Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Quick Note on Anisong Tourney

Annie Are You OK?

Working the results for the brackets in round 2 of the Anison Tourney, here are some immediate observations:

There are a total of three upsets half way through (which is 2 out of 32 matches). It feels rather low, for any kind of tournament. I’m more used to the 25% range. By upset I just mean versus seeding. Furthermore, none of these upsets are between similarly seeded entries–the inverse might sound much more unusual–songs that seeded one place better consistently beat their opponents (which happened…once?), and songs within 10 places of each other always put down their opponents (which happened a couple more times). The initial explanation I came up with the low percentage was that round one acted like a filter to eliminate any high(er) ranked songs that probably shouldn’t be, and proping songs that slipped through the nomination process. The other likely (and major) factor was that the voter pool might be relatively the same as the nomination ballet pool. Given all round 2 polls come in at < 150 votes, that is probably true.

There’s no real way to guess who will vote on the games initially, but the nomination system might be too precise, “too good” in a way, that makes doing a bracket less meaningful. With so many entrants, the only meaningful way to play is to come up with some model and plug the various songs in. So the safe bet this time happens to be the only realistic bet at winning, which is all-in based on the seeding. And when the seeding is way too close to the voter base, it is…no fun.

Here are the upsets:

  • (223) Hybrid Rainbow over (95) Euforia (BBR2P4 or FH)
  • (190) Katayoku no Tori over (62) Light Before We Land (BCR2P2 or FV)

I would even further suggest that Hybrid Rainbow’s upset is predictable because of its prior performance.

This leads to the last point. I think the tourney should post seeding on the matches. This helps people who have no game, to have a metagame, so to speak, as we shave down the number of songs and invariably people’s favorites will lose, leaving them disinterested. And then we can collectively scratch our heads as to why which song is seeded higher or lower is beating whichever song that is better or worse. It adds some unpredictability, basically.

For the prize pile, I have a couple boxes behind my desk of things I probably should give away, so it’ll be from there that I draw some music-related things. I hope Shut Up And Explode go far, LOL.

The Fanservice Frontier, 2013

Aside from my complaints on pretension, there’s a lot of fun going on at Digibro’s blog about Kill la Kill episode 3.


And in some ways, with OreTsuba now on US home video (Funimation, I respect you for at least this) maybe it’s good to revisit what this really means.

The past few years has been a turning point in terms of late-night otaku anime fanservice. On one hand, I think the overall quality has gotten better. It’s like with shows like Ladies x Butler and Kanokon, we’ve kind of scratched all the itch left to be scratch for any demographic whose itching is worth scratching, monetarily and in terms of popularity. 2009 to 2011 was high time to start to pivot, for various reasons, but also this reason.

Did anyone watch Yozakura Quartet Hana no Uta 2? My goodness. And Kill la Kill episode 3 has that…windboobzone thing?

I would take a step back and say that the fanservice in Kill la Kill is authentic and unpretentious in a way that fanservice is just fanservice. But it is kind of annoying in the normal moral high ground sort of way, as if it is saying something that is more worth saying than, say, Arpeggio. [I mean, if this was part of the discourse, I would respect Kill la Kill more. Like how I respect Panty & Stockings slightly more at this point, over Kill la Kill.]

Arpeggio is a good example in this regard because it’s in a lot of ways the polar opposite of Kill la Kill. The 3DCG use looks great when they are stills but terrible when moving in Arpeggio, and in KLK it’s great when things are always moving, and not as much when things stops spazzing. The story in Arpeggio is serious, but the fanservice is baked into the conceit of the story. The story in KLK is a commonly run trope full of hooks for reference bait, but it takes itself very casually. Arpeggio is the fulfillment of this concept, except trading jokes for fanservice (of a different kind). Kill la Kill is a drama vehicle about fanservice (so far).

So in a way, it’s appropriate to talk comparisons between a good anime and a questionable-at-best anime (just ask an Arpeggio manga reader).

And let’s talk about sexy for a second. Take this post for instance. I am not sure how many Bentens will appear in Kill la Kill. Or even the simple, next-door-girl type, Aika Fuwa. But this is one pivot. Short of going all the way home, thematically and in terms of consistency (best example off top of my head would be Yosuga no Sora), fanservice’s native advantage is that it is database-modular, you can pick it up and drop it in, or you could co-opt it wholesale. So YZQ and KLK are on the two opposite sides of this spectrum (although neither is at the ends, I think), while Infinite Stratos is very clearly going for just sexy characters, as an example of the middle ground.

Which is to say, it’s not really about pretenses, because that’s just a method. Pretension is necessary in a story like Kill la Kill, if we want to talk about shame, rape, the Nth reference to Utena-esque uniforms, or whatever. (Every time someone makes a reference to Utena in a blog post about KLK, God kills a kitten.) It’s why Madoka is pretentious or Evangelion is pretentious. Not a big deal, really, but, the story in Kill la Kill has to rely on pretend conceits and presupposed frameworks that can be challenged, like the whole Satsuki thing–the dress, the clansmanship, the class differences, the way her underlings work, the power structure, how she manipulate things to her own ends, and finally, her character construct. In as much as LordGenome (really?) and Kamina’s SOP is kind of a conceit, it’s easy to see the same sort of narrative style in Kill la Kill in which we have to ride the amusement park ride and see the theme fly by before our eyes, along with all the eye candy and Hell Yes moments.

