Category Archives: Tari Tari

Formatting Your Opinion to Fit the Masses

Joshirakunzer II

It’s the feeling of being included, of your own preferences being validated by others who share the same ideas and flavors that you choose. It’s why we seek the approval of others and sometimes it’s also why we reject others and their ideas. I think in our annual quest to hit F5 while waiting for that mysterious Momotato Daioh update which never seems to change from its heartwarming 2009-feel, it’s really the thing we’re looking for, that lost time when the our perceived world was just a tad smaller and a tad more homogeneous.

It is also why I keep watching that blasted 2ch saimoe nonsense. It’s also why I enjoy this video. I think we all can agree or disagree with 2ch’s selection to some degree, but if a top 10 (or 50) list can be a story of something, this is one uplifting story personally. It’s got even the signature 2ch “taste” to it–one that I do not personally share, but somehow I think it adds to the charm of the whole thing.

As a matter of personal compatibility, to no one’s surprise, I match pretty well with 2ch’s. The first match (Tsuritama) comes at #30, and all but 2 shows on my top 12 for 2012 are on it (as Fate/Zero and Chihayafuru are disqualified AFAIK because the poll didn’t count shows started in 2011). You can pick out trends–Horizon S2, for example, scored nowhere nearly as well as S1. And I picked that example not only because it is an easy one to spot, but it also reflects my own opinion. On the other hand, you can clearly see a bias for shows that are more recent, although that is no justification for Girls und Panzer. (Frankly, I’m not sure anything can, even if I can understand it well.)

To make it simple, here are the list ranked from bottom to top. Ones with * are in my picks for 2012.

50. Natsume Yuujincho
49. Ixion Saga
48. Tasogare Otome x Amnesia
47. Oniai
46. High School DxD
45. Black Rock Shooter TV
44. Ano Natsu de Matteru
42. Haiyore! Nyaruko-san!
41. Utakoi
40. Kokoro Connect
39. To-love-ru Darkness
38. Kuroko’s Basketball
37. Dog Days S2
36. Zetsuen no Tempest
35. Tonari no Kaibutsu
34. Busou Shinki
33. Ginga e Kickoff!!
32. Natsuiro Kiseki
31. Uchuu Kyoudai
30. Tsuritama*
29. Smile Precure!
28. Horizon S2
27. InuxKami SS
26. Shinsekai Yori
25. Danshikousei no Nichijou*
24. Sengoku Collection*
23. Senki Zesshou Symphogear
22. Hidamari Sketch S4
21. Accel World
20. Little Busters!
19. Jormungand
18. Oda Nobuna no Yabou
17. Yuru Yuri S2
16. Nisemonogatari*
15. Kill Me Baby
14. Another
13. Nazo no Kanojo X
12. Psycho-Pass
11. Mouretsu Pirates*
10. Sakamichi no Apollon
09. Sword Art Online
08. Joshiraku*
07. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!
06. Saki Achiga-hen episode of side-A
05. Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita*
04. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
02. Tari Tari*
02. Hyouka*
01. Girls und Panzer*


1. You know how people complain about how moe is ruining anime? Here is a pretty good test to see where you stand on that issue. Just how many of these anime are so-called “moe anime”? How do these internet arguments align with facts? How do you appraise the current situation? Why are some shows ranked the way they are?

1a. How many noitaminA shows are on the list? Is it dead yet? Is it drifting from its roots? Does this data support those claims? Are there any other claims one might want to make in regards to noitaminA? (How about: It’s just wasn’t very good in 2012?)

2. How do you align with 2ch’s tastes? Which blogger aligns with 2ch better than others? Does it even mean anything? How does 4chan rank to this?

3. How many of them sell well on home video? How do sales and popularity align? How does 2ch’s popularity rank and match with perceived popularity by other metrics (such as sales but also ratings, when available)?

4. JPMeyer’s theory on ethnic-specific affinity probably plays a role. It seems a straightforward case as applied to Tari Tari. But does this apply to Hyouka too? I think so.

