Category Archives: Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jo-Gakuin Koutou-ka C3-Bu

Year in Review 2013: N-List

So, the usual.

kirino new years

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Canonization, Comparison, Criticism

Let’s revisit Girls und Panzer for a second. That anime is great because it’s a sports anime, it’s got the usual “go to koshien” schtiks, the characters are eclectic and fun, and tanks go boom. It’s well-executed. It’s got a lot of heart.

Just about none of those I would say is true for C3-bu. In fact I don’t even know where Author is getting his marketing talk from. No links, bro! It’s kind of amusing, though, because reading his post makes me feel as if he is watching some other show that is entirely different than the C3-bu that I watched.

But I did say this about homework, so let’s compare answers.


First, I should take back one thing: the characters in C3-bu are still fun. Maybe they can be eclectic, just not for me. I think the range is much smaller; from Rin to Sonora, there’s not much of a gap. Karila provides a level of excitement that many of the other girls don’t have for the sport; it’s like she thinks airsoft like how Rento thinks of tea and cake. And to be honest I have a hard time picking out anyone other than Yura, Rin and Sono-chan.

In other words, for better or worse, C3-bu is different. In fact I think it’s unique for the all-girls after school club genre, if such is a thing. I know I enjoyed the show for bits of its originality. It has a mix of actual sport, character-driven development, lofty visualized analogies, dreams and fantasy sometimes mingle with reality, and cold, hard truths. I think it is the story about Yura and Sonora and how they develop as adolescents, even if they’re like Railgun characters in a way, acting too old for their age on paper.

Another way to look at Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 Club, I think, is in the same wrapping context. If Saki is “girls and mahjong and high-tension tournaments” then C3-bu is “girls and airsofts and overcoming deep-seeded, self-inflicted emotional wounds.” In fact I think the whole reason behind why C3-bu is a tough watch compared to these very popular shows in recent years. It’s not a pretty topic.

As much as Girls und Panzer tries to bring this element in, for the most part, it resorts to a checklist style of broaching the issue. There’s the Nishizumi older sister angle, there’s the abandoning the game to help a friend angle, but the show doesn’t really detail “how” Miho overcome her inner struggles, other than having a circle of friends validating each other, as “nakama.” Girls und Panzer is more concerned about glorifying the correct answer without really showing the work, and honestly, we would rather not see all the laboring details, the negative inner emotions, the personal struggles, the repeated setbacks that set the stage in how one may try and try again and eventually overcome. Do we see how Miho obtain her steel-like inner resolve? Her brilliance of thinking outside the box while under siege, in the cold? It’s in the shadow of these brilliant feats of Tankery that I feel C3-bu, instead, takes that brave step forward and gets into the black box that too many shows sidestepped. It’s good time to note that Yura achieved greatness in a very similar way, to honor her friend, but the stories of these two girls are very different, with all the pluck, luck, and “ganbatte” in the world, we see how it could have turned out in polar opposites.

Well, I can’t blame these shows for sidestepping it. The detour to the dark side hampers execution like a wet rag and people in general don’t like that stuff in their escapist fantasy. But this is why I think anime today is great; there’s such a diversity of thought that even within the same, generally stable diet of teamwork-glorification and affirmation of what is universally considered good, a depiction of a girl who answered correctly but still got it wrong on the test. It’s about a person who has everything but lost herself in the process. A teenager who has finally gotten over herself.

Bonus round: Here’s a third way to look at C3-bu, Girls und Panzer, and the Koshien tournaments Japan idolizes. I linked to the article before, it’s worth a read not only as a cross-cultural lesson in sports, but also in getting an idea of what “koshien” means to that country, that society. There’s a reason why these coaches leave these teenage monster arms out in the hot summer sun for hundreds of pitches per game, potentially blowing up million-dollar baseball talents in these bouts of glory. Because it’s all about form. It’s about deeply-held beliefs, almost religious, that transcend physical reality–like heart mixed with courage can overcome the impossible. This is one solution; it just only satisfies some, not all, and certainly not anyone who lost in this negative-sum game.

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

Determining Determination: C^3

Yachiyo Hinata

I was reading the internet and someone made a comment about Stella Jogakuin C^3-bu and how it talks about having determination. The end of episode 2 featured our timid girl stiffening up and joining the club of weirdos, fearing that she wouldn’t fit in. Well, the easiest place to fit in is in the midst of weird people, right? To the extent that you can tolerate them–and I think Yurayura will be just fine.

But on the other side, when is airsoft this serious? Or an airsoft club? Are they going to Koshien too? Are you kidding? It’s fun to play and roleplay but this is not some kind of identity crisis as far as a plot device goes. Rather, C^3-bu is calling on the oft-played, timid-girl cliche where it takes a considerable amount of determination to overcome that barrier–comfort zone or whatever you call it–so she can make some friends.

I wonder how much I can twist and turn this little device and squeeze it in thematically. After all, airsoft is not quite like paintball. It probably hurts less if you are properly dressed. I mean you probably want to play either sports wearing as much covering as you can comfortably put on, plus the goggles and headwear. Do real hardcore otaku dock points when Sonora jumps out of the shower naked but without any “badges of honor”?

Did you? Because like, this is cartoons, so we are going to not take this so seriously? Are you kidding?

Aside: There’s an another show that is largely about determination this season. It has a line like “Show you guts cool say what” or some such. In that story determination is framed as an adult quality, that some grown-ups do not have.

To take it to the next step, homework would be compare and contrast with Girls und Panzer.

PS. Maybe I should write about moe English. Maybe by Thursday.

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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