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Latest Articles

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The legacy of Devilman

With the release of Devilman: Crybaby, many anime fans in the west were exposed to the shocking story of Devilman saga. While Devilman was known to be the classic that inspired many dark-themed manga and anime works, the series was mostly unavailable for the wider audience. Those who knew about the original story felt the same shock in different style, but many new fans were exposed to the brutal scenes and plots of Devilman.

It would be worthwhile to examine the impact of Devilman on the popular works and how they shaped the genres dealing with dark and grotesque fantasies.


    How should the readers take the creators' comments on their works?

    Let me start with the situation that brought this topic to my mind. In the interview in 2016(Jump Ryu, vol.1), Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball, commented that the show’s hero Son Goku does not feel any friendship towards other characters, including Krillin. This caused some controversy among the fans who saw this interview, because many thought that Goku and Krillin were the best friends; after all, Goku’s anger exploded on Krillin’s first death, and it was Krillin’s death that triggered Goku’s transformation to Super Saiyan. Does that mean the death of someone, whom he had no strong feelings for, made him angry enough to transform? Did he vow revenge for those he felt no friendship? The some fans were outraged, and some found Toriyama’s comments ridiculous, because that was far from what they read in the text, and this new information did not clear any questions they had.

    Toriyama’s comments caused few controversies in the past, due to how contradictory it sounded to the readers, and also the fact that he was often forgetful of his own creations. Some even questioned the validity of his comments on Dragon Ball.

    But there are other creators whose comments outside the completed text that sometimes clarifies few points. Take Tolkien’s defense of Frodo. When a fan wrote to him that Frodo does not deserve to be a hero because he had succumbed to the Ring’s seduction in the end, Tolkien explained that though Frodo could not bring himself to destroy the One Ring, his sufferings and humility up to that point deserve highest honor. In this case, the author’s comments clarified his intentions to the readers.

    So this got me thinking: how should the readers treat the creator’s comments when reading the text? How critical should the readers be when considering the comments made by the creators? What analysis should be made when it seems to contradict the readings?

    • What you're describing here is, in literary theory, typically known as "Intentional Fallacy" (coined by Wimsatt & Beardsley in their famous essay of that name). It essentially argues that the text is an autonomous object which must be capable of standing on its own without the need for extratextual evidence to guide interpretation. Whatever the author intended it to mean should be made evident simply by reading the text on its own merits, and if that intention can only be made known by the author's extratextual commentary, then s/he has failed to convey that meaning in the text itself. This opens the floodgates for equally valid interpretations that differ dramatically from (and potentially contradict) the author's initial intent, so long as it can be argued on a basis of purely textual evidence. Though many critics follow this practice as gospel, more conventional wisdom typically dictates a middle course, in which authorial intent is treated as a litmus test which the text must pass before those statements can be accepted as valid sources of interpretation. – ProtoCanon 11 months ago
    • ProtoCanon's comment is very good, but I disagree with this statement: "Though many critics follow this practice as gospel..." I don't think most literary critics today would follow Wimsatt and Beardsley's view that anything "external" to the text itself should be ignored. Critics today tend to see a text as very open, as something that is best understood by understanding the issues surrounding the text: significant historical events, significant events in the life of the author, patterns of reception by readers, and so on. They generally don't set a firm boundary around what is and what is not "the text." Today's critics would likely agree with Wimsatt and Beardsley, though, that the work of the critic must involve a lot more than simply repeating what the author said about the author's own work. – JamesBKelley 8 months ago
    • Every professor I've had said this: Once you put your work out in the world, it is out of your hands. Anyone can interpret it anyway, whether you intended it to be that way or not. The reader's interpretation with the text is part of their experience and conversation. The author can say what they intended, but that does not mean it's definite. – as1833 8 months ago
    • Humans cannot help but attract to each other like magnets to share personal experiences, et cetera and then from these smaller or larger human groups, they repel like magnets to share and reshape the new knowledge they have accumulated. The pattern of accumulation and dissemination of information from one book or person to many others crosses the boundaries of time and space to advance our civilisations. – RipperWriter 7 months ago

