Anime

RWBY and Coping with a Disability

Disclaimer:  This post has spoilers for RWBY Volumes 3 and 4.  Specifically, Volume 4, Episode 4:  Family.  If you haven’t watched that episode yet, and don’t want spoilers, then go watch and come back to this post.  You have been warned!

 

RWBY as a series is probably the most conflicting show I’ve ever watched.  It seems like it has so much potential, in its story telling, characters and world building, but something with it just doesn’t make me get totally invested in what I’m watching.  I’ll get more into that in another post, because what I want to talk about here is one of the things it’s been doing right.  In fact, it’s been doing it very, very right:  so much so that I think it’s the best portrayal of this certain subject matter in any piece of media I’ve seen.  What am I talking about, you may ask?

 

The cycle of grief, when you’ve first found out you have a disability, and how others around you adapt to the new changes in both their, and your life.

 

In one of the first scenes in RWBY Volume 4, Episode 4, we get this dialogue exchange between Yang and Tai:

 

“I’m scared.  Everyone keeps talking about me getting back to normal, and I appreciate it, but…this is normal now.  It’s just taking me a while to get used to it.”

“Well, normal is what you make of it.”

“What is that supposed to mean?  Do you want me to just pretend like nothing happened?  I lost  a part of me.  A piece of myself is gone and it’s never coming back.”

“You’re right, it’s never coming back.  But it doesn’t have to stop you from becoming who you want to be.”

 

 

This exchange happens after quite some time.  Yang hasn’t had one of her arms for months, and sunk into a deep depression at the end of Volume 3, and the beginning of Volume 4.  Tai had acquired a prosthetic, mechanical arm for her, but she refused to try it on. He had been trying to reach out to her, but she just wasn’t responding, so he gave her space to mourn the loss of her limb.  When Yang finally came out to talk, and opened up about her feelings, she had the above to say and Tai knew she was ready to finally listen to him and was able to finally start processing her loss.

 

A picture of Yang in heroutfit from RWBY volume 4, with one arm in tact and one missing.
“This is normal now”

 

How happy it made me to see that they gave this much time and consideration to this subject matter is something I can’t really express.  In so many shows, they have someone get hurt, and either the disability they now suffer from be magically healed, or they just instantly adapt to the loss by episodes end.  Either that, or we get the magical disability trope, where yeah they’re disabled but they still act exactly the same and like they have nothing they have to adapt to what so ever.  RWBY didn’t do any of those things:  They had Yang get depressed, they have Yang still having PTSD because of how she lost her arm, and she’s finally moving on to her healing stage.  Does that mean she’s completely better?  Not at all, because these are all things she’s going to have to deal with for the rest of her life, but that’s completely ok because she knows it’s now going to be her new normal.  Not only did they show all of this, but they showed it over a series of a few episodes, and are probably going to be continuing to show it all season.
It’s good for a show to display that it takes time.  You have to process, you have to grieve because yes, at first, it’s going to feel like you can’t do anything.  You’re going to have to learn how to do things completely differently, and relearn things all over again.  You’re going to have to realize that “Normal” to you isn’t going to be “Normal” to anyone else.  Will that hinder your way of life at all?  Only if you let it.  At first, Yang was letting it hinder her way of life.  She felt useless, not able to fight with her team, with her friends.  She felt like she was a burden, and honestly, that feeling for her probably is never going to go away.  However, she’s worked through it, and is working toward pushing forward.  Yang wants to adapt first, without a mechanical arm.  She wants to know that if the assistance she will have to rely on for the rest of her life somehow isn’t working, she can stand tall with just one arm, and be 100 percent confident in herself, no matter what.
That’s such a powerful, mature message that mirrors the reality of having a disability, and I applaud Rooster Teeth for putting it in the show.  Not only that, but how Tai deals with it, too.  Because you know in his head he’s going “Oh no my daughter is going to have to deal with this the rest of her life my poor baby” but instead of voicing those concerns, he’s helping her find her way.  He knows how capable she is, how strong and resilient she will continue to be, and went as far as to get her a new arm to replace the one she lost (which, according to the characters, was no easy feat and took a lot of string pulling).

