My name is Carl, also known as SDShamshel, and I love anime and manga. I love the multitude of talented creators working to provide us exciting, terrifying, heartfelt, and even educational stories about the past, present, and what very well might come in the future. I love the interesting ideas that are explored by artists and fans alike. Perhaps more than anything, I love sharing my thoughts on Japanese popular media. It's why, back in November of 2007, I decided to start a blog. I named it "Ogiue Maniax," after my favorite character from the manga Genshiken, which is about anime and manga fandom as a way of life.
Many of you have likely never heard of Ogiue Maniax, though if you type "Ogiue" into Google it'll be the first thing that pops up. I've written reviews of titles both popular and obscure, translated posts from Japanese anime fans and critics, analyzed visual and narrative trends in anime and manga. Not only that, but over these 7+ years I've consistently made at least 2-3 blog posts per week, in rain or shine or anime convention.
As I've continued with the the blog, I've grown a small but loyal following. If you're already an Ogiue Maniax reader, I can't thank you enough. If you're brand new or have only come across it by happenstance, then I also appreciate you giving me your time. It's because of people like you that I've pledged to never abandon Ogiue Maniax or let it grow stale. After all, writing it has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. I want to keep writing for the blog no matter what, though it becomes increasingly difficult as I get older.
Become a Patron!
This is where you can contribute, starting at only $1 a month. If you're interested, go straight to the bottom and take a look at the rewards you can get for sponsoring Ogiue Maniax. If you're still not sure, I've provided some of my more notable writings below.
The Price of Art: Miyazaki Hayao's "The Wind Rises"
Can art truly be made for art’s sake? This is one of the central questions of the film, and The Wind Rises answers that this passion, as much as we might want to bottle it and isolate it from the world, is nevertheless still a part of it. Even the refusal to compromise ends up being a type of compromise in itself, and the film makes this point clear not only through Jirou’s profession but also his personal life. Falling in love with a woman suffering from tuberculosis in a time when there was no cure, throughout the movie they make sacrifices between their immediate and future happiness. When ultimately they decide to live together despite knowing that this will shorten her lifespan, the parallel is clearly established that, whether it is at home or in another country, Jirou’s passion in a sense destroyed lives.
Explaining Decompression in Comics
If you were to go up to a manga author and say to them, “Your manga wastes the vast majority of its space,” they would probably look at you incredulously, because efficiency in page layout is actually very important for manga creators. If you then pointed to a Silver Age superhero comic as an example of brilliant economization of panels, they would probably react with still more disbelief, amazed at how much the page seems to be weighed down by its own contents. This is because the concept of “panel efficiency” is defined differently between the American superhero comics tradition and Japanese comics tradition. The difference can be summarized to some extent as the contrast between efficiency defined as the greatest amount of “stuff” packed into the smallest amount of space possible and efficiency defined as a slick, streamlined experience, but that doesn’t quite tell the whole story.
You're Magical: Ojamajo Doremi
Ojamajo Doremi‘s is a message of positivity, but it is not so afraid to expose its viewers to some of the sadder, potentially more hurtful aspects of life to the point that it would pretend they do not exist. The problems that the girls help out with can range from rescuing a boy who fell into a hole to helping a girl come to terms with her own guilt over killing a pet. This also extends to the main characters themselves, such as the fact that Aiko’s mother walked out on their family. It’s quite a sensitive topic for Aiko, but Aiko doesn’t let it get her down, and it’s this emphasis on enjoying life, bumps and all, that also contributes to Ojamajo Doremi‘s success as a children’s show that has much more substance than other anime like it.
Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo as Response, Criticism, and Renewal
This clone Rei in the third film (although technically all of the Rei are clones) is a strikingly powerful presence, acting as a strong argument against the classic criticisms of Ayanami Rei and the characters she has inspired. Typically, Rei is seen as an almost doll-like fetish object, an attractive girl with pale features and no personality whom men can sexualize as the “perfect” passive woman entirely subject to their desires. Here, in Evangelion 3.33, we get the truly subservient version of Rei, a character who is so passive she cannot even read a book without being ordered to do so, and the disturbing nature of this iteration of the character actually highlights just how much characterization and personal will is present in the base character of Ayanami Rei. “You don’t know what’s missing until it’s gone,” as the cliché goes, and the fact that a truly doll-like Rei is so bizarre and alien underlines the fact that Rei is defined not by her loss of humanity but by her pursuit of it.
Why "Battle Spirits: Shounen Toppa Bashin" is Still the Best Card Game Anime I've Ever Seen
The obvious joke with TCG shows (thanks in part to Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series) is that whenever there’s a deep emotional connection, it’s usually in the sense of friendship, that one’s companions give the moral support one needs to overcome any adversary. Though that also exists in Shounen Toppa Bashin to a strong extent (and is better developed compared to other series as well), the situation between Toppa and Hayami is actually a moment where the show says that its own card game is meaningless if it means neglecting those close to you who are in need. The complex emotions of a mother watching her son grow up take center stage in a genre that is more often known for actively ignoring parents entirely.
Scattered Thoughts on the View of Anime and Manga as Sexist
There are most certainly a good deal of works which go out of their way to objectify women for male consumption, but I just find that there are also plenty of instances of well-portrayed women and girls in anime and manga. Whether it’s Princess Jellyfish or Rideback, Kekkaishi or Gowapper 5 Godam, it seems like these female characters get ignored because they’re, somewhat ironically, not as eye-catching as a Queen’s Blade or an I Wanna Be the Strongest in the World! There seems to be this idea that anime = sexism, and while even the works I mentioned as strong examples aren’t entirely devoid of sexism themselves, I also don’t think it’s as simple as just slapping the misogynist label on Japanese media as a whole. Messages regarding women in anime and manga can be so diverse and divergent.
This blog is a passion project and always will be, and I want to stress that Ogiue Maniax will always be free to read. I am also in no way tiring of anime and manga, and do not need monetary incentive to keep writing or watching. Rather, by sponsoring me, you are showing me that you value the content that I create. If anything, my real goal is to write even more than I already do. That sounds great to me, and I hope that you agree.