IDOLM@STER Shiny Colors: The Animation

This is really a first-impression piece. I’m talking about my own impression but more like how a nice meal tastes, but with the right wine pairing.

You can now catch the TV anime streaming on Crunchy, after I guess some kind of exclusivity period. I would think none of this matters given how the entire series was pre-screened in theaters in Japan already. I have this story in which I could have caught the first segment during ML10th Act3 in Fukuoka, but time didn’t allow, and due to some snafu of not his own making, my hotel roommate during that weekender wasn’t able to see the show on day one. Instead, he went to catch this pre-screening.

Here are what I think are the relevant “filters” coloring my experience after 1 episode in, some personal biases if you will. In the interest of time I’ll just bullet them.

  • Miriani. Everyone likes to compare children of the same family, and while I am not any less guilty of this, I don’t really think about it. Rather, it’s an unconscious effect where before seeing the show I can see how people make these plot, writing or direction comparisons and it makes sense (to support their points about one being better or worse than the other). Or rather, Miriani is unimpeachable? I don’t think it’s that good (but I don’t 100% agree with those hankering for the A-1 days, FWIW) in the grand scheme of things, and after seeing Shinyani I don’t think it’s as bad as people make it out to be, if comparing it to Miriani is something that happens either consciously or not. Ultimately, Shinyani is not some 10-years-worth of tears pouring into something or another, like Miriani was–that is more like pulling teeth since 2015, for an anime that would have been better suited in 2018. I guess this means I’m consciously ignoring that obvious comparison.
  • Visual novel anime titles from the 00s. There is one specific title I have in mind, which is one of my all-time faves. That title, ef, is taking the same vibe in which we are telling a story, mostly not with plot, but with vibes, or whatever vibes were called in the 2000s. It’s a common focus in many postmodern narratives, and visual novels tend to have this going on back when. Visual novel anime basically derives, in a figurative-mathematical sense of the term, the same feelings and storytelling techniques, in order to express emotions. I don’t know how well Shinyani will carry this concept that the OG Shinymas game kind of prides itself on, but I guess we’ll see. Generally though this takes a lot of time, and Shinyani has to deal with a lot of idols in a cour, so it’s probably not going to be a strong point. Anyways, all throughout episode one, I think of the sky, the feathered wing, the scene as set by the rhythm of the sun (note all the sunset scenes…), and all colored by simple piano chords. This is EF.
  • Gakumas visuals. I realized my impression of the Shinyani visuals before Gakuen IDOLM@STER is different than after Gakumas. In fact that realization prompted this post. Looping Rinami’s 4K intro clip countless time probably made me even more damaged than I was? Joke aside, this is because the IM@S 3D art style has shifted. I would say this is also kind of a subconscious impact of Miriani, in which we are now in a new territory where the A1-licensed artwork is ancient history, that MLTD is kind of a transitional visual artifact, almost, and Gakumas is the future. Or the present. Shinyani actually pairs well with the graphics coming out from those brave folks at QualiArts. I mean, when I saw this unveiled, it reminds me of someone saying something about courage.
  • Who I am as a Shinymas Producer. As someone who dips in and out of Shinymas game-wise, I’m really following it for the overall meta-story, the fandom, the songs, and the performances. Having been with the franchise since the start I know what I’m looking forward to, to put it in the same like as Gakumas as we’re doing weekly new-character-reveals, the overall progression of the franchise as new units are added to the series. The anime is not something I’m dying for–it’s clearly an onboarding for the payday pinata that is the Shinysong game that launched just months earlier. That reminds me, I should write something about it… but I guess you can guess how I feel about that game. Anyways, Your Mileage Will Vary here because I’m not sure how big my cohort size really is–probably not that much in the English-language speaking sphere.

So far, the anime is at least good enough to carry on the branding of IDOLM@STER from a production point of view. I’m not really sure how the story will take its turn at the end of the season, as they have announced S2 (completely with at least Straylight and Noctchill), but are they going to “progress” at that point on? I assume so. To say it feels kind of bad to announce and tease the new units of S2 before S1 even aired is putting it mildly. Unfortunately, speedy is the Otaku’s Sword of Judgment, errors and nuances be damned, and we know the cohort that knows Shinymas purely from zako illustrators on the internet and erodojinshi is much larger than the cohort for me, LOL. Anyways, I guess I’ll continue to watch this show, as if I had any other choice.

Frieren Thoughts, One Season In

I think there are two aspects of Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, or Souzou no Frieren, that really work well together to carry the story. One is that it’s a really emotional story. The other is that it builds a narrative that is well-layered. The two together works like a sieve of sorts. Instead of a Gunbuster-okaeri payoff you get a slow drip of the mono-no-aware (or as the kids say, “vibe”) over a longer period of time, in much smaller doses, as the story unfolds layer by layer accordingly.

