The Locked Tomb: Gideon the Ninth, and Harrow the NinthI'd been seeing a lot of posts about this series and it seemed interesting, and I was able to get the first two books in paperback on sale at BN. I haven't been reading a lot of prose books the past few years because I have a curse where I can only finish reading something if I don't "set it down". I can stop reading, but the longer I wait to pick it back up the more likely it'll be that I don't ever finish it. And if something isn't compelling enough to make it so I litterally have to be forced to put it down it the first place, it's very unlikely i'll finish. I don't know this is probably a symptom of some kind of mental illness. But what i'm getting at is that I was able to finish both of these books in about a week. I got to read a lot at work, which honestly isn't ideal conditions but w/e. Anyways, they were really really good!!! If you like skeletons, lesbians, catholic guilt, or swords these books are for you! The characters are great, Gideon and Harrow especially are really just... the part near the end of the first book where they are fighting together had me like cheering and fist pumpin cause of how satisfying it felt and how romantic it was. And then the subsequent grief. It's been said a lot but Harrow the Ninth is one and increadibly resonant and powerful story about grief and what it does to a person. How it can make you feel that the person you were has died along with the loss. That it feels impossible to immagine a world without them. That along with how Harrow The Ninth is narrated just make it beautifully tradgic and deeply romantic at the same time. But also funny, this series is honestly really funny in a way that I find deeply satisfying. It's got internal shitposting, in the sort of way where is seems obvious Muir was having a lot of fun writing it.
I wasn't raised religious, intentionally, but my dad was, and he went to a pretty horrid catholic school. And it was suprising how much the religious themes kinda got to me. Specifically the guilt Harrow strugles with. As someone who feels ambiently guilty at all times even if there is littlerally nothing actually wrong or littlerally nothing I could have done different, certain things felt very Relatable.
I forgot that a fun thing about reading books it that you get to immagine your own art style/design sense for the internal picture. Language sure has an impact on it, but in this case I was immagining something in sort of the style of the league of legends thing but with more of the aesthetic of something like Dai Dark, and with more of the mixed media messy painting style of Q Hyashida. That breaks out into full guilded Catholic opulence for certain parts. I listened to Desiderii Marginis while reading the back half of Harrow, and I gotta say, 10/10 pairing. Would recomend to up the cosmic horror catholic apocalypse vibes.
I haven't read Nona, but I will soon. I'm a little mad I'll have to get it hardcover and have an uneven looking collection... but it is what it is, maybe i'll donate them once i'm done.
Ichi-F: A Worker's Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power PlantThis was one of the comics I borrowed from the library during my time in sweden. Much of the manga there was in english, which is good because this is not the sort of comic you could "figure out" from pictures, context, and knowlage of about ten swedish words. It is very text and detail heavy manga, but the images are similarly detailed, and I can't immagin the story working as well if it wasn't a comic.
I feel like this one isn't as well known about? I think it made a splash in certain circles, but its not really something that would be marketed to a "manga fan". Anyways, it means I feel like I should explain a bit about what it is. A worker's graphic memoir of the fukushima nuclear power plant. Ok ok. It's the story of a man from tokyo who, after a lot of tribulations with various work for hire companies, works aiding the clean up of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plant some time after the disaster. It is truly a Record of work, in great and sometimes excruciating detail. I was reading a lot of this while very jet-lagged so that may have contributed, but there were points where I found myself falling asleep, or skimming pages of the more techincal details. However, I think its extreamly important that this manga presents these details. From what I understand it is the best record of the work being undertaken by the clean-up crews, and the surrounding daily life. On a broader scale I think this sort of comic, "a record of work and daily life" are very valuble, and I think Kazuto Tatsuta has a strong talent for this type of manga, and from the chapters about his process it seems like he put a lot of thought into how he should make it, and the most honest and ethical way he could do it. He was able to depict very complicated processes and situations in a way that was easy for the outsider to understand, and still injected a lot of personality into his work. From the more personal snipits we learn he seems like a very intersting guy, a big fan of masked wrestling, an enka singer, an odd-jobs guy, and an artist. The camradery of the workers was also something that was depicted very well. Theres a type of camradery you'll develop when you go through difficult work with others, even if you don't Know them that well. It was really the emotional heart of such a factual manga.
