Before we start let me say that this is not a review of Denpa-teki na Kanojo. If you want a review – we already have one written by Shaurya, you are welcome to read it. Here I want to discuss this OVA rather than to review it, so I’ll assume you’ve seen it. It is a good show by the way, and it is fairly short too, so if you haven’t seen it you can start watching it now and come back in 40 minutes =)
I decided to write about Denpa-teki na Kanojo because it gives me a great opportunity to talk about certain recurring setups in anime. Before we start though I would ask you to try not to let any negative preconceptions about these tropes to guide you as you are reading.
I’ve recently watched Colorful, a 2010 movie suggested to me by Shaurya. The movie follows a person who had died but was given a chance to redeem himself. He was reincarnated in a body of Makoto Kobayashi, a boy who killed himself with sleeping pills overdose. After the reincarnation the new Makoto needs to deal with the echoes of the Makoto’s life before the incident, the problems that lead up to his suicide.
I would say Colorful is a serious movie, at least compared to other things I’ve been watching recently. It might be a little hard to watch at times, but it definitely isn’t boring. Makoto’s mother acting is one of the best I’ve seen in a long while, I almost want to watch the movie again just to see it again (even though her role is such a sad one). If you like movies directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Satoshi Kon, Makoto Shinkai, you should check this one out. It would be different, but chances are you’ll like it.
Puru Puru, sort of an angel that guides Kobayashi
Now time for spoilers. Though before the spoilers begin let me make a little detour and talk about stories in anime. Most anime do have a story, and it can be quite complex. The story can be told directly by the characters or a narrator, or it can be acted out; some of the events can be only alluded to without being shown. You can hide your story behind hints and metaphors, tell it through references, and since it is anime you can use words, pictures, sound and motion to construct those hints and references. Though if you aren’t careful no one will be able to decipher what the story was.
3 Level Combination is a Korean comic by Il-Kwon Ha, the guy you may know as the author of Annarasumanara. Shaurya recommended me both of those manhwa, and I am really glad she did. Here I want to talk about what I think about that comic. I’ll make a tiny introduction for those who haven’t read it and put a spoiler warning before the part where I start to go deeper into the story.
3 Level Combination starts as a story about a boy Hogu, a boy from a poor family who is being bullied at school. We follow him around, observing how he is being humiliated, beaten and otherwise abused by a group of his classmates. It gets pretty heavy and the story doesn’t hold back at all. After a while a new character is introduced, a humanoid robot prototype named Chevrolet. That robot was supposed to attend school together with normal students as a part of its testing. For better or worse the robots ends up becoming Hogu’s friend, while Hogu is put in charge of keeping it safe. With this event the both the story and Hogu’s life become more complex, going through tragic and happy moments, always unpredictable and thought provoking. Please read it, it is very good.
I want to mention that for me 3 Level Combination was a really hard read, I even had to make a break for a few weeks, because I felt a bit overwhelmed. It is just my personal thing though, stories about abused people living in misery kinda get me. I don’t know if that affected my opinion about the comic, though.
Spoilers start from here.
I want to talk about a few of the characters, and since I myself can barely remember any names from this comic I decided to list them all beforehand. Besides Hogu I am going to be talking about his former friend Minwoo, his class president Anna and her father Dr. Lee. Hope it won’t get too long.
I think a good way to start thinking about this story is with Dr. Lee. Who was that person? We know he was largely responsible of making a complete mess of his family life. His wife committed suicide after seeing him clearly displaying preference for a female humanoid robot over her. He said that the robot is better because “it is obedient”, because it is “his type”. He was a sad man who wasn’t able to appreciate the people around him and would rather play with toys. And his story doesn’t even seem all that interesting. The main reason I’ve brought it up is his daughter Anna.
Annarasumanara is a short Korean manga I finished reading recently.If you don’t know about it and wanna hear my opinion – here it is. Annarasumanara is probably the best comic I’ve read so far. The story is great, and if you are willing to spend a little time thinking it over you get even more from it. Characters, art style, the way pages are arranged, all that is very different from what I’ve seen in manga and anime. Check it out.
The rest of this post is intended for those who have read the manga already, I won’t explain all that happens in the story, just assume you know about it. Sorry ^^’
I intentionally didn’t cut this picture; I think this scrolling down that you keep doing when reading the manga is more or less a part of it and I wanted to bring a little bit of that feeling back :P
What is Annarasumanara about? Korean students’ welfare? Magic? Life choices? In the beginning I thought that it is going to be a story about a girl who wants to grow up as an escape from the kind life she has now. She is being dragged through the mud of adult world, and then through a dreamland of child’s fantasies of the magician. Ai’s story is full of little turns and vignettes that don’t necessarily lead anywhere. Like that episode with a burger. Someone ate a bite and left it, and hungry Ai who was cleaning the tables was facing this little problem – eat it and satisfy her hunger or keep her pride. She ate the burger; and nothing happened. She is a strong person, hurt pride isn’t enough to seriously affect her. You see what I am talking about, this story is just one little episode that doesn’t go anywhere, but at the same time it maybe is the first time writer tells us that “breaking norms is okay”; or maybe it is more like “here is this girl you sympathize with, she just finished someones burger, are you gonna change your opinion about her?”. At the end of the book this is going to be one if the central points. When in the last part of the manga Il Deung breaks the norm (or just breaks a window, depends on how you see it :P), it is being celebrated by changing his appearance, the way he is drawn. From this point on he looks normal, while before his head was deformed in a weird way. You can’t applaud your character in a more literal way.