Just to capture some highlights and impressions before it gets wiped out. Spoilers ahead.
Category Archives: Franchises
It didn’t feel like Christmas until the calendar turned the corner on American Thanksgiving, which is really the main signal for American to switch gears from “normal” to “holiday.” Given this year Thanksgiving was at its latest possible date, the whole holiday feel sprung on me very suddenly. But it didn’t hit home until I saw this in the news.
People have already been rolling up the holiday preps. I see people doing end-of-year blogging (at least writing it, not publishing it) and what secret santa things. I will do my two cents worth of sprucing up the holidays here.
Looking back in 2013, it’s a year when a lot of things came together. On the internet, I’ve been doing more writing than ever, and a lot of it is on Japanator. For better or for worse I’m kind of writing for them in a capacity that I imagined I would for the longest time. I guess this does mean I am now forced with the choices of cutting something somewhere so I can write more consistently. For better or worse, I am also watching more anime now than ever, which just means my novel reading has come to almost a halt. I think I finished 2 books in 2013. Blame it on LTE technology, I guess. And video games. Having all three Shiny Festa games on the iPad, or that I own a Vita now, or having the opportunity to crash through Project Diva and Ni no Kuni, stuff like that.
In some ways I wish I could’ve seen 12 Ghibli films in a month, again, but instead I will spend time getting ready. Or getting L@DY as they say. Thing is, I’ve been doing this crap for too long to shortchange the depth and passion of the Producer fandom. iM@S Ps. Nerds who love idolm@ster. Whatever. That has been kind of a thing this year more so than 2011 or 2012.
But that hasn’t been a theme, if you get what I am saying. What has been a theme is that slowly what excited me beyond anime and manga has consistently been simply things that enhanced the experience. Like meeting a seiyuu I like or going to a concert full of music from shows I loved. Both of these things happened this year (and somewhat surprisingly, every year in recent times). I mean, Otakon 20, man. If I didn’t already jumped the shark back in 2009 this would have been one awesome memorable Otakon, not that it wasn’t awesome. Cons are still tiresome but that is about as tiresome as not getting sleep; I could have skipped out on sleep to marathon some crap anime or play some video game, too. What I’m saying is just that, the totality of the fandom experience for the monetary enabled, hardcore otaku overseas has narrowed closer to the Japanese, in recent years, by some significant amount. And the simulcast business is just a small piece of that pie.
It’s just easy to point to Daisuki and Anime Sols, I guess, because they are entities out there promoting themselves. But this Producer-wannabe (I feel unworthy to truly partake in this fandom, but I will still make some business cards) is trying to board an airplane comes February to go see M@STER OF IDOL WORLD 2014. Having made a similar trip in 2013, it really kind of unsettles me in that I am not sure if, well, I will be ready for two Japan trips within 12 months. It feels that the logistic and legal hurdle between Japan and its distributed works are slowly but surely eroding. I guess that’s great if your business operates on hauling butts across the Pacific in giant flying metal cages. Or the Atlantic as I met my first UK Producer this year, heyo.
The “World Is All One” aside, I did have a good time in 2013. I just wish I could do my next trip not just purely to hit up concerts, as this trip is shaping out to be another “stay in Tokyo the whole time” kind of thing. I guess I could sight see on a day trip to go to… Mt. Takao or something. LOL. I mean they have a Yama no Suzume trail right? Right?
At least that hike is short.
Year in Review 2013 Index:
This is basically the main reason I have a problem with Sword Art Online: It’s a power-tripping fantasy that betray the reality of a form of escapism: the MMORPG. When you escape the escape it isn’t just meta, it’s just sad. For reference, this season’s Log Horizon plays the game by the rules. That is proper escapism where the Accountant can play her real-life class in this fantasy environment to her advantage, or the Post-doc raid leader can do it like the best of them (disclosure: My long-time WoW raid leader was also a Phd student that turned into a post-doc and then got a real job so he can’t play much anymore). Log Horizon deals with the human elements in a MMORPG; Sword Art Online deals with the human elements in a loser and it works well because he is in a MMORPG. Well, I guess that can be pretty appealing too.
Speaking of which, Outbreak Company is along the lines of Yet Another Light Novel about the really hardcore otaku mindset. Instead being stuck in a MMORPG he is stuck in an actual fantasy world of sword, magic, half-elves and moe dwarf children. OBC’s form of escapism is a little more honest in that he simply wants to live his otaku world in this new world, and the magic of fiction gives him the ability to do so in the form of an excellent Soft Power dig. So instead of fighting monsters or whatever they do in SAO, the protagonists in OBC instead educate children on anime, manga, and video games, usually in the form of either playing/reading/watching them, or talking about these things. This is right up my tiny crack of an alley, but its general appeal has more to do with the way it addresses the physical and emotional needs of the otaku by the way of traditional interpersonal characterization, accessible humor, and, well, cute girls. In other words, put yourself in his shoes, I’m sure you can do a better job; it invites you to do as much.
