Monthly Archives: July 2013

Genshiken Second Generation Episode 4

Jäger Madarame

I just want to talk about the preview segment chatter. For sake of convenience I’ll scribe from Crunchyroll. This also has a little to do with the train of thought passing by in my last blog post.

Madarame: The summer anime shows has already finished four episodes? Time flies.

Tanaka[?]: I’m sure everyone’s talking about which shows they’ve dropped online.

Kuchiki: I always give a series three episodes!

Madarame: So you actually drop shows? That’s nothing to be proud of.

Tanaka: You always get mad when something gets popular after you drop it.

Kuchiki: That’s when I say everyone else on the board is a shill!

Madarame: You’re horrible.

Kuchiki: Viral marketing! Viral marketing!

Kuchiki: Any time that something sells that I don’t like, it’s due to viral marketing!

Kuchiki: The anime I like should sell a lot, and the ones I don’t shouldn’t sell at all!

Madarame & Tanaka: I don’t care!

I think this piece is relevant in a particular sense. There always have been an interest in sales figures among certain fans. I would go as far as to say that there are “industry figure” style otaku that, for example, write rage posts on how to interpret Amazon sales ranks on preorders as indicator for…well not very much. You’d think these are the people made fun of–not quite. It’s the people who understand the importance of sales and such, but don’t grasp the interpretation of this data in the larger scope of things. It’s these kind of people that are being made fun of in the segment. Of course it’s actually just a cross section of a greater range of people, some who don’t really care about sales figures, but creatively interpret them for their own uses to justify their own narratives. Plenty of people who follow sales ranks understand how it fits into the bigger picture in terms of who’s footing the bill and the way anime is produced in Japan. But a lot more people don’t. And in fandom, that’s what sales ranks operates as–some straw validation of one’s belief or ammunition to attack someone else’s.

Thanks to this little skit now whenever someone shills for Redline, I laugh. Good Game, the Kuchiki-kuns of the western otaku-internet-o-polygon. And it brings us back to what makes Genshiken so charming in the first place–it is able to connect with a certain layer of fandom’s doubled-rainbowing layers of meta that few other first-party (in the official/3rd party/doujin sense) animation or manga can.

I suppose it’s asking too much for people to “get over” the whole sales thing. After all the trend is more direct participation by the end consumers, and more  direct funding. Well, maybe that could help people get over the importance of sales ranking and Oricon and stuff like that.


Cool Japan: Criticism?

Here’s my impression of Cool Japan.

The basic economic policy in the post-bubble Japan is one that generally conforms to what was hotly debated during the latter part of the last decade, and well into the 2012–the economics of government spending (in both actual spending and tax cuts) and its impact on the greater economy. Cool Japan, in spirit, is just another form of government spending aimed to develop or rehabilitate a specific industry sector.

And then, there’s this.

A refreshing image (made in Korea w)

I think here’s the problem. What makes Japan “cool” will vary from person to person. But what made Japanese pop cultural product profitable to the Japanese is not necessarily cool, and it doesn’t vary from person to person at all–it’s factual. It’s even translated into English. Cool Japan is kind of a misnomer–it’s more like “We-used-to-make-money-selling-cartoon-characters Japan.” But maybe some consider sending children to the hospital because your cartoons are too crazy psychedelic, a cool thing. In other words, Cool Japan, as the otaku know it, really started and ended with Pokemon. Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Ninja Scroll are not much more than an appetizer, a place mat. They are just more examples of Redline–cool and acclaimed stuff that makes relatively little amounts of money (Although over the years all three titles raked in good money, by some metrics). All that stuff made maybe a drop in the bucket in the larger scope of thing. You don’t have to take my word for it. In the US, we are talking about 4, 5 billions of dollars. Referencing back to the JETRO report, I think most of that “character good” bar graphs is just Pokemon money. And maybe some Yugioh stuff.

What bothered me with Surat’s story wasn’t that it lacks any kind of numbers to back up his claims. Or that it’s awfully US-centric (as I am often). Well, actually what bothered me the most is that the term Pokemon didn’t appear once. He kind of mentioned Power Rangers, which was a big deal in terms of Japanese profits and is a driver of a lot of early Cool Japan literature in the US, but he didn’t really talk about that in such contexts (It’s one of the biggest cultural export from Japan in the 90s I thought). He didn’t have to quote any numbers. He only omitted the potentially most important stuff.

