Category Archives: Modern Visual Culture

Tamayura Is Cutting Edge Photography

Walking around with your Pentax Q is old, walking around with your 35mm fixed-focal-length point-and-shoot is the new new. Unless the Pentax Q only appears in season 2.

S2 E1

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Going the Extra Mile on PSO2 Anime

I was looking up the voice cast on the PSO2 anime on ANN and came across this, just Zac’s part I’m talking about here:

Well, this show requires some context, doesn’t it?

And I won’t quote the rest because it’s quite long, you can read it in his first impression piece.

I think that’s fair and well and good, but it doesn’t go far enough. Well, besides that most late-night TV anime requires some context…???!!

Izumi

First of all, this is not the first outrageously SEGA-inducing anime trying to sell a product. I mean, why make a straight-face infomercial? That’s so…mainstream. To target the JP otaku crowd they have already deployed the latest Standard Operating Procedure: idols. That is the Seha Girls Project from 2014.

I think the PSO2 anime has to be linked with that context. We already (and this is an international thing to an extent, but much more so in Japan/Asia) make mascots out of Sega’s various IPs. Just…search for Sonic. I think in a world swimming with mascots like Japan, you have to go deeper, as they say. So why not make an anime that is a literal holeelevator that takes you to from no context to full metal jacket context? After all, PSO2’s stories are inside the game, if there’s going to be points made about the meta-game, the anime has to cover both sides.

In SeHa, the characters, who each represent Sega’s iconic consoles, revisit various old-time classics from the original Virtua Fighter to Phantasy Star even. My favorite might be the Golden Axe ep. The “entertainment value” of the show is its core gag-style comedy routines, also that you’re seeing cute girls revisiting our collective memory lane, probably. But if you take a 15-year-old who knows nothing about SEGA’s storied past since it quit the console-making space in 2001, how do you entertain them in a way that’s kind of unique to SEGA?

For the PSO2 anime, the watering-down aspect of this nerd soup is happening, and as we slurp its first offering it should not surprise anyone we find some naked commercialism floating inside the broth. The context of why the is commercialism so blatant here is because, well, the type of people who would be entertained by a late-night TV anime has already been accounted for. PSO2 is a known quality by all means. The form the PSO2 anime takes matches its target audience. It’s a compromise that takes the original game into account (can’t just be some guy stuck in PSO2) and the audience (thus the very archetypical lead-in ep1) into account. Unfortunately the side effect is that the commercialism is more naked than usual. It has always been there. Imagine if SAO’s various arcs used trademark names for their virtual worlds!

Well, that audience is certainly not quite Zac. I think the entertainment value of the anime has a lot to do with PSO2’s existing place in nerd lore, for both current players, past players, and people who are just familiar with it. In short, it’s just like most anime adaptations. When faced with something like a PSO2 (or perhaps this point could be made for gameplay-first, character-driven games in general) as the core concept I don’t know how many options you have. Not everyone is going to think Bahamut Genesis is the way they should go.

TL;DR – the context is a person who is familiar with PSO2, not this naked capitalism nonsense.

PS. There’s a Zac-ism here (his public persona is kind of a condescending ass when it comes to other nerd verticals outside of his own (films)):

Concerned that only losers play video games?

I understand what he’s getting at but it doesn’t even make sense. The better joke is “Concerned that only losers play video games? Guess what, you’re watching an anime of the video game–that automatically makes you a bigger loser already! What’s the worry?” And it kind of just further points out this American context switching (pardon the pun) that’s happening. The hierarchy in Japan is well-understood… or maybe better put, online games have more of that stigma than the traditional console fare. I suppose games like Monhon and the current SNS game flood have long put that away though.

Or alternatively, “Concerned about justifying your PSO2 habit to your friends and family?” would make a truer pitch.

PPS. Suwa Ayaka has a lead role for the first time, this could be interesting. I already liked what I heard in this episode. The anime itself is not my kind of thing, but it could be kind of thought provoking along the lines of this post…

PPPS. FFXIV anime wouldn’t have this problem. It would have the problem of existing in the first place, sure, but aside from that…

PPPPS. As I write this post the more I feel and think the commercialism is actually a form of irony that…I guess is too dull to cut through the cultural barrier. Maybe it should have been even more naked.


Year in Review 2015: The St@te of the Union

I feel writing about IM@S is a good way to write about my feelings in 2015 because it basically tracks with IM@S news, marketing strategies, and trends. Such is a life of a Producer in its employment.

News recap: First of all, two posts on HPT’s site explains basically some stuff. The first, just a list of announcements to give you an idea how things ramp up to IM@S 10th. The Yukumas Yurumas end-of-year nama, which we’ve had it the second time on 12/29, went over the year in a pretty succinct way.

The first part of the year, life was still coasting on the residual feels of the IM@S movie and IM@S 9th (even though I did not go…) which hits a point at the February event, the “uchiage” for all of that. Then it is about the 10th anniversary. In the middle was dying to go to ML2nd but didn’t pull the trigger, some events to distract me from that, and Asapon North.

