Category Archives: Love Live

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.]


On Attention Management, Whining about No Time to Do Stuff

This blog post is brought to you by having LLSIF crammed down one ear and OFA down the other. My weakness, apparently, is video games, not anime.

Few things say "Summer" harder than this crossover

I live in a bizarre world where j1m0ne watches and blogs more about anime than I do. Probably because I just don’t have the time to watch crap. I’m like 3 behind Daimidaler and Soul Eater Not (Soul Eater Not is kind of hard to watch, admittedly). I barely can keep up with No Game No Life, Love Live, Nanana, Diamond Ace and Ping Pong. I still would love to catch up on Brynhildr and Kawaisou, and I just caught up with Chaika. [BTW Ping Pong is far and away the best anime this season. There might be a tad of the “Asian” factor but still.]

Why is this?

  1. I go to too many cons. It’s okay that I give up my weekend time traveling to fun places (Toronto! Chicago! Seattle! Boston! And then there’s “scenic” Somerset, NJ …) but this means it’s really hard to watch anime. The funny thing is this is just an excuse in that I know other people who went to the same cons I did and are caught up. For me the time is second to how going to cons just drains me of attention-focusing juices so when I get home after work I’m prone to do not much.
  2. I have too much extracurricular things. I’ve been taking the past week easy but I do write for JTOR and have other stuff to do. Like this blog. I also went to see that FUNI-attempt at Ghost in the Shell in theaters thing couple weeks ago. I met up with famous Dutch blogger Psgels earlier this week. Lots of stuff to do. It’s summer in the city and it’s all fun stuff. I guess this is the kind of thing that separates people who sit at home and watches everything and those who don’t.
  3. I have too much non-extracurricular things. Like real-life obligations that are related to the cons I go to, pushed back by the cons I go to, and just in general.
  4. I have a job that just takes a lot of time and mental wherewithal.
  5. I haven’t been sleeping as much as I’d like, because of above things, and it makes watching slower and contemplative stuff more difficult (See: Soul Eater Not).
  6. One For All. I’m about two thirds the way through my first run and it feels just kind of like a streamlined version of IM@S2. The main difference here is that the story isn’t so much settled on just one character that you pick, but you actually do have to raise everyone, so it feels a lot more game-y. The story does come in chunks as you pass specific ranking goals. The new appeals mechanics are interesting but I haven’t really had the time to explore them because I’m too focused on making money and gaining EXP. Times like this make me appreciate the English-language scene for the various IM@S games, as when I started on IM@S2, there was a lot of text written for it so it’s easy for me to just research. Now I have to play it the “hard” way.
  7. I’ve been playing the English version of Love Live School Idol Festival mobile game. It’s fun in a way where IM@S is fun in that I want to jab my ears until they go deaf. I have to say, the music is actually better in LLSIF than, say, Shiny Festa, except the singing take a step back so a balance is achieved. I think the main difference is that in this event/microtransaction driven game the pressure is on to grind, versus in Shiny Festa the fun is in the gameplay and the videos. TL;DR, one is a job, the other is a hoobies. Unfortunately I already have too many jobs.
  8. Last but not least, Million Live. Because having four jobs is not enough. I can go on, but this mobage takes the opposite spectrum–if you want to rank, it still takes good amount of play time. If you want to rank without paying, then it’s like four times the play time.

It’s like this strange concoction of sleep deprivation and fake idols [like Jumbo Shrimp] that swims in my mind. It’s like knowing I want to watch Puchim@s, I want to watch it on FUNi and “support” whatever, but it’s such a PITA to do 3-minute episodes on a site that is a pain in the rear to search through hundreds of episodes. I’m too lazy to torrent. Too lazy to search a xdcc bot on the web and input like 50 GETs. I guess I’ll just wait for the director cut version in a few months/year.

It’s not easy being cheesed out of your time and money.

PS. Is it me or the Snow Halation episode kind of underwhelming? Is this how people feel about M@STERPIECE?

PPS. My idle mind is full of idols lately. Maybe that is not a coincidence, at least I feel that way.

PPPS. Speaking of which, I started doing some slides for that panel I wanted to put together, just because why not.