Category Archives: English Language Modern Visual Culture

Power of Anime, Spring Edition

Looking at the spring season…of 2011? If just briefly. A US-centric, industry postmortem.

Someone once said that overall, the late-night anime business generally makes money. With Occult Academy due out in May, that marks the US release of all the Anime no Chikara anime. And that’s a good thing–all three shows have at least some redeeming value, demonstrating the power of anime to some degree. I’m going to assume they are making and going to make money for their licencors back home for a while yet.

This is the same power that enamored the neophytes with the new Lupin the Third anime, some of them having seen 3 or fewer hours of any other Lupin work to date. This is the same reason why Kyoto Animation’s Hyouka is not a call for tar and feathering, it is staving off 2ch otaku second-guessing those old-capitol animator lords on their high-riding horses. It is the same way that idols are going 2.5D.

Yamakan’s laughable exercise of Fractale is also due out in America. Will it sell? I know I will contribute my one out of 686 units. Along side with much of the hoard from 2010/2011, as struggling production major player Funimation slowly churn out these shows for its localized release. And in that sense I thought it is pretty representative–Nozomi got Soranowoto; Sentai nabbed Night Raid; NISA took Occult Academy. These three studios are relatively new-comers, with very different profiles. And while I can’t say anything about Sentai, there are no DBZ or FMA or One Cash Cow holding up the rest for those. There are just a variety of better selling shows and poorer selling shows. It is our future, in that while one could always say that the entertainment industry is propped up by that one hit, this does not have to be the case with this otaku-centric business model, and I think a lot of us benefit from this.

And speaking of Fractale (of Funi), a random sampling of 2011 Spring pickups also says Anohana is NISA, Madoka is Aniplex, and Gosick was Bandai and now is in limbo. I think this is a good way to slice things up, and it really shows some weird sense of market competitiveness. It’s almost like the handing-off-of batons from one generation to another–clearly, some people license the wrong shows. And on the flip side I count my lucky stars that these companies generally licensed the right shows for them.

I feel that Funimation does a good job, generally speaking, with their releases, from the marketing end. Especially with the traditional fanservice-heavy shows. I thought their push for Strike Witches was spirited; comparatively the push for AsoIku not as much, but still, it happens. But they need to quit sitting on these simulcasts and get a move on with their releases.

Ultimately, it is new and exciting new licenses that energizes the fanbase and bring in revenue.

On the bright side, right now there’s real market diversity in terms of who is selling what, and we have FUNi to thank. They’re really serving it up to that 25-75 anime fan segment and leaving most of the rest alone. Unfortunately this is also reason to concern in that not everything is available in every single way. It remains the distant Avalon, a place promised in our filesharing days.

TL;DR – We’ve come so far, but we still have much to go.

PS. Speaking of the 25-percentile, did you see those Ghibli Blu-ray Disc releases lined up for May? US domestic? I did and I’m like \(・ω・)/Let’sにゃー!


Wolves and Koko Puffs

When I was reading about people’s first reactions to Jormungand the animation, some compared it to Spice & Wolf. I didn’t really see the comparison being valid beyond the superficial similarity of having a strong personality of a woman in the context of the intrigue of bartering. But after 3 episodes, I see where the real similarity lies.

Koko is a wolf. In fact she is the wolf that Horo never seems to be, at least after 3 volumes of the novels. It’s how far I’ve read in Spicywolf before giving up.

By wolf I mean, perhaps, the best example of wolf that anime keeps on using: the fable of the Little Red Riding Hood. This is the human wolf–a wolf pretending to be a person in order to achieve the wolf’s wolf-y goals. Which is usually about being a wolf’s survival, or desire to eat somebody, or some such.

An example of the Little Red symbology in play is Jin-Roh. And Jin-Roh is, by all means, the best fictional depiction of what it means to be a wolf, in my humble opinion, in the context of Japanese pop culture. It’s a little more psychologically edgier than the simple “ronin” or lone wolf concept, which is more about the individualism that we Americans associate with our cultural heritage. Indeed, in order to appear wolf-like, these individuals have to exist alongside with normal human beings, and even work with them. It is very hard to act aloof and deceptive if there’s nobody close to you. It’s why the Big Bad Wolf gets to have a conversation with Little Red Riding Hood. The culture of fitting in, as it is in Japan, makes the wolf blend in to his or her environs easier. It’s the wolf’s disguise.

