Category Archives: Modern Visual Culture

Context the Rock

I’m not fully sure what the angle is to Bocchi the Rock! Evirus isn’t wrong* about the humor aspect, and the anime adaptation carries the cuts, however (slightly) blunted, and the laughs. Yoshino Aoyama does an admirable job with those reactions and fun noises that comes out of Bocchi. It’s a fun anime series that I look forward to enjoying every week.

But to me Bocchi the Rock occupies a particular set of contexts. Here is an anime based on a 4-koma comic from the same magazine that published K-ON, and it existed largely due to the post-K-ON boom of high school girl rock content. The animation takes direct cues from that, and the adaptation also directly pegs some key aspects on K-ON. My spine shivers hearing Ikumi Hasegawa do her version of Mio’s power vocals. When will she cover Don’t say “lazy”?

There is yet another layer to this context where many rock and roll creators are folks with far-from-perfect psyches, each dealing with their phobias, insecurities, and other maladjustments. Sometimes I think good musicians all struggle with some inner problems, darkness or whatever you want to call it. Well, nothing remarkable there I guess, that seems entirely human. Whatever that drives Bocchi to join a rock band is what it is, but these reasons and motivations do run the gamut and having a range of them in the same group is one way to create a remarkable sound or experience. It can make for good art.

At the same time, the way rock bands make art is through dealing with those issues while at it, and this is all assuming the band doesn’t break apart sooner rather than later, of course. Making music can be both creative and/or destructive. Just like any other art.

How do you create great music? What goes on in the minds of successful rock-and-rollers? Isn’t Bocchi the Rock a story that sort of plays on these stereotypes? Yeah. And if the opening to Chainsaw Man was inspirational, Bocchi is a whole TV show of it because that’s in its bones.

Bocchi the Rock is not glamorous, and maybe this is the one big thing that sets it back from its aspirational target, its idol. If anything the sheen of CloverWork’s excellent visuals cut against its faux glam. Regardless, in being the opposite of glamorous, Bocchi the Rock will hit those who gets hit that much harder.

This style or philosophical take on rock and roll is the kind in which art is the window into the mind of the unsettled, the disturbed, the distressed. It’s not glamorous at all. Bocchi’s little band is actually as rock as it gets.

*Turns out there is something shared between Bocchi The Rock and Hitori Bocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu so Evirus is still wrong.


Anime Weekend Atlanta 2022: Wrap

It’s been about 5 years since my last AWA. Some things didn’t change, others did. For starters I started to just call it “awacon” in chats this year because it’s a bit less ambiguous and it’s what the website and twitter handles read like. Second, the cell connection was terrible at the con. I’m not sure why, but it’s really bad, and worst than I’ve ever had it at any other con, including AWA 2017. I have had better luck at AX and Anime NYC than at AWA, and those cons have maybe 10k more people or more on site on any given day and moment. I also run a full-blown TMO (via Fi) connection as well as a work Verizon LTE sim. Between the two (and downshifting to 4G for the TMO one) sometimes I can get connection. On Saturday this was basically not really possible even.

If I was doing a gripe panel with AWA this has to be my first complaint. Full stop.

Without internet there are a bunch of things I would like to do but didn’t. One is to see who I know is at the con. Another is to look up and research people at their panels so I can be better at asking questions, if any were to be asked. I was able to go to one and a half panels. I spent about half an hour at the Renaissance lobby on the “boarding pass” PC talking to United rep to change my flight. There’s also the issue with my Passkey hotel reservation. Long story short there were a lot of internet/tech issues at this con that may or may not be a big deal that affected me.

So, what did I have to do–call Hyatt because somehow when the reservation went from Passkey (the con block hotel management side) to the individual hotels, my dates were off by 1. After calling reservation for Hyatt, they confirmed that the dates were off by one, and they cannot change it without additional cost. I did end up calling the hotel who told me my dates were actually correctly transferred. Then I changed my hotel reservation anyways–because originally I was only going from Thursday night to Saturday night, and then I changed my mind to stay for Friday to Sunday.

I also had to do the aforementioned United thing. Same-day changing my flight from Thursday night to Friday was easy and free, but it was impossible to not pay to switch from Saturday to Sunday for some reason, via the app and web. I decided to just do it and not worry–maybe leave a terrible review or something.