That said I do think the general presentation of the stories was a little hard to follow. Not the individual stories, but rather the ordering. It's mostly non-chronological, jumping between multiple years, and while Tatsuta makes a valiant effort to build a timeline, I (in my jetlagged state anyways) had a pretty tough time keeping the orders of events in order, especailly when he goes through similar processes multiple times or from different "angles". This ordering was largely a result of how the manga was created, being done between stints working at fukushima daiichi, and taking extra time to "backfill" once the main parts had been told... I also think the presentation of the english translation as a compliation of three volumes into one big one didn't help. It makes sense to pulblish them this way, especially if they were aiming outside the "manga fan" market, but I think having that pysical break between volumes would help orient the reader, and also help them to understand the flow between "manga work" and "clean up work" that defined how the story was told. There is also kind of an intimidation factor with a book this big. With normal manga its so breezy to read that I don't think any of this would be a problem, but with a book this text and detail heavy it gets a bit much when you've been reading for hours and aren't even halfway through the book. But maybe this is only a problem for me as a "manga fan".
Another thing is... well, the translator made a mention in the intro note about how some have critizised the book for not being critical enough of the various companies involved in the clean up. This book itself makes a pretty strong point to dispell a lot of the rumors about the clean-up efforts, and nuclear power and radiation in general, and does acknowlage some of the bad labor practices, especially in the case of the various work-for-hire placement companies, and the endless buracracy and boarderline scamming involved. In many ways though, I agree that the book comes of like it's playing defense a little too much for these companies and the situation as a whole? In general Tatsuta comes off as an easy-going "can't be helped" guy in a lot of the situations that would probably fill others with rage. It is also possible he's reluctant to critisize too much due to his stated desire to continue going back to work with the clean-up. It's also just like... As an outsider, not only of the situation, but of the whole contry, I don't really have a place to be saying weather or not he should make more critisisms. Something thats stressed in the manga is the frustration of having people try to co-opt the situation and put words in the mouths of those who do speak about the situation. But it's also true that Tatsuta is just one perspective. And the fact that some people would go into debt waiting for work they were brought there to do seems especially inexcusable.
It's sort of a thing with this kind of manga, one that is so biographical, it tough for any critisism to really be valid. This is THE story, and the way that its told is also a reflection of the authors situation a feelings. And if something is an autobiographical account, it feels wrong to expect anything else. As a more nutral example, the drawing are sometimes not the best in a technical sense, especially hands and faces. However they also give a unique look, and this is Tatsuta story, his drawings, and these "errors" only really serve to highlight that.
Over all, I think this is a very important manga to have been made. If you have any interest in the subject, or are a fan of this sort of specific, detailed "slice of life" story I would highly recomend it. Also I think more of this kind of comic should be made. If you work a job, you should make a comic about it even if you think you suck at drawing. You'll help other authors and also historians, and also help outsiders to understand others.
Yayoi Kusama Instilation, Gleaming Lights of the SoulsI feel like this might be one of the more world famous instilations? Pictures of it have been floating around for years, and as someone who loves light and mirroirs and "infinity spaces" I did dream of seeing it. I never though I actually would though. So it was a pleasent suprise when I actually got to. And wow. yeah. It wasn't quite like anything else. There was a very profound pysical sensation upon entering the room. Akin to vertigo I supose, but in every direction and, for me anyways, exhilerating rather than terrifying. After an "adjustment" it was incredibly peacful just standing there. I kinda wished I could just sit and spend a few hours there looking at the lights. Well, if I have my own house someday I know what I'm doing with the basement. Truly "spacial" art like that is something special and inspiring...
