My Hero Academia Episode 1: Of Heroes and Academics

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“All men are not created equal.” Midoriya Izuku learns a pretty harsh lesson in the pervasive social hierarchy attendant to the flourishing of superheroics – namely, that the presence of Quirks (to him, at least) practically brought with it a new social status wherein people show fanatical devotion to those who utilize their newfound powers for good, and members of the younger generation work diligently to present themselves as worthy of taking up the mantle of superhero. My Hero Academia begins with a personal anecdote from Izuku’s perspective – he protects another boy from three others, led by the rather aggressive Bakugō Katsugi (who almost immediately shows the more pugilistic and judgmental side of a society now structured around superheroes). As one might imagine, the opening shots of Izuku being pummeled by Katsugi and his almost-sycophantic lackeys illustrate the low standing the Quirkless have in this new Japan; Izuku cannot physically protect himself from the trio’s attack, and the encounter leaves him with a pessimistic outlook on life. The two later meet in class, and this subsequent encounter further cements the social hierarchy that the seemingly sudden presence of the Quirks brought about; approximately 80% of people in the world have some sort of Quirk, leaving Izuku in the powerless 20% who can only watch as others go on to do amazing things. The image of Izuku watching the criminal Quirk-wielder on the elevated train tracks places the protagonist initially in the back of the gathered crowd; he finds himself among the rabble, who do not interfere when superheroes with unique powers track down and confront those who violate the law.

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WataMote Episode One: Tomoko the Outsider

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WataMote‘s first episode begins with the protagonist, Kuroki Tomoko, checking out a website delineating the “unpopular girl” in the comfort of her own home – the narrator even anounces that her story “really doesn’t matter,” something that may be peculiar upon first glimpse, but makes sense when viewed with the understanding that Tomoko represents the sort of social outsider most shows present as a minor character or a secondary protagonist. She has to resort to the Internet to gather information about what it means to be popular or unpopular, making her self-conscious; this immediately presents her as the sort of person who lives “outside” the conventionally-accepted boundaries of social interactions, and throughout the episode, she silently wonders about her own position in society. That the episode opens within Tomoko’s bedroom, with the only source of light being from her computer (the lights are off, and no sunlight streams in from any available window) at once places Tomoko within an interior space without any sense of a large national or local social framework – she’s alone, without any sort of social cues to help her understand the world around her, with only the computer and the ever-expansive Internet at her disposal.

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Flip Flappers Episode 1: Shelter from the Storm

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From the outset, Flip Flappers is an extensively kinetic show – the first minute or so shows the boundlessly energetic Papika crashing through a tunnel with her robotic companion in tow. This contrasts wonderfully with the more sedate, anxious tone seen in the scenes with Cocona, who spends her time on a test rather than engaged in the art of play and freedom. This sort of contrast works beautifully for the show – Cocona feels uncertain about herself right now, as she dwells on the present, but Papika enjoys the moment, the thrill of adventure. It doesn’t become clear from the outset, but Cocona has reservations about her life – the episode opens with a close-up of a digital clock showing how much time she has to complete the test, and it has two stylized human heads facing each other, symbolizing both the fateful encounter she will have with Papika and her gradual awakening to a new world and new possibilities, where she is free to pursue the fantastic at her leisure without the worries of school life.

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Lovely Blog Award!

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Medieval Otaku recently honored me with a nomination for the One Lovely Blog Award! For that, I’m grateful. So the rules are (from Medieval Otaku’s post):

  • You must thank person who nominated you and include a link to their blog
  • You must list the rules and display the award
  • You must add 7 facts about yourself
  • You must nominate 15 other bloggers

With that out of the way, let me get into some facts.

 

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  1. I think the first ever anime I really got into was Sailor Moon, back in the day when it ran heavily edited on Cartoon Network. Yeah, I know, I’m a dork.
  2. I have Asperger’s and depression, which I talked about in my old blog. Suffice to say, it’s been a rough time dealing with both, but I’m getting through OK.
  3. Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite authors. He will be missed.
  4. I haven’t been posting as often as I once had; that’s due to depression, which also explains why I have a new blog (I deleted my old one).
  5. I enjoy playing games such as Munchkin and Chrononauts.
  6. I’m a big cinema buff; some of my current posts deal with early cinema.
  7. Currently, I’m looking for a job.

 

Well, that’s all for now! On to the blog nominations; I don’t know that many people, so I’ll name who I can.

 

  1. Illogical Zen
  2. LitaKino Anime Corner
  3. Anime Girls NYC
  4. Fujinsei

Sailor Moon Crystal Episode 1: A Legend Reborn

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Sailor Moon remains one of the most iconic anime series, because of its timeless nature as a mahou shoujo series – there were certainly magical girls before it (such as Mahou Tsukai Sally/Sally the Witch), but Sailor Moon really helped codify and popularize the trends within the genre (such as the Power Rangers-esque team dynamic and the use of specialized attacks unique to each member of the team). For Sailor Moon Crystal, the most recent show, it provides a reboot of the franchise and a 21st-century invigoration; anime diversified greatly after the 1990s, after all, and Sailor Moon now sees a reboot during the new millennium.

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Early American Cinema: Selected Films of 1900 and 1901

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The Second Boer War (1899-1902) pitted Great Britain’s Cape Colony against the South African Republic and the Orange Free State; Capture of Boer Battery by British (directed by James H. White) shows the Gordon Highlanders (a line infantry regiment) holding the line. By 1900, American films were getting steadily longer, with this one reaching a minute or so in length – the previous decade saw the first feature-length film, The Corbitt-Fitzsimmons Fight of 1897 (only fragments remain of it), documenting the titular boxing match between James J. Corbitt and Bob Fitzsimmons on St. Patrick’s Day, and Thomas Edison’s Black Maria studio remained an important place for cinematography. As can be seen in Capture, the wide shot became one of many innovative techniques introduced in the nascent years of cinema – documentary films carried over from the 1890s, and fictional narratives became more commonplace as the 20th century dawned.

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Early American Cinema: 1890-1896

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Believe it or not, the above screenshots come from the earliest known American films – Monkeyshines no. 1 and Monkeyshines no. 2, respectively. These illustrate American cinema’s nascent period, a time when moving pictures were a novelty and more of a distracting pastime than the major industry we know of today. These particular films (two of three in the Monkeyshines series, all released in 1890) were directed by William K. L. Dickson and William Heise, pioneers in the medium – Dickson would go on to release Dickson Greeting in 1891, the first publicly-shown film in American history, while Heise produced The Kiss, a famous (very) short film depicting the actors May Irwin and John Rice kissing. The 1890s proved to be a rather productive decade for cinema around the world – in the States, the Biograph Company became the first U.S. company to produce and distribute film (debuting in 1895 or so), while Pathé in France debuted in 1896.

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