How Music Affects Japanese Animation: The Soul of An Anime

Think about your favorite animated show of all time.  The emotion, the action, the memorable characters.  How would you sum it all up?  How would you encapsulate everything that the show means to you, in as short a time as possible?

I don’t know about you, but to me, the only way this is possible is through music.  Words are a bit too clumsy–meaning gets lost in transit, our personal experiences of the stories just…aren’t done justice.  Some strange, untouchable quality about the music of a show, and how it relates to the full experience of an anime, is undeniably special.  When you hear the signature chord, the epic brass, the quiet piano, your mind is whisked away to that special anime, to that moment that reminds you, “Yeah, this is gonna be something great.”

So, how exactly does music do that?

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Dissociative Identity Disorder, and Finding One’s “True Self”: Boku wa Mari no Naka

Having multiple personalities can be a lot stranger then one might initially believe.

Boku wa Mari no Naha is a strange manga–definitely the strangest I’ve read in a long while.  But that doesn’t make it bad at all, of course not.  On the contrary, it’s one of the most fascinating stories I’ve experienced as of late.  You can read more on why exactly I think so in my review of the story, but for now, I’d like to focus on one particularly interesting part of it: its depiction of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Before I get any farther into analyzing one very, very broken mind, I’d like to give a heads up–there’s HUGE spoilers ahead for Boku wa Mari no Naka.  Huge, in that you will not be able to experience this story in remotely the same way, if you read this analysis before the actual manga.  So I HIGHLY recommend you take a look at it beforehand, I promise it’s a pretty good read.

That being said. Let’s get started.

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Crafting The Perfect Story: The Three Elements of Storytelling

Everyone looks at stories differently.  It’s why people have differing opinions when it comes to stories that we enjoy.  Some of us like anime, manga, or other similar Japanese stories.  Others enjoy the attachment of watching actors on the big screen, or experiencing stories first-hand through a video game.

Stories are universal, but as we all know, every story won’t work for everyone.  Knowing that, I’d like to introduce you today to what I consider my Three Elements of Storytelling–the three factors, that I believe makes a story great, from an objective point of view.

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The Sales, Reception, and Popularity of Pokemon!

Pokemon is one hell of a franchise.

The second-best selling video game franchise of all time, only behind Mario, Pokemon has become a legitimate worldwide phenomenon, known to essentially anyone and everyone.  It’s a huge franchise, released to positive reception with every new title, and one that everyone knows is going strong, but really, how strong is it nowdays?

Well, the trends aren’t exactly surprising, honestly: but they were certainly interesting to look at!  And here’s the results.

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Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood: A Theological Analysis of The Homunculus, Alchemy, and The Truth

Now, now, now, I know what you’re thinking.  Symbolism?  You mean like those cool tattoos the homunculi have?  The seven deadly sins?  Father’s Jesus symbolism?  We’ve seen that before!

No way, that’s simple stuff.  Here on Reading Between, we got bigger fish to fry.

Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood has received critical acclaim from many sources, myself included.  It is one of the greatest anime of all time, in my humble opinion, and a big part of that was an adventure that perfectly blended action, character development, and thematic strength.  Among its thematic strengths, was the prevalence of knowledge, and the seven evil Homunculi or artificial humans, each named for one of the famous Seven Deadly Sins.  This is common knowledge, however: and what is lost in many a symbolic analysis of the series, is a meaning that is far greater.  What I am talking about is The Dwarf in The Flask, The Homunculus, known as Father.

Father is one of my favorite anime villains of all time, but not for an imposing presence, not for his sheer evil, not even for really being a stereotypical “good” villain throughout the series.  Rather, Father sums up the thematic patterns of Full Metal Alchemist WONDERFULLY, his existence in and of itself so full of symbolism, that I’m surprised people haven’t noticed it.  Yes, Father does fit the “wise old man,” Jesus stereotype, he dresses in white, and his name alludes to God himself, but man, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Just a heads up, this is gonna be LONG and DETAILED.   And is in fact, the LONGEST and MOST DETAILED analysis on Reading Between up to this point, that tackles basically everything about FMA, from the thematic significance of alchemy, to the meaning of “Truth”.  So, hope I can keep it entertaining and educational for ya’ll- let’s get it started.

