Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Empowerment

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(Warning: Slight Spoiler)

Power can means a lot of thing and manifest itself in many different ways. Whether it’s physical prowess, wealth, or political influence. But one of the most important expression of power is the capability of controlling your path and taking control of your life. Not abiding through society restriction or genetical make-up. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a 1997 series created by Joss Whedon, centers itself toward this very theme. More specifically, the theme of female empowerment.

One of the expression of that theme is through the portrayal of Buffy as, for its time, one of the rare female main protagonist in a action-horror show. This is nothing new by modern standard, but the series goes in greater length than merely having female action protagonist in the spotlight.  What’s also important about Buffy is her determination to do things her way.

Throughout the show, again and again, Buffy violates the tradition or the norm of the Slayer in her battle against evil. Instead of living in a lifestyle disconnected from society, she opts to always be close to her friends and family. She refuses the guidance of the Watcher council whose policy she disagrees which resulted her independence from the council entirely, and later on, essentially makes the council works for her instead.

This all culminates in the final season of the show in which Buffy rejects the entire notion of the Slayer itself. The first instances is when she refuses to gain more power in exchange of her humanity by merging herself with a demon, something that was done to the first Slayer by a group of male shamans (a scathing commentary on the nature of patriarchy). The second is where she opts to activate the power of every potential Slayer in the world in an effort to defeat the series final villain.

But what’s most important however, is that Buffy’s own action isn’t necessarily deem “right” by the series. This is emphasized in the later seasons of the comic version in which Buffy’s action essentially change the world, and with it, its own set of consequences and repercussion which Buffy has to responsible for. Empowerment can means a freedom right for humans to take any choice or action, but they also need to be responsible for consequences that stem from that action. Power always comes with a price.

Regardless however, the idea of choosing your own path in life is something that’s always going to be relevant. Within society that’s so often rigid and demanding regarding what person should or shouldn’t be, the expression of individualism is something that cannot be expressed enough.

Side Note:

  • If you want my standard review, I really like the series. While they had different pet themes and writing style, Whedon’s writing strangely reminds me of Urobuchi’s, in the sense that they’re probably two writers that I know of who has mastery over basic storytelling fundamental and drama.
  • It took me quite a while to get around watching the series, even after recommendations and my love for The Avengers movie.
  • Favorite Character: Tara. I love her development from being shy socially awkward to being a caring guardian for the scoobies and the most emotionally stable of the group.

Saekano and the Moment Where it All Breaks Down

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(Warning, spoiler for Saekano episode 9)

In consideration that the second season is premiering this spring, I decided to catch up on the entirety of Saekano season 1, the light novel adaptation by the much regarded Fumiaki Maruto. Before this, all I’ve been doing was joining the bandwagon about how frustrating Saekano self-referencing routine is which…….I admit not exactly a “good” behavior to take for a series that I haven’t even watched.

Soooo, episodes later, I came out enjoying Saekano. The girls are pretty, the meta element aren’t as cringe-worthy as I thought it would be, and Maruto is still a really good writer that can write witty clever banter. I do admit that the fact that the characters strictly adhere to basic anime stereotype does more harm than good to the show. It really limits their characterization and the emotional space of the characters, so ultimately it’s just shooting yourself in the foot.  Maruto basically just write a well-written cliche.

Now, you could argue that the characters embodying those stereotypes is a way of portraying the way otaku engage with their media i.e. mimicking their favorite characters. After all, in social conversation, there’s certain degree of “performance” we do in front of people that we converse with (this is slightly emphasized by the fact that the heroines are acting out their stereotype only when in front of Tomoya). So while I find the execution to be a miss, I could see this was (probably) done out of well-meaning intention.

If that was the case in Saekano, it really makes what happened on episode 9 truly satisfying.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or How Roald Dahl Totally Went “Get Off My Lawn”

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When it comes to the relationship with our elder (or our youngster, whichever), you couldn’t help but feel there’s a certain generation gap between our way of thinking. As society keeps on evolving and technology advancement are made every day, there’s a gap of “the way things are” between our generation with the other generation. As such, it’s easy to demonize foreign element to our generation that we think is somehow responsible for why the younger generation seems to be in a “moral degradation” (the latest object of demonization being internet and smartphone gadget).

That’s a whole lot of sentiment, but what does that have to do with Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Well, underneath its fantastical narrative, I couldn’t help but feel that in the story Roald Dahl totally went on the whole “Get off my lawn” rant.

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Dissecting Gintama’s Comedy

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So, my usual M.O. of watching anime as of late has been just watching whatever it is that’s either mostly fell under the radar of the anime community that I’ve been (or just not watching anime entirely *cough*Buffy the Vampire Slayer*cough*it’s pretty good*cough*). Gintama more or less fell into that M.O which is a weird thing to say considering it was one of the most successful anime and manga franchise in Japan and, to a degree, in the “mainstream” anime demographic of the west.

So short impression, I like Gintama. It has some of the most absurd out-of-left-field gag I’ve seen out of….well almost anything. Beyond that, it has a strong entertaining cast of characters, which the series utilized very well, and also surprisingly has a really heartfelt character-driven drama.

I’ve pretty much caught up to the entirety of the old series (including the second movie, which was…..good, I guess?) and are now watching to the 2015 series. Considering how much time I’ve invested, I more or less become familiar about Gintama’s consistent comedic tricks. Tricks which I am now going to share to you to introduce you to the madness that is Gintama.

