Monthly Archives: December 2012

Year In Review 2012: It’s a Mustard Seed, Right?

There’s not a lot to say about it besides that, yep, I produced in 2012.

The iDOLM@STER is this franchise based on some video games. In recent  year it spun off not only into new consoles and game genres, but in the form of an anime. Well, that’s very 2011. What is new in 2012 is how I now live with that fact and its consequences.

In 2012, I obtained an iM@S poster by playing jan ken with another fan. Which has its context in the overall idea of the games/franchise.

In 2012 I attended a couple iM@S panels. In fact I attended a con largely to do just that. It wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t producing.

I bought my first iM@S game in 2011, but I actually didn’t plug in to the DLC world (and all its ills) until 2012, and it kinda hurts! In a good way. But I am only several hundred dollars poorer than if I wasn’t producing. What probably costed more is the reputation loss for being associated with these things. It’s not like I had music creds to begin with but, man, these are not so good.

In other words, this is the sort of story where a simple decision can change your life. It’s like the parable about the mustard seed. If your attitude is right, it’s gonna go big. And maybe that’s a good thing.

No Kotori in that video! Would’ve been a perfect analogy. Right?

Funny thing is I wish I was joking; the song and video really do refer to the same notion as demonstrated by the parable. It’s just one is much more SRSBZNS than the other. Well, do we count marketing across the language and cultural divide through sub-cultural fandom a parallel to the Kingdom of God? I suppose both pay dividends.

I think a lot of the good things about anime and its community comes from these kind of experiences, where I meet people who have faith in the stuff, and the intangible things that connect us together. It could just be a hobby or a song or a favorite artist, but when idealism walks the walk good things happen. Other things happen too, but that’s for another post. More importantly iM@S is just a lot of fun. It is for everybody. In fact in 2012 I’ve seen all kinds of people enjoying iM@S fandom–you have King Author with his little plane there on one hand, on the other hand there was these twenty-something cosplaying girls from NJ/NY that run a panel by taking a normal car or mass transit. The World Is All One indeed.

Up next: Or is it “Gotta Catch Them All“?

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Year in Review 2012: Introduction

Twenty-twelve is on its end and it’s time to submit to tradition and peer pressure. I’m not a big one on dates and what not but it’s always a good excuse to party and introspect; it’s not like we need an excuse to party anyway!

In a nutshell I liked 2012, when many of its anime offerings are actually rather good. We can start out on, say Eva Q, or Goro Miyazaki’s breakout film. Heaven is a place on earth. We could look at the seasonal offerings. I watched an episode of Lupin. I watched more K-ON. I watched more Strike Witches. There was Seitokai no Ichizon. Danshi Kokousei no Nichijou. There was high action from Fate/Zero’s exciting conclusion, to the drawn out visuals of Guilty Crown. We went to space with Space Bros and Rinne, and looked for the SISTER AMONG US while quoting Shakespeare in Zetsuen no Tempest, Waiting in the Summer. Well, it was more like winter, AMIRITE? One thing we did a lot of is go online and play games. There are just way too many of those anime this year. I still averaged about 20 series a season. On the related front of non-anime adaptations, there was even a Kenshin to go with the Kenshin OAV/film re-releases.

I think it’s not an exaggeration to say that TV anime has turned the corner. We are squarely in the post-moe era now. It doesn’t take Psycho-Pass to do this, although it is no coincidence that it is airing at the same time as Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai. I mean, seriously, when chuunibyou is a commercialized item, complete with a production committee, you know this trend is about to disintegrate into pay dirt and lose all actual cred as a fandom item. Nor is it a coincidence regarding the utterance of moe in Psycho-Pass–that lack of moe or anti-moe is the new dead thing. The rise of Urobuchi in the wake of his post-Madoka success was already a go-ahead signal for the major players to change gears. At least, if you are not a game developer.

Tapioka & Akira

Speaking of him, it is nice to see Urobuchi for once. The con circuit in 2012 was fun as usual, although AX felt a bit muted. In exchange I had a blast at all the other cons this year, even NYCC. I think it’s still good time to scale things back a bit personally. We’ll see what’ 2013 has in store–I hear Otakon has a big time guest lined up already, ready to go in January. Still, I think I’m probably most excited about the Otakon music fest being a regular item, although the vibe I got is more like it’s probably not going to be something you should count on. At least, not the way that AFA probably can bring home the mother lode of wota idols. Sphere is an awesome get, and those people in Singapore on that fated date can have all my jelly.

