Category Archives: Rozen Maiden

Tsuyokiss Aria REVOLUTION: Genre Kings x Delineation

This Picture Is Protected by OFP! ZOMG

You all have your own opinions on this, so I’ll be brief about laying the foundation and get into the meaty theoretical crap. The premise is simple: as genre is refined and redefined, people start to take cue as to what’s the best way to pitch within a familiar context, and evoking the same feel to reach out to the same demographic. The parallel is drawn from the “genre innovation” model that describes the video gaming industry and Nintendo, so if you’re familiar with that, you should have a good foundation.

From a cynical perspective, it all resulted from some successes like Love Hina or Ranma 1/2, where these genre-breaking/creating masterpieces started a trend. Just like telling your friends that “Trinity Blood is kind of like Trigun” will automatically get some of them to check it out, even if it isn’t really like Trigun… When a show resembles a certain something popular it gives the creators the incentive to mimic.

And there’s nothing wrong with mimicry. But when a genre is so well-defined (enough for a wiki article but not enough for bright line rules) because of the excessive mimicking, that if you toss all the divisible elements of what makes a harem anime into a randomizer and when the result of this mad-lib returns as a familiar premise of a real show, something is wrong. It’s not just because it’s absurd, but it’s so absurd that the work stands not on a creative bedrock recognizable by law. (Or is it?)

Thankfully, there are many ways out of this trap, and I think the anime industry has long since started to climb out of. When people like myself with no prophetic powers can see that, it means others are probably annoyed as well. Tsuyokiss is one example: the harem narrative reversed on its head; a typical bishoujo game adaptation has been spun around by the anime’s core team to draw a familiar story. But even then, such an “obvious” trick doesn’t distinguish the trite attempts at entertaining in TonaGura, for example, with Tsuyokiss. When the dumb shtick slapstick becomes the defining characteristic of your show, you’re not going to go anywhere.

But I suppose what these two shows told me, more specifically, is that people are ready. Sure, shows like Shuffle and DearS may prey on the weak still, but when I see Higurashi or even Negima, the vibe is just slightly different. In as much as in a post-Love-Hina reality we no longer can do a shounen romance show without the harem taint, people are tired of that. People are looking for the same, patently haremic elements elsewhere (looking at the new round of SaiMoe for some clues)–Aria, Rozen Maiden, School Rumble, and Mai-Otome, just to name a few. We want the relationships, the characters, the lightheartedness, outside of the traditional harem context. For some it is the desexualization of the context (Rozen Maiden); or it’s the focus on mood without drama (Aria); or inversely just the drama (Mai-Otome); or even pure comedy with little anything else (School Rumble). These shows all contain, for practical purposes, “harems.” However they do not carry themselves structurally as so typically.

Here is where we’re at a loss. This MMORPG dude says where things are going for them. Where are we going?


Otakon 2006: An Average Story about a Convention

If words were enough to describe this convention, I wouldn’t need pictures. Even if words were enough, I’d still use pictures because I am lazy.

I was a Harutard

But some words are necessary. Like tags. Could be chronological:
Hot Thursday prereg, drinking, dinner, drinking; hot friday lineup, ticket, sat in line and watch anime, dealers, eat, Nobuteru panel, Madhouse panel, eat alone, concert, karaoke; Saturday ticket, dealers, Kawasumi panel, autograph, karaoke, fate meet, concert, mt meet, Geneon, Hellsing, dinner, art gallery, 4chan, Geneon panel; sunday karaoke, art gallery, hotel crap, karaoke, lunch, karaoke, home.

Or more descriptive:
Haruhi-tard, ETERNAL BLAZE, Hottest. Otakon. Ever., Kawasumi Ayako, Lafiel, Mahoro, Trap-chan, Raptor Jesus, Getsumei Fuuei, MUCC, fatigue, NO U, Free Stuff, Mihata no Moto ni, Pictochat, Geneon, Dan Kim, Futakoi Alternative, Touhou, Ever17, waiting in line, Nobuteru Yuuki, Nakazawa Kazuto, God Bless…

There were the usual amount of cosplaying. Without beating around the bush anymore, you can click on these links at your own risk. Traps, you know. I think the variety this year matches more my expectation from last year than this year.

