Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Don't Kick Me Out My Own House

Okay so a little over two weeks ago Detroit Free Press columnist Stephen Henderson published an article criticizing a local new arena for having Kid Rock as its inaugural act. And the article at the time mostly filled me with apathy. I can't say that I love Kid Rock but I don't hate him. In my younger days I had a lot of fun with his songs and while I kind of roll my eyes at that Senate run of his and some of the stupider stuff he's said I wasn't exactly taking it seriously. For me it is or was a wash.

Especially when the main thing that bothered me is that Kid Rock was neither a representative nor interesting choice as the ambassador the city's musical heritage. It's just kind of hard to get too worked up over for me.

But then last night Kid Rock punched back in a rant which, wow.

Now he IS officially taking up my brainspace.  So let's talk about this. 
For years he's been courting "the good ole boy", I don't know what to call it, let's go with faction of the rock and roll community and them I do have a problem with. I don't know how much of it is his fault. He mostly seems like an oblivious white guy which is a problem in and of itself but there are lots of oblivious white people. (Miles he's running for Senate. I'll get there.)

There are a lot of things I love but more and more it feels like I have to declare my presence and defend my blackness within certain spaces I've enjoyed for years. And while I've never been exactly okay with that when it comes to rock and roll, it feels less like people who are ignorant of what racism is and do not understand what they are doing and more akin something more insidious.

Since as long as I can remember I've always liked rock music. And since I can remember I've had to fight people both black and white who refuse to acknowledge African American presence in within rock music.

And there is a reason for that.

There is a history of cultural appropriation of black music in this country. This can not be argued it is fact. In my younger days I may have shaken my fist at that but enough stuff that I like has been the result of cultural exchange that I generally view it as a positive thing.

Play that funky music white boy.

Just don't be a dick about it.

Black people are here. And we've always been here. Who do you think made the boogie in boogie rock.

I'm not or at least don't want to be one of those "white people are stealing the culture guys".  (Though there is some stuff about royalties that's pretty messed up.) But when people who play boogie rock, punk, metal or even country decide to be racist dicks it kind of feels like getting kicked out your own house.

Again Kid Rock mostly to me seems oblivious.

He doesn't understand what racism is or that since he's running for Senate it actually matters now that he doesn't. For the record, the reason why the Kaepernick boycott hit a nerve is because Kaepernick is simply a man saying that he has grievances with his country via a gesture and the idea that black people are not allowed to acknowledge that they have a "complicated" relationship to thier patriotism for "reasons" is racist.

Or If I am a black man in America am I not allowed to express my grievances with my country and seek to have them redressed? If your answer is no you might be a racist.

That if Tom Brady "were doing it (he) would have no problem finding a job" is actually something to be a little upset about.

That being said I mostly think that  Kid Rock isn't malicious he's just kind of dumb. At least too dumb to understand racial politics.

But you know who ain't.

Man you used to be cool.

I might be wrong. I thought the same thing about Trump but in 2 years time nobody will remember Kid Rock was flirting with a Senate Run, but Ted Nugent has done and said enough dumb shit with an ear to the president that I can't give him a pass.

While Kid Rock is what made my brain go here. Nugent is a true example the co-opting of rock and roll by racist assholes.

And it bothers me okay.

It sucks when it's science fiction, it sucks when it's video games. But damn it this is the house that Chuck built.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Game of Thrones and the Fantasy Ghetto

Okay, the critics are being harsh on this season of Game of Thrones. And to be fair this season has had a lot of plot contrivances and internal inconsistencies but I can't help but feel something else is going on.

This season has been the most "fantastical" season of Game of Thrones We get zombies, we get fire breathing dragons finally breathing fire. We got pirates.

More so than any other season of Game of Thrones this season has broken open the fantasy toy box.

And I love it. Like a lot of the reason why I like Game of Thrones this season, in particular, is because this is the season it decided to stop trying to pretend that it wasn't a fantasy story and just decided to go nuts. Seasons 4 & 5 are the best seasons of Lost.

(Then it fell off the rails in season six but in the moment it was good times.)

And while it's fun watching the "normies" clench their teeth over who's going to get roasted by a fire-breathing dragon reading the reviews I can't help but wonder why folks are surprised by this.

I mean "when is Game of Thrones going to stop dicking around and give us the dragons and ice zombies we've been waiting for" is a joke so old South Park was making it like 4 years ago.

And the critical reactions as the seasons have gotten more and more magical have crystallized a thought in my mind.

I like Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire. George R.R. Martin is a great writer but he didn't invent epic fantasy.  Game of Thrones is one of the better examples of it and one of the best executions of it on television but especially as this season went on I became more and more uncomfortable with Game of Thrones place as some sort of revolutionary never before seen take on the genre.

I don't blame the show but the culture around the show. Sometimes it feels that the reason why Game of Thrones gets the acclaim it does it because it resists the use of its more fantastical elements allowing the audience to forget that at the end of the day we are talking about a show that since day one has been hinting at an apocalyptic  battle between ice zombies and dragons.   And this is the season where that dynamic broke down.

After The Loot Train Battle, nobody can pretend that this show is just high brow historical fiction anymore. And I'm okay with that since I was ALWAYS on board with the idea that while inspired by history as more or less the entire fantasy genre is, the show was very much in line with what I would expect to see in other fantasy stories.

Blackwater Bay ripped off LOTR so bad it's kind of funny. Let's just say I skipped my DVD of Two Towers to Helmsdeep a lot as a kid (And replayed that level a lot on the game.). I know the Hornburg when I see it.

It's a shame. I don't want Game of Thrones to be a lightning in a bottle moment the same way Lord of the Rings was because nobody takes its genre seriously. There is a slew of books and D&D campaigns, and folk legends, and the rest of it that deserve a big budget adaptation of their own just as much as the Song of Ice and Fire.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

They're All Magic the Gathering TV Shows

Okay media's collective obsession with ice zombies and dragons has reawakened my love for Magic the Gathering... which is bad for me, oh so bad for me.  But if I'm going to lock myself in a room for a week thinking about combos and EDH commanders I might as well get a couple of blog posts out of it.

I am super broke right now so new cards are out of the question. No looking at cool new legends and planeswalkers and going ooh what does this button do. (I want the God Pharoh  soooooo bad.)  Evan Erwin I'm not. Wish I was. Hope I can be eventually. But my wallet can't handle it right now.

But I got an itch.  So let's do this.

It's no secret that I've wanted a Magic the Gathering TV show since forever and have pretty much given up on getting one.


