Monthly Archives: June 2014

Exploring the Concept of Controlled Chaos from No Game No Life

Basically this

I think I’m on the brink of something large
Maybe like the breaking of the dawn
Maybe like a match being lit
Or the sinking of a ship, letting go gives a better grip

It’s the difference between living with the world on your back, or living with the world on Atlas’s back. It’s the heart of gamification that underlies the premise of No Game No Life. The fact that our protagonists are considered worthless human beings in light of their pre-existing surrounding and god-tier miracle workers in this alternate universe is fancy and enjoyable to some degree. But just how are we suppose to enjoy Tet’s giant chess game? Just how unreal is a virtual reality in a fantasy world where gamers game and gamble everything and anything from nipples being non-existent to people being non-existent? So meta.

If the ultimate idea at the end is sort of the head trick that we’re headed, as far as character development goals and thematic understanding of what’s happening, the show is full of them in other ways. The common anime/manga/game/light novel trope about having fun while doing it is a common one; but to me the trick was more about how using that concept as a trick to get somewhere else. In that way, when the Kuuhaku extended their hands to Izuna it felt like a “hello kids, the moral of this story today was XYZ” moment and it makes me want to point fingers at a certain type of people who talk about plot and character development. You know who I’m talking about. That is never really what makes this show special, much like how the Warbeasts never get what the Kuuhaku is trying to do.

It’s easy to say that I enjoyed NGNL enough to link to a Kotaku article, gasp, but more over my enjoyment and endorsement exist in light of, and over, my objections to its flaws. And I just want to talk about that–it’s about letting go and let yourself enjoy that head trick. Don’t be a Steph. Which is basically anyone who rated this show below a 7 on MAL.

Joke aside, I do want to mention its Steph shaming schtik, which depends on what context you are coming from, can rub people the wrong way. I came from the “Yoko Hikasa makes the best tease character” angle so all the Steph jokes are a delight. Just to know that it’s merely a head trick–to the extent that fanservice is definitely biased in this series towards our garden variety harem setup. In those ways, NGNL feels rather mundane, and perhaps it is. It’s a little bit like Seitokai no Ichizon in that the real strength of the material is what they actually talk about, eg., not the fact that Mafuyu might be a fujoshi, but that Mafuyu takes a fujoshi point of view in the otaku culture roundtable. Or that there’s a otaku culture roundtable to begin with. NGNL does the same thing, not only in that as gamers would know it’s more fun to talk about games by playing games rather than just talk about games in a room, but that the act of talking about games while gaming is really the end game. It’s not so much that we’re watching a light novel adaptation take on Gal-Gun, but we’re talking about how the anime take on Gal-Gun along with the characters in the story.

For me, the persistent and well-distributed meta–like yeast in the biblical dough–is what holds the show together. No Game No Life occasionally shows you the seams, but in good faith usually. The few times it didn’t I can probably forgive it on the grounds of “go read the light novels” as even in its worst moment, it’s still better than, say, Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere. The thematic consistency about letting go, holding on, and how those things interplay with each other is kind of the obtuse way to describe the effects of gamification and the various head games Sora and Shiro play with each other and with the rest of the world, including viewers like us. Anime is the perfect medium for this kind of a narrative.

Franchise Positioning: LL And IM@S

Happy Birthday Hidaka Ai!

I’m just thinking about how to approach that material for my hypothetical panel, which is now rejected from Otakon programming. I find myself approaching this mainly from a business model point of view. It’s hard to say what is special about … this thing. What is this thing anyway? Cartoons? Or cartoons with idols in it? Or cartoons with idols being the main schtik? Invariably you have to talk about the media mix-ed-ness of it all, so naturally it becomes a discussion on the business.

One approach I was thinking about is comparing different well-known “idol anime” situations and see if we can gleam something. To jump to the point, one key difference between Love Live and IM@S is the sort of businesses they are. One is a video game franchise with stuff spun off it. The other is pretty much that idol concept from the first iteration.

I also want to highlight and examine what makes Love Live, seemingly, a franchise more friendly to women. That begins with first ascertaining the premise–which, really, all I have is that more women attend the live events than most other 2.5D idol events featuring an all-female cast. I wonder how that compares to the female Oukokumins out there. It also begs the question about how does live attendance factor in, which can be explained but only with so many words, unfit as a sentence’s clause. It’s also another angle where IM@S stands in stark contrast as a video game franchise born under the shadow of the declining arcade scene. I recently watched the bonus Blu-rays that came with the UNMEI Live CD singles and when Pyonkichi took an informal poll, the hands went up were about 10%, at most. Which is probably roughly the same as SSA in Feb as I remembered, maybe a little worse for those 2013 live shows, given how much of a maniac you had to be to get in to the smaller event.

But that’s kind of how far I could go. I can make an argument about how Love Live does a pretty okay job channeling that “utahime” feeling, a modern polish on the “I want to grow up to be an idol” idea with more Niconama streaming and less Fancy Lala. But that’s just interpreting the text. It doesn’t mean much in that I can see how these narratives can connect to both men and women, as IM@S has its fair share of similar stories to tell. Times like this I wish I can read doujinshi from circles that have done these kinds of analysis.

There are other low hanging fruits in this comparisons, of course. I think the depth and extracurricular context around IM@S, partly as a result of its age, also adds something that both encourages certain behaviors characteristic of its fandom, but also deters. It’s the kind of unintended walls with maniac behavior that happens with fandom, although in these cases it is more about intimidation than inaccessibility. For example, it’s easy for me to make no mention of how it feels to be in a crowd of grown men jumping around to the rhythm, but that can be intimidating even to someone who is simply new to the situation, let alone others who might have other causes for concern. Love Live started from scratch a few years ago and nothing other than the status quo of wota culture was in the way.

[By the way, that live 2-BD set is so good if you want a preview of next generation powerhouses…namely her, Koroazu, Machico, Yuiton and Mocho (happy birthday!). Also, we gave Tenchan a new nick: 10ch. Who are these people? Use this list.]

Anime Next Tidbits; Lunatics; Jibun Reset

Time to do another introspection post. The nutshell is if I don’t have time for anime I probably should make time for it–albeit from games or blogging or something. Taking it from sleep is too unfair to the other things I do (including anime) so it’s only fair if I cut back to catch up. It’s not to say I’ll stop blogging or anything like that, but the long lapses between blog updates may be the case for the foreseeable future, until I recover.

As to when I will recover I don’t know; June is the down month and things swing back into orbit again as July, August, and September each offers at least another weekend excursion to “anime land.” Then there’s the second-hand feels-getting from IM@S 9th tour that will happen between now and then, coming to a close in October as a bunch of the North American P contingent that I know are going.

While on that note, Anime Expo is pretty much lined up now. Otakon should be letting loose its first real volley this week (Sumo wrestlers and HAYAMIN AAAAAAH), and somehow I think Trigger might visit again. This year’s AX is also a great year to skip, and I totally should have done that. I’m thinking as much as I want to know who Otakon is bringing over this year already, I think I enjoy the anticipation more than the probable letdown that is bound to occur. Otakon brings over good guests, don’t get me wrong, but they rarely hit–they typically make a fan out of me afterwards more often than not instead. And then there’s Misao or Hayamin or whatever she is called.

On the con side, I want to just jot down some more thoughts.

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On Attention Management, Whining about No Time to Do Stuff

This blog post is brought to you by having LLSIF crammed down one ear and OFA down the other. My weakness, apparently, is video games, not anime.

Few things say "Summer" harder than this crossover

I live in a bizarre world where j1m0ne watches and blogs more about anime than I do. Probably because I just don’t have the time to watch crap. I’m like 3 behind Daimidaler and Soul Eater Not (Soul Eater Not is kind of hard to watch, admittedly). I barely can keep up with No Game No Life, Love Live, Nanana, Diamond Ace and Ping Pong. I still would love to catch up on Brynhildr and Kawaisou, and I just caught up with Chaika. [BTW Ping Pong is far and away the best anime this season. There might be a tad of the “Asian” factor but still.]

Why is this?

