Eventing 2016

[This post will be updated and pinned periodically throughout the year. Last Updated 10/19/2016, CG4th Otsukaresamadeshita! Minor updates]

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Hey Light Novels!

This article may be 10 years too late but it’s better late than never.

Senbongi's annoy is very annoy

I’m glad also the forum thread’s most triggering thing was someone linking to TVTropes to chime in how Light Novels are easier to read than regular novels (hint: it’s wrong). Pretty peaceful otherwise.

YES GUYS LIGHT NOVELS ARE A BRANDING/MARKETING THING. Remember OEL Manga? This is the same bullcrap. Maybe the magic of radobe shines in the way how it is a “by fans for fans” enterprise (ignoring the billion-dollar companies pigging back on them) so we can have self-cestual nonsense that is your average garden variety light novel best-seller, and the safe space where these terrible ideas can blossom into the same beautiful things that feeds my anime viewing habit.

Girlish Number’s Wataru partly draws his ire in the show, from precisely that. It’s impossible to ignore, once you know, how anime gets made. It’s not wrong to compare Girlish Number to Shirobako in this sense, where words like “gyara” take on a new meaning and unless you know how seiyuu gets paid, or how seiyuu do afureko, the lead character’s cheekiness in the first two episodes might be lost on you.

IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls 4th Anniversary: TriCastle Story

Or, as some would call it, CG3rd Day 4.

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Idol New Reality

This week was Canada’s arguably premiere J-music event, Next Music from Tokyo. Since I don’t Canada, reading up on it was pretty new to me and it only happened because in its latest tour, NMFT invited a couple underground idol groups, and some folks went to see them from my circle of internet people.

For people who don’t know, Next Music From Tokyo is a tour where a rich doctor in Toronto single handedly produces a tour. He hand picks 4-5 indie JP bands, throw them into a 3-stop Canadian tour, all out of his own wallet. You can read about it in this article from a few years ago. This week was the 9th iteration of NMFT.

It’s notable because this is the first time the guy (Steve) invited some idol groups. He explains why here. I quote:

The main reason I’m holding the tour twice this year is because I really liked Maison book girl’s music and I had a hunch they would blow up in popularity fairly soon. So if I waited until next May it would probably already be too late and sure enough 2 weeks ago Maison book girl went from underground idol group to signing with a major label. Their major label debut concert is in November, a month after NMFT9. It’s a one-man show (no opening acts) that sold out within hours of tickets being released. A couple years ago I was close to adding Suiyoubi no Campanella (Wednesday Campanella) to the NMFT7 line-up and had talked with Komuai back when the group was still relatively unknown. But I chose Atlantis Airport instead and figured I could just bring WedCamp on the next tour. But after a few months WedCamp exploded in popularity and later signed with Warner Music. Similar thing happened the year before with Oomori Seiko. So even though holding the next tour six months early has been a huge pain in the ass to organize, Maison book girl has vindicated my decision and I feel like a genius. LOL.

Mind you, I don’t go to Japan six times a year trying to discover the next big thing. I don’t give a shit about who’s going to be hot or popular because in general I can’t stand popular mainstream music. I try to find artists and bands whose music I love or at least thoroughly enjoy watching perform live. Most of the bands I like are way too eccentric and not physically attractive enough (LOL) so they have a snowball’s chance in hell of signing a major label deal. But a few underground bands I really like have potential to crossover to the mainstream and I try to get them to Canada before they do because after they sign with a major label they become way too expensive to invite… AND… their music frequently changes for the worse (watered down) to appeal to a greater number of people (eg Kinoko Teikoku, Akai Koen, Ame no Parade). (note: I still like KT, AK and AnP’s music but greatly prefer their earlier works)

If the Steven Tanaka from three years ago built a time machine and traveled to the present I’m sure he would gladly risk the temporal paradox to kick my ass because three years ago I totally despised all aspects of Japanese idol culture. I hated the fact idol groups like AKB48, Momoiro Clover Z, C-ute, Morning Musume etc were dominating the music scene with their senseless and shallow, cookie-cutter, bubblegum dance pop. The fact they’d release CDs with 12 different album covers to try and rake in as much cash from the fans who were stupid enough to buy all 12 versions of the same album. Idol culture was totally commercial, symbolized style over substance and pandered to middle-aged men’s fantasies of illicit teenage romance.

