Monthly Archives: October 2012

Madoka: The Movie Experience

Having watched Madoka the movie after watching the TV series in 2011, can I just say that it’s basically the resonance of the faustian deal as depicted by an ideal, that makes Madoka Magica’s mark in the modern psyche? [Spoilers for the TV series and the first two movies, however light, may be present. Feel free to skip to the next set of bold words if you want to avoid it]

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It’s the weird feeling when  you are watching a show and you can tell it is the conglomeration of many different things you’ve seen before. And I don’t even mean it’s some kind of database/trope crap. It’s like channel surfing onto a Tarantino movie and you get the nagging feeling in the back of your head, saying “this must be a Tarantino movie.” In this case, it’s Zetsuen no Tempest, and the feelings I get are Okada, Ando, and a billion other things.

Zetsuen no Tempest, or Blast of Tempest (or what I’d call, WHO IS CIVILIZATION BLASTER) is streaming on Crunchyroll. This shounen-style manga adaptation is tricky to describe, precisely because it is a manga adaptation, and I don’t know what to credit the original manga. I guess I could read it, but guh.

I want to point out Okada because, for some reason, Zetsuen’s brute-ish pace reminds me the way Book of Bantorra was, in terms of throwing you in the middle of a pretty big setting and just let you sink or swim. The style of the fantasy technology/setting is also similar in how it makes very little sense except internally. And I can only really point to Okada as the one link between the two. Well, a Sawashiro character casting spells and talking over long distances might do the trick too. (For that matter, when’s the last time a major character is introduced to the audience by popping out of a barrel?)

The first episode? The non-linear arrangement (Rahxephon, E7, etc)? The standout, melocholilc girls (Star Driver, E7, DTB)? Nana Mizuki as some operative-agent (DTB)? The duo-male leads right out of Soul Eater? Seriously? And that’s not all. I half-expect a bunch of wolf-people to show up in episode 4 and a Chinese mage who uses electrical power, riding on a giant killer wasp to show up towards the end.

Joking aside, it’s good to see Ando’s magic fully at work for this show. I really enjoy his pilot episodes and it is interesting to see it here clashing with the almost senseless arrangement that probably didn’t pique as much as interests as a bunch of half non-sequitors could, as far as figuring out WHO REALLY IS IMOUTO. As in, clearly, this dearly departed sister/girlfriend of theirs play an integral role in all of this, other than being a sad Hanazawa Kana character on the back of a bicycle.

Well, given this story is WHO KILLED IMOUTO so far, we’ll get answers to all this in good time. Maybe we can get a strong finish for once! Hey, at least we already know why “civilization blaster” (and it’s not because they’re big fans of XCOM from the maker of Civilization over at Firaxis). All I know is I enjoyed the first three episodes.

PS. This post is nowhere nearly as funny if you aren’t in on the Who is IMOUTO jokes, truly.

On Sket Dance

Sket Dance is the longest-running anime that I have been watching in the past year-plus. It’s finishing up just the past season, clocking in at 76 or so episodes. Through it, yet another Shonen Jump title gains a primetime anime adaptation, a band (voted on by popularity contests and auditions) was created as a tie-in. And the girl-guitarist is not only fine looking, she reminds me of the recently-wed Ryoko Shiraishi, who plays the role that the guitarist is suppose to represent.

It’s hardly a coincidence, but in order to talk about Sket Dance from the audience’s level of abstraction, I feel the need to talk about Gintama–a show that I have for the most part never really watched. A set of select episodes of Gintama is suppose to be on my watchlist, but I forget which ones… Anyway, Sket Dance in a lot of ways is viewed as a lesser version of Gintama, because it is also a very gag-centric, character-driven story where a stable ensemble cast runs a situational comedy circus. However, the sort of humor you get out of the two are kind of the two sides of the same awkward coin. You’re probably more one than the other. And if you like both, you probably like Sket Dance for its funny human stories rather than its sense of humor.

It’s a tough thing, because by most calculations, Sket Dance is not really a special show. It celebrates a sort of mediocrity in which is very self-serving: basically, just good enough to get the job done. That idea is paralleled in the setup, where Bossun, Himeko and Switch form the Sket-dan, a club dedicated to be handy around the school and help troubled kids. Each of them may be talented in some areas of expertise, but none of them are experts in everything, so in the end they have to pull together some kind of crossover skillsets in creative ways to solve whatever problem that is the topic of the day.

Sket Dance is also a show that celebrates creative problem-solving. It challenges compromises and encourages collaborations–a very staple mediator paradigm to multi-party problem solving. In other words, it’s a show that can have cake and eat it too. And why not? Or better yet, that is how it celebrates mediocrity, via showing you the challenges of trying to do that, and how reality of the situation still can make things slink back close to zero-sum. Of course, in the end, everyone is still better off. That’s the positive message from a fairly cheeky show.

And Sket Dance is full of cheeky characters. It’s a bit refreshing because even after the main ensemble of characters are established and boiled down to simple tropes, Sket Dance consistently bring back that emotional appeal to the various reoccurring side characters. Well, I guess it depends if you like that.

I think I will miss it. The reason I watch Sket Dance is mainly because its style of humor appeals to me. And now where am I going to get that kind of laughs? Certainly not Gintama.

Magi, Little Busters, Zetsuen no Tempest, Jojo

Thanks to killing aliens, tiresome anime cons, and a need for change, I’m probably going to drop the number of anime I’m following below 20 for the first time in a long time. Oh, you can also blame on Sket Dance ending.

There are three shows I’m kind of interested and a little impressed after one episode, and one show I’m actually really impressed. Can you guess which one?

