alice2

“Tarnish the living to maintain the honor of the dead. Tarnish the dead to comfort the living.”

ajthfourth: It’s another lovely, if a bit muggy, evening.  A perfect time to wrap up our viewing of Kamisama no Memochou, which, despite an out-of-place fanservice moment, maintained its focus on how various people gather and process information in an age where information bombards our senses at a frenetic pace.

Immediately, the second half of this episode shifts gears from focusing on how the main characters, Alice and Narumi, parse the information that is provided to them, to the group as a whole, as well as the players within the mystery that Alice is determined to solve.  Not only does Alice have her room full of monitors, but she has a living group of people who act as an indispensable network of information gathering.  This contrast between what machines are capable of gathering and what live people are capable of gathering is touched upon while she dispenses her orders to the group, all involving using some sort of information network or technology.  However, it is pushed into the forefront with crystal clarity when Narumi dares to raise his hand.

"I was thinking maybe we don't have to do all this, and just talk to those two."

“I was thinking maybe we don’t have to do all this, and just talk to those two.”

ajthefourth: Narumi’s suggestion is an obvious, but oft-overlooked one: why not just talk to the two people in question?  All too often, people turn to other forms of gathering information, whether it’s other people or digital media, instead of going directly to the source first.  This can lead to all sorts of confusion and incorrect facts or analysis; more side effects of information overload.  As it turns out, Narumi’s suggestion is a sound one, and points out why swallowing your fear of others, or your desire to fade into the background, and actually talking to people can gather far more information than reading text on a screen.  That being said, speaking with people face to face may provide more information, especially emotionally; however, it brings with it several new problems that don’t exist with digital information, the main one being honesty.  We see this exemplified in the character of Shoko, who was unable to “be herself” to any of the people she interacted with, choosing to separate herself and show different pieces to different people in her life.  Only by combining digital information with this emotional information that Narumi gathers is Alice able to see the entire picture and solve the mystery.  It’s also worth noting that she coaxes the last missing pieces of information from Miku in a face-to-face confrontation by distributing very specific facts to Miku in a deliberate manner.

vucubcaquix: I was very interested in the scene in which Narumi suggested to the group that perhaps just talking to the girl would yield the desired results. It was a welcome bit of levity through what were some fairly dour proceedings surrounding that exchange. I also found that it was a very interesting contrast to what Emily noted in the previous part of this episode in the last colloquium, about how the series contrasts Narumi and Alice and their respective places in society along with their supposed ability to contribute to solving of this particular case. What I took from it was that the series itself so far doesn’t seem to want to take a particular side in that issue, but rather paints a very even-handed portrait of it’s two protagonists and their abilities to contribute, which can potentially be extrapolated into a larger commentary on what an individual’s potential is despite whatever their station is.

However Emily, you bring up an incredibly interesting idea regarding Shoko’s inability to “be herself”, as a new social network has arisen that’s been all the rage amongst the blogosphere and the internet in general for it’s ability to allow you to sort and categorize your contacts and acquaintances into various “circles”. I’m fascinated by the idea-especially on the internet-of people assuming personas. That is, presenting a “best of” version of yourself that may not necessarily be the most honest one. This emerging network has done an incredibly good job of understanding this innately. We present ourselves differently to different people, because we are aware that we don’t interact with everyone else on an equal basis.

Another thing I noticed, is the prevalence of the color green in Alice’s room. Is there anything in particular that you feel is evoked by that? Our readers may not appreciate my linking to this site (for it’s strange ability to destroy a person’s time), but Cracked.com has taken note of this trend in a lot of Hollywood’s recent films and has described it as a visual shorthand for various emotions and ideas and equates it to a sort of laziness. I hope this isn’t talking above my own station, but I disagree a small bit with their assertion of it as laziness within the context of anime, since the medium itself is so heavily dependent on color theory and the foundation of everything we’re consuming (animation) are in fact moving illustrations that are colored from its inception. This just feels like the animation director is taking a bit of extra consideration to convey the sort of sci-fi vibe that one should feel while in Alice’s chamber, surrounded by technology, drowning in information.

ajthfourth: For all of its commentary regarding our ability or inability to deal with the massive quantity of information that is thrown in one’s way every day, Kami-sama no Memochou, in this premiere episode at least, is surprisingly keeping its opinions to itself in regards to whether the effects this has on people should be considered good or bad.  On one side, we have Narumi, who has seemingly been so overwhelmed by the constant barrage that it has affected his way of dealing with the world.  That is to say, because he is unable to process everything, he shuts himself down.  Thanks to Alice, who is trying her best to process as much information as possible in order to piece together mysteries, he is now beginning to show signs of awareness of his surroundings and the people that populate them.  Other bits of information that the viewing audience is given to piece together include the fact that Narumi, who up until this point in his life has contributed nothing to society, is a high school student which, although hardly exceptional, implies some sort of life plan or career path.  In contrast, Alice is a NEET; however, is also the far larger contributor of the two.  She takes action far quicker than Narumi does, and most importantly, unlike most anime portrayals of NEETs as unsociable and awkward hikkikomori, has a group of legitimate live friends with whom she is able to converse with easily.

These themes come with a fantastic soundtrack and some sharp visuals to immerse the viewer in the story.  Thus far, this episode has certainly piqued my interest, and I’m interested to see where it takes the themes it has introduced, specifically the ones dealing with information distribution, in the next few episodes.  Unfortunately, the second part of this episode did nothing to allay my fears regarding a few red flags that cropped up in Part A of this episode.  On that note, David, I believe you had something to say.

"Fujushima, you pervert!"

“Fujushima, you pervert!”

vucubcaquix: F— you J.C. Staff, was that really necessary? Other than that, good show (holy god that insert song starting at fifteen minutes in is AMAZING, dear lord). Are we going to be watching this, Emily?

ajthefourth: I suppose.  Its good parts far outweigh its bad.  See you next time?

vucubcaquix: It’s a date. Have a good night, Emily.

ajthefourth: Sounds fantastic.

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