Category Archives: Futakoi Alternative

Looking at Anime in More Ways than One

I’ve been swamped with work lately, and the Burning Crusade makes it even more difficult to put in some quality think time about this whole deal, let along writing it. I have some ideas floating around that I failed to write down, but just as well ideas that I did. Like that excuse that I just wrote down about work and gaming.

Sort of to bounce off on the Futakoi Alternative bad rap: just as we all hate to be bored while watching anime as a way to entertain ourselves, we hate it when the anime “goes out of bound”. In saying so I’m trying construct a framework to explain how I see anime–that I put on different hats watching different shows.

I’ll go through some example to explain.

Tweeny Witches. This is a curious little show that is full of visual flare and in a way it oozes a lot of “coolness.” But like Studio 4C’s shorts you have to take them straight on. In some sense you can live without the subtext and background information that the equally visceral Satoshi Kon works live within, but unlike those things Tweeny Witches is asking its viewer to be ready for it, rather than trying to ease you into it more casually. As 9-minute TV episodes, it might be kind of hard to do that.

OTOH, a thing like Paprika, because it is a feature film, means its viewers enter it with the mindset of “it’s a film.” They are not only prepared, the format itself demands a tight, timely package of the full narrative experience. You don’t need a hook as much as a serialized publication would. You’re truly looking for an experience.

It’s an entirely different thing than Zero no Tsukaima. I don’t even know if just calling both “anime” reveals all there is that the two share–the basic, medium-sensitive natures of the shows. Perhaps in a greater, “modern visual cultural” context they are together like Jessica Simpson and Colin Powell are both widely-recognized names in American culture. A rigorous dissection quickly reduces Zero as a parade of troupes hung on the skeleton of a simple yet charming juvenile high-fantasy. And because this is so, it is easy to enjoy and require little effort otherwise.

A little more can be said of something closely related, Suzumiya Haruhi no Uuutsu. What it has over Zero is rather unclear once deconstructed. Perhaps the best way to distinguish the two is in the hype and in the production quality: not only in the animation but in the direction, acting, and thoughtfulness to details. It goes farther to bring you more than just the same, tried tale using the same tried devices, even if it does that for a good bit. Perhaps the “Kyon order” of the story is its greatest blessing.

And there is more. Mushishi was a big thing for me. It’s a well-crafted show (although still using some common troupes, despite unusual for an anime) because it manages to package something very good around a form that I normally dislike in a way that I do like. The catch here is that while you can enjoy Mushishi as casual enjoyment, you have to be in the mood, so to speak. To me what makes Mushishi special, aside from the production value and submergence, is what it actually is–a consistent unfolding of themes upon human imperfection resulting from a lack of understanding, but ultimately bound by the ties that makes men and women who they are. Still, what is troublesome is the unwrapping–for the longest time I cannot just sit down and watch this show, even amply prepared.

I wondered why. I think aside from my own personal nitpickery and strangeness, I felt I just had to be in a certain state of mind, with a certain amount of empathy mixed with apathy. A show like Black Lagoon did well for me because it works both when I am emo-blue as well as when I’m cackling with glee. The show itself is a mix of many different things, and while the inconsistency can be a bit off-putting for someone looking for just one thing, it manages to deliver plenty of, well, a lot.

On the flip side is Futakoi Alternative. To make no mistake, it has great production values. However it’s also a little dry, it suffers from having too little spanned across too much time. The direction is also more fitting of a film format even if it took advantage of the serialized, TV format in some of the episodes, to deliver that slice-of-life feel. A lot of the show worked, but a lot of it didn’t either. It gave us a variety of things, but I don’t know if those things worked well together.

Just like some shows are seasonal, some are equally best-tasted when you’re in the right state of mind. For some, it may means until they’re old and tired; some when fresh and not jaded. Others still just needs to have a fresh day to look forward to, or with the right company.

Geneon After Dark or The Alternative Dimension of Licensing Hell

When the day ends, you hang up your coat, put your guns away, lean back, feet up, and air out your tiredness. We did that at Geneon After Dark.

Unlimited Corny Jokes Works ALL THE TIME!

