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Old 2010-04-23, 00:19   Link #61
musouka
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
Yaichi notes Masa got drawn in without him even having to do anything; is what's interesting about Masa his weakness, his malleability?
Sorry, gotta agree with Yaichi. Akitsu is fascinating to watch, and probably the most interesting character in the series so far. It's not so much a matter of weakness as it is watching him desperately attempt to hold on to his morals while confronted with something he really longs for--people to talk to, who seem to accept him. Akitsu can refuse the gold--and even feels a sort of superiority in his hunger pangs--but he can't refuse the sound of his first name coming from someone else's lips.

(That's also why it's so interesting when you realize he's being lied to. Five Leaves is already complete without him.)

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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
I prefer yuri for my gender-equal character dramas.
Just because a writer has done male/male work in the past, it doesn't mean this colors all of their work that isn't under that label. While I can't disagree that there aren't (very faint) homoerotic undertones, I think your tone here is a little glib and not befitting of the nuanced situation put forth by this series.
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Old 2010-04-23, 01:41   Link #62
Sol Falling
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musouka View Post
Sorry, gotta agree with Yaichi. Akitsu is fascinating to watch, and probably the most interesting character in the series so far. It's not so much a matter of weakness as it is watching him desperately attempt to hold on to his morals while confronted with something he really longs for--people to talk to, who seem to accept him. Akitsu can refuse the gold--and even feels a sort of superiority in his hunger pangs--but he can't refuse the sound of his first name coming from someone else's lips.
Haha, well, I can't disagree, though the thing about Masa longing for people is part of what I'd characterize as his 'weakness'...Indeed, the conflict with his pride and morality is somewhat interesting, but like Yaichi pointed out, the trajectory of where Masa's leanings are taking him is already clear. Given that, I'm not really so sure the conflict remains especially notable...at the very least, I'm not in any suspense over his future actions (for now).

Quote:
(That's also why it's so interesting when you realize he's being lied to. Five Leaves is already complete without him.)
I'm actually not clear on this yet...and I suppose an explicit betrayal like that might make the discussion about Masa's characterization above more imminent. What I understood, though, was that Masa seemed to have mistaken Ume's elderly acquaintance as one of the House of Five Leave's members...unless it was Okinu instead? Yaichi, Ume, Otake, and Matsu only make four, so if that indeed was the mistake, Masa really would make five. Then again, I was somewhat curious as to Okinu's ambiguity over Matsu's motivation for visiting...I suppose some deception might well be going on anyway.

Quote:
Just because a writer has done male/male work in the past, it doesn't mean this colors all of their work that isn't under that label. While I can't disagree that there aren't (very faint) homoerotic undertones, I think your tone here is a little glib and not befitting of the nuanced situation put forth by this series.
:P I'll admit I was a little glib. I don't think it necessarily disrespects any of the nuance of this series though. I know for a fact that yaoi and yuri works can have incredible emotional subtlety and depth. I also know (or at least I think I know) that this work doesn't intend to approach the line of explicit romantic interest. Nonetheless, what we have here are two guys fascinated with each other. From my experience, this is more female fantasy than reality, just like yuri is for me--and to be clear, I'm not saying that homosexuals don't exist, just that portrayals of them in media arts like anime and manga often reflect the interests of a largely heterosexual audience moreso than actual GLBT experience. As I said, I've got nothing against female fantasy, particularly a well constructed one, and indeed have even occasionally swallowed some yaoi in the interest of broadening my perspective. That kind of exercise is to a degree what watching this anime feels like to me, however, so my 'yuri' comment was basically to say I'm not at all confident I will appreciate this series on that enjoyment level.
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Last edited by Sol Falling; 2010-04-23 at 01:56.
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Old 2010-04-23, 03:53   Link #63
musouka
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
Haha, well, I can't disagree, though the thing about Masa longing for people is part of what I'd characterize as his 'weakness'...Indeed, the conflict with his pride and morality is somewhat interesting, but like Yaichi pointed out, the trajectory of where Masa's leanings are taking him is already clear. Given that, I'm not really so sure the conflict remains especially notable...at the very least, I'm not in any suspense over his future actions (for now).
This relies almost entirely on assumptions. For one, the assumption that once Akitsu falls in with the group, there is nothing more to be said about him. This would only make sense if the central conceit is the struggle between Akitsu's stomach and his mind. From what I've seen, the central conceit is really more about the struggle between Akitsu's stomach, mind, and heart, which adds an entirely new dimension to his trajectory.

