Category Archives: Modern Visual Culture

To Wit, Magus’ Bore and Re-diving Into Pricone

To bounce off the evirus again, maybe this is what he was thinking of when he got snarky on adaptations? To quote:

To be honest, it sort of reaffirms my nagging suspicions that The Ancient Magus’ Bride works better as a manga than it does as an anime. I don’t believe this is the fault of the WIT STUDIO adaptation, because it is beautifully done and the quality has remained high throughout. Instead, I suspect the stories featured in the series might just lend themselves better to print than anime.

Having no real horse in the race and not have read the manga (but watched all the anime so far), somehow it makes sense. Like, this anime is not going to get me to read the manga. Maybe it serves as a meta, a talking point, for people to bring up the manga and get people interested (“Oh you are watching Magus’ Bride? The manga is so much better.”) but that’s like throwing on too much shade. I think the anime is decent, it is, to a more jaded viewer like me, something refreshing and different. It might still be kind of the same yokai story centered around a gifted human child, but this spin is way up my alley than, say, Natsume Yuujincho. Just like how Fate-verse is still the best for recasting western folklore and historic figures to do some dumb things, I don’t really like and I am not interested in the Japanese standards on this take. It’s refreshing, even if the anime and story content is quite drab and obtuse I think… Perfect for Kyoto Animation, in retrospect.


WIT STUDIO is also producing the anime in Princess Connect Re:Dive, which is the latest and greatest galge-mobage from Cygames. Having seriously played the original Princess Connect game, I was looking forward to this with some trepidation, and so far I think the developers have answered my concerns.

Big picture-wise, Princess Connect and Pricone:R are the player-versus-player realm wars equivalent to social gaming as the hoard of Korean grinders were to the EverQuests and WOWs of the 00s.  Well, it’s more like guild wars, ha ha. But in the greater Japanese social game pachinko-machine-like scene, it is a relative rarity. There are other games like this but none with the spit and shine of Pricone:R I think; well, certainly none with a Tanaka Kouhei score. Pricone the original was a browser-based game with some real-time stuff, and most of the graphics are rudimentary, as you’d expect a game launched in 2014-2015. Pricone:R on the other hand, is a little piece of Sakura Taisen heaven coupled with a standard auto-playing, character-party, fantasy RPG, side combat doohicky that you might see in the Danmachi social game or some such.

Which is to say, there’s a ton of actual anime in the Pricone:R game itself. Well, maybe a ton is exaggerating, but every commu chapter ends with an ending animation with animated next episode preview? LOL. About 90 percent of the commu is the standard talking sprite over a dialog box sort of deal, but they do drop those anime in and around fairly consistently. And WIT did well with them.

My worry in Pricone:R was that it would stop being a PVP focused affair, and it turned out to be a dumb thing to worry about, because it still is. It’s the only game I play that does not a have friend list (let alone friend support). It retains the whole clan mechanics, except so far it doesn’t have any elements of clan warfare (so you can’t filter clan recruits by time slots of when people will be online to play versus battles, as there are none such things). There are two PVP arenas players can participate for loot and glory, but they are both for individuals. Clan interaction so far is a mix of friends list and the ability to ask people for gear in exchange for rupees. The lack of clan-based PVP is still a concern, but I hope they address it soon since they have some outright “to be deployed later” place holders in the game right now.


Some straight up disclosure and Pricone:R meta, because I’ve been playing it quite a bit lately. Some key thoughts:

