We Remember Love Editorial Folio Vol. 2: Comparative Explorations of Anime Themes and Dynamics

gundam amuro matilda kai ryu federation photo

To explore themes, elements, and dynamics in anime content is perhaps the most interesting thing for me when it comes to reading essays on anime. I wish I could personally write more posts like this, but it takes a lot of effort to make it informative, a lot of ability to make it insightful, and even more ability to keep the prose interesting beyond the intrinsic pull of the subject matter.

These editorials can take the form of a single creator (or group) and the different themes indulged thereby, and a single theme or dynamic manifesting in different works. For this kind of blogging, chaostangent has become my go-to source. He has remarkable ability to produce very rich posts in this vein. We’ll start with him. [Click the images to visit the referenced posts]

why everyone wants to know who they are

chaostangent explores this theme and arrives at a historical and sociological examination of the creators, which is interesting enough, especially if you are into Japan. What interests me more is the ability to see these things play out in the different shows and how well the manifestations are presented.

Most presciently is the concept of individualism within a homogeneous society, one that is highly interconnected and increasingly amorphous; how does a single person differentiate themselves? The latter is a question that is at the core of identity: how am I different from every one else? How do I define me?

Wouldn’t you want to know the show that raises this question precisely?

god the devil & imagawa yasuhiro

Imagawa Yasuhiro is the main force behind three of some of my favorite robot anime. He is an expert in mashing up unrelated or very loosely related source material into a unified narrative filled with remarkable plot twists. I look into his exploration of power in terms of destruction and protection, manifested in a machine form, and presented to us as a choice.

He actually uses the words (in translated form) ‘God’ and ‘Devil’ quite a bit.

empires in anime

Executive Otaku of T.H.A.T. Anime Blog looks at several ‘Empires’ in anime and how historical empires influenced them. It’s a shame he hasn’t seen Legends of the Galactic Heroes as of the post’s publication, but it’s still thoughtful and made of solid effort.

He distinguishes between British, German, then Japanese/Pseudo-Japanese fashions of empire used in anime. I find it rather interesting how any other style of empire is never used outside of period works. Is it merely because the latter empires of the previous millennia are indeed so superior in the eyes of the Japanese anime creators? What of an American-style ‘superpower’ kind of empire?

ghastly surrealism of yoshitaka amano in anime

I also like his elegant wavy lines that seems to have been inspired from natural forms, such as tree roots and those long, flowing brushes, like how the architects Sullivan and Gaudi abstracted natural forms to shape their floral decorations and structural forms. One only needs to watch Angel’s Egg to see his absolutely captivating organic lines animated on screen.

gaguri of Ha Neul Seom is the blogger I trust for essays on visual aspects of anime and manga. I lack the ability to discuss or even articulate images outside of inherent or imposed narrative elements, so I appreciate what he brings to my blog reading occupation. In this particular post, he discusses the work of Amano Yoshitaka in terms of ‘ghastly surrealism.’

five rules of funny molestation

In real life, molestation isn’t funny, so don’t think I’m condoning your trip to Japan whereupon you will hit the subways, so to speak. But in anime and manga, sexual molestation is used in service of humor as often as it’s an agent of personal horror, and there seems to exist an unspoken code governing the line between the two.

Don’t think this is all about cultural implications, either. Such narrative machinations as humor can be deliciously structural. Not that the examples I look at here are off the social hook, per se, but we’ll look at that on a case-by-case basis.

Sexual humor isn’t unique to anime, but it’ is quite remarkable how much of a home anime (and manga) is for it. Pontifus of Superfanicom puts in the work to see how sex, particularly unwanted sexual advances and acts are played for laughs in different shows.

I enjoy these amateur takes on analysis, exploration, and speculation. For one thing, these posts also serve as spotlights on a particular creator or style that sometimes make for wonderful discoveries. Whether these posts are ‘correct’ isn’t as important to me as how they (we, the bloggers) just take whatever tools we have and talk about these things to make sense of, and create new meaning from the subject of our hobby.

