Category Archives: Rozen Maiden

Some Summer 2013 Season Thoughts

Shoot first ask questions later style post.

Honoka Mutsu

I generally like Servant x Service. I think in a lot of ways it is an improvement over Working, but it lacks magnetic characters. I think taking on adult sensibilities gives it a new flavor but at the same time brings too much into play that shaves away the charm of a simpler punchline and makes it harder to embrace. “It” here being both the jokes and characters.

I think Silver Spoon anime comes across just a little heavy handed, but at the same time that’s probably necessary to drive the deeper points of the story. I’m not sure how the manga handles it, but this Silver Spoon feels like it is a pretty deep work. I also think that this could have been a very cultural-specific sort of a thing, but the saving grace is that processing basic raw ingredients in agriculture isn’t so different this day and age, across different countries, thanks to scientific advancements. In other words, the core message is somewhat universal, and moreover a lot of them don’t have anything to do with agriculture. The pizza episode was a great example of a modern day stone soup story and it definitely was the best one out of them all.

Out of all the shows I couldn’t make it out of episode 3, I’m most intrigued by Kaminai and Monogatari series. I’m pretty sure I will catch up on the latter series.

I really enjoyed Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ episode 6 and 7. In the end of 7 Potte took a photo of the fireworks and the backs of her friends. What ISO was that film? Did she change it from her camera at some point after the competition? That said I’m kind of behind so hopefully I’ll get to catch up in the coming week.

MJPR ending was a sea of flags. I mean, it totally pulled an Evangelion in terms of the joke flags. Too bad the story came across as too simple, for me. It’s like a Hollywood cliche. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t executed well enough to be enjoyable. It was enjoyable, for sure, but a little too shallow for my tastes.

The two Oonuma Shin series were a riot to watch. Good for him. They executed well, and despite the obvious and usual resource-saving techniques used everywhere, Illya delivered all that action and Watamote was a very clever show. They exceeded expectation in a good way, but that forces me to examine my expectations for Watamote and Prisma Illya to begin with–admitted they were somewhat low. Still there were some obvious bright spots in both shows. Izumi Kitta simply was perfect as Tomoko. Besides the convincing action scenes of Illya, Mai Kadowaki by now has a ton of Illya speaking time, so she wears that role like a comfy sweater.

Compared to her performance in Genei Taiyou, at least, Ilya was simply delightful. It’s not to say Day Break Illusion would’ve been helped by that, but in the end it was a weird way to highlight how different the two magical girls show were. The weird thing is, as bad as Genei was, it still had a lot of good points to it. Otaku media, I guess.

Titan and Railgun remain as the two top least serious business anime on my watch list. Especially Railgun. I see people taking it seriously all the time, though… I don’t get how people can do this without making a fool out of themselves.

Free is a fun watch on its own merits. The manservice for the most part can be side-stepped easily. I don’t think the rest of the show is really that noteworthy–about on par with Tamako Market I guess. My complaints still stand, but the animation and story is enough to keep my attention.

Kaminomi is also a lot of fun, as a non-manga reader. It’s not often you hear Asumin and Ayachi in roles like these. This third season of Kaminomi changes the gambit of the show for me–my favorite episodes in the last 2 seasons were the filler ones. By pumping the plot forward like season 3 they removed some of my complaints about the forced pacing, but it also took those charming down-time moments away. I guess I can’t say I like it, but it certainly can be a lot worse.

Eccentric Family is my top show this season and easily a top 5 candidate for 2013. No need to waste my breath at this stage, lots of other people are doing it. I’ll take my time to think about it…

The surprise hit this season is actually Love Lab. I really dig the way it gives a normal girls-be-girls kind of a setup, a backbone. It also has boys. It’s overall just delightful. If anything it could be funnier.

Genshiken Niidaime is as good as I expected to be, which is a high bar to clear. It’s still one of the best meta anime out there in recent memory. But because I expected this, it’s not particularly delightful since it can’t quite surprise me. Even if I have the manga and have been saving it until I’m done with this anime. I really enjoy some of the cross-cultural jokes especially.

Well, I probably should watch K3 before making those claims about Genshiken. I saw some cool caps from that show. But it doesn’t distinguish itself beyond the really nonsense stuff. Is this show any better than Kinmoza?

C3-bu, on the other hand, is a big surprise  in a different way. I also really enjoyed it but I had a hard time talking to people about it because following that show on CR is basically following it a week behind. It comes out on Mondays and the new episode airs Thursday–given how busy I was this summer I basically end up watching the episode usually on the weekend, Thursdays being the earliest. Sorry Crunchyroll, please never do this.

