The Garden of Sinners (2007) Review: The Story that Romanticized a Murderer

My mother once warned me not to philosophize too much about the darker things in life. It takes you to a very gloomy place devoid of warmth and life. Dive deep into the world of the unknown, you might just end up in a mental hospital. So, let’s not go there. But if you insist, then this anime is the one for you! Okay, I am harsh. Just kidding. This anime is soothing despite its dark content. I really feel like I’m in the movies!

Garden of Sinners is based on a novel series by Kinoko Nasu. It tells a story about a high school girl with a split personality. Her name is Shiki Ryougi. She has a supernatural ability to see death and has a devouring burden to kill. But why? If you are into big questions about your boyish aggression in finding pleasure in destroying everything your way (i.e., playing violent games), you might find this show super cool, but I wouldn’t say profoundly enlightening. Rationalizing the concept of what constitutes a murderer doesn’t justify the desire to kill as a noble behavior. The argument in this anime is that you’re not a killer if you kill to protect those you love but is that just an excuse? It’s an exhilarating emotion close to love, according to the show. Shiki, the protagonist is set free when she has the chance to kill off murderers like herself and the fighting scenes really do illustrate that point. She even wants to kill the man she loves! It’s a struggle. It’s so poetic! As an audience, I think we are supposed to sympathize with her. She is battling against her masculine side, the desire to destroy and kill everything!

According to Wiki, this show is classified as dark fantasy. But I like to think of it as a supernatural show with elements of philosophical horror. Sounds kind of cool, doesn’t it? You see, the show is different and purposely complex. I felt as if I’m taking an introduction class to philosophy, listening to young adults discussing morality. And apparently, no matter what culture you were born into, teenagers care a lot about being unique and different (referring to the villain). In addition, some of the movies have different running times. Some are 1 to 2 hours long. There are only 10 episodes altogether. Most anime break into 26 or 12 episodes. Did I confuse you yet? I know I was when the word movie was used interchangeably with the episode for someone who occasionally watches anime. But that’s okay! I think this anime is meant for those who enjoy watching a show for the second time around! Good for brain exercise. Good for philosophy class! Cheers!

Overall, these long episodes which are called movies left me feeling kind of jaded at certain times during my viewing. Perhaps, it’s because I already did all this philosophizing thing in my teenage years and in my 20s. So personally, I sort of exhausted myself from the deep conversations of philosophy, which is trying to understand one’s aggression in relation to the universe. Unnecessary complexity for the purpose of complexity’s sake is not a good thing in terms of plot and this show is just that unless I’m missing the entire point of the show due to loss in translation. If that is the case, it’s a shame because I really connect with the melancholic vibes from this anime.

I might sound rather nitpicky with my review when in fact I enjoyed this anime. It’s an attractive anime with pretty moving illustrations that made me feel as if I was at the cinema. You know the immersive feeling you get at the theatre sitting in a pitch-black room? Yes, I felt it through the anime visual presentation watching with my headphones on. The sound effects and soundtrack are of high quality. Unfortunately, I couldn’t appreciate it to its max since I don’t find the protagonist’s struggles relatable even though I like dolphins* and I find the order in which the movies are arranged a bit bothersome. But hey, at least I gave this a shot. I can only imagine how the tone of the anime would change if it is titled Garden of Saints. Yeah…that doesn’t sound so edgy.

Note: Dolphins* is in reference to the blog post over at I drink and watch anime: “Anime Fans are Murderers?” I thought it was funny how dolphins are used to illustrate that someone who likes dolphins can be murderous. Ouch! Nobody likes being attacked. Let’s not group and generalize people based on their interests. I think that was the point of her blog post.

Netflix Series Beastars Season 2: Who Is da BEAST?!

Disclaimer: Like “Netflix Series Beastars Review: Is the Rabbit Really A Slut?“, this post is for mature audiences. Not for children. Please watch show before reading. This is just my interpretation.

Well well…this became a bit of an erotic show that deals with a beastly appetite for another living piece of meat. Watching the show made me want to turn into a vegetarian or hide my face whenever I sense a predator staring at me from a distance. You never know if a perverted wolf is on the prowl. Yes, I’m still talking about Beastars here, a show jam-packed with metaphors.

