I can’t help but notice a parallel between three shows this airing anime season. Grimm’s Notes, Endro! and Pastel Memories. While each of them falls into a slightly different genre, all of them deal with the effects that fiction has on our daily lives and how people fall into their roles within those stories. Pastel Memories probably dives the shallowest into it, since the worlds are explicitly fictional.
However, Endro differs from the other two by having its “stories” be the simple folklore of the world the characters inhabit, but with the same level of awareness about it. Yet, Endro and Grimm’s both involve roles that characters have fulfilled multiple times. Just as there are multiple Heroes and Demon Lords, so are there multiple Red Riding Hoods and Cinderellas. It’s a very comic book mindset, and one that I find an interesting point of contrast between these various shows. I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops as the season goes on.
It’s been a long time since there’s been an eroge that’s affected me as deeply as Fairytale Requiem. It’s rare that I ever read a comic, but because I played Fairytale, I was interested in Lost Girls. They both operate on a fairly similar premise – erotic, adult tales of girls who are either inspired by or actually are the girls from childhood stories. All of them involve an Alice, a Wendy and a Dorothy, while Requiem adds Gretel, Rapunzel, Gerda and Odette and Odille to the mix. They both have surreal art (and in the case of Requiem, surreal music) and are easily billed as “fairy tales for adults.”
I wish to compare them. How Japan and America interpreted stories written in Europe and added a sexual dimension to them, filtered through their own lens. They’re both equally passion projects, but one was decidedly more commercialized. All credit to Top Shelf Publishing and Liar-Soft for making them.
Also, given the subject matter, this is clearly not safe for work. Though I will try to discuss it as tastefully as I can.
Below the break things are NSFW. Also, spoilers for both the graphic novel and the game(s). I need to discuss Fairytale Encore if the full context of this is going to be covered, and Encore assumes you’ve played Requiem.
Let’s take a deep dive.
A wise man once said that just because someone likes anime doesn’t mean they like all of anime. They often enjoy certain themes or concepts that, while common in anime, obviously don’t make up the whole of it. This occurred to me because, after coming across a chart that was a list of worthwhile anime for the average Western fan, I realized just how little those actually applied to me. The list does acknowledge that people have different tastes, and while a select few of those series on the list interest me (I’ve seen Gurren Lagann and know that I enjoy the genre Azumanga Daioh helped cultivate. Read or Die looks nice too.), the majority of it doesn’t. I get my news from Japanese blogs (I can read Japanese somewhat okay, mostly through years of exposure) more than American ones, and my taste tends to align with the Japanese fanbase, mostly, though even that’s prone to personal variables. While I was hoping the blog entries would paint a picture of who I was, there’s no harm in saying who I am upfront. That way, the playing field is open. Let’s begin.
This Article May Be NSFW
I’ve been wanting to write an article about something for a long time, but finding an entry point and the time to write it, on top of the other things I’ve been doing, is proving to be a bit of a problem. I am a huge fan of visual novels. It all started with 11eyes, which in turn started with me listening to its opening theme and getting drawn in by its black-and-red colored, gory, yet heroic visuals and strange, color-palette-filtered world. It should be noted that 11eyes is basically the only eroge I’ve played before watching its anime adaptation, but that’s because most of the ones I do like, the action-focused ones, rarely get chosen for anime adaptation, with the romance-focused ones being king.
This, in turn, ties into another one of my interests. I’m a huge fan of superheroes, Sentai, Kamen Rider, magical girls – even super robots, since they portray robots not as war machines, but as heroes who fight for peace and justice. I’m very much a Sayaka-type, if that wasn’t made clear. But finding eroge about transforming heroes is an uphill challenge, and this ties into a third point. The internet’s rule 43.
“The more pure and innocent something is, the more fun it is to corrupt it.”
There are two kinds of episodic stories. The first follows the same cast, just that their adventures are broken into smaller parts, each with its own beginning, middle and end. Often, they can be finished in half an hour. Stories can still form naturally as a sort of overplot, but for the most part, if you understand the premise, you can pick a random episode and begin from there. The other kind of episodic storytelling is much harder to pull off, because the cast is constantly changing. There may be one or two characters that play a role in all the stories, but each installment is a fresh experience, needing to set its own tone and message. This is the anthology.
Anthologies are actually pretty rare in anime. Hatsukoi Limited tried to become one, but its focus was so split that it had to force an abrupt ending. The anthology I’m here to talk about is Sengoku Collection. While other warring states series – Basara, Oda Nobuna and Otome – are all fairly similar to each other in their exaggeration and condensation of Japan’s civil wars in the name of entertainment, Sengoku Collection is a unique beast. The basic premise – generals are turned into girls – does add some flavor to the show, but it’s only part of what makes the show work. What it created was one of the most unique anime in recent memory.
The anime fandom always pits itself against itself when the issue of what moe is reappears. One of the biggest cultural impacts comes from K-ON!, and so any series that looks even remotely like it, whether in cast setup or aesthetics, is scrutinized as a “K-ON! clone”, long before the first episode ever hits the airwaves. K-ON! required every element that went into it to become the success it did, and even the works that hew closer to it end up falling short in some way or another. Ever since I watched the movie, I’ve been searching around to see if there’s anything out there similar to it, and I came to realize just how tightly woven K-ON!‘s identity is, through factors both internal and external. Before this article progresses further, we need to define what K-ON! is.