Tsuki Ga Kirei’s Fatal Flaw: The Overabundance Of Coincidence

Tsuki Ga Kirei is a good show. It’s also a very flawed one. While the artstyle is very appealing it’s actual animation was often lacking just as a singular example. I however feel a show can overcome it’s flaws if it plays to it’s strengths often. Tsuki Ga Kirei does exactly that crafting likable and realistic characters and giving (what I would consider) a pretty realistic depiction of a functional middle school relationship in the 2010’s.

Azumi does a lot of shit I might have done a few years ago, Akane reminds me of people I used to know. The characters created were very realistic, no quirks or gags were included that removed them from reality, this could’ve just as easily been a live action show. The show almost always feels natural and that’s it’s biggest strength. Unfortunately the key word in that previous sentence is “almost”. It’s time to talk about the one flaw that kept popping up in the show, detracting from it’s biggest strength.

Coincidence.

What do I mean by this? The problem the show has is that despite creating such realistic characters it could not find a way to have them move the story forward by themselves and as such it was almost always pushed forward by coincidence. A really good story should be moved forward by it’s characters not by external forces (in most cases). Akane and Azumi like each other too much for there to be consistent issues with their relationship and as such external factors cause those problems, think Akane’s phone shutting off just as she’s about to message Azumi, Azumi’s phone getting taken off him by the teacher after he has to wrestle it back from his friends, Akane dropping her stress toy, things of that nature. Individually there is nothing wrong with these scenes but when they start piling up on each other it wears my patience thin.

This is one thing in which fiction has a disadvantage in relation to reality, to stay believable it sometimes can’t be as crazy as reality can get. You’ve heard the saying before, truth is stranger than fiction and it certainly holds true here. I’m sure far more coincidental things have happened in order for actual middle school relationships to occur but that doesn’t mean I don’t question it in fiction. The problem being that every coincidence after a certain point made me remember acutely that what I was watching was in fact fiction and in a show where believable character relationships are it’s strength this is a major problem. I want to be consistently invested in Azumi and Akane’s relationship, not questioning the absolute perfect timing with which things happen for the benefit of dramatic tension. Every time Hira and Akane are together it seemed to be timed to perfection for maximum effect.

I know this is obviously what a show does and is meant to do but Tsuki Ga Kirei didn’t do a good job masking that fact. A good show usually has one main coincidence, it’s set up, from there the story should arise in a way that feels like it’s the result of the characters decisions. One or 2 coincidences are fine but too many stretch one’s immersion beyond repair. Unless fate or external influence is explicitly implied to be a thing in any given shows universe (think Kokoro Connect) then I can never get behind a show where coincidence is as big a narrative influencer as the entire cast.

I do think the show does a hell of a lot right, if you watched it at a certain age I could even see it being your favorite show, I’d say it connect on a real level to kids of similar age to the cast. But not me, maybe I’m too much of a cynic. As good as this show was at one particular thing I don’t think it fully made up for the rest of it’s shortcomings.

Expect a more personal response to the show in the future though because even the parts which I thought were good were pretty unenjoyable to me, this show was a pain to watch exactly because of what it did well. For another day though.

Thanks for reading,

Psychime

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World’s End (Suka Suka) And The Importance Of Tonal Consistency

Setting the tone of your TV show, movie, Anime etc. is one of the most important things you have to do in order to make it good. Setting the tone is a foundational tool from which the rest of your show is built off. Setting the tone was something the show World’s End from last season did very well and very poorly. Let me explain.

Setting the tone is important because it provides the basis for what can be considered abnormal and shocking in the context of a show for the audience. If the tone is lighthearted then any moments of darkness would provide juxtaposition, in a dark show any jokes would provide that same sort of contrast.

Having the audience know when moments are meant to be juxtaposing is crucially important and thus one wants to try and set the tone as early as possible. In TV shows I tend to find that most shows set their tone in either the first episode or over the course of the first 3 episodes.

Think of Attack On Titan, it’s tone is set from the get go, the colossal titan destroying wall Maria and the numerous deaths paint a very bleak picture. This is so that when Eren plugs up the hole in wall Rose later on it runs counter to the general hopeless tone.

