Category Archives: Fate

Spring 2012 TV Anime Impression, Season Preview Style

The need to write this down is greater than ever; just so I don’t keep forgetting about shows that I want to follow up on. Go, exhibitionist memo pad of a blog!

Some things to keep in mind: I ask myself the same three questions for these shows to illustrate some kind of judging-by-cover that I’m applying. There are a lot of shows I think that are good this season but I won’t even like all of them, or even half of them? I don’t know, it’s too early to say. But just because I won’t watch them or I don’t like them doesn’t mean you shouldn’t either. Hopefully the three questions illustrate the idea I’m trying to get across for each shows.

Also somehow this turned out more like a season preview than anything. It makes me wonder how the hell do people do season preview blog posts without just doing mostly an info-dump and looking at who is doing what, or what is the source material. Which, is to say, kind of helpful but kind of different. As much as I think that exercise is at best a pat on the back and at worst outright misleading and harmful, massive props belong to those who do a good and thorough job of it.

Zetman
Quality anime, lots of fun, dark and …American-y? It will have its appeal, but given a tough season it is probably not going to get watched by me.
Is it good? Pretty good.
Can you eat it? Yep!
Will I? 3 eps.

Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna
I haven’t finished Michiko e Hacchin yet. Not because it’s bad, but because my interests with the show dwindled to the point, after about the 16th episode, that it became a matter of willpower in order to finish the show. I think I still have 4 or 5 eps left. It’s kind of like, listing to some girl talking about her life, ranting. Except I have no real reason to be interested in what she will say. Maybe it’s a man thing. I think at this point in Fujiko (I think it is best to call it that to avoid confusion), my problem is that if the show is going to focus on Fujiko (the character) the whole time, I’d rather go finish Michiko e Hacchin first. It really is a lot of the same, just wrapped in a different candy shell. There were some really outstanding episodes in Michiko e Hacchin, so hopefully we’ll run into the equivalent in Fujiko sooner rather than later.
Is it good? Absolutely.
Can you eat it? Got milk?
Will I? Totally on the fence on this.

Medaka Box
I might have snoozed in an episode or two. I’m with the consensus when it comes to Toyosaki’s voice. I really don’t care too much but at least the setup is kind of interesting.
Is it good? Nope.
Can you eat it? Lickity-split good.
Will I? If time permits.

Fate/Zero
Yeah, more shining, well-framed, rich-looking pretties. Enjoy your F-15s and and V-MAX.
Is it good? Game of Thrones good, minus the nudity (I always feel the irony while making this comparison).
Can you eat it? Kind of disgusting but yes.
Will I? Every Saturday morning!

Uchuu Kyoudai
This is one of the first series this season that, I think, depends on your engagement with the manga material, can give you an entirely different outlook on the anime. Key word is can. For some people it makes no difference. I’m loving the mainstream-dumbed-down, warm fuzzy feel of this show. Also, Sawashiro again?
Is it good? Pretty decent.
Can you eat it? If you like a face full of hair, but some people like it.
Will I? As a proud ex-owner of several space shuttle toys I have no excuse not to.

Saki – Episode of Side A
More Saki, but with an entirely new cast. I’m not sure at this point because the old cast has pretty good chemistry and when the tourney begin it was a flood of interesting side characters to keep things, well, interesting. We haven’t gotten far enough in Side A to make any real calls.
Is it good? Probably as good as the original, minus tacos.
Can you eat it? Again, minus tacos.
Will I? Probably.

Sankarea
It’s a cute show, the lead chick is appealing. Interesting crossover of different elements. It goes the “utena” way with thematic exploration in the character development context, which I guess can be hit or miss.
Is it good? It’s not that good.
Can you eat it? Yes.
Will I? Maybe for a while.

Tasogare Otome x Amnesia
Besides being the Takane-as-a-ghost template…and Yuuko is just like a few other Yuukos out there. The Oonuma Shin connection makes it more like, wait, isn’t that Arashi? A real oujo-sama has better upbringing than the less-than-proper Yuuko here. How does x translates to “of”?
Is it good? Probably not.
Can you eat it? Somehow, but it is kind of weird.
Will I? At least for now.

Tsuritama
Nakamura’s most normal anime yet. Anchored by the high school hijinx framework it is also probably the least exciting one, but I think it’s exactly why it’s the most exciting anime this season for me. It’s liquid crack for visually-oriented database animals.
Is it good? As per usual Nakamura.
Can you eat it? You’ve been warned.
Will I? Raw? Sauteed? Simmered? Boiled? Broiled? Baked? Fried? Stir-fried? Deep-fried? Steamed? Nuked? However it takes.

