The Girl Who Understands Monstrosity and Humanity

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Today I am inspired by one of my favorite animes, Inuyasha. The girl with the black hair is named Rin, and the silver haired demon next to her is Sesshomaru. Something about this picture represents a warm innocence and lighting that I really really like, and the nostalgia hits me hard since Inuyasha was a show I watched when I was young, and all throughout my middle and high school years. Rin was my favorite character, a young human girl who knows monsters from humans – and it isn’t particularly in the looks. The nature of monsters and humans is a theme long explored since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. None other than Rin understands this best as she grew up living in a world of monsters – in fact, these “humans” who abused her, left her to die. It was the salvation of Sesshomaru’s Tenseiga who revived her, a truly fearsome demon with one of the best character development of all anime. The notion that sometimes, humans are the true demons in this world.


On a side note, I’ve been super emotional listening to Kikyo’s Death OSTs. Another amazing character who is deserving of all the praise for her strength and tragedy. The death scene always, always makes me cry – Kaede’s tears, Inuyasha’s kiss, and Kikyo’s warmth as her soul ascends into the cosmos.

One day I will rewatch Inuyasha, at the very least Final Act series. What a fountain of sheer nostalgia. ❤

Catherine

So recently I’ve been watching game-plays of Catherine over again, and it’s made me realize a few things that I hadn’t noticed before. One, how genius the writers are; two, the psychology of a man; and three, a realization with my own dreams.

Catherine is a puzzle solving game with an anime styled cut-scene and animation that has such a riveting story and plot to it. While it may be for more mature audiences, and even has me feeling embarrassed at some points, it gets an overall “well done” from me. I constantly would be mentally solving the block puzzles myself, and it is true that it’s such a unique, while still a story adhering game. The tower of blocks Vincent must climb is truly metaphorical, something I commend the writers and designers of the game for.

If you haven’t already watched or played this game, you should check it outThat way you know what I’m talking about. Oh, and spoiler alert, even if its an old game. 😛

It really has been a long time since I last watched this with my sister. She knows the best games to watch, as stupid as that sounds since we’re not actually playing it. But we enjoy them for their story, and like me, mentally solving before the player makes the next move in my head is fun too, even if I can’t mechanically make those moves myself. Strangely, I started watching it again, and it is still a compelling story with its own charm that I so enjoy.

It begins with the ingenuity of the writers. You start out with a simple story, about a man and his girlfriend (Katherine) in a mundane world, with mundane problems, only exaggerated from the start once (the other) Catherine shows up. The duality of the name resemblance also elicits a tongue-in-cheek reaction from me. How simple, yet complicated, is this one letter change of a difference? It means the world, literally in this case, to make that distinction.

And as these relationship problems and emotional turmoils builds up, you delve more and more deeper into another kind of world, one that some married men might jokingly describe as an eternal place of torture. But, it really does become that for Vincent. In fact, all of a sudden, we see supernatural crazies happen, as dreams/fantasies blur with reality. In some instances, our dreams and fantasies become reality. That is after all, called an illusion: what Catherine is as a being, a succubus.

The execution of the story was so aligned and so tactfully arranged in such a way that any player watching or playing the game might not have realized this until the supernatural clues were spoken out loud by the characters themselves. I love this kind of story,one that just unfolds naturally and chronologically makes sense, even in such a naturally chronologically blurred timeline that involves dreams. How amazing is that, that a story involving something that should not make sense, does?

There’s something charming about dreams. At least for me, it’s not that I read into them anymore than I should, but they are still vaguely a story. We laugh, cry, and feel in them just as much as a coherent, fluid, and real story. We sometimes remember them, and sometimes don’t. For someone like me, I remember a lot of my dreams. But sometimes, just like Vincent, I wake up tired and exhausted even after I’ve rested well. Is it perhaps because I invest too much energy in them, even if subconsciously? Maybe some of these experiences are mutual to the writers of Catherine, and maybe that might be a part of the inspiration or motivation for how the story became. Either ways, or if none of it all, it was an interesting thought that occurred to me.

