2015 Split Double Header, Game 2: Day 1-3

As some of you might know I’m currently in Japan as of this writing. The funny blog post title is more a clue for you to figure out what the hell do I mean by it, and for me to distinguish this series of travelogues from the other ones I will write, which hopefully will be for IM@S 10th.

The trip for this “game” includes, hopefully, a NPB exhibition game too, so pardon the baseball motif. Their proper season doesn’t begin until in 2 weeks I think, but the various teams are already doing their spring training games and what not. The one I am planning to go to is the Samurai versus Euro game. Snooze, right?

Also, I want to write a few notes about the lives I attended.

This might get kind of long.

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Maria the Virgin Witch

I finally was able to catch up big time on this little series. Maybe it’s better to explain why I had to do that. (At least, aside from being on Funimation.)

The issue is pretty much summed up, albeit regarding a different facet, as to why anyone who is familiar with modern late-night anime might find concerning. I quote:

I hope it also doesn’t suddenly turn into a morality play about the Otaku Virtues.

witch activity

What first drew me to the series was actually the exact opposite: more toilet jokes are okay. The whole Shakespearean feel to the story was refreshing, and also appropriately gutter-level fanservice trash. It turned out to be different, which I was okay with given that the focus was on a lot of plot-related stuff, building character motivations, what have you.

The one thing that I cannot stand in this context is obvious moral soapboxing that is actually the point of the story, and unfortunately Maria is chock full of it. It really comes down to the main character, being who she is, had to say the things she say and do the things she does, because otherwise she lives in a caricature world of moral ambiguity and corruption. I get all this regarding the heretic and the traditionally democratically-ordained religious norms she had to deal with. Unfortunately that just makes it worse. In fact the more they try to do the “oh some people are good/bad” the more I retch, not because of the veracity of its value judgment but rather it’s all too eager to make them for you. Maybe if there is a better way to pass the pill, so to speak. The famed English playwright was a master of this.

Maybe the problem really was that Maria was French?

Actually, the problem is more like the French has no sense of humor. The most powerful tool in this story is criminally underplayed in Maria: stuff needs to make people laugh. It goes back to kind of why fanservice heavy shows are often comedic, because it helps to make viewing it tolerable. Same here, except it’s not for fanservice’s sake. We have the owls having a jolly o’ time but they are even rarely funny. It’s like most of the laughs comes from either bullying Hanazawa’s owl or some big-breasted voice joke from Pikasha. Maria has got to do better on that front: both the show and the character.

Otherwise, though, Maria the Virgin Witch is pretty solid so far, and refreshingly different. It is just sad that these important, but unfortunate issues will hold it back from being actually good.

Choucho – transient blue

Choucho did two shows on back-to-back days at the end of February for her Whitepetals live shows and I was fortunate enough to be able to catch her last show, where she performed a couple tracks off of her limited single, transient blue (stylized with lower caps). It comes with three original Choucho compositions with acoustic arrangements, plus the acoustic version of Authentic symphony.

It’s a Lantis single but produced with an indie budget. During MC, Choucho talked about transient blue being something she had a big hand in producing and it was recorded humbly. During the acoustic corner she performed a couple songs out of the single (full set list both days here) and luckily we got to hear Answer on day two. It’s a pretty neat treat for a couple wary English-speaking travelers who flew in to catch the show. I’m just going to transcribe the song here.

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Voices, Social Structures

I read this and I don’t get what the other end of the spectrum is. And to be fair, aren’t we all Evirus wannabes? Who are these exceptions?

Some incidental spoilers on Shirobako ahead. It’s not a post about Shirobako so I didn’t think it’s a big deal.


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Just some meta discussion on what’s going on with this blog lately.

I’ve kicked it up over at hpt.moe with some of the banal news content. The blog and the social media presence is nice but it’s the swan on the surface. Underneath we’re peddling a hundred miles an hour, running on hype between Scamco’s marketing, 10th, and Asapon North. A lot of stuff is happening, folks.

On this site, I really don’t have the time to blow things up. It’s more like ideas do come but I can’t put in the time to build them up with any degree of rigor that I like. I am also really behind on some Shirobako write-ups so I’m working those out first.

The Idolm@ster ideas tend to get first dibs, just because it’s front and center in my mind and the ideas gel fast and furiously. Well, maybe some more later.

Prepping for my Japan trip otherwise. Eventernote.com is a helpful tool that organizes my event list, so linking it makes sense here. Some of my HPT fellows are building their own version of the thing, and it’s pretty neat. We’ve also built something that allows couriering and proxy purchasing of goods at events. The website is, again, just a nexus that hides all the stuff underneath.

As noted by the event blog post, I am going to Aisute. We’re bringing some flowers courtesy of @hananoki_flower. The shop takes cash and bank transfers, so it’s nigh impossible to pay them as a gaijin unless you got proxies who can pay for you (and those do exist in a commercial capacity). The hardest part remains working with them to figure out how the design goes. I await eagerly on what comes next.

Lastly, I just want to close out with some fhana. First, please read this translated interview. So while breaking in a pair of Massdropped AKGs I decided to put on a mix of Mono and fhana’s new album. Fhana’s new stuff is on iTunes US, so it was handy that I can play on a bunch of different devices. What struck me was how several of the band members wanted to talk about the climatic track on the album, white light. It’s the one that exhibited the most subtle arrangement layering and the one that actually stands out the most from the other tracks in terms of the repetitive bridge that flies underneath Towana’s large sound. It’s particularly egregious when the second chorus brings in the reverb from the guitar, and there’s this dueling duet going on in the background as the melody goes into the bridge and sheds the covering. I’m not sure how to feel about it, besides to admire that there’s this funny interplay between the sampler and the guitarist. But a string ensemble? I don’t know. As the song eventually makes it to the outro, the piano brings a sense of balance and conclusion, and I think it kind of represents the nature of this band, complete with the vocal just dressing the rain of sounds from a strange mix of sources.

It’s just like a vocaloid piece. Musically it doesn’t matter how much the lyrics meant, or if it’s Rin or Luka or Gumi, but that the notes are notes and the right ones hit the amp and pumps out the headphones. That ebb and flow. The signals. The sound following the form. And it’s within that space or framework that fhana expresses their message.

Mono, on the other hand, just paints. If you ever hear them live, it’s like there’s aural space-time where they pour their notes into the space with an almost-metaphorical air compressor. It’s pretty cool. I assume fhana is not like that but when bands try to recreate the same motifs live, it can vary drastically from the recording.