Because I have no internet, I didn’t really ask much during the BPM15Q panel. I also wasn’t connecting with some local Ps until late Saturday when I was just chilling at the Maggiano’s across the highway. No, I don’t really want to trek back to the gazebo area from there, sorry. Not to mention I didn’t notice the tweet until hours later. This does mean I missed out on some uma cosplayers, sigh.

Anyways, back to AWA this year. I was only interested to see the Japanese guests, and the con did not had a lot of other special content this year. Still I was able to check out Diana Garnet again, and this Voia guy. Seems legit. Both of them served as opening acts for other JP acts like ASCA and BPM15Q. Burnout Syndromes was put up after PIXY.

So yeah, this is kind of a stacked lineup, if you know what these acts are. ASCA was a big reason what anisong kids wanted from AWA. I didn’t particularly leaned either way about ASCA honestly, but I wanted to see her again and hear those best hits. I wanted to see live HOWLING. It does feel she got more into it at AWA versus Boston during the concert, even if the vibe isn’t as chill and cool compared to the ASCA artist image. Which is fine because, well, what she really is in some ways.

Burnout Syndromes to me, before AWA, was a forgettable anisong band with tie-ins for shows I didn’t really care about. The one song that I kind of did, Good Morning World, is a Jump title and I generally have little affinity for acts following Jump anime even when they all bring their A game to big anime nowadays. That said I didn’t have a bad opinion of them or anything, their music had something to offer as far as typical big-label bands go. Thanks to certain someone’s pushing I went to see them and got to learn a lot more about this band, and it really made things interesting to me.

For one, Burnout Syndromes is pretty diverse musically. It’s hard to suss this out partly because their sounds do change a bit between different anisong tie-ins so I don’t always connect them. They’ve been around for a while as well, so it’s hard to get a good sample of what they really sound like “today.” Being diverse musically also didn’t help with communicating their vibe.

What did communicate Burnout’s vibe was seeing them play and speak in person. That vibe is a, uh, dorky group headed by one music mastermind, the frontman, composer, and leader Kazuumi Kumagai. Apparently the 3 current members of the group started in middle school and are still together after all these years. It’s both very simple and yet very artistically clear what and who is doing all the figurative talking. Their music makes sense once you get to see the people behind it. Well obviously it’s the guy who is doing the singing too, but musically there’s this “literary” slant however super-flattened it could be in some ways. Like the hat he wears half of the time. The one rap song he did was a good example. Do people rap with that kind of head gear typically? It’s safe to say this group, even if it’s not up my alley, at least has something worthwhile to see. It’s like a humanities-nerd kind of a vibe.

At the end of the show they were repping their stream that’s later this year that will also have a foreigner-friendly option for watching. I’m not sure if it’s a bridge too far for me, but if you dig Haikyuu songs maybe it’s worth it.

I’m not going to go too deep into ASCA, because I sorta already did, other than to say she’s cool and check her out. Then again ASCA has the kind of anime tie-ins that I watch and it’s always a treat to see her do Hibari in person. And this is someone who didn’t watch too many of the alt Fate stuff. I missed her panel on Friday because I got in late, but she was collaborating with some local streamer type person. She also popped out at the end of ASCA’s show on Saturday? Anyways, I don’t know what is going on with Sacra Music marketing, as usual.

If we go back to two weeks before the con when AWA announced BPM15Q was attending and performing their first US show, I was largely met with surprise and indifference. I vaguely know about CY8ER but I didn’t know much about the Ichigo Rinahamu personality, and all the music and projects Rinahamu started and is still a part of, and this seems like something actually worth flying to alone if everything about BPM15Q is as they say. Turns out, it is as they say. This is the core or basis in which one of the most interesting idol groups in the last 10 years.

Thinking back, this whole idol circus stuff is something now I am somewhat familiar with. You do the photo sessions, you do the watashikai and signkai, you talk to them, to do the wota moves and calls, and you enjoy yourself. As with typical East Coast cons, the number of people who indulges and knows the ropes are probably in the handfuls, at any given event. Having probably the worst slot at the con (last show on Sunday afternoon), BPM15Q still made the con for me. Imagine people finding out about them at the show–the reception of BPM15Q at the con would have been a lot better.

I can see why Rinahamu is who they say she is, because she’s definitely left a mark in my mind. In another way, nicamoq also left her mark, but she’s playing it more straight and my comm skills are probably not strong enough to really enjoy this…funny/charming idol. I don’t know what to say, just that Rinahamu slayed it at the concert, and it was what one could call an “unforgettable experience.” I’m not so sure it’s actually unforgettable, but it’s like being branded by cattle iron sort of thing. It left a very deep impression. It’s something about Rinahamu’s face, her expressions, the way she pumps up the crowd, the way she ad-libbed the stage positions and dances, and it’s really a full package deal.