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“The Thief” OR Social Unrest in the Face of a Crime

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One of the most primal fear within human mind is the fear of the unknown.

When I said fear of the unknown, it doesn’t have to be Lovecraftian fear of an existence far beyond human comprehension that makes us question our place in the universe. It can be something closer to home, that is to say, fear for our fellow man, fear for what darkness that might lurk behind the seemingly benign mask people (strangers, friends, or family alike) put on in their daily live.

Junichiro Tanizaki’s The Thief, among other things depending on your interpretation (as the unreliable nature of the narration offers variety of view), is an exploration of this theme, or to be more precise, how an act of crime can cause doubts and distrust within a certain community.

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Identity, Memory, and Social Engagement in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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(Warning: In order to talk about ideas present within a work in a meaningful way, you more or less have to dig in to the overall plot of the work. So….Spoiler and such)

Communication is, and always will be, hard.

When it comes to social engagement with another human being, it’s fair to say we have certain expectation to a relationship. Say that you’re on a relationship with a friend. The word “friend” can mean different things to a people and with it, a certain social baggage and expectation what a friend should behave in our mind. In general, people want anybody they consider as a “friend” to behave like a perfect companion: always stays by your side, always be there for you, and never ever hurt you.

This however runs contrary to the fact all of us are not a perfect human being and sometimes we do bad things to the people we love.

The horrible things that we do doesn’t have to be out of malice intent, it can happen because we can’t always keep our emotion in check, can’t always keeping our worst impulses at bay. We also can’t always know what might offend the other person. All of us grew up in a differing circumstance and background which inevitably means all of us have their own insights about how the world “works”.  Sometimes, those different insights can clash in the worst ways possible.  Because of that, compromises of our basic desire and ego is pretty much an always necessary thing to do in a relationship.

An honest communication require us to be in a state of vulnerability. In order to truly connect with someone, you can’t help but let the other person you’re communicating  to get “inside” you, letting them know what do you feel, what are your thoughts, wants, and desires.

So when what we expect our friend or lover or parents or whathaveyou should behave inevitably clash with the fact that we’re not perfect, this leads to an inevitable hurt.

However, Eternal Sunshine with a Spotless Mind propose a question. What if we can just erase it?

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So I’ve Read Animal Farm

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Well, I suppose this is the first time that I reviewed a book before. I have been meaning to do it for a while, but I just don’t have the creative spark to do it. This third reading assignment of my Literature class however, provide me a semblance of will to do so. So well, here we go.

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Concrete Revolutio and The Courage to Change the World

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“I’m weak, that’s why I wanted to grow stronger”

Katararezu Tomo

Those words always rang in my mind every day of my life.

Highschool are probably still one of the most shaky times of my life in terms of my identity and belief. It’s also the first time where I’d become more aware about current political climate and various issues in the world, particularly surrounding the Islamic world, where I was previously ignorant of it.

To this day, I still think what a blissful ignorant that was. All of the revelation became too much for my poor mind, which resulted in me trying the best I can to be always in the dark regarding discussion on Islamic politics.

One of my former classmate however, whom I shall only refer to on this post as R, embrace that revelation. R was intelligent, driven, sociable and probably one-of-the kind person that I’ve ever met in my life. Much like the superhumans in Conrevo, he’s passionate to change world. At the same time however, he also held belief that, in my mind, both naive and extreme which always makes me uneasy. I never tried to voice my disagreement whenever he spouted his belief, which to my annoyance he often does whenever opportunity present itself, because I can’t ever get the correct words right and frankly, I’m too cowardly.

Nonetheless, his passion are undeniable. He even managed to inspire many of my own friends to agree with him. Despite my disagreement of his view, being socially inept for most of the time, I’m always jealous over his boldness and his ability to influence other people around him, often for positive effect. And so, despite my unwillingness to engage in discussion, my jealousy did became my drive to learn more and think critically about narrative, fiction or otherwise, which helped me to learn more about human condition, and to some extension, how various system came to be. I wanted to be able to voice my concern about R’s belief or anyone else sharing his belief and discuss it with them.

I wanted to grow stronger.

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So I’ve Watched God Eater

Adapting video game into an anime (or well, to any visual medium like tv series or movie, really) has always been a tricky business. There’s usually two, most often used, ways to do this. Either stick close to the narrative of the game or branch out to create its own narrative using the game as a foundation.

God Eater anime is more or less in a weird compromise between the two methods. The anime only covers about half of the game storyline (I’ve played the game before watching, pretty much the only reason I’m watching this) while adding in its own several ideas. The overall result of that is….interesting. God Eater is underdeveloped and uneven in many parts, but it certainly has highs. I’d say that’s already more than most anime could do.

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The Two-mon Series: Digimon vs Pokemon

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For the last few months, for a number of reasons, I’ve been mostly staying away from current airing anime and engrossed myself in kids cartoon. More specifically, the two, arguably is still, giant in the kids-and-monster genre, Digimon and Pokemon. It was then that I realize that I’m now quite familiar enough with the two franchise (it’s anime, specifically) to start comparing the in what they set to out to do.

Make no mistake, despite sharing the whole kids befriending monster trope, the two series couldn’t be more different. They have different tones, priorities and goals when it comes to pitting monsters against each other. Which is why I apologize in advance if you’re coming in here expecting me to start comparing which series is better. This is more of a compare and contrast post in seeing what the two respective franchise is trying to set out to do (although you may find out about which aspect on either series that I like better).

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