Bonus: Clearly, Jinrui wa Suiitai Shimashita is the best comedy this year, by most metrics, not just this one. But what is the worst? This is a top 50 list so we don’t really know, but surely it cannot be Kill Me Baby?

Tari Tari

To me, Tari Tari is not a finished experience. Some people who really enjoyed it might prefer to have it keep going and slowly savor it. Similarly, I can’t put it away until I rewatch the show from the beginning. There are a lot of little things, here and there, that I still haven’t made sense of. As I try to write this post I find myself lacking the language to express it, and I haven’t seen any other reviews or posts on Tari Tari that satisfies.

For example, fans early on already caught on the name well before the anime even aired. The name “Tari Tari,” in the promo shots, are spelled out using English alphabet. It’s kind of a play on True Tears (which was also spelled out similarly). The episode 1 homage to Reflectia makes it even a stronger case. I mention this, because, did you realize one of the five main characters also share the same T-T moniker? And what was his role in the story? If you think Anohana’s referential web is a trout, maybe TT’s “hidden dragon” approach might be more to your liking.

I hate to bang on this sort of thing but the typical review, picking on Fandompost for example, does that bat-for-averages impression. That’s a solid but fundamentally inadequate way to evaluate Tari Tari, because it doesn’t tease out any of the in-your-face aspects that makes the show attractive via its marketing. It’s like making red wine versus white wine. On the other hand I guess well-filtered opinion is exactly what people are looking for, but that’s not what I‘m looking for.

The funny thing is, I mostly agree with the consensus that Tari Tari is average for its appeal to the average anime viewer. Rather, this is an anime that is very targeted; it’s out with its calling card right from the beginning, and delivers a tactical payload that is proverbially hit or miss, because, well, it’s so targeted. At its core, Tari Tari is a kuuki-kei anime that, like True Tears, exploits using the virtues of emotional warmth. It’s iyashikei; the Manabi Straight-esqe plot towards the end is almost a no-brainer up-lifter, if at least in form. But it’s different in that Tari Tari does everything it does by being itself, and not by being some kind of messy emotional wank material. It, too, is somewhat of a self-contradiction where people would find things they don’t expect to see in there. To some extent, it’s the next step from Hanasaku Iroha–a story that walks the well-established path of dramatic pathos but with a few screws loose. For Tari Tari, it’s busting out the machetes and forging a new path entirely. It does not feel like live action acting; it feels closer to real life.

Tari Tari, like its name sake, is also all over the place. If you come into the show looking for drama along the lines of that Noe-Hiromi triangle, you won’t really find it. It’s not even really about freedom, rebelling, and standing up for yourself and what is right, even if that is a part of the story. In fact, who is the main character? Wakana, right? Just because Ayahime gets top billing? To use Dai Sato’s language again, it’s like a sekai-kei anime that isn’t exactly about relationships.

I think Tari Tari is very noteworthy on that alone: this is a show that defies a bunch of genre conventions. Perhaps that’s why it’s all over the place. The first two episode spanned almost as much time chronologically as the rest of the series. There is not much of a “rail” to guide viewers besides the chronology of Shirosai and the Choir Club & Sometimes Badminton Club’s activities. The characters came at us as they are, and introspection, like those cold lead-ins, hangs in the ether, contextualized only by the ongoing and concurrent dramatic focus. Despite the Power-Ranger-esque distribution of plot and screen time, Wien, Tanaka and Konatsu never get to really shine. Here you are–the leader of the club isn’t even the main character. The last time I enjoyed a show where the leader is not the main character was probably K-ON–if we can admit there is a main character (Yui?) at all. But Tari Tari is even more off-balanced than K-ON. I’m not sure if it is a bad thing, but it certainly seems confusing for some people.