  • Spend some money to make more money. The core of this game is a versus experience. Payout in arena and princess arena are in the 1000s of gems. By bucking the bell curve you can stand to make good dosh. The game is also fairly generous, because you can’t be competitive until you roll enough to get your core team up and running, and enough memory fragments to upgrade your 1* and 2* characters. If you want to save up gems for a future roll, you can, but know that you will not make as much gem-wise as someone who spend  them wisely. It literally is spending gems to earn gems, and there will be a balance point where the end result is a powerful team of characters and still lots of free gems in the bank. Playing it too safe means you might have a lot of gems, but your parties’ development will be lagging.
  • Princess Arena needs more balance tweaks. It’s hard to maintain rank, easy to gain rank. The result is it becomes expensive time-wise and a bit expensive gem-wise to reach heights in Princess Arena. Basically, you need to have 2 great teams to stay afloat, but just 1 great team to go up. This is mainly because NPCs have 3 good teams, which is harder to beat sometimes, but less of a sure thing on paper than in practice, so people don’t fight NPCs and instead fight people with 2 great teams, since you just have to beat their second-best team to win.
  • Comp is life, but actually levels are more important. Assuming at rank 7 and equal star power, a level 60 fully upgrade guy will beat a level 50 fully upgraded guy often. Even if the level 60 paper versus the level 50 scissors are, well, paper versus scissors in rock-paper-scissors. This is the zen of Princess Connect Redive. The essence. The zeitgeist. The soul. Whatever. In other words, don’t be the level 50 paper fighting a level 60 scissors. Things also gets much more complex when you deal with a team of 5 characters where the flaws of one guy can be covered up by another guy, but you get the idea.
  • Team comp thus can be boiled down by characters and their counters. Like, the ever popular Suzune/Io back row versus, say, Tamaki, who is flawed in Arena but powerful in this situation.
  • Anna is fun, she is not great, and her explosion power is what makes it fun. Don’t let people tell you that she sucks because her explosion power sucks. That’s like saying because individuals almost never win the lottery, having a free lottery ticket sucks. Without her explosion power, Anna is plenty good. If her power helps you even or win a losing game, so much the better.
  • This is still the game I call characters by seiyuu, but now that I’m talking to plebs on reddit and elsewhere I kind of have to learn the names of the characters.

Dissonant Antarctica

I read this and like, I have a very different impression of Yorimoi. Let me quote:

Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than The Universe) is remarkably well done. Before the season started, I fully expected it to be a trite “cute-girls-doing-cute-things” fluff piece about high school girls having implausibly canned adventures in Antarctica. However, it turns out Yorimoi adopts a serious attitude toward exploring the logistics required and examining just how something like this might actually be accomplished. I take it as a triumph of original anime that the story seems well thought out and enjoyable in ways that are often missing from anime adaptations of preexisting works, particularly when such anime try hard (to their detriment) to closely follow the source material.

Wait, so Yurucamp TV, a manga adaptation that is all about the details of doing camping as a bunch of high school girls in the fall/winter time frame, does not adopt a serious attitude towards exploring the logistics required and examining just how something like camping might actually be accomplished? Are we even watching the same things?

Disclosure: I dropped Yorimoi like 3 episodes in, as I didn’t buy in to any of the main characters except the tarento. It’s not a trite “cute-girls-doing-cute-things” fluff piece. It’s an “annoying-girls-doing-weird-things” piece, where I often find the characters obnoxious and incorrigible, for weird character development reasons I’m sure they’ll explore later but I can’t be bothered to care–or stick around long enough to find out. I guess it also doesn’t help that Antarctica is not that an exotic location to me, since I’ve read up about it over the years following research that was done down there, and talked to a guy who spent some time there. The show itself is well done, I think, but the posture came across as too full of itself and there’s a degree of calculatedness that runs against my expectation of something that’s more organic in the making.

Actually Yurucamp gets it. What Yorimoi might take a season to do, Yurucamp does it in 1 to 2 episodes. And in essence, it does what I want to see, and just keeps on doing it. How many times did the girls in Yorimoi go to Antartica yet? (I guess episode 8 by the time of this writing.) It doesn’t need that setup. I don’t need to be hit in the face with your quirky personality quirks every few minutes. That some people in Japan have the balls to make a story about high schoolers wanting to go to Antartica, in 2017 terms, is just too much for me to take seriously–except it’s a serious anime! I’d rather watch a show where a bunch of Japanese high schoolers try to raise fund for a summer vacation in New York City–at least I find their destination worth investing in terms of my emotions and attention span. After all, NYC too is quite far, basically it’s as far as another world.

It’s worth examining what “cute-girls-doing-cute-things” mean for each work. I’ve been watching anime since the 90s, at least following TV anime with any real interests, and this descriptor dates back well even before that. I remember watching Magic Knight Rayearth–cute girls doing isekai RPG but in a meta way–and that was already a pretty solid framing of this notion. If somehow the Kirara-manga-adaptation brand has altered this category by flooding the market with trendy cute-girls-doing-not-much anime, please show how this is the case. I can understand, say, shows like Jinsei or Anne-Happy, or something, don’t get into the nitty gritty–but they aren’t shows about doing something. I just don’t understand the criticism as applied to manga or light novel adaptation in which the details are omitted, in which we can apply “cute-girls-doing-cute-thing” tag to. Death March? That is not even in the same genre. Slow Start and Mitsuboshi Colors? Yeah okay, but they aren’t about doing anything specific really (well, Slow Start is about mental trauma, I guess, and Mitsuboshi is about brats being brats). Koizumi is like Yurucamp that they are both very meticulous about specifics, and adopt from manga. Does that leave Takunomi as the only show that fits Evirus’s description?

