Last Waifu Standing [fanfiction]: Explanations and Such

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(It’s been a little over a year since I scripted the entirety of Last Waifu Standing, the ultimate review on my blog in dialogue form. Since then, I’ve been thinking about doing a follow-up to explain just what exactly was going on to inspire such perfect madness, that maybe 5 people besides me had bothered to read. While I haven’t written a lot of anime reviews since then, maybe it’s time to revisit this project before I move on. Naturally, there is only one way to explain Last Waifu Standing: in more dialogues.

Sections that I thought might be important to those who just want answers to the psychological trauma that I have put myself through in these writings are in bold.)

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Anime Review: This Boy is a Professional Wizard

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I had this whole plan to preface this post with my usual shenanigans: why I haven’t posted an anime review since March, why I haven’t kept up with posts like I promised I would have, not to mention my tenuous relationship with critiquing BL titles. But surprisingly, after I did a full rewatch of this short anime, everything I just said would simply prove a point from what I learned from this addition to the Konoda library.

So yeah. We’re going to discuss some boys love. And the shortcomings of being a depressed workaholic. And why you’re probably going to confuse things if you think about this one too hard like I usually do. But before I get into any of that, I must confess:

Toyohi

Why isn’t Toyohi my boyfriend in this scene?

This Boy is a Professional Wizard (Kono Danshi, Mahō ga Oshigoto Desu) is a quick glance at a budding relationship between a free-spirited Toyohi Utsumi, and an all-too-serious Chiharu Kashima. From the moment they met at a bar one night to the point when they confess their love (uhm… spoilers?) we the audience aren’t too sure how quickly time passes for such a short escapade between them.

As much as I would have liked to see more details about the world that is built around this short or anything from Konoda for that matter, I don’t think that’s the point. By no means am I an expert on the subject, but the romance that occurs between Toyohi and Kashima is framed as a normal, healthy occurrence between two lovers with a side helping of magic (not that I’m complaining). And since this particular anime got a TV release in Japan, the themes are arguably very modest.

Had this show been any longer in length, I imagine there would be too much detail to grasp onto that detracts from its romantic core, despite the fact that I am teased into wanting to know more about such trivial builds.

Overdoing it

You said it, guys.

But even without the necessary information to understand the setting of this story, there’s enough for me to talk about what I ended up getting out of it. And to do that, I’m going to go ahead and take a few liberties by asserting myself as the professional wizard, Kashima.

All his life, Kashima was convinced that he was really great at using magic. He studied magic, he practiced magic, he’d probably breathe magic if he had been given the chance. Now that he is an adult as part of an elite group of other wizards, he takes it upon himself to do a really good job, so much so, that he outshines even his prodigious classmate. Kashima would have been the perfect wizard for others to look up to in his organization, had it not been for the fact that he takes his job way too seriously!

Magic

Ugh! It’s like looking into a mirror!

Kashima’s serious persona may make him a master of all kinds of magical arts, and when you’re running a true meritocracy, I will agree that he is extraordinarily good at what he does. But by taking this one aspect of his life seriously, Kashima leaves himself vulnerable to what ultimately transgresses in the romance of this short tale: what happens when all anyone ever thinks of him is simply as a wizard?

This is the worry that Kashima has become aware of when he first reveals to Toyohi that he is a wizard. Toyohi, a seemingly basic human being, would certainly be intrigued by Kashima’s magic, but what would happen if that’s all the impression Toyohi gets of Kashima? Kashima seldom thinks of what his life would be like without his mastery of magic!

konoda-maho-kashima

This is my worry when I find myself interacting with others, whether they’re friends, colleagues, or even family members. Most of you who are reading this probably know me as that one rambling anime critic or that one philosopher dude, as that’s the kind of stuff I normally post about here. Yet beyond that image is a human being who is struggling to make a decent living who also cares deeply about his friends and community, even if he doesn’t exactly show it.