A good meme from the con to recall is Web 2.0. It’s amusing how much I’ve changed in doing an otakon write-up over the last 9 years. And yet I’ve done it every time save my first Otakon, in a blog form. Instead of AMVs maybe I’ll do a trip down memory lane kind of thing. Some things, despite age, just don’t change time and time again.

Like hitting traffic on the NJ Turnpike.

But there are still stories left to be told of our battle last weekend. Yours and mine. Like how karaoke post MUCC concert means you can’t hear the monitor too well. Or our Canadian friend makes one helluva Trap-chan. Or how 4chan manages to transform time and space and bring anonymity to a convention line. Or how the panels I missed out I wish I could attend, or watch videos of. Or how I asked about Lafiel, and made a fool out of myself at the Kawasumi panel. Or how people should do more Nana Mizuki songs at the karaoke. Or just how much fun we had, or how we wish you were there, too.

I was actually looking for Os on Friday–imagine we were all in the Mad House panel

Perhaps one more notable point to it all is how my friends played into the picture. There was a major blurring between my RL friends, different circles of RL friends, internet friends, and random people. It’s good to know people who know people but knowing so many people can make things difficult. This year marks a good, sharp distinction between people who I consider “con buddies” with “visiting friends” and “groupies.” It’s so important to have all three. Just don’t mix them up in the wrong categories… And keeping the right kind of stories to the right kind of crowd :)

And on that note, I wish you all would show at Otakon next year, because I have high hopes…


Fangirls: Don’t Leave Home without Them!

In anime blogging terms, Otakon (and several other cons like it) is a wellspring of ideas. You can write a long article on Kanaria DX, but for a con-goer you could also write a long article on just finding Kanaria, trying to haggle price on it, fail and come back the next day and bite the bullet, then take pictures of it with Kanaria cosplayers and finish it with a parody sketch of Vita hammering down on Nana or something equally nonsensical. Now multiply that by fifteen or something.

Thanks, Dan Kim!

Yet at the same time, American-style anime cons are not for everyone. Even as fans, we cling onto different ideas of what it means as a fan, what motivates us to act like a gaggle of idiots, and what makes us shell out the big bucks. Even what makes memorable memories vary from one fanboy to another. I respect that.

To that end, that is why I love fangirls at cons. Don’t get me wrong; more often than not they are bringers of headache and long waits. They’re the kind of people who would wait 8 hours in line, overnight, for a Seki Tomokazu autograph (and well worth it, I say). They may also be kind of self-absorbed and singled minded to the extent that they behave like a scary mob of … fangirlness in which levels everything in their path on their way to rush from one line to the next. It’s hard to talk nice about fangirls unless you’re just as equally self-absorbed to care. However, in the context of an anime con in the US, they fit right in.

Especially at the right types of musical venues.

I’m not sure how many people are at all aware the plight LOAE and his cohorts had in order to “get it right” for a certain variety of musical guests. Some concerts are the type you sit down and listen, like PLAY (I would’ve, could’ve, didn’t)–an orchestral rendition of pop video game music hits. Some concerts are the type you want to stand up sometimes (Kanno Yoko‘s piano interludes). Some concerts have seats but you’re not suppose to use them if you can help it (Yoko Ishida), and the rest you are just suppose to stand (any kind of Jrock, or MUCC for this con).

When we have these strange yet wonderful Japanese musical guests at anime cons, the problem is this: a lot of people at the con, and attending the musical events, just don’t know what sort of a show it may be. Unless you live near a major city, too, you are probably a tad shy in terms of concert-going experience. It’s not like going to a movie theatre–most people don’t hit up musical venues in their spare time unless you live in real proximity to them, or chase concerts like, well, a fangirl. A two-tier problem.

On top of the fact that an anime con is really a conglomeration of many kinds of fans with many different kinds of programming, shy of bands like L’arc~en~Ciel, you will really only be reaching a very specific audience segment. Even artists like Yoko Ishida or other more “mainstream fanboy” is going to shoot short of gathering the right kind of crowd. The MUCC concerts at Otakon this year are a good demonstration of this problem, and partially, the solution.

