Monthly Archives: December 2010

Akari’s Pet Peeve

With wrapping up of Amagami SS we have first witnessed the arc-based treatment of a non-cumulative narrative, or more commonly called omnibus, format for your average multi-branching ADV game.

The girls are fine, and as I said before [would link if my blog is up w] each will appeal to someone, neither variable may be the same. Even the last bonus girl Risa is quite amusing in the sense that even what she did is horrible it is portrayed in a humorous light, and even in its composite-recap nature adds to characterization of the six protagonists earlier.

I just don’t want to hear people cry how she gets a better ending than Rihoko. Because it makes Akari go yandere.

No, more seriously, Rihoko is doing her token osananajimi thing, which is perfectly okay if she puts herself in the friendzone, because that is where she likes it best. It is similar to Risa’s perspective, except Rihoko is truly selfless. Because it would be up to Junichi to take it to the next level, at his leisure. Rihoko doesn’t want to stress him at all, and she really doesn’t. Because as long as you are together…what does it matter, right?

To-Heart is over 10 years old now, but it is still the best representation of a core aspect of bishoujo anime/game/culture today. Give it a whirl if you haven’t.


Asking John about Kara no Kyoukai

Ask John about Kara no Kyoukai, and he will give you actually a fairly balanced view of things, if a little too retail oriented.

I don’t know if he is right or wrong about the nature of American otaku and how the Rakkyo series fits it. I personally believe that he is probably spot on to compare Rakkyo with Oshii, but how many times did he use the word pretense? I mean who am I? Some self-titled anime expert? Who doesn’t even know ‘Rakkyo’? I mean it’s on freaking Wikipedia. Not a lot of people liked Innocence, as far as I can tell. Basically, I think it’s too off the beaten path even in America. What sold in the 80s and 90s was not what ROD OAV was.

He dotes on Chapter 3, which is the MAGARE episode in which Shiki performs an appendectomy. Well, actually, she kills the infection, not the appendix. Which sums up my opinion of episode 3. Certainly however I can see why someone would like it; the episode itself is well put-together and unlike Chapter 7, the viewer is not left in some kind of overwrought suspense and Mamiko Noto carries a strong performance both as victim and villain.

However obviously Aniplex thinks Chapter 5 is the one that everyone will like, as demonstrated at Anime Boston last year. I don’t blame them, Chapter 3 is a little bit too “otaku-poi” in a similar vein as Chapter 6 (which John also likes, besides the lack of epic fights). Chapter 5 features bleed-through pretentiousness, all the way down to its nonlinear narrative and strange showdown in the last 30 minutes of the movie. But when we’re watching cartoon porn instead of realistic porn, I think pretension is a sought-after quality and we shouldn’t make any pretense about it. The only difference is how one executes such pretentiousness so that critics like John will reach for another page in their biological thesaurus.

Perhaps the bigger issue with this that I’m trying to say is more about our perception (heh talking about perception in a Rakkyo thread) of what anime ought to be. I mean I think what I said applies to a lot of ambitious works, that at some level those works have to pretend. So why get stuck on that? Talk about execution instead. And I think good anime always executes. Those shows talk the talk but also walk the walk.

Which goes back to my assertion about what American fans like–I think a lot of the time we like shows that do neither talking nor walking. Because that’s the least pretentious of them all, and maybe that is the root problem. And when you get someone taking down on shows that aspire to be better as inferior to those who don’t even try, it’s just incredible.


Year in Review: Conned Out

I knew I was done with cons this year when I started to think of next year’s schedule with priorities like “take it easy” and “cut down.” I attended 6 cons this year: Anime Boston, Animazement, Anime Next, Anime Expo, Otakon, NYAF. I could have increased it if I wanted to hit that Momoi concert or Anime USA. Anime Next was kind of a non-con for me since it takes place in my back yard, but every other con required serious traveling and some sort of living arrangement, usually in the form of a hotel room.

It has gotten to a point in my con going life that it doesn’t really matter; I can have fun at almost any con, with or without friends, guests, or most things that gets me excited about con in the first place. It sounds bad but I assure you it is just a phase; because I still get excited about cons. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people and traveled a bit thanks to them, and I don’t see myself stopping.

