Category Archives: Franchises

Blogger’s Plays on Words Delayed by 3 Months, to Burn Chidori RSC at Its End

Rifle Is Beautiful misses the mark.

I actually think he is more right than wrong, but Evirus wiffed: Rifle Is Beautiful hit a bull’s eye when it comes to portraying the high school attitude about beam rifling, both as an intramural and varsity exercise, and as human beings, trying to point a heavy light stick, at a tiny target, for a forty-five minute stretch.

In fact his attitude of it is a good example, classic even, of how “sports anime” ruins anime about sports. There is nothing to get excited about when it comes to the nationals with beam rifling; it’s goddamn beam rifling, folks! It’s not astoundingly clear, but it seemed fairly obvious that the purpose of the work is not to create a fiction that is actually about the excitement of moving on from regional to national. It’s pretty funny that he compares it to Girls und Panzer, I guess, but this is how western regurgitation out-of-context feels like.

This is probably just a problem about our postmodern society, where some dudes writing about Ueda Reina’s character don’t even get how beam rifling 4koma adaptations can really be actually about the subject matter, but coated in genres that have now wholly taken on new meanings in this century you do have to dig around to find what the story is actually about. On one hand, Chidori RSC is a Tonari no Young Jump property, which makes it into a weird kind of… webcomic, I guess. It feels more at home in Manga Time Kirara. Rifle Is Beautiful is also too true-to-real-life to be truly fiction–think about K-ON and how that resonate with people; despite it being a fuwa-fuwa, utopic fantasy that is too grounded in reality to get excited. That it is a 4koma comic about high school girls doing rather mundane (as mundane as beam rifling is I suppose) also make you think about what exactly is Rifle Is Beautiful is about. It is a depiction of reality through the “Kirara” lens, more so than any true fantasy; if there is a fantasy in Chidori RSC, it is that it is a bit too utopic.

And I think it is pretty clear–it would be uncouth, to say the least, to complain how it is”[f]ailing as a sports anime” as Rifle Is Beautiful’s biggest flaw, when the tension, the excitement and what makes quoting Sensa-do even sensible in his post is missing completely. It’s not in the source material either. I would conclude, then, it isn’t the point of the exercise; much like the vibe of official beam rifling meets. The vibe I get, at least based on watching the show, is more like walking into an exam room; you have 45 minutes to fill out 60 questions. That, is excruciatingly authentic. If anything, I watched this show to the (almost very) end is a great achievement and a pretty awesome demo on the power of anime and manga. Sure, at times it can be excruciatingly boring as well, but blame reality I guess. Actually I would imagine reality is still the more so tedious than this fictive depiction. I wasn’t really bored by it, but I can easily see some reasonable people being bored by it.

On the basis of its qualitative attributes, I have always thought Chidori RSC being a show in which a lot of people won’t like. Much like how in the upcoming 2020 Olympics, the only people excited about the Beam Rifle competitions are people who were always interested in Beam Rifling, and fans of Rifle Is Beautiful. It is a bad take to call something not fantastic enough for being too real about a thing basically nobody has ever been real about. I suppose we can criticise Chidori RSC for possibly failing to make a set of elements come together–story, characters, pacing, excitement, humor, whatever, but I think if the goal was to produce something life-like, cute, unusual & varied, and about the ins-and-outs of beam rifling and its ennui, I think we got it in spades.


Million Live 6th SSA

The final stop of the 6th Live Tour for THE IDOLM@STER MILLION LIVE was in good ol’ Saitama Super Arena, in September. Unlike Million 3rd, this whole tour dragged on from April into late September. It crossed from Spring to Summer and ended on the second day of Autumn. That is a really long stretch.

I was only able to go to the Fukuoka stop in June prior to SSA. But that made a big difference. I guess it’s fair to assume even if people did not go to all the stops, many have live viewed at least some of them, if not all. It’s a big commitment to go to SSA for the live, in terms both of obtaining the tickets through one of the lotteries or by other means, and the effort of doing so. Producers across the country attended the biggest stop of them all, even if many traveled less as I did. It is still quite the effort to travel from the edges of Japan. I remember seeing tweets of the guy from Okinawa, trying to bribe tickets with local delicacies.

My crusty, jaded mentality aside, I thought 6th SSA was a lot of fun. Like what I tweeted for day 2, it left me with this sweet aftertaste as Tokugawa Matsuri in the form of Suwa Ayaka came up from the elevated stage and ended this illumination festival.

