Monthly Archives: December 2013

Year in Review 2013: The Junior High Second Year Bridge Across Escapism, New World Disorder

When I was watching episode 10 of Yuushibu the thought dawned on me: this is about a new world order. If we take the narrative about the lost generation of Japan to heart, the young adults of Japan has to prime themselves to a new reality where job security is an unicorn and living the life their parents do 40 years earlier is just how things not going to be–until they find the wind beneath their wings. It’s the reality today’s Millennial are dealing with in America, but things are trickier out in Japan.

The big picture view is that Asia, on the whole, are still banging out explosive growths. You can say China may have “landed” but it’s still growing hella fast. India is probably going to get caught up. On the other hand Japan is like the edge of a Red Giant, where fusion go beyond helium and into the heavier elements, eventually crunching back into something more suitable for a dying star. I guess things may go to hell if China and India crash hard enough? I guess that’s kind of a grim analogy.

But that’s exactly how it feels for our protagonists who had to swallow their dreams and go live a part-timer’s life working in a big-box electronics store. And in some ways this is what is truly adult about that sort of a story, it’s not about people living their dreams, doing anything they can. It’s about finding out about yourself as you find a place for yourself in the world. Like a good football defense: bend but not break.

In Hatarake Maousama, the story plays itself out differently but the concept is the same. A fantasy big shot learns to be a great McD assistant manager. But here’s the thing: if you make it as a shift manager at a Wal-mart or Best Buy, you can surely make a decent living? It’s a real salary, although you may have to work a lot of off hours. It’s like Yuusha’s job doing customer service for DoCoMo. I don’t know, but some of these jobs are not entirely terrible.

It’s a much more telling story for All A, I guess.

Here’s exactly the thing. Torn between, say, an inaka narrative, where we always give a lot of face for farmers, doing service jobs or even blue-collar type jobs in today’s cities and suburbs just don’t get the same kind of respect, even if said jobs are often much better and preferred than farming. Or any of the traditional arts of the land–brewing sake for example. Unless you got electron microscopes for eyes? I am not sure what makes the disenchanted feel better. However as far as head tricks go, you can do worse than Yuushibu and Hatarake Maousama. You can do worse than Kyon in Haruhi or Goto in Samumenco. You can do worse, only because it’s like everybody is doing it. Log Horizon? Outbreak Company? LOL Maoyu?? Maybe this is me looking like a hammer because everything seems to fit like a nail, but in 2013 everything looks like it.

All of this just goes and point out Yet Another Reason Why SAO is problematic. It’s the difference between a new world and an old one: it’s a world where the meek conquers the strong as lion rest next to the lamb. As far as fantasies go, it’s a classic, and herbivores sure eat it up. And this is also why nobody is procreating; it’s some new world order. (Versus just jamming it in as if you haven’t done it for two years. Virtually.)

And of course, unless you’ve seen Yuushibu up to episode 10, you might not know what I’m even talking about. Let’s just frame it real-quick-like–domesticated devil queen heiress decides to apply big box retail to the demonic world in a stereotypical fantasy hero-versus-maou setting, people think she’s a fool, but the idea comes across brilliantly.

Makio

And this is why Love Lab is one hella good anime that y’all should watch.

Year in Review 2013 Index:


The Sidonia Maneuver

I'd buy this Miku

News broke today when Netflix finally got in the anime simulcast game. I use the term simulcast loosely to describe going direct to Japan to procure this content. Previously, Netflix offered anime content in North America via local distributors and licensees. I’m not sure if an usual licensee is in the mix of this, but so far it seems like a Netflix special.

There are a few other attributes worth noting. First, this is a world-wide stream, and will be dub-localized to their respective regions. We know there will be an EN dub for UK and US/Can. But what about other non-EN regions like Mexico, South America and the rest of Europe?

Second, the PR seems to word it so it implies the whole series will be available in Summer 2014. This seems to mean that it’s not a simulcast as we know it, but a … simul-marathon-cast? Basically, for weekly viewers, the Netflix stream is bullocks. For users who marathon shows, however, this is just as good. It may not make a lot of sense coming from a CR/Hulu type consumption pattern but here at Omonomono I watch anime every ever which way, and it fits the typical Netflix TV consumer pattern–when you put on 24, you want to watch it all.

Too bad this is Knights of Sidonia, not another season of Aria. Oh wait, you probably won’t want to marathon a show like that either.