Koko is rather the exception in that regard. She stands out like a sore thumb at a glance. Her manic smile is clearly a sign of something is odd about this one. Some might even consider her moe, which is probably running against the grain in a Black Lagoon-like setting. Koko’s wider-than-usual mouth makes me asks why she has such a wide mouth. The childish and girly exterior betrays the calculating and pragmatic mind it carries. To that extent it is already less of a wolf-in-sheepskin as much as just a wolf (as opposed to Jin-Roh, where the “wolf” is actually a wolf pretending to be a sheep inside a wolf’s skin). She is clearly a wolf among wolves, except this wolf looks like a sheep.

Indeed, Koko, why do you have such a big mouth?

The setup is pretty nice given that we’re seeing the story developing as a relationship between Koko and Jonah. Jonah looks like a wolf, too, but I suppose we’ll get to see if Jonah only looks the look or not. For starters, he might not even rock the look that Koko does.

There’s a lot to like, for me, about Koko and Jormungand the anime. It’s great to see Iwasaki being fun to listen to again. It’s unfortunate that the radio drama cast didn’t carry over again but I’ll live. Koko’s shotacon ships also adds to that wolf-ness, don’t you think? Like, she’s gonna eat him whole? LOL. I think White Fox’s got a solid hit on their hands again.

PS. If you’ve never seen Oshii & Okiura’s masterpiece Jin-Roh, go knock yourself out on Hulu. Or import the re-release Blu-ray!


The Future Is 2.5D

Remembering Anime Boston, I thought about 2.5D. I think the context the term was used in was for Momoi’s Afilia Saga East–she’s a producer for them–a group of Akiba idols associated with the similarly named maid cafe chain. The term came up during a question at Momoi’s fan panel related to the subgenrification [btw, google result of this made-up word makes a good list of wank blogs] of otaku in Japan–I think they would have it way worse than oversea otaku, and they probably are. There are idol otaku and there are anime otaku, very different groups of people who like very different things even when from afar, they are not really that different. Among others.

Thinking about some of the fans I personally know, to put stress on the term fan (I think it best describes most of these people), it really is the case where people are fans of a lot of the same things, but for different reasons. I’m not sure if that is because of the media mix case or what, but this sludge of … things that are attractive do bridge both 2D and 3D fans, otaku, scholars, shopkeepers, other sub-genres, what have you.

I think what is more interesting about 2.5D is that there is a distinct expression for it. Seiyuu. Hatsune Miku. ClariS. AKB0048. All of these things are examples of 2.5D.

To take a big step back, the term 2.5D really comes about when we look at the otaku who likes their 2D–slang for anime/manga/game characters. Those moe figures and hugpillows, that’s a stable expression of 2D. You can shout “ore no yome” for both 2D and 3D characters, but the latter will get you more weird looks than the former, I think. As for 3D, it generally refers to real life persons, or specifically idols for idol otaku–people who like AKB48 or one of the many. They have their own code and things to do, depending on which agency they (idols and fan alike) are slaved to. Of course 3D fandom has been in development for a much longer period than 2D, so it’s a convoluted thing to sort through so I won’t really try to here. It’s when 2D collides with 3D that you get this strange 2.5D effect.

In other words, when 2D wants to do 3D, it’s 2.5D. When 3D tries to be 2D, it’s 2.5D.

Like every other otaku term that’s been around, it’s not exactly easy to define or even pin down. I think 2.5D is most akin to a feeling where there’s some kind of gap that is being broached. It’s probably vaguely related to concepts like “uncanny valley” and “AI” and “meme” and things like that, because undead Tupac is a very apt expression of 2.5D. On the other hand when you have physical manifestation of 2D (hug pillows, figures, etc) or when the 2D slots into a perfectly 3D role (eg., a virtual idol), that’s 2.5D. Actually anime is inherently 2.5D.

The bigger generalization I want to state is that 2D is limited to ideas, where as 3D is manifestation thereof. Most Japanese idols are pretty much just girls who are produced to project some kind of persona, an image. As mentioned before it is no less artificial than Hatsune Miku in a lot of ways, certainly in the ways fans interact with idols. On the other hand when your average Precure kigurumi stage show happens at an amusement park, well, that’s a real-life manifestation of cartoons.