    Samurai Jack Season 5 - how did it become more mature

    So far, Samurai Jack’s Season 5 has been receiving positive responses. Despite it becoming darker in tone, the show contained the balance between seriousness and humor. Its transition to Adult Swim allowed more freedom in terms of subject matters, especially with violence. But the show retained the feel of the old seasons though it became darker. Jack killed a person for the first time, and he suffers from guilt and hallucinations. But despite the shift in tone, the audience can still feel that this is Samurai Jack they used to know and love.

    It would be worthwhile to examine how the Season 5 of Samurai Jack retained its essence despite the change in the mood. For example, how does the violence in Season 5 compare to the old seasons? Was there a precursor to Jack’s dilemma in the old episodes? How effective was the transition?

    • I think it would also be interesting to contrast the shift in narrative between the previous seasons and season 5. We can see the maturation of the shows content and also of the protagonist. Jack is not the same person, but is the same hero/samurai, which represents a moral/warrior code that is alien to the futuristic settings at the beginning of the series. I think it would be a really interesting topic to write on especially with the introduction of Ashi, and her role as a foil to Jack. – JConn13 1 year ago
    • It would be interesting to look at how Genndy Tartakovsky's other work after the original Samurai Jack series affected how the new season took shape. Whether it made the progress more understandable, or like I think, made it even more surprising! – Marcus Dean 1 year ago

    Hyper Light Drifter and the Sharing of Personal Sufferings

    Hyper Light Drifter’s game experience is inspired by the developer’s heart disease and his fear of meeting death at any moment. Death is constantly looming throughout the game as the protagonist continues to cough up blood. Players empathize with the fragile hero and the creator effectively shares his struggle

    How effective is this channeling of personal fear in Hyper Light Drifter, and what other examples are in other games?

    • The title and article do not correspond. I suggest you either remove art from the title--the simpler revision--or include art in your topic. As it stands there is no aesthetic representation in your topic, though there are an infinite number of examples to choose from if you decide to include one, or more. – danielle577 2 years ago

    Political Satires - Old and New

    The skepticism towards Politics is nearly as old as history of political system. Various literature throughout the history, including the Attic Comedy of Aristophanes, satirize the political systems and the prominent rulers.

    In many ways, Aristophanes can still appeal to the modern audiences thanks to his unforgiving wits and humor against the leading politicians like Cleon. Comparing Aristophanes to the modern satirists such as stand-up comedians or cartoonists could help us understand which aspect of politics changed or remained the same since the ancient Athens.

    For example, One thing to note is that Aristophanes frequently used ridiculous characters and exaggerated personalities to make this point. Has this been changed much? Does Aristophanes’ model lose its charm to the modern audiences?

    Compare and analyze the characters, the comic elements, and the message of Arisophanes to the modern comedy(such as the Simpsons, South Park, etc) and others.

    • I really like the idea of comparing really old stuff to really contemporary stuff. Maybe it would be better to approach this as a comparative essay between, say, two well selected works, one from antiquity and one contemporary? Rather than a history, which just puts way to much on the writer's plate. – TKing 2 years ago
    • This could be a great topic for someone knowledgeable. Maybe you could help by listing some of the connections you want to make with today's satirists. – Munjeera 2 years ago
    • I think it would work really well comparing Atistophanes with a modern satire (I wouldn't worry about the distance in time you're covering, just state you're taking two examples and not attempting to track everything in between). Politics/satire is one of those things that never changes over a thousand years, so depending on your modern source I'd imagine that in core content and method there is little in way of 'advancement'. Perhaps a history of satire/explanation of two dominant schools Horatian and Juvenalian would be a good place to start your article (and help articulate your own direction in analysis). Other interesting areas to explore may be the production of these satires/risk posed in publishing or performing, popularity of approaches/reception to a particular style then and now, etc. I'm sure you'll have a lot to say when you get narrowed down to examples, especially with the current media circus in American politics which is almost satirising itself!! It reminds me how the writers of the British Tv series The Thick of It, in response to calls for them to do a referendum special, said that they wouldn't/couldn't because the political game playing and internal chaos they used to satirise is now fully exposed and playing out in front of us. – JamieMadden 2 years ago
    • Ridiculous? Exaggerated? "Wag the Dog" is all of that and more. It's real "purty." – Tigey 2 years ago

