Unpopular Opinion: Kuzu no Honkai

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You know I usually like to wait for an anime to finish before I review it, but the latest episode of Kuzu no Honkai has convinced me it’s not worth the wait.  I still maintain my earlier statements about the show, namely that’s the most interesting romance anime I’ve seen in years, but that interest is no longer particularly positive.  It’s not all that negative either, mind, but compared to before it’s a downgrade.  There will be spoilers, you’ve been warned.

Kuzu no Honkai had two major selling points, it disregarded all the usual anime romance baggage and skipped straight to the bedroom, and it returned to the bedroom with surprising frequency, and most of the main characters were either terrible people or in the midst of very self destructive behavior.  For this the show still has my attention and I do hope other romances learn from Kuzu no Honkai and get some couples in bed.  But honestly I’m bored with whatever narrative Kuzu no Honkai was trying to tell, and given the aimless rambling of the show overall I’m not sure it ever had much vision or direction to begin with.  But before I dig into that I want address certain me-specific complaints have nothing to do with technical skill in writing or animation, because context is important despite what morons on the internet may think.

Kuzu no Honkai is not for me.  Even disregarding any technical problems it has I have a hard time rooting for anyone in the twisted love tree filling out the series.  Ecchan has my allegiance more than anyone but she’s hardly given the time needed for to be really interesting as a person instead of just being the hottest girl and also a lesbian, making her best girl by default.  Ostensibly I should be projecting myself on Mugi but fuck that guy.  I don’t get him at all, his only characterization that I have any connection with at all is how he doesn’t want to fuck the blonde girl with twintails who wants his D because they’re childhood friends and he doesn’t want to ruin her purity or special-ness, for lack of a better term.  I get that.  But loving broken, weak and manipulative girls, loving someone even more after see how they cynically use their assets to fulfill their shallow lifestyle?  Get the fuck out of here.  I’m not just disconnected from Mugi’s desires, they actively turn me off in a big way.  Likewise I sort of like Hanabi and vaguely want to root for her but the love of her life is totally boring.  Kanai is abysmal, he’s a bland boring fuck who can be boiled down to generic good guy A, and the fact he serves as a big brother figure to Hanabi makes the whole thing one step removed from the incest romances popularized by OreImo, and fuck that garbage.  At least she actually likes a good person, that’s a step up from Mugi.  That’s enough ranting for now, let’s get technical.

Kuzu no Honkai is kind of balls at pacing.  The passage of time is largely unclear, for example I had no idea Mugi and Hanabi hadn’t seen each for months because until Hanabi said so in a random cafe scene, there were no details establishing that at all, and it’s common for episodes to suddenly cut to dramatic or emotional moments out of nowhere without always explaining how the characters got to that point.  As a man who struggles with getting from point A to point B in a story despite having really well defined points in his own narratives, or rather attempted narratives, I feel this in particular is a weakness.  I appreciate the desire to just cut to the scene you really want to show, but if I thought that was good enough I’d have finished a fucking book by now.  But what exacerbates the problem is that feels like the show isn’t going anywhere.  Characters have random sexual encounters and some make deliberate moves on other people but a lot of the time they just seem to be listless and directionless.  There’s too much going on that never goes anywhere meaningful.  It’s like watching filler if filler looked decent and was low key.  This isn’t helped by the characters.

Most of them suck.  They generally range from boring to deplorable, and not deplorable in the fun if dark sense employed by Youjo Senki, but deplorable as in people I really don’t like for their shallow or twisted values.  The twin tail girl is obnoxious and serves no purpose, she poses no threat to Hanabi, let alone Akane, where Mugi is concerned and she has nothing to teach either main character about themselves.  Likewise Ecchan has that weird cousin who wants to bone her (gross) and has a persistence that is outright annoying making him come off as a pain in the ass if not a creep.  Again he doesn’t pose any threat to Hanabi’s relationship with Ecchan and he teaches Hanabi nothing she hadn’t already figured out for herself.  Then there’s the random dude who used to fuck Akane and wanted to fuck Hanabi, again almost entirely useless and a total waste of time.  He was only interesting in so far as Hanabi considered trying to win his affection to get back at Akane, but that didn’t happen so what’s the point?

I suppose you could argue the directionless, listless feel and story are reflective of how confusing teenage and young adult romance can be, but it’s fucking boring.  Like if the Hanabi actually made a serious move regarding the random guy I was just talking about and it had some kind of impact on her as a character and to the narrative, it would be good, but nothing happens.  Which is where episode 11 comes in.  Episode 11 has more character development on it’s own than the lion’s share of the show and it really got me thinking that Hanabi and Mugi were the wrong people to cast as main characters.  I mean it’s pretty simple what happens, Kanai clumsily bulls his way forward and somehow, perhaps because he’s the first saintly good guy to go for her, wins Akane’s heart.  For Mugi and Hanabi all that does is put an end to their crushes, which is something Hanabi has already gone through at this point.  I guess Mugi and Hanabi can hook up for real now but why bother?  They haven’t been romantically involved for months and Hanabi seems to have zero passion for Mugi at this point.  And unless this season is a split cour or double cour, then they’d only have one episode to get together anyway.  Seems like a weak romance story to me.