The other thing that stood out to me about this game the second time around, is that I’m beginning to understand the character’s psychology, specifically, all the male characters in the game who fall to the succubus’ trap. How can someone be so cruel to their girlfriend of long standing and cheat? What is the thought process of someone who cheats on another? It’s not exactly a male exclusive mentality, but the character insight, their actions, their reactions, their words, and the comparisons of all three in conjunction or dissonance with each other — it was almost enlightening. When Vincent demanded to meet Catherine and coerces Thomas to summon her, he is so determined, yet as soon as she instantly appears, he becomes a fool and acts shy, awkward, and little afraid. The saying/idea is the same and well known: men become fools for women. But thinking more than just that, their thought process is fascinating: if their ideal type is right there before them, they become confused, or suppress any other moral conscience. Perhaps it might be a shallow thought; who couldn’t resist someone who is the perfect ideal type, appearance wise? Women and men clearly have different chemical balances and makeups, and therefore a mental state or psychology to them. So is it true that men are purely in it for the looks? That all men are pigs? That might be a huge generalization, but for a moment, I could believe the justification on why Vincent cheated on Catherine. It was all in his head after all — the illusion, the affair, even his inner dialogue. It is revealing that internal struggle to the audience, ultimately, that also revealed his most human nature, even if by most standards it is wrong. After all, no human is exempt from sin, and perhaps that’s why even for a moment I felt understanding for him even though I have never dated before, or could ever know what he was going through.

What I found so fascinating was the complexity of the conflict within the basic story. Even more so, the connection to dreams even gave it an element of horror, when Vincent realized Katherine was after all a succubus and could not pin a shred of her existence until he remembers Thomas the bartender. How wonderfully simple! The solution is simple, but the journey, especially in the final levels of the puzzle solving madness, was not.

I’ve always always always seen dreams as “movies inside of my head, every night when you sleep in your bed” to quote DHMIS. It’s hilarious to think about, but to me I’ve had some of the most fantastical dreams, or the saddest dreams, that would end and I’d lay there on my bed trying to go back (sometimes successfully and/or regretfully) or to just ponder about. I love sharing them, but it’s hard to relate to when it’s a jumbled mess that only you can make sense of. All I can do, is place them out piece by piece on an online diary like this for my own enjoyment to read back on. And I’ve always wanted them to last, so I can remember. I imagine the worst way to die (for me personally) would be to have Alzheimer’s, where I don’t remember anything and decay day by day. But perhaps that itself, is another dream that becomes reality, where every day is “a movie.”

Blood+

Guys, this is why I don’t watch anime.

I recently got hooked on what is one of my top favorite animes now – a supernatural, horror, gore, romance, mystery, action anime called Blood+. Recently I had been watching a lot of supernatural, undead type films and anime (ever since I watched Train to Busan, have been on an undead craze!!). I just finished it last night and now my heart hurts too much… *sob*

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Blood Plus, starring the main protagonist Saya Otonashi and her Chevalier (“knight” in French), Haji.

I just had to blog about this because it also gave me some DDO ideas. But first, the anime itself… 😀

When I first started it, I wasn’t all too thrilled. I was looking for really good anime art and the style just totally didn’t suit me at first. It was too much like the “good anime feel” like Studio Ghibli’s style rather than the cool, romantic, action filled anime style that you would see in newer animes. Blood+ is a 2005-2006 anime, but for its time it is actually really good. But it wasn’t the art that really attracted me – it was the character Haji.

Haji is one of my favorite characters in there because of his pure love for the main protagonist, Saya. Plus, he’s a butler character. Who doesn’t like charming butler characters who can expertly play the cello?? xD This totally appealed to me because I could totally see the romantic relationship between him and Saya, versus an anime like Black Butler that is more gender bender (which I generally don’t like).

The art style of the anime then appealed to me once I started noticing Haji – I grew to like/hate each of the characters with passion and even though the art was simple, it really captured the quality of each character, scene, and plot. It begun to feel so much like Studio Ghibli films but still having that anime thrill quality.

This is a story about how a young amnesiac female lead (16 year old school girl) learns of her true identity and purpose in her life. Saya Otonashi is an adopted daughter of George Miyagusuku, a former Vietnam war veteran, along with two other adopted siblings, Riku and Kai. As Saya learns to find out more about herself through the fateful encounter of Haji, she joins Red Shield, an organization that fights against the immortal enemies of Chiropteran, a mysterious species who can only die by Saya’s blood.

One thing about this anime that I love so much about it is its mystery. I kept craving to know more about the protagonist, who she was, what the Chiropteran were, how they came about, and all these scientific questions that arose throughout the anime. Because the anime was fairly detailed in its scientific-tion, it was very satisfying but at the same time, it still kept me on the edge about what exactly were the Chiropteran – they never really directly answered that big question. One question that still resounds in my mind is Julia’s theory of whether the Chiropteran Mummy Queen had Chevaliers of her own – and branching from that, was there another twin Queen? How did she die? The mystery of these remaining questions still lie unanswered, and if you watched the anime and followed Saya’s story, perhaps it is best to leave these truths hidden forever.