 Almost every merchandise driven kid show since 1999 is a  Magic the Gathering TV show.

Kaijudo has it's own weird history and I'll get to it in a bit but for now, everything is trying to be the new Yu-gi-oh and Yu-gi-oh started out as a Magic the Gathering parody. So it's all Magic baby.

Let's Go Back

Okay I shouldn't pretend like the ubiquity of Pokemon was some alien concept. There had been Transformers, Turtles, and Power Rangers before but for some reason, the Pokemon explosion felt bigger, and like the rest of those fads, everybody was trying to get on that sweet sweet pokemoney.

To be fair most of these were using the increased power of miniaturized computer and gaming systems to innovate on the virtual pet fad Tamagotchi started.  So they weren't just knock offs of Pokemon and came out more or less in the same cultural moment.

I don't have a hypothesis for why Pokemon got so big but for a while it ruled the world. And ever since everybody's been trying to do it again. And the fad that cracked the code was Yu-gi-oh.

The combination of  Yu-gi-oh and Pokemon more or less wrote the book on how you market a collectible kid game and guaranteed that everybody was destined to reproduce them FOREVER.

But here is the thing. Yu-gi-oh overtly ripped Magic right the hell off.

Do You Want to Play A Game?

So the early issues of the Yu-gi-oh manga are much more focused on various shadow games than on Duel Monsters, to the point where it and "season 0" are almost unrecognizable from what we got here in The States.

The formula was that Yu-gi a bullied kid who had a penchant for games would get possessed by his alter ego and challenges his bullies to a "shadow game" where bad stuff would happen. Think Death Parade in high school.  A shadow game could be anything but eventually, the writer decided to basically feature a Magic the Gathering reference and the rest is history. The fans loved it so much they demanded more and more of the series revolve around it... and for it to be defictionalized... and get lots of video games... and flashy toy accessories.

BTW who the hell plays card games with a duel disk. You can't read the card. 

While I'm making notes I'll also admit I don't have the time to get into all the stuff that happened between Nintendo and Wizards of the Coast.

This is why the rules are so inconsistent before Battle City. The writer didn't actually expect people to give a rat's ass about the game. They did. Dear lord they did.


So Duel Masters.  Duel Masters basically started out as an unlicensed Magic the Gathering comic. Bless its heart.  No joke. It is a straight long running manga about Magic the Gathering.That works for a comic. But they wanted to adapt it into show. And you just can't do that at least not without a lot of wrangling.

So they had to invent a new card game that was as close to Magic the Gathering as they could get without being sued.  And they did. Like Yu-gi-oh it was defictionalized. But this time around Wizards of the Coast, the company that makes Magic got in on the action and helped develop the game.

I kind of wished they just they market it as is but they wanted Yu-gi-oh money. Most of the changes in Duel Masters are geared toward simplifying the game in ways to make it more similar to Yu-gi-oh. Creatures can attack and block each other rather than just defend the player and there are no designated land cards.  Other than that it's basically Magic with higher numbers.

While Duel Masters is still going strong in Japan, where even the original manga is going strong in the States not so much and Wizard's discontinued printing the game after about five years.

Even when I first started playing Magic had a bit of continuity snarl (Stop apologizing for Time Spiral Rosewater). And Wizards wants to get new players into the game. That's been their priority for more or less five years and almost every controversial decision Wizards has made in that time can probably be attributed to it.

They needed Magic the Gathering lite. A version of the game that wasn't super complicated and had a smaller base of cards. They basically rebranded and relaunched Duel Masters as Kaijudo it went down in 2014 but to this day is probably the closest thing I'll ever get to a straight Magic the Gathering TV show... along with all the other shows and card games trying to be the new Yu-gi-oh.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Competitiveness of the Michigan State House

This was a lot of data entry and I appologize in advance for any transcription errors or errors in general. Also when I say competitiveness I generally mean how close the 2016 races were. I basically tried to find the differences between the Democrat and Republican vote percentages (not counting third party and write ins)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Go Go Science-Fantasy Powers Activate

Gentleman Broncos is a pretty terrible movie. Largely because it's trying to be weird and alienating. And it dismisses the one thing that might have redeemed it. Gentleman Broncos embraces weird ass goofy science fiction. It does it ironically but it does it.

Gentleman Broncos is an ironic love letter to goofy ass out there science-fantasy. and I love goofy ass out there science-fantasy.

For decades we've been trying to smooth the transition between what's been in writers' and artists' minds and we're finally getting somewhere close.  It's possible on a nearly practical level to make a direct adaptation of what was written or drawn.

But it's also lead to this impetus to run away from stuff. To run away from the more fantastical elements of science fiction under the assumption that that stuff didn't work right at the time we can do it but right.   And it's like totally bumin' me out man. 

I can understand a preference for hard science-fiction. Sometimes I'm right there with everybody else. But science-fantasy shouldn't disappear.

The reason why it often didn't work is as I said because filmmakers often didn't have an easy and monetarily efficient way to translate the visuals of comics and the writing of paperback novels to the screen.

That's not really the case anymore. We should be going nuts, absolutely insane. Bonkers.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Online Groceries are Not New, Nor Is Amazon Making Aquisitions

Anytime Amazon does anything involving food I end up having to read a slew of think pieces about how, "they are thinking about getting into grocery business" and I'm just about sick of it.

The truth is that Amazon has been trying to get into groceries for nearly 20 years. Groceries are one of the few goods that are really hard to sell online, for obvious reasons.

And since before there even was an online everybody knew the person to figure that out would be rich.

And right now there are lots of people trying.

The egg everybody is trying to crack is how do you deliver perishables cheaply and quickly and again it's not like Amazon has been sitting on its hands.

Everybody knows that the go-to solution to food transportation has been to use existing grocery infrastructure to shorten transit times so why are we treating the fact that Amazon bought a grocer as a surprise.

It's kind of what they do. Everybody knows that's how Google makes money but Amazon survived the dot-com bubble by basically buying everything that wasn't nailed to the floor and trying to figure out something to do with it. There is a reason why they named their A.I. Alexa.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

We've Commoditized Freedom

I don't think people understand me. Normally whining about "waaa nobody gets me" is exactly the type of thing that makes me want to kick my own ass. But it's starting to occur to me that I have a fundamentally different worldview than the people around me and that's worth exploring. So here goes.

The greatest frustration of my life is that there are all these things I want to do. That I have detailed plans to do. That I can't. I'm patient and have hope that I'll get to them eventually so I try not to be bitter about it but that doesn't mean it doesn't bother me.