Then take Madoka, it takes 3 episodes to establish it’s tone. It begins off lighthearted but unnerving becoming increasingly so until *slight spoiler* the death of that character in episode 3. That death confirms to us that that uneasy feeling lining the show was not just in our imagination, that the show is actually much darker than it may have first seemed.

It can be difficult for Anime to set a tone so early on because of the limited runtime, 3 episodes of Anime = about 1 of Game of Thrones for instance. I think this may be part of the reason so much importance is placed on Anime OP’s you can set a shows tone through them without having to do it straight away in the show itself. It allows time for other things to be focused on like character introductions or world building, whilst assuring the audience of how the show will eventually feel. A cold open will do the same sort of thing.

So this is why World’s End surprises me. It sets it’s tone fantastically in it’s premiere, it felt grandiose and cinematic in a way to me. Even though I didn’t really know what was going on the show felt like it had something going on. And thus I continued to watch it, when something feels like it’s meant to be good I find one is usually more receptive to the idea that it actually is.

The show then proceeded to jump all over the place tonally. Often jovial and often serious with plenty of fanservice in between. It left me very confused, what was the show meant to be? A drama with lighthearted moments? A comedy that would get serious and dark on occasion? A fanservice show with a plot? I had no idea.

And this is a problem because it takes away from anything the show does well. Whenever something serious happened (like that little girl hitting her head) it was often not too far removed from a scene of Wilhelm giving a girl a naked massage. I was always thinking how poorly the scenes fit together even if individually there was nothing wrong with them.

Look end of the day, tone is bloody important, without tonal consistency your show can become a mess.

 

 

Digibro: Gay and Dead – Album Review

(This is a critique of Digibro’s music not of the man himself)

It’s so odd seeing an artist you like stray out of their chosen craft to pursue other ventures. Usually it’s an absolute disaster, for every 8 Mile there’s about 100 bad movies starring musicians (most of them probably star Madonna).

Digibro is a particularly interesting one as he is a critic of art and as such you would expect any art he was to create to at the very least be self aware. It’s not.

It’s odd, for as much as I am entertained by most of Digi’s output, including those that stray from just Anime analysis, I have never been grabbed by his music. His style just doesn’t appeal to me.

I love Hip-Hop, more specifically lyrical Hip-Hop and that seems to be at least partially what Digi is going for. I don’t think I have the knowledge base or taste range to criticize music in general but Hip-Hop is my zone so OK with commenting on this album.

Let’s cut to the chase, the album is not very good.

Right from begining with the opener “Broken Brilliance” the album sets an unappealing tone it can never recover from. The instrumental here is not great, the instruments feel way too synthetic and Digi is nearly drowned out in the mix at parts. Both of those things being prevalent issues throughout the album’s 40 minute runtime. Mixing aside most of the beats are just not good and some are even wholly unpleasant to listen to.

Delivery

Another problem on this track that plagues the album is Digi’s delivery. It’s dreadful. He tries to bend words to make them rhyme but it ends up coming off incredibly forced (attempting to rhyme “8 A.M” and “Humans in this case). He has neither the accent or technical skill to do something like this. It’s something that Eminem does often, if you look at his songs on paper a lot of words that rhyme in the song don’t rhyme in reality, it’s called a slant rhyme. Digi is not very good at inflecting his words in such a way that they sound natural when rhyming artificially with others.

Then there’s his voices. When rapping on this project Digi’s voice is not consistent. He changes it between songs and has many occasions where he will attempt to portray another character by imitating a voice (poorly). He needs to stick to his regular voice when rapping, the delivery on some previous projects of his is not half bad. He is outshined immensely delivery wise by Endless Jess whenever he appears as a feature on this album. Plan B’s “Raking The Dead” is a fantastic example of how to do this right, in one verse he raps as a cop, a suspect and a narrator, going back and forth between them whilst keeping the voices distinct.

