Category Archives: English Language Modern Visual Fandom

A World without Calls Is a World Full of Yakkai, And Not Yakkai at the Same Time

The way it suppose to go in Japan at a live viewing is that people get excited, cheer, and do calls to the performances they are watching. Or you can do one of the things that is customary to movie-going, like kick back and have a soda with your popcorn. It’s not anikura, it’s not a house party, it’s a concert being screened at a movie theater that’s open to the public.

But the problem with American¹ fans is that people don’t know, or don’t do, calls. I say this because it’s plainly what I’ve observed. At the Aqours performance at AX this summer, some people were doing calls, yeah, but I’d say it’s less than 25% of the audience, and that’s a very generous guesstimate. (As a point of comparison, less than 10% was doing WUG calls… maybe close to 1% once you exclude the pit rows.) At the Aqours 2nd screening I attended in NJ, it was nearly zero. During Koiaqua a few people did some calls, but that’s pretty much it. Where’s all the jimo ai calls? I attended that screening because, well, jimo ai! Gotta rep your local event.

Let me take back one thing: It’s not really a problem that nobody does calls. It’s a problem only because some American fans, as per standard operating procedures of cultural appropriation and regurgitation, only take some aspects of eventer behavior of Japan, and not all of it. And then we add our spin and own it. To compound all of this, your average attendee at these viewings are in their early 20s, and are likely just young and don’t know/can’t know any better. The result is a mix of things that don’t quite work well together…at least at first.

The way to channel hype during an anime-idol anison performance is via calls. Calls is not waving your penlights, per se, it’s using your voice to sing/shout/say things along with the song. Glowsticks are bonus. But in America people don’t get this. Some people even think it’s like a rave. If people do calls together and do it in sync, it’s actually really cool, especially for songs that have elaborate calls or songs built for call-and-response. But nope, Americans don’t do calls as a general rule. And I think it’s really because nobody is here to teach them through examples (it’s not only know-how, but dedication to lead it in public). Blu-rays and live viewings don’t quite cut it, at least for seeing in person what calls can do.

If you master calls, then you know how to “be yakkai” in the right way. It’s a lot safer and a lot more fun. Then we can finally have a proper yakkai discussion as Japan has it.

The reality of it isn’t something governed by rules or singer preferring people screaming or not at their performances. Yes, it’s a matter of etiquette–not so much as a set of unspoken rules to be proper, but as a courtesy to everyone else. Yes, it’s a time/place/context sensitive thing, but that is so bare basic of a description that it doesn’t begin to explain why things happen whichever way. And the reality is it’s so much more than that–enough that I don’t expect the average American person who likes Aqours to go to a screening to know. The gap is not just cultural, but also one of language, customs, and it’s something you can really only learn by attending lives in Japan and see how it really is. It’s not something you can really write down and explain unless you are already familiar with these kinds of things from a different context, try as I might.

This is why I don’t think your average Aqours fan at a live viewing in America can even begin to grasp it. They would have to attend a Japanese live first to know how it goes. It’s just not a reasonable expectation of people in their early 20s or late teens. Instead, they will do what they can, which, for the most part, I find acceptable, but it’s a different set of things, a different set of expectations.

So I think people can really do what they want, within reason, at US live viewings. It’s America. Freedom reigns. Just don’t do anything you shouldn’t do? It would be bonus points to be considerate of people around you, though.

Still, there are some simple guidelines. For example, at a dark movie theater it’s probably best you don’t start a party train, just because you don’t want to trip and fall and hurt yourself or someone else. This happened at my live viewing, and it’s the most yakkai thing I’ve seen at any live viewing. Nobody should do this at a movie theater. If I was staff I would stop it, because of liability reasons.

Obviously, don’t throw lights or king blades or glowsticks inside the movie theater. The chances of you hurting someone with it is a lot lower than someone tripping and falling, but this shouldn’t even need to be said. It’s not really that yakkai, just dangerous. Plus, if a bunch of 20yos want to behave like a bunch of 10yos there are better ways to do it, and you can do it in a way without painting a bad image of Aqours fans. I guess that’s no big deal, though.

