Project Haruhi
25Aug/1132

Bakacast – Punch to the Face

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I apologize for the occasional audio glitches in this episode. Jon was too tired from his job to record, and I was at my parents' house, so I had to use a five-year-old laptop to record this week's podcast. I've done this a couple times before, but I guess the laptop chose this time to turn into cybernetic molasses. I was able to fix the desync issues that appeared, but there was nothing I could do about the "clipping" of sentences.

Anyway, we have a pretty normal review segment this week, with Hanasaku Iroha continuing to be a bizarre mixture of bad and good, Steins;Gate stumbling toward its ending, Sacred Seven defeating even my tolerance for Sunrise stupidity, Bunny Drop being amazing, No. 6 finally going somewhere with its plot, Dantalian having troubling implications about gender, and Penguindrum convincing some of my co-hosts to come over to my Anti-Ringo brigade.

Also we discuss the scientific method in relation to My Little Pony. Seriously.

We cover:

  • 2:51 - Hanasku Iroha #20
  • 7:06 - Steins;Gate #20
  • 14:38 - Sacred Seven #7
  • 18:57 - Ikoku Meiru no Croisee #7
  • 26:17 - Bunny Drop #7
  • 35:19 - No. 6 #7
  • 42:59 - Dantalian no Shoka #5 & 6
  • 51:27 - Mawaru Penguindrum #6
  • 58:22 - My Little Pony #15 & 16
  • 1:12:38 - Listener questions

I actually did miss one listener question, so I'll be sure to get to it on the next episode. Speaking of the next podcast, we'll be reviewing the Madhouse film everyone's been hyped for: Redline. So look forward to that.

As always, if you would like to submit listener questions for a future episode, you can email them to bakacast[at]projectharuhi.net, @reply them to Project Haruhi's Twitter account using the hashtag #bakacast, or leave them in the comments below.

About Dustin

Dustin (aka Stilts) enjoys playing and yelling at video games, especially RPGs. He also likes super robot shows… the more outrageous the plot, the better!

  • Jon

    Wow, that sure is an aural assault of an ending song you picked, Dusty. Like fingernails on chalkboard.

  • Somoking

    Glen thank you for explaining Yuri way better then i ever could
    ohh and the audio waas a bit screwed for this episode so becarefule

  • Ryu

    When you were talking about yaoi did you mean “girl with a penis” in reference to how stereotypes are applied with the “genre” [though I think that yaoi as a genre is kind of offensive, why not just stick it in the romance section or whatever]? Also I was pretty shocked to hear that the apparent attitude towards lesbian relationships on a broad level is that it’s simply a phase in Japan, that’s pretty bigoted!

    On this topic: Do you think that there should be more LGBT representation within mainstream anime without the usual stereotyping and othering that occurs in most depictions of them? For example, how about a mecha show with a(n actual) homosexual protagonist with a character definition beyond “gay,” or a lesbian relationship that is actually handled in a “romantic” (is that the right word? tasteful?) way rather than fanservice for a male audience?

    Also what do you think of this comic?

    Finally, Glen can you recommend me a yuri manga that actually touches upon the experience of being a lesbian in Japan, that addresses the issues you brought up in this episode (preferably without fanservice, and incredibly depressing like goodnight pun pun)?

  • Pokey

    Now that I finished getting such a sadistic giggle from making you erase your favorite anime from history, and making Larry and Karen jump off a cliff, I have yet another question. What anime would you marathon non stop, only have caffeine to sustain you would you marathon? Choices:One Piece, Naruto, or Bleach. Or looping Fractale 8 times. 

    • Ryu

      If you guys had to choose, would  you cut off your arms or your legs? and out of 10 how would you rate your kidney and liver function??? Also you might want to make this decision ASAP since I may or may not have to see a man about some very sick dogs in the near future tia

    • Redcrimson

      That’s easy. One Piece because unlike Naruto and Bleach, it has a competently written narrative and actual character development.

      Incidentally, I would have deleted Bunny Drop. Sorry guys, but I know how the manga ends and I’d be willing put the anime out of it’s misery if I had to.

  • Ryu

    Also Glen I got a bone to pick with you.

    In regards to Ikoku no Croisee, you state that we can’t judge the romantic standards of the time, due to them being very different from ours. However there is a fundamental problem with this in that these books were written in our time, and thus can be criticized on portrayal, as it is viewing history through a contemporary cultural lens (ie there is going to be some carry over of values, conscious or not, as well as there being the factor of bias within historical accounts). Now I’m not saying don’t depict whatever cultural standards were present in the time period being presented, just don’t glorify or gloss over the really awful parts you decide to bring up.