Kuzu no Honkai should have been about Akane.  I mean given how much screen time she has I think you can already argue that she’s more of a main character than Hanabi, but that’s what the show should have been.  What if Kuzu no Honkai was presented from Akane’s point of view?  What if it was about her fucking all these guys over the years in her aimless attempts to feel good and find some sort of human connection, which she somehow finds in Kanai?  You could even have Hanab still play a substantial role, this time as someone actively trying to keep Akane away from Kanai because she think’s Akane isn’t good enough for him.  I think you’d have a far more interesting show, one where all the sex is relevant to character growth rather than a gimmick.  Because that’s how I think it’s been used by and large.  It’s new and I’ve no doubt many others are happy to see characters with functioning sexual relations, but outside of a few rare exceptions it seems more like eye candy than anything else at this point.  However in a story about Akane, told from her perspective, the fucking would be extremely relevant to the narrative and to her character.  And I say all this with extreme confidence because Kuzu no Honkai has slowly and steadily declined for me since episode 2 when Hanabi and Ecchan get in some lesbian action, with episode 11 serving as the only exception to that trend.  It’s the best the show has been in months and possibly the best it’s ever been.

Setting Akane aside, what assures me that Kuzu no Honkai will be end poorly is that where the fuck else can it go at this point?  As discussed before Mugi and Hanabi have drifted apart, and I can’t see them hooking back up for an episode as anything other than failure.  Moreover it’s annoying to have Mugi get so much screen time in last few episodes compared to Hanabi, because I’d rather root for her and I like her more and I think her story could have been much more interesting if we weren’t forced to follow Mugi’s hopeless twisted love story.  I think another thing Kuzu no Honkai fucked up was the Ecchan summer house episode, that should’ve happened after Mugi went off to chase Akane for months, because then maybe, just maybe, Ecchan and Hanabi could’ve justifiably become a couple, something I’m far more interested in than any other relationship in the show, and not just cause gay girls (though that is a bonus), because they’re the two people I like most in the show as people.  Hanabi could have her expectations dashed by Mugi, who flees the intended plan to try and keep Akane being a shallow, manipulative slut (for the record that’s how the describes her, I’m not hating on her right now, I think she’s actually had the funniest scenes and lines the show)… because for whatever reason that’s what he’s into.  And in having her plan with Mugi ruined, Hanabi could have sought shelter in Ecchan like she did earlier in the show, but this time it could’ve developed in something genuine and lasting, not a one night stand.

All this is to say that Kuzu no Honkai has been a total mess.  It threw all kinds of bedroom scenes at us to keep us distracted from the fact the story has been pretty shit.  It’s had it’s moments from time to time but overall it’s been a boring, aimless little tale.  Also the soliloquies have gotten especially awful in later episodes and some of the dialogue is similarly terrible.  So few of the characters are given time to be interesting and of those with time most of them squander it on pointless scenes and sideplots which never amount to anything.  As a general rule I don’t like to complain about wasted potential very often.  By and large I find it a misguided criticism that attacks a work for not being something rather than judging what it is.  But Kuzu no Honkai has been so directionless as a narrative, so vague in it’s intent that I feel this is a good case for the “wasted potential” complaint, because more so than anything else what this show needs to succeed is some kind of vision.  Kuzu no Honkai is little more than a jumble of characters and ideas with nothing binding it all together, nothing making a narrative out of the disparate narrative elements.  This really is the essence of wasted potential, it’s a show that does nothing with the tools it’s  been given, rather than a show which just didn’t do what I wanted it to do.  And for that reason, I’d be fucking floored if this series ends on anything other than a “meh” note.  I’m certainly out of fucks to give for the show.  Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it and I’ll see you in the next one.

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Understanding Tone Shifts: Why Youjo Senki is my Top Anime of Winter 2017

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I know what you’re “supposed” to do is wait until the end of a season to tell everyone what you’re favorite show was but fuck rules, or even guidelines, because I already have my winner.  And I don’t say that lightly, this is a pretty fucking solid season of anime we’re talking about here and I fully expect that most people will totally disagree with me.  Hell I’m inclined to disagree with me, considering I’m pitting Youjo Senki against KonoSuba season 2, which is the most consistently hilarious show I’ve seen in a long time.  The following will be full of spoilers for a bunch of currently airing shows, you’ve been warned.

Like I said this is a solid season of anime.  Masamune-kun no Revenge is a cut above you’re normal slice-of-life romcom.  KonoSuba is fucking hilarious and even Gabriel Dropout has been pretty funny even if it’s been pretty inconsistent.  Kuzu no Honaki is the most interesting romance drama I’ve seen since Kimi ni Todoke season 1.  Little Witch Academia is a constant source of feel-good charm that I can hardly find anywhere and we’ve even got the low key but stylish as fuck ACCA.  However I think the crown jewel of the season is undoubtedly Youjo Senki.  Youjo Senki episode 8 is definitely the episode that heralded the sudden upsurge in my interest in my opinion of the show, but looking back the thing which made that episode stand out so much, a radical tone shift, was already present throughout the show albeit to far lesser degrees.  What this means, in short, is that I think Youjo Senki is probably the most well rounded show of the entire season, and going by episode one you’d never fucking guess that would be the case.  Let me break this down in more detail.