Oh yeah, be considerate of other people is a pretty simple rule of thumb too. There might be people watching the live who aren’t as into it as you are, it might be nice to be considerate of them. Sure, maybe you only get your jollies off if you are allowed to act a certain way, but consider the trade offs and if this is a problem you personally have to deal with. After all, this is a delayed viewing of a concert that you could have went to see if you didn’t spend all your money on avocado toast or some nonsense LOL.

Avocado toast and live viewing, that’s a combo I can get behind on. Sure beats flying for 14 hours one way to watch a show. It’s so first-world of a problem, the “live viewing yakkai” issue, that I wish my fandom had live viewings so I can complain about them. Which is basically everything except Vocaloid and Love Live.

Who is yakkai at a JP live? The best example I personally witnessed this year had to be the guy who, in his best “yakkai voice” screamed out some nonsense (not even ietaiga) during Ippun Ichibyou Kimi to Boku no. It resulted in the guy being hit (didn’t see this part). It seems kind of extreme, but when you kind of ruin an emotionally pregnant silence by yelling, the consequence is kind of deserving. I think physical violence is overreach in this case, but at the same time that guy is an asshole, so it’s two wrongs that don’t quite make a right–but they make a nice anecdote. What’s relevant here is that I don’t think American yakkai are even possible at this level, since their game are limited by the general lack of public coordination among fans in general. It’s easy to stick out as a yakkai in a sea of uniformity, it’s hard when people are just chaotic and doing whatever they want. In a room full of yakkai, there is actually no yakkai?

So what I recommend is, instead of being crazy, just do calls? Lead calls, do calls, make other people learn the calls. Because Japan will continue to write songs that have calls, since it’s the thing to do and it’s way fun. Americans, please go learn them. It’s free and you don’t even need a penlight most of the time! And calls are free to evolve too, once enough people know how calls work. Sure, people are free to not do calls, but the idea here is calls can fill the gap that yakkai people probably should be doing anyway, and it guides yakkai people into do the right things. If you are at an American screening and are telling people to not do house tigers, you probably don’t even know what typical yakkai looks like, let alone actual yakkai.

¹TBF some Canadians I’ve ran into know their calls. Like, there are some tricky calls in IM@S and the GTA and Montreal Ps I ran into did know them. Can’t say what the Liver community is like up there though.

Re: AX’s Flower Stands & Call Books

These thoughts are related to the ongoing production of some fan projects for this year’s Anime Expo. It is more akin to long-ass-subtweet level of snark but at the same time I try to offer at least a more honest look at what practically, on some level, introspection would at least bring you. These blurbs do refer to some ongoing things that some of you might not be aware of, and some of the things I say may not make a lot of sense if you don’t know what I’m referring to. But I guess that’s just par for the course right? Lastly, think of the below 2 entries as two parts in a long series of why we can’t have nice things.

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On ScarJo’s Ghost in the Shell, And Faithfulness

I think the problem (not in regards to the casting) with the whole Ghost in the Shell thing is summed up by the mentality that brought this kind of content to the fore. In other words, some westerners just can’t let go Oshii’s take that they have seen decades ago, and wanted to appropriate it for a Hollywood version.

The truth is as good as Oshii’s movie was, the idea within the movie are too dated by 2017 standards. They already were well-played in cyberpunk lit when that movie was made. If you wanted a refresh take better suited for this decade/century, Stand Alone Complex is where it is at–some of these ideas need a much more in depth spin to play them out to what they deserve, which is what a TV series can do that a 1-film series cannot. Superficially, neither GITS or the Hollywood business has figured out how to tell that kind of a profound message in a 2-hour window.

Which is to say, I don’t think the GITS movie project is a mistake and should not have been created. It just failed because it could not overcome the main problem of making a movie based on Oshii’s movie, in a similar way that Oshii’s second movie tanked. (In reality it tried to take the opposite approach by making everything simple, but the end result was still not great.) I think what I would prefer in a Hollywood remake of GITS would be a wholly original remake. I would prefer Hollywood figure out the problem in the Oshii movie in the first place. The truth is what GITS fans love about the 1995 film is actually made better in SAC, which is how the rest of Section 9 can add to the Major-and-her-guns show. Instead, importing just the iconic imageries and set pieces from the 1995 film will only please a very narrow band of weebs in 2017, which is why GITS is a notable thing at all anyway.

