Category Archives: Franchises

Housekeeping, Expelled, Lantis Festival Vegas

I think I’m going to pre-order these three from CD Japan for early next year. So I’ll link them here for my own benefit (lol aff links):

  • WUG Best Collection – If we think of idols as a music industry thing, then I’m totally not a fan in the sense that I don’t buy the CD/BD stuff. Just merch. Kind of like how people feel about WUG regardless of the anime. Anyway, grab all/most of their songs here.
  • Haramii’s First Live BD – Mainly for the tokutens, but Haramii is lovely anyway.
  • IM@S CG St@rter Best – 14 existing chara songs on one disk, featuring the main 14 idols the anime will focus on.

And a few recent items:

  • Ongaku Shoujo album – Did I tell you about the time at AWA we talked to someone who worked on Ongaku Shoujo? Also Seto can sing so no complaints from me.
  • Yanagi Nagi’s Polyomino – New album! And with the bonus CD stuff.

I’ve been pretty delinquent with buying crap this year. More like, the crap I buy are not the usual stuff. They tend to be (equally) worthless things like doujinshi or happi from events I didn’t go to. What can I say besides they are swag? Like, they are swag, not that they are swag.

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Angela rotated

I went to see Expelled from Paradise, the 3DCG movie directed by Seiji Mizushima and created/written by Urobuchi. The movie comes from Graphinica, which is probably best noted these days as a photography and CG studio for some Aniplex shows (they worked on both moviem@s and anim@s). This season they’re doing the CG for Your Lie in April. They’re also credited for the memorable transformation scene in Penguindrum.

What sticks out more to me is that Itano is the chief CG action guy. You won’t see it here but he has a team just on all the action CGs. And it really shows. Like, REALLY. If you’re a fan of Itano’s action choreo and designs, it’s a must watch because the movie follows a very predictable Hollywood-ish plot (ie., lots of opportunity for eye candy and action sequences), and the second half of the movie had a couple awesome, jawdropping cuts. At least for me anyways.

When I saw the credits at the end I was having a Shirobako moment.

On a less technical note, Mizushima’s movie unloads all his tricks. It’s bang-bang all the way, although towards the end I’m not sure if the film has laid it enough on in the first 90 minutes to get “corny” on us. It has all the tricks you would expect a Japanese mainstream movie, except the crafting feels still like an Urobochi film, which means basically it’s as subtle and as graceful as a raging bull.

The main character in the movie is a kinpatsu twintail teenage tsundere with large jugs, voiced by Kugyuu. OK, now point out the one thing in my previous sentence that don’t belong. That is basically the problem of Expelled from Paradise allegorically.

Oh, before I give the wrong idea, Expelled from Paradise is a Toei animation film, even if it’s still mostly Graphinica? It’s also not all 3DCG, there are some 2D animation (mainly faces). It tickles my funny bones a bit, like how Karen Senki sometimes is too cartoony for the feel of the show.

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The PR engine in Lantis Fest Vegas is in full swing. I know because I’m getting PRs and Otakon is actually tweeting something about them. I also know because there’s a “rumors” channel I’m a part of and someone even got a part-time gig to canvas forums, SNS and sites with Lantis Fest Vegas stuff.

I also know because now I see those silly preview videos for Otakon Vegas/Lantis Fest. Com’on Otakon you can do better than this. Das Feenreich needs a bigger PR budget. It’s all but confirmed, but Sunday at Otakon Vegas there will be some panel or signing or whatever. We’ll see.

Sushio at the con, hopefully, means a jolly time.


It’s Not Comedy

I’m not a huge fan of portmanteau, so consider this a factor of bias.

Dream team

I was reading the APR a few days ago and someone made a comment on how Shirobako is a dramedy. It was like a trigger, in that I thought several things in rapid succession, like, what drug is Mike on? What is dramedy anyway? Is Shirobako a what? What was it again? What does it even mean? I guess he is based in Socal so the language flows a certain way? Is this just me overreacting?

Well, in a specific context, the term dramedy means the same as, and as far as I can google, dramatic-comedy or comedy drama or any combination of those two terms. It also means more or less what it says–a hybrid of sorts specifically in the TV/radio drama sense. In a more rigorous scheme, many dramatic-comedies are probably still just dramas. The term (or the hybrid genre) grew as a factor of mass marketing and a need to distinguish different types of TV shows.

