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Seiyuu Nonsense, And Go Vote Already

A taste of a year-in-review post here.

Ibuki Kido

So the annual seiyuu award is going on. Or Seiyu Award because, it’s a proper thing. Awards ceremony is usually first thing next year. In past couple years they have a fully EN-language submission form, and now it even claims to count your vote along with the Japanese ones. I wonder which poor sod will actually try to read who voted whom.

You can access the voting form here. I don’t know about the eligibility requirements for newcomer. I think it’s like, 3 or 4 years?

I’m not going to make a blow-by-blow description/speculation like this person but here’s who I’m voting for:

Best Actor: Junichi Suwabe – Space Dandy. Also (it’s a theme) meeting him this year impressed. He looks just like him (in the yankee/bum sort of way), at least in terms of that feeling. This is only a superficial similarity that I am describing. It also probably had to do with his Dandy cosplay…

Best Actress: Eriko Nakamura – IM@S the movie. It’s rather good, in that you get the concert full-feels version of Nakamura. By all means, Nakamura is an above average seiyuu, perhaps not top seiyuu quality, but definitely someone who has been doing it for a while. What makes her shine is the “seibuta” qualities, least to mention that she is the cover girl for my favorite anime thing this year, but also just a well-rounded good entertainment personality. Seeing her in person was p. cool.

Best Supporting Actor: Hiroshi Tsuchida – Samonji from Argevollen. It’s just a great performance that I enjoyed tremendously.

Best Supporting Actress: Saori Hayami – Hatoko from Inou Battle. Her epic performance from last week’s Inou Battle aside, she always make a strong voice acting case every year. It’s all just a matter of if she can land that role that allows her to showboat her skillz. Also saw her this year, and she never fails to impress.

Best Rookie Actor: Hanae Natsuki – Slain from Aldnoah.Zero. I don’t track male seiyuu as far as voice acting roles go, but she really stood out in the handful of shows I saw him in, for better or worse.

Best Rookie Actress: Ibuki Kido – Kana from IM@S the movie. I would also hat-tip KN33S0XXX for the phat rhymes. She’s new enough right? I think her roles up to this point are all really solid, as far as an actress goes. It’s pretty amazing to see her turn it on, so to speak. It’s by no means Fancy Lala but she changes from a teenage girl into an entertainer like a snap.

Best Song: Juri Takita – Kimi ga Erabu Machi from IM@S the movie. I didn’t think there is an outright winner this year, despite having some really sweet tunes this year soundtrack-wise. I mean, KN33S0XXX. Can I nominate Suwa’s beatbox CD because, LOLs. The usual strong performers like Minorin and Sphere still are very strong, but nothing really outstanding. If I had to rep a song outside of IM@S, then probably Spica from StylipS (really sweet harmony that leverages their singing style), or WUG-chan’s Tachiagare, which is the other masterpiece from Kousaki Satoru this year.

Best Personality: Momo Asakura – TryAngle Harmony (Torahamo). It’s squarely in the idol seiyuu category, but Muray second gens are a fun bunch. It’s probably not going to be her–she’s not all together, so to speak, but there’s something special going on. Other radio shows I check out this year that could be cool includes Hayami Saori no Freestyle and Yumi Hara’s solo radio, Hara Yumi no Maru Maru (HaraMaru) Radio.

PS. If you like a seiyuu, go stuff that ballot box.

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I revisited this blog post after some P bros rediscovered it. Are things any different now? Not really. I just realize a key factor between my last write-up and my present feeling–the community detachment. Since I don’t 2ch I have developed my own theory on voice acting. And in reality doing otaku stuff these days, the voice actors and actresses are attached to a list of other extracurricular activities. The Seiyu Awards acknowledge this via the “best song” and “best personality” categories, among other things.

