(Sticky) Eventing: 2020

[Last updated: Apr 7, 2020]

Last year’s note here, my Eventernote here.

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The Chupacabra: Million Live Remains a Little Wild

In a blink of an eye, it’s already June? Almost.

In the past 3 months, I have taken to the land of streaming (Twitch, Youtube, and the underground where content ID is just a murmur) to stream some seiyuu live events. Knowing that every concert is going to get cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a bunch of people decided to watch IDOLM@STER Million Live concert content along online, so this group watch happened on almost every weekend leading into Memorial Day weekend here in the States.

The march from 1st live to today is a good idea to even the official folks running the franchise, so they are doing it in the month of June. Mind you I assume they knew of nothing of what we’ve been doing. Given how everything event-wise is shut down, musicians are also going online to show their stuff, either past performances or putting together new shows online-only. This much is the new reality in the age of COVID-19. On twitter I have seen other Ps watching old lives on their own.

With the first two shows out of the way this past weekend, it was definitely a nice salve for hardcore fans of the series, and also nice for casuals to join in to see something they might not have seen before, and get context from others following along the stream. Some of the staff and cast also tweet as we go.

This all precipitated when Million Live 7th anniversary live was cancelled about 3 weeks prior, and in its place, which were supposed to take place in the first weekend of May, were two live streams, each hosted by a cast member featuring the rest of the day’s cast in a zoom chat. The other main staff members also show up at the end on teleconference. Some announcement were dropped but none more shocking than the new song, Do the IDOL. This track is the promised fan-selection from those who watched Million Live Theater Days kanshasai in January, in which fans watching in person and online can vote for the theme of this song–techno and chupakabura were selected, so here we are.

In the continuing era of war of idols, mobile games clash with billions of dollars on the table in that ever-changing video game economy. It seems prudent, if not necessary, to continue to push forward the breadth and depth of the type of music, the quality of performances, and have genre challenges to existing works. It’s also important to keep pace and play up your core experience. Between the recent CG election and the Million Live stuff above, that seemed to play out plainly. These games are rather well-polished and take a well-funded team. It takes cohesive and compelling artistic vision that can sell both to management and customers. It’s about incremental QOL like the deresute monthly pack, as well as keeping what makes the franchise unique, as in, uh, the Chupacabra.

Million Live needs to be wild. With all the announcements due to 7th live now on drip over the next 4 weekends, we’ll see what is left in the gas tank after 7 turbulent years. It doesn’t help that we will be driving down (or again, in my case) that nostalgia lane, reminding us how it was in the “good old days.” It’s like taking stock and remembering this side of the franchise, when we’re just grinding Alive Factor on the other side? There’s a big surprise at the end of this road, in terms of the 3rd Theater Days anniversary content, and I’m hoping it’s something nice, and not a brick wall, LOL.


Eventerpocalypse: Major Force

Being underneath a rock for the past month and change, thanks to the internet, I know what’s going on? But more realistically, did people travel to, say, Anime Boston, not knowing it’s cancelled? If you did please let me know because I want to know your story.

In a more sober note, obviously as someone who’s done 5+ cons a year for the past…decade plus(?), I have this itch that needs scratching badly. Camping on hotel carpet floors waiting in line for events while talking to other like-minded people is not really what I miss…but I even miss that now. What I really miss is the anticipation and sometimes, the payoff. Thus, Anime Boston being my first real casualty this year is already a small acknowledgement hitting home. I enjoy Takahashi Minami, OK? Of course, I am pretty lucky that I still have a job, I can still pay my bills, and I’m in good health. I appreciate all the delivery guys and retail folks, some who are also in my life as friends and family, let alone the MDs and RNs and EMTs and whoever else out there actually fighting the pandemic. Other personal eventing hits can be better checked in my ongoing eventing log, which is also pinned to the front page of the blog.

With that out of the way, here’s what you should do regarding US/Canadian cons. I’ll write, later, some stuff about the other event types.

