Just trucking along. Happy 2015 guys. Still celebrating Christmas for 12 days right?
Category Archives: Wake Up Girls!
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.
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
— 山本寛 (@yamacane_0901) September 22, 2013
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 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.
Saving Yamakan pic.twitter.com/p9Xrto0W6y
— omo@iM@S-Pになりたい (@omonomono) February 19, 2014
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.
— Thaliarchus (@thaliarchus) April 14, 2014
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.
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.
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?
The title is a pun.
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!