Scenes of Child Abuse in ERASED – Shock Value? Over the Top?

This is not ok

I watched ERASED (Boku Dake ga Inai Machi) as it was airing, which is a rarity for me.  This was a hot show that had great momentum, 1 ½ fantastically self-imploding, horrible episodes in a 12-episode run, and is now over.

I occasionally enjoy reading reviews and comments from others about what I’m watching at the moment.  One thing that really surprised me, though, was the number of people debating whether the scenes of child abuse in ERASED (ep. 2) were over the top, only for shock value, or totally unnecessary.  Many even said that they didn’t like these scenes because there was no reason given for the abuse.

ERASED is not the first – nor certainly the last – show to deal with characters who have been victims of child abuse.  Check out this article about abusive parents in anime and manga:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/AbusiveParents/AnimeAndManga

 

One comment that really stood out to me, though, was along the lines of:

 

“They didn’t need to show her getting beat up.  That was completely unnecessary.  Just show us like a bruise on the leg or something.  All we need is a hint to understand what’s going on.”

 

I wish I could remember where I read the comment, but I can’t.  I do know that it keeps playing in my head, despite the fact that the series has been over for a while now.

 

You see, I have no problem with the violence that is depicted in anime – I never have.  However, I am amazed me that the fans of a medium that regularly shoves images like these at us with ZERO SUBTLETY:

 

fanservice 2(One Piece)

 

(KonoSuba) fanservice 4

 

A medium rarely treats female characters and their bodies with a modicum of respect:

 

fanservice 11 (Gurren Lagann)

 

(Myriad Colors Phantom World) fanservice 9

 

A medium as violent as this:

 

violence (Elfen Lied)

 

(Parasyteviolence 3

 

Can also be fans that feel that a portrayal of child abuse handled with appropriate gravitas and artistic framing is over the top or for shock value only.

 

Check out this video to see a really great scene breakdown from Erased Ep. 2,

 including the one involving the abuse, here by Mother’s Basement:

 

You see, it’s not that the scene isn’t shocking – it totally is.  It’s hard to watch.  For those of us who may have been witness to or victims of abuse in our life, it may be near-to-impossible to watch.  You don’t have to have experienced any of this to know it’s an awful thing.  So why have the scene, then?  Why not be more subtle about it – a bruise here or there, a standoffish attitude, etc.?

Because the scene yanks us from sympathy for the character to something closer to empathy.  We are seeing what haunts her mind EVERY SINGLE DAY and now it haunts us, too.  So when we see Kayo smiling with her friends, when we see her all grown up with a family of her own, we know about her journey, about where she came from, what she had to deal with and work through.  We’ve all had struggles like that.

 

Tell me, when’s the last time you empathized with this:

 

fanservice 10 (Myriad Colors Phantom World)

 

(Attack on Titanviolence 2

 

I am glad that the anime community still finds things like these shocking and hard to bear, but it is quite interesting that something horrible dealt with realistically is negatively panned as adding no value to a story when something frankly unrealistic that may literally add no value to a story (fanservice), possibly desensitize us to violence, or perpetuate awful stereotypes about the value of women and their bodies is widely accepted and often applauded.

 

What did you think of that scene in ERASED?  Did you think it was unnecessary?  Why or why not?

~Sugoi Miro

 

 

Anime Music and Studying for the JLPT

psst!  You can TL;DR this to the bottom of the page, if you want, lol

 

anime singing

 

I remember one time I was in college driving around, and my friend and I were listening to a Jpop song (I am racking brain to figure out which one it was!).  We were in 4th year Japanese and had just learned how to make causative verb forms (saseru/aseru).  I always felt like I had to prove something to everyone in my classes because I was the only one who hadn’t studied abroad in Japan (still haven’t been there T-T) – my language skills were better than theirs, though, because I had been being mocked and laughed at by the little Japanese kids who couldn’t speak English that I tutored after school everyday for 3 years.  Really – this was the most helpful immersion experience I could have ever asked for since I couldn’t afford to travel.

Anyway, we were listening to the song and I heard 曇らせてく (kumorasetku) and I turned to him and said “Oh!  I know what that word means!”  He told me to tell him – I hesitated because I wasn’t truly certain – I knew 雲 (kumo) meant cloud, and with the new verb form, I figured it had to mean something like “make cloudy”, which fit into my limited understanding and assumption of what the lyrics probably meant.  Instead of saying this, I asked “what, you don’t know?” (yeah, real mature, I know) and he was like, I have no idea.

What I realized though is that all of those years of listening Jpop, anime songs, etc. despite not knowing what the actual meaning of the lyrics was actually helped me develop a sense for the words.  Same goes for all those goofy hours spent staring at lyrics, trying to learn the words to songs so that I could sing in the shower, in the car, in the karaoke rooms : D  Nuance and subtext were being ingrained in my brain.

singing miku

Image Source: https://yandex.ru/images/search?text=miku

 

So when I found out the true definition of the words or phrases and when I learned new grammar points, it usually cemented what I had already inferred.  It also helped me be more flexible in my usage of those things.

There was something even better that happened.  When I needed to recall certain words – their meanings, usage, spelling (kanji, etc) – I could hear certain songs associated with it and the information would be pulled to the front of my brain.

This kind of mnemonic device probably surprises no one and has been used by all of us (read an article from the WSJ about how it works here: http://on.wsj.com/JGqhyW).

What IS surprising is that you aren’t using it to study for the JLPT.  This is the perfect time for it!  You are stuck in a deadly quiet room, trying to figure out or remember words with nothing to aid you but your brain.

sing

Image Source: http://go.shr.lc/1RtOAwz

My plan here is to take the songs I have already translated and those I will translate and to create a study guide at every level for each.  It’ll take some time, but I think it will be totally helpful!  If you already listening to anime songs, why not get something more out of it?  Combining your passive learning and just a little bit of active learning will give you such an edge, I guarantee it.

That being said, I hope you’ll sign up for an e-mail, stick around, give some feedback, let me know if this works for you.

If you have a song you’d like to see a study guide for, email me or leave a comment below (along with the level you are studying for).

 

opm sings

Image Source: http://forgehd.com/saitama-genos-singing-opm-anime-art-by_corphish2-3840×2160/

 

Yay!  I am so excited!  I hope you are, too!

 

Anime Music Vol. 4 – Earth Maiden Arjuna Soundtrack Review

There are two soundtracks for Earth Maiden Arjuna:

Into the Another World

*This is a freaking STEAL at $2.96 on Amazon!

(click on the picture or the title to purchase – affiliate link)*

 

and Onna no Minato (Kind of a weird cover…)

Onna no Minat

You can get this at CDJapan for $14.88 (not an affiliate link)

 

*NOTE:  This review is only for Into the Another Worldthough I intend to listen to Onna no Minato at some point, too, because I just know it’s gonna be awesome.


 

*Persons of note:

Maaya Sakamoto

Maaya_Sakamoto

Yoko Kanno/Gabriela Robin

Yoko Kanno

 

Yuuho Iwasato

Yuho_Iwasato

 

                           Stick with me long enough and you will come to find out that I am an avid fan of                            The Holy Trinity -> Yoko Kanno-Maaya Sakamoto-Iwasato Yuuho.


 

Thus, the following will surprise no one – the soundtrack for Earth Maiden Arjuna might be one of the best anime soundtracks I’ve ever heard.

 

Why aren’t people still talking about its genius?  Is it because Yoko Kanno (esp. when paired with Maaya Sakamoto and Iwasato Yuuho) is always genius and thus it’s become everyday?  Or is it because, beyond the OPs and the EDs, few really think about the whole body of music that supports an anime, or consider that it might be an entity unto itself – where it could actually be better than that which it supports?  One could posit that it simply as slipped from memory due to age, but could the same be said about The Beatles?  The 50th anniversary may have passed just last year, but come on, really, who doesn’t know anything about the legendary band that has influenced modern music so greatly?

 

Paul and Kanye

Oh. My. God.  Well, that sucks.