DSMP: Aimsey early streams/first cRanboo lore in Months (post ghostification)Fuck it. This counts as media and i have Things to say. It's so annoying to talk about dsmp because the ammount of fucking context that's needed to understand stuff is stupid, and impossible to explain, while also having to throw in caveats like "you have to develop your own headcanon of how time, space, and canon functions sorry, probably multiple simultanious conflicting versions of all of that also". Every time I try to, or immagine myself explaining shit to an outsider I litterally feel like a crazy person for being as invested as I am. But you have to understand. I am very invested. For me, all that ultimatly matters is characters/worldbuilding (the world is a character) and the emotionality of those character(/world).
Anyways, Aimsey!! He's!!! Goddang!!! He's bringing it all back up!!! It's so cool because every time a new person joins the dsmp we get a good ammount of reframing and recontextulization to past shit. In the past it's been kinda inceidental, and distant. But now with Aimsey (and CPK, but i'm a bad eggpire+ fan and haven't been watching just reading sumarries[this is what im talking about that sceantance makes me sound like a fucking crazy person]) joining and getting both ccRanbbo and ccTubbo to engage with the lore. And also having c!Aimsey get so immediatly invested and embroiled in what ever the fuck cTubbo and cRanboo have going on, and all the ghost shit! The Ghostboo shit is giving so much context to Ghostbur's entire existance. But seriously, immagin you just, stumble into a new place, you might(?) know some people, you might know -of- some people, but it quickly becomes clear that things here are totally fucked, but the one person who's seeminly friendly doesn't seem to feel much like actually explaining what's going on and even lied to you, so who can you even trust. It's a bit like the appeal of an isekai (to me) or "next generation shonen", the idea of being thrust into a new world with loads of baggage both good and bad to make sense of. All the while you want something as simple as "a place to belong".
It reminds me of the kind of recontextualization we get in something like Boruto, but more immediate and with no familial baggage. It really just throws a spotlight on how the political and traumatic entaglements that most of the characters face to someone who wasn't their from the begining, and is thus like, "you all are being kind of insane about this, maybe we should chill." Anyways hoefully it will continue and not just phizzle out.
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 "the movie"Appen and I saw this one in theaters. It's a movie adapting the "prolouge" chapters of the shounen mange Jujutsu Kaisen that we both really like. (I'm not caught up bc i'm waiting for them to finish the battle royal arc bc I prefer to read battle focused arc in one go, otherwise I kinda forget who is where and loose track of what's happening. I'm sure if I had read HxH's Chimera ant arc as was it was being released it would Not be my favorite) Appen had read this part of the manga, but I haven't so it was fun to see a new story. In theory I think it was a good idea to do a theatrical "prolouge movie" because people (theoretically) don't need to have seen or read the rest of the series. But I do think in practice there was still a lot in this movie that only really sinks in once you've read the rest of the series? And it did the thing a lot of anime movies like to do where they give everyone a 20 second camio. I am actually not sure is this is something that happens in the manga, but I kind of doubt every character that shows up would have had their full designs and quirks nailed out at that point. But i could be wrong so, eh,... Still though, I immagin seeing all these dudes for 10 seconds at a time would be pretty confusing to an outsider. And also lack the same kind of hype, like, I know who Mechamaru and Nanami and and did clap when they got their camios (we were alone in the theater lol) but I feel like a newbie would be??? At the same time a good deal of the run time was devoted to explaining the logisctics of curses and cursed energy. Which makes sense for the into of a manga, but I am not sure it makes sense for a movie that is meant to be either a fun thing for fans or a way to get new people into the series. Because if they read the series they'll get a much more complete explination... all over again... also, if we are being real a lot of JJK's power system really operates on "it would be cool" and "because I say so" logic. (I do not think that is a bad thing to be clear, Gege Akutami can asspull as much as they want [except no more family relations or people being descended from so and so, it can just come out of no where pls]). Well, honestly I think these are problems that plauge most anime spin off movies, that or "we just tried to recap the seres really quickly and kinda badly". (Someday I want to write a whole thing about Escaflowne and it's movie because I think that specific case is just so fascinating...) Anyways, the movie did kind of feel more like 4 episodes of an anime, or 5 chapters of manga... But! It's a very enjoyable 5 bits of story! It has the arc of quite a few volumes of shonen in a very managable time! And if you are super used to drawn out shonen, sometimes I do think that can feel really rushed, but it's also really enjoyable! Ahh, i have this problem in these where I think I always sound more negative than I feel or intend to, it just takes more words to express why you thought a part of something was weak that to say "I like this a lot!"
