Category Archives: Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai

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.

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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!

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Picking On Chris: On Transforming Fanservice

I generally don’t pay Chris B’s simulcast coverage any mind, because I think Chris’s context is sort of odd when it comes to simulcasts (a bit like this, in fact), but this season he shells on two of my favorites: Steins;Gate and OreTsuba so that makes him a natural target. He also kind of misses the point to Sket Dance (OMG I’m watching a JUMP anime), but I think that one is actually forgivable because the anime exposes the problem the manga kind of has. (Compared to Kaminomi, where the anime greatly enhances the original material…IMHO. But that’s another post for another day.)

And I’m just going to talk about these two shows. There are other disagreements, but I, being not Chris, will have a different opinion on things. That’s not what gets to me. I just think he got these titles wrong entirely. And well, many people didn’t like OreTsuba, so I probably should say something about that regardless of anyone else.

First off, read CrunchyRoll’s AMA on Reddit. And I quote, more pertinently (you might want to read the whole thing anyways):

Kuiper 5 points 15 days ago
Are there any “sleeper hits” that turned out to be unexpectedly popular, or do you generally have an idea of the kind of revenue pull you’ll get from a certain show at the time you secure the distribution rights?
[]
i_work_at_croll  14 points 15 days ago
It’s always hard to predict, but it’s not a complete gamble either.
A few shows that performed better than we expected are:
Blue Exorcist
Ika Musume
Steins;Gate
[]

[Formatting and links removed; partly because it’s hard to quote and make it look okay. Last Retrieved 6/23/2011.]

Since Rob P’s departure, we no longer have a steady source of Crunchyroll viewership ranking  (AFAIK; if you do know a source, please share!). Going by online buzz, it’s pretty clear that Steins;Gate has relatively good viewership, and generally the trend is on the up as it approaches the midway point. And even CR confirms this. So how am I suppose to interpret this statement:

With the show now hitting its halfway mark, it’s a difficult show to really get a handle on. In a way, I’m often surprised that the show hasn’t been canceled.

Does it seem wrong to you? I mean, I’m probably being too harsh: I think if we swap out Steins;Gate with Serial Experiments Lain, his statements would apply just as much. And he would be wrong just as much. But if history taught us anything, it was that there are more than a few people who slammed Lain and yet it sold. More importantly, there’s a lot of great stuff going on in Steins;Gate (and Lain…I think) that just is not being picked up by Chris. I guess he does admit as much.

What is the takeaway here? I don’t really know, besides that I don’t think he gets what a lot of today’s simulcast-viewing people are after. Which may very well be a totally different group of people than those who buy anime on DVDs in America, which is what he represents better.

As for OreTsuba, it might be just a matter of taste. And I don’t have any taste when it comes to fanservice. (Although that is also a taste in itself, arguably.) But I can’t take it as serious criticism if Chris says:

[…] and the show has so many surprisingly raunchy and poor taste moments that it simply doesn’t work well at all. When it makes some of its revelations at the halfway mark, it’s pretty much a too little, too late point.

Really? Poor taste moments? Can Chris honestly be a judge on taste? I mean, he’s probably the biggest porn anime reviewer out there. He gave Kanokon a B? I mean, you can go to Mania.com and look at all the slutty anime he reviewed. Really? OreTsuba got “actively dropped”? That’s actually some very high praise in that it’s probably not like anything he’s seen before.

It’s like, I heard you like some boobs so I put some boobs in your boobs show so you can boob your boobs? [Qwaser S2E10 FTW.] OreTsuba doesn’t need to rely on memes to get its points across–it can become the meme that gets its point across. I think that’s what’s really brilliant about it. And that brilliance is precisely in the execution. The fact that Chris can’t enjoy a show like this is not my business at all; my problem is in his inability to recognize that there may be a method to its madness. Maybe OreTsuba is too clever by half, sure, but he didn’t even say this. I just hope he never reviews Seitokai no Ichizon.

The saddest thing is, I think Chris has a good grasp on what sells in R1. And while I actually agree OreTsuba may not sell in R1, I think the other strength OreTsuba has is precisely in its ability to appeal to a R1 audience through its strong character writing. The scrambled narrative is what I think may hinder its uptake, but OreTsuba is very story- and character-driven, and for its ensemble cast of 8 or so main characters (plus side characters), a lot of exposition and development happen within the 1-cour length. It does things as fast as Baccano, basically; the story is misleading up to the end, and while the audience may feel deceived at times I think there’s a lot to chew on.

For this genre of anime, OreTsuba is a real gem. Well, maybe it’s just me who enjoy a misleading narrative, especially when the excuse for it is to illustrate the convoluted plot device, but it comes together. And you know what I love.

Again, like I said, it comes down to taste in a lot of cases. Chris is an easy person to pick on (nothing personal) because he is easy to read–I mean, he says it. Back in Kanokon’s review, he’s fessed up:

Kanokon isn’t a deep title, but it’s one I had a lot of fun watching because it knows it’s not meant to be taken seriously. And it goes further in a lot of ways with its sexuality yet doesn’t feel completely over the top. But my standards probably aren’t the norm after watching these kinds of shows for twenty years…

Well, assuming you’ve seen Kanokon (unlikely), then hopefully you’ll get what I’m trying to say. This guy gets it. That’s why I still care about his opinions, because I can relate to where he’s coming from. (And just before I further incriminate myself, no, he’s still the expert on anime porn that I will never become.) (That said, I think Kanokon on DVD is uh, polished up from the TV release.) So it’s a little more disappointing that he doesn’t quite dig the new wave of meta anime, especially ones involving fanservice.

I think that the iterative seasonal TV anime offerings from Japan is evolving, changing, and offering viewers new types of shows. Especially in the past year or two; things are moving in a new direction. Things that are tried and true may continue to sell, but unless these established, old-timing reviewers pick up on these trends, they’re just going to poop on these opportunity to organically grow the fanbase. If Funimation wants to go out on a limb on OreTsuba and put some marketing muscle behind it (I hope they do), great. It doesn’t seem like a high risk title, I don’t know, but I am glad that they’re doing something about it. But if we want to transform this season’s simulcast viewers to next year’s DVD owners, I just don’t think Chris’