Seasonal Anime Podcast – Winter 2014

New podcast! I talk with Deadlight, Flawfinder, Landon, Psgels, and Sorrows Neptune all about our impressions of the current season, Studio White Fox, Masaaki Yuasa, and Gen Urobuchi, with a slight detour into how Type-Moon’s stories are the opposite of good storytelling. Fun for the whole family!

If you’d like timestamps, just click through to youtube for a breakdown of what we talk about when.

17 thoughts on “Seasonal Anime Podcast – Winter 2014

  1. I know you only happen to be a guest on this particular podcast, but if I may mention something that could improve future podcast quality, it would be great if the contributions to the discourse weren’t relegated to mainly one or two individuals.

    • I would have to agree. Its what I found annoying about the Fall anime podcast too. The discussion was dominated by like 2 or so people, so it got kind of stale.

    • I try to encourage everyone to speak but it really depends on the subject. And since I’m the host, obviously I’d speak the most, although I try to lead the subject into discussions that the others are more qualified to talk about so I can rest my mouth.

      Also I personally would have cut more of my dialogue out but Deadlight was in charge of editing the thing. I’ll need to ask him to send me his product next time.

      • Yeah, I’ll be sending my edited podcast to Flawfinder for further changes.

        And I know, I’m too reserved for my own good. I’ll speak up :'(

      • I would mainly recommend just trying to talk less and enable discussion more.

        Whenever you started a new section you would begin by giving your whole analysis of the show or idea and then open it up to other people. This isn’t very great for starting disucssions because you say most of what people need to say, and there isn’t a great place for them to start. Like Zero mentioned, this led to the topics being dominated by one or two people since you would say a lot and then anyone who conversed with you or followed up said a lot, but otherwise no one really spoke up.

        I recommend that you don’t start out each topic with your whole analysis, but try to ask a few small focused questions at first. Something like “What did you think of the twists in the new Kill la Kill episodes?” This gives people something to work off of so it’s fairly easy to make an answer, and it gets people talking. Discussions can grow on their own once they’ve started up, so your main job as a host is to set things in motion and control it, not to make the entire discussion on your own.

        In the same vein, don’t be so hesistant to pass of the discussion to someone else. There was a lot of time where you were tripping over your words, stuttering and getting stuck saying “umm” and “like” without really being able to form a thought. In situations like this just ask someone else what they think. The same type of questions I mentioned before work well here too. It’s better for someone to be talking than it is for everyone to be awkwardly listening to someone struggle to say something.

        In short, just try to enable discussion rather than make it yourself. If you can get people talking you’re doing most of your job, so focus on that rather than on doing most of the talking yourself. If you make an environment where people are talking about anime you’ll get good discussions.

        • Deadlight was supposed to edit those goddamn trips out! Urgggghhh!

          I actually did open discussion with Flamenco, but no one spoke up, so things kind of devolved from there. Need to prevent that.

  2. Personally, I would watch Kaiba before Kemonozume. Its MAL score is much higher too, if that means anything to you. But my real reason is that I would love to read what you have to say about Kaiba.

  3. Defending Jormungand a little bit:
    1) Yes, you can run at each other while firing and still miss every shot. Maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention to the car chase scenes, but generally I found that the competence porn aspects of the action were done well. Combat really is that unreliable in real life, even for elites. (While I enjoy Black Lagoon in an entirely different way, that show is actually the one with less realistic action, what with its “Roanapur makes Arkham look docile” premise.) The only scene I found really implausible is when Jonah manages to avoid getting shot on the stairs in Japan, because it was a very controlled environment, not the wild firefight situation where adrenaline is screwing with everyone’s aim.

    2) More importantly, the action and action-based plot is almost irrelevant to this show’s intent, unlike with Black Lagoon. The plot is just meant to fuel the character interactions, which are really about battles of various ethics and philosophies that each character has. Whereas in Black Lagoon, Rock and Revvy are going through constant (if subtle) development of their worldviews thanks to the events of the show, in Jormungand, everyone except for Jonah remains fairly static in their mindsets, and the show is about revealing and developing how they work and fight together because of, or in spite of that. The details of the plot causing a particular intersection of viewpoints is less important than the exploration of that intersection.

    Tangent: In that sense, Jormungand takes more of a movie approach than television one, as the latter usually demands character development of the evolving kind, rather than as the character-study-only kind. That’s also why cinema tends to be given more wiggle room with regards to realism, because as long as the execution convey/supports a theme well, it is considered successful, whereas long-form storytelling has a heavier burden of maintaining suspension of disbelief.

    3) Concerning the ending: The show doesn’t need to show the outcome of Koko’s plan, because the show isn’t really about that. It’s about exploring Koko’s worldview that has driven her to come up with such a plan, and then how each character, with their own worldviews, react to that. The final episode is about Jonah reconciling with the contradictions he’s been forced to confront throughout the series, and because by the end he’s come to terms with the primary one, as epitomized by Koko’s plan, the actual execution of that plan is irrelevant. We end on the conclusion of Jonah’s emotional arc. Following up on it would only be necessary if Jonah had a further emotional conflict due to the consequences, but that would be bad writing as it would essentially be a rehash, as well as rewinding Jonah’s development.