How can an anime that casually drops the rise of Hitler to power not be pretentious? That’s like the Corollary to Godwin’s Law if such a thing was to exist. You know what’s not a pretentious fanservice anime? High School DxD. Infinite Stratos. Probably Yuusibu. Maybe even Freezing. In some ways, also those usual high school hijinks shows like Kyoukai no Kanata and Nagiasu. Why? Because it’s just normal fanservice, served up the way they know best and most appropriate to the work. It’s not some kind of pretend imagery that empowers women or whatever. I mean, nothing wrong with that, but that is pretension by definition. It’s a pivot.

Pivot like a handstand, you know.

PS. Chris B. reviews Funi’s Blu-ray and finally gets it, but is nonetheless marred by his first impression.

PPS. This post is brought to you by the word “pandering” which is the onii-chan of the word “pretentious” because like, give me a break. I would rather talk about moe (which I haven’t in a couple years?) than any of this.

Getting Down with Shiny TV Means Getting Ready

Digi Kerot has a primer. As usual you can wiki it. Basically think of this blog post as day one and the post below as day two of Shiny TV.

The main takeaway is Machiuke Prince. Click on these for Normal MV and Special MV, which is cool because that’s Shiny Festa/TV for ya. A translated version is embedded below.

I won’t get too deep into the lyrics and the little touches, but let’s just say it’s great to have Haruka’s USOTSUKI, Makoto opening the song and Miki closing the deal. It’s also very important to note that Machiuke Prince is while not the first iM@S song of this kind, it’s the first one of the relay medley style of song that could possibly be performed live in a way that is a lot of fun to watch. Those people who are planning to hit the two-day live in February, are you READY?

Some key thoughts:

Skill do translate over. I played Shiny Festa a lot–SS rank in two out of three, and almost SS in the third. And that’s not including my PSP playtime (which is not nearly as much admittedly). Notably, I play the group songs to death because they are fun and easy, plus you see everyone in those. (However I do admit I have not gotten 100% on most of the songs on M@STER.) So when I was unlocking those season 4 challenges, they all came pretty easy. Outside of Yayoi’s season 4 episode 1, I didn’t really have much problems. I guess Ai Like Hamburger was a little annoying because that one is also new, but not new enough like Machiuke Prince.

It was a feat of effort and stupidity to clear Machiuke Prince’s minimum challenge in Master mode while I totally forgot to turn on charms. LOL. Probably could’ve saved me at least 30 minutes to an hour.

It has to be said that the controller makes a huge difference. I only have a Sixaxis and a Dual Shock PS3 controller, and both are getting a little long in the tooth (although it’s not like I use them all that much). Actually, it isn’t terrible except trying to press rapidly on the D-pad sometimes. What happens is that there’s gradation in pressing down so some presses end up not registering if my finger didn’t reset back far enough. Don’t have this problem with the buttons on the right at all. The trigger buttons have way too much travel to be practical I think. And I never got the analog stick trick to work.

Which is just to say the PS3 controllers are way better than the PSP buttons on my first-gen PSP. Yeah, this is partly why I didn’t play Shiny Festa on the PSP all that much. It pays to get a good controller, although it’s kind of arguable if it’s really necessary. In the end Shiny Festa is not a hard game, nor is Shiny TV.

The Shiny TV challenges from Takane’s DLC pack is about as hard as Haruka’s. For me it’s slightly more of a challenge because I was never all that good with Overmaster and Next Life, although the other original songs end up being easier. Kimi wa Melody, however, I played lots! And somehow Ohimechin’s gravure mode came off as appropriately classy and not nearly as nosebleed-prone as Haruka’s or even Yayoi’s. Outside of Gravure mode, however, the navi costume you get from logging in however many times can be a little sketchy. I mean, what’s up with that Yukiho outfit? That’s like, Love Live level man.

I thoroughly expected to be schooled by Chihaya’s pack when it comes out next week.

PS. For those of you care to vote for Ready in that Anime Music Tournament, it is in the middle of the second round and losing badly to an admittedly god-tier song. Check it out! Voting closes in another 4 days or so.

NouCome: Surreal In the Bones


This past weekend I had maybe half a dozen ideas to write up. I only retained this one only because it’s the only one I still remember. Also probably because it’s the newest one.

So there’s NouCome. The jokes write themselves when the premise is a joke. The Excel Saga-like insanity to episode 1 is supposedly no different than when Excel Saga pulled the exact same trick. “Put it in” it said. Well, that explains why all of the choices tend to have something in that line of thought.

Fast forward to today. NouCome still has some roots to these types of games. The character profiling and presentation come across the same. The choices play off known tropes and genre conventions. It, however, opens up a new world of orthogonal surprises.