It’s nice to see Legoshi, learning to control his instinct by turning into a Zen monk–well not quite. He can control his appetite to devour her but not the sexual desire he has for her! It seems as if he is confused with food for love or it’s the other way around. In this season, he did what is right, and started using his god-gifted ability to sniff out the culprit who killed the alpaca, Tem. But is it out of love or self-righteousness that he sought to solve the drama club murder mystery? Personally, I think it’s a way for the young lad to go on a journey of self-discovery. In this case, I think he may found his purpose which is to use his strength to protect and not kill. Lastly, marry Haru. No wonder Haru called him selfish when he proposed.

As I was sitting on my couch watching the show, I can speculate why it’s called Beastars. It’s a show about beasts fighting to gain respect within the society or you can think of it as watching the Olympics (let’s see which race is the superior race by demonstrating it through sports events!). But of course, it’s more than that. It tackles teenage issues, insecurities, sexuality, discrimination, and so much more! We got two groups of beasts: herbivores and carnivores who are in a constant power struggle to show the school who is da BEAST! Herbivores suffer from inferiority because of where they stand in the food chain meanwhile the carnivores feel mispresented as monsters. Deep down they are fragile creatures. It turns out the insecure big baby deer Louis and the sexually suppressed wolf Legoshi are both stars in this show and both deeply admire one another. There were some cuddling, heartwarming friendship scenes for those who like to see animals get along. Realistically though, animals don’t like sharing mates. I speak from watching animal documentaries and trying to raise two roosters under the same roof back in my teenage years. That didn’t even last a day. One got killed by the other. Perhaps, the relationship between deer and a wolf is different. As Claudio said in Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare:

Friendship is constant in all other things/Save in the office and affairs of love (Act 2: SC 1: P. 173-174)

So that’s why I’m surprise how mellow Legoshi is towards Louis who slept with the girl he loves and who was willing to sacrifice her for the greater good. The natural response would to give Louis a black eye for being such a prick. But, Legoshi, the awkward wolf is better than that. He mastered the art of suppressing his instinct by using the right head, the one upstairs.

So where does Juno, the manipulative wolf fit in the picture? Seems like her intent to steal the show in the first season is purely based on insecurity. Can’t blame her. She didn’t have to work for her respect in society so a part of her always feel inadequate. She was already given that respect simply for being born as a wolf (carnivores are seen as a high society). Although, I have sympathy for her in some ways. Beneath her confidence, she suffers from low self-esteem. Perhaps, she could practice gratitude and self-love? As for the promiscuous rabbit, she could learn humility and put her pride aside. That small thing needs help. She can’t survive on her own in a society that’s always hungry. I don’t want to say that slut saw it coming for hopping around alone in the Garden Club like a piece of meat because no living thing deserves to be looked upon as a tasty meal even if it’s part of the universal law in this made-up belief world, Beastars.

Overall, the message I got from this show is to respect all life. I liked that all the beasts are a star in their own way. They all have their unique strengths and weaknesses and deserve sympathy. It was amusingly fun to watch and I must say a well-crafted story for an anime. Not saying that anime is bad, but rarely do I find one that I actually binged watch, especially ones that involved high school drama.

Psycho-Pass Season 1 Review

Disclaimer: Minor spoiler alerts

Throughout history, I think humans have a deep-rooted fear of losing one sense of self. They are always searching for the ideal society where everyone can live in harmony. But what if this perfect society is run by an old asymptomatic, crazy pink hair lady or worse, a robot that is made of collected data of criminal thoughts? In this anime’s universe, a device in the shape of a gun called the denominator will measure whether we are a threat to society. It’s kind of scary actually, don’t you think? Literally, with a point of a gun, our sanity is diagnosed. Not only that but where we score in mental health will determine where we will be placed in society. Pretty much, everyone’s fate has been decided because we are all pawns for a “safe functioning society.” Quite frankly, society sounds like an authoritarian robot gone crazy, waving its gun at people in the name of harmony. In all reality, it’s just a form of dictatorship.

If you think about this show, there is nothing new about it. Good and evil is at play like it has always been throughout centuries. Purity is what will save humanity from destruction. That’s where Akane Tsunemori, the naïve, pure maiden comes to play. In western culture, passive traits are seen as a weakness. In Japan, ironically the female kind is highly praised for its feminine virtues: kindness and sympathy are forms of strength that glue the society together. People protect the laws not laws protect the people, said Akane. That’s why she doesn’t deviate from the rules despite all the horror she has seen on the job as an inspector, which makes her a powerful stern leader. In case you are not familiar with the plot, Akane goes around making sure detectives don’t abuse their power while they are hunting for criminals (I don’t think I want her job, putting people on the leash sounds tiring. I’ll stick with my boring desk job so I can reserve my energy for blogging). Like every one of us, she eventually wises up and realizes that society is not always black and white. Sometimes our superiors don’t always have our best interests. She found out the hard way.