 

This is so true for parents who deal with children with disabilities, also.  I remember when I first was losing my sight, my Mom would always tell me “You can do whatever you want to do, you just have to find an alternative way to do it.  Nothing is stopping you” even when people around me would say the exact opposite, would try to stagnate my progress in school, or with hobbies.  She would always be there to fight for me.

 

It’s moments like this that make me not want to stop watching RWBY.  Because sure it has flaws, sure it’s slow moving, but when it comes down to it, it’s doing a lot of things that tons of other shows aren’t.  When RWBY takes a risk, the show shines, showing what it’s really made of, and what it can be.  When it sticks to the typical shounen/shoujo character tropes and plot clichés, are when I think it starts to fall flat for me.  Going in to watching this episode, I said “If this episode doesn’t grab me, I’m going to wait to binge this whole season” and then this scene happened and got me hooked again!  I’ve found that’s happened to me throughout the series, it has a lot of ups and downs that I really want to dive into later (probably soon).

 

I’m really hoping that we get to see more of Yang’s development and coping throughout the rest of Volume 4.  I know that eventually, she’ll be using the mechanical arm she was given by Tai, but ugh I really want to see her fight with one arm!  How badass would that be?  Either way, I hope Rooster Teeth keeps this awesome representation up, because they’re doing a great job!

Anime

Why is Yuri on Ice so Popular? A Character Study of Victor and Yuri

Every season, there’s always an anime that eeeeeveryone is talking about.  An anime that usually isn’t my cup of tea, but that I’m like well ok I’ll give it a go.  The anime this season is a particularly interesting one to me, because not only is it a sports anime, but it’s an anime that is mainly being praised for its visuals.  After reading a series of reviews, hearing a ton of History Maker covers, and finding out that it was being simudubbed, I decided to give it a watch.

And boy did it take my breath away.

I’m always skeptical when it comes to an anime being raved about, because I think it’s just the hype train chugging along.  Plus, with its main draw being visual’s to most people, I tend to be wary about watching because visuals 100 percent are not my thing.  And, in all honesty, if a story focuses on visuals alone to tell it’s story, I don’t think it’s doing its job.  Of course there will be some visual elements in anime that just can’t be translated, but as long as the story doesn’t majorly suffer from that, or someone explains later via a monologue what happened, I’m fine with it.  But, my major question with these sorts of shows is, is can it carry itself without visuals?
Short answer:  Yes.  But let’s dive into this a bit more.  Why is Yuri on Ice so special?  Look at it on paper, and it’s a typical sports anime set up:  Protagonist loses heart, has to find it again through an external force or person or group of people.  Works toward building themselves back up again, finds themselves back where they started at the beginning of the show, but better, therefore can succeed at what they previously failed at.  A typical heroes journey, with fan service peppered throughout.  Yuri on Ice isn’t free of the fan service aspects, but those small bits of fan service that happen are short, and play to the characters strengths. When Victor says something crazy, you just go “Ha!  That’s Victor for you” and it never seems like any comment, action, or reaction is out of place.  Everything is played very realistically, and I think that’s a huge plus in Yuri on Ice’s favor.

Which leads me to my next point: the characters.  In any sports anime I’ve seen, the characters really should be known as caricatures.  Granted, I haven’t watched many sports anime, but literally I’ve turned on one episode of a few, gotten fed up and stopped watching because of how one note and cookie cutter the characters are.  In Yuri on Ice, every character seems very real.  The writing staff took the time to flesh out each character, fill them with hopes, dreams, fears, good traits, and bad traits, and it adds to the charm of the show.  Take Victor, for example:

A picture of Victor
I’m too sexy for my shirt~

On the surface, he’s the typical goofball, open to expressing himself, over confident sex symbol.  Through interactions with Yuuri, however, you see a layer that he obviously doesn’t show to the public:  He cares a lot about others, about his legacy as a skater.  As soon as he sees Yuuri, he sees the potential in his skating and wants to go help him reach his full potential.  It takes someone who’s very in tune with their emotions to be able to see that in other people, and it’s obvious Victor is exactly that:  From how other character’s say he makes them feel with his routines, to how much he’s effected Yuri’s mindset from episode 5 onward, Victor is a compassionate person who hides that compassion behind the guise of confident arrogance.  Are either sides of Victor bad?  Not at all.  They’re what make him such a multi-faceted character, and part of what makes the show great.  It takes an amazing staff of writers to add this sort of depth to one of the supporting characters, so how does the main character stack up?