I was originally thinking about making a big to-do that I was writing this review on the intent that it was published on Yaoi Day (8/01), and yet I realized that being forced to talk about it strictly from that angle was exactly what I was most afraid of: to be boxed in to a caricature of my own volition.

konoda-maho-depression

Whether or not the thoughts that plague Kashima’s mind came from others at first, Kashima had placed too much pressure on himself to become the best wizard he could ever be, forgetting about any autonomy he would have had, had that part of him ever gone away. He is so convinced of his own lie, that it’s hard for him to accept that anyone could see him in any other way. From this point, I don’t think it would be wise to tell someone who might be in Kashima’s position that he could be anything else, because his attachment to being what he is (in this case, a wizard) is so strong, that being anything but could be even more alienating!

But just when I would have built up some kind of conversation about how Kashima needs to lighten up or keep himself more open to other possibilities, Toyohi has a much simpler response. Yes, Toyohi loves Kashima the wizard, and is totally wowed by all sorts of magic that he does. But what he loves more about Kashima is that he loves this line of work so much, that he takes it as seriously as he does. Toyohi’s love for Kashima isn’t a question of seeing Kashima as a wizard or as a simple, normal human being like anyone else. I think anyone who has ever been in a relationship can attest that being considered too niche or too generic is the worst thing you can identify in your partner. Rather it is the validation that Toyohi loves the passion that Kashima puts in to that work that makes all the difference.

Now one could argue what might happen if Kashima were to change his habits and do anything besides be a wizard and see if Toyohi still loves him for that, but I don’t think that was the point of this anime either. This Boy is a Professional Wizard offers a colorful look at the joys of a first meeting to the point of confession between two lovers who just so happen to be two guys.

Whatever they do after that… probably doesn’t matter for its entertainment value. Kind of like the majority of anime romances. Why would I complain about that?

Ending

I f***ing knew it!

So if you’re looking to explore that beautiful first love between a workaholic wizard who cares too much and his freelancing partner without a care in the world, check out This Boy is a Professional Wizard. I’m happy to have come back to this hobby of mine, and hope to write some more soon enough.

Anime Review: Love is Like a Cocktail

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Well. It’s that time of year again. The day when I have to combine two trivial holidays for no reason whatsoever, except that I think they’re fun. This White Day, I am going to surprise my hypothetical girlfriend with the gift of a trigonometry project! Because today is also Pi Day, and I am a Math teacher when I’m NOT talking about anime! Only sad thing is, all of this is hypothetical. Oh well…

This is my annual White Day anime review special, coupled with the annual Valentine’s Day review special! Going on 4 years now, I make an effort to talk about a romance series for this holiday, and since White Day is the day when guys give gifts to their lady friends who gave them gifts on Valentine’s Day, this review will be more oriented toward the ladies!

So what could I possibly do with this animated short series that would make it sound even remotely like a gift to the ladies, when fellas are also reading my blog? Good question. Well, there is one thing that I discovered from last year’s special that seemed to have had a similar effect, so there can only be one thing:

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Anime Review: She and Her Cat -everything flows-

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I am a firm believer that art is better felt than explained. As such, I prefer sharing my opinions about anime based more on experience and thoroughly researched content behind my impressions, rather than describe every little element that goes into how it was made. But for a modern anime as simple as She and Her Cat, no amount of experience or research can ever be conveyed for why this is such a beautiful short. And no, it doesn’t get a pass just because Makoto Shinkai directed it.

So rather than explain to you what makes it beautiful from an observational standpoint, I will relay to you my experiences as I see them through such a simple series. And in case you thought my interview with Muco was entertaining (first of all, why?), sadly I couldn’t get Daru to help me out this time. Don’t get me wrong, cats are cool. But sometimes communicating with them is kind of strange.

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Last Waifu Standing [fan fiction]: That Cheese Ending

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Scene: open field. Wooser and a few disgruntled waifus have descended upon me from an airship. Wooser wants me to reveal my best waifu, but I have a different plan.

(Enter Scott, Wooser, a dozen waifus alongside Wooser)

Wooser: You? Give your honest feelings about me? (laughs) Go on. Let’s hear it.