    That said it probably won’t amount to anything.

    • Ryu

      Also Yune’s 16, apparently

    • Education didn’t affect your opportunities in life back then the same way that it does now, so there was no reason to delay marriage until a woman’s late teens or early twenties. In fact, being married early was more secure and advantageous than waiting for several years. As this changed, so did society’s views on the appropriate marriageable age because people found security in education rather than marriage.

      What I’m saying is that you can’t criticize people (or characters or the authors who write them) for doing the best they can in the environment they’re in. You can criticize the society’s rules, but that doesn’t mean the people themselves did anything wrong.

    • Ryu

      Also, I think I heard somewhere that marriage was being used as a precautionary measure against syphilis, which was apparently quite widespread during those times. I could be wrong though.

       And, uh yes you can criticize people for being horrible things done in the past (massacres, slavery, treatment of everyone who weren’t white men etc.), but you have to keep in mind that a lot of them were a product of their cultures and time.  This is not so for people writing historical fiction who have access to a wide range of perspectives both in documentation and reality, and they (the author) make choices on how those cultural standards are portrayed.

    • I hope we’re not comparing marriage to racism and slavery here.

      Anyhoo, what I said was that you can’t criticize people for making the best out of their situation, not that you can’t criticize people for being terrible people.

  • John Crichton

    OH MY GOSHHH!!!

    it’s here everybody. what you’ve been waiting for. Bakacast’s Wikipedia Page!!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakacast

    • Ryu

      please don’t troll™

    • Jon

      “15:51, 26 August 2011 Acroterion (talk | contribs) deleted “Bakacast” ‎ (A7: No explanation of the subject’s significance (real person, animal, organization, or web content))”

      Heh, so much for that. Try making a Bakacast TVTropes page instead.

    • Ryu

      I, as an anime fan would like a page on the bakacast frequent commentators, and to be described as a kawaii tsundere big bad with yandere tendencies

  • Anonymous

    I had really, really big problems with Feeling Pinkie Keen, to the point that I found myself wanting to skip the episode this week (I’ve been rewatching the series a third time along with your reviews).  I should state up front that I’m a scientist (biologist), so that may account some of my skew, but I’m not a strict materialist in orientation, and the points made about physics in the podcast are the same ones I have made in arguments with other scientists. Our current physical understanding of the universe reflects models that work well in specific frames – very high speeds for relativity, very small scales for quantum mechanics – but pretty clearly do not reflect the fundamental situation accurately.

    Two things really bothered me that I didn’t see addressed in the podcast. The first is that Pinkie Sense isn’t just a magic phenomenon that Twilight doesn’t understand, which I would have been fine with. It is specifically very similar to that of psychics who claim they can read auras or channel spirits that predict the future. There has never, ever been a real world psychic who has had their methods subjected to scientific scrutiny and had it hold up, to the extent that I think most rational people at this point dismiss that stuff out of hand. At the same time, there are thousands of cults and channelers and other new agey types out there looking to prey on the naive and take their money. Telling kids that there may be something to this sort of thing regardless of what scientific consensus and logic says only feeds the problem. Second, Pinkie’s predictions are extremely vague and while they appear to hold up regularly, the show doesn’t do a good job establishing that they actually meet the criteria laid down by the scientific method instead of just being overinterpreted coincidences. So the show functionally discourages critical thinking and careful testing in the face of remarkable claims. Finally, I want to say that there were more than just one or two poor word choices.  “Leap of faith?” Pinkie sense “just makes sense”? Ugh. If I had kids I’d probably delete this episode from the DVR because all of the troubling subtexts would take forever to untangle, even though I will agree that there were a lot of great gags and excellent timing in the episode (both of the Dave Polsky-written episodes have great timing and heavy slapstick alongside controversial/confused morals, interestingly).

    A couple more quick comments. One is that I really strongly agree with the observation that the writing in general in the series takes a big step up around the middle of the season. It’s too bad that the vast majority of people giving the show a shot are only going to sample the pilot, which pretty much deserves the “it’s a well-executed kids’ show” reaction that it got on this podcast. The second is that I’m on board with Karen’s feeling on Rainbow Dash.  Early on it was surprising and entertaining that her character would even be in the show, but she doesn’t get a ton of development during the season and the arc they’ve laid out so far is one of the more stock ones in the show. 

