Monthly Archives: May 2014

The WUG Life Chose Me: WUGners’ Valkyries and the DD

Intro

In the opera house, the Ride, which takes around eight minutes, begins in the prelude to the Act, building up successive layers of accompaniment until the curtain rises to reveal a mountain peak where four of the eight Valkyrie sisters of Brünnhilde have gathered in preparation for the transportation of fallen heroes to Valhalla. As they are joined by the other four, the familiar tune is carried by the orchestra, while, above it, the Valkyries greet each other and sing their battle-cry. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ride_of_the_Valkyries

The WUG and WUGners

The Wake Up, Girls! are formed in 2013. The anime and related activities went into full swing late 2013-early 2014. In September of 2013, Yamakan and company coined the term for what WUG fans are. The intent to call the seven-girl idol team WUG was also pretty clear cut early on.

It’s not clear why Yamakan called them WUGners. It’s also not clear why WUG was named after a love hotel in the anime.

The flight

The WUG are coming to America, visiting Chicago’s (and the US Midwest’s) premiere anime convention, Anime Central. ACEN 2014 will also host 15 WUGners from Japan, if not more. The Japanese fans are somewhat organized. For me, it’s almost adorable to see oversea folks do logistics like how we did logistics for the trip we pulled earlier this year. Thankfully Chicago is a well-connected US city from Narita. Thanks to the internet, you can track them down on Twitter, and on various online locations. There are no lotteries for tickets, no proxy really necessary. You can sign up for Crunchyroll even if you are in Japan.

In usual fashion, Japanese WUGners will bring their cheer and some green glowsticks to spread said cheer.

On arrival, the Japanese WUGners will face the usual hurdles one faces at a large anime convention. From the registration line to the apathetic concert crowd at the usual con concert, how will they handle the adversity? The difficulty communicating in a foreign language? Trying to do their best in the context of a foreign culture? Will WUG themselves be enough of a unifying force? Will others, WUGners or not, lend their hands?

The life of a DD

And here lies the rub.

Let me flash my hand real quick: it’s almost like a proof to a existential question. What I want to know is why can I write what I just did. Do I even like Wake Up, Girls? I am going to say yes. After all, one of the WUGners (the one that posted in Acen forums, actually) is also a fan of Yamakan. What a coincidence! Glad to see I am not alone out there. While I admit I don’t always agree with Yamakan or his methods, and surely I can see where he would likewise disagree with my beliefs, I think on the whole he’s on the right track. So it’s not just a superficial cute-girls-from-Japan-that’s-also-from-an-anime kind of thing that is getting me all excited about ACEN or flying out there to see WUG. Maybe.

It isn’t that I am prone to liking idol stuff–I think my tastes for media entertainment developed contrary to mainstream hooks for such things. With proliferation of the cute girls variety show that passes for the independent or underground idol scene, it’s not a surprise to see someone who consumes so much media to find something he likes. I think that’s just the way it works. The problem is that pureed mix of what passes for chic critical thinking and what passes for merely jadedness as a form of self-selection or self-protection. That’s bullocks.

How do you make of the people who enjoyed Yamakan’s works? Or just anime with a splash of spice and flair? How about the people who post videos of themselves dancing to anime themes on Youtube or Nico, or the cosplayers that chase the year’s hottest character trends? Friends, this is the life of a “daredemo daisuki” (DD) scenester. It’s not like just because I call myself a MakotoP, I like only Makoto. Just because I put her in the front of a series of greater-than signs doesn’t mean I don’t care about anyone else. And it’s with the realization that even among those who are considered “hardcore” you have people who does it with some sort of perspective, a bit like a cross between spring fever and someone who can play a bunch of different MMORPGs and still get his homework done.

You take those two concepts and you get what is clearly the next step: defining the Live Lover.

Outro

In Norse mythology, a valkyrie is one in a group of female figures who decide which soldiers die in battle and which live. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Walk%C3%BCre

Instead of idol wars, let’s check out the most excellent way.

