Kirino versus Manami, no contest

Posted in Anime/Manga, non-fiction, non-non-fiction on January 21st, 2013 by duriel

Sometimes I have very strong feelings about characters. These feelings can be positive or negative, and they seem to come over me with no warning at all. Literature, film, anime, manga, games, all are common sources for characters about whom I feel very strongly. I suppose it gives me an outlet for some of the excess emotion I supress on a daily basis in my quest to be a rational human being.

A number of years back, when I was first playing Final Fantasy VIII, I recall becoming enraged when Rinoa was kidnapped. Not just angry, but enraged; I wanted to tear those bastards in Esthar apart. How dare they ship my goddamned girlfriend off into space? So I did not sleep until I rescued her. No compromise. My roommates could not use the TV; I did not go to class.

Some things are important. Very important.

When your girlfriend is kidnapped, it is time to take action.

My actual girlfriend at the time of course found this to be twenty-five times amusing, since I had Squall and Rinoa’s character names altered to ours.

Ah, youth.

This was only the incident that made me aware of this tendency though; I had exhibited similarly strong reactions much earlier, going back to the original Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy IV (Rydia!!!) as far as video games were concerned. Beverly Crusher was another one. Picard never got around to fixing that mistake.

I have a history of this behavior, is my point. Earlier this evening I was forcibly reminded of this when I saw someone talking about how wonderful childhood friend characters are in harem shows / dating sims. Now I will not make a blanket statement about all such characters; that’s dangerous and I know I can find exceptions I like. In this case, though, the example character was Tamura Manami, the disgustingly ordinary and dull megane childhood friend of Kousaka Kyousuke in Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai! As may be evident from the previous comment, I loathe her.

I loathe Manami because she is a dishrag, a doormat, a clod. This would not be so terrible in and of itself, but she is set alongside Kousaka Kirino as some sort of competition for the romantic interest of Kyousuke. It would be laughable if so many readers and viewers didn’t love her. Also, she has the irritating tendency to take up valuable screen time that could be employed for worthier characters (i.e. Kirino).

Kirino x Kyousuke is not just an idle fancy of mine when it comes to Oreimo. It is the gospel truth. I am a shipper. It’s my OTP for the series. It is no exaggeration to say that it is the reason I watch the show. In fact, if the novels don’t end up that way I am going to be seriously pissed off and I will likely have to engage in some sort of fan delusion to make myself feel better.

I am not kidding. This is serious business.

So Manami is not just boring or bland; her fanboys (and girls) make her dangerous. By herself she is uninteresting, but she has the potential to wreck the whole series for me.

Why am I not enraged at the other girl characters? Partly because I feel that they have been dealt with to some degree, but mostly because they are interesting. I don’t want Kyousuke to end up with any of them, but I could respect his decision if he did; they’re pretty cool people (except for Ayase, who’s just insane – still interesting though).

Manami is not interesting. She is the fail option. The one who is there only by chance. I hate her. I hate that Kyousuke might choose such a boring life for himself. I’ll let this post in the thread I saw earlier say what I think, because this person really hit it for me:

peasant girl

Peasant.

That is a good way to describe her. Nothing romantic about her.

I loathe Manami.

I love Kirino.

I do not engage in fantasy to find a peasant wife. I engage in fantasy to find someone extraordinary. I want Kyousuke to choose the thorny path, the difficult one.

The interesting one.

I recognize that pursuing Kirino is not simple. She’s not simple. There will be trouble at every turn, really. But life is meant to be lived boldly, not fearfully. If our fantasies are pedestrian, what does that make us?

“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” – Francis Bacon

Manami is certainty at the outset: a simple life, easily planned and easily executed. Comfortable and calm, a straight road with no turning.

Kirino is everything Manami is not. An uncertain future, shaky ground on which to build. But she is also vibrant, passionate, and unsure of herself. She has a great deal of learning to do, about herself and others. She is dynamic. She is active. Life with Kirino would be difficult.

Is adversity something to be feared?

Ultimately I do not hate Manami’s glasses, or her family, or her childhood friendship with Kyousuke. I do not hate her character design (although I do not find her particularly interesting or attractive on that front). What I hate is what she represents in Oreimo. Tedium and the life lived in fear.

To hell with that.

Kirino x Kyousuke forever. Bring on the slings and arrows.

What doesn’t kill you makes your relationship stronger.

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Regrets and Bourbon on a Chilly Evening

Posted in non-fiction on January 15th, 2013 by duriel

I’m sitting on my balcony right now, drinking a mixture of honey, Wild Turkey, and hot water; a sort of modified hot toddy. It’s a good night for it. Thermometer says 41F and 62% humidity, so it’s misty and chilly out here. The warm bourbon is nice.

I had work today, and then class. Afterward I watched the last half of Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!, which I had been putting off out of concern that it would end badly.