Sakamichi no Apollon
I find this show overrated but when contrasted with Fujiko, I come to appreciate this style a little more. It feels like, hey, this is a shoujo manga taken seriously. Done by a guy who is probably best for his HK Blood Opera-inspired stuff. I noticed that the first two episodes have a huge gap between the way the animation and music interact with each other. The first one was super-stiff, but the second one was like a page from Hachikuro. Nice job I guess.
Is it good? Undoubtedly at this point.
Can you eat it? Yes. Delicious Yoko Kanno is delicious.
Will I? Yep.
Bonus: Just need to figure out how much of this anime is just an ad for various albums.

Polar Bear Cafe
Cute computer bears are pretty amusing but the humor just doesn’t work for me.
Is it good? Worse than Mitsudomoe. And don’t take it the wrong way–I liked Mitsudomoe. As an aside, now that could be the best setup for a Sphere anime.
Can you eat it? Just don’t eat too much.
Will I? Nope.

Kuroko no Basuke
Typical sports manga-turned-anime. Interesting protagonist being the proverbial 6th man. Except he has the figurative power turned literal! Hahaha.
Is it good? I don’t know.
Can you eat it? Maybe.
Will I? Nope.

Acchi Kocchi
Konata-level cuteness. Unfortunate I don’t have a thing for Konata. Or I should say, I kind of like her in the “I kind of like to punch her in the face” kind of way.
Is it good? Below average.
Can you eat it? I guess you can eat candy.
Will I? Probably not. But who knows?

Upotte!
The characters are anthromorphs of assault rifles; I should rather say, they are normal-looking school girls, but somehow they have attributes that relate to the firearm they are named after. And somehow they are students in an escalator school and their grades determined by the biggest ammo they can accommodate. I guess this means nobody graduates from this school. That is also probably the least weird fact to realize from this ridiculous series.
Is it good? Nope.
Can you eat it? Very well! Or as some would say, “Eat lead!”
Will I? Probably as long as there are enough humor elements to keep me laughing. I like the gun talk just enough to realize “Wow, I think I understand, just barely, what they’re saying! I am probably not a gun otaku.” Positive self-affirming stuff.

Kore ga Zombie Desuka? OF THE DEAD
Also a “continuation” from a previous work. Season 1 was a dark horse because it’s an unknown quality, and season 2 still is a dark horse, just by happenstance of who is in the running. I enjoyed the first series so I look forward to the next. Iori Nozomu owns this show pretty hard. Mousou Eu is everywhere.
Is it good? No, but you would be surprised at how good it really is.
Can you eat it? Good question.
Will I? Probably. Although I will most definitely if there’s a Sankarea crossover.
Note: Where’s your simulcast FUNi? Your google fu is entirely missing, to boot.

Queen’s Blade Rebellion
I did and only planned to watch the first episode of the third season of Queen’s Blade to see if anything outrageous happen. Not so much. Although DAT HORSE LOL. And Itoushiz pirates. And the other Sheryl Nome anime of the season.
Is it good? Nope. But it is stable and steady breastservice.
Can you eat it? Yes.
Will I? No.

Nazo no Kanojo X
I read a bunch chapters of this manga back when, it was a very nice hook but it really failed to capitalize on it I think. The manga was still pretty solid, and the anime seems like a straightforward adaptation, something that should be acceptable for most. Get over the drool thing already.
Is it good? It’s not bad, but probably not good.
Can you eat it? Probably not the best question to ask when the show is about drool swapping.
Will I? For now.

Leiji Matsumoto’s Ozma
This retro sand-submariner anime is pretty cool actually. I used to read the manga for this for the setting, like, when I was little. Don’t remember much now. But I do remember the original manga was cooler because paper books can’t talk so the whiny feeling didn’t get in the way.
Is it good? It’s kind of average.
Can you eat it? Not really but YMMV.
Will I? Probably not for now.

Sengoku Collection
It’s a good, solid moe-chara show. I think it’s like the one moe anime every season or two that does something I really like, but nobody watches it.  Also will eventually make a cheap Zombie ADV license down the road, as they tend to be invariably the case. Sencolle episode 3 featured a Mamiko x Nakahara Mai duo performance that took me back to the mid 00s. Man. On the other hand, given the setup, Rumi Ookubo isn’t going to get a lot of lines despite being the main character, isn’t she.
Is it good? I think it’s good enough!
Can you eat it? Like spider-sense-tingling candy.
Will I? As much as I can fit it.

