Category Archives: Franchises

Perfectly 2.5D

When it comes to seiyuu idoling, I have become a shell of a man that I used to be. Partly because I’ve had enough exploding from the shelling of Japan’s next-generation seiyuu idols, each lobbing nutbladder bombs badder and deadlier than the next. Partly it’s also because my exposure to the fandom makes all of it a race condition, so to speak. Hype begets hype. If I was a jaded homebody sitting in front of a PC during some ungodly hour and trading judging phrases with other like-minded, I wouldn’t be in this shape. So I guess while going all out for the 2.5D is both fulfilling and thrilling and a total blast, it comes with that cost.

Otakon is on my radar, but I’d like to take a moment to enjoy the most softly-decorated itasha. And yes, I’m enjoying Hanayamata. WUG has made me soft against Kaya’s rather typical northern charms. And speaking of Otakon, Hayamin transcends her status as an anime otaku favorite and transforms into a, well, Cinderella Girl.


Sports Anime Should Be about Art

This below post was kind of something that came to mind after I hit “publish” on the previous post, and it’s too big to just edit into my previous post. So.

I actually watched half of S2 marathon style

To summarize my last post, I am just complaining that sports manga/anime stories shouldn’t be taking sports just as a character development vehicle. It’s not to say don’t develop characters. I’m not saying we shouldn’t focus on intercharacter relationships, teamwork, or any of that good stuff. What I am saying is the way the actual sport is portrayed in sports anime/manga should be taken seriously and more thematically thorough. It should not just be a means to an end.

To go to the next step, maybe Chihayafuru is a good example because that is a pretty hollow example. By that I mean competitive karuta, as much as you dress it up to be, is still not much more than Egyptian Ratscrew. There are techniques, but it’s hardly a game nearly as complex as, say, motor sports in general. Or even most team sports. Is it more complicated and nuanced than curling? Anyway, that’s not the point, and I don’t want to belittle anything. But part of what makes Chihayafuru ticks is how it explains one of the most ethnically obscure sport of Japan to an audience who largely isn’t aware that it is a thing. There’s the whole exploratory angle. It really isn’t a story focused on an audience of pro karuta fans who follows the scene, but we share Chihaya’s point of view, starting a novice, as she explores the world of karuta.

What I enjoyed from Chihayafuru is that it plays pretty hard on the artistic nature of karuta. That the poems’ history as courtesan time-wasters is not lost on the audience. The art to “singing” the poems, for example, interplay with how fast someone can pick up the audio cues and thus get the right card first, is precisely the kind of thing that ties both the athletics and artistry sides of the sport and what it means to people who play it, in light of karuta. It’s not done in light of some intercharacter conflict or struggle, but as a nature of karuta. And in a way that karuta is such a simple game means there were only a few ways they can make these sorts of things stick out in the anime. I think that is a mixed blessing because the story can focus on the “go to koshien” aspect, which is, admittedly a necessity if the game here is foreign to most viewers. I’m also glad, visually, Chihayafuru is all about those artsy things.

And I think that’s the best way to approach sports anime: treat it as art. To use K-ON as an example, music is, by default, treated like art. It is about how it affect our lives. It’s not as much about how competition, pressure, a desire to be successful, self-worth, or whatever teenage angstbait or page-turning trick, but about what it means to learn to be a craftsman in your art. It’s partly what makes team sports so much fun to watch, because it’s not just a single guy doing the physical equivalent of hunting wild boars in a MMORPG until he dings level cap. Mio and Azunyan can practice until their fingers bleed through and their guitars stain crimson, but it’s not what music is about. Just like how abusive and difficult summer camps is what Koshien is about, but not so much what baseball is about. But singing a nursery rhyme when it’s raining outside and you’re doing absolutely nothing on a Saturday afternoon is exactly one way what real life music is like.

This is partly why I really like Oofuri. That is one story where you know whoever wrote it paid the gods of baseball the proper respect. It’s a plain koshien story, sure, and it still focuses on the battery like 90+% of baseball anime, sure, but the treatment of the sport is glorious. You can actually find what is artful about both baseball and Oofuri just by watching a bunch of people play the sport. Despite swimming in its very culturally-specific context of the Japanese high school sports club experience AND the whole Koushien culture context, Oofuri takes a big step beyond just all of that, and talks, well, baseball.

So, yeah, the other big reason why I like Oofuri is because it goes beyond the rigid genre walls of sports anime, the go to koushien schtik, and even the walls of high school baseball stories (and high school stories). Maybe another way out of these barriers for a non-Japanese to enjoy sports anime is through the appeal of these simpler, fundamental concepts like teamwork or raw human emotion and growth/character development. But if the focus is on that, I feel the work would lose its sports appeal.


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.