Monthly Archives: February 2014

Gundam Build Fighters: The Other Side of Shiny?

The thought came across first when the second ending visuals came on for the first time for Gundam Build Fighters. I was watching the show on my way to work as I typically do, on the train. The extra ~$30 I pay a month goes to exactly this–better-than-the-competitor’s LTE coverage down the Northeast Corridor, so I can watch anime on the go without having to set up some kind of auto-torrent-re-encode-plus-sync system, thanks to the magic of simulcast.

It’s the same idea behind why I liken the IDOLM@STER movie costumes as Gokuseifuku a la Kill La Kill. White background, single-colored stars. It glitters while I was thinking about the connection between these things. Well, maybe not so much thinking and noticing there’s some connection.


It didn’t really click until I read the investor report from the Bandai Namco group for fiscal year 2013 where the spotlight on Bamco’s unique IP puts IM@S back to back with Kamen Rider and Gundam, as some of the biggest drivers within Bamco’s portfolio. It’s quite telling if you actually read what it says, like:

  • In Japan it’s about on par in terms of name recognition as Gundam
  • A focus to target anim@s Ps via social games

So, what about Gundam Build Fighters? I think it fits Bamco’s vision for the business to a tee. It bridges the kind of generational gap between kids and adults. One way it does that is by adding that video game element to the series in a very straight-up sort of way. This has two effects. One, you can have the tournament/arena setup that we see in the show, providing pretty satisfying battles (ones with clear losers) on a regular basis without killing all your cast in the process. Two, it gives the gunpla aspect new life by clearly painting a vision for the gunpla builder. In that sense, we’re now gamifying the gunpla aspect by giving it the ability for people to customize using official components (which is also a money driver kind of a thing).

Which is to say, if we were to describe the genre of game Gundam BF is trying to depict, it’s not really a fighting game (even if the gameplay turns out that way). It’s closer to a social-mobile game in which players spend all their time and effort building their gunpla, perhaps to just admire them (this is what Sei was doing until he met Reiji) or to relive them like “proper otaku” (this is what Ral-san was doing, as with the old fogies that Reiji schooled). Or in Gundam BF’s case, explode your master grade++ gunpla in moments of glory in battle. All these things exist only in some kind of weird context that you do with mobage as well.

All they’ve left out is the infinite money sink hole that is the kuji process.

I mean, it is not really that close to, say, Million Live, but the formula is there. You can’t customize your idols, and you can’t really build them up beyond what the game provides the framework for. For gunpla OTOH, masterful crafters can actually do something unique and special by adding their own touches. But in the digital version of such a game, you might as well be equally limited.

PS. I’ve returned. I have 3 posts queued up and to be written, on top of the backlog now haunts me and the posts to be written for other obligations. orz indeed.

PPS. I don’t know about you, but I think Wing Gundam is top idol.

PPPS. If it’s with you, Imber.

KOTOKO – Kuchuu Puzzle Tour 2014 at AiiA Theater, Shibuya

Aiia Theater

Let’s break it down before IM@S breaks me down.

  1. My-Les
  2. WING OF ZERO-the ring-
  3. 黙れよ、ピーター
  4. フシ-ギナ-アナ
  5. サ・ヨ・ナ…ラ
  6. frozen fir tree
  7. 冬の雫
  8. snow angel
  9. 原罪のレクイエム
  10. agony
  11. 海豚
  12. 雪華の神話
  13. Largo
  14. サクラノアメモエギノヨ
  15. ささくれ
  16. Re-sublimity
  17. Loop-the-Loop
  18. Rock☆DE フルーツバスケット♪
  19. Flower!
  20. Light My Fire
  21. Pâ—‡liGâ–³n
  22. 空中パズル

Encore 1

  1. Presto
  2. 開け!ソラノオト
  3. →unfinished→-Album ver.-

Encore 2

  1. SHOOT!-KOTOKO.ver-

Check Kotoko’s blog for pics of her outfits. And all the stuff I was gonna say until I read it www.

So let me keep it personal and point out the big things. First, there were two costume changes in the main set. Encore has the usual t-shirt + skirt combo and she puts on No. 11 jersey for Shoot! She also tried to score a couple handicapped freethrows, and makes the last one of three.

The “Winter” set is in her snow-fairy-peter-pan inspired getup. I really like how it gave her an excuse to sing all these old snow-theme songs. The stage had this fake snow setup where it’ll spew out mysterious snow-like substance that floats down much slower than actual snow. It would be neat except I’m kind of sick of snow at the time given how it interrupted travels so much.

The first costume change happened during a really long instrumental solo if I recall correctly. The second outfit I remember liking more, because it’s got this weird white theme going on and is a little bit like a wedding dress except the huge ribbon-like thing on her shoulder. I could be wrong.

I was too busy rocking out to have an opinion of the third one.

KOTOKO isn’t so much what I call “a sight for sore eyes” both visually or musically, but the strongest immediate reaction was that I really missed her, and I didn’t even know it. Her music in the live context just gets me.

