Category Archives: Idolmaster

The Hardest Things to Animate, Fall 2017

Are cute girls cooking.

Before my mental gear switches into “all retrospectives, all the time” for the rest of the month, let me just talk about this season’s slate and other related things. As a bonus for each episode I will give it two ranks, how much I want to watch the episode as it airs, followed by how often I do end up watching the episode as soon as a new one is available. For both values, 1 is the highest/soonest and 5 is the lowest/slowest. The goal is to give a numerical representation on how competing time and interest factor in how I view these shows. Some week/weekends I’m out all day and have to prioritize my down time, you know!

THE IDOLM@STER SideM – When I returned from Japan after attending IDOLM@STER 10th anniversary event, I felt that the franchise has become a “home” where my “heart” returns to. SideM’s Jupiter-focused episodes are a great summary of this concept, this past week and from the start. In some ways this show is exceedingly watchable for a male-idol franchise, for a more general audience. Watchability rating: 1, 2 – Because I want to be in a good state of mind when I watch it, so I don’t always do so ASAP.

Wake Up Girls Shinso – The franchise reboot without Yamakan now gains Yamakan as the most annoying cheerleader. I think the series does feel different without his involvement, and it unfortunately suffers from some severe production issues. The focus on MayuC is okay, as with the introduction of RGR (Ranga…neo ranga…) and looping in the large I-1 cast and all the spinoffs. It’s still WUG and it’s still something channeling the ideas presented from the original, but more tightly written because it doesn’t have to couch itself with depicting a post-311 Tohoku. As a fan I have a lot to say about this show but nothing is really important? LOL.Watchability rating: 2, 2 – Too many live action episodes that don’t get streamed on CR, because of production issues, throws off my timing on these.

Imouto Sae ga Iire ba – I know it’s written by the Haganai guy, and I found Haganai generally disturbing and at times offensive. ImoutoSae is like the same pivot the Oreimo guy did to bring us Eromanga Sensei, and I am really enjoying it. It feels like instead of debating politics of shooting people and blowing up things, it’s much more interesting to debate video games where players shoot people and blow up things, as an analogy? This is the meta level take on an already really meta thing, which is “that database” I occasionally refer to. It deserves its own post later. Watchability rating: 1, 1 – My favorite this season.

Kino’s Journey is good for just being something very easy to watch, can’t say the content is good or bad…probably because it’s a mixed bag. Watchability rating: 3, 2 – Easy to watch does mean I end up watching it sooner rather than later.

Food Wars is always a delight, a modern shonen battle story. Not much to say besides this new turn of event is kind of meh.Watchability rating: 2, 1 – Not top of my list but such a page turner, plus I can watch this with company.

Netjuu no Susume is a ton of fun in a good J-drama kind of way. I call it the soul food anime this season.Watchability rating: 2, 1 – What happens next? LOL.

Just Because is good on a technical level, but a little hard to watch. It’s great once you can get into it though, and I like how it manages around the typical pitfalls of adolescent romances. And that animation…Watchability rating: 2, 2.

12 Taisen is a fun, filtered Nisioisin thing. The upside is people die, the downside is that it becomes a guessing game, and not a story? The high production value makes it not that annoying, with somewhat a toned down Nisioisin-ness? Watchability rating: 3,2 – I kind of dread watching it, but once I start it goes down easy.

Blend-S fanservice is top notch, but I hope they lean into that shipping stuff which made Working compelling. It’s doing it so very slowly… Watchability rating: 2,1- Mostly compelled due to social networks.

Girls’ Last Tour – I picked up this show from SNS word of mouth. I am slightly biased against this seiyuu cast, but the story is a little compelling and it’s a good show to relax to. Also, I’m not up to date on it, LOL. Watchability rating: 3,5 – 5 because I’m behind by like a month plus.

Urahara – Another show high on concept and I like it for that, but execution is lacking–not in the way you think. It’s just the fully lack of tension makes it a little hard to follow. And it isn’t because nothing drastic happens in this show…well, maybe nothing is really that drastic. Like when aliens invade earth in Kekkai Sensen versus when aliens invade earth in a Barbie movie? I don’t know. Watchability rating: 3,4 – I’m a little behind.

Kekkai Sensen – It’s going into “same o same o” territory which means it’s great for fans but so so for everyone else. Still fun animation, as TV anime go. Watchability rating: 3,3 – I just don’t feel the compulsion to watch this, and at the same time you can pick up or drop this series at any time in any fashion, it’s so easy to get in and out.