For those who haven’t seen Youjo Senki, it’s about an alternate world’s WWI with a few major differences, the most obvious being magic.  The lead character is a 12 year old girl named Tanya, or at least that’s what they look like.  In reality our main character is a 30-something (I assume) asshole of a man from our world who was reincarnated in this alternate world as a 12 year old girl as a trial from God or Being X as our main character calls him.  Our 12 year old girl, who has incredible magic power, with the brain of his former 30 year old self signs up for war to get a comfortable life as an officer and thus defy God because this trial was meant to convert him into one of the faithful by putting him in dire circumstances.  If you made through the last couple sentences without going “huh? or WTF?” then consider me impressed, this is a pretty fucking weird premise.  However as I’ve explained before premise is cheap, execution is what really matters and for the most part Youjo Senki has been able to pull it’s unusual premise off well.  And almost none of this present at all in episode 1, barring the interesting setting, episode one makes Youjo Senki look like an edgy action show that relies on shock value and explosions to sell itself.  Now it is that in part, but there’s so many other elements woven in that the edginess is a side note and doesn’t distract me in the slightest.

The main reason is that Youjo Senki includes a wide variety of scenes and tones, so much so that many of the worst ones easily get lost amid the all the shit happening, a trend made possible in part by the fact that the good scenes far outnumber the bad.  The biggest detractors from Youjo Senki are that it’s edgy, the art is definitely on the uglier side and episode 3 with the mad scientist was a goofy mess.  But Youjo Senki gets past it all.  Because it also delivers on major battles, solid strategic theories and discussion and even some fascinating changes to WWI.  In direct opposition to a show like Kuzu no Honkai which  consistently drives me insane by providing me with things I love and hate next one another with every episode, Youjo Senki is perfectly content to jump around and tell whatever kind of story it wants.  Because for all edgy action of episode 1, the action almost disappears completely until episode 5 with only one major exception.  On the whole though Youjo Senki is mostly fun, thanks to it being violent, funny and utterly insane.  Remember Tanya not only has had the mind of thirty year old from modern era since birth, she’s had the mind of thirty year old without a scrap of empathy for other people.

Jumping over to Masamune-kun no Revenge for a minute, what makes it more fun than the average high school romcom is that the main couple are both deplorable.  Masamune has devoted himself to being fit and becoming a hot guy just so he can date then dump Adagaki Aki.  He basks in the attention he gets for being hot but his behavior is decidedly shallow and his goals, while somewhat satisfying, are spiteful.  Adagaki on the other hand is horrible because she’s a bossy bitchy girl who humiliates any boy who comes her way.  She makes this even worse when shes says something to Masamune about how it hurts to get rejected (he had just rejected another girl’s advances) despite the fact she goes out of her way to reject people in the most painful way possible and somehow doesn’t see the dissonance between her actions and her sentiments.  Youjo Senki takes the deplorable main character thing and the goes to it’s extreme end point, someone who doesn’t give a fuck about anyone and will condemn people to miserable lives and later thousands of innocents to death for the sake of efficiently getting the next promotion.

Tanya’s shtick in both her current and previous lives is that she finds the easiest way to get a comfortable life by following and exploiting rules, first corporate rules and later military rules.  And she does a great job of showing how fucked up ordinary humans can be if they just follow the rules without injecting their own moral and emotional judgement into a situation.  What makes this interesting though is that Tanya is not punished for behaving this way.  Sure we know she’s a psychotic piece of shit, and she hasn’t gotten the easy life she wants, but she has swiftly risen up the ranks and garnered the attention of her ultimate superiors.  What’s more her ruthless approach works, her unit has been instrumental to several fronts already and her thesis on how to attack cities without holding back while still conforming to international law has already drastically altered tactics on both sides regarding cities, I’m sure the Republic (France) won’t attempt to use a city as a shield to delay the Empire (Germany) again.  Again and again Tanya proves that her ruthless tactics and exploitation of the rules are effective especially because she has knowledge about world wars that no one else does.  However amid all of this I have one problem with the label of “the Evil” for Tanya.