Somehow we are infatuated when this crossover behavior happens. I don’t really know why, but I can make a few guesses. And by we I mean people like myself.

There are many other advantages too. 2.5D naturally lends itself to better marketing. It’s easy to photocopy some ads or post on facebook an idea, and image, a persona; to win fans with your 3D personality require the person being all over the place, or expensive TV broadcasting. Neither replaces the other but you need to leverage both the 2D or 3D along with the 2.5. It’s great to have a manga with a good story and great art and an eye for what makes for great manga material, but it probably will always be more popular if the anime adaptation turned out to be a blockbuster. The examples of 2.5D’s benefits are countless.

The best example, to go back to Tupac, is that ideas live forever, theoretically. Much longer than life + 70 years. Even if the 3D component is six feet under, 2D and 2.5D will live on as long as there’s enough interests in it. That alone almost guarantees that the future is 2.5D. Wait until hologram technology breaks the gates of Hades wide open–big enough for Biggie to join the chorus!


Design-Driven Results

This is kind of off-topic for this blog, maybe, but it’s probably worth noting a few things. So it goes. These things are about how the choices you make, perhaps seemingly minor, can have a big, big impact in the long run.

There’s this anime blog tournament going on. I think it’s a worthwhile exercise because in order to have a working blog scene, you need to have some required things going on, elements. One of these elements is enough of a reader base that will sufficiently bleed out information beyond purely linking and relying on analytics and trackbacks in order to create the “social networking” effect. For example, if person A writes an interesting blog post about Amazon’s monopsony, and person B has never heard of person A or his blog before, but is interested in the content of A’s blog post, how can B discover A’s blog post? If person B’s daily reading of internet stuff overlaps part of the network in which A’s blog post traverses, such as if B reads a blog post that links to A’s blog, then maybe. Or if B reads person C’s twitter in which C comments on A’s blog post, for another example. You get what I’m saying. But in both of these cases it means some person C has to read person A’s blog, or maybe C is just like B and is not regularly reading a part of A’s blog post’s network, and some person D has to fill in that role. In other words, someone has to act as an intermediary.

This is why in order for a blog to actually achieve some degree of the network effect, it has to:

  • get a lot of readers, and/or
  • get some readers who are heavy-duty cross-posting or networking “nodes”

Invariably a lot of bloggers themselves are heavy-duty readers of other people’s blogs, in order to cull and come up with new things to put in their blogs. They also link out to other people’s writing, as blogs themselves present one way for the network to exist. But I can tell you first hand this is not easy work, and quite frankly I can’t do it because uh…what is commonly described as anime blogging is not something I have a high tolerance for. So when something like AnimeNano or the Aniblog tournament exists, it becomes a way for blogs that very few people read to get read. Someone does the curating for you, as much (in the Aniblog tourney case) or as little (in the anano case) as the case may be. Or in my case, very rarely do I link out to an anime blog! Kind of weird isn’t it.

I think it’s fair criticism to say the Aniblog tournament is an exercise in circle-jerking, as a result of this simple mechanics in play. Fact remains that most people already read blogs they want to read, and blogs with the stronger networks invariably will do better simply because they are better recognized and have more readers. Blogs that have more readers will move on further, since it’s a popularity contest. Meanwhile blogs with few readers are often blogs where the blogger is the most active networker as part of that blog, and s/he will end up being most invested in the Aniblog tourney, adding to the circle-jerkiness. But let’s face it, when you have a blog that makes a big PR move and links to a bunch of other blogs, all it’s doing it simply networking.

In order to min-max this effect I think the Aniblog tourney people should move away from a single elimination format and just have every blog pit against the two or four most-read blogs. I mean, let’s drop the facade. I think psgels would rather want to get it over with using minimal effort by winning against every anime blog out there via a few big polls, where all his readers will get a chance to read the competition and not just on the days where he’s actually pitted against some blog that was tortured long enough to get that far. And in some ways, I think it may benefit everyone the most this way–more readers will find more blogs they might want to read, after all, and it avoids the situation when you involve the blogs with the biggest readership only in matches where the competition are already well-read. The gain is minimal in that latter scenario.