 

On the song “Paradise” with it’s tropical beat that seems like it may have come straight from Bikini Bottom, his delivery is neither laid back enough to match the beat nor aggressive enough to be juxtaposing against it. It’s just left hanging somewhere in the middle, his delivery often doesn’t mesh with his instrumentals intensity wise.

His multi tracking is almost never used well and it makes the song “Body Rolls” an incomprehensible mess. He seems to do this intentionally but it really makes the song unlistenable.

He’s at his best when he’s just concentrating on sticking a flow and not anything else like on “Freak Power!” one of the two tolerable tracks on this album. Without worrying about voice effects or trying to sound experimental the focus is solely on one of his better skills.

Lyrical Content

But what does delivery even matter without good lyrics?

Now I’m a but obsessive over lyrical skill. I pour over rhyme schemes endlessly and spend a lot of my time trying to make clever rhymes just for the fun of it. Digi’s rhymes are at best basic and at worst non existent.

He will often do this thing where he switches his rhyme about a line too early. Typically a skilled artist will use in rhyme to smooth the transition and failing that they’ll switch from rhyme A to rhyme B after an even number of rhyming lines are complete is complete. Digi will often switch his rhyme on the the 4th line, which can be used for emphasis when done right but being that he doesn’t seem to be saying anything of particular importance when he does this it just comes off as sloppy and jarring.

As for what he’s actually saying there isn’t much there either, I couldn’t find any particularly clever lines on my couple listens through only being caught by the seemingly stupid ones. “I’m as dead as a doorknob” is not a particularly poignant statement, most inanimate objects are pretty equally dead. On the song “Quarter” he will rhyme fuck up with itself which is a rap nerd sin unless it’s done with some clever switch in meaning between the 2 lines. On “Buttfuckers Anthem” he says “I’ll stuff your muff” which if I’m not mistaken is the wrong slang word for that title but hey I’m just nitpicking.

One constant throughout the album is the theme of sex. Look, Digi simply cannot pull off what he’s going for her. Hearing him rap constantly about sex makes him sound like an unironic Filthy Frank. I’m not sure how tongue in cheek it’s meant to be but it comes off as as Digi trying to sound cool. He can’t. “Fat and Dangerous” is a prime example of this. Digi is not innately suave enough to pull that sort of thing off, he’s not Big Pun.

 

I don’t know if he lacks self awareness about the topic or is willfully ignorant but he should take not that rappers like Pun and Biggie usually had an air of a player about them because of who they were and in spite of their physical appearance. There was a point on the song “Gayer than God” when I thought he was being insightful about this as he rapped about how he didn’t have much of a sex life but then my hopes were dashed when he chalked it up to apathy. He says earlier on that he’s cringe by design. Cringe and sex don’t go together unironically. If he wants to make songs about sex (and he clearly does) than do it like Lil Dicky does, funny and truthfully.

Finally I have to bring this up. He raps the word nigger. Now I know people have differing opinions on the appropriateness of the word’s usage but a white guy should never use it in the context of Hip-Hop.

I’m Irish, the word has never really been an issue in any community I’ve ever been apart of in real life. With the advent of Hip-Hop it is used often in an ironic sense around and by me. I personally don’t think it should be considered offensive under certain contexts regardless of who’s using it. But you’ve got to be respectful to the art form you’re using it in. As a white guy, saying nigger in a Hip-Hop song is disrespectful. Eminem has talked about this before when a tape of him saying the word leaked. He has black friends so he has obviously used it before but would never use it in a song because he respects his craft. Hip-Hop is a black artform first and foremost using the word in it, ironically or otherwise, is disrespectful to the artform. Just think about it, if I were to make a 9/11 joke right now, I think most people would be OK with it or at least wouldn’t be too offended. But if I were to make one outside the Freedom Tower in New York? I’d be killed. You have to be aware of these things, ignorance does not fly in cases like these.

Themes And Concepts

I’ve made it clear I did not care for most of the tracks on an individual level. So what about the album as a whole?

