Category Archives: Modern Visual Culture

The Need to Praise When & There’s Not Much to Say

If that's not Maruyama, I don't know who it would be

I actually agree with this review, almost 100%, and want to make a corollary.  Author says great anime can’t be spoiled, but I think it goes a step farther: great anime doesn’t need to be talked about. Shirobako needs no advocacy, even if it’s always good. There’s no need to make a case for itself. In fact I had a hard time trying to do it. I could write about the simple stuff, like my first impression of Minami-san was that he’s a little intimidating. And I wonder what Maruyama-san’s cooking is like.

But in that sense it’s also a cheat in that as with all arts that are interpretive, we bring in as much as it brings us. The union between artwork and audience is no less sacred than the miracle of creativity in that sense. I think your experience as an anime nerd will not only play greatly, by referring to the art of the craft as the heart of its references it will disarm every late-night anime watcher, so most of us EN-speaking types can fall in line like all the JP viewers.

Perhaps the only thing equally difficult to keeping that spark and drive alive in salaryman life is being able to stay up and watch your late-night anime. Shirobako actually airs early enough in Tokyo that you can watch it before bed, but it takes some measure of dedication to get home and put it on, while not falling asleep watching it.

Action speaks louder than words, and it’s hard to find the words to describe it. I guess I did doze out during one particular viewing of episode 22 (since it’s kind of a filler to bring to 23?), largely to no fault of its own (a long day of touring + late night drinking + watching the raw). It’s like how I already internalized the “Taro,” the indifference of Hiraoka, and other representations in the office environment. Have you been working in such a thing long enough to see past it? Not just your own situation but the dramatized office of Musani? What is top shelf and what’s on the bar Shirobako serves its customers? Is your inner 10yo asleep?

But, because it’s such a cherished tale of animation production, based on a simple understanding of it that so few anime has taken on, it will stand as a classic just on that fact alone. Shirobako being entertaining enough to keep those otaku ossans awake late at night is just bonus.

PS. I found these tweets ironic. I guess it’s because PA Works tried very hard to make something that bucks the trend consistently. To say, for example, Hanasaku Iroha is following a J-drama formula misses the entire point that if not for PA Works being a studio that doesn’t chases after the latest trends (sup Glass Lips) that Shirobako even exists (see: the vol1 omake). They believe in their creators (Shirobako is very clear on this), and let them do what they think is best. Even if that means we have to sit through a Glass Lips now and then. And to be clear, this is a pervasive attitude-entitlement issue that manifests way too much among people who have opinions on entertainment, so my apologies to Toast for making an example out of him. It’s all of us. Buhiiiii.


The Threads of Life

zzz

For people new to my blog you might not know that I am one of those crummy old nerds in this fandom space who poop on certain words. I have a thing for “slice of life” as you might know. But lately I’ve came up with a new way to define it: it’s the negative space in which Western fans lack the proper words and tools to describe, thus this life-like catch-all terms all these great anime, from Rozen Maiden to Shirobako. And yeah I’m being facetious with those examples, to make things clear.

I mean, it’s a theme lately but today I found in my mailbox this solicitation. I wanted to laugh, except I was at work. It’s such a great head turner that it took me a while to realize they’re charging people money to watch stuff they might not have a license to screen. The fliers in the email solicitation looked half-way like something photoshopped from the internet, the other half way like actual covers of manga. Are they anime bloggers? Please don’t be anime bloggers. Or more like, they’re doing this most likely because they aren’t. I don’t know. They certainly don’t know they can’t just J-List this and get away with it, with anyone serious.

Anyway, I found some sense of peace with the term once I stopped thinking about it descriptively. Maybe that’s the reason why so many people put up with the terrible terminology and stick to its usefulness. I just think it’s a misguided term that precisely causes people to think about things the wrong way as per that solicitation. I mean, real life nerds like anything in anime ended with Genshiken season one. In so far as much as real life nerds are liken to anything on Big Bang Theory, we are matching people to caricatures. The usefulness of that exercise, at this time, seems less than the eventual butthurt that it will invariably results in, not to mention it just seems like a waste of time and effort.

To go back to the solicitation, it also feels like a general lack of context, or the usual appropriation going on, guides that train of thought. But I guess I’m more or less not going to bother with mentioning that in detail unless it is unusually interesting–pretty much every western social group oriented around anime has to cope with that problem.

I think they should all just sit down and marathon Saekano or Seizon or something. Really dig into it and grasp what they’re saying. The problem with lax reading is perhaps endemic to anime, but a rigorous read on those material really can yield insight as to why people think and say the things they think and say in those light novels. And that’s more valuable than doing this pattern recognition thing and not understanding why there’s a pattern. Endemic probably because often people don’t want to take entertainment seriously. It’s like folks don’t realize the Shakespearean plays they read for school are no different to the people of the time.


Reeling in the Feels

After the rain?

Shirobako got my tongue pretty well. Episode 23 was another outpouring moment in a lot of ways, and I’m not really done processing it. Too busy grinding Ace Combat for gold boxes and it refuses to give any. Hopefully both of these statuses will change for the better soon.

I have about a month’s backlog in terms of sites to read and shows to watch. Of them, I was able to keep on top of my favorites of the moment: Shirobako, Saekano and Log Horizon. It doesn’t mean anything about quality or some such as I previously thought, but it hopefully endorses them beyond a certain duty I felt as someone who still habitually watch 10+ shows a season and the need to “review crap.” FWIW, I just got done with KimiUso, probably more because there are advantages to shows that end a week early, so all these animubroggers have “wrapped it up” in such a way that compelled finishing it first, if just to avoid spoilers.

I also realized today I had a chance to visit the Shirobako collab at Musashino’s shopping street outside its JR stop on the Chuo while I was in Japan. I had a half-free day that I spent walking aimlessly looking for amps. Sigh. So to feel better about myself I end up working on the camote backlog, and run up against this entry. The name is not only familiar because of the seiyuu connection (as someone who visited ANN’s encyclopedia you wonder if people credit things correctly every now and then) but because of aforementioned ANN connection, sometimes I wondered what did the animator Tanaka do, and if it is noteworthy. Looks like she’s one of the core Ghibli types since the early Telecom days, so, yes.

[Wait they still have her credited in Pitaten storyboards lolol.]

No, reading camote brings more dread than joy, partly because it’s so dry and a lot of it is not too relevant to my interests. The relatively business-like imprints and being solid info makes them a good read to reel back the feels, as they say. It’s like when people complain about seasonal anime goodness, I’m like, what are they smoking? Shirobako has ran for 2 cours (almost), so it has been two really good seasons of anime. This is AOTY 2014 and it probably will be AOTY 2015 unless something else jumps out at me.

The reactionary response also prompts me one other thought: after episode 12, I was like, this anime is basically already really damn good, it can only screw up from this point on. And so far all it did was to repeat itself, which is more than what I can ask for. At the same time, seeing episode 23 play out makes a good wrap-up point that the first cour didn’t quite have. So are we all done here? I was done since last Christmas, so all of this is gravy really.

The word is that there is enough material planned for 2 more cour, where Aoi takes on the role of line producer, and then main producer. I guess those are stretch goals for those delicious blu-ray sales.


Sendai Pilgrimage 2015 Part A

Just going to memo down the key things. Hope you might find it useful. [Go to the bottom for a list.]

Grey skies

Continue reading


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.

Ogasawara

Continue reading