Whereas in tj han’s blog the Bible is Last Exile, in my blog, the Qur’an is Honey and Clover. If you don’t like it I’m going to declare jihad on you, and I’m much more austere than tj han is (in case you didn’t get it, this was a joke). As you may have noticed, I’m probably going to wax lyrical about H&C for most of the time, but that’s not why I mentioned it in this post. I’ve mentioned why I like H&C in my other posts, but to stress a point, the biggest reasons as to why I really love it is because of its grit and humanistic realism. Stressed also in my other posts (H&C was spattered around in a commentary supposedly about [insert anime here]) is the fact that unrequited love exists in this series. How many romance series have you watched where the main leads don’t end up happily? There’s only quite a few of them. How about a romance series where you know someone’s going to end up alone? To date, only Honey and Clover is the only anime where you know that someone will be alone by the end of the series because there are more girls than guys, and despite the fact that they all are close friends, they also are the same competitors for the love of a guy or a girl inside that circle.

This has led me to think about comparing two similar anime, and these anime are Hikaru no Go and Akagi. Both are anime about sports, with a lead more or less a genius in the game that they play (one may argue about Hikaru otherwise, but taking two to three years to be a 2-dan in Go is no easy task, even with Sai’s help). I have had placed HnG at the back of my mind, that was, until I found a torrent in somewhereβ„’ (yes, that’s a lame moniker for a place we all love, and that place isn’t AnimeSuki) where a group ripped a dubbed episode from a Cartoon Network subsidiary – the Toonami gave it away, I guess – known as Jetstream. If I’m correct and if the entry in Wikipedia wasn’t some idiot’s fun, it’s located in Norway, and is a streaming media company. I think the entry wasn’t playing around with me, because of the seeming correctness of the post in relation to the comments posted by the torrent uploader. I didn’t puke after watching the dub (although I did feel queasy πŸ˜‰ ) because it wasn’t as bad as it could possibly have been. Still, it reawakened my interest in that anime, making me feel that I should rewatch that series. (I did watch it about a year ago, and I really had fun, although the ending, despite not really being bad, was somewhat vapid.)

It was from here that I started thinking about its similarities with Akagi. Both dealt with extremely niche sports – go and mahjong aren’t really as popular as basketball or soccer. Both dealt with some transmutation of bildungsroman, a style of writing a novel where the writer concentrates on the physical, psychological, and emotional development of a usually youthful main character (in Akagi, Akagi, and in Hikaru no Go, Hikaru). Both didn’t concentrate on anything else – the two series didn’t try to spread themselves too thinly, thus becoming good anime.

I like Akagi more, though. (This has been from a perspective that has viewed all the episodes, specials and whatnot about HnG and all the subbed episodes of Akagi [well, not really true anymore, because a new episode has come out and I’m downloading it right now].) Here is where the mention of H&C is put into use, because I found in Akagi what I found in H&C: I found that magical grit and realism that I feel HnG didn’t have. Honestly speaking, although I really liked Sai and HnG, I felt that Sai was somewhat extraneous and unneeded and was only a plot device for Hikaru’s improvement. Yes, I know that HnG was based on a manga, and yes, I know that it was a creative effort; however, I’d simply like to point out that no matter how much you point at its realism, with Sai’s existence and his undeniable intercalation with Hikaru’s psyche, it doesn’t possess the sheer power of the grit of Akagi shown in that series’s drawings (use of thick lines, sharp features, and dark atmosphere to heighten the black mood of the show) or in its characters. Akagi isn’t some idealistic kid, and as much as I like Hikaru, Akagi simply is more realistic in terms of his outlook in life and his actions. He isn’t some celibate teenager, and one can even ask what he did with millions of yen (spent) in only two days. How he views life is something the generation of today mostly view life – he views it as something post-apocalyptic, something that one respects, but does not look forward to. Ghosts aren’t really realistic plot devices, are they?

(I would have finished writing this post earlier, too, if there wasn’t this fucking scary electrical explosion/lightning that occurred near our dormitory. It was blue-green lightning, and one can immediately tell that it wasn’t your ordinary lightning. We had a blackout right after that, and I wasn’t able to sleep properly.)

Of course, in the end, it still boils down to your mileage. If you like the positive, colorful side (and want to disregard a lot of reality) of idealistic thinking, watch HnG. The thing with it is that it never is depressing despite a lot of things happening. It can only be bittersweet because of its sheer positivity, and that can be a plus to the show. If you want the grit and the human realism, acts of human nature (not like Akari’s seriously queer nature – the girl is too altruistic that she probably belongs to the rare group of humans that could manage to be consistently so), watch Akagi. Akagi, simply put, is a guy with balls, and admixed with his cold and calculating nature and his carnal desires is a person who helps those who need help, a guy who tries to equate the balance between good and evil in the world, but in no way is good himself. This guy isn’t like the crying Hikaru, and his nature and soul is simply much more stronger. His crutches are himself; one can argue that Sai may have been only a projection of a weak-minded Hikaru. Akagi views death as nothing more than an end – the guy is a human, realistic, palpable, tangible, and yet – also scarily real, perhaps too real – I even think he acts as an apotheosis for the modern, individualistic man, clearly dissimilar to Hikaru’s acts of Enlightenment idealism.