Monthly Archives: April 2014

On Chokaigi 3

This screenshot is taken right after Nanjo announces her next song in the fripside performance: Shooting Star

What’s amazing about Niconico Chokaigi is that it isn’t just “Japanese internet vomited into one place” (Makuhari Messe being the barf bag), even if that in itself is a big deal in a “this is why you can’t have nice things” kind of way that I can write a lot on its own, but that someone overseas can “catch” the vision of it and live it up as if I was there. It is truly a wondrous application of the internet where joy can be spread across the world in real time.

So rather than just watching Chokaigi at home this year, I decided to get a couple friends together and watch it at the guy’s house whose most capable of doing it. This just means good internet setup, a good multimedia set up (he’s got a big TV and easy hook-up to his network), lots of power plugs, what have you. In the end we still needed a few things–more HDMI plugs would be nice, or some way to play R2 DVDs, or a better HTPC solution, but it turned out really well. You can watch the streams you all care about and talk about it, rather than let your English language comments lament in the sea of Nico memes, or make a mess of your twitter time line. Or private chat rooms wherever, which seemed to be the better venue in retrospect.

I thought Chokaigi is possibly the closest thing to an “anime con” in the sense that while it is an industry event, it dips its feet in fan culture much more so than most other industry events. It’s hard to explain or describe this gap and oddly enough we talked about it this weekend. Just what makes an AFA or an AX versus AnimeJapan? It’s hard to explain, I think, maybe because I haven’t been to all of those events, but it’s also the sort of content you promote at those venues. Maybe it’s more a SDCC or NYCC?

At any rate, through the myriad numbers of region-unlocked live streams, we were able to watch a ton of streams on Nico over the weekend and live it up real-time. This means watching that awesome anison concert on Saturday night/Sunday afternoon featuring IVE Special Unit. Takase Kazuya doing backup dancing with Maon for Ray is just amazing. In fact that whole IVE set is amazing. But what’s also amazing is to go on twitter and see the JP feeds I follow respond to the events I watch on the streams, and other non-JPers watching the same.

The number says Chokaigi 3, this year being the third Chokaigi, has about 7.6 million viewers across all its official feeds (and there were a bunch of those), which is just to say that’s only like, two thirds of total Chokaigi streams, if we go by streams not on its schedules as not official.

Anyway, just saying you can live up Chokaigi if the technology is there, the infrastructure is there. I didn’t pay the 2500 yen or whatever for Cho Party, but at that 525y entry price for premium, this is the cheapest way to brighten up a weekend. That and a VPN. And having the image of Mocho eating a Lawson generic pastry in your retina.

Update: Say hello to some Ps that we met earlier in the year:

Ps


The Abyss of Hyperspace

I watched this film on Feb. 22nd, 2014. I was going to just say try reading Elliot’s review, because it’s surprisingly similar to what I have to say, but I figured I can add my 2c. No real spoilers below, but some events described in the post are natural spoilers as it is a surprise to see them. Well, Mouretsu Pirates is not the sort of anime/story that relies on surprises, so whatever.

Ohio class

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Compellingly Hipster: Yuasa-Powered Ping Pong

Chloe Kagamigawa

I keep on calling Ping Pong hipster. I’m not sure why, but it’s got something to it that rubs me that way. The animation is as “Yuasa” as it gets, it’s very emotive and really gripping. Even when it’s kind of this nonchalant, laid back walking down the shores of Kamakura and up Enoshima like kids up to no good.

That octopus cracker thing is delicious, make sure you try some when you visit.

I guess I would pit Ping Pong against something, like, say, Flower of Evil, in that they both feature these scenes where the kids wander through suburban decay, except in the case of tourist-town Kamakura it’s a little bit just decay for show rather than plain old variety of decay. The population is old and sparse, at any rate, and with the quaint landscape, the sea-side view but largely framed by either the local landscape or human/traffic, gives it still a sense of mundane occupancy.

At any rate, Ping Pong is an anime that is about motion, about animation in the sense of the term that it moves. In fact, Ping Pong books. That makes the delightful highlight in episode 3 when we get these sliding panels that breaks up the screen. Thinking back to what kind of “slideshows” late-night TV anime can be, Ping Pong is almost a form of satire when viewed in that way. And in that sense, the motion really elevates the tension of the story drastically differently than a lot of Yuasa’s other works. It’s much smaller, but it keeps moving. Tight but constantly changing focus. It makes the wide-angle shots a lot more effective, such as the cut at end of episode one when Wenge was on the roof, or better yet, the scene in episode 3 when Dragon and Smile were talking.

When I watch it, it’s a rush. When I’m done watching it, it leaves me with a smile and in awe. But half an hour later I’m ready to, I don’t know, scratch my butt or something. There’s not much to it. Yet. And that’s probably why I find it really hipster-y. It’s great but so far the substance is just a lot of clever writing. Not that I’m complaining about it or anything, but I wish it wasn’t so much about the “then and there” and something a little more universal. It’s kind of like what Wenge said about Smile’s ego.


The WUG Life Chose Me – P Culture: Definitions and Scope

http://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=42902043

As mentioned earlier, at Sakura-Con there was a P Culture panel about IM@S. After said panel I thought about exactly what this really means. What makes a Producer? What is an idol? Should I do an Otakon panel?

I think there’s a lot going on here, rich enough to definitely do all of that. But before I run headlong into it, some definitions are in order.

As you might know, P-culture really did start with IM@S, even if people were doing similar things well before then. In that sense, in post-otaku boom Japan there really is nothing left meaningful to define by the term otaku besides by their sub-niches. You have people who like mecha anime, for example. Or people really into waifus and moe crap. Or the 2.5D sei-buta-idol types. Or the plain variety of idol otaku. Or military. Or trains. Or BL. Or Yuri. You get the idea. These are not representative but elements to that otaku database where people can subscribe to various different things, and they do mix, kind of like a RSS feed of a set of RSS feeds.

Which just reminds me that Google Reader Shared Item is the best representation of the otaku concept. Anyway, RIP.

In that sense I would define P culture as a specific group of “feeds” that are bundled together. That’s what’s novel about P culture. That, and within this overlap, in the sense that many of us subscribe to this set of not-that-well-defined ideas, we find a sense of identity/unity common to these kind of identity affiliations (like, I dunno, gothloli and kogals). Or in the US, “anime fans” and cosplayers.

So more specifically, I mean:

  • Idol/entertainer culture, maybe specifically anison culture and wota culture
  • 2D otaku culture “in general”

Which, if you know what being a P means, has nothing to do with what being a P means–basically you are a fan of the IM@S games. And you can be a fan of the game (and now, anime) and have nothing to do with P culture. It’s kind of like being fans of old(er) school gaming, crunching things out on a NDS or X360, than on a mobile device grinding up some Million Stars. There’s already a pretty big gulf in terms of what being an IM@S fan really means, how that fandom manifests, and if it even makes sense for all of us to hang out together.

Which is also different than what being a P means, in the vocaloid scene, even if that nomenclature is not so different. Like what a Nicom@sP has to go through versus just some dude who likes the anime. Maybe this is why we’re so hot on danketsu in IM@S.

Perhaps it’s a lot more interesting to see how diverse this fandom is, and how the 2.5D fan category really exploded in the post-AKB48 era.

Ren is Yyo's buddy eh

To those ends, does it make more sense to look at Ps from a deductive way? Let’s profile a few people and see what they like, why they are Ps. Ethnography, or whatever. I wonder if there are some Japanese-language data out there…

Anyway. I think the approach to look at, present or even enjoy P culture is to do it on a more personal level. If you live like an otaku of some sort, it’s just “yet another vertical” of sorts. There are things you do, modern-day rituals, that facilitate the process. And then there are other things you do that’s just for the heck of it. Like buying flowers.

Why do we buy flowers, other than to make the concert venue smell good?

Why do we make business cards, besides that it’s useful to follow up with people online afterwards?

If invariably expression and identity are intertwined in these kind of instances, what does P culture say about us?

Is The World All One?

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Sakura-Con 2014: Wrap

It came and went, never overstayed its welcome in my attention span/brain-space or whatever that keeps me focused. Just like a nice, well-rounded, colorful single origin roast. Also kind of regretting not buying all these coffee/chocolate while I was at those shops on Thursday. Because, man, it’s not like NYC doesn’t have great coffee or chocolate, but it’s different than what Seattle has to offer.

And that’s kind of like Sakura-Con in a nutshell. It’s a great con, I think, and I kind of like it. The guests are what they are, but the crowd has a nice positive buzz, it’s both laid back and yet pretty focused. It feels so funny seeing the people going around asking for autographs at the Guest Dinner because it feels so unnatural, and it’s probably the weirdest moment for me at the con.

The 4chan im@s panel is second. Clearly animeweedlord loves his idols and when I spotted him walking down the street in his casual Yayoi cosplay on Sunday it kind of sums up Sakura-Cn for me in a nutshell. Again.

Of course, the guests do make a big dent on my enjoyment. Having four A-1 animators means invariably some of them are going to be involved in Anim@s, and in this case we have the talented Akai Toshifumi. Masunari Kouji is there too, but I like him more for other stuff, like Welcome to the Space Show or Read or Die and the like. But he also did anim@s.  Adachi Shingo is great sport for hanging out along with Akai, I guess the two are real life friends while at it.

The Guest Dinner is also a big deal in my overall experience in that I was able to talk to people like Ishikawa Yui, the Pony Canon producer, or the Fuji TV producer outside of a panel, because catching panels for a dozen JP guests is such a pain. I even sat down for Ohata Koichi as he talked shop about Hayao Miyazaki. It was interesting. And I got to pester Nagahama again! Totally asking for a sketch of Iron Man next time I get the opportunity LOL.

The fellowship of fellow nerds is also a big deal. Saw Ally & Sally again. Most of the West Coast gang. Some East Coast guys. Great food and great company make a great time, as you would expect. Still I missed out a chance to catch Sixten! That’s the only guy missing out.

To that end, there’s also great music. Elisa has some pretty solid singing going on for her, despite this whole “English-exotic” imagery they have. She’s very warm and personable, if a tad “on her own pace.” Very cool customer.

I wish I have the set list but it’s something like:

  1. ebullient future
  2. Realism
  3. World God Only Knows
  4. Soba ni iru yo
  5. Wonder Wind
  6. Millenario
  7. HIKARI
  8. Mononoke Hime (a capella short version)
  9. euphoric field
  10. (encore?) Do You Remember Love

This is a really vague guess based on old memory so LOL. [Updated via animate.tv]

eleee-saaa

Her rendition of Mononoke Hime is great. The story goes that it’s her first anime that her grandmother got her, and she loves this song.

Her MCs are also really long. I guess that’s just how it is.

Sakura-con is also kind of like my blog the past six months–it’s awfully like IM@S. The two IM@S panels aside, because when you bring over like four people who works with A-1 and Aniplex, one or more is bound to have worked on their anim@s product. So the end result is my loot pile.

命 indeed.

loot sidewaps

  • BTW “Yuiberries” LOL
  • BTW #2: Anyone wants those GSC exclusive Cinderella Girls petit nendo + stage set? Turns out I have it after all! Now I have 2. [Update: A Digi Kerot has claimed it]
  • Not included is the Sakura-Con x ELISA t-shirt, which I got as a “con” memento. The con tees are all pretty nice actually, but meh.
  • And because I rotated the image, upside-down Yamada is just horizontal.

Cosplay: A little better than average East Coast but surprisingly not so different in both quality and type. There were a few more “otaku” characters. Like an Anzu. And team weedlord. Otherwise nothing really too special as far as what I can tell. The Anime Boston Mako bancho was better than the Sakura-Con Mako bancho, if it means anything. Both are still awesome.

Back to more IM@S. I think Adachi is kind of a closet uhhhh let’s just say he really likes Yamada and not so much Asuna, and is an IoriP. I asked him during the “live sketch” panel. Akai said “DD” but I think in Ogistar he puts down Miki/Kotori. So whatever; Akai’s workspace has a Nishigori movie visual posted. And he did go to both days at SSA. So if anything I know he knows “the feels.” (You can kind of see it in the full size picture.)

20140419_164159

There’s even a follow-up on the Ogi-star Memories/Backstage M@ster story. So there were actually several print mistakes between the first run and the current run, including Masunari’s profile being the wrong one? I forgot exactly what Masunari said but his profile got switched with someone else’s, and the new one is missing something from Nishigori’s page. I don’t know if he remembered the specifics but he said something to that extent.

There was a charity auction. There was Range Murata–I attended both of his panels in part, but he’s his usual self, just like how I remembered it from AX 2004. As usual Murata’s pieces fetched real high prices, although this time I think Titan did pretty well too. I don’t know because I only heard second-handedly as I traveled back home.

Koyama Mami is a nice older lady with a stamp! If you do stamps with your shikishi, you are instantly awesome in my book. Also, her lines are tiny. :(

I talked with producer Kinoshita at the guest dinner. He did a study abroad program with… I want to say LIU? So he was in NY and that’s when he first saw anime as sort of a thing he could do. I guess someone showed Akira in class, and that was the trigger.

It’s a similar story with the noitanimA guy, who spoke really good English. He talked about how he feels about working on the various Leiji Matsumoto shows as a 30-40something growing up. Really touching story about how Yamato 2199 was for him.

Anyway, I think I want this con wrap-up to be short. So let’s finish with Ms. Yuiberries. Ishikawa is pretty much as you expect, except I think unlike many other seiyuu of her age (early 20s) she’s a little more “alive.” Fairly talkative and approachable, she’s probably in a crossroad place in her career but that Titan thing is pushing things along? I have hopes for her. And yeah, she’s very cute, in a Japanese next-door-girl kind of way, and yet really distinctive looking. Hard to put my fingers on it.

PS. Yui Ishikawa’s photos here.

PPS. Here’s a quote from a happy customer about the Elisa photograph session “Line was kind of long, but they were really pushing people through. You got to sit in a chair next to her and she held my arm and leaned in for when they took the pic. []I’m sure she’s pretty tired, but she was really warm and friendly the whole time.”