Moving it away from single-elimination will also reduce the appearance of circle-jerkiness. I mean by playing it up like a sai-moe-whatever-thing type game, you are sure to attract the most heavy networkers who are also already bloggers and not a whole lot of people who stand to gain the most from the networking exercise, but just like a sai-moe-whatever-thing type game, it will not interest the wider public unless it engages the most popular sites. Having everyone engaged all the time is for sure a great way to reduce that circle-jerk appearance. Sure, having this sort of fancy elimination format adds the entertainment value of the tournament but really, I guess that is the true cancer that is killing anime blogging. I mean, really, I’d rather read some blog who puts in effort and write something amusing about anime than some meta exercise about popularity of blogs. I think the way the tourney is set up this time is a major step backwards for that reason, by “seeding” better-read blogs and giving them byes.

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I do want to talk about Amazon’s monopsony for a minute; please do read this article. I think Japanese publishing is also, like American publishing, ripe for disruption. But who will do it?  Amazon is no doubt in talk with Japan with the entire controversy regarding the DOJ suit over here as the backdrop, with all that nonsense about agency and wholesale and profit sharing, etc. But will they make the same mistake American publishers did with DRM? I cannot imagine a world where Japanese publishers cast away their DRM. It just seems like psychologically impossible. Does this mean the same thing will happen to Japanese publishing? I know Apple had issues making leeway because of their stance on censorship and what not, so it will be a war between walled gardens to see who wins the Japanese market. It is about exciting as seeing a bunch of old men punching each other in the face, except they’re doing it in Scrooge McDuck’s money bin.

As an aside, I think Amazon’s devices may do well in Japan. It’s definitely got a winning formula in the US and Europe. And the price! How can one of the most frugal first-world country in the world say no to that?

Yeah, I like that article because it posits the double-edge of DRM. Loved the irony.

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Small plug for Nippon Columbia’s paid-for streaming music service, FaRao. This is almost god-send-y. Only if I can actually use it! Or I should say, only if their app works on my phone without crashing every time I try to create an account. Supposedly a flash-based web UI will be available at some point soon.


Too Many Good Anime Is the Best Problem

I always give the ol’ 3 episode test when I could, when it’s a new season and we’re met with new anime and new IP to dig through. It’s not easy. For the past 2-3 seasons I’ve had the same problem, which is the problem I see a lot of people having this season: there’s just way too many good shows. Or I should say, I want to watch a lot of new anime this season–I don’t know if they’re really good or not, but I’d like to find out by watching them.

Shows like the new Lupin and Tsuritama are shoo-ins. Space Bros and Apollon are definitive for the medium. Achi Kochi? Nyaruko-san? They’re at risk, despite being quite entertaining. Even otaku straight shooters like Medaka Box is with enough merit to put it above the mediocre line. Resuming Fate Zero and Korean Zombies, and keeping up with Sket Dance, Aquarion and Mouretsu Pirates become difficult, despite being the sort of shows I have a hard itch for. This is not even to mention that I kind of like Upotte, the throwaway anime of the season (that and maybe the new Queen’s Blade–Itou Shizuka as a pirate again! And what’s up with the transparent horse LOL). I tried that Bear Cafe anime, that’s not too horrible but it stands no chance this season. Same with Kuroko’s Basketball–these two shows are things I’d watch in 2010 but not today. Nazo no Kanojo X was a manga that I enjoyed briefly but the retro look in the anime is a great touch. The first installment of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is interesting and curious, much like Sankarea, but will I have time to explore them? Ozma is classic and interesting after 3 episodes, but I really don’t have time for old school with this new school of new anime, not to mention Fujiko has got that itch scratched.  Intriguing and well-executed shows like Sengoku Collection will not fare well at all despite doing all the right things, just because it’s a moe-historic-character sort of deal and it hits my sweet spot with episode 2. Jormungand brings back that Revy feel or Lovely Haruka feel, whichever, and it’s White Fox doing something very cool.

