Re: AX’s Flower Stands & Call Books

These thoughts are related to the ongoing production of some fan projects for this year’s Anime Expo. It is more akin to long-ass-subtweet level of snark but at the same time I try to offer at least a more honest look at what practically, on some level, introspection would at least bring you. These blurbs do refer to some ongoing things that some of you might not be aware of, and some of the things I say may not make a lot of sense if you don’t know what I’m referring to. But I guess that’s just par for the course right? Lastly, think of the below 2 entries as two parts in a long series of why we can’t have nice things.

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Anime Next 2017: Wrap

This was a fun time in Atlantic City, partly because we had a pretty nice crew going and it was well-supported by everyone. Thanks for everyone who made it happen, and big thanks to the con for bringing together the guests and being able to put on a mostly competent event! I also have to give massive thanks to the 30 or so people at my panel, thanks for showing up! Super thanks for the wota demo yall.

The reason why I had a good time, indirectly, can be traced to the fact that seiyuu Ueda Reina was here as a guest. She came as a group with the series director for ReLIFE, Kosaka Tomochi, and character designer Yamanaka Junko. I guess director Tomochi’s signature work was Yowamushi GR OP, and Nobunaga no Shinobi for Yamanaka. Ueda Reina got Bakuon as a nod. It seemed like, from the panels, that Kosaka had a lot to say, so it was a little sad that she didn’t get to do it as about half of the panel was Q&A and the other half was presenting materials from ReLIFE. I’m guessing this only happened because TMS arranged it to be like that.

The two panels for ReLIFE were run in a scripted style. Ueda Reina was the MC, who did the thing in a very standard JP event style. You have to also give props to the interpreter for keeping it up. The two panels were also more or less the same, which both had a live sketch portion with the result sketch being offered to the person who beat Ueshama in rock paper scissors.

I don’t have a lot to add to the stuff involving Ueda Reina. In person, she’s pretty much what I expected, a lively and expressive woman with some, uh, inaka tendencies. They call her Uebaba for a good reason. She’s also a little dorky, which adds to her charm. Or I should say, there may be a thin line between awkward and charming, but she always lands on the right side of the line. Those of you who know her knows her, I guess, and it is a joy just to be able to share this weekend with her even in this limited way.

It’s even more of a joy to share the weekend with all the others who appreciate her, and some of the eventing tigers that somehow makes up my greater circle of acquaintances and second degree acquaintances via others. I ran a panel about events, but some friends ran a panel about wota. I guess these days they go hand in hand even in the States. We watched some Million Live 3rd this weekend, but also did an episode of HPTalk, which I should post soon…

There weren’t a lot of silly things that happened, our Ueshama kaigai TO-type bought gifts and flowers to get his Umimi POP signed, but outside of that it wasn’t all that.

I ended up at the con Thursday night, so I can wake up at a reasonable time and work most of the day Friday. I actually ditched work to go to the Trigger panel and came back to wrap up. It worked out well enough since I brought some food with me. Seeing the schedule having that free time helped a lot. The two Trigger panels were good, especially the Friday one where the crowd watched Infernal Cop on some dinky projectors. Dinky because they weren’t elevated enough and you can’t see anything once people stood up to sing “America ga daisuki” which…well.

The second Trigger panel was the LWA focus panel. I missed the first half of it because I thought I wouldn’t make it into the panel room due to full-ness, as it took place right after the TMS panel. I came back to it after a bit and sat in the back. There was great regret because I actually read up on LWA animator Handa before and missed out on the quiz (with Imaishi autograph on the line): what’s Handa’s debut work? It was Hanamaru Yochien but I said Panty Stocking (which was his second IIRC). The hard part was getting picked, but I got picked.

I also swung by the Capcom Live concert on Sunday, although just for the last third. They snuck in a couple anime songs that I got a to hear, Guren no Yumiya and One Piece… Their lead singer was pretty cool. The video game music part, that was pretty good, even if there was only one Rockman track…

I actually walked the dealer room/artist alley this time, but nothing struck me as very interesting. Not that many vendors to begin with.

Anyways, it was a fun con. I took it easy; so did everyone more or less. I even went to the Otabrew stop there, and it helped that a con higherup was helping the coordination. Found a couple beers that I liked, even (mostly the Equilibrium Photon Citrus). It was also good to hang with a crowd I normally don’t see.

