Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mushishi Episode 11: Mountain Mystics

     I'm rewatching Mushishi on DVD and blogging it. Previous post here. First post here. You can watch this episode and the rest of the series legally (and free) on Youtube. For those looking for a brief refresher, there's a list of brief episode descriptions here.

     Thus far in the series, there have been two essential categories of mushi: those whom Ginko can control, and those who are so untouchable and powerful that he can't even attempt a cure. In other words, either beasts or gods. And some do take on the form of gods, literally: they command humans' worship (episode 6), control their dreams (episode 7), establish their taboos (episode 9), and even have dominion over the nature of their lives (episode 1). But if the mushi are gods, what does that make the mushishi?

     Why, they're the priests, of course.



Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mushishi Episode 10: Taking Responsibility

     I'm rewatching Mushishi on DVD and blogging it. Previous post here. First post here. You can watch this episode and the rest of the series legally (and free) on Youtube. For those looking for a brief refresher, there's a list of brief episode descriptions here.

     While some episodes of Mushishi are mysteries in and of themselves that require extensive unraveling (like episode 3), others are more straightforward stories simply enjoyable for what they are at face value. Episode 10 was one of these. The technical competence of the episode was as enthralling to behold as ever, with gorgeous visual and sound design. The story, at its heart one of a former inkstone artisan returning to her craft, requires little more than the viewer's attention to make sense.

     I'm okay with that. One of the things that has always made Mushishi a special piece of media is its blase attitude towards itself. Sometimes it has incredibly nuanced, uplifting, or grim ideas and themes it wants to explore, and just as often it simply wants to tell an unusual tale and leave it at that. It's a series that walks its own path, at its own pace, and welcomes you to travel with it, skip ahead, stay behind, or ignore it entirely. It's just. . .there, and that's fantastic.

     That being said, it isn't hard to excavate ideas from stories that don't necessarily revolve around them. Episode 10, The White Within the Inkstone, isn't a story about responsibility, per se, but as a motif it rears its head on more than one occasion.

A visual representation of owning up to a mistake.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mushishi Episode 9: A Chip off the Old Block

     I'm rewatching Mushishi on DVD and blogging it. Previous post here. First post here. You can watch this episode and the rest of the series legally (and free) on Youtube. For those looking for a brief refresher, there's a list of brief episode descriptions here.

     The majority of Mushishi is dominated by philosophical discussion, but it has been largely obfuscated thus far. This episode, however, shifts it to the forefront, with two men discussing morality in a hut serving as the climax of the episode and the investigation and curing of mushi being left out entirely. The viewer is required to accept a lot at face value. Both traditional storytelling and the hallmarks of previous series entries are highly warped and even disregarded so we can have twenty minutes of people talking. If you can take that step, though, this episode has perhaps the most to say of any others up to now.

Breaking taboo, yet moving towards light.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mushishi Episode 8: A Slave to Himself

     I'm rewatching Mushishi on DVD and blogging it. Previous post here. First post here. You can watch this episode and the rest of the series legally (and free) on Youtube. List of brief episode descriptions here.

     And we're on to disk two!

     As I mentioned in my last post, the previous episode was one of my least favorite in the entire show, largely because I could never understand what it was trying to say. When I rewatched it last month, however, I was delightedly surprised by how much I enjoyed both the episode and the message I extracted from it. Believe me when I say that when I watched episode eight (one of my previous favorite entries) and found it a miserable and depressing affair, the irony was not lost on me.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Mushishi Episode 7: The Rainbow Creature in the Sky is the Limit

     I'm rewatching Mushishi on DVD and blogging it. Previous post here. First post here. You can watch this episode and the rest of the series legally (and free) on Youtube here. List of brief episode descriptions here.

     Of all the episodes in Mushishi, I think I was looking forward to blogging this one less than any other. This was always one of my least favorite entries in the series for reasons I couldn't quite understand, and I was worried I wouldn't have anything to say about it. When I got around to watching it, I was met with something entirely unexpected; I liked it. I really liked it, in fact, and I also loved what it had to say.

     I think for me this project just more than made up for what work it requires.

Also, I would pay money to watch a buddy show version of Mushishi with these two.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mushishi Episode 6: Zombifying Dope Flowers Are A-OK if They Make You Happy

     I'm rewatching Mushishi on DVD and blogging it. Previous post here. First post here. You can watch this episode and the rest of the series legally (and free) on Youtube here. List of brief episode descriptions here.

     Since deciding to do this post series, there have been a few episodes I've been really eager to get to (and a few I've been dreading). Those Who Inhale the Dew (this episode's proper title) is one of those. In truth I'd forgotten how early in the series this appears; I recalled it happening after the halfway point, so I was quite surprised to see it on the first disc. I was a little shaken, too, since I remembered this being one of the ugliest (and I don't mean visually) entries in the series.

     Turns out my memory was correct.



Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mushishi Episode 5: Birds of a Swamp-Encrusted Feather

     I'm rewatching Mushishi on DVD and blogging it. Previous post here. First post here. You can watch this episode and the rest of the series legally (and free) on Youtube here. List of brief episode descriptions here.

     I'll admit, I was caught a little off guard. Usually there are so many angles to write from with this series that my greatest difficulty is finding which one is the most prevalent. Episode 5 presented far fewer, few enough that at first I struggled to find any at all. To be fair, though, I was distracted by the excessive amounts of gorgeous scenery shots.

My desktop background at the time of publishing.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Mushishi Episode 4: Deal With It

     I'm rewatching Mushishi on DVD and blogging it. Previous post here. First post here. You can watch this episode and the rest of the series legally (and free) on Youtube here.

