Category Archives: Love Lab

Year in Review 2013: Love Lab Is about Diligence

April is when I last spent any quality time with Rinko Kobayakawa. The self-titled virtual girlfriend from Love Plus is a neat headtrick: you play a game of maintaining your relationship with a piece of software that runs on a clock. Rather than maintaining your relationship with a pet animal by feeding it, taking care of it, and spending time with it, now you can do the same using your Nintendo DS (or a 3DS in this case, being New Love Plus).

Is this really that different than Natsuo’s stuffed boyfriend? Yes. Of course it’s different. But I want to draw you to the similarity to highlight what I think is the really great thing about Love Lab and what is great about great people: diligence. Oh, mild spoilers on Love Lab ahoy.

Riko = This blog post

A top-tier Love Plus BF has to do at least one thing–spend time playing the game. You’d be surprised, it actually takes a lot of time, and despite that the game in its latest rendition works okay for burst play, and you can always manipulate the clock to your advantage, but it takes time and dedication. An average date is somewhere upwards an hour or more. And you can go to them at least once a week if you are any good. I quit playing, partly because it simply takes a lot of time away from other things I could do that I consider similar in priority–like watching anime such as this Love Lab show.

The story in Love Lab is not particularly interesting except it is framed in a way that makes it interesting. Here we have a girl who is sicken like many of her disposition–with fantasies of romance. Without having actual experience but too much pent-up energy, she ends up pulling in a bunch of other girls who are not so much sick with fancy, but equally curious and seek to have fun with others. The way Love Lab tells its story is through the formation of friendships and the way people come together because someone out there crosses all the Ts and dot the Is, the kind of thing that impresses the valedictorian in an all-girls prep school. It doesn’t come overnight like some of the tricks Natsuo and Maki did to politely rebel against authority or pull a quick one on them. In fact, that they go as far as that is the surprise.

That isn’t the point I want to drive at; it’s a good example of how, when sufficiently cogently woven, the wool over the adults’ eyes will work. Pulling it is typical and expectant of a bunch of kids living in a high-class, high-pressure environment. It’s the essence of a “seishun” type story. Doing it A-Team style is, however, not. Nor the fact that they do so in the name of love. It’s like gaming god master race Keima from Kaminomi who ditches class in the name of lovevideo games, except somehow when Natsuo does it, it’s all ~scandalous~. Would it be scandalous to ditch class because you want to get really into the nitpickery details of Love Plus? Would it be scandalous to publish an underground newsletter for your campus to get really into the nitpickery details of romance?

Japan celebrates its diligent men, women and children. Love Lab likewise cooks more like Alton Brown than Julia Child (they don’t call ’em love handles for nothing). Point here is that love comes to all, those who are and those who are not. The issue is about framing it, and when we see these girls work hard to achieve this goal, we get wrapped up with them. That is the rub. A half-assed rebellion is the story some may be more familiar with in the story about Valvrave or Code Geass. Here, the rebels stick their guns towards the individuals that suppresses their wills, not the cultural expectations that both sides abides. Through hard work within the framework and thinking outside of it, the Love Lab members achieve what they want. It’s a rebellion within the rules. Perhaps it’s all a tad too close to that Yamato Nadeshiko spirit kind of thing that some find a little patronizingly misogynistic, but, that too, celebrates diligence.

Year in Review 2013 Index:

Some Summer 2013 Season Thoughts

Shoot first ask questions later style post.

Honoka Mutsu

I generally like Servant x Service. I think in a lot of ways it is an improvement over Working, but it lacks magnetic characters. I think taking on adult sensibilities gives it a new flavor but at the same time brings too much into play that shaves away the charm of a simpler punchline and makes it harder to embrace. “It” here being both the jokes and characters.

I think Silver Spoon anime comes across just a little heavy handed, but at the same time that’s probably necessary to drive the deeper points of the story. I’m not sure how the manga handles it, but this Silver Spoon feels like it is a pretty deep work. I also think that this could have been a very cultural-specific sort of a thing, but the saving grace is that processing basic raw ingredients in agriculture isn’t so different this day and age, across different countries, thanks to scientific advancements. In other words, the core message is somewhat universal, and moreover a lot of them don’t have anything to do with agriculture. The pizza episode was a great example of a modern day stone soup story and it definitely was the best one out of them all.

Out of all the shows I couldn’t make it out of episode 3, I’m most intrigued by Kaminai and Monogatari series. I’m pretty sure I will catch up on the latter series.

I really enjoyed Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ episode 6 and 7. In the end of 7 Potte took a photo of the fireworks and the backs of her friends. What ISO was that film? Did she change it from her camera at some point after the competition? That said I’m kind of behind so hopefully I’ll get to catch up in the coming week.

MJPR ending was a sea of flags. I mean, it totally pulled an Evangelion in terms of the joke flags. Too bad the story came across as too simple, for me. It’s like a Hollywood cliche. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t executed well enough to be enjoyable. It was enjoyable, for sure, but a little too shallow for my tastes.