I really love certain themes about this anime: pure and undying love, memories/remembrance, identity, a search for truth and reality, even as deep as the meaning of life and death, and the in between (as undead). Because I just have so much to talk about, let’s break this up into sections.

Identity
The main theme of identity regarding Saya is crucial to the development of the plot. I really like this about the anime because it really pushes character development, and if you know me, I love this so so much. Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away sold me on this: from childlike Chihiro to a mature young girl who understands the importance of others’ feelings, emotions, and value as beings (not necessarily human beings, since it was a spirit world). This goes the same for Blood+, where Saya’s history, as a young timeless lady in the 1880’s is spoiled, bratty, and selfish until Haji is introduced. When she realizes the massacre she is responsible for during the Vietnam War along with Haji’s right arm, that becomes the trigger for her extraordinary character development, and ultimately her premature dormancy. It kind of seems like a no brainer, but the anime was ingenious for its lead up to that event – it never rushes her to that point and it fleshes out the emotions and actual development of her character very well. It truly felt like she had a massive burden to carry and to struggle through in accepting that part of her. Towards time gap arc where she discards all of her emotions and her “human” heart, I thought it was brilliant in using the separation between her and the Red Shield organization as the dividing factor between her old self and her changed self. Even to the extent of appearance, it wasn’t too drastic like I was expecting (due to too many animes doing this – examples include completely changed appearances like from short hair to extremely long hair within an unreasonable timeframe). Another reason why I love about this anime so much is that it kind of aligns up to the story around Sera, so it is so funny that the two are similar in this regard.

Love
Nothing gets me good than a good ruv story. Just think about Haji’s situation for a moment. Saya is only active for 2-3 years before retreating to her dormant phase for 30 years. One of the saddest lines in the anime in my opinion was when Haji, Kai, and Saya were walking through the streets of New York City nights and Haji said that all the small qualities of life, of smelling the crisp, dusty air, hearing the animal cries, and just feeling the admirable senses of the night all while basking in the comfort of solitude during the years waiting for Saya’s awakening. I can totally relate to this especially enjoying the comfort of solitude – how I wish I could walk the nights as well! This shows Haji has an undying love for her, one that not even time can interfere with since both are immortal and timeless now. Each dormant cycle, Haji faithfully waits for her, and gives her everything – her sustenance (blood), his life, and most importantly, her happiness (even if he cannot give her all of her happiness, he looks out for her all to just make her smile as she has in the past). In other words, he’s perfect husband material. The only thing he cannot give her is children sadly, since Chevaliers and Queens are unable to – only by the mating of another Chevalier of another Queen would be able to. A sad, twisted fate.

Good vs. Evil, and the In Between
This anime is one of my favorites because of the emphasis on good versus evil. It reminds me of Hellsing: Ultimate because neither side is pure good or pure evil, but encompass aspects of both, with greater weight to one. Basically, it’s a realistic setting. The fight against Diva and Chiropterans is both logical and emotional, and truly feels balanced, so tha struggle is real. There is just so much feels with this – when Riku is raped and murdered, I cannot describe the utter shock and eventual anger and hatred towards Diva. When Diva dies, and Saya desperately cries out to “take me [Saya] with her,” I feel immense sorrow for Saya who is fighting for the greater good, beyond her own needs and desires. As Diva dies, I regain a sense of sympathy for her who was never once treated like a human despite not even being one. The comparison between her and Saya eventually leading to her antithesis as the antagonist and her children who, despite was wrongfully created – she had a genuine love for them, for they were something she has always wanted, yet could never have at the same time. Diva’s death struck a chord in me when she cried out to her sister in desperation, but I felt a sense of her acceptance in death as she caresses the cocoons in which her children lie in. Even more, Saya’s intention to commit suicide moved me in a strange way, that she didn’t have just logical reasons to do so (continuing on the horrid cycle of adversary between twins, watching the baby twins replicate that), but also emotional – the death of her sister, despite the horrendous things she has done to not just her adoptive brother, but to all of humanity, was still the death of her biological sister. The anime makes the central argument that you don’t need blood in order to be a family – but it is exactly that, and still, the opposite was never tried against. Since Saya still had a shred of humanity and her heart in her, how could she not feel remorse and sadness, from her past up until that point?