  1. I go to too many cons. It’s okay that I give up my weekend time traveling to fun places (Toronto! Chicago! Seattle! Boston! And then there’s “scenic” Somerset, NJ …) but this means it’s really hard to watch anime. The funny thing is this is just an excuse in that I know other people who went to the same cons I did and are caught up. For me the time is second to how going to cons just drains me of attention-focusing juices so when I get home after work I’m prone to do not much.
  2. I have too much extracurricular things. I’ve been taking the past week easy but I do write for JTOR and have other stuff to do. Like this blog. I also went to see that FUNI-attempt at Ghost in the Shell in theaters thing couple weeks ago. I met up with famous Dutch blogger Psgels earlier this week. Lots of stuff to do. It’s summer in the city and it’s all fun stuff. I guess this is the kind of thing that separates people who sit at home and watches everything and those who don’t.
  3. I have too much non-extracurricular things. Like real-life obligations that are related to the cons I go to, pushed back by the cons I go to, and just in general.
  4. I have a job that just takes a lot of time and mental wherewithal.
  5. I haven’t been sleeping as much as I’d like, because of above things, and it makes watching slower and contemplative stuff more difficult (See: Soul Eater Not).
  6. One For All. I’m about two thirds the way through my first run and it feels just kind of like a streamlined version of IM@S2. The main difference here is that the story isn’t so much settled on just one character that you pick, but you actually do have to raise everyone, so it feels a lot more game-y. The story does come in chunks as you pass specific ranking goals. The new appeals mechanics are interesting but I haven’t really had the time to explore them because I’m too focused on making money and gaining EXP. Times like this make me appreciate the English-language scene for the various IM@S games, as when I started on IM@S2, there was a lot of text written for it so it’s easy for me to just research. Now I have to play it the “hard” way.
  7. I’ve been playing the English version of Love Live School Idol Festival mobile game. It’s fun in a way where IM@S is fun in that I want to jab my ears until they go deaf. I have to say, the music is actually better in LLSIF than, say, Shiny Festa, except the singing take a step back so a balance is achieved. I think the main difference is that in this event/microtransaction driven game the pressure is on to grind, versus in Shiny Festa the fun is in the gameplay and the videos. TL;DR, one is a job, the other is a hoobies. Unfortunately I already have too many jobs.
  8. Last but not least, Million Live. Because having four jobs is not enough. I can go on, but this mobage takes the opposite spectrum–if you want to rank, it still takes good amount of play time. If you want to rank without paying, then it’s like four times the play time.

It’s like this strange concoction of sleep deprivation and fake idols [like Jumbo Shrimp] that swims in my mind. It’s like knowing I want to watch Puchim@s, I want to watch it on FUNi and “support” whatever, but it’s such a PITA to do 3-minute episodes on a site that is a pain in the rear to search through hundreds of episodes. I’m too lazy to torrent. Too lazy to search a xdcc bot on the web and input like 50 GETs. I guess I’ll just wait for the director cut version in a few months/year.

It’s not easy being cheesed out of your time and money.

PS. Is it me or the Snow Halation episode kind of underwhelming? Is this how people feel about M@STERPIECE?

PPS. My idle mind is full of idols lately. Maybe that is not a coincidence, at least I feel that way.

PPPS. Speaking of which, I started doing some slides for that panel I wanted to put together, just because why not.

Anime Next 2014: Wrap

What do you do when ten guys and Luna Haruna want to take a picture together?

It is pretty funny because after the memorable photo op, one of the main promoter person wanted to see if we can help her promote Luna. I guess that’s not a problem, if people want to do the work. But it’s a little weird since the lot of us are DDs and we like the whole live aspect and the fact that Luna is pretty much textbook “small and cute” as far as appeals go. FWIW, Luna is very much the harajuku-style fashionista, but also otaku. She’s got this slightly dorky feel to it that comes off as endearing, but at the same time very professional about her fan interactions. I can see why clothes look good on her, but as mentioned by others, she’s no Ray.

Anime Next is in my proverbial back yard, so it was trivial to attend. To up the difficulty I decided to host a BBQ so that made extra work on my end. Not a big deal, other than hosting about 6 people in my place and we watched Chokaigi one night, and played MJ/OFA the other. And I think we watched episodes of Jojo and Mangaka and Assistant because, why not?

Season 1 Episode 7

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