By badly, I of course mean telling the audience to put away the things you love and live life the way you are expected to live.

Fuck that. Happily, Chu2Koi said fuck that as well. It made me glad.

It has also made me pensive. I do not generally conduct my life in a way my family is pleased with. Oh. there are enough trappings to make it tolerable I suppose, but in the end I simply do not value much that they value. It’s awkward and a little bit uncomfortable at times, no matter how old I get or how far from them I am.

Family is a permanent reminder of the life you once lived. Whether it was good or bad, ugly or wonderful, you lived it on their terms to one degree or another. This is true of orphans as much as it is people in a suburb. We do not control where we are born and what we are taught.

As we grow, we live in a sea of advice. We take some and ignore the rest, and that is the way it is. It’s not a matter of taking less and making more of yourself. It’s a matter of doing what you want and sticking to it.

I never want to give up the things I love. I’m old enough now to say with conviction that I never will, even if I cling to them only by the grace of my own human stubbornness.

They can take it all away but they cannot make me regret any of it. That’s my choice.

I choose to regret nothing.

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The Ghost of Glam

Posted in non-non-fiction on December 25th, 2012 by duriel

Here is a reading I did of one of my favorite stories, “The Ghost of Glam,” from the Icelandic epic Grettissaga. I had a lot of fun recording it ^^ It’s a wonderful holiday tale full of murder, mayhem, and brave deeds. Undead monsters and heroes are the best subject of Christmas stories after all.

This translation is taken from Henry Goddard Leach’s collection A Pageant of Old Scandinavia. I was lucky enough to have a wonderful former professor of mine read this aloud; I hope I have done his fantastic reading a little bit of justice here. I hope you enjoy it, and happy holidays!!!

Listen to it on youtube here.

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Why I Canceled Hulu Plus

Posted in Anime/Manga on September 15th, 2012 by duriel

As a person who enjoys un-American activities on a regular basis, I long ago ceased to have a regular cable/satellite television subscription and went all-in on Internet only. It’s been years since I watched anything on television, and those years have been happy and productive.

Naturally, I am an anime fan so “cutting the cord” as it is now called was not a big issue for me anyway. I loathe fakey history, home and garden shows, reality tv, and sitcoms; I did not miss much by cancelling my subscription. These days finding legal sources of streaming anime online is a simple matter. Crunchyroll is my primary streaming site, and I am more than happy to pay for it. In fact, I would pay a great deal more for it if I had to. I spend a great deal of money on licensed merchandise for the shows I like, to support the things I want to watch.

Recently, I started watching Accel World. It’s a cool show about a crazy VR fighting game; you should watch it. Merits of the show aside, I was surprised to learn that it was streaming over on Hulu. I had never really used Hulu before since it seemed to be some sort of crippled version of a cable subscription. I had also heard that you had to watch ads even though you paid a subscription, which seemed truly ridiculous.

I put my misgivings about the service aside and signed up for Hulu Plus, because I wanted to support the streaming of a fun show. I was prepared to pay $8 per month for new episodes of Accel World and nothing else. I waited until the new episode came out and sat down to watch it.

A note about how I am watching here. I have a mac mini attached to my HDTV via HDMI. I use this computer for all my media viewing, and have exactly zero issues with it. Netflix, Crunchyroll, video news sites, local 1080p media, it all works no problem. So I opened up Hulu in Chrome.

First, Hulu complained because I was using AdBlock. Fair enough, I can live with this. I disabled AdBlock and continued on. I could choose to watch a 180-second uninteresting movie trailer or an assortment of other ads during the episode. I chose the trailer. Even muted it was a painful wait, but I put up with it.

The episode finally started, and immediately I noticed that the video quality did not match Crunchyroll’s. Not even close really, and I have a very solid Internet connection. Manually selecting HD did nothing to improve the quality. I was irritated, but again, I could deal with it. Then it started misbehaving. I refreshed the window, and then it kindly showed me a few ads before resuming.

The next week when I tried this again, I was forced to watch ads before the episode, before the eyecatch, after the eyecatch, and before the closing credits / next episode preview. The quality did not improve and the stream crashed three times while loading ads. I was, to put it mildly, irritated.

Irritated enough that I promptly cancelled my subscription, actually. I do not want to watch ads. Hulu offers an “ad selection” model to better target things to one’s interest. Problem: I don’t care about anything they are selling. At all. Even if I was, I still would not want to watch ads. I hate ads. Assuming that I am willing to put up with uninteresting ads which irritate me by their very presence, they can at least have the decency to not interrupt and/or destroy my viewing of the content itself.

So I am done with Hulu. Sadly, this whole experience does not really surprise me. I was a bit shocked at how irritating the ads were though; I had forgotten just how useless they are.

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