Category Archives: Franchises

IM@S Still Cleans Me Up

There’s not much else to say on my part. Words probably could describe how I feel today and how I felt back when in February, but this means so much to so many and it was executed so well that it says all that I wanted to say.

Oh, I guess at least I can attribute.

For those who are new, let’s just say that back in Feb there was a great IM@S live event and I was able to attend. In many ways it was possibly one of the most moving attempt at mix media marketing ever, and one of the best anime/game event ever. It was also a great concert on its own. Now we can relive it on Blu-ray comes October 22nd. There was a live stream earlier today that I clipped and put on the ‘tubes and you can look at the samples above.


Housekeeping: IM@S SSA Cleanup

Lots of stuff to talk about but mainly I just want to publicly point out that all the people who contributed money to our SSA flower and book deal should’ve gotten their stuff in the mail by now or already received them (months ago for most of you). Maybe better put I am kind of putting it to rest now that the last thing I had to mail out is in the mail.

A big thank you to all who helped us through the whole thing. A big thank you to those who helped me through the whole thing!

In other news, IM@S 9th is in a couple weeks and things are ramping up. Friday brings a surprise announcement that they don’t want fans to send flowers to the Tokyo and Nagoya venues. Probably because they are like “wait we’ll get too many flowers and there won’t be any room for people” or some such. We are planning to do something flower-based so it’s a curveball to our plans that we’ll have to work around.

Today also is the day that Tenso (popular Japanese proxy) received my IM@S Movie pop stand. The shipping was about what I expected; the boxes are like 97cm in length and 80cm some in width, so it’s quite large. Some Ps ordering multiple are paying hundreds in shipping, so hopefully when we get the stuff in time for some photo OP!


Aldnoah.Zero Wins Round One

I haven’t sampled everything this summer season but I think I’m at a point where I can comfortably say I’m ready to take my picks and go on. Part of this is thanks to not having to worry about 2 noitaminA shows, because of the double-length Psycho-Pass rerun. Part of this also has to do with how FUNimation’s picks this season whiffs everything except The One Show Every Season They License That I Must Watch, so there isn’t any chaff like Daimidaler or Soul Eater Not where the fact that I have negotiate their services put enough of a strain on my attention span that I end up dropping them. [Free S2 completely whiffs at episode 1. It turned into K-ON except with guys and...sorry. Give me some Koushien story please. Oh, there's Tokyo ESP I suppose, which is in limbo but...]

It’s easy to see why I take a liking to Aldnoah.Zero. It’s got the rich SF background, it takes plot progression seriously, with a lot of mind paid to tension and emotional response. Amamiya Sora is icing on the cake (I think she’s getting hype specially in P circles, but also in general now). Ohara drives a mecha? When’s the last time that happened? Wait, don’t tell me Sidonia. Well the real reason is it pushed all my Nadesico buttons.

At any rate, that’s just the prereq. Butch lays it on thick Gargantia-style here with the setup. This time it’s a lot more palatable as someone who at least got to episode 5 of Senkou no Night Raid. Joking aside, there’s enough to the series that I want to see how the setting and theme play out. The pacing/plot being enjoyable enough is what keeps me awake, I guess.

Ami looking like Ami from Million Lewd. Million Live I mean.

Speaking of which, I was surprised Hamayamata keeps me awake because it’s pretty dull other than the eye-jabbingly prismatic visuals. I mean that in the best possible way. I rewatched episode one a couple times and it just looked so hyperrealistic in that fancy, let-us-pour-all-the-filters kind of way that it feels out of place. I would be lying if I didn’t enjoy Yaya being not-Kaya and Hana being from scenic New Jersey, though. Can’t wait for Nu’s character. More seriously, it channels a little of Chihayafuru in the feels, and I can’t wait to see what that means in a dance…club sense.

I didn’t expect to enjoy Akame ga Kill, but I did. Another Amamiya Sora show! But this one is clearly a notch down. Could be fun if it has more of a setting to play off of.

I want to like Argevollen, but it is turning out to be the perfect foil to 08th MS Team. As if you ever wanted to see an example of a crap squad mecha anime, there you go. At least do us the favor and make the main character as chill as the ones from Gunparade March or something. Really wanted to like it but it is basically in every way a subset of shows like Aldnoah.Zero … or Sidonia. Minus the KOTOKO.