For my final thought about this series, sometimes when you try to play god, you’d eventually go mad. No human being is omniscient. In the end, it’s the smart guy who wants to destroy the world out of spite for the prisoned-society that humans have created for themselves. I think I understand now why the series is called Psycho-Pass: the villain is rationally psychotic enough to know what he is doing. He simply chose the self-destructive path, and he is going to take everyone down with him.

Scum’s Wish Review: A Logically Scummy Anime

In this anime, there is no consequence to promiscuous action, which makes it so intriguing. You can explore your lusty nature with your messy emotions, especially the confusing ones. Sometimes emotions are just too hard to describe, especially if you are a teenager who is still trying to find your identity. This show successfully takes apart complex emotions and lay them out for the audience to see. It’s a pretty relaxing anime to watch, actually.

In this unrequited love story, the two protagonists Hanabi Yasuraoka and Mugi Awaya happened to be honor students who use each other to replace the person they cannot be with. They rationalize their sexual meetups by using sound logic. I guess they are just too smart to study so they have time for screwing around.  There are other characters involved in this unrequited love mess. The biggest one that stood out like a sore thumb is the female school teacher, Akane Minagawa. She puts on a nice front, but she is actually the biggest scum of them all. She enjoys stealing the affection of men from other women because it makes her feel like she is the ultimate prize. Truth is–she is just an empty blowup doll (that’s my metaphor of the day). I don’t blame the audience for lacking sympathy for her, however, I must say it’s nice to see a woman take charge of her sexuality. In most cultures, it’s more acceptable for a man to cheat on his wife–he’s just a man, but it’s not okay for a woman. Would a man still love his wife if she has multiple affairs outside of marriage? I think that is her dilemma. She sleeps with men casually out of contempt. How could anyone possibly love her unconditionally? As for the rest of the characters, they are not as developed or interesting. They are very two-dimensional for my liking. I almost forgot they exist, but they are on the cover–the guy in the blue shirt, the blonde girl with twintails, and the redhead lesbian. I don’t even bother learning their names.

Because this anime is so scummy and alien to me, I enjoyed it. I don’t really recommend it to teenagers though–the content might be a bit too deep for a kid to grasp. An older audience may find this enjoyable and even relaxing after a long day.

Mushi-Shi Review: A Fine Cup of Medicine for the Mind

Do you know what Forest Bathing is? When you are stuck in a city like me, you naturally want to reconnect with all things green because greenery is life. That’s why many people like to go to the woods where I am from. Unfortunately, since I am a loner, it’s not safe for a woman as petite as me to go out in the woods alone. So what is the solution? I watched Mushi-shi and perfected avocado smoothie during my staycation! I feel mentally recharged and happy.

By now, I don’t know how many times I have watched Mushi-shi which was initially aired in Japan in 2005. It’s my to-go anime when I want to clear my mind. It has a calming effect like tea. The animation is stunningly beautiful. I always feel as if I am hiking my way towards the mountains and then into the lush green forest with Ginko, the protagonist. But it’s not just the scenery that I like so much, it’s how well each episode tells its story surrounding the mysterious supernatural-like creatures called Mushi. There are 26 episodes and each episode is 24 minutes long. I like how short each episode is compared to some T.V shows that have 50-minute long episodes. Let’s just say I like to take frequent breaks.

If you are not familiar with the series by now, I am happy to tell you what it’s all about. Mushi is the closes thing to life itself. They come in different shapes and forms. Some are visible and some are not. Their existence is the cause of many humans ailment. Not everyone can see Mushi. Only certain people can. Ginko is one of them. Because of exposure to a particular type of Mushi, a fish-like creature with one eye missing, Ginko can’t stay in one place for long without attracting supernatural-like creatures. As a result, he is fated for a lone nomadic life, visiting different villages to help educate people on the nature of the Mushi and its effect on the mysterious sickness that one has inflicted by the supernatural creature. He is like a researcher/scientist, but more like a medical doctor as he finds successful solutions to protect both humans and Mushi without destroying either one so that one can live. In fact, this is a recurring theme throughout the series.

One thing that I really like about this anime is the message it wants to convey to the audience: When you understand your “enemy” you become less afraid of them. It is better to accept their mere existence as part of the ecosystem. They are neither good nor bad. One episode titled Cotton Changeling proves that Mushi just wants to live just as much as humans when it was given the ability to speak. It is an eerie episode in fact.