Even underground live houses that specialized in punk/HC/noise had to surrender and start booking amateur idol acts in order to survive financially. But as time went on the cross-pollination of amateur idol groups with the underground music scene led to the development of increasingly more creative and interesting idol acts.
So with that long-ass-winded intro finally over, here are three underground idol acts I secretly like. LOL

Point is, this hardcore indie guy is now importing some underground idols on his own dime, putting money where his mouth is. As an aside, this Steve guy is awesome. He deserves a medal or some such. You can read about his NMFT exploits on the site’s blog.

PS. This is how I feel about F2P gaming in a nutshell. The parallel is there–there is no reason why just because some companies like Zynga screwed it up for the rest of us and the (gaming) public have this very negative image of this model, doesn’t mean good things can’t come from it.

Autumn 2016 Housekeeping

Just some housekeeping items. Links to relevant quoting. Bolded for topic. Some replies to blogs and some are just seasonal anime musings.

Shall we make a wish?

Usagi Drop is a solid anime, don’t let people who follow/read/gets spoiled by the manga tell you anything otherwise. It’s not about morality, but about mode of consumption and letting that dictate what you ought to do, when it might not be a good reason. When I read that post I thought about how anime adaptations sometimes live in this different world than the manga experience. Then again I dig these kind of controversial stuff so I am hardly unbiased.

The only thing I can say about Shirobako’s commercial success is that they sold out of the first run of the Blu-rays pretty fast, but that might have to do with low expectation to begin with. It already has a Blu-ray box on the horizon, too. Given the industry these days it would not be a surprise to hear in a couple years that PA Works will go back to that well. Certainly it would out-delight that recent announcement about Uchoten Kazoku.

I have mixed and some reserved feelings about Girlish Number (PSA: don’t put the (a) in there). I think it is also the anime made just for me. I say this only because a number of us have said this. Are you one of us? For well-intended Americans and Canadians, the show streams on Hulu on Wednesdays with 1 week behind-cast schedule. I might actually do this to rep the show (especially now there’s no more ads for paid service). Anyway, as much as I still have mixed feelings about the whole thing, I can’t expect any more than what it has already given me: a satire on seiota fandom/industry.

Adults are different, but overrated. I would even add a lot of people enjoy adults who act like this, what is the point of being one then… I can confirm this observation, although I made it when I first watched Yuri On Ice. When it comes to pro figure skating, age ranges can run the gamut…of young, as it’s not a sure thing based on the teasers. What’s more interesting isn’t why but what it does. I feel that can make some shows more interesting (Matoi) and some shows tried and tired (3gatsu). Maybe it doesn’t really matter. Man Shaft doing 3gatsu feels just all full of try-hard. I guess when Yamamoto Sayo is directing a girl-pandering anime in the same season, nobody can win against that. On that note, it’s good that we have adults, in the case of children hitting each other with butts and tits seem to call in the moral judgment police–that’s one valid use case.

Matoi and Mahoiku are both good shows to watch together if just for comparison’s sake. I can’t speak about magical girl anime or which tier of nerd hell we’re in in regards to talking about them, but these two approach probably very similar things in a different way. I mean it’s obvious Matoi’s mom will come forward as a key plot item, much like the dying game Mahoiku is doing. Can we get that idol killing game an anime too? (And … Idol Death Game TV TV would be delightful of a name for a TV anime. I kid.)

There’s some Chinese animation that passes for season fare this season. I’m not sure how to feel about all this, other than the toilet humor gag anime does work still. It really comes down to the core staff and material. Also, if the skill and process still need development, try not to create something too ambitious like Bloodivores. Maybe this is related to that one news bit about an animator thinking there are not enough animators to go around. Well, that seems like an obvious thing.

Izetta had me at episode 1 and lost me by the OP. This gun-riding witch thing is hilarious, in that while I’m okay with it as a matter of plot, I’m not so much okay with it when it is the main visual gimmick. It also reminds me of a D&D character I created who would swing around a Spell-Storing Broadsword. I have nobody to blame but myself, to a degree, but this is dissonant when you expect something closer to Indiana Jones and got Guilty Crown (ok not that bad).