PS. I was able to walk around a bit this year to get bites, but I ended up at Wingcraft twice again. I did go to the pho place behind the Bass Pro Shop and it was solid, if albeit a tad higher priced than expected due to the location. I think some people wanted to go to the conbini where Ueshama said she got a hot dog from but I don’t really know if that’s such a good idea, LOL. So she says, according to her, that’s a very American thing to do, to walk around town while eating a hot dog. Photo was taken (not with hot dog in hand) while walking back from Pho; there was a bike tournament on Sunday, which was oddly still related to our guest of honor.

The Second Honeyworks Movie, Music Ray’n

The second Honeyworks movie, Sukishun for short, is on Crunchy. This movie takes place in the same universe/setting as the first movie, with the same characters, but told from a different perspective. What interests me in this one is how Music Ray’n talents take some key roles, namely Mocho is responsible for the main character this time.

When the movie came out in Japan some time ago Honeyworks also released a soundtrack, which is what clued me in on it, but also following the social media feed of the theater greeting events (thanks tiny Muray pics). Granted all of this targets a particular audience that might be better described as “middle schoolers who like campy romance” which might include OGs and BBAs who like that archetypal shoujo romance hook. Included in this list of older-than-15s is our 22-years-old (soon 23!) voice actress Asakura Momo, who I think is having a ball of a time playing Hina and living inside her hobby’s wheelhouse, for an avid shoujo/romance consumer but still being non-otaku.

It’s not easy for a newbie seiyuu to get a lead role that happens to also spotlight the voice actor in a way that plays to her strengths, in this case. To thank for that, I can only point to Sony, or Music Ray’n, their seiyuu agency/program. Having seen so many new and progressing careers in Japanese voice acting with a bent towards marketing to the otaku I think this is like, the one thing that sets Muray apart. It’s not to say other agencies and companies don’t develop their talents this way, but they really come around to cultivate each of the talents in this generation.

For that, I can put up with their crappy social media and online photo policy.

As for the movie itself, it’s quite serviceable and I think it’s a crowd pleaser, if you’re into that kind of thing. For me, having to see Mocho in a fairly dynamic role that exhibits a range of emotions and modes of communication is already a win. You might have to deal with the initial “Love Hina” moment but the rest of it is just Mocho being what I like the most about her.

In Re: Tsumugi & Saki, New IDOLM@STER Million Live Cast

Basu actually captured my thoughts more or less the same. But I think it helps to take a higher perspective.

The big picture view, well, is idols are Gundam. Bandai Namco is shepherding these larger and larger IPs to create content and make money. The trend for this particular market space (otaku like myself) has long been a change from making money by making media to making money by selling an experience, thus leading to the rise of a live-oriented way to pitch your 2D idols. And idols are a natural and built-in style of content that can be used in this way.

However IDOLM@STER is probably the longest standing and actively produced 2D idol property, at least in a post-00s, 48G style kind of way. The way the series evolved over the past 11 years meant that the producers of the series had to overcome different and various challenges, and take on more that are yet to come. I think the Yukiho swap series of events is the guiding data point on any consternation regarding Taneda Risa, and I think everyone who has been through it know that having the idol take a year or two off is something the IDOLM@STER series, at least since the beginning of the mobamas era, can deal with.

The real challenge, from a personal point of view, is the reconciliation between the two aging card-based mobile games to the new, full-feature rhythm games. On a business level it makes no sense to stop the classic Deremas game. It’s money on the table, and another way to put out content for a series, that I think, is bottled up in terms of its full potential on the content level. They were able to leverage this to throw in 876 Pro stuff and still periodically add interesting content there. But what is its role outside of that? It seems not just quaint, but kind of irrelevant. The current Million Live game, too, will hit that same crossroad.

Since I think it’ll be a business decision, it seems unlikely to see the classic Greemas game go away as to leave money on the table, but with the newly introduced idols, how will Tsumugi and Saki meld into Greemas? It’s an unique situation that oddly only the 765Pro games had to face, which is adding Takane and Hibiki in SP and still not able to produce them in the arcade version. But obviously, Bannam has now the power to retcon the Million Stars, as the cost of doing so is much lower versus doing it back in the arcade days.

Which is just to say, this does feel like when Takane and Hibiki was added to 765Pro. It’s not clear to me why Takane or Hibiki was added, but if today’s trajectory of the 765Pro seiyuu is any indication, our two new Million Stars will be able to shoulder a larger share of work in the future as more and more of this generation of Million Stars move on to having babies or what have you.

