[Last updated: Jan 4, 2020]Continue reading
Category Archives: Introspectives
Originally I was going to write up a recap for 2019 (and finish my recap of 2018), but I just didn’t get around to it in late December due to work and other unexpected things taking up time and attention. This January, I’ll try to work on them.
The plan was also, instead of a list or list of lists, I was going to write in bigger strokes some of the trends and the big picture view of some stuff; thus.
For starters, we are right in the thick of the next wave of original content localization, with more free-to-play mobile games being ported to English than ever. FGO being a top-10 gross revenue game in 2019 is a big deal, one which doesn’t even seem odd as Japan has always been a powerhouse when it comes to video game/electronic entertainment. But for those of us who followed this franchise from the start, it is a surprise that no one could have really seen 20 years ago.
The meaning behind it is that unlike manga and light novels, we are doing an 180–these incredibly (comparatively) effort and cost-intensive properties can have their showdown across the Pacific because they also make a truck load of money. Not even One Piece or (and?) Naruto can make a billion US bucks in a year (and yet they are still gated heavily by their publishers…oh well). Let along random B-grade light novels. Or any print books for that matter.
On the other hand, it’s easy to translate books and manga–that’s why escalation is so rampant. And it’s relatively easy to localize anime and the non-online kind of game content. As an IM@S fan I know all too well the problem when Bandai Namco is your game’s publisher, judge and executioner all in one, and that multinational beast is going to face some challenges in this ever-evolving landscape where there’s a lot of money to be had only if they could agilely maneuver to fight for a piece of the biggest pie in all of electronic entertainment. So Money is only motivation–the rest is incredibly difficult work (in some cases).
How that trickles down to the nuances of why someone loves some anime character is harder to see, and that’s where we introspect with our 20/20 glasses on, looking into what has happened to gleam some insight to produce, hopefully, good foresight.
Eventing culture is both being normalized and regurgitated overseas. The best example I can give is the flower stand thing. Like, why do people do it at cons? Does TGS have flower stands? I guess for the event? It is kind of weird to do it for the guests of the event… But as per the usual case with weeaboo culture, this is basically the morpheus strip where the West take whatever pieces of the culture they want from the East and repurposes it for their own, usually out of context (or only in the context of Reddit, Youtubers, and random blogs). It is what it is on some level, and it’s mostly fine as long as it’s only kids blowing disposable income to stan some Asian celeb, and remain mostly fun and games.
And that’s just flower stands. I think there are other examples, but let’s keep it under control and make sure it doesn’t cost pain or suffering, or even minor irritation, folks.
Thanks to largely Bushiroad pushing their more niche, event-tie-in content into English, we also see more of it via their guests appearances and Chara Expo USA. It is still a different story regarding localizing concerts, but live viewings seems to be taking off.
If we think of anime and games (and as I write this sitting in a hotel at Arizona, attending TaiyouCon, pro baseball) as what connects the West and the East, the long terms growth of anime films (both the snobby kind and the TV anime excuse kind) necessitates the same distribution overseas. The growth of anime movies for struggling theaters out in North America is a bright sign. I just think how the Konosuba film did in 2019, and of course, Promare, covers that spectrum quite nicely. It is also still a shame that Americans won’t get to see Shinkai’s new film until 2020 but the rest of the world have already put Weathering With You to bed now. I think that’s just because it is a stupid business reason but it is still unfortunate.
Speaking of the Konosuba film, some anime con better bring Takahashi Rie to America in 2020. Isn’t it amazing that so many theaters in North America screened that little pre-movie intro interview?
From the con front, I think we are well in ripe territory for competent, for-profit entities to provide actually good anime con experiences to adult fans in the anime side of things. In my view, the biggest barrier so far is actually that profit-seeking motive trying to outthink execution with galaxy-brain approaches. It is much sensible to copy what already works and just focus on how to execute better. And I don’t mean just con runners, but also service providers for cons. I think we still have a long ways to go when many cons aren’t even done picking the lowest hanging fruits. As attendees become more sophisticated and well-off there will be more headroom for growth.
In this decade, I hope, there ought be more scalable way to make sure that basics like line management and registration are not messed up for any con. We were already there for the most part in the 2010s, and even more so as fan con management services provide more layers of services such as RFID badges and badge mailing. We really shouldn’t have ticketing server screw-ups, even for high-demand weeb concerts (and better ways to handle those as well other than just an online rush). There are just not too many events with that many attendees.
This is also on top of existing developments. For example the cruise cons, the resort hotel cons, and that fans are doing their own hanger-on events on top of cons. Wota Peace Party is one such thing, and I wish there are easier ways for enterprising fans to plug into a con and cons to help those fans leverage these experiences so they can run their own “panels” so to speak. There are no reasons to be strangers, you and I. It’s about time for the Room Party to grow up, and maybe that could happen in the next 10 years.
As for con programming, I also think it is high time we actually import Asian best practices. I want more engaging guest panels based on their entertainment skill strengths. If Aniplex is going to fly Yuki Aoi to NYC, it would be a damn crying shame to not have her perv in front of your attendees. That’s what all the fans know her for! I mean why else did you spend all that money? What for? There are other examples like this. I know it can be hard to actually think about the content of the panel from the perspective of putting up a show–most industry style panels are closer to marketing to exec decks than actual fun stuff, but there is no excuse to put on $10000s of HR into an offsite location and just have them read off a spreadsheet. It is a poor use of money, time and effort. I’m glad at least some folks get this, but please put some of that money into use to bring us enjoyable context that properly flex the guests charm points. You want to make fans, you want them to be engaged, so it’s time to go all the way. Don’t fly 1000s of miles to meet us and only stumble on your last step.
