While I’m sitting home, working from home, and eventing from home under this COVID-19 scheme of things, the world keeps on ticking. Just because life may have paused somewhat for me, the world has not. Which is just to say, I feel like this blog could use a change.
I thought about doing a newsletter type format thing for this blog for a while now, and maybe that makes more sense. Of course, to make a proper email newsletter, it’s a different type of syndication. I will probably still post the letters on this site for posterity sake. It is going to have a similar voice.
Nonetheless a newsletter format of journaling seems a bit more appropriate for the things I’m thinking about. It takes a lot of time to germinate ideas worth the while for public posting, and then survive the iterative review I do. It’s not like my unpublished draft count is going down… Only a portion of what I write is gets published in the end, no matter how stream-of-conscious the rambling gets. I don’t have a formal clipboard process but that might change as a result?
In short, below is an example from this week. I’m not committed to a set schedule, but I’ll aim for a weekly schedule. I’ll post them in the emails at least, and probably on the blog too, as I go. You can subscribe to it by entering your email below. At some point those emails will go out, when I figure out how this works anyways. Meanwhile I’ll post them on the site for now.
Seeing the VOY@GER MMXXI trailer on this past Sunday morning was something, to say the least. Goripon is back to do another project with the IM@S content that he is still purportedly a fan of is definitely a sight for sore eyes. The studio Khara link is curious, and the most important “Animas team” tease is a seriously strong dose of hopium.
What is worth also noting is that on the 15th anniversary, July 27 2020, we were not only in the depth of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we saw the Million Live anime teaser. That means in the gap of a year we saw 2 anime teasers, but the only anime since were some Cinderella Girls Gekijo stuff? I might have missed something but that is it, right? Oh, there was this.
We did get an update from WakachikoP last month with the annual Million Live Theater Days anniversary issue of Famitsu. So I can say that at least this is the minimum fans deserve–even an update that they need more time is needed for a fandom this engaged.
As an aside, even if a big project like Theater Days are run by a big team with a lot of people working on it, with planning that span years, having Hazama-san in charge feels like the product and franchise is just in a better place than KominoP as we had in the past when he took over the role during WakachikoP’s leave.
Back on topic: What is there to expect about VOY@GER MMXXI? I don’t think it’s anything more than just another extended trailer, similar to the one they released 5 years ago to celebrate the 4th year of Million Live. (By the way, I guess this is worth watching if you care about new folks doing research and not knowing about the team Anim@s connection.) If we’re lucky, it might stretch beyond the 10-minute mark, but since it has been referred to as a concept movie or promotional video, I won’t bet on it. It’s suppose to come out soon, so given the neck-breaking pace that Goripon had to deal with regarding the latest Eva movie, that only means there has been about half a year of actual production time when staff can actively create the animation, at the most. Depending on how many people are actually working on the project, of course, it could mean a variety of things, but there has been enough time past since the last time team Anim@s has done anything.
At the same time, we still don’t have a release date for the video, but the song will be out soon in mid-August. The cast has yet record for the work, if the announcement stream reactions were genuine, although they of course have already recorded the song. I don’t think it’s good to dwell too much on it, other than to celebrate the first animated anything for the 3 Shinymas characters, and the other characters who were left out of their respective anime previously.
If I were to actually speculate, VOY@GER was suppose to be a project launched along with the 15th anniversary festivities. On the music side, VOY@GER turned into the same release format as Nandodemo Waraou which seems like a logical thing they will want to do every year going forward. But IDOLM@STER Five Stars songs probably had 6-12 months of lead time, similar to a new mobile game event/content drop for MLTD or CGSS. If we take the cancelled Theater Days PSTour event as a measuring stick, it took them about 9 months to redo it as it’s scheduled for early October. There are other factors affecting these so we can only take that number with a healthy amount of salt, but +/-3 months seems reasonable.
Predicting anime production schedule during COVID seems like a foolish thing to do, so maybe guessing about staff is more productive. If you are good you can probably guess staff from the cast list, because, as MingosP mentioned on the livestream, of course Makoto is in this project because Goripon is a MakotoP. Maybe you can find the biggest Derem@s animator stans for Minami as the next one up.
In summary, it’s like what they say, it’s just more IM@S. MillionPs have been through this before, but this time we’ll have the newbies from Theater Days along for the ride. For CG folks, they know how Spin-Off is like. For the other old timers though, this is all gravy.
As I churn these out periodically a week is about as long as I can stretch this format. So maybe I’ll keep it on pace. In hindsight some of these sections needs better retooling in cases where I skip weeks too.
Omonomono Newsletter, 2021-07-19
I didn’t know Suwa was in Hosoda’s new film. I guess some people really liked it out in FR.
An ongoing thing I think about over the years is the level of discourse in the fandom verticals I follow. I think it’s a practical, rubber-meets-the-road sort of thing where fans discuss, organize, and understand what they’re doing, what they are consuming, and the impact of their actions (as well as the action of their content providers). The drive to seek to understand is often an underpinning force behind the reason why fans seek out things, from pilgrimages to simple literary analysis.