 

Let’s get onto the review!


 

*OP and ED:

“Sanctuary” (ED) is the winner and the not-quite-loser is “Mameshiba” (OP).

 

I actually have less to say about “Sanctuary” because there isn’t really anything to complain about.  So, how about “Mameshiba”, then?

Mameshiba – The OP – HOLY CRAP THAT BASS LINE IS HOT.  It starts out really nice, with a feel of 90s alterna-pop with the rough acoustic guitar work that lasts through the end of the first verse.  Sadly, the chorus just sounds like a completely different song – like some light adult contemporary sadness.  And I get it, it’s an OP – it’s gotta hit certain points so that there’s a piece of music less than 1:30 that they can use – and you can hear exactly where that segment is.  I’ve never seen Earth Maiden Arjuna (not yet, anyway), but I can already visualize exactly what the opening animation looks like and what part of this song was used.  It is actually pretty tragic ‘cause they had a seriously cool jam going on with this song.    Overall, this song is a pretty mixed bag.  But then comes that end…..sounding just like a bike ride on a summer evening where all of a sudden, before you know it, you and your friends are racing to see who can go the fastest, with a coral sunset as the backdrop.  And I start to think that I love the it…


 

*Music: 9 / 10

Takeaway: One point taken off for the lyrics; otherwise, an outstanding sonic experience – lush and strange and adventurous.  The mixing is fantastic – not necessarily perfectly balanced, but it’s because of this you actually experience some of the tracks as almost 3D.  Also, you’ll want to make sure you use a good set of earphones that know how to treat a sick bass line the way it deserves to be treated.

So trite, but seriously, there is a journey to be taken here, if you are into that kind of thing.

 

Earphones

The earbuds I use – Panasonic RP-HJE280-A

 

Wikipedia says that Kanno “used Indian music as partial inspiration…” – it’s definitely there, but just not how you might necessarily expect.  Think of it more as…hmmm…the chai flavor you might get from a dirty chai (chai latte w/a shot of espresso), but somehow the espresso flavor is stronger…

In songs like “2nd Life”, I get more of a Celtic music feel than Indian, but perhaps that speaks to the more earthy nature and folk roots of the tracks, rather than a direct representation of any said musical tradition.

 

Highlight: Atmosphere

“Diving” certainly achieves the feeling of just that. In fact, the guitar work makes one feel the surface of ocean water moving further away as the air bubbles float up past you and the bass line harkens whatever it is that you are getting closer to – You are a much cooler Little Mermaid. (pic)

“Awakening” delivers some really satisfying, crunchy guitar work combined with strings, too, that I just adore.


 

*Lyrics: 3/ 10

Takeaway – While generally bland, I will still be singing the songs in the shower once I learn the words.  Iwasato Yuuho is a PHENOMENAL lyricist, responsible for two of my all-time favorite songs “Kiseki no Umi” and “Hemisphere” – songs which have exponentially greater wordsmithing, so the songs for this soundtrack are forgettable, at best.

 

A short comment regarding “Bike”: I almost expect to hear this, without vocals, being played in the lobby of a classy, upscale hotel…it feels nondescript, yet creamy and luxurious at the same time.  The lyrics themselves are pretty standard fare, but they fit.

Both Bike and Mameshiba are great at building intensity; however the lyrics for both are like mashed potatoes without salt and pepper, or even butter; flavorless.

 

mashed potatoes

If you are interested, you can check out the some English translations of the lyrics I’ve done here:

Bike

Mameshiba

Sanctuary

 

Highlight: Songs with words from artificial languages

Yoko Kanno is well known for this, and doing so here is just as effective as ever in creating that sense of the epic and unknown.  Early Bird, in particular – sounding of the holy and ethereal and childlike – makes me think of The Childlike Empress from The Never-ending Story.

 

Never Ending Story


 

*Last Words*

 

Favorite Song: “Cloe”

Overall score: 8/10

Listen Here:

<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/dT7wHxZT83A” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

 

Have you listened to this before?  What was your opinion?  Leave a comment below!

~Sugoi Miro