    Anyway, hope nobody minds the pony-centric text walls.  I’m loving Bunny Drop as well (and I was also bothered by the overacting in the supermarket, glad to hear it mentioned) but there isn’t much to say that hasn’t been covered, and I’m starting Stein’s Gate but obviously I’m way behind.

    • This is actually the exact issue the episode was talking about. Why are psychics largely dismissed? Like you said, their claims have repeatedly been unable to stand up to scientific testing and scrutiny. The difference here is that Pinky Pie’s abilities are repeatedly tested and remain consistent through multiple observations which, regardless of their nature, is the basis for a scientific theory. I disagree that they are unspecific, especially since the probability of her “combos” of muscle spasms consistently occurring in any exact order is small, and the fact that some apparently occur with such regular timing that they can even be associated with specific things like “watch out for doors” is enough to warrant consideration. Another thing to consider is how often she gets spasms and nothing happens, which by my count in this series is ‘never.’

    • Jon

      Indeed, many “real” psychics have attempted to reproduce their powers in controlled environments and failed to do so.
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/may/12/psychic-claims-james-randi-paranormal

    • Anonymous

      Well, and this is a minor point but the only one I fully disagreed with in your comment, you can’t make anything out of the rest of the series, because Pinkie Sense never appears again either before or after this episode.  Surely her tail should have been twitching like crazy as Rarity headed up out of the coliseum in the next episode, since it covers ponies falling as well as things falling on ponies.  

      You have a point that the probability of all of the events being a coincidence is vanishingly small with how tightly time-locked *most* of them are in the script, but when a 6-8 year old kid – that’s the target audience – finishes watching this show and reads some new age claim on the internet or hears a story from their friends, selective memory (and/or editing) will be used to produce a similar sounding level of accuracy. The problem is that the show never presents appropriate tools to evaluate these claims. Pure observation of a handful of apparently pretty strongly correlated events seems strong, but without an attempt at careful quantification and control and/or experimental manipulation it really doesn’t meet scientific standard, at least not for this type of phenomenon. I would have liked to see Twilight – after learning her part of the lesson, which I agree is appropriate – at the end of the episode figure out a way to actually reliably replicate Pinkie Sense, such as having Rainbow Dash sneak around and drop stuff out of the sky.

      Two other small things, since I re-watched the episode again; 1. If Pinkie’s never had the full-body shakes before, why does she not know will be happening, but that it will definitely be happening far away at Froggy Bottom Bog? 2. Pinkie’s last two twitches are far less time-locked than everything else in the episode. 

      Finally, totally irrelevant to this discussion, but probably my biggest aversion to the Polsky episodes is actually that he just writes the characters a shade jerkier than everyone else.  His time working on South Park kinda shows.

  • Anonymous

    I think Steins;Gate is showing strains, but it had to trim alot of content in ep.20 which involved Nae a bit more, if the /a/nonymous sources are correct then it was removed for “censoring” reasons and maybe time-constraints. I feel that I enjoy the show slightly less because deep down i’m just really worried that it’ll fumble the ending and i really want it to do well as a whole.

    Huey is the reason i’m keeping with Dantalian, i’ll be honest. But the new pair (their names escape me) were pretty cool too, almost wish Huey would tell Dalian to shut up once in awhile like the other bloke did. I wonder if the two parties eventually clashing will mature her a little… Probably not I guess.
    It’s a little hard to imagine that Dalian has the same voice as Celty in Durarara, but.. there we go..

    I will also never understand MLP and it’s popularity and whatnot. Maybe it’s an age thing..

    • If that’s the case with Steins; Gate I wonder why they spent so much time setting things up in the beginning. In those first few (and maybe a couple later on) episodes I was thinking, “Okay, everyone’s here, so can we get moving now?”.
      I put this show on hold a couple weeks back, not out of quality but because my Chrunchyroll subscription expired :::dodges tomatoes:: When I left the show it was on a high note. Since it’s two season series I was expecting a slow down around this time, but here’s hoping it can reach that note again (and from what I’ve peeked from the game it just might).

    • Anonymous

      Wellll… since I think you might be fishing for an interaction regarding MLP here… I’m not sure where the age divide would be since I’m 30, although I doubt whether most people who grew up before the ’80’s cartoon era would dig the show as much. I guess it sort of depends on what you mean by not “understanding” the show. Do you think the show is good but just not your speed? Alternately, are you basically seeing a totally average kids’ show without a lot to recommend it to adults?