All of the episodes are resolved by Ginko’s ethical, scientific approach whereas other like him take on a more brutal approach towards the Mushi by killing them all, which ironically killed human life. As I mentioned earlier, Mushi is the closes thing to life itself. Ginko’s way of handling Mushi is very human and modern. When I say humanly, I mean he uses his God-given intelligence to solve problems rather than react out of primitive fear. This explains why he is dressed in western attire rather than traditional Japanese clothes. To dress like a foreigner gives him the impression of an outsider. His outsider perspective helps him make scientific decisions rather than rely on archaic customs. His western approach to Mushi is a sign of forwarding thinking.

What I learned from this anime is that ignorance is not bliss. Knowledge is a powerful tool to harmonize the universe. Seek to understand the world around us because it can kill unnecessary superstition that does more harm than good. More importantly, it can save lives. Ginko saved lives like a true doctor. His compassion for all living things is admirable. I think that is why I like this show so much. Every time I watch it, it’s like having a fine cup of tea. Try it for yourself, you might enjoy the solitude walk in the forest.

Netflix Series Beastars: Is the Rabbit Really a Slut?

Disclaimer: For mature audiences. Not for children. Please watch the show before reading this article. This is just my interpretation of the show.

Oh, my virgin mind was tainted by the innocent schoolboy and schoolgirl stuffed animal-like cartoon. How did a show manage to fool me into thinking that I was watching a show about an innocent high school drama? It looks so cute and adorable, so I added the show to my watchlist on Netflix. Oh my, so naïve of me!

Beastars starring a slutty rabbit is no ordinary slut you might envision. She is not the scantily clad type. She is a nice girl, a flower girl–small, petite in stature; soft and sweet. The type of gal you would probably find at a church. Her name is Haru. She is so cute that if I were a guy, I would ask her to marry me. With her, I know for sure there would be guaranteed sex. Don’t rabbit love to breed?

Haru_Anime

Then we have Legoshi, the main male character who is timid and soft-spoken. To most girls, he is the ideal type of guy we want for a life partner–sensitive but strong. But underneath his polite demeanor, is a terrifying strong beast.

Legosi

To most people, I might just have described these two main characters as typical, boring and cliche which can be found in most popular literature. But that archaic, plain character is what makes the show so powerful. It seems so innocent on the outside, but it is far from innocent. They are the well-behaved civilized citizens we often find among us in society. Underneath the human’s politeness, is raw animal instinct. Legoshi struggles with his instinct to devour Haru while Haru uses sex as a tool to survive, fighting against her instinct to be eaten by a carnivore (if this concept sounds strange, I can point you to the scenes where I came to conclude this notion. Just ask in the comment section). She knows she is prey and he is the predator. It’s a show about the power struggle between the weak and the strong told from a food hierarchy perspective.

Ironically, what I find so fascinating about submissive Haru is that she is actually a feminist. She does not refuse her male counterparts if they want to sleep with her and even admits she might enjoy it too if they want to be rough. But there is one thing she cannot accept: she refuses to be pitied by them. There is a scene where Louis tries to give her money, but she refuses, wanting his heart instead. Does that sound kind of virtuous? Sadly, from the patriarchal perspective, it’s kind of depressing having to use sex to get around in society safely, but it’s the only weapon she has. Think about it, Haru is a dwarf rabbit. She is small, soft, and cute. She is easy prey. Can you imagine if she rejects all the guys that approach her? The result would be harassment and worst, killed. Her action may be frowned upon in society but she’s smart about it. Unlike her female peers, Haru pulls her own weight emotionally, turning her weakness into a strength. This is why guys tend to flock toward her. How empowering is that? What I find so enlightening about this anime is that Haru is deceptive. Think twice if you think she is weak. Unlike her female peers, she does not run from her predators or try to turn them into her loyal pets like Juno, the ambitious gray wolf.

Juno(anime)

So, I have a question for female readers: who is the real damsel in distress here? And to the male readers, do you prefer that ambitious bitch Juno, who uses manipulative tactics to tie you down? Hmm…I think I know the answer.

I find it delightful that this show brings forth the struggle between the Madonna and the Whore in such a way as to expose the dirtiness of human nature in a twisted way. No one is a saint underneath the orderly, civilized society that we so hope to achieve. There is no such thing as a perfect world and there’s definitely no such thing as the good girl.

Picture credits: Haru, Legoshi, Juno.