Thankfully, that off-balance nature makes Tari Tari kind of fun to watch. It’s definitely a mood-lifting experience, both for its solid dramatic filling (namely, Wakana’s story) and its butt-slap-tastic antics. Do we really have anything to say in the face of this? Will anyone’s argument work?

The way the three girls made fun of their male club members is both endearing and amusing. It’s easily one of the best part of the show. Sawa’s plight was pretty amusing, once we get past the forced drama. The singing and dancing was a lot of fun in the meta sense in how they held back Ayahime completely until that moment of clarity in Wakana’s life.

TL;DR: It’s easy to call Tari Tari boring because it’s hard to get in to, but for some of us we were in since even before the series started. But even if you weren’t, you could do much worse in the high school drama anime category.

I like to think of  Tari Tari, at least at this point, as a second-hand, expensive piece of audiophile equipment–full of plugs and holes and hooks and missing the manual. All this stuff probably fits somehow, but it’ll take at least another go-through to figure it out.

PS. Are we suppose to fault a show that is “all over the place” because it’s “tari tari”? Next time I try to thought dump on this topic I will probably talk about its formula for what I perceive as life-likedness.

How to Enjoy Chuunibyou Media

Mary sue is a loaded term, which is why when appropriate, chuunibyou seems like a much better alternative when describing TV anime; “chuunibyou” is sufficiently new and foreign enough that most people aren’t quite sure what it is yet. To the point, both terms address fundamental complaints in terms of realism and suspension of disbelief.

Of course, when we deal with anime, certain things are going to be taken as is. Realism in this context has to do with the way the audience engages the material. For instance, most of us attack late-night TV anime as character and drama pieces. We care about character development, and often times you see people try to approach even gag 4koma adaptations from that angle, resulting in a mismatch and the resulting 3rd party chagrin. When I watch Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood I watch for what’s happening to who and what plot is being unraveled and realized, and how are the good guys going about to do their thing as far as the hook goes. I don’t really care about the type of ammunition being used in the frozen environs versus the desert, or the type of socks the military issue to soldiers in those environments–but somehow I am suppose to care about the automail people wear, because it’s kind of an plot device. I guess I’m not suppose to sweat the small stuff.

With that in mind, let’s look at choir drama Tari Tari. In a recent episode, a petty thief was subdued by the power of costume play and hot-powered vocals. The marathon bike chase scene where the costumers chased, on foot, the biking thief that leads into the vocal performance probably did not help either the pursuers and the criminal. Still, we are suppose to believe that the guy on the bicycle is some how even more tired than the high school 3rd years in their tokusatsu outfits. When the second bar of the song kicked in, we are to believe the thief was mesmerized by Wien’s brave visage in front of the setting sun, in some way. Perhaps we can swallow that Sawa’s mother somehow had these outfits, that happens to fit these one-size-fits-all Japanese bodies (along with their one-size-fits-all character designs, maybe), along with the opportunity to make some money on the side. This is drama, we can chalk all that stuff up to coincidence, right? Just like how there’s a thief who’s pocketing something in public, during a public event, right? What’s Japan’s crime rate again?

I suppose it is much better to care about petty things like that, than where would Sawa ride Saburo around–there are not a lot of places around there to fit a fine animal like Saburo without running into people. It’s like the scenic shots across Enoshima, with the Choir And Sometimes Badminton Club running up and down the seaside mostly by themselves. It’s strange because it’s probably full of people if you ever visit Enoshima in real life. To Tari Tari’s credit, thankfully we don’t typically ask these kinds of questions, because we are preoccupied with Konatsu’s plight and the characterization of the group. That’s how we engage with Tari Tari.

But why would I ask these questions? Because I was thinking about it. This is the strange tension between going all Chitanda on something, versus checking your brain at the door and just enjoying something without asking too much questions. The former is great if you can get the audience engaged but you probably don’t want them to ask too many questions and poke through the thin veneer–a beautiful production may be reduced to its component gear-works. This is basically what has happened to SAO for me. This is why being too chuunibyou in the story is problematic. It makes the audience ask the wrong kind of questions.

