Aug 15, 2021, 1:00:26 AM

I think I want donuts too, Hamilton. But does Natsumi really have donuts for everyone? Or is she just saying whatever she pleases to get her way? I guess we'll have to find out next time.

Japanese Learning

So, as I was reading Maria-sama ga Miteru I came to a conclusion of sorts.

No, not that it was to difficult to read for someone who doesn't know Japanese.

I decided it was time to do something I've been meaning to do for a while. One thing I had in mind from the get go with learning Japanese was to become familiar with Kanji from primary school on up. I say familiar because I don't want a decade to learn all of the Kanji needed to read at an adult level.

So, earlier this week I began to tinker with Anki again. I found an Anki deck a while back with 2000 Kanji you need to know for reading and they're broken up by primary school grades. I filtered the deck and began to familiarize myself with the characters. I've mostly gotten through first and part of second grade kanji. I'm sure I won't remember all of the meanings and definitions, but by going through it, as I watch anime and read my book kanji characters that I didn't know before are popping out to me. I either know their reading or the definition. I am well aware that by knowing a reading doesn't mean that's how the word is spoken, but it'll give me a leg up when hunting for things in the dictionary.

When I say "familiarize" myself I don't necessary mean "memorize." I'm terrible at memorization. As I learned new words while reading Marimite, I wasn't able to commit very many into memory. I realize part of that is not knowing the Kanji. Part of it is probably because my skull is pretty thick. Some words I've added to my reading Anki deck I've studied over and over and I'm no closer to knowing them. So I need a different approach, hence going through Kanji.

I also realize a novel like Marimite, won't be using grade school Kanji. It'll take a while to advance to that level, so I've also begun a deck of Kanji found in the novel with the idea of working backwards. I figure it's probably stuff I'll see again and again versus building a foundation. And somewhere in the middle is where my education of Kanji will meet.

The End of Evangelion Again

All of Evangelion rebuild movies came out on Amazon Prime over the weekend including the fourth and final film, Thrice Upon a Time.

Neon Genesis Evangelion was like maybe the 3rd or 4th anime series we watched after discovering Sailor Moon, Ronin Warriors, and some other stuff. We bought the white VHS tapes at Sam Goody for like 30 bucks a pop -- 2 episodes each. It took maybe 3 years to collect and watch all of it never knowing when the next tape would be released. Afterwards, around 2000, there was rumor of a couple movies... Death and Rebirth and End of Evangelion that we eventually got bootlegs of. They were some really staticky copies of a copy that we watched. It was, at time the time, one of the only ways to get anime.

Later, in college, on eBay I found VCD copies of the series that could be purchased from Malaysia or Hong Kong and picked those up. I remember even buying my brother an Eva-01 for a Christmas present -- I want to say I found it in Little Tokyo.

Around 2007 Rebuild of Evangelion 1.11 came out. 2009 or so was 2.22. It started like the old Evangelion series but by the end of 2.22 it had deviated a great deal and was really interesting if you knew the old show.

By the time we were watching Eva 2.22 on bluray, it was just another piece of media to me. I watched it with a friend and later he wanted to watch the old series as a comparison/companion to the new movies. So I got the DVDs and we watched it and chatted about it. It was nice to reintroduce the show to someone who hadn't really seen it before. The movies are nice, new, crisp, but because they were movies they had to forgo a lot of the inventive Angels (i.e. kaiju monsters) that the TV show had. The movies, to me, seemed more like high budget spectacle whereas the old TV show didn't really have one towards the end.

By the time I watched 3.33 we had an overwhelming amount of anime coming from Japan. It felt more like an obligation of sorts to watch Eva 3.33. I wasn't a huge fan of it. The color palette seemed very red. It was depressing. I had forgotten the other two movies by then. I think it was around 2014-15, and I was losing interest in anime. I had gorged myself on anime. When I finished the movie, It reminded me of why Eva should just live in my memories, because despite how much we loved the show as kids at it's core it's still a show about a boy dealing with his father and an ongoing cycle of wartime trauma that only ever gets addressed by the cruelty of others leading towards some inexplicable ending. Not exactly light watching.

