Transcendence: Anime Musical Perfection

Each week, we’ll look at another example of what I call a “moment of transcendence” – a scene from a show, a passage from a book, or anything else, that I find soul-piercingly resonant: joyful, sad, awe-inspiring, terrifying, or whatever. These moments are highly subjective, so you may not feel the same way I do, but nevertheless I’ll try to convey why I find the fragment so powerful. I hope we can enjoy it together.

I admit it: I’m a sucker for perfection.

Most moments of transcendence – for me, anyway – are about powerful emotion or profound truth, or both. But there’s another side of me, call it the twelve-year-old boy in me, that’s more in love with technical perfection, something complex done precisely and beautifully right. It’s the side of me that loves Chris Bliss’s crazy juggling skills and the Millennium Falcon flying inside the Death Star. Something about it just feels exactly perfect.

There’s a particular scene in the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion that gives me that complex, perfect, “exactly right” feeling. I’ve loved it for a long time, and I happened to watch it again with Ben on Saturday. Basically, it’s two kids in giant mech suits fighting an equally giant monster, synced to music. Don’t worry too much about the details or the logic. Just watch and listen.

(Link here in case you can’t see the embedded video.)

I have a feeling that many people will watch that scene and see no appeal at all. Like Monty Python, it either scratches your itch or it doesn’t, and not everyone has that particular itch. But for those who do, it’s perfection.

By the way, I also love the technique of removing voices and sound effects and playing only the “background” music. Gandalf’s death scene in Fellowship does the same thing, and a lot of my other favorite scenes do, too. I guess I love it because it implies transcendence in an audio sense: for a brief moment, we’ve moved beyond the need for voices and into the purified realm of music alone. Something like that, anyway.

Hell, or maybe I just like giant robots. I wouldn’t rule that out.


Thoughts on Turning Thirty

I turned thirty last Sunday.

If you’re still in your twenties (I remember those halcyon days!) you may wonder if thirty really feels any different. Ah, the naivete of youth. Of course it’s different as a tricenarian. Among other things:

  • Overwhelming urge to purchase monocle and velocipede, vote for Grover Cleveland
  • Formally renamed to “Brion the Grey”
  • Automatically given six-month trial subscription to AARP Jr.
  • Taken aside and taught elaborate five-part secret handshake
  • Now 8% more racist
  • Bulk discount on birthday candles
  • Legally permitted to be U.S. senator under article I, section 3 of the Constitution
  • Navel-length salt-and-pepper beard
  • Now believe that the world is world is worse off currently (when I am reading the news) than how I remember it when I was a kid (when I was not reading the news and mostly playing with Legos)
  • One year left of being trusted by the “don’t trust anyone over thirty” crowd, depending on precise definition of “over thirty”
  • Distrustful of all new technology since 2010 (looking at you, Vine)
  • New outlook on the youth:

dem kids

Just kidding. I thought the children were wrong when I was a child, too.

The Haps

Still pretty busy. I have two regular editing clients now, and I’m working on figuring out the business side of this freelance stuff: invoicing, taxes, incorporation, etc. Also looking into getting some more professional training.

Finished the second round of copyediting on Ben Trube‘s book, Surreality. Ben’s already started on the sequel, which I’ll be anxious to check out.

First draft of Part I of The Crane Girl (first 50K words) is complete and revised based on Betsy’s excellent feedback. More beta reading and revision to come. Will start on Part II one of these days.

Betsy just saw Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi for the first time. She’s one of us now!

Speaking of, I am reading J. W. Rinzler’s The Making of Return of the Jedi, which is utterly fascinating. Lots of color photos, early drafts of the script, transcripts of story discussions between Lucas and the director, early concept art, and much more. An amazing book. Foreword written by Brad Bird, director of The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, two of my favorite movies ever.


What’s new with you?

Friday Links

NPR explains why nobody likes the 2016 candidates. Trump has a staggering 30% net unfavorability rating despite being the Republican frontrunner. Hillary’s 11% in the red. And nobody else is doing much better. Bush, Christie, Huckabee, all are more disliked than liked. Only Bernie Sanders, Marco Rubio, and Ohio’s own John Kasich have positive ratings, and those are very slim.

“Election 2016: Are These the Best We’ve Got?”

In other news, a study found that fully one-third of survey recipients believed that depression is contagious. Um. This isn’t entirely false – being around depression can bring you down, and being down for a long time can lead to something worse – but depression isn’t exactly something you’ll pick up from a handshake, either. Moods are far more contagious than mental illnesses, and that works both ways, so if you’re happy, why not share the wealth?

Speaking of happiness, have a felicitous weekend!

Still Alive

This was a triumph.
I’m making a note here: huge success.
It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction.
–Jonathan Coulton, “Still Alive”

Crazy week, and it’s only Wednesday morning. Extremely busy. But I’m doing a lot of good work, and I’ve got leads on several potential clients.

As I said before: an excellent problem to have.


Manic Monday

Can’t talk, must edit. (A good problem to have!)

Friday Meme

Donald Trump vs. Inigo MontoyaHave a deluxe weekend.