Category Archives: Love Live

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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Love Live Episode 3, Ragdolls

Love Live!

I had my hangups about Love Live, but one thing I actually do like is the Asako Nishida-signature character designs. In a word, I like it for being glittery. Nishida comes across to me as a good illustrator with an innate sense to express emotion through character artwork. In fact sometimes I prefer her fanart over the original character artwork for certain IPs. In her works I can see a wide variety of feeling expressed, even if a lot of it tends to be the usual, fujoshi-tilting, fanart-style stuff. It’s often girly but yet compiled in a way that has uni-sexual sensibilities and can appeal in the same way, say, how young, girl-next-door style idols can appeal both to girls and to guys.

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The Love Livester

Okay, so Love Live episode 2 sheds light to my weird lukewarmness and why I feel that way. I think none of it is fault to the stuff, but hopefully you will see why this is the case. Basically, it clashes ideologically.

Let’s start with the fundamental. Asako Nishida. I like her artwork! A lot, in fact. Enough to buy an artbook she put out. But in this show I feel it’s… I don’t know. It’s unique I think, but it kind of jars me out of its everyday setting. I presume “School Idol” channels, in part, the “Idol You Can Meet” AKB-pioneered concept. It makes a small clash with fantasy.

Love Live! is not Love Live without the !

The fact that the main trio always reminds me of…this other trio in another fantasy work. Granted, Hikaru, Umi and Fuu are not uncommon motifs, but unless they’re going to get Captain Planet in the mix I’m not sure why is there an elemental signifier in my idol anime.

The problem with main characters is that they are the main characters. Who is the main character in the iDOLM@STER? Who is the main character in, say, Chance Triangle Session? And then there are the Creamy Mamis of the world. Love Live is neither. Just think about it for a moment: what would AKB0048 be like if there was a main character? I don’t think it will work. I also just want to put in the disclaimer (as weak as it is) regarding figurehead/representative characters and how they’re not really main characters–like Haruka is not the main character in iM@S but she is the one spokesperson for the franchise.

It’s not a simple thing as to why main characters doesn’t work for an ensemble cast of idols. “Doesn’t work” probably is not the right term; maybe it’s just that the dynamic of the narrative is now about what the characters try to accomplish, not so much who the characters are and what they accomplish while they do their things. I think it might come down to both a matter of individual preference for it, and if it makes sense in terms of character development. It is a delicate balance but I believe going with main characters is not the best way to do it. Maybe Love Live can prove me wrong.

A much better comparison to the glitz-filled life of Love Live is the relatively down-tempo and half-baked seriousness that is Tari Tari. At least at this point, we have a similar plot regarding a group of people trying to put on a show against the administrative odds of the system. (But who’s the main character in that one?) I think the more important thing to point out is that by end of episode 2, Tari Tari has had its club identity established and a concert has happened. I guess that won’t happen until next week’s Love Live–it takes care of a major plot point like that because it is about what happens, not so much the characters.

At this point of the series, we are introduced slowly to the growing list of eventual idols under μ’s. I think it’s safe to say that THE main character is burdened with the things she has to do, and meanwhile the other girls simply just have to be themselves in order for the group to come together. In that process, too, the main character will slowly spread out the burden to the other girls, and important things like the associated screen time, lines, and attention will get their ways around. In fact, it’s already happening despite the main character having as much impact this week as she did the last. I think the show is better off for it. I know I liked episode 2 greatly more than 1.

 The problem with Honoka, and many of the other girls, in this plot-driven environment, is that they cross the line. What line is this? Remember K-ON when the girls aimed for Budokan? That line. Because, by doing so, it would turn it from a real-feeling fantasy into a dreamy-feeling fantasy. It is perfectly realistic to have a bunch of girls hang out in an after-school music club. It’s not realistic to see high schoolers play in a nationally known venue (although empirically speaking, who knows). The crossing of this line will change the nature of the story completely, and I feel that’s in another way a clashing with the nature of the idol group in question. Because AKB48 is an already existent, independently real thing, its spinoff anime can do whatever the hell it wants. Because iM@S is not a real thing, its spinoff anime needs to play to the nature of the concept of the franchise. (Unless somehow we’re talking about Xenoglossia which is kind of not even in left field; more like the other side of the country.) What is Love Live? Just what kind of message should this anime be sending IRT the idol group itself? I don’t know and the more I watch this anime I feel the less I know.

And maybe this is all just me reading too much into it. If the idea behind Love Live anime is to pilot a story that is engaging and interesting, they very well could with what they have right now. If the idea behind Love Live is to market an anime idol group based on a moving anime, regardless what that anime is really about (besides that it is about the idols), maybe it will work; it really depends on the marketing and how the idol part of the equation play out. It is just that I am not sure if this is the most excellent way.

For the meanwhile I’ll just shut up and enjoy the ride–at least as long as it takes for me to remember their names to their faces.