So to me, both stories derive a lot of entertainment value as self-inserts, although they may not be pure Mary Sue archetypes. Let’s do this Baka-Raptor style.
Just to be fair, this contest is just based on the first 9 episodes of both series.
Round 1: Who is more badass?
Kirito > Shinichi always.
Round 2: Who is clear-headed and acts less like an emotard?
Shinichi easily. At gunpoint, would you rather play a MMORPG or run a culture export company in a hostile environment? I think most people would prefer the former, Shin’s got a harder life.
Round 3: Who has better taste in men/women/things?
Myucel ~= Asuna
Petralka’s ZR ~= most things in SAO
The tie breaker goes against the fact that More Deban is still a problem unsolved, because Lisbeth and Silica are great.
Round 4: meta factor
SAO is an anime about people stuck in a game.
OBC is an anime about an allegory of expanding otaku culture beyond Japan
SAO has fantasy magic and swordplay.
OBC has a lizardman blowing on a NES cartridge.
Round 5: Meme factor
Two years, folks, two years.
Round 6: Gender Equality
Do I even need to go to this? I mean OBC is by no means a progressive feminist take on things, but really?
As a note, a girl in OBC actually said “would you stop talking to my breasts?”
Round 7: Race Equality
Do fairies count? OTOH, racism is an actual issue in OBC. Granted it’s kind of a comedy copout between elves and dwarves. SAO stays clear of it (other than… beaters?) while OBC somewhat bungles it.
Round 8: Who would you rather be?
Honestly? I would rather be neither of them, because in some capacity I am both already–I play MMORPGs and I write about anime/manga/etc in a meta way, for public consumption. Maybe I would rather be Myucel, and learn Japanese or something. Being a socially-shamed, racially-oppressed, half-slave girl is kind of not a desirable thing however.
I guess this means someone should license OBC hard and fast.
This Cyber Monday… Find the true power of soft power.
Flood the market with sweat labor from the K-ON voice actors?
Over the years I found myself more inclined to approach fanservice (the sexual kind) as a plus than a minus. I think part of it has to do with recognizing it as a value to be delivered for some people. Part of it has to do with my growing appreciation for it as I sink deeper in that dark, dank ditch.
Is this why I think Yozakura Quartet – Hana no Uta is the best, at least on a technical level, animation on TV for this season’s anime? The way it simply just puts the light-hearted fanservice out there is natural and fluid and I didn’t even bat an eye half the time. On the flip side there are some characters who are simply walking sex symbols, even with developing personalities and roles to play as a part of an ensemble cast. Then there are the usual moe tropes. And the “We Dollars gonna protect Ikebukuro” nonsense. Except YZQ’s hood is nowhere as cool.
Maybe I feel that way only because Kyousougiga is also on the air, and it shows when you compare and contrast. Not to say that show isn’t well-animated–it is pretty nicely done at times–but as far as the “sakuga” of the thing, as far as hand-drawn animation of moving things, YZQ is a must-see this season. In my mind it blows away Kill la Kill on a technical level, at least purely on this point. And that other point–it’s way more fanservice-y? Maybe? Kill la Kill has full-blown naked people covered by only the shadows of censorship standards. Or clothes. Or what you see when you read Hentai Kamen. But it’s played largely for laughs. Ryuuko doesn’t come across as some pin-up looking to be exploited so she can exploit the viewer for viewership ratings or video sales. Nor anyone else in the show for that matter. Very different than YZQ.
I guess in that sense, we are blessed. All three aforementioned anime are very good storytellers. They’re preoccupied with the narrative and with the characters (when appropriate). They’re not as concerned (well, I’d argue Kill la Kill is very concerned, but it’s easier to argue they’re concerned about everything) about giving fans what they want as much as giving fans what they want but on the show’s own terms. They’re here to awe and I think most of us are okay with that.
And that statement, in some ways, is only not-as-ironic in a post-moe, post-tsundere-song world.
I would also include some other titles in this bin, for this season, like Samurai Flamenco and Non Non Biyori.
Not included would be Arpeggio, Galilei Donna, VVV, NagiAsu, Kyoukai no Kanata, OBC, Gundam BF. But just because they aren’t giving us ultimatums, it doesn’t mean these show can’t approach things their own ways either. I think Gundam Build Fighter is a good example, only because Gundam fandom is sufficiently convoluted and twisted that the meta juice is dripping like a baked turkey during its final hour. The gravy makes itself.