As for the show itself, in a way I like how it approaches the pathos from the “negative” side of things. You can state the problem in a negative way or a positive way, and the solution would feel very different depending on how you approached it. I think it’s a great litmus test. I also love how it gives Yura all these “reality marble” sort of way to show whatever it is C3-bu was trying to get across. Anime no Chikara yo. In a lot of ways this is a great show, in the way that, for example, MJPR fails to achieve.

I thought I would be all over Kinmoza, but this show didn’t have a higher gear to kick in to so it lost against the other shows of this season for my viewing time. It’s like I need to save certain times of the day when I am awake enough to take in these low-tension shows like Tamayura and Uchouten Kazoku (at least earlier on) to enjoy them fully, bumping out shows like Kinmoza and K3.

Gatchaman Crowds is the odd ball of the season. I guess that is only expected given that it is a Kenji Nakamura anime. However it is also a pretty fun show carrying the same kind of weirdo-yet-progressive ideas Nakamura has been sprouting. Whoever lets him have the freedom to make weird shows like this, God bless you and I hope you keep doing it for another 50 years.

Anyways, Gatchaman Crowds is also kind of the show that could “go wrong” really easily. It’s like Fractale, basically, that if the execution dropped something important, it’ll lose all credibility. I guess we have one more week to find out.

If there is one guilty pleasure this season for me, that would be Ro-kyu-bu SS. SHOW YOU GUTS COOL SAY WHAT saikou daze. No, more like because it is a koushien story after all. Kanae Itou is being her usual self in that show too, which is something getting rarer by the season. I also have to say it has a weird effect watching this right before/after MJPR. Iguchi!

I’m going to marathon Rozen Maiden…from episode 6. It’s fun. But probably less fun than marathoning Senyuu and Teekyuu back to back. Or interweaved. Which is something I’ll have to do too.

Bonus round:

  • Favorite OP: Servant x Service. However C3-bu’s final sequence is woaaah moeeeee. Also, kz song is so kz.
  • Favorite ED: Drowning in saudade in fhana’s Che Sera Sera, although I will reserve 10% for LOLI LOLI GROWING, whatever that means.
  • Most surprisingly good: C3-bu
  • Most surprisingly bad: MJPR
  • Funniest: Love Lab…or Teekyu.
  • Most surprising: Gatchaman Crowds
  • Most Mamiko: Uchouten Kazoku
  • MVP: Rento Kirishima

Summer 2013, < Three Episodes After

The anime blogging ritual continues.


Overall I thought this season yet again features a lot of solid shows. Even questionable entries like Fantasista Dolls or Inuhasa (for different reasons) give me reasons to want to watch it week after week, even when I wish just the opposite. The problem, if there is one, is that the shows with the most potential, the ones I like best, can only be engaged at an arm’s length.

By that I mean it’s hard to cheer for them. Let’s take Genshiken Niidame or Watamoe or the Monogatari series as a counterexample. These are pure otaku fodder. I can sleep with them in bed, carry it with me and read it on the train, what have you. That’s the typical case for late-night style anime. But entries like Gatchaman Crowds and Uchoten Kazoku, both fascinating pieces of work, require a level of rigor in order to engage them fully. It feels wrong, for example, to indulge in making dirty doujinshi of, say, Benten (but maybe not Utsutsu). Not that it won’t be done, of course, but there’s just something off kilter about theses two works. Maybe it’s the visuals? Maybe it’s just me? Probably it’s just me. It makes me want to watch them in theaters, or talk about it at cons with like-minded people. Or blog about them in a way to distinguish them.

I can’t say how it feels to engage all these works from a distance further than that, though. It must feel kind of ordinary and boring when, at a large enough distance, invariably everything seems to be the same thing, day in and out.

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Animelo 2006 on DVD = Animelol

So these babies came in the mail. LOL only means that it reminded me I already downloaded the DVD ISOs before new years. Time to watch!

Just for your information, if you didn’t know: I am a HUGE Masami Okui fan. I’m not even going to say why because I can’t bear to see my fanboy inner flesh sprawled out for no reason. By extension, I really dig JAM Project as well as some of Makkun’s (her fan nickname) collaborations. Makkun is also a very prolific anime musician, and over time she worked with a lot of different other musicians who have attachments with the anime scene. Chihiro Yonekura (and ROR/S), Minami Kuribayashi and Yoko Ishida are just a few.

