By this point I’ve read the main run of Riyoko Ikeda’s The Rose of Versailles (only the later, “Side Stories” remain), and I’m in the middle of the 1979 anime, which is enough to have a definite opinion about the title.
I love it. I think I love it a bit more as a manga than as an anime, though: the show’s dated animation isn’t quite up to capturing the expressiveness of Ikeda’s artwork, and while it functionally tells the same sequence of plot beats, it seems to have lost a little of its historical sweep in the translation. Still, the manga lacks this banger of an opening theme:
Puella Magi Madoka Magica is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, so it seemed fitting to give it a revisit. This time I watched it in the two-part theatrical version, as well as its followup, Rebellion, in the hopes of clarifying my own thoughts on it.
These thoughts remain vexing. Madoka is a weird edge case representing the absolute limit of how much tension I can experience in terms of what a work of art means for me aesthetically and morally. Because aesthetically, Madoka is everything I could want out of an anime, being a lush, baroque work that pushes the animation medium to beautifully surrealistic and operatic extremes. It also feels like the work of a mindset which is too cynical for me to find sympathetic.
Ok so I admit I’ve somewhat lost interest in Haibane-Renmei, but perhaps for the best possible reason. These past few months have been something of a weeb renaissance for me, with my anime watching habits being at perhaps an all-time high (which still isn’t much compared to some of the pros out there, but still…). The show has at least fulfilled its purpose of getting me writing again.
The pandemic thrust us into an experience that has shown us how short spaces of time can seem endless and gloomy when stripped of the usual milestones of its passing. Transitioning has had the uncanny sensation of folding my life back into itself, undergoing experiences which seem like they belong to my adolescence in my thirties.
And the Rebuild of Evangelion movies, which were announced when I was a teenager, debuted when I was a university freshman in 2007 and met with such incredible delays that they only concluded just this year. They’ve been ongoing for my entire adult life such that it feels unreal to know that they’re over.
Stalker is, along with Mirror, a new favourite movie of mine. I had already seen it a couple of times years ago as an undergrad, but it was in this revisiting that its full power seemed to hit me. At any rate, it is the sort of movie I was destined to post about.
Haibane-Renmei apparently owes a lot to the influence of Haruki Murakami’s novel, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I tried to read one of Murakami’s other novels, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but found it too off-putting to finish. Which is unfortunate, as he shares a lot in common with one of my favourite authors, Franz Kafka.
As does Haibane-Renmei, which may seem a little odd to say given that it has a reputation for being so soft and easygoing while Kafka is often seen as bleakly existential. In particular, I’m thinking of The Castle, which is set in a village controlled by a bureaucracy whose officials reside in the titular castle. The protagonist, K, is a hired land surveyor attempting to gain an audience in the castle, but who finds himself continually thwarted.
My faith has been kinda weird over the past year or so. There have been long periods of time where I couldn’t bring myself to pray, or where I only felt anger and contempt towards the church, but my lowest moments have thus far proved ineffective at completely eradicating my faith.
I used to talk a lot about movies on this blog! Especially weird arthouse stuff.
Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky’s filmography has become my current arthouse fixation. I mean, I was already familiar with some of the dude’s work before, but it seemed like something more to be admired than loved and appreciated. That has changed for me over the past year or so. Perhaps because it would be an understatement to describe his movies as intensely introspective and ponderous, and months of varying degrees of social isolation are conducive to the strung out mood almost necessary to appreciating them (if I wanted to be mean I could describe them as stoner movies for intellectuals).
So this episode finds Rakka going into town for the first time and getting herself a cute dress. That’s the extent of it. Actually, the fragmented episode titles do a good job of underscoring how the action unfolds on a more granular level: there’s less of a through-line through the episodes than there is a collection of moments or images or just points of interest that develop our understanding of this world and its characters (well, I recall that more “plot” happens as the series goes on, but right now things are very slice-of-life with heavy helpings of worldbuilding).