Refresher Course

The other night the light of my life was far distant, so I stayed up into the wee hours watching a Japanese cartoon. She’s not a fan of the idiom, so I took the opportunity to grab a few episodes. Heh. A few episodes. I had watched the beginning of the series long before, and all I remembered was that I was confused. This time I closed out the story.

I’m not going to name the show, though if you’ve already seen it, you’ll recognize it.

Pf. Like anyone is gong to read this and then, sometime in the future, while watching a Japanitoon say, “Dammit! Jer spoiled this one!” I shall forge ahead, then, and stop worrying about that stuff. The actual show really isn’t that important. My observations apply to just about every Japanitoon ever created.

The point of my ramble: This particular Japanitamation reminded me of a lot of things I need to take to heart as I lampoon the genre:

  1. People you like can die. No one is too important to take a bullet. The free pass that the main characters get in American dramas is the biggest weakness of the form.
  2. The name of the bad guy must be ridiculous, and western. Meet Mr. Monday Friday. Seriously. Personally I have a lot to learn, coming up with bad guy names. There’s something that holds me back, prevents me from turning up the ridiculometer to eleven. Mr. Monday Friday. Knives. The End of the World. Cumbersome names are quite all right, because…
  3. Mon…day… Fri… day… When you run out of dialog, Just find a key phrase for someone to say in an agonized whisper. Usually the name of another character, but let’s not limit ourselves: Stevo… Jobsu! or hu….mili…ating in…fect…ion

All that notwithstanding, I have to give the cartoon some credit for good writing. There’s a point where a guy is told, “if you go though that door your existence will be erased!” But on the other side of the door is truth, and our boy really wants to know the truth. He makes a decision, and a guy that up until then had been clearly one of the bad guys is redefined. That’s not a trivial storytelling feat. The incident also defines a rule of the universe that is critical to the conclusion of the story. Let’s face it, we’d all like to write a scene like that.


4 thoughts on “Refresher Course

  1. Not many people have watched that show, and even fewer have enjoyed it (most compare it unfavorably to its predecessor). But I’m glad you liked it.

    The level of coherence in the overarching story, while simultaneously keeping each individual episode interesting and important, is rarely seen in anime (and Western TV too) IMHO.

      • Madlax was part two of a loosely-defined “trilogy”. Part one was Noir, which had a smaller cast, a more episodic nature, and a more muted degree of mysticism. Noir was much more popular, but I thought Madlax had a deeper (more intricate) story. Both were good, in my opinion, as long as you take them on their own and don’t go into one expecting more of the other.

        There was also a third part to the trilogy, but the less said about that, the better. I didn’t finish it. Perhaps someday I will give it another chance.

        • I enjoyed Noir – though when there was a flashback in the first episode to earlier in that same episode I had to wonder what I was getting into. After a slow start it got stronger, and I’ve watched it a second time with pleasure.

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