Well, that may be okay. None of it really matter to the heart of his argument, which is that Cool Japan might be something some people parroted, a fabricated narrative in which promoted certain interests in light of this capital spending trend by the government. I would think that’s what all the Japanese kids are saying anyway. And as much as I cast lots of my own concerns with the reports and numbers I linked in this post thus far, I got nothing to prove it the other way. There are no indication whatsoever that Nintendo did not make a bijillion bux on Pokemon, or why Konami or whoever was in court with Upper Deck for a couple years. That’s where “Cool Japan” really lives. It’s about China/rest of Asia. It’s about Japan’s strange fashion industry. It’s about sushi. It’s really not about Akira. It’s actually about video games, right? I mean, the cultural cache value, if such a thing is defined, of FF7, is maybe 10 times larger than Cowboy Bebop.

With all that said, I think it’s good to criticize Cool Japan in the sense that it’s tax money going into certain industries that may very well not going to put that money into good use. After all, it’s a form of export, not exactly domestic spending. And Japanese politics is not quite that shining image of “acting for the public benefit.” But then again this money is the kind of money that footed the bills of things like Little Witch Academia and Death Billiards, so as beneficiaries of Cool Japan, it might not be in our place to really say much about that.

Well, no, we can still not like Cool Japan. Because until they solve this problem…well, I guess they are trying? It is a face thing isn’t it. I wonder if that ever crosses Koike’s mind.

PS. And here is Roland Kelts on Cool Japan 2013. You tell me what his take is.

PPS. Hello Kitty is a pretty cool story.

PPPS. This post is brought to you by XKCD.


Gatchaman Crowds Is the Tumblr of Social Media Anime

This post contains content up to episode 3.

Rui

I’m not going to get into the whole “SJW” thing but I think there’s a visual aesthetic at work in Gatchaman Crowds. I think it’s not a coincidence that MESS looks like a bunch of tiny, moving single-color cubes of various colors. Nor is that the offkai is a collage party. [I wonder how much of it was inspired by gaijin train hijacking customs.] I guess this is as close as themes can intermix with visuals? It’s about the sort of visuals, the clipart-style of sharing, the unit of information. The way we exchange them today and how they do it in the anime.

Personally, Tumblr and Pinterest remind me of what feels like Gatchaman Crowd’s latest social networking efforts–labor organizational platform can be summed up as a colorful pipe collage-dream. I mean, at least GALAX has shortcomings that are well-recognized. And it’s kind of odd that episode 3 is labeled “Futurism” because the only visible people that call those who don’t believe in altruism as “enemies” are Futurists. I don’t remember if communism is compatible with such principles, but it sure didn’t require a logistical supercomputer powered by Tange Sakura. Well, maybe that’s why communism doesn’t work so well in practice.

I’m exaggerating, of course. Topologically, twitter and live chat-style (think DOLLARS) forums are always the closest realization of these common Web 2.0 fantasies. (And it’s good to pause and credit Eden of the East for something a little more original there.) GALAX, for better or worse, starts out ballsy. If students fighting their teachers (the establishment) to save their friends not symbolic of what GALAX is up to in the big picture, then I quit Kenji Nakamura. DRRR seems comparatively spineless in comparison, in terms of the statements of what it is trying to say. Maybe it’s more tribal-status-quo, rather than something like GALAX that unites people across class and age boundaries. In a more altruistic way.

And it’s this sympathetic backbone–that Hajime and company demonstrated–that the sjw types lack. This is what all the old people complain about. This is why the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

But it’s all too unreal. When that one sketchy lawyer leaned over to talk to that mom, I was like, LOL LOLOLOLOL. I don’t know what that is but pass the pipe please.


