It occured to me, repeatedly, that there are 3 baseball anime this season and I’m also watching the MLB as per the past, uh, decade. It’s still April so nothing really newsworthy other than Ichiro’s retirement game and how it was done in Tokyo Dome. It was a bit surreal because the news was all over social media and I also had to hear my big boss talk about it in a company meeting. That was fun. Anyways, IMHO baseball anime is also fun.
I really enjoyed Cross Games, which is my only personal connection to Adachi’s brand of baseball. Maybe that’s for the best–I’m not sure if I can stomach his other works (like Touch namely). I’m willing to give Mix a try, especially if I had some easy way to stream it.
But I’m continuing on the Ace of Diamond series now that it has resumed again. I think it is still the best baseball anime that balances reality with the dramatic overall. Oofuri, as much as I loved that, is probably too real and too boring for most sports-anime types.
And yeah, baseball is kind of boring! Oofuri deserves mad props to incorporate that aspect into your story, while still maintain some excitement to make the story not suck.
I realize the amazing thing about these 3 baseball anime this Spring is not just that there are 3, baseball anime this spring. The amazing thing is how different all of them are at tackling this genre. Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine (HachiNai or Hachi9 or 89) is your standard group-gathering of cute, school-age anime girls building out a baseball club of legends. It comes from the root of a media-mixed, gacha-based freemium mobile game, so the expectation is very character-driven. That just means each of them will be really quirky and easy to remember.
And media mix as in, there’s a 4-koma manga by bkub and a proper manga adaptation I think…? What I loved about the Hachinai game (that got me playing a couple years(???!!) ago) was how the game visuals and designs were extremely “up my alley” in that soft pencil, sweat-drenched youth style (sup Oofuri) complete with materialization of hopes and dreams in sparkles and silly motion-comic dialogs that I always hit skip on. I mean the gacha animation is 2d anime of the protagonist running after a sparkle (and depending if you got a SR or SSR, the sun would set or turn night!!) which she jump-grabs by the fist. It sums up the concept so well.
The story mode for the game features a series of minigames that “produces’ the team through a set of time-specified training tasks (think: WING in Shinymas) in which you can grind mats to level up your guys, and/or beat the competition in the tournament. The baseball game itself is more like a statistical display than an actual game. As you would imagine, most of the baseball coaching and management is dealing with “cards” that you level up and otherwise make more powerful, your deck being the bench slots and batting order of a baseball team.
So far the anime is too preoccupied to not self-destruct to carry forward with all that tender loving sakuga so I am a little disappointed. In exchange, all the cool animation from the trailer and OP and the series so far has made it back into the game, so that’s a nice touch. Also a nice touch is hearing the voice acting cast doing it anime-style. This is a shock in that there are some very new seiyuu mixed in there with some experienced newish seiyuu (is Hanabe new still?) which makes for a delightful, if jarring, experience. Man I need to get used to Karaage sounding so high pitched.
Yeah Hachinai is the odd one out. Well, maybe Adachi’s comic adaptation is not so different than Terajima’s Ace of Diamond, but in my mind one is actually about baseball, the other is a lot more about soft aspects of the sport, like an ESPN 30-for-30. And then you have this thing that’s arguably not even about baseball in that standard postmodern sense. Well, it’s more about that brand of Koshien-tinted, romantic reminenence to high school sports than baseball, at least. So I think it’s not too unlike Mix even, if you can see past the plot device.
I’m watching all 3, or will try. Two of them are on CR so it’s business as usual but it will be trying to follow Mix, especially if it doesn’t grab me strongly at first (but this is Adachi…so if it doesn’t, it’s not without trying).
PS. Just some random notes:
- There are 4 WUGchans in Hachinai, hopefully we’ll see at least two if not all of them. Most of the usual seiyuu baseball people are in this game, for those who follow the HRr mainline and spin-off events/shows.
- By the way there was a free 10-draw campaign in Hachinai to coincide with the first week of the anime release, and I pulled Myu’s character’s SSR during it. While watching the anime. The anime is a good way to remind me to play this game (as I have neglected it most of the time).
- Nonchan voiced one of the little boys in episode 2, which is cool.
- ChikuwaP is still doing the player announcement for Dia no A, and Mako’s jelly tweet for that after the last event was lol. I mean, I understand where she’s coming from. Baseball seiyuu dream gig would be announcing at Koshien, yeah? BTW during her anniversary event last weekend she did the beer pour from a backpack keg! Another cool thing I want to see more of re: JP baseball culture.
PPS. Oh, right, I wrote this post after reading this and forgot the riposte. I quote:
Unlike Mix, where baseball has been a part of the characters’ lives for a long time, Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine features mostly neophytes, at least in terms of skill level.
What a load of bollocks. Did you even pay attention to episode 2? At least 2 of our core 4 characters grew up with baseball. Actually 3 out of 5. OK fine Mix it’s 100% but I think you meant to say that there’s a clear difference between living with baseball and actually playing it? Actually, isn’t that entirely the heart of the matter, mister media critic? I think this is a critical failure in wording.
Earlier today I was reading the good o’ RSS feed and came across the news about Kayano Ai joining the cast of a new web anime-to-be, a story (or more like a concept) regarding tights/legging/pantyhose fetishes. The copywriting, as translated, describes the characters by the type of stocking each character prefers. It’s kind of wild:
The cast stars Yōko Hikasa as Yua Nakabeni, who likes 30 denier tights (sheer); Haruka Tomatsu as Ren Aikawa, who likes 60 denier tights (opaque); and Aya Suzaki as Homi Moegi, who likes 110 denier tights (thick).