But 2005-06 mark the years of Nana Mizuki’s biggest splash yet. She’s a pop cultural flag for the Densha Otoko generation, so it’s not a surprise to see her headlining this giant concert that is Animelo 2006. Animelo is this annual thing, for a couple years now, that the JAM Project folks have been throwing. It’s a lot of fun. And 2006 is their biggest show yet with the first time release of the show on DVD.

If you want to know how the show was, this is a much better read. For the sake of not reinventing the wheel I’ll just get the nitpickery regarding the DVD release out of the way and put in my two cents.

The DVDs, released by King Record (volume I) and Victor (volume II) are produced pretty much together. The design, art, the poster insert that you can put together for a full-size poster, and video production sync so they’re likely to be from the same production team. The release, however, are from two different labels. It’s no surprise because there are a bunch of different labels represented by the artists themselves, not even including our Suzumiya Haruhi trio: Aya Hirano, Yuko Goto and Minori Chihara. Their sole performance, Hare Hare Yukai, didn’t make the cut. Boo.

Other than that, all the acts seems to be on the discs. The DVDs also come with a behind the scene snippet, showing the day when all the performers arrived early in the morning, snippets of the rehearsal, people relaxing in the back room, people getting pumped before heading out to the stage, and stuff behind the scene during the massive roll call at the end. The featurette ends with individual post-concert interviews, each group telling us how Animelo 2006 was for them. The behind the scene bonus is on both DVD, and it’s exactly the same!

The DVDs divide the show up by gender, sort of. Naozumi Takahashi‘s two songs went with the male medley on Victor’s disc (along with JAM Project’s songs, and Ali Project). Kuribayashi’s taunting outfit along with the very cute Aiko Kayo landed with the female medley on King Record’s disc. The division is begging someone to come along and rearrange it to the concert’s proper order.

Ah well, onward with the impressions.

I’m honestly shocked: this would be my first time watching ALI PROJECT live, and she (Arika Takarano)’s definitely a looker. And I mean it in a high class model kind of way–she’s got the built and she takes care of her face. I suppose that’s a must if you’re going to look good on camera prancing around in that hardcore gothloli getup. The goth drag queens as backup dancer was neat, and I have a hard time saying no to Rozen Maiden Traumend OP.

And it took me years to realize Chiaki Ishikawa is the other half of See-Saw. Or rather, it just didn’t stick when I read her name back when Kajiura was hitting the popular waves here. I even have a copy their old CD…well, she does have curly hair now. I like her songs, naturally–they’re crowd pleasers as See-Saw’s new stuff tend to be.

But I should’ve known, Ishikawa actually wrote and compose entirely the OP to Simoun, which she performed on stage. When I first read of Animelo’s content, this didn’t even register. Who would’ve known what that meant six months later? Savage Genius also performed Simoun’s ED at Animelo 2006, and … yeap.

I think I said Aiko Kayo is cute. She really is. And it’s not the frail kind of cute that the SOS-Dan trio seem to be. I think Kageyama cracked a joke on Matsumoto over it.

Minami Kuribayashi definitely wins the provocative dress award, even giving Takarano’s oddish gothloli thigh+cat-o-nine-whip a good run. Her white dress during the medley part is very nice.

Nana Mizuki has legs. But I am always happy with that Eternal Blaze going.

I think the real highlight of the show for me is the 9-man raid full of SKILL! You got the JAM Project folks plus Yoko Ishida, Chihiro Yonekura, and Minami Kuribayashi. I think Fukuyama spent more time on the DVD screaming than saying decipherable words. It doesn’t help that I’ve done group karaoke over that stuff before. It really is hella fun.

Runner up would be Kuribayashi and Makkun’s duet for Mask. I always like that song.

It’s a ton of fun. The DVD reproduction is just a fraction of its total energy, but even then it’s one (or two) of the most enjoyable concert DVDs I’ve had the chance to watch. If you’re a person into anime pop, this is hard to pass up. At 4800 yen a piece I snagged both during the holiday season when it was 20% off from Amazon Japan (ftw!). Even with fast shipping I spent less than $85, overall.

Totally worth it, worth beyond its impressive song list and guests.

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National Geographic: Suigintou

I am not this man, and thankfully so.

I never was much of a photographer, so when I posed Suigintou under a cool October sky it didn’t occur to me to procure the right equipment, let alone finding a good angle. It was kind of brisk and I took care to spend as little time possible outside. Part of it was also I just don’t want to be found doing this in public. Or even by people I know. Alas, the journey towards the right degree of shamelessness is life-long.