…Or you could skip to the TL;DR version at the bottom.  It’s cool, you can do that too.

Continue reading “Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood: A Theological Analysis of The Homunculus, Alchemy, and The Truth”

A Quick Statistical Comparison of Popular and Acclaimed Anime

A quick personal digression- statistics, whether in the social sciences, or elsewhere, interest me.  I’m a psychology major at the moment; a factor in some of the topics I choose to pursue on Reading Between, but statistics are still fun to look at as well.  That being said, I got a bit curious one day about the statistics of anime on myanimelist.com, and decided to do some digging, and here’s some of the trends I found!

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The Legend of Zelda: A Psycho-Analysis of The Usurper King

Anyone else hype to play the Switch?

Anyways, in honor of the release of the Switch, and of course, The Legend of Zelda, Breath of The Wild, I wanted to take a look at one of the best one-time villains of the series, Zant.

Zant, The King of Shadows, the Usurper King, was featured in the game, Twilight Princess, as seemingly the main villain.  Cold, intimidating, and powerful, Zant was extremely effective at being a dreaded presence for the player to confront, he was an antagonist that had tangible presence throughout the game.  However, come his actual boss battle, the facade drops, and he seems to go wild- throwing child-like tantrums, screeching maniacally, hopping around the battlefield, Zant displays his true nature as a psychotic lunatic.

That all being said, this behavior made me curious- what kind of person is Zant, really?  What caused him to be this way?  And of course, honestly, just what the heck is wrong with him?  Well, that’s what I’ll be exploring today-just what is the psychology of The Usurper King?

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Orange: Kakeru’s Depression, and an Application to Real Life

Warning: With this topic, I write rather honestly and personally on thoughts involving Depression, and as such, makes for a longer, more emotion-driven post.  It shouldn’t be anything too heavy, but if that’s not your thing, just wanted to give you a heads up!

Okay, so, Orange.

Kakeru, the central focus of Orange’s plot, spoke to me a lot.  His depression was depicted in a very real, tough way, that I know resonated with many other people as well.

It’s a great anime, that tackles a tough topic- Depression- but does it do it well?  How accurate is it to real life, and is there truly something to be learned from it?  Well.  That’s what I’d like to talk about today- clinically, psychologically speaking, does Kakeru’s depression in Orange hold any weight?   And what, exactly, can we learn about real-life depression from this example?

This is going to be a bit of rough, long topic, so strap yourself in- let’s get to it!

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A Psycho-Analysis of the Tsundere

The Tsundere is an ever-present part of anime, undisputedly one of the most well-known character stereotypes, if not the most well known.  There are three other primary character types- the kuudere, the yandere, and the dandere, but let’s be honest, Tsundere is without a doubt the most well known and distinctive.  I mean, there’s tsundere maid cafes, tsundere shirts, and even a wikihow article on how to be a tsundere!

I think, generally speaking, we know what we like about seeing Tsunderes, right?  People have actually analyzed why we tend to like such characters, but it makes sense why they would be attractive anyways.  They manage to be cute, while still maintaining an aggressive vibe, making them extremely fun characters to watch.  The way in which such characters represent the extremes of aggressive behavior, and affectionate, almost shy behavior has proven to be quite interesting.  However, we’ve gotta ask- why do they behave that way?

Opinions of all kinds can be seen across the internet, putting forth the idea that the tsundere can exist in real life, or that tsunderes actually display Bipolar Disorder, that they display psychological “splitting,” among many other arguments.  As a psychology student, I’d like to pitch in my opinion on the character type- maybe provide a bit of a fresh perspective on the famous archetype.  Man, honestly, I’m really, really excited to share what I’ve found out, so, without further ado, let’s get to it!

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