Project Itoh Hype

I let loose a silent cheer when the news of noitaminA’s adaptation of his works came to the fore earlier this year. It wasn’t clear what works the late-night anime segment was going to bring us, so hearing that his biggest two (outside of MGS) works are coming is even more of a cause for cheer. Or maybe it’s the two I’m familiar with?

And seeing the various teaser trailers coming out reminds me that different people have different takes on his works. IIRC Viz’s Harmony came with a little afterwards that mentioned in passing how Itoh spent much of his final years in the hospital. Japan, after all, likes to commit their patients much more so than the west. And that passing familiarity with the feeling inside the hospital walls is a part of his repertoire in expressing whatever he was gunning for.

Invariably, I guess, I made the connection between that and other fictional works where the protagonist(s) end up dying of some fatal diseases or what not. There are a few people can relate to, I hear they’re a little popular. But in a way, what Itoh Project brought us is a much more moderated and mature take. It’s what most of us would write if we were in his shoes. The ending to Genocidal Organ especially was hilarious and appropriate fit to that mentality, even if it might not fit the rest of the book as much. Well, you can decide for yourself.

Guns, needles, whatever. Hype, though, nonetheless.

PS. It confused me for a second but noitaminA is calling these adaptations “Project Itoh” which is a word play on “Itoh Project.” The two novels are written under Itoh Project, as a matter of reference. (Insert just as keikaku TL note.jpg here.)


The Devil in the Details

Chii Sweet Home is the most difficult anime ever

As I was watching ME!ME!ME! last night, I thought about Shirobako. That’s not unusual these days, that every Thursday my mind kicks into Shirobako mode, starting out in the morning as matome blogs and Japanese twitter start to fill in with other viewers who are either anticipating it or have watched it. The day rolls on as the first wave of EN viewers tweet their reactions and responses, following up later in the day with viewers who have normal day jobs and can only watch it after work. I had somewhat of an abnormal day so I wasn’t able to catch up to Ema’s struggles until late.

Looking at ME!ME!ME!, that Animator Expo clip, it is a music video done by a budding animator that worked on a bunch of post-Gainax products–Panty Stocking, Khara’s Eva 3.0, what have you. It struck me in a way that is both poetic and sufficiently cred-hawking that separated the work from what typically passes as sexually aggressive and violent cartoons from Japan. The story might just be about the corruption of moe in how what we hold on as dear memories with our earlier 2Ds have transformed us (as in, a certain otaku subset) into dead people, being force fed of all this sexually gratuitous media over the years. It’s not something you can easily describe and come out as not condemning. It’s kind of like walking around Akiba and being handed tissue papers with scantily clad cartoon girls on the wrapper. It’s kind of like seeing Yaraon showing eroge PR posts in your news feed. It’s like, well, /a/ and 2ch, with a side of Sad Panda.

Poetic, because I found ME!ME!ME! to be a nice illustration of spiritual death. Regardless of its value at cultural criticism, at any rate, the barrage of tittays to the Japanese subcultural consciousness in this section of modern visual media induces some reaction for people who are sensitive to that type of content. And the only reasonable ways to combat it are either to ignore it, or grow indifferent.

That’s just one read. There are many ways to interpret ME!ME!ME!, and I think that’s what makes this particular entry in Animator Expo particularly artful.

But what about Shirobako? I think it comes down to the concept of monozukuri. In the same way, crafters make their art speak through its own being, in that sense that an anime is a sufficently malleable medium that one or one hundred people can come together and create, that there is a body of voices in the work as well an individual voice, in which each design or cut or scene or line of dialog or piece of music come together to express. It might be a pulse-thumping video where a bunch of tits are shooting anti-air weapons at you, or a struggling young adult trying to make it in her dream career. The details say a lot. Like how NunuIguchi took RuruEma’s donut. It’s got so much stuff imbued in that momentary exchange in which leaves us (or at least me) falling behind trying to unpack it. Or rather, in the usual case, food for thought after the weekly dose is over. Will we get a follow up? I hope so.

How hard was it to write and direct, and to animate something like this? I don’t even want to know. Yet it is right here, laid bare in front of us. The spirit of SHIROBAKO is screaming like the all-cap letters in English script it is written in (officially).