And in that sense, it’s easier to be in the “jitsuryoku camp” (実力派) if you have some distance. If all your attachment to voice acting is from the work they do–chara songs, anime, games–then how can you be not? I don’t know, actually. As I write this, it also comes to mind that my first times seeing certain seiyuu and the impact that had on me. In that sense, distance may be helpful but if you are not inundated by excessive pushing/pandering, you won’t build that reactive “immune system” that Paranda referred to in his post. It’s like you could be allergic to that koebuta fodder, or maybe you can get sick of it after a while.

The realization, thus, is that I am not 90/10 or even 60/40. I am 100/100. It’s easy to see why I can like (and rank) seiyuu based on their performances in voice acting. It’s also easy to see why I lose it with Mocho or would fly to see the WUG-chans if they land in North America. These are not conflicting interests. So it’s easy to see why some might do a 60/40 matrix if you just want to have a “bucket list” or “priority to apply vacation time” or whatever, or why nobody can guess my list. There is no one right way to like a seiyuu. There are multiple ways to like a seiyuu, too.

After all, it’s no different than those seiyuu who can act AND sing AND dance AND have the looks AND have the personality. The world is not fair.


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.)


The Devil in the Details

Chii Sweet Home is the most difficult anime ever

As I was watching ME!ME!ME! last night, I thought about Shirobako. That’s not unusual these days, that every Thursday my mind kicks into Shirobako mode, starting out in the morning as matome blogs and Japanese twitter start to fill in with other viewers who are either anticipating it or have watched it. The day rolls on as the first wave of EN viewers tweet their reactions and responses, following up later in the day with viewers who have normal day jobs and can only watch it after work. I had somewhat of an abnormal day so I wasn’t able to catch up to Ema’s struggles until late.

Looking at ME!ME!ME!, that Animator Expo clip, it is a music video done by a budding animator that worked on a bunch of post-Gainax products–Panty Stocking, Khara’s Eva 3.0, what have you. It struck me in a way that is both poetic and sufficiently cred-hawking that separated the work from what typically passes as sexually aggressive and violent cartoons from Japan. The story might just be about the corruption of moe in how what we hold on as dear memories with our earlier 2Ds have transformed us (as in, a certain otaku subset) into dead people, being force fed of all this sexually gratuitous media over the years. It’s not something you can easily describe and come out as not condemning. It’s kind of like walking around Akiba and being handed tissue papers with scantily clad cartoon girls on the wrapper. It’s kind of like seeing Yaraon showing eroge PR posts in your news feed. It’s like, well, /a/ and 2ch, with a side of Sad Panda.

Poetic, because I found ME!ME!ME! to be a nice illustration of spiritual death. Regardless of its value at cultural criticism, at any rate, the barrage of tittays to the Japanese subcultural consciousness in this section of modern visual media induces some reaction for people who are sensitive to that type of content. And the only reasonable ways to combat it are either to ignore it, or grow indifferent.

That’s just one read. There are many ways to interpret ME!ME!ME!, and I think that’s what makes this particular entry in Animator Expo particularly artful.

But what about Shirobako? I think it comes down to the concept of monozukuri. In the same way, crafters make their art speak through its own being, in that sense that an anime is a sufficently malleable medium that one or one hundred people can come together and create, that there is a body of voices in the work as well an individual voice, in which each design or cut or scene or line of dialog or piece of music come together to express. It might be a pulse-thumping video where a bunch of tits are shooting anti-air weapons at you, or a struggling young adult trying to make it in her dream career. The details say a lot. Like how NunuIguchi took RuruEma’s donut. It’s got so much stuff imbued in that momentary exchange in which leaves us (or at least me) falling behind trying to unpack it. Or rather, in the usual case, food for thought after the weekly dose is over. Will we get a follow up? I hope so.

How hard was it to write and direct, and to animate something like this? I don’t even want to know. Yet it is right here, laid bare in front of us. The spirit of SHIROBAKO is screaming like the all-cap letters in English script it is written in (officially).


Idol Invasion, NYC 2014

Airi Totoki

Five idol acts attended NYC in the span of about six weeks: Cheeky Parade, Morning Musume 14, Miku, Babymetal and now Perfume. That runs basically the whole gamut of today’s Japanese visible idol scene north of indie. And if some indie JP idols dropped by NYC during the last 6 weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t know them. I didn’t even make it to Cheeky Parade’s free show at BCGC because *effort*.