And yes, we outsiders party and don’t necessarily pay. It’s the way we’ve rolled for decades, and 2012 is no exception. But I think the one thing that remain after all this time is that I’ve partied enough. It’s time to take a vacation or something. Maybe I will. Or at least do something different. The industry is showing their first-born fruits of new media paradigms like SJ Alpha while their older siblings truck on. FUNi, AN, CR and even Aniplex all took a step forward in 2012.

The world is certainly changing. Maybe that fact alone will leave some with a bad taste in their mouths. But I’d like to think we’re definitely better off in 2012 than we were at any point in anime’s history, in the history of this fandom, on average.

Because, up next, we are ladies…?

Year in review 2012:


Descending to the Next Level: iM@S Songs

Miki

Invariably if I keep on playing these games I will have to identify songs that I like. That implies that:

  • I have been listening to them,
  • I have been reading up on which song is which, and
  • I have been thinking about them enough to form an opinion that can be written down.

Here is a list of songs that I can actually tolerate repeat “listening.” As in, I can play the game with these songs, at least. Not sure about looping m@ster versions or what not.

MOONY
Jibun REST@RT
L.O.B.M
The World Is All One
Ready
Change
Ai Like Hamburger
Jitensha
Little Match Girl
Megare
Kyun! Vampire Girl
Otome yo Taishi wo Idake!!
Meisou Mind
Watashi-tachi wa Zutto… Deshou?
Colorful Days

This is not even based on a full sample. There are lots of music from iM@S that I haven’t listened to, even if we just limit to the main group of 13 (or 16 or 19 or whatever) and not the Cinderella bunch. A lot of the older image songs, for example, I am definitely not familiar with or never have heard. It makes sense that this list skews their more popular hits, songs that get publicity via the two main iM@S games, and songs that get played at their recent live shows. As an aside, the Shiny Festa games help with exposing some of the older tracks.

I do have to admit I like a lot of these songs primarily for ironic reasons. I mean, how can anyone (in the USA at least) hate Ai Like Hamburger?

PS. This song is a mind worm, circa 2006. Funny thing is, it sounds old school enough to be treated like revisiting something from the last decade, which I am, but I mean it in the 1990s sort of way.

PPS. I don’t know why I don’t like a lot of the original iM@S ensembles, but I like many of the 2nd Vision ones. You’d think I’ve heard THE IDOLM@STER enough times.

PPPS. I’m just seeing which next Shiny Festa to buy. Pretty much done with Groovy Tune for the most part…the rest is just achieving and playing pokemon with SOF mode.

EDIT: PPPPS. I added the links to youtube for those songs you might want to listen to because you don’t know it. There’s just too many songs from iM@S to keep track for even mild fans I think. Also because the videos are amusing.Otomoe yo Taishi wo Idake PV from Shiny Festa is just a…firm Haruka walking down the hall and having her way with a recorder. Which is amusing both because it reminds me of this and because it’s just like the generic PV you see in Jitensha.


In Jormungand, Guns and People Both Kill People

It’s a pretty staple rhetoric for the whole US domestic firearm ownership/regulation debate about how guns don’t kill people, people do. I think that’s true for the most part, but the reality is much more difficult to describe than that. I think this is why I stuck with Jormungand so far–it takes a surprisingly nuanced approach to some of the grim and realistic problems at the core of the story, despite a fairly understandable story about a weapons runner and the deadly business she runs.

I think it kind of reminds me of Patlabor. In one way, just as a police squad in charge of piloting giant robots is kind of out of our realm of realistic association  it’s the same with an international arms dealer running with a heavily armed mercenary gang and fending off private and public threats in stings and assassination attempts. Of course, illegal buying and selling of weapons is a very real-life problem, no matter the scale. But how many of us are actually all that familiar with the type of high-expense, selling-to-rogue-government kind of weapons trafficking? Where half the stuff she sells is more about logistics, like UAVs and radar arrays? Or that what HCLI pawns in terms of a 3rd party logistical support via its own satellite network? That’s very MGS if you ask me–and maybe that’s the sort of place we gleam some kind of connection with Jormungand’s world.

I think in order to have at least a chip in the game, Jormungand gave us some genuine sob story, as expected–namely in the life of Jonathan. We saw how Koko recruited a wide variety of men from their local armed forces, namely both for their savvy and specialties, and the men (and I guess a few women) join her for their personal reasons. For that matter we saw the same with the profiles of Koko’s antagonists and allies. But Jonah is the odd one out. It’s in the same way that we also see Koko herself being the odd one out, even among other arms dealers, and it’s where the show pay some attention in the way the lives of these two tend to balance on the turning point of the debate about war and peace, regarding the role of weapons and the human condition.

