Tagged: sports

Reasons to Like Yawara

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Yawara, a sports animé adapted from a manga by notable writer Naoki Urasawa, is a curious series; it is, first and foremost, incredibly funny and takes sport as being both something one can take very seriously, or not seriously at all. It is full of visual humour, and incongruous references (a timer at the end of each episode saying “X Days to the Barcelona Olympics” evokes more than anything Yamato‘s timer saying “X Days to the Destruction of Earth”), but at the same time often has an affectionate – if light-hearted – message to say about sports culture, or young people. If anything, the intensely silly, dramatised reactions to strange events – far more parodic than many sports or girls-school dramas would be – make the events feel less like the series moralising and more like a chance to laugh at a ridiculous world.

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The Christmas Blog Series 2 (XII) – Chihayafuru

In the fourth article in this series I discussed the hyakunin isshu from a literary-critical perspective, and mentioned how my interest was piqued by the series Chihayafuru. The series focuses primarily on the pastime of karuta, a literary game based around memorising the poems and identifying them as they are read aloud to claim cards with the verse on. In many ways, the story is similar to so many sports and school-club animé; the protagonist discovers a passion for karuta and assembles other like-minded students to try and compete at a niche activity, raising awareness of it. Yet among the usual school misfits and passionate types she encounters, one character’s focus episode particularly stood out as showing that the series was something special.

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War Games – Moretsu Pirates, Girls Und Panzer and Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko

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A fairly common theme in science-fiction – both in animé and outside of it – is the reduction, in the future, of war to a game or some kind of challenge of skill with minimal human cost. It is a kind of compromise between anti-war themes and a desire for action – replacing the mass-combat elements of a war story with personal rivalries and hero-centric combat, while also preserving the thematic ideas inherent in a nation-scale conflict. If anything it is a narrative progression of the most desirable and relatable aspects of a war story while also keeping the tone inherently light and innocuous; the idea that with the increased possibilities of future technology, grand-scale crises and problems can be reduced to amiable disagreements resolved between dedicated champions is an interesting one.

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