I just don’t think that statement has any merit. In the scope of things Yorimoi is well-put-together, and there’s a strong feeling of production value? But I find the writing and direction betraying the same expectation in a negative way instead.

Million Random Thoughts, Million Live Thoughts

Just some thoughts in my head about Million Live recently. Some have been around for years, others prompted by ML4th, and some looking forward to the near future.


I think in the next few months Million Live will undergo some cool hype and changes. One of which is the reunification of the theater trope as Kotoha returns with her CV to the project. The way they did it was just the right amount of pomp and circumstances, too. Dropping it without notice was a nice surprise when I logged into the game 2 minutes after midnight JST to check out the “autio-group by song” feature in Theater Days…

For those who don’t know what “Kotoha’s return” means, it refers to that in late 2016, the voice actress for Tanaka Kotoha of Million Live, Taneda Risa (Tane-chan or Seed-kun, as they were) took a hiatus from work due to health issues. She returned to the industry towards the end of last year, and during her absence obviously she wasn’t able to perform at any of the Million Live events or voice her characters. This lead to the launch of Theater Days without Kotoha and only today they have added her to the game. IIIRC, her first notable roles since her return has been Shoukaku and Zuikaku from Azurlane, and reprising her role in the Gochiusa movie. For more Million Baggage on Seed-kun, refer to Million Live 4th Anniversary day 3.

Kotoha’s return also means I’ve been spending too much time finishing up this post. So consider this preface a warning about the amount of time spent since I started writing this piece and the time I publish.

Continue reading

Winter 2018 Anime Sampling

This winter, I’m still watching a lot of TV anime.

Yurucamp – Probably the kind of Kirara slice of cute girls doing cute things the world loves. This time it sticks to the namesake.

Overlord S2 – The lizards are great, and the cutest Tenchan character in recent memory.

Darling in the Franxx – I love the designs in the show, and it is like an older style of giant robot sf cartoon. Like before Star Driver was a thing. Maybe my tastes have changed to like their output more over the years. Maybe the Trigger influences are starting to show. I guess we’ll see.

Pop Team Epic – The dubbing kills. It’s the best thing about this show, other than packed with obscure references I don’t get in the first person. Which is kind of ironic I guess, because I think this is the kind of comedy that would only appeal GenXers who actually knows their stuff. If you see any Gen Xers who don’t like Pop Team Epic it’s because they’re just posers. Or not Japanese.

Violet Erryhogaarden – The show whose name I love make fun of. Sakuga aside this is just not working IMO. It feels too much like a 23-minute Animation Do commercial except it isn’t even advertising anything. Go back to making films IMO. I’ll give Violet Evergarden a try, despite not expecting it to be like the English Patient at all even.

Mitsuboshi colors – … I think I’ll dig it, just need to get into the mood? Already bought the LINE sticker pack so I guess I’m committed.

Yorimoi – You can gather 200k retweet and hitch a ride to Antarctica. Compared to getting those RTs, this anime about going to Antarctica is belabored. In a way this show is very well put together but the framing device is grating and the characters don’t work for me. The oddball chemistry is just odd, not charming. Say what you will for this cast, I think they could’ve changed a few of them to make it better overall.

Koizumi Loves Ramen – Good for the ramen trivia. Just waiting to see how many spots I’ve been that they will visit in the show? The best thing so far is how real the food combinations and process is. We need like, practical details. A bit like the Tantan gyoza hotpot from Yurucamp, except it’s more likely that the info presented in Koizumi-san to be useful to those of us who get to go to Japan.

Citrus – It’s terrible in the ways I expected, so it’s rather fun. I’m enjoying the pretty lame drama, admittedly, mainly because the characters are fun. I really like Yukiyo in this. If not for the recent event in Theater Days I’d say this is one of her best performances yet.

Slow Start – It’s OK I guess. Have enough healing power to keep going. Believe it or not that one little gag about sister juice helped me keep going, until the episode where the main character shares her institutional trauma with her flat neighbor. That episode was legit interesting and worthwhile.

Kokkoku – I guess it’s different. I like the character designs (natch).

