Anime World Order Show # 176 – We Made It Through This Entire Episode Without Mentioning Mario Kart

The listeners have demanded it: we must return to our roots! After playing some audio submissions from LISTENERS LIKE YOU, Daryl reviews the 2018 theatrical film, Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms.

Introduction (0:00 – 39:03)
Not one, but TWO people recently sent in MP3s for us to play on air; a thing we used to encourage listeners to do but stopped since well, nobody really ended up doing it all that much. Maybe it’s a lot easier to do now that phones have voice recorder apps. While things start off with discussion on Lupin the Third, this ultimately results in us, a trio who don’t typically listen to a whole lot of English anime dubs, talking about anime dub directors of note. Do you have any that we didn’t bring up? Be sure to let us know!

Promo: Right Stuf Anime (39:03 – 41:48)
The Limited Edition of Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms is exclusively available from Right Stuf, so if you like this movie it’s the definitive edition to get. The Shout! Factory release has some odd technical issues that aren’t present in Right Stuf’s Limited Edition, and the extras are worthwhile if you’re a fan of the material or the creator.

Review: Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms (41:48 – 1:50:01)
The first feature film primarily produced by PA Works is also the directorial debut of celebrity anime screenwriter Mari Okada. The results are rather polarizing among the three of us, as there is by no means a universal consensus, so you know what THAT means: we need YOU to comment/email/Tweet etc. to let us know how thoroughly correct or utterly wrong or dangerously myopic about the things we forgot to even bring up about this movie!

13 Replies to “Anime World Order Show # 176 – We Made It Through This Entire Episode Without Mentioning Mario Kart”

  1. I have to side with Gerald here but not for the same reasons. Personally, I found the story to be quite a mess. While I really liked Maquia’s storyline, I felt that the numerous other ones really detracted from the movie. For example, I really could not care for how much time was given to some empire falling. I’m sure there’s some thematic relevance, but it only contributed to a bloated overall story crammed into a 2 hour movie. I think if a lot of fat were to be trimmed for a tighter script, then it would be so much better.

    On the note of Kiznaiver, I finished that one, and it was painful. I don’t want to get into how it ends because of the possibility of you guys actually watching it. Trust me. It’s ROUGH.

  2. Wouldn’t it be awful if this movie promoted motherhood? Who wants to leave behind a legacy? Gross. Every person throughout history who reproduced to eventually create me and everyone I know are fools. They should have just died without heirs.

    Doesn’t Japan have a population issue? Maybe they can solve it by importing foreigners with a much higher fertility rate. I’m sure the Japanese culture would survive just fine.

  3. Ahh, don’t take Gerald to task too much, especially not over an off-the-cuff opinion he had no idea he’d have to defend on a podcast. I love the movie, but I’ve been in weird spots like that before.

    I agree that the strength of the movie is the way it paints characters in extremely long arcs. Maternity narratives are often highly contextual, showing how a mom reacts to a particular situation as a way to highlight a particular aspect of parenthood. This is useful, but limited. Maquia’s broad arc of time shifts the focus to considering Maquia as a person: what she’s like, how life has shaped her, and how these things affect her relationship with her son. I think a lot of people come to a point in their life where they start thinking about their parents as people outside their own relationship with them – for better and worse – and Maquia plays into that. I saw it myself at a time when I’d been thinking about my own mom quite a bit, so it came along at a good moment.

    I suspect this is a pretty common way of connecting with the movie. Okada said in an interview that a lot of Japanese people came away wanting to call their own mom, and assumed that was a distinctly Japanese reaction before she heard from people in the Anglosphere who said the same thing. Given that this movie exists in part as a result of Okada’s own meditations on her mother’s life, maybe that shouldn’t’ve been surprising.

    Mari Okada is an odd one though. She’s the kind of writer who can have the whole theater laughing at a line that is clearly supposed to be serious one moment and near breaking down crying another…in the same scene. There are some bracingly strange moments in that movie, and it’s interesting that the people who don’t like it mostly seem to pick out structural problems rather than saying the melodrama comes off as unintentionally hilarious. Most people bought the drama in the end, they just might not have connected to it. That’s a fine trick to pull off.

