I got around to watching all the anime adaptations of Spirit of Wonder (by Kenji Tsuruta of Emanon fame) this week, and I have to say… MAL reviews and scores for these are really low. At first, I thought this was just a matter of taste. The stories can be super slow (think Aria), and it’s not really your typical sci-fi fare.
But after reading reviews for the Scientific Boys Club OVA, I think people are just missing the point. I wrote my own review about it (giving it an 8/10), but I want to write down a few more notes on it here.Read the rest of this entry »
I’m at episode 5 of Bunny Girl Senpai, and it has been the distillation of everything I liked about the Monogatari series. The conversations between the characters in Bunny Girl Senpai aren’t just filler phrases like in your standard rom-com. I wouldn’t call the conversations clever, but they’re interesting, and often unpredictable. At the same time, there isn’t any of the artistic bullshit that SHAFT likes to pull with Monogatari. I thought I liked that stuff, but now that I’ve seen it removed, it feels so distracting and detracts from the actual content.
I can’t give the series full points, though, because the science-y explanations for the supernatural stuff are so long and boring.
As someone who works in physics, hearing an explanation of Schrodinger’s cat is like hearing grandpa’s favorite war story for the hundredth time. I don’t want to sit through a poorly translated version of what an anime character has to say about this thing I know far too well. But what’s worse is how it appeals to the (dumb) view of science as this strange, esoteric thing that could almost be supernatural. When Futaba talks, I get that the point is to lend an air of mystery and intrigue, not credibility. But when I listen to this stuff, it carries none of that connotation because it’s simply not exotic to me.
On the flip side, I have to give the series props for drawing inspiration from physics concepts. Even though they muck up the explanations, at the core there’s definitely a connection. For example, Schrodinger’s cat and the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics say that nothing is determined or “real” (there’s a double meaning here, I think) until it is measured. I think it’s cool how they translated that into Mai disappearing unless people remember her. It’s very sci-fi, and more interesting to me than the more symbolic stuff from Monogatari.
The problem is that despite their own disclaimers, they use the physics stuff as a straight-up explanation of the plot points, which is totally wrong. It feels a little demeaning to be told that a basic concept that I’ve learned explains some mumbo jumbo in an anime.
Actually, Butsurigaku wa yasashisugiru desu is based on a romanticized view of physics research at a Japanese all-girls high school. I’m a physics researcher obsessed with Japanese culture, who wishes he were young and filled with dreams like back in high school.
So close enough.
The latest episode (7) of Jinrui featured fairy banana-induced time travel with the goal of making cakes. This is certainly Jinrui-esque: a very complicated procedure to achieve an ironically trivial result, making it funny. But what I want to focus on is not why Jinrui is the best anime of 2012 (which it is), but why its take on time travel is IMPECCABLE!
Or close enough.