[Vol. 1]

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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14 Responses to We Remember Love Editorial Folio Vol. 2: Comparative Explorations of Anime Themes and Dynamics

  1. I really like these ‘sampler’ posts of yours, keep em coming every now and then. And thanks for including that old post of mine, I was just thinking about it the other day. I’m still deciding if I should finish LoGH first (I’m on ep 70 now and have started rewatching it over the past month or so) before I make a Democracies in Anime follow-up post. An American ’empire’ in anime is harder to do, since only Ghost in the Shell: SAC has ever really mentioned such a thing explicitly, and it felt like they just wanted to drop the name, not make an actual country out of it. I don’t think such a state mattered at all in the show except in abstract political comments.

    • I will publish these once every month. If you have ideas of what to feature don’t hesitate to let me know. Thanks!

      By all means finish LotGH, it’s just foolish not to for someone of your tastes. The role of the American Empire is rather limited but very important in 2nd Gig. The political role is very much the cold-war superpower version of the United States IMO.

  2. gwern says:

    This is my first time seeing one of these posts; I really appreciated it, because it’s pretty difficult to find intelligent good anime blogs of this ilk – and here’s 4 or 5 linked for me!

    • The tough part is the churn — some blogs are lucky to last a year. Some post very, very infrequently, so by the time we discover them they’re no longer as active or are less inclined to be so.

  3. Jack says:

    It’s extremely useful (especially for me, as I haven’t visited the sites of these writer) to collect and inspect the works of multiple people to see what they have to say about anime.

    It can help spot any overriding themes across the works of different writers, and it can also serve to highlight the many differences. These differences help make the anime blogging community interesting and unique to follow.

    Furthermore, archiving and recording writing is the first step on a path towards having a genuine field of criticism to explore. The nature of the internet is inherently fragmentary, making cross-analysis tricky enough. Combine that with a focus on “the next new thing” and it’s very easy to miss interesting pieces of writing because of the focus on the “churn” of new content.

    It would surely be a huge task (and one fraught with difficult questions about intellectual property) to attempt to make hard-copies of the various anime blogs that exist. But it would be an extremely interesting intellectual exercise to see what all the different writers have to offer.

    • gwern says:

      > It would surely be a huge task (and one fraught with difficult questions about intellectual property) to attempt to make hard-copies of the various anime blogs that exist.

      Oh, this part is easy – just use Archive.org and Webcitation.org.

      The real challenge is gathering the links in the first place, and coherently organizing them. (Can you imagine trying to do this for something like Evangelion?)

      • Thanks for the tips. I’ve been offered some assistance by more technically savvy people to create .pdf versions of the folio. I imagine such a version will include the full articles. Of course I will ask permission from the respective authors.

        I’ve been part of an attempt to document or annotate blog activities of some interest, but lelangir (the admin) and I find the task too difficult.

        The folio is one way to continue what we started with ani-tations:


        I also attempt to do something similar for comments:


      • Jack says:

        Funnily enough, I have. I didn’t get very far.

        It isn’t inherently difficult I suppose, it just requires a vast investment of time. In the end you’d have something quite fascinating but it surely requires a scholarly devotion to reading and cataloguing data.

    • I want to make an annotated blogroll that will serve this purpose, but I keep putting it off.

      I want to make it to become something in between what I did for first time visitors here on WRL: https://ghostlightning.wordpress.com/about-wrl/for-the-first-time-visitor/

      … and Fuzakenna!’s annotated blogroll (which is very useful but also very long):


      I don’t want all this meta/admin work to get in the way of making actual content, but someday!

      • Robert Weizer says:

        Drupal is a good content aggregator if you can know/get someone that knows website coding in case you’ve got tricky formatting stuff. You’ll need webspace though, all the free providers that offer Drupal installations kinda suck.

  4. Vendredi says:

    This is a pretty excellent set here, and more folios would be welcome. Comparative, essay-type posts are the hardest sort to write and most writers who do so put them up infrequently, so you really have to go far abroad to find stuff.

    • Thanks WRL will be putting them out once a month and I just finished putting together August’s yesterday. If you have any ideas for issues (and posts to add to them) feel free to send me an email (since I comment on your site you should have my address).

      I agree that these posts are very hard to put together due to the breadth of shows involved, but also very hard to read because of the potential spoilers on multiple shows. It really is quite the labor of love.

  5. Robert Weizer says:

    i swear that I’ll get a stable house and maybe get into college so hakasen can be the april first (not april!) one :3

    i should do this with you or digiboy, I think I’ve been reading a decent amount of your posts over these few months

  6. Pingback: We Remember Love Editorial Folio Vol. 3: Meditations on Fandom | We Remember Love

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