    Speaking of audiences, even though it didn’t get a wide release, the theater I saw it at showed trailers for it at all the Ghibli movies they show every summer, so the screening was packed even at the weeknight screening. Either that, or I’m seriously underestimating Mari Okada’s popularity with mainstream anime fans. After all, Anohana was pretty big in its own rung of fandom.

    One last note: I’m very glad that Maquia is and will likely remain animator Toshiyuki Inoue’s masterwork. Lots of famous animators end up with showcases that only maniacs can like, but Maquia is a good movie that also happens to be exactly the kind of movie that showcase’s Inoue’s skills. He even got to animate some horses! There’s a whole bunch you could explore about this movie’s animation, but that’s a topic for my site, not this one.

    Anyway, good show.

  4. Madman have already released Maquia in Australia and the blu-ray is currently AU$24 (US$16). Upon listening to this episode I’ve ordered it sight unseen. Your show is still having an effect. Thought Clarissa and Daryl were being a bit hard on Gerald for his reticent dislike of the film, but it definitely spurred my interest further. Although I doubt I’ll share Gerald’s objections. It reminds me a bit of the way some woker-than-woke film snob types now dismiss Aliens because Ripley is ‘reduced to her biology’ by the narrative focusing on her maternal instincts, as if that’s automatically a bad thing that negates everything else that’s good about the film. I’m not buying that one (not even for a dollar). Not saying that was what Gerald was doing, but, well, have to wait until I’ve seen Maquia. (Apologies for using the word ‘woke’, in any context.)

    Somehow I watched ALL of Kiznaiver in 2017, but don’t expect me to remember anything about it except the opening. I liked that song. Think that was what kept me going. When a TV series has a really nice opening, it feels reassuring, promising something good every time, even if the show that follows is maddening, uneven, wrong-headed garbage. From hazy memory the premise had something to do with empathy, but it certainly didn’t earn any from me. The second it finished I never gave it another thought until hearing it mentioned on this show.

  5. I didn’t know Mari Okada used to be an AV writer. That explains everything!

    Well, actually just one thing – Maquia opens with a lighthearted Tezuka-style joke in the middle of the invasion of the village, but the joke is one soldier calling the other a pedophile. I think the subtitles tone it down, but your Western viewer is not going to appreciate that.

    It doesn’t help that Eleven Arts’ description of the movie likes to talk about “human relationships” but tries not to spoil the movie being about parenthood, so knowing Okada I kind of expected it to be about incest.

    Also, the movie is sponsored by Cygames and a lot of the scenery just looks like Granblue Fantasy – wonder if they lent some staff or it’s meant to be product placement.

    @Latisha Brown up there seems to be alt-right posting, but Japan has better birth trends and easier immigration than the US.

  6. I’m in the camp of Maquia is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen, I’m afraid.

    It was decent family drama stuff, for the most part, and then you had the whole Ariel trying to fuck his mum thing which totally came out of nowhere and kind of signified a massive shift in quality. [Wow, that sounds awful! You’d think the actors or reviewers or anime fans would be talking about that when discussing the movie, but strangely, nobody is because–oh, that’s right!–IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. Now I have to go through this 700 word comment and delete ONE THIRD OF IT for being either actual spoilers or made up ones. –Daryl] From this point on the story got very muddy as it seemed like they felt obligated to have this big action finale. The pacing just got fast and faster and faster but not in a good way. Some films use that pace increase to ramp up tension but here it felt like they simply realized they’d spent too long on the first part and needed to squeeze the rest of the story in, the film equivalent of writing smaller and smaller to fit your sentence on the end of a page. The conclusion was both baffling and also hilarious. The basic thematic conclusion was to enjoy the time you have even if it isn’t ideal so her [100 words deleted that fails to take into account what happened between scenes]. Poor kid is all I can say.

    Other things that really annoyed me were the crazy amounts of coincidences. I am fine with a story having one or two crazy coincidences such as in Area 88 where [Deleted, also nearly everything that happens in Area 88 is a “crazy coincidence”]. But in Maquia every other scene they are [Another 100 words deleted]. Finally, during that early more slice of life section there is this bizarrely low quality “voice work” (I say that because I think it was an actual toddler or baby) for Ariel that just sounded like it was recorded in about 1901.