Art/Music
As mentioned before, the art style was not really my cup of tea at the beginning. It wasn’t like 1990 anime unbearable, but remember that it is still a 2005-’06. Granted, had I been watching it then (I was what, 9 or 10??), I’m sure it would have struck me as amazing. However, as I kept watching, it just sort of… grew on me? I suddenly took a liking to Haji’s outfit, which I can’t believe how dense I can be sometimes – Haji appeared in the first episode so how could I miss him looking like a butler this entire time!? xD It wasn’t until like maybe 10 episodes in that I noticed and then I had a reason to continue watching. 😀 Before that, it bothered me how simplistic the anime looked – the shading didn’t have any depth, and the lip coloration of Saya and Diva looked too much for me. I also tend to not have as much of a connection to strong (extremely) short haired female protagonists, but I can understand why others like them. However, over the episodes, I definitely grew to like Saya (although it was more than the fact that she once had long hair – don’t even know why but I just love long hair~). I commend the artists of this anime on the blood/gore part though – they did an excellent job portraying Chiropterans as unique enough creatures to be a part of a sci-fi anime, and the blood was not over the top in disgusting the viewers while maintaining a very realistic depiction. I thought it was brilliant in the craftsmanship of Saya’s sword – to use the bladed edge extending from the hilt as the cutting edge for allowing blood to trickle into the crevice and channels branching from the center of the blade.

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Saya’s Sword

 

The music was another aspect that I realized over time watching something that I really enjoyed. There were only four openings/endings, but two of the four became my new favorites. The very first opening, which was another hook in keeping me to continue the rest of the series, had a very nostalgic feel with enough energy as an opening to pump up the viewers. Aozora no Namida (“Tears of the Blue Sky”) by Hitomi Takahashi definitely carries that trademark anime song atmosphere, and reminds me of a combination of Joe Inoue from one of Naruto’s openings and Utada Hikaru, the artist of Kingdom Hearts opening. She has that strong voice of Hikaru with varying vocal ranges throughout the song, and Inoue’s energy/rock side. The beginning and the end are my favorite parts with those particular chords.
The second song is the fourth ending of Blood+. Get this, it was sung by the Korean singer K – when I first heard this song, I had no idea. When I went to search for it, I found out that it was called Brand New Map by K – the name sounded awfully familiar, as if my younger sister once talked about him in her many rambles about K-Pop. So I googled “K” – I get a Wikipedia article about the letter k in the English alphabet. Nope. Moving on, google “K singer” – aaand there we go! A 32 year old South Korean singer who is engaged to some J-Pop singer. I knew I had heard that name somewhere! Although I think it was more closer to K-Will or someone that she had talked about. Either way, he has a very charming voice in this song, and after I learned this fact, I could not unhear the Korean deep within his husky Japanese singing voice. I like this song way more than the first, I have been replaying it all day today! It has such a sweet melody and various vocal ranges throughout the piece. The very first time I saw the music video, I was about to just hit the next episode but as soon as he started singing along with seeing Haji to the slow panning screen to the right, I stopped, and listened to the whole thing. Normally I would just move onto the next episode once the ending started, but I didn’t even mind with this one. It is almost Naruto worthy for some of its endings/openings, such as Azu’s For You or the first Shippuden opening.

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Click here to view the full ending.

The art of the video itself is just beautiful. I mean, look at Saya right above! I think she is at her most prettiest here. In fact, I cannot believe the artist(s) for this MV versus the actual anime are the same – the style is distinctly different. This applies to the main anime cover (at the top of this blog post) – when you watch the anime, it is very different. This is what I mean by simplistic versus detailed art style.

As for sound, the anime did a pretty good job – the Japanese voice actors/actresses are highly suitable to each of the characters, and there are good sound effects. One sound effect that stuck out to me was this familiar heartbeat sounding effect that occurs when Saya senses Diva or anything to do with sensing/seeing blood. After watching another anime, Vampire Knight, it kind of reminded me of the sound effect there from when the vampires smell blood. But the sound effect from Blood+ was not as distracting – it was definitely more realistic. I feel as if I had heard the exact same one elsewhere, but maybe I have been watching too many supernatural animes/films. 🙂

Can I just say that I absolutely love Haji’s voice actor? He has this quiet but strong, deep husky voice – I love just about everything about Haji’s character. He only speaks when he has to, and when he is passionate about something, he “disobeys” Saya and speaks his mind. Saya’s and especially Diva’s voice actresses did a superb job as well!

