The WUG Life Chose Me – P Culture: Definitions and Scope

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As mentioned earlier, at Sakura-Con there was a P Culture panel about IM@S. After said panel I thought about exactly what this really means. What makes a Producer? What is an idol? Should I do an Otakon panel?

I think there’s a lot going on here, rich enough to definitely do all of that. But before I run headlong into it, some definitions are in order.

As you might know, P-culture really did start with IM@S, even if people were doing similar things well before then. In that sense, in post-otaku boom Japan there really is nothing left meaningful to define by the term otaku besides by their sub-niches. You have people who like mecha anime, for example. Or people really into waifus and moe crap. Or the 2.5D sei-buta-idol types. Or the plain variety of idol otaku. Or military. Or trains. Or BL. Or Yuri. You get the idea. These are not representative but elements to that otaku database where people can subscribe to various different things, and they do mix, kind of like a RSS feed of a set of RSS feeds.

Which just reminds me that Google Reader Shared Item is the best representation of the otaku concept. Anyway, RIP.

In that sense I would define P culture as a specific group of “feeds” that are bundled together. That’s what’s novel about P culture. That, and within this overlap, in the sense that many of us subscribe to this set of not-that-well-defined ideas, we find a sense of identity/unity common to these kind of identity affiliations (like, I dunno, gothloli and kogals). Or in the US, “anime fans” and cosplayers.

So more specifically, I mean:

  • Idol/entertainer culture, maybe specifically anison culture and wota culture
  • 2D otaku culture “in general”

Which, if you know what being a P means, has nothing to do with what being a P means–basically you are a fan of the IM@S games. And you can be a fan of the game (and now, anime) and have nothing to do with P culture. It’s kind of like being fans of old(er) school gaming, crunching things out on a NDS or X360, than on a mobile device grinding up some Million Stars. There’s already a pretty big gulf in terms of what being an IM@S fan really means, how that fandom manifests, and if it even makes sense for all of us to hang out together.

Which is also different than what being a P means, in the vocaloid scene, even if that nomenclature is not so different. Like what a Nicom@sP has to go through versus just some dude who likes the anime. Maybe this is why we’re so hot on danketsu in IM@S.

Perhaps it’s a lot more interesting to see how diverse this fandom is, and how the 2.5D fan category really exploded in the post-AKB48 era.

Ren is Yyo's buddy eh

To those ends, does it make more sense to look at Ps from a deductive way? Let’s profile a few people and see what they like, why they are Ps. Ethnography, or whatever. I wonder if there are some Japanese-language data out there…

Anyway. I think the approach to look at, present or even enjoy P culture is to do it on a more personal level. If you live like an otaku of some sort, it’s just “yet another vertical” of sorts. There are things you do, modern-day rituals, that facilitate the process. And then there are other things you do that’s just for the heck of it. Like buying flowers.

Why do we buy flowers, other than to make the concert venue smell good?

Why do we make business cards, besides that it’s useful to follow up with people online afterwards?

If invariably expression and identity are intertwined in these kind of instances, what does P culture say about us?

Is The World All One?

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Sakura-Con 2014: Wrap

It came and went, never overstayed its welcome in my attention span/brain-space or whatever that keeps me focused. Just like a nice, well-rounded, colorful single origin roast. Also kind of regretting not buying all these coffee/chocolate while I was at those shops on Thursday. Because, man, it’s not like NYC doesn’t have great coffee or chocolate, but it’s different than what Seattle has to offer.

And that’s kind of like Sakura-Con in a nutshell. It’s a great con, I think, and I kind of like it. The guests are what they are, but the crowd has a nice positive buzz, it’s both laid back and yet pretty focused. It feels so funny seeing the people going around asking for autographs at the Guest Dinner because it feels so unnatural, and it’s probably the weirdest moment for me at the con.

The 4chan im@s panel is second. Clearly animeweedlord loves his idols and when I spotted him walking down the street in his casual Yayoi cosplay on Sunday it kind of sums up Sakura-Cn for me in a nutshell. Again.

Of course, the guests do make a big dent on my enjoyment. Having four A-1 animators means invariably some of them are going to be involved in Anim@s, and in this case we have the talented Akai Toshifumi. Masunari Kouji is there too, but I like him more for other stuff, like Welcome to the Space Show or Read or Die and the like. But he also did anim@s.  Adachi Shingo is great sport for hanging out along with Akai, I guess the two are real life friends while at it.