However, I see cons increasingly as a resource-intensive and time-intensive endeavor that should be taken only because it’s better than the alternative. For example, this year at Anime Expo it was pretty awesome. I had a good time despite the strenuous schedule. I was in good company and the food is always great in LA. I met a bunch of new people, albeit briefly. It costs probably twice as much to go to AX than any other con I went this year, but it was worth it. On the other hand, Anime Boston was not really worth my time, despite that I had free housing and it only cost me $40 round trip travel. I had the most fun hanging out with a bunch of dangerous people, but I didn’t need a con to do that. Not to knock Uematsu, but it just wasn’t doing much for me. The logic goes, thus, if I went to 2 cons like AX and skipped out on 4 cons like Anime Boston, I come out ahead, with less fatigue. It’s something to think about.

Too bad you basically needed three arms and a clone to fully enjoy AX this past year. It was such a loaded thing for someone like me that it came down to doing a lot of on-the-field planning and quick decision making, and then you still miss out on all kinds of stuff. I guess because I had press creds I had added options such as press panels and things like that, but overall it was a tough con. A lot of fun, but tough. I could not have had a better crew, and we scored some memories. Good times.

As to 2011, I’m leaning away to Anime Boston and towards PAX East, which takes place early march. This is mostly because I can hitch a ride easily and crash with people I know, but also because it’s like I go to the most cons among my friends but I’ve just never been. Too bad that does nothing to improve my schedule next year…

Sakura-con is a con I want to visit; Seattle has elements that attract me, and I have some local ins to help me get around. The problem is just that it always runs against some other thing. But even before that, it has to have guests. While it has a good track record of that, it is not a sure thing.

On the other hand, Anime Expo is a fairly sure thing. Only thing standing in my way is just a matter of pulling the trigger and managing costs. Or in the case where they don’t announce a guest that I have to see, I can always just ignore it. Knowing how it will go, most likely I will just get a tweet about it the night I head down to Animazement.

Animazement I will most likely go again, since it’s the con that runs on memorial day weekend that nobody goes to, because there are like 3-4 other cons that week including Fanime Con. Fanime is the “Gainax” con so it’s always worth going if you’re into sakuga, but Animazement is more vacation-friendly in the sense that San Jose is probably less exotic than Raleigh. Considering how I’ve never been to Fanime though, it might be worth the trip once at some point.

Anime Next, Otakon and NYAF are things I can’t really escape. I guess it will be another task to tackle these cons with minimum burnt-outage. As you can see I still has a ways to go before I can call it quits!


Sphere Observation

Just a few minor things to note, probably not exactly the most flattering thing to say about the girls in Sphere so I apologize to the fans I might piss off ahead of the time. As entertainers I have nothing but respect for these girls.

1. There is a reason why people don’t like Ayahi. I think she is nonetheless an important part of the group in both the way it’s presented visually and in the way the four girls sound together. In essence she covers a lot of holes. However at the same time I’m not sure what she brings to the group that appeases the target audience.

2. However there are a couple really good pictures of her in there, in Tentai Kansoku, that works well, in the sense that I didn’t know she can have that look. Namely in the first section.

3. Megane is a great equalizer. However Aki doesn’t look that good with them, not sure why. It’s more like, for boring faces, glasses add something; for great faces, it can equalize or add to. So generally you can’t really lose if you’re a seiyuu.

4. Speaking of looks, Minako still has the best face, in that she expresses well in photos, and can solicit a good range of feelings at least when I look at it. The other girls at best look “pretty” except Haruka, who can occasionally go beyond that. Occasionally.

5. But once we take into the whole package, Haruka still hands down wins. I guess you do have a much harder time to be a model if you are short, which both Minako and Ayahi are. I think they clocked below average even for Japanese girls.

6. In the same way, Aki looks pretty cool in some shots because she is taller, and it gives her body that balance that most seiyuu types don’t have. But I guess she still looks better not trying to stretch that.

7. In the same way, again, Haruka doesn’t do very well when she tries to. I haven’t had the opportunity to look at her photo books but from what I saw from scans, yeah, she tries and it doesn’t work that often.