That may surprise you because Tanya is almost cartoonishly evil, she’s a ruthless murderer, has no empathy for other human beings and has no qualms condemning thousands of noncombatants to die.  But while all those things make her a criminal and villain she’s not evil in the sense that she’s working with the “bad guys,” because that implies that one side in the conflict is the morally superior.  There is no such side though and that brings to one of the biggest problems I have with other people talking about the show.  The consensus I’ve seen thus far is that the Empire and Tanya are representative of the Nazis and therefore are evil.  I disagree. Vehemently.  Remember this is WWI, not WWII and the Empire’s behavior has not at all resembled that of the Nazis (hell they even have the same gear and spiked helmets of the Prussian troops in WWI), the closest they get is when bomb Arene thanks to Tanya’s thesis but even that was clearly an outlier and surprised people on both sides (and that wasn’t even a Nazi thing so much as paradigm shift all sides adhered to in WWII).  In fact in this world, the Empire was invaded by the Republic and save for the invasion of Norden and the Entente Alliance, the Empire’s strategy is defensive.  In fact it parallels the Late Roman Empire’s strategy during the Hunnic invasions and subsequent barbarian migrations, to set up weaker border forces which would delay enemy invaders who would then be crushed by an elite mobile force.  The idea that the Empire is somehow the “bad guy” of the war is ridiculous, the only country which could consider them as such is the Entente Alliance because the Empire was the aggressor on that front.

In fact if anyone is evil it’s Being X who is actively fucking with people’s minds and free will to accelerate the war and put more pressure on Tanya.  I think the main reasons people think of the Empire as evil is because, it’s Germany, Tanya is on their team and they’re winning.  But even in episode 1 when Tanya kills an entire company of mages, she did that in response to the fact said company had just wiped out the people she’d been sent to save.  Tanya personally handled things the way she did to get a promotion, but with the exception of Arene the Empire is having the same things done to it as it’s doing to others, it’s not the bad guy here because their is no bad guy here.  And if you examine WWI history it’s the same story.  Most of what caused the war was just momentum created by a complex web of alliances and all the major powers trying to maintain a power balance that was beginning to crumble.  Almost none of the highest authorities on any side actually wanted WWI to become the enormous conflict it did, things just spiraled out of control.  I hope that when Anson Sioux re-enters the conflict this dynamic will be shown better, that regardless of whether the individual is a good person like Sioux or a total bastard like Tanya, both sides are by large doing the same terrible shit to each other and the Empire is not representative of the Nazis and is not evil.  That said so long as you understand that, I think it’s fine to call Tanya evil.

Because yes Tanya is awful but for the most part she’s awful in entertaining ways.  One of my favorite scenes was at the end of episode 5, when after defeating the invading Dakian army (props for having them mirror the pathetic performance of Romania in WWI), Tanya talks like a five year old while informing Dakia that’s she’s going to blow up their weapon’s factory, a move that disguises her attack as a prank while still conforming to international war laws.  It’s fucking hilarious and utterly effective, no one bothers to evacuate and everyone working at the factory perishes as she and her men blow it to shit.  And the attack on Orse fjord was a blast to watch because of the rigid tactics and strict deadlines outline to pull off the ambitious amphibious assault.  Watching people kick ass and take names is generally a fun time, the fact we’re focusing on a character who is so awful just adds a little spice to mix.  She’s curb stomping everyone who gets in her way and it’s pretty cathartic because sometimes that’s what we all want to be able to do, just crush whatever annoys us and get onto enjoying an easy life.  Sometimes we all want to be assholes so long as we get away with it.

But despite how blatant Youjo Senki can be, see Tanya for details, it can be surprisingly versatile.  Youjo Senki rarely has long battles, instead most battles are payoffs to previously tense strategy briefings as Tanya has to navigate the desires of superiors as much as possible while still being mindful of the supply situation and benefits of any given strategy.  Many of the strategies involved are complex military maneuvers and it can be a satisfying to see these complex plans come together.  In addition the show includes people who even Tanya hates to work with, mainly the mad scientist Dr. Schugel, and how she behaves when she isn’t allowed to just beat the shit out of this person she doesn’t like.  The show’s tone shifts frequently to match the wide variety of scenes and scenarios Tanya finds herself in. But the real clincher was episode 8 because it takes the most drastic tone shift of the series.  In episode 8 it looks for a bit like one of her troops killed himself.  I admit I was a little disappointed that that didn’t end up being the case because it seemed like a great tone shift especially with the change to a more haunting ED following a shot that looked like the gun switching to face the shooter.  However this was still a great shift in that this was the first time Tanya’s soldiers balked at her orders and the sudden change in war doctrine brought on by her thesis, and they didn’t even know it was her thesis which caused Arene to burn.

Soldiers who had previously made defeating enemies a sort of informal sport among the group were suddenly horrified enough to confront Tanya about it, or at least were so distracted by the implications of what they were doing in Arene that they made mistakes they usually wouldn’t.  This once again shows that the Empire is not evil, most of the soldiers are just people fighting for their homeland and in the process they have to do evil work.  Tanya is the only one deserving of the title the Evil.  And for the first time multiple soldiers under Tanya’s command really have to grapple with that.  Ironically though Viktoriya, in the very next episode, uses the same kind of heartless rule-centric logic that Tanya thrives on to assure her comrades that all responsibility for the evils of Arene lie with Tanya.  I find this comment especially interesting because it hints at the potential punishment for Tanya later down the road, that her own reliance on the rules and exploiting them may be used against her, and the dangers of that mindset which has thus far only been shown to be effective if entirely fucked up.