A better example of this is actually Guilty Crown. In that case, the chuunibyou factor was not extreme, but it was enough, that when combined with its convoluted web of messy plot devices, conspiracies, and strange character dynamics, people have no choice but to engage with straight questions that GC’s flimsy web can’t handle. And once we see the underlying mechanics, we can’t help but to point out where it could’ve been better, because we all have seen it done better somewhere else.

On the flip side, you can see how a story like Hyouka can be very engaging without letting people know its ultimately chuunibyou underbelly. After all, it’s just a boy-meets-girl story where the boy feels like he holds all the cards, and the girl is at least kind enough to let him know about how she wants to approach the situation without outright manipulating him. The end result was a less-predictable life for the boy, a knock and a notch down from that specific, middle-school disease. [If you read my blog and you didn’t know Houtarou starts out in Hyouka with a Type A case of chuu2byou, well, now you know.] It’s very Japanese too in how the men have all the face, because the women are great people who save them.

As an aside, this is partly why I have a hard time watching shows like FMA and mainstream shounen stuff, because precisely I think too much, and those shows ultimately reveal their underbellies if you batter it enough for long enough (most things do). From experience, outside of One Piece, it’s probably never pleasant. I think there are shows that also target this specifically, to their benefit: Simoun comes to mind as a great example. I also think of certain meta shows like Seitokai no Ichizon as a way to both celebrate that problem and bring to catharsis that sort of frustration.

Lastly, I don’t have to explain about shows where that do require checking your brain at the door, right?

PS. I think I just used chuunibyou two different ways in my post, I hope you didn’t get confused.

Interrogated by Another Blogger: Mostly about Crunchyroll and Viki

It’s fun and game time. Chain-blog-topic from Zzeroparticle on his anime music blog wanted me to answer 5 questions, and you can read them below. For people who don’t know what game I’m talking about, it’s like a chain letter where you read it, you answer the questions, and you “forward” it to 5 other people with your own 5 questions.

As it turns out, I am going to write about one question in some depth, because I feel I can do it. The rest are pretty much personal preferences. I suppose this is why I was pointed out in the first place.

1. While you’re watching an anime, what makes the soundtrack/music so memorable you’d actively seek it out?

Using past experiences as the answer to this question, there are three use cases. First, there is a specific track that stood out and I wanted to listen to it closely or in full. Second, because of name recognition. Third, which is not answering the question perfectly honest, is via recommendations. I’m reading the question strictly to mean “while you’re watching an anime.” It’s not often that I get recommendations to check out the soundtrack while I’m watching an anime, but it has happened before. Chalk one up for simultaneous and communal consumption of real-time media.

The first case doesn’t happen very often. The last time it has happened was Jormungand’s LOCO KOKO track. The time before that was this. But I can’t really remember an earlier time.

The second case, about name recognition, goes with the usual case that if I read in the credits “hey it’s Yoko Kanno” or something, I might be inclined to try out the soundtrack by itself. It also goes with the case when I see it’s the sequel of some anime whose soundtrack that I enjoyed, such as in the case of Last Exile.

I think I tried out the Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood soundtrack because while I was watching it, a friend was pestering me about its soundtrack. That’s the example for you for #3.

2. What do you think about Crunchyroll’s business model’s survivability 5 years down the line and do you think Hulu or Youtube are capable of becoming a stronger competitor?

While the question talks about Crunchyroll, my answer ends up more about Viki and how the two compare or contrast. Maybe the answer is in there.

Last I heard, Crunchyroll breaks even. They make money from subscribers, advertising, and some merch sales. They spend money via licensing (I count the cost to produce subs here), marketing (for example, seeing them at cons, running CrunchyNews, etc; as an aside… I wonder how much the PS3 deal costs), and obviously maintaining their corporate structure and paying to support their media services. Through licensing, they both pay via some form of a minimum guarantee and then a split on the revenue on top after hitting certain goals, or via their partnership with one of the TV studios in Japan in which I have no idea how the fee structure go (as opposed to just an educated guess–all of these are just guesses, folks!). Revenue split is based on video playback counts, so if you want to support a show on CR, it helps to just watch it or run the video on CR. Their bandwidth costs are probably tiered so it wouldn’t really matter.

