Category Archives: Nadesico

More Things Change

The more they stay the same, right? I read this and I’m like, so Nadesico is not really all that different than anime today, except:

  1. It’s still a breath of fresh air because if anything, liberal narratives are a lot harder to find in the lost generational gap.
  2. It’s a good benchmark from another era.

From a story construction and character development point of view, Nadesico’s formula is no different than most anime of its ilk today. We are still copying Ayanami Rei [Eva 4 notwithstanding]. We still have single-character eps. I daresay if anything we’ve came a long way since Nadesico. There’s more slick and style to how character intros and introspections are done today. Even just this season I can think of a couple oustanding examples, such as the really straight-faced showa comedies this season or even the make-an-eroge show.

I call them the Neru Twins

Come to think of it, Utaware False Mask is really just a 90s anime fully rebooted into 2010 sensibilities.

The “deconstruction” aspect in Nadesico is arguably its strongest suit, so I don’t know what the guy who wrote that OUSA article a few years ago was smoking at the time. I mean let’s not forget the shadow Eva TV casted in its wake, for easily 10+ years…

Let me take this time to write more about my favorite anime of all time a bit, like how Nadesico has a clearly anti-right lean. This was 1996. In 2016 we are having our 2nd cour of GATE already, which is as right-leaning as anime probably gets these days, and for some time? I can’t think of something even more right. Paving the way up to this point are things like Strike Witches, Arpeggio, the MuvLuv franchise, and even Girls und Panzer. It’s not to color the military aspect of anime fandom as one thing or another but times like this it makes you wonder what sort of stories are told in those series.

Oh, and we cannot forget the various Yamato reboots after all! So very instrumental to Nadesico’s narrative.

[And since I already mentioned the 3-letter-word earlier, consider Evangelion’s treatment on militarism and otaku who fancy that.]

And it wouldn’t be fair, too, to not include the other side of the coin, the SAOs or the Mahoukas of anime world. I mean there’s some pretty outrageous material thematically and in terms of what sort of philosophy they perpetrate. Those shows are the jokes in Nadesico. In 2016 they are actually being taken seriously.

Too bad they’re not outrageous enough. I guess we still have things like Library Wars or Shimoseka, but those are not the kind of show that gets traction. Maybe this is why Vividred didn’t get as much love? I don’t know. Playing for the Magical Girls audience is like playing for the mainstream audience–it doesn’t really pay you back.

I guess it’s like what Akatsuki said to Akito about watching anime for diversity, versus the nature of the Jovian’s single-mindedness. There’s some middle ground here. Like Osomatsu-san, is this why that show is so popular? I don’t know.

Mouretsu Pirates

One of the reasons why I hit myself for camping the autograph line too much at AX 2012 is because I wanted to stalk down Sato and talk shop about Mouretsu Pirates. I also want to talk about Flower of Rinne but maybe we can write about that after season 2.

There is this silly irony going on, too, because the last episode aired in Japan during AX. If it aired on Thursday I could have camped out at his press gig and filed questions there, on Friday. But by the time it aired Saturday AM Pacific time, I only had one shot to talk about it, and it’s at his autograph line. It would’ve been the best if they just screened episode 26 at the con and did a Q&A right afterwards. (I guess that is one major AX fail on the part of AX?)

So yes, there’s the movie announcement. So yes, I have questions about the way the last episode collates the plot thread in the last anime-original arc. I also think that one cosplayer I saw in line dressed up as Marika has it right: I too rather like the anime-original stuff.

The thing is, episode 25 was just so good. There was no way the arc could end in just one episode while topping 25. And to some extent that was the same with Nadesico as well, except that one actually capped a different narrative thread in the last episode, resulting in that inter-spatial spat and kiss. I’m not so hopeful about the announced movie as a result. It’s wiser to just take what’s on the table.

Author is a little slow on the uptake but he is correct–all those calligraphic end cards are direct works of director Sato. He signs off using that little character doohicky. If I recall correctly the voice actress for Marika also writes for a particular episode earlier on, but other than that slide, every one is a Tatsuo Sato work.

Some other burning questions I might ask:

  • What’s up with the name? Aside from the people who call it “Mouretsu Uchuu Kaizoku” I think the other permutations seem kind of interesting, wondering if there’s anything behind it.
  • The movie? The movie.
  • How do you depict three dimensional fleet combat?
  • What’s up with the chef’s sons? And what is up with those giants?
  • How do you deal with FTL transmission of the pirate songs?
  • Isn’t the final battle just a scaled-up version of the yacht club’s little mission?

