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On the 2017 Spring Season Light Novel Meta

When light novel anime is making statements on light novels we know we are in some kind of a twilight zone. I guess it’s not that unusual to see YA lit turn into cartoons for teens and young adults (and some older adults, too). I just want to highlight some of the scenes I’ve seen and think about it a bit.

Tsukigakirei to me is the one that threw the first punch. To put it into categorically database-y terms, the jock girl and the quiet, book guy hooked up because they have, I guess, similar dispositions? The draw for viewers is this charming 15-yo pairing doing what junior high schoolers do so well, but the boy in the story has this career tangent about becoming a writer. At one point he went and interviewed for a publisher who encouraged him to write light novels, because that’s likely the (only) audience who will find his works interesting. He snubbed the idea, because in his heart he’s a classicists, as his soliloquies are often dotted by quotes from the likes of Dazai and Souseki (thus the name of the show). He writes serious fiction…for young people. Well, good luck kiddo, at least you got that snobbery attitude down, hope the rest of that hipster lit writer bit will follow. Lastly, it’s important to note that Tsukigakirei is an anime original–in some ways it’s a lot easier to write in a reactive attitude that snobs light novels without being one itself.

Eromanga Sensei is the story about young makers of light novels. It involves at its core a light novel author and his shut-in adopted little sister, who also is the illustrator for his books. It’s really that simple, but the story is about how a series of weirdos come upon the “light novel protagonist” (a well-meaning but appropriately appraised insult used within the show, no less), while the little sister becomes slightly more adjusted to society after a series of tragedies that traumatized the unfortunate siblings. As a story where most characters are involved in the light novel industry (illustrator, writers, a couple editors, and a bookstore employee/owner, plus one dick-calling classmate), it has a lot to say about light novels. Most of the time the story only make sharp comments about the industry (as a fan-critic would, thankfully at least) as part of the jokes Eromanga Sensei trots out every few episodes. Its main thrust is providing an enjoyable show (well, to me at least, but I understand it’s not for everyone) while calling you names, and calling itself names. I think there’s definitely a market for this stuff, but I also understand why some might find it too, I don’t know, meta-kinky, for straightface (or even one degree removed ironic, FWIW) consumption.

Saekano season two is not about light novels, but it has a main character whose day job is writing light novels. Instead, the work the team in Saekano tries to complete is a visual novel. How do visual novel relate to light novel (Saekano is a light novel-turn-anime)? This is a deep question, but in a honest-to-goodness media-mix world it’s all a spectrum, as part of the drama towards the end of the series relates to another media-mix IP that’s not a visual novel, let’s just say. The focus of the story and the theme in the story this season largely rests on the creative process and how to create stuff, what motivates people, and so on. The romance angle is pretty well done in this context, but it’s no puppy love story. I think ultimately it makes some very compelling arguments from perspective of someone who’s been doing it a lot, in as much in this season’s meta, Saekano answers the question asked in Tsukigakirei very well. More importantly, Saekano plays with an even tone for the most part, with our Mr. Ethics showing us what not to do the whole way, no matter if they are creating a light novel, a visual novel, or just any creative-creative thing. Actually, you should read this to get a sense of what I mean. This story is as much about producing as it is about creating.

I watched Rokuaka and find it unremarkable on the meta ground as far as light novels go, although it demonstrates, to me, the strength of an anime based on the medium. Danmachi’s spinoff is on this season as well but I have not touched it (yet?). I dropped Clockwork Planet, but it is pretty much just straight-faced as well. There’s not much to say about Sukasuka, perhaps aside from its post-rock style title. Are there any other light novel trash about light novel trash this season?

It’s safe to say we’re beyond peak Light Novel Anime. I think things seem stabilized, but this level of self-awareness is only possible after a full embrace of this mode of media. We’re technically past an inflection point, but I’m not sure where things are going. I’m not so much into forecasting on the industry level on this, but I think Eromanga Sensei is a standard bearer in this regard; it’s very much a version two, after carefully adjusting from version one of the thing. Its success(?) or failure(?) will be informative.


Eromanga Sensei

Eromanga Sensei anime is the Gamera of late night anime, in the Roger Ebert sense. Speaking as someone who saw Air Force One but not much in terms of giant city-wrecking turtle movies, I’m on shaky grounds to appraise either. Eromanga Sensei is in my wheelhouse, though. A little bit of spoilers ahead. Also some Oreimo spoilers ahead, too.

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Anime Expo 2017 Prep

Somehow I got roped into pressing at AX again, despite paying for Premiere… Should’ve said no but welp.

Just a page of links and what I know that can be shared. This year I have not had as much time collecting info, but here goes.

Sentai Filmworks here. Not much to note.

