It Doesn’t Pay to Save Anime

The title is a pun.

Miyu and Minami

Actually, I was thinking about how Yamakan’s WUG anime mixes idols and Tohoku saving. On paper, you are combining two things that are arguably opposite of each other. The filth of the entertainment industry that boils in the cauldron of Japan’s media center, and some Sendai guys trying to get in on that action? I don’t know. Of course, in the wake of the tragic quake and tsunami, lots of entertainers in Japan tried to ride it for charity or a buck. Which is why I have this DVD autographed by Sunao Katabuchi because he made a little music video trying to raise money for tsunami relief. I mention this only because it looks not like anything any otaku would buy; it’s purely a “cartoon” so to speak. Its motives are pure. I suppose that it aired on NHK means something.

Likewise, if anything, I think WUG’s treatment of the Tohoku disaster aspect is tasteful. The problem is that if I can still spin it in a negative light, so can anyone with an agenda otherwise. WUG is definitely late-night anime fodder. But what of its motives? This is where water and oil have a hard time mixing. In episode 9, here we have Kaya, the older and perhaps the one in the group who’ve gone through the most hardship, drops a little bomb on battle-hardened Mayu, who hopefully has gotten a little mug of perspective as a result. The way Kaya downplays how she overcomes her difficulties is almost borderline gap moe. And I’m half-serious. Or perhaps, there’s a double-gap moe here because it feels comical when Kaya’s troubles feels a magnitude larger than what Mayu suffered through, and at the same time Kaya’s motivation seems so insignificant compared to Mayu’s personal drive to achieve in the idol biz.

Still, here we have it, two very different people finding shared grounds as aspiring idols. They’re determined in equal parts. Perhaps that’s where both idol biz and Tohoku saving can meet, and shake hands. Yamakan surely will make enough to spot for the cost of the party. Akiba is prosperous enough that there’s nothing for it to lose and everything to gain.

It makes me think of The Wind Rises. It’s indulgent, but daring. WUG is, well, also indulgent and daring, except you have to take into the entire media mix doohicky. And to what ends? I think it’s always great when creators challenge the difficult or controversial in a meaningful way. Yamakan doesn’t quite go that far, but in essence he has combined two things people normally wouldn’t. If this really does mean benefiting the locals in Tohoku, this might be even better than that Angel Beats moment about organ donation.

PS. We can talk about something less 3/11 and more about late-night anime via WUG, actually. Maybe later. Today let’s take a moment to remember the tragedy and remind ourselves that recovery is still in progress! Thanks Yamakan!

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