In other words, whether Akitsu joins the group isn't all that important. What really matters is what happens with both him and the members when he does.

Akitsu gives off a sense of paradoxical fragility. It makes perfect sense to me why Yaichi would be interested in what happens when that's threatened. Will he break under the strain of being in a kidnapping group, or will we see steel underneath the veneer--like we did when he fulfilled his duty as bodyguard in the first episode?

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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
I'm actually not clear on this yet...and I suppose an explicit betrayal like that might make the discussion about Masa's characterization above more imminent. What I understood, though, was that Masa seemed to have mistaken Ume's elderly acquaintance as one of the House of Five Leave's members...unless it was Okinu instead? Yaichi, Ume, Otake, and Matsu only make four, so if that indeed was the mistake, Masa really would make five. Then again, I was somewhat curious as to Okinu's ambiguity over Matsu's motivation for visiting...I suppose some deception might well be going on anyway.
There's deception in the fact that he doesn't really know the true formation of this group and their goals--and no one is exactly jumping up to tell him either. He's entranced by their warm, welcoming exterior, but who knows what's underneath?

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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
:P I'll admit I was a little glib. I don't think it necessarily disrespects any of the nuance of this series though. I know for a fact that yaoi and yuri works can have incredible emotional subtlety and depth. I also know (or at least I think I know) that this work doesn't intend to approach the line of explicit romantic interest. Nonetheless, what we have here are two guys fascinated with each other. From my experience, this is more female fantasy than reality, just like yuri is for me--and to be clear, I'm not saying that homosexuals don't exist, just that portrayals of them in media arts like anime and manga often reflect the interests of a largely heterosexual audience moreso than actual GLBT experience.
This is based off a manga series aimed at adult men. Ono has a large crossover audience, it's true, but it is somewhat off the mark to imply that this "fascination" is there mainly for fanservice. And let's be honest, this fascination could be played up a lot more than it has been if they really wanted to go this route. The idea that men can't be interested in the interactions and reactions of other men without it being homoerotic fanservice is more than just a little absurd, and I say that as someone with a forum avatar of Touma no Shinzou.

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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
That kind of exercise is to a degree what watching this anime feels like to me, however, so my 'yuri' comment was basically to say I'm not at all confident I will appreciate this series on that enjoyment level.
And my comment was pointing out that there's no point in judging it on this male/male basis simply because you find an element of it doesn't fit into your own personal perception of how same-gender relationships are supposed to work.
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Old 2010-04-23, 07:15   Link #64
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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post

Anyway. This is manglobe, and besides that the show's yaoi-authoress mangaka clearly knows what she's doing. Frankly though, as a guy, I prefer yuri for my gender-equal character dramas. I'll keep watching this because I know it's good, but I don't think I'll be gushing over it.
It doesn't strike me as a yaoi title. Guys can be fascinated over how other guys will react to a situation without it being homoerotic.

And if there are some undertones later on, the Hakuouki thread did point out that these activities did happen in the samurai class. So this title is being historically correct if it happens .
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Old 2010-04-23, 07:49   Link #65
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Manglobe (and Mochizuki especially) strikes again after Michiko to Hatchin (Seiken no Blacksmith doesn't count damnit!). I find this series (so far) works best in animated form compared to the much insipid chapters of the manga I've read. Then again, reading it right after Children of the Sea, Bokurano and Dorohedoro, I suppose any manga might appear dull and uninspired.

Either way, that was a promising episode full of the "Mochizuki" atmosphere (granted not as slow-paced and immerse as Zettai Shounen) that I love. I adore the character designs and find it far from ugly (which is one thing I can definitely compliment Ono for).

Now, I just need to watch Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei and I'm all set.
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Old 2010-04-23, 10:27   Link #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musouka View Post
Sorry, gotta agree with Yaichi. Akitsu is fascinating to watch, and probably the most interesting character in the series so far. It's not so much a matter of weakness as it is watching him desperately attempt to hold on to his morals while confronted with something he really longs for--people to talk to, who seem to accept him. Akitsu can refuse the gold--and even feels a sort of superiority in his hunger pangs--but he can't refuse the sound of his first name coming from someone else's lips.

