Entry #5: Kakukaku Shikajika (SoM 2018)

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I have no idea how long this will be. Upon finishing the story, I figured it may be close to two-thousand words, but as time passes I become more attuned to keeping it straight to the point. I suppose I’ll just write and see where it takes me.

I hate the way Hollywood uses nostalgia now-a-days. It seems to me the interest in nostalgia is as a money-making tool. Longtime readers of my blog are already aware that I’m generally anti-corporate, so the idea behind something being used only for the basis of profit feels fake and ultimately tainted in my mind. People who always seem to notice and ask “Why are there so many Star Wars films now? So many reboots? Superhero films?” are noticing what has already been an easy conundrum many have realized long before. Nostalgia makes money, and so long as it makes money, it will continue to reign. So a basic rule of thumb: if you have to ask why it exists, the answer is likely because it makes money. Such is a capitalist world.

This isn’t to say it’s always the answer and it isn’t to say that everything is created with the intent purpose of profit. For situations in which obscure people or companies create something to showcase their skills as storytellers or prominence in that particular field, it’s excusable for them to wish to attain profit, so that they can continue to create powerful work. It’s when the monopolies of the world shell out such high-profile gaudiness expecting great returns that make me disgusted—even more so when it (always) happens.

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But the intent of this isn’t an anti-capitalist message (I’m not anti-capitalist), it is one of nostalgia. Like with capitalism, nostalgia is something that is used in both positive and negative intentions, though that is also fairly subjective. I read a novel by the name of My Ántonia about a year ago that has nostalgia as its prime source of emotional impact, and I adored it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but nostalgia is a lot more impactful to me than I gave it credit for, despite being aware that nostalgic things give me blissful tranquility in most cases (every time I listen to the “Castle” theme in Super Mario World…). And with this overly long introductory context in place, let it be known that nostalgia is the basis for Kakukaku Shikajika as a whole, as well. And I adored it even more.

I won’t be so transparent with my impressions of the piece—this is the closest thing to a perfect manga I’ve read in my lifetime (not that I have as vast a history with it as anime). I would consider it a better story than 99% of the stories attributed to the anime I’ve viewed, too. There’s so much detail and pure intentions attributed to it that one would be the most dense male central character in a harem work not to realize all the love put forth. Part of it is nostalgia, part of it is coated in regret, hopefulness, and the mindset of the artist struggling with itself between a “pure” aspect of art and the rewards it reaps in reality. Effort versus trendiness, realism versus abstract, the mindset of the old versus the new. The only common ground between these matches is that one has to work really fucking hard.

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It may be conceited to say this, but I consider myself an artist at heart. I don’t draw, I don’t write/play music; my art is that of language. I consider my writing and musings to be worthy of the title, with a lot of my content being motivated by an internal desire to express myself. Kakukaku Shikajika is a deeply personal work for me with such a mindset, so there is inevitably some bias attached to my unending praise for it. I empathized with the author’s struggles, with her regrets, with her struggles with fame, with working, with time management, with the passing of time, with her commitment to the people who mean so much to her, with her disdain for criticism in the face of easy praise, and the entrapment of society’s interest. There is so, so, so much here that is just like, in the words of the common teen, “SAME.” Such a pleasant, funny, moving, and inspiring work that goes into such minute detail and hits it right in the heart with all of them. The funniest part of all is that five chapters in, I was unimpressed with this.

“This is what all the fuss is about? A blatantly spoiled girl goes to an art class and faces an old-school teacher whose teaching style would very obviously be breaking most rules of society today? If this seriously goes on for thirty chapters, this is such a disappointment.” But it didn’t, and not only that, but it detailed the life of the author (this is mostly nonfiction, something I didn’t realize until halfway through) going through college and finally getting the motivation to achieve her dreams, one all-nighter at a time. The story moved so quickly; its words held so much weight that it took a long time to read a relatively short story (it’s shorter than Pupa). It shook my expectations, then shook them again and again until I eventually stopped thinking. I continued my trek into the life of this struggling artist, who faced constant obstructions to her dream, and even more so once her dream was realized. Moving at the pace it wants me to take, I subconsciously followed as instructed. So rarely a story does that with me.

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The strength of the story flowed into me by its end. I found myself wanting to go out and beat the shit out of people for no reason (I didn’t). I wanted to scream and run and lose fifty pounds in a day, because I felt it was possible. I wanted to write and to draw and to create and create and create. Kakukaku Shikajika reminded me what it was like to be an artist, but more so, what it means to live in the moment and to traverse life with all stakes on the table. I grieved for the time wasted browsing sites endlessly, for all the laziness I employed while in college, all the times I called into work because I felt I was better than it. So many emotions welled up that paralleled with the author’s, even with similar situations. An absolutely phenomenal example of 100% sublimity that spoke to me so deeply, so grandly that it rivals the kind of immersion I had with Blade Runner 2049.

I didn’t cry, but I wanted to. I didn’t laugh, but I wanted to. I was moved from one end of my core to the depths of reciting overdramatic poetry in the form of a thousand-word essay that feels more self-inflating than informative to the reader. Does this work even have flaws? Can it have flaws when it’s destroyed me and built me back up in a way that necessitates an updated model number? It can, but they’re practically all excused. Even so, many of the flaws I can think of only end up as better motivation for the subconscious, overly-thinking tone of the work itself. It is essentially a giant memory, and memory, as well all know, works on its own, constantly challenging the fabrics of what we know as reality with the aspect of exaggeration and deeply-seeded emotional hyperbole.

All in all, it’s beautiful.

Final Score: You fucking know what it is/10

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

To see the ratings for all entries in this Summer and all others, check out the Summer of Anime Archive!

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