I Told You So [Madoka Spoilers]

The only good emissary of evil is a dead one.

So, remember when I made that post a while back warning everyone that Kyubey was not to be trusted?

Well, guess what? I was right.

Maybe I had a bit of an advantage over my fellow Project Haruhi staffers, since I watched all six seasons of LOST. Maybe that experience made me far more willing to believe and attempt to validate crazy fan theories. Or maybe I’m just completely nuts and have lost all sense of rational thought.

Whatever the reasons, I totally called all the so-called “twists” in episode eight, and I’m going to break down how I did it.

[Warning! Spoilers lurk after the break!]

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Beware of Kyubey!

The harbinger of your destruction.

To all aspiring magical girls: don’t trust the cute animal.

He may seem to have the best interests of the world at heart, but don’t be deceived. There’s information he’s deliberately withholding. There are questions he never answers. Some of these are:

  • Where do Witches come from? And why do they drop “seeds” with a similar floral patter to the Puella Magi’s soul gem?
  • If Puella Magi are necessary to defeat Witches and avoid the destruction of the world, why does Kyubey allow a rivalry between two of his Magi?
  • How long has this struggle with Witches been going on? How many Magi have come before Mami and Homura?
  • Why do the Magi’s soul gems get darker when they use their powers? If the grief seeds are used to cleanse them, wouldn’t that indicate the Magi’s power source is of a corrupt nature?
  • Why does Kyubey specifically target young girls for recruitment in this war?
  • Also, why does Kyubey give an apocalyptic dream of the future to Madoka but not Sayaka? He offers the Puella contract to both of them, after all.
  • When Homura injured Kyubey, why did his white “fur” look more like a covering for his actual appearance? The phrase “wolf in sheep’s clothing” comes to mind.

Besides these in-universe mysteries, though, there are pretty clear meta-textual references scattered throughout the last three episodes. These references primarily point to a Faustian bargain. Specifically, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s version of the story.

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Would You Like To Become a Magical Girl?

Inspired by a thread on 4chan.

Hello, otaku. My name is Kyubey! I sense that you have the potential to become a magical girl. Won’t you make a contract with me? I’ll grant you any one wish. Accept, and you will become a magical girl regardless of your gender or age. You can’t wish for more wishes or anything in bad faith like that.

Of course you’ll have to fight witches too. How about it, do we have a deal?

Seriously, you won’t regret it! If you’re willing to take the plunge, tell me your wish in the comments below!

Fanservice Beyond Anime: Battlestar Galactica

Header image by particle9

One of the more common stereotypes about anime is that it’s filled with perverted fanservice. Of course, shows like Samurai Girls and Rio Rainbow Gate partially support this stereotype, but I don’t get why it’s such a big deal. I mean, modern American culture is just as hyper-sexualized as Japanese culture. Perhaps our tastes are different: for example, Americans tend to frown on lolicon and incest, whereas Japan seems to have an aversion towards the “butch women” fantasy. But, at the end of the day, the entertainment mediums of live-action TV and anime are more alike than most of us realize. For example, there’s an American show that was utterly trashed by gratuitous fanservice. It’s called Battlestar Galactica.

I’m not referring to the cheesy 1978 pulpfest starring Richard Hatch. To be frank, that incarnation of BSG never had many redeeming qualities to begin with. No, I’m talking about Ronald D. Moore’s infamous 2003 reboot. I was initially very optimistic about this show, despite my dislike of Moore’s work on Deep Space Nine. What intrigued me was Moore’s manifesto for the show: he wanted to make it a pioneer of “naturalistic science fiction.” It was a bold concept… sci-fi based on the practical instead of the fantastic. BSG was intended to be a hyperrealistic, down-to-earth show featuring hard science and believable characters. No archetypes, no technobabble, and above all no deus-ex-machina. It sounded like the sci-fi show we had all been waiting for.

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Irony by ClariS

Irony, the opening to Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai, is a song recorded by the singing duo known as ClariS. This group consists of two high school students named Kurara and Arisu. Uploading their own songs to anime websites led to their debut and signing by Sony Music Entertainment.

Very little is known about the history of these two artists. Any photos are actually anime portraits from a “well-known illustrator.” The mystery surrounding these two–along with the haunting tune shown above–has generated quite a bit of speculation. What I know is that, besides Irony, they have also recorded a song called Connect. It’s the opening theme to Mahō Shōjo Madoka Magica, which starts showing on Japanese TV on January 6, 2011.

There is also a website dedicated to the group: the ClariS Official Website.

Wherever their paths lead them, it is this authors hope that they have an enjoyable and fulfilling career.

Assembly and Paint in Less Than Three Minutes

Most of you know that, besides anime, my other passion is aviation. It is my first passion, because it existed long before anime was dreamed of. This video gives you a glimpse of what is involved in the final assembly and painting of a Southwest Boeing 737-800.

