Eventing 2015

[THIS IS again A STICKY POST: Last update 2015/07/10]

Just want to put out there the “events” I want to attend in 2015 so far. Everything subject to change. Post will be updated…

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IM@S 10th First Take

10a

Rather than write a post 3 months later that’s like 10000 words I’ll just piggy back on the other producers’ hard work. For simplicity’s sake, you can get the set lists at the below links and I’ll try to only annotate.

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Classroom Crisis

At the second episode, Classroom Crisis explains itself to us. The one big thing that strikes me as interesting, for better or worse, in episode 2, was the way it lays out a future of space travel and human expansion in the solar system by the means of a manufacturing company’s expansion. The focus of the show is a school system, that allows a rogue band of elite students to do their own thing as a way to make a breakthrough.

If you ever read the news on Japanese economy and social order, doesn’t this sound a little too close to home? I mean the reason why a bubble happened in the Japanese economy largely stems from its inability to shift gears from manufacturing to information. The Toyotas and Sonys of the country can match pace with the Fords and GEs of the world, but there is no equivalent of Apple or Microsoft in Japan. And with Google poised to be the next wave of things, in another 5-10 years Japan will be two revolutions behind, at least speaking in nationalist terms. (Although companies like Google are increasingly borderless…which can pose another problem for Japan.)

TL;DR – Japan was stuck as a manufacturing society in the 90s, unable to catch on to the information revolution. It may or may not be stuck today, but people’s minds sure still are.

Classroom Crisis E2

I’m sorry. I weep for the geniuses who are groomed from a young age so they can work for some megacorp doing manufacturing. Shouldn’t they be, you know, doing something more scientifically advanced? Don’t they let robots make stuff in this future? Does Japan not believe in automation?

In that sense, this history of Classroom Crisis’s future is written like an old man’s pipe dream. It might as well talk about how the cave man rule the world with a magical club. I also think this setting just gave away the thematic thrust of the show, about youths and revolutions and what not.

And depends on your perspective, that too can be sort of a silly old man’s pipe dream. I deeply believe in the power of iteration; geniuses who grow older and grow more experienced in the right environment are, well, more potent and more revolution-causing than younger geniuses who has not have the education of experience. There is nothing magical about youth (other than practical reasons like sales of the series I guess). Physically, sure, there’s a biological factor, but as brilliant minds? Not really. In that sense, the culprit, if we want to point fingers, is not just human tendency of unable to see outside the box (which I just don’t think is something young or new people are better at inherently), but the oppressive and conforming environment, this institutional focus, in which defines a core component of Japanese society.

Which is to say the fact that they are in schools at all is hilarious. And since Classroom Crisis does not point fingers, let’s not.

PS. TrySail OP! New ClariS ED! Can’t throw money at screen hard enough.


Tenth And Beyond

One of these days I’ll have to pin that eventer post again.

The truth is work and 10th prep have killed most of my free time since ANorth. I was able to catch up on some anime still this past weekend, by not going to AX, but AX sounded like it was pretty cool. Only one thing there (that I currently know, anyway) that kind of killed me for missing out was seeing A1 Pictures give away a Goripon Miki sketch and Akai-san’s Asterisks sketch to the random masses. I hope those two found good homes.

I am still going to Otakon. I think of it as winding down by killing myself some more, but I probably will take it easy there. Between now and then remains furious preparation, performing the miracle of packing everything in one not-too-big luggage, coordination of many parties and some live concerts and whatever that I do in Japan. Hopefully not all that much.

I did watch some of the new stuff this season, but let me just put to rest the things I finished:

Fate UBW was pretty okay. It did what I thought it did, which is unable to wrap around the tension of the last two main encounters together in a nice set piece sort of thing, as the UBW movie showed us how it can be done. What made it better was the epilogue. How can we not forgive it after that?

Euphonium – I wish I was at AX. Also Moyochi was great. The best episodes was 11 and 12. Yurigoggle types shed delicious tear which was an unexpected bonus.

Danmachi – This is what anime is for a lot of us. And this one was pretty good.

Etotama – This is what cartoon is for a lot of us. And this one is pretty good. It also is the first anime that I honestly thought the 3D parts were sometimes even more preferred than the 2D. It’s just done better. Rieshon and all the newbie Ponycan seiyuu were bonus. Also, I wish I was at AX. Hanabe looked like she could’ve used more support.

Oreguile 2 – S1 was better.

Triage X – Fun show but I am glad it’s over. Can’t take too much of this.

Plastic Memories – Solid and I like how this anime is not really about robots.

Punch Line – Probably my favorite of the season. It is like making chawamushi or baking a flan, like everything goes in there right but it doesn’t always come out right. Close but no cigar for Punch Line.

I’m still mawing away at Kekkai Sensen, Ninja Slayer and a couple other shows I haven’t decided to drop. Picking up Shoukugeki no Soma is good for health methinks, but the last episode rubbed me the wrong way: if they think a soufflé omelette is a limited timed good, then they have never had good eggs benedict. By all means the shelf life of those things are way shorter than how fast bubbles collapse when fluffy eggs get soggy. IMO they screwed up the science here…

Seems like I’m topping out at 10 shows a season huh. Can I fit enough on my iPad for the round trip to Tokyo to catch up? I think so. Just need to delete some namas and lives on it.

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As the merchandising for the possibly largest IM@S event approaches its fervent peak, we got to see a lot of cool new illustrations put out on top of things to sell. But the best one had to be this tokuten for Nishigori’s new artbook.

OMG SO GOOD GORIPON

And it’s not just official merchandise. Fans are putting together their tribute. For SSA last year I spent just a meager one hundred American dollars on commissioned artwork. This year I’m about to spend three times that in just American alone, plus about another two and a half 万 to get some semi-pros to do art for flowers. And that’s just me. Which is to say there should be a lot of cool artwork from fans for this special occasion.

[And that pales to the amount we’re spending on the actual flowers themselves. And just the ones I’m organizing (not all of HPT). It adds up to a lot. A LOT. And I’m glad 10th is not going to happen again. So going to not YOLO next year.]


Million DD, Of Seiyu And the White Box

MD

So all that idol nonsense swimming in my head the past couple years come to ahead in Million Doll, the anime of a manga about underground idols. It reminds me of a few things. When I was a fresh undergrad one thing my English Lit professor stated/taught is that by the time we study it in academia, it’s dead. It was in reference to Stephenson’s landmark cyberpunk novel, and by the 90s I think that’s a safe statement to make.

Does that apply to commercial exploitation too? By the time an anime with “chuunibyou” in its title became a thing, is chuunibyou dead by 2012 (pretty much)? Doujinshi and the comic market dead by the mid 90s (resoundingly yes)? The idol otaku dead in 2015? Maybe. A dude in the USA was able to already internalize all those concepts back in 2013-2014? I guess making anime does take some time (even at 8 minutes a piece).

What I found interesting about Million Doll was how expository it is. The tension it sets up at episode 1 is not unlike what we see in the oversea fandom. You have on one hand scenesters (like me, kinda) that attend events and socialize with other fans, and meet and greet guests. This often costs lots of money, money that could be better spent on, say, actually supporting the industry by buying Blu-rays or importing or what not, rather than putting that money into hotel rooms, eating out or plane tickets. I mean I will probably spend more money on flights this year than my annual figure budget during its highest peaks as a collector, something to think about.

The tension over money is less in Japan, simply because the cost to attend events in terms of time, money and effort is way less. In Japan, you have eventers (Million Doll call it DD, which is not exactly how the term is used today…if you want a clue on how “dead” this subject is today) and you have the guys who do their cheering at home and online. That’s a valuable group of fans as well.

[Tangent 1: IM@S is all about wrapping up both into one. Its 10th anniversary live (NEXT FREAKING WEEK AAAAAH) is its largest effort yet.

Tangent 2: Must resist talking armchair idol industry aaaah.]

The exposition reminds me of the first attempts at exploiting these subject matters as theme and setting. The Comic Parties or Animation Runner Kurumis. It’s not Shirobako, which does a lot of explaining, but it has to. It also doesn’t explain a lot; I don’t think it needed to explain why Aoi-chan was pulling Initial D moves. What doesn’t explain a lot this season? Actually compared to Sore ga Seiyuu, Million Doll is a-okay. It strives for a fair mix given its 8-minute span.

Sore ga Seiyuu’s mechanism is closer to seeing the animated GIF of a running rotary engine for a car nerd. For seiyuu otaku it’s like seeing the cartoony behind-the-scene look at how things work. It’s quite fun and fascinating if you’re already interested in the subject, and more so if you already know most of the references, technical or social or historic or whatever. It’s not like the usual “same concept in new skin” where you can put a Koshien plot in a tank battle, or maybe something more primitive and personal like the office of a production company (that happens to make anime).

It’s kind of like Plastic Memories was not an Asmov story purely, but just using the skin. Maybe Sore ga Seiyuu is the Martian for tech nerds, but even more specific in terms of subject matter. You get the point.

Anyway, I enjoy all these “explanation” type anime because at some level, learning about things I am already interested in is fun to me. The dose is twice as deadly when the show presents things you can learn along with things you already know, posited like pop cultural references. Yes, that middle-schooler is as good at voice acting than all the Love Live girls. Because that’s life.

And I think Sore ga Seiyuu has to keep it straight, because if you believe Shirobako, being a newbie seiyuu is the most depressing thing (relatively). Meeting the famous Nozawa Masako (nickname: Makosan (and even I am too green to apply this term)) would make anybody’s day.

Just to kind of wrap up this rambling, I feel the first impression session for these shows is just going to hurt to read as a bunch of contextless guys trying to make sense of the dynamic demonstrated in both of these shows. The way Ryuusan’s eyes looked…I KNOW HOW IT FEELS aaaah.

PS. Million Doll goes by MD in initials. And MD is … well? I guess someone who’s read the manga ahead can tell us if they pull this joke or not.

PPS. Kecek. Kecha. Yes I know. But nobody calls it that. Maybe that’s because early day wotas don’t sweat inside jokes. Or at least we get as far as OAD and call it a day?

Episode 1

How does that even work?

PPPH. We may have DD. There isn’t a Kuso DD yet. And as a related tangent, there’s also my grand theory about western eventers having to be DD by necessity.

PPPPS. It is important to realize that idol otaku (wotas) are not the same as those of us who dig 2.5D or 2D idols, by definition. In reality they are actually quite different in Japan. People who like seiyuu are by necessity into anime and games and the like, and obviously people into anime characters are the same. Idol otaku has, strictly speaking, nothing to do with any of that. In the anime context all of these things kind of dissolves together if you don’t have that perspective. This is only important in understanding the history of what came first, and what culture imported what aspect from what other culture. For example, Japanese idols have changed drastically the last 20 years, and so have anime, and the two have some pretty curious interplay both in terms of the industry and concepts, as well as how fans react to all that.


Shimoseka 1, or Blogging about Comedy Is a Lost Art

I’m not doing episodic blogging on Shimoseka, or as localized, SHIMONETA, but for an obviously politically tinged story I think it deserves a crack down better than the hot takes at ANN. I think the main reason why I’m even putting these words on keyboard is that I like to perpetrate a narrative about the dearth and low quality of writing on comedy in terms of anime blogging. True or not? You decide.

Shimoseka, by all means, is a slapstick comedy where some of the humor derives from hearing Ishigami Shizuka (nickname: Zutchi) yelling the Japanese translation for “penis” and “vagina” (and many other things) at the top of her lungs. Some, is the keyword. As for the rest, with these kinds of political humor, I think if you don’t have some familiarity on the rhetoric over these kinds of moral laws that are part of pop Japanese culture, it might not even be funny. To just bounce off ANN’s article, like the gold-squeezing woman crying being molested, for example. How you want to interpret it is precisely what makes it funny or not. But that is also, only, just some of the humor.

I think calling Shimoseka like Seitokai Yakuindomo is fair in the context of an anime review for westerners, and it’s the closest mechanism western otaku are familiar with. But to me this is closer to, say, George Carlin. The joke is presented in a way that is not funny if you don’t speak the native tongue, as the value of such a thing is largely linguistic.

Thankfully, words like penis and vagina are a lot funnier in translation. So maybe I’ll watch episode 2.

yorosico

This joke translated very well. And I think it’s the litmus test: if you are going to have an opinion on Shimoseka, you should also say if you get this joke.

PS. If you are too young to know Carlin, look him up on Wikipedia. The thing about history is that if you don’t learn it you’re doomed to repeat it.