Card Captor Sakura – It’s got the right stuff going I guess, tho this Shaoran ship is a tad thick. Hisakawa going nuts as Kero has been the highlight so far.

Takunomi – Promising, but the mass market drinks is a little bit too thick. “Soul food” shows aplenty this season, so the only standout about Takunomi is the seiyuu cast and cute, young adults who can drink legally…

Grancrest – It seems okay if they keep this pace, which leaves little time to do anything else other breaking your neck (as in, neck-breaking pace)? I don’t mind if the series have these characters who are unyieldingly aggressive at executing their agenda as long as the charm is there.

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens – Something different I guess, and not terrible. The first two episodes make a compelling introduction.

Death march – LOL this is bad, but okay I’ll keep with it. A lot of small-font overlay text in this show that are actually a bit important. It’s hard to read so I don’t bother, but there’s a Let’s-Play quality to this adaptation which makes it different than most.

Maerchen Maedchen – LOL this is also kind of bad, but the main chara is attractive in a weird way I wonder why… Oh, because the main chara is just like Yuriko from Million Live. A bit like how Ichigo in Darlifra is also like Yuriko from Million Live (iincho version).

Toji no Miko – Could be a lot worse, so far it’s OK? Cute girls with swords is an OK schtick. The real winner in this show is the fugitive gambit, and it works quite well. Better than Haifuri, LOL.

KoiAme – Really solid show. Sakugabooru does a decent job spelling out the directional approach, which is relatively rare for them, LOL. Usually sakuga bros talk about sakuga and not so much the cinematography stuff. No opinion on the 45yo being chased by a 17yo, other than it doesn’t really bother me.

Beatless – I should watch this show. More people should watch this show. But I guess it’s not great for the jaded, seasonal thin-slicing crowd. I did watch two episodes, and I would watch more if it was easy.


Gd Mens – They are okay I guess. It takes a bit for the humor to really come out and for the chemistry to gel so I’ll give it time.

In conclusion, this season I’m observing one other objective identifier to qualify how good a show is at keeping my attention: how long it takes for me to remember the names of the main cast after a few days since last viewing. Other than this new metric, there has been “which ones do I watch first after a trip overseas” and “which ones do I want to watch the most,” which are probably equally effective as a metric as any.

Laid-back Camp Reminds Me of Pickup Truck Culture

The first two episodes of Yurucamp (how do people feel about using △ and romanji LOL) remind me of what some people do with their pickup trucks on weekends in America. Instead of a high school girl biking up a mountain and camping, enjoying the outdoors, the typical “Heartland America” use case is maybe a small family or some bros up in the wilderness and enjoying the outdoors on their boat or something. I think this recent ad is a good summary.

What’s neat to me in Laid-Back Camp is the low-fi, high-tech nature of the form of camping demonstrated. It’s like, they can only bike to a local campground, so all the gear has to fit on a bike. The gear can’t be too heavy because they’re biking up a mountain. The tent is something that can be setup by one person. Since the camper is just solo, all the stuff she rides with was small and work with just one person. (Relevant but aside, camping at a managed campground is great because you get water and a restroom, which is way better than hauling your drinking water and taking a spade with you every time you go take a dump. It’s a cute-girl-does-cute-things compromise in the anime but it’s a worthy one in real life too.)

With a car or pickup, you can carry a lot more, heavier/bulkier things to camp. These low-budget, low-quality collapsable chairs with drink holder, for example, will be fine on a pickup truck but it would weight as much as half of the gear we see Rin carries with her in the first two episodes. I’m amused and jealous of her collapsible, low-height table; I’d like to have one?

The nature of these niche solo-camp gear is also a bit feeding into pickup truck culture. Since it’s a multi-billion dollar industry in the US alone, a lot of market research and consumer research go into selling pickup trucks (and SUVs, too, more and more). It means there are news and other literature about exactly why car brands sell pickups equipped in these sort of ways, with different trims and Texas-specific models. It’s like if you shop for tents for solo campers, there are all kinds. The one Hanamori Yumiri used in the promo video is a light-weight one good for newbies, and it’s inexpensive. However it is very basic and lack some key features. The ones in the anime are not.

It’s like, I spent maybe $100 in portable chairs last year (to sit during various forms of buppan and queues at cons or what not), trying out two different types. Considerations include weight, height, max load, portability, and is it on Amazon Prime. Now that I think I found a decent compromise, I’d totally bring that to camping.