Watson Watches: Dragon Ball

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Welcome to the fifth article of Watson Watches (the Retro Edition). If you’ve only just joined us and have no clue what’s going on, this is the follow-up to a series of interview-style articles published in 2014. The idea was for Artemis to introduce myself – who at that point was totally new to anime – to some specific titles and then ask me some fun and interesting questions about them. It’s the same deal this time around but with one key difference: all the anime she’ll be getting me to watch were released before 2000.

 

Just for shits and giggles, we’re also doing this in reverse-chronological order. Previously we tackled 1989’s Ranma ½ and this week we’re going further back in time with Dragon Ball, first released in anime form in 1986. As always, I watched everything on my own first with zero prior research, and the following questions were given to me afterwards.

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European History 101

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I’ve talked a lot about Japanese history, but I haven’t touched on European history much. Obviously this needs to be corrected. European history over the last few thousand years is a very complex subject, and there are a lot of factors that need to be considered. However, I think this will do as a short summary of events on the continent.

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Nuking Hurricanes

nuking hurricanes

You can just imagine the scene, can’t you? An office somewhere in Washington, lit by fluorescent lights, several tired and dispirited men sitting around a table strewn with papers. On the wall, the latest satellite photos are tacked up to show the progress of a massive hurricane system towards New York.

It’s understandable that they’re dejected. Even at the very best, New York will suffer millions – perhaps billions – of dollars worth of damage and disruption when the storm hits, to say nothing of the loss and deaths that the inhabitants will suffer. But there’s nothing that can stop this force of nature, any fool knows that. One of them mutters “Pity we can’t just bomb it…”

… and on the other side of the room, a balding man with thick glasses raises his head.
“What did you say?”

“The hurricane. It’s a shame we can’t just bomb it. It would save a lot of hassle.”

With the light of epiphany in his eyes, the balding man slowly stands up. “Jerry… that’s brilliant! That’s exactly what we’ll do!”

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Guns of the Samurai

Guns of the Samurai

When people think about historical Japan, samurai and their swords come immediately to mind. Perhaps we have images of masterless ronin wandering the lands and getting into thrilling adventures, or maybe we envision the noble families and their loyal retainers. Those with an eye on society might also be thinking about how people lived and worked, and what that meant for everyone (some of the effects are not obvious). But there’s something that is almost always missing from whatever picture we create – guns. In this article I’ll be looking at what firearms they had, how they were used… and why they weren’t.

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Watson Watches: Ranma ½

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Welcome to the fourth article of Watson Watches (the Retro Edition). If you’re reading this and have no idea what I’m talking about, this is the follow-up series to a bunch of interview-style articles published in 2014. The idea was to introduce myself – who at that point was completely new to anime – to some specific titles and then ask me some potentially interesting questions. We’re doing the same thing this time around but with one important difference: all the anime Artemis will be getting me to watch were released before 2000.

Just for fun, we’re also going in reverse chronological order. Previously we tackled the 1992 magical-girl fest Sailor Moon, and this week we’re going further back in time with 1989’s Ranma ½. As per usual, I  watched everything on my own without looking anything up online and the following questions were given to me afterwards.

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The Four Horsemen of the Wehrpocalypse

wehraboo intro

The Second World War has had a big effect on our collective cultural worldview. Even now, more than 70 years after it ended, a surprisingly large number of people are still obsessing over it and going over every last detail. Which is fine with me: I’ve always had an interest in history myself, especially military history, and I like to see people taking an interest in things that are older than their smartphone. I am a bit worried about the ways in which the war gets presented most of the time, though. Some important aspects get underemphasised, others get massively overemphasised, and this leads to an impression of the period which may make for great movies but doesn’t do much to reflect actual events. Perhaps as a result of this, recent years have seen a constant stream of people into discussions about history and a worryingly high percentage fall into a single category. You can identify them pretty easily: they’re the ones spouting some breathless and poorly-thought-out way in which the Nazis could have won, should have won, and would have won if only things went slightly differently. They’re so common that they have a special name.

And they really piss me off.

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The Katana

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If there’s one thing everyone knows about Japanese history, it’s the katana. Samurai and their swords are perhaps the most iconic image of Edo-period Japan in our mass media consciousness, and they get used whenever a piece of fiction wants to evoke the warrior ethos of the period. Characters in cyberpunk novels are referred to as street-samurai, let’s not even start on anime characters and their huge swords, and if you’re familiar with the Star Wars Expanded Universe then you’ll know the impact of the Katana fleet (if you’re not familiar with the EU then, uh, neither am I). Given all this, it isn’t really surprising that a lot of myths have sprung up about them. Fortunately, I’m here to set the record straight.

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Japanese Castles

Japanese Castles Intro

Ever since I arrived in Japan I was interested in Japanese castles. They look quite different to the stone fortifications my Euro-centric upbringing made me consider normal, and it took me a while to realise that it was because they were doing different jobs. Just in case there’s anyone else out there in the same situation, here is Watson’s primer on Japanese castles.

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Pokémon Fire Red

fire red

I’ve never played Pokémon. Never watched the TV shows, seen the movies, collected the cards, or anything. Of course I have heard of it, it’s hard to have anything to do with pop culture and not know the franchise exists. But it’s not exaggerating to say that I basically know nothing about it. I do play computer games, however, and there’s nothing on my ‘must-play’ list at the moment. I was assured a copy of Fire Red was what I needed so I found one from an Entirely Legitimate Source, got it working, and began to play. The following entries are from my journal as I gradually realised what I was dealing with.

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Watson Watches: Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon - 1

Welcome to the third article of Watson Watches (the Retro Edition). As a brief intro to anyone reading this series for the first time, this is actually the follow-up to a bunch of interview-style articles published in 2014. The idea was for Artemis to introduce me – who at that time knew almost nothing about anime and had never watched it – to some specific titles and then ask me some hopefully interesting questions about them. This current series is basically the same thing but with one unifying factor: all the anime Artemis will be getting me  to watch were released before 2000.

Just for fun, we’re also going in reverse chronological order. Previously we tackled the 1995 landmark show Evangelion, and this week we’re going with another hugely popular title that even non-anime fans have probably at least heard of: 1992’s Sailor Moon. As usual, I watched everything on my own and was told not to look up anything online beforehand. The following questions were given to me afterwards. (Note that as Sailor Moon contains a ton of filler, we ended up agreeing that I watch the episodes introducing each of the main characters – for reference, that’s episode 1, 8, 10, 25, 33, and 34 of the original Japanese version.)

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