PS. “Love live” is as bible as it gets.


Re: Impossible Spring 2014

I am still watching new anime, and relatively speaking a lot, just less than I have been. I chalk it up due to work and these con blitzs. In some ways my trip in Feb is still draining me emotionally and man, I need a vacation where I just sit around and relax. Maybe I can just skip AX and take those days for OFA grinding.

Rabbits

Just going to piggy-back on Author’s list. This means also not inserting a table in this post. Uguu tables.

  • Rabbit House – I think it’s amazing that how tire I am typically, I am still trying to catch up to date on this. It is totally to Rabbit House’s credit such as the case. It might seem like a big endorse coming from me, which you will see why as you read through this list, and it probably doesn’t deserve it.
  • Puchimas S2 – I too will batch it later. I did start, and at some point I realized FUNi’s stream is not serving up the new ED for some reason and I’m like :v Screw this nonsense.
  • One Week Friends – Without Author’s baggage, I’m no more likely a friend of this kind of sap. This is all on me though; just not in the mood for this, which I’m sure is a competent production of feels generation.
  • Mangaka & Assistant – Comedy. The pacing could be a lot better, it needs to learn from SYD.
  • Kawaisou – I enjoyed what I’ve seen. But I need to watch beyond one episode…
  • Precure All Stars Selection – I don’t Precure.
  • The World Is Still Beautiful – This is the kind of show I would watch because it is easy, on CR, and is not terrible. The whole shoujo-ness is really embarrassing to see but otherwise it’s okay. Overall probably a wholesome recommendation.
  • Love Live S2 – Yes.
  • Broken Blade – Didn’t watch it the first time, no interest the second time.
  • Chaika – This is like, Scrapped Princess the anime remixed, right? Because it’s just like Scrapped Princess in terms of setup. And written by the same guy. That said the voice cast is pretty fun to watch and the story moves at a good clip. I think I’m one or two behind, and will probably drop, even if it is a nice change of pace given the usual light novel fare that gets animated these days.
  • Jewelpet – Ha, no.
  • Ping Pong – Best anime this season. I will go through the depths of FUNi hell to watch this. Problem is Ping Pong doesn’t excite me.
  • Kanojo ga Flag o Orareta – Not sure if I like this or Azuki Azusa anime more. Maybe needs more Yukarin. Probably will get cut if time runs short due to Acen and Anorth next couple weeks.
  • Escha & Logi – Nope. Speaking of which I have Totori on my Vita now so I’d rather pour the time into that.
  • Seikoku no Dragonar – Haven’t heard anything good about this.
  • Mahouka – Too slow, but intriguing. Unfortunately it puts me to sleep so it’s hard to make it even to the third episode.
  • Date A Live II – Passed on season one so…
  • Mekakucity Actors – I really want to watch this now that I dropped Nisekoi and Monogatari S2 looms like a distant rain cloud. But maybe it’s better for me and Shaft to take a break for a while.
  • Majin Bone – Nope.
  • Nanana – This is like Zvezda, a lot. Too uncanny. Also totally enjoying it right now.
  • Knight of Sidonia – In Netflix hell. Probably will marathon at some point.
  • Brynhildr – Will catch up. I liked the first episode or two I saw, but it’s a little slow. I just know it’s really rewarding LOL.
  • Daimidaler – Right on top of this nonsense.
  • Fairy Tail – Nope.
  • Blade and Soul – Not enough boobs.

There are other entries I am following, like Jojo and Mushishi and Cap’n Earth and Diamond Ace, (and dropped, like all these sports shows that I would at most watch one ep.), but let’s just say I would rather blog less and watch more anime because of the limit on time and energy. I can add that this Spring, I found myself wanting. There isn’t that one anime that’s got all the hype. Ping Pong is the only thing truly remarkable in a sea of the usual stuff, but it isn’t exactly the most hyped sort of thing. Maybe it’s also that I haven’t had the time to watch episode one of everything I wanted to see, so there’s something still out there. I still wouldn’t say this season is particularly bad or whatever, because I think it’s more me than it, so to speak, but I certainly wouldn’t disagree if someone else makes that claim.


