Well, I’m finally settled in enough to post something to the blog, thus, you have this wonderful little tidbit. Recently, other than having to slave away answering phones for tech support, I’ve been playing quite a bit of Big Bang Beat, a doujin fighter that features quite a bit of the team that worked on Melty Blood. It features a cast of high-school punks beating the shit out of each other, a topic near and dear to my heart. However, there’s not really much to say about the game (other than that I need to figure out some combos for the ultimate badass), so, instead, I’m gonna talk about a couple of series that were passed over by most subbing groups, and the reason why I feel they’re worth wasting time on.
Alright, so, the two series are Dennou Coil and oh, Edo Rocket. They pretty much couldn’t be farther apart in terms of style, Dennou Coil (Coil for short) is pretty and futuristic, combining cyberpunk elements with moe in a way that I find very interesting, mostly because it presents a picture of AR that is weird, but not overwhelmingly bizzare or frightening. Edo Rocket, on the other hand, is not very pretty at all, and deals with the history of edo, while adding supernatural elements and traditional shounen show cliches. Neither one will blow anyone away (unless you get blown away by the idea that wheels, are, in fact, round). But I think that there is something to be found in these two shows that I feel is important for the growth of anime, namely, the exploration of different types of conflict.
Anime traditionally has a very small tool-kit when it comes to conflict and its resolution. Generally, there will be a challenge posed by some other creature or person, which the main character will confront, either with words or with his fists, or, frequently, both. At the end of the action, the conflict is either resolved, and the challenger either becomes an ally or is defeated, or the resolution of the conflict is postponed (the villain runs away, the main character is beaten but will come back later, someone interferes, etc.) Now this sort of conflict/ conflict resolution makes sense for a predominantly visual medium like anime, but it tends to lend itself to very simple stories with fairly simple themes.
I can talk a lot more about this (and I think I will later), but, for now, the important thing is that Edo Rocket is a very Shounen show about a boy building a rocket to the moon. Of course, it can fall into standard “we need to gather the pieces of the magical rocket motor” sort of thing, but, it occurred to me that there is the possibility of something important here. Fundamentally, life is complicated, and, so, frequently, things are not clean cut. There’s no-one who is an enemy, just people who can be pains in the ass. Nothing that you can really grab hold of and fight against. But it’s a struggle to be born, and, in most parts of the world, it’s still a struggle to stay alive.
I’m not sure if I can express exactly what I want to see, but whatever it is, it’s like slice of life, but, instead of being laid back, it’s intense. It’s like shounen, but there’s no-one to fight, just people to deal with and a constant battle to create. It’s about the challenge of getting up in the morning and trying to make a difference, to make something shining. I’m sure Edo Rocket won’t do that, but at least it reminded me what I’m looking for.