(That's also why it's so interesting when you realize he's being lied to. Five Leaves is already complete without him.)
This.

As much as I love hearing Yaichi talk, Masa has totally made this series for me. He is so interesting to watch with his personality issues. He wants to belong but feels he just doesnt based on past events. Like he said he's never really had a place to just hang out with friends.

Its interesting how both Matsu and Yaichi know that what Yaichi is doing is against his normal nature. Makes me wonder so much more about him.

And yeah since the 5 Leaves is complete, but thats not known to Masa, why do they still want him to join?
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Old 2010-04-23, 11:26   Link #67
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Episode two solidified my enjoyment of this series. It may not have a lot of action -- or even any action, this time around -- but it is full of the insides of people, their feelings, relationships, and possible intentions. We knew even before the show started that Masa would find himself joining, but how he and everyone else feels about that is what's interesting.

I liked how Mochizuki concentrated on Masa and Yaichi in the first episode, just showing us some other characters, then gave us more of those other characters in episode two: Ume, his daughter, Otake -- and introduced Matsu and the farmer and the courtesans. Maybe we'll get to know them better soon.

Whether the gang is complete already depends on whether they consider the guy in the countryside an actual member. I'm not sure he does.

The thing I probably like best about this show is hard to define: mood? feeling? There is some feeling running through it that gives it aesthetic unity. The music, the pacing of the movements and dialogue, the backgrounds, the lighting. Even the OP, using a different idiom as it does, helps set the feeling, for me.

Great OP, by the way. And great background music, well used.
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Old 2010-04-23, 12:32   Link #68
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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
I'm actually not clear on this yet...and I suppose an explicit betrayal like that might make the discussion about Masa's characterization above more imminent. What I understood, though, was that Masa seemed to have mistaken Ume's elderly acquaintance as one of the House of Five Leave's members...unless it was Okinu instead? Yaichi, Ume, Otake, and Matsu only make four, so if that indeed was the mistake, Masa really would make five.
Exactly. I doubt the old man counts as a member, he's never even met Yaichi from the looks of it. That's simply what Masa assumed, and as he didn't say it out loud Otake couldn't correct him. I very much doubt the Five leaves are planning to betray Masa, though it's quite hard to tell what's in Yaichi's mind. He's quite a mysterious guy.

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Originally Posted by Kaoru Chujo View Post
The thing I probably like best about this show is hard to define: mood? feeling? There is some feeling running through it that gives it aesthetic unity. The music, the pacing of the movements and dialogue, the backgrounds, the lighting. Even the OP, using a different idiom as it does, helps set the feeling, for me.

Great OP, by the way. And great background music, well used.
Couldn't have said it better. I feel exactly the same.
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Old 2010-04-23, 12:54   Link #69
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Exactly. I doubt the old man counts as a member, he's never even met Yaichi from the looks of it. That's simply what Masa assumed, and as he didn't say it out loud Otake couldn't correct him. I very much doubt the Five leaves are planning to betray Masa, though it's quite hard to tell what's in Yaichi's mind. He's quite a mysterious guy.
I dont think the Old Man counts either, Masa just assumed it since he watches the people who are kidnapped. Plus no one really gave him a good explanation to what Matsu does at Ume's place beside hit on Otake so Masa wouldnt know Matsu was even in the 5 Leaves.

I hope they dont betray Masa, Id feel bad for him. Again we dont know what Yaichi thinks.
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Old 2010-04-23, 13:05   Link #70
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I very much doubt the Five leaves are planning to betray Masa
I never said anything about betrayal; I said they were lying to him. A lie of omission is still a lie.
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Old 2010-04-23, 13:19   Link #71
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This relies almost entirely on assumptions. For one, the assumption that once Akitsu falls in with the group, there is nothing more to be said about him. This would only make sense if the central conceit is the struggle between Akitsu's stomach and his mind. From what I've seen, the central conceit is really more about the struggle between Akitsu's stomach, mind, and heart, which adds an entirely new dimension to his trajectory.