A picture of Yuuri Katsuki
We were born to make history!

Yuri Katsuki is the shining star in this series, and what I think is its major draw.  The figure skating is a major plus, but the fact that we’re seeing this world through Yuri’s eyes is what I think is drawing so many people, and myself in.  Yuri’s not confident, Yuri’s not disciplined, he’s the complete opposite of the typical jock character.  Yuri, in a sense, is all of us:  Because who hasn’t doubted themselves?  Who hasn’t tried their hardest, and choked under pressure?  Who hasn’t questioned their self-worth, but continued following their dreams regardless?  Yuri is a fleshed out character all on his own, but at the same time he’s what so many of us see in ourselves.  Yuri is incredibly relatable, and his growth throughout the series thus far is a shining example of why you should never give up on yourself.  Just seeing Yuri’s progress from crying after losing in episode 1, to his speech at the end of episode 5, speaks volumes to his character development and I can’t wait to see what happens by the end of the series.  I think the best part about his growth too, is that it flows so naturally.  You can see glimmers of this fierce, confident, loyal Yuri in the beginning of the series, but all of those positive traits are clouded by the negative ones he’s focusing on.  Once Victor comes, and helps him work through his issues in his own time, we see Yuri’s true self and it doesn’t seem out of place at all.  Does yuri still have relapses into his doubts and fears?  Of course he does, but all that does is make his character seem even more real, even more relatable, and it works so well when placed next to Victor in scenes.  The dichotomy of both of their alpha personalities is so interesting to watch, and makes the series all the more enjoyable.

In a lot of ways, Yuri on Ice breaks the mold of sports anime, while at the same time sticking to a lot of things sports anime does well.  The major themes of not giving up, persevering through your pain, and always recognizing that you’re never really alone are all just such wonderful themes to have in any show, and I think that’s a major reason why Yuri on Ice is so popular.  But, those are just my thoughts on the subject.

I obviously really love this anime, if you couldn’t tell XD like I said earlier, sports anime aren’t generally my thing, but this one has me hooked.  It helps that I love ice skating, too, so as soon as I saw a sports anime about it, I wanted to see what it was all about.  I’m happy to say that this anime made me rethink my opinion on all sports anime, and give them at least a few episodes to see how the anime stands up on its own merits.

Have you been tuning into Yuri on Ice?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the series.  Also, how did I do with writing this post?  It’s my first attempt at doing an analysis  like this (well, the first one I ever thought was post-worthy) so would love to know if there are any things I can improve on, any other things I can address when looking at a series, etc. etc.  I have a lot of other different types of post series I’m planning to make, but this one was really more of a spur of the moment post I really felt like I had to write.  I’m sure there will be many other Yuri on Ice themed posts on here, so look out for those if you enjoyed reading this one!

Uncategorized

Welcome to The Blind Nerd!

Hello!  I’m Crystal, and if the title of this blog wasn’t obvious, I’m a blind nerd.  I’ve been into anime, video games, cartoons, and nerdy TV shows ever since I was a kid and my obsession with them has only grown.  Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of different blogs that go in depth about being a part of nerd culture, but I’ve never seen any that talk about it from the view of being a blind enjoyer of the media, so I figured, why not be someone who looks at it from that perspective?

 

There are a lot of visual aspects to the media we watch.  But, take that aspect away, and what happens to the story?  Do the characters hold up without a ton of fancy visuals keeping the viewer interested?  Does a certain show have audio description, and if so does the audio description help in the enjoyment of the media?  If it doesn’t have audio description, does it hinder the show at all?  These, and a lot of other questions are ones I want to dive into, and pick apart on this blog.  I also intend to look at different character tropes, try and figure out why certain shows I like or dislike have that effect on me, and just geek out over different topics in nerd culture, from a different perspective than most are used to.  So, if you’re interested in that sort of thing, stick around on the blog!

 

I’m super excited to get this blog going, and can’t wait to start this journey with you all!