Shadows of the black empire

Junot Díaz on the relationship between minorities and science fiction:

Look. Without our stories, without the true nature and reality of who we are as people of color, nothing about fanboy and fangirl culture makes sense. What I mean by that is, if it wasn’t for race, X-Men doesn’t make sense; if it wasn’t for the history of breeding human beings through chattel slavery, Dune doesn’t make sense; if it wasn’t for the history of colonialism and imperialism, Star Wars doesn’t make sense; if it wasn’t for the extermination of so many indigenous nations, most of what we call “first contact” stories don’t make sense. Without us as the secret sauce, none of this works, and it is about time that we understand that we are the Force that holds the Star Wars universe together. We’re the Prime Directive that makes Star Trek possible. We are… in the Green Lantern Corps? We are the Oath. We are all of those things. Erased, and yet without us? We’re essential.

That’s some good stuff. Maybe I should finally finish The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

5 Replies to “Shadows of the black empire”

  1. Thanks for the book title, Immma add it to my reading list

    Can you recommend a good sci-fi anime for me ? I’m looking for ones with a believeable world tgat feels real, not just a slipshod world that exists for the sake of the plot.

    The last sci-fi anime I can be moderately satisfied with was Gargantia on The Verdurous Planet.

    Also I just downloaded Sidonia no Kishi but haven’t got around to watching it. If you’ve watched it, what do you think of that anime ?

    1. Well, Oscar Wao isn’t about sci-fi so much as it is about a fan’s relationship to sci-fi. It’s quite good, but I reached a part where the protagonist was about to do something embarrassing and I’m really not good at handling embarrassment by fictional proxy. I once took two hours to watch a half hour episode of Silicon Valley because the main character was in the middle of doing something humiliating.

      As for sci-fi anime, I also watched Gargantia and found it to be enjoyably mind-numbing. If you’re looking for other sci-fi anime that I enjoyed in the same way then I would recommend Aldnoah Zero, which for me similarly involved shutting off higher brain functions and just letting the whole thing wash over me like white noise filled with giant robot cliches. I didn’t watch the second season, though, for spoilery reasons involving the show refusing to deal with the consequences of its first season finale. In the same ballpark is Valvrave the Liberator, which is another “kids piloting giant robots” anime which is also enjoyably cliche-ridden and easy to binge watch.

      However, if you’re looking for shows that I unabashedly recommend, I would first name Bodacious Space Pirates for marrying the obsessive world-building of hard sci-fi with the light adventure of a bildungsroman. It’s fun is what I’m saying.

      The Haruhi Suzumiya series also combines two different genres, but in this case it’s science fiction and the high school rom-com. Its sci-fi credentials are solid; the show gets deep into geek territory with parallel universes and psychic powers and time loop scenarios. But it remembers that there’s a story to be told, first and foremost.

      Going further afield, the last great sci-fi anime I watched is actually Cowboy Bebop. I know it’s an old show but I’d never seen it until this year so it was new to me. It definitely has a lived-in world full of details that are well thought out. And the music is freaking great. I do have to mention that I watched the English dub, which I actually preferred over the subtitled version.

      And finally – and kind of out of left field – is Argevollen. It’s such a weird little show. It’s like the creators took a look at the majority of giant robot shows and said, “We’re going to do the opposite of all of those.” I go on at length about it in the linked posts. The show won’t be to everyone’s taste but it would be remiss of me not to mention it.

      As for Sidonia, I’ve only seen the first season. I liked it enough to be frustrated with it. What I mean is that I enjoyed the show but kept getting bugged by the lazy deployment of anime relationship cliches. You know, with the juvenile relationships and the love triangles and the blushing and the literal 80’s style nosebleed of lust. It’s like a lesser and crappier show was intercut with an anime version of Battlestar Galactica. I felt the two halves of the show didn’t mesh well together. But the hard sci-fi and the space battles were the bomb.

      1. You should never watch Watamote then. Reminds me of my more socially inept days. I did the same as you, pausing every few seconds to collect myself before resuming.

        Valvrave has been on my radar for a while, though mostly it’s the OST band that interested me (ANGELA’s voice power and control is just too much, I orgasmed, but then again they brought EGOIST for Guilty Crown so a reminder that good music doesn’t equal good anime there). Thanks for the extra info.

        On the topic of bildungsroman, keep an eye for Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro. It’s cutesy but dark. There’s something about the artist’s shading style that balances these two very well. Anyway, it’s gonna be a unique experience so if you hear a 2nd person recommending this, go read it. Btw I’ve never seen a good marriage between sci-fi and spiritual growth so Bodacious Space Pirates is gonna be a treat, thanks !

        I don’t mind old stuffs as I get my ass kicked by films older than me on a daily basis, so thanks for Bebop ! That’s the 100th time I’ve heard mention of it so I guess it’s time… But are you sure dub is better than sub ? This better not be another Boku no Pico.

        Out of your recommendations, I’m gonna watch Argevollen first. It seems most unusual for an anime and I’m currently writing a similar main character. You’re a godsend, Sarapen.

        I assume the Monogatari season you mentioned in your Argevollen review is Nekomogatari ?

        On an unrelated note, you should read the essay In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tazaki. It tries to explain the Japanese sense of beauty, and his ‘stream of conciousness’ writing style is refreshing and easy to follow.

        1. Last thing : where do you usually download your animes ?

          I like because of theur minimkvs. Storage space is an issue as I like to archive films and animes I like, hence my love for minimkvs. My PC is good so I’m not worrying about video playback being hindered by file compression :3

        2. No probs, Argevollen needs all the love it can get. It doesn’t move quickly but somehow it just got under my skin. And thanks for putting Coffin Kuro thing on my radar, I’ll keep an eye out for it. In regard to Bebop, I have to mention that I’d tried watching the subtitled version years ago but lost interest after two episodes. For whatever reason, the English dub just clicked with me. Same as with Baccano, actually, though for that show the dub’s added value was evident with the contemporary accents helping with the immersion into the story. And I was talking about Hanamonogatari. That basketball one on one was a sight to see.

          And these days I actually get almost all of my anime from Crunchyroll and Funimation. I can even stream shows on Hoopla from my city’s public library system, though the anime is all English dubbed. I believe way back when there was nyaatorrents, bakabt, and Demonoid, which goes to show how out of date my info is.

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