I spend almost every second of every hour of everyday thinking about WHY. Why can't things just be as simple as "DO THE THING!"

The simple truth is that everything takes resources. Time, money, manpower, knowlege. It all takes something and the way the universe works resources are finite. Even if I had the resources to do what I want, which I almost never do I would have to consider other places those resources could go. And as a prince or a pauper that will always be the case.

I'm sorry but the hippies were wrong. Money does rule the world. I wish it didn't. I want to act is though it doesn't.  I find the idea of putting profit over people repugnant but and have struggled for my life to square the importance of the two.

Power, Authority, and Leverage

What will also always be the case is that I will never have the resources to do the sorts of things I want to do on my own. Everything whether I like it or not is going to come down to asking the permission of some gatekeeper, somebody who has the resources or at least the authority to use the resources.

Hell, that's what a job is. You ask somebody for permission to do a thing.

It's the way the world works. I dream of the day I can tell everybody screw you this is my call, I'm the boss, but honestly that gets tied up in who has the money. And as my capacity and ambition rise so does the need for more and more resources to the point that I'm never not going to be beholden to some economic stakeholder. I'm not exactly okay with that but again it's how the world works.

Still my dream is carte blanche. The day when I'm the guy with the keys to the money bin and can make the calls about what gets done and what don't and how.

That will be an interesting day.

Anyway until then I'm stuck in a world where for nearly everything I have to ask permission.


I am bristling even if I don't look like it.  (Dear god I wish Adam's speech was on Youtube.)
 I know what you feel... you feel smothered, trapped like an animal pure in its ferocity unable to actualize the urges within, clinging to one truth like flame struggling to burn within an enclosed glass, that a beast this powerful can not be contained. Inevitably it will break free and savage the land again.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 4 Episode 20 The Yoko Factor

Evil Tony Robbins indeed. I chose the nickname Wolf for a reason. I will break from my bonds and devour the world with the insatiable hunger I already feel in my bowels.

And I wonder why people are afraid of me?


As stated the thing that pisses me off is that is that my life isn't as simple as here is what I want to do. Here is what I'm going to do. And within reason, I think life should be that simple. Life is not that simple.

My greatest desire is merely the ability to express my will and act in my own interest without fear.

My greatest desire is freedom.

And from that point, it's only a hop, jump and a skip to not just wanting freedom for myself but for everybody.

EVERYBODY should be able to do that.

Wealth to me represents the capacity to act. Those with money can act and those without it can not. That is the way of the world and I must accept it but it still seems perverse especially when those with said capacity are so reluctant to relinquish it to others.

In a sick way, we've commoditized freedom.

Wealth is a form of power that can be leveraged to make people act against their will. I hate power imbalances that get people to act against their own will for reasons.

That's what equality is to me. The condition of no one being able to unduly compel or coerce anybody else against their will.  (So that's why I've been so obsessed with Camelot lately with the strong defending and guaranteeing the rights of weak, and all that jazz lately huh who knew.)

Miles. Fine vague broad humanistic ideals.

But back to my point. We've commoditized freedom, the capacity to act in one's own self-interest. I don't know how we fix it or how we even broke it or even if that is the way the world always worked, but it's wrong.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

So You're Out of a Classroom and Want to Know Some Stuff

I'm bored. And after spending far too long angsting over the fact that I can't do exactly what I want I decided my best substitute is to crack the books. I am ashamed of just how much I've forgotten over the years and want get to work re-stuffing my head.

To some, the obvious answer to this predicament would be to go back to school but for a lot of reasons I don't want to do that. Money would get involved and when there is money especially the type of money it takes to go back to school, gets involved things get complicated, at least more complicated than just wanting to expand my toolbox and know things for the sake of it.

So here is my list of resources available to people for absolutely free. While there are some cheap classes you can take on the weekend and those are valuable that is not this list.

But before I get started allow me to play devil's advocate against myself. A classroom setting does have many benefits. The structure of the syllabus can help keep you on task and force you to confront material against your biases. A good teacher won't just let your word that you don't need to know that or that you already know this stand, at least without evidence. Self-evaluation of skills is much harder because it's human nature to assume you know even if you do not. Furthermore, the syllabus provides a good outline for the material to be absorbed over a time period.   And lastly, the communal nature of a classroom which in and of itself is an asset allows for safety and equipment that is often hard to use on your own.

I'm mostly making this list for myself but I also suppose it could serve as supplemental material to anybody who is in a class and wants some supplemental material if you're hitting a conceptual block.

The Local Library

I prefer to own books but it's also a long time I admitted that I'm not going to have the scratch to update my own private library for a while so I might as well get back in the habit of utilizing public ones. While not every public library allows you to check out books for free, mine does so I might as well use it.

Also while there is a user fee for suburbanites the Detroit Public Library main branch is amazing. I haven't been in a while but dear god I loved that building as a kid and they don't charge a cover fee for entrance.

Seriously that building is one of the best looking ones in the city and even as a kid I knew it.

Anyway, one of the barriers to learning new skills is that I don't have the money for reference books but a lot of those may be found at the library. And the same goes for technical programs I might not have the money for to install on a home computer. Nobody is going to take me seriously when (I'm 4 versions behind on EVERYTHING and it bugs me that I can't fix that.)

Also, textbooks are expensive but libraries tend to have them. They might not be the latest version but it's better than nothing.

Free Online Libraries
There is a lot of stuff in the public domain.


Yeah I love PBS. Everybody kind of knows that if you want your kids not to be idiots they'll help but you'd be surprised at the amount of non-fiction content for adults. A lot of this is geared towards current affairs, but you'd be surprised at how many hobbyist and adult education shows are on PBS.
Seriously PBS is one of the premier spots to look for documentaries. If Ken Burns farts PBS gets it first.  If you're of a mind to learn PBS isn't a bad place to start.

It's not on every set top box but Roku has a PBS app that archives a lot of PBS stuff for free. Some days I just keep it playing in the background when I'm not in the mood for something else.  Even then a lot of this stuff isn't hard to find. Amazon and Hulu have licesenced a lot of this stuff.

Here is my short list of programs

PBS has gone digital. And has a lot of programming on YouTube such as,
But Youtube, in general, is a godsend for anybody who wants to learn. Here are a few of my other favorite education channels.
Film YouTube
I remember once watching a Punk documentary where one of the interviewees once lamented that if you care about something you're going to try to get good at it and getting technically better at playing music was weird for punk. 