    Resident Evil Remake: Does It Still Deliver Chill?

    Resident Evil Remake and Resident Evil Zero were remastered recently. Resident Evil was considered the historically significant game which led to the immense popularity of zombie horror, and survival horror as whole. But is it still effective? Does Resident Evil’s formula still deliver tension and scare as it used to? If so, what does it say about the horror game genres of today? What can the current horror games learn from Resident Evil Remake’s strengths and weaknesses?

    • Well, that depends. Are you asking if it could scare somebody who played through the original, or somebody who is either new to the franchise or that particular entry? I think that the answer depends on who you are trying to scare. If you are trying to scare somebody who played the original, then no because they already played the game and know when the scares are supposed to happen and what they are supposed to be. However, if you are trying to scare somebody who has never played the original, then yes it would more than likely still manage to deliver the intended scare. Maybe this requires a bit more of an in depth look. – Aarogree 2 years ago
    • In my experience, Resident Evil 4 was the last successful game in the RE franchise. This was largely because of the developers' new approach to gameplay and its emphasis on storyline. All titles that followed after were not as successful, because they did not build much further on this new formula. However, Resident Evil as a franchise set the standard for many of its contemporaries and developers that came later. Atmosphere and environment were always major factors. Resident Evil 4's new camera angle (as opposed to the traditional fixed angle), which followed directly behind the protagonist, allowed for the player to appreciate the environment more wholesomely and assume a more immersive role in the game. This new approach can easily be traced to more recent titles like the 'Dead Space' series and 'The Evil Within'. One aspect of Resident Evil 5 that substantially hurt its "horror factor" was introducing a multiplayer option. This significantly diluted the feeling of isolation and desperation that contributed to Resident Evil's success as a horror game. – DoultonSchweizer 2 years ago

    Protagonists of Historical Fiction: famous or less-famous

    It is tempting to write a historical fiction from the point of view from the famous figures of the era. Many fictions wrote Napoleon, Elizabeth I, or Alexander the Great as the protagonists with their own voices. However, this poses danger of simplifying/glorifying/vilifying the figures and bend the historical details. For example, the author writing Napoleon as the heroic figure might purposefully ignore his atrocities in Haiti or other blunders, or even try to glorify his vices.

    Some authors find it restricting to write on well-known figure so they create new characters or take on lesser known characters. Hitoshi Iwaaki, the manga artist who created The Parasite, had Eumenes, Alexander the Great’s secretary, as the main character of his historical comics "Historie". This provides more liberty for the author but may not attract readers’ attention or place himself in dangerous paradox by making supposedly "obscure" figures too good – if such a significant person had lived, why did historians fail to recognize them?

    But which type of protagonist can provide more entertainment? What would be the good model to follow?

    Which type of protagonist can provide more entertainment: famous, infamous, or non-famous? Which would be the best model to follow?