Glasslip…Satojun takes on Nagiasu? I don’t know what to expect but I’m sure I’ll enjoy the hell out of it. That said, so far it’s a little snoozy. The whole super power bit is a little vague. It’s okay to get started this quickly but I wish we had a little more time to get comfy with the cast first.

Locodol is another show that I thought would be trash but is turning out pretty okay. Kind of wish we can swap Naru from Hanayamata with the protagonist here. I would probably dig this show a lot more if it was as long as Yama no Susume 2. It’s not, which means now it has to have some kind of plot to carry over 15 minutes.

Nozaki-kun is like the shoujo anime that isn’t. I can’t really say I like it because the humor doesn’t work for me as much, but it helps that the MCs are both tsukkomi. Maybe girls like that? Anyways while the concept is intriguing it is pressing all the wrong buttons for me. Can’t fault it for pressing buttons but maybe it’s just not for me.

Rail Wars is the one show this season where I like everything except the actual story here. I love the depiction of faux-real world Tokyo Station or the Japanese attitude about customer service. I like how there are real trains in the anime, down to the last bolt or screw. Unfortunately the rest is sort of bad. Bad in a way where I’d rather go and rewatch parts of Tenchi Muyo? I guess.

Ao Haru Ride is going to be pretty cool in that we finally get Mayayan in a proper shoujo protagonist role. She deserves it. I wish I can say more than that though; just not my kind of thing and when I watch shows like this I get all old fogie like, “Why can’t shows today be like Karekano good”? Maybe this Otaking rant has something in the making of.

Sabagebu is okay. I watched one episode and it was largely forgettable, but it’ll probably be fun enough to keep me up to 3.

I want to try one episode of Love Stage but I’m not that bored yet. Bladedancer could be interesting, and it doesn’t have that “yet another Nobunaga thing” stigma attached, so I might try that at some point.

The new Encouragement of Climb anime is great, but I feel it’s too long.

I watched the Tokyo Zombie live action movie some years back. It was a riot. I hope Tokyo Ghoul is at least around the same level. Somehow I doubt it.

I looked at the 2ch matome posts for Momo Kyun Sword. I had enough.

How can I go back to OFA at this rate? Hopefully by dropping half of the above. I still have 4 more idols to unlock!

PS. None of this really shakes the fact that Zankyou no Terror might still be the best show of the season, but so far there’s not enough data to make that call. Rather than calling it a win for Aldnoah, it’s more like a personal victory for Aldnoah that it did not crash and burn in the pack before it thinned out. It’s almost like watching NASCAR for the car crashes.

PPS. I’m sure to watch more show not mentioned thus far this season. I also owe myself a Puchimas catch-up after my Sidonia catch-up.

PPPS. I’m digging Cap’n Earth a lot more since they switched gears with exploring all the other designer children stuff. ED2 is awesome. Ace is slowing down as expected; finally getting to see baldie pitch should lift spirits. And I omitted the other continuations that I’ll surely catch too, like Illya and Ai Mai Mii… Goes to show how great Encouragement of Climb is.


Exploring the Concept of Controlled Chaos from No Game No Life

Basically this

I think I’m on the brink of something large
Maybe like the breaking of the dawn
Maybe like a match being lit
Or the sinking of a ship, letting go gives a better grip

It’s the difference between living with the world on your back, or living with the world on Atlas’s back. It’s the heart of gamification that underlies the premise of No Game No Life. The fact that our protagonists are considered worthless human beings in light of their pre-existing surrounding and god-tier miracle workers in this alternate universe is fancy and enjoyable to some degree. But just how are we suppose to enjoy Tet’s giant chess game? Just how unreal is a virtual reality in a fantasy world where gamers game and gamble everything and anything from nipples being non-existent to people being non-existent? So meta.

If the ultimate idea at the end is sort of the head trick that we’re headed, as far as character development goals and thematic understanding of what’s happening, the show is full of them in other ways. The common anime/manga/game/light novel trope about having fun while doing it is a common one; but to me the trick was more about how using that concept as a trick to get somewhere else. In that way, when the Kuuhaku extended their hands to Izuna it felt like a “hello kids, the moral of this story today was XYZ” moment and it makes me want to point fingers at a certain type of people who talk about plot and character development. You know who I’m talking about. That is never really what makes this show special, much like how the Warbeasts never get what the Kuuhaku is trying to do.

It’s easy to say that I enjoyed NGNL enough to link to a Kotaku article, gasp, but more over my enjoyment and endorsement exist in light of, and over, my objections to its flaws. And I just want to talk about that–it’s about letting go and let yourself enjoy that head trick. Don’t be a Steph. Which is basically anyone who rated this show below a 7 on MAL.