Internet film got better at film and so now there is this whole space of Youtube talking about movies beyond the normal fanboy wanking (that admittedly I love) And it is kind of amazing.  Especially when those Youtubers use film to have broader discussions about culture, philosophy, and ideology. Here are some of my favorites at least in that regard.
Do the Thing Youtube

Dear god there are a million tutorials on youtube. And for the sake of completion here is my list of practical here is how you do the thing youtube channels. 

Legacy Media
While PBS is the most obvious a lot of non-fiction media has had to make the jump to the internet. And so the usual suspects often have educational resources online. More over a lot of newspapers and print magazines are starting to do web documentaries. 

And the same goes for old hobbyist magazines. I've tried to avoid the usual suspects thus far but if you can name them chances are they have a decent youtube channel.
(Sometime while writing this I got really hungry evidently.)

Open Courseware
Several universities post lectures, and many more post resources for their own students. Even if there isn't a lecture most many colleges post things like
  • The Syllabus
  • Previous Exams
  • Homework and Exercises
  • Supplemental Reading Material
  • Lecture Notes
  • Advice on How to Approach Material
If there is a particular university you are interested in, see what they offer and how much is available for free online. I'm not talking about online course necessarily but how much of the material they release to online.  

Kahn Academy

While Kahn Academy has videoes on almost every subject thier real gem is thier World of Math Program which has broken down and has both tutorials, and excersises for roughly 1200 skills between counting and calculus 2 and offers learners instant feedback as well as the ablity to relearn old skills in a way classrooms just can't.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Anime Review: The Twelve Kingdoms (I Am Going to Spoil EVERYTHING)

Okay. How to do this.

The Twelve Kingdoms or Juuni Kokuki is an anime television series based on a series of Japanese light novels by Ono Fuyumi that aired in Japan between spring of 2002 and fall of 2003. While licensed and released in English on DVD to my knowledge it never actually aired on United States television.

Which is a shame. It is the poster child of my ire that anime fans tend to ignore anything was made before 2007 that didn't air on Cartoon Network. For a really really long time, this was my favorite anime series.

To put things in perspective I only have 2 completed series of Anime shows in my DVD collection and the other one is Cowboy Bebop and I honestly think that The Twelve Kingdoms holds it's own against that classic.

Also how government should ideally be run is more or less the entire point the show and for reasons, I'm in the mood for that.  If an anime produced before the Trump administration could be an indictment of the Trump administration this is it.

Fortunately, the show has clearly delineated arcs separated by recap episodes.
  1. Shadow of the Moon, Sea of the Shadow
  2. Sea of the Wind, Shore of the Labyrinth
  3. A Great Distance in the Wind, The Sky at Dawn
  4. Sea God of the East, Vast Sea of the West
Since I saw this on DVD I kind of hated the recap episodes but they really do break up the story into understandable chunks so I'm going to be using them.
The Mandate of Heaven is Enforced

Okay, when I first got into the series it came with a glossary. They throw around a lot of fantasy words and lore but boiled down to its basics in this fantasy world the mandate of heaven is the zeroth law. There are twelve countries each gets a divinely appointed absolute monarch. When the heavens are pleased with them good stuff happens. When the heavens are displeased with them bad stuff happens which may or may not include their death and dispossession depending on just how badly they screw the pooch.

That's what you need to know. That's how all of this works.

The series spends a lot of time explaining that and they need to. But once it's established interesting stuff can happen.

So while in theory each of the monarchs is supposed to be benevolent (hint: they aren't all benevolent) they each have their own personalities, priorities, hangups, and ticks. Which is to say even the functional kingdoms and rulers are fairly diverse.

As such each of the rulers also has complex administrative bureaucracies designed to carry out their will.

Plot Contrivance and Religion
There are a lot of plot contrivances in who meets who and who winds up where. I don't mind that but I can understand why it might make others wary.

That being said, A major theme of the show, is divine providence so deus ex machina as divine intervention makes sense to me. I'm going to spend a lot of time talking about "the gods" and while they exist and are personified they rarely intervene directly to the point where I think there's only one on screen cameo of thier head honcho.(I was mistaken that is only yet another person on a divinely appointed mission, albiet a rather important one.)

They prefer to set things in motion and wait for the players on the stage to act within the parameters they set according to their own intrinsic identities.

If the gods created the land, and the people that inhabit it including those that make up the government then everything that occurs, occurs because of their will.

And dear lord, I hate that in most cases but here it works.

Foreshadowing and Hiding Information
So one of the most annoying things fiction can do is hide information that does not functionally change the story. 

This one doesn't do that.

Rewatching it I am amazed at how much information this story, that I remind you relies on plot twists and reveals, gives the audience.  It never misses an opportunity to worldbuild even when worldbuilding might ruin a later surprise.

The show has a pattern of creating a weird interesting visual spectacle and then waiting for a few episodes for someone to explain what actually was going on, and when finally they do you go "oh, that makes sense."

For instance, the ending of the first arc is spoiled in the very first episode. If you pay attention you can figure out EXACTLY what's going on well before the characters do. And it's not exactly like they are stupid.

How does that work?

Context. The story may give the audience narrative information but doesn't provide framing for why that information is important until it wants to.

There is a "blink and you'll miss it" play early in series that more or less explains an important character's entire backstory, but doesn't tell you that that character was around for that story nor that it kind of scared them for life until much much later.

Shadow of the Moon, Sea of the Shadow
I've been kind of trying to dodge the plot because the point of the whole arc is a reveal but doing that is getting hard. Especially if I want to talk about character dynamics and character development, so I kind of have to.

So What's Going On Here

So in one of our Twelve Kingdoms, Kei, the queen fell in love with her advisor, Keiki. His deal is really complicated.

Really quickly, divine beasts, called Kirin,  that can shapeshift into human form are responsible for interpreting the will of the heavens and imparting that information to those in power. There are a lot of rules regarding Kirin that I don't want to get into but needless to say that wasn't going to happen EVER,

And she couldn't deal. She started killing off all the women of her court to eliminate the competition. Because the mandate of heaven is enforced in this world, that was baaaaaaad.

Remember we're living in a world of fisher kings and when they go nuts the world itself feels it.

But she really did love her advisor and started to fear that the mandate would kill him if she didn't do something. So she committed suicide before that could happen.

The advisor blamed himself for choosing the first queen and dragged his feet on doing it again. And in the meantime, a lot of really bad stuff has been happening in the background. He was tasked with interpreting the will of the heavens and finding a new queen to replace the old and he choose... an ordinary high school student.