Geneon After Dark is the name of the panel Geneon used to describe their 1am Otakon 2006 industry Q&A where cuffs are mostly off and the fanboy producers (and fangirls) giggled with us. I rather liked it last year when I went crazy and committed various forms of idolatry against Nana Mizuki. Speaking of which, I did forget to reiterate the question why there’s no movement on that front…

The panel itself is fairly simple. We sat, they pitched a trailer, they solicit a few questions regarding that thing, we raise our hands and get picked, we ask, they answer, and we get a free item. Rinse and repeat. A few clips later they opened up to general questions, but we had videos to see all throughout the panel including the Hellsing Ep2 previews. The floor opened up a lot more after we saw that.

The freebies they gave away were pretty good. I think I was the 3rd person to get picked so I had a wide variety of choices–piles of scrolls and t-shirts, and a lot of random stuff. It was sad, though, because the only thing I want I can’t have (a box of autographed incest given to some Hellsing fan), and the second thing I wanted is…from Kyo Kara Maou. Yes, a shoujo anime that I don’t even watch. It was a tin of something. I decided to just go for my 3rd pick, at least it’s g. I would say “damn you” for getting that Fuu figure, but I don’t even want it that much.

I think a big problem with a gathering attempt like this is that some of the audience are just plainly clueless. If you didn’t know what Black Lagoon was at that panel, well, that might be the sign to you that you need a clue before opening your mouth; let alone ask a long-winded question that makes no sense and cut into Q&A time. On the other hand a lot of the audience very much keyed-on when it comes to pointed questions, so props to them. I think this really shows especially when nearing the end of the panel I feel a lot of us were just dying to simply get some plain Q&A, but with the freebie-giving-away in the way we couldn’t get the questions out and have that dialogue going unless you’re a knowingly-rude person like me who does it because it’s supposed to be done. Terry(?) was the Geneon guy picking hands and he was trying to get to everyone who hasn’t had something–nice try but bleh. People were just raising their hands and asking dumb questions to get stuff. Since the panel didn’t conclude until 2:30, I was mad tired and didn’t want to stay around to hear all the chit chat post-panel, partly because the Good-Question-to-Bad ratio is probably too high, and I am just done airing my laundry for the day.

That said, I did stay for a couple round with…that other producer guy. I would have made my rounds to Stephen but he was pretty busy with the music people and I didn’t want to line up. And that brings us to our real topical point:

No one will ever license Futakoi Alternative.

If you recall, Geneon licensed UFOTable’s “big hit” Dokkoida. And you might also notice, if you pay attention to hype and fan clamoring, Dokkoida isn’t exactly a hot title. I think even in the fansub-sphere it didn’t make a lot of noise. Or much of noise at all. A speedy sub was all that was left in the path of an excellent but sadly forgettable show for most people, it would seem. What’s wrong with UFOTable? What’s wrong with you (who did not buy Dokkoida yet)? That’s not a big deal compared to what awaits Futakoi Alternative.

The brief conversation we had with…ugh, what’s his face next to Terry? Sorry for not remembering your name at 2am in the morning. In any event, said Geneon Guy professed his love for Dokkoida?! (and o/ for you brother) earlier which reminded me about Futakoi Alternative, one of the few titles I hunker for license-age. Naturally I brought up the topic later and he countered with something like “Well, the Japanese licenser will probably want to sell Futakoi too, and I don’t know about you but Futakoi is…”

A-yep. Futakoi is, yeah. Not a title Geneon would really like to license, at any rate.

So there we have it. It’s not the same kind of licensing hell Macross Zero is stuck in. It’s definitely not the same kind of licensing hell that Random Shoujo Series is stuck in, but that one might affect Futakoi Alternative indirectly if Dokkoida just doesn’t do well enough to justify it from the bottom line. In retrospect this situation probably has played itself out in the earlier years of fandom especially with game licenses. How do you get a “Tsukihime” without a “Tsukibako” anyways, right? How did businesses overcome that? I suppose licensing two shows is different than licensing one and ignoring the game counterpart.

More importantly, just what do we fans have to do to get a piece of it? Sucker a company, or wait for one, to license Futakoi vanilla first? I don’t really like the idea of that, but it might be the only thing left to do. Got any bright ideas for us threesome fans?

Certainly no more “Alternative” shows! Unless the original isn’t crap, anyways.