Love Triangle
Haji and Saya. While I support these two the most, I acknowledge that Kai only can do some things for Saya, such as teaching her what it means to be truly human and to love as a human. The last episode nearly killed me – Haji’s sorrowful love confession to Saya as he “dies” in apparent death to save her and Kai had me sobbing mentally, and Kai carrying Saya back to her tomb/birthplace as she falls asleep made me so so sad for Kai’s future. Kai and Saya would never be able to be together (along with the fact that they are siblings by law – is that incest still?) as Saya slumbers for 30 years – by the time she awakens, he would be in his late forties or early fifties. Her Chiropteran nieces would be all grown up, and Julia’s unborn child would be in his or her thirties. Everyone would age significantly, except for Haji, who I am sure would faithfully wait for her again as he walks the night in solitude, playing the cello of the song he was taught by Saya herself centuries ago. So long as Saya lives, Haji cannot die – she cannot remain in a stable condition after all unless she drinks the blood of Haji upon her awakening. I was just so sad to not see Haji in the last part of the final episode once more, but we were left with a trace of his survival with a vivid pink rose tied with his signature blue ribbon that he uses to tie his hair.

Memories & Life
The Sif, defect “products” of the artificial Chiropteran the Cinq Fleches were attempting to create, demonstrate the meaning behind life and the human quality. As much as the original creators and antagonists claim that they are defect products, I feel as though the real heartless tools are the creators themselves. The defect they refer to ignorantly is the human quality – the natural and primal inclination to want to survive, to live, and to feel. This becomes more apparent towards the death of each Sif, until Lulu is left. I find it amazing that each Sif comes to realize the importance of all life based on their own horrendous experience as test subjects, and find a way to coexist among humans peacefully. And each emphasize the importance of keeping each other in their memories – as long as there is someone to remember them, they live through them in their hearts. It raises the interesting philosophical question of existence through thought – if someone thinks of a Chiropteran, do they exist? Perhaps it is a different matter at hand – not existence, but life through love within others, keeping memories alive within their hearts. Perhaps pertaining exclusively to humans (or in this case, beings with capacity to feel and think) that others can keep the memories of loved ones alive is considered “still being alive.” Perhaps that is why we as humans so desperately wish to be remembered as someone. Personally, I’m not sure what to think of this logically, but somehow it still makes sense to me. 🙂 I’ve heard other animes also tote this popular philosophical theme, so it wasn’t like the ultimate mind blower, but this anime was highly emphasized on this, which I thought made it special.

Will this post ever end?
No. Just kidding, most if not all things come to an end, like this anime. *sob* Because I wanted this anime to keep going even though 50 episodes is just perfect and not ridiculous like Bleach’s 400+. It was an interesting enough plot without overflowing with science and history like Hellsing: Ultimate was, and not carried out too long without any fillers like Bleach. Basically, it was so good as an anime in almost all aspects I want to cry. I had the brilliant idea to blog these feels out. And now it has been like, 3-4 hours up to this point. Ugh. Like I stated at the beginning, this is why I don’t watch animes anymore! xD
The only thing I wished more of this anime is the romantic progress between Haji and Saya. While it makes perfect sense that Haji wouldn’t make any moves on Saya (see last episode on their kiss), the fact that there were limited romantic scenes made me sad. 😦 Haji is such a respectable gentleman who is worthy of protecting Saya and being her lover – I will commend the anime for setting up an intricate love triangle/quadrilateral between Saya, Haji, Kai, and even Solomon. Solomon especially was an interesting character – the one episode dedicated to fighting for Saya’s love was bittersweet. I truly feel a lot for Solomon, who died without even to the attention to Saya despite his bittersweet words (“Call for me and I shall come to you”). In the anime, he changes for good and despite being Diva’s chevalier, he overcomes his “blood” and turns to Saya. Yet all he gets in the end is death… wahhhh!!! 😦 The development of his and Saya’s relationship was thoroughly fleshed out too, so the feels are definitely there. In fact, all of these characters, except the truly evil characters like Amshel and Van Argiano, were highly relatable and had some kind of good quality or reason about them. Least to say Diva was one of them too, of all of the characters. Sometimes the evil ones aren’t always at the top but hiding as the puppeteers. The Sif, Red Shield members, Solomon and even Nathan and Carl from Cinq Fleches, all had a reason for me to sympathize or attach to them. As much as I love character development, I hate the attachment that comes with it that will eventually cease when the anime ends.

One thing this has really got me thinking in terms of DDO is finalizing the concept of Reinegard. His build name will definitely revolve around Chevalier (suitable as an Eldritch Knight) – maybe Demonic-Vampire Chevalier? Something of the sort. I’m also inspired to find an all black suit for him like Haji, even his personality to mirror his. I have been thinking about even creating a new character as a parallel to Solomon, as some holy Paladin knight or something. 🙂

Anyhoo, I think I have typed my heart out. I will really miss this anime, and I hate rewatching stuff. But someday, maybe I will watch this again.

In the lyrical words of K, “Now wipe your tears away.”

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I guess this is appropriate for one of my fitting puns: Saya-nara, Blood+.

😀

*sob*