Balanced Parallelism
As trite as that last part sounds it's actually well done. The show has masterful parallelism. For instance our main character, Yoko starts the series as wishy-washy class president preparing resign from the position rather than deal with all the responsibility and pressure being in charge brings, and that extends into when she's basically told she's queen of her own country.

 Keiki's story of guilt and regret complements her story.

Almost every major character acts as a foil to another character in some critical way.

Really, the whole thing is really a character analysis of Yoko and every other major character could be said to represent some aspect of her personality or backstory brought to the fore. In some cases literally.

Arguably what prompts her character development is that she learns from everybody else's mistakes and even her own.

Trapped in Another World

Now would probably be a good time to acknowledge the long tradition of trapped in another world stories. This is one of those or rather a deconstruction of one. As the name implies these are stories follow a young girlbut not always, finds herself in a strange and fantastical world that makes very little sense to but must journey across the land of some way home.

If you have seen the Wizard of Oz you know the basic gist how these things go.

And the point of this arc is how absolutely terrifying being in such a place would be by bringing up things like the isolation that unfamiliarity of law and language can bring.

Yeah, this is one of those. 

Trapped in another world stories are a staple of children's literature and very often are thought of as lighthearted.

This is not a nice little music filled jaunt down a merry little lane with yellow brick pavers.

The show balances world building with character development.

The Patriarchy
So there is also a strong theme in the story of self-ownership, the idea that people must take control of their lives and their being (in a series about accepting fate, eh), that's more pronounced in the third arc, which I will get to in a moment,  but in the first our heroine starts the story as a nervous wreck beholden the whims forces outside of her control. And the story is clear WHY she's a nervous wreck, beholden to the whims of forces outside of her control. Her overbearing parents. And the show is clear a lot of that has to do with gender and how she is expected to conform to those roles and expectations. For instance, in a flashback, she is rebuked because her family considers a woman wearing pants shameful. When she rebuts that she can't compete with boys athletically at a school track meet while wearing a skirt she is told shouldn't even want to compete with men.

That's about as on the nose as you can make that metaphor.

And stuff like that is peppered throughout the story, particularly how often femininity is equated to weakness and naivety. A lot of Yoko's story in both the first and third arc is about disabusing her of that notion.

A reoccurring motif is that the character, "looks masculine" its one of the few times the series tells and doesn't show because of production limitations animation is shy on character model detail (there are lots of times in the story where a character's physical appearance is important but doesn't show well in the character models.), but it comes up often enough that it is important.

I don't know exactly what the author was trying to say but it's clear she was trying to say something, perhaps in regards to how her adversaries treat her depending on how "feminine" she's being at any given moment in the story.

Oh. It's an Immigration Allegory

So Yoko and two of her fri... classmates are dumped into a brave new world, without food or money. Because of the mechanics of the world, she can speak the local language but her friends aren't so lucky and they get split up pretty early. Which ends really badly for one them.

A good chunk of the first arc really is about how rough immigrants and refugees have it when the system fails them.

Our bad guy, an evil king does just about every horrible thing he does -and just to be clear he is a rat bastard who gets what's coming to him- because he hates immigrants with a fiery passion. He actively sabotages neighboring countries in an attempt to make his look better because they are run by people who immigrated to them and his worldview can't handle it.

On the other hand, the most benevolent ruler of the show (that we see) is the most benevolent ruler of the show (that we see) because he and his top advisor are functionally immigrants to their adopted homeland and as a result don't revile newcomers as much as everybody else.

After about ten episodes of abject misery, multiple characters, in this trapped in another world story cross the border and are almost instantly directed to an immigration/refugee office featuring bilingual civil servants who can actually tell them (and by extension the audience) what the hell is going on.

Sea of the Wind, Shore of the Labyrinth
I'm mostly going to ignore "Sea of the Wind, Shore or the Labyrinth" because It's mostly unfinished. Most television anime are adaptations of serialized fiction, mostly but not always and not in this case comics, so they often run up against the problem of overtaking their source material in terms of narrative advancement.  There are a couple different ways to deal with this.

  1. Accept it and do something completely different.
  2. Wait and stall, via filler arcs or hiatuses until the source material catches up. 
Something weird happened with The Twelve Kingdoms though. While the books build up this arc, the anime doesn't. At least to a point. It's clear there is a story to tell but compared to Yoko's story, which feels complete this unfinished arc is very truncated and easily segregated.

Both light novels and the anime adaptation kind of trail off. But the anime doesn't focus on it as much. It feels like they wanted to plant the seed if the author ever came back to this plot so they could do, but also didn't want to over-commit to it in case she left in hanging, which she did.

So I just like to pretend this arc doesn't exist.

That being said I don't want to be too harsh on the author because, even though it leaves this series in the lurch,  that time was being spent writing Shiki and Shiki is goddamned awesome.

As it is the anime is mostly concerned with Yoko's story and I don't really see anything wrong with that, but the books which are much more concerned about the state of the world rather than this one character.

A Great Distance in the Wind, The Sky at Dawn


More so than the first arc characters other than Yoko are mildly important. In the first arc, they mostly served to externalize her inner conflicts and contradictions so that we wouldn't get what I call Dune disease.

And while they still act as foils they have their own complete arcs and are plot relevant. I'm not going to break down each one individually there are a million wikis for that, but they all carry a central theme. They refuse to take ownership of their own lives and personal conditions, largely because they accept social hierarchies.

And each arc is about getting them to a point where they do take control of thier lives, even if it means their death.

While tangential to the plot there is a nice little bookend, that I think drives the point home.

Our story picks up some time after Yoko has taken the throne and everybody is wondering what her first law will be because it's extremely symbolic setting the tone for the rest of her reign. She elects to put off the decision until after the events of this arc.

And her first proclamation, which reflects everything she has learned from her adventures and capstones really the entire series is... that nobody is required to prostrate themselves before anybody else anymore.

She dislikes the both culture of abject subservience that it has created amongst her subjects and the culture of abject entitlement that it has created amongst her court

Let's Talk "Mandates"

So the plot runs on divine monarchies, but it's also very smart. The European and Asian concepts of the divine right are similar but slightly different. A monarch can lose the mandate of heaven by acting like a total tool and inciting popular revolt.

That allows for the concept of not a mandate of the heavens but of the people. And while I'm not going to focus on it, it happens. An oppressive dictator (who murdered a fifth of the population) gets beheaded and the heavens are more or less cool with it.  The guy who did the dead angsts over the fear of divine retribution for regicide, and it doesn't come. The opposite happens, people beg him to take the old king's place on the throne. He views that type of usurpation of divine authority as an unforgivable sin but eventually relents as time passes. This side plot sows seeds for something akin to democracy in an Ancient China analog and it is amazing.