The subsections arrive by rail at the final assembly plant next to Boeing Field Seattle, Washington and then the fun begins. I know that an in-service overhaul of this airplane takes six to eight weeks to complete. I’ll use those numbers as a guideline as to how long this process takes. So the next time you see one in flight or ride on one remember what it takes to make one. And that video doesn’t even show the full construction. All the subsections–fuselage, wings and tail surfaces–are assembled at the other Boeing Commercial Aircraft Company plants or come from other subcontractor facilities world wide. They took months to complete on their own. Did you know about 50 gallons of paint are used to paint a typical 737? Once the paint is dry, it will weigh approximately 250 pounds.

So many things we take for granted today were only the dreams of visionaries 50 years ago. In this season of dreams, my present to you is another look at the other part of my world. Although I’m fashionably late, enjoy a look as this modern marvel springs to life.

12 Days of Anime #3: Yoko Littner

I mentioned in my previous 12 Days of Anime post that I watched Gurren Lagann for the first time this summer. You probably don’t need me to tell you it was awesome. So I’m not going to.

Instead, I’m going to tell you how awesome Yoko Littner is. Let’s get the obvious point out of the way first: that is one hell of a character design. She’s easily one of the best-looking females in anime. I also appreciate that she constantly carries a very large gun around. I’m not entirely sure why I developed such a strong attraction to girls with guns (I suspect it has something to do with Sigourney Weaver crafting that assault rifle/grenade launcher/flame thrower in Aliens), but Yoko appeals to that fetish in a hilariously exaggerated fashion. I mean, look at that railgun. It must be really heavy, yet she can carry and even aim it from the hip with ease. That’s fantastic.

But what I really like is that Gainax cared enough to give her a great personality, too. Her usual mood can be summed up as confident and fiery. But there’s more than that. She’s perfectly comfortable showing affection (unlike certain annoying tsunderes I can think of), she’s intelligent, she isn’t impulsive (unless she needs to be) and, as we see in the second half of the show, her fighting prowess is not her defining characteristic. Yoko can put on glasses and live the peaceful life of an elementary teacher and not lose what makes her a fun and likable character. You know what else is cool? We actually get to see her mature from a teenager into a young woman, and her personality changes to reflect that.

And, frankly, it was nice to see a supposedly strong female character actually be strong. She’s not like those pansies from Samurai Girls who fret about a simple kiss. Yoko’s the only character in the show who fights alongside Simon through the entire series, and she loses two boyfriends in the process. But does she ever blame him? Yell at him? Complain that it’s not fair? No. She mourns their deaths, but understands they sacrificed themselves for a higher purpose. And then she moves on with her life.

12 Days of Anime #4: Salvation From Hell

Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt was easily one of the most anticipated anime of the fall season. Conceived under the influence of excessive alcohol by the brilliantly insane folk at Gainax, it had the creative team behind Gurren Lagann mixed with artistic inspiration from Jhonen Vasquez and Genndy Tartakovsky. It was a match made in heaven! And after the borefest known as Hanamaru Kindergarten, everybody was eager for Gainax get back on top of their game. We expected something incredible, something that would sear our eyeballs and burn our brains. We wanted another Evangelion, another FLCL, another Gunbuster.

Perhaps because of our high expectations, PSG was a disappointment at first. Sure, it was frenetic and fun, but the comedy was incredibly one-note. The whole ‘barrage of lewd humor’ bit had been done far better in other anime, including this summer’s Mitsudomoe. So we wound up with a show that was pretty to look at and had a kickass soundtrack, but was otherwise unremarkable. People were starting to lose faith. Had Gainax laid another egg?

Then, salvation came from the most unexpected of places… the fiery pits of hell!

Yup, these devilishly sexy villains managed to singlehandedly save PSG from the purgatory of mediocrity.  The Demon Sisters brought a sorely-needed vibrant energy to every episode they starred in with their forceful personalities. This was a turning point for PSG; instead of an endless barrage of tired sex jokes, we got actual story and clever parody. Of course, there was the occasional off episode, but on the whole it was a vast improvement. It’s no wonder why these two hellish vixens have gained such widespread popularity… perhaps even greater than that of the protagonists themselves.

12 Days of Anime #6: Girls Love Girls’ Love

I promise this is the only image from this series I'll use, mainly because it's the only one I CAN use

I’ve never been shy about the fact that I enjoy things intended for a female audience. I like the emphasis on emotions and relationships, romantic and otherwise, and the calm atmosphere is a refreshing break from the typical frenetic fare targeted at males. Despite the gender gap, most elements of these types of stories aren’t alienating to me; my closest friends growing up were female, so constant chatter centering on hair, makeup and clothes is almost nostalgic.

However, there was always one point where both my childhood friends and shoujo manga would begin to lose me: boys. Not only did I have trouble relating to many of my male friends, but I was never attracted to them. So, while I enjoy the perspective shoujo stories are told from, I always have trouble sympathizing with the main character’s romantic interest. That’s not to say I can’t enjoy and appreciate it anyway, but if heightened empathetic appeal is one of the primary draws, it certainly does bring the enjoyment down a notch. The solution seems obvious, but for a long time it was notorious for having its own problems.

More cute pictures after the break!

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