I wish I have the time to entertain Saint Seiya Omega, but how can it stand a chance? That bread making anime? How do I have the time? Piggy Online? It’s rather solid chuunibyou anime. And lastly there’s still Eureka 7 AO, which I guess I should slot it with Saki as a continuity/side story dealie. Oh, there’s NatsuKise (which I’m blogging for jtor) and AKB0048, which, well, I kind of have to watch as well. Oh, there’s also Zetman, which Hulu-fication and strangely familiar setup demands its audience.

I could watch and enjoy almost everything this season. I think only Panda Cafe and Kuroko fails, and even then I’d rather give them 3 episodes. Who doesn’t want to see Stealth Momo play hoops? That’s the thing. If you are the average avid anime viewer following Japanese TV anime (of the late night kind), even if you skip half of the shows this 2012 Spring season, odds are very good that you’ll be dropping actually a show worth watching. I guess it just means it really, really pays to be extremely picky?

Late night TV anime is finally thriving, maybe. It’s been a long journey since Those Who Hunt Elves.

But the risk here is that will these fairly well-produced production meet the unyielding reality that the market is packed with them? Will KyoAni’s Hyouka make a splash? How can studios and productions and committees distinguish themselves economically and in the minds of the fans? In a price war often times it is the consumers that benefit; but I get the feeling there are no winner in this war, only losers and otaku.

Personally, I feel this is pretty exciting. The only thing is I have this weird spiteful feeling for everyone who thinks anime or noitaminA is saved because of Apollon. It is kind of like Redline; I get the feeling that as much as Watanabe loves his jazz music, it just doesn’t feel right for him to adopt a josei/shoujo manga faithfully. I have no doubt it will be great, it will just be kind of weird. On the other hand Nakamura’s Tsuritama is somehow so delightful for me, on so many different levels, that I have no words. So who am I to say?

Of course, I’m waiting for someone to tell me that this season is crappy and there are only like two good shows. Because oversea anime fandom is incredibly distorted like that.


Anime Boston 2012: Wrap (TL;DR Version)

Another con, another meeting and parting, and more importantly, another party. I think it’s fun to see AB trying something new in its 10th year. I remember when I first read about Anime Boston 10 years ago, it was close but so far and so not worth the effort. Over time they’ve shaped up and gotten better. Trying new things and sticking to what works seem to be the formula for them.

I wrote a lot for this wrap up, and to facilitate things please just go to the bold points for each heading. The important stuff is towards the latter half of this post, I think, but maybe it’s not!

I could start anywhere but I guess here’s some general con feedback: The panel setup was fine, but I guess there were some issues and that caused certain things to be moved or canceled. I heard Fakku’s panel got interrupted and relocated mid way. That’s unusual. I heard from Mike Toole that there was something going on after the Hynes ejected its ‘contents’ after 2am or whenever, and the cops came to broke things up on the side walk. That’s not unusual. On Saturday, AB felt just as crowded as it did in the past despite PAX East going on at the same time. I’m going to chalk that up to people who didn’t/couldn’t pre-reg for PAX as that show sold out on Saturday well before the con started, where as AB was open for on-site. For more than a few people the decision to go to AB over PAX was made for them in a similar way.

Moving the autograph session to the hotel was nice once you realized that’s what was going on, however they really need to figure out a better way to line people up. It’s kind of annoying and more amusingly how it makes the press easy because the interview rooms were right there. I thought press was run pretty okay this time, definitely a step up from the last time I went LOL.

I think PAX has a huge hit on the “dealer room” crowd–the people who spend huge parts of their time in the dealer’s room. I wasn’t able to make it there on Saturday, but Friday and Sunday it was relatively light. That’s great for me, but probably not great for the vendors. Actually it wasn’t really bad, but Sunday was always kind of tricky when your con operates on Easter weekend. The artist alley was probably not impacted, but I was only there for one time on Friday.

I actually didn’t outright attend any panels besides the GOH ones. I sat in a couple for a short time. Thought the Gothloli fashion show was pretty pimp, very stylish I guess. Saw Chris’s panel for half an hour, but was really just there to see bayoab LOL. I’m glad that FUNimation announced different things at Sakuracon and Anime Boston, and both sides had exciting things (perhaps more so for AB) to say. I’m also glad that FUNi did a cosplay marketing thing for AsoIku at their booth. I thought my picture was pretty okay in the “dude, I didn’t hire these kids” kind of way. It’s less embarrassing than confessing to be a creepy otaku next to Zange-chan, let’s put it that way.

