A Preface for My Feature on Flip Flappers and Funeral by Arcade Fire

I’m very excited for my album/anime project, a series of essays, ramblings, or whatever you’d like to call the words that I type to make sentences, that advocate listening to a specific album as a companion piece to a specific anime. As I type this, I know I have over 3,000 words written on the legendary 2004 album “Funeral” by Arcade Fire as the ideal companion piece to the star of 2016 and of the greatest anime of all time, if you’re asking me, Flip Flappers. My love of the album has deepened m relationship with the anime. I’ve always been able to relate to that album, but in the essay I’m writing, and in other album/anime pieces I’ll write in the future, I can see how the protagonists of the show, in this case, Cocona, Papika and Yayaka, might be able to relate to the album on their own. This has deepened my relationship with the show and its characters as well as Funeral itself. I always enjoyed that album, but it was always one of those albums I enjoyed and listened to every once in a while, but it was never one of the first albums to pop into my head when I would ask myself what my all-time favorite albums were. It was more of an afterthought. Now that I’ve delved into this album for several listens keeping in mind the trials and tribulations of the Flip Flappers, Cocona, Papika and Yayaka, I’m coming to a greater appreciation of the album that I’m sure would have otherwise been possible.

Generally, the albums and anime that I match together for these think pieces will share similar themes and have similar moods. The purpose of this series of features is for me to have fun. I hope that, if you read these pieces and listen to these albums, you can come to a better understanding of the towns, characters and issues discussed in our favorite shows. I will also write a few features that will use albums as guides for understanding some themes or character types that tend to pop up a lot in anime. I know someone will ask, so I will promise to find an album about Tsunderes, but the recurring theme or issue I had in mind was actually depression. If you’ve been there, you get it. If you haven’t, it’s pretty tough. Cocona is one such example of a protagonist that starts her show off mired in depression. In the future, I will be writing about the album Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division and how it can help us understand our depressed anime protagonists. We’ve always had them, and they take the center stage in many of the most compelling anime out there. Shinji, Tomoya from Clannad, although I’m sure you readers all have differing opinions on that show, Kyon from Haruhi, Senjougahara, Hachiman, Houtarou, and Yukiteru from Future Diary (who is often considered a Shinji rip off) are all social outcasts and begin their stories from similar points. Last season had another show with a protagonist who was pretty blatantly depicted as depressed, Rei from March Comes in Like a Lion. Battling depression is one of the most fundamentally human struggles there are, and only a few anime are able to provide original and compelling animated accounts of those struggles. Unknown Pleasures is a static album. It’s not about overcoming depression, it’s more like a snapshot of depression mentality.flipflappers63

Demi-chan and Heteronormativity

Anime can be pretty amazing. You hear about a show called “Interviews with Monster Girls,” and think to yourself, “well, that can’t possibly be a show worth watching.” While that is an absolutely understandable reaction to such a title, it couldn’t possibly be further from the truth. Interviews with Monster Girls, or “Demi-chan” as I will refer to it from here on out, is a creative depiction of the experiences of the marginalized and misunderstood members of our society. If you’ve read anything on the show already, or if you’ve watched it yourself, you’ve probably already figured that out. As soon as a demi-human welfare agency was mentioned in the first episode, I was like, “anime, I’m sorry I ever doubted you.”

I think plenty has been said already about Hikari, the hyperactive vampire. Other blogs are finding this show just as fascinating as I am. Nevertheless, I’d like to share some of my thoughts on her. As a matter of fact, that is the perfect way to describe this show. It is thought provoking. Hikari’s interview draws comparisons to those marginalized by race, disability and sexuality, but don’t worry, Hikari’s not about to let any of those things drag her down. Takahashi-sensei opens up the interview by pulling out a book about Vampires and asking Hikari how many of the attributes outlined in the mythology of vampires are true. This question essentially equates stereotypes with mythology, and Hikari proceeds to confirm and deny various claims from the book. She states that she loves garlic, a clear parallel to racial stereotypes, and she states that she does receive some blood from the government on a monthly basis. I think the subtlest point made in this part of the interview is when Hikari agrees that a stake through her heart would probably kill her. Takahahi-sensei provides the punchline by pointing out that it would probably kill him too, the point being that we have more in common that we realize. Stereotypes that we attribute to minorities might very well hold true for us all.

One name that popped into my head toward the end of this episode was Vivienne Westwood. You see, Vivienne Westwood was into BDSM. That’s not something most people would feel comfortable sharing with their peers, but why shouldn’t it be? Kinks are considered sinful and degenerate, but everybody has them, and they may very well be a part of who we are. There are so many ways in which people are and can be marginalized. The idea that somebody would be marginalized for their kinks doesn’t immediately occur to you because, knowing the potential that information has to damage us socially, we never think to share them outside the bedroom. Vivienne Westwood integrated kinks like BDSM into the world of fashion in London in the late 1970’s. Back then, the punk subculture was at its peak, and Vivienne’s boutique, which was called SEX, pioneered punk fashion with things like bondage pants, which required the wearer to hop in order to get around. The point is that Vivienne Westwood, her models, like Sid Vicious and Siouxsie Sioux, and the rest of London’s punks championed a greater degree of sexual expression.

Vampires always carry sexual connotations, and I think that’s one of many important ways of understanding Hikari. Hikari’s interview takes a short detour into a discussion of the sexual implications of her vampiric tendencies and desires. People can be marginalized by sexual orientation, and that’s not news to anybody, but there’s no reason someone ought to be treated differently for their kinks. I’m not crazy right? Women especially can be ridiculed just for promiscuity. My conclusion is that Demi-chan is making a case for a greater integration of sexuality into our understanding of human identity. In an ideal world, we would not go through life assuming that everyone we meet is heterosexual unless we are told otherwise. This is called heteronormativity, and most people are conditioned by their upbringing to assume a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity based on their biological sex. It’s almost impossible to imagine a world that isn’t dominated by heteronormativity. It’s a struggle not to default to the assumption that everyone in the room is heterosexual, but we ought to try our best in order to make our world a more welcoming place.

I have many more thoughts to share on this wonderful show, but I don’t want to lose your attention so I’ll leave it at this for today with one final note I have to make. I can predict one particular objection to that argument, and it is not one that I can risk not addressing. I am not promoting sexual abuse, pedophilia or any other criminal sexual practices.

Fanservice in Seiren’s Pilot Episode

The Hikari-focused apparent fanservice reminded me a lot of Nick Creamer’s commentary on the Araragi/Nadeko “playdate” scene from his article on Nisemonogatari and the nature of fanservice. In that scene, the camera isn’t leering at Nadeko so much as Nadeko is doing her best to pose for the camera. Nadeko is in control of the camera in her attempts to seduce Araragi. Based on the first episode of Seiren, it seems as though Hikari is making an effort to pose for the camera as well, especially in the scene where she approaches the study group. I think she’s using her sexuality as a means for intimidating MC-kun. hikari-fanservice-camera-control