Jormungand
If I were to recommend my RL bros an anime to watch, this would be it. If they want less crazy or less violence, it’ll probably be Apollon or Space Bros. Also, Koko “Lovely” Morishima indeed.
Is it good? Passibly.
Can you eat it? Don’t let the brass shell get in the way.
Will I? Yep.
Note: By process of elimination, this is going to be a Funimation or NISA license isn’t it. And either would make a lot of sense.

Eureka Seven Ao
Okinawa vibe is nice so far. Like any other BONES project of this sort the long haul view is the only one that makes sense, but that isn’t going to stop people from dropping it (or picking it up). It’s a nice visual treat at least. And like any other BONES original project these kids are gonna tour the world right? Ao so Bleu w.
Is it good? Ask me again in half a year.
Can you eat it? Maybe.
Will I? On the fence.

Natsuiro Kiseki
It’s not terrible, but it’s not very good. I think it can be fairly okay, iyashikei-sort-of-thing, but I don’t know if I can recommend people to wait it out, at least not with a straight face. Maybe it will surprise me down the road.
Is it good? Probably not.
Can you eat it? Kind of reminds me of Hatsukoi Limited, that Saki.
Will I? Yeah, taking the bullet for the team.

Accel World
If .hack//SIGN was like this I would have watched it.  In a way I see this as finally, these video game anime about online video games have reached a point where it doesn’t just intrigue by concept, but also by execution. I don’t know when we got there but I am not complaining. Chunibyou notwithstanding this show is fairly solid, if nothing out of the mold and nothing out of the ordinary.
Is it good? Probably not.
Can you eat it? Mmm baby back pork ribs.
Will I? Maybe, going to give it 3.

Shining Heart: Shiawase no Pan
The Tony Taka design looks fine except for their faces, which just…translate stiffly for some reason. At least Nishimata’s faces aren’t too weird looking when animated? I’m not really in a position to criticize. The anime feels awfully iyashikei-appealing, which is a good take for something like this. Itou Kanae helps to sooth the pain.
Is it good? Probably the worse Production IG anime in a while.
Can you eat it? OH YEAH BABY
Will I? Probably will give it 3 and drop.

Haiyore! Nyaruko-san
Nyarlathotep has never been so cute. And you know what, I learned how to spell its name because of this show. Yes, Asumi Kana carries this show, but she didn’t just carry it, she made it hit in America. The source material is also very funny, which helps a lot when it’s faithfully translated in such a way.
Is it good? Nope!
Can you eat it? Ufufufufufufu.
Will I? LET’S NYAA

Random stuff:

Akibaranger – Hahaha, I enjoyed it, but the fact that it is live action kind of bothers me. This is so manga-ish, it might as well be.

Kuromajo-san ga Toru!What happened to these? Anyway, this is actually very fun to watch because of the straight humor it applies. It is also a great example of quality voice acting.

Yurumates 3Dei! – I kind of zoned out on the original series, but this reboot is a little more spirited.

Only Hyouka and AKB0048 left.

PS. I’ve listed 24 shows (not counting the miscellaneous/random stuff), three I dropped on one episode. If I do the 3-ep test for the rest that means in the span of maybe 4 weeks (I actually watched Ozma 1-3 back-to-back when ep3 aired) I would have watched 66 episodes of new anime. Not including the shows I’m following that are not new. It seems like a lot, but I guess that’s just how I roll…

PPS. How many sequels can you see? It’s less than 25%! THAT is why Miyako’s bowl is empty? Color me impressed. But I guess given the 1-2yr lead time, it’s about right that we’re reeling from the sequel-itis flooding from 2010-2011.

PPPS. Tsuritama > Space Bros > Slopes > Fate Zero > Bodacious ~ Jormungand ~ Nyaruko-san > Sket > Sencolle > Fujiko > Natsukise > Saki ~ Medaka ~ E7AO > Korean ~ Sankarea ~ Dusk > Ozma > Kuroko > Upotte ~ GFX > Accel > Zetman > QBS3 > Bread ~ AK > Bearbros > ??? > profit. Actually Akibaranger is pretty funny, and I normally don’t dig tokusatsu stuff. Kuromajo-san is a riot too. Maybe I will supplement the humor shows I’m planning to drop this way.


