Category Archives: Wake Up Girls!

Year in Review: Why You’d Have to Wake Me Up, Girl?

A work-related thing happened right around the time when I was going to go to Japan in February this year, and as a result of that I have no time to do much recreational stuff. Blogging had to take a back seat, because I just didn’t have the time. The day job deserves its dues. [That said I still put in some solid time in One For All this year and I’m not sure how it happened.]

A hobby-related thing happened right around the time when I was going to go to Japan in February this year, and as a result of that my mind is pretty much honed in a biblical, your-money-is-where-your-mind-is-also kind of way. If we think of idols as gods, isn’t this just the second coming of Shintoism? I feel the energy just sap right out of me.

But a part of that isn’t just Omo-san@ganbaranai, but also for the first time in a long time I feel a major squeeze between the various aspects of my life. Maybe I re-prioritized my tastes, likes and hobbies, but it kind of sucks to have to re-prioritize everything else too. It’s like being a new-born dad, except your waifu is also your daughteru, and in my case none of them are ships.

So as I begin to thought-dump 2014 into the open and public internet, hopefully for mutual benefit, let me just say that no matter if you did one or a hundred fan things, as long as you can go home with some sweet memories and as few regrets as possible, you have won at the game of life. At least, that is how I am modeling it personally. And it only works if you introspect, if only to know if you’ve actually won or not.


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The WUG Life Chose Me: WUGners’ Valkyries and the DD


In the opera house, the Ride, which takes around eight minutes, begins in the prelude to the Act, building up successive layers of accompaniment until the curtain rises to reveal a mountain peak where four of the eight Valkyrie sisters of Brünnhilde have gathered in preparation for the transportation of fallen heroes to Valhalla. As they are joined by the other four, the familiar tune is carried by the orchestra, while, above it, the Valkyries greet each other and sing their battle-cry.

The WUG and WUGners

The Wake Up, Girls! are formed in 2013. The anime and related activities went into full swing late 2013-early 2014. In September of 2013, Yamakan and company coined the term for what WUG fans are. The intent to call the seven-girl idol team WUG was also pretty clear cut early on.

It’s not clear why Yamakan called them WUGners. It’s also not clear why WUG was named after a love hotel in the anime.

The flight

The WUG are coming to America, visiting Chicago’s (and the US Midwest’s) premiere anime convention, Anime Central. ACEN 2014 will also host 15 WUGners from Japan, if not more. The Japanese fans are somewhat organized. For me, it’s almost adorable to see oversea folks do logistics like how we did logistics for the trip we pulled earlier this year. Thankfully Chicago is a well-connected US city from Narita. Thanks to the internet, you can track them down on Twitter, and on various online locations. There are no lotteries for tickets, no proxy really necessary. You can sign up for Crunchyroll even if you are in Japan.

In usual fashion, Japanese WUGners will bring their cheer and some green glowsticks to spread said cheer.

On arrival, the Japanese WUGners will face the usual hurdles one faces at a large anime convention. From the registration line to the apathetic concert crowd at the usual con concert, how will they handle the adversity? The difficulty communicating in a foreign language? Trying to do their best in the context of a foreign culture? Will WUG themselves be enough of a unifying force? Will others, WUGners or not, lend their hands?

The life of a DD

And here lies the rub.

Let me flash my hand real quick: it’s almost like a proof to a existential question. What I want to know is why can I write what I just did. Do I even like Wake Up, Girls? I am going to say yes. After all, one of the WUGners (the one that posted in Acen forums, actually) is also a fan of Yamakan. What a coincidence! Glad to see I am not alone out there. While I admit I don’t always agree with Yamakan or his methods, and surely I can see where he would likewise disagree with my beliefs, I think on the whole he’s on the right track. So it’s not just a superficial cute-girls-from-Japan-that’s-also-from-an-anime kind of thing that is getting me all excited about ACEN or flying out there to see WUG. Maybe.

It isn’t that I am prone to liking idol stuff–I think my tastes for media entertainment developed contrary to mainstream hooks for such things. With proliferation of the cute girls variety show that passes for the independent or underground idol scene, it’s not a surprise to see someone who consumes so much media to find something he likes. I think that’s just the way it works. The problem is that pureed mix of what passes for chic critical thinking and what passes for merely jadedness as a form of self-selection or self-protection. That’s bullocks.

