Xenosaga Episode I could be likened to two thirds of a large sausage, in that it is an item of considerable solidity and consistency which lacks a proper ending. Episode II is like if you took that last third, diced it into pieces and mixed it into a cheese omelette while overdoing it on the salt and pepper. If Episode I was a relatively conservative dungeon crawler which just happened to have long cutscenes, Episode II feels like an experimental attempt at crafting a truly cinematic RPG experience. The beaker exploded in the process, but kudos to them for trying. Its own uniqueness in that regard, combined with my inordinate fondness for these characters makes it special to me, even if the actual experience of playing it was…..a little on the rocky side.
So a few months ago I did a little series of posts on Xenogears that I never bothered to finish. Now I can make up for it by starting a new series on Xenogears’ spiritual successor, the Xenosaga trilogy. I mean, I could instead be talking about Andrei Tarkovsky’s experimental flick, (The) Mirror, but
So before I jump into the meat of this post, it’s perhaps worth noting that I’m trying my hand at a new, anime-only blog. I’m not sure why I feel so moved to do so – but I’m also a bit curious if a specific focus can help reinvigorate my interest in blogging.
So if you’d rather be reading my thoughts on Sailor Moon, there’s a place where you can do so. Because here I’m going to talk about my latest arthouse watch: Wong Kar-Wai’s In The Mood For Love.
So I’ve been rewatching Avatar: The Last Airbender, something I haven’t done for about a decade. This used to be one of my favourite TV shows. It even inspired my first significant act of blogging. On a (now defunct) blog I set myself the task of reviewing each episode individually, and managed to, I think, get as far as the season one finale before giving up.
It turns out the show is still great, so perhaps a blog post is in order.
I haven’t talked much about politics on here for quite some time, so digging into my past for the sake of context is perhaps in order before I start running my mouth about current events.
The household I grew up in wasn’t rabidly political, but could be described as having a generally classical liberalish feel to it – belief in the free market and individualism, suspicion of politics which were more authoritarian or collectivist.
Promare wasn’t the only anime movie schlock to come out in 2019. We also had producer James Cameron’s long, long gestating project of adapting the Battle Angel manga finally hitting theatres. As a fan of the original run of Yukito Kishiro’s cyberpunk story, I do think that this Robert Rodriguez helmed version makes a lot of the right aesthetic choices, and it leaves me with a goofy grin on my face, but it also commits a lot of the narrative sins of contemporary franchise-based Hollywood movie making.
It’s incredible to me that within the space of less than two years I’ve been given two animated movies that are very special to me. The first, of course, is Spider-Verse. The latter, and subject of this post, is Studio Trigger’s first feature length movie, Promare. Indeed its incredible for me to say this, but I actually have wound up loving Promare even more, albeit for disreputable reasons. Promare is schlocky in a manner that Spider-Verse is not, but rarely is schlock done with this degree of craftsmanship and wit. Moreover it’s my kind of schlock.
It’s weird to contemplate how, as an “essential worker” in this age of pandemic and social distancing, this year has still been a happier one than I’ve had for a while.
One of the things I’ve tried to do for the past year or so is take my mental health more seriously. I have not done this as consistently as I probably should, but even just getting the ball rolling for me has meant a lot. It’s obvious in retrospect that I spent a lot of my 20s being kinda depressed and wrestling with self-worth and self-loathing. Not in an extreme enough manner to pose a threat to my functionality (when the insomnia started, though…), but enough to skew how I looked at the world, and myself.
I need to take a break from all the Xenogears-posting. The
laziest best change of pace I can think of is to do an update of my previous list of favourite prose fictions, especially given how I’ve spent a lot of the past year or so revisiting stuff I used to like in my younger days.
This time I’m playing a little bit fast and loose with definitions; not all of the entries here are prose fiction, or even narratives which were originally published in codex form, but “20 favourite written narratives” just sounds pretentious.
Anyway, to no one’s surprise I continue to have boring English major tastes in literature.
Listed alphabetically by author.
Posted in Assigned Reading, fragments of culture, Uncategorized
Tagged A Voyage to Arcturus, Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red, Blood Meridian, Bram Stoker, Cormac McCarthy, David Lindsay, Dracula, Emma, Franz Kafka, Fun Home, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Gene Wolfe, Hayao Miyazaki, Herman Melville, Homer, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jack Vance, Jane Austen, Jorge Luis Borges, Le Morte d'Arthur, Ludovico Ariosto, Moby-Dick, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Nova, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Orlando Furioso, Samuel R. Delany, Sir Thomas Malory, The Book of the New Sun, The Castle, The Demon Princes, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Lord of the Rings, The Odyssey, Ulysses, Ursula K. Le Guin
(Continued from part 1)
So part of what I hoped to convey by talking about the characters last time was just how massive and convoluted the story of Xenogears is, how it has absolutely no editorial spirit, how it is committed to being this slow-burn ‘serious’ sci-fi epic, but also committed to jamming as many anime set-pieces in the game as possible (there are two boss fights, for instance, that exist solely as homage to Voltron and Macross, respectively).
Which gets to a potential point of contention: this is a really cutscene-heavy game, and I am usually very critical of that.