Scott: Well… you see–

Wooser: So did you think it was a masterpiece? Great enough to someday get a fourth season? Or maybe you thought it was horrible, and that’s why you’ve made me your enemy.

Scott: Actually–

Wooser: It’s fine. I can take it. I may have been popular in Japan, but nobody knows what I am overseas. Oh, what a sad day.

Scott: Oh, will you just shut up already!

Kiriha Kurano: (gasp) How dare you speak to Wooser that way!

Kameko: Poor Wooser…

Margay: Haven’t you had enough lines as it is, you fake fan!

Scott: Whoa! Whoa! When did you all get so hostile?

Kirishima (KanColle): Oh, we’re not hostile. We’re only taking orders from Wooser now.

ALL: (wink and put hands together in the shape of a heart) HEAAART!

Scott: Yeesh! Remind me never to make my nemesis a pervy yellow rabbit ever again! (Enter Sakurako)

Sakurako Kujō: Quit wasting everyone’s time and just tell him! Honestly, we’re all waiting!

Scott: Alright. (clears throat) Look, Wooser, your show is–

Wooser: Great? Terrible? Funny? Diabolical?

Scott: It’s average.

Wooser: (blinks) What?

Scott: Yeah. For a show that runs short gags with varying comedy styles and anime cameos, it’s okay. Sure, I’d wish that the animation quality or writing could have been better, but what can I say? For such a low budget, it was actually kind of fun.

Wooser: Kind of?

Scott: Okay, a lot of fun. I had a good time with it. Sure, I was skeptical at first, given that I was bored with the first two seasons, but over time, I came to appreciate its simplicity. Its surprising volatility. And it wasn’t afraid to make fun of popular shows that the rest of us would have taken so seriously.

Wooser: Impossible! Fans do take me seriously! Why else would I have been approved for three seasons?

Scott: Wooser, I used to hate your guts like no other because you did things so differently from the way I would do them. Your show was like the anti-anime to me. But now, as I’m writing this parody of a fan fiction, I think I get it. It can be a lot of fun to just go back to the simple things and make light of them. And I totally laugh at bad plot devices now, because… I don’t know. I think so hard on them, that I stop writing. (Wooser steps off the airship to stand in front of Scott) Wooser, you may be average, but you are the best average show that I have ever watched. You helped me put the good and the bad in perspective. And you helped me realize on a whim that… reviewing doesn’t have to be so static. Sometimes throwing in a little bit of chaos can be a lot of fun.

Wooser: I… I don’t know what to say.

Scott: (happily) I’m glad I have chosen you to be my foil, Wooser. As a critic, I would be happy to support your show as best I can.

Wooser: That… that makes me… so happy to hear you say that. I feel like I’ve done something wrong to have upset you. To exploit all your girls so that they would all eventually become mine.

Scott: Hey, it happens, Wooser. (Scott reaches out his hand to shake Wooser’s) So how about we call a truce then? Friends?

Wooser: I… I would be honored. But I… I… (slaps Scott’s hand away) No way! You and I both know that this is not how you wanted your story to end! The sentimental ending? That’s sooo boring, and overused!

Scott: Wooser?

Wooser: Come on, Scott. You know what’s in your heart right now. You know exactly how you want this to end. So bring it on! Let’s end this story in the best way possible.

Scott: (puzzled, he blinks a couple times, trying to figure out what Wooser means by that. Then he smiles once more) You’re right Wooser. Let’s end this the right way. With…

BOTH: That cheese ending!

Kiriha: Face it, Scott! Wooser’s gonna beat you good this time!

Kazuki Ferrari: You’ll never want to write another anime review again.

Hibiki Hagyū: Heh Heh Heh! Wooser’s got all of us to support him! What do you have left?

Sakurako: (joins Wooser’s side) Face it, Scott. You have broken all of our hearts, and you have nothing left. You’re all alone. Just like me.