In other words, whether Akitsu joins the group isn't all that important. What really matters is what happens with both him and the members when he does.

Akitsu gives off a sense of paradoxical fragility. It makes perfect sense to me why Yaichi would be interested in what happens when that's threatened. Will he break under the strain of being in a kidnapping group, or will we see steel underneath the veneer--like we did when he fulfilled his duty as bodyguard in the first episode?
I'm not sure where I brought up 'stomach' and 'mind'? Unless you took those as extensions of 'pride' and 'morality'...but I was referring to both his pride and morality as things which conflicted with his longing, i.e. weakness, i.e. heart. Which is to say that I indeed had included that in my projections of Masa's 'trajectory', and nonetheless am currently in no suspense over it.

'Breaking under the strain of being in a kidnapping group' seems incredibly unlikely given how he's being coddled as the 'pickle boy', having money thrown at him waved off as 'hush money' or most importantly the highly focused personal interest he is recieving from all corners. Yaichi's fascination with him beyond his combat strength only contributes to this, as it only makes it more likely that Masa will be allowed to stay there without approaching his moral boundaries. Whether Masa will be able to fight or kill for their sake is indeed an interesting question, but it is not being presented as at all an urgent one.

Quote:
There's deception in the fact that he doesn't really know the true formation of this group and their goals--and no one is exactly jumping up to tell him either. He's entranced by their warm, welcoming exterior, but who knows what's underneath?
:P It's only one guy who Masa's unaware of. In terms of goals, if there really is some larger, conspiratory motivation that'd really be something but their current representation as 'kidnappers, 'cause it's good money' isn't precisely warm or welcoming in the first place. Given Ume's presentation this episode, I am more or less certain that the surface 'House of Five Leaves' we have seen is truth for at least some of them. If there's some greater motive afoot, it's Yaichi's background that's the real question.

Quote:
This is based off a manga series aimed at adult men. Ono has a large crossover audience, it's true, but it is somewhat off the mark to imply that this "fascination" is there mainly for fanservice. And let's be honest, this fascination could be played up a lot more than it has been if they really wanted to go this route. The idea that men can't be interested in the interactions and reactions of other men without it being homoerotic fanservice is more than just a little absurd, and I say that as someone with a forum avatar of Touma no Shinzou.
Guy, there is a distinction between 'fantasy' and 'fanservice'. Not once have I mentioned the latter. Your insistence that what I'm talking about is 'homoeroticism' also completely misses the point. Masa and Yaichi's fascination with each other is not gay--it will neither lead up to a homosexual relationship in the manga (again, I'm assuming), nor is it representative of actual homoerotic relationships. Rather, it is fantasy--please understand that yes, there can be non-sexual fantasies!

Quote:
And my comment was pointing out that there's no point in judging it on this male/male basis simply because you find an element of it doesn't fit into your own personal perception of how same-gender relationships are supposed to work.
It's not my perceptions of real-world same-gender relationships that I've based this on. That is merely a secondary comparison. Rather, it's the similarities this piece has with other works of female fantasy--yaoi, which as I mentioned earlier, I have been exposed to enough to have some familiarity with. As hinted in the first post, I identified the mangaka as a yaoi-authoress before I ever checked her work history--the elements of female fantasy are inherent in this work itself. Masa's fascination with Yaichi's carefree smile; Yaichi's consuming interest in Masa beyond his established self; the highly personal nature of their (non-sexual) attraction to each other is there without me having to look for it. It is nothing so logical or critical as 'interest in another man's interactions and reactions'.

Also, to say that I'm 'judging' this is pretty damn disengenuous. I've already stated that I consider yaoi as perfectly emotionally valid as yuri is for me--which is to say, 'absolutely', as the fact that Kannazuki no Miko is one of my favourite animes ever, for its completely fantastical emotional content, might testify. That I'm identifying this show as having elements of female fantasy does nothing to degrade its nuance or validity--it merely acknowledges that a core part of its characterization is aimed at another audience.
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Summer: Sailor Moon Crystal 20/5 :: Hanayamata 40/5 :: Locodol 20/5 :: Yama no Susume 30/5
God-tier yuri oneshot mangaka: Minase Ruruu
Yuri Precure otaku manga: Shinozaki-san ki wo ota shika ni
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Old 2010-04-23, 13:58   Link #72
musouka
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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
'Breaking under the strain of being in a kidnapping group' seems incredibly unlikely given how he's being coddled as the 'pickle boy', having money thrown at him waved off as 'hush money' or most importantly the highly focused personal interest he is recieving from all corners.
The only one that seems personally interested in Akitsu is Yaichi. The rest are just doing some high pressure recruitment tactics. I don't think they dislike him, but all their focus on him inevitably ends up being "so, are you going to join us yet?"