At this past AX I had a chat with a marketing person who works for Viki and we traded our thoughts about the future of new media in this space. Viki comes into the picture in a similar sort of situation as Crunchyroll. The main leverage both of these organizations have (that you don’t get via Hulu or Youtube) is the combination of agility in their capacity to chase after market trends and their relationship with content owners. The recent find of Oniisama E on Hulu is largely because Viki is serving that stuff on behalf of Tezuka. In other words, they can get Tezuka Pro’s stuff out there. I don’t think Hulu would bat an eyelash about Tezuka anything, they just don’t care for that sort of thing.

Crunchyroll comes in from a different community space than Viki (for the unfamiliar, that’s K-drama and Telenovela type stuff): anime fansubbing. There’s a mix of pro and con to that, in as such I think Crunchyroll will be able to provide the sort of thing that fansubbing demands: in other words, quality speedsubbing. Viki doesn’t have as much pressure as they are largely focused on leveraging titles that nobody’s ever really seen in genres and categories nobody thought to explore.  Viki’s userbase is not after the newest sort of things; or rather, Viki provides the “structure” of fan subtitling that anime fans in the west has long created from scratch from ways back–this means not only the technology, work flow, infrastructure, know-how and resources, but also the distribution channels. Obviously. Because money has to get made somewhere. That allows K-drama fans to enjoy K-drama even if they live, say, in Argentina or something, since you know South Koreans really want to flex their Soft Power Muscles. Irony aside, that’s the kind of real market opportunity that no big media dudes would go after.

In a lot of ways the two companies are very complementary. You can look at their techcrunch profiles here and here and see that it does match, in the sense that CR does delivery and Viki connects the end points. I think, from a P/L perspective, it’s hard to run Crunchyroll to the ground because it took off during a pretty rocky time (in other words, begin in earnest after a major market adjustment). Unless they gamble big and loses, the only real risk on the horizon is market competition driving licensing costs higher and weakening subscriber growth. However I don’t really think that’s going to happen: the pond is just barely big enough for two big fish, if even that. It’s not very attractive. What CR has going for them is the slow awakening of the masses to new media models. As more people move to the internet for serious media consumption, I think CR presents a curious portfolio of titles that will tide them over in the next 3-4  years at least. On the other hand, I don’t expect them to explode, either positively or negatively, unlike Viki is likely to do.

At the same time I think it is both a risk (startups swim or die) and a reflection of the type of business CR serves. Yeah, I guess you can see what I mean if you compare the two. To be fair, I don’t really know where CR can go at this point. I think they have done a good job winning over that business (as Spotify would say, competing against piracy) but it is a good question regarding that 5-year plan.

3. What would it take for you to contribute to an anime that is aiming to get crowdfunded through a site like Kickstarter?

Another great question. I remember hearing the ANN Cast with Quarkboy, and his secret kickstarter that focuses on localization projects. October is just around the corner. But I’m guessing this question is not quite the same as “what would it take for you to contribute to an anime localization that is aiming to get crowdfunded through a site like Kickstarter?”

Personally? I have no idea. When I see it I will know. What I will say is that considering the price ranges some Kickstarters get, it doesn’t take a lot to push through a Kickstarter for an anime if it is the adaptation of a popular property. I wonder how many people would Kickstart a Megatokyo anime (written by Jun Maeda wwwwwwww). A typical 1-cour TV anime costs about 2 million bux to fund and produce, and that includes the marketing to an extent. You can do the math.