It’s not to say that a more sophisticated discourse is better, but rather the general rule is that you want to have many different discourses–possibly as many as possible to the extent that some discourses might prohibit others, so we don’t want just those. It is kind of the fallacy to think humanity can only do one thing at a time: feed the poor versus going to space, for example. Or to think a character can only be shipped one way (in a serious sense). There may be a list of priorities that may be important to a fandom, but individuals within it will have varying priorities at all times. In general, people will think what they think, and we always have to fight our tendency to want to monopolize or manipulate it, to allow everyone the space to express themselves within the allowed bounds. It’s extra credit to make the space safe and conducive to additional discourse to let that fandom flower, as I think humans naturally will blossom even if you just leave them alone and provide the bare minimum.
In as such, this is what fandom ghettos are like–just masses of people left to do what they are to do, unorganized and generally letting their previous training guiding them. I think that is probably okay, as far as a human condition goes. I also think we can do much better, assuming enough attention, human resources, money, and will (political or otherwise) is present. After all there can only be so many discussions about who your favorites are. The more discourses we have, by nature, there will be some that are more sophisticated as we come up with more new things to talk about.
To that end, I think it’s easy to think we can elevate that discourse by leadership: leading by example, specifically. I think one of the best example is the Sakugabooru folks. It takes some level of sophistication to talk about sakuga, even if on some level it’s one of the most visceral thing about that particular type of fandom. Anime news is another, although that’s closer to acts of, say, translation and retweeting an announcement where the “discourse’ Is largely one-way and can be extremely nuanced and complicated, and given it is one way folks don’t appreciate how that is until they try it themselves.
Which is to say, it’s not really the only way going forward. I use the term ghetto in part because, unlike nice neighborhoods, they cost very little to maintain and to live in. If your community doesn’t have gates, there’s no gate keeping so to speak. And at some level, we all start with basics like simple favorites and go from there, so as a fan mature over time, ever stage of that journey needs some degree of respect and attention in order to get folks moving up the chain, if that’s what you want. Every step of the way is important, but especially the first.
I also use the term, in part, to highlight a level of inequality and that discrimination does occur in fan spaces based on where people live in figuratively. It is not a coincidence that some forms of entertainment are attached to status and wealth. In the age of mass media and social media, this might not be as big of an issue since massively popular content are often democratizing as well as extremely attractive to everyone, even those in high towers, but discriminatory attitudes persists both ways, from the top looking down and vice versa.
Professional media/journalism operate with some kind of means to some kind of ends that are pretty well spelled out. It’s definitely admirable that some sites expose predators in the industry at some risk (being female and harassed by internet mobs is a real danger). But I think this is a situation where we put ourselves in. We can do better. In this day and age there are a truck ton of “anime fans” and unlike video game sites, anime sites are still quite rare, at least in English. We need to gather crew on media and press so we have the right people with the right tools and experiences to deal with the issues (and dangers) of a profession that is covering things loved by (tens of? hundreds of?) millions of people worldwide.
Social media has taken a lot of the work out of traditional media in the anime space. I think there is even more of a reason for authoritative sources of information to band together (informally) to make certain information available. It is about crafting narratives, and this is really hard to do when there are only 2-3 major English news site that covers “the scene” in depth. There are also several sizable sites that do the opposite, and really just click-bating with tabloid content (or worse). I think this is a real need that is being filled by Youtubers, and this situation can be observed across all different fan spaces (and non-fan spaces).
All of it is just to say, if you build it, they will come. Unfortunately it’s also one of those things where it isn’t as if people have not tried before. I used to write for such a site, some might remember, that tried this. But frankly no matter how willing the spirit is, the body is weak.
Let’s not forget how a group like Anime Tube can even get this far–it had to survive in the vacuums where the light of reality had little grasp on the way a company can go about the business of streaming anime. The moment they step into that light, they are probably toast. Frankly lit or not, anime will continue to be consumed, but maybe, just maybe, it’s good for the community for content to be tied to the rest of the apparatus (a visible and clear relationship with, say, the people who create the thing to sell toys or whatever).
Fans can and should take responsibility and I think with sites like ANN being where it is, some fans have. But when it comes to this Japanese cartoon, games, and comics stuff, industry are not really sowing it where it needs to be done. Part of this is in marketing budgets, part of it is the gap between western publishers and Japanese publishers. Some of it is just unsophistication (arguably the MPAA/RIAA only “got” all this in the last 10 years, for a point of comparison). Part of it is the Galapagos syndrome the entire culture of Japan has regarding doing business. There are many other factors still.
Which is all just to say, it isn’t even fair if fans can meet corporate half way. We are their paying customers, they really should go as far as they possibly can. Unfortunately, that’s most of the time not even half way. In that sense, the one thing I’m most grateful for Crunchyroll is its ability to slosh around the community and be a bridge to connect the consumers with the “source” which means, yes, they too run a news site. Yes, they post new seiyuu and anisong music videos (bless them) guised as articles. We are at the point where PR needs to be in English first, let alone actual reporting (heroic as they were at times) that ANN seems to pride itself on. There’s such a huge swath of news that just die in the void of the language barrier that there is no end to what needs to be translated, spun, and thrown out there.
I think if Netflix want to spend 10 million in the next 3-4 years to do an anime news/community site, that will do wonders for this entire sector. They can afford it and there will be results from this outreach type work. The work Bandai Namco is doing with Gundam (if Netflix can work it out) and gunpla may mean there’s a path there for that series. Who knows? But what makes sense is the full package, not just the anime by itself. Maybe this just means we need more slumlords today.