1. The right venue. Just to get it out of the way, the Powerplant sucks–to walk to it requires going around some really seedy parts of Inner Harbor, plus this is still probably the Hottest. Otakon. Ever so I really wanted to spare both my back the heat, and my feet the wear–it’s about a 15-minute powerwalk. Both times I did it I was doing it upstream of a bunch of Yankee fans, too. Generally a blah experience. Still, a proper musical venue is a must. I remember seeing a bunch of punk kids at ACen’s SID concert. No. Even worse was BOA (the UK band) at Otakon back in 2000. No no no. You need the right venue like Ram’s Head for a band like them. It REALLY makes a HUUUUUUUUGE difference.

2. The crowd. Friday night’s MUCC show with Nana Kitade opening was probably MUCC’s best performance out of the two. They were high and mightily powerful, and probably not exhausted yet. But the crowd on Saturday was about 10 times easier to work with. Part of the cause, I imagine, was because of Nana Kitade. She draws a radically different crowd, although I think some fangirls do like her as well. While I may be a gothloli fan, I don’t really like gothloli culture at all, and she’s all about that. I’d say about half of the crowd was into the show overall during MUCC’s gig, and the other half were just there. The hardcore fangirls took the lead and there were even some mild moshing, but it’s nothing compared to Saturday’s crowd. People were broken in, the fans were more organized, and people who can’t bother with cheering just didn’t go through the added effort to come to the show again.

3. The repeated showing. Having two separate shows probably helped sifting through the fans as well as giving everyone a chance to get familiar in terms of what to do at their shows. The second show may be a lot more tiresome for the artists, it was just a better fan response. I think just between Friday and Saturday Kitade’s fanbase at the con doubled, so go her. It probably helps that her hair didn’t get tangled up with the guitar the second day.

In that conventions in the US have been getting musical guests for some time now, these considerations are nothing new. I’m well aware that cons have bigger worries and other restraint too, making these things simply not possible sometimes. But it makes a huge difference, especially when we’re talking about a band that’s playing in a foreign language, from a foreign culture, and don’t have the resources to play the crowd like how a big shot stadium-like concert can.

I think for the rest of this week I’ll try to squeeze in as much Otakon-related entries as I can, so please look forward to that!


The Thousand Shades of 水銀燈

“Did you miss me while you were out looking for yourself?”

PEACHPIT has a Suigintou, Suigintou

She largely ignored me–stealing just a quick look, darting her eyes back towards where she is going. Ah yes, people rarely do well with my wry attempts at humor.

“Junk.”

She remains unphased.

“Junky junk junk junk junk junk–.”

And this is why I don’t write fanfiction.

I suppose lately I’ve been in this odd mood where I want to tease every tsundere-like personality around. Thankfully I’m rarely alone on this, and others are just better and faster to the punch usually.

Does that sound like the premise of Tsuyokiss to you? The magic of the tsun-tsun-dere-dere? I think women generally has been described as people with many faces. It’s not that they are internally inconsistent, but rather they have several behavioral modes, moods, and emotional states even when they seem to be rather normal. It’s like the open sea, right?

I have no idea. Nor is it all that important if it is true or not. A cursory glance will reveal what is attractive to tsunderekko–the changing in between. I call this being a valiant.

Yes. The world longs for valiant women. In fact, I state this plainly for both fanboys and normal, everyday men. How do I get this “tsundere” thing to honorable and courageous? I think it makes sense once you start to think about it, but maybe we can go through an example.

Sugintou, for instance, is a valiant girl. She has very clear motivations as a person, as a personality, and as a force of plot. Like the rest of the Rozen Maidens she wanted something. Shinku may have taken the elegant road by wanting what she’s got and not getting what she wants, and making due with what has been given to her. As we know, there’s this “junk” character flaw which plagued Suigintou’s body and her mind, as a result forcing her to not only participate in the Alice Game, but she can’t be bothered to cope with someone like Shinku.

What’s the honorable thing to do? To run the course of her creator’s objective means living like the broken doll that she was, and to lose and perish? She faces the music and dance, if she should play the villain, she would. Destiny is both a companion and a slave master. To live as such is to have the courage of something more, something beautiful. Same could be said of the several other Maidens. That’s not to mention the greater feat of strength she managed in the second season.