Even though the tracks seem to fit together sonically I found it hard to pinpoint a general theme. I guess there are nihilistic undertones throughout but they’re never tackled with any nuance. He just sort of lays out the fact that he’s somewhat nihilistic and ponders existentialism often and just leaves them there. It’s the equivalent of just screaming “We’re all gonna die and it doesn’t ultimately matter” for 40 odd minuets. Why can’t he expand on these topics? There’s only one way to convincingly rap as a nihilist, it’s to not rap as a nihilist. Eminem does this very effectively on his first album “The Slim Shady LP” letting us know of our impending mortality and then rapping about literally anything else because he doesn’t care, because he takes life as a joke. He raps about doing drugs and murder as a form of escapism and then juxtaposes it with the occasional depiction of grim reality on songs like “Rock Bottom”.

As for existentialism it’s again not delved into any further than surface level insight. The man’s what, 27? Surely you have something to say about these topics that extends past what a Wikipedia entry could provide. I don’t think you have to try and convince us your ideology is correct but try and make us understand why you believe it if you’re going to bring it up so often. For such a critical thinker his music does not seem to go very deep a lot of the time. Sure he’s bringing up complex ideas but if he’s not doing anything with them what’s the point. Ideological rappers such as Kendrick Lamar are so great because they take complex ideas and tell them through the use of metaphor amongst other techniques. Kendrick’s message gets across because he doesn’t shove it down your throat, it’s there for those who seek it, his style emulating his faith in god. I don’t agree with his religious sentiments but the way he tells it is so clever that I’m intrigued regardless.

Ultimately this half assed attempt at thematic throughlines and insight leads to a very boring album.

Final Thoughts

One of the worst things an album can be is boring. I have absolutely no desire to listen to this again. It’s not good enough to keep me coming back for more nor is it bad enough to stick out in my mind. I had to constantly reference my notes and relisten to tracks to remember which songs were which.

It’s not even very interesting as an insight into Digibro, it didn’t seem to offer too much in that regard. Even artists worst albums can have merit when they provide insight into the artist themselves.

It fails as a rap album lyrically, sonically and delivery wise. There’s very little here to like.

Final Score: 2/10

Thanks for reading,

Psychime

 

Attempting To Define “Psychological” Anime

If you go onto the “Anime Search” function of MAL you’ll be presented with a list of genres to choose from, with the purpose of narrowing down your search. Most of these are straightforward like “Drama” or “Action” one should know exactly what they’ll get from shows with these tags. Some are a bit more loosely defined, especially the Anime specific ones like “Seinen” or “Shonen”. These tags tend to describe the target demographics (Shonen means boy, for instance) and as such one can expect certain things from that.

Look across the list though and there’s one tag that stands out. Psychological. The tag stands out to me for a reason. What the fuck does it mean? In this context specifically, what does Psychological refer to?

The definition of Psychological is as follows: of, affecting, or arising in the mind; related to the mental and emotional state of a person.

How would one apply this to a show? It’d be a very difficult thing to do. Take it too broadly and you could use it to define every show that attempts to make you think (which is basically every show). Going too narrow though and it’d be a very subjective tagging, being only for shows that make you question your fundamental beliefs, which of course would differ from person to person. The real problem though is the lack of a middle ground.

Let’s use comedy as an example. Not every show with a joke is a comedy but it is not a tagging one ascribes to specifically to things they found funny. There are such things as bad comedies. We strike a middle ground here, shows with a distinct emphasis on making you laugh are comedies, whether or not they succeed at doing so. There’s a reason notoriously bad films like “The Room” are not classified as comedies, because all the humor comes from it’s ineptness at being a drama.

So where do we find this middle ground with Psychological? Where does one draw the line for how much a show has to affect your mind to be classified as Psychological? The more casual definition of a Psychological show would be “a show that gets you thinking” but that is of course way too broad.

I ruminated on this for a while to attempt to come up with a definition. The reason being that when I look at MAL’s “Psychological” line up, I strongly disagree with the classification of many shows with that tag. But I didn’t exactly know why.

