Category Archives: Love Live

Bandai Namco Festival 2019

It was a thing.

In a bid to stave off jet lag and fatigue, and partly motivated by procrastination, I want to tackle the two-day festival taken place last weekend at Tokyo Dome now rather than later. I tweeted it enough, but in summary:

  • Bannam has a lot of stuff! But IM@s is where it’s at, for this show.
  • All the idols in under one roof is all one.
  • While it was short on the collab department, there were still some great ones.
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Year in Review 2016: N-listing

I’m putting this out first because the other post can stand by itself, introspection or not. Hey, it’s not March yet.

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Musk-Style Idoling

Bin1 sure loves its crossovers

I side with Elon Musk when he (subtly) complained about the comparison of what SpaceX has accomplished with what Bezos tweeted about landing a (part of a) rocket, back when Blue Origin announced its feat. I think we cannot overstate the difference between landing a big thing that’s in freefall at near zero speed at its apex with landing a big thing that’s traveling at something like Mach 7. Or however fast 16000 kilometers per hour is. And that’s just its lateral velocity.

This is what I feel stands between IM@S and Love Live. They are both about fake idols and are media-mixed IPs with the usual attachments to them. But in rocket speak, IM@S is somewhere between finishing its second stage burn and going to the third, far beyond its Max Q point. Love Live on the other hand is still rocking that main burner. And I suspect the two idol ships are not even going to the same places, taking the same trajectory.

Maybe that’s just how far it takes to go beyond the glittering future.

I think we will want both to do well. And not only these two, but WUG, Aikatsu, Pripara, SB69, whatever you got, right now, floats all boats outside of Japan. Because the west doesn’t get idols. Those who think so somehow understand it only in the context of the infamous AKB and all the drama that name brings. But we have to realize while the 48Gs revolutionized what that concept is in practice, they are not the idol industry nor are they even representative of it outside of the very mainstream. And mainstream Japanese entertainment was never really relevant to the West anyway, speaking on aggregates with broad strokes.

The more people who get LL, and it doesn’t matter if they get into LL or not, the better it is for everyone else. I think East Asia generally gets it; Koreans are a good example of improving on some of that formula, while sticking to what works for them. But it’s also different than the kind of less-glamorous, oddly homely and otaku-friendly version of these things. Still, writing as someone from the USA, it is a change welcomed.

With Love Live’s Tokyo Dome event on the horizon, and how the movie release shattering late-night anime records, I hope this is just the beginning of something more wonderful for everyone, not just livers. And I think while it’s okay to get nervous and jittery about going to LL 6th (RIP if you are attempting), don’t worry. If it was as awesome as IM@S 10th, you will be in for a treat, and it wouldn’t even be that severe to score tickets.

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I have posts to write, but I don’t have that much time. We’ll see. One thing for sure all those “Year in Review” posts will come after Christmas.


Who Do You Hate in Love Live?

I actually like everybody.

cotoli minami

But I understand the role in viewer antagonism. After all love and hate are related emotional responses that require a high amount of engagement. It’s a lot more telling that I am merely “like” and not “love”–a form of affirming indifference. Arisa was my MVP from season one, and at the least I’m glad season two tried hard to develop the group. I mean after all not everyone in μ’s had spoken roles in every episode of the first season, and most of the non-second-years didn’t get their time in the spotlight.

Speaking as an unabashed Maki/Pile oshi-type, though, it’s characters like the moms, ARISE, or even the LLSIF normal students, that really rounds out Love Live as a franchise. It’s little things that helps Love Live gain fans. I really enjoyed Rin’s episode from season two, but I still still finding her largely indistinguishable from Hanayo; it was the episode and the way the story told itself that I loved, not as much everything else. Nico’s whole deal is a good twist on a welcomed trope in season 2, but as you can see I still can only pin it from that point of view, a meta analysis of tropes in a way to draw positives from the widest base. She deserves better, someone who likes her for who she is. “Washi Washi” is probably my favorite meme from the show, so that tells you how opposite I stand apart from Author on the haterade gulping, probably because it’s one of the more risque, and risky, things in the show. For something that goes out on a limb, Love Live takes a very solid, conservative approach to entertainment.

