Into an anime chumbucket: succumbing to clickbait and breaking my heart

Your ads dare obscure even a part of my silver queen, *the* Masuzu Natsukawa?

[Chum is one of the sexier words in the English language… dead fish eyes glaring out of blood and guts. Oi, a weird start to one of the weirdest posts I’ve ever written…]

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times… uhhh why am I covered in blood and fish guts? Where am I?

I stumbled into an internet chumbox the other day. You know, those 6-square ad spaces hosted by Taboola or Outbrain with clickbait titles like:

  • <popular television show> stars [sic] net worth? #<prime number> will shock you!
  • Doctors hate him! <target demographic> discovers one neat trick to <desirable health outcome>!
  • You won’t guess what <celebrity fleeing paparazzi> got caught on camera doing Again [sic]!
  • Grandma from <your IP-determined area> discovers disastrous flaw in Social Security!

Number 1 might have a photoshopped thumbnail of the sexiest cast member in a revealing pose, Number 2 some gross trypophobia-inducing body horror garbage, Number 3 an unrelated mugshot that looks nothing like the target celebrity, and Number 4 a stock photo of an old woman in front of a clip-art financial chart with some gold coins or something. Who knows, who cares.

Or at least, I didn’t care. Before last week, chum-ads had almost never captured my interest except to sneer at their exploitative badness. Ah, but this time I took in a mighty breath through my nostrils to hock up great snob and instead caught an irresistible scent in those blood-clouded waters: anime, “Neo Yokio Season 2: Premiere Date, Characters, Plot” from an entertainment news website called The Cinemaholic

Oh, I like Neo Yokio… did Netflix announce a second season to continue the Pink Christmas special? And next to it “Gakkou Gurashi Season 2: Premiere Date, Characters, Plot.” Oooh, yes yes yes, I love Gakkou Gurashi! After the live-action movie, will they adapt the rest of the series? But wait, huh? From Cinemaholic again? What’s going on here? Oh my god, oh my god, hold that thought: “Oreshura Season 2: Premiere Date, Characters, Plot” aaannnddd oohoo a picture of the Masuzu Natsukawa, my devilish queen. click click click.

No. A mistake. ‘twas but a mirage borne of the blood-haze! The Cinemaholic had a harpoon waiting, ready to break my heart: “It is highly unlikely that Netflix will renew the show,” “We can’t guarantee anything,” “At this point, ‘Oreshura’ season 2 … seems like a distant dream”

Dearest Masuzu, I’m sorry — thrice pierced!

Continue reading “Into an anime chumbucket: succumbing to clickbait and breaking my heart”

Beyond sympathy and sadness in Gakkou Gurashi!

I always struggle to explain why I like something. For example, I adored Space Patrol Luluco but only managed to write 1700 words about it. Even then, much of that review simply complained about bad reference humor. I couldn’t produce a clear, glowing endorsement. Meanwhile, I ranted for 3700 words about Hyakuren no Haou to Seiyaku no Valkyria, perhaps my least favorite television show ever (oh, and I was writing about just the first episode). I am simply much better at criticizing than praising. That asymmetry makes me a little sad.

When I want to write about a show that I actually enjoyed, I often disappoint myself. I waste hours of daydreaming, desk-warming time at work struggling to think of something, anything specific to praise and can only come up with something vague like “it was good because it was good.” It bothers me that I can exhaustively justify my dislikes but cannot apply the same rigor to my likes. I can easily describe distaste. But apparently, there is no accounting for taste.

With that said, I liked Gakkou Gurashi! enough to give it a try anyway. I will take this essay as a personal challenge to try to describe something I love without defaulting to criticism or conceding to the many negative or ambivalent reviews on the internet. Though the show has plenty of flaws (the deus ex …dog… could be ridiculous), the overall experience was one of the most emotionally and thematically engaging I have had with television in years.

(English: School-Live! I’ll drop the exclamation because really, who wants to type that over and over again? Also, why not translate it as a simple “School Life?” Is “live” a verb as in “IT LIVES!” or an adjective as in “LIVE FROM NEW YORK?” Questions with no answer… it’s just a hazard of Japanese English I suppose.)

Spoiler Warning:

Gakkou Gurashi is extremely sensitive to spoilers. The less you know about it before viewing, the better. The synopsis on MyAnimeList even says too much. For the remainder of the essay, I will assume that the reader has already seen the show. I’ll hide my thesis about the show’s themes behind the jump, because I worry that even that would spoil the whole experience.

Continue reading “Beyond sympathy and sadness in Gakkou Gurashi!”