Events: Second, this is kind of the roadmap of IM@S 10th, as Dire1 describes his plans for the three IM@S franchises. (This is the original JP interview.)

Personally? I have definitely reached a point where I am mellowing out from this fandom. I am still excited about 765pro and the entire year of CG bombardment means I now know some of the CGs well. The funny thing is besides the Cinderella Project 14, I know about the idols mostly from other Ps talking about them and the Deresute game. The anime didn’t do much besides floating that CG boat, and carried some nice sakuga moments.

I kind of want to deep dive the article so let’s briefly. First, LOL Dire1 called Rei & Yui’s Bunka Housou Home Run Radio to get some info on Seibu dome. Getting info from boots on the ground via Team Baseball Idols is hilarious. In this case I think Amiami not only had a hit seiyuu nama/radio on their hands, but who knew how far this had gone…

Then there’s the live-driven aspect of ML. I think it’s worth a post on its own so I’ll do that. Let’s just say that in the end, CG, ML, 765Pro and SideM are all pretty similar, and it’s just a matter of if that thing will get an anime or not.

I said I’m mellowing out only because I’ve reached the point where I feel like I have extended myself out far enough that I feel pulling back sounds like the right thing to do. There’s a place where I’m most efficient or comfortable at, I guess, in terms of my involvement as a fan, eventer, someone who buys IM@S stuff, who spend so much $ on mobile games this year (whatever I spent last year I probably spent 5x that).

Oh, yeah Deresute. Week 18 update–I blew a lot of money this past few days because of the double SSR rate, and on Mika SSR. That I don’t have.

Game-wise, the only real notable thing is that I switched to a Nexus 6P and there is a different input lag (not music lag) than my last phone that it took about a week for me to adjust. If I play with no sound, I have to hit the notes slight earlier on the N6P than slight later on my Moto X 3rd gen… Well, it cannot be helped.

Event-wise, I’m glad we have a dance groove because I can now star level my Vocal SRs that I don’t want to keep around for support. Also my luck has skewed a lot more on Vi and Da so I field some really strong teams in this groove event. And isn’t this event just the Deresute version of Derepa…?

Also, with the Christmas event introducing the double-stam feature, scores did go up within expectations across all the tiers on this basis. So you can kind of guess what happened.

The game is firing on all cylinders and I’m expecting things to go through without too much boat rocking for a while as there is still a lot of content to be delivered by, I think, ultimately, a content delivery mechanism that is this F2P game.

Looking back, though, this is the really the most dangerous thing out of IDOLM@STER in 2015–you can lose both your money and resistance to cute unvoiced idols who are caricatured in the most endearing way that IDOLM@STER does best.

This is on top of how Deresute came into the rhythm game F2P Socia-ge space like how WoW came on top of the MMORPG market. Considering WoW is a 2004 game and lots of people don’t MMORPG, maybe that figure of speech is lost. But never had a genre got so much of an upset by a copy than WoW, and its enduring success since plays partly due to that interruption. Deresute copied and perfected upon the LLSIF formula in a big way. It is a killer app. And unlike most it also kills people’s bank accounts if they’re not careful.

In terms of fandom, as I mentioned over time, I love the present. More newbie fans are one thing, but overall things are so much better today out west than ever. Thanks for all the shoutouts from not only the team in Japan but all the other cool cats who helped make our lives as oversea Ps better.

In 2015 we made a lot of flower stands. HPT itself is responsible for over $4000 USD worth of flowers just at 10th alone. I don’t have the exact counts because some HPTers sent their own flowers, and others participated in other stands arranged by other Ps. We got a lot of help from Akiba nerd flower start-up Hananoki Flowers so here’s a shout-out to him. We used many other shops, so just on this aspect alone “we” have advanced miles since 2014.

Well, that’s just eventer talk.

Domestically, I already listed Lantis Fest as my favorite event of the year. That served as the template of my favorite offkai of the year, which is the one in Toronto with those crazy Canadians. And yeah I will write this up but that was also a big budget event. The ballpark total (including the cake) was well north of $2500 CAD, and you still had to buy alcohol. I guess it can’t be helped.

I love how offkai and hanging out with Japanese Ps opened doors, and they returned the favor in Japan when HPT hung out in Ikebukuro for a couple hours after 10th Day1. And that was a very the-world-is-all-one moment. The bus was pimp.

I also feel the pressure of trying to one-up the JP producers and one up our own tricks in 2016. Not to say it’ll happen but who knows? It’s never too early to come up with cake ideas.

The future is bright for IDOLM@STER. And maybe for its oversea fanbase too. I don’t know, really, but I enjoy this thing, whatever you call it–fandom? Series of vidja? Going to events? What GamiP said during the Yukum@s nama was that 2015’s theme was “a step” and this just means 2016 will be yet another step. At least we are going places, and there are reasons to be excited.

What we do know now is that IM@S will get its PS4 release probably sometime 2016. PS4 is now about $300. Thank Jesus. Because spending money on IM@S is now something so conditioned in me that I just hope for the master to be kind to its koebuta farm. Looking at the near future though, ML3rd is already killing me softly.