The Guest Dinner is also a big deal in my overall experience in that I was able to talk to people like Ishikawa Yui, the Pony Canon producer, or the Fuji TV producer outside of a panel, because catching panels for a dozen JP guests is such a pain. I even sat down for Ohata Koichi as he talked shop about Hayao Miyazaki. It was interesting. And I got to pester Nagahama again! Totally asking for a sketch of Iron Man next time I get the opportunity LOL.

The fellowship of fellow nerds is also a big deal. Saw Ally & Sally again. Most of the West Coast gang. Some East Coast guys. Great food and great company make a great time, as you would expect. Still I missed out a chance to catch Sixten! That’s the only guy missing out.

To that end, there’s also great music. Elisa has some pretty solid singing going on for her, despite this whole “English-exotic” imagery they have. She’s very warm and personable, if a tad “on her own pace.” Very cool customer.

I wish I have the set list but it’s something like:

  1. ebullient future
  2. Realism
  3. World God Only Knows
  4. Soba ni iru yo
  5. Wonder Wind
  6. Millenario
  7. HIKARI
  8. Mononoke Hime (a capella short version)
  9. euphoric field
  10. (encore?) Do You Remember Love

This is a really vague guess based on old memory so LOL. [Updated via animate.tv]

eleee-saaa

Her rendition of Mononoke Hime is great. The story goes that it’s her first anime that her grandmother got her, and she loves this song.

Her MCs are also really long. I guess that’s just how it is.

Sakura-con is also kind of like my blog the past six months–it’s awfully like IM@S. The two IM@S panels aside, because when you bring over like four people who works with A-1 and Aniplex, one or more is bound to have worked on their anim@s product. So the end result is my loot pile.

命 indeed.

loot sidewaps

  • BTW “Yuiberries” LOL
  • BTW #2: Anyone wants those GSC exclusive Cinderella Girls petit nendo + stage set? Turns out I have it after all! Now I have 2. [Update: A Digi Kerot has claimed it]
  • Not included is the Sakura-Con x ELISA t-shirt, which I got as a “con” memento. The con tees are all pretty nice actually, but meh.
  • And because I rotated the image, upside-down Yamada is just horizontal.

Cosplay: A little better than average East Coast but surprisingly not so different in both quality and type. There were a few more “otaku” characters. Like an Anzu. And team weedlord. Otherwise nothing really too special as far as what I can tell. The Anime Boston Mako bancho was better than the Sakura-Con Mako bancho, if it means anything. Both are still awesome.

Back to more IM@S. I think Adachi is kind of a closet uhhhh let’s just say he really likes Yamada and not so much Asuna, and is an IoriP. I asked him during the “live sketch” panel. Akai said “DD” but I think in Ogistar he puts down Miki/Kotori. So whatever; Akai’s workspace has a Nishigori movie visual posted. And he did go to both days at SSA. So if anything I know he knows “the feels.” (You can kind of see it in the full size picture.)

20140419_164159

There’s even a follow-up on the Ogi-star Memories/Backstage M@ster story. So there were actually several print mistakes between the first run and the current run, including Masunari’s profile being the wrong one? I forgot exactly what Masunari said but his profile got switched with someone else’s, and the new one is missing something from Nishigori’s page. I don’t know if he remembered the specifics but he said something to that extent.

There was a charity auction. There was Range Murata–I attended both of his panels in part, but he’s his usual self, just like how I remembered it from AX 2004. As usual Murata’s pieces fetched real high prices, although this time I think Titan did pretty well too. I don’t know because I only heard second-handedly as I traveled back home.

Koyama Mami is a nice older lady with a stamp! If you do stamps with your shikishi, you are instantly awesome in my book. Also, her lines are tiny. :(

I talked with producer Kinoshita at the guest dinner. He did a study abroad program with… I want to say LIU? So he was in NY and that’s when he first saw anime as sort of a thing he could do. I guess someone showed Akira in class, and that was the trigger.

It’s a similar story with the noitanimA guy, who spoke really good English. He talked about how he feels about working on the various Leiji Matsumoto shows as a 30-40something growing up. Really touching story about how Yamato 2199 was for him.

Anyway, I think I want this con wrap-up to be short. So let’s finish with Ms. Yuiberries. Ishikawa is pretty much as you expect, except I think unlike many other seiyuu of her age (early 20s) she’s a little more “alive.” Fairly talkative and approachable, she’s probably in a crossroad place in her career but that Titan thing is pushing things along? I have hopes for her. And yeah, she’s very cute, in a Japanese next-door-girl kind of way, and yet really distinctive looking. Hard to put my fingers on it.

