Saturday, 22 November 2014

Ingredients for a "Slice of life"

I had never been one who really enjoys slice of life, for the very simple reason being that I preferred blood and metal and over flowers and romance .I had always found slice of life to be a very mundane genre,the same old protagonist who has a bunch of friends or does not have them ,has to through certain trials of life with them or trials of life to get them .Then he finds love, he strives for it  ,magic happens and yada yada .We all know how this works. But my indifference towards it only lasted until i discovered what a real slice of life is .Lately I've come to the realization that most of the series that are promoted as slice of life are only just shoujo romances with minor tweaks. If you think about it most of the slice of life that you will read or watch will have a main couple , around whose life the rest of the activities of their friends revolve ,which is clearly no different from any simple shoujo anime which you may have seen .You can easily make out the overly dominating romance theme taking away it’s genuineness as a slice of life .An average slice of life will have one main underlying theme and I have nothing against it being romance ,but a good slice of life won’t let the underlying  theme dominate rest of the aspects of the story .Tragedy ,Comedy ,friendship,happiness ,sadness or any other element that the plot has been devised to incorporate should equally shine through even if the base of the story is monotonous. There are good slice of life and then there are great slice of life .According to me a slice of life need to have these essentials ,if it has to rise above the tag of being a “ tweaked shoujo romance “.

1) Realistic :

I know “realistic “is a bit over-remanding since anime and manga are supposed to offer an escape to our imagination. But a little realism hasn't hurt anybody (at least not anyone I know about).What I am demanding is not realism in the story but realism as to how the story is executed ergo the plot /setting. A slice of life is something that is supposed to be inspired from real life (captain obvious here) .So it having unrealistic elements somehow defeats the purpose. I mean if a guy randomly kisses a girl on the first day of school even as a joke, she will “not” be wooed .But you might rather end up with a painful set of testicles .You cannot have three girls live in your house and no one to question you about it.(wait wouldn't that classify it as a harem ? )

2) It’s not a happy - happy world :

As I might have mentioned  above for a slice of life to claim authenticity it should have some , if not every element that a person actually experiences  in his daily life .I mean I have seen or read some slice of life which are so “happy go lucky” that you possibly cannot contemplate as to what is going on .I mean the author of the story or the screenwriter might not choose to portray tragedy or severe depression in characters or story but completely taking out hardships and complexities of human life from a slice of life series, is like making s'mores with cold marshmallows .And trust me one simply can’t make s’mores with cold marshmallows.

You see that's what a gourmet version of a good slice of life looks like

3 ) Keeping it subtle :

While subtle might very much be the synonym for boring when it comes to anime and manga ,for a slice of life I think it’s very necessary .A good slice of life needs to have balance .As mentioned before ,it can always have an underlying theme which is stretched throughout the series but it needs to give enough spotlight to all the aspects that are present within the story as well .If one part of the series becomes extremely prominent (which usually happens with portrayal of romance ) it ruins the setting for me and for many other people if I might speak for my fellow enthusiasts .Suddenly it in turns become a cheesy romance or forced  comedy which is not what we bargained for .

4) Food for thought :

According to me what really makes a “slice of life” what it is supposed to be ,is how it makes you change your perspective or make you think about your current one .I am not talking philosophy ,but since anime and mangas are usually made to challenge our conviction about the ordinary I would only expect a slice of life to do the same i.e challenge the ordinary convictions we have on how to live our lives .And if a series does manage to that ,they become unforgettable classics .There have been series who would so subtly plant an idea in your mind that you won’t even realize it until you are already in deep thought .Although I won't say that this aspect is a dire necessity for slice of life .But then again there is a difference between good and great .

Concluding this article i would like to say "Slice of life should be like ice cream ,it should be able to incorporate all things reasonable you add into it and still retain it's original constitution " .Since we are at it , i might as well recommend some slice of life which i really like . Mushishi ,Natsume yuujinchou,Usagi drop,Sakamichi no apollon ,Honey and clover are some of my suggestions .