But all you need is a bro to make a good laugh. Houki is platinum mad!

Oh, and there was the iDOLM@STER poster story (Postory?). And I’m probably no less wordy than Nisio Isin about this, so feel free to skip to the next set of bold words. Sunday had the one programming conflict between Kanako Ito’s dealer room giveaway/game and Momoi’s 2nd autogrpah session. I was like, dude, I would go play “guess which song” game (especially since it involved her actual self riffing it on the guitar instead of a recorded thing) so I tried to double dip (partly because I would rather hang with the Momoist when I could) by going to the autograph session as early as I could and immediately run down to the dealer’s room (which while isn’t very far, it’s still quite the distance from the Sheraton 3rd floor to the Hynes). Turned out I got there just in time as they were finishing the guess-the-song game. Kanako Ito’s group ended up handing out 2 of her concert DVDs and a promo wall scroll thing they had hanging in their booth. They also brought a bunch of CD-Rs of the single she recorded for the Tohoku 1-yr song to give out, so those who were there got lucky got it (and got it autographed!).

Back on Saturday, some of the Momoists (these guys) did some impromptu graffiti on this poster pad outside of Kanako’s Q&A session. We hung around doing it and eventually her group walked out and saw us and told us about the Sunday session (btw the one guy who translates for her is pretty great at it). Long story short (w), we were going to get her to autograph that sheet of graffiti. It’s really the start of the whole “oh hey there’s a conflict thing.”

At any rate, “Onii-chan” and the twins wanted to get it signed (they were pretty adorable/effective at least versus the various GoHs) so they snooped out the dealer room to try to get the 411 on the session, effectively reserving a spot at the event. They also later told me about Nippon Columbia booth and showed me where it was. And how there were some awesome iM@S posters just lying on their table. And how some people took them even if it wasn’t clear they were there to be taken. Actually, were they? I probably should have asked about that.

I’m kind of glad I didn’t know what they (people and posters) looked like, or else I might also get platinum mad!

Actually by the time I got there, it was prime time for lunch and all we saw left were the 4 poster hanging on the back drop and a stand-up of Louise, promoting Zero no Tsukaima F (it even had a little voice box where Kugyuu will tell you to buy it or else!). The group decided to split and re-converge for lunch, and in the 20-minute gap when I left the area and returned someone has already lifted that Louise stand-up. How bold! And this is to say, the booth was set up so all there was, it was just a table with the name of the vendor, some posters hung up on the back, and that stand up behind the table. No signs or anything. And of course, nobody around.

Seeing the opportunity I just didn’t want to let it go.

What was amusing is that the dude who lifted Louise took it with him and got lunch at the food court where we were. I think he didn’t own up to that he just 5-fingered it either when it was asked where he got the stand-up. Poor Louise. At least I can take solace that anyone ballsy enough to 5-finger her and take her to lunch (on Easter! in public!) probably at least like her.

Anyway, given how we were pretty much done with the con after lunch, I went back to stake out the Nippon Columbia booth while everyone else went to line up for the closing ceremony. It was actually great–I met two other iM@S fans! Both of them were anxious and excited that they may be able to take home a couple promo posters for the second series. This sounds awfully weird now that I think of it, but it was very interesting to see these tense yet excited fans eyeing the same objects of desires as I do and struggle with, heh, moral issues. Maybe I’m older and more centered (LOLOL) but it’s like a social experiment kind of thing, where you want to see how they behave and which forces of the mind wins over, given different external circumstances.

The first guy I talked to is a excited guy but he had the facial expression of someone who is about to commit a crime for the very first time. Despite him being all nervous and talkative, I actually didn’t talk to him much other than to explain to him why I was there (to wait if the reps return) and why I was doing it (because, well you know). I explained to them how the reps are most likely not going to miss missing a poster and you’re not likely to get into any trouble. But after all, these were definitely “not for the taking” as they were hung up in the display. I also gave him the clear, as an iM@S fan to another, that I’m after the other iM@S poster.