    I’m not a huge fan of the show, or anything, but the specific complaints given in the podcast bothered me, so I wanted to address them.
    I’d say the role of action in Jormungand as pretty dressing to justify the character/philosophy interactions is similar to that of Noir, but I haven’t finished Noir yet.

    • It’s kind of funny, but most of the things people brought up as complaints in this podcast made me feel more inclined to watch the show. I generally find over the top action like Black Lagoon pretty tedious, but I’m all about explorations of contrasting ethics.

      • I seem to recall on the podcast that our (well, Landon’s and I’s at least) problem with the show besides the awful action was that there was no exploration of contrasting ethics whatsoever. Just weapons are terrible. Arms dealers are bad. They seem to agree and thus they want to destroy the weapons of the world. And the individual character stories are godawfully shallow. Bleh!

        I’m not saying you shouldn’t watch the show or anything Bob, but if you find contrasting ethics in it, point ’em out to me. Because I saw zip (and if there were any, it was poorly handled).

        • If I do see it, it’ll be a looong time from now. “Grim quasi-action shows with mediocre reputations” are pretty far down on my backlist…

      • Yeah, I do agree that Jormungand isn’t any sort of must-watch, so don’t move it up the backlog. It was a nice lazy-Saturday binge-watch, for me.

        I actually didn’t see this supposed blanket “Arms dealers are bad, weapons are terrible” moral at all. Jonah starts with this mindset, but is already shown to be a hypocrite to those words from the beginning, (which Koko points out as the main theme of the first episode) and then all of the events of the show, including his backstory with Kasper, challenges that platitude. It’s not about “weapons/violence bad/good,” but more of ethics and philosophies within the framework of the military-industrial complex.

        Only Koko’s admittedly preposterous world-peace plan tries to advocate a fully “weapons bad” agenda, and in the last episode, Kasper plays foil by listing all of the reasons why Koko’s plan is stupid, and why her approach will never work.

        Although Jormungand isn’t really grim at all. I’d say it’s lighter and cleaner in atmosphere than Black Lagoon, mostly because it’s set around a much wealthier level. (Other than, yes, the ridiculous assassins arc in early season 1.)

    • I’m not asking for realistic action (aka something in a Silent Hill game). I’m asking for “exciting” action. Car chases that look like they’re taking place in a school zone is not only boring, it’s incompetent direction. And I don’t care what people say. I refuse to believe that a guy can’t hit a kid moving straight towards him, and yet he can shoot snipers in the head from out of nowhere a minute later (or before. I don’t remember). And that’s not the only example. There were a bunch of trained assassins in that show who couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn. Real life is one thing, but fiction has to make sense. It has to be entertaining!

      I could address the other points, but this isn’t my blog so I won’t. Let’s just say that I found the characters awful and the philosophy shit (as Landon said, the entirety of the show was just “oh you’re arms dealers. You’re bad. You’re bad).

  4. Regarding Type-Moon’s storytelling style, I don’t mean to defend it but none of you in the discussion seemed to fully understand it (probably because you were turned off too early, which is understandable). The basic assumption Bobduh made is that the audience really likes rules, and therefore they like shows that have rules yet no particular pay-off. However… some other guy (sorry, I don’t know your voices) pointed out that the rules aren’t even consistent. Which sounds like a contradiction: why would an audience who likes rules like a story that doesn’t respect them?
    The answer is the fact that Type Moon doesn’t actually like rules, it likes breaking rules. So it comes up with its own rules just to break them later. It says “X is absolutely and totally impossible and could never happen, ever” just to have some guy do X later in the same scene. The intent of this is to establish that some guy is awesome. Or sometimes much much later, depending on how ironclad they want the rule to seem and therefore how awesome the rulebreaker to be. That’s… about it. It’s an incredibly simple technique that they repeat over and over again. The rules are introduced just so they can be broken. Honestly I think someone who loves rules would tear their hair out, but there you go.
    Regarding the actual appeal, I think it’s the fact that the cast is mostly unrelatable, but the story is told from inside their heads. They’re… alien, or insane. They act in ways that no one reasonable would, but you follow their thought processes as they do so. I’d call it “the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge” but the challenge is to empathize with them. Incidentally, this is probably why the fans always hate the adaptations: anime is fundamentally a third person perspective when the stories are designed to be told from the first person. I’m not sure if the fans actually understand this though.
    None of this excuses bad writing, of course.

    • Oh god that sounds even worse. At least with action shows that play by strict rules, there can be drama in seeing how the characters work within the confines of those systems – that’s how stuff like Girls und Panzer or most sports shows create excitement (though those shows also work because they don’t spend too much time establishing vast, arbitrary systems like the Fate universe, and stick to a few necessary fundamentals). But if the rules only exist to be broken because “the characters are just that awesome”… gaaaah.

      • I agree with Boduh and Psgels (he was the speaker in the podcast who originally stated the inconsistencies of the rules).

        If the rules were constituted in the realm of some over-arching “dystopian” setting and meant to be broken to represent a strong theme of existentialism and/or paint an allegory deconstructing real-life societal rules, then yeah, that’s totally cool.

        But yeah, if the only purpose of having the rules broken is to make a character bad-ass, then that’s kinda lame.

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