Fate/Extra

There was a reason why I am really behind on my Haikasoru reading. Or at least one of them being Fate/Extra. It is also the first Japanese RPG-type game that I finished to some degree of completion since Valkyria Chronicles 1, which was a long time ago.

Lamenting on lack of time and interests aside, one of the biggest draw for Aksys’s localized version of the thing is (aside from being translated) hearing Tange Sakura as Saber Extra. The Red Saber. The Saber with see-thru skirt. Whatever. I kind of enjoyed that a lot, despite PSP’s built in size limitation in terms of how much voiceover it can possibly hold.

I went for Rin in my only playthrough, on the other hand, and they really need to give her more lines.

The only lure left is to play through the game again using Caster, with Saito Chiwa. I mean, right? I don’t think they were beating around the bush at seiyuu selection.

There’s a little bit of me inside wanting to play it through again just so I can get to Ryogi Shiki, but that would be a spoiler–well, not exactly. She’s one of those optional unlock bosses you can find in the New Game+ scenario.

There are a lot of interesting things to Fate/Extra that nobody talks about. Probably because it really is not important, and those who would probably can’t withstand the tedium of playing rock paper scissors so many times.

I wonder if it sold well enough to warrant Fate/Extra CCC, or at least so I can download it by the time I end up with a Vita (which I assure you is not likely this year). On that note, I should say something about my SIGNIFICANT DISAPPOINTMENT with GameStop with their preorder program. It happened that I preordered the game before I moved, and I forgot to change my address on my preorder when I did. Eventually it came up with GS by the time they wanted to bill me, so there was a back-and-forth. When the issue was resolved with GameStop CS they decided to not ship me the preorder bonus with the game. I sent an email and they said they will ship it to me, except it has not yet happened. And this is about 3 months ago now. Because I totally would not have bought the game physically (or even with them) otherwise!

As for Red Saber, I think her story is kind of sound although I have a hard time buying in. It seems to mimic reality a lot better than normal Saber’s plea to genderswap, which somehow made it easier to question the details?

I guess the only angle I have on Red Saber’s legacy is one that is like Guilty Crown’s Hare’s First Love. Not that it’s like how history paints it. And here ends with answering one spoiler with another. It’s unfortunate that I’m doing a cop-out here, since all the interesting stuff are probably spoiler of some sort.

Speaking of not-spoiler material, at one point in the game I realized there are actually only so many R/P/S patterns to memorize, and they don’t even all show up on the same level. It worked great because you get to run each level of the dungeon maybe 2-3 times per game-week. All I had to do is go through the fights once and it’ll come to mind which moves to guess when it comes down to guessing. It also helped that Saber was very error-tolerant.

Well, it’s a fun diversion, if it took a little longer than I wanted. I probably didn’t have to grind so much near the end. Is it worth it? Only if you like Type-Moon and the voice cast/moe/otaku nature of it. But you probably didn’t need me to tell you that. What you probably didn’t know is, unlike some possible kusoge, the system is smooth and doesn’t try to get in your way. As long as you remember that the square key teleports you and the triangle key skips the dialog, it’s a good time.

I mean if “omg Omo finished a JRPG! It can’t be good” makes sense to you, well, you should be happy that this reaffirms the same.


Year in Review: Team Iri Wear Pants – Comedy Reigns in 2011

If Mawaru Penguindrum can be explained by the transfer of fates via the vehicle of an allegorical apple, then Fate/Zero can be explained by the wearing and ownership of pants. The idea here is that, well, what did Rider work to get? What did Saber wear? What did Iri wear? In Urobuchi’s world, people wear pants. I mean that is typically what happens during winter in Japan anyway. Without spoiling it for you, the winner of the Holy Grail War this time also wear pants. All who survived as participants wore pants. Pants is clearly necessary for survival in the Holy Grail War.

===

I’m going to say that 2011 is the return of the comedy. There were a lot of funny shows in 2010, but it feels like the funnies have for the most part stayed for the year as well. What is notable is seeing more of it in serious shows. I think if OreTsuba can bust my guts laughing, anything can. The potential is there.

I mean, talking about Mawaru Penguindrum again, was it funny? It isn’t epic funny like those Nanami episodes in Utena, but there were good chuckles all along the way. And man, Ringo. Ringo!

I watched Nichijou and Sket-Dance this year, so that may have skewed things. I think Hanasaku Iroha sometimes is really funny, although I don’t think some of those instances were intentional.

