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.]