Monthly Archives: May 2012

Seraphim Call

There is this 1999 Sunrise moe anime about 11 girls and a Christmas holiday celebration on an island made of academic studies and science. All it needed was X-men-style superpower heroines and trashy light novel origin in order to become something just a passing curiosity. It probably isn’t one of my all-time favorite anime, but it’s a show that I have a hard time forgetting. I blame it on Mochizuki Tomomi, but I eventually fessed up and decided to just say “I like it.” The show is Seraphim Call, just in case you were wondering.

During the days of the moe and Akiba boom, this was just one of the many projects created to cash in. In some ways it might be just too early for its time; we were not ready. The word moe hasn’t really reached its status at the time. Seraphim Call combined romance and that lonely, chilly, heart-warming (and occasionally heart-rending) package into 1-episode chunks. Mochizuki is a pretty creative cinematographer and he applied these tropes, in good 80s-extravagant-OVA-era ways, to the series. The end result is unconventional but also very memorable for me. I think it’s fair to say that this show was at least a little experimental.

I didn’t like the way the marketing for the show worked; it was pretty extreme, selling DVDs (and LDs!) of each episode individually. There was a CD single for each episode, as each episode focused on one girl and that girl fronted the ED theme for that week. Yuko Sasaki’s moe voice rolled in the OP very nicely and I didn’t think I had a similar reaction until Yakushimaru Etsuko got into anime.

I think the problem with this show was that the franchise has nothing to hook itself on. It was not consistently executed; there needed be something–idols, games, whatever–beyond just the anime and its characters. Kita E was a notably better example, but that also didn’t go very far. It is also a better example because it was dated actually after the year 2000, but hey. To be clear, this has not much to do with the experimental nature of the anime and franchise; I suppose looking back, it was one of those things that taught some people a lesson on what to do and what not to do, when they create projects like this.

One thing that bothered me about Seraphim Call was how it appealed to a set of characteristics that bothered me but yet appealed to me. It’s kind of like the irrational dislike I have for furries, but yet I can engage those tropes on some level in the mind and analyze it. Seraphim Call taps into the “Asian winged sad female[also male variant available] in piles of airborne white particles” set of tropes. It’s like games with the word “Valk-” in it. These things have this…stench. It was massively popular in Asia in the late 90s and early 00s. Thankfully for Seraphim Call, it steered mostly clear of the adhered tropes until the very last episode. I am also not particularly adverse to it, although in general I avoided those kind of things. (Valkyria Chronicles seem to be my only other vice in this category.)

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A Week of Many Cons and Ds

Just another post of random notes.

That “Girls und Panzer” anime so reminds me of this:

What a surprise! Takaaki Suzuki is behind this thing. By surprise I mean OMG OPPOSITE MEANING. The man is a bro though, so I’d like to support his efforts.


Sayonara Ponytail is the weird kind of band with a weird presence. Weird because they were an indie cartoon band and now a major-label cartoon band. It’s just three girls, but it seems one of them is responsible for most of the creative direction of the group.  They debuted for the major label last year, but I read about it back when j1m0ne was just starting to post about indie stuff she found. You can hear them cover Spitz’s Sora mo Taberu Hazu in Tsuritama at the usual places. (Scroll to the bottom of the tag listing to see j1m0ne’s post lol.) Well, if she found it in Tower Record, just how indie was it??

Anyway, you know me and 2.5D, and Sayonara Ponytail are very much so. Think of it as the pickup of the week, as their Tsuritama single comes out this week. There are three versions of this crap:

The double-sided poster that comes with the single features the Tsuritama boys on one side and the witches on the other. The LE version and the Anime version come with a bonus CD. But I guess you might have to shop elsewhere to get that poster as CDJ is out of it.

Actually I have sort of an opinion on Sayonara Ponytail, and it’s mostly made of ambivalence. That said I haven’t listened to their album from last year, which probably means my opinion doesn’t count. I sure don’t count it myself. Anyway, there’s a lot of stuff to be unsure about, but you can read about some of that here.


In the US, Memorial Day Weekend marks not only the start of Anime Con season, but also of Summer vacationing among people who have PTOs, rather than mandatory school closures (though the period largely overlap). This year’s lineup are the three usual familiars: Anime North (most notable for English-language-tweeting Asakawa Yuu along with Sasanuma, also a p. cool DJ), FanimeCon (Aizawa Mai, the usual Yamaga crew, Kia Asamiya, Koyama Shigeto), and Animazement.

I’m going to Animazement. See you there? And if I make it to Kotoko’s concert alive that would make her one of my most-attended Anison artists at 3 concerts! Well, not counting Yoko Kanno. The three big Memorial Day weekend cons have pretty good guests as usual, but I think Fanime had some problems this year so all their announcements were pretty late. On the other hand Animazement called it out, well, when Mr. Ishiguro was still with us. Besides that, the usual old crew of voice actors and directors and producers will be there, specifically Itano (the circus man), Nagahama (director of Mushishi), Orikasa Fumiko, Kaikan Phrase mangaka, and lots of others.

I wonder if any of the cons are going to move their dates next year… Please peruse the links to the respective sites for the detail guest list!


