Finding Wisdom in The Drama of The 2012 Anime Blog Tournament


[Voting manipulation accusation drama in a first round battle (match 23)]

It is quite rare for an anime to speak to me as if directly, as a person. So much of what I like are outright flights of fantasy: fighting wars in space, in giant suits of armor; fleets of spaceships commanded by legendary admirals; making space whales listen to my song, etc. Even rarer for me to find not one, but two ongoing shows that genuinely speak to me. The message may not be loud, nor necessarily profound, but I have conversations with both Space Brothers, and Kids on The Slope. It involved trumpets.

[HorribleSubs] Space Brothers - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_10.16_[2012.04.21_22.19.01]

Space Brothers is this loud thing, a rocket launch level of noise. I identify with Mutta, being an eldest brother myself growing up close and remaining close with my younger brothers. I’ve gone through career peaks and valleys just as he has, and even now I feel like I’m just climbing back up from a recent deep trough.

I know how it is to be an older employee surrounded by younger, fitter, equally hungry and perhaps even more ambitious peers. While pursuing my dreams through work, half the time the game I play is that of survival. Mutta goes through this throughout his tests.

It is a shame that much of what makes Space Brothers great isn’t something that speaks to much younger viewers. It’s a story about SPACE, dammit. The yearning for the stars seems to have dissipated in the generations that followed, perhaps explaining the failure of a show like Mobile Suit Gundam AGE to capture the imagination of children. Space is nostalgia now, like so many of my childhood aspirations.

[HorribleSubs] Sakamichi no Apollon - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_10.20_[2012.04.21_22.20.03]

Kids on The Slope isn’t something that’s very relatable. I’ve transferred quite a few times in grade school, but never during the middle of the school year. I was never the kind of outsider Kaoru feels like, and I was never ever bullied. I wasn’t a thug like Sentarou was either. But what does this show say to me?

It reminded me of how love happens.

It’s silly, nostalgic and sentimental, but it happens like this too. Rarely at first sight, but often you feel and know it when you stare at that beloved person. Having been married for over five years and my wife and I both working so hard at our multiple accountabilities in our lives and careers, it’s easy to lose that romantic feeling.

This show reminded me of such feelings. Sentarou “seeing” Yurika for the first time… and Kaoru providing commentary. The last great moment like this in anime was during the first episode of Honey and Clover, when Mayama saw how Takemoto “saw” Hagu for the first time. The second episode of Kids on The Slope gave me a moment like this, and perhaps even more powerful.

[HorribleSubs] Sakamichi no Apollon - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.05_[2012.04.22_00.55.57]

I definitely started paying attention to my wife more, in that way I observe her small gestures, burning in my memory anew, how exactly a smile bursts from her face. I look at my 2 year old daughter and try to memorize her facial expressions, knowing full well that her face doesn’t stay the same after a few months. She grows so fast.

Kids on The Slope spoke to me in whispers, but while Space Brothers invites me to feel these things I identify with Mutta loudly, it’s the feelings I get from Slope Brothers that give me actions to take, that made an immediate and powerful difference in my life.

What has anime done for you lately?

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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30 Responses to Finding Wisdom in The Drama of The 2012 Anime Blog Tournament

  1. sadakups says:

    Funny that you mention both Kids on the Slope and Space Brothers, as I’m enjoying both shows at the moment. And yes, I can relate more to Space Brothers since well, I’m closer to Mutta’s age and it shows the pains of finding that one job you like and dream.

    Kids on the Slope is like a jazzy version Beck: MCS. It’s interesting on its own, not to mention the music is definitely awesome, and that how they animated people playing instruments is neatly done.

    • I resisted comparing Beck: MCS with Slope Bros until I realized how much bullying figured in the early part of Koyuki’s story. Between bullying and teenage romance, I suppose the comparison makes sense.

  2. Cratex says:

    What has anime done for you lately?

    Three things, actually.
    First, it has returned a sense of wonder that I had lost in my life. I was getting very cynical, jaded, and just plain acting like a grouchy old man. Anime may not be ‘real’, but much of what I watch entertains me, makes me think, makes me dream, makes me laugh. It is also something I can and do share with my son.
    Second. last fall I realized I spent a lot of time watching this stuff, and my favorite movie is an old Japanese movie, Seven Samurai. I decided I wanted to watch it without subtitles. I just this last week finished a first course in Japanese and am setting up to start a second. At this point, though I’m not fluent to be sure, I often find I catch some of what the characters are saying in these shows. That, and my boss found it amusing it was what I put on my development plan 😉
    Third, a couple of shows I’ve watched have hit me hard in terms of covering themes very much like the experiences I (and my brother) had when growing up in a very broken, abusive family. They’ve caused me to remember bits an pieces of things about myself, often ugly things, I buried 30 years ago when I left home, and to ask some people I knew then some very delicate questions. Not sure where it’s going to lead me, or even if it will be good or bad in the end, but at least I’ve gotten more of a handle on why I act the way I do sometimes and try to learn to do things differently.

    Space is nostalgia now, like so many of my childhood aspirations.

    (grin) Space was what drove me when I was a teen – I went to college and grad school studying physics because I grew up watching (first generation) Star Trek and Star Wars. Though what I do now for a living is a long way away, I spent 8 very good years working on projects at NASA. Though I’ll accept whatever it is he decides to do, I’m trying hard to get my son interested in science.