Idol Invasion, NYC 2014

Airi Totoki

Five idol acts attended NYC in the span of about six weeks: Cheeky Parade, Morning Musume 14, Miku, Babymetal and now Perfume. That runs basically the whole gamut of today’s Japanese visible idol scene north of indie. And if some indie JP idols dropped by NYC during the last 6 weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t know them. I didn’t even make it to Cheeky Parade’s free show at BCGC because *effort*.

And I think this is important. Japanese idols, the post 1999 kind of thing, is a maligned if entirely foreign creature. It’s too easy to liken them to boy or girl groups, because that’s what they are. But that entirely misses what makes idols the engines of Japan’s entertainment industry today. Too many geeks and nerds and “otaku” (US ver.) turn their noses to them. I’m not sure why there’s so much resistance for Americans against Japanese idols, but that’s how it feels.

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Autumnal Miscellany, Unconfirmed Hearsay for Lantis Fest Vegas

You would think for the month that I stop going to cons I would blog more. Nope. Forcing myself through the trials of conventioneering pushes thoughts through the grey matter in the forms of traveling stimuli, from the basics like flying through the sky or walking in a sea of cosplayer, to meeting new people with new ideas, it all adds up to the basic substance that drives my fan-like behavior. This relaxing Autumn air, on the other hand, keeps me contemplative and chill.

If it was a normal Autumn, being contemplative is all good for blogging too, as I consider just the simple stuff we watch: the life-likeness of Shirobako, the tricks up the sleeves of Sora no Method, why I don’t enjoy Parasyte, is Gundam Build Fighters Try still as magical, why is FUNi’s streaming business still a pain to my interests, what not. All stuff I can talk about. Except I have no energy or time to. I don’t even know if I can revisit my M@STERS of IDOL WORLD write-up now that I am giving the Blu-rays their third time around.

I still want to write that Eventer Manifesto thing about 2.5D emergence. Maybe I can do it as an Otakon Vegas panel.

Sphere

Over the weekend I heard from Nekocon about Puchim@s getting a North American release with DVD+subs only. That’s cool. It’s puchimas so you aren’t really getting THAT much more with a Blu-ray. I ought to be importing it anyway. Since FUNi has posted about this, we have confirmation. What tickles the mind is their eventual treatment and localization of Ping Pong. How do you localize that? It feels like opening the Ark or scratching your fingernails on a blackboard, trying to change Japanese into English, you hear that, Mister Fukunaga? Isn’t it some allegory to American, white-washing cultural imperialism? Or a sad reflection to the American consumer culture? This is not some General Tso’s chicken at work here.

Similarly, I heard that Lantis Matsuri Las Vegas will finally start something maybe this week. There will be a VIP tier. The shows may be 3 hours or so long each day, featuring 7 different artists. I wasn’t at the con so all of this is hearsay. Otakon Music Fest was 3 different artists and ran for about 3 hours as well, so I really wonder about this. More on that note: there will be collaborative events between Otakon Vegas and Lantis Matsuri, that much we have indirect confirmation via the Otakon forums. What we now know (by hearsay) is that some artists will stick around on Sunday and have some event at the con. There won’t be autograph sessions as far as I hear, but panels probably. I was actually quoted a flight time: if it’s after 5:30pm on Sunday, you are OK. Vegas airport is quite close to the main strip, so that is believable.

I can also foresee the incoming gnashing of teeth regarding Lantis Fest promo. I mean, seriously, they have to do a better job. For example it’s roughly 2 months away until the festival, and we only have unofficial confirmation of 3 of the 7 guests. One is the same Nekocon guest, Sayaka Sasaki, who leaked her own attendance at Vegas (unofficial official announcement?). The other two are (un)confirmed via the ANN Lantis Fest Kanto interviews. Common sense would also indicate Jam Project’s presence. But if they don’t tell us who the heavy hitters are by the time VIP tickets go on sale, there will be people straddling that line, because Lantis carries some big time guests where a number of people would drop everything for. Com’on u’s! Com’on StylipS! Com’on IM@S ML! A Sphere Is Fine Too! Among others.

I’m going to chalk up the delay on Lantis Fest Tohoku that’s coming up this weekend. I suspect after that wraps up, we’ll get some info pronto.


Autumn 2014 Coverage

I haven’t watched everything I wanted to yet (this almost goes without saying these days), but here goes.