Magus’s Bride – Sleigh Beggy? More like Slight Boring. When people hyped this up in the early goings of this season I was interested. Now I’m just letting out some giant yawns. It’s not even a let down, I expected this too self-important of a show to miss the mark, if the 3-episode OVAs are any indication of the story. So far it hasn’t really deviated much, if anything, it was better when the story came and went without all this magic-setting pretension. Maybe the manga is better. Maybe people should have just not hyped this show. Watchability rating: 2,2 – For healing type anime it works pretty okay, a little more upbeat than your usual variety.

Konohana Kitan – I like it but more for seiyuu and for cute being cute, otherwise this story of otherworldly hotspring hotel run by foxgirls is sort of just okay. Tho if it can produce episodes like episode 8, consistently, it would get promoted. Watchability rating: 2,2 – Maybe 1.5, 1.5 rather?

Houseki no Kuni would be higher tier if not for the most uzai Kurosawa Tomoyo ever. This is one of those cases where while I appreciate the acting, having pre-animation dubs removed some limits on how annoying she is. Also the story is just kind of silly even half way through? Like, yeah I know Phos is different later I still cannot take this show seriously. It’s not even a matter of the visual language (eg., oh noes she’s gonna go Kizuna Ai on us), but just the attempt at tonal shifts in the show is not something I can take seriously. Watchability rating: 2,3 – I end up getting to this later because it’s not on CR so I have to pirate it the old fashion way, sigh.

Anime-gatarisBig bang theory the anime. It’s full of really peak jokes, so just for those I can say I am glad Anime-gataris exists. But it’s got a taste of what I remember from the late 90s when Japan makes anime with a western audience in mind. Now it’s China, I guess. Watchability rating: 3, 2 – I end up watching it because it’s on CR and I tend to have more free time on Sundays, after all.

Two-car is by no means bad, but yeah who would watch this show? Other than me? Or yuri fanatics? Or people actually into the sport? It could be more of a comedy I think, and that would really make this show ring. As is, it’s got a mandatory low-conflict tension every episode and I’m not sure if anyone should care. It’s kind of an elaborate exposé, maybe. Watchability rating: 4, 4 – It’s not bad, just hard.

Ousama Game: LOL what is this trash. I guess it’s fun but it sits at the bottom of the “I have no time to watch anime” ladder of shows to cut. Watchability rating: 3, 5 – I’m a month behind I think.

Fate Apocrypha – A bigger yawn than slight yawn. To be fair I’m only halfway through and haven’t watched any in a couple months. Watchability rating: 3, 5 – This is an Anime Strike show, and you know how that is.

Mahoujin Guruguru – I’m still like, just 1/3 of the way into the series. Probably because I want to marathon this and have not had the time. Watchability rating: 2, 5.

Some other random stuff this season:

Pri Pri Chi-chan still delivers. The Rietion anime is really fun and even not totally stupid always, just sometimes. I don’t think I would watch this show not for seiyuu purposes, but I can see myself doing so if it’s something I end up watching on regular TV for some reason. Watchability rating: 1,3. – It’s short.

Cingeki S2 is fun. More of the same from the first set of episodes but I like how it gets awfully meta. Watchability rating: 1,1. – It’s super short.

Osomatsu-san S2 – When I saw that first episode I knew it was time to call it quits, and the subsequent episodes played out my expectations. You can’t go over the top the same way twice. Open to coming back to this show if it gets better though… No rating for shows I’m dropping.

Welcome to the Ballroom – It’s a good show but I think I’m going to drop it, despite the delicious interaction between the dancers. I’m not opposed to catching up but I don’t like this particular angle they’re going with in terms of the sports and character development. No rating for shows I am dropping.

I watched that Blade Runner anime. I would not dissuade anyone from watching it but it’s just okay. No rating for movies and one-shots.

Man I wanted to watch Heaven’s Feel but missed the local show dates. It’s still going to be in theaters when I go to Japan though, so lol. I guess the new Garupan movie series will start this month as well, so that’s something to look forward to. No rating for movies and one-shots.

I finally got to watch Genocidal Organ, despite missing it earlier this year (twice?). It looked good. It is a bit neutered compared to the book, not for graphic violence but for the implication it makes at the end. Also, the effect of the plot device doesn’t really come across to me that well, which is unfortunate. Otherwise it’s a solid action vehicle for animation? For all the fun we make of the verbose expositions you see in Type-Moon works, sometimes that is exactly what’s good about the thing and it’s nice to have a heavy dose of it as long as it doesn’t ruin the film. No rating for movies and one-shots.