    • It is the author's responsibility to be very diligent about their research and fact checking in either case. Period. At that point, I think it mainly depends on what point the author is trying to get across. Maybe they want to justify or show a different side of a famous person in which case it may make more sense to use the famous person. But if they want a little bit more freedom, then yes it'd make more sense to use someone less famous. And if the writer isn't really concerned with history as much as the characters, maybe they don't really care about the facts and therefore need to toe a line between being believable and interesting. – Tatijana 3 years ago
    • This is interesting! Comparing the portrayal of famous historical figures could be helpful for this topic; you could look at how widely they vary. I imagine that major historical figures may attract a wider audience, but I think that the fact that it's "fiction" would have to be taken into account. I imagine that each interpretation on the facts is entirely different from another. The interesting thing about an original character would be that we don't know the outcome; there is a sense of mystery as a reader as to the character's fate, whereas we go in knowing the fate of a historical figure. In that sense, I think you could make an argument for both types of historical novel being the best model. – laurakej 3 years ago

    Sengoku era and its influence on Japanese Pop Culture

    Sengoku era, or Warring State Period of Japan, was the period of chaos before the foundation of Edo Bakufu. The constant chaos led to the lack of official historical record(ones produced by government), occasional brutality, poor lives of peasants, and many tales of heroism at the same time. In fact, some of the historical figures from this period appear in Japanese pop culture occasionally, especially Oda Nobunaga, who was voted as the most popular historical figure by Japanese. Considering this massive influence on pop culture, it would be interesting to observe the major figures in this period of Japanese history and see how their influences still manifest.

    • One thing to maybe look at is the impact certain historical figures had during the Sengoku Era i.e. the battles they took part in, the significance of the battle, etc. For example, one could look at the Battle of Okehazama and how that battle cemented Nobunaga's legacy in Japan. – Xperimance 3 years ago

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    Latest Comments

    Very interesting article! It is very well researched.

    The Truth About Cats and Artists

    I believe such terror-centric horror films like the Witch will do the genre more good and provide more diverse types of horror. Jump-scares and gores can exhaust the audiences, and by the time the movie reaches the climax they might be too tired to care.

    The Witch: Yes, It is a "True" Horror Film

    Lu Bu is supposed to be extremely difficult, because Koei always envision him as the mightiest warrior in their games. For example, in Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, Lu Bu’s Might stat (used for duels, or the army’s attack power), is always 100(max) in any series + hidden stat(privilege given to the few chosen characters such as Uesugi Kenshin in Nobunaga’s Ambition) + the bonus from his weapon which makes him practically unbeatable in duels.

    So, it is normal that anyone, unless you are an expert player, will find Lu Bu unbeatable. He is just designed to be a juggernaut.

    Analyzing Dynasty Warriors and its Spin-Offs: A Warrior Worthy Of Ten Thousand Foes

    This is very well written article. Good work on the in-depth research.

    What the West Learned About Japanese Culture from Anime

    Animated films tend to give more chances for the fan favorites. Black Widow got her animated film(with the Punisher), and Wonder Woman had really good animated film too. I think the producers are too conservative when it comes to big films due to the budget/profit pressure.

    Black Widow: Audiences' Expectations for Female Superheroes

    I think the chief reason for these phenomenons is the fear of failure; while Marvel knows that more diverse characters can draw more readers, they are afraid that creating completely new characters may not interest them. So the safest way (in their mind, I imagine) to create “diversity” in their comics is to replace pre-existing superheroes with characters with different gender/ethnicity.

    What Marvel Hopes to Achieve with the Changing of Race/Gender in Pre-Existing Characters

    Another example (although non-Anime) would be 21. It is a movie based on true event, where the main casts were Asians, but they turned them into Caucasians, with Asian sidekicks. Of course, this stirred quite a bit of controversy.

    Interestingly, Jim Sturgess, who played the main character(who was Asian in real life), played Asian character in Cloud Atlas, in which he appeared with make up to appear as Asian. This caused “Yellow Face” controversy as well.

    Whitewashing of Asian Characters in Hollywood Anime/Manga Adaptations

    I think one of the problems is that many of the characters’ stories are similar – Batman is famous for losing his parents in childhood, but how many superheroes have that same trauma? A lot. After few super heroes with similar backstories, or even power, the characters become indistinguishable, and become forgettable.

    Killing Superheroes: What's Keeping New Superhero Invention?