Another great contrast is last season’s Shuumatsu no Izetta because that show shares many similar elements but focuses on main characters who are selfless and idealistic, people who fight to change the status quo regardless of the hardships endured.  That show also showed the dangers of that mindset, specifically that the political reality of a situation might lead a country to betray and kill it’s own hero and how a betrayed hero may come back with a vengeance.  I know this isn’t that relevant but I think it’s a happy accident that both these shows came out in such close proximity and have been great, as they do provide an excellent contrast to each other.  Let’s wrap this up.

Put simply Youjo Senki does a lot of tone shifts.  Sure there are edgy scenes scattered throughout the current nine episodes but they are mashed in with a ton of goofy scenes, cool action scenes, lot’s of strategic talks about war and military theory, political intrigue, and even some scenes which are just really fucking funny.  Maybe that doesn’t sound like you’re cup of tea, maybe it sounds too inconsistent or chaotic or whatever.  I disagree.  I think what Youjo Senki has managed to do with all of it’s myriad tone shifts is soften the rough edges of it’s worst parts while gaining the strengths of most of the other shows I named up above.  It may not be KonoSuba funny but there are a few scenes that come close.  Episode eight had more drama than Kuzu no Honkai.  It’s got more action than any other currently airing show I’m aware of.  It has world building and political intrigue on par with (and in my opinion surpassing) ACCA.  Youjo Senki is for my money the best show of the season because it does a little bit of almost everything and in most cases it succeeds at whatever it’s doing.  Sometimes it does edgy scenes of Tanya smiling like a lunatic while sending off uncooperative subordinates to die while making it look like an accident.  And sometimes it communicates how traumatic war can be for soldiers, even the ones that are winning.  The show has it’s problems but they are so small and brief and the show moves past them so quickly that they have hard time marring the overall experience.

Youjo Senki has, I think, made some of the key traits of many of the other good shows of the season into it’s strengths and mitigated it’s weaknesses through it’s willingness to change tone so frequently.  It has the versatility to be a popcorn flick in one episode and startlingly powerful drama the next episode, all while being a very interesting take on WWI with regards to the changes in politics and tactics during the war.  I love it, and after reading this, hopefully you do too.  Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it and I’ll see you in the next one.

Understanding the Fandom: Anime Arguments 101

I’m justifying this post under the guise that it may be educational, but honestly I expect people who read and write blogs to be a cut above random YouTube commenters when it comes to making arguments, so this is really just an excuse for me to pettily roast a guy I got into an argument with because he’s the type who will never admit defeat no matter how badly he gets thrashed and I’m tired of getting YouTube notifications about this argument.  If you’re at all interested in a startlingly stark showcase of how to argue reasonably versus how to not argue at all while pretending you are in fact making legitimate arguments, or if you really just want to bask in my pettiness, feel free to stick around.

Before I get going I’m just going to lay out the format for you.  I will paste the argument in this page as whole after this paragraph.  Then I will look at each comment made and discuss why it’s good or bad and how it applies to arguing like a rational human being.  And lastly I’m just going to refute his last comment he made after I said was done arguing with him on YouTube for my pettiness and spite are too powerful for me to resist.  Also I’m going to refer to the guy I’m arguing with a Anonymous Pseudo-Intellectual Asshole because while I would like nothing more than to see this stupid shithead get dog piled on, I’m not enough of a dick to send potential harassers to him.  Also because someone else in the thread called him a Pseudo-Intellectual and I think Asshole is a good finishing touch to the name.  For context, this argument took place over a video cataloging the evolution of SAO criticism and fan reactions to the show with Digibro’s hour-long diatribe serving as a major turning point.  The first comment is directed at Digibro.  Let’s look at this shit.

Anonymous Pseudo-Intellectual Asshole: Recognizing that SAO is crap does nothing to vindicate your rambling and inconsistent anime criticism.

Me: You do realize that criticism of art is subjective and therefore will always be inconsistent right? I’d say Digibro’s relative power in anime critic circles more or less proves that his style of criticism vindicates itself…

Anonymous Pseudo-Intellectual Asshole: Subjectivity is no excuse for being inconsistent with yourself. Nihilism is not a justifiable perspective upon which to base criticism. Stop brown-nosing Critical Theorists

Me: Inconsistent with yourself? You say that as if we are unchanging immutable entities, which we aren’t. Our opinions change constantly as we absorb more ideas and experiences. But even setting that aside where is he inconsistent with himself? I’d love to hear some examples. Moving right along how is nihilism an invalid perspective? There’s no such thing as a wrong way to do criticism, at best you can argue his criticism is done badly, in which case you’d be disagreeing with over ten thousand people and me. But coming at things from a nihilistic perspective is not inherently wrong, and the idea you think someone else’s perspective is invalid is far more damning than any criticism from any perspective. And I ain’t brown-nosing, in all likelihood Digibro will never see this and I didn’t reply to you in the vain hope he would. I wanted to politely disagree with you because frankly I think what you said is retarded and I think don’t just calling you an idiot at the first step is polite.

