Nostalgia - The Second Lesson

by T Strife,

I Thought I was Supposed to Like This – Not That.

It's been a pretty interesting month for me: I've done an intensive college course, worked a day (evening) job, started listening to symphonic metal to deal with the stress and picked up a couple of older anime after being inspired by Tezuka's experimental works.

I've made time to watch the original Appleseed OAV thus far – it was… disappointing. I have no modern point of reference for this as I have not seen the newer CGI films, and with my general familiarity with Shirow's manga offerings I figured that, even if the film were nothing overtly spectacular, then I was still in for a slice of easy, familiar entertainment.


The main problem was that the colour pallet seemed to lack a uniform vision. I'd criticise its lack of filmic quality were it not an OAV; not that OAVs always fail to reach such heights, so maybe I should.

I guess the lesson here has something to do with the balance between old and new. It's time I found a place for both.

I also rediscovered Eureka 7 during this time. I never finished watching the show after reviewing the first DVD a couple of years ago and I've generally had a hard time fitting it in. The reluctant solution was to get DVD rips onto my PSP and watch them on the bus on the way home from work. I've resisted this for a long time as I generally have a purist view of cinema (and, by turn, any television programme that I'm liable to respect); I want to watch everything only in optimal conditions and I have a stubborn view of just what those optimal conditions are. A PSP on a bus ride is hardly an optimal state, but it has, much to my reluctant admittance, actually enhanced my enjoyment of the show.

This may be the result of the mist of old ideals clashing with, and then being blown away by, the gentle breeze of a newer life.

That reality is mostly summed up by the simple fact that it's difficult for me to develop a routine viewing habit at home these days. No longer do I just have aging DVDs on my shelf that are yet to be watched – I have aging Blu-Rays as well! I partly attribute this to my lack of a sofa – a simple chair may be adequate for playing videogames, but it's far less ideal for a movie – and partly to my poorly-organised lumps of time. Optimal viewing conditions used to translate directly to the size of the TV, the quality of the sound, and the number of people in the room – it's now turning out that these things never work with such precise logic.

Bus rides are different to the chaos of my poorly-organised life. They're somewhat consistent, and they generally last as long as each other. They generally represent a commute to other work or activities, but they also represent a reliable routine of sorts – there is, by a kind of default, a kind of structure to them, and I've been able to re-frame my anime viewing within this. It's becoming, in a perverted kind of way, a new definition of an optimal viewing condition.

And I'm enjoying it. Really enjoying it. Eureka 7, some fifteen episodes in, has remained fantastic entertainment, and in the unusual calm of London roads at night it has an incredible ability to absorb. Once the opening song and animation are done away with, the screen that I'm watching ceases to matter – the byte-size nature of television episodes forces the show to chip along at an engaging pace that can compete with the bustle of bodies that move past me every couple of stops, and my trained submission to the length of the journey allows my body to relax in a comfortable posture.

I guess that, right now, I'm in a state of transit. I had typically thought of manga as more suitable for public transport, and this is beginning to become inverted. I doubt that I'll be open to viewing Spirited Away on a long train ride any time soon, but just as the Japanese are starting to read novels that are mailed to their mobile phones, I'm beginning to accept that the day may soon come where I'll be fine with the idea of watching the original Bubblegum Crisis while on the move.

And I'm happy about it – it may be human nature to cling not only to what we like, but how we like it. Accepting that only one of those things really needs to change has actually made me a little happier, and it's certainly nice to know that I can still be intrigued by the ways that entertainment has managed to find new ways to fit in with the evolution of our lives.

It's a small piece of proof that you don't need to fully sever the past in order to embrace the future.

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