Given my circumstances I cannot afford many hobbies. I think between PC gaming/MMORPGs and the occasional anime con, I’m pretty wiped. Maybe I can squeeze out some living expenses towards a few DVDs on sale or a trip to Book-Off, but a figure? Man.

Maybe all the more I should go nuts like TJ and get my money’s worth? Sounds like a good idea.

One of the big motivation behind me taking this picture and writing about it was a bit of a plea. I haven’t seen any figure reviews of Yujin’s SR series Suigintou. When I was putting the stuff together from the box, it was a bit of a delicate piece with ribbons that you have to attach. All it took was a little bit of trial & error, but lacking a well-addressed reference picture leaves me a bit in the dark. I’m not sure how the finish product should have looked in detail.

It wasn’t obvious. In fact in the picture above, something is missing. I didn’t realize after the fact that I actually made a mistake in putting her together. Alas, it has been remedied but I am not going to risk being exposed again, to take her for a walk under the sun.

If you are a bigger, better, superior Suigintou fan than I am, then you may have noticed what was missing. And just in case you’re like me and you bought this figure and didn’t figure it out yet, or planning to buy it, I hope I may save you some figuring-out.

The box it came with is fairly standard. In one corner it contains 5 ribbons and a feather, each laid within its own inset. The smallest one goes on her neck as a part of her tie/choker thing. Two of the remaining ribbons go on her sleeves, one on each side, right under her shoulder padding. The last two go on her gothloli headgear, one on each side. The 4 larger ribbons look similar, but they have different shaped attachments which only fit with the proper part of the figure. It’s a bit of annoyance.

It’s almost as annoying as putting her wings on, and to do so without taking her head off.

“Off with her head!”


Suiseiseki won Saimoe, as it seems to be news in these circles.


But what’s in a title? In as much as people subconsciously resign that popularity tests, as these are, means just that and probably only that, we all want our favorites to win.

Or do we? In some ways I like Suiseiseki a lot, but she’s just another girl on the list of characters that are moe, that are widely-recognized, that drives memes, that needs a good PVC figure, that adores doujinshi that we see as dime-a-dozen. Like roses.

Yet somehow, way before her steamroller victory, I found that she’s the girl I’d rally behind, out of all the others. Of course, Saimoe operates with a set of artificial rules (as all good elections do), such as it has to be a new anime aired between certain time periods, it has to be well-nominated, votes have to fit strict formats, what have you. Three observations:

1. Purpose. What makes Saimoe different than a poll that you see in Newtype or something is not in what it sets out to do. Simply put, a big reason why I’m thinking about “vote for your favorite” contests is that watching Saimoe makes me want to participate in one too, one that is more accessible. Don’t you? It’s kind of fun: fun to talk about it, to think about it, to administer it, to argue it in the various discussions that spring up, and to see how the population come to terms in a democratic fashion. That’s why Newtype and others have it–it’s something to read, to pay attention to, to get the publication’s name out there, to get the readers involved. In the same way Saimoe unites the anime community somewhat, at least those communities feeds (in varying degrees–first hand, second hand, etc) from the happenings in the 2ch boards. It is, arguably, the heart of anime fandom on the internet after all. I’m not sure, so don’t cite this, but something like 25% of the votes in the final match were from outside of Japan. It’s a good reminder for everyone that anime is a global thing!

2. Purpose. Again. The difference, as to Saimoe versus other polls, is to cater to 2ch-ers. These people are obviously too hardcore for Newtype polls, which caters to a huge, mostly detached, domestic audience. They watch the latest shows, and would rather talk about them more because they’ve talked the old shows to death. And of course if Saimoe is to be a reoccurring event, we just can’t have the same bunch of characters running every year (even if it may not make any difference towards the outcome in an isolated, closed set of voters). And of course, they want to give people the freedom to let any character to have a chance, and these people know every character. Like Ms. Invisible from Magipoka. Or Nanoha’s stick.

3. What makes these polls fun is the participation. The voting alone is pretty boring. But the meta-talk. The fanart and other fanwork. The campaigning. It’s fun. It goes to point number two, too, in that it’s more fun to be able to talk about characters you care about, so having a huge base to pick from makes it much more fun to talk about, at least early on. Once the winners win and most others become losers in the later rounds, at least you’ve gathered enough history and the “politics” of voting can continue on revenge motifs, and consolidate your voter bloc to leverage. People can still have fun.

And that’s what’s it’s all about. I don’t see why people complain about people getting too serious about Saimoe. It’s part of the fun to be serious about it.