Arjuna – episodes 6 to 13

August 28, 2004 on 6:39 pm | In Arjuna | Comments Off on Arjuna – episodes 6 to 13

Arjuna cleans up its act for the second part of the series, with only one horrid episode. And it’s a really big one, with an issue that really shouldn’t be dealt with in anime – it’s episodes like this one that make Arjuna so damned unpopular, a real pity considering what it actually has going for it.

Episodes six and nine are the preachy episodes that were so prevalent in the first five. The isolation of these to two specific episodes softens the blow, as does the lack of multiple cases of Cindy and Chris harrassing Juna. The first preaching episode is actually fine, and could be considered “Juna versus the education system”. Juna protests the manufactured state of modern education, and argues that teachers should give their own voice to their lessons and students should learn at their own pace, and all sorts of other impractical ideas.
Two very good points are raised by the episode, however: firstly “The easy thing and happiness aren’t necessarily the same thing” and secondly “Once someone changes, then everyone will change – but what if you’re the first to change?”. Kawamori answers this question both in the script, and with the whole series: you become a social outcast.
The other episode fares less well. I’m fairly mild mannered, and even I found it offensive. It comes off very much as a “pro-life” episode, which we here in anime town have no place for. I think anime is an effective way to tackle social change both in Japan and the world at large, but I found this theme entirely inappropriate. A lot of the episode feels made up, and it also gives Juna the advice “if you’re worried about the state of your relationship, consummate it!” which hardly seems progressive. The one thing that it has going for it is that it makes Cindy just the slightest bit sympathetic. Just the slightest.

Quite a few of these episodes are quiet, thoughtful pieces about communication and connection, and the action is pared down to a more emotional level. These are quite good. The highlight of the entire series comes with the production of one of the best apocalypses ever. The power of these scenes is unquestionable, and because this is largely conjecture there’s very little to take issue with. The only problem is that Sayuri should have been more sympathetic given all of the horrible things that she had to endure. As it was, however, it was more realistic and probably the “gritty world view” that Kawamori was probably going for – which jarred with his fantasy ideals.
The final arc is all quite heavy, but it’s also quiet. The dark oranges and browns suit the feel of a place that has exhausted its sunshine, and there’s very little action because almost all that could have happened already has. This sort of low key ending is charged with emotion and is rather like the “anti-climactic” post war scenarios.
Strong themes of nationalism arise, but not from the country itself. Onizuka argues that even if the people of Japan cease to exist, the country will live on through its strong sense of national identity grown into the land. Juna argues that such patriotic thought means nothing to the people of now, and by this point she has thoroughly learned to challenge authority and standard thinking patterns. It has been argued that the view of Japan offered is “anti-American”. That kind of sentiment is usually very obvious in anime, and this is not the case here. The situation is a case of humanity versus practicality, and is in no way a divide of the ideals of any countries.
Some ideas have finally got through to Juna, and the ending is one of the kind of hope that can spring only from world’s end.

Kawamori Shoji hit a few bumps in making Earth Maiden Arjuna; sometimes it felt too “educational”, others it felt annoying, and on one occasion it was mildly offensive. There’s some great stuff in here that’s harder to express beyond the merely cosmetic decoration of anime. It’s just a shame that you have to dig so deep to get past the make-up and the made up.

No Comments yet

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress with Pool theme design by Borja Fernandez.
Entries and comments feeds. Valid XHTML and CSS. ^Top^