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Friday, 29 April 2011

New Navbar and Chatbox

Made a new css based navbar and added a new chatbox to replace the old one that got spammed to hell by bots. I only made them with firefox in mind so I'm not sure how they'll turn out in other browsers but their functionality should remain the same.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Manga Review: Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge

Chainsaws and cute girls that can kick ass. Two things I can never get enough of.

Title: Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge
Author: Takimoto Tatsuhiko, Saiki Junichi
Release: Monthly
Status: Complete
Genre: Psychological, Supernatural, Romance, Comedy
Art: A
Originality: A
Story: B
Characters: B
Humor: B
Action: B

Impression: Coming from the same author of “Welcome to the NHK”, this is a prior work of his that was adapted years after the NHK manga started serializing. It revolves a young aimless teenager who finds escape from his daily stress through the fantastic duels held between a tall, unkillable, raincoat-clad, chainsaw wielding hulk of a man and the super-strong, super-cute high school girl he just happened to run into after impulsively stealing some meat from a convenience store. I’m not sure if it’s intentional or just a result of me being quite genre savvy but I found the mystery behind the battles with the girl’s nemesis to be incredibly transparent. It’s got a very basic and predictable plot and the symbolism isn’t exactly subtle but it is an enjoyable enough series with some fun quirky characters. Maybe someone new to manga trying to be deep will find this to be a profound exploration of very relatable issues as indicated by most of the reviews on mangaupdates but to me it’s nothing special - in fact I felt that the symbolism was only there to make readers feel clever when it was clearly spelled out by the author. Still a decent read though so give it wouldn’t hurt to give a try. It’s only two volumes long after all.

Manga Reviews Index

Monday, 25 April 2011

Video: Madoka Magica MAD - "My Sun" by KOKIA


Seems that hisami_nathuki(Got the name wrong last time. KOKIA is the artist singing, not the MAD's maker) released another Madoka Magica MAD set to a KOKIA song in the same style as the last one. Unlike that one, the follow-up is based on the show's ending and prominently features Homura and Madoka in the video. Personally I don't think of it quite as good as the last one but it does make me appreciate the ending even more. I really do find it odd that it's only been a few days and yet here I am, already looking fondly back on the ending. Guess the all the new fanart just keeps reminding me how touching it was. I now think of it more as a healing reconstruction anime rather than the grimdark deconstruction that it was till the last episode and that really speaks volumes about the ending. Seriously, it completely turned the whole series on its head so fast and hard that I can't help but feel like I went through Stockholm syndrome because of it. Gen Urobuchi stabbed my humanity with blades tragedy and despair only to hook me up to a morphine drip laced with hope at the very end. Only someone as manipulative as QB could do something like that so I will stand by opinion that the white Faustian furball is in fact his author avatar. Here are some MadokaxHomura pics I dug up from Gelbooru.

You can find more Goddess Madoka images here.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica's Ending Explained!

It's really been a while since I last posted but with the hustle and bustle of university assignments coming to a close with exams approaching, I finally have it in me to get back to blogging. I haven't neglected it for so long since my O' levels(or was it AS levels? I forget) but even then I had daily manga reviews lined up for automatic posting for a whole month. Hopefully I'll really be able to get things back on track soon and renovate this place because change is in order, starting with the shoutbox since spambots have gotten into it somehow. I've got a whole bunch of new website designing skills at my disposal so I'll be experimenting with what I can get away with on blogger. Look forward to it to whomever's actually following my words.

Now onto the subject of this post - Madoka's ending. An ending with such a huge shift in tone when compared to its prior episodes that one would think this was a last minute change to the story due to executive meddling or something. I myself would have held fast to that theory but it seems that Urobuchi Gen, the writer behind the series, intended on this all along since he wanted to make a "healing" anime, which the ending actually pulled off. Seriously not what you'd expect from the guy who came up with Fate/Zero and Saya no Uta.

For its ending, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica chose to go out with Madoka wishing so that she personally sees to it that magical girls in all of time and space never become witches. By doing this she ends up recreating the entire universe and ascends from a mere human being to an omniscient, omnipresent sentient concept surpassing time that governs the end that magical girls meet. Essentially a god as Kyuubey predicted but in my opinion a "god" isn't quite right as she's more of a "rule" now. No one but her little brother and Homura remember her ever existing and the Incubators' magical girl powered entropy fixing system has changed for the better. This seeming "way out there" ending really gave Madoka Magica the last touch it needed to be called the Evangelion of this generation. I doubt it'll spark as many heated debates as the super controversial mecha series though. Pretty every loose thread's been taken care of so there's not much left to discuss except how much people like the ending and why.

In spite of the page on wtf endings that SHAFT and Urobuchi seem to have taken out of GAINAX's book, Madoka Magica's ending was actually quite well done and had little to no mindfukery to dick the fans around with. Sure, it does give off the impression of being an all too convenient suspension of disbelief shattering deus ex machina that was way out there and far more than a bit "much" but once you get past all the weirdness, you'll find that everything worked right within the established bounds the series set up beforehand and that had it been handled a little bit better, it wouldn't have come off as such an underwhelming finish for roller coaster ride that was this series. Let's review the main issues people seem to have with the ending:

Madoka's Wish
If it was as simple as wishing for no more witches why didn't anyone wish for it before? Simple, because no else but Madoka could have made it work. From what I can tell, Kyubey's wish granting system works based on how much potential a girl has when they go magical and the extent of their wish depends on that potential as it is implied that there are limitations to what can be wished for when Kyubey questions if Madoka's wish can even be granted. Her potential as a magical girl built up over the countless loops that Homura's been through and judging by the fact that she managed to oneshot Walpurgisnacht by the fourth iteration, there was just no way anyone but her could have pulled off that wish. Madoka also had what most magical girls seem to lack, a thorough understanding of what becoming a magical girl means.