Working!! returned, which is usually solid for a few laughs. Bakatest, too, had some really big ones, despite season 2’s more somber tone. Squid Girl S2 also was solid, again. Majikoi and Horizon had laughs, and the latter is as serious as Fate/Zero is. Haganai, for the most part, was still funny. Oh wait, I’m suppose to laugh at the manual stereo mage orbit talk was I?

R-15 was pretty funny, despite being more hetare-funny half the time. Twin Angel was all hetare-funny all the time (but it wasn’t THAT funny unfortunately). Yuruyuri had a couple gut-busters, which is pretty surprising. And in 2011 we learned the true meaning of being a mage.

Going back to the start of the year, we did have Mitsudomoe S2 (which was pretty funny for the most part). OreImo True End was funny enough. Level-E was epic. And, well, there was Qwaser S2.

Looking back I think I ended up watching more comedies this year than what is fairly represented, but that is probably because they didn’t suck, like, say, in 2009.

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This year I read both the fan-translated Kara no Kyoukai series and fan-translated Fate/Zero series. They are available here and here, respectively.

As a result, over large stretches of 2011 my mind is full of Type-Moon-ness. It is like a keg of kerosene to react to some spark from Type-Moon. But Fate/Zero isn’t that spark.

Carnival Phantasm is that spark that blew my mind. I’m not too sure what to make of it besides that I have to fight that urge to import the whole thing. Because it doesn’t seem to make sense especially since I missed the boat on all that Take-Moon stuff way back when. I mean this is before Fate/Zero, sorta, and Fate/Zero’s been around the block once or twice already.

There is so much that goes on in that show. The visuals are engrossing and varied. It is funny. What the hell is going on? I don’t know. Does it matter? Not really.

The only regret left is that Fate/Zero content is not represented in Take-Moon, and thus missing in Carnival Phantasm. I mean, take a look at this to get an idea.

PS. #cp_dateall ftw.

PPS. ALTER! ALTER! ALTER!


Year in Review: N-Listing

So, the tradition continues. 12 lists of 12 things. Some are ranked, others are not. One this year is not ranked but merely numerated.

Continue reading


Year in Review: Working Hard Writing

Urobuchi Gen has a breakout year in 2011 between Fate/Zero and Madoka, but we already know Butch is the kind of writer that now more people have come to know. Beats trying to watch Blassreiter or Phantom of the Inferno lol (not a knock, just the truth…I still need to play the game version of the latter). However I want to talk about Okada Mari’s work some more.

Okada is responsible for at least four notable shows this year: Fractale, Hanasaku Iroha, Anohana, and Hourou Musuko. I think it is in Hourou Musuko that her writing really came off well. Given how much that deviated from the original manga, there may be enough space to infer that her style carried a relatively brisk adaptation (Note that it is directed by the director of Fate/Zero, which is probably no coincidence) into the animation medium with a lot of punch. In fact, there’s just something magical about the whole experience. It’s like, laced nostalgia or something potent. And I don’t even care about the whole genderbending aspect at all; the supporting cast of characters are all wonderful and the chemistry is well balanced, dramatic and entertaining enough to keep things moving without getting dragged down by the weight of its seriousness.

I find it so wonderful that if I had to list my top 2011 anime, it would be between that, Madoka, and Steins;Gate. It had me, actually, at the OP.

Hanasaku Iroha is, more relevantly, a Okada original. I think the story is really basically about the nature of work and career in the life of, in some mainline, culturally accepted sense, a woman. However I think it’s important to see how there’s this double talk of sorts in light of what is happening to Ohana versus her mom. I think it is right that so many people hated on Satsuki but I think she is the one thing that makes the story at all credible–it isn’t about societal expectation or doing what society think is right. It’s about actually having that heart of a mom. I mean that is ultimately the issue; people cannot be held to uniform standards when it comes to parenting, or so it would be the framework that I interpret the story.

The career side of HanaIro is probably less thorny but just as tricky. On one hand you have Sui doing her thing at the end of the series, and on the other hand you have someone like Satsuki who pursuits it without regards to the other women in her life. I think it might just want to paint an image where there is conflict and there is no harmony, but people are still able to prioritize what is important in their lives and resolves things in respect to that. It is here that I can see some people raise a stink about its anti-feminist message. It really doesn’t bother me: if I was a feminist I would not be a fan of Japanese animation at all.