It's a side story tangential to our plot but it's an interesting moment where the show lampshades its contradictions between taking responsibility for one's life and acceptance of one's fate as divne providence and as well as thier intrinsic identity as the same.

Really the entire arc is like that, trying to reconcile notions of divine providence with modern ideas of free-will and self-determination.  Admittedly it doesn't always succeed but it's a noble attempt especially considering how badly that can go.

Still features an evil atheist though.

Rage Against The Heavens
So one the reasons why our villains does what he does is, a crisis of faith. He doesn't believe in divine providence and decides to prove the matter by doing EVERY DAMN EVIL THING HE CAN THINK OF and daring the gods to strike him down.

He's actually kind of grateful that his divinely appointed monarch decides to take it upon herself to dispense justice unto him for his crimes.

It restores his faith in the cosmic order.

The Law

So central to the arc is how do we form a just government and by extension what should be the priority of law and the punishments for breaking it.

  • Rehabilitation of Evil
  • Deterrence of Evil
  • Reparation To Victims of Wrong Doing
  • Societal Stability and the Maintenance of Public Order
  • Provision for Emergency Services
  • Provision of Education and Services that Allow for Social Mobility
  • The Self Preservation of the Government and It's Ability to Act
  • The Protection of the Vulnerable From Those Who Would Exploit Them
What is the purpose of law and how exactly does it facilitate justice. There are many different characters who have different ideas regarding this and once you scrape away all the plot stuff this is the central conflict of the arc. What makes a law or government just?

An Outsider is In Charge of Government And Reality Ensues
Anyway, while Yoko is divinely appointed to the throne she still knows jack all about, administration, geography. culture, law, politics, history, and pretty much anything having to do with this brave new world and EVERYBODY KNOWS IT, including Yoko herself.

This causes her to make stupid decisions, overcompensate for her recklessness and lean on her very very VERY corrupt court to keep her government from falling apart.

Ha ha hah ha ha

Eventually, realizing that her erratic behavior is untenable Yoko decides to take some time off to get her head straight and her advisor, Keiki, who is the only person in the palace contactually obligated by the cosmos not to be an evil dick, recommends she stay with an old friend of his.

Okay while definitely of the archetype, Enho is actually a pretty laid back guy and uses the time to teach her the barebone basics of how her kingdom actually works. He's a hippy.

In an unrelated to cover up their wrongdoing, low-level officials kidnap the guy and we're are off to the races.

Let's Rewind

I've been trying to dumb down a really complicated plot that hides what the hell is going on for most of the show but it all of a sudden matters.

So remember how I said the previous arc's villain, the King of Kou was trying to sabotage the kingdom of Kei.  Well, he did this by setting up a puppet Empress and since this is a world where the greatest factor in producing a functional society is whether or not a divinely appointed and righteous monarch sits on the throne that was bad news.

But this is the aftermath of that story. See, Yoko's court is worried about reprisals for anybody who followed the puppet queen, WHICH ALMOST ALL OF THEM DID.

Make no bones about it most of these guys knew what they were doing. She was cosmically barred from taking the throne by the rules of the universe. They just didn't care. In addition to the wrath of the very displeased gods, which manifests itself as plague, earthquakes, floods, famine, and goddamned demons roaming the land they also caused a bloody civil war as everyone else had to take sides.

Once the dust settles on the first arc they start wanting to cover their own asses for that move. And they start doing more and despicable things to that end which culminates in I kid you not the murder of children.

Anyway, Enho, the guy they eventually kidnap was a loyal personal friend to just about the only military general who didn't immediately relinquish his army to the false queen and remained loyal to Yoko and her throne even before he knew who she was.

That's character motivation. Why the bad guys do all the evil stuff they do.
Ha ha ha ha.

Again the story is mostly about Yoko slowly becoming less naive and getting wise to all of this which takes her a while but is immensly satisfying when it happens.

Everybody's Coming to the Party

For the sake of brevity (which hasn't really worked), I've been trying to avoid talking about any character who isn't Yoko unless I absolutely had to. But the reason why I really love this show is roughly a 10 episode stretch right before the end of the series, which is much faster paced than everything else and gives almost every main character a satisfying moment of badassery and they just keep coming concentrated into distilled awesomeness.

Most of their arcs can be summed up as life sucks and is unfair but there is nothing you can do about it at least not without appealing to some higher authority and hoping for the best.

One of the many complaints about this series is how much the characters wallow in self-pity.  But that's kind of point of the show, which views self-pity as useless at best and disgusting at worse and spends pretty much 35 episodes beating that point into the characters, until they get pissed off enough to do shit.

And they do get pissed.

Alright, the coverups require the bad guys to capitulate to the demands lesser officials who believe it or not are even MORE corrupt than those at the palace.

This results in
  1. The reckless murder of a blind child in broad daylight by a public official.
  2. The kidnapping of Enho, who while not a public official is probably the most respected dude in the immediate vicinity by the general public. 
  3. The murder of a young woman, and the near mortal wounding of a child both of whom who were staying with Enho under his protection.
Now, people were already kind of pissed off at the government for the general state of their shitty lives but that business creates IMMEDIATE fervor for justice to be done and if the government ain't willing to hold itself accountable for THE MURDER OF CHILDREN well then.

Oddly enough, while the rebellion is really really well organized, and has been planning this a while they didn't want to launch the attack just yet, but kind of feel obligated to rescue Enho, who runs the local school house and is functionally thier really chill soc prof.

A reoccurring theme in the series is that education is the foundation for a functional society. Almost every character who isn't a royal or doesn't start the show on the brink of insanity is a student, and the solution to almost every major problem including this little rebellion is kick started by them.

These guys are not exactly for overthrowing the monarchy. That's how you piss off the gods and nobody wants to piss off the gods. And in all fairness, they're sympathetic to Yoko who's only been on the job by this point maybe 7 months if that. They, for the most part,  don't blame her for the state of the screwed up the government which was pretty broken before she even got there.

They mostly us just want to cause a big enough stink that she has to respond and perhaps even intervene on their behalf by holding her corrupt officials accountable for their actions, which along with the flagrant abuse of the law and suppression of dissent also includes massive and gratuitous graft at the expense of a destitute public, that's basically being held hostage to the laws which are supposed to protect them.

