Scum’s Wish: The Treason of the Artist

When rereading Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” for my first Philosophy and Psycho-Pass post, I rediscovered a quote from it that stuck with me the first time I read it and that stuck with me again: “The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.”

Why do I bring this up? Well, because it’s basically impacted the way I’ve viewed Kuzu no Honkai, AKA Scum’s Wish, which as of this writing, is five episodes into its anime run. This Le Guin quote is basically the antithesis of Scum’s Wish, a show whose thesis is basically “Pain and suffering are tragically beautiful.” While most people have been praising Scum’s Wish (and rightfully so, as it’s a very well-produced show), I’ve been hesitant to do so. Continue reading “Scum’s Wish: The Treason of the Artist”

In Which Buggy Writes A “Best Anime of 2016” Clickbait Article

Sometimes you write things because you have something insightful or meaningful to say. But sometimes you write something that you know everyone else always writes and that you know people are still going to click on for the sole purpose of hoping you reinforce their own opinions. And you feel a little shame at selling out so. But you write it anyway because it’s fun to write and sometimes you just have to write something for you, goddammit.

This one’s a post about my favorite (and least favorite) anime of 2016 and you can bet your ass I’m writing it to satisfy me and me alone. Continue reading “In Which Buggy Writes A “Best Anime of 2016” Clickbait Article”

Philosophy and Psycho-Pass Part 1: Sibyl’s Republic

Perhaps the most common misconception about Psycho-Pass is that it depicts a dystopia. A dystopia, by definition, is an unpleasant or undesirable society. Perhaps a select few lead good lives, but in a dystopia, the majority of society is in ruin. It is easy to mistake Psycho-Pass as depicting a dystopia, as it focuses on the negative aspects of the world and the series explicitly references a large number of dystopian works, such as George Orwell’s 1984 and Phillip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.” What it portrays is actually a utopia, just one that unfortunately comes at the expense of a few. However, viewed from a purely utilitarian standpoint, the Sibyl System has provided the ideal society. In fact, the chief of the bureau herself quotes Jeremy Bentham almost directly when she says in episode 13 that the Sibyl System has “achieved the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.” Continue reading “Philosophy and Psycho-Pass Part 1: Sibyl’s Republic”

Bugshrugs: Anime is not Anime

Fairly recently, a debate broke out in the anime community after moderators on Reddit’s r/anime board banned discussion of the music video for Porter Robinson’s “Shelter” on the grounds that, despite being animated by a Japanese studio (A-1 Pictures), it’s “not anime” because of an American creator’s involvement. This upset many people who saw no reason not to define it as anime, and the whole “what exactly is anime” argument broke out again.

I think I’ve come to a pretty clear stance on where I draw the line that everyone’s trying to discuss (anime is an animated product in which culturally Japanese creators have the biggest influence), but I’m actually going to take another stance in addition to this: anime is not just anime. Continue reading “Bugshrugs: Anime is not Anime”

A Year of Podcasting

It started simply enough. I was excited for the premiere of Digimon Adventure Tri and was reminiscing with my friend Chris about the first season. I made a pretty straightforward suggestion: “Hey, Chris…do you want to try a podcast?”

“Hell yeah, I do,” was his response. I then extended the invitation to some friends on Facebook to get another cohost or two, and got a few responses. We hastily through something together, and on October 26, 2015, after adrenaline pushed me through a weekend filled with recording and editing, I published the first episode of The Digicast on YouTube.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been a year since then. In that time, we’ve put out 8 episodes of The Digicast, 7 episodes of Third Seat by the Window (5 as “The Bugcast,” with one of those being a special anniversary episode), 1 episode of MeganeToast (with the second one on the way soon), 2 experimental live episodes of Dropped!, and 2 guest spots on other podcasts. That’s 20 podcasts in the space of a year, which is way more than I thought we’d put out. And when I say “we” put out those episodes, I mean it, because, while I’m technically the guy running the ship for all these (except for the guest spots, obviously), I’ve done none of it alone. Continue reading “A Year of Podcasting”

The Great Zelda Playthrough Part 2: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Welcome back to The Great Zelda Playthrough, in which I play through all the Zelda games in release order to prepare for Breath of the Wild. If you want to start from the beginning, check out the post I wrote about the first game. This one’s about Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.