Here’s the 10 most popular shows with that tag followed by whether or not I consider them worthy of such a tagging:

  • Death Note (Yes)
  • Mirai Nikki (No)
  • Tokyo Ghoul (Mostly No)
  • Elfen Lied (Yet to watch)
  • Psycho-Pass (Yes)
  • Madoka (Yes)
  • Evangelion (Yes)
  • Kisejuu (No)
  • Erased (No)
  • Re:Zero (No)

Basically 4/9. What is it that separates those shows though? What unifying feature do they have that the others lack?

Ambiguity.

The conclusion that I’ve come to is that a Psychological show is not one that only makes you think about crucial moral issues but offers no one definitive answer to the questions posed.

I’ve talked about utilitarianism in Madoka and how no one answer is presented to the audience. Psycho-Pass is a show I constantly praise for it’s use of multiple viewpoints on any given issue. Death Note asks the question of whether or not we should kill for good and presents this as neither right or wrong, you could conceivably side with or against Light (at least at the start). Eva, from what I have seen of it, presents multiple different ways of dealing with depression through metaphor.

The other shows lack this unifying lack of a concrete stance. In Erased it’s obviously a good thing that the girl was saved. Re:Zero is much more of a character study of Subaru than anything else. The idea of Mirai Nikki having any consistent thematic purpose is nearly laughable unless of course the question being posed is whether or not it’s OK to have a Yandere girlfriend (The answer should be a universal no).

I hesitate to outright say Tokyo Ghoul isn’t, it has hints of open ended questions about it in regards to what makes one human, but they are so often overshadowed other elements that I feel that the show isn’t Psychological.

To me a Psychological Anime is one that presents the audience with moral questions and lets them decide for themselves what the answer is.

 

This one’s been on my mind for a while. I’ve always had a general sense of what a Psychological show was but was never able to pinpoint exactly what made one Psychological until I really thought about it.

The definition I gave is not definitive, I’m very open to other interpretations, I just feel that the current definition (if there even is one) is way too ill defined to be functional. Anyway let me know what you think below.

Thanks for reading,

Psychime.

Why Visual Novels Don’t Tend To Make For Good Anime

Visual Novels are a very interesting form of media to me. Why would anyone make one? It’s not as easy as making a light novel from a man power standpoint but at the same time it doesn’t allow for the visual experience a full anime would. It seems to exist halfway between the two.

So in my mind Visual Novels are almost always made because the story they tell can only be done so through the medium. I think this is the general reason anime adaptations of VN’s tend not to be very good. There are exceptions of course but even most of them come with asterisks. The Fate franchise, even when some installments are praised, is said to pale in comparison to it’s source, Clannad really only becomes good in After Story.

Let’s take a look at why VNs don’t translate well to the small screen.

 

Length

This is the most obvious reason one could give but I’ll mention it anyway. A 12 episode anime series gives a total of about 4 hours of content, this is paltry compared to the 30-50 hours a lot of Visual Novels can take up. There’s only so much that you can convey visually to shorten that time and as such many adaptations can feel rushed or might be missing crucial info that drags the series down.

A particular instance of this would be in The Fruit of Grisaia. *slight spoilers* In the anime version Amane’s backstory is told in three episodes. This might seem like a lot but the story is about her and her classmates starving to death in a ravine over the course of 2 weeks, every day told in painstaking detail. It’s so long that it could’ve been a 1 cour series unto itself. It should have been one in fact. This part of the story works because of the long and detailed descriptions building up the sense of dread. Even though the show took far more time with it than I thought they would, it still felt far less impactful than it did in the full novel.

This extends to the medium in general, many stories don’t have that same impact when they are stripped of the extra detail they possessed and no amount of visual storytelling can make up for that.

Censorship

This really applies to a certain type of visual novel, the “dating sim”. Really any game where the goal is to meet a cast of girls (or guys) and to choose to be with one of them. This usually ends with sex although not always. Clannad is a good example of one of these games that has no sex, I think it’s part of the reason why After Story translated so well. You see, when you take out the sexual aspect of ones relationships with these people, you fundamentally change them. By taking away the sexual aspects of a story you change how it’s characters are viewed and in cases like these, where sex is a major (if not the only) plot element it can lead to very bland and uninteresting anime.

