Back in early 2014, Anime News Network ran a news bit about manga currently popular with bookstore employees. Amongst those was a single title which caught my eye for its description alone: “26-year old Wakako drinks sake at bars alone every night, searching for her place to belong.” Judging from that and the roundish, almost psychotically cute cover art, I found myself needing to read Wakako-Zake. Since no-one was simpulpub-ing the manga, I sought out scans. Only a single chapter was available, and it was everything I hoped it would be. I was all set to review that chapter alone, but the dubious nature of how I got the content would’ve been in conflict with Ani-Gamers review policy (despite my having bought all four available manga volumes). I thought about reviewing it here (where no morals exist), but then came news of a live action adaptation and soon thereafter news of an anime adaptation.
Ooh, look: a facelift! There’s a new header, some new photos, and a new background! What does that mean? I haven’t the slightest. Over the past 3+ years (holy hell, this joke wasn’t meant to go on that long!), Ani-Gamers has been real good to Drunken Otaku. Not only did Editor-in-Chief Evan Minto tolerate my frequent last-minute and late posts, but he forced me to take Drunken Otaku more seriously than I originally intended. And every single post has been better for that disciplined schedule and encouragement.
I know, I know, that “Days Off the Wagon” calendar of posts to the right over there looks pretty damned empty, doesn’t it. Don’t worry, I ain’t been sober. I ain’t been lazy. But I have been annexed! This blog started in lieu of my preferred posting platform, Ani-Gamers, which went through a bit of a lull but has since been revived and revamped by Evan Minto (@VamptVo), who asked if I’d be willing to turn Drunken Otaku into a column over there.
And since I’d rather drink than administer (…and edit, and format, and care), this blog will stay up and running with the few bits I managed to post in its short, inebriated lifetime…and maybe feature from time to time a few of the pieces Evan doesn’t want but I’m shameless enough to post. In any case, look to Ani-Gamers for your main source of Drunken Otaku content from now on, which will be at the steady rate of once a month! This month is a Beer Goggles post – Drops of God: First Sip. Cheers! Kanpai! Prost!
Using the story from The Tower of Druaga video game as its own history, The Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk anime focuses on protagonist Jil, a subtly alluded-to avatar for the Everyman, as he (and thereby every newbie RPG sympathizer) quests to acquire the Blue Crystal Rod from atop a tower guarded by the demon Druaga in order to … well, just ‘cause. Actually, the impetus behind Jil’s climb runs deeper than that (sort of). In the end, Jil’s reason for undertaking such a monumental task as enclosing himself in his room for days on end in front of his computer is to simply complete a game, to not fail at bringing about its predestined end, to reap the catharsis only possible by playing the hero (that his brother, by way of example and competitor, inspires him to be).
Chihayafuru, an anime centered around karuta, hits its poetic stride in episode 6. Contemplation over the cards’ content by the characters leads to metaphors, both visual and contextual, layered to form a statement about how association with history breeds stronger warriors (read: competitors). In my head, this episode, and series by proxy, is made to appeal to the nostalgia of older generations while providing a back story with which to draw in younger audiences to everything involved with one aspect of historic national pride: poetic culture.
The episode starts off simply enough, with two students – one who’s sincerely interested in her own talent at the competitive aspect of karuta (Chihaya Ayase) and another (Taichi Mashima), who is bound by friendship and an agreement to help the other start a karuta club at their high school – putting effort into establishing a physical representation (club room) for their passion (karuta) by lugging up tatami mats amidst the snide murmurs of their peers. This physical effort might be likened to basic chores preceding a warrior’s training regimen. Although the instance is brief, there is mention of return trips, and this scene compliments those of earlier episodes with similar training exercises wherein Ayase hones her card slapping technique.