There were 4 posters up, one from yoshiki*lisa’s debut album, the promo poster for CHANGE!!!! [four !’s !], a Zero no Tsukaima CD release promo poster, and the promo poster for iM@S2 prologue CD. [By the way, the iM@S page for Nippon Columbia records is, wow, nice.] In the end, after talking to me, and 3 of the other dealers near the area, he reached up and took the poster for the iM@S2 prologue CD.

That was amusing. Despite the act of taking without consent the dude was a nice guy. And speaking as another fan I can’t fault him. He did as much as he reasonably could in that situation. Short of just giving it up, of course.

It wasn’t long until the honey pot snared another iM@S fan–this guy is a lot more reserved than the first guy, but by that point I was enjoying myself so I talked to him about things. I suppose it’s typical, but this dude only saw the anime and liked it. I fault myself for not asking the most important question: who was your favorite? We ended up talking about the games, or rather, I did–because to me iM@S is just nowhere nearly as fun until you’ve had the chance to produce your idol(s) from start to finish, the ups and downs, the minigames and the random talk sessions, all of that. The anime was great, but it’s so much more. Anyway, me, at an anime con, not talking about iM@S all weekend? That’s tough to do. It’s good to finally do it with some real-life people, since basically nobody I was hanging with was into it. The saying goes, every bone in my body is LADY.

The social experiment side is a slightly different story. I told him we’re now competing the same good, and he agreed that we should decide it somehow. I guess he had to go somewhere and wanted to decide first so he can just leave, so I used that as an advantage and put it off. It helped that I had something to do while I waited (so many tags for my 3DS) and people to talk to (sup lvlln, twins). It was totally divine providence that at around 20 minutes until the closing of the dealers room, the reps showed up. Actually, the main guy is actually a GOH at the con, this Shotaru Kizuka dude. Then we’re like “can we please”? And then we did 2 out of 3 janken to decide who walked away with it. Begging is within the scope of things I permit myself to do, and so is exercising that janken skill from hours of iM@S, AMIRITE. The rest is history. In retrospect I probably would’ve been amused even if I lost. What I probably should have done is talk to the reps and let them know our love for the games, the anime, and hit myself for not carrying more copies of my business card.

It feels good to get that out of my mind.

Accommodations this year was different. Then again, every time I go to AB I stayed somewhere different. The weather was nice, but it was definitely on the chilly side. It’s at the point where you have to pack a jacket, but once you get indoors it’s shorts and t-shirts kind of weather. The advantage of staying in the Sheraton is clear, since it’s attached to the complex. The down side is that you’ll have to grab your coats each time you go out for eats.

Like Sakuracon’s namesake, the historic residential district of Back Bay is laced with cherry blossoms. On Sunday some of them started to shed, and it was beautiful. We stayed at a converted apartment-into-vacation-homes kind of place a couple blocks south of the con center, so we had a suite with a kitchen. I made my own coffee, which was nice and it also marks the first con in a long while that I didn’t have any Starbucks.

I have to say, to me, part of Momoi Halko’s attraction at an American con is seeing the Momoists. This is the sort of thing you can only see at west coast cons, save for the occasional Minori Chihara tour group and the like. It can be fun to see these Japanese fans bring their cheers to the concerts and those long, long autograph/concert lines. What marks Momoists different than any other group of hardcore anison otaku you see oversea is the way they do their wotagei, plus the large number of westerners that make up the group. Being Anime Boston, though, there were no strong outing, and in truth only a few of them were uh, ready to put on a move. But they worked as a team and everyone pitched in something to make the thing work.

Before the con I already knew what was going to happen as a result of already knowing some of them. I psyched myself out a little, but in reality they’re not scary at all. I thought coverman’s light baton collection is something quite special. It’s like a magic item. The group (teams Socal, Japan and Canada) was small but passionate. Armed with free glow sticks and call books, they did what they could to AB’s tough crowd. I think enough of the crowd got into it at the end that the real obstacle was the song arrangement and that the show was just too short to really get things going.

I already stated the quick take in the last AB post I wrote but for sake of completeness, Kanako Ito was just that. Halko Momoi is somewhat more complicated to explain, so I guess I can expand on it a little. I did attend the press session for her so I will spin out the results at the usual place, and in the interest of making this not unbearably long you can just read about it when I get around to writing it up. Just a short blurb for now.

