions like "If a ninja throws a shuriken from the top of a 23.3 foot tree at an average speed of 49.6 mph while surrounded by 16 enemies whose average height is 6' 1", what is the parabola of the damage? Show your work."

Sakura: Wow, this is kind of hard... I hope Naruto isn't tempted to cheat... Oh, he'd never cheat.

Sasuke: This is really hard... I wonder how Naruto's doing... Well, he's a stand-up ninja, so at least I know he's not thinking of cheating.


The moment I put it down, I was seized with the desire to dash straight out and buy volume 6-- a desire which so far I've only resisted because the store I dropped in on didn't have it.

Order the series from Amazon: Naruto, Volume 1

From: [identity profile]

Naruto is one of those who grows on you. I originally bought the manga in Chinese, just to keep up with my characters (and nearly screamed in frustration because it's printed in Taiwan, therefore is all in traditional instead of simplified, grrrr). I ended up buying it in english because by that point I simply had to know what they were saying (the translations from Japanese to Chinese retain the Japanese grammar, which is really whacked from a Chinese POV, but I won't go into that here). Then a friend burned eps 1-60 of the fansubs...and the rest is history. Matter of fact, I'm currently d/ling ep132. Geebus. I'm an addict.

There are worse things to be addicted to, frankly. The relationships between the characters--and the outright whacked-yet-understandable like/dislike/hate/love crap that goes on--is just entrancing. Plus, not everyone is thirteen. Big plus. And there's none of this "every week the bad guy is even badder than the week before!" nonsense like in most shonen series, like YuuYuu Hakusho, which does get annoying after two or three episodes. Best, there's character development. Excuse me while I flippin' squee.


I'm not a fanboy. Really.
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)

From: [personal profile] oyceter

The egg episode! I love the random strangeness of Utena so much. And I love how it ends with Saionji. *snerks*

I've been thinking about reading the Naruto manga because I know two people incredibly obsessed with it, but I haven't yet picked it up.

From: [identity profile]

You could saunter over to, register, and take a gander at some of the scanlations before deciding to buy it. But that, of course, would be Immoral. I haven't downloaded the last two weeks; I'm getting behind here...

Naruto's pretty good. I got sucked in because of the characterization - Kishimoto pretty much specializes in introducing a character, setting you up to think one way about him, and then forcing you to do a complete 180 about that.
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)

From: [personal profile] oyceter

Ooooh. Not that I would be Immoral. No, no, of course not.


From: [identity profile]

Minor quibble - they didn't turn the Kyuubi into Naruto; they sealed it into his belly. It is, however, dangerously close to popping out if Naruto gets pushed over the edge.

From: [identity profile]

The egg episode is one of my favorites. Up to that point Nanami was fun to mock, but...but...she bonds with an egg because it's the first thing she can love and not be afraid of. And the egg/menarche parallel all through...aieee.

And I think I know why the animals, but am not sure. Not that any theory could excuse the boxing kangaroo.

From: [identity profile]

Naruto rocks. I cannot believe I am so entertained by a story about dumb baby ninjas, but the mangaka knows truly great characterization like nobody's business. I've really come to care for the characters. Plus the action is nail-biting, and I'm not usually a big fan of new-fight-every-week anime.

I would second [ profile] telophase's suggestion, but I don't read scanlations. No. Of course I don't.

From: [identity profile]


No, it is the most whacked-out thing in any media I've ever seen.

I can't wait to see your analysis. I love Utena. Because it all does make a bizzare kind of sense.

From: [identity profile]

Konnichi wa, akachan!

Nanami is consistently associated with or in opposition to or equated with or even turned into animals of various sorts. Why?

My theory is that it's because most of Nanami's misfortunes are engineered by Anthy, who is taking revenge on her for the events of Episode 3, "On the Night of the Ball." Anthy, you may have noticed, is highly associated with animals and plants. Not just Chu Chu, but in Ep. 4 we learn she keeps snails in her pencil case, and a mongoose in her desk. In the cow-type Nanami episode we learn that Anthy owns a cow, and IIRC, a pig. Put this together with her tending the roses, and Anthy begins to look a bit like an earth goddess, or maybe a prehistoric feminine fertility principle.

I agree with Marith, the egg episode is wonderful, and makes one sympathetic with Nanami, who has many unsympathetic-making things about her. The egg represents menarche, and in more general terms, adolescents' anxieties about sexuality, their insecurities about the changes in their own bodies, and their fear that there are Big Important Things that they aren't being told. Big Important *Weird* Things!

Nanami's conversation with Jury is priceless.

BTW, Ikuhara seems to like to put his bad guys in fluffy aprons. Note Saionji in an apron in this episode and Akio in an apron in a later one.

From: [identity profile]

Re: Konnichi wa, akachan!

*ROFL* That was a great analysis! Utena is just one of those series that appears mondo on the surface, but makes a wierd kinda sense once you get into it. It's still one of my all-time-favorites.

From: [identity profile]

Re: Konnichi wa, akachan!

I got the parallels with menarche, sexual maturing, and adolescent anxiety-- in fact, that episode might even work as a little short film for someone who hadn't seen the rest of the series-- but in the context of the rest of the series, it was the straw that made me go "WHAT?!" In a good way.

I did feel for Nanami in that episode, because who hasn't felt that everyone else knows stuff you don't, and will mock you mercilessly if you reveal your ignorance or how late you've matured?

That's a good point about Anthy. I am currently vacillating over whether she is entirely an innocent victim of creepy outside forces, or whether she is subtly masterminding or least aiding the entire dueling thing for obscure reasons of her own.

From: [identity profile]

Re: Konnichi wa, akachan!

I am currently vacillating over whether she is entirely an innocent victim of creepy outside forces, or whether she is subtly masterminding or least aiding the entire dueling thing for obscure reasons of her own.

We finally get backstory in Episode 34. But there's this problem with the backstory...

From: [identity profile]

*nodnods* The kind of magic, or whatyoumaycall it, Anthy seems to do feels like something out of The Golden Bough to me. Classic witchcraft. If you want to turn your enemy into X, get an X of your own and give it her name, then use an object to link them, etc. Animals and correspondence.

(And I bet she doesn't own a cow or a mongoose or snails after the point when they're needed. And everybody else somehow forgets she ever had them.)

From: [identity profile]

Utena: When you're done watching the series, pick up the movie, otherwise you will be left feeling disatisfied with a lot of loose ends. And the movie . . . well . . . does "orgasmic visual eye candy" sound appealing? :P
ext_10182: Anzo-Berrega Desert (Edward on drugs)

From: [identity profile]

Volumes 2-4 of Naruto are worth reading too (that's also about episode 6-24 of the anime). They ended up being one of my favorite parts of the anime (some very cool battle animation), and were really, really important for Naruto's characterization-- heavy foreshadowing for events that happen a few volumes down the line at the end of the chunnin exams, especially in one character, and even more important for events way WAY down the line with Sasuke's character.

From: [identity profile]

That's exactly the point I tell people to skip ahead to in the Naruto anime-- you can go back to the early stuff after you've already been hauled into the morass from which there is no escape and given your soul to Kishimoto hooked on the series. The written exam animates beautifully. It's circa ep. 25ish... will send you some of the anime.

From: [identity profile]

I don't like the Utena movie very much; like the Cowboy Bebop one, it loses the charm of the series by changing too damn much stuff. Mind you, it's not as creepy as the live-action Utena musical -- those damn giant plastic heads, yikes!

Just what the hell IS Chu-Chu supposed to be, anyway?

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