Scene at the End
We see Homura walking all alone in a dessert with dark murky ethereal wings and we hear Madoka cheering her on. I've seen speculation on this taking in the far future where human civilization is mostly gone and that those wings are signs of her ready to witch out but I highly doubt that(though I really wouldn't put it past her). The most likely explanation behind this scene is that the demons raised up a barrier and Homura just happens to be fighting them alone because she's gotten THAT good with her powers. Right after the Sayaka scene we see a demon burning up and the scenery around it depixelating. Given that there had to have been a good deal of damage done to their surroundings had they been fighting the 3m tall demon in the train station, the lack of any visible damage to the station indicates that they fought inside a barrier like they did with witches. As for the wings... the power of eternal love between Homura and Madoka?

The New System
Under the new magical girl system, the girls no longer turn into witches and instead disappear when they were supposed to. Curses now manifest in the form of the giant robed demons for them to fight and generate emotional energy in the soul gems for improving entropy instead of collecting. The Incubators directly have to function as grief seeds for them to unload all their grief so they no longer have to fight each other for resources or be "cannibals" by slaying witches. It's now in QB's best interests to keep the girls safe since they'd just lose all the potential grief they could have reaped from the soul gems meaning that the girls won't get actively screwed by the ones playing the role of their magical pet.

However, I feel I do have to point out that the girls are generally still just as expendable and renewable as entropy staving resources as they were when witches existed. Not quite back to the traditional models of magical pets but still pragmatic enough to leave QB the same as ever, just no longer as a potential enemy. I also have to wonder about the curses manifesting as demons. As shown in the episode with Sayaka, Madoka's basically collecting grief energy and allowing magical girls to die in peace but what does she do with that energy? The Incubators don't seem to be capable collecting it once the soul gems are gone and curses never manifested as demons in the former universe so the only logical conclusion is that Madoka's causing that grief to turn into these demons. I'd even go as far as to speculate that she's converting them herself and that the demons are her familiars in order to maintain universal balance. Madoka having to endanger the girls herself certainly adds a seemingly sinister consequence to her wish but it's still objectively better for the girls this way and I do like how much more bitter this theory makes the ending. Sorry if this ruins your happy impression of the ending but you should know that out of all the characters, QB the pseudo-schadenfreude was the only one I could relate to.

mfw when I wrote the previous paragraph. Also happens to be a few of my display pics.

In the end, I must say that Madoka Magica's ending is not an easy one to appreciate with just one sit through. They pulled a Decon Recon Switch in the span of one episode and the result is a very difficult finale to process properly. Too much was done in the last installment and all the developments overwhelm underlying emotion behind the scenes. It took me a rewatch to genuinely like the ending for the emotions in it and not just the consistency of the writing. They also really could have stood to tone down the cosmicness of Madoka's and Homura's farewell scene so it wouldn't have come off as more supernatural than touching and cut down the epilogue time so that it doesn't take away the power of the epic first half of the episode as much. While the finale did let me down by not ending as strongly as it the series was built up to be, it didn't detract from the show's overall quality. Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica was not quite a masterpiece in my opinion but it came really close.

[EDIT] Okay then... We now have a Church of Madoka. Should have seen it coming but I really didn't. I can't imagine how ridiculous this is going to get.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Fractale Ending Rant

Original hair colors here. One less plot hole in the manga.

Just finished watching the last episode of Fractale and in all honesty it was rather disappointing. The fact that I'm actually taking the time to write this rant out should be quite indicative of how annoyed I was by the way the series ended. The series was actually pretty good overall with its fascinating setting but then they wasted all the building up they did when the last episode rolled around. It was as if they decided to switch out the original ending with something that would look more mainstream. It really wouldn't surprise me at all if that was the case since the whole hair recoloring thing was supposed to be so that the series would appeal better to regular folks who only watch Ghibli films for their anime experience. I was expecting something more epic as the truth behind Phryne and Nessa being the key to rebooting the Fractale system. Here's how I think the series should have done with it:

It's revealed that the Fractale system isn't just a worldwide augmented reality system but is actually a reality within a reality simulation that everyone's plugged into. Every time they reboot the system, they're actually creating another iteration of the reality and sending everyone's consciousness into the new reality hence the reason the series is named after the word Fractal - "A rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole". It'd explain why exactly rebooting would save them all when the problem with the system is the hardware deterioration of the satellites and why is it that Nessa can exist in those dead zones where the system isn't supposed to work.

From there I even speculated that Dias and the high priestess were the previous iterations of Clain and Phryne that knew the truth behind the system and that they took polar views on what should be done about it. That part was mainly because of how intentionally similar they made him look like a grown up Clain along with the whole clone thing but even I think that's a bit of a stretch. Thinking about it now, that theory could still fit in there with the ending but that doesn't make it any less of a letdown. Yamakan has failed to save anime but will that actually stop him from acting like the drama queen he is? I think not. People like him just don't give up so I doubt he'll actually follow up on his threat to leave the industry. Just hope he's learned to shut his big trap and actually puts his money where his mouth is in the future.
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