These games stories are about the relationships between characters, take away part of those characters and you may be left with almost nothing.

The Main Character

This one can be a difficult one to overcome. In most VN’s the main character is not given too much of a personality and almost never are they given a described or visible appearance. This is so the player can project easily onto that character.

When translating to anime however not having a visible main character is not really an option. You have to bring that character to life in a way they may not have been meant to before. You could leave them as a blank slate but that wouldn’t make for very good TV.

This does leave most VN protagonists as very boring when they are adapted into anime.

Focus And Choice

Visual Novels’ big distinction from regular old novels are the fact that you can influence the events of it. This of course makes you really feel like you’re the protagonist of said story but also presents two major problems when one tries to adapt them.

Firstly, you have to try and fit all of the branching story paths into one in most cases. This again fundamentally changes the story and trying to fit differing paths into one can leave a confusing mess. Typically one can see this in harem adaptations. The main guy has to have moments with all of the girls on offer because people want to see their favorite characters from the game come to life. Obviously however having this guy go out with 7 odd girls simultaneously would make little sense, a problem which is often ignored. School Days has parodied this in the past but the real problem it presents in my mind is the lack of focus that come with it.

I talked before about Amane’s route being too short in the anime and this is partly because the show has to fit another 4 stories into the run time. By trying to fit so many stories together, you can end up robbing them of what made them work in the first place.

The other problem this brings up of course is the absence of choice. VN’s are hard to gauge when attempting to analyze them as you are in effect getting multiple different stories. A game I might love because I chose one route might be despised by someone else because they chose a different route. Combining all the routes dilutes the quality of it’s best one by default.

Just think about it, a writer isn’t going to write stories that are equally good all of the time. Some may be good, others may be decent and some may even be alright awful. Think about it this way, take the Animeography of Urobuchi Gen. Let’s pretend his works are routes in a visual novel.

If you choose the first route you watch Psycho-Pass, the 2nd you watch Madoka and the third you watch Aldanoah Zero. The first 2 are well regarded but would appeal differently to different people and the 3rd was not so well received. Any given person would have a 33% chance of experiencing a bad story.

This is why Clannad After story works so well. The story focuses on just one love interest, Nagisa, and as such we get the focus required to fully flesh out the story. When adapting shows can dilute quality when mixing routes and lose focus on each individual story in the process.

Many Of The Good Ones Will Never Get Adapted

This is the most disappointing one to me. The above points are all challenges faced by any VN lucky enough to get adapted many VN’s will never get an anime adaption, even if they deserve it.

Most of the popular dating sims will get an adaptation but they almost never have fantastic stories to begin with. The Steins Gates’ of the world can get an adaptation because they are not too offensive.

But there are a whole plethora of fantastic stories out there that will never get adapted because the content would not be deemed suitable for a wide audience. Sharin no Kuni is a story about a dystopian society that will never get an anime because it’s protagonist is can be a pretty shitty person. Euphoria is a game that few people would have the stomach for and will never get an adaptation because it’s sexual content is far too grotesque. Even though it’s narrative is actually quite interesting, the sexual content is so intrinsically tied to the narrative that it could never be made into a TV broadcast anime. We don’t get many good VN adaptations because most of the good ones aren’t suitable for adapting.

This of course brings me back to my original point, the reason VN’s ultimately don’t translate is because the stories told in them only really work as a VN. Content that is too “offensive” or is built upon the choice mechanic. There is a reason they were written as a visual novel and not something else.

It’s a shame to see that VN’s aren’t receiving much attention or many adaptations as of late as there are some great stories out there in VN form. Hopefully one day they can reach a wider audience some way but until then we are left with a lot more misses than hits when it comes to Anime adaptations of VNs.

Thanks for reading,

Psychime

 

 

The Entertainer Blogger Award

Thanks to Keiko for nominating me for this award. As much as I love talking about anime I love talking about myself even more. So thank you for giving me a chance to stroke my ego.

The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Add these rules to your post.
  • Answer all the questions below.
  • Display the award picture in your post.
  • Nominate 12 other bloggers who are funny, inspiring and most important of all entertaining!