Day one and day two both followed the format where each subunit came out and do a part of their Angel/Princess/Fairy stop sets, with the collab/guest songs thrown in there and mixed with covers. During the 3 non-Kanto stops, each unit had more time to themselves, and the last 1/3 of the live each day was dedicated to covers and solos. So for SSA, they cut basically almost all the solos. For new content, we got the TB songs and some new covers.

Overall I thought this was fine, purely in terms of going to a live and looking for the songs we like. But this format does not flow very well, since we know what is coming, and the units have to do their key songs. Like, you knew EScape had to do LOST because of the way the song fits their group concept. Or that baller mix of Art Needs Heart Beats has to go with Jelly Pop Beans. It was more a toss up for, say, Charlotte Charlotte and D/Zeal and their covers (which both were new for SSA). But it also felt like day one’s groups were kind of a bore as a result.

In some sense, the overall limp malaise-y feel I get from SSA has to do with the way the approached the tour. It felt less like a live tour, and more like just 4 different shows, for some reason, that had to take place inorganically and in far reaches of Japan, so they had to get the tokyoites to move out by holding back the 4th one until the end. During 3rd it was almost the opposite–you didn’t get to go to the remote one because it was hard to get in those smaller venues; the small venues also made the lives a bit more intimate and different than the big shows Millions do. Tokyo types who want to camp out for the Makuhari stop are free to do so, that one felt fine because you knew it was its own thing, and not a summary like 6th SSA. Maybe that’s why it took me months to finish this recap, lol.

In terms of practical things on the ground, I was able to squeeze in a Kayafesh event on Saturday. That’s basically a really bad costpa sake festival with seiyuu content. I liked it because I can be a lush at times and it’s my first sake fest in Japan. Plus, you can’t go wrong drinking with seiyuu. I also stayed one extra day to enjoy Takagi Miyu’s birthday event, as things turned out to be. It was nice to stay that extra day and hang out with some local friends. Rest of the time, it was business as usual.

As of the latest update, the splash screen for Theater Days changed over to a new quintet, so maybe this post is apropos. For this flower project, we utilized the same shop we did for 5th’s flower stand, and it was a bit more on the cuff with Miri helping out big time. Funding-wise, we basically broke even like last time, but we needed a bit more of a push since the suggested donation is lower this time around, and everything cost more. No pin badges… Again, I cannot thank y’all enough.

It’s a weird feeling, thinking about the live again. In a way the hype was way less than 5th, but the live itself was way better than 5th. I liked how the tap dancers, at least, came back for a nice encore performance from Sendai. It does make me want to look forward to both that and the SSA version, which is a slightly bigger presentation. There are other touches that was nice for 6th. The streams of small videos promoting the live, the goods, and now the blurays, is appreciated but not too sure if it added much. Well, they did a good job promoting that costume book at least?

I mean, they could just say it smells good and I’m sure it will sell oodles.

Set list here: day 1 and day 2.

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Tanpopo-free Life

In Oresuki, the anime about meta-4th-walling romantic polygonal turned actual plot, the characters all have nicknames from different flowers. The flowery names take on literary significance both as summaries of the character concepts respectively, but also for fun and jokes. There is also a flower language layer in which is both in-universe and in interpreting the theme.

What I really want to talk about is Japan and its view of the Dandelion, or Tanpopo. This flower gets romanticized a lot in Japanese films and TV, as well as anime, games and manga. But as an American I just cannot bring myself to like it.

It is a bit like how a hardcore terran marine cannot quite bring him or herself to like zerglings. You dehumanize them. You fight them all of your life. You know they are worthless weeds, literally. You don’t even really think about it other than annual chores that took up countless hours since your childhood, eliminating it from the places that you call home. Or if you own one, also the time (and money) spent dealing with the plant pest. Sure, it’s neat that the plant propagates by airlifting its seeds. Sure, it is a hardy species in which can survive in all kinds of temperature zones. You can even eat its flowers, or make it into tea or whatever (I don’t recommend this in North America, just because of residential and commercial herbicide in use).

Which is to say I was delighted to see a character named Tanpopo in this anime, being literally the stupidest thing alive, being sidelined by the main characters. Unlike most depiction of tanpopo in JP media, this one is a lampoon of such. It isn’t her fault and her intentions may be acceptable, but Tanpopo is a nuisance.


Rokka Versus Space Farers

Some years ago there was a “locked box murder” anime based on a fantasy low-tech RPG kind of a setting called Rokka, or a sweeping war against the darkness that takes place in a magically locked “room.” Sure, it was adopted from some books but it was a giant mislead for an anime-only person like myself.

