(I Also Write Children's Books!)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ponies and Dolls

I'm finished through chapter 4 of Quite Contrary, and trying to decide if there are good ways to link to the chapters in this blog. This puts me again in the mysterious Between Space before my inspiration revs up and I launch into the next writing spree. The covers for The Doll House are ready, so I'm hoping they'll be ready to publish in the next few days. Meanwhile, I... guess I blog about myself! I dunno. That's supposed to happen, right?

I will take a cue from Keri's blog there. She likes live action television serieses. I like cartoons. I like cartoons a lot. For those watching the internet explode in pastel pink glory, it can be taken for granted that I am a My Little Pony fan. But I'm not here to talk about ponies!

Since I'm off visiting The Old Man, I brought a selection of videos on my flash drive, and I'm rewatching Rozen Maiden. Anime, American animation, European animation, all I care is that it's a good cartoon, and Rozen Maiden is my favorite cartoon series ever, which means it's my favorite TV show ever. I can't believe I'm rewatching it for the 4th time. I'm not a big rewatcher, but there's just so much to see.

Since I just started rewatching I'm fascinated by the way the show pretends to be your standard 'magical sidekicks tournament fight' at the beginning. Admittedly that pretense doesn't last long, but I'm seeing this pattern in the particularly good dramatic animes, like Rozen Maiden and Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Kodomo no Jikan, where they start out as if they were a cheap trope series so they can subvert all of the expectations and everything can fall into madness and Hell. The earliest example I can think of using that approach was Evangelion, and of course at the time I felt it was the best around.

But Rozen Maiden does it better than all of them. Now that I've seen the entire series and I know the characters, the cliche'd trope beginnings have extra meaning. They're displays of how truly, truly broken everyone on the show is. Suigintou's assassin doll really IS as halfhearted and ridiculous an attack as it seems, because Suigintou doesn't want Shinku dead. Shinku's jaded detachment isn't confidence, she's just so tired of fighting her sisters and being hurt by her owners and doesn't want to do it anymore. Then she bullies Jun into kissing the ring under her terms, and if you aren't watching for it you'd completely miss the expression of helplessly falling in love that transforms her face while they're connecting.

And in Episode 2 anybody can see Hina Ichigo completely lose it and nearly murder her owner, but now I have the perspective of seeing just how close all the dolls were to immolation at the start of the series. Shinku has become cold and withdrawn and isn't sure she's willing to fight even to save her own life anymore. Hina Ichigo can't endure abandonment and entombment again, and her personality is crumbling around her in her desperation to stop it. And Shinku could tell at a glance and while pretending to be the arrogant bully manipulates Hina Ichigo into moving in with her where she'll be safe and taken care of while she recovers. I'll never know for sure, but it was almost certainly on her mind already. After all, Suigintou was awake and just crazy enough to kill, and poor Hina Ichigo would have trouble fighting her way out of a paper bag.

I like these shows, the ones where you're justified putting this kind of thought into them. And Rozen Maiden is amazing.

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