I liked this movie a lot! I really like Jujutsu Kaisen! I think Gege Akutami is really good at Shonen manga writing! They are really good at writing characters! Everyone (almost) ends up being likeable in the way they need, or hateable in the way they need, and is understandable. And there are some character relationships that are just... aughg, Gojo and Getou's relationship just like... it stabs me in the heart. They were best friends and still can't think of each other as anything other than their best friends, even after Getou fell off his rightous path, even though Gojo though of him as him moral compass... but Getou coveted Gojo's abilities to enact change as "the strongest"... in a way that Gojo probably hated but which then has so many implications for the way the Gojo thinks of and treats his students, valuing their "selfish" and "spiteful" wishes and, valuing them as people... and how he talks about the sort of future he want to build... so the world can be better for them and so that he can have "equals" once again... aaughgh...
And Okkotsu! I like him a lot!!! Appen was right in his premptive assement that I would like him better than Itadori. I think for a longer running series Itadori was the right call for protagonist because he a bit more... upbeat? active? yeah, active. And I love Itadori, he is a good and sweet boy. Even though I tend to get annoyed with stories that have the set-up "the protagonist is going to die" I still really like him! But i really like Okkotsu! I love sad boys!! And something about the way he develops confidence, and his more calculating(?) vibe is very compelling. And his relationship with Rika! Their love is pure!! I think I do kind of have a thing for characters being violently protected by a love based "curse" or ghost. I don't know, it's hard to fully articulate why I like Okkotsu so much? But I do feel like he's pretty popular so i don't know? I think there's just something about him lol. Okkotsu is like a wet skrungly cat and Itadori is like a labrador sticking his head in the water to "fetch" a rock that's not even the one you threw. I think my favorite guys are still Gojo, Nobarra and Megumi, but I'm glad Okkotsu got his own movie. He and Rika deserve it.
of a way broader note, I think this is a really odd era for shonen, especially jump. In a lot of ways we are still living in the shadow of the "big three" era. And while one pice is still going, it's suposedly going to end "soon", and the other two having been "over" in different capacities for a few years now, it does kind of feel like a perpetual twilight in a lot of ways. BHA has been a hit, especially in the west, and Demon Slayer was also very popular, particularly in japan(?) but was comparativly short lived. I Do Not Wish To Adress Black Clover At This Time. And Jujutsu Kaisen. In some ways it feels like it has enough momentem and energy behind it to become an institution comparable to BHA at least, but. JJK also feels like Demon Slayer in that it's maybe better off being short and sweet (for a popular jump manga). In some ways I am equally excited for the next manga that Gege Akutami will make after. Their manga feels like comes from a place of true Love for shonen, both the direct and indirect refferances to other manga (especailly the YYH and HxH refferances lol) and their seeming command of characters, which is probaly the most important thing for shonen manga in the long run. It's very possible that there will never be an era quite like the "big three" again, even just because of the changing landscape of publishing manga. Which, for those that have some kind of nostalgia (direct or indirect) might be kind of sad. But I think the potential shown in JJK and other manga artists is immense and i hope we can get more interesting manga from more people that is produced in more ethical and creativity-supporting conditions.
Aquicorn CoveAnother really sweet kid-aimed comic from K. O'Neil. I really really really love the tea dragon society series and this one was another very sweet comic. It had a bit more of a message/educational slant, being about the dangers to coral reefs caused by humans from polution and overfishing. Within the story the issues were presented very gently, and in a light that was sympathetic to the human's way of life. Fishing and the ocean are important to the people of the village the comic is set in, it's only when they aim for "growth" and a "better life" that they start feeling the need to catch more fish and use more destructive methods. It's good to see an environmentalist story (especially one aimed at kids) that does acknowlage that humans and the environment have a give and take, and that the way forward isn't to not take or engage with the envirtonment at all. That things like hunting and fishing are important and nessecary. Since the thought that those things are inherently immoral has lead to the persecution and vilification of indigenous people. There is also a written section in the back that explains the reality of coral reefs and attempts to add some real world context to the story. It does acknowlage that companies and governments are responsible for most environmental destruction, and the need to change those forces, and the need to work together as a community. But it does have a bit about bying from "environmentaly friendly companies" and taking individual action like recycling and reducing and such... which... ah, I am of an opinion that there isn't really such a thing as a "good" company. No ethical consumption and all that. But, it's probably a bit much to ask a kids comic to directly tackle all of that, and having actionable messages for kids is really important I think. So I can't really fault the book for including it. It wouldn't really be good to end the book on "things are probably hopeless until we can topple capitalisim" (not 100% what I belive either btw, im just being a dick)
On another note! The art! The colors! the design of the book! Stunning! I got the paperback, which I think was recently released? Anyways, K. O'Neil's art is just very pleasing to look at, it feels comforting somehow. And the color choises are always on point. In this one also I noticed maybe a bit more playfulness with panel layouts and such? The transitions from scene to scene were mostly handeled well as well. Also the pattern that was on the inside paper was so cute and I would kill to have it as a shirt or something...
Anyways, it was really cute, and I'm glad I have it. Seriously kids comics are such a good deal these days, if you buy comics and you don't also check out the kids section what are you even doing?
The Essential: Dykes to Watch Out ForAfter years of thinking "i should read that" I got this out of the library, and read it all in one go. 2.16.22
I liked it, by the end I really loved all of the characters, and I'd be hard for me to pick a favorite (but it's Lo). There's really something to be said about the kind of bond you form with characters that you follow through multiple decades of time, and many different life changes and changing political and social landscapes. I cant think of many things I've read or know about that do this in quite the way this comic does. Maybe like... dragonball...
But I think it did fall into the issue with a lot of things that have politically active characters, that is like... where are the communists? or anarcists? All of these people are just fine with capitalisim? They'll acknowlage the imperialist motivations behind the iraq war, but never bring up the underlying evil of capitalisim? Speaking from experience, once people become anti-capitalist they tend to not shut up about how capitalsism is either responsible or partialy responsible for all of the world's evils. Mo has her anti-consumerisim, they all do to an extent but it's in a way that feels... lacking? I guess it's not unrealistic. I was a child during the begining of the war and all of the portests that were happening, but i did know about them, and I did not really become aware of the full reality of capitalisim, and how unnessecary it is until much later in life. But I know people were talking about it...
it was funny because I did experience a sort of, nostalgia? along with the characters, for the earlier times in the comic, where they seemed more politically radical and just, radical in general. The tension between the desire to be radical but also support the family you've ended up building is something that hits quite hard.
I also had a lot of instances of "time is a flat circle" with the type of queer discourse present within the comic. The discourse about "bisexual lesbians" (which is extra hilarious because people claim that specific term is "new") the discourse about transmen "betraying" women, transwomen "invading" womenhood. I think the way these dicourses tend to get "resolved" in the comic are also quite realistic. People who are on the more "conservative side" do get their hypocracy and such outlined (usually) but they also just sort of "get over it" by being exposed to people who fall into those groups, and seeing that they are just people who want the respect they deserve.
But man was it rough to see a young transgirl character be so into Harry Potter. It was like... a dang. the unintentional comentary... Poor Janis...
Minecraft 1.18 updateI am always playing minecraft. I've played enough 1.18 from the begining to form more of an opinion about it. 2.10.22
The early game feels easier due to the ease at which diamond is attianed. The only "old school grinding" that exists in the game if you want to have a convinent play through is that of the villagers, which are still very important and simultaneously very annoying and problematic. They are integrated into all of the gameplay fetures, but i think they could be more integrated into 1.18 stuff. Trading copper for emralds would be an obvious and easy start, give copper some more value to people who arent builders or just dont like the block. On one level villagers, and setting up successful trading situations requires you to engage with so many facets of other forms of progress that i think its really elegant design. On the other hand dealing with the villagers requires so much tedium and the way in which most players engage with them seems to go against the concept of having this particular gameplay be represented by a "living" entity.