There’s that anime power ranking thing and I guess I’m suppose to vote for shows every week–makes sense if/when I am able to watch that week’s anime that week–just wanted to point out Tsuritama was great this past week. It’s a good week for the show too this week come to think of it…

I thought Sencolle, too, was quality this week. Tho I’m a sucker.

What’s more I didn’t even vote this week, because I was too busy partying! Perhaps fortunately this non-voting doesn’t happen all the time (translation: it happens way too often). If I had my way with Kevo, I’d retool it with a lag period–you rank the shows from Saturday to Friday, but make the ballot due like, Monday or something. Also if he’s good with spreadsheets, explore the wonders of Google Docs to automate polling and results? A resounding yes.

Space Brothers Episode 7 And Narrative Parallels

Is it fair to say that Space Brothers makes a statement about the spacefaring nature of man through Mutta’s struggles?

Let’s take Gundam 00 as an example. It has this rather cliche Hollywood theme that pits man’s unity towards an external harm as a survival instinct, a rational course of action that brings the world together in order to survive in the harsh deep space. Kuroda’s “Celestial Beings” is that artificial, external factor, that leads to the corny plot factor we discover in the Gundam 00 Movie. What goes around comes around in full circle!

A united world is hardly something unusual; Star Trek made it a known backdrop, and I think SF-attuned minds world-wide took it to heart since decades ago. But as we continue towards the future, and actually trying to go to space or make the world a better place, we experience and see first-hand the true problem with humanity’s hangups. It’s no longer fiction if we have to live it, right?

And I think Space Brothers subtly explores this “true problem.” It uses this kind-of hamfisted sort of framing around Mutta’s struggles to contrast it with his youthful past about going into space. (Well, maybe it was better in the manga.) If we take a look at Mutta and his turmoils do we see the real hurdle between man and the infinite? Does his pride issues and tendency for violence (however justifiable) reduces his chances to go to space? Do our pride issues and tendency for violence reduce the same?

This is pretty classy. But also really shallow in a way.

What’s kind of amusing is that it’s also an irrational perspective. Mutta is sympathetic and he is a protagonist you can easily root for. I think it would be great if he can fulfill his dreams of being a space dude along with his brother. But it certainly doesn’t have to happen in order for the future to continue to progress. The plot takes its cues through Mutta, but the world does not revolve around any one person. In fact that is the, like, satori, to overcome Mutta’s problems. And I think he knows this; it’s just that he cannot live with it (yet). The world may be a better place if Mutta fulfill his deepest wishes, but we aren’t presented with an equal or better alternative unlike how it is in non-fiction.

I wonder if Space Brothers will explore that theme. It has tried in a way, but it could be more honest. If JAXA and NASA can cooperate, will there ever be space for the rest of us?

Why I Stopped My JManga Subscription

I read this and I immediately felt the need to write a post with this post title, and as a result this post may seem a little Pavlovian. For the record I am also not someone who really knows manga like SDS, him being more of a rare case who is doing it academically and as they say, fer reals. And he does point out one very cool use case with the translation. I just want to put in my 2c.

I was one of the braver folks who signed with JManga during their first month of existence. I kept my 1 month and in fact left the subscription going for the next. The manga selection looked amusing, at least at the time–they were promising a lot despite only a few books were available at the time. I read some of the free stuff, I browsed a handful of titles that seemed interesting, using the free sampling feature all its worth.

I think I canceled at the time simply because there weren’t that many books that I’d buy given the price points and availability. It’s like I have this balance in my head where on one side is the cost, and on the other side my maniacal attachment to a particular property. For example, I might re-up JManga if they finally publish Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya Zwei, doubly so if it happens before the anime release. Instead, like everybody I know who bought from JManga, I bought a copy of Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteru. Well, I guess then there are those who buy just the yuri and BL stuff which I typically just ignore.

The poor selection and other issues, some ongoing, doesn’t really shade JManga in my eyes as a poor or failed execution. I see it more like a continuing solution that will keep solving an ongoing problem as long as it exists. The real question is how can this solution become profitable, affluent, efficient, and effective. That is something I wish we get real criticism on, rather than the usual dead horse beating about copyright and scanalations. I mean, yes, it’s not going to replace scanlation, but it will offer a viable alternative, one which hopefully and eventually, do not require bending over backwards and dance in a circle while wearing a wooden mask, or spending tons of money on walled-garden devices, like most other digital manga alternatives out there.

And as I’ve found then and again just now, JManga still has some ways to go.

In practice there is just one major problem with JManga–it requires the kind of reading style where you’re sitting in front of a PC. With tablets being more popular today this is less of a problem (as I think iPads might be a valid alternative) but no offline mode is going to make this not viable for me most of the time. I’m not much for sitting in front of my computer and reading manga, and I read most often when I’m on the road. Second, the manga browser just can’t zoom properly on my phone (Galaxy Nexus) unless I use the desktop version of the site. It’s not a pretty browsing experience. Arguably manga isn’t meant to be read in that form factor and resolution, but so far my experience is roughly the equivalent of “this doesn’t work at all.”