Of course, all of that makes sense until we factor in Valmet. That is the “Black Lagoon” part of Jormungand. In a way, that is just the sort of action-fanservice, Hollywood-style (think Rambo) otaku material and I don’t really know how it fits besides as a way to round out the psychological profile of Koko’s gang. It’s like how a harem anime needs to have a tsundere.

I’m also kind of glad Jormungand didn’t quite take the Lord of War approach, which seems at best disingenuous. Maybe this is because fundamentally Jormungand is otaku anime, the sort that is pro-guns, and pro-conservative values, that guns don’t kill people, people do. But it obviously spends the rest of the time focusing on the horrible things people with guns do, while asking us (and the characters too) why these people do these things, and if the world would be better off without the likes of Koko and her wares. Season one even featured a couple arcs namely driven by local warlords’ delusion of power fueled by ownership of said weapons. In season two, it even asks us what people without guns do to kill people. So invariably, I answer that with a yes–both guns and people kill people.

And I think that is fundamentally one of the deep-seeded problem post-war Japan has. It’s pacifistic yet so aggressively conservative, and that drives people crazy. To counter that, Jormungand thus apply that manga brand of humor, a mix of irony and self-depreciation. Yes, the CIA director is buying us Five Guys. Hey you, you impoverished, pre-teen mercenary from a war-torn central-Asian wasteland, is this the first time you had a burger like that? Is it time to whip out the SD? It’s not laugh-out-loud funny, but it connects the audience with the problem all too succinctly, without making any big gestures that would set off our verbally-worn triggers.

Sure beats Setsuna F. Seiei.

He is Gundam


Slowcast Season

Some companies take it easy–Anime Network most notably often releases their shows months after the initial broadcast dates. Others make a living getting it as soon as it’s legally possible. It’s not as interesting to grind out reasons why 3 or 7 days after first airing qualifies (or not) whatever it is as “simulcast.” Take this as an anecdote to the actual impact of delaying things. And realistically speaking, what counts for “too late”? At what point does the quality of service drops? What are the levels of impact?

I imagine it is going to vary from person to person, but here is my take. I’m also kind of curious as to what impact it is (which I know) versus what the delays are (which we’ll find out below).

Of the shows I’m still vaguely following and is being simulcasted, here are the release schedule as far as I can tell (thanks to Hashihime). Note that daylight savings is tricky but I’m factoring it in the calculation. Japan does not observe DST and the US does DST differently in some cases, and versus other countries. This means, namely, that the Spring and Autumn seasons cross the boundary, shortening or lengthening the delay by an hour. (This was a big deal for Fate/Zero S1 last year, if you were a East coaster following the simulcast.) To translate from JST to EDT, wind back 2 hours and flip AM/PM. So 7:00 JST would be 5PM EDT the day before, and 17:00 JST would be 3AM EDT of the same day.