Also related to this but coming from the other side of the world, maybe the next 10 years is when Japan-hosted otaku experiences will actually take off. Or I hope. The Love Live concert tours (and the upcoming Numazu tour) is something that Japan has really tried to do with wide ranges of outcomes. More often than not it doesn’t work, but guided tours are an easy way to bridge the gap, given if the fandom is old enough and reach critical mass of eventers. The work I’ve been involved in the past 10 years with showing some Producers the ropes probably helped, but the only horn worth tooting is the greater Bushiroad-Brand fandom that brought in the folks through their work with both the mothership and their fellow fans. Eventers all across the English-speaking world also helped to cobble together enough information to funnel folks far and wide into Japan, paving the way for more to follow. I think it’s rewarding to see the little drops of participation all of you contributed bearing some long-term results. And this just goes back to why some folks are so hung up on flower stands LOL.
Time to update my 2020 Eventing post!
Anime industry exists because it’s a miracle.
I’ve been really busy this month, despite the lack of events. But here it goes–trying to scramble something together to introspect a year’s worth of content consumption. Introspection is worthwhile, and a tradition of doing it is a good idea. I don’t know how much of it is entertaining or informative for someone not me, though. Still, here goes.
There’s a bit I want to say about seiyuu debuts in 2016. For start, a lot of them did. Nunu and Naobou were remarkable because it has to do with something behind the scenes clicking for them as artists, for them to sign up now, as opposed to 5 years or whenever ago. Do you remember when Pikasha was still Mio from K-ON? It took her a few years and we were wondering why–and now we kind of know. It’s not like Mocho and Nansu’s fated solo careers as Muray artists–these are different. The Nunus out there, hopefully, are more like the Ueshamas of today. It’s kind of like the tumultuous changes with Koshi, one moment King Record’s rising star and today not even with the label? What’s really going on? Actually that could be asked of anison at large. Because, in a sense, what are people looking for in this kind of music? I think you’ll find my biases kind of clear.
In some ways 2015/2016 are definitely turning point years. I guess maybe if fortunes would have it, I’ll get Pirami first album soon-ish?
Here’s a list of seiyuu full length album debuts in 2017, including seiyuu groups, that is at least worth a listen. I already have one album in mind not qualifying but mentioned below anyway. Why do I have this list? I just went to here and looked up the relevant entries under the guy’s solo female seiyuu and group female seiyuu pages. Keeping it to debuted album is a little arbitrary but it narrows how much work I have to do. I guess I’ll just walk it and rec the ones I like and keep a few others in the runner up and others sections.
Machico – Ambitious: This album is possibly one of my favorite pickup for the sake of just listening to junk generic anison in my head. The songs are fun, and what’s more important is that her vocals fit them really well. As you may know, she’s basically resident high pitch, so it’s an acquired taste to begin with. The CD didn’t do so well when it first released back in June, but I think people should give it a try.
Trysail – Sail Canvas: The first barrage from Muray’s second generation is as middle of the road as it get artistically, however it riffs on all the things people actually like about Muray’s SOP. They’re fun, diverse set of tunes that play to the strength of the triad. It’s the kind of music I can loop and drive to.
Ohashi Ayaka – Kidou ~START UP~: If you like the most inoffensive, sweet seiyuu vocal to the most inoffensive sweet anison then this is for you. It’s possibly even more generic than Machico’s but I guess the two do share some similarities on the production end. The strength of the tie-ins are much more there. It’s not a “runner up” only because I often find myself listening to it because it’s got that soothing, “yhelo there checking my brains out atm” quality to it, without being too upbeat. Gotta give credit where due I guess.
Ueda Reina – RefRain: If I were to have any hipster creds I have to include Ueshama’s art project on any kind of list of this nature. I’ll be perfectly honest, it is sort of sophomoric. But the fact that she is given the latitude and good will to produce music like this is worth noting. Is this even sustainable? Both in terms of sales and how long will it take her to make a full album? Who knows and I don’t really care. It’s worth your time (especially since it’s a mini-album).
Amamiya Sora – Various BLUES: I like just that one track, which was the C/W to Velvet Rays. The rest of the album kind of roll her occasionally invigoratingly drawn vocals in the same sort of thing over and over again, and she’s just unable to raise them to the next level. Maybe if she wasn’t so hung up on blue it would have been to her advantage…
Hayami Saori – Live Life Laugh: By far my most disappointed 2016 pick. Her voice is there and every pressure wave of it is as gorgeous as it can be, but these songs suck butt. It’s kind of like her Anisama performance with Takagaki Ayahi–great idea on paper but they surely can pick a better way to approach Komm susser, tod??? It’s only “runner ups” because it’s still worth listening to once.
Uchida Maaya: Technically PENKI came out December of 2015 but my experience with it is thoroughly 2016. I didn’t like it one lick. Maybe there was one song on it that’s any good (Gimme Revolution?). Drive-In Theater, which is her Jan 2017 mini-album, on the other hand, is way better. And I think it’s sit-up-and-take-notes better. While a part of me still just want her to focus on acting, gravure, and maybe live action, the music stuff could work with the right production.
This also reminds me of Tadokoro Azusa’s 2016 album, which is miles better than her generic seiyuu nonsense of a debut album–It’s My CUE is my pick for fave 2016 seiyuu music. Who knew the switch to rock was all that she needed to sound awesome?
I listened to Pyxis’s First Love 注意報! and it just makes me miss SylipS badly. Not that it’s bad or anything. I mean, it sure wasn’t as bad as Watanabe Yui’s Tokuma debut. Ugh.
Oh, there was this in 2016 wasn’t it…and yeah pass! I’m not really one who can judge with my penchant for lobotomized HoriPro musical treadmills. That reminds me, one of these days I need to poke the Everying album with a 10′ pole or some such.