I guess all I’m saying is unless you want to get cool English/Japanese text softsubbed manga, or if you’re maniacal about certain properties, there’s basically zilch reason to subscribe to JManga today. Perhaps on the basis of being legit they have some standing, if all you wanted is to read manga on your desktop or some compatible device (I’m guessing just iPads). Ironically it’s stuff like this that makes me appreciate what Crunchyroll has accomplished right out of the gate after their first year, that how their services work for the most part on just about everything relevant.

Tentacle Bento Puts the Tentacle In Kickstarter

So a couple days ago there were a couple articles on Kotaku and Insert Credit and as of 15 hours ago Kickstarter canned Tentacle Bento’s project. They have since then move to their own site, as they were overfunded by a lot. That just means people wanted to buy this game.

For one, I applaud more tabletop games with anime-style themes. It’s unfortunate that rape makes such an interesting…plot twistgame mechanic and it is kind of a joke in the scene. It isn’t unfortunate, however, that it is funny. There are a lot of sad and twisted things in this world that are funny. Humor, especially the dark sort, is some of the best gifts God gave to mankind to cope with those sort of tragedies (eg., actual rape). That silver lining often is ironic.

I think the moral/rights/nonsense part of the issue is kind of straightforward. Kickstarter can choose to allow or not allow any kind of project. Here is what they say. I bolded the potentially relevant items:

[]There are some things we just don’t allow on Kickstarter.

Alcohol (prohibited as a reward)
Automotive products
Baby products
Bath and beauty products
Contests (entry fees, prize money, within your project to encourage support, etc)
Coupons, discounts, and cash-value gift cards
Drugs, drug-like substances, drug paraphernalia, tobacco, etc
Electronic surveillance equipment
Energy drinks
Exercise and fitness products
Financial incentives (ownership, share of profits, repayment/loans, etc)
Firearms, weapons, and knives
Health and personal care products
Heating and cooling products
Home improvement products
Infomercial or As-Seen-on-TV type products
Items not directly produced by the project or its creator (no offering things from the garage, repackaged existing products, weekends at the resort, etc)
Medical and safety-related products
Multilevel marketing and pyramid programs
Nutritional supplements
Offensive material (hate speech, inappropriate content, etc)
Pet supplies
Projects endorsing or opposing a political candidate
Pornographic material
Raffles, lotteries, and sweepstakes
Real estate
Self-help books, DVDs, CDs, etc
Promoting or glorifying acts of violence

I mean, it’s offensive? I guess any kind of rape anything can be offensive? Who is the judge? And violence! Tons of games with violence on KS go untouched. I suppose those are not “inappropriate content”? I guess it’s okay if they don’t really come up with any objective standard, personally. It’s going to have consequences, but so be it.

In as much I think the Insert Credit article is wrong to compare the allowance of funding for one project versus actually creating a project, it is a valid argument in terms of “does world class organization should be associated with XYZ”? I think that is a stance ultimately bad for free speech, but since Kickstarter is a private sort of thing and isn’t like, say, a publisher like Apple is (BTW they are totally content Nazis), they can probably get away with it. By the way that was the only valid argument in that Insert Credit article that I can really get behind. And that is also unfortunate.

When I first learn and read about this Tentacle Bento KS ban, my initial reaction was more like, “well too bad so sad.” But the second reaction was, “can someone sue Kickstarter for its association with a project that got into legal problems due to content”? Actions have long, fetching consequences. And I think you can. Moreover by censoring a game like Tentacle Bento on the basis of content, just because it’s vaguely borderline to project guideline as far as I can tell–it might be evidence of KS’s involvement in knowingly selecting or condoning specific projects. That is potential litigation fuel–hopefully fuel that will never get used.

The other thing I thought about is just how given the increasing diversity of subgenre and scenes for online nerd scenes, and the deep-drilling niche prjects that Kickstarter enables, there’s a huge risk in terms of misunderstanding the context and nature of, say, tentacle rape. Because that term carry very different meaning between people. Which word speaks louder: tentacle or rape? As the database animals march on, what used to be acceptable interpretation of potentially offensive material may get meta-twisted into parody spinoff games and what not, and I guess those things should not count on Kickstarter for funding from now on. Yes, I’m saying the Insert Credit article just doesn’t quite get it (especially in 2012 terms) but his view is probably common enough to represent a large group of people who will run into more weird situations like this as more niche things find ways to emerge from obscurity.

The more I think about it as an instance of cultural misunderstanding, the more I wonder if the problem isn’t so much how society views rape, but how westerners view Japan. I mean, most Japanese cultural coverage in English media is along the lines of “Oh you silly/weird country/people group” and there is really no real attempt to understand it by the mainstream. I mean, it’s almost hypocritical of Kotaku to talk down on tentacle rape, despite having some of the best tools to be able to get deep into this otaku crud, and rely on it for hits. I probably learn more about Japan from the New York Times than Kotaku, and that is not exactly a shining example.

PS. If you want to read about a cool Kickstarter that breaks a few guidelines, check this out. And do you understand by what I mean by lawsuit? Like, Kickstarter is ripe for some enterprising plaintiff’s attorney to take them to court? Oh yeah.