      If it’s the former, there’s not much to discuss. For example, I gave Avatar: TLA a shot last week and came away feeling that I “got” the show and its popularity but wasn’t going to keep watching it. It was definitely a cut above other kids’ shows with a really fun world and a couple of funny moments per episode, but I wasn’t going to get enough out of it to justify watching the next 30 hours after I’d already seen 5. I think that’s just a taste thing, a matter of what genres people enjoy and what narrative and emotional content they like to work through, and it’s perfectly natural. 

      If it’s the latter… and you’ve seen at least one episode that got a 5 here… the question I’d like to pose, actually, is what you think of Pixar’s output.  I *adore* their (non-Cars) output and I see a lot of the same mechanics in MLP as far as treatment and depth of the characters, comedy setups, subtextual commentary, etc.

    • Anonymous

      @matman125:disqus I’m not so sure really, I watched the first 6 episodes of Steins;Gate in one go (with the 7th episode out the next day) and enjoyed it immensely but i’d totally understand that in the perspective of a weekly viewer, Steins;Gate got off very slowly and is cramming alot things into it’s late stages. Namely trying to round off the “routes” and “possible endings”. I don’t think it’s necessarily a problem in the long run, but the Feyris “end” in particular had a huge chunk of data purged from the adaptation.

      Not that it was all that exciting anyway, didn’t really care much for either of them. Though i’m told that Feyris and Rukako end up getting more development in the VN due to the Texting-system where they talk to Okabe just a lil’ bit more. Making them more viable.. “end candidates”.. Urgh..

      Choosing anyone other than Kurisu is just sacrilege.

      @Nissl:disqus I think my problem is that I don’t understand why people think it’s so good, I haven’t got a problem with it, I kinda just wanna’ know what makes it have such a large and.. um.. “intriguing” fanbase. As an early 90’s child growing up in the UK my only exposure to MLP before now was the terrible Hasbro adverts in the early 2000’s so it’s a little unsavoury, to say the least. 

      I haven’t watched any of MLP, But I do love Pixar ever since Toy Story was the first film I saw as a theatrical release. And Pixar rarely comes under harsh critiscm for it’s quality – even in the most negative of collective communities (though i didn’t care much for ratatouille, and i heard Cars 2 got terribad reviews). If you say the new MLP has a similar style and tone then I guess that’s a push in a more positive direction. Kinda gives me something to compare it to at least. 

    • Anonymous

      Ah, gotcha. If you’re looking for influences that draw people in, I’d add that there’s a lot of Warner Brothers-style slapstick that really takes me back to being age 10 again (FPK/#15 has an *actually good* anvil gag, for example), a pretty extensively developed setting that features a Harry Potter-style blending of high magic with mundane daily concerns, multiple musical sequences that pay homage to Sondheim, and episodic villains directly out of the D&D Monster Manual (because Hasbro owns D&D now). And the producing studio is the same one that did Powerpuff Girls. 

      In terms of the huge internet fanbase, the show loads up extremely heavily on troll characters, and also halfway through the season starts throwing in shout-outs to the fanbase (e.g. see Derpy’s cameo in the anvil scene in #15). There are also the meta features of the show: Hasbro’s progressive fair use policy, the fact that it makes people who cling to traditional gender roles angry that adult men like it (and thus functionally causes trolling specifically of people who deserve it simply through unironic appreciation), and a remarkably positive and creative community that puts out at least something that I find to be either funny or of remarkable artistic merit pretty much every day.  I think it’s the meta stuff that keeps a lot of the fans talking after they’ve seen the season once or twice.

  • Did Morning Rescue lose its touch on Jon? 

    Gender bending: I don’t know what they’re looking for, but there’s Maria Holic. You have a boy who plays off as a girl to keep the tradition of attending this particular all girls school, and, to touch on a topic mentioned earlier, the main character is a girl who is a lesbian. Two for the price of one!I didn’t see the series you mentioned but there’s Ruka from Steins;Gate., someone extremely effeminate who then actually did…change things around.It’s an interesting topic. What you mentioned reminds me of how, iirc, the ancient Greeks did it. Or how people make jokes about the Spartans after that one film, but I read about the elder male would sex up a young man as a form of bonding (some cultures elsewhere, in a different time, men would have sex with other men as a form of showing masculinity/insult the weaker male). I’ve also heard that when men would come home after venturing off elsewhere, women would take  a more boyish appearance to appeal to the men, but I haven’t found a source on that yet. Anyway, that whole practice died off, but it was a thing to do back in the day!

    I’d also erase EVA from existence. Just to watch the world burn.