Year-in-review 2015:

PS. Due to unforeseen events the last two posts are delayed, but it’s not even 12 days since Christmas so maybe this is OK.


Year in Review 2015: Eventing

I have a post on the events I planned and attended for 2015. You can read it here.

Just to summarize: I have like a couple drafts of 1000 words or more on eventing this year but I feel they all misses the point. But to TL;DR them:

  • Eventing is about making memories, reducing a form of regret. It’s arguably a better use of time and money than what the otaku typically do with time and money.
  • The YOLO aspect of eventing is not the most dangerous thing. This is the “immediate” danger but is not as bad as…
  • The real danger–getting addicted.

More importantly, it’s about having the maturity to correctly prioritize what you do with your time and money (and energy). But that’s like, life fundamentals. It’s not about holding in and not go to events,  it’s not about going to events to overcome your current way of life to step into something better. It’s both ways. Sometimes you should go to some events. Sometimes you shouldn’t. And I guess when you abstract too far you get obvious conclusions here…

As for me? I went enough I think.

Thanks to a certain illustrator-san!

My favorite event in 2015 was the way Lantis Fest Vegas turned out. It doubled with Otakon Vegas. But what was great about that weekend was how a bunch of people (counting the local Liver/casual team it was well over 30 people) were able to hang out pretty much the entire time. It was the ultimate offkai, since it was like 3 days, and we were rooming in 3 suites in the same building. The P team were able to watch IM@S history in the making via nico namas and it was group watching since we were all there. There were the usual Vegas delights. We took pictures of ourselves in front of the Bellagio fountains in weird outfits. Karaoke, booze, cooking, breakfast, party suite, doing calls, you name it. Which is to say that was a great experience of hanging out because we also shared core interests. The actual Lantis Fest itself was also really good, so that completed the other half of the puzzle.

If we want to talk about actual event-events, then it might have to be I’ve Sound 15th anniversary on the strength of its set list and performers. The venue was Tokyo Dome City Hall so even where I was on the 2nd floor the view was good. It was both new and old, dream collabs and “who is this” hour with a bunch of the newer I’ve faces. Still it’s quite overdue on my end.

Third (or second, whatever) would have to be IM@S 10th. It was mind blowing in the off-kai way, in that we had an offkai and the oversea Ps visited Tokyo at around the same time, so we hung out there. It was also mind blowing in terms of scale and what happened. The only knock was the weather–burning hot on day 1, and the rain made buppan kind of miserable. I was also miserable due to physical ailment but that cannot be helped.

Honorable mentions:

  • Anime North Offkai…I still owe a post on this but I have not forgotten you!
  • WUG 2nd Osaka – Great venue and seeing old faces! Osaka is pretty cool.
  • Aisute: Zenzen Aitakatta – The music was just what the doctor ordered
  • Okui Masami Birthday Live – This tripped me way harder than I’ve 15th. I had a nice view of it all too. But the feel is just very different than the other anison lives I’ve been at.
  • AWS events: fhana & Katofuku – Both were great, just short. I’m just glad that I saw fhana live finally, because missing their first solo live while I was in Tokyo would have eat me up way too much as it did all year until then.
  • Trysail Tryangle Harmony public recording (march) – MOCHOOOOOO honto dayooooo let’s kouken MOCHOOOOO

It’s too bad I was so busy this year, I would do a stat post for 10th and ANorth… Maybe…

PS. Does celebrating birthdays at Characro count as events? LOL.

Year-in-review 2015:


Year in Review 2015: Sounding Off

eupho

I wanted to talk about Sound! Euphonium, but not exactly. It’s more about the way Kurosawa Tomoyo stole a lot of my attention this year, with her performance in this sharp coming-of-age piece from Kyoto Animation. The animation, story, direction, the handling of the adaptation, art direction and the character/inter-character drama are all very remarkable, and to me, very enjoyable. Even the salt from the oversea yuri community. It’s really symptomatic about their inability to read what’s going on, but in this case it was humorous how it turned out. I guess I am in no place to criticize other otaku for being KY.

The music is something worth talking about. Just a holidays sort of observation, while catching a glimpse of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you see some of America’s top High School marching bands at work. The stuff they play is way more progressive than anything out of the more recital-style stiffness that delights snooty Asians and OST nerds from Eupho. And that’s what we really want.

It’s kind of like how in Your Lie in April we tortured a similar music scene for its drama, although perhaps that has the satisfaction of slamming the sledgehammer through a wall, compared to the fine-slicing of a sharp blade–the bleeding comes only after you’re done with Eupho. I don’t really know which is worth talking about more–the candle that sparks into life or the sparkle that extinguishes.

What I do know is Tanechan really needs to visit America, because when Moyochi did, she stole something precious! I don’t even know what.

For the rest of you, there’s always this ode to Kyoani I guess.

And for what it’s worth…the voice cast in Amagi, then Euphonium…then in Phantom World… I think I like this pattern. How does annoying sidekick fairy Koroazu sound like?

And I didn’t even talk about Tamaki in Love or High Speed…probably because I need to still watch them properly first.

Year-in-review 2015: