Monthly Archives: March 2014

The IDOLM@STER M@STER OF IDOL WORLD at Saitama Super Arena, Feb. 22-23, 2014

The Sun Sets on One Great Live

This is a very long post about a two-day concert. I touched on various of things but I sort of had to stop writing because it’s simply way too long. So this is just kind of the key notes I wanted to jot down, some impressions, and stuff that I don’t want to forget.

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Idol of Character

"Special feeling"? Sure Danbooru taggers.

Writing about WUG over here got me thinking. In episode 10, the Wake Up Girls encounter a variety of other idol groups from the Tohoku region, including a gag style group that goes by the name of Demons of Oga. It reminds me of Babymetal a lot. In the usual “wheel of morality” way there’s a deeper message about WUG and idol groups in that week’s episode, which is about some kind of trait or essence of an idol group.

I’ve been thinking about this as it applies to not only actual idol groups like AKB48, Perfume or Momoclo and the like, but also groups like μ’s or 765Pro. What is special about each of them? And if the fans and the public ultimately define what these essences are for the group, how would I define it?

[It also makes me think, a lot, about the concert report I’m writing. I fear it’s going to get to ~14000 words at the end and I’m going to tack on another 5000 or something just for concluding thoughts. It’s safe to say my vacation to Japan may have exhausted me mentally and physically but it’s energized me in some other ways. So this post might be a bit like a safety valve in that sense.]

Getting existential about idols is sort of how I do idols. [This is also probably why I don’t do much idols, at all.] It’s like seeing those images of HK or SG Lovelivers bowing down before their goddesses and it makes you think. It’s like making a joke about the Ten Commandments. I’m not so sure if it is more appropriate to quote Key the Metal Idol or quote, I don’t know, Nietzsche. But it never really occurs to me to look at it from the opposite side of the poster wall–how does Bushiroad or Lantis or Bandai-Namco think about it? How does Gami-P feel when he has to put together an agenda for “third vision” planning meeting? Likewise, how does Eriko Nakamura feels when she shares a stage with her new-ish coworkers like Hasshi or Koroazu? Maybe that is something we can think about. Sure beats trying to get into Yamakan’s shoes–are we making gods or what?

The way I define 2.5D is probably different than how you define it. It’s definitely something I realize on my trip, and on twitter, and from all the Ps and Lovelivers and Oukokumin that I met. And it’s very interesting and mind-broadening, I guess. We definitely express our affection for these idols in very different ways. We not only internalize it differently (I wonder how do these companies internalize the idols they produce) but we might even perceive them differently. Kind of like how I still don’t appreciate Asami Imai nearly as much as the next guy. I mean I like her a lot more now that I’ve seen how she sets her presence on stage, in the flesh, but it’s… well, let’s just say she is a part of what makes IM@S very special to me. And it’s people like her that I think the idol world will not be able to reproduce. It’s the Mingosu and the Chiaking of the idol worlds that makes IM@S special. It’s why Nakamura is great. It’s people like Shikaco that adds a flair to seiyuu-idolness that gives it a sort of levity that isn’t so much manufactured as much as “oi we let you do this because I think nobody else is gonna.” And then you have people that falls in the gap, like Kido Ibuki. It’s these little things, to me, that defines the essence of these idol groups, even the fake ones like ClariS because at the very least they’re still brands.

Ultimately it’s the WUG-chans that will inherit the earth. They are true everyday girls. It’s like the chika idols that bust their butts on a daily basis trying to make it. But otaku like me just can’t be settled with that, can’t we? I need this artifice. It is to no disrespect, but such is the 2.5D way, where it’s not just a personal god, but an international, mixed-media intellectual property-based venture that revenue-shares, whose avatars can optionally be hand-drawn or fully computer-generated. You know, when it just takes too much time and resources to animate the old fashion way.

This is the Yamakan spirit. It’s a Sony. And to circle back to WUG, it’s a pretty nice artifice…and it’s not a Sony, go figure.

Character Designs in Kill La Kill as Translated by Cosplay

Satsuki, Ryuuko, Mako

The anime con season in North America is getting into swing. Kill la Kill seems to be trending among top costumers and the like.

It’s times like this I wish the guys at Trigger would fess up that they made these scandalously dressed heroines partly to get some cosplayers to show some skin. Of course, this being just my own wish and probably does not reflect the truth, but I think if Kojima would fess up this much, it might just be a matter of semantics.

So I think it’s important to track where Trigger dudes are going this summer? So far we have Director Yoshinari plus Kaneko (art director) and Hori (animator?) at Animazement, so maybe these guys will make some comments to this degree. We’ll see. American cons are a great way for fans to mix with creators, so I hope Trigger dudes will get an eye full at North Carolina. And maybe we can ask why … are the two (somewhat titular) characters dressed that way.

Either way, if you are man or woman enough to parade out there in battle mode Senketsu or Junketsu, you have my respect. I’ll save the question for your wisdom later.

Mid-Season Checkpoint on Witch Craft Works

Witch Craft Works

Here is one way to skin this cat. I sort of agree but I would have put it in a different way.

Witch Craft Works is really an “anime” anime. Only Zvezda gives this one a run for its money this season. What I mean by this is that what’s fun about Witch Craft Works, other than the characters and designs, are out of the elements that’s added in by the process of animation: the voice acting, the visuals, and pacing. To use IS as a point of comparison, season 2 is closer to radio drama slideshow than anime. As an aside I think that is where things failed for IS…

So rather than pinning all the blame on either Potato-kuns (Potato-kunes?) I am going to just give credit to where it’s due: JC STAFF.

Because, like I said, the manga and the themes in Witch Craft Works are hardly anything one should aspire to. It’s not terrible but I think I can throw a stone into a late-night TV screening in Japan and hit something just as good or better. Which is to say…it’s kind of terrible. Admittedly I’m still a couple episodes behind, but there’s nothing in this show that has shown me any redeeming value besides what the anime brought to the table.

Which is to say, if you give Kugyuu, Mamiko, Kawasumi Ayako and Kayanon (and a strong supporting cast, although I’m kind of flipping the roles here) their own witch anime by JC Staff and put some actual animators and an experienced director behind the helm, it’s probably going to be A-OK.

PS. I hope Seto Asami keeps doing deadpan roles after this one, because I like to hope against great odds?

PPS. WCW is probably “better than A-OK” because, well.

PPPS. Is the top image a GSC spoof w.

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!