Many of my favourite manga have quirks that distinguish them from other graphic narratives. In Oyasumi Pun-pun, the protagonist and a few other characters are depicted in an abstract style that sets them apart from the world around them. However, the world makes no note of this difference: the dissonance we see in Pun-pun’s design comes to parallel the dissonance he feels from the world as we follow his troubled life. His crude form suggests a kind of innocence inherent in him; as his depiction transforms as the story goes on, the cruel nature of society becomes more and more reflected within him.
This technique is called ‘de-familiarization’: we see it often in surreal and abstract art, but it can find its way into all sorts of fictional media. Through patterns of genres and themes, stories tend towards a sense of habitualization when it comes to processing characters, settings and situations. But artistic choices can be made to isolate and distort particular aspects of a work, negating our expectations and placing us in a liminal position between understanding and uncertainty, disrupting the automatic consumption of a story and encouraging us to see beyond the surface of what we’re experiencing.
De-familiarization is a tricky task: make things too bizarre and you risk alienating an audience rather than bringing them closer into what they traditionally enjoy. When the entire premise of a work rests on the disruption of a particular reading habit, everything can fall flat if the abnormalities are poorly introduced or managed throughout the work. We could point to Handshakers as an example of a failed attempt of this: most of the attention the show received was made up of its followers pointing and laughing at everything they saw. There was little discussion of the potential artistic merits of the bizarre animation, because barely any potential was seen. Regardless of intent, the strange stylistic choices came across as little more than, well, strange.
You don’t need to be flashy to de-familiarize something in your story, though. Simple touches can be all you need to draw your audience in and make them feel like they’re experiencing something ‘new’. Some creators do this by not adding anything at all: rather, they take something away. In minimalist works, like Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, this can be taken to the extreme: whole dimensions of setting and plot progression can be brought close to nothing. But again, one simple subtraction can be enough.
What if the most interesting character almost never spoke?
Continue reading Komi-san wa Komyushou Desu: Saying More Through Silence
(note: this article is from an anime-only perspective, and is primarily aimed at anime-only viewers)
Medieval fantasies often have trouble with the agency they give to women in their worlds, from societies over-populated with passive princesses to ‘strong female characters’ that have little complexity beyond being, well, strong and female. These stories are always under the shadow of period of history that saw the height of a patriarchal social structure and the treatment of the ‘fairer sex’ as little more than property. Modern writers should feel encouraged to subvert tropes and cliches in order to find new room for characters other than knightly men to flourish. Yet, one show this season has stumbled when it comes to handling a large part of its cast. Continue reading Rotten Chivalry: The Role of Women in Goblin Slayer
Recently, popular Twitter user Bardock Obama has made it his mission to ‘bury’ Digibro over his tweets regarding Patreon’s new rules about what artists funded on their site are allowed to draw:
I hear has instituted new rules banning illustrated incest, bestiality, and loli porn. Um… why? What does Patreon stand to gain by shunning artists based on the fetishes they draw? If they think this is a moral line in the sand, I’ve lost a ton of respect for them. (https://twitter.com/Digibrah/status/978050277713555457)
When some people began to insinuate that he was personally insecure about losing the ability to support these kinds of pornography, Digibro went on to explain that he had been a fan of lolis – a ‘lolicon’ – for a long time:
Where do I get these new motherfuckers from? Do you even know who I am? I’m pretty sure I’ve been loudly proclaiming my love for lolis for like 15 years where the fuck have you people been? If you think I’m going to be embarrassed by being called out you know dick about me. (https://twitter.com/Digibrah/status/978345008481886209)
In response, Bardock tweeted out that people shouldn’t let ‘children and now pets near this dude’. This progressed to him getting in contact with Crunchyroll, Funimation, VIZMedia, Toei Animation and Anime Expo in order to have Digibro boycotted or blacklisted by these platforms – apparently, one has already accepted this request (UPDATE: this tweet has now been deleted, suggesting it was false information). He wants this to be the ‘end’ of Digibro’s career. The harassment Digibro then received from Bardock’s followers led to him feeling the need to go private. Continue reading Lolicon: Where Do We Draw The Line Around Drawings?
I was thinking of leaving this review empty to sum up how I felt as the story came to a close.
Continue reading Charlotte – 13 (Super-Sized Final Loss of Hope)
Yuu’s hospitalization gives all the important members of our cast some final moments to catch up with him. It could probably have been meaningful if any of it mattered.
Continue reading Charlotte – 12
Even the swimsuit episode is more than meets the eye.
Continue reading Gakkou Gurashi! – 09
Did I say Yuu bounced back before? This week he bounced back in time, and I’m sure a lot of people’s interest in this show has bounced back too.
Continue reading Charlotte – 09
The Club’s dreams may be floating in the air, but the reality of their situation has only just been unearthed.
Continue reading Gakkou Gurashi! – 08
Yuu, after bouncing back, comes to terms with some important truths, all courtesy of a blind woman who, in typically ironic fashion, sees more of life than he does.
Continue reading Charlotte – 08
Delicious cooking, an existential crisis, and balloons. This week was as quietly chaotic as Yuki’s mind, and it resounds all the better as a warning that we’ve reached an turning point.
Continue reading Gakkou Gurashi! – 07
Did I say this show outright collapsed before? This week it went one step further, the best animated example of ‘that escalated quickly’ yet.
Continue reading Charlotte – 07
Miki’s back-story is wrapped up (at last) with her introduction to the school living club, and something far more unsettling that the undead she’s faced: Yuki’s traumatic disorder.
Continue reading Gakkou Gurashi! – 06
Did I say the structure of this show was disintegrating? Well, now it’s outright collapsed.
Continue reading Charlotte – 06
Concluding a two-part flashback, the School Living Club gathers supplies, tries on clothes, and picks up a lonely girl and an over-excitable dog in the process.
Continue reading Gakkou Gurashi! – 05
A hunt for a power user becomes an extended camping trip, which in turn becomes a great way for Charlotte to get back on track with making its cast engaging.
Continue reading Charlotte – 05
It was Miki’s turn to take the spotlight this week, as Gakkou Gurashi! continues to make every character’s backstory a heart-stopping and heartbreaking experience.
Continue reading Gakkou Gurashi! – 04
It’s a baseball episode – what else is there to say?
Continue reading Charlotte – 04
A dive into Megu-nee’s past becomes a crash course in how to nail a flashback episode.
Continue reading Gakkou Gurashi! – 03
Another day, another pubescent power – or how about two? As the Student Council track down Yusarin, an idol occasionally inhabited with the spirit of her less-than-cheerful dead sister who also happens to be able to set things on fire, they end up not only protecting her future, but that of a friend as well.
Continue reading Charlotte – 03