I am sure after reading this article some of you might be pondering as to what my favorite Slice of life series is .I would love to put you out of your misery but .......

Saturday, 8 November 2014

How to conquer the ways of a Neo -Otaku ?

Recently while attending an anime meet, someone asked me this question “How do you think that people who like anime can be more confident and outgoing about this hobby and its aspects ?” .I answered him the best I could at the time, But this is not a question I have encountered for the very first time .Often I have noticed that people are shy and timid about being found out that they like or enjoy watching anime .They tend to make it a closet-hobby as I would like to term it .It might be out of fear of rejection or not having anyone to share or discuss it with .They feel as if other people would think of them as immature or if I am use a more colorful word they would think of them as a “Nerd” . I can’t say that I don’t understand those feelings as there are occasions when I myself find it difficult to explain to people as to what is so good about watching anime? (And then there are times when I don’t really bother) .I have been an anime /manga enthusiast for over a year now and I love it more than I love Nutella on a hot pancake. I help run a state anime club, I never miss out on new series ,I attend comic cons and anime cons whenever possible and if that wasn’t enough now I’ve even started an anime inspired blog (talk about enthusiasm) .Not to brag but even after I am involved in all of these activities I manage my social life and other hobbies pretty well or  at least I like to think I do .And I am confident that if you follow certain basic rules  you won’t have any trouble being called an Anime Wikipedia in the morning and then go rock a party at night. The key is not to aim to for perfection; you just have to aim for balance. So here are the three basic pointers from me on how to become a neo-otaku :

1)Be confident :

I don’t want to sugar coat anything so I’ll just be blunt .In our times you can either be a wolf or a sheep .I choose wolf .The most important part about being able to “come out of the closet “ about your hobby is be confident about it .Every time someone comes up to you and asks as to what are you watching ,be confident about it and tell them it’s anime and explain what it is ! if they seem inquisitive or curious . (By the way if the same situation comes up while you were watching hentai ,I suggest you say it’s a pop up advertisement , run away and never meet that person again……………….ever ) .I have usually noticed that when you are upfront about something people quickly loose interest .The more you try to be obscure about it the more you give other’s an opportunity to ride on your back .For me this statement usually does the trick if I am dealing with a person of average intellect. “Everyone has different preferences /hobbies .You like ___..Insert whatever they watch…____ ,I like anime ,simple as that“ .

2) Talk to people:

The best method to develop confidence about your hobby as an anime enthusiast is to meet other people who share the same grounds as you .Believe me it is rejuvenating to meet people with similar interest .When you do that you will notice that it is amazing as to how different people with so many distinct backgrounds ,age groups and fields come together to celebrate their love and passion for the art form that is anime .It’ll help you attain a sense of collective belongingness .There tons of people people out there who are just as crazy awesome as you are ! 

3) Balance it out :

Balance is the key .I know that this may sound offensive and believe me I have no intention to hurt anyone’s feelings but there is a fine line between hobby and obsession and many of us don’t know where to draw it .I mean it is good to be passionate but you need to remember that nothing happens on its own .I mean there are times when we overindulge ( like watch 250 episodes of Naruto shippudin in 3 days without sleep …ah those were the days ) and it’s ok to do that every once in a while but you can’t go on neglecting other aspects of your life .This sounds a little hypocritical coming from me who is probably the biggest procrastinator you’ll come across but a fact is a fact and I am talking from experience. Try to take your time and get involved in some other activities .Go read a book (A manga does not meet this criteria ) ,go swimming ,go watch movie ,ask your friend out to lunch or to shop .Just try and make sure that not all your activities are centered around a single hobby .Not only would this give you a wider perspective ,but then no one can question the legitimacy of your interest in anime .