Joke aside, I do want to mention its Steph shaming schtik, which depends on what context you are coming from, can rub people the wrong way. I came from the “Yoko Hikasa makes the best tease character” angle so all the Steph jokes are a delight. Just to know that it’s merely a head trick–to the extent that fanservice is definitely biased in this series towards our garden variety harem setup. In those ways, NGNL feels rather mundane, and perhaps it is. It’s a little bit like Seitokai no Ichizon in that the real strength of the material is what they actually talk about, eg., not the fact that Mafuyu might be a fujoshi, but that Mafuyu takes a fujoshi point of view in the otaku culture roundtable. Or that there’s a otaku culture roundtable to begin with. NGNL does the same thing, not only in that as gamers would know it’s more fun to talk about games by playing games rather than just talk about games in a room, but that the act of talking about games while gaming is really the end game. It’s not so much that we’re watching a light novel adaptation take on Gal-Gun, but we’re talking about how the anime take on Gal-Gun along with the characters in the story.

For me, the persistent and well-distributed meta–like yeast in the biblical dough–is what holds the show together. No Game No Life occasionally shows you the seams, but in good faith usually. The few times it didn’t I can probably forgive it on the grounds of “go read the light novels” as even in its worst moment, it’s still better than, say, Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere. The thematic consistency about letting go, holding on, and how those things interplay with each other is kind of the obtuse way to describe the effects of gamification and the various head games Sora and Shiro play with each other and with the rest of the world, including viewers like us. Anime is the perfect medium for this kind of a narrative.


Franchise Positioning: LL And IM@S

Happy Birthday Hidaka Ai!

I’m just thinking about how to approach that material for my hypothetical panel, which is now rejected from Otakon programming. I find myself approaching this mainly from a business model point of view. It’s hard to say what is special about … this thing. What is this thing anyway? Cartoons? Or cartoons with idols in it? Or cartoons with idols being the main schtik? Invariably you have to talk about the media mix-ed-ness of it all, so naturally it becomes a discussion on the business.

One approach I was thinking about is comparing different well-known “idol anime” situations and see if we can gleam something. To jump to the point, one key difference between Love Live and IM@S is the sort of businesses they are. One is a video game franchise with stuff spun off it. The other is pretty much that idol concept from the first iteration.

I also want to highlight and examine what makes Love Live, seemingly, a franchise more friendly to women. That begins with first ascertaining the premise–which, really, all I have is that more women attend the live events than most other 2.5D idol events featuring an all-female cast. I wonder how that compares to the female Oukokumins out there. It also begs the question about how does live attendance factor in, which can be explained but only with so many words, unfit as a sentence’s clause. It’s also another angle where IM@S stands in stark contrast as a video game franchise born under the shadow of the declining arcade scene. I recently watched the bonus Blu-rays that came with the UNMEI Live CD singles and when Pyonkichi took an informal poll, the hands went up were about 10%, at most. Which is probably roughly the same as SSA in Feb as I remembered, maybe a little worse for those 2013 live shows, given how much of a maniac you had to be to get in to the smaller event.

But that’s kind of how far I could go. I can make an argument about how Love Live does a pretty okay job channeling that “utahime” feeling, a modern polish on the “I want to grow up to be an idol” idea with more Niconama streaming and less Fancy Lala. But that’s just interpreting the text. It doesn’t mean much in that I can see how these narratives can connect to both men and women, as IM@S has its fair share of similar stories to tell. Times like this I wish I can read doujinshi from circles that have done these kinds of analysis.

There are other low hanging fruits in this comparisons, of course. I think the depth and extracurricular context around IM@S, partly as a result of its age, also adds something that both encourages certain behaviors characteristic of its fandom, but also deters. It’s the kind of unintended walls with maniac behavior that happens with fandom, although in these cases it is more about intimidation than inaccessibility. For example, it’s easy for me to make no mention of how it feels to be in a crowd of grown men jumping around to the rhythm, but that can be intimidating even to someone who is simply new to the situation, let alone others who might have other causes for concern. Love Live started from scratch a few years ago and nothing other than the status quo of wota culture was in the way.

[By the way, that live 2-BD set is so good if you want a preview of next generation powerhouses...namely her, Koroazu, Machico, Yuiton and Mocho (happy birthday!). Also, we gave Tenchan a new nick: 10ch. Who are these people? Use this list.]