  • Space Bros: Sunday 07:00 JST / Saturday 11PM Eastern (CR) – 6 hour gap. Note I used the main page show listing for the CR times.
  • Magi: Sunday 17:00 JST / Wednesday 1PM Eastern (CR) – 3 days and 10 hours gap.
  • Teekyuu: Sunday 22:27 JST / Sunday 10AM Eastern (CR) – 1 hour and 33 minutes…wait who cares about this show anyway
  • Muv-luv Alternative: Total Eclipse: Sunday 25:35 JST (Monday 1:35AM JST) / Sunday 1:30PM Eastern (CR) – 1 hour and 55 minutes gap
  • Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo: Monday 24:30 JST (Tuesday 12:30AM JST) / Wednesday 3:00PM Eastern (CR) – 2 days, 3 hours and 30 minutes gap.
  • Girls und Panzer: Monday 25:00 JST (Tuesday 1AM JST) / Wednesday 11:00AM Eastern (CR) – 2 days gap.
  • Jormungand: Perfect Order: Tuesday 24:30 JST (Wednesday 12:30AM JST) / Thursday 11:30AM Eastern (FUNi) – 2 days, 1 hour gap. Note I used the simulcast listing here for the times.
  • Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai: Wednesday 24:30 JST (Thursday 12:30AM JST) / Thursday 10:30AM Eastern (AN) – 10 hours gap. Note I used the mouseover text for listing on episodes 11 and 12 on this page.
  • Ebiten: This is a joke, but it is airing on Wednesday at 25:00 JST. Because I have no idea when it streamed on Nico last season LOL.
  • Medaka Box: Abnormal: Wednesday 25:30 JST (Thursday 1:30AM JST) / Friday 2:35AM Eastern (CR) – 1 day, 15 hours and 5 minutes gap. This is a weird one.
  • Psycho-Pass: Thursday 24:45 JST (Friday 12:45AM JST) / Thursday 11:45AM Eastern (FUNi) – 1 hour gap.
  • Robotic;Notes: Thursday 25:15 JST (Friday 1:15AM JST) / Friday 12:15AM Eastern (FUNi) – 1 day, 1 hour gap.
  • Hidamari Sketch: Honeycomb: Thursday 25:25 JST (Friday 1:25AM JST) / Monday 11:25AM Eastern (AN) – 3 days gap. Note I used these dates (mouseover) for episodes 11 and 12.
  • K: Thursday 25:30 JST (Friday 1:30AM JST) / Thursday…afternoon Eastern (Viz) – I can’t find the precise time listed but it’s advertised as Thursday afternoon, giving it up to 7.5 hours for gap, although it could be as short as 0 minutes! As you can see I’m not following this one that close.
  • Zetsuen no Temptest: Thursday 26:00 JST (Friday 2AM JST) / Thursday 3PM Eastern (CR) – 3 hour gap.
  • Oniai: Friday 23:00 JST / Friday 12:30PM Eastern (FUNi) – 3 hours and 30 minutes…by that I mean 1 WEEK 3 hours and 30 minutes gap because FUNi’s stream started a week later.
  • Shin Sekai Yori: Friday 24:30 JST (Saturday 12:30AM JST) / Tuesday 3:40PM Eastern (CR) – 3 days, 17 hours and 10 minutes gap.

I wonder if DST the reason why FUNi’s Psycho-Pass is an hour behind. Was it also an hour late in October? Even more side speculation: did AN move back their Hidasketch stream? Anyway, these are just side questions.

Some immediate observations. You can reconcile them to those above data as you will.

Simulcast with 1 week delay is no longer very useful. I’d say it even loses its main purpose for existing. I watch the fansubs for Oniai, because I have to watch it week-to-week, even if I do have access to FUNi’s simulcast. “Why do I have to be in a hurry?” I don’t, and I am not, but then I would be doing a pretty lousy job of episode blogging. That’s okay, the onus is on me, but obviously here “simulcast” is not an enabler as per its moniker on a practical level. However imagine if you didn’t have FUNi’s Elite access–you’ll be waiting 2 weeks to watch it. That takes all the air out of following a show up to date; you’re basically better of waiting until the season is over. And in that sense, 2 weeks of delay is not so different than 13 weeks of delay. I’m not quite ready to say that for 1 week of delay, however.

I do watch some shows right when it comes out via simulcast. For whatever the reason, historically, I watch noitaminA shows the day it airs (well, < 36hr), partly thanks to FUNi’s vigilant effort, which gets proper follow up by CR. Now that FUNi is doing it this season, it gets the job done partly…for the most part. Here is the first new finding: I associate Psycho-Pass with Robotic;Notes because of their brand name, programming segment. So in that sense, if I am reminded to watch one I will also watch the other. Unfortunately, because of the 1-day delay between the two streams I end up watching Robotic;Notes often days later (during the weekend), since I am usually unable to remind myself of Robotic;Notes if I already watched Psycho-Pass on Thursday. It’s funny and it shows me getting longer in the tooth, but more than once I would try to watch Robotics;Notes on a Thursday and go “oh, it’s not out yet.”

The second note is that simulcasts during the week often works okay if it’s delayed until the weekend. I don’t know, I can watch more anime during the weekend. I don’t often do so, but I can catch up if the opportunity presents itself. This tends to happen with K, Chuunikoi, and Jormungand, even if those aren’t really delayed so much (in K’s case, not really even).

Some shows just makes putting off easier than other. I think despite Space Bro and Muv-luv being simulcasted on the weekend I tend to watch them during the week. Part of that is also my weekends tend to be pretty busy, and both shows screen on Sunday, which I always have less free time than Friday night or Saturday. You can’t pre-catch-up to a show that hasn’t aired, etc. If it means anything, I used to watch both shows last season right around when they first come up, or at least by Sunday night at the latest; not so much this season.

