Excellent round-up of the work of Yu Watase here:http://www.livejournal.com/users/coffee_and_ink/383313.html
If you read the comments, you will find one by me about how Fushigi Yuugi
got me hooked on anime, and a promise to hunt down my initial comments on it, which I'd posted elsewhere when I first began watching anime last year in order to improve my Japanese listening skills. When I found that, I also found my comments on Akira
, which I will reprint as well because they made me laugh.Akira
: A movie, considered a classic of the genre.
In a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, which is still highly urbanized and technologically advanced, a teenage boy from a biker gang is kidnapped by government scientists and experimented on. It's gradually revealed that some time back, a mutant kid named Akira went insane and used his psychic powers to destroy Tokyo. Scientists trying to recreate those powers in a more controllable manner are shocked, shocked when Tetsuo, the biker kid they give powers to, goes insane and starts destroying Tokyo. For the next forty minutes, everyone in the movie rushes around shouting "TETSUOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"
Often amazing to look at and certainly not boring, but I neither liked nor cared about any of the characters. It was impossible to tell whether Tetsuo had been driven insane by his mutation or if he'd always been a psycho. Whatever.
(Walter Jon Williams wrote in response to this, "I also found Akira disappointing. It's the equivalent of a live-action movie that depends on special effects rather than writing. (...)Anime has a tendency to bring up interesting ideas and issues, but then solve it all by having an apocalypse and blowing everything up. (The problem with Akira, if you ask me.)" Now that I've seen a lot more anime, this strikes me as very true.) Fushigi Yuugi
: A TV series.
Cut for length; no spoilers. I cleaned up the grammar and cut some musings on gender politics as they involve huge spoilers, but otherwise, if you read this before, there's nothing new beneath the cut. ( Read more... )
If you've never seen this, I have to warn you that it's a lot more awkward, clunkily animated, and has more jarring tonal shifts than something like X/1999
or Wolf's Rain
. And Miaka really gets on some people's nerves. All the same, my original judgment mostly stands.
I should add that it gets a lot darker as it goes along. This is something that some people feel is jarring or weird, but in my opinion it adds to the power of some of the more serious moments later. There's a scene in the climax which reminds me of LOTR's Merry standing up to the Witch King, and in both cases that scene would not have been as astonishing if we hadn't first been introduced to the character in a way which did not suggest that the story would ever lead to that moment.
I also now think better of the ending. And of all the stories I've ever read or seen which have someone traveling from the real world to fantasyland, this contains one of the best and most integrated and imaginative treatments of the interaction between the two.
Another notable element, though not one unique to the show, is the astounding number of characters who are twins, impersonating someone, have several different names, have several different roles with different names, are cross-dressing, wear a mask, shape-shift, are in some sense living someone else's life, are wearing weird makeup, etc. Plus the way the two sets of warriors and priestesses are each other's doppelgangers in various ways, though not in neat one-for-one parallels. (In fact, there are four sets of seishi and miko, each corresponding to a sign of the Chinese zodiac, but we only see two complete ones. However, you can draw limited parallels between all four.)
I can see the papers now: "The Mask Makes the Man: Persona, Identity, and Appearance in Fushigi Yuugi
;" "Who am I, Which are you?: Doppelgangers and Double Lives in Fushigi Yuugi