  • Assume cons are cancelled for all of 2020. That means, yes you, AWA and Anime NYC. Until Americans have a widely available vaccine, you can be sure nobody is going to allow non-essential, entertainment events of large scale to happen. USA took on huge economic tolls, as tens of millions of people lost their jobs, in order to slow the spread. This is the context we operate in, so short of a vaccine, there is no chance anything that will scale the virus on 10000s of people will happen. Especially when it’s a 100% leisure activity. Vaccine timeline is on the order of a year, so best case scenario we’ll be looking at early 2021 for a vaccine–probably more like mid-late 2021 given that it’s not trivial to produce and administer hundreds of millions of these, and that’s just for Americans.
  • Don’t worry about cons announcing cancellations. It doesn’t matter–you’re not going to go to any cons in 2020 anyways. Do keep track who is cancelled and how the refund policy works.
  • Do know that cons vary a lot. Some are for profit, lowest-common-denominating gravy trains; some are educational non-profit foundations trying to bring the most woke Japanese acts (w). Cons are in different financial shape–just like the XFL, some cons might go bankrupt after this year, some aren’t. Who knows? If by delaying the cancellation, con organizations can have a better outcome, these cons will. And it doesn’t really matter because you, an attendee, won’t be going to any of them anyways. It doesn’t matter if they announce cancellations early or late, you aren’t going to go anyways, because it will be cancelled sooner or later.
  • Cons can save money sometimes by cancelling closer to the actual date, because in order to trigger escape clauses and insurance claims, certain government policies have to be announced. Until it happens, they will wait before they can announce anything.
  • Please don’t harass people who run cons or even pester them. Everybody knows what’s going on, especially people responsible dealing with cons, it’s what they do. And con runenrs are definitely having a harder time than you! If you don’t think so, then you really should forget about cons and spend your free time solving what’s troubling you. I mean what’s really at stake anyways, unless you are an artist or vendor who relies on cons?
  • Speaking of people who are having a hard time, for artists and vendors, well, I hope you applied for that SBA loan (PPP). I heard it kinda didn’t work so well. My condolences. And you have a real standing to pester cons for refunds, because that’s your livelihood.
  • Refund vs roll over? If you know you’re going next year, it’s better to roll it over. If anything, there’s a chance the price will increase because every con that had to cancel lost money! If you need the money back or if you don’t know you can go, then yeah of course, try to get it refunded. Expect price increases in the near future, across the board, is what I’m saying.

On Force Majeure: It’s fancy legal term for “act of god” which is a bigger label for things that relates to ways contracts may terminate due to unforeseeable circumstances beyond the parties’ control. Basically, unless something like that happens, people are expected to follow on contracts they signed. Most legal contracts that’s worth anything will have some kind of clause governing when an force majeure situation happens, and basically it will spell out what happens, usually saying something about being conscionable or whatever (TL note: some of the deposit or payment will get returned; sometimes all, sometimes not). It might also include a list of naturally occurring events that are excluded or included as a situation where force majeure occurs. In general, things that commonly happen are not acts of god. Obviously nobody would disagree that government shutting down cons to fight a pandemic is an act of god in terms of executing contracts related to an anime convention. (Maybe this is why the country is in trouble, LOL.)

It gets more complicated in that different types of contracts care about this on different levels. Most service type contracts (catering, venue rental) would not really go too deep into this, but insurance contracts usually do. Because, well, it’s insurance. Good insurance policies precisely cover weird stuff that nobody can foresee. Cheap/bad ones spells out that they do not cover whack things. You pay for the difference. And pretty sure, some cons have corona related things covered by insurance, some do not.

Key thing here is, since what happens in a force majeure is defined by the contract specifically, what happens to a con in a force majeure is not universal. Different contracts can have different terms dealing with it. While most contracts these days for stuff like what cons do are quite similar/boilerplate, not all of them are the same and so it’s probably bad to compare one con’s legal situation with another. Further, different cons are in different financial shape too. For-profit cons also have different limitations versus nonprofit. And this is not like buying things off Amazon.com, cons are negotiating with other businesses who are suffering in this economic weather as well, so the money cons already ponied up might not make it back, or it might get deferred to next year, whatever. It’s up to each con to negotiate how that’s done with their suppliers.

For an anime con, think of like, renting a wedding hall. You have to put down a deposit well ahead of time (probably last year, for 2020 cons, if not earlier), and then closer to the event you are due the rest of the amount. For cons like AB I’m sure they paid all of that before the Federal emergency declaration.

The other consideration in this domino effect of corona cancellation is the leniency of the venue. The venue is easily the most expensive part of running a con. Or rather, venue including hotels. Since most cons deal with big hotel chains, they are actually easier to deal with in terms of event cancellation, as they have national (or even international) sensitivities, and a lot more of their money comes from individuals anyways. Organizations are closer to loss leaders (hotels make real money from selling hotel rooms to people going to the ballroom, not renting out ballrooms). Con centers owned by companies specialized in event rentals, especially like big ones like AEG, really do not have as much leeway (it’s all of their revenue, vs hotels), and likely will be way less lenient. Con centers affiliated with local municipalities will likely lean with the government announcements, but it’s not a sure thing. But a lot of those locally owned con centers don’t have shareholders, and you know what that means…

Hope this info is helpful, we already know the internet is crap when it comes to misinformation in the corona era, let’s not add more to it.


The TV Anime of Princess Connect: Redive!

With the first episode under the belt, the Pricone (Priconne?) anime is turning out to be very charming. It’s also faithful in the meta, which is always how I want my anime.

Coming from the POV of a day-1 JP player, I can say that everything I like about Princess Connect: Redive! can be summed up as QoL. The mode of play, the actual interface, the way content is delivered, the kind of content present, the considerations put into place for their target audience, and so much more, is about you, the player, having a good time. And I don’t mean it in the way where you pay or not pay money to play this game, or whatever, but it is in how much the experience you have with Pricone can charm you. The game happens to be one aspect of it.