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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
Yaichi's fascination with him beyond his combat strength only contributes to this, as it only makes it more likely that Masa will be allowed to stay there without approaching his moral boundaries.
This assumes that Yaichi's interest in Akitsu is fully altruistic. All we know about it is that Yaichi has said Akitsu is interesting to watch. This doesn't translate out to "I want to keep him the way he is."

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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
If there's some greater motive afoot, it's Yaichi's background that's the real question.
Yaichi is the center of the group, so of course his background is the "real question", but we really don't know much about anyone's background except for Ume and his daughter. And even then...

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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
It's not my perceptions of real-world same-gender relationships that I've based this on. That is merely a secondary comparison. Rather, it's the similarities this piece has with other works of female fantasy--yaoi, which as I mentioned earlier, I have been exposed to enough to have some familiarity with.
This only makes sense if you assume that those vague "elements of yaoi" (whatever they are) aren't based in reality as well. That there is no way a guy could evidence interest in what another guy does without it falling under the heading of "fantasy." That's pretty ridiculous.
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Last edited by musouka; 2010-04-23 at 14:26. Reason: rudeness on my part
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Old 2010-04-23, 15:04   Link #73
Sol Falling
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Originally Posted by musouka View Post
The only one that seems personally interested in Akitsu is Yaichi. The rest are just doing some high pressure recruitment tactics. I don't think they dislike him, but all their focus on him inevitably ends up being "so, are you going to join us yet?"
Yeah, and so what I was saying is that Akitsu's characterization for the immediate future will pretty much consist of him giving in to that pressure, moral objections or no. Not that interesting (of course, I am entirely up for seeing what happens to him when that pressure forces him to make a real decision eventually).

Quote:
This only makes sense if you assume that those vague "elements of yaoi" (whatever they are) aren't based in reality as well. That there is no way a guy could evidence interest in what another guy does without it falling under the heading of "fantasy." That's pretty ridiculous.

Do you seriously not get what I'm saying? You just did it again. Ono has done far more works based for adult men than she ever has male/male manga under her pen name. Your insistence on pigeonholing her by her gender and the minority of what she's written is irritating, because it implies that a woman can't write about men or for men without this "seeping in". Ono is not a "yaoi-authoress", full stop.
I've read and enjoyed plenty of works by female authors that don't feature any yaoi fantasies. There is no 'pigeonholing' or negative gender-generalization going on here. Like I said, my initial impression was based on no part on any assumptions of her other work. I came into this anime with no idea who the mangaka was; male, female, whatever. The accusation that yaoi had 'seeped into' this work was yours, not mine. Rather, the hints from this show which I percieved independantly allowed me to extrapolate that this author enjoyed the constructs of yaoi fantasy, which was validated when I later saw that she had indeed written for the genre. I don't need to assume that the yaoi constructs echoed here are not reflected in reality, because the fact is that the audience for yaoi as a body of work is overwhelmingly women rather than gay men. The resemblances I saw here, not to Ono's own yaoi work (which I was not aware of) but rather the other works of female fantasy I have seen, were the basis of my conclusion.

Quote:
If it's just as emotionally valid for you, then why were you so dismissive in your initial post? I mean, beyond the fine sounding vocabulary, you do realize that you basically posted the grammatically proper equivalent of "lol this show so gay, should be lesbians instead!", right?
'Emotionally valid' in the objective sense, the sense that female fantasies of gender-equal relationships are just as valid as male ones of the same. That nevertheless doesn't change the fact that it's not as accessible to me, not being the target for it. The fact that I'm staying on for this show is rather the opposite of dismissive, don't you think? Because I see enough value in the rest of the show and indeed even this example of a foreign female fantasy to see it through. That I prefer lesbians isn't an indictment of this show, it's simply a statement of personal regret that this show doesn't appeal to me on that inherent level (and again, I'm not talking sexually here).