As a total aside, the fact that we have Kyoto Animation fielding (in their usual straight-faced, laces-out way) a production about chuunibyou, it kind of ruins the way I see all the other dime-a-dozen stories with shounen dream-fuel. I mean, when I watched Psycho-Pass, I am just not impressed (at least, no more impressed than hearing Ling Tosite Sigure in an anime). I hate to say it but Ghost in the Shell? That was much better and highly more preferable, and not because of story or concept reasons. I think at core, otaku enjoy cyberpunk over, say, the endless regurgitated, finely-honed art of Japanese murder/crime mysteries. The methodocal and measured cinematography that comes with no rough spots (except spurts of gore I guess) leads me to believe it takes itself too seriously.

Too seriously is, in a nutshell, the bubble of chuunibyou. But I believe most otaku would rather ask “Y SO SRS,” at least ones overseas.

So, yes, this is why I think Zetsuen no Tempest is impressive–because it has that patented Ando pilot-episode juice and Bones-quality production. Remember Xam’d? This is almost that exciting. I have to admit though it kind of helps to be a fan of David Production’s Book of Bantorra, because the way they throw their setting-building babble around (re: bubble of chuunibyou) is almost the same. I think this is why that show hasn’t been so warmly received.

Speaking of David Pro, isn’t Jojo something? I don’t know why I don’t like to admit it, and I don’t, but I really enjoyed Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (Phantom Blood). There’s just something really suitably cartoon-y about every David Production work that I really enjoy. And I’m not even a fan of the original material. I suspect this is why I watch so much crap, and have this nagging desire to finish Koichoco and Campione (as low as the odds of that may be). But it’s a lot of fun.

The whole hubbub about Little Busters is tiresome. I get it. I was into Key crap even back in the late 90s. But something is wrong when I’m happy that Kyoto Animation didn’t get to do this, so I wouldn’t have to hear about people wetting their pants about Little Busters both ways. I guess that is definitely more my problem than anyone else’s. Certain the anime looked just fine and hopefully there will be nothing to worry about. Thanks to meeting Tamiyasu at AX, I’m also slightly predisposed to like Rin, so that helps, however much little.

I think I came into Magi predisposed to like it, because, well, it’s the anime adaptation of a manga that adopted the general story to One Thousand and One Nights. How can I dislike it? My very first blue M:TG decks got djinns out the buttholes! I have to like it, right? It also helps that show is, as we know, not so serious. After seeing the first episode, I still kind of like it, but I learned quickly how I can dislike it. Not that I do, but I can see the intersection where the cookie cutter meets the characterization and plot dough. Still, I remain positive…

Conclusion: A large part of my reaction to this season’s offering comes by the way of predisposed expectations and having your opinion influence mine. Not sure if that is good or bad, but I suppose that’s just how the dice roll. But we all know that, right?

New York Comic Con 2012: Day 2, 3

Sort of a scattershot post to recap some stuff on NYCC Saturday and Sunday.

Yes on bkub. Got a Wolverine to go with that Deadpool I picked up last year. Maybe Cable next year? Or maybe Cyclops will be for better effect? For what it is worth, I managed to get everyone (I think?) at Ryo Moto’s booth to do a commission. You can look at the loop pic below for more details. Bkub’s (more like bee caaab amirite) stuff sold like hotcakes, and even his little poster thing. Charm volume 13 was there when I went to their table at about 1pm on Saturday and it was gone by 4pm. Too bad! I bought this other dude’s comic, because it was, well, not Touhou and was funny enough to make me laugh at least once. I think out of the new guys he was probably the most promising.

On Sunday, GSC gave away a bunch of the posters at their booth display. They were just blow-up photographs of some figures that are either popular or upcoming stuff. You had to play mass jan ken with, I believe, this person. My friend that I was with won a picture of Nendo Fate/Zero Saber on the motorcycle. It was…well. At least these were already framed, so it’s a great thing to get if you’re driving home.

Saturday was a lot of fun. We ended up the night with yakiniku with a bunch of people offline and online. I avoided the dealer room crowd mostly but ended up in there to say hi to this man, who ended up selling me some porn. I guess I owe Rinko that much.

Across the two days, I was able to hit some panel material–NISA, Crypton, and JManga. JManga brought over the mangaka of SoreMachi, which is kind of amazing if you think about it–it’s one of the best selling titles on JManga and that’s how it worked, and that is only because how the anime came out right around the time JManga launched. Or at least I’m guessing all this. Ishiguro-sensei is a trooper and there was a short line for his autograph session at JManga booth–another reason why I had to brave the exhibit hall on Saturday.

NISA had their usual spiel at the con, panel-wise. The new license for Denpa Onna to Senshun Otoko is hardly a surprise but the localization titling it “Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl” is just outrageously LOL. I mean, this is localizing it a little too much, but I’m kind of amused that they were able to pick the one meaning to the title that I would not have expected them to translate from. Too bad that localization cuts out the other readings.

Crypton’s panel is pretty chillax, and the footages from the various Miku live shows are definitely exciting stuff. Wish I can get as excited as these kids could. Also, always bring your sticks when you plan to go to a Crypton panel.

At the Moyoko Anno autograph session, I was standing around and talking to some guys who were done with their stuff and hanging out. Saturday, only about 35 people showed up to get her signature, so I wanted to see if I could get something after the fact.

I said hi to bros, and said bye to bros. It’s a good time, and I even made it home in time for dinner. Didn’t meet every single person I wanted to see, but that never happens at a con this size, I guess.

PS. This is purely speculation: If Miki is the template of so many contemporary blond bombshell characters, does this mean when asking for commission from people who works in the anime industry, is Miki the go-to girl?