The Questions:

1. Why did you start your blog?

I started it because I want to be a writer. Let me explain, my first step towards this was to analyze TV shows and other works of media so I could discern what I liked about them and try to take that on board for my own work. After a while I had some analyses just lying about that felt like they were going to waste, so I decided to share them on the blog (that’s why I had nearly a post a day for the first week or 2 of the blog).

2. What is your favorite book?

If this means an actual book then my choices are pretty limited. I don’t read very often. For non-fiction Syd Field’s Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting has been very uselful and the works of Friedrich Nietzsche are pretty interesting. As for fiction….I’m going to cheat, Uzumaki by Junji Ito. I know it’s a manga but it’s one of the only pieces of horror based media to really get under my skin and as such is one of the few “books” to impact me.

3. What do you hate the most?

Authority. I have always hated being told what to do, I’d very much prefer to do things my way.

If I wanted to be edgy I could’ve said religion but that would require a much more complex and nuanced answer than I feel is appropriate here. It’s not that clear cut and probably ultimately stems from my distaste for authority.

4. What is your favorite food?

Pizza. All dat pizza. Bacon, pepporoni, chicken and chilli flakes. The ony way a pizza should be made. Fuckin yum.

5. What is your favorite pastime?

Hmmmm. Watching anime is obviously up there but probably isn’t number 1. The one I do most is listen to music but my favorite is probably playing football. Love the sport to bits, can’t get enough of it. The real football too, not any of that hand egg shit.

The Nominees:

A lot of the people I would’ve nominated were given that honor by Keiko so I’m going to leave this blank. I don’t follow too many blogs anyway so I’m not sure I’d have 12 to choose from excluding them.

My Hero Academia On Motivation And Desire

Coming into the Spring season my expectations for My Hero Academia season 2 were not sky high. I had enjoyed the first season a fair bit but was anticipating the rule of diminishing returns to come into play for season 2.

However season 2 built on the best parts of it’s predecessor and has yet to let up. It’s become adept at balancing that line between big fun set pieces and drama that I have previously loved from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (even if it isn’t quite as bizarre).

They’ve managed to keep things going dramatically by focusing on the characters’ motivations and desires, what it is that drives them to be heroes at the highest level.

It comments on motivation and desire in a general sense as well as how specific motivations can affect people and it’s the latter that really interests me.

I think the general sentiment the show has regarding motivation is that you should be very resolute in your own. You must not falter in your belief regarding it, if you do you will not succeed.

We saw elements of this in season one, Bakugo’s loss to Midoriya in particular exemplifies the theme. Bakugo develops real motivation after his fight with Midoriya. Before it he believed himself to be the best by default but after losing to Midoriya and seeing Todoroki in action he realises that just being the strongest in terms of raw power is not enough. He has to want it more, his belief that he is the best turns into a need to be the best that drives him from behind.

In season 2 we see class B get demolished in the cavalry battle because of their shared motivation. The show makes it clear that one should find their own motivation, their own reason to do things with this arc. Even though class B’s plan of hanging back to be less conspicuous may be a theoretically good one, Class A’s stronger desire prevails in the end, they simply wanted it more, they had more reason to go above and beyond to win.

When we get down to the one v one battles we see motivation examined through a more individualistic sense. Their are 5 characters in particular I’d like to focus on here, that are all given distinct motivations. Uraraka and Iida briefly and then Midoriya, Todoroki and Bakugo.

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Uraraka’s motivation for wanting to become a hero is to help support her family financially. We will see with her and Iida that steady motivations can bring people with lesser quirks a long way. Uraraka manages to put up a good fight against Bakugo despite her disadvantage quirk wise. She is so driven to become a paid hero as quickly as possible that it carries her through. In fact if this fight happened in season 1 she probably emerges victorious, taking advantage of Bakugo’s lax attitude towards opponents.

The reason she falters though is her desire. Now you see unlike motivation desires tend to align much more frequently. Uraraka’s desire is to be a hero whereas Bakugo’s is to be the hero.

By putting up a fight against Bakugo she really achieves her goal and even though she’s upset at losing there is a subconscious element to it all.