    • Ryu

      I think the word you’re looking for is rape.

  • Dayriff

    With Stein’s Gate, I agree that it’s a little weak that Kyoma didn’t think of what undoing the last Dmail would do before now.  But, on the other hand, what purpose would it have served the narrative to bring it up?  He would still have done the same things, hoping that undoing the other Dmails was enough to save Mayuri.  Maybe a stronger way to handle it would have been to only reveal the problem to the viewer before now but to reveal that Kyoma had been worrying about it all along but didn’t know what else to do.  I should also point out that apparently it’s not just about saving Mayuri, but also about avoiding a worldline where SERN conquers the earth.

    In Sacred Seven, Arma has always been able to access some level of superpowers without assistance.  The issue is that he can’t really control it without Ruri using a gemstone for him.  I guess holding up a cave ceiling didn’t require much control.  But whatever, you dropped it.

    For Bunny Drop, I think it’s amusing that last podcast you asked for darkness and this week you got it.  Not in an over the top way, but a likeable character trapped in an unhappy marriage is Bunny Drop style dark.

    In Dantalian no Shoka #5, I think you were assuming far too much benevolence in the reason the magician let his creation go.  It wasn’t about respect, it was that she had proven she was willing to use powerful magic and recruit strong allies to get away from him.  It wasn’t just token resistance.  So he’s all like, “Well, to bring you in and keep you locked up I’ll obviously have to use force.  I might hurt you, you might hurt me, and I lose either way.  So whatever, if you want to stay away from me that much, I don’t have any immediate need for you.  I can afford to wait until you come crawling back on your own.”

    Issues with science and faith aside, “Feeling Pinkie Keen” had more slapstick than I like to see out of FiM.  Usually the humor revolves less around people getting things dumped on their heads.

    • David Josselyn

      I think that in addition to Kyouma just being to stressed to think things through clearly, it may be possible that the focus in all the planning between him and Kurisu about undoing the D-mails was on the messages that were sent deliberately– Rukako, Feyris, Moeka and the message Okarin sent to himself that led to him following Suzuha. 

      The first message– the one he sent to Daru’s phone while it was hooked up– he overlooked because it was that message that led to the discovery of the D-mail phenomenon to start with, so he thinks of that one as separate from the others. That may be why he did not consider it part of the group of messages that needed to be undone, and why he didn’t consider that the change it created (saving Kurisu) would also need to be undone. 

  • Basically, I meant that most yaoi just involves writing a heterosexual romance, giving the female a male character design, and throwing in a few token comments about them both being boys. Trying to pretend that all of it is like that is obviously silly, but the vast majority with which I’ve had contact is like that to some extent.
    I think yaoi and yuri are better off as a subgenre, similar to how No. 6 is primarily dystopian sci-fi and the yaoi is a subplot. However, the fact remains that most yaoi and yuri that is published in Japan is isolated to magazines which are just as specialized as the more mainstream ones which publish shounen and slice-of-life. So for practical purposes, they are basically their own separate genres.
    There is actually a specific term for lesbianism as a childhood phase in Japanese literature: Class S; its origins go all the way back to the 1920’s. One of the most recent examples is Maria-sama ga Miteru.

    Obviously, I think there should be more positive and nuanced representations in mainstream anime. However, it’s very difficult to market something to both a niche and mainstream audience. I’ve never seen Mai-Hime, but I’ve heard it’s is an example of a show with a lesbian rather than a lesbian show. I haven’t bothered with it mainly because I’ve heard a lot of complaints that the writing is pretty bad. If you want actual romances that aren’t just fanservice for men, those aren’t hard to find at all if you just stick to manga; Girlfriends is one of the better ones despite it being about ten chapters longer than it needs to be. The only anime that comes to mind is Aoi Hana (Sweet Blue Flowers).

    I love that comic and I think it’s amazing.

    The only manga I’ve come across which comes close to what you’re requesting is Honey & Honey. I don’t really like that the presentation is basically “I am a lesbian and here are the similarities and differences between us and straight people,” but it’s useful as a candid source of information if nothing else.

  • Ryu

    ^ This right here, this is coolposting. Thanks for the response and the recommendations!

  • Princess Celestia

    Hello everypony! What is this “trolling” everypony thinks Im doing to Twilight and her friends? And who’s your favorite pony?

  • So I looked up on my streaming site and they do have croisee episode 4.5 if you guys wanna give it a look before the next bakacast.
    http://www.animefreak.tv/watch/ikoku-meiro-no-crois%C3%A9e-episode-45-online