This reminds me of how simulcasting is a part of the marketing aspect of a show. By doing it after it’s all over you kind of lose part of that marketing impact. I mean if it’s screening the whole three months you get three month of free WOM buzz. Worse, if the show tanks from the Japanese TV airing, now you just have a product nobody is going to bite. And they’re dubbing it! I mean when Funimation decided to go all in with Space Dandy, that show has all the creds to be something salable in the long run. I wonder what Netflix is trying here in terms of Sidonia. I’m sure the story (the manga seems my bag of tea, actually, though I’ve yet to read it) is fine, but it’s done by a 3DCG firm so it’s likely going to rattle conventional viewers, as in the people who will be talking up the show before the Netflix stream.

More importantly, who is going to do the home video deal? I guess Netflix could, but LOL? Netflix furthermore has its own original programming agendas. If House of Cards is a guide, then it just means in Summer 2015 Sidonia will be available in all your usual venues, plus some unusual ones (Amazon on demand?). How will it be priced?

Obligatory: How much of this has to do with the Chernin Group buy-in of CR? Heh.

Maybe I should revisit this if Knights of Sidonia is actually any good, because until we know it’s worth watching, this is all just nonsense.


Year In Review 2013: Toys for Naughty Kids

sn0blk

Let me start with this: I by no mean look down at people who publicly declare their hankering for some pankering in the form of PVC. But it’s a little bit distasteful when your lolipedo waifu is already stripped down to her skinny undies and now you complain that her raven locks are draped across her chest because it’s actually the tasteful sculpting decision? Instead of whining why don’t you do something about it, like hire someone to make a makaizou version?

What I want to say is that figure collection brings your desires to the fore. It is a purifying fire to be a serious figure collector. What drives people buying figures has a lot to do with how well (read: poorly) they control their desires and impulses. It’s not a cheap hobby to get into and once you go beyond casual there is a mountain of headaches to deal with. But as they say, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Meanwhile here’s a target if you’ve got tomatoes. With the power of MFC, after a few years of serious figure collecting I know, for instance:

  • My favorite anime character design in a figure probably has these 5-6 traits: long, blond hair in twintails, wears thigh-highs and has ribbons somewhere. Maybe blue eyes. I really can’t disagree with this assessment.
  • I have a thing for Type-Moon (you all know this right).
  • I like GSC, Alter, Kotobukiya and Max Factory (you might also know this). By “like” I mean own the most in that order.
  • While Saber sits atop my “most figures from a character” list (that one is easy), the next 4 are Rin Tohsaka, Miku Hatsune, Ciel (Tsukihime) and Rinko Kobayakawa. It’s not a surprise but man how did I end up with so many Ciel figures? And I probably could do better with Rinko, although what’s out there is slim picking. Pretty sure all but one of my Arcu figures are actually Phantasmoon…
  • I own more flat chests than large breasted figures. (Probably because Miku counts as flat, I don’t know, she’s squarely in between.)

And I looked, where’s the “cast_off” tag? I guess I just don’t own enough of them.

But as I mentioned earlier, naughty figures (as in, figures exposing naughty bits) is an explosive new area of growth in the PVC fixed-pose figure market. And maybe it’ll bleed into the action figure side (see: figma/nendo/etc). For the longest time the quality of the average adult-entertainment-type figure is pretty low; they would focus on actual ero titles and make figures that are outright, uh, exploitative. The build quality is terrible and they would be priced > 10k yen. That still happens today, but now there is a new group of figures with naughty bits slowly creeping towards the mainstream in the form of more artistically appealing limited runs (like Native’s special order figures) or just characters from popular fanservice titles (yhelo thar Tama-nee, Ikkitousen, Queen’s Blade, etc) in which depending on how explicit it gets, various parts of the figure can be removed or replaced to make them revealing. While they are likely still expensive (partly because they are also more complex), the workmanship has improved drastically.

And this is in a way the reflection of market realities. Sex sells, and this newer porn-on-a-stick market shouldn’t surprise anyone. Looking from a different angle, the proliferation of 3D printing tech and better VR could also usher things in this direction. Things may have gotten a start a couple years ago but we’re surely in second gear with this cast-off stuff, if not third. I mean the blatant eroge stuff is now not even terribad (nsfw) (ok it’s still kind of bad). It has definitely gotten to the point where I buy cast-offs because the figure concept and sculpt quality is driving the purchase decision, not because you can get naked with it. I suppose you can always get naked with it, no matter what it is…

Otaku dirty laundry may not be pretty, and when it comes to airing said dirty laundry there are options! Even the most kimoi otaku have choices.