Desire is born of motivation and as such differing motivations will result in different desires.

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Of course motivation and desire are not the only factors, if they were then Midoriya wouldn’t need one for all to become a hero, they can only help one maximize their innate abilities. This is why we see Iida manage to make it to the semi final and yet fall at the hands of Todoroki. His desire to be like his brother is what drives him to want to win the tournament but even though he gives it his all at the end of the day his powers are no match for Todoroki’s.

His fight with Todoroki reiterates the theme by having Iida manage to land a solid hit on Todoroki when he should have had absolutely no chance. This is a testament to Iida’s desire but also to Todoroki’s uncertain motivation.

I’m very interested to see how Iida changes now that his brother has been maimed. If his motivation changes to revenge things could get very intriguing.

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This is where the best of the motivation/desire dynamic is. We find the three students who’s desire is not to be a hero or a top hero but the top hero. There’s a reason Bakugo and Todoroki make it to the final instead of Midoriya though. He has the required power but Midoriya’s motivation is somewhat at odds with his desire.

He wants to be the best because he wants to help people and that includes people like Todoroki. At the same time to be able to become the best he has to beat Todoroki. This puts him in a conflict, should he take advantage of Todoroki’s refusal to use his left side or try to get him to go all out. In the end it is of course the latter and this conflict is played up after the battle during his talk with All Might.

How will this impede his goals? Well I don’t know if it will. All Might is all about projecting the idea of the hero as a deterrent against evil and that’s why he has to be #1. Midoriya is a different person though, perhaps even more morally upstanding than All Might himself. I wonder if perhaps he will realize that helping people, regardless of who they are or how it might affect him, is the most important thing to him.

In that case his desire might shift slightly to helping as many people as possible. Perhaps, rather, his own personal definition of being the top hero might change. I’m not sure. The resolution of Midoriya’s conflict will be interesting.

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Speaking of inner conflict we arrive at Todoroki. He wants to become the top hero only using the power he inherited from his mother to spite his father. It is clear that even without using his right side that Todoroki is probably the most powerful student in class 1-A. He obliterates Midoriya in the brief moment when he stopped thinking about things and focused solely on his desire.

After this however he is forced to examine his motivations. Does he want to become the top hero to spite his father or for his mother? In either case can he justify the use of his fathers power to himself? This internal conflict eats at Todoroki and visibly effects him beginning with his match with Iida. After destroying Midoriya, he takes a direct hit from the far less powerful Iida and only manages to prevail on sheer power. Even when he refused to use his fathers power before, his resolute motivations kept him calm and collected.

Questioning whether or not to use his power to it’s fullest extent actually makes him weaker. The show makes it clear that being uncertain is not a good thing.

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And this is why Bakugo wins the tournament. I think he would’ve won even if Todoroki had used his flames. He seemed pretty confidant he could’ve in any case, berating Todoroki to use the flames so that his victory would mean something.

Bakugo already had the moment of realization that Todoroki and Midoriya are yet to have back in season one.

He wants to be the best hero for himself, to prove that he is the best and this concrete desire coupled with his meticulous preparation post loss to Midoriya are what carry him to first place. Like I said before that loss he didn’t have the motivation he needed because he seemed to think being number 1 was a forgone conclusion. When he realizes this is not the case he becomes very serious about actualizing his goal and as such becomes exponentially more powerful.

In the tournament we see he has become a much more nuanced and adept fighter, even without his suit that makes his power easier to control. He no longer relies on his raw power, learning new tricks and scouting his opponents to make sure he beats them.

He leaves no room for error because his convictions are concrete. He knows what he wants, he knows why he wants it and he has the power to actualize those goals of his.

 

My Hero Academia has some great takes on what drives us to do the things we do, and why some of us succeed and others fail. I don’t think the show is done however. If it continues to have characters question their motivations (like Bakugo has and Todoroki is) then we could be looking at a thoroughly interesting study about motivation and desire and how it can change. I really hope they keep stressing this angle because the show has shone when it does.

Thanks for reading,

Psychime