But thanks to that approach, many of the little jokes in Love Live are quite fun, even things that are just simple (if deep) character traits, like Hanayo’s love for rice. Just reading about how the Cotoli-face meme come about tells you just how precisely people mine this idol stuff. It’s a calculated payload with significant thought behind it. Love Live’s math is a little easier to understand from the outside, but it doesn’t make it any more or less appealing for people who enjoy it or find it repulsive, respectively.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I love the same things in IM@S and all those other idol shows. The Haruka-Chihaya ship and Yukiho’s shovel can go a long way to make some funny, and they remains one of the most memorable IM@S things I’ve seen even today. [But that doesn’t go even half the distance to the goal, which is a story that I’ve documented on this blog well enough over the years, I hope.]

So yes, my two sides of a different coin are indifference and like. Love Live is fun and enjoyable, and I’m glad for it and how it engages even more people in a way that as a seiyuu idol fan, I would approve. I feel like this mutually beneficial relationship also is built on equal distrust in that we are engaging at length with media companies selling prepackaged feel-generators, at Japanese prices. At least, that’s sort of my base line approach to all of this. In that simple way, I am grateful for all that Love Live has done via the mobage and through both the fans and Lantis/Bandai/NISA/Bushiroad/whatever. You don’t have to pay a single yen to “enjoy” silly Chinese people kowtowing to dumb signs!


Franchise Positioning: LL And IM@S

Happy Birthday Hidaka Ai!

I’m just thinking about how to approach that material for my hypothetical panel, which is now rejected from Otakon programming. I find myself approaching this mainly from a business model point of view. It’s hard to say what is special about … this thing. What is this thing anyway? Cartoons? Or cartoons with idols in it? Or cartoons with idols being the main schtik? Invariably you have to talk about the media mix-ed-ness of it all, so naturally it becomes a discussion on the business.

One approach I was thinking about is comparing different well-known “idol anime” situations and see if we can gleam something. To jump to the point, one key difference between Love Live and IM@S is the sort of businesses they are. One is a video game franchise with stuff spun off it. The other is pretty much that idol concept from the first iteration.

I also want to highlight and examine what makes Love Live, seemingly, a franchise more friendly to women. That begins with first ascertaining the premise–which, really, all I have is that more women attend the live events than most other 2.5D idol events featuring an all-female cast. I wonder how that compares to the female Oukokumins out there. It also begs the question about how does live attendance factor in, which can be explained but only with so many words, unfit as a sentence’s clause. It’s also another angle where IM@S stands in stark contrast as a video game franchise born under the shadow of the declining arcade scene. I recently watched the bonus Blu-rays that came with the UNMEI Live CD singles and when Pyonkichi took an informal poll, the hands went up were about 10%, at most. Which is probably roughly the same as SSA in Feb as I remembered, maybe a little worse for those 2013 live shows, given how much of a maniac you had to be to get in to the smaller event.

But that’s kind of how far I could go. I can make an argument about how Love Live does a pretty okay job channeling that “utahime” feeling, a modern polish on the “I want to grow up to be an idol” idea with more Niconama streaming and less Fancy Lala. But that’s just interpreting the text. It doesn’t mean much in that I can see how these narratives can connect to both men and women, as IM@S has its fair share of similar stories to tell. Times like this I wish I can read doujinshi from circles that have done these kinds of analysis.

There are other low hanging fruits in this comparisons, of course. I think the depth and extracurricular context around IM@S, partly as a result of its age, also adds something that both encourages certain behaviors characteristic of its fandom, but also deters. It’s the kind of unintended walls with maniac behavior that happens with fandom, although in these cases it is more about intimidation than inaccessibility. For example, it’s easy for me to make no mention of how it feels to be in a crowd of grown men jumping around to the rhythm, but that can be intimidating even to someone who is simply new to the situation, let alone others who might have other causes for concern. Love Live started from scratch a few years ago and nothing other than the status quo of wota culture was in the way.

[By the way, that live 2-BD set is so good if you want a preview of next generation powerhouses…namely her, Koroazu, Machico, Yuiton and Mocho (happy birthday!). Also, we gave Tenchan a new nick: 10ch. Who are these people? Use this list.]