The truth is, it becomes more a cultural contextualization problem. If we can either power through or sidestep that, Hanasaku Iroha is a fairly sharp series, perhaps mired in the typical, 26-episode style of presentation that had to feature the backstory of everybody. But make no mistake; it is about a woman’s work. And that is an empowering message in a society where women have always been treated poorly than men.

It made me wonder a couple things: how much of HanaIro was taken out of a page from her life? And what was it like working on that and working on Fractale at around the same time? LOL. As we know, Fractale is the brainchild of Yamakan, cultural critic Hiroki Azuma (who authored that Database Animal nonsense that I refer to all the time) and Okada. I think it’s unfortunate that it didn’t end up doing well, but it makes you wonder what went on between the three of them. You would think that there’s probably potential for something great. I guess it doesn’t always work out that way.

There was also Anohana. It is a very charming and bittersweet story featuring likable characters despite the somewhat predictable path of character development they were on. It is also a little way too sappy, and unfortunately (and ironically) something I find difficult to remember 6 months later. The smiling-crying Menma-face and the sexually-charged nicknames (MANMA wwwww) of our cast of characters aside, Anohana leaves me little to go on besides to wonder how many other references to Forget-me-Not it can squeeze in that 12-episode package. Like Okada’s other stories, it is a very tightly-woven package. I mean if we can boil HanaIro down into the same size it will probably have the same overall format. Both shows have a fairly “slow” segment just after the half-way point in which the story builds up to the dramatic conclusion, and Anohana remedies that drastically thanks to its limited length.

Looking back, I think again the TV anime packing issue is still the one most consistently problematic thing for me when I poke at these works at the big picture level. Urobuchi’s style, in contrast, makes tighter packages–think of it like a HBO mini series–for the same format. Still, it makes me wonder how much you could fit in that 22-minute package every week, with enough of a build-up and release, and keep enough suspense for next week. It cannot be that easy.

Yet if you think about it, given how prolific Okada is in 2011, for whatever the reason, she is probably batting above average overall. I am someone who typically puts down the contribution of writers to quality of TV anime narratives, because I think in general fans elevate that aspect beyond its due worth, but certainly writers (especially people who come up with this stuff from scratch) are important parts to the creative core that brings every anime to their inevitable conclusion. Between them and the directors, the fate of many anime is in their hands even before the horse is out of the gate, and if anything 2011 is definitely the year that demonstrated this.

Something to leave you with: Okada wrote 9 episodes of Simoun and worked on True Tears (both Nishimura projects). She is credited for series composition for Bantorra.  This is somehow NOT a coincidence either, I believe. To go back to the same baseball analogy, I’d safely say she’s batting the proverbial 300. And not entirely a coincidence, in 2012, Okada is thus far tapped for the new Kenshin Shin Kyoto-hen remake,  Black Rock Shooter TVAquarion EVOL and the AKB48 animeOh boy! I’d say that’s about 300, how about you?

PS. Meeting Nagai Tatsuyuki and Tanaka Masayoshi at AX this year remains one of the highlights of con life for me in 2011. It was wonderful to see some of the people responsible for all that Taiga mania.

PPS. I’m not sure why I’m going with Japanese name order in this post, but oh well.


Fate Zero Tribute Regular Edition

I, like many other collectors, react to terms like “LE” or “限定” or “First Press” etc., you get the idea. Unlike many other collectors, though, I’m rather lazy when it comes to the need to pursuit the limited edition. Do I prefer it? Yes. Do I value it over, say, sanity and a rational cost analysis? Only now and then.

So to my surprise when I realize one of the illustrators that I’ve taken to recently, Shigeki Maeshima, was a contributor to the Fate/Zero Tribute artbook. Among many others. And unsurprisingly I noticed there was a collector’s edition of it back in Comiket 75, or winter of ’09. I think at this point, given the ass-tastic dollar-to-yen exchange rate, a regular edition pre-owned copy would do just fine. Toranoana had, apparently, truckloads of this this particular varity, and given how Type-Moon is over its peak popularity already, you can probably score a new copy without too much hassle if that’s your thing.

Kransom has already written it up very well in his C75 report, including all the links I’ve linked to so far and what composes the LE copy of the same artbook, so I won’t bother repeating it any further (besides to comment on a towel). I’ll share a couple images from the book, simply because I’m testing out a new camera. I mean, if you want scans, you can just google it; it’s a 4-year-old artbook after all. If anything I wish there were more artwork from Maeshima out there. Especially if it is him drawing Maiya Hisau. I am too lazy to link the originals, but they’re available if people really want lousy photographs.

Loli Rin. That was some filler episode wasn’t it?

You know it’s fan drawing fanart when they pick scenes like this. Except it’s some fan who turned pro. And thankfully it’s the kind of spoiler that you won’t get unless you actually know what’s going on already.

And of course, Maiya. The way I stumbled on the image was when I was looking for some Fate/Zero pictures for putting on the blog. As you may have noticed I’ve been writing a lot about it (and Aniplex just doesn’t let up on giving me more reasons to do so) and when I saw that image I was like, “HEY I KNOW WHO DREW THIS,” thus leading to the discovery of said artbook, and then the importation thereof.

So don’t ever let people tell you artbook image sharing doesn’t generate additional sales. (Except in the case where the guy who downloaded the picture bought it pre-owned. Damn you Mandarake.) And, oh, since this artbook is like one of those half-doujinshi, half-pro, 100% Toranoana exclusive things, you can’t really expect to purchase it without some third party help. Not to say you can’t, it is just much easier if you do. And I half-expect nobody would know a thing about this artbook except how some people are all hyped up on industry booths on Day 1 comiket, or are really, really into Nasuverse. Perhaps fortunately, somehow I get the feeling that neither type of people is particularly hard to find on the internet.

That Einzbern doll, so white. And one more Maiya for good measure.


The Anime Ghetto of America

This is not about the ghetto of an excuse for NYAF in 2010 and 2011, even if that is probably tangentially related. This is about Kuraghime and Tatami Galaxy, and why I think there is some problem with the way some people think about anime. These problems may or may not be related, they just happen to pop in my head in the past 36 hours.

1. Liking is a state of mind. I remember talking to some people about the Passion of the Christ, a controversial film about a gruesome depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus as per the Gospels. The content of the discussion doesn’t really matter, but the conclusion was that the film became more about how you (in this case, secular press versus fundie types) react to a film has just as much to do with you as it does to the film. I think that sort of mirror-transparency is critical in today’s media reviews. I think this is a big reason why it is difficult to take reviews from sites like ANN or Fandompost seriously, unless you’ve hooked on to their particular bandwagon and can appreciate how those respective reviewer-mirrors work. I think over time I have done that for Chris B., but more because he does offer a much more technical-savvy perspective on a video transfer or sound space or whatever, something that is sorely missing among reviews of anime today.

2. The problem is further exasperated, that far majority of anime out there are derivative media crossover things. This means when someone looks at Fate/Zero, for example, they aren’t thinking it is not pandering to the max, but that they are suppose to think it is pandering to the max. [I mean, how can the anime moeficiation of a popular prequel set of light novels to a popular visual novel (that was also consequently “moe-fied” via anime) be not pandering? Seems impossible.] To use an analogy, it’s like we’re in the league of extraordinary lunch box collectors, and then there’s this awesome Twilight-themed lunch box available. Some guy who doesn’t even know what Twilight is beyond what they see in the news reviews the lunch box, and says it’s kind of lame or kind of good, whatever. I’m going to be like, derp. It is missing the point. Maybe that isn’t even a good example because the hypo reviewer at least knows it is pandering, s/he is just not assigning any or assigning the correct value to that part. It’s worse when it comes to some anime: I don’t think this guy is aware of the pandering at all. Or for that matter this other guy, let alone assigning value to whatever.

While it is valuable to have the perspective of someone who would judge Fate/Zero as someone outside of Nasuverse fandom, it feels invariably that they’re doing it wrong. It’s probably because they don’t know the material is pandering. Maybe this is the majority position on a lot of anime for us gaijin, since we’re not living in a deluge of otaku-bait-marketing as our Japanese counterparts may be swimming in, but one can make a strong argument that you can’t fairly judge the work if you don’t have this context baked into your perspective. Again, that hypothetical Twilight lunch box is intended to be sold to your daughters, not hardcore lunch box collectors. By reviewing it like box collectors instead of its intended audience, it feels almost like we’re ghetto-fying the whole thing. There’s this artifice in which we’re trying to fit the anime we consume into said artifice. And for what reason?