What they don't know is that Yoko wants to rescue Enho just as much as they do and views them as her best chance to do that before the bad guys decide to screw it and just murder him for the hell of it. She sends a letter ordering her court to stop this nonsense but they disregard it, and she gets the message loud and clear.

If she wants to fix things she's going to have to do it herself.

Remember when I said there were other characters. Well, EVERYBODY is pissed at this shit and multiple characters decide enough. So we end up with three smaller rebellions that eventually coordinate into a single larger one causing a more and more escalated response by Yoko's corrupt court, culminating in a multi-episode siege and it is awesome.

While yes there is limited animation, which is less fluid than modern audiences might be used to it's extremely well edited and paced. While there is some spectacle what makes it so engaging it that the audience always knows where everyone is, why they're there and what they're doing.

Moreover, it's set more for drama than action as the culmination of the 15 episode arc. While yes you get swordfights what it really excels in is satisfying character moments.

Which is to say there is a lot of standing around and talking. I find it engaging but if you're expecting Attack on Titan you'll be disappointed.

Sea God of the East, Vast Sea of the West
There is one more arc but it has nothing to do with Yoko and is mostly concerned with the backstory of supporting characters. It's good but this thing has dragged on long enough.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

That's A Paladin

So after Legend of the Sword, film YouTube and film Twitter are basically saying, King Arthur movies are dead.

To which I say, LIKE HELL THEY ARE!

Look for the past 10 years or so the largest fantasy property in the collective consciousness has basically been a brutal deconstruction of fantasy tropes, namely the ones that King Arthur codified.

And I love Game of Thrones, I love George R.R. Martin.

But I think it's about time we had a straight version of all that stuff. And that means that instead of trying to explain away or ignore all the goofy stuff in the Arthurian legend you would need to have to lean into it with absolute earnestness and sincerity.

Lean into the fact, we are talking about a guy who was ordained by Almighty God to lead a chaotic, unstable Britain into a golden age of moral righteousness and has a couple holy artifacts lying around to prove the fact.

And yes I know saying it outloud sounds batshit insane, but that's King Arthur. I love the Fate series

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I Am Not A Monarchist... But

So I'm trying to write a review of The Twelve Kingdoms but I kind of feel I need to write a bit of a disclaimer.

I am not a monarchist but the concept of divine right is very important to understanding that story and for that matter huge swaths of literature and history,

The Twelve Kingdoms takes place in a fantasy world where the primary thing that differentiates it from just being a simple historical drama set in ancient China is that the mandate of heaven is enforced. The gods have more or less set up the constitutional rules of government as well who runs it and EVERYBODY in the setting knows that not pissing them off is rule 0 for a functional society.

Before serious talk of plot or character takes place that kind of has to be understood.

And to a modern audience especially a western one that might seem kind of... stupid. We've spent what? 300 years preaching how absolute monarchy kind of sucks.

And it does. I am not arguing we bring back the monarchy.  God no.

But that the concept of divine right, that God directly chooses who's in charge, whether we like it or not is baked right into the even western culture.

And let's face it that idea is not going away. There are a lot of people who believe that if God takes a direct role in the affairs of earth, he also takes a direct role in the affairs of government.

But I digress. That is a rabbit hole I do not want to go down. 

The point that I want to actually make is that if you want to understand Shakespeare, King Arthur, Robin Hood or even the Bible itself  you kind of have to wrap your brain around the idea that at one point in time people really did believe that God chose who was on the throne and trying to supplant or usurp their authority was a direct affront against God.

And since a lot of those stories are baked right into the culture so is divine right to a point. I mean no person is seriously going to argue for the monarchy at least not in America.  But we have plenty of stories even modern stories that argue for the monarchy.

And it kind of pricks at me that we don't acknowledge that that's kind of going on even if we disagree with it.

Especially since that stuff kind of builds up over time without people realizing it.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Banquet of Kings

The Twelve Kingdoms more or less set my idea of how leaders should behave and for reasons I want to revisit it  (and it's one of the few anime titles I have a complete DVD set of) but before I got to it I kind of got sidetracked by the Banquet of Kings which is one of the best, most thought-provoking scenes in television anime I've ever seen. So let me get that out of my system and then I'll get to The Twelve Kingdoms.

The premise of the Fate series is that it's basically a battle royal with various mythological figures. There is a lot of backstory and character stuff about who's doing what and why but that's what you need to know. We're living in a world where Cú Chulainn and King Arthur go at it.

In Fate/Zero three of those figures are kings, Arthur, Alexander, and Gilgamesh and they all kind of hate each other. In an interesting turn rather than doing the obvious they decide quietly sit down and discuss their differences over wine and see if they can get each other to yield the macguffin without bloodshed.

And dear god is that one interesting conversation.

Gilgamesh's point is interesting if a bit convoluted and hard to understand. He's an arrogant demigod and arguably the oldest legend upon whom all others are based.

For him, kingship is not a mantle. To be king is definitionally to be him and to be him is definitionally to be king. Everybody else is a usurper. It's hard to wrap your head around but he's basically arguing divine right. The gods made him king and so he is king. It is that simple. There are no other considerations or qualifiers. He is king.

This is Gilgamesh.

And he comes off as an asshole because of it. But that's kind of the point Gilgamesh is kind of a dick and that he refuses to acknowledge both Arthur and Alexander kind of rubs them the wrong way but his self-interest is an anathema to Arthur especially.

This is an Arthur who exists after the battle of Camlann. It gets worse in the sequel series but she ( oh yeah this version of King Author is a woman) ain't happy about how her life ended. Eventually it gets so bad that she contemplates a complete do-over where she never removed Excalibur from the stone, but for now, she just wants the moment of her greatest failure to be undone and for her people to have remained in the safety and prosperity of Camelot.

To her that's what kingship is, serving the people whom have entrusted thier faith with her.  And she fundamentally can't stand Gilg-I-do-whats-I-wants-mesh.

Alexander, on the other hand, views her position as kind of pathetic. For Alexander it's the other way around. What makes a king a king is that he has people who serve him that are willing to put their faith in him. His view is that that only happens when a person is self-motivated, when their goals and desires are intrinsic to who they are.

He is troubled that Arthur has allowed herself to become an empty vessel for her people's hopes and dreams and wants to shake her out of it.

Despite Arthur being the flagbearer of the franchise, the series ultimately sides with Alexander who is a nice compromise between the other two.

Let's Save the World By Being Super Special Awesome At Video Games

Alright. So every time I feel the urge to poke fun at the myopia of anime fans I also feel the urge to reflexively point out I am one. Which is to say that despite myself I love the last few seasons of "a guy trapped in another world kicks ass by basically being the best ever... at playing a video game" shows.