The show itself is basically just the two of the members dancing to Teddyloid’s backing. It’s basically nearly non-stop dance mixes. There was a cover portion where we got Go, Butterfly, 君の知らない物語, and Renai Circulation. Musically this is the kind of denpa-inspired idol music, but updated for the 2020s. I had a nice place by the railing on the Hamu side of the catwalk, and I went as ham as I could at times. I had a blast.

Fake Star brought all these talents to AWA, including BPM15Q (but except ASCA), who is direct from Sony/Sacra). There were VIPs for PIXY and Burnout. There were photo sessions for BPM15Q all 3 days and sign sessions all 3 days. People went to Burnout’s sessions after their Friday night show, but most didn’t know about BPM15Q and their show was at the end of the con. This means literally a dozen or two people were at all their sessions. It’s too bad, but at least I didn’t have to compete for anything.

It’s not with much expectations I went with AWA, but I left with some deep memories that I hope doesn’t blossom or fester into something else lol. The lack of cell signal does sting because I couldn’t hang out with anyone easily other than the folks I already made plans with before the con.

I wish I can see BPM15Q’s show again, that is the foremost thing this con left me with. I got to shoot the chitchat with some folks. I had fun escaping reality into fuwa-fuwa denpa dream idol land. I enjoyed some music culture. I said hi and seen some faces that I have not for ages. It’s all good.


Prima Doll and the War on Terror

Key and Visual Art created this multimedia franchise called Prima Doll. It has some popular voice actresses in the Japanese release of the anime. It’s quite amusing to me, because it takes some staple moe otaku tropes, add Visual Art’s tried and true value props, and shoop it on top of this post-war world-story that resembles Steampunk Taisho (in other words, Sakura Taisen’s setting) and features these androids and war robots as well as other robotic humanoids doing various things. I guess at one point in the past they all went crazy so they’re now outlawed in the country the story takes place in?

Spoilers ahead for Prima Doll anime.

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Stepsister Ex Is Mid Light Novel Culture

My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex, which is also Mamahaha no Tsurego ga Motokano datta, or Tsurekano for short, is exactly what it says it is. It’s a light novel about the main characters becoming step-siblings who were dating just half a year ago. The amusing thing about this series is that the anime adaptation had all the trappings, except not really.

It’s probably a better question as to what do people think of a story like this without first reading it, in anime form? What do they expect? It isn’t exactly surprising to find, 10 episodes or so in, that Tsurekano broached themes like “can you have truly platonic cis male-female friendships” and exploring the limits of intimacy between non-romantically involved couples. Or the more amusing framing that I like to take, which is what is the difference between best friends and lovers? Ever see those obnoxious Jared jewelry ads? But if you asked myself 3 months back, I would not have had guess this outcome from a series titled as such.

What’s really lovely about Tsurekano is how it’s really about two introverted bookworms who approach their romances very much in the same way, and while the same standard tropes are not exactly missing in action, the way they play up is basically exactly the opposite of what you typically see in this type of anime and manga. It captures a lot of the cuteness you imagine that could happen in this sort of setup, and turn it around and make it hostage for the romantic tension, or the lack thereof, the story tries to create.

I guess, it can be boring? There are no sticks to slap, as the term goes. I think the verbal humor can really get hefty, especially having to deal with a J->E translation in process. The female lead in the story goes through this development process from a timid middle schooler into this stereotypical popular honor student type as the characters enter high school and reunited by their parents’ situation. In all, it is almost mundane. The male lead goes through a similar process but they do not really explain his motivations, if anything, it’s the dull, smoldering heat that drives the whole engine. The mundane everyday that cloaks the story is almost is as good of an example of actual light novel culture as practiced by human beings as anything else, given how much both of them live and is surrounded by such things.

I did title this post and called Tsurekano “mid” and that is because this is the ultimate callout for blogs and writers like myself. In a recent episode Tsurekano named dropped I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, which is only too appropriate. Now that’s high light novel culture, the kind of writing that Tsurekano never wants to become, and also never can surpass. But that’s also the whole point. If you are tried of renting girlfriends, tutoring your future wives, or dating influencers, maybe give this a try.


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