In so much that there is so much content that can make Pricone anime a simple matter to adopt, or that Pricone game has a ton of anime already in it, the ground-level truth is that all those things merely set the tone and tune the players’ expectation. It’s in how the game invokes that Sakura Taisen vibe, for example. It’s the skeuomorphism but without the menu hell, just so it invokes that early-era RPG vibe. It’s not about what the characters do in its world-breaking story, but how charming they really are.

In the first episode we the game players are invited to witness the translation of the charm of Pricone into the anime medium. Of course this will invariably involve its huge cast of playable characters. It will have a truck ton of details and references, enough to make me moved just from watching how Landosol becomes a proper anime versus just being the background of commu that I skip because there is no way I got time for all of it. It’s like seeing Nozomi singing At That Place in the end of the first episode, or Yui’s silhouette, or the music they used in town.

Most importantly, they even brought over Yuuki. The protagonist stand-in crossed with main plot device has those two roles, and the fact that he is both is also part of his charm. It is pretty amusing to see it play out through quiet action, rather than having that gap in the commu you read.

That’s not even to mention the reused animation and background, plus other assets that we saw already in the game in the past 3 years, nor the lines, nor the character quips (“Isn’t that crazy?”), the reused music, and a lot of other things. It’s like the other meta (that I don’t like)–it’s what greases the wheel of the various mechanisms (like Arena and how powerful gacha characters are). I get it, we need them, and that is the nuts and bolts of what makes the execution good.

But those things all mainly serve the greater good. It is that greater good, the thing about Pricone that attracts me as a player and a fan, and hopefully, attracts newcomers to the world of Princess Connect as well.


Reviewing the Interspecies Reviewers

Interspecies Reviewers the TV anime was a fun and thought-provoking series, but it only seems that way if you are in a certain contextual zone. The executive summary is not too much more than that a fantasy RPG-type universe group of adventurers got a side gig as brothel reviewers, and crowdfunded their escapades using some funky bulletin board distribution system powered by centaurs.

Fantasy Brothel Yelp was not what I had in mind when I first watched this, and it suddenly dawned on me why this is such a gripping concept for me. It’s basically the same reason why I blog anime: I want to wax poetry about a fairly niche interest and talk about it with like-minded folks. Some of the very early anime blogs and tumblrs are not too far from what makes up sample review entries on Interspecies Reviewers, or Ishuzoku Reviewers.

Early on in its broadcast run, Ishuzoku Reviewers kicked up some storm because of the explicit content and how some TV stations and streaming services dropped it. There was a satellite/cable only, uncensored version of the show being broadcasted. It wasn’t really uniquely racy content-wise, at least what you see. The subject matter, however, is quite explicit. I mean, to use memes to explain, this is not some Virgin softcore, skinnymax-style. This is about Chads going around having sex with prostitutes of otherworldly natures, many times per episode. They talk about not even just the physics of the thing, not just the various kinks, of course some being off-limits in general. Put aside even the kinks that are forbidden in their fantasy worlds. There are just some pretty bread-and-butter brothel talk that is just not appropriate anywhere but within the association of sex work patreons. If it isn’t obvious, know this is not appropriate material for TV generally, anywhere. The meta-ness of the story made any of its explicit content worse than it actually looks like. People trying to understand it from the manga alone probably has no real grip on its explicitness.

Without the bounds of reality, Interspecies Reviewers plays out some really funky fantasies (like the Eggs episode or the Undead episode), as well as some borderline Twilight Zone concepts (slime magician, large quantity succubi), but obviously it is light-hearted and for laughs. It does do some things tongue-in-cheek, nodding at its own fantasy being fantastic, and the real world being entirely different in some aspects. It also demonstrates an open-mindedness that can exist in that fantasy vacuum about gender, about the marketplace, and about the circumstances of those who ply the trade.

It’s in this context that we see some really progressive and also regressive takes, all in the pursuit of pleasure. But of course, it’s important to never forget the underpinning and the cultural space in which Interspecies Reviewer can be an acceptable work, that it is light-hearted enough to be taken as late-night anime and taken-at-value enough to not get too riled up by the fact that even if this is fantasy, it only exists in a society where a very developed, a very real, and very accessible sex industry thrives.

And that is a totally different topic, one I’m not interested in reviewing (but like the Dragonkin who became a wizard at the end, definitely interested in knowing more of). Frankly, it’s very difficult to even participate beyond the borders of that country anyways. If I were to write about it, it would to extend the thought I’ve had and shared with some folks about exporting things like theme cafes and maid bars, which is already very Galapagos-y to survive outside of Japan. It’d die on contact without great care. The rest of that service industry is a huge iceberg a mile deep and a mile tall, and I don’t know even the shadow of it.


CG7th Osaka Rocks

Rather than recap I just want jot down all the thoughts and feels from the live. This bid to try to get this post out ASAP didn’t really work, but I fear it would have been only worse otherwise. But first, the setlist can be had here:

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