(Penguindrum I) Authentic apple

Mawaru Penguindrum 2: Wait right there, Ringo, we'll get back to you.

Throughout the Penguindrum series, I’ll return to a concept I don’t like to talk about much, and one I don’t invoke lightly: authenticity.

I want to devote this first installment to explaining what that word means to me. It’s necessary, given that “inauthentic” is one of those terms most often used as a blunt instrument vs. things people don’t like. And, anyway, how can art be “authentic,” which is to say true to life, when it is literally a distillation of the endless, unsolvable complexities of subjective human experience into something comprehensible and, hopefully, entertaining?

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(Utena VI) Phantasm

Utena 2: Just some shadows on an elevator.

Utena’s use of shadows isn’t confined to the shadow plays (it’s another of those time-saving animation tricks, after all). But because the plays are probably the loudest examples of shadow use (and because animated film is a dramatic medium), maybe we should employ the lens of shadows as entertainment.

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Notes on Hyouka as an exploration of reading

Hyouka 9: Forget about the rope.

I am often a pedantic fanboy when it comes to that theory called, alternately, “the death of the author” or “the intentional fallacy” (they’re a little different, but not in popular usage, which is mainly my concern).

I believe that evidence of the “intent” of a story’s author should be taken with a barrel of salt. I think it’s nearly impossible to divine intent from the substance of a story, and that, when any fragmentary evidence of intent exists, it mostly gets in the way of how you should be reading — you should allow yourself to make connections between stories and your own experience, author be damned. I think it’s fun to think about the author sometimes, but that, if you use the author as an excuse to berate people who don’t agree with your interpretations, you’re just an asshole.

Normally I’d be happy to argue about this. But not today — no, this is a post about Hyouka, and once again Hyouka avoids confirming anyone’s biases by pointing out that diversity of thought is perfectly okay — specifically, that different people read differently and different uses of fiction require different approaches.

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Mundane Girlfriend X

Mysterious Girlfriend X 1: Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I’d like to make a point perpendicular but related to Bitmap’s observation of magic realism in Mysterious Girlfriend X.

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A hastily-erected shrine to historiography in Hyouka

Hyouka 4: Synthesis.

As promised. Predictably, I’m behind on this one, so there won’t be any spoilers past episode five or so.

I’ll start with my biases, if you don’t mind. I collect old books. Not rare books — monetary value isn’t that interesting to me. I collect utilitarian books. I have a set of old Dickens, for example, printed on paper so cheap that you wonder whether they were pirate copies (that sort of thing happened with some regularity). They’re worth nothing at all, but it’s precisely that kind of volume that would’ve introduced thrifty American readers to Dickens in the first place, and that fascinates me.

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(Utena V) Echo

Utena 34: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

The oft-discussed repetition in Utena (inb4 “it saves money”) is, I think, related to the revolutionary business:

They have wandered around in circles, confined to the narrow room in which they’ve been given a deadly brainwashing.

Hélène Cixous, “The Laugh of the Medusa”

Cixous was talking about women, and certainly that would apply to Utena Tenjou herself, but you could describe any viewer of Utena that way. Which might just be the point.

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