8. The prom shots are still the best overall set.

9. I like Minako’s twin tail shots in the school outfit set, there’s just something with that hair.

10. Everyone’s seen that picture of Haruka looking calm with the white dress, it is one of those examples when they keep it simple, it comes off very well.

11. Ayahi in the kimono shot is LOOOOL. I thought she also look way better in candid shots.

12. Every musician type doing this kind of “business” should release a photo album/book that records all that stuff-concert tour goods, outfits, pictures from lives. It’s nice!

13. I totally like the title of the book. Not sure if it is, but it feels like a tribute to all the astro references. Like a page from Sora no Manimani (which was one of the first Sphere anime).

Going to end with an image and some discussion. This isn’t from the book, but it’s from one of the promo sets Sphere did this year.

This is one of those not-quite-candid shots where the girls need to express naturally, smile, all that stuff. It’s a fun picture, so it needs to look…fun. I think Haruka’s strength really comes through here since she is the best actress in the group. Aki always look pretty natural, so she automatically passes.

Minako is a little caught in between, but if you’ve seen her film you probably know she really can’t act anyways, so that much is probably just natural for her. However Ayahi is just… well, she’s doing the right thing, but it looks pretty fake. The problem is the way we human beings detect facial expressions. A lot of it has to do with the way you emote with your eyes, how your face muscles move them while you smile. It’s like she needs to do this somewhat, and isn’t doing it.


Year in Review: Films

2010 is the year of films. I suspect 2011 to be not as bad, but probably on par, with 2010.
  • A rag tag gang of military men, nurse, spies, scientist, token kid and a Japanese joshikousei forms the gang of protagonists in the SF survival flick King of Thorn.
  • Join Shinko and Kiiko in their childhood fantasy of a rural Japan, with magic that takes you back even further, 1000 years ago, in this Ghibli-esqe tale of friends, growing up, and coping with the rapidly changing world in Mai Mai Miracle.
  • It’s Alice in Wonderland, except it’s the littlest penguin otaku known to man and a goblin named Chaley. This time the cute little girl has to save Chaley’s friends from the bully in the mysterious world, to fulfill the prophecy in Yona Yona Penguin.
  • High schooler Haruka falls into a similar rabbit hole and finds herself in the island of forgotten trash, and saves its population from exploitation in the story of Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror.
  • It’s called Redline because it’s fast as hell.
  • The Celestial Beings reveal their origin in the return of Gundam 00 in the Gundam 00: The Movie.
  • Tow Ubukata’s masterpiece, now in part one of three animated feature films: Mardock Scramble: The First Compression. Megumi Hayashibara returns as the protagonist in this adaptation of the namesake award-winning novel about all that 80s cyberpunk goodness.
  • Vash trashes up the badlands again in Trigun: Badland Rumble. The whole cast is back!
  • Does seeing Saber sick and heavy while wearing a pretty little dress get you excited? Then get to the theaters for Fate/stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, the animated adaptation of the most exciting and inspirational saga in the Fate/stay Night storyline. Spoilers: let there be dolphins.
  • Join Alto, Ranka and Sheryl in the first (and soon second!) part of the theatrical retelling of Macross Frontier: The False Songstress.
  • The world without Haruhi is one that is calm, peaceful, and full of collarbones. Find out why in The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya.
  • Learn to make friends with the friendliest little girl by seeing her in action in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: the Movie. See Nanoha and her magical ferret Yuuno make their first friend, complete with full body transformation scenes and over nine thousand in power levels. Learn the reason why fans call her the White Devil.
  • It’s called Strong World because the critters are hella strong! See Luffy and the Straw Hats in their latest high-budget bind as they rescue their navigator in a pinch in One Piece: Strong World!
  • She may eat books, but she is the nicest girl you know. Find out how this mysterious being saves a girl from her self-destructive ways in Bungaku Shoujo: the Movie, the theatrical animation adaptation from the same-titled light novel series.
  • Catch the exciting finale to the Noblesse Game in the two-part theatrical continuation of Eden of the East: The King of Eden and Paradise Lost.
  • Do you enjoy the Time of Eve? If you do, definitely check out Nagi’s coffee house now in its theatrical rendition, with over 12 minutes of new animation in The Time of Eve the Movie.

Damn, that’s a lot of movies. And damn, I’ve seen too many of them.