Archive for May, 2009

This Month’s Asuka…

May 23, 2009

…features one story about making low-calorie sweets because EVERYONE loves counting calories and HEY LET’S ALL DIET except that guy because he eats eight muffins in a sitting and never gains weight HOW COULD THAT BE it’s almost like it’s genetic OH WAIT STOP THINKING, and one story about a penguin who wants to go see the south pole before HE DIES and he knows he’s going to die because he is metabo. Way to take it one step further with the “fat = ABOUT TO DROP DEAD AT ANY SECOND” meme. Because I bet you’ve never seen an old fat person.

DuckTales character Doofus is also made of 110% pure Fail.

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How to Betrayal

May 23, 2009

This post contains lots of spoilers for Pretear, Deltora Quest, and a minor spoiler for the latest chapter of Monochrome Kids. Non-spoiler summary: It sucks when a character betrays the protagonist by saying “Mwahaha I was evil all along and all my character development up to now was a lie.” It is much less annoying when a character betrays the protagonist for actual reasons that are in character. This is where I would use the lj-cut tag, but this isn’t LJ and I don’t know how to cut things.

So, I really hate Monochrome Kids, but I kind of have to keep reading it because of all the cat ears and junk. This issue, main character Kureha finally meets a hyena who is all kind and polite and helpful. “Yes! Someone who is not constantly insulting and threatening to kill me!” the protagonist thinks. “Yay, a nice animal,” I think. “I bet he is totally going to try and kill her.” The asshole leopard refuses to let her work with the hyena and insists on helping her himself, while keeping up his usual steady stream of verbal abuse and justifying his helpfulness as sadism (because being helpful for the sake of it would ruin his image as a huge asshole). Then she has to give a speech and the hyena says he left her speech on the podium. She goes up to the podium, but the papers there are blank. She has to ad-lib a speech to avoid the potentially lethal wrath of the student body.

Betrayal Classification: Annoying. I saw it coming a mile away, and it really pounds you over the head with the message that people who are kind and polite to you can’t be trusted, because they are just getting you to let your guard down so they can hurt you worse later. Don’t you know that nobody is genuinely kind, so you can peg anyone who fails to insult you as a liar? Not to say you can trust all assholes, but you can trust some assholes, whereas nice people are scheming lying backstabbers and you should punch them in the nose at the first sign of politeness.

It occurs to me that I hate this kind of plot, where a character that I liked or had marginal hopes for liking suddenly reveals that they were pure evil all along and everything up to that point was a complete act with no hint of truth whatsoever. A much worse case of this type of betrayal is in the anime (it comes in other formats but I haven’t read/played them) Deltora Quest, wherein a certain character – I guess I won’t give too much detail and limit the spoilerage – turns out to be a horrible deceiving crab monster of some kind, near the end of the series, with absolutely no redeeming qualities (and completely two-dimensional, since he had to start from scratch and didn’t have much time and, oh yeah, was generically evil). (I didn’t finish the series once I was sure they were done with this plot point, so someone tell me if I’m wrong and this was retconned out at the last second.) This is better than the Monochrome Kids hyena in that people who aren’t assholes exist in the Deltora Quest universe, so it doesn’t deny the existence of non-assholes at all. But it is worse in that that was a frickin’ long series and I watched most of it only to go “Ugh! This is stupid! I’m watching something that doesn’t suck instead,” at the end. Not that it wasn’t a pretty simplistic show the whole time, but things that piss me off could at least try to be sophisticated. Betrayal Classification: Monumentally annoying.

Contrast to an anime I did like (although I haven’t gotten around to reading the manga), Pretear. (Can I just note that the transformation is weirdly freudian? The guys go into her heart and then armor and weapons and junk form from sparklies that come out of her womb-type area.) It’s been a long time, but as I recall the main villain turns out to be the previous Pretear-heroine-person, and one of the guys is still in love with her and eventually takes her side against the protagonist and the rest of her harem. I always liked him better than the main love interest, because in accordance to the Protagonist Always Chooses Asshole if She Has a Choice Rule, the main love interest is kind of an asshole (although of course, regular assholes pale in assholishness compared to the leopard in Monochrome Kids). But the thing is, after the whole betrayal thing, I still didn’t hate him and he didn’t become an entirely different character! He was the same character but with some new elements revealed, and they changed a lot but did not contradict his previous character development! THIS IS HOW YOU MAKE IT NOT STUPID. Betrayal Classification: Deliciously angsty.

