Monthly Archives: August 2016

The Anxiety of Choice

Zero took the anime world by storm, progressively becoming one of the most widely viewed and talked about anime during its time airing. There are a lot of obvious reasons why this anime would appeal to so many people. For example, the choice to have it set in a fantasy world resembling any given MMORPG – especially given the success of other popular anime to do this such as KonoSuba, Sword Art Online and Log Horizon.

The other element of the show, and the one we will be focusing on and which I believe is even more essential to Re:Zero’s success, are the “resets”. Much like save points in video games, the main character Natsuki Subaru is able to start over his journey from a certain point in the story after he has been killed. Although this power is shrouded in mystery within the series itself we know that it is somehow connected with an entity simply known as “The Witch”. It is through this reset feature that the audience is able to closely connect with our main character, not only because much of the audience are probably gamers and know the pain of having to replay a certain portion of the game, but also because it highlights the anxiety that is created when you know that your choices truly matter and have an impact on you and the people around you.

To explain this idea with more clarity I will be relying on the lens of existential philosophy. What exactly is existential philosophy though? What sets it apart from other schools of philosophy, and most importantly, what does this have to do with Re:Zero? Existentialism started to arise in the late 19th century and as the name would suggest it is the analysis of existence and of the way humans find themselves existing in the world. What differentiates existentialism from other branches of philosophy is its focus on the individual, free will, and personal responsibility. This is in contrast to other schools of philosophy that will look at things from a much larger societal context. Some of the prominent philosophers that have contributed to existentialism are Søren Kierkegaard, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Heidegger, and my personal favorite philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche.

So hopefully the pieces have started to fall into place as to why the existentialist lens fits so well for discussing this show. There are many concepts in existential philosophy, but the ones are that most applicable here are no doubt the freedom of choice, the weight of personal responsibility and the anxiousness that follows it. If there is one show that highlights that your choices do matter and that you as an individual define your own fate through your actions it is Re:Zero. We are shown time and time again that Subaru always has a choice. It bucks the trend of fatalistic and deterministic thought that nothing could have been done and it wasn’t your fault. It instead embraces your responsibility. That when character like Rem or Ram or Emilia died, it was a direct result of Subaru’s actions or often inaction.

It is certainly an empowering and fulfilling feeling when you know that you are in control of your own life. That there is nothing holding you back but yourself – but what about when things go wrong? What if you can’t protect the ones you care about? What if you’re never able to achieve your dreams? What if you keep failing? It would be easy to blame someone else, blame the system or society; to give up and say nothing can be done. This is not the way of the existentialist though, and certainly not the way of Natsuki Subaru. He has to continually relive and experience these moments of failure, until he can finally get it right.

We all make mistakes, but we often don’t think about how we could have improved or what we could have done differently. It’s easier to just blame others and society. It’s much harder to blame yourself, recognize your faults and take personal responsibility. Freedom of choice is a double edged sword; when things go well or if things fall apart it is your responsibility to bear. Unlike in video games or Re:Zero there is no “reset point” What if you mess up? What if you fail? You have only yourself to blame.

Combine Two Really Random Ideas

Some things go together like peanut butter and jelly, or apples and cinnamon. Others seem like they shouldn’t work together (like peanut butter and celery!?) but somehow, the odd combination just… works. Plenty of anime combine situations and genres, but it takes real skill to put together two completely unrelated ideas in a thoroughly entertaining way. Here are X anime that put together two ideas that shouldn’t work… and yet make a delicious combination.

Yuri Kuma Arashi is weird. Really weird. It’s the kind of weird you might expect from the creator of Mawaru Penguindrum, only after it’s been dipped in some acid and left to dry in a field of mushrooms. Yes, that kind of weird. On the surface, the anime is about a society where cute and cuddly bears suddenly develop a hunger for human flesh. In the middle of this strange society, two girls are placed on literal and figurative trial for their love for each other. It’s a trip full of allegory and self-searching. Everything is a symbol, and everything is weird on overdrive. Lesbians and man-eating bears have no right being in the same anime, but no one told this anime that.

Minor spoilers for the first few episodes: School-Live is not a slice of life. It’s more like a slice of undead (see what we did there?). Ostensibly about some adorable girls doing cute things in their sleepover school club, it’s actually about the zombie apocalypse. In the club room, the girls do everyday things and have silly adventures. Outside, all hell has broken loose as zombies prowl the school grounds. The juxtaposition is insane but it works so well, giving everything you see an ominous overtone.

You may remember this one from your childhood, and it’s just as silly now as it was back in 1990. This series is actually a combination of more than just two random things; pretty much everything about it is an odd mixture. The show takes place in an alternate reality city called Little Tokyo, where society is a mix of modern and feudal Japan, and everyone is an animal-human hybrid. It’s this setting that gives rise to the legendary Samurai Pizza Cats! Pizza delivery cats by day, vigilante warriors by night, these modern samurai cat-beings deliver a side of justice with every pizza slice. Aw yeah!

Top Immortal Characters On Anime

At some point, everybody dies. Except these guys. And even if they do die, it is just a quick rest stop down the road of eternity. Granted there are different rules pertaining to immortality, with few individuals being truly immortal. This list will cover what type of immortality each character has before delving deeper into their individual profiles.

Code Geass

C.C. possesses a power known as the Code, which allows her to bestow another power known as the Geass upon human beings. Beyond this, the Code also makes her ageless, immune to disease and gives her healing powers that would put Wolverine to shame. Although it is never fully explained, even having her body completely vaporized would not kill C.C. However, individuals who have mastered the power of Geass can take away the Code, which would in turn strip C.C. of her immortal status.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

Kars is the leader of the Pillar Men, four survivors of an advanced race of humanoids that once ruled over mankind. The Pillar Men increased their power over time by creating stone masks that would strengthen humans by turning them into vampires and then consuming them for their power. The ultimate goal was to make a stone mask that could make them fully immortal, which Cars succeeds in doing. Even sunlight and the power of Hamon, the only two weaknesses of the Pillar Men, now have no effect on his body.

Naruto: Shippuden

Originally a denizen of another world, Kaguya came to Naruto’s home planet in search of the legendary God Tree. In time she consumed the tree’s fruit, gaining immense power and becoming a monster known as the Ten-Tails as her absolute power began to corrupt her. Ultimately she was stopped by her sons who were forced to rip her power out of her, split it into nine smaller (but still super powerful) giant monsters, and then seal her in the Moon (which they made) after she still would not die.