edit:

Ah, I see you've edited your post, negating most of mine...:P I took most of this as a misunderstanding, rather than rudeness on your part, so I didn't really mind. If you prefer, I could delete this though.
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Seasonal enjoyment ratings:
HappinessCharge Precure 100/5 :: Stardust Crusaders 80/5 :: Mushishi S2 90/5 :: Akuma no Riddle: 15/5 :: Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san 24/5 :: GochiUsa 33/5 :: Soul Eater NOT! 18/5 :: Love Live! S2 80/5
Summer: Sailor Moon Crystal 20/5 :: Hanayamata 40/5 :: Locodol 20/5 :: Yama no Susume 30/5
God-tier yuri oneshot mangaka: Minase Ruruu
Yuri Precure otaku manga: Shinozaki-san ki wo ota shika ni
Awesome shoujo manga: Last Game
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Old 2010-04-23, 15:46   Link #74
musouka
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Yeah, and so what I was saying is that Akitsu's characterization for the immediate future will pretty much consist of him giving in to that pressure, moral objections or no. Not that interesting (of course, I am entirely up for seeing what happens to him when that pressure forces him to make a real decision eventually).
This is what I mean about simplifying the plot, though. Allow me to put it this way. You keep on wanting to simplify it as "Akitsu will eventually give in, so where's the tension"?

To me, I'm much more interested in why he's going to give in. The series has set it up as there being two (entirely personal) reasons for Akitsu to give in and join the group. One, he's starving and poor. Two, they provide a sense of companionship he's never had before.

The first reason alone is probably good enough to give in for most people, but it implies a certain pragmatism that Akitsu seems to lack. If, however, he goes into this group expecting the sort of camaraderie he's been seeking, there's a whole other layer to this. That's not a pragmatic reason to join anything; it's an emotional one.

The group might not be exactly what he's looking for. He'll also have to balance getting to know them and his own sense of pride and morality. So it's not just suspense in him joining the group, it's the suspense in how he will make a place for himself within it.

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I've read and enjoyed plenty of works by female authors that don't feature any yaoi fantasies.
Are you implying that every woman has "yaoi fantasies" and just some of them are better at hiding it? Because, yes, it would be incredibly easy to read a series that lacked "yaoi fantasies" if the woman in question never had them to begin with!

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Rather, the hints from this show which I percieved independantly allowed me to extrapolate that this author enjoyed the constructs of yaoi fantasy, which was validated when I later saw that she had indeed written for the genre.
You're being too nebulous here. What I'm getting from you is that men who show interest in one another whether through their smiles or enjoying seeing them react to people, is by its very nature an abnormal construct that only women utilize and enjoy.

What if Ono had been a man? What if she had never written male/male? What if I pointed out other series by men aimed at men with similar sentiments? Would it still be a "yaoi fantasy"? Simply by labeling it a "yaoi fantasy", you're flattening the nuance of the situation just as surely as the label "tsundere" can flatten a female character's justified emotional states.

Words don't only have meaning, they have a subtext to them. Using the word "yaoi" and "fantasy" has the same sense of labeling the series as "pandering" and "unrealistic" respectively. And, let me explain, there is nothing wrong with a certain level of pandering or unrealism--this doesn't mean a work can't strike you emotionally, as I'm sure Kannazuki no Miko did for you--but I don't think it fits for this series and the relationship Ono is trying to express.

For a helpful example, I don't really think MariMite falls under the "yuri fantasy" label either (though it is certainly a "fantasy"), and I've had somewhat similar arguments about that.
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Old 2010-04-23, 16:17   Link #75
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As much as this conversation is a fun read, we're teetering on off topic with the yaoi/yuri debate. Masa's characterization and what the 5 Leaves want with him Im cool with but the rest is borderline. If you keep wanting to discuss it I suggest VM and or PM
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Old 2010-04-23, 20:46   Link #76
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As much as this conversation is a fun read, we're teetering on off topic with the yaoi/yuri debate. Masa's characterization and what the 5 Leaves want with him Im cool with but the rest is borderline. If you keep wanting to discuss it I suggest VM and or PM
Impending off-topicness acknowledged...I'll try to keep this relevant to the show, and any yaoi/yuri stuff brief.