Sword Art Online, Log Horizon, Overlord, Re:Zero, No Game No Life. I love that shit. But I'm also willing to admit that most of that stuff isn't challenging. That's not necessarily a bad thing. A movie or tv show or a book, comic or whatever can exist for no other reason than to cater to fantasies of its audience AND be engaging. Hell, if they really wanted to they could make it that and densely intellectually challenging. (Stick a pin in that.)  They found a nerve and damn it they aren't letting go anytime soon.

All the same, I worry that the medium is pandering a bit too much to its audience. So here is a list of stuff with similar premises that I think don't pander as much.
Summer Wars

As I hinted the "save the world by being super special awesome at video games" genre isn't exactly new. Hell, that shit has been around since Missile Command.

Yes I'm talking about War Games.

Okay. So if you're about my age and going nuts over the media of your childhood you've probably gone googoo for Digimon or if you're short on time Digimon: The Movie.

I liked it as a kid but I'll admit Digimon: The Movie is not good. But that's not the movie's fault. It was Robotech spliced out of three unrelated Digimon short films so what do you expect?  But the middle segment, Our War Game really is a pitch-perfect homage to War Games with a Digimon skin.

Two of the Digi-destined have to face off against a virus digimon that is inadvertently setting off a nuclear war.

The director decided, why not go back and try it again.

And it's kind of amazing. Seriously Summer Wars holds up with some of the greatest, most heartwarming stuff in the medium.

The movie uses the basic premise of Wargames to showcase character dynamics in a crisis amongst a large family and coming from a large extended family myself a lot of it felt real and honest to me.


Yeah, in all honesty, I really just wanted to just do a deep dive on this and this post would probably be that but I'm in the middle of an "involuntary media sabbatical", I'm broke and had to cancel my streaming services so I'm just going to have to talk out my ass.

.Hack//Sign is the Anti-Sword Art Online. Same basic premise but it's about how being trapped in a video game would suuuuuuuuuuuck.  Also, it manages to do that Frozen/Chronicle thing where for a long time you don't know if this kid is going to go Avatar Korra or Carrie White.

Which is more or less the point. In this world, he's given the power of a god and the show is about watching what that power does to him. Hint: It's not good.

See in Sword Art Online our Marty Stu main character often makes a big stink about how he's a loner and doesn't really get along with other people. Horseshit he ain't. Seriously, the show bends over backward to make nearly every female character his plausible love interest, including, I kid you not, his cousin.

Nope. .Hack//Sign on the other is actually about someone who is not so good at dealing with people and a whole lot of the story is centered around that, to the point where the key to solving nearly every other big problem in the show is breaking through his insecurities and getting him to make with the talking.

And I like that. I mean putting a bunch of miserable jerks in a situation where they all have to get past their shit and work together has been done but I still like how this show did it.

Seriously you could tell the basic story in like 3 episodes if Tsukasa believed in the power of friendship from the start.


Yeah, they basically did that. .Hack//Quantum is basically a faster paced less character-driven version of .Hack//Sign with better animation. I like the writing of .Hack//Sign better because it delves more into why the characters are the way they are and why it takes so damn long for them do the obvious thing and just talk to each other but .Hack//Quantum has better production values and is better at describing the weird sci-fi conspiracy stuff that was going on in the background in .Hack//Sign.

Also at least in spirit, it is one of the better compressed adaptations of a television show I've seen. They go all in on the basic premise of that story in a much smaller timeframe and it's worth watching just to figure out how they did it.

Sure they don't have all the same character names but you could easily go down a checklist on who's got who's personality and who serves what purpose in the story. Things are different but they nailed the spirit of the story.

12 Kingdoms
What might make the difference for me with trapped in another world stories, may be the main character and their reaction to being trapped. In Log Horizon everybody is more or less cool with the situation. It lets the show move on in some interesting directions, for instance, it gave the characters a reason to hold what's basically a constitutional convention in a medieval setting. Still though it's a little weird that none of them are freaked out. Didn't they have families? Lives? Hopes? Dreams?

On the surface, the 12 Kingdoms has what I'm sure must sound like the most escapist plot ever. A mythological creature basically tells an ordinary high school student they are the long lost absolute monarch of their own country in another world.  And reality ensues.

In its day the show got a lot of grief for how wishy-washy and unlikeable the main character is. But in light of certain people not considering how much work and responsibility leadership positions can be as well and how high the stakes are before jumping in feet first I think that complaint needs some reappraisal.

The show also serves as a crash course to wrap your head around the mandate of heaven. For westerners who have for centuries been fighting the idea of divine right to the point where I don't know if we can understand it anymore, this show does a pretty good job at explaining the mandate and why it's so important to understanding Chinese history

The main character starts the series really really REALLY not wanting to be in charge but gets the mandate of heaven beaten into her and turns out not to be half bad at the job once she gets her head out her ass.

Seriously by the end of it Yoko becomes a badass and is kind of my model for how to be a boss that don't take no guff.

She takes part in a rebellion against herself because in addition to being laughably corrupt her court manipulates her while refusing to listen to her orders.  Dear god do I love that arc.  She joins the rebel alliance to kick HER OWN ASS. And it is awesome. Probably the best animated medieval style siege I've ever seen on a TV budget. It's long, it's grueling. It's the Alamo with arrows. It's Blackwater before Blackwater. And while that arc wasn't meant to be the end of the series it's satisfying. Most of the main characters get a complete arc even a few I had forgotten about.
End of Spoilers

She basically does the King Solomon prayer for wisdom thing and that's what she winds up with, and dear god, do I love it.

Escaflowne and Fushigi Yûgi

One of the criticisms I think the fandom is least likely to want to hear is that the modern anime landscape isn't welcoming to women. But it's fair. For the past 20 years or so the television market at least in marketing has been primarily focused on Shonen anime targeted to guys, And to me it kind of feels like it's getting worse, though that's just my opinion. At least in the well-marketed items, there doesn't seem to be the diversity there used to be.

And look I love that stuff. But I'm also willing to admit that my experience is that anime fandom tends to be overly dismissive of women and media targeted towards women. Now that's not just a problem with anime but it's there.

Here are two good trapped in a fantasy world stories I feel never got their due because instead of being mostly masculine coded escapist fantasies they're coded feminine. Fushigi Yugi, in particular, is very much aimed at young girls.

If you're kind of annoyed that modern anime sword and sorcery panders to the fantasies of teenaged boys too much this stuff might be worth a look.

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