It’s better explained using “expected” and “unexpected.” In most situations in an anime plot, you probably only expect a few things to happen at any given time. With enough foreshadowing and quality storytelling, the audience can be expected to expect a given set of choices of things to happen at any given time. Usually this is done to eliminate possibilities so the audience can be intrigued and surprised (in a good way). NouCome does that in the opposite way by telling you it’s not just going to draw on its canvas, but also on the floor, on the wall, on your nose, on your mother, on the bus, in the air, wherever it can. It’s built in with that mechanism. Since you are expecting everything, you become more susceptible to surprises, which is kind of counterintutitive but that’s how it works.

It’s easy to call NouCome random. Well, it is. But when you draw a dick on a canvas or on your notebook or on your Pictochat screen, it’s still a dick. It’s like I can’t explain if the face I see when I saw the close-up of that maggot candy with a >_< face is any different than any other “manga-style” emote I usually see, despite that I laughed a lot at that little visual gag. It’s just a face that you will see on your average LINE sticker or whatever. So, it isn’t that the randomness is in the content; it’s in the context. The story in NouCome is really nothing too special, at least outside of the initial montage about choices. (That little vignette is pretty special, though.)

To take a huge step back and look at it as a data point in a progression, NouCome is no different than Log Horizon or Arpeggio in that the story is always the same, but the context keeps going up, raising the stakes. At some point we will end up playing some kind of dating sim in your late night TV anime, or buying ships, or actually playing as an Enchanter; or I guess that is the joke. Note that I left out the average incest romcom… It makes you wonder what would happen to the actual things these extremely orthogonal and meta works will be when it happens.

It neatly segues to another idea I had over the weekend: wouldn’t the ultimate sports anime be the one that turns you into an American? Because it would make the transition of sports drama from totem worshiping to an actual way of life. Can’t ESPN do one of their docu-shorts on these Japanese imported pitchers or something?

Autumn 2013 Thoughts and Clippings and Thoughts: NYCC Edition

Part 1 and Part 2 are what I’m after.

I am going to be at NYCC for a day, just because there are still too many interesting industry guys. Some notes about that at the bottom. First, anime!

Happy Birthday Hibs!

The surprise hit of the season at one episode has to be NouCome. Confession: of all the shows I rewatched this new season at this point, only NouCome was done just because. I rewatched parts of Kill La Kill to partake in internet arguments. I rewatched Arpeggio to cap. And that’s it. It’s a riot all the way through. I mean, your mileage will definitely vary but it had me at the handstands. It had me with the TV show in a TV show. It had me with the coodere. It had me with the maggot candy. It had me when the girl fell out of the sky and landed with a bridge. It still had me by the time Kohime was talking it up. I mean, it’s not perfect, but it’s at least a 9. From what I read it is also just the intro part of the first novel that was in episode 1. Well, don’t take my word for it.

There was a weird problem for Crunchyroll viewers with the audio. I’m not sure if it’s because of a surround sound stage issue or what. Listened to it on stereo, it wasn’t as bad as when I was playing it via the PS3 through my surround sound system.

Arpeggio is surprisingly military action stuff. It’s not a fun time at the tankery field but I like how this is serious in a full-of-holes kind of way. Scratches my Guilty Crown itch I guess? Actually it’s just playing up fanservice in the normal way. As much as I enjoyed Vividred Operations that was too much of a fetish in comparison. In a way, despite the extensive use of computer-generated animation and graphics, it felt normal. Well, there were still quite a bit of 2D stuff put on top. So it isn’t all uncanny.

Unbreakable Machine Doll… Yeah. Not bad but not much of a hook for me. Yaya comes off as a fun and slightly appealing character, and that goes a long way. Especially when she is the type of character that “pushes” it.

Yowapeda is a fun show. I like the main guy but I can’t take the rest of the bikers seriously.

Freezing is Freezing. Ironic bonus points for taking place in Alaska.

NoitaminA left! And VVV!


NYCC 2013 – Generally speaking, this year’s con spells death for NYAF in its entirety. There are still anime-related programming but it’s basically all sponsored material, basically whatever Aniplex, Viz, FUNi or Daisuki is throwing up there. There are actually a cool list of guests from Wikia, featuring some big names. Crypton will be there. Sunrise will be there. Ryu Moto will be there. The usual vendors will be there. Getting a sketch from Ryu Moto/Bkub and GSC’s booth are the two things that excite me at all for NYCC. It’s real sad.

Food: Some local highlights this year include this pretty simple deli near my office on 35th between 7th and 8th. It’s not super special but it’s good stuff for lunch and breakfast. For more special deli stuff, try any of the 9th Ave specialty places. Sergimmo Salumeria is really good, for example. Not a sit-down place though. Well, speaking of Italian, there’s now this to scratch your crazy pizza itch.

If you have a small group and want to go to Ippudo, the Midtown West location is a good choice. But if you have more than 4 in your party then go to one of the larger places, unless you want to wait a while. I haven’t been to Totto in a while, maybe it’s time. Ramen is the one food scene that changed rapidly between last year and this year. So many quality options now.

Anyone up for dinner tonight? LOL.