Some Thoughts on the “FairyTale Ja Irarenai” Event

I went on Reddit looking for a fight and caught a fish who didn’t know any better. So let me summarize the finding in more precise terms. And also some thoughts.

  1. The new ranking event forces everyone to play the same way, with some options:
    1. You can pick your Stamina use, 2M, 4M, 6M, MM. (15/20/25/30)
    2. On the next page you can pick from two songs (one is “recommended” and gives slightly more points, see below), or a job;
      • And also, alternatively, the event song. Which uses no Stamina but song tokens and doesn’t count as one of the 5-things.
  2. You do 5 non-event-song things with Stamina and you get 1 event song token (max 99 stored)
    • Each of those things also give some amount of event points.
    • The amount of event score those 5 things give you correlates to Stamina used. More Stamina you use, more points you get per type of thing.
      • Job gets you about half the points as the recommended song for the same Stamina tier.
  3. The lower Stamina you spend to get finish those 5 things, the less Stamina per token you can get.
  4. Since event songs give the most score for the event, it is most efficient to do the lowest Stamina things over doing higher Stamina things, because you end up with more event song tokens with the same Stamina spend.
    • But of course, it also means playing for longer to get the same amount of points as someone spending more Stamina.
  5. People who don’t spend money on stamina or has a cap and need to maximize mileage, should play with minimal Stamina per 5 things.
    • Because you get more points overall since playing the event song gives you a lot of points
  6. People who have unlimited spend or limited time to play that they can’t use up their budget/Stamina store and need to maximize score at all cost, should play with max Stamina per 5-things.
    • The event song also rewards players who do the higher stamina 5-things, but not enough to cancel out just grinding with the lowest stamina and then play the event song.

I basically spelled out point #6 on Reddit and one person refuses to get it, because the realization that you get more points with the lowest setting stops them from realizing that this event is about max event score, not max efficiency. In other words, time is a limited resource for everyone, Stamina is not limited in the same way for rankers and whales.

Ultimately a hybrid strategy is ideal for people who want to achieve a high rank in this event; the score scale has changed from a standard “play songs normally, or crunch gems to P2W, whoever does the one or the other thing the most time wins” to “play songs normally…and optionally spend gems to get more points per period of time, and somehow someone wins?” The scaling swings towards people who can play the event song the most number of times, rather than the limits of the event token that you can get. It opens two doors for whales; you can grind 75 stamina or 150 stamina, the latter gives a modest advantage only (maybe 50% more points for 100% stamina), but it closes the door on them in that the overall time it takes is not drastically reduced unlike the jewel crunch method for the other type of ranking event.

There’s a calculus problem hiding in here.

My gut feeling is that much like the pay-to-lose style of grind that characterizes Greemas Million Live battle ranking events, pay-to-win jewel crunch for the typical PST event is too easy. You can grind in a couple hours enough points for the 5000th place tier, and that’s probably impossible for this event given how things are working out 2 days in.

The meta models is pretty easy to understand. Instead of calculating the best efficiency, it’s about predicting player behavior and figuring out how to one-up other players, in a competitive ranking event. So you do still need to understand efficiency, but the psychological barrier preventing people from spending or taking a less efficient route necessary means the group of players who do not have that Greemas 1200th place ranking mentality will have narrow score groupings, because you would do the max efficiency model. People who want to tier 2 will figure things out early and abandon that to go full throttle, or try to see if they can extend that efficiency to higher scoring tiers.

I sort of like this particular change they’ve done to the meta, but at the same time, it’s an outright nerf to P2W so it’s more P2L–in that the trap is both you could be spending your time grinding 2M and getting fewer points than your ranking competition, or you could be blowing cash and achieving fewer points than someone who has more time and is steadfast. Pegging the amount of play you do with the final score by requiring the # of tokens to be fixed and unattached to the ticket system is both good and painful, I guess.

At least, if anything, there are more options to victory in this event, and equally options to screwing yourself over. That is an overall improvement, I guess.


Episode of Jupiter

Here’s my actual hot take, after I dried it from my tears. There are some spoilers for Episode of Jupiter (#EOJ) in this post, but they target mostly people who are invested in the series already. If you are new or don’t care, keep going!

