The demonisation of youth culture in Devilman

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If at any time the human race is invaded, permeated or otherwise undone by exterior forces, it’s likely that the threat already exists from within. Whether that’s for observation, reconnaissance or a simple prelude to invasion, who could say, but this unseen enemy is a blank canvas, allowing respective societies to project their own fears […]

Growing pains: the philosophy of Kiznaiver

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Kiznaiver follows a group of high school students who are chosen to be a part of an experimental program which creates bonds between people by forcing them to share each other’s pain.  White haired and vacant, Katsuhira “Kacchon” Agata lives a half-life, neither fully present or entirely withdrawn, numb to the sting of experience and […]

Afflicted escapists: MMO Junkie, mental health and identity

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As of this year the World Health Organisation (WHO) has posited ‘gaming addiction’ as its own bona-fide mental disorder. But even though “persistent or recurring gaming behaviour” can have a negative or damaging impact, naming so-called ‘gaming disorder’ as an illness is one that raises many problematic questions. True, gaming seems to be a draw […]

The death of innocence: how Hiroshima haunted anime

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With frank discussions of war, death and destruction, this piece isn’t an easy read, and may upset some readers. In the first instalment of this series, we explored the origins of anime as a propaganda tool in Japan’s war effort, specifically around the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941. The focus of this follow-up will […]

Forget me not: anime’s amnesia problem

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Tropes help form the vital architecture that enables a storyteller to weave a narrative, but in so doing they become part of a wider dialogue. Art, as they say, doesn’t exist in a vacuum, meaning that all creative endeavours are inevitably in conversation with what came before. And so it is with amnesia, one of […]

The sparkling heart of darkness: Madoka’s message of hope for mature audiences

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Magical girls have long been illustrious in empowering the feminine, and framing fragility as the groundwork for true strength. Sailor Moon may never have become fearless, but she did learn to face the terrors of her world – including death itself – with the resolve to defend her friends and the world she belongs to. […]

Impact trinity: Misa and fan culture in Death Note

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Death Note is a fable for the powers of faith, and how too much faith in power alone can only lead to destruction. This is also the danger of celebrity. Fans who believe in aggression as power can be seen wielding it against the idols whom they believe are undeserving of their platform. Taking another […]

The new punks: updating the sci-fi of Ghost in the Shell

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Nineties nostalgia sees the collective consciousness turn to simpler times; the pre-digital age that was a cornerstone in speculative fiction. It was the decade that gave rise to the cyberpunk subgenre and its pluckier, more optimistic cousin – the Y2K aesthetic. Here, distant futures were exactly that, and the world we’ve evolved into is a […]

Because we’re both girls: Scum’s Wish, first love and finding solace in yuri

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Wrapped inside the searing heartache of being a teenager all over again as I watch the sakura petals of Scum’s Wish, I’m reminded of how special and significant it all was. But particularly in Hanabi’s relationship with her friend Sanae, I’ve come to reframe one of my own first loves in a new light. The […]

The shame and the power: bloodlines of the anime vampire

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Anime and manga have had such a torrid romance with the vampire, you’d think Japan would have had some deep blood ties to its legend. Funny thing is, the vampire or the beast’s equivalent appears almost everywhere in Asian myth, except for Japan. Besides the ghoulish shadow spreading across the mainland of Southeast Asia, South […]

Pearl Harbour, propaganda and anime’s first feature length

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Art plays a pivotal role in the healing process in the wake of national disaster, channelling a country’s collective grief and creating something from the calamity. Director Makoto Shinkai said the success of Your name is due in part to the natural disaster at the centre of its narrative, chiming with a country still processing […]

Seasons of the witch: the changing nature of witchcraft in anime

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I don’t know about you, but I much prefer anime’s view of witches to our overriding cynicism towards them here in the west, and boy is it loving them lately. This year alone there’s been Makoto the Flying Witch, then Izetta: The Last Witch, and in the not-quite-a-simulcast camp there’s even been The Ancient Magus’ […]