                          And well for people who just like to mess with other people .Here's this : 


This article might not be very productive for people who do not really care about the opinions of others or are already outgoing enough but in the end all if would like to say is that whatever you do, do it with conviction and not obsession. Everyone is a nerd, and trust me you can still be cool while donning the title ;) Please feel free to comment if there are any questions or contradictions .Opinions are always welcome.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Naruto : The end of a remarkable journey 

It is definitely the end of an era since one of the most influential shounen series of our time has finally arrived at its conclusion .It may be a sad moment for some of us but nevertheless a memorable one .There is nothing more satisfying than having to see your favorite manga get a proper ending. Although it has been a rough journey for Naruto but the series has definitely taken up a special place in the hearts of all its readers .The journey has been a delightful one .Kishimoto sensei has inspired us and motivated us in many ways through Naruto .Naruto is what I believe a story of how hard work and perseverance conquers all .No matter how desperate the situation might be ,all you need to get through it is a positive attitude and will power (Well some chakra might not be too bad either ).Jokes aside ,Naruto apart from being an encouraging story has also blessed us with many memorable characters .

My favorite character has to be Itachi .I am a single child and honestly I've never wanted siblings .But after I saw Naruto and discovered the back story and hardships of Itachi I really wished I had a big brother who would love me and protect me.The genius of Itachi is something I've always awed upon and his sacrifice is something that always hits me right where it hurts . An honorable shinobi and yet a loving brother. Pulled between duty and family he sacrifices everything in order to do what's right .Hands down to Itachi is all I can say. Moving on the series has many other great characters like Jiraiya,a teacher ,a mentor and a legendary ninja . Another character I really loved in the series was “Pein”. Honestly I've never gotten around as to how you spell his name but oh well ! Please excuse me if I made a mistake there . Kakashi ,Iruka ,Hinata ,Sakura ,Gara ,Sasuke ,Neji ,Tsunade, Sai and the list goes on .All these characters have only inspired and matured Naruto but have also swept us along in the flow of their journey . Even the antagonists of the series are something you can't easily get over .Whether it may be the prowess and regality of Madara , the ingenuity of Kabuto or the grand appearance of Kaguya .You simply cannot ignore the demeanor of these characters . And how can I forget Kurama ,the giant demon fox turning into the companion of a lifetime.

In the end all I would like to say is that it hasn't been an easy journey but it sure has been a gratifying one. I would like to bid Kishimoto sensei a hearty congratulation for Naruto and a thank you from his fans all over the world for giving them and me this gem of a series which has made our lives that much more fulfilling over the years.

                                 “Naruto you will be missed .We love you ,dattebayo !”

2014 - Characters who "Just couldn't catch a break " 

It is funny how all the top tier candidates for this category belong to the summer releases (Don't you just hate summers) .Anyway no matter which season ,there are always times when you come across characters who can be considered  role models for the bad luck brian meme .No matter what these characters do , they ultimately end up in the dumps .Sometimes you just just wanna drag these chars out of the screen ,give them a tight hug and tell them "It's ok ,you've done good " and other times you wanna shoot them in the head (Damn, that brought out some bad memories of the last season )  .Anyway there are 3 takers for this category (more precisely they are 4 but since two of them act as a pair ,i am counting them as three) Also this article contains some major spoilers ,so make sure you have seen the series mentioned or don't tell me i ruined your fun  .So in ascending order here goes the winners :

Third place : Nine and Twelve (Zankyou no terror ) 

If you are an avid anime watcher you can usually by the middle of a series recognize the fact that this might end in a tragedy .Znt had from the very beginning shown all signs that it will not have a "happily ever after" .But still being a sentimentalist that i am i didn't lose hope and then cried my heart out when both nine and twelve died .I was actually expecting twelve to get away and spend a fulfilling life with lisa but the scriptwriters had other plans.Orphans deprived of their freedom ,being raised up in a medical facility ,experimented upon through many years of their childhood while watching their friends pass away one by one .I mean you simply can't not feel your heart cringe at the plight .Even after those two manage to run away ,they decide to spend the rest of their remaining lives (which if i may point may end anytime) trying to expose the misdeeds of the country to which they and their companions fell victims to .Although it is true that they manage to expose the truth in the end but it is still sad that they did not live to see the day when their efforts bore fruit .I mean from the point of view of the creators ,they did a perfect job wrapping it up into a clean ending .But personally i would have appreciated if at least one of them had lived to tell the tale .