PS. Yui Ishikawa’s photos here.

PPS. Here’s a quote from a happy customer about the Elisa photograph session “Line was kind of long, but they were really pushing people through. You got to sit in a chair next to her and she held my arm and leaned in for when they took the pic. []I’m sure she’s pretty tired, but she was really warm and friendly the whole time.”


Sakura-Con 2014: Day 0-2

Sakura-Con is dated kind of badly; I like to hang out at home for Easter and I was really swamped work-wise before having to jet off to Seattle. But at the same time it’s the kind of convention that I look forward to a lot, because this is my first time visiting Seattle and the place is basically like LA/AX but with all the things I dislike fixed. The con is downtown and very walkable, it’s not super crowded, lots of great eats in walking distance, and wait for it–Japanese guests!

Joke aside, I didn’t even got that excited about the Japanese guests. They’re cool and all, and I still am a Masunari Koji fan. But you know what instantly make any anime convention great? THE IDOLM@STER. So in that sense, I got to meet Toshifumi Akai, who is one of the key animators on anim@s. He didn’t get to work on the movie, we suspect, because he was neck deep in Magi Season 2 at the time, along with Masunari. Akai’s main contribution, I guess, are OP1 where he animated a few key cuts and being an animation director for a couple others. He probably also animated some key scenes here and there. If I can scan Backstage M@ster I could show you the horizontal pans he did for one of the concert scenes. Anyway, this guy is a lot of fun.

It’s always great to run into Nagahama. It’s always great to not go to his events because you’ve been to all his events at Animazement, LOL, but I was pretty busy with other things?

I wasn’t able to go to the couple Titan events because they got packed out. I went to a couple Renji Murata ones but they’re kind of mediocre, mostly because the attendees were meh at the long Q&A sessions his panels became (didn’t even sit through the whole thing). I went to a couple Aniplex panels, probably because of timing and how it worked out.

The Friday night IM@S panel was pretty fun, but it was also very, very 4chan and that kind of sucked. Just because you have a smart deck that has good jokes doesn’t mean you can give attention to people who interrupt your panel for the luls? It needed mods.

I better get to the Sunday IM@S panel in a few. Meanwhile enjoy a tweet of Adachi’s Kancolle at work pic.


On Con, Con Meta, and Meta Cons

Kelts wrote about the “festivities” around AnimeJapan, along with the industry events that happened around the same time. Just excerpting because why not:

And in the two days following AnimeJapan, the second annual Project Anime Tokyo was held in the flashy UDX building in Akihabara. The conference is designed to bring together overseas anime convention organizers with Japanese studios for communication and collaboration. The brainchild of Marc Perez, CEO of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, and Nobuyuki Takahashi, president of Studio Hard Deluxe, the first meeting was held by the SPJA in Los Angeles in 2012 at Anime Expo (AX), the largest anime convention in North America.

“One of the things we want to prove to the industry is that we (anime conventions) can promote them with very little investment,” says Perez. The conference is now a twice-yearly event held in LA and Tokyo alongside AX and AnimeJapan. “We also want convention organizers from around the world to share ideas and best practices. One of our goals is to eventually establish a joint charter, rules and regulations about things like bootlegging and piracy and so on.”

You know Project Anime? The con about cons? People sat in panels about cons and industry and press and what not. I think this might be what a commenter was referring to about SPJA. And the end is still just a matter of signaling and getting people to leverage available resources. Conventions may be an underutilized resource, if indeed they are still growing (and most signs point to yes, at least in America), so then there’s going to be some way where somebody can leverage these resources with Japanese businesses in a manner in which someone (likely in Japan), with all the access and resources available, come up and execute a more unified strategy to bring it to market, to market, to promote, to build and deliver.

Why do I keep saying this LOL.

But I’m not sure if this is something we can (even naively) say is good or not, because now we’re getting to the place where you have to roll up your sleeves and make your spreadsheets and decks sparkle like an idol on stage. And there will be winners and losers in the end of all of this, just a matter of how much, and how many.

Give the full article a read, I think it plays consistent with the overall theme about where fan money is going to overseas, what Japan is (or isn’t) doing about it.

I wonder if the  Anime Anime guy would get something out of Project Anime.

Anzu & co

PS. Studio Hard Deluxe? That sounds like an upgrade to Vertical, Inc.