Body Image Fail and Win

May 19, 2009

Fail goes to Zotcha no Nichijou (a very well-drawn comic about a cat published by Margaret Comics) for the character of Bravo and the way she is treated. Google image search only found one relevant result for Bravo: here is a fanart of Bravo, whom the artist finds adorable. My friend said the same thing when I showed her Bravo, but my cynically defensive side was pretty sure she was just being politically correct. Zotcha himself, of course, finds her butt ugly but since he is a Nice Guy he didn’t actually treat her like rubbish like all the other cats.

In volume 7, Bravo goes on a crash diet (after a tree branch breaks under her weight). Everyone showers her with praise. The vet warns her that sudden weight loss is bad, but also tells her her weight loss has made her cute. She is suddenly the most popular girl-cat in town and all the boy-cats who were complete assholes to her before want to get a date with her. But she starts dating Zotcha, because he was not a complete asshole to her when she was fat. At first this is totally awesome, and if you caught some chapters of the serial publication but not others you would get a diet success story. Then Zotcha notices things like how she can’t walk any distance without becoming exhausted and she keeps falling asleep while he is talking to her. Finally he tells her he liked her better when she was fat. She starts eating again and gets slightly fatter than before (because dieting does that to your metabolism). Zotcha is still dating her, because dumping her at this point would be too assholish, but he is not as enthusiastic about it. The manga itself mocks her earthquake like steps, which makes zero sense considering that, being a cat, she weighs much less than the stylishly skinny human girls in the comic, and their steps do not cause earthquakes when they run.

So, it sucks to be Bravo. The story wasn’t wild anti-fat propaganda but it didn’t provide much counterpoint to all the “wow, you are so cute now that you have dieted yourself to a weight that is unhealthy for you”, and the manga still mocked her with fat jokes, and Zotcha may have learned a lesson but she deserves someone who actually finds her attractive.

Body Image Win goes to Gakuen Tengoku (of the previous Fail post) for having a character concerned that Hawt Babe Vampire and Fat Geeky Boy are not a good couple, not because Fat Geeky Boy does not deserve a hawt babe, but because Hawt Babe Vampire treats him like dirt and he deserves better.

Arale

Arale

Another Body Image Win goes to a cartoon I have seen all of two episodes of on weekday morning reruns called “Dr. Slump”. I knew of its existence from Jump Super Stars on the Nintendo DS, which featured a wide variety of comics from Shounen Jump. In these days of Dora the Explorer getting a slimming makeover and government-funded programs practically teaching kids to ostracize the fat kids, it’s refreshing to see an old cartoon consistently portray a chubby-by-today’s-standards girl like Arale as cute and adorable. Just look at the ending credits where she wears different adorable outfits like a tanuki and R2-D2 costume.  (Sure, it’s kind of relegating her to eye candy, which always happens to women in ending credits, but at least it’s body-positive eye candy.)

Of course, it also has Fail, because while all the men are pretty square-shaped, all the women of attractive, marriageable age (that is, all female characters who are not little girls or old women) look like supermodels, because duh, their function in the male viewpoint world is to be sexily attractive. Presumably Arale will too when she gets older, unless she is some kind of non-aging superhuman android–she does seem to have super strength.

Bonus Win for the sentient pink poop on a stick. I found a plushie of it at a yard sale, but my dad took it home with him.

Bonus Female Character Fail: I saw that Summer Vacation with Coo the Kappa movie and it was much less kiddy than I expected. But why are the daughter and mother so shallow and unlikeable? Because women are fickle and make no sense! (I also would have liked to see more affection for their dog on the part of the whole family, like, before xyz happened. The mother was the only one who seemed to care for him, because you know, women are sappy like that, when they’re not going on about how old they look and how smooth their skin is.)