Continue reading


On Million Live, New IM@S Game

In response to this, I’ve got almost nothing. Let me quote:

In short, the reason you likely won’t be seeing the Million Live anime anytime soon isn’t due to some odd bias against it, and it definitely isn’t because they’d rather chase the wallets of evil women ruining your cartoons. It’s far more straightforward than that: there’s simply no one around to make it right now. One of the reasons this franchise has consistently had high-profile adaptations, sometimes in spite of messy production schedules, is because it’s been supported by an immensely talented group of creators; even as the key staff is reshuffled, Idolmaster‘s production backbone has stayed the same, and that can only mean good things.

And by good thing he and I mean:

The real reason to wait to be honest, is for Taneda Risa to recover. It is one thing for Theater Days to leave out Kotoha, but you can’t do that with the anime. The industry/technology isn’t there yet! There’s more to say on this matter, in that you can speculate about the A-1 pipeline, the order of Million Live anime and SideM anime, and other things. With Darlifra and SideM close to each other it could mean a lot of things, one is that Million anime won’t be in 2018.

As someone who’s a little invested in Million Live, the point of having an anime really is just so that these guys can now render our favorite characters and idols in the same ludicrous settings that Million Live is known for, at least among the producers who are into the mobile games. So it really is Fukushima’s crew or bust. It’s a bit unfortunate that this segment of the IDOLM@STER franchise is so “narrow” now, but the hope is that when they produce something really good, people will come to appreciate it on the merits, idol trapping aside. It’s as good as GamiP’s confirmation that this cast and crew will be tapped to make the show, whenever it will be.

As for the new IDOLM@STER game on the Bandai HTML5 platform, I’m thinking it’s going to be international. The titles they picked seem to say this to me. That will be the big hope I have on it. And like how IDOLM@STER is a franchise that rides on the first generation of new hardware and platforms, this one will be something that can live or die based on its reception with the players and existing fans. I’m not really holding my breath on it because it does nobody any good, at least without more details anyway. Plus, I’m too busy caring about the existing things I have control over, like how much to spend on Theater Days gacha, or how I’m going to see the 765AS live next January.

PS. One of the best way they could do with Million Live anime is to have episodes in alternates, where one is based on one of the ludicrous events, and the next based on the main continuum. In some ways the 4th PV is paving the groundworks for this delivery style already. The big challenge there is how do you execute these gag concepts into full-length episodes, while not totally upsetting the overall atmosphere of the series. Another benefit of this is that the episodes can get outsourced easier and allow for more freedom in crafting the animation. I guess we’ll see what happens.


Some Thoughts on Magireco, HatchiNine, Msute & Milishita

I have some kind of a mid-season anime thing going but I also want to capture these tender sprouting opinions, fresh off the grill. Not to mention on some level, what’s the difference these days…

Theater Days I opined a good amount already here, so just to update, I’m definitely getting used to Kaori and Tsumugi. I guess they fit well, after all, as engineered, but what helps the most is seeing other fans going at it. Kaori particularly is the kind of idealistic being that engenders a quick reaction.

The first competitive event has come and gone. During the event period, I went to Otakon and was ranking in Million Live vanilla as well, so I only managed tier 2. Got my 3* PST Shiho and I was just happy that I managed a FC on Shooting Star MM, so I can clear all the checkboxes and make a neat screenshot.

How was it? As someone who expected fierce, greemas-like competition I got somewhat part of that in Theater Days, which should surprise no one who knows Million Live Producers. If anything I thought T3-5 were too casual, but my non-greemas producers did not fare that well either. Is this how Deresute is today?

All in all I think if I had the extra 3-4 hours in the ranking period I could have gotten T1 without any issues, but life just didn’t let me have them. So yeah, to me Theater Days ranking event was about the right amount of hard, which is not that hard, but hard enough to be a real challenge. I might not try for tier 1 again though (Matsuri rewards excepted).

Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine, or Hachi9 as I spell it, is basically the Princess Nine or Taishou Yakyuu Musume of mobile games. I got turned on to it when I noticed Takagi Miyu was guesting on an episode of the mobile game’s radio show, hosted by one of the five Walkure girls whose name I can never remember (Nishida Nozomi). I checked out the visuals, the concept, and eventually the game itself. I was sold very hard, let’s just say. In short, Hachii is my aesthetics. It’s got that good mix of shoujo manga x sports manga x actual baseball thing. It’s snappy. It’s a game focused on character development, and not so much managing a roster or doing any rhythm game nonsense. Imagine if Oofuri was not about middle school boys holding hands? A-1 did a couple animated bits for it. The voice cast, asides from the aforementioned two, includes the full HRR cast and some more of those baseball nerds in association.