Well, it can continue on. Maybe it’s easier if I just wait until the movie becomes available.

PS. Is it me or in the past 5 days every blog I follow (for example, Anipages) updated several times? Is there a mandate to update your blog this past week even if your average blog post/wk rate is below 1? What is this?

Anime, Writers: The I Can’t Remember Version

You can skip to the bold letters if you want the TL;DR version.

If I remember correctly:

So there was this con and I was there. There was a panel at the con, and I was in the panel room, as I sat on the right side of the room, towards the front. That panel featured two or three guests from Japan who worked on some anime that was being promoted at the time, and it was a fairly big show. One of them was the writer for the show. And this all took place some years back, maybe before 2009, I honestly can’t recall.

If you have ever been to one of those things, things being guest of honor panels, you would expect most of the panel to be Q&A, as was this one. People queued up at the mics towards the front, and I can’t remember if it had 2 mics or 1; it may have had 2. The one panel moderator took questions from both sides like a round-robin load-balancer, in that case.

I wish I had a name for this writer-guest, it would have made writing it up so much easier. The grey matter isn’t cooperating, and I can narrow it down some, but the internet lists don’t have the right name. I can’t remember much else, besides that there was some tricky detail to that show in the writing and someone did ask how that person came up with the idea.

As for a different name, what I am trying to say has to do with how some people criticize about Mari Okada. I’m fine with free-market exchange of thoughts and critical thinking about Okada and Lupin the Third. I just want to shed some light in terms of how it could possibly went down so we attribute praise and blame accordingly, or at least, in a less-wrong fashion when we could. Let’s first recognize unless we are privy to how it exactly went down every time, we can’t really say, and we are not really in position to know for sure unless we have the facts. So the next best thing fan could do is either:

  1. shut up, or
  2. find out how the typical industry practices are and extrapolate and guess.

I like #1 a lot but I guess we have no choice here, right?

At that fuzzily-remembered panel, the writer-panelist explained his role in the overall project. He was the “head” writer. He had to work with the core creative folks–director, guys who storyboard, whatever, I can’t remember if it was a novel adaptation or what–and come up with the overall plan. And then he worked with some writers who banged out the detail scripts for each episode, by assigning portions of the story to them. He also wrote some of the scripts himself. I think for that particular project he wrote almost the entire thing himself, but he mentioned that he has written for other shows where he was one of the hired hands who just did specific episodes as according to specification. I also believe he had some supervisory tasks after the episode scripts were done, just to go over and make changes for continuity and other reasons.

“Series composition” is often the title credited for this role. There are also other lead writing type titles (series concept, scenario, etc) but you get the idea.

I have another name: Tatsuo Sato. This guy is probably best known for being the director (and the guy responsible) of the Nadesico TV show and movie. I recall hearing about Nadesico’s writers from Sato himself (at a con, of course), who basically said they had a lot of talented writers who just wrote great things that he took wholesale and left them as is. I think the episode previews betrayed it as much. In this capacity I think Sato acts (like most of the time for directors) as the guy who coordinates the scripts. He applied them as he saw fit. Compared to his ongoing Mouretsu Pirates, the approach is somewhat more conservative as you see Sato penning more episodes himself.

Basically my point here is that what the writer’s input in any given anime project varies greatly, and going by one name or one title isn’t going to be very helpful. When Hideyuki Kurata showed up in vintage form in Kannagi episode 7, you know he’s the guy writing it. But could you tell he was the “series composition” credit for Kaminomi or Dragon Crisis? Actually his ardent fans probably can, but not most of us. You can kind of tell it in OreImo but that’s a stretch (I still believe Kurata is the X-factor that turned a trash anime to a chart-topper). Most of the time he is just playing it safe, adopting the source material, but sometimes Kurata shines, because he is given the latitude to do so. Besame mucho, for example.

If we want to look at Okada, and why you like or dislike her, it seems a lot more sensible to deeply nitpick the original works she wrote over the adaptations, like (1) Fractale (which I imagine she just took cues from Hiroki Azuma and Yutaka Yamamoto) or (2) Hanasaku Iroha (which seems almost like her brainchild) or even (3) AnoHana (which seems more Tatsuyuki Nagai than anything), except that is still a questionable gauge as I parenthetically expressed. When it comes to Okada’s Fujiko, I’m thinking case #3 applies–it’s way more Sayo Yamamoto than anyone else; perhaps even more than Monkey Punch. In contrast, I think Okada hammed it up in her adaptation of Hourou Musuko, who is credited to write and lead the script effort, if you want a real point of criticism. I enjoyed the show, but I imagine that tickled the manga fans.