An Intro to the Animusic Tourney, Bracketology

A few years ago (2009?) some tweeters and bloggers got together on MyAnimeList and started a club talking about anime music. It was a good time–we talked about all kinds of anime music, specifically there weren’t any particular bias towards OP/ED themes and we treated random tracks from Hisaishi masterpieces on equal grounds as any guitar anthem marking the climax of your average late-night otaku fare. In the process not only all of us discovered all kinds of things–from how to work large spreadsheets to what BGM tracks people like, but we found new favorites and make new assessments on old flames. We complained together about how, for example, how hard it is to buy certain bundled OSTs or we all want to listen to more Suwano. We traded anime soundtrack opinions and tips. It was a place where it is possible to criticize and praise Yuki Kajiura and not sound like a troll or fanboy, usually.

Being able to do this with theme and background music is somewhat unique to Japanese animation, after all. It’s not to say there are no emotive or expansive list of songs and music for other types of animation, or TV and cinema, but given the volume of output for anime and the way that business works, a lot of different composition hits the floor than what you would expect. Everything is pretty low profile, and tie-in marketing is rather limited. More over a lot of this music is actually available for purchase (and thus is generally available thanks to rampant piracy of kind-of obscure music).

The main drive behind what we used to affectionately call #MALKeionbu (the whole endeavor overlapped with K-ON’s run, after all) is this guy. Zz-chan is soon going to move on into a phase of his life where spending hours crunching spreadsheets about anison is no longer something feasible, so says it here. But yeah, #MALKeionbu was a good time and this is a great way to put a ribbon on that.

In the spirit of MALKeionbu’s DIY nature, I’ll try to do something too. There are already some pretty cool entries covering the Tournament, as the nomination phase of the tournament is completed. A full list of nominated tracks (and the ones nominated but got cut) is available here. Thanks to that, we have some number-pushing blog posts:

I hope there will be more to come. For now, there’s a twitter you can bother. And of course, the main site where it’ll be happening.

The most fabulous Alice

And look at what I found:

http://challonge.com/omochallenge

Presenting the Animusic Tourney Prediction Challenge!

Between now and uh… I guess Sunday morning US Eastern time (let’s actually say 2PM EDT, or July 28th, 6PM UTC), enter your predictions.

The scoring system is by a factor of two. A correct round 1 prediction scores 1 point, a correct round 2 prediction scores 2 points, round 3 scores 4 points, round 4 scores 8 points, etc (I think it goes like 2^(round number -1)).

To input your predictions, follow the link on top of the site about entering predictions, create an account if necessary, and drag-drop the choices you would like. If you have a question about a particular entry, your best bet is to google it if you have no clue, and then search for a video of it on youtube or some such. If not, leave a comment on twitter and I can probably help you.

This is mostly for fun and game and lulz, so there is a chance that the bracket input time frame may be extended to include more people. And winner might get a prize from me–this is something we’ll talk about later on once things are in full swing.

PS. I heard Saimoe 2013 is gonna be terribad, so it says.


The Shinier Festa: Now Requires Less Thespian Whine

In case you were living under a rock while rocking out with an iOS device (6 and after), the iDOLM@STER Shiny Festa games are now available in English, and at half the price. Yours Truly found about about this on Anime Expo 2013 day zero, which is about 4 days too late. It’s too late because I already purchased all three games, but also because I was in the company of peers who would make fun of this situation. The best I could do was picking up some discounted iTMS store cards from eBay (daily deals), but 20% off sure stacks much better with 50% off rather than 0%.

So, don’t make the same mistake. Buy it now (because we should still recognize games are worth less over time) to tell Bamco that we want more iM@S content. The three Shiny Festa games are not only experiments or thermometer for them, but they’re also fun to play. Especially on an iPad mini (or similar gear). At least that’s why I bought them.

Check out this measured, methodological trailer from NGBI. It’s in English. Besides that, this trailer is made with the same measured pacing and display of feature that you will find after watching all 18 iM@S 2 PS3 DLC trailers. So now, once more.

For review-like material, check out here, and there’s the 3-some I did with Josh and Elliot. It’s… a little dated, but I think you get the idea. It seems like Bamco JP is handling the Shiny Festa games, so I don’t think it got the usual press marketing among game sites. It’s too bad, because I want to see more pro reviews of this game and what normal gamers think of it.