Shirobako – This show is by far my most favorite thing this season. Chalk it up to my aniota senses, but if there was an anime made for the anime otaku, this is it. It’s not to say non-anime otaku will not enjoy it, or that all anime otaku would, but I get the feeling for people who don’t just enjoy watching anime, but also the craft of it, it’s a special treat. It’s the memo our TV anime industry guys writing for the rest of us.

Rage of Bahamut – Mappa really pulled out the stops for this one. I really don’t like the main dudes so far but the show is really good overall. I did try out the mobile game some years ago (around the time when Kamiyama did those commercials). So far this is nothing like the game.

Vanadis – It’s another pulp swords & fantasy story, and it’s got both what I like and dislike about this category of anime from Japan. I’ll stick with it a bit but well-endowed valks only go so far in 2014. Chaika might be filling my quota for this.

Celestial Method – Solid show featuring the usual little girls and their CVs. The big hook for me is that Nansu takes the lead–perhaps the most capable of the Torahamo group. And I think as long as the story goes that way it will be a watershed moment for her in my book. Given the nature of the story it’s not for everyone, but it works for me so far.

Akatsuki no Yona – Solid show I would watch. Dropped after 1 ep because it’s not for me and I won’t have the time.

Amagi Brilliant Park – Kyoani male fanservice vehicle. If you think of the theme park in Amaburi like this anime, the entrance fee is validated when you see the four fairies do their schtik. Or whatever Bunta-kun’s actual name is. Or both. That said no simulcast means perpetual omo delay on watching this. It’s no Hyouka so I’m not holding my breath on the other stuff. Ayako doctrine x2 this season is a good thing.

Cross Ange – If the cavity search is to get people to talk about Cross Ange, it worked perfectly. I keep saying, though, that an anime which premise is sexy ladies riding transformable flying-bike mecha in skimpy outfits fighting dragons that shoot lasers and MIRV fireballs can not go wrong. Cross Ange dares me on this point, but I think it knows where it stands on things.

Twintails – Fun show. May help combat my lack of sentai intake; actually at this point there are no other draws for this besides that sentai angle and the usual seiyuu factor. Hearing Marei say lewd things is actually not that lewd? She’s really good at it.

G-Reco – I like it a lot, but not enough to keep watching weekly. Will try to catch up hopefully once we approach 1-cour, especially if I hear good buzz.

Gundam Build Fighter Try – Not as engaging for me on the uptake compared to GBF, and I have mixed feeling for the main character (the ero aspect aside). I even have mixed feeling for the other main characters, but the trio concept is novel. I guess I never really took to Reiji anyway. Still, the concepts and fight scenes are good, so I might stick with it. Having it on Youtube makes things easy.

[Insert complaint about FUNi’s website here.]

Your Lie in April – Good stuff, but short of sublime. At episode 1 it has not gotten my attention yet, at least episode 2 did better.

Log Horizon S2 – Despite the somewhat sketchier production values, it’s more of the same, which is good, because it was already good.

World Trigger – JUMP trigger warning more like.

Trinity Seven – Demon Lord harem high school concept with Harami lead is a sure sell. It knows not to drag its wet feet here so at least it’s passable entertainment.

Yuyuyu – Reminds me of Kyousogiga, which is a mixed blessing. Will stick with it till 3. Madokagellion is fine as is but I think it’s going to skew a little.

Girldfriend (Kari) – Fun fluff, seiyuu quiz. Say it with me everybody, CHLOE LEMAIRE.

Fate/stay night UBW – This is the version that hopefully would solve the “need to play the game to enjoy content” problem Type-Moon has.

Inou Battle – It’s true to the spirit of chuu2, and the way Trigger takes on a “sit in the club room all day” type anime is intriguing. Enjoyable, but ultimately a futile thing to try to watch. I’ll forge on a bit more at least.

Garo – It’s pretty cool on episode 1, but not sure if I can spare the time to follow. I suppose now as good as any.

Still to watch: Psycho-Pass 2, Seven Deadly Sins, Terraformars, In Search of the Lost Future.

Continuing on Chaika, Log Horizon, Ace of Diamond.

Shorts – Karen Senki, Yukarin waifu anime (I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying), and SeHa is AOTS.

PS. Real AOTY is the iM@S movie, right? Right? Having the ability to rewatch parts or all of it on demand is a power I need to wield more responsibly.

PPS. Real destroyer of my free time is SSA blu-ray OMG I can watch this all day (and I will)!