Because, truth is, everything is to a degree comedic. Most sad stories have moments of levity and humor. Most happy stories contain serious themes. It’s not something categorically you want to spin out meaningfully in earnest discussion. And again, really something specific to American mass entertainment (TV/movies) and its subsequent development thereof.

The “triggering” nature of this line of thought stayed with me a while and I ran into a couple pieces which reflects these. For starters, there’s an interview with comedian Chris Rock that might be worth reading for various other reasons, but let me pull one part here. [Bold for interviewer, some formatting removed]

I don’t think people understand how hard it is to write comedy. The gestation period, the trying out of jokes, the whittling them down — a lot of people may not understand that, in some ways, drama may be easier.

It’s not may. It is easier.

Go on.

It just is. Hey, man, I loved Gone Girl. Loved it. But you could probably get other directors — I’m not saying they’d make it as good as Fincher, but you could get it from beginning to end and get a reaction out of it, where you can’t really do that with comedy.

Every moment has to pay off.

In this sense, comedy’s really fair. It’s not like music, where you can hire Timbaland and he gives you a beat and a song, and even though you can’t sing it’s a hit. Comedy, especially stand-up comedy, it’s like: Who’s funny?

It’s a ruthless marketplace.

It’s the only thing that smacks Hollywood out of its inherent racism, sexism, anti-­Semitism. It makes people hire people that they would never hire otherwise. Do they really want to do a show with Roseanne Barr? No, they want a thin blonde girl.

But she’s funny.

She’s just funnier than everybody. I’m not even sure they wanted to do a Seinfeld show, but he’s just funnier than everybody.

He’s not a matinee idol. He’s Jewish, nerdy. And recently he said publicly he was somewhere on the autism spectrum as a comedian.

He bores easily. I bore easily. Not because I’m on some spectrum, but because I hear so many conversations again and again. So many people come up to you, and not enough people try to take into account what you’ve heard already.

Let’s put it this way. Take Anchorman. Now switch the directors of Anchorman and Gone Girl and give them their movies to do. Adam McKay’s going to get closer to Gone Girl than Fincher is going to get to Anchorman.

Absolutely.

It’s not even close.

Okay, but Woody Allen—

I don’t even think Woody does comedy. I think he does dramas with jokes. They’re all sad at their core.

It’s pretty clear, in my opinion, Shirobako (and majority of TV anime) are dramas. Sure, they have jokes and can be funny, but that don’t make a comedy by itself. It’s the Teekyuus and Azazels of the world that are comedy, when I (and others) lament that nobody blogs about comedy. Because it’s friggin hard to write about comedy. It’s friggin hard to make a good comedy, let alone doing this whole Japanese cartoon dance across the Pacific (and Atlantic in some cases).

Which comes back to Shirobako. The director of the show, Tsutomu Mizushima, is known for comedy. His auteur voice honed in Crayon Shin-chan, which is pretty much the home of modern children comedy cartoon in Japan. Long story short, Mizushima brought his comedic touch to the humorous moments of Shirobako. And Chris Rock says as much. [Some formatting removed, Bold for interviewer.]

I would love to be a 60 Minutes correspondent.

What would you want to cover?

I would cover anything. I mean, I’d be in Ferguson right now, and it would be in-depth, and it would be funny.

It’s hard to do funny in journalism.

No, it’s not. It’s all in the cut.

What would you do in Ferguson that a standard reporter wouldn’t?

I’d do a special on race, but I’d have no black people.

Shirobako’s dramatization aside, isn’t it just presenting to us the everyday realities of the anime production desk? Since the 90s there has been a lot of otaku-oriented stories with otaku and people we desire within; but this one is about industry folks, not you and me. It’s not to say racism in America parallels the moe cancer, but the way we tell either story follows the same principles behind telling stories. I can see why someone can think Shirobako is a comedy. It’s in the cut. And Mizushima cuts it a certain way that brings a certain levity. But it is not, say, the Office. Or Wagnaria. I feel that Shirobako can seem light because we are cutting pretty close to the bone and to home; it’s also part of the dramatization package to protect both the show and the people it talks about. Most of all, the humor helps to make a dry topic fun to watch.

I don’t fault Mike (who is a swell guy AFAIK) for dropping the most cromulent, triggering portmanteau (for me) in a random internet comment sort of thing, but that’s just misleading TV gossip language and it makes me sad. Which is to say a lot of people out there probably don’t even know good comedy if it punched them in the face, because they don’t even have the life experiences, the current events, all that current-events wherewithal that Chris Rock referenced, to really get it good. Nothing wrong with that; we all have to start somewhere. So let’s. And in my opinion the first step is to get out of that consumer-oriented mind set, that overly database-minded idea that comedy is just yet another flavor like slice of life or sports, a row in a table. It’s a wholly different animal.