How do you make of the people who enjoyed Yamakan’s works? Or just anime with a splash of spice and flair? How about the people who post videos of themselves dancing to anime themes on Youtube or Nico, or the cosplayers that chase the year’s hottest character trends? Friends, this is the life of a “daredemo daisuki” (DD) scenester. It’s not like just because I call myself a MakotoP, I like only Makoto. Just because I put her in the front of a series of greater-than signs doesn’t mean I don’t care about anyone else. And it’s with the realization that even among those who are considered “hardcore” you have people who does it with some sort of perspective, a bit like a cross between spring fever and someone who can play a bunch of different MMORPGs and still get his homework done.

You take those two concepts and you get what is clearly the next step: defining the Live Lover.


In Norse mythology, a valkyrie is one in a group of female figures who decide which soldiers die in battle and which live.

Instead of idol wars, let’s check out the most excellent way.

PS. “Love live” is as bible as it gets.

The WUG Life Chose Me – P Culture: Definitions and Scope

As mentioned earlier, at Sakura-Con there was a P Culture panel about IM@S. After said panel I thought about exactly what this really means. What makes a Producer? What is an idol? Should I do an Otakon panel?

I think there’s a lot going on here, rich enough to definitely do all of that. But before I run headlong into it, some definitions are in order.

As you might know, P-culture really did start with IM@S, even if people were doing similar things well before then. In that sense, in post-otaku boom Japan there really is nothing left meaningful to define by the term otaku besides by their sub-niches. You have people who like mecha anime, for example. Or people really into waifus and moe crap. Or the 2.5D sei-buta-idol types. Or the plain variety of idol otaku. Or military. Or trains. Or BL. Or Yuri. You get the idea. These are not representative but elements to that otaku database where people can subscribe to various different things, and they do mix, kind of like a RSS feed of a set of RSS feeds.

Which just reminds me that Google Reader Shared Item is the best representation of the otaku concept. Anyway, RIP.

In that sense I would define P culture as a specific group of “feeds” that are bundled together. That’s what’s novel about P culture. That, and within this overlap, in the sense that many of us subscribe to this set of not-that-well-defined ideas, we find a sense of identity/unity common to these kind of identity affiliations (like, I dunno, gothloli and kogals). Or in the US, “anime fans” and cosplayers.

So more specifically, I mean:

  • Idol/entertainer culture, maybe specifically anison culture and wota culture
  • 2D otaku culture “in general”

Which, if you know what being a P means, has nothing to do with what being a P means–basically you are a fan of the IM@S games. And you can be a fan of the game (and now, anime) and have nothing to do with P culture. It’s kind of like being fans of old(er) school gaming, crunching things out on a NDS or X360, than on a mobile device grinding up some Million Stars. There’s already a pretty big gulf in terms of what being an IM@S fan really means, how that fandom manifests, and if it even makes sense for all of us to hang out together.

Which is also different than what being a P means, in the vocaloid scene, even if that nomenclature is not so different. Like what a Nicom@sP has to go through versus just some dude who likes the anime. Maybe this is why we’re so hot on danketsu in IM@S.

Perhaps it’s a lot more interesting to see how diverse this fandom is, and how the 2.5D fan category really exploded in the post-AKB48 era.

Ren is Yyo's buddy eh

To those ends, does it make more sense to look at Ps from a deductive way? Let’s profile a few people and see what they like, why they are Ps. Ethnography, or whatever. I wonder if there are some Japanese-language data out there…

Anyway. I think the approach to look at, present or even enjoy P culture is to do it on a more personal level. If you live like an otaku of some sort, it’s just “yet another vertical” of sorts. There are things you do, modern-day rituals, that facilitate the process. And then there are other things you do that’s just for the heck of it. Like buying flowers.

Why do we buy flowers, other than to make the concert venue smell good?

Why do we make business cards, besides that it’s useful to follow up with people online afterwards?

If invariably expression and identity are intertwined in these kind of instances, what does P culture say about us?

Is The World All One?

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It Doesn’t Pay to Save Anime

The title is a pun.

Miyu and Minami

Actually, I was thinking about how Yamakan’s WUG anime mixes idols and Tohoku saving. On paper, you are combining two things that are arguably opposite of each other. The filth of the entertainment industry that boils in the cauldron of Japan’s media center, and some Sendai guys trying to get in on that action? I don’t know. Of course, in the wake of the tragic quake and tsunami, lots of entertainers in Japan tried to ride it for charity or a buck. Which is why I have this DVD autographed by Sunao Katabuchi because he made a little music video trying to raise money for tsunami relief. I mention this only because it looks not like anything any otaku would buy; it’s purely a “cartoon” so to speak. Its motives are pure. I suppose that it aired on NHK means something.

