Welcome to this first (and hopefully not last) rayout mailbag! We love to get feedback from our readers and will always take the time to answer any questions. Especially questions that make us feel important by asking for our opinions!
A very special thanks to the folks who put themselves out there and submitted questions for this, the column’s maiden voyage. You took the plunge and, because of you, this column can get off the ground. Hopefully, the answers we give are somewhat satisfactory. We appreciate your readership very much. And that goes for everyone.
Favorite underappreciated anime?
TheSubtleDoctor – I initially thought of answering Turn A Gundam. This show hasn’t been even been seen by most Gundam fans, and that’s a shame because not only is it the best Gundam series, it’s Yoshiyuki Tomino’s best work full stop. However, there is a vocal minority who praise the series and write about it. The show I ended up choosing for my answer, nobody writes about. That show is Galaxy Drifter Vifam.
Vifam is the story of a group of thirteen children, ranging in age from about four to sixteen, whose parents have been taken hostage by an invading alien race. Somehow, this group of kids escape the invaders’ clutches in a lone spaceship. They want to rescue their parents, but they have to learn to survive on their own in space first.
You might be thinking that Vifam sounds an awful lot like Infinite Ryvius, but they don’t play out in the same way. Frankly, the former is far superior to the latter; Vifam does everything Ryvius does but does it better. The characterization element of the show is excellent.. Each child has a well-developed personality and gets adequate screen time. There are equal parts drama and comedy, neither overwhelming the other, and the battle scenes are expertly directed (I want to emphasize that last point in particular because those scenes are really, really well done). While the children endure much hardship, Vifam doesn’t have as dark of a tone as Ryvius, but it doesn’t sacrifice any gravitas either. In my opinion, it’s one of the great shows of the 80s, and one of my favorite sci-fi series of all time.
Bonen no Max’d – Similarly to Doc I thought about initially answering with Xam’d, which you might have gathered that I like from my name being a play on the title and my real name, but the show does have a certain number of fans, albeit fewer than I’d like. However, Library War is a show that I loved but only discovered by accident when I found the first volume of the manga at my library and was amused enough by the title.
Library War is a rather silly show and many people get put off by the admittedly convoluted premise of a tame civil war going on between the Japanese national government and the local government as they fight over books that the Media Betterment Committee has deemed harmful to society as the library’s military force attempts to protect the books from censorship. I can fully admit that I find this premise a little ridiculous but I’ve found that if you accept the premise of the show, it is rewarding in numerous other aspects.
For starters, the cast of the show is fantastic. I really loved the whole dynamic of the team and every character is so earnest and passionate about what they believe. Kasahara’s unwavering devotion to free speech is inspiring to watch as she refuses to compromise. What makes her devotion remarkable, however, is that unlike most stories that would portray the Library Task Force as a group of underdogs who ultimately triumph and win free speech back for the people, the LTF’s victories are on a much smaller scale. While they may be able to protect individual books and offer them to the public, the characters of the show are not going to be the ones to win the large scale victories that will end the MBC and censorship.
What’s the oldest anime you’ve ever watched? How did you like it and how does it compare to more modern anime?
In my case, I’ve seen Kumo to Tulip (1943). A very interesting black and white animation. Much more like Disney than today’s shows and apparently the only non-propaganda video produced during the war.
TheSubtleDoctor – Well, though I consider myself a fan of older anime, you’ve certainly got me beat here medievalotaku. I’ve not seen anything nearly so old as Kumo to Tulip. I’m not at all surprised to hear the Disney comparison. The father of modern day anime, Osamu Tezuka, was very influenced by Disney’s character designs, and if you lok at the work of Shotaro Ishinomori, say the Cyborg 009 manga or first film, you’ll be reminded of the art of black and white Disney cartoons.
My viewing experience only goes back to 1971, the oldest show I’ve seen all the way through being Lupin III Part I. For those who don’t know, Lupin III is the story of a gang of four thieves led by the infamous Arsene Lupin. They go on adventures and commit capers. That’s pretty much the gist of it. I think that Lupin is different from current day stuff in many ways, but I also believe that there’s some transcendent quality to it. After all, the franchise is still alive and kicking, and it’s not like they’ve totally changed the formula.
But, yes, it is certainly a different beast than anything in modern anime. First, it isn’t targeting (two of) today’s most targeted audiences: otaku and fujoshi. There are no moe or proto-moe elements (the way we commonly refer to them) to speak of. The character designs are not really fujoshi-friendly. Dudes have body hair. That wouldn’t fly in today’s fujoshi-fueled economy. So, a lot of the normal hooks of current anime just aren’t there in Lupin. This doesn’t mean that the show is without sex appeal, just that it displays it in different ways than new shows do.
The other striking difference is the abruptness with which things can happen. 70s anime is fucking nuts, and Lupin is no exception. Crazy shit just happens for no reason, and I absolutely love it. A perfect example: in episode three Fujiko and Lupin are riding in a boat. They aren’t conducting criminal activity, just leisurely driving around. Then, Fujiko stands up on the hood of the boat, grabs a gun, and proceeds to blow up a passing speedboat. Why? No one knows. It’s not explained. The explosion is used to put Lupin and Fujiko in places for that episode’s plot, but the blowing-shit-up part isn’t explained.
I love 70s anime.
That’s all for this inaugural edition of the Mailbag. You’ll be home. We made it.
Send us your questions via email, twitter, MAL or in the comments below. Ask us anything anime-related. We’ll answer questions about the hypothetical, the concrete, our favorites, our least-favorites, the philosophical, the mundane, and anything in-between. After we get enough questions to compose a post, we’ll do one; however, just because you don’t see your question in a mailbag post does not mean it won’t ever get answered on the blog. Hopefully, we’ll have a nice backlog of questions to turn to when the creative well is running dry.