Well, naturally, Kayano Ai voiced a hard-to-forget character that also wore tights in a different show and I think you can’t really go wrong with that. In the comments to that article [insert a picture of shooting fish in a barrel here] there was one person who raised the obvious point–why these really specific sexy kinks for anime projects (albeit a web short)? You know, I have no idea for an answer off the top of my head, but later on I came across this article which I’ll quote here:
If we’ve learned anything from the internet in the past 20 years, it’s that sex is synonymous with diversity.
It struck me as too uncanny to be untrue–in that there is definitely a correlation between amount of sexual content and the amount of diversity, but I’m not so sure if there are any causation. In the context of censorship and conservative, lower-friction take on corporate policies on user-generated content, that definitely is the case. And it makes sense–it’s easy to build for one use case, it’s hard to build for countless use cases. It’s easy to build your product for the most common denominator than to customize to the rest of the world.
Which is to say, maybe the reason why there is all these kink anime is because, well, it’s a fairly liberated and diverse medium. It’s relatively inexpensive, it carries a lot of cultural capital and demands a fair amount of attention from its consumers versus other formats (e.g., any Youtuber content). It is independently (by large publishers, but) published for the most part still. Japanese people are less hung up about kinks than westerners on average. There is a culture of “anything goes” to an extent with otaku escapism.
So to wrap this up, I’ll just put that blurb about OppaiP leaving Marvelous here. Video games is definitely not as free, at least for “gamer” video games.
In February, I flew to Indonesia, then Taipei, then Japan, for a 2-week trip. I think I’ve seen more people reading scanlation sites in public in Japan in my 10-ish days there than I have all year in 2018. Probably because I spent some time in places where people do these kind of things (very long train rides, overnight in Haneda). And I’m pretty sure some of these people are 100% Nipponjin, plus the manga they were reading weren’t even scanlated, so I guess the topic isn’t even correct.
The blueprint for manga out of the ghettos of widespread digital piracy is unclear, but it’s definitely not the first nor the last IP category that has to deal with it. There may not be a blueprint but there are definitely a lot of good ideas and best practices. Well, it’s a problem afar from me since I barely read any manga these days–I’m too busy crying over dead idol groups to read anything. OK, maybe I am still reading some old-ass rant about some science fiction writer who thinks he is a hotshot. By most measures, in 2019, Clarke is about as insightful as the average Youtube commenter. The future will humble all of us, even major Japanese publishers. If that is not the relevant takeaway here then I don’t know what is.
With the last of the Sendai stop in the rear mirror, the seiyuu-idol unit Wake Up, Girls! is only one more live away from disbandment. I’m just trying to grapple with it the best I can as a fan of WUG who has now attended the last few shows in Sendai.
As to how we got here, let’s just say in Japanese popular entertainment, idol groups are common and idols of this variety come and go just like how their next-door-girl charms can be found, well, next door. There are a lot of reasons behind why a media-mix idol project that is about to hit its 6th year in existence would stop, too, despite selling out their largest venue thus far (Saitama Super Arena for their final live). But this is not that post. This post is about me, and WUGchans, damn it.
As a fan who started to follow WUG before the term WUGner became official I think there is something about following the group from cradle to the grave. I still remember reading ANN articles on Yamakan’s search for talent nationwide. I remember how in Jan/Feb 2014, while attending the big IDOLM@STER MOIW 2014 concert and on that trip to Japan, we tried and failed to go see WUGchans at a theater greeting, showcasing the first WUG movie. A friend and I were browsing K-Books and saw a signed poster from WUGchans going for over a man, left the aisle and then came back, and someone had already taken it from the shelf. The tinge of regret from that event lives on even today, even if both of us have gotten several signed goods since.
To be fair I didn’t quite consider myself as a WUGner until later in the year–more like just a typical seibuta who is into voice actresses and eventing. Well, I am always that I suppose. It was not until, at least, Chicago, when I first met the WUGchans at Anime Central 2014, that I consider myself fan enough to call myself one. (But then again, I had to be a fan to even fly to Chicago to see them in the first place.) As I would say now, I went to Acen that year to pick an oshimen. From watching the first TV anime as it was airing in winter of 2014 as well as other footage online, Miyu seemed to be the right fit for me. But having seen them in person then only further confirmed Miyu for me, despite how cute and appealing the others also were. I guess I’m not that big of a seibuta after all.
I still remember first seeing them while waiting to go into the opening ceremony at Acen. We were just chatting in front of the entrance when Hiro, Yamakan and four(?) of the seven walked right in. We waved at them. It was Airi, MayuC, Minami and Yoppi. Actually memory is now sufficiently fuzzy that I don’t remember or am misremembering these details. I still remember MayuC’s expression when I first saw her, though. It’s not too different than what you would expect of a typical Japanese young person walking around, lol, Anime Central, in her first trip to the mainland USA.
[That first Anime Central was quite instructive in a number of ways. One thing that came up repeatedly is different close encounters with these 81Produce seiyuu at various events. I’m sure some of you have heard of the stories coming from Machi Asobi, but we had the same at Anime Central already, plus AX 2017, and elsewhere. It seems like these seiyuu are more next door-y idols in more than just the figurative speech kind of way.]
Fast forward to 2019, things have changed, but only by a bit. MayuC remains the same person that we saw then. She’s like that timid but very brave-minded woman with a wild streak, but also who now has the confidence to show it off. I too have changed: from “I don’t like the WUGchans that much” to “WUGchans ga dai daisuki da!”Continue reading