Mangagamer has some stuff. Probably nice for the usual commission hunters.

FUNi – If you care about FMP take note here.

Atlus has a food truck tie-in

Fakku – MEME50 huh.

Sekai Project – Bring seiyuu already lol.

DenpaSoft

Kadokawa has a PR without much details but I guess check FB later?

GSC, in case you hate money. Not too terrible this year.

Visual Arts LOL

Bookwalker – Danmachi author…

Aniplex USA – Man, Kawasumi is coming again but I can’t do anything about going to the FGO panel. And I am playing the game right now…

Oh yeah, there’s also Bushiroad Grand Festival (US ver). Mini stage schedule. Main stage schedule. Based on what I know you go early to line up to go in and buy stuff to get tickets for autograph or other things. Basically try to budget an hour to travel between events, traffic willing.

Crunchyroll is probably holding back because they are throwing their own party in Norcal later this year.

Key things to note about the two AWM shows, Japan Kawaii Live and Japan Super Live.

  • People will be distributing call books. Check my twitter for location.
  • Make time to pick up your tickets from AX Will Call booth near LACC south hall entrance. There’s a 4 hour minimum pickup time before your first show. This means if the show is at 7pm then you need to pick it up by 3pm. That’s tight on 6/30 to say the least. If you need to, AX offers ability to pick up tickets at the venue directly by emailing them. That said you can pick them up on 6/29, and starting 8am on 6/30.
  • The gist here is AX wants to enforce badge and ticket check at will call. It sucks because the sensible thing to do is have MS Theater staff check instead, but welp. Considering that JKL is well-sold it means a lot of people will have to deal with 6/30 problems on 6/30. I’m leaving my tickets with my name for the time being, can always change the names on your ticket later.

AX Autograph rules here.

On 6/30 and 7/1, I believe AWM will have goods sales at the Microsoft Theater. Better check the day of.


Sweet Soul Sister

It’s a bit of “lore” but just want to put it out there rather than let it languish in my draft folder. It’s nothing special, really, but also a little neat. Basically, ZAQ is good.

For those who don’t know, ZAQ is a musician who is signed with Lantis. She herself has a solo musician career as a singer-songwriter type. But that’s an inadequate description of the kind of stuff she actually does. For starters, she writes a lot of songs for other Lantis projects, and that includes fellow musicians and anime projects that come attached. Her first big hit is also her debut single, Sparkling Daydream, the opening to Chuu2koi, and in that show she wrote the opening and ending, but only performed the opening as a song in her solo library. The seiyuu unit from the anime made up the vocals for the ending single. This is kind of the pattern for a lot of her work. It works particularly well for her, as someone who is multi-genre and covers classical to rock to ska to even hip-hop, which gives her a lot of options to work on anime-wise.

Over the past few years this has added up to that maybe half of the songs ZAQ worked on are actually hers, but due to the way anisong world works she ends up performing a lot of them during her solo live events anyway. To me, based on a handful of Lantis acts that I’ve seen in person outside of their concerts, it’s almost more like, Lantis artists tend to be music nerds who are also kind of otaku, and I feel ZAQ embodies this idea well. Granted she isn’t really an otaku…sort of. It’s just that she carries herself across this mix of nerd and music in a way that makes you think, huh, yeah, maybe…

Anyways, here’s the thing. Lantis runs Million Live’s music. ZAQ writes for Lantis projects. ZAQ has written a few songs for Million Live (here). Out of all 7 or so of them, though I want to call out one: Sweet Sweet Soul, a song that was released earlier this year. The details of the thing is right here, in ZAQ’s own words on her own blog.

Soul’d Out, basically, are the people who wrote Sweet Sweet Soul. They were a mainstream hip-hop group in Japan back in the 00s, and it was the group that got ZAQ into hip-hop music. I guess she’s only 29 this year, so that means when Soul’d Out’s biggest hit (Yakitate Japan ending) in 2005 she’s 17? Anyways, she was pretty excited to write the lyrics about our three young idols and give their take on hip-hop, but I think it’s more exciting for me to see how Soul’d Out left their mark in ZAQ’s musical DNA.

PS. I actually can elaborate on this post a bit. She did a lot of research on IM@S when she wrote the lyrics to Rebellion. I think there’s the general awareness of the care needed to handle the franchise, and she said something to the extent that I know this is probably not very Hibiki-like, it’s pretty cool so I went with it. And there is our red of truth or something.


Eventing 2017

[Last year’s event log here. Last update June 20]

This is a blog post that will keep track of the nerd events I’m attending in 2017. It will be updated over time to add/delete and update the status of the events I plan to attend or have attended. If you’re going to one of these, feel free to let me know ahead of time.

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