Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Anime Update!



Cartoon Network's Adult Swim will begin showing in April not only the fun giant robot show Gundam Seed, but also...Detective Boy Conan! Hoody-hoo! Yes, after many years of disappointment and rumors, the incredibly long-running and popular kids' mystery manga and anime is finally coming to American TV. Late at night. When kids can't watch it. Because? It deals with real mysteries, including murders.



Given that most kids are reading Agatha Christie by the time they're twelve -- heck, our whole class had to read Ten Little Indians! -- this is incredibly stupid. And I know it wasn't Cartoon Network's idea, which means it must be their parent company's. Siiiiigh.



Anyway, here's the plot. Imagine Encyclopedia Brown as a teenager -- known throughout the country as a brilliant young detective. He's just about to admit his feelings to his best girl-friend when he gets doused with an unknown chemical. Which turns him into a little kid. With no prospect of getting turned back into himself soon, he claims to be a little kid named Conan (Named after Doyle, of course.) and catches the criminals anyhow. In the wake of the teen detective's mysterious disappearance, the boy detective wangles his way into moving in with his girl-friend's family. He then proceeds to brilliantly solve mystery after mystery, while being himself trapped in problems with no easy solutions.



I understand the mysteries are quite good, but I suspect a lot of the appeal is Conan's amusing but horrifying plight. Age can be a terrible trap to us all.



If I'd been able to go to Ohayocon, I probably would've gotten to see a fansubbed episode or two of the latest anime excursion into the world of Catholic schools, Maria-sama ga Miteru (Lady Mary Is Watching/Lady Mary Watches over Us).



AnimeNfo has a nice short page on the show. Nowhere's comments are perhaps less than helpful, but the pictures are nice. This Spanish page's summary of the first ep as translated by Google, is actually reasonably helpful. Anime News Network's Spring 2004 Anime Preview is actually the most helpful, but you have to scroll alllll the way down to the bottom to read it. These pencilboards look ominous. Here's some character information, which includes all of the Student Council members. Another show review with more pictures.



Basic plot: Yumi is a student at the Lillian Girl's School. (Or maybe Women's Institute is a better translation?) It's a mission high school, part of a huge campus containing everything from a kindergarten to a post-graduate college. Yumi is new to this world; she's a freshman, and she can't even keep the bow on her uniform straight. As she walks by the statue of the Virgin Mary, a girl from the upper grades straightens her bow for her -- the popular sophomore Sachiko. One of the other girls takes a picture of this for the school magazine, but can't publish it without both Yumi and Sachiko's permission. Meanwhile, Sachiko finds she isn't allowed to vote on anything in Student Council until she gets herself a "petite soeur" to mentor, because them's the rules. So when the photographer drags Yumi along to meet Sachiko and get her permission, Sachiko seizes the opportunity to announce that she's now Yumi's "grande soeur" and they will, as is customary, exchange rosaries forthwith....



I hope this truly turns out to be a school story and not another stupid teenage lesbian plotline. Nobody's ever done a really good TV series about Catholic schools. Ever. If this show could break that jinx, its potential viewership would be huge. Also to the point, I'd really like to know what it's like to be a Catholic girl in Japan. If it turns out to be just an excuse to indulge some weird fetish for long-skirted uniforms, I'll be deeply disappointed. Especially since these girls are lucky enough not to have to wear UglyPlaid.



However, since the Lillian campus is on the same hill as the Hanadera, a boy's Buddhist school, there might actually be some interest in actual religious questions (and boys) going on in this show! But I don't know. Japanese men can't seem to picture women alone without yuri occurring. No matter how spectacularly offensive to Catholic sensibilities it might be to associate the Virgin Mary with such goings on.



Hmm. According to Zahara (scroll down), the show is adapted from a manga that's been adapted from a very popular series of novels for girls. According to her, the girl's school is "seemingly obsessed with the Virgin Mary", which is actually a really good argument for actual Catholic content. Of course, adaptations are notoriously unfaithful to the source material...and this site seems very sure it's all about the yuri theme...I will be very annoyed if that's true. Waste of a good setting, if you ask me.



Well, I guess I'll just have to wait and find out, for good or ill.



The lyrics to the show's themesong are interesting, to say the least. This probably isn't an exact translation (my Japanese stinks and I haven't the foggiest notion of the kanji), but this is probably close since the sense is consistent.




Maria-sama no kokoro, sorewa aozora, watashitachi wo tsutsumu hiroi aozora.
(Lady Mary's heart, this clear blue sky, we are wrapped in the broad blue sky.)
Maria-sama no kokoro, sorewa kashi no ki, watashitachi wo mamoru tsuyoi kashi no ki.
(Lady Mary's heart, this live oak, we are protected by the strong live oak.)
Maria-sama no kokoro, sorewa safaia (sapphire), watashitachi wo kazaru hikaru sapphire.
(Lady Mary's heart, this sapphire, we are adorned by the shining sapphire.)



Which just about sounds over-the-top enough to be a Marian hymn from the fifties, no?



Sigh. Well, if it does turn out to be some stupid yuri or shoujo-ai series, I shall just console myself by watching Detective Conan. "There is only one truth!" Yeah, mysteries are the most moral genre.

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