So all that idol nonsense swimming in my head the past couple years come to ahead in Million Doll, the anime of a manga about underground idols. It reminds me of a few things. When I was a fresh undergrad one thing my English Lit professor stated/taught is that by the time we study it in academia, it’s dead. It was in reference to Stephenson’s landmark cyberpunk novel, and by the 90s I think that’s a safe statement to make.
Does that apply to commercial exploitation too? By the time an anime with “chuunibyou” in its title became a thing, is chuunibyou dead by 2012 (pretty much)? Doujinshi and the comic market dead by the mid 90s (resoundingly yes)? The idol otaku dead in 2015? Maybe. A dude in the USA was able to already internalize all those concepts back in 2013-2014? I guess making anime does take some time (even at 8 minutes a piece).
What I found interesting about Million Doll was how expository it is. The tension it sets up at episode 1 is not unlike what we see in the oversea fandom. You have on one hand scenesters (like me, kinda) that attend events and socialize with other fans, and meet and greet guests. This often costs lots of money, money that could be better spent on, say, actually supporting the industry by buying Blu-rays or importing or what not, rather than putting that money into hotel rooms, eating out or plane tickets. I mean I will probably spend more money on flights this year than my annual figure budget during its highest peaks as a collector, something to think about.
The tension over money is less in Japan, simply because the cost to attend events in terms of time, money and effort is way less. In Japan, you have eventers (Million Doll call it DD, which is not exactly how the term is used today…if you want a clue on how “dead” this subject is today) and you have the guys who do their cheering at home and online. That’s a valuable group of fans as well.
[Tangent 1: IM@S is all about wrapping up both into one. Its 10th anniversary live (NEXT FREAKING WEEK AAAAAH) is its largest effort yet.
Tangent 2: Must resist talking armchair idol industry aaaah.]
The exposition reminds me of the first attempts at exploiting these subject matters as theme and setting. The Comic Parties or Animation Runner Kurumis. It’s not Shirobako, which does a lot of explaining, but it has to. It also doesn’t explain a lot; I don’t think it needed to explain why Aoi-chan was pulling Initial D moves. What doesn’t explain a lot this season? Actually compared to Sore ga Seiyuu, Million Doll is a-okay. It strives for a fair mix given its 8-minute span.
Sore ga Seiyuu’s mechanism is closer to seeing the animated GIF of a running rotary engine for a car nerd. For seiyuu otaku it’s like seeing the cartoony behind-the-scene look at how things work. It’s quite fun and fascinating if you’re already interested in the subject, and more so if you already know most of the references, technical or social or historic or whatever. It’s not like the usual “same concept in new skin” where you can put a Koshien plot in a tank battle, or maybe something more primitive and personal like the office of a production company (that happens to make anime).
It’s kind of like Plastic Memories was not an Asmov story purely, but just using the skin. Maybe Sore ga Seiyuu is the Martian for tech nerds, but even more specific in terms of subject matter. You get the point.
Anyway, I enjoy all these “explanation” type anime because at some level, learning about things I am already interested in is fun to me. The dose is twice as deadly when the show presents things you can learn along with things you already know, posited like pop cultural references. Yes, that middle-schooler is as good at voice acting than all the Love Live girls. Because that’s life.
And I think Sore ga Seiyuu has to keep it straight, because if you believe Shirobako, being a newbie seiyuu is the most depressing thing (relatively). Meeting the famous Nozawa Masako (nickname: Makosan (and even I am too green to apply this term)) would make anybody’s day.
Just to kind of wrap up this rambling, I feel the first impression session for these shows is just going to hurt to read as a bunch of contextless guys trying to make sense of the dynamic demonstrated in both of these shows. The way Ryuusan’s eyes looked…I KNOW HOW IT FEELS aaaah.
PS. Million Doll goes by MD in initials. And MD is … well? I guess someone who’s read the manga ahead can tell us if they pull this joke or not.
How does that even work?
PPPH. We may have DD. There isn’t a Kuso DD yet. And as a related tangent, there’s also my grand theory about western eventers having to be DD by necessity.
PPPPS. It is important to realize that idol otaku (wotas) are not the same as those of us who dig 2.5D or 2D idols, by definition. In reality they are actually quite different in Japan. People who like seiyuu are by necessity into anime and games and the like, and obviously people into anime characters are the same. Idol otaku has, strictly speaking, nothing to do with any of that. In the anime context all of these things kind of dissolves together if you don’t have that perspective. This is only important in understanding the history of what came first, and what culture imported what aspect from what other culture. For example, Japanese idols have changed drastically the last 20 years, and so have anime, and the two have some pretty curious interplay both in terms of the industry and concepts, as well as how fans react to all that.