    Then the final thing I’d have to say is that I just didn’t find any of the characters all that compelling. Maquia herself was mainly jut a bit of a moe blob with a bit of weepy self-deprecation. Ariel was just a bit of a brat followed by being a total weirdo [50 more words deleted per above, also I don’t think one of the time skips registered to you]. and then was there really anyone else that really mattered? Not really, they were more side window dressing to fill out the world around.

    Man, I hate this film. I know people were saying that this should have got the Oscar nod over Mirai but I have to disagree. I can think of various ways to fix Mirai (fewer but more impactful and longer sections etc.) Whereas with Maquia I just can’t see a path to fixing it without ripping it all up and just taking the core ideas to build something new.

    Oh and like so many anime, and to be fair films in general, the battle choreography was awful. Have these people never heard of formations, units, command structures etc?!

    But anyway cracking work as always bring us a fun little listen and it was a good reminder for me to head over to your Patreon next time I get a chance!

    P.S. I know this comment isn’t structured the best [NO, IT CERTAINLY IS NOT] (and is likely full of typos!)[YES, IT CERTAINLY WAS] but I’ve had a long day and my brain isn’t at its peak at the moment.

  7. About the Discipline ad copy, while the site is long gone the text exists still on this pastebin i found ages ago, for whatever you might need it for: https://pastebin.com/FmdeDSbd [There’s also an AV site that appears to still sell the game which has the text, but we’ll take the Pastebin over that. –Daryl]

    1. Hi AWO. Long long long time listener, first time commentator.

      Just wanted to mention that the song during the Discipline reading is from the fighting game, Garou: Mark of the Wolves, specifically the stage theme song for Hotaru Futaba. She is well known for her kickflip to mount on top super.

      That’s it for now. Thanks for the episode. Can’t wait for my Blu-ray copy of Maquia to come in.

  8. I found the berating/interrogating of Gerald in this episode (for a completely subjectively opinion) extremely uncomfortable to listen to. It didn’t seem like a conversation so much as you both chastising him. Very odd. Uhhh don’t do that shit to your friends? Like I’m sure he doesn’t mind, but as a listener, yeeah, a very bad vibe. [That is NOT berating. That is the length of effort required to answer the question “why” once the Record button is pressed. People think things for a reason. He need only say what the reason is, because as it turns out nearly 100% of the feedback we’ve received AGREES WITH HIM NOW THAT HE SAID IT. –Daryl]

  9. Watched Maquia and loved it. Full immersion in a compelling narrative. Its beautiful sadness reminded me of things like Galaxy Express 999, and the journey to maturity for both Maquia and Ariel amidst turbulent times in their fantasy kingdom was a powerful way to examine familial relationships across time. I completely bought into all the melodrama. Sometimes this melancholy philosophising in anime is wearying, but I ate it up here. The bluntly stated ruminations on life, love, death and loneliness carried plenty of emotional resonance, and I was grateful for the heartfelt rewards, catharsis and tears by the end.

    Sincere thanks for bringing this film to my attention.

    My criticisms are minor enough to not be worth mentioning. When a film is this engaging, I don’t waste time complaining about trivial things that could’ve been done differently. Visually, obviously this is astonishingly gorgeous. I was repeatedly gobsmacked by absurdly detailed establishing shots. One thing that really stood out was the pacing. The two hours passed very quickly. Because it’s mostly quiet and slow (‘slow’ is NOT a pejorative), when the action scenes occur they have much greater impact.

    My most cherished moment in the whole film was towards the end when I was thinking, “I really wish x would happen”, then one minute later, that exact thing happened, precisely as I’d pictured it. (It was when a character jumps from a great height and then… don’t want to say any more here). Exploded out of my chair in delight. One clear way you can tell that a film has seeped its way into your consciousness is when you find yourself thinking about the broader lives of the characters, extrapolating beyond what the film shows. With Maquia, there’s a whole other film about the lives and friendship between Maquia and Leilia that I’d love to see.

  10. This is so strange. Professor Arkada already reviewed this movie a month or so ago, which made me add it to my “buy later” list immediately. It seems like a high quality work, standing tall in the midst of trash which is what most anime sadly is now.

    Also, Amelie is a great movie. [NO. —Daryl]

  11. By the way, this “discipline reading” thing: where is the copypasta to read?

    Well, never mind! Your tag system and Wayback Machine have saved the day! One day you will receive me very own attempt.

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