But really, the language, the level of discourse on comedy, on the anime social network stuffs, is so rudimentary that if something stood out it’s not even recognizable. Do we ever get beyond timing and puns?

PS. Wikipedia on dramedy is redirected to comedy drama. If you read the talk pages, dramedy basically gets laughed out into tragicomedy, which is really more than what anyone needs to know.


The Derem@s Anime: Leading Up To

This is just otaku doing what otaku do often, and sometimes best: excessively nitpicking in an irrational way:

They cause some concern: the new anime is no different from the old one.

For starters let’s ignore why he thinks it’s no different from the old one. Let’s talk about rather what exactly is not different. To me Anim@s is a character-driven, series of dramatic set pieces that drives an overall theme forward along. The plot orients around what typically passes for idol industry–development of entertainment talents oriented as musical artists. Will Derem@s be the same? Probably. We’re not going to pilot the Kisaragi here.

But how can it possibly really be all that different? You can’t take the idol out of IM@S–not even out of Puchim@s, which is so far from the Anim@s in terms of outlook and concept. I think Author should just rest assured that there are no Rika or Mika, no Uzuki, Shiburin, or Mio in Anim@s. How can you have same flavors of character stories if the characters are so different?  How can baked turnip taste like leftover turkey?

I’m not sure there is any real reason to assume we’ll get a GBFT, mainly because unlike those two shows Derem@s is just a different concept to begin with. Let’s use the leftover analogy: you might heat up leftover turkey and it could be good, but that would be a half-hearted way to eat after Thanksgiving. Do what my family did: bake a second one. I assure you it will not be at all like leftover. Doubly so when the second turkey is actually a turducken in disguise (well, we actually didn’t). When the work is created with conviction and can stand on its own, I don’t think it’ll be a problem at all. And for the CG anime project to be successful it has to be like that. Take a cue from Bahamut–the two Mobam@s games are wildly successful financially, I don’t see how they can really botch it after getting the production formula down via the various Anim@s projects.

And it seems they are baking a new turkey. They’re putting the limits at 14, which is perfect (if Anim@s is any indication) and will curb concerns about “how do you even do a Cinderella Girls TV anime” issue. The point about taking place in the same world is probably just a way to establish some continuity in character cameo and make collaborations possible (after all 765pro characters are in both Mobam@s games), and not some indication that they are are actual sequels. The fact that they have not said they will be sequels puts it to rest to a degree.

Which goes back to my first assumption: what the heck is the guy thinking that Derem@s is anything like IM@S to begin with? Maybe it’s just a matter of perception. I mean, I suppose it’s not impossible to confuse a pachinko machine with an arcade cabinet.


Shirobako 08 or Why Hibiki Is Bad at Naming Animals

When I saw Iguchi called out the stray white cat in Shirobako 08, I knew now we are in prime Hibiki hour. I’m not saying Shirobako, the TV anime about making TV anime, is making a reference to a video game/anime character. I’m just saying Nyajiro is just a hair better than Nyantaro, because that would be a sin for this anime. Ok, so Nekokichi is still a worse name, but oh well.

She and stray cat

Ema’s ailing problem is her inability to animate a life-like cat in a moe cartoon. Can you imagine the issues people had animating this cat in a life-like moe cartoon? Not saying anyone is moe in Shirobako or anything, but it’s a possibility. I mean, talk about animating a blob on a crumbled sheet of paper. It’s nice that the CG team is on this?

What did you say?

First off, what the hell is gestalt destruction?

If that’s what ails Ema, petting and examining a cat actually can help. Kao-chan-neesan however has a better idea. Or at least, a more tried-and-true therapy method.

BLACK FRIDAY THERAPY

It is totally possible to do a deep thematic dive into Shirobako, because it’s grooved like so, you can trace it from one point to the next. Or just enjoy how she freeloaded at Aoi’s the episode prior, eating her can of sea urchin, drinking Aoi’s drinks (from the carton!) and using her expensive shampoo (sure was lewd!). But now she kind of retracts from those hints. Must be a family thing.

Which means maybe it’s time to enjoy some Dost. I don’t know, I like his books but it’s a big commitment.


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.)