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.
0 WELCOME HOME KOTOHA
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.
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.
This is a blog post that will keep track of the nerd events I’m attending in 2018. 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. You can find last year’s log post here.
In 2018 I think I’m just going to be kind of vague, since YOLO’ing the past 2 years has kind of caught up. There are some stuff I’d like to go and see/participate but a lot of maybes are really in play. Just going to throw them down as guidelines.
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.
So the Bluray for Million 4th came out last week and I’ve been devouring it since I got it on Thursday. Somehow I squeezed in 2 showings of Mary and the Witch’s Flower in the same time, given the 4-disc set has 12+ hours of material, not counting the commentary tracks, but here goes.
Million 4th was probably the most important live I attended last year, at least on a personal level. It might rank only 4th overall but it was number one in terms of emotional wrecking that it did on me. I was a mess, because, as now I see from the backstage features, it left the performers in a mess too. Like, yeah, I get it, I know how it works. The feelings crossed not only stars, but oceans, cultural and language barriers, through the dance, music, and hard work of cast and staff. It sounds corny only because it’s what happened.
Million Live has a lot of songs about silly things, and it’s got a fairly diverse set of songs, but the most common category of songs are about friendship, hopes and dreams. Sometimes these songs felt like they are speaking to the audience and listeners. Sometimes these songs felt like they are speaking to the performers. And in the Million Live cast, that’s actually exactly what happens.
I’m not going to details to explain, because it will take a long time and my JP is just nonexistent for these kinds of purposes. But man, that Hoshikuzu no Symphonia on day 2 is a great example of what I’m talking about. Kokochan (Koiwai Kotori, who plays Tomoka) joined twitter publicly just the other day and she tweeted on her first day on Twitter about reaching for her dreams.
In short, Koiwai watched Animas in 2011 just as another P and an aspiring seiyuu, but in 2018 she has Mingos and Nunu tweeting with her. We don’t know what the future holds, so live on as such. Like, there was no guarantee that Mingos was ever going to remember the password to her Twitter (LOL).
I bring this up because watching Million 4th reminded me of her performance as part of Milky Way in Hoshikuzu no Symphonia. And you can watch the part in the backstage on the LE Bluray box to see the conclusion… It was a touching moment in that during the bridge, each of the four performers had a phrase to say that puts together the story of Milky Way, the unit that was detailed in LTH09. In truth, Milky Way has 5 members–Hoshii Miki being the one missing. The way the song connects the four Millionstars to Miki and to each other seemed to did Kokochan in as she started visibly crying during the performance, and thus yelling out from her heart that one line during the lead up to the climax of the song.
Notice how the first word in each of the 4 phrases they said during the bridge spell out “Hoshii Miki” and then they say to connect it together? LOL. Here are the relevant lyrics (tl: project-imas), and I bolded that one line Kokochan yelled out:
Ima datte nari yamanai PURERYUUDO
Suki katte BPM wa HAATOBIITO
Tadoritsuita GOORU wa tsugi e no SUTAATO
Mune no yokan takanara shite
Even now, the prelude won’t stop ringing
The BPM heartbeats whatever it pleases
Finally reaching my goal to start the next
My heart’s premonition keeps pounding
Gamushara mirai e to ichizu na asu e to
Kiseki o tsunaida kizuna de susume
Kokoro no takuto ga michibiku sora
Kagayaki wasurenai de ite
Kono omoi wasurenai de ite
To the reckless future, to the earnest tomorrow
Move forward with these bonds connecting the trajectory
I won’t forgot that heart’s baton
Guiding through the shining sky
Nor I’ll forgot these feelings
Tooku nagai michi meguriau michi
To the far, long road… Stumble across the unknown,
There are other instances of this playing out in the years leading up to ML4th. There are other instances of this still playing out today. It’s why when Aikotoba wa Startup played during Hatsuboshi Enbu, MillionP eventers were in shock. Or like hearing Addicted or Just Be Myself or Tsuiyoku no Sandglass. It’s a bit heart wrenching if you are a fan, in that both you’re suffering only because Bamco decided their lives to become this way, and that you’re pining for a thing that will probably come eventually, and it’s more beautiful because of it. It’s a mixed feeling of happiness and regret, that reality of the industry comes in and stir things up, with a distant hope, at least personally, that everything, all together, will be better off because of these complicated circumstances.
I would say it’s a cheap shot except it takes so much to even build up to begin with. A long cheap shot, maybe. A road within a fandom that’s got a significant barrier of entry, yeah. But I guess some producers have no choices here!