It was a case of bait and switch because the show promised a grand setting with fantastic characters, while spending most of the first season in foggy, dank confines. It isn’t even a dungeon–it was literally just this place and the area surrounding it, while the heroes trying to find the traitors and escape the trap they were in.

Instead of some sweeping setting, Rokka spent its time developing the psychology and back story of the hero and heroines. It’s a bit like how Astra Lost in Space is not Star Trek, but it is about kids exploring space featuring a grand conspiracy written into the backstory of the characters. Viewers and the various characters explore both that backstory in the context of staying alive, meanwhile solving the puzzle together.

I guess the two share in the core some kind of overt puzzle in which we have to solve, that drives the story forward. It is the thing that causes overall tension in the story. In Rokka there were various battles, while in Kanata no Astra there were worlds to explore.

I don’t know, at least the latter has what makes Star Trek, well, Star Trek. The former is still a giant tease even if you broken out the concept on paper. Or a blog post in this case.

Why was Rokka such a mislead? What were they thinking when they created the show? It still bothers me to this day.


For All Tha Worldbuilders

From ep5?

The Ascendance of a Bookworm reminds me a lot of Inside Bill’s Brain. In a season where Dr. Stone also runs in the background, it’s pretty easy to see why that particular fantasy is fancy, where in Bookworm, the lead character struggled to get anything done given her circumstances, in the same amount of time.

The fundamental concept in world-building fiction is really a mapping of thoughts, the inputs, the modeling and the guiding principles behind how one relates to the exterior environs. In fiction, we have the luxury of moving that perspective outside of ourselves and inject unrealistic boundary conditions and shortcuts. A thought experiment is the kind of fiction in which we inject somewhat more realistic boundary conditions (and still unrealistic, or no weirder than undead cats). In JK Haru, you could tie that to prostitution and weave a powerful narrative about human condition as encoded in the language of isekai radobe. I think anything can be built by anything in fiction, and to an extent, real life. Compare that to a biopic/Netflix documentary, when we dig deep into how one person connects to the huge thing that person is doing, a similar image surfaces.

Putting aside Bill Gates’s reasons behind his quest to eradicate polio, I think of Main’s quest to become someone who has access to the tangible niceties enjoyed by bookworms in the same way. She wants to encode information as words in print, and to weave a set of words to depict a world in which Main lives in, through the fairy tales of her isekai mother. It is like building a world on the remains of another, minus the empires at war. Well, I guess there’s still Boko Haram in Africa.

Of course, this is only an interesting comparison because the Gates foundation has billions of dollars and massive resources at its disposal, compared to Main. The recap on Bookworm is that a book-loving adult woman got the usual “ran over by a truck” treatment and is reborn into a young girl in the Other, born to a middle-class rural family in what seems like late medieval Europe. Literacy is rare and the Main, the main character, has to first learn to read–well, she has to first find someone who knows how to read and make him teach her that. Books seemed very rare as well. As the story goes, Main became obsessed in creating her own book since she cannot purchase any. She then tried to obtain paper, or clay tablets, or wood tablets, or making papyrus paper, what have you.

And eradicating polio seems kind of hard compared to make paper at home in the 15th century, if you are a poor little girl. Well, maybe. Given that 1000s of species go extinct every year I don’t really know or can measure just how hard, given each’s comparative power levels, lack of a better term. And Bill is a smart, resourceful dude, definitely a 0.1%-er in terms of not just wealth, but as someone who is known as a smart business guy and a savvy technical guy. He is also a bookworm.

So maybe they’re tied? In her new world, Main might as well be its Bill.

PS. I mentioned JK Haru, because that story share a lot with Bookworm in that one aspect: A lot of the time (so far) Bookworm is focused on not just the world-building power fantasy, but the fact that knowledge portability does not always translate to power portability. In Gate or Slime, for example, the respective main characters gained tremendous power in the opening minutes of the series. In Bookworm, this seems to be entirely the opposite–and arguably Main is a better world builder than anyone in those series. It’s a great demonstration of how the isekai genre is both great (in distilling that power injustice to separate it from present-day reality) and terrible (in reinforcing that injustice). On that note, I kind of guh’d at Chouyoyu (Because how are these people any good? If this is “smart” for Japan then that country is in trouble) and I tried Noukin and couldn’t get into it. I’m okay on Isekai Cheat but behind. Am I missing anything worth checking out?

PPS. I can use an isekai fantasy where someone just runs a NGO.