Review: Animated Discussions

Animated Discussions: Critical Essays on AnimeAnimated Discussions: Critical Essays on Anime
by Jed A. Blue

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Animated Discussions / B072N4C1ZR

I'm a big fan of deconstructions like Fred Clark's series on Left Behind and Mark Oshiro's "Mark Reads" series of books. I followed Jed Blue on Fred Clark's site and was pleased with his thoughtful comments, and a friend recommended that I needed to read his essays on Revolutionary Girl Utena and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. I'm so glad I did!

This is a series of incredibly thoughtful essays on the writing, tropes, and narrative arcs within a number of popular anime series. Even if you're not a fan--I haven't watched all of the anime featured herein--there's a lot here to enjoy and learn from; Jed's observations have made me think a lot about the craft of writing and what my own ultimate intentions are when I sit down to create.

For actual fans of the series, though, there's so much more. The Utena essays are very much my favorite, and gave me a much more nuanced view of the series; so much so that I wanted to sit down and re-watch the whole thing after reading. I especially love the discussion around Utena's deconstruction of gender, misogyny, and the difference between "saving" (the job of the Prince) and "helping" (which carries real pain and risks, but is ultimately more respectful and loving).

Regarding the ending of the series, Jed writes: "Utena finally takes the action which proves she has grown beyond the old, Dios-derived ideal of the prince: she holds out a hand and lets Anthy decide whether to take it. She is no longer saving, but helping, letting Anthy make the choice." I love this so much, and it's made me think a lot about my interactions with others and with my own creations.

~ Ana Mardoll


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