In a nutshell, I’ve heard various things about Momoi. That’s part of being friends with Momoists, but also because she’s been to a lot of different cons. She’s also just been around for a while, over 10 years musically, as a personality, and as a seiyuu, I guess. She’s something like 34 years old this year, and she has been writing and doing all kinds of things. I think as a person with a lot of stories, she’s a treasure. And she does tell her stories when prompted. In that sense she is really the cultural ambassador for Japan, the one who could fly around the world and preach Akiba’s siren songs. It’s the wind beneath her wings.

I spend way too much money on loot again, and this time half of the money spent was on shirts I can’t even wear. What kind of a bogus size is “LL” or “F” anyway, LOL. I guess they could be made into presents and bribes as the time comes. I wonder if I can run a charity auction or something, or donate it to a charity auction. Or whatever, you know. I did end up with something a lot more useful: a Wagnaria plate and soup bowl set. Maybe I will actually use it to drink soup, you never know.

What would really get to my wallet is if say, Benjamin Moore came up with cans of moe paint. I probably should repaint some of my rooms. I could also use some moe lawn seed/fertilizer about now.

The rest of the loot is more or less calculated risks and things I knew I was going to buy going in. I helped someone buy a Kanako Ito CD and got a friendly face to help autograph it. I really appreciate this random act of kindness from a total stranger (even if I suspect this mysterious helper is someone I talk to on a certain internet forum). It’s not uncommon that the freebies that I got at a con are way more meaningful than the things I paid for, and I’m not even talking about the memories I made! Or that hole in the wall that will probably cost me money–that probably does not count as a freebie.

Oh yeah, so I made a hole in the hotel wall, partly because the night before I was jumping up and down to see if I can top coverman’s airtime, but also because I was sleeping uncomfortably on the floor. I tried to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and my legs cramped up on me, causing me to fall. I was able to break my fall using the wall, but well, now there’s a hole there. How much plaster does it cost, I wonder.

Finally, I’d do a shoutout to all my brothers and sisters in arm but srsly, I’m just going to be like, miss someone, and make that person feel and make me feel oddish. So let’s just be said that if I missed ya, I’m sorry for not able to catch you. If I saw ya, it was a good time. If you own me money, you gotta cough it up (gotta pay for that  hole somehow right)! And let me know Tim, I was going to give you some money for your books but I never got around to it, so I’ll get you the next time I see you. Meanwhile you can look at some pictures here. Lots more where those came from, but those are request only~


Anime Boston 2012: Day 2, 3

Besides making a hole in the wall, day 2 went without a hitch. I think this is possibly the lowest energy day 2 I’ve ever had. Probably has to do with skipping lunch for press duties, but I lived.

Day three was equally laid back and presented possibly the biggest schedule conflict at the con when Ito Kanako’s music game conflicted with Momoi’s autograph session. But as fate would have it, I don’t think things would’ve turned out in the same way if I optimized it the right way. I got a couple photos with Momoi between the two days, and that was very neat. She’s like the older sister-imouto type, if you get what I’m saying. Sometimes the wile comes out and it causes giggling. She’s a storyteller, but coming from her it just feels kind of off. Doesn’t quite match that Akiba idol idea. Just like how being an otaku is cause for dissonance in Japan.

Kanako Itou, in some ways, is the total opposite of Momoi. Itou is an easy-going and funny person with funny habits. I’m not sure how to pin-point her besides that she’s a mean singing machine in the way she emotes through music, and happens to be very easy to get along with. It’s kind of tough to do an article on her without getting a good handle, but sometimes that’s just how these acts roll I guess.

And in case you didn’t know, writing up Momoi is like, writing up Akihabara. Mission accomplished for her I guess.

Day three, despite being like, half as long as day two, has all the fun stories. Like how I janken’d someone out of an iM@S poster. I hope he scores some consolation prizes. This year’s AB is pretty chillax, as chilling and relax as Boston plus Momoists can be. It’s that west coast mentality, perhaps. Something to dilute my New York pace. Lowering my engagement a tad and avoiding a lot of conflicts make the con that much more easier to deal with. PAX may have helped. Easter may have helped. Every little thing counted.

And I’m home. Good times. Loot shot. Life resumes. Lots of words left to spill before I can put this one away, yet.


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