Frasier Crane told us “I am listening” which is a nice and relaxing message to hear. That someone is there to hear what is on your mind. Well since I would like you all to know I am reading. I will most likely have seen less anime shows than most of you lovely ani-bloggers so I decided to let you inspire me! Like how other bloggers do their weekly shoutout post, I want to acknowledge you all as well. So I will watch (short) anime series I heard from through the grapevine. Series whose name I have never heard before but someone gives an amazing review about. A while ago Irina Senpai recommandent Kyousougiga to me and that post really captured me.. I really wanted to see that show but did it live up to what Irina said?
Trough the looking Glass
Kyousougiga has 10 main episodes, but also feature an episode 0 , 5.5 and 10.5. That last episode basically is a summary of the story in which they explain what actually happened.This perfectly highlights how odd this world is. Explanation is offered for those who need it.. because they thought people might need it. Episode 5.5 explains some of the imagery, because it is based on actual Japanese temples and each window, at those temples tell a tale. That same tale is applicable in this series and tells a tale of the scenes as well. Seeing a scene with a dialogue between husband and wife (sort of ) where one is looking through the window that allows them to see into the future and the other sitting at a window that lets them only see a delusion telegraphs clues those with insider knowledge in how far apart this family already is from each other. Giving the story an even more inevitable turn. Yet at first you do not know.. you wonder what that weird conversation was about and only five episodes later , in the optional one, you suddenly begin to connect some dots.
Irina did not dare to describe the plot thinking she could not do it justice. She was completely true about that.. but to make my point on the series I shall try to explain it anyway. A black rabbit with red eyes by the name of Koto drawn alive by the priest Myoue falls in love with the young priest and makes a wish upon a Bodhisattva to lend her a human body.
They start a family when the priest brings home a boy. Two siblings are drawn into life by the father as well. A Demoness named Yase and a super asian looking kid named Kurama. When their family gets threatened by a mysterious force the priest paints a world for his family to live in safely. A totally utopian world in which nothing stays damaged, and no one ever dies. All seems well, humans , monsters and cardboard blippy things all live in peace together. Ruled over by Lady Koto and Myoue Senior. Yet since Lady Koto only loaned her body she has to return it.. and her husband decides to go back wit her leaving their children behind to lead the world behind the looking glass.
This drives a wedge between the three siblings who all want their parents back for other reasons..but none of them are able to exit this new world to search for them. For years they live in disharmony with each other.. when suddenly a girl with a huge hammer shows up. Her red eyes just like those of their parents, she even bears the name Koto and was following a black rabbit with red eyes?! Could this mysterious girl be the key to reunite the three siblings with their parents or will she drive them even further apart and destroy the family? If that plot seems weird to you already.. be prepared my island guest because we have only taken our first few steps into madness.
Now I have very similar tastes in anime as Irina but I watch far less, she is more patient than I am and can watch a show with more focus. So I would say her recommendations have a 50% chance to land but if they land.. they really strike home. Kyousougiga struck gold for me. I absolutely love this show. So much that it is close to being a top-10’er for me. This series is the perfect chaos. In essence it’s about reconnecting with family, accepting changes and letting go of the past. It’s also about duty versus the heart. Will you do what you want to do, or will you do what you must? Neither is necessarily good. These are fairly heavy themes that mostly play inside the mind of characters. How do you translate this into an anime?
Kyousougiga decides to tell this tall trough reality shattering hammers, A Mecha Buddha called Bishamaru that is controlled with a PSP.. Uhm excuse me I mean PZP, rampaging tea sipping demons, a priest with an odd relationship with an 8 year old girl and stick figures whose coloured ball head is so heavy they all slump over. Oh and did I tell you that the giant Robot has his own TV show? Oh and the world sometimes expands when people tell they don’t need items anymore so it just floats off elsewhere. I would have never thought to tell a family drama like that.. but it works. This show has some strong things to tell about what love really is and how it should really works, It tells us something about what is a blessing to you.. could be a curse to others through rather extreme plot twists, and on the spot flipping moralities.. yet it works. This family is so twisted and out of whack and unbalanced in disfavor to the world.. yet that is what makes it work. The anime uses extremes to retell a tales as old as time in a very unique way.. yet that perfectly encapsulates what it means to be loved and what it means to be family. After all to most people, family is their entire world.
This show I would describe as a minimalistic plethora of stimuli. There isn’t a single scene where there is “rest” during dialogue we see a world rebuilding effect.. or spinning ornate shapes. Each building has a crowd going about their daily business. Each screen is moving , changing colour or changing artstyle all the time. It’s almost as if we are watching an Escher painting. Yet there is a simplicity to it all. Civilians that have no dialogue or interesting action are depicted as brightly coloured “plastic” standee with some vectors on them as if you could “insert character here” If they need more animation to their movement they become stick figures with heads to heavy for their bodies so they slump over.. representing people who are stuck in a rut. Except for some mafia like chronies that are as generic as Rita’s and Lord Zed’s Putties in Power rangers, we never really see people who are unimportant to the story. To be animated into this show you have to have an action or a line of dialogue. The rest is just “clutter” weirdly these plastic cut outs.. give you that exact same feeling as seeing normal faceless people walk.. but now they stand out a bit more.It’s an odd sensation where plenty of stuff is happening but rarely does an animation feel wasted.