Anonymous Pseudo-Intellectual Asshole: Do you even understand that different perspectives contradict one another? You are the only one here who is denying that there is any value in Digibro’s criticism when you suggest that the validity of criticism is meaningless, that the only purpose of criticism is to please the ear of its audience. How could I possibly let such an outrageous claim stand?

Me: How the fuck did you get THAT out of what I said? Where did I say criticism only exists just to please the audience? I didn’t and I never would. Based on your skewed as fuck interpretation of what I said, you mean to tell me that because I said any perspective is valid I’m somehow claiming Digibro’s criticisms have no value? Because if anything I said his criticism was valuable even if it came from a perspective you claim is invalid. And since when do different perspectives have to contradict each other? There’s a million different perspectives to come at critique, countless shades of grey that you’re treating as if they were black and white. I guess the closest I can get to a logical thru line in your argument is that if I posit that all perspectives are valuable and valid, then criticism of all stripes lose their validity because there’s no longer a way to divide between invalid and valid perspectives of criticism… I think? I’m trying to be politeish and take you seriously but that’s honestly so ridiculous I can’t. I mean the fact that you twisted my words to an insane degree to make me sound crazy already makes you look stupid and petty, but the fact that argument your seemingly attempting to make while doing so is so ridiculous just makes it worse. Let me spell this out in short easy sentences. Criticism of art is subjective. Subjectivity is intrinsically tied to one’s perspective. Perspective is shaped by the art one consumes, the experiences one has and the values one finds valuable. Therefore, you can, and really have to, be able to approach criticism of art from any perspective. Therefore all perspectives are valuable and valid. The audience can choose to like or dislike any style of criticism from any perspective, but no style of perspective is inherently wrong or invalid. Therefore Digibro’s criticism is inherently valuable, even if an audience member, such as yourself, doesn’t like it or find value in it or considers it invalid.

Anonymous Pseudo-Intellectual Asshole: “[i]f I posit that all perspectives are valuable and valid, then criticism of all stripes lose their validity because there’s no longer a way to divide between invalid and valid perspectives of criticism.” If you understand the problem with relativism, why are you still whinging about it? The fact that something is subjective is not an excuse for a critic to abdicate all responsibility to the listener. Don’t you get why I am objecting to your sentiment? By your reasoning, my original critique of Digibro stands simply because it was my subjective experience of his work.

Me: That’s a nice line you quoted from me, seems like you missed the part where I said the argument laid out in that quote was honestly so ridiculous I couldn’t take you seriously, you utter moron. You also missed the part where I explained this was your argument not mine, because I don’t fucking agree with your idea that one’s perspective can be invalid. For the record I never said invalid arguments don’t exist. For example if you get an objective fact wrong in an analysis and make statements based on that, then sure that’s an invalid argument. Which incidentally was what I called you out on. If you’d said “I don’t like Digibro’s criticism”, I’d never have bothered to argue with you. However your critique implied (and you kindly later confirmed) that because Digibro didn’t do critique a certain way, the way you want, his criticism was invalid. Which is wrong. There’s no goddamn formula for art critique, you can have your own formula if you want and some people might find a formula valuable, but there’s no set way things must be done. Personally I think criticisms which incorporate formulated scoring are shit, I don’t like them, but they aren’t invalid just because they aren’t useful to me. In a similar vein there’s no such thing as invalid perspective, because all perspectives have their own insights on a work which collectively increase the value of the discourse about the work. The only invalid critique is one based on an invalid argument, like an argument where you cherry pick quotes without context and twist your opponent’s word’s to attempt to hide their actual argument instead of confronting it and then acting like you’re the one in the right and on the moral high ground… you sniveling little shit. And you mentioned responsibility, galling considering you’ve shown not an ounce of it yourself, but what does a critic owe you exactly? Fucking nothing is what. I write reviews too you know and I don’t write them for the audience to walk away with a score and recommendation to watch or drop. I write them for me, to put my thoughts and feelings into words and share them, if someone agrees with those thoughts or chooses to watch a show based on those thoughts, that is entirely up to them, not me. The most Digibro or I or any critic owes anyone is a valid argument, and Digibro lives up to that obligation and therefore owes you nothing more. Incidentally, I presented you with a valid argument, one you’ve repeatedly refused to reply to with valid arguments of your own, and as such I owe you nothing else as well. I will not respond to the inane babble you present as an argument again.

Anonymous Pseudo-Intellectual Asshole: “… [T]here’s no such thing as invalid perspective, because all perspectives have their own insights on a work which collectively increase the value of the discourse about the work. “ My perspective is that, to me, your comments feel like advocating for child rape and on the behalf of pedophiles. So just how does my subjective experience of your words as pedophile apologia add any value to your work or to Digibro’s?