Well, at least on paper. There are already 37 Million Stars. It would be weird to not able to call up, I don’t know, 6 of them, at any given time, if Bannam needed to do an event. Maybe a more ideal way to channel cute young voice actresses is to churn them in this mean, sprawling, 2D seiyuu idol machine. I have been thinking about the difference between CG and ML in this way, where our set 37 Million Stars were all auditioned and recruited from the same generation of newbies. CG on the other hand recruited from the full poll of newbies every year, so both it allows CG to get a fresh boost of new blood every so often, and allows the cast to draw from a much bigger pool, and potentially pulling in a wider fanbase (from seiota point of view). Of course the downside is that the Million Stars have a different chemistry, as result of this, than the Cinderellas, but maybe that’s not as important when you’re already at 37 people strong.

The impact on team chemistry will play out in the long term. Nunu, Haramii and Azumin are the faces of 765Pro today, in a way, because they are in a lot of the more recent events versus even Eriko and Mingos. This is possible because even Azumin has been with the franchise for over 6 years now, and as I can testify from 765ML TW, she fits right in there with the other old ladies. Looking back, the seiyuu changes and additions to 765Pro were bumps in the road, not drastic landmarks where the series turned towards a very different direction. I’m somewhat hoping this is the case for Million Live. However I think the concern over seiyuu that I have is dwarfed by my concern over the franchise as a video game IP. Perhaps the arrival of Project Fairy signaled the end of the Arcademas era and the start of the mobile gaming for the franchise, and perhaps the arrival of Saki and Tsumugi signals the end of greemas and the start of “hey we’re just gonna copy Deresute, don’t mind us.” I hope that’s all there is to it.

And to just be super honest here, I don’t want to put my money into two Million Live games. It would be really nice if they can just fold the old game into Militheater, even if that’s probably not going to happen. Realistically speaking I’m just going to spend in both, so I am my own worst poison.

Half-way Into Spring 2017

I’m still watching anime.

I did finish the main OVA series of Legend of Galactic Heroes, or Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu, and it was good. Feels like a very literal map between TV cartoon from book, even though it’s a home-video only release. Like its content, that release is a bit ahead of its time; I think it would have been a killer IP for a Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. If I was working for those groups this is the kind of content I would try to secure.

Saekano S2 – This is at least astute to a degree, but misses the point entirely. I think of the story of Saekano as a bunch of problematic people coming together, with the joke being that the boring girlfriend character is actually the most interesting person among a bunch of weirdos (to put it mildly). It is full of good, subtle, meaningful fanservice and to me, coupled with Misaki’s designs, makes this top notch in that department. It is a story between battling emotions and emotional people, and really repurposes the harem aspect to describe a creative process.

Tsugumomo – Only really watching it because Sanpei Yuko told me to, but also it turns out to be another kind of fanservice show that are not too common these days. At first the subject matter doesn’t seem to be my cup of tea but it is pretty easy to get along, especially there aren’t any shows this season like this. If anything the porno-ish aspect found in the manga doesn’t get played up as much in the anime, maybe for the best…

Renai Bokun – I started to enjoy this show more to think of it like, trash tier episodes of Ranma 1/2. It might as well be. Haramii’s character is pretty extreme! It was hard for me to watch actively, but really fun to play it in the background while I do something less attentive, such as eating.

Re:Creator – I hope it keeps going, because so far it is doing nicely to escalate. The first handful of episodes were fun to watch in the same ways Aldnoah Zero (at least S1) was kind of fun to watch, in that it is a competent production and the story moved along smoothly. The subject matter actually is still kind of problematic. But I think there are some cool places this show can go.

Twin Angel BREAK – Sins of seiyuu watching brought me here, but somehow once the Russian twins were introduced, this series stopped being as hard to watch. Maybe it’s because I’m watching it for the twins, but I don’t think the story was getting any better than it was before. I guess someone has to give it a nod for laying down all the details in the early going that can come around towards the end of the series.

Tsukigakirei – I LOL’d at the book publishing part. Otherwise it’s just very comfortable cute romance I guess.

Akashic Record – Rokuaka is the kind of trash LN that works in the TV anime format, it’s got some dramatic things that map well to a more cinematic mode of storytelling. It’s enjoyable.

Hinako Note – It’s cute but the fanservice in this show sure is jarring. It has a plot so the show is kind of enjoyable at least in terms of tracking the narrative.

Natsume S6 – It’s still going, but I’m behind. Will probably catch up soon. Have to say after 5+ cours this show is just more of the same and one episode doesn’t always differentiate from the next significantly at times. To me it isn’t about what happens, but the atmospheric quality and the way it entertains me. It’s like a box of chocolates, just because I like said chocolates it doesn’t mean I will finish the whole box in one setting.

Uchoten S2 – Still very enjoyable, but it isn’t as compelling as the latter half of S1. The way the anime plays off the highs and lows with almost equal import throws off the storytelling a little. It’s like if you enjoy passive aggression, you would love this show right now.