Second Place : Kaneki (Tokyo ghoul ) 

Well what to say about tokyo ghoul .I mean every time i saw an episode i got hungry for some very weird reason which i don't want to ponder upon .If i am to look from an overall perspective the whole tokyo ghoul series is plain ...................twisted( Don't get me wrong ,i never said it's bad )  .It's like shingeki no kyojin with the average killing rate of two people per episode .No one and i mean absolutely no one get's off scott free in this anime .( Oh so your dad died himani ? No problem i'll kill your mom in the next episode too ) .Amongst all the tragedies lies our protagonist who suffers blows probably from every angle possible .I mean the progression goes as follows :

Getting attacked by ghoul > turning into an involuntary ghoul > getting beaten up for tuning into a ghoul > Getting his friends beaten up cause he turned into a ghoul > Getting eaten up for turning into a special ghoul > becoming a ghoul and still can't use the powers of a ghoul >Getting tortured for becoming a ghoul >Fighting to save other ghouls >Get's two coke can sized holes in his head in place of his eye sockets and (probably )ending up dead cause he resisted being treated as a worthless ghoul .

*the last part is a spoiler from the manga. Mind it , his death is not confirmed .

Although the new edition of the manga( Re: tokyo ghoul) may offer some respite to our bad luck kaneki but then that is a story for another time .

Meanwhile :

First place : Slaine Troyard (Aldnoah zero ) ding ! ding ! ding ! Haters all aboard .

I know many of you would be thinking  (whaaaaaaaaaat ) after seeing my choice for the first place .Slaine is probably one of the most hated character of the last anime season or even of the whole year up till now.Trust me i was one of those people who wanted to choke to him death that is until i got a hold of my nerves and examined the situation from his point of view .I know his stunt in the last episode of Aldnoah has called upon the wrath of millions of fans but if you examine it carefully Slaine is a victim amongst everything else .Let's asses this shit .Usually whenever we have a troubled protagonist or even a secondary character he/she has a friend ,a relative or a upcoming love interest who he/she can rely upon or come to rely upon in the future .But Slaine was all one. Being brought up in an alien (literally) environment and being majorly discriminated against Slaine probably had no allies .He had no family ,no friends ,no companions .Among his disdain his only source of comfort was this princess who treated him kindly. Surely when in your life you have nothing but one person who offers you love and kindness ,you will do anything (and i mean anything ) for them .It is clear that apart from loyalty , he had feelings for the princess but that does not exactly make him a bad person .He did everything he could within his power to save the princess ,betraying authorities ,getting tortured ,even helping out the enemies (well they were his enemies ,Inaho did not exactly shoot his jet down as a welcome present ) .Even after exhausting every possible method to save the princess (who had already died twice and resurrected *damn she's one tough nut*) he was bound to "SNAP" when he saw her lying lifeless in front of him .When the only person who loves in the world is lying dead in front of you ,you are bound to snap .It is true that i do not sit well the fact that he shot inaho so coldly but for him it was either kill or get killed .Inaho had been hostile towards him from the very beginning and now he even got his love interest killed (which is what slaine believed has happened) .He could not have taken the risk since now he has something which he has to do or at least that is what i derived from the season ending .

Well we can only assume as to what will happen next but i can't wait for january .(come quickly pwease)  But all in all i do not think slaine is a bad character .

That is all for this article .Please feel free to comment as to what you think .Also having your opinions or not being agreeable with mine is perfectly alright but if you act like an ass ,you'll be persecuted ^^