Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pointless Debate #36: Madarame and I

This has been a rather interesting season so far from my perspective, even if I haven't found any single series to be particularly outstanding. Recently I've been coming across a theme in a number of things. That would be the simple concept of quitting. Let me just clarify that as of the writing of this sentence I don't have any intention of doing that as far as writing this blog is concerned. That doesn't mean I'm above using it as a topic in this little installment of my not often run Pointless Debate series.

The first inspiration for this post is the character Madarame from Genshiken. In this second generation work, he finds himself as a salaryman still attached to the old club in a number of ways. His apartment is closest to campus from a physical standpoint. However much fans want to ship him with the crossdressing Hato is not really important to the story. No, this is more about how he is emotionally tied to a club that he's unable to move on from.

For Madarame, it's his unrequited love for Saki that keeps him coming back to the club. The rest of the group from his generation from Genshiken has moved on with their lives. Even if Ohno and Ogiue serve as the bridge to the new group, they both have relationships with the other members who graduated and have jobs. Madarame, for as much as anyone may want the scenario from Spotted Flower to come true, associates his being an otaku with the girl he can never be with. Is it a simple matter of replacing it with another love as Sue suggested? I don't think it's so easy because he doesn't have anything on the other end to give him a reason to quit.

Another episode that followed a similar theme was the 4th episode of Free!. While new club member Rei is completely unable to swim for most of the episode, he maintains his commitment to proper form and style over anything else. He was letting the other 3 members of the club down by taking such a position. He had a sunken cost of all of the equipment and the swimsuit he bought to look stylish but ultimately had nothing to do with the act of swimming. The thing keeping him committed was the vision of being able to swim just like Haruka did the freestyle. Ultimately, it really just took the simplest act of all. He quit trying the specialties of the others and did the butterfly because it was the only thing left to try, style or no style and he could swim.

Continuing on this trend of quitting, I've tried to make it a point not to continue watching something I didn't find enjoyment in. There have been times I've failed at that since I should have dropped Gargantia after episode 7. As far as MAL is concerned, I'm up to 340 different anime that I've given the boot. Most of these are 1 or 2 episodes in because it's simply much easier to drop a show when that's the case. Given a longer run, like say an Inuyasha, Space Brothers or Bleach and the sheer length of it makes it much easier to drop as well since each episode no longer feels as special as a single episode of another series.

Which leads to the image above from the 2nd episode of Gatchaman. This is a series that has nostalgic value for me when I was younger and it aired on American television as G-Force in syndication. Mainly, I started watching this to make a point to all of the people watching Gatchaman Crowds that there are other series called Gatchaman that exist, but it's also about the nostalgia. Gatchaman is a 105-episode series from the early 1970s and when it was initially brought over it was trimmed to 85 episodes that were edited with the violence taken out, character names changed and a mascot character added in. On a side note, that's sort of like how big budget movies are adapted to the Chinese market, but I digress.

So what initially turned into a half-troll/half-nostalgia trip has actually turned out to be quite the education. Sure, the plot for each episode is formulaic as hell, and this ninja team happens to be quite crap at not being discovered, the treatment of women is appalling (Ken punching a woman in the face for not pushing a button being a particular lowlight), but I find it interesting to watch for all of the stuff I don't remember or was edited out. I don't remember Ryu being completely useless, Ken punching women, Joe starting fights in empty rooms and Jinpei trying to ship Jun with Ken constantly. Then again, I don't think shipping was even a thing in the early 80s. I'm only 7 episodes in to this particular run, but I think I'm going to hang with it for a while since it outweighs dropping it.

And I can now get to the big question as to this blog, my fandom and the idea of quitting. I guess when I first started this blog I had dreams of being able to engage with other people on whatever topics I felt like writing about. In order to do that, one has to have some level of popularity, maybe on the mythical order of 10,000 views a month or be in a position to collaborate with others on interesting projects.Instead I've become popular in a limited way on Twitter which has little to do with anything here. I will admit that it has changed the way that I've watched anime even if I've never been successful in generating page views in ways that don't involve Ladies versus Butlers and a girl sitting on Akiharu's face. So really, if I left there's not much I would leave behind is there?

But what would I be leaving it for? A life where I'm represented on Twitter as the guy who tweets opinions about shows that aren't relevant to anyone while boring everyone's weekends with the latest information on sport being played in Wales and England? That just feels like an empty life where I'm missing a hobby. As far as this particular fandom hobby, I remember taking the entire summer off 2 years ago and not really missing a thing.

Overall, I can't really say I've found wasted my time on this project. I've met some goals in completely different ways, while others have become much more gigantic in scale than I realize. So I guess this is a way to say to my sole reader that I'm going to keep sticking around until I find something better to do and/or something I'm actually really good at to take up the time.
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