Ok.  Now that that’s over with let’s go over each point, starting with Asshole’s first comment.  Now that comment “Recognizing that SAO is crap does nothing to vindicate your rambling and inconsistent anime criticism.”  is not too terrible.  It appears mostly innocuous and the only reason I replied at all is because it implied that Asshole didn’t like Digibro’s criticisim of SAO, which is fine on it’s own, but that the reason he didn’t like it was because Digibro did the criticism wrong.  He would later confirm this to be the case.  However, as this comment is wrong but not too egregious, I politely and mildly rebutted him by explaining art was subjective and therefore Digibro’s review is self-vindicating.  And vindicate was the key word here because it was what implied that Digibro’s criticisms were somehow invalid, which they aren’t.  The key thing to note here for argument noobs is that I’m being polite, because all arguments should at least start polite, and the longer they can be polite the less chance there is of it devolving into a shit-flinging contest.

His response to me was that Digibro was inconsistent with himself, which I assume he means as Digibro is a hypocrite, and that nihilism is an invalid perspective of criticism.  This was the only time he actually presented me with an argument, the only insight I have into his viewpoint and reasoning.  And it’s hilariously bad.  As I later argued, people’s perspectives are constantly changing and no one’s values are necessarily set in stone, meaning being inconsistent is not really an issue.  I did however challenge Asshole to provide me with examples of Digibro being inconsistent with himself for the sake of argument, Asshole didn’t reply to this challenge.  Moving on to his second point, I find myself asking two questions, only the first of which made into the Youtube argument.  1, How is nihilism an invalid perspective? and 2, In what way is Digibro’s criticism of SAO nihilistic?  In the actual response I explained why a criticism from nihilistic perspective was not invalid and once again challenged him to explain why he thought it was.  He also failed to respond to this challenge.  His final part of this response was to me accuse of brown-nosing, which I not-so-politely refuted because I called him out for being wrong for the sake of proving to him that he was wrong not because I wanted to win favor from Digibro.

The most important thing to take away from this stage of the argument is how things will change on Asshole’s end going forward.  I mean his argument here is barebones and stupid, but at least he’s presenting me with his own argument.  Going forward his tactic will be to twist my argument to make me look stupid instead of actually arguing anything so that this original argument appears right.  Also notice how I’m arguing.  I go out of my way to rebut his points or express my concerns with his arguments, and then I make arguments of my own on top of that.  This is how to argue reasonably, to create valuable discussion, though my use of insults isn’t one I’d encourage unless your opponent has really fucking earned it.  I acknowledge his points and if I disagree I refute them and explain why I disagree, and if he made points I agree with (I mean Asshole never does but I just want to expand this point) I would acknowledge their value before going on to make my own argument.  Give your opponent the sense that you’re at least paying attention to, if not respecting their arguments and you increase the odds said opponent will return the favor.  Moving on in the argument.

Asshole’s next response is where things start becoming a downward spiral.  He argues that different perspectives contradict one another, which I honestly don’t get his reasoning behind.  I mean I argued that different perspectives didn’t contradict because not all of them are in opposition to each other, which is true, but I can’t pin down his line of reasoning at all.  The closest equivalent I can think of is that he thinks like a radical SJW and believes anyone who holds opinions that aren’t his are wrong, conveniently ignoring the fact that of course other people have different opinions.  I admit this is mostly speculation and I won’t outright accuse of him of thinking that way but it’s the impression I get.  He follows that up by claiming I am the one robbing Digibro’s criticisms of validity by claiming that the only purpose of criticism is to please the audience.  WTF?  What the fuck?  Where the hell did I say that?  You can scroll up and see that I never said anything like that, seriously where the hell does he see that in my argument?  He can’t, not logically anyway, because it’s not there.  He even has the nerve to say he can’t stand my outrageous claim, by which I mean the outrageous claim he made for me and treated as if it were my own claim like I gave him permission to make me look shallow and vapid.  This dear readers is not an argument.  He hasn’t made any points, he hasn’t rebutted any of my points, all he’s done is attempt to make me look bad while speaking for me.  This actually pisses me off more than shit-flinging because at least shit-flinging is honest in it’s ugliness.  What Asshole’s doing is duplicitous, and still just as worthless as shit flinging when it comes to progressing the argument.  Like I said he’s made no new points, nor has answered any of my questions, this argument is dead in the water.

It was at this point I should’ve stopped arguing, it was also after this point that another commenter called Asshole a pseudo-intellectual.  But being the avatar of argument and righteous fury that I am I kept going.  I even had the courtesy to dissect his skewed as fuck interpretation of my argument and argue against it as if it were his argument.  I even proved right in coming to the conclusion that Asshole’s argument boiled down to the idea that some perspectives have to be invalid, so that he can separate criticisms into valid and invalid perspectives and thereby find more value in the criticism he likes since those are “valid.”  It’s pathetic really, an incredibly self-centered and vapid dumpster fire of an idea that throws actual intellectualism under the bus to make Asshole feel like he has better taste than other people (which itself is a flawed idea).  I called this idea ridiculous, because it is, reiterated my points about how there are an infinite number of perspectives and they’re all valid and insulted him some more along the way because at this point I felt he’d earned my contempt.