Euphon S2 is great. I love what it has going, but I hate how it’s 2 episodes long for a pilot. This show doesn’t hold my attention very well…except if I can marathon it. The voice acting seemed to change even closer to live action. That took a little getting used to.

Nanbaka is dumb. Natsume is chill af, FliFla is weird I guess? I think I would tough it through if it had a good story to tell. Maybe it’s like reading some good writing on news blogs and only to realize the stuff they talk about is dumb and empty. Quality art/passion projects sometimes feel like more an exercise than a thing that can take on life on its own.

What else do I need to name drop? Drifters is OK. Udon no Kuni is not bad, and I like it more than Sweetness & Lightning so far. Trickster is uh, Gackt? I love how 1hope Sniper works in this and that always mean I end watching the episode smiling. Brave Witches is, well, a brave new sequel. I feel like Brave Witches is re-engineered for the present, in that this series incorporates some lesson learned from other franchises and its progeny. I have some hopes for this in fact.

Ping Pong Girls should deserve its own paragraph. It actually is less unlike to Ping Pong than I expected, which speaks volume for something mostly I consider as “throwaway Chinese anime.” Oh wait, I guess that would be Idol Memories (although the Chinese lessons are luls). I mean, what do you call these anime that are clearly made with the, uh, Tencent market in mind?

WWW.Working, on the other hand, seems to be made with the dumb audience in mind. It lacks a lot of craft and charm from the original series, but there’s enough carry-over charm to stick with it. Or maybe because the original series just wasn’t that good so the dropoff in quality doesn’t seem so bad, I’m too stupid to tell. Maybe.

PS. Such cramming for CG4th begins. Let’s see what that does to my viewing schedule. Someone asked me a couple days ago which shows are my top this season, and they were Yuri On Ice, Girlish Number, and maybe Occult 9 or Keijo!!!!!!!!. I don’t know if I have a number 3, but I can see a few shows making strong moves to that spot, with Takkyuu Musume, Matoi and Izetta probably moving up the ranks.

The Mobage Divide

The thought process is this.

The future of gaming in Japan is free-to-play mobile games where monetization model is based on the gacha. Fundamentally, these forms of games are not really being pioneered in the western market to mainstream gamers. These games are the norm for the “casual” segment, as witnessed by the various chart-topping Android and iOS titles, but usually these games fall outside of the “gamer” segment.

Why this is happening and other related notions as to this ongoing development interests me, but it is a side track. The thought continues that, if today’s ever-competitive seiyuu industry now employs a lot of new talents to voice these free-to-play games, eventually there will be a large crop of seiyuu whose most famous works are exclusive to F2P games that never gets localized outside of Asia, or even outside of Japan. There are already some cases where all the notable work for a seiyuu (especially for male seiyuu) are for mobage.

Shipping a localized F2P game overseas is tough for various reasons. For one, localization of F2P games are a major task–localization outfits are supporting platforms, not just another release that will ship and then they can move on to another title. It wouldn’t be far fetched to see a localization company release just one or two platform games across most of its resources for a year or more. There are not a truck load of companies doing it, although if there is money to be made, there will also a case to be made there; such as what’s happening over at Nutaku, the English-language arm of DMM’s ero branch (I guess).

At the same time, F2P titles are good work for seiyuu because they typically don’t end after 12 or 24 or even 52 episodes later. It provides some continuing work and F2P titles generally drive gacha via characters, and to sustain gacha variety, F2P games typically employs a lot of different seiyuu to create a lot of different characters. The games usually also have more flexible demands on voice recording, plus on average the rates are better for games than anime. Perhaps on a pure headcount perspective, anime still hires a lot more seiyuu off the bat, as games tend to start with a dozen or two and grow over time, but generally game jobs are more desirable.

All of this, is just to say, that no wonder Matsui Eriko’s most famous role gets no nod here. On a higher level, it addresses the gap as mentioned here, the social game generation. It’s not to say anime of popular social games don’t get made, and they clearly do, but for fans clamoring for anime seiyuu of a certain variety (especially if you dig a certain dude), it could be very hard to justify it to an oversea con committee, as the male anime voice roles tend to be dominated by a select few, and there aren’t too many of them to go around in the first place.

Maybe this is why all these people are trying the solo debut route.