Scott: (cowers as all the anime girls he once had a crush on stare him down, with Wooser standing front and center) It’s true. What do I have left? (lowers head in shame, when he feels a firm hand on his shoulder. Enter Yona)

Yona: You’re wrong. He’s not alone. He’s got us. (Enter Jaeha)

Jaeha: His waifus, and his hasbandos. (Enter Sūko)

Sūko: He knows our flaws, and embraces them. (Enter Nanako)

Nanako: We’re not his waifus. We’re his friends. (Enter Sawa)

Sawa Okita: We may have never met, it may be impossible to ever have these conversations in real life. But we share a bond with viewers like him through the stories we tell. (Enter Birthday)

Birthday: We need critics like him. To make sense of our worlds, and bring meaning to our audience. (Enter Kaon)

Kaon Lanchester: When he laughs, we laugh. When he cries, we cry. When he smiles, we smile. (Enter Nanana)

Nanana Ryūgajō: Sure, he can be a real piece of work, but he’s got a kind heart. (to Scott) And you still owe me pudding. (Scott rolls his eyes. Enter Ito)

Ito Hikiotani: You’ll… you’ll regret turning your backs on Scott, after he loved you so much!

Hisa Takei (on Wooser’s side): Eh. I just like to screw with him. (Enter Ritsu)

Ritsu Kawai: Hey, Scott. This scene’s getting really confusing and convoluted. Why are there so many girls on Wooser’s side too?

Scott: You know how in all the popular shows, where the heroes have the entire world back them up, while the villain stands all alone? That never made sense to me. If you really want an epic fight, the heroes and villains should be on equal ground!

Ritsu: (stares at Scott with distrust) You’re stupid, you know that? I’m starting to think that you’re the villain.

Scott: Yeah, I know. (Enter Louis)

Louis Andō: So who’s it going to be, ladies? Wooser? Or Scott?

(As more waifus and hasbandos gather and yell on either side for the final battle, Scott raises his hand for all to see. Everyone quiets down).

Scott: It’s alright, everyone. I got this.

Wooser: Oh really? This is rich, coming from you. So which cosplay power are you going to use? I know them all! And I know how to counter every one of them.

Scott: I don’t have to be anyone else. All I have to be is me.

Wooser: Oh? Have you forgotten? I’ve studied you. I’ve watched you. I know every last trick in your book.

Scott: Oh? Then how about this? (Scott pulls out a card that has data on it)

Wooser: Impossible! How could you possibly have that?

Scott: Face it, Wooser. My blog is low budget. Just like your show.

Wooser: No way!

Scott: Activate, Anti-Climactic Plot Device!

(The card lights up and creates a white flash in the palm of Scott’s hand. He shoots a beam of light in Wooser’s direction. Wooser screams, as the beam sends him off into oblivion. Twinkle.)

Scott: I’m sorry, ladies. I had to get rid of him. I’ll accept any and all your punishments. Do with me as you wish. (awkward pause)

Kiriha: (nonchalantly) Oh. There goes Wooser.

Hisa: Eh. He wasn’t so special at all.

Kameko: He’s probably just going on vacation.

Sakurako: I really need to get a vacation.

Scott: ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW!!

Louis: Yeah. We knew all along.

Kazuki: None of us really liked Wooser that much. Only you do.

Nanana: Wooser just wanted to have some fun with you, Scott. Keep you honest.

Birthday: We’re all proud of you. You did well.

Sūko: Thank you for keeping us in your heart.

Kaon: After all…

ALL: We still love you! (The girls and guys gather around Scott and take turns hugging him or patting his head. This appears to be the sentimental ending, that he didn’t want. But no. Something’s not right.)

Scott: Wait. Everyone, stop! (all listen attentively) I’m sorry. I can’t return any of your feelings. I don’t love you that way at all! Listen, I’m not that special. I’m just an anime critic with a philosophy background. A blogger who shoots his mouth off that nobody cares about. But you were all created by so many unique artists, who gave you the love and attention you deserved, and you touched so many hearts with your growing audience. But let’s face it: you’re not real. None of you can satisfy me beyond my imagination. So I’m sorry. There is no last waifu standing. (Exit all but Scott)

(The entire scene disappears, as all characters leave Scott behind, and fade away. He sits on the empty void, head lowered).