The two Oonuma Shin series were a riot to watch. Good for him. They executed well, and despite the obvious and usual resource-saving techniques used everywhere, Illya delivered all that action and Watamote was a very clever show. They exceeded expectation in a good way, but that forces me to examine my expectations for Watamote and Prisma Illya to begin with–admitted they were somewhat low. Still there were some obvious bright spots in both shows. Izumi Kitta simply was perfect as Tomoko. Besides the convincing action scenes of Illya, Mai Kadowaki by now has a ton of Illya speaking time, so she wears that role like a comfy sweater.

Compared to her performance in Genei Taiyou, at least, Ilya was simply delightful. It’s not to say Day Break Illusion would’ve been helped by that, but in the end it was a weird way to highlight how different the two magical girls show were. The weird thing is, as bad as Genei was, it still had a lot of good points to it. Otaku media, I guess.

Titan and Railgun remain as the two top least serious business anime on my watch list. Especially Railgun. I see people taking it seriously all the time, though… I don’t get how people can do this without making a fool out of themselves.

Free is a fun watch on its own merits. The manservice for the most part can be side-stepped easily. I don’t think the rest of the show is really that noteworthy–about on par with Tamako Market I guess. My complaints still stand, but the animation and story is enough to keep my attention.

Kaminomi is also a lot of fun, as a non-manga reader. It’s not often you hear Asumin and Ayachi in roles like these. This third season of Kaminomi changes the gambit of the show for me–my favorite episodes in the last 2 seasons were the filler ones. By pumping the plot forward like season 3 they removed some of my complaints about the forced pacing, but it also took those charming down-time moments away. I guess I can’t say I like it, but it certainly can be a lot worse.

Eccentric Family is my top show this season and easily a top 5 candidate for 2013. No need to waste my breath at this stage, lots of other people are doing it. I’ll take my time to think about it…

The surprise hit this season is actually Love Lab. I really dig the way it gives a normal girls-be-girls kind of a setup, a backbone. It also has boys. It’s overall just delightful. If anything it could be funnier.

Genshiken Niidaime is as good as I expected to be, which is a high bar to clear. It’s still one of the best meta anime out there in recent memory. But because I expected this, it’s not particularly delightful since it can’t quite surprise me. Even if I have the manga and have been saving it until I’m done with this anime. I really enjoy some of the cross-cultural jokes especially.

Well, I probably should watch K3 before making those claims about Genshiken. I saw some cool caps from that show. But it doesn’t distinguish itself beyond the really nonsense stuff. Is this show any better than Kinmoza?

C3-bu, on the other hand, is a big surprise  in a different way. I also really enjoyed it but I had a hard time talking to people about it because following that show on CR is basically following it a week behind. It comes out on Mondays and the new episode airs Thursday–given how busy I was this summer I basically end up watching the episode usually on the weekend, Thursdays being the earliest. Sorry Crunchyroll, please never do this.

As for the show itself, in a way I like how it approaches the pathos from the “negative” side of things. You can state the problem in a negative way or a positive way, and the solution would feel very different depending on how you approached it. I think it’s a great litmus test. I also love how it gives Yura all these “reality marble” sort of way to show whatever it is C3-bu was trying to get across. Anime no Chikara yo. In a lot of ways this is a great show, in the way that, for example, MJPR fails to achieve.

I thought I would be all over Kinmoza, but this show didn’t have a higher gear to kick in to so it lost against the other shows of this season for my viewing time. It’s like I need to save certain times of the day when I am awake enough to take in these low-tension shows like Tamayura and Uchouten Kazoku (at least earlier on) to enjoy them fully, bumping out shows like Kinmoza and K3.

Gatchaman Crowds is the odd ball of the season. I guess that is only expected given that it is a Kenji Nakamura anime. However it is also a pretty fun show carrying the same kind of weirdo-yet-progressive ideas Nakamura has been sprouting. Whoever lets him have the freedom to make weird shows like this, God bless you and I hope you keep doing it for another 50 years.

Anyways, Gatchaman Crowds is also kind of the show that could “go wrong” really easily. It’s like Fractale, basically, that if the execution dropped something important, it’ll lose all credibility. I guess we have one more week to find out.

If there is one guilty pleasure this season for me, that would be Ro-kyu-bu SS. SHOW YOU GUTS COOL SAY WHAT saikou daze. No, more like because it is a koushien story after all. Kanae Itou is being her usual self in that show too, which is something getting rarer by the season. I also have to say it has a weird effect watching this right before/after MJPR. Iguchi!

I’m going to marathon Rozen Maiden…from episode 6. It’s fun. But probably less fun than marathoning Senyuu and Teekyuu back to back. Or interweaved. Which is something I’ll have to do too.

Bonus round:

  • Favorite OP: Servant x Service. However C3-bu’s final sequence is woaaah moeeeee. Also, kz song is so kz.
  • Favorite ED: Drowning in saudade in fhana’s Che Sera Sera, although I will reserve 10% for LOLI LOLI GROWING, whatever that means.
  • Most surprisingly good: C3-bu
  • Most surprisingly bad: MJPR
  • Funniest: Love Lab…or Teekyu.
  • Most surprising: Gatchaman Crowds
  • Most Mamiko: Uchouten Kazoku
  • MVP: Rento Kirishima