From 30,000 feet up I think Frieren is repackaging the story also told by other cyro-timeskip plot devices, where you have some weak interactor that carries memories from times of ancient past to the present or future. This character is living history out itself so each generation connects with each other much like subsequent scenes in a movie featuring the same protagonist; or a TV show in this case.

Spoilers ahoy.

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Revisiting Anime Awards

Anitrendz and Crunchyroll posted their awards. Not too surprising there are barely any overlaps between the two…I already written off CR’s award a long time ago and really only check them out for the guests. As a US-based subscriber from pretty much the start I am a bit obliged to pay attention to it, but it’s just disappointing. At least it consistently puts Sally in a nice dress and in front of a global audience!

It’s a bit salt-on-wound when the Yoasobi segment from CR’s award show was cut from the stream on archive…given this stream starts 6pm JST which is not really humane hours for US ET. US PT was 1am so it’s a bit better? Not to mention the whole Yoasobi “tour” that stopped only at 2 Californian stops… [Whoever is trying to do this is just … not good. You can’t just do “let’s squeeze 2 shows around Cochella” for Yoasobi, they deserve way, way much better, their fans deserve much, much better…they’re too big for this sort of nonsense. (See you in LA?)]

I always posited that these “best of” games are good discovery tools. A video games award-y pow-wow for the industry is like, okay, I guess? But it is a lot of money into a circle jerk. Anime is getting more mainstream in the west and the US, so I expect more fanfare, I just hope CR just doesn’t take the lazy way out…well it already is, so I guess it can’t get much worse.

It really can’t get much worse because you would have discovered nothing as a current-anime follower–every title in their list is well-known. Like, do you really need to rep One Piece, Demon Slayer, or Jujutsu Kaisen? Maybe Jujutsu Kaisen for old timers who don’t watch any anime anymore…but do you really need an annual award for this? Or is that the target audience? That isn’t the case for the Video Game awards or the Oscars. I am a bit at a loss at the point of the CR’s other than as a marketing exercise. I don’t even care about the bias, dozens and dozens of great titles on CR gets buried every year and their own dog-and-pony show doesn’t even do anything, lol. They should be more biased if anything.

After all, just look at the Reddit one. It is outright a superior one than CR’s. Just join forces. Whatever it is, it would be an improvement than throwing cash into a farcical furnace that it is doing right now.

Million Live 10th Tour Act-4 Recap

The feeling seeing Machico randomly confessing to Ueshama. The chill of the Tokyo Bay wind hitting your face as you’re teeing up GenP for a friend behind you doing English. The exhilaration of hearing Todakun telling us to “get down.” Nansu wiggling her butt because of the button tail on her outfit. Mocho and Koroazu crying. And countless other moments this past weekend. This is the “hyakuman power” that was sleeping under the sheets with a JUNGO face printed on it, and woke up for a weekend. This is Million Live.

The story of Million Live isn’t just that they are the sub-brand of IDOLM@STER that carries the torch of 765PRO ALLSTARS, but that it is a refreshing of the IDOLM@STER franchise with some of the top seiyuu performers of that generation. That generation is now 11+ years into its existence. Everyone has been through a lot. If I had time maybe I can dig into each one of them, including the two new ones that joined the team half way. Long story short, their success as individuals, or lack there of, speaks volumes to the “refresh rate” or how hard it is to make it as a seiyuu idol in this day and age.

The result of 10 years of hard work is this extremely emotional but also extremely fun, awesome, and fulfilling two-day concert. Unlike what happened during 4th Live, which is the accumulation of promises and wishes, Act-4 of 10th Tour is the result after fulfilling those things. Or at least partly.

  • We now have an anime
  • We have had more concerts where 765AS sang with the Million (Hotchpotch…and Hotchpotch 2 on the horizon)

I literally left 4th with big-time brain fog, but I left act4 with clarity of mind and purpose. So much have changed. Kokkochan’s chant to summon Hoshii Miki may have summoned something else, perhaps more delicious. Anyways, Act-4 was the true real Million Live anniversary decennial! Or rather, Acts 1-4 all together? But this was the one.

I have more thoughts than time to write them down cohesively, so this is more a recap than a review post… I think Kasshi did a great job with GenP on the second day so please watch that, and day1’s recap.

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Bang Dream: MyGO!!!!! Anime

I just finished watching the mid-2023 TV anime (web anime?) Bang Dream: MyGO!!!!! and it is definitely a remarkable work. The weird part about my watching experience was that having tried and failed 2 episodes in, back when it was airing, then I watched the live-action band play in person, then I watched the first 7 episodes again, then I watched the same band play in person yet again, then I finally finished the series.

For starters, it’s definitely a series better binged. The non-linear narrative does the series a disservice until you make it to episode 3. MyGO’s strength, and to an extent all character-driven series like this, is character-based emotional investment. Without that, the dramatic “ball hiding” or “mystery” is just too surface level as a pull for me. Until I care, I’m not going to want to know, and this is why the back story retelling finally makes it possible. Yes, do the 3-episode test, but at least this many episodes.

Spoilers ahead.

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