In my previous post, I said that the first Zelda game is the hardest for me to put into perspective. Putting Zelda II into perspective is relatively easy, but it’s easily the hardest one to evaluate objectively, just because it’s so different from every other entry in the series. Zelda II is the black sheep of the Zelda franchise. It was a game that took a drastically different approach to gameplay that really hasn’t been replicated in any other Zelda game. Continue reading “The Great Zelda Playthrough Part 2: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link”

Bugshrugs: So Why Anime, Then?

In the anime Twitter sphere I’m a part of, there’s been a lot of discussion lately about animation. More specifically, about the role animation should play in the evaluation of anime. Some people whose opinions I respect have posited that, since it is the element that separates anime from other media, it is inherently the most valuable. And honestly, I don’t personally value it all that much. It’s not that I think it’s valueless. It’s just that how well something is animated isn’t often primary, secondary, or even tertiary to me. And yet anime is still my favorite medium, which forces me to confront an important question:

“So why anime, then?”

For me, what makes anime good isn’t the elements that are exclusive to it. It’s elements that aren’t exclusive to anime combined or executed in ways that are nearly exclusive to the medium. I don’t think “anime” as we define it can simply boiled down to one or two elements, so it’s not just one or two elements of anime that I love.

So why anime? I guess this is as good a time as any to break out listicle format. But don’t worry, it’s not like I’m going to call this post “The Top 5 Reasons I Love Anime (Number 4 Will Blow Your Mind)” or anything. Continue reading “Bugshrugs: So Why Anime, Then?”

The Great Zelda Playthrough Part 1: The Legend of Zelda (NES)

In preparation for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I’ve decided to play through all the main series Zelda games (all of them that have an official placement on the timeline) in release order. What this means is starting with the original game, The Legend of Zelda on the NES.

I think Zelda 1 (as I’ll be calling it to distinguish it from the series as a whole) is the hardest game for me personally to put into perspective. It released in America back in 1987, years before I was even born, and I didn’t really get to play video games until long after that. It was only after completing eight or so other games in the franchise (the exact order I played these in escapes me) that I first played it, and while it did establish a lot of what the series would do moving forward, it’s also drastically different from the direction the series took from A Link to the Past onward. Continue reading “The Great Zelda Playthrough Part 1: The Legend of Zelda (NES)”

The Writer’s Guide to Anime: Darker than Black and “Show, Don’t Tell”

One piece of advice that writers are very frequently told is “show, don’t tell.” Inexperienced writers have a tendency to explicitly tell a reader information, which at best makes a read feel dry and at worst can feel condescending. They are instead often encouraged to show that information instead, or convey the information without flat-out stating it. To give an example: “Bob was sad when he read Alice’s letter” is telling. Showing would be more along the lines of “Bob’s hands shook as he read Alice’s letter. Her words became harder and harder to make out as he fought back tears.” The first example just tells you Bob is sad. The second also tells you he’s sad, but it shows it through how he reacts rather than just stating it.

Darker than Black isn’t a masterpiece by any means. However, one thing that’s always impressed me about it is how it handled worldbuilding. In worldbuilding, so many works will fall into the “telling” trap by awkwardly shoehorning in an explanation of how things work so that the audience understands. This is usually done through the use of a newcomer to the world (or someone who’s more removed from it and is consequently inexperienced) who acts as an audience surrogate for a mentor to explain things to. It’s something that I’ve seen in so many fantasy series. Darker than Black, however (at least the first season; I’ll get to S2 later), manages to avoid using those archetypes and manages to drop you into a world in a way that feels completely natural just by showing you how it works rather than telling you. Continue reading “The Writer’s Guide to Anime: Darker than Black and “Show, Don’t Tell””

The Lain Test

In that lull between the Spring and Summer 2016 anime seasons, in which the old shows are ending but the new ones have not yet begun, I took the opportunity to finally watch Serial Experiments Lain. Now, Lain is a fantastic show, but it’s one that’s incredibly dense, surreal, and confusing, and I found it hard to watch more than one episode at a time. However, it’s one that I kept wanting to return to regularly. Then, when the new shows started airing and most of them were bad, I found myself partway through the episode thinking “I could be watching Serial Experiments Lain right now instead of wasting my time with this drivel.” I shot a few tweets off expressing this sentiment, the idea got picked up and used as a discussion point and episode title on the Anime Insiders Podcast, so I guess now the Lain Test is a thing that I want to try to flesh out a bit more. Continue reading “The Lain Test”