atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#200: The Bicentennial Atomic Fungus

...and I'm going to spend it fixing everything I did wrong with the last entry. I don't really have much of an excuse for such sloppy self-expression, but I have spent my weekend alternating between two states: awake and hungry, and asleep. This has been for two major reasons.

First, it's a rare weekend off for this holiday season; as a retail grunt, I am having to work a lot, and weekends (particularly Saturdays) are prime shopping times. My usual schedule has given me both Saturdays and Sundays off, but since mid-November I have had to work on Saturdays. I don't really care since I don't do anything special on weekends, but for some reason this weekend I was blessed.

Second, it's fricking cold outside. The high temperature this weekend was in the low 20s. Not wanting to freeze important bits off my anatomy by attempting any car work in this cold--I have still not gotten the garage cleaned out, and it's my own fault!--I decided to hibernate, stay in, sleep and eat, and watch anime. *sigh*

Now that I think of it, there is a third problem: there is something wrong with our water supply. We get a few seconds of normal pressure, and then it peters out. I can't take a shower because the water slows to a trickle, and I need a shower. (This is where you breathe a heavy sigh of relief that the internet can't transmit smells.) (Well, actually, it can--someone worked out the hardware and software--but only utter lunatics would have something like that.)

So on to my celebration of the two-hundredth entry in Atomic Fungus.

* * *

But First, A Reintroduction

For anyone who may not have read the entire tedious thing--I introduced myself by name in the first entry of Atomic Fungus but I haven't bothered to set up my profile or anything like it. I'm lazy.

My name is Ed Hering. I'm 39 years old, and I live in the south suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.

This blog/livejournal is about things that interest me--primarily anime, science fiction, and cars; but I comment about whatever happens to catch my interest. (Sometimes I comment a LOT.) My political views are highly conservative--no "right of center" or "moderate Republican" here; I am a PALEOCON and have been since 1992.

That's going to take some explaining: I've always been a conservative, but in the late '80s and early '90s I drifted towards the center of the political spectrum. George H.W. Bush (ie "Bush 41") was a not-bad expression of my politics at the time--the moderate "country club" Republican. (His sons, I might add, are approximately the same brand.) But my political roots are more in line with Reagan than his vice-president, and in 1992 I returned to those roots after I gave serious thought to my politics.

My evolution into a moderate Republican--and my subsequent return to the right wing of the party--gave me an opportunity to give serious and conscious consideration to what I believed, and (more importantly) why I believed it. It's beyond the scope of this particular post to describe the process in detail, but this process let me understand the logical reasons for my opinions, and let me consciously accept views which were supportable--or reject opinions which did not make sense, opinions which I could only support with an insistent, "Because!"

For example, where I formerly was an uncritical supporter abortion-on-demand, I found that I could not support the legality of abortion as it now stands, due to the way it was legalized in this country (via judicial fiat). I find the actions of an imperial court an unacceptable end-run around the Constitution. I now find abortion-on-demand unacceptable regardless of how it is legalized, but if it were legalized through legislation I would accept it as the will of the American people. I am a big believer in the lawmaking process as set forth in the Constitution, and I am always ready to accept the will of the American people. But "Roe v. Wade" was not an expression of the will of the American people.

So, that's enough of that. Now on to the corrections for #199.

* * *

Mahoromatic Commentary, Revisited

I really enjoyed the first series--the first twelve episodes--but the last three episodes were not particularly well-executed. (IMHO, of course.)

As denbeste points out in the comments for entry #199, I was in error with regard to when the anime had outrun the manga. *sigh* My other error is not explaining which ending I was referring to when I started talking about Gainax's inability to end a series gracefully.

I haven't seen the second half of Mahoromatic yet. I am going entirely on the opinions of others who have; that, and past experience with Gainax train wrecks, gives me a reasonable starting place for educated guesswork.

Compared to how some Gainax series have ended, the ending of Mahoromatic: Automatic Maiden is a priceless masterpiece. But it left me cold, because rather than focus on the character relationships it had spent nine episodes building, the series suddenly turned into a fighting series.

If you look at series which contain multi-episode fight scenes, they are long-run series--sometimes very long-run. Yawara!, which is about a reluctant judoka, clocks in at something like 150 episodes. Ranma 1/2 ran for at least six seasons; and do I even need to mention the Dragon Ball franchise? That thing spawed more than 300 episodes, movies, and OVAs, for crying out loud.

When you are making half a season's worth of episodes, do you really have time to spend three episodes on a single battle? I would argue that the answer to that question is "no"--particularly when you have spent the first nine episodes concentrating on character interation. This is what I meant when I said, "Gainax turns the series into a bad clone of Evangelion by focusing on her role as a 'battle-bot'."

All of this probably would not have been quite so irritating if there had been a decent denouement to the first series. What we are given is Mahoro, carrying an unconscious Suguru, as she flies across the night sky in her flight mech, Sylpheed, crying. Suguru's friends are shown doing their things at their homes, noticing the strange sparkles of Mahoro's tears as they glitter in the moonlight. (She must have been crying like a broken fire hydrant...but okay, I'll just accept that it's a bit of artistic license.)

And I said, "What the hell was that?" Would five minutes of "morning after" have hurt? Would a thirteenth episode showing everything back to normal have been excessive? Maybe something light and entertaining after three seriously heavy (and boring, in spots!) episodes?

Make no mistake about it: I will see the second half of the series, because the episodes that I have liked, so far, have been so very very good. The manga clearly gave the series a solid foundation, and Gainax did an honest job on animating it. (I'm a bit disgruntled to hear they toned down the H stuff, though, from where it was in the manga. Argh.)

But I am not--as you may have guessed--one of the legion of otaku who thinks Gainax can do no wrong; Evangelion was an utter botch, and the end of His and Her Circumstances really pissed me off.

I guess I find it so annoying because of all the stuff that Gainax has done right: Wings of Honneamise, for example, deserves every accolade it's ever been given. Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water proved that even Gainax can manage to end a series properly. It's frustrating because it makes me wonder if Gainax is doing this crap on purpose, if their producers are just pushing the audience's buttons because they can.

* * *

Happy bicentennial!

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