    • Awesome.

      Learning a new language is incredible to me, at any age. But, anything that keeps us in touch with joy, is in itself wonderful.

      8 years working on projects at NASA… that’s amazing.

      I’m glad you can share anime with your son, and how you’ll support him in whatever he chooses to be.

  3. kluxorious says:

    I said to Jojoobees the other that how people of our age are the one who truly appreciate the story of Space Brothers because mostly, we have experienced the shit that Mutta has and forget our dreams along the way. Some of us just keep on forgetting while some is strong enough to strive and fight for that dream. Watching Space Brothers is a good reminder to be in that later group of people.

    As for love… it’s the easiest thing to identify oneself with. The act of compassion between humans across the street should be able to trigger that. Anime however just did it with more poise and class and when I said anime, I do mean Sakamichi no Apollon XD

    • The fourth episode of Space Bros was great. I loved how Mutta was confronted by how phony he was the whole time.

      Apollon did exhibit poise and class in that whole episode. I’m really very happy that I have this show to look forward to every week.

  4. thoughtcannon says:

    Not sure I understand the title of this post…

  5. schneider says:

    What has anime done for me lately?

    I finished Chihayafuru a few weeks ago. It’s a sports anime about competitive karuta, centering upon three main characters who play the sport. What I really liked from the show was that it fosters a competitive spirit without being obnoxious or destructive towards other people. There’s the character of Wataya, born from a karuta pedigree (his grandfather is the strongest player in the world), inspiring the other two main characters (Chihaya and Taichi) to get better so that they could play with him on an equal footing.

    Growing up as a video gamer, I’ve soured towards competitive games, because people tend to be assholes about it. It’s that bad if you hop into an online game and immediately assume that everyone else will treat you like shit if you even make the tiniest mistake. But Chihayafuru taught me that competition is not always like that. It only becomes bad when you think that you should not only win, but that everyone else must lose. So it’s not that competitive games are bad–I only have to find the right people who will approach the game as cleanly as I do.

    • I’m reminded of how I used to play competitive tabletop games (Mechwarrior), where we had a small but really awesome community. The worst guy there was pretty much me… because I trolled the shit out of everyone and I was actually very good in the tourney scene.

      My youngest brother is still active in the M:tG scene and his gang are among the best in the country, and at least one of them ranks high within the region. They’re really, really nice people.

  6. moritheil says:

    Anime has given me the Aniblog Tourney Drama, coverage of which has revived The Moritheil Review! 😛

    On the other hand, Jormugand has inspired me to pick up the Prose Edda again, so there’s that as well. It’s nice to go old school.

  7. Ryan A says:

    The things you’ve mentioned here ghosty, a bit differently of course having grown up in different circumstances. I also changed school a number of times, moving around, but never in the middle of a school year. What else has anime done for me lately? These shows have brought out thoughts on school and “doing what’s is expected” as the themes hardly go with the grain. There isn’t a crucial focus on school in Kids otS and the exams in Space Brothers fall out of the schooling spectrum; we don’t learn everything in school. I think the point is that life doesn’t happen simply by doing what’s expected, we have to think for ourselves and make the best decisions. When we look back at all the shitty decisions we’ve made, and accept them, then we grow and move forward. Make the most of what’s in front of us, learn our naivety through reflection, and keep going.

    Love is the greatest teacher!

  8. ZabiLegacy says:

    Anime eats up LUDACRIS amounts of my time! But I love it anyways :3

  9. ces06 says:

    Most recently, I’ve really started to notice anime for the form of visual art it is. Studying graphic design’s made me really appreciate all the stuff they do to make things look good. Plus, it gives me an alibi to laze off and watch stuff all day, it means I’m also studying at the same time, LOL.

  10. asher says:

    It has kept me grounded and hopefully will continue to do so amidst the numerous intellectuals I meet and work with, whose strong beliefs are capable of making people forget who they are or they come from.

    • asher says:

      *sorry, they came from.

    • And what anime gave you this?

      • asher says:

        anime in general. maybe more accurately, watching anime, whether it’s as whimsical as any ghibli to gundam. the conflicts and challenges in anime somewhat mirrors real life, too so how characters respond to it (e.g., i-won’t-lose bit) clearly reminds me of what to do when things get rough. oh, and i can somehow relate to mutt-chan as well, as im one of the older phd students here.

  11. megaroad1 says:

    After a long hard day dealing with all the vicisitudes of modern life and and a small family, when everyone else sleeps, anime provides a space, were my imagination, dreams, boredom and humour meet and interact. More often than not, it’ll help me go to bed with a smile.

  12. dliessmgg says:

    “I have conversations with both Space Brothers, and Kids on The Slope. It involved blowing.” what I wanted to read /yaoi

    I’m currently watching Utena for the first time, and it reminded me what I loved about Dürrenmatt’s plays when we read one in school and more by myself, with the normal protagonist and the overly dramatic antagonists in a very formalised structure. The biggest difference is that there doesn’t seem to be a downward spiral leading towards inevitable doom.

  13. Turambar says:

    The one show that has connected with me the most was Honey and Clover for reasons I’ve stated at length previously. I’ll pick up Space Brothers in 4 weeks when life is not as hectic.

    I’m wondering, for someone who is a teacher in training, do you know of any shows that would speak not just to that profession, but to the process of entering it? I’d be very interested in watching an anime take of my current real life goings ons.

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