Scott: I can’t be with you forever. (long silence, as he cries. Alone.)

???: Yeah. We know that. (Scott raise his head, and slowly stands up again. Three mysterious, yet familiar characters come forward. Each with physical features that only he has imagined up to this point. Enter Lystria, Prof. Ginkgo, and Shuko.)

Scott: You guys. What are you doing here?

Lystria: Who, us? That’s silly, we’ve been here the whole time. We are you.

Prof. Ginkgo: You created us. Loved us. Used us as your voice, when no one else would hear you.

Shuko: But you don’t need us anymore. You have made wonderful friends in real life, who will listen to you, and share your experiences.

Lystria: We never left your side, and you never left ours.

Prof. Ginkgo: You kept us in your memories. And held on to our names closest to your heart.

Shuko: Even if none of our stories were ever complete…

ALL: We still love you, Scott.

Lystria: Scott. You never actually published my story on this blog. You only worked on it when you played WoW. Those days of fun we had are long gone, yet you still had the love for me to watch over your blog as its namesake. The True Lystria. Thank you for loving me as the chaotic-good warlock that I am!

Prof. Ginkgo: Scott. You may have created me on a whim to express your nostalgia for Pokemon, but you developed me into a character that you wanted to become, both in my universe, and yours. You bridged your imagination with your reality, in a way most people might never have considered. And now you use my name for social media platforms, as your alter ego. Thank you for loving me as the pragmatic pokemon professor that I am!

Shuko: . . .

Scott: I’m so sorry that I never fully developed your characters. You’re all still incomplete, and I’ve left you behind.

Lystria: Oh. That’s okay. It’s all in the past, right?

Prof. Ginkgo: Besides, our stories are still being told, but in different form. Through your real life narrative.

Lystria: No matter where you go in life, I’ll always be your fierce, passionate, youthful side, ready to take action!

Prof. Ginkgo: And I’ll always be your rational, cool-headed, responsible side, ready to make a difference.

Shuko: . . .

Prof. Ginkgo: If there’s anything that this whole experience has taught us, it’s that you will always keep us in your heart, and love us just as we are.

Lystria: And so, we’ll be there for you, too.

Shuko: After all…

ALL: We are you.

(Lystria gives Scott a big hug, and Prof. Ginkgo gives him a handshake. The two of them wave goodbye, as they fade away. Scott and Shuko stand alone together. Shuko’s head remains lowered, too ashamed to look into his eyes).

Scott: Shuko. I’m here for you. Is there something you wanted to say to me, too?

Shuko: I… (Shuko slowly raises her head to look at him, tears still flowing from her eyes) I don’t understand, Scott. Who am I?

Scott: (looks at her puzzled, trying to understand her inquiry. Then he smiles) Well that’s easy. You’re Shuko Oda, Priestess of Ransei. Prof. Ginkgo’s twin sister. Keeper of the legendary staff Sangen, and trainer of your three Eevee siblings.

Shuko: But who am I to you? (Scott tilts his head in confusion) Lystria and Prof. Ginkgo have such elaborate backstories that have held meaning to you so personally, that you have used their names in other media. But what about me? Am I not special to you?

Scott: Shuko–

Shuko: ANSWER ME!! I don’t even know who I am anymore. My story is incomplete, but I feel so lost. (pause) Tell me, Scott. Who am I really? What do I become? Does my life, my story, have a purpose?

(Scott ponders for a moment to figure out how to answer her. Then he smiles gently and rubs her shoulder.)

Scott: Shuko. You are a very special person to me. So special, that I can’t describe you with words alone.

Shuko: That’s stupid. You’re able to do that with the others. Why not me?

Scott: Well, it’s true that I couldn’t describe you all by finishing your stories, but there was a reason I intentionally left yours incomplete, that’s different from the others. See, Lystria was going to become a champion warlock in her narrative. Prof. Ginkgo was going to be a professor in the Special Investigations Department, with a clear conscience of what to do, with rational decision-making. Their stories may not have been completed, but their endings would have been obvious.

Shuko: But… what about mine? (Scott leans over to Shuko’s ear and whispers the spoiled ending for Oda Twin Chronicles that he originally intended, before he put the project on hiatus) Are you serious? Me? Becoming… what? That’s impossible.

Scott: Yeah. You were that special all along, Shuko.

Shuko: But… but… that’s so boring. I wouldn’t have written my story that way!

Scott: And that’s exactly why I couldn’t finish it.

Shuko: I don’t follow.

Scott: You see, Lystria and Prof. Ginkgo’s stories may not have been complete written-wise, but they were already complete, experience-wise. They both represented facets of me that I’m aware of, and could easily write their story as if it were my own. But you, Shuko. You’re different from that.

Shuko: And how so? (Scott grabs Shuko’s hands and holds them together in his).

Scott: Shuko. You’re a very special side of me that no one else can be. You’re kind. Intelligent. Thoughtful. And honest. You listen to others. You care about them. And you always remind them of what’s really important. You’re the part of me that I can’t see for myself. But I can feel. You are the part of me that can only be realized by others. (Shuko’s eyes widen as they gaze upon each other with this revelation, in silence.) Shuko. You’re the one I love most.

Shuko: (blushes) I… I don’t… I don’t know what to say.

Scott: It’s all right. It’s okay not to know. (Shuko fights back more tears, as she tries to stay strong. She sobs, wipes her face, and straightens up.)

Shuko: I have one more question. Before I go.

Scott: Ask away.

Shuko: Glasses. Does my character wear glasses?

Scott: Huh?

Shuko: Lystria gets those goggles for being an engineer warlock. And Prof. Ginkgo has been wearing glasses since he was a kid. You like girls with glasses and you wear them, too. So do I wear them?

Scott: What? I wear glasses and contacts interchangeably. Whether or not I wear glasses doesn’t matter to your character.

Shuko: Well it matters to me!

(Scott takes a step back and thinks for a moment. He takes his glasses off , and studies them. After a few seconds, he snaps them in half and smiles)

Scott: You never needed glasses to be beautiful, Shuko. I loved you just the way you are.

Shuko: I… How could you… Well that’s not good enough!

Scott: Oh, what more do you want?

Shuko: I want an accessory. A jewel. An accent that gives my character meaning by appearance. Weapons and titles are but forms of action. Give me a trait that defines what I look like! (softly this time) Anything would do. (pause)

Scott: Well, there is one thing I can give you, Shuko. But you have to promise not to make fun of it.

Shuko: Of course not.

Scott: Okay. Close your eyes. (Shuko closes her eyes, with relaxed composure. Scott leans in closer, caresses her cheek, and pushes back her hair that’s covering her ears. He clips two earrings on her lobes: two emerald studs. Shuko opens her eyes as he gives her a compact mirror to see for herself)

Shuko: They’re beautiful. But what do they mean?

Scott: Well, they don’t have a meaning yet. I just made them up on a whim.

Shuko: What?

Scott: I want to give them to you so that you can give them meaning. A purpose. A story.

Shuko: I don’t know if I can. You’re always the one telling my story.

Scott: (grabs Shuko’s shoulders and faces her) Of course you can. You are me, after all. And besides, green is my favorite color. (Shuko stares at Scott in surprise, then bursts into laughter) What! I thought I said you couldn’t make fun of me!

Shuko: (laughs) But it’s so… it’s so… it’s so you. You really did want that cheese ending!

Scott: Well let’s be honest. I’m not very good at being romantic. (they laugh together)

Shuko: Well… One cheesy ending deserves another, right? (smiles)

Scott: Yeah.

Shuko: Okay then. I want… I want to kiss you.

(I gaze upon my own character in confusion, knowing just how absurd it is to kiss her, a fictional character who was supposed to represent a specific facsimile of me. But I decide not to overthink it and smile. I caress her cheek once more and kiss her warmly on her lips. Satisfied, Shuko disappears, and I am left alone once more, in that blank space.)

Scott: I love you. I will take a lifetime to get to know you. You will always be in my heart. Be the beautiful person that you are. My other self. My last waifu standing. (Curtain)