The tedium associated with moving villagers is legendary, along with the probably unintended, but very unfortunate implications. For me though, a pretty casual player in the grand scheme, always still seems to end up spending tons of time with a guy in a hole placing a lecturn in front until i can trade for a goddamn feather falling 4 book, but nooo he keeps giving me feather falling 3 and if i want maxed out boots that simply will not do! And i need maxed out boots becaue what? Am i supposed to go without soul speed? Or thorns?? I need my dang books but heck the guy just settled on efficency 5 for not many emralds and I'd be an idiot to pass that up, so it continues.
I think this could be mitigated by increasing general villager functionality, or by just allowing villagers to produce kids with all forms of food? Maybe changing it so library guys only carry the highest level of book trades? So there is still an element of randomness but there isn't as much to cycle through. Or maybe trades could be influenced by surrounding blocks? Or maybe a situation where having multiple different types of villagers that can also still interact with each other increases the quality of the trades. I have no idea how any of that could be telegraphed to the player and minecraft already has a telegraphing problem in the first place. And i also have no idea how the finer detailes would work. I've also heard some people talk about how it would be cool if more villagers could perform automatic actions like the farmer, and i also do think that would be cool.
I think also some of this could be eased with an update to the enchanting system. Since a lot of players seem to use villagers specifically to get regular access to specific enchantments. Its mostly what i used them for anyways, and thats mostly because the goddamnn table wont give me feather falling 4. Why is it so hard to get feather falling, im a huge klutz and i basically cant survive for more than 10 minutes without it. Especially with the way caves and mountains are now. Maybe a controversial statement, but bringing back god armor could be fun, and maybe ease some of the frustration with enchanting? Like then it wouldn't be a huge deal if you accidentaly get blast prot instead of regular prot. The way level cost is calculated might have to be adjusted a bit, but i already think it could be adjusted to be a bit more forgiving, for the sake of new plays but also just to streamline things a bit. Maybe it could even be like, you can have two "conflicting" enchantments applied via anvil, but not more than that. Which would be wild for swords because then bane of arthrpods and smite would become a more powerful combo than sharpness? For single player people anyways, which also opens up a whole new dynamic...
I'm complaining so much more about enchants because the way caves are, and with the deep dark cities coming, getting good equipment is going to be more essential than befor. Before it didn't feel like that much of the game was being "cut off" by not having cracked gear, but caves, and underwater caves especailly are difficult, and make up a huge proportion of the underground, and the game world in general.
Also plleeaasee can we have stackable potions??? even being able to stack 3 would do so much for inventory, and more importantly, hot bar management. With night vision and water breathing being more useful for basic exploring than ever, this is something I want more and more.
On a less complainy note i think the new generation is compleatly fantastic. Makes it feel like a new game almost, but in a way that makes me feel like when I was a kid playing for the first time. Makes me want to build bridges and towers on top on mountains. I have such a stronger desire to build since there are so many interesting "canvases". It's also a lot easer to navigate, and develop a functional mental map of an area because there is more variation and specificity to the terrain. I'm writing less about this because it easer to ramble about thing I wish would get fixed or updated, but this is still the overwhelming vibe. I love mountains, I love caves. I love big ass caves even though I've died and lost my stuff like 10 times. I love seeing the sillouette of a huge mountain in the distance and just !!!
Spiderman: No Way HomeSaw it with my friend Chelsea, we had korean food beforehand which was really good. 2.2.22
I enjoyed it. I am no appricator of marvel or disney. But I did enjoy this movie, despite having little context for baby-spiderman, or the rest of the MCU. I do have context and a lot of fondness for the other spooderguys. And I have a lot of love for Doc Ock. and he got a lot of oportunity to shine, so I was happy. It was a special kind of feeling to see a villan from a movie that I had watched and felt sympathy of sorrow for so distantly in my youth get help and redemption.