What I will also say is that I take Kickstarter seriously and vet the things I fund, unless it is some kind of smartphone adapter/holder, because you can never have too many crappy ones that don’t work as advertised. An original anime project on Kickstarter has to look like it has the financing to execute what it promises to do. I really don’t think it’s easy enough to fake this to worry about.

Of course, you could scale it back and just KS an indie anime short or something, which is much harder to vet. But since a lot of those get made for next-to-nothing these days, I probably won’t.

4. Which anisong artists who’ve debuted in the past 3 years do you predict will still be popular 5 years from now?

I guess Sphere debuted more than 3 years ago, huh. If you count April 2009 as “in the past 3 years” then that one is a shoo-in. In general, I think well-produced idol groups are very safe bets. To that end, Momoiro Clover Z, man. They will eventually make some awesome tie-ins. What I like about them is that they just don’t take it seriously, unlike most idol music. And on top of that, extremely amusing to listen to and have great tie-ins. I mean at this point I don’t even care how the five underage girls look. They could be 40yo babas for all I care. Also along the same lines, there are StylipS and ClariS.

5. What is the biggest barrier that prevents anime from being more popular in the West?

There are two sides to the question, and I’ll answer it both ways. I watch anime fully recognizing that nine out of ten times, I’m watching a Japanese story told to Japanese people. That it is the sort of story you don’t see in the West, because we are not Japanese and we don’t tell Japanese stories. This fact is not going to change, and this will always be that barrier that makes anime attractive to some but unpopular at the same time. More importantly, there just hasn’t been much in terms of anime that has a storytelling narrative good enough and western enough to make the jump.

The other side is what prevent any single anime from being more popular in the West. Violence, sexual content, incompatible ethnocentrism, adult themes, etc…these are all issues that concern anime as a whole, even if very few anime has all these elements. I don’t really think that matters. I’m not a big fan of violence or sex in anime, but somehow I can keep up with all this trash on TV, so it’s probably not what stop anime from being popular. It’s probably just because most late night TV anime are kind of bad.

The more I think about it, the less I’m concerned about it. If the stuff is good, I’m sure it will find an audience. If that audience is missing, it’s just another way to say there are market opportunities!

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Takagaki Ayahi Laughs and Cries

One of the intangible factor that floats seiyuu-idol pop group Sphere is its classically-trained vocalist Takagaki Ayahi. Ayahi (or Ayahime) is gifted with a decent singing voice and majority of Sphere fans probably concur that hers is the best, even if hers may not be their favorite. Indeed there are probably the fewest Ayahi fans out of the whole group, especially given her relatively few otaku roles on her relatively short CV. She gets outshined by her groupmates, who are popular on their own in a lot of ways.

There is this enjoyable irony, thus.

I think Ayahime works great in these PA Works T_T anime projects, Tari Tari being the latest. It’s a bit like her gig in Fate/Zero–the earnest girl that laughed and cried within the same episode. It’s what she did in Tari Tari 6. It isn’t that her acting is actually that great, but in a way Ayahi’s voice is something you just don’t hear very much of, partly because she’s just not in so many shows and her voice has enough of a uniqueness to it to take note. Enough for a lead character, enough for a cappella 5-piece, enough to stand out between a Noto-and-Hayami manzai gag (how many times has that happened anyway?), and enough to delight Noe supporters throughout the ages.

Which in retrospect plays to all of her strengths, and it’s a pretty tall list to stand up against. Then again my favorite Ayahi performance is still the brat from Mitsudomoe, so what do I know?

I certainly don’t follow her solo vocalist career, or what little bits of it. Thing is, even when you up the ante and play with operatic stuff, Ayahime comes across as, at best, a delightful, if pedestrian, passer-by who is best known for her seiyuu idol status, and not because she lights up the ball. Yes, we know she can sing, but is she any good? More importantly, does she have what it takes? She may be able to wrestle a standing fan (something most opera singers have not done, I imagine), but how about a whole bunch of them? I think the jury is still out on this, even after the third Sphere album. At least, I don’t really know.