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This is what I mean about simplifying the plot, though. Allow me to put it this way. You keep on wanting to simplify it as "Akitsu will eventually give in, so where's the tension"?

To me, I'm much more interested in why he's going to give in. The series has set it up as there being two (entirely personal) reasons for Akitsu to give in and join the group. One, he's starving and poor. Two, they provide a sense of companionship he's never had before.

The first reason alone is probably good enough to give in for most people, but it implies a certain pragmatism that Akitsu seems to lack. If, however, he goes into this group expecting the sort of camaraderie he's been seeking, there's a whole other layer to this. That's not a pragmatic reason to join anything; it's an emotional one.

The group might not be exactly what he's looking for. He'll also have to balance getting to know them and his own sense of pride and morality. So it's not just suspense in him joining the group, it's the suspense in how he will make a place for himself within it.
I'll admit the 'tension' thing is part of it. Basically, as you noted, with most of the attention Masa's getting being 'high pressure recruitment tactics' I am simply not very compelled by Masa's susceptibility to it--like I highlighted, his 'weakness'. Yaichi's observation at the end that it wasn't just the pressure-tactics that were pulling Masa into the group does bring a human dimension to his characterization--Masa does long for the interaction they provide him, he's not simply being pulled in against his own will--yet nonetheless it's still the 'love-bombing' that comes off as the most emergent determinant of his behaviour.

Will Masa have to balance his pride and morality with his desire to fit in with them? That is probably true. However, that's imagining his situation as an entirely self-determining one. I kinda feel like Masa's 'place' within the group will not, at least for the near future, be determined by the above 'balance' you are talking about but rather what exactly the rest of the guys can pressure him into.

Quote:
Are you implying that every woman has "yaoi fantasies" and just some of them are better at hiding it? Because, yes, it would be incredibly easy to read a series that lacked "yaoi fantasies" if the woman in question never had them to begin with!
:P Not at all. That statement was in response to the idea that I was implying that 'a woman can't write about or for men' without yaoi seeping in. What I was saying was, given my impression that Ono is an author who enjoys the constructs of yaoi fantasy (supported by the fact that she has written it), is that she is including it deliberately, not as 'pandering' or 'crossover appeal' necessarily, but as a meaningful aspect of the story. Does the fact that this is seinen make the idea that she might do so impossible? Not at all (emotion =! sex, after all). I haven't actually read it, but from what I've heard, Kuroshitsuji might be a similar example.

Quote:
You're being too nebulous here. What I'm getting from you is that men who show interest in one another whether through their smiles or enjoying seeing them react to people, is by its very nature an abnormal construct that only women utilize and enjoy.

What if Ono had been a man? What if she had never written male/male? What if I pointed out other series by men aimed at men with similar sentiments? Would it still be a "yaoi fantasy"? Simply by labeling it a "yaoi fantasy", you're flattening the nuance of the situation just as surely as the label "tsundere" can flatten a female character's justified emotional states.

Words don't only have meaning, they have a subtext to them. Using the word "yaoi" and "fantasy" has the same sense of labeling the series as "pandering" and "unrealistic" respectively. And, let me explain, there is nothing wrong with a certain level of pandering or unrealism--this doesn't mean a work can't strike you emotionally, as I'm sure Kannazuki no Miko did for you--but I don't think it fits for this series and the relationship Ono is trying to express.