The council of three room is another good example for this. While it seems filled with junk. .like spinning moons, twinkly stars and odd geometric shapes it is a perfect analogy for the family that recides in these chambers. To the world they pretend to be a happy little family that rules in perfect harmony.. thus the room looks pretty as fudge! Yet it also feels cluttered.. there is always something happening.. something distracting. That is a match with how their actual communication goes. A lot is lost in translation.. each has their own agenda. One of them thinks highly of himself and he is literally put on a higher pedestal. The one with the lowest self esteem gets a super tiny platform to represent him.. he also shows the least amount of effort. There are a few ways we can deal with loss.. deal with the painful memories with the past. Each sibling represents another way of dealing with it. Kurama the oldest brother.. who flies on a saké saucer by the way, tries to move on.. leave it all behind him in a cold manner. Never dealing with anything ..just moving on. Yasé the middle sister who is a size shifting demon girl that loves the colour pink.. collects monsters and loves nothing more than tea parties with her friends. (jeesz I wonder who my favorite character is ) However Yase can not let go of the past.. she clings to it..all she wishes is for everything to go back the way it once was. Myoe Junior the youngest and most normal of the three wants to give up. His goal is to die..to relief himself of his burdens .. he just wants to quit.
Throughout the show this stays extremely consistent. Myoue gets extremely depressed or bogged down by the little things. If he can’t get the one drink he wanted.. his second choice is disgusting. Nearly every setback we see Myoue have is met with self hate. Yase can’t deal with change, so misses her childhood plushie, she dislikes it when her world changes and her story arcs involve her losing control over the loss of a teacup that was her favorite. Kurama is the most intelligent one and places himself above the other two… he moves on but can not see at all how his two siblings are in pain. The tree are incompatible.. so the room is shrouded in darkness.. with clutter scattered throughout. It makes no sense it’s disjointed. Yet everything is just simple shapes.. because it does not matter what it actually is.. it’s there to pass on a message so it’s just a shape.. in a colour.. that’s enough.
A picture is worth a thousand words
The real Chousougiga is a drawing made inspired by the real priest Myoue in which we can see animals like frogs, bunnies and monkeys interact with one another. Having fun with each other. Despite being different. They dance together and sing together and in the real Chousougiga lies a big part of the intention of Kyousougiga. Love transcends everything, it transcends species, it transcends logic, it overcomes pain it is stronger than Duty. In this weird dysfunctional family no one is the same race. Like not a member of this family shares a species with another. Yase and Kurama are both drawings but one a demon and one a buddha. No one is the same species after that. Koto is not the same race as Lady Koto, Myoe might have his father’s DNA but is not the same type of being is his father Myoe. Inari is but a rose called by another name yet non in the family share his race. Yet there is true love among all these fantastical creatures. Yase loves her monsters, Kurama cares about his things and Myoe has love for several people who are not like him either. To depict how far this goes and how much imagery is to this show.. each sibling has more or less their own little graphic style. Myoe moves through a town with faceless people , but has very fluid animations. Kurama employs a team that does have a generic face.. but their animation is very wooden and almost stop motion like. Yase’s beloved are her monsters who are much simpler drawings with a much more childish design and art style to reflect her more childish nature.
Through all the episodes of this show I was mesmerised by the hotchpotch of style and tone. From shouting Shounen like boys to a more dramatic tone. The show manages to get away with balancing joke moments and light hearted comedy with dark scenes like suicide attempts trough chapter cards that show between scenes. Each episode is build around one character and we balance between their past and present to explain their behaviour in the present through memories of the past. A simple transition that prepares us for a shift in tone. Because each episode is balanced between past and present .. things never become to much. The over the top present is balanced out with the more somber past, both in visuals as well as i narative. It keeps the show digestible while also highlighting the importance of the past. Yet it also shows how the past is perceived differently by people. What Kurama sees as a great step to seeing their mother again, might be one of Yase’s saddest memories. What Myoe senior remembers as a beautiful moment, Myoe junior might see as a burden.. a curse that was place upon him. We need the big picture to understand them and the show doesn’t shy away from letting us see all the angles. I feel like I got to know all these characters, even the minor ones because everyone with a face is given attention. Everyone has a role in their world. Like the artwork the show is based on each element has its place in the story or it’s not there.
From talks filled with exposure (plot explanation) that show how long they last by it simply being characters walking from right to left on the screen as if a loading bar, to the way a rosary curls up like a strand of DNA to symbolise a deeper meaning of exchanging an item.. to explain what the magic really does. This anime is super well crafted, very imaginative and it had a very powerful message. It shows us the strength and extend of love.. but also the smokescreen we can put up with it. How we can delude ourselves with it or how it clashes with what is right for everyone. It has an amazing story to tell..yet it is also one we all really know by heart.. Love conquers all..or so we think. Love is all or nothing situation we have to keep fighting for. We have to accept the feelings of others important to us because we may not always see eye to eye. Love can change over time but to keep that love alive sometimes we have to accept change. Sometimes we move further away from each other, sometimes we have to share the ones we love with people we do not like. Yet by clinging to the past .. we only end up ending loving something that is no longer there.This show paints a beautiful surreal picture, like the original Chousougiga did so many years ago. While it changed and got way more extreme over time the message is still the same.
Love has the ability transcend every boundary we set for ourselves. It is something we all want and need. Yet if we do it wrong.. it can destroy us as well. I love this show in all it’s weirdness. It clearly is not for everyone, but for those who think a family themed surreal roller coaster ride that is filled to the brim with Japanese lore and Alice in Wonderland vibes sound like a sweet idea this is definatly your anime.
So what Other anime must I watch?
I will keep checking everyone’s blogs to find out about the anime you really like . Finding a common ground or discussion point always makes for great conversation, so if you want me to talk about a show you think I will like! Write a comment, tweet me a bloglink or write me! Love is best when it’s shared!
Love you all