Belle, or The Dragon and the Freckled PrincessSaw it with my friend Chelsea and Appen. In theaters and in japanese. 1.20.22
It was really good and worth seeing for the character desgins alone. I was constantly wishing I could pause and just stare at all the guys in the background, which is something I love in an anmation. I'll be keeping an eye out for the art book I think. I really loved the beast's design especially.
Aditionally I loved the backgrounds in the real world, it was a great contrast to the fantastical world of U. It helped gound the movie and kinda kept things in perspective. Suzu's house especially was so dang cute and lovely, I would kill to live there. I also really like how many sceans were of Suzu traveling too and from school, both walking and taking the train. It really gave a great impression of the space that she lives, and its something I find really relatable, having spent so much of my youth walking too and from school and other places, listening to music and being consumed by angst. This is very specific, but I love the concreat bridge over the river.
On the other hand i do think the environment of U was a little bit... boring? Or at least comparativly underwhelming. Outside of the beasts castle anyways. I supose it could have gotten overwhelming, both to the production and to the veiwers if the environments were also as varried and deatailed as the characters. But eh, one of the few areas where the visuals did not enthral me, so i guess it stood out cause of that.
I think the direct animation refferences to Disney's Beauty and the Beast, while potentially vearing towards "oh god dont get sued" territory actually add an interesting level to the movie. If you inturpret U as something more akin to a collective consiousness than a typical social media or game, it kinda adds a sad and compelling layer to Kei (and Suzu's) characters. Its as though Kei is play acting this movie, that maybe he saw and internalized at some point, cause its disney, they are everywhere. A movie about how even "beasts" are deserving of love and compassion. Its a bit of a strech, but Kei seems like someone who is resigning himself to this roll as a monster, but still wishes for love and compassion, and recreating Beauty and the Beast was his way of expressing that. It kinda adds to the theme that i think the move was going for, that art can be a univeral connector, that it can give you tools to express yourself and heal. That it can connect people, both broadly and on a deep personal level. Thats why i do think it could have been really cool if they had managed to make the whole thing a musical? I feel like musicals are kinda specialized towards being able to connect with people and communicate big ideas quickly through the combination of story and song. But musicals are hard and i could see why they decided not to go that way, since some people catagorically do not like musicals.
The ultimate conflict of the movie did feel... well, im still not sure how i feel about it. Even though I kinda thought of in the moment they showed the first scean of an interveiw with Kei and Tomo and their dad. If a dad gripps their kid's shoulder too hard with no other context in a movie it just means they are an abusive dad I guess. I was still kinda supised that was the direction the story went. Maybe not suprised, maybe it was like "oh. So. Are we going in this direction?" It was a topic that felt... too real, i guess, is how i feel about it. Its kinda like, yeah, what is Suzu supposed to do. The situation Kei and Tomo are in is horrible, and not one that could be easily fixed. If you've spent any ammount of time on the interenet, its very likely you've seen or known someone in a similarly horrible situation. That neither the person or you can really meaningfully do anything about. If you spend a lot of time on the internet youve probably seen it hundreds of times. In a way I guess it's part of the fantasy of the film. That you could actually connect with someone and be able to help them, through art and expression, and staring down their shitty dad until he's too scared to be shitty.
I think also it's funny how similar the climax feels to the climax of summer wars? In ways that I think are somewhat detrimental to the general vibe of the movie, but thematically interesting. During an urgent time-sensitive situation all the major characters gather in front of a computer! But in Belle it's more emotion based, both the conflict, and the role the other characters play, so the way everything builds and spirals just feels a bit anacronistic? It's the kind of thing where if I wouldn't have really thought anything of it if I hadn't already seen Summer Wars, which was already kind of a stelth remake of Hosoda's Digimon movie. But compairing the world ending virus in summer wars, to the suffering of a young boy and his brother, and both being a lynchpin to bring everyone together is kind of nice. The thought that any one person is as important and worth saving as the entire world. It's kind of nice.