Likewise, if anything, I think WUG’s treatment of the Tohoku disaster aspect is tasteful. The problem is that if I can still spin it in a negative light, so can anyone with an agenda otherwise. WUG is definitely late-night anime fodder. But what of its motives? This is where water and oil have a hard time mixing. In episode 9, here we have Kaya, the older and perhaps the one in the group who’ve gone through the most hardship, drops a little bomb on battle-hardened Mayu, who hopefully has gotten a little mug of perspective as a result. The way Kaya downplays how she overcomes her difficulties is almost borderline gap moe. And I’m half-serious. Or perhaps, there’s a double-gap moe here because it feels comical when Kaya’s troubles feels a magnitude larger than what Mayu suffered through, and at the same time Kaya’s motivation seems so insignificant compared to Mayu’s personal drive to achieve in the idol biz.

Still, here we have it, two very different people finding shared grounds as aspiring idols. They’re determined in equal parts. Perhaps that’s where both idol biz and Tohoku saving can meet, and shake hands. Yamakan surely will make enough to spot for the cost of the party. Akiba is prosperous enough that there’s nothing for it to lose and everything to gain.

It makes me think of The Wind Rises. It’s indulgent, but daring. WUG is, well, also indulgent and daring, except you have to take into the entire media mix doohicky. And to what ends? I think it’s always great when creators challenge the difficult or controversial in a meaningful way. Yamakan doesn’t quite go that far, but in essence he has combined two things people normally wouldn’t. If this really does mean benefiting the locals in Tohoku, this might be even better than that Angel Beats moment about organ donation.

PS. We can talk about something less 3/11 and more about late-night anime via WUG, actually. Maybe later. Today let’s take a moment to remember the tragedy and remind ourselves that recovery is still in progress! Thanks Yamakan!

Truth in Reporting: Winter 2014 Report Card Meta Edition

I am watching them anime. Other than Buddy Complex being the most notable omission, I think I’m ready to roll.

I just want to take a minute to point out Miao’s thin slicing this season. It’s your formulaic ANN-style review trolling which is to say, it’s based on narrative truths that reasonable people find agreeable rearranged without sense (or all the sense, on the other hand). I want to just highlight it for that–this is a relatively “weak” season in a long time. I think part of it has to do with a general shift in late night TV anime. Just compare it with 2010 (or even 2011). But ranking it seems like a futile exercise at best, so there’s no symbolic gesture of not putting Nisekoi in the first spot.

FWIW, he called Wake Up Girls Movie an OAV.

New shows (and long-absent sequels):

World Conquest Zvezda Plot – I’m on the hook for this show. The magical reality unnerves me. It’s uncomfortable. It’s too good to drop. Its vintage too accomplish to expect a “turn off the brain and have fun” show. Except when I try to run this by the grey matter, it is giving me all kinds of warning signs.

Wake Up, Girls – My favorite of the season. I’m not sure if I like them as an idol group however, even if by all means the anime has done its job. I also like how they sneaked in that Tohoku disaster reminder in there. Also blogging over at Jtor.

Seitokai Yakuindomo 2 – I marathoned the OVAs or whatever they’re called just before episode 1. So I went in with a lot of feels and fresh memory. I wonder if this is why nobody licensed it, by the way–the book publisher must own the rights of episodes 13-18. Is this the new licensing hell (say hello to YZQ)?

Wizard Barristers – So far so good. Miss Piggy is a very nice touch. What kind of a man gets nicknamed Hachi Mitsu? A Honey & Clover dropout?

Witch Craft Works – I am glad to be able to lay my eyes on this show. The manga is a terribly boring thing but the anime is a blast to watch; the comedic timing and direction are great. It is fun also to see by how much can the anime exceed its source material. Manga usually is created by one person or a small team of people; maybe half a dozen even for some weeklies, plus some editorial staff. On the other hand up to ten times more people work on an anime adaptation. Odds are any anime production team have at least enough creative power and experience to do the same, simply because so many more people work on any given project, and the core creative team are made up of some or all fire-tested veterans. So what happens when a lame but popular manga gets animated? Speaking purely from a point of view of “animators are people who draw a lot” I think this is what actually happens.

Nisekoi – Similarly. Although it isn’t comedy but just well-executed character drama, see also Bakemonogatari. You know Shaft.

Sakura Trick – Surprisingly engaging in the yuri fanservice way. Not sure if there’s enough to keep me interested, because unless they escalate it’s all a little boring. And if they do escalate every episode, they would be spending half the episode kissing each other by episode 12. Not that is a problem I think.

ImoCho – Okay, it’s actually kind of fun watching the timid, confused and probably traumatized girl trying to climb out of it. I’m rooting for her. It’s also kind of fun watching an anime trying to depict this communication gap between the two step-siblings. I wonder which kind of boys would take note?

Nobunagun – Surprisingly fun to watch but I think this anime belongs to the 1990s.

Nobunaga the Fool – I would watch this if it was actually faster paced. Right now it’s like Horizon S1 eps 1-4, which is just kind of confusing, dreary, but minus the shock factor of huge balloon boobs and the trope pandering. Jeanne is attractive looking and all but so far she is not really a part of anything because the show hasn’t revealed anything that interesting. It’s gotta hurry it up before it loses all its viewers. Needs its clinching moment.

Space Dandy – It’s hard for me to watch–I canceled my DVR service some time last year so it’s week-late Hulu for me. On the other hand maybe it allows me to try watching it like a normal person, which is…I guess people my age group generally don’t watch Toonami. I mean, I don’t remember the last time I was watching cable TV on a Saturday night other than the Space Dandy premiere. Anyway, it’s okay, I’ll probably ride it out if there’s an easy way to watch it.

Noragami – I would be repping this hard if it was on CR. I guess I will give Funi’s EVS some prop for having actually a good enough lineup, but what can they do to earn back my trust? I guess they did have that great holiday sale. I suppose the worse I could do is pirate it, because it sure is better than not watching it at all, right? Maybe? I guess it’s important to note that I basically don’t buy shows I haven’t seen before (other than, say, Mardock Scramble, because I read the book).

Nourin – I can take it or leave it. It’s one of those shows that I would probably watch it if it’s on CR. I guess maybe next year or next sale, EVS or not. 

SoniAni – Kind of like, the show I would drop except if I don’t watch all these shows on EVS, I would have time for this. So I do have time for this. And it’s hardly the most horrible anime. It’s like the most model anime, heh.

Pilot’s Love Song – Same. This show is weird in that while watching it, I’m okay. But after I’m done watching that week’s episode I kind of regret the use of my time. Probably would dropped it a long time ago if not for said EVS issue since this is a CR show.

D-Frag – EVS problem but it’s a pretty okay show. Very “bro” I guess. I think the problem is that it’s a little to convoluted and if you miss the internal logic it’s not that fun to watch.

Chuunikoi Ren – 2chuu2koi as I’d like to call it, but this is a nice change. Much more interesting right off the bat than season 1.

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha – I’d pirate this any day.

Mahou Sensou – Dropped because I don’t have the time. Seems okay though.

Hamatora – Dropped because I don’t have the time. Seems okay though. Actually fun to watch in episode 2, if a little predictable.

Houzuki no Reitetsu – Good, solid comedy. Dropped because I got over my Dilbert phase back in the 90s. This stuff is kind of like remaking it for kids going into the workforce in this decade. As an anecdote, when I find some kid at work who falls into all of the usual Dilbert traps, I just sigh and “berate” him directly. Watching Hozuki is like a waste of time.

Saki – Magical girls meets mahjong, the “we don’t have enough episodes so we’ll compress all that we skipped between S1 and Achigahen in 3 episodes but now we can get down to business” edition. Also a Jtor item.



Ace of the Diamond – This is a pretty okay koshien baseball anime. Literally.

Samurai Flamenco – It’s still interesting enough.

Silver Spoon – Yep. One season is hardly a break.

Magi – Yep.

Gundam Build Fighter – This is the Gundam of our generation.

Tokyo Ravens – Okay.jpg

Log Horizon – Finally, story.

Golden Time – Dropped because I don’t really have the time and can’t really be bothered with that Ghost Banri stuff.


Enjoying them all. Even Pupa (whose OP has that “Fantasista Dolls” effect). I think Strange+ and Seki-kun are neck to neck.


And that’s all for now!

PS. Several blogs I follow waxed poetic on Space Dandy after watching the first few episodes. Basically they all say the same thing, like what I said earlier on. I guess the thing is, it’s just a TV show, like everything we’re watching, you can take it or leave it, and you certainly don’t have to watch everything. Only tortured fans of the medium would, beyond “a thin slicing.” As long as you’re mindful of the usual disclaimers (ie., judging books by covers etc) you are okay. It’s not about “right enough” but knowing what you are in for and getting things working for those purposes. And I think with that in mind, 11:30 PM is way too early for Space Dandy. Proper late night anime is like, 2AM! Imagine watching an anime about putting your arm inside a cow’s anus at 2AM…