     This episode represents a significant departure from the rest of the series so far. It contains a lot of firsts for the series: the first hints of tension between Ginko and another human, the first time Ginko's lack of knowledge has been given a focus, and very notably the first time Ginko outright fails to help someone (though that is best attributed to the patient, not him). But perhaps more important than any of these is the first direct statement of one of the series key themes: coexistence.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Mushishi Episode 3: Letting Go

     I'm rewatching Mushishi on DVD and blogging it. Previous episode post here. First post in the series here. You can watch the series legally (and free) on Youtube here.
     Also of note: from here on I will assume you've watched the episode, as my curt, poorly integrated synopses were incredibly dry to write and (I imagine) read.

     Episode 3 has always been confusing to me. Only after watching it for the fifth time do I really understand how the cure in the story worked, and if you ask me about it a couple weeks from now I probably won't be able to tell you. Fortunately, the other elements of the story are a little less convoluted. I think.

     I hope.

. . .What do you know that I don't, ma'am?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mushishi Episode 2: Getting High on Life

     I'm rewatching Mushishi on DVD and blogging it. Episode 1 post here.

     One thing that I've found with Mushishi is that it often touches on more than just one theme at a time. To varying degrees, social, existential, and fear philosophies are all explored in one way or another over the course of the series. This episode exemplified that rather well, glancing at social stigmata, selfless support, and overcoming ignorance to understand someone. But most interesting to me was the idea of addiction.

Also, you're two for two with the cute robe girls now, Mushishi.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Mushishi Episode 1: My Dead Grandma's Ghost Can't Be This Cute

     Partly on a whim and partly because I wanted to finally watch it on DVD, I'm working my way through the fabulous 2005 series Mushishi. To keep things interesting, I've decided to try to delve into the episodes a little deeper and extract something meaningful from them. Let's see how long I last.

     I'd previously thought the first episode of Mushishi was kind of slow, but I now recant. Within minutes it introduces all the series' signatures: beautiful visuals, intense music, sort-of-but-not-really supernatural horror, and subtle philosophy. Also cigarettes.


Friday, May 31, 2013

Revisitation: Violent Video Games

(There are a number of posts I've made on this site that I don't like, no longer agree with, or just outright hate. Deciding what to do about those has been a difficult process. My skin starts to crawl when I think that people might still be finding and reading thse posts, but at the same time simply deleting them feels somewhat. . .disingenuous. After all, what about those who've already read them? As such, I've decided to instead revisit the topics of those posts and clarify, edit, or add to what was already there.)

     About a year ago, I wrote a piece on why I felt one very specific, but incredibly common argument against violence in video games was invalid. I don't intend to spend more time on that exact subject, because I feel it somewhat missed the deeper point. That's why this time I want to write not on the ramifications and consequences of having violence in video games, but the inclusion of violence itself.

     That's a very broad topic, because there are many, many variations of "violence." What's important is not to eradicate all traces of this component, but rather to include only the "right" kind. I recognize that the phrase "right violence" has a bit of a controversial ring to it, so allow me to explain.

Not too far off. (As an aside, I'm finally playing Shadow of the Colossus and the aggression of this boss was terrifying.)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Intrusion 2 Review

     Intrusion 2 (henceforth simply Intrusion) is a 2012 sidescrolling run & gun game made by Aleksey Abramenko. In it, you play as a ninja with various guns and a massive red scarf. I personally think he kinda looks like Professor Oak from Pokemon.


     I still not quite sure what it was that inspired me to buy this game. I mean, I'm always up for a good 2D platform shooter, but beyond the awesome sprites there was nothing that really grabbed me about the game's trailer. Nonetheless, either by capriciousness or some twist of fate, I found myself with a few hours on hand, bought the game, and. . .

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Finishing Anime - Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen

     For those needing some context, Rurouni Kenshin is a fairly popular shounen series from the mid-late 90's about a swordsman who has sworn to never kill again, after serving as an assassin in the Bakamatsu.

     Let's talk about it, shall we?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Closing the Loop

     Life has been rather stressful for the past several weeks. I'm easily the busiest I've ever been, with a school schedule that has me on campus for around 30 hours a week taking some remarkably difficult courses. One period that stood out in particular was the third week of the semester, in which I had three tests and one equally-weighted lab, all one after the other. On Friday afternoon, I staggered home, pulled myself to my chair, and collapsed, thoroughly exhausted and defeated. I already had plenty to do for next week, but I needed to do something that wasn't homework. What was it I did before school started, again? No, it wasn't video games - I had no time for them, either, but that wasn't it - so what was it?

     Ah yes. Anime.

     I didn't have the willpower to think of an alternative to my own suggestion, so I feebly glossed over my list of shows to watch, hoping inspiration would come from some unexpected title. No, not Penguindrum, I'm not mentally fit enough to enjoy that right now. Definitely not Hana Yori "Makino-embodies-passivity-to-excruciating-accuracy" Dango. Maybe I'll fall asleep to Ghost Hou-wait. I could watch that show. Yeah, you know what? I think I will. Let's do this.

     And with that, I resumed my journey through an anime series I'd started years ago but never finished: Inuyasha.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Comedy, Quality, and Synthesis With Kamisama Kiss

     There's this theory I've always held about visual media: comedy equals accessibility. Comedy is simply the universally appealing genre. Whether you're a horror buff, an action connoisseur, a psychological fan, someone who doesn't even watch things, or whatever else, chances are you still enjoy some kind of comedy, at least from time to time. You certainly don't like all comedy, no, but still; you like laughing. You know you do.

Turtle eating humor, truly the best kind.