Eromanga Sensei – It’s such a fun show to watch, I look forward to it every week. What has been surprising is that I thought I was going to get my best bang for the buck from the meta, but the core material is plenty enjoyable too, unexpectedly.

Attack On Titan S2 – Every episode is more fun reveals, so it’s pretty solid thus far.

SukaSuka – WorldEnd is just too confusing of a name… But the setting is really the shining part of the show. I’m just glad to see Koroazu in a lead role of a show that doesn’t suck… or at least it doesn’t suck that much.

Granblue Fantasy – The first couple episodes were great, but the show really tanked after that; not only it was really too cliche, none of the great part of the game got nice highlights until this past couple weeks. I’m still on board but it really needs to pick up the pace.

PiriPiri Chi-chan – In another page of watching cartoons for seiyuu I am totally watching this for Mocho, but I think this is actually a must-watch for any Rieshon fans. The production, the OP/ED themes, and the general makeup of the show are all really fun and pleasant, so it has been surprisingly enjoyable.

Cingeki – Sometimes I forget how eroi some of the comics are, and I’m glad they decided to make them into anime.

Alice & Zouroku – It’s got a thriller opening set but now things are just kind of normal-ish? Not sure I like the change but it hasn’t been bad. The mid-season breaks this cour has been a little more obvious than usual isn’t it…

sin Seven Deadly Sin – Want to watch ep2 but haven’t gotten to it yet, it’s a little obnoxious and I think Renai Boukun is taking up my quota on obnoxiousness this season.

Clockwork Planet – I actually enjoyed this thoroughly chuu2 show to a degree, but it’s also equally insufferable so I haven’t been able to go past 3 episodes.

Danmachi Side anime – On the back burner, haven’t even tried… But I will!

Bahamut Virgin Soul – I’m glad people are getting what they always wanted! /s When I watched the first series I was pretty annoyed, and I find this one a little less annoying but true to form. But I’m also behind on this because I just haven’t gotten that time for a show I’m only mildly interested in.

Busou Shoujo – One and dropped. I probably would enjoy this show but ain’t got the time.

Anonymous Noise – One and on hold I guess. I enjoyed the pilot but I might need to get in the right state of mind to keep going, so maybe it’s worth a binge watch later.

Silver Guardian – This is OK for a Chinese cartoon. Pass.

Atom: The Beginning – Too uppity for my tastes but worth watching at least one. Might go back to it…after I finish other equally uppity anime in my backlog?

Frame Arm Girls – I was fine with the 2 episode I watched but it wasn’t compelling enough to overcome the jetlag induced backlog. Maybe later.

ID-0 – After just one episode I wanted to watch more, but I didn’t want to mess with another subscription service. I think my habits have largely tilted to watching stuff legit if it meant following it week to week. Two exceptions in the form of Re:Creator and Saekano buck that trend, but I’m sure I would rather watch ID-0 over a lot of the other shows on my list.

On a couple notes in terms of trends, this is the first season in the States where Amazon streaming has some specific exclusives I care for, and Netflix still has their usual bags that they lock up for binging only. Chris from Fandompost has sort of laid it out, although the monetary figure will vary on how you approach the system. Honestly I use streaming so I can avoid making my life more complicated, so I’ll just stick with CR (and Daisuki) for now and ignore Netflix and Amazon until they make their offering more compelling.

And it’s not like their products aren’t compelling. I’m tempted to do a month of Netflix HD just to watch the rest of Sidonia and Blame (and LWA if…they had it). I would subscribe to Amazon’s Anime Strike, too, except I’m in Amazon Prime limbo due to free F&F shipping perk. I’m basically already a leg inside Amazon’s system habit-wise. What needs to change is providing a way for people who can’t get the shipping Prime straightened out, which might mean a more ala cart thing (which makes sense for everyone, not just my case). The second thing is I want more of a commitment from Amazon on anime. If I switch to paid Prime that is one year of commitment (I’m not going to bother with monthly subs with this, sup, the new Amazon credit card), so they better not suck 6 months later. Overall the jury is still out on Amazon and I am in no rush to join until there’s some track record first. (Well, there IS IDOLM@STER.KR waiting but so far that’s just the K-Drama-fying of the literal concept, which one’s mileage will vary on how they feel about k-dramas.)

PS. At this rate, I’m probably going to spring for a kindle unlimited membership before Anime Strike. LOL.

PPS. I’m headed to Anime North! Just going to chill out in Toronto for a while, as the freight train that is AX prep continues to run unabated. Come say hello!