Picked up Advance Wars DS from Fry's, got re-ddicted enough to this sterling series to let Xstine order a navy DS Lite from LikSang. The compromise involved letting her get a bunch of retarded toys like a pixelated Mario mouse and Naruto keychains. At least now we won't have to fight over the DS when she wants to train her Nintendog. I'm going to buy a chihuahua when we get the money, call it Walker, give him a ten-gallon hat, and instead of "sit" and "liedown" his tricks will be "roundhouse" and "give me AIDS." He'll be able to kick so hard his foot will break the speed of light to travel back in time to kill Toto in the make-up trailer.
We also have been watching Bleach, in an attempt to fill the vacancy Naruto fillers have literally bored into our ghostless shells. One thing that stands out in every anime series we watch, Naruto, Bleach, Berzerk, DBZ, etc. and Japanese video game we play is the omnipresent brainwashing that goes on. There is always a reluctant hero character who world-saving ability is almost exclusively defined as the ability to preservere. In every one of these, the hero merely needs to reach down deeper and harder and things will be ok. His teammates are usually skilled combatants that are surprised by his ability to persist, and are willing to sacrifice their lives for him.
What a contrast to American comics, where teamwork is a rare and precious thing, where individuals struggle to find their roles and the values they are willing to sacrifice. Or in solo comic characters we find that they don't have a supporting cast, and often have to hide or justify their powers.
The more I watch, the more shocking it is to see how much conformity and brute force willpower are stressed as values to uphold. Perhaps U.S. sailors on aircraft carriers felt the same, seeing kamikaze pilots plow into our daunting seaborne fortresses with the Emperor's name on their lips. I guess the opposite of that is the American myth of the lone hero, ever present in our comics, movies, novels. Our caped crusaders and soldiers sacrifice themselves for each other, not for the Cause. Is that a weakness? Time will tell, as we fight more and more wars we know nothing care nothing about.