For a helpful example, I don't really think MariMite falls under the "yuri fantasy" label either (though it is certainly a "fantasy"), and I've had somewhat similar arguments about that.
:P This may be the key misunderstanding here. For me, neither yaoi nor yuri have any implication of 'pandering'. I'll confirm that by 'fantasy', I do mean 'unrealistic' though. What Masa's compulsion towards Yaichi's smile and Yaichi's uncharacteristic interest evidence is a gut-level, reciprocal attraction between males, and of a non-sexual kind at that. That is the stuff of female fantasy, the kind that appeals overwhelmingly to women instead of men (of course there are exceptions). Whether Ono were a man, or there were other similar works by men out there, I'd still have identified these similarities, though I may have had to rebalance my understanding of yaoi's demographic distribution. The point is I am strongly recognizing the (valid) emotional constructs of yaoi in this work, although nevertheless as I have pretty much stated from the beginning I don't think that means it features pandering subtext. Instead, despite being in the seinen demographic, my point has been to acknowledge that this work isn't completely designed to appeal to me; to say that 'doesn't appeal to me' == 'pandering' would be truly arrogant.
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Old 2010-04-23, 22:29   Link #77
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The only one that seems personally interested in Akitsu is Yaichi. The rest are just doing some high pressure recruitment tactics. I don't think they dislike him, but all their focus on him inevitably ends up being "so, are you going to join us yet?"
I disagree with this. But first, I'll allow for the possibility that the reason the others appear to be showing an interest in Masanosuke is because they were told to do so by Yaichi.

Both Okinu and Otake do things that seem like they enjoy hanging out with him. He goes on the boat ride and otherwise hangs out quite a bit with Otake, and when the inn-keeper's daughter, Okinu, hears that he has never had friends she changes the way she addresses him.

Like I said, this might all be because Yaichi said to be nice to him, but I think it goes beyond "high pressure recruitment tactics".
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Old 2010-04-23, 22:54   Link #78
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Both Okinu and Otake do things that seem like they enjoy hanging out with him. He goes on the boat ride and otherwise hangs out quite a bit with Otake
Which, again, always seems to end in "so, plan on joining us yet?"

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and when the inn-keeper's daughter, Okinu, hears that he has never had friends she changes the way she addresses him.
That part came across as rather manipulative to me. Your mileage may vary, of course.
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Old 2010-04-24, 00:04   Link #79
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[Okinu's concern for Masa] came across as rather manipulative to me. Your mileage may vary, of course.
Perhaps Okinu is an excellent actress, but I thought she was behaving sincerely. She obviously knows what her father and the others are up to, but I think she has feelings for Masa, though whether these arise out of pity, curiosity, or romantic attraction I'm not able to say. I'm guessing that Masa may face Ume's wrath at some point down the road, even if the instigator turns out to be Okinu.

Okane-san, on the other hand, seems as manipulative as they come. I've even wondered if she is truly a member of the Five Leaves as she doesn't seem particularly central to the group's activities thus far. Nor does she seem especially knowledgeable about their activities. Either she was dissembling when she asked Matsu if he was making deliveries, or she really didn't know he was assigned to spy on the previous kidnap victim and his family.

I felt especially sad for Masa when the prostitute suddenly switches from exclaiming about how kawaii he is to exclaiming about how much she wants to sleep with Yaichi.

I do think we're building toward a critical event where Masa will clearly be forced to take sides and perhaps even kill someone if he wishes to remain with the Leaves.

Finally, these two episodes strike me as candidates for the perennial "what is slice-of-life" debate. Overall Five Leaves will probably best be classified as a drama, but it so far spends a lot of time showing us the daily lives of a group of kidnappers. Most of the drama so far has been internal and largely limited to Masa's personal struggles. This style of story-telling seems very uncommon in the West. I'm probably showing my lack of knowledge of literature, but the closest work I can think of in the American canon is Melville's Moby Dick, with its many extended discussions of whaling and the whalers' craft.

Oh, and who was that samurai? Have we seen him before? Somehow I'm pretty sure we'll be seeing him again. Maybe he's with the House of Seven Leaves?
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Old 2010-04-24, 00:15   Link #80
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Originally Posted by musouka View Post
Which, again, always seems to end in "so, plan on joining us yet?"
Huh ... I thought it always ended in, "Let's have some more sake."

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Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
Finally, these two episodes strike me as candidates for the perennial "what is slice-of-life" debate. Overall Five Leaves will probably best be classified as a drama, but it so far spends a lot of time showing us the daily lives of a group of kidnappers. Most of the drama so far has been internal and largely limited to Masa's personal struggles. This style of story-telling seems very uncommon in the West. I'm probably showing my lack of knowledge of literature, but the closest work I can think of in the American canon is Melville's Moby Dick, with its many extended discussions of whaling and the whalers' craft.
I like the inclusion of Moby Dick on that basis, as I like the "process description" version of slice of life. Others have mentioned Faulkner, but I'm not familiar with his work.
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