The crowd was another point of observation. I’ve never seen her live over in Japan so it’s not clear to me how the fans move. So it turns out they move the same way as they do in the States, basically. There aren’t too many songs with calls, and those that do tend to be just anime or game songs that go by the usual pattern and/or hooks into some other franchise, like Shoot, which has the full cheer-ppph-thundersnake thing built in. Just rock and thrash as usual guys!

Can’t wait for her Raleigh stage!

Thought-Dump Japan 2014 Part 1

So what kills blogging is not twitter, it’s a grueling schedule of a) line up early for goods/events/etc b) events c) post-event hangout d) post-even hangout pt 2. e) oh hey it’s 4am. f) repeat.

But I’ll take this time to write up some stuff. I hope to go to bed soon so should be short. Right.

Bunny berry pink penlight

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The Trip, 2014

I never got to wax much nostalgia about my trip last April when I went to see that PA Works show, along with Coorie and Tamayura. I traveled for about 10 days and did the otaku mecca thing, while focused on taking it easy, eating (and didn’t even do much of that beyond local recs) and hanging out. Watched a couple anime movies, at least. It was actually quite a blast, but I definitely could’ve done more if I was more organized or adventurous.

Makoto goes traveling on a Jitensha w

This year I’m going with a herd of other foreigners and in the span of about also 10 days, I would have hit up 2-3 theater greetings, probably will watch the same two anime movies like, in four different occasions (funny considering I could also watch Buddha 2 or the new Tiger & Bunny film that’ll get a theatrical run in a month), will attend a radio recording, plus at least five concerts. FIVE. Maybe more if I want to do that underground idol thing. So most likely this means I won’t have time to try my luck at Kancolle cafe, just a couple days for shopping, and who knows how many places I can go eat? I get the feeling those things will take care of themselves however.

Here’s the event list, at least the confirmed ones. A few are not yet and are marked TBD:

There are a ton of events that I wished I could attend, either because it runs against one of the other events, or because I can’t get the proper tickets (like WUG handshake sessions…or Yui Ogura handshake sessions…or Milk Lariat S conflict with KOTOKO…or Kanon 2014 conflict with IM@S with Yanagi Nagi live etc).

And that’s just events! There are tons of other stuff on the agenda, none perhaps less epic than the chronicles detailed here. But I will do my best with the whole enjoy Japan thing. Food, scenery, shopping, you name it. Definitely want to revisit A-Button and Garten once.

Anyway, if this blog stops updating the next 2 weeks, you know what’s up. Actually I will still be updating the non IM@S stuff here, so watch for that; but as you can see there’s not a whole lot of that.

Mai Mai Miracle on Kickstarter

Kickstarter projects are all over the place, and in 2014 the platform is used for all different kinds of business purposes. I think however if this means having fans able to pool together money to get Mai Mai Miracle out in the wild, translated, it’s well worth doing.


I’m not sure if it’s well-documented, so I assume it’s not, but Mai Mai Miracle is one of those “for kids” movies that is actually for adults. It belongs in the same category as, say, Wolf Children or The Wind Rises in that I am not sure if kids can get everything out of it. Well, no, I don’t think most kids could. The whole thing seemed to be like a mistake from the beginning. The planning and development of the movie binned the movie as a for-the-family affair, mainly for kids. The story and final product, however, beame this precarious and sensitively piece that has a full-blown magical Inaka, where kids in their seats will tire and bore but the old guys will cry. It’s one of those movies that had a bad open but revenue per theater increases as the screening went on. It’s not going to be many children’s favorite, but it can win festival awards.

Furthermore, I think Mai Mai Miracle channels that Asian mid-boom feel, like how Whisper of the Heart succinctly captures the 1980s in urban sprawl Tokyo. Mai Mai just goes another 20 years back. It’s not as meticulous as Ghibli’s works, but that masterful mise en scene, the “relax” look for which animation breaths life, and the whimsical thread that carries forward the movie are just the same. What would Ben say about this ex-Telecom key figure? (By the way, he hasn’t said much about Katabuchi, at least in the posts.)

The kickstarter pegs the DVD/BD SKU at around $55. That’s typical anime pricing I suppose. I would take a step and say that it is also kickstarter pricing. And it’s [/drumroll] Aniplex pricing, coincidentally, on a per-minute basis. What is more notable is the 200-page artbook the Kickstarter is promising. It is not the standard 3000y settings and screencap artbook that you can get from Amazon or any major bookseller. It is a totally new product, which is good, because no way it would be worth $75 even after shipping.

Anyway, go back it. The movie is great if you enjoy kuukikei/Inaka style stuff. It’s great if you are East Asian and can handle a slow film. It’s great if you are an animation buff. But you already know this, don’t you? People who read my blog probably already do!

Also, this is the first UK-based kickstarter that does anime distro for R1, isn’t it.

For old time’s sake (since the only copy of my Mai Mai Miracle blog post seems to be on my desktop), here’s a link to Shii’s breakdown of Sora no Woto, which is basically a digression of the Inaka value as mapped to otaku entertainment.

And oh, the kickstarter.