TL;DR Hollywood should’ve adopted SAC, not the Oshii movie.

Year in Review 2016: N-listing

I’m putting this out first because the other post can stand by itself, introspection or not. Hey, it’s not March yet.

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On Localized Live Comedy, or TrySail Taiwan Fan Meeting was Really Special

Over the years as an American nerd into otaku media, I’ve consumed not only just my fair share of localized anime, manga, games, films, and whatever cultural output from Japan, but also brushed up against some distinct thoughts and ideas about localization. It’s a little more sensitive to me, I guess, because I am an immigrant and that cultural crossing background highlights a little more of the gap between what one culture calls one thing and how another do it differently. Possibly because also that my Chinese background really contrasts with your more standard and stereotypical Ameri-centric western set of views of the world? Do Brits in the States struggle with this? I don’t know.

Take food for example. Learning about General Tso’s Chicken today is no longer something you need to be States-side to do, but it still is a little trying to explain it to your Chinese children that this Chinese food their American schoolmates say is Chinese food is actually invented in America and not Chinese food by the definition of “food eaten in China.” When it’s in this context that you learn about localization (on the giving end) things gets a little more interesting.

The issue is both a lot more and a lot less complicated. It’s like when some internet people get into heated debate on localizing phrases of Japanese speech in BakaBT fansub threads. Does it really matter? Which is really a modern version of learning 1980s MBA stories about the Chevy Nova being sold in Spanish-speaking countries. Or click-bait articles about dumb English on Asian signage. On the receiving end, it’s like trying to parse Maki Izumi’s jokes, at worst. It’s much more difficult trying to translate something than to simply read it and to understand it (by reading the TL note, if you want to go that far). And when it comes to comedy, it’s especially more difficult.

At the same time, this is the reason why Shiny Festa was sold for $50 bux on the App Store, when it was sold for $50 on the App Store. It’s not like localization is not important to creators and fans. It is incredibly difficult at times, complicated and costly. It is, but it’s difficult to say just how and where it’s important besides all the tried-and-true things.

To make that eventer spin on this article, let’s just say translating “eventing” as I know it into an international product is actually just as hard. If anything, because the “how” in areas outside of the tried-and-true is so hard to come by, it portends enormous risks to do something new, especially for larger productions. It’s kind of like reverse-engineering how, say, Slipknot, would sell out in a Japan tour (still? I don’t know), except you begin with the wrong end point (except Babymetal I guess).

It’s times like this I am glad that at least the Japanese government is willing to foot part of the bill?

In case you didn’t know, that is partly why AFA circuit shows have some pretty nice guests, and part of the reason why there have been more of these anison live shows outside of Japan. Different markets have different challenges. Singapore, for example, is one of the few SEA locales that can support AX and Japan-level pricing tiers…if not the only one. Just recall all the gnashing of teeth when Hatsune Miku went to Thailand for contrast. Taiwan so far has been priced similarly to Japan (but it’s technically just East Asia, not south enough), and the similarity in cultural attitudes between the Chinese island and Japan also help pave way for Japanese anison acts and seiyuu events. It’s just an easier place for Japanese people to deal with. The issue local to Taiwan is more in terms of demand and cultivating eventer culture.

Without going into everything and looking it all up, Lisani TW is a good example of another Japanese stab at this overseas. Taiwan, kind of like Japan, doesn’t really do anime cons per se. It has ket-style Fancy Frontier and other comic markets, that sometime have guests. It has more industry-style events like the various game/anime/comic festivals, which are closer to anime cons, sans the fan programming. It would make more sense to throw music events as such and not as a part of something else, or specific events billed as themselves. Over here in the States a more mega-style event is needed to up the critical mass of attendees, so that’s yet another challenge (or rather set of challenges) for eventing in the West.

Sup guys

So, this is how we get to TrySail’s TryAngle Harmony Fan Meet in Taiwan. Just a brief-er, the seiyuu idol unit Trysail is under SME’s seiyuu agency, Music Ray’n, featuring three female seiyuu still getting their first years in as managed voice actresses. They are Asakura Momo (Mocho), Amamiya Sora (Tenchan), and Natsukawa Shiina (Nansu). As a unit, they weren’t properly formed until just 2014, and during their time in public activity since 2013 they have always hosted a weekly radio show called Tryangle Harmony (Torahamo for short). Once in awhile, the radio show will host a public recording event. The fan meeting billed itself as Tryangle Harmony, so the fan meeting had a public recording session, plus some added activities, which is similar to their Japanese public recording events.