3.0+1.01 is the end. It tries and I think succeeds to some degree in making the finale of Evangelion palatable (this is something like the third ending of Evangelion if you count the TV show, End of Evangelion, and 3.0+1.0), but honestly maybe I need to think a bit about it, or maybe I shouldn't bother.

I keep wondering if the new movies can be watched as a standalone set. I'm unfortunately burdened with the knowledge from the old show.

I didn't dislike the final movie and it was interesting all the way to the end. It's familiar, different, gives us some more in places, hand-wavy in other places, crazy, unsettling, beautiful at times, and probably unlike anything you've ever seen, unless of course, you watched End of Evangelion.

As a teenager, I liked the show. I felt I understood Shinji. As a young adult I hated the show for the same reason. In 2021 maybe I'm at peace with it. Of course, growing up, I didn't really understand Shinji's depression (and I don't know if I do now). The whole show is about the conflict of dealing with one's mental anxiety versus the needs of the people around you -- and in Shinji's case everyone needed him to do the one thing they couldn't and he couldn't do either -- save the entire world with his giant robot. It's a cycle of him doing what he deems impossible, suffering the consequences of it, and then dealing with it by shutting down. He's not exactly Captain America's "if they kill you, walk it off" type. As a younger person, I hated that he couldn't snap out of it and do what was necessary. It bothered me. Maybe because I hated seeing that reflected in myself. But I know that folks can't throw a switch and get on with it. Sometimes, they need time and everyone else need patience. This new generation seems to get that better than we ever did.

In any case, I rewatched the movies again through that lens. I feel that if you can understand Shinji, that's the core of Evangelion.

The other thing I liked about Evangelion was the in-show conspiracies, mythologizing, and theorizing around the Evas, Nerv, Seele, and all that stuff. We had never seen anything like it. It wasn't afraid to dive right off the deep end too. We had a lot of fun trying to understand the various Angels and each organization's goals and what it meant. Some of that stuff gets lost in the movies. Sometimes the movies feel like it hits the beats from the TV show, but they don't hit right. Like it's assuming you have foreknowledge to make it work. Or maybe, as kids watching Eva, we had too much time on our hands.

Eva really shaped the type of anime I liked, and in general, the kind of media I like. When I think about it, the show's like a trojan horse. It's a mecha anime, big robots fighting monsters, but the deeper you get into the show it becomes about something else. It became fourth wall breaking, philosophical, and outright bizarro and that was fantastic. I always thought I'd love to make something like that myself.

If it's to be believed, Hideaki Anno's work is done now -- he even said he's done with anime (and not suited for making it). I'm watching an NHK documentary about the making of Eva 3.0+1.0 and the interviewer asks him if he feels anything for Eva coming to an end. He says he feels nothing. I'd imagine a whole lifetime of processing your emotions through one piece of art will do that to you. I know depression is also something Anno deals with too so it can't be easy to carry such a burden.

Also, as I watched the last movie, I recalled reading an article saying that the characters in the movie were a reflection of actual people in Anno's life. It makes me wonder if those people know who they are in his movie and that for someone in the world this mass market entertainment is a love letter of sorts to them. I'm curious about the slight changes he made to Asuka's last name and the addition of Mari Illustrious. She literally crash lands into Shinji's face out of left field maybe like a stranger who comes into your life and changes it.

I guess I don't care if he doesn't make another anime series. It's how I feel about his friend, Hayao Miyazaki. I know he's got a new movie coming, but I don't feel one way or the other about it. Also, maybe like his buddy Miyazaki, retirement apparently isn't the end. When you live your whole life doing something, you can't ever stop doing it.

BUT, if he does come back... I wonder if he'd consider a Rebuild of His and Her Circumstances. This time with all popsicle stick puppets and crayon drawings.

That's all from me this week, have a great weekend!