Asshole’s next response was a sightly botched quote of me figuring out his argument on my own since he wouldn’t express it himself, and following that up with a “if you see the problem with Relativism why are you supporting it” (paraphrase of Asshole’s quote became I’m too lazy to get the actual one).  He then says subjectivity is no excuse for the critic to offload all responsibility to the listener (which I’m once again confused by because how the fuck did he come to this conclusion?) and that by my own logic his “subjective” interpretation of Digibro’s work was valid.  This response has a lot of issues.  For starters he took the quote out and provided no context, making the words appears as my argument when in fact it was my deduction of his argument.  Real honest fucker isn’t he?  Then he reveals his hand with the Relativism thing.  For those who don’t know, in an artistic sense Relativism is the idea that standards don’t matter and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  In fairness, the main example being painting and sculpture, the abolition of standards has resulted in mountains of art I consider shit tier.  But as I explain in my next reply, art or critique I find shit is not invalid.  That it has no value to me is irrelevant, it’s got a right to exist and be recognized as a thing because someone, somewhere enjoys it.  Mainly this just proves he wants art criticism to have standards in place, though he doesn’t at all outline what those standards should be so I refuted the idea using formulated scoring systems, the best idea I had of a standardized review, as an example of criticism I thought sucked to show that standards aren’t necessarily helpful.

His other point, the one about how his own argument stood because it was his subjective opinion of Digibro’s work was probably the best point he makes in the entire argument.  And it’s wrong.  As I explained to him, he can hate Digibro’s work all he wants, but the idea that Digibro’s review is bad because it doesn’t meet a standard, undermines the basis of art criticism.  This was the issue.  As I explain further, you can’t have invalid perspectives but you can make invalid arguments, and Asshole’s argument that Digibro’s work sucked for not conforming to a standard is an invalid argument.  Then I addressed his idea that critics have a responsibility to the audience.  I phrased it poorly but my point was that a critic only needs to provide the audience with valid arguments, and what they take away from that review is up to them.  Reviews can come from any perspective, choose any format, give scores or not gives scores, whatever, and that any perspective can add to the overall discourse on the work.  Critics can do what they want how they want so longs as they make valid arguments, and it’s up to the audience to decide what they like.  I also spent more time insulting this craven shitlord for being a dishonest idiot, which he proved himself to be over and over, and said I was done.  And as far as YouTube is concerned, I am done.

Asshole however was not done.  In his trademark style of taking things way out of context and twisting the argument to make me look bad and validate him indirectly instead of attempting to validate his arguments directly, he took what I said and said he felt like my comments were advocating pedophilia.  Now his tone was anything but genuine, it seems clear he was just using an example to try and make me look bad rather express something he really felt, though technically I suppose he could have felt that way.  In any case the reason I want to attack this that another commenter said Asshole had a point.  Because Asshole doesn’t have a point.  Remember this entire argument has taken place within the context of art criticism.  I’ve made no statements whatsoever about society and social norms and law or anything like that.  All I’ve said is that in regards art critique all perspectives are valid.  Asshole, being an asshole, decided to strip away that context and put insane words in my mouth.  I don’t believe all perspectives are valid in all facets of life, and I’m not advocating for pedophilia.  Nothing in my argument suggest I do unless you do what Asshole did and strip out all the context, and even then you’d have to ignore how I said things like criticism of art and perspective on the work (something Asshole leaves in when quoting the line he uses to make me look like I’m ok with anything in all circumstances, and extrapolates to me being pro-pedophilia, thus invalidating his own argument, not that it was ever really an argument so much as it was misdirection).

So yeah, his argument is once more, invalid.  But in the name of courtesy I’ll explain where his ludicrous idea could be applied to my argument.  Theoretically speaking you could say that according my argument if a pedophile wrote a review of Boku no Pico, or any show that one’s just a good example, the insights a pedophile’s perspective brought would add to the discourse on Boku no Pico.  Which is true, I do believe that, that said I doubt a pedophile’s insights are something most people would like.  I certainly don’t care what new ideas on Boku no Pico come from a pedophile reviewing it.  But that review has a right to exist even if I hate it and disagree with everything because so long as the arguments it makes aren’t invalid, then it’s fine.  There you go I advocate pedophilia because I support pedophile free speech, hurray.  Naturally I’m being facetious, I support free speech which happens to include the free speech of pedophiles, doesn’t mean I advocate for pedophilia.  These are two very different things which Asshole labels as the same thing to make me lose credibility.  And the fact that someone was stupid enough to buy into it galls me.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations.  I do hope you’ve enjoyed the equal parts pettiness and superb reasoning ability/intellect that’s been on display.  If you’re not the type to argue much I do hope you’ve learned a bit about basic argument etiquette  and what works versus what doesn’t.  But mainly what I want is further third party vindication assuring me that I’ve totally roasted Asshole, which I did, so I can stroke my ego and feel good about myself and be confident in my Asshole crushing abilities.  Thanks for reading, I do hope you enjoyed and that I’ve not scared you off from my blog.  I hope this never happens again.