What was remarkable about this event was that we’re dealing with a very much uni-lingual setup–three young Japanese kiddos talking shop with each other, the usual mindless banter between voice actresses, to a majority Mandarin-speaking audience. Japanese and Mandarin aren’t really alike. Taiwanese, which is a Hokkien dialect that also has some Japanese influence, maybe a little? But I can assure you out of the 60-70% of the crowd that was local, more people understood Japanese than Taiwanese.

Which is what’s special about Taiwan as an eventing unicorn. This was something many of us who were going overseas to Taiwan for the Trysail event debated about heavily. Just how will they localize the talk event? It would be really stilted to host an event with an interperter (think of your average anime con panel). Most Taiwanese otaku have reasonable command of Japanese, %-wise, compared to all other oversea fan base. What’s really interesting, and maybe a little ironic, was that the Trysail fan meet was largely scripted–this was the real key.

For those of you who weren’t there and/or unfamiliar with the typical seiyuu stage event style, basically (and this includes the public recording part of the Torahamo radio) the cast members go through segments that are somewhat scripted. The radio show portion has an intro where the girls make some small talk (which is always about food, when Japanese people are in Taiwan…), then there was a segment called “Meigen Memocho” where Asakura Momo has to guess from a lead-in question, which 3 statements presented to her is the correct famous saying and not one of the other two statements, which are made up by her castmates. This portion, the questions and statements are obviously pre-scripted and during the segment they projected the Chinese translation on the screen behind them. It worked really well–at least for me, whose broken Japanese non-skills are usually not good enough to keep up (and 100% of the time too lazy to look it up)–because once I understood the topic it’s easy to follow along. After the Torahamo segments, the fan meet proceeded to do a live dub/play, which is 100% scripted and actually subtitled in full. Then there was a pre-screened Q&A corner which had more typical translation by an interperter. During the free talk MC parts outside of the radio recording the interpreter would interpret somewhat, usually taking steps to not interrupt the flow. As a result the translation tended to be simple meanings and lack the full expression. Not that it matters?

If all you had was pre-screened Q&A at a panel, it’s gonna be stiff unless you let them banter freely. The Trysail radio format is really special in this regard, and much like their Japanese public recording when it’s produced with care and good coordination, this worked beyond our expectations. Which is also to say, I can’t imagine it working outside of Taiwan. Maybe the live dubbing part?

I left one key thing for last from the Trysal Fan Meet. The last talk segment in the event was a game where MochoTenNansu compete to win some Oh! Bear souvenirs. This was also the funniest segment. The game was, they were presented with the kanji of a Chinese phrase that happens to match a Japanese phrase of a different meaning. The person who guessed the right meaning gets some points, and the person with the most points at the end wins the prize. The event organizers made use of the projection again, and projected the Japanese term and its Japanese meaning in both languages. The answer, once everyone made their guesses on notebooks, is also projected in both languages.

This game is as localized as it gets. It is beyond the facsimile of playing nice with meaning and exploiting some albeit-common word plays that well-traveled Japanese and Chinese people would be familiar with. And I’m not sure if three silly voice actresses making a fool of themselves would be nearly as funny if you couldn’t approach their tasks from both languages. I mean, this is one of those cases where I am sufficiently blessed with comprehension and I think I got more out of it than even many of the visiting Japanese fans. It’s as they say, a pun is only funny if you understand it. And this is a corner about bilingual puns, essentially!

Anyways, I am hard pressed to think if the Music Ray’n crew can reproduce this sort of a good experience in a different country. Maybe they could–and it might tickle the local weeb population pink like it did here. It was honestly a really funny show, the Trysail girls put on last Sunday. It was definitely for the Taiwanese fans. That’s really special. And part of it might also have to do with the prevalent Japanese literacy in that particular fandom, too, that the production can go straight for the laughter jugular, and not have to pussy-foot around the formality of languages. This is the best localization I’ve ever seen, for a live talk event.

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