Kind of a deja vu here.

With more BRS, AKB0048 and Aquarion EVOL  under our collective belts, care we re-evaluate our initial assumptions? I thought BRS was pretty much spot-on in terms of the writing being a work of interpreting the lyrics by Okada, except people kept confusing it with the original OAV and ignore the obvious connection to BRS’s song lyrics. And it was something if you don’t “get” you won’t enjoy (in that sense very much like Book of Bantorra and Simoun, both shows Okada worked on). I don’t really know what to think about AKB0048, as not enough content is yet available to decide on the writing. Aquarion EVOL is awfully like Hanasaku Iroha’s pretentious tension, with her signature ups and downs, if you take a look at it from a structural perspective (and she’s “series composition” on both, naturally). In fact I’d guess that the two feel as different as they are on the screenplay level because Okada wrote all of Hanasaku Iroha, and only a third of EVOL.

[Times like this I’m actually very happy that the average anime script give voice actors sufficient room to play their roles in drastically different manners, even if in terms of the chemistry, the same writer tend to deploy the same tricks across different works. Or else Andy W. Hole would turn into a balut.]

If I want to nitpick on Okada’s writing, I would totally attack the way she creates dramatic tension in the script. Just saying. And at any lower level/higher resolution of detail in terms of nitpicking I will have to go bust out episodic credit lists, and I don’t really have any motivation to do so (ie., I think Simoun episodes 15-16 are freaking awesome). If you want to venture out on your own, that’ll be an educational experience I’m sure. For example you can look at how Book of Bantorra is divided up, and report back what the end result of collating the first four episodes did.

Maybe people should start criticizing someone easier to identify by his flourishes, like Yousuke Kuroda. You know, just for practice.

PS. I recall some writeup at ANN that explained screen writing for anime in detail and in a more exacting manner rather than my usual meandering style. Anyone got a link to it? I don’t remember/cannot find it anymore.

The Theme of Memories is the Theme of Me

I’m not sure how many people out there recall the first few fansub renditions of episode 18 of Nadesico, but I thought that was always a touching way to translate something to get across the spirit of the language behind the title.

I’m not sure how many people out there enjoyed Kanon, either through the game, the fan stuff (radio shows and what not), or the Toei anime. I thought the new Kanon TV show is a self-fulfilling experience to re-experience your first time through Kanon, if you’re one of those people.

I’m not sure how many people out there even watched Simoun. I thought that was the saddest part about the whole thing. Who is going to stand vigil and remember the Chor Tempest?

The theme of memory is one that has real value the older you get. It doesn’t have to be mixed with regret, but it can. It certainly can be filled with “what ifs” and “now I get why.” Kanon is the story about a boy who grew up and couldn’t remember. It’s not a tropical, swashbuckling Peter Pan, but a downtempo, warm embrace. Because of that, re-watching Kanon is an enthralling experience. It’s not quite just going through the motions, but also going through your emotions when you remember your first trip with Yuuichi. It encourages you to remember. Could I remember Nayuki’s name if she asked?

What’s even more beautiful about this upcoming circumstance is that no longer we find our dusty, old remembrances dated with age. With even a critical eye we can re-examine Kanon through its new body. Thanks Kyoani! It’s really having the best of both worlds.

Memory is a favorite theme for many great pieces of anime. Hopefully I’ll be able to tell you just how that plays with Paprika tomorrow. I suppose that’s why I’m somewhat soft versus Charlie Kaufman’s films? Not to mention Satoshi Kon, but even Mamoru Oshii’s rendition in Jin-Roh and the two Ghost in the Shell films touch on this.

I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up, Get Off of Me New Anime!

I’ve fallen over from watching new anime blind.

That calm, deep blue. High-pressure Autumn air clusters. North American life. A suburbian existance characterizes the later part of my childhood. And not just any suburb, but one closely attached to a big metropolitan area. I’ve done this, just not during recess.

And I can’t get up. Out from the pit that Red Garden has got me. Like a dominatrix with her hand around your balls? Innocent lamb in the jaws of Satan? No, more like escapism and someone who wants to run.

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