I don’t have an AN account anymore, so I don’t even follow Hidamari Sketch and Chuunikoi very closely and I probably shouldn’t count them as I have no access to those streams. Even so, I watch them within 14 days, usually less than 7, of broadcast. Actually I don’t even keep track of their airing dates, and I look for them during lulls in my viewing schedule. If we use this as some kind of control case, I probably average 1-2 days for Chuu2koi and closer to a week for Hidamari Sketch.

It seems any delay less than 24 hours is not a big deal. I tend to watch them with that sort of lead time. I’d say 36 hours, maybe. I stopped tracking when things are released when the delay gets more than 1 calendar day off, however. Medaka Box is a show that has a tight window but I tend to put it off, despite that it might be a nice show to watch on the dot every week, and despite that it has a relatively short delay. It does have a relatively harmless delay on top of being short, too, so it mitigates things.

When it comes to Sakurasou, Shin Sekai Yori and Girls und Panzer, I’ve been pretty good at dodging spoilers. I don’t have to so much for Magi for some reason, but it is still possible. Thanks, people who tweet the episode and actually don’t offer opinions but simply describe what happens with statements of the obvious in the form of exclamation-baked … exclamations.  And LOOK AT THIS SCREEN SHOT! As a practical matter, spoiling on the internet is always something of a risk and simulcast timing doesn’t really help that much. The main thing is once we move past the initial 6 or so hours, most people who will watch it ASAP has already done so. And honestly if your simulcast may be 0-minute delayed but I won’t be able to watch something that airs at 12:30PM Eastern until I get home, which is at least 6 hours later anyway.  There’ll be some stragglers who will do the same over the next 48 hours and having a faster simulcast time will cut that down, but that typically is much less often.

To boil it down, these are probably the these most relevant factors to make more people watch simulcasts:

  • Day of the week. It is better to stream shows on Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays than Monday through Wednesday. Primarily, it’s because people tend to get more free time later on in the week and the way the news cycle begins and ends usually on the weekend. This is very much the biggest beef I have with this season. I actually don’t mind if everything comes out Thursday, that gives me time to watch them over the weekend and by Monday I’d be ready for the next round. FUNi’s delays on Jormungand is a good example of doing it right, where as Magi, Girls und Panzer, and Sakurasou are the ways to do it wrong. Magi especially is a double-offender, because it could get a Saturday PM simulcast, but noooo. All three shows also miss out on being in the wheelhouse of the JP news/reaction cycle since by the time they’re available, it’s half way through the week and it’s the time to watch all those Thursday shows.
  • Type of story. Some shows are more of a nail-biter, cliff-hanging than others. And then there’s Teekyu. I imagine this is not usually a major distinguishing factor, but imagine if Madoka episode 13 was spoiled to you in this way. That kinda sucks. More importantly, this is an argument for always 0-day simulcast, all the time. It’s just some shows are more resistant to delays than others.
  • Things that prompt people to watch. For me this is blogging, and seeing one show and how it reminds me of another. This also can mean seeing blog posts showing up in their feed or twitter time line when others are watching the shows. By being aware of how these things work, you can delay shows for more or less to minimize opportunity cost of your viewers’ limited attention span. I also touch on this for “day of the week” because there is an internet news cycle, and it does remind people to watch things.
  • Don’t confuse your viewers with funky release times. Talk to your licensees and delay things as need be, but make it easy to follow.
  • And I probably shouldn’t need to say this, it’s almost 2013 for crying out loud: A week is too long. Tell your licensors to not even bother if this is a constraint, save yourself the money or whatever.

And also, AN, fix your website, it is a usability sinkhole. I’m surprisingly okay with “Thursday afternoon” regarding Viz’s timestamps, but I appreciate more precision (like, by the hour). Well, I suspect this has to do with getting your shows out on a weekday before the evening so I can just watch it at home, so “before 6PM” is sufficient.

I guess I should put this disclaimer here: it’s uncertain as to when do most simulcast viewers watch their anime: during the week? On the weekends? On their commute (no way)? In the AM? In the PM? Between classes? Lunch breaks? I have no answers for you. But I think my pattern is not unlike most working persons’ pattern, since there’s a notion of what people do once they get a job. Do most anime fans work normal 9-5-esqe jobs? Maybe in another 5 years? I suppose if you work weekends and take the odd weekday off, your schedule will invariably differ.

Another disclaimer here is that I’m going to assume if there’s a simulcast, you want people to watch it. You being the provider of these services. So hopefully these observations go to that goal.