Category Archives: Love Live

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.

Love Live S2 E4-5

Let’s talk about Rin and Nico.

Arisa is the best Love Live

I really enjoyed episode 5. It struck me as the first episode this season that actually took a moment and gave a character some time to think about and make a change. Let’s just say that after episode 5 some people thought Hanayo might start wearing girlier clothes.

I want to bring in episode 4 as a point to compare. Episode is the Nico episode where we learn about her family situation and the various circumstances she has to struggle with. We got some nice back story going there too, along with her adorable younger sisters and brother (all voiced by Nico’s seiyuu too). But in the end, was Nico a reformed woman? Nope.jpg. She might be just too tsun to quit, so her μ’s friends gave her an out and helped her out.

I think the comparison only make sense because how the story play out so similarly between the two episodes. Both focuses on a girl in such a way that puts the spotlight/pressure on her in order to reveal some newly discovered issue, in which the team helps to resolve. And it’s done so in this weird surprise to the audience, kind of like a surprise happy birthday party minus the awkward secret sharing that the girl-of-the-week get suspicious on.

But the key here is just to highlight that Nico smoothed out her issues in terms of lying to both her group mates and her siblings by making this fairy tale transition that’s kind of an allegory of the idol identity versus the personal identity. Versus Rin having actual character development.

Com’on man.

Not that is particularly problematic; I am no Love Liver but I do like Nico more than most out of the cast (favorite is by far Alisa, partly because she has more of a concentrated dose of Nishida Asako’s flairs), and it isn’t the first time I’ve called upon Yukarin as “sekai iichi kawaii” so Nico’s tropes are all too welcomed. I’m just not sure how possibly this shallow shell of modern amusement can compare to what simple coming-of-age maiden problem that Rin has overcome, along with her dozens of other anime heroines, no less than every magical girl since…ever. The fact that Nico’s episode is composed so similarly to Rin’s just cracks me up every time thinking about it.

I thought the way the camera framed Hanayo at the end was brilliant; it’s like those “maidenly” shots of Haruka Amami where you see her slender but subtly remarkable body in motion, her head above her chin out of frame, for less than a second. Great way to cap off an heartful Love Live episode.

And I don’t know where to go with this post–I can conclude a half dozen different ways. Let’s just say that for those of you who think anime is primarily entertainment, just be aware that when you posit this philosophically, it is, to say the least, shallow? We can do better than that.

The WUG Life Chose Me – P Culture: Definitions and Scope

As mentioned earlier, at Sakura-Con there was a P Culture panel about IM@S. After said panel I thought about exactly what this really means. What makes a Producer? What is an idol? Should I do an Otakon panel?

I think there’s a lot going on here, rich enough to definitely do all of that. But before I run headlong into it, some definitions are in order.

As you might know, P-culture really did start with IM@S, even if people were doing similar things well before then. In that sense, in post-otaku boom Japan there really is nothing left meaningful to define by the term otaku besides by their sub-niches. You have people who like mecha anime, for example. Or people really into waifus and moe crap. Or the 2.5D sei-buta-idol types. Or the plain variety of idol otaku. Or military. Or trains. Or BL. Or Yuri. You get the idea. These are not representative but elements to that otaku database where people can subscribe to various different things, and they do mix, kind of like a RSS feed of a set of RSS feeds.

Which just reminds me that Google Reader Shared Item is the best representation of the otaku concept. Anyway, RIP.

In that sense I would define P culture as a specific group of “feeds” that are bundled together. That’s what’s novel about P culture. That, and within this overlap, in the sense that many of us subscribe to this set of not-that-well-defined ideas, we find a sense of identity/unity common to these kind of identity affiliations (like, I dunno, gothloli and kogals). Or in the US, “anime fans” and cosplayers.

So more specifically, I mean:

  • Idol/entertainer culture, maybe specifically anison culture and wota culture
  • 2D otaku culture “in general”

Which, if you know what being a P means, has nothing to do with what being a P means–basically you are a fan of the IM@S games. And you can be a fan of the game (and now, anime) and have nothing to do with P culture. It’s kind of like being fans of old(er) school gaming, crunching things out on a NDS or X360, than on a mobile device grinding up some Million Stars. There’s already a pretty big gulf in terms of what being an IM@S fan really means, how that fandom manifests, and if it even makes sense for all of us to hang out together.

Which is also different than what being a P means, in the vocaloid scene, even if that nomenclature is not so different. Like what a Nicom@sP has to go through versus just some dude who likes the anime. Maybe this is why we’re so hot on danketsu in IM@S.

Perhaps it’s a lot more interesting to see how diverse this fandom is, and how the 2.5D fan category really exploded in the post-AKB48 era.

Ren is Yyo's buddy eh

To those ends, does it make more sense to look at Ps from a deductive way? Let’s profile a few people and see what they like, why they are Ps. Ethnography, or whatever. I wonder if there are some Japanese-language data out there…

Anyway. I think the approach to look at, present or even enjoy P culture is to do it on a more personal level. If you live like an otaku of some sort, it’s just “yet another vertical” of sorts. There are things you do, modern-day rituals, that facilitate the process. And then there are other things you do that’s just for the heck of it. Like buying flowers.

Why do we buy flowers, other than to make the concert venue smell good?

Why do we make business cards, besides that it’s useful to follow up with people online afterwards?

If invariably expression and identity are intertwined in these kind of instances, what does P culture say about us?

Is The World All One?

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Year in Review 2013: N-List

So, the usual.

kirino new years

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