I think this is a major issue with the ghettofication of anime. It feels helpless to have to read reviews like that. It feels probably just as helpless to review anime like that while being completely blind to that side of the equation. I say ghettofication because these mix-media slums is where the bulk of the primary late-night TV anime audience lives, and it’s kind of a silo-style, little Hooverville camps that most mainstream people don’t even want to turn an eye to, let alone adventure into and gleam the essences of what makes the inhabitants enjoy the shows they watch. Or I should say, especially on ANN, it feels like they purposely want to stay away from that sort of evaluation. I want to posit this as a problem with anime, and not so much the way people review them–after all, they can review however they want. But the fact that ANN has reviews like this it is just kind of a joke. It’s like suddenly you read a crazy rant from Steve Jobs about how he hates charities or a crazy rant from Roger Ebert about how he hates video games. I mean, LOL? (By the way both are probably untrue.) This is kind of a problem that ANN has in order to obtain any kind of credibility as an reviewing organization. (Then again, this problem can be milked for pageviews! So hey.)

2b. I have this thought about Kara no Kyoukai. That show, too, is a sort of pandering. But among these attempts (IwakamiP gets an extra nod for taking that, Madoka and Fate/Zero to somewhere slightly less ghetto. Maybe.) I’m left to scratch my head and ask if people have otherwise really tried to build a bridge between the otaku and the growing number of kids-turning-into-adults who are friendly to the cause.

3. Sating the demand of the mainstream. Continuing in good o’ OWS spirit let us talk about the 1% versus 99%, even if it comes out to be a false dichotomy of sorts. It also pings one of my pet peeve about people who says “anime is a privilege not a right.” I think that saying is largely bullshit–this is not a have-versus-have not issue. This is an artistic proliferation and industry viability issue. I might like my moe anime as much as anyone, and I do a healthy amount of importing (if such a thing can ever be healthy). But that kind “hey I paid for it so” of thinking causes two major problems. First, it drives the have-nots to what all the have-nots do in the 21st century: media piracy. There are some good studies on this topic, and it really comes to artificial barriers to entry to extract cost based on some perception of value that does not optimize supply and demand. In other words, things are unnecessarily expensive and inaccessible due to a variety of reasons (some are forgivable but others are just petty) and not only the content creators and middlemen make less money than they could have, it encourages people to pirate things. It’s a lose-lose scenario. Second, it unnecessarily ghetto-fies the industry. Talent drain and race to the bottom in production cost? Because it keeps on pandering to those who would pay the biggest bucks, because the work, the condition, and the products loses mainstream relevance. I mean how many people entered the anime industry because they saw something awesome when they were little? Tons. I also believe this is a root cause of Japan’s fandom-industry vacuum now filled by doujin production. Is Ghibli all we need? I think that is clearly a “no.” I am not saying no to moe; I’m saying yes to everything. There will always going to be trashy moe crap to consume. We can count on the least risky thing to continue to exist, but that cannot be the dominant thing out there. And in order to do that, it means we have to make anime affordable and accessible. It’s the best thing for both fans and anime industry. It’s also good for society in general.

4. But of course it’s easier said than done. I think the biggest hurdle is that the financing model for anime in Japan just doesn’t lend itself to that sort of business models. The problem comes down to that mainstream production is expensive and they have a much smaller safety net when one flops (and they do all the time). Or not even that; just taking risks to make something of it is, well, risky and potentially expensive. You can just look at Anime-no-chikara and noitaminA for examples. What goes around does come around: if nobody buys Kuragehime, nobody is going to license shows like it. What I propose is not that the problem is nobody buys Kuragehime, but the problem is why should the proliferation of works like Kuragehime depend on people buying it on home video? Shouldn’t our energies be focused on solving the root issue and not run up the same pile of dead horse corpses?

People don’t buy Star Trek (TOS) (mainly because it is really, really expensive), but people loved the show and it went on to become the thing we know today. It’s very profitable. It transformed science and technology in America and abroad by inspiring a generation or two of scientists and engineers, and generally contributed so much good to the world. Not to mention its contribution to science fiction media, TV and film. It may sound mad-old Tomino-esqe but can’t we have that as a goal? It sounds like this has to be a part of whatever solution that flushes out the dirt, the good stuff, from the ghettos and release it to the masses. If there’s all this spite and bad blood between 99% and the 1% we want to be, the going would be tough on the road to reconcile the 1% of anime fans being catered to and the 99% of fans who don’t even want anything to do with that 1%.

[BONUS ROUND: 5. This is why I find Colony Drop problematic–they seek to reinforce this ghettoficiation; I should say, that is the schtik that they make a clapping noise upon, that cardboard wall of makeshift tents in which we live in. I’m just hoping that is offset by CD pointing out such a ghetto actually exists. They do not do this explicitly, but maybe they should.]


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