The game ultimately is what sold me. At the same time I did not spend much time in it, the game isn’t really primed hard for competition or is that community that hardcore. In a nutshell, the game is a pile of mini-game type things, each playing towards a type of statistics or currency that you accumulate as you go through what the game offers you. During events, typically what you do is trade stamina for a chance at a RNG against an opponent team, whichever team with higher score, boosts and other abilities included (including weather conditions and what not, and spot checking your roster against theirs, to keep it concise), usually wins each given game. Winning a game gets you prizes, which you can use invariably to either roll the gacha, or upgrade your players. Upgrading players is a complex thing in Hachi9. There’s straight up levels. There’s your player’s mood/condition. There are plus and minus traits you can upgrade or remove. You can awaken cards. You can level up skills and there are like a dozen of those for each given player, and skills benefit your team differently for each position your player happens to be playing.

The mini-games outside of actual matches are basically Msute-ish, because that’s also made by Akatsuki, the same developer as Hachi9. Basically a bulk of the game is story modes that you can unlock as your coaching rank goes up. During each story mode, your goal is to do the best possible (at the end of each story mode run you will get a letter grade) in order to reap the most rewards, as more rewards allows you to unlock/upgrade your characters more. Each run of the story mode is broken into chapters. Each chapter is a series of commu interspersed with a training game (think FGO-style card picking but with a deck you build with 9 players instead of 3, rarity included). Each round of card picking reflects 1 week out of the full time period, which usually runs for 9 months or so (9 * 4 worth of moves). As you pick cards you increase your 3 base stats (str dex end I guess?). Those are consumed in order to unlock traits at the end of each story mode run. While you pick cards, each round, some players are eligible for leveling up, and the more powerful you pick for a particular suit (red orange green purple) the more they level up. Each time a player levels up, you get into this second minigame that lets you try for these colored orbs which also is prereq to improve your team’s chances at the tournament at the end of the story mode, and as material for unlocking traits. The better you do in both of these minigames, the better you will be rewarded at the end. Some weeks you don’t train, but you play games instead, so those are just  your typical vs computer matches.

That’s a very high level description of the main minigame mechanisms. I also glossed over a ton of details, and probably have some inaccuracies since I am still quite new at that game. Awakened cards go up in rarity, which is cool, but this also means actual SSRs are a little bit devalued. Melding a copy of a card (or something appropriate by the same player) also unlocks stuff, so dupes are welcomed. By the way, players call you director (kantoku) in Hachi9, which I thought was the final straw that broke my “THIS IS SUCH MY GAME” back.

This brings us to IDOLM@STER: SideM – LIVE ON STAGE. It’s made by Akatsuki, and so far most people are familiar with its bond-based minigame/stage otoge combination by now. It’s definitely much more casual if you came from Deresute, but I personally think this is more what IDOLM@STER is about. It was not a pure otoge, and somehow it has become more and more so, out of laziness or limitation, whatever. But we can do better. The bigger question is can the market appreciate it?

I’m not going to play Msute seriously, but I did the “reset marathon” thing and start with a SSR Tsubasa. It’s a good way to learn about SideM, so I am just doing that. Funny enough all these other mobage is just taking my time away from this one. I can say just by messing with it for a couple days, I have more than doubled my SideM idol knowledge, LOL.

On that note, the system in Msute feels right at home coming from Hachi9, and it comes down to enjoying the mini games and the stuff available as story and character development. The gameplay is not hard but I’m no otoge player so it works for me.

Lastly, a bit about Magireco, or the Madoka mobage. The full name is Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story: Magia Record. So Magireco. It’s basically the same game as Fate Grand Order, but shelled with widefaces. What’s different is that it’s an improved version of FGO all around. It also has one of the best gacha animation I’ve seen, where when you draw a magical girl you get her transformation sequence. Too bad the draw rates are terrible like FGO.

Shamelessly so, the main “Mashu” character is Mocho, so I’m playing it. Shamelessly because Aniplex put Trysail in this game front and center. In this game you play the role of a fledgling QB and guide your group of magical girls to…something. Well, it’s Madoka. The graphics and visuals reflects all that we have known and come to appreciate about the franchise regarding magical girls.

I guess the last note to make on Magireco is that the developer has built a check in the app to see if the app has been installed from the play store, which makes sideloading tricky. Nothing you can’t get around. I personally had some issues but was able do continue playing after cloning the app. Maybe I’ll fix it in Japan or something.