PPS. Just how effective are cons at actually promoting sales of things? How about brand recognition and awareness? How about building up a fan base? It’s hard to say…


A Down Side to Easy-to-Access Anime

Let’s say, if you went to a typical sit-down restaurant in America and order some food. The waiter provides your table with a basket of bread as per custom at the establishment, and seeing you are very hungry the waiter decides to give you extra bread. Is this appropriate? I would think so, and most people probably wouldn’t even bat an eye.

Let’s say, if you spend a few hundred bucks and bought some late-night anime. The anime provides you with the content you thought you were getting. And seeing that this is the home video BD that you now own after parting a few hundred USDs or whatever currency, it provides some bonus material with extra T&A. Is this appropriate? I would think so, but some people calls this pandering.

Actually, it is pandering. But isn’t this wanted? Wouldn’t it be better to have this than not have this?

Hello again, old flame

This kind of made me think, in an orthogonal way, about the price of anime and the nature of its target audience. I am sort of pro-cheap anime in the sense that it makes access easy. And more access is better for access-starved international audience of anime, it’s hand-in-hand with marketing, as far as major areas of improvement for the state of the “anime industry” overseas. It’s more democratic. But I guess as with many things, there are down sides or unintended negative consequences to that. Well, maybe it’s not a negative consequence, but it’s naturally what happens when the signal-to-noise ratio drops.

There’s a fair amount of academic literature on the effects of internet and mass media and “noise” in terms of how to make the internet useful. I think we can apply the same idea to anime in that anime for the masses should be cheap and easy to reach. But anime for specific, intended small groups should be harder. And it is; in that naturally the marketing dollar isn’t there, fewer people care about it and fewer people talk about it.  But when what represents anime overseas is this small sample, what then? Cool Japan is not about Doreamon or Sanae-san but Evangelion or Pokemon right? I guess Pokemon is mainstream in that sense. But people don’t pass judgment on anime because they are in that niche. Anime is a marketing word, but that is probably a bad thing for the medium/genre in the long run, if you want to capture its diversity. Or rather, if you want to capture what passes for anime in the 21st century. Of course, the problem is also kind of the fact that there aren’t many anime titles that fits the Dragon Ball Z kind of profile in the 21st century; as in there hasn’t been more exceptions to the rule for companies like FUNimation to profit on. And all the anime-cancer sentiments is really built on this kind of mentality.

There’s this zone in oversea criticism that this is missed. It’s like all the people who think about anime in the framework of Mamoru Oshii’s works. Like, com’on. Maybe you’ll be more credible from Hayao Miyazaki’s framework. Can you just stick to Battle of the Planets and Speed Racer? Is this even relevant in the 21st Century beyond as a curiosity? Is Tezuka relevant beyond just his influence? Hasn’t anime changed enough in the last 50 years to, you know, come up with something new?

In other words, are people even watching the right anime? Is it because “anime” is too accessible, too plentiful, that people don’t even know what they really shouldn’t be watching? If the only way to watch anime is pony up some $50 or $100 to catch 1-2 cours of it, you probably would really want to know what it is before putting down the money. It makes people care. A lot more.

It also highlights the problem with marketing of anime overseas. There are little ways to “send signals” about shows as to who should watch what, from the homeland. And it’s full of lost-in-translation perils. If we have to rely on the likes of blogs that do season previews, then we are hopeless. I mean at least back in the days, people just hyped specific shows because they knew it was going to be something interesting as a reflection of Japan’s internal marketing and the buzz from its domestic fanbase. Now we just have people writing about every which thing, and it’s hard to say who knows enough or do enough homework to sift through the 50+ shows every season–if to just not get any one of them wrong, let alone more than a few of them right.

Maybe this is a call to people to watch anime in a way that treats it right–not just as disposable internet butt-wipe, a passing joke. Not every show is shovelware, not every show deserves your attention. But do enough to gain the appreciation for those the anime that you will fall in love with, before it happens. Maybe both you and the shows you watch will be better off as a result.

But I realize, the problem is also the general lack of easy-to-use tools. Which makes me think the Real Problem of Anime(tm) is still marketing. Which is odd/ironic, because most anime are just advertisement for something else. But it also makes sense if you think about it, and do more research. If people gets the right idea from marketing material on the get go, they wouldn’t even bother with a lot of the anime out there. But without the societal attitudes and otaku groups that form naturally to lay down the rules for people to watch whatever it is, what passes for marketing in Japan might not even work as is. Instead, oversea fans gets just piecemeal of all of this and who knows how effective that is.