Flower of Connectedness

Just going through the thousands of things in my various feeds and ran across this on Pikasha’s blog post:

Hana...hanaga...

At the guest reception at Sakuracon, we saw this adoring Nagahama’s table. He said it’s a hand-made gift from a fan. I hope you realize this, fan person!

Captain 'Murrica has his flower

Chocolates makes a great treat and souvenir in Seattle. I should’ve brought home some.


Love Live S2 E4-5

Let’s talk about Rin and Nico.

Arisa is the best Love Live

I really enjoyed episode 5. It struck me as the first episode this season that actually took a moment and gave a character some time to think about and make a change. Let’s just say that after episode 5 some people thought Hanayo might start wearing girlier clothes.

I want to bring in episode 4 as a point to compare. Episode is the Nico episode where we learn about her family situation and the various circumstances she has to struggle with. We got some nice back story going there too, along with her adorable younger sisters and brother (all voiced by Nico’s seiyuu too). But in the end, was Nico a reformed woman? Nope.jpg. She might be just too tsun to quit, so her μ’s friends gave her an out and helped her out.

I think the comparison only make sense because how the story play out so similarly between the two episodes. Both focuses on a girl in such a way that puts the spotlight/pressure on her in order to reveal some newly discovered issue, in which the team helps to resolve. And it’s done so in this weird surprise to the audience, kind of like a surprise happy birthday party minus the awkward secret sharing that the girl-of-the-week get suspicious on.

But the key here is just to highlight that Nico smoothed out her issues in terms of lying to both her group mates and her siblings by making this fairy tale transition that’s kind of an allegory of the idol identity versus the personal identity. Versus Rin having actual character development.

Com’on man.

Not that is particularly problematic; I am no Love Liver but I do like Nico more than most out of the cast (favorite is by far Alisa, partly because she has more of a concentrated dose of Nishida Asako’s flairs), and it isn’t the first time I’ve called upon Yukarin as “sekai iichi kawaii” so Nico’s tropes are all too welcomed. I’m just not sure how possibly this shallow shell of modern amusement can compare to what simple coming-of-age maiden problem that Rin has overcome, along with her dozens of other anime heroines, no less than every magical girl since…ever. The fact that Nico’s episode is composed so similarly to Rin’s just cracks me up every time thinking about it.

I thought the way the camera framed Hanayo at the end was brilliant; it’s like those “maidenly” shots of Haruka Amami where you see her slender but subtly remarkable body in motion, her head above her chin out of frame, for less than a second. Great way to cap off an heartful Love Live episode.

And I don’t know where to go with this post–I can conclude a half dozen different ways. Let’s just say that for those of you who think anime is primarily entertainment, just be aware that when you posit this philosophically, it is, to say the least, shallow? We can do better than that.


To the Other Side of the Sparkle

To make up my inability to understand Japanese, hopefully, watching the same film five times (well, more like four and change, because I kind of walked out of the fifth one because I had to be somewhere) hopefully will mitigate some of it. In reality there are a lot of theme and plot hooks that a better understanding of the language will shed light more immediately, but I guess there’s something to be said of a film that generally lines up with modern understanding of complexities in TV anime.

This is the spoiler-free version of the movie overview. It’s also one diluted with sufficient amount of distance–it was really hard to write this back when the memory was fresh. I was way, way too emotionally affected by the material to make any useful observation other than to describe what was happening to me. But that’s the trade-off. Someone just asked me recently about the order of certain scenes during a part of the movie and I can only confirm what corresponded to what I remembered, but not tell him what happened in the gap he forgot. Such is how it goes.

Then again, I still see the IM@S in everything even today so maybe this distance or somewhat more objective perspective means nothing anyways in those terms. It just helps me to write it in a way that isn’t 10000+ words because I can start with a perspective that’s easier to handle, and later on go on from there. [Don’t be surprised there’s a second post on this, that said.]

Anyway, the Idolm@ster feature film celebrates the series in the most meaningful way in that for those people who would honestly go “IM@S LIFE” it will upgrade from zero to one single hankie. The familiar message about overcoming self-doubt and finding encouragement in fellowship, and overcoming life obstacles together is always going to be moving when translated well. It’s stories like these that move us, the otaku. How much access we have to that source of never-ending FEELS simply depends on how deep you are in the IM@S fan pit, in this case.

I’ll save that stuff later, although that seems to be the things people always want to talk about…

Visually, the IM@S movie is all over the place. I mean that in a very basic way–it simply gives you a lot of different looks, and at times it’s enough to jar some people out of their suspension of belief. Depends on how you take your regular dose of cartoon, that might be a thing you like or a thing you dislike, but from a “looks per paid/obtained content” ratio perspective there’s a lot to it. It’s good value.

There’s also these 2 cuts where Haruka and Kana are animated like… different. Like Bahi JD different. I’m not sure who and how that came about, but that might be the biggest case where things look nicely but in a jarring way. It’s not like how I can nitpick endlessly on the way 3D animated backgrounds are composed beneath 2D character animation that makes the final concert scene a little janky too, but that’s a little farther along into the nitpickery than a legitimate concern. It’s just another perspective.

iori

Other visual things…I really like a lot of the design elements in the movie, from the promo poster for the in-show live (which is sold as a separate thing at the theaters) to the way various Sony products are placed in the movie. It’s like everything I like about the TV anime, but better. I can go on here some more but it’s no fun without visual references.

My main criticism to the IM@S movie, perhaps slightly biased here, is that there’s too much of it. The movie can easily be shortened to about a buck and forty-five if they were a little more merciless in the editing room. The middle section drags a little, but that isn’t the problem–it’s the beginning of the middle and the post-resolution bits (before the main climax).

Actually, that’s the thing about this movie that is tough to talk about. In a way the movie feels “all over the place” because it’s kind of two things bounded together. On one end you have the “sparkling” side of things, with the film kicking off with that Nemurihime trailer that you will hear me talk about all the freaking time if you are in an earshot of me speaking about the movie. On the other side of the wire is the concert scene. There are some pretty exciting parts of the film that I would sit up for every time, too.

On the other end, you have this thoughtful, contemplative story about Haruka and Kana. Since I want to avoid spoilers as much as possible, I’m just going to say that when I was watching it the third time, I started to think about the Bible and how the true turning point of the Crucifixion story actually happened in the Garden of Gethsemane. The IM@S movie made it kind of obvious what was happening but it wouldn’t be obvious until you started to watch it with everything you know about Anim@s on the line. Admittedly that is more a handicap on my end because of the language processing issues I had to struggle with, but once I put it all together, the result was that now I have a definite favorite scene from the film.

To that end, let me share this piece of meta with you. Many of the popular Second Vision songs get some playtime in the movie. If you haven’t seen the film yet, play this game–look for the song Jibun Res@art in the movie. That song is pretty much the number one favorite (or second, depends on how you count The IDOLM@STER) among fans. One somewhat remarkable point on IM@S music is that a lot of the songs in the game is vaguely about the game, so this one kind of finds itself in a precious part of the film while others just… Well, I hope we can watch the film and talk more about it, when it gets that home video release.

In other words, it’s about the front-end and the back-end of the idol concept, where in IM@S it comes in terms of the video game concept. (Why are so many IM@S songs about idoling? That’s just way meta.) In episode one of Anim@s we were asked this question. Now we have just the Million Live version of the same answer, from the other side of the shininess.

[And that’s about 5-10% of the thoughts I have on the movie! You see how bad this is…]