And I think this is important. Japanese idols, the post 1999 kind of thing, is a maligned if entirely foreign creature. It’s too easy to liken them to boy or girl groups, because that’s what they are. But that entirely misses what makes idols the engines of Japan’s entertainment industry today. Too many geeks and nerds and “otaku” (US ver.) turn their noses to them. I’m not sure why there’s so much resistance for Americans against Japanese idols, but that’s how it feels.

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Autumnal Miscellany, Unconfirmed Hearsay for Lantis Fest Vegas

You would think for the month that I stop going to cons I would blog more. Nope. Forcing myself through the trials of conventioneering pushes thoughts through the grey matter in the forms of traveling stimuli, from the basics like flying through the sky or walking in a sea of cosplayer, to meeting new people with new ideas, it all adds up to the basic substance that drives my fan-like behavior. This relaxing Autumn air, on the other hand, keeps me contemplative and chill.

If it was a normal Autumn, being contemplative is all good for blogging too, as I consider just the simple stuff we watch: the life-likeness of Shirobako, the tricks up the sleeves of Sora no Method, why I don’t enjoy Parasyte, is Gundam Build Fighters Try still as magical, why is FUNi’s streaming business still a pain to my interests, what not. All stuff I can talk about. Except I have no energy or time to. I don’t even know if I can revisit my M@STERS of IDOL WORLD write-up now that I am giving the Blu-rays their third time around.

I still want to write that Eventer Manifesto thing about 2.5D emergence. Maybe I can do it as an Otakon Vegas panel.

Sphere

Over the weekend I heard from Nekocon about Puchim@s getting a North American release with DVD+subs only. That’s cool. It’s puchimas so you aren’t really getting THAT much more with a Blu-ray. I ought to be importing it anyway. Since FUNi has posted about this, we have confirmation. What tickles the mind is their eventual treatment and localization of Ping Pong. How do you localize that? It feels like opening the Ark or scratching your fingernails on a blackboard, trying to change Japanese into English, you hear that, Mister Fukunaga? Isn’t it some allegory to American, white-washing cultural imperialism? Or a sad reflection to the American consumer culture? This is not some General Tso’s chicken at work here.

Similarly, I heard that Lantis Matsuri Las Vegas will finally start something maybe this week. There will be a VIP tier. The shows may be 3 hours or so long each day, featuring 7 different artists. I wasn’t at the con so all of this is hearsay. Otakon Music Fest was 3 different artists and ran for about 3 hours as well, so I really wonder about this. More on that note: there will be collaborative events between Otakon Vegas and Lantis Matsuri, that much we have indirect confirmation via the Otakon forums. What we now know (by hearsay) is that some artists will stick around on Sunday and have some event at the con. There won’t be autograph sessions as far as I hear, but panels probably. I was actually quoted a flight time: if it’s after 5:30pm on Sunday, you are OK. Vegas airport is quite close to the main strip, so that is believable.

I can also foresee the incoming gnashing of teeth regarding Lantis Fest promo. I mean, seriously, they have to do a better job. For example it’s roughly 2 months away until the festival, and we only have unofficial confirmation of 3 of the 7 guests. One is the same Nekocon guest, Sayaka Sasaki, who leaked her own attendance at Vegas (unofficial official announcement?). The other two are (un)confirmed via the ANN Lantis Fest Kanto interviews. Common sense would also indicate Jam Project’s presence. But if they don’t tell us who the heavy hitters are by the time VIP tickets go on sale, there will be people straddling that line, because Lantis carries some big time guests where a number of people would drop everything for. Com’on u’s! Com’on StylipS! Com’on IM@S ML! A Sphere Is Fine Too! Among others.

I’m going to chalk up the delay on Lantis Fest Tohoku that’s coming up this weekend. I suspect after that wraps up, we’ll get some info pronto.