Year in Review 2013 Index:


Year in Review 2013: The New Age of Media Literacy, the Otaku Newtype

Makoto Kikuchi is always nice

Since I started “blogging fer reals” or whatever that means, I’ve been writing and more importantly, reading, what other people blog about surrounding the same interest topics. What I find is that it’s almost one to one in terms of what I find an interesting read to what the writer has to do in terms of their media literacy powers. It’s kind of interesting in that yes, some people who engage anime blogging this way do have academic experience in the humanities, but it is easier to see when the writer doesn’t have a background in that.

But no matter who you are, the importance of being able to really bite into media you consume and pull it apart for what it is, and more importantly seeing how it impacts the way you look at the world, is super important. I was talking with a friend about Lessig’s free culture since he wasn’t sure what “Copyleft” meant. In truth it is the legal illustration of the way human culture has evolved from folk and oral to mass commercialism. If we think of copyright law as the set of rules that governs commercial activity of entities that engages in trading human culture beyond the folk and oral traditions that accompanied us since the beginning of history, it is easy to grasp why the free culture movement is important–because almost everything written down that is read by someone growing up today comes from some form of mass media. This stuff, culture, is the substance that defines  us as a group, as human beings, and even as individuals. So we really owe it to ourselves to know what we’re consuming today.

But that is one realization far, far most people do not have.

If we assume that an anime otaku watches a lot of anime (which is a bold assumption to make in America, to say the least), then I think media literacy is a prerequisite of being one? Understanding tropes is like, 101 level stuff. It goes so much deeper, so much more than that. And it feels like a lot of the time I enjoy some crap-tier anime BECAUSE it is so interesting once you break it down into pieces. Like this year’s Oreshura and Oregairu. Or the classic Genshiken Second Season. Girls und Panzer and Arpeggio. Outbreak Company. Log Horizon. Love Lab, even. A lot of these shows are fun to watch on the surface, sure, but a lot of them aren’t either. But both types are enjoyable to me because they’re built on frameworks I can parse well.

It’s like the one core thing that makes watching post-modern media content enjoyable. It’s that beacon that shines in the darkness that is the sea of this unfiltered, unadulterated deluge of otaku crap.

At the same time, though, it’s weird reading into why people would want their Kuroyukihime uncensored and castoff-able. It’s already pretty much naked. Poor girl. I mean, like, if you can resign yourself as some lolicon-moe-sick kimoi otaku, the least you can do is to max your sub-class and gain something useful. Media literacy is one of these things. If you want to compare/contrast Kill la Kill with Utena, rest assured you won’t look any more stupid than any of these guys talking about how to get things more naked.

Year in Review 2013 Index:


Year In Review 2013: Small Packages

gdgd weapon trafficking

I didn’t watch gdgd Fairies back in 2011. I watched it late in 2012 (in winter?) after so many people saying good things about it. gdgd Fairies season 2 launched winter of 2013, so that came in timely. Right after that was a similar kind of show, Straight Title Robot Anime. Alongside those, we have Teekyuu, Yama no Susume, Aiura, Ishida & Asakura, among many others. There were also web shorts like Inferno Cop and Turning Girls. In short, I watched a lot of anime shorts this year, and maybe so did you.

I mean, the thing is, short anime has been around for a long time. There are probably more short anime today than there was 6 years ago, but it isn’t an explosively growing category. But we English-language speakers are watching more of it, because more of it are being made available. These shows typically don’t get the love, in a very literal sense, as longer, typical TV anime. So they are rarely watched by English-language viewers let alone fansubbed.

I mean, you gotta be pretty awesome to fansub gdgd Fairies or Teekyuu. And it takes a special kind of person to translate, say, Straight Title Robot Anime.

On the other hand I can see why people would sub Aiura. I mean, it’s like king crabs, the iPhone, and teenage girls’ legs. I don’t really need to go farther than that right?

Thing is, because these shows are so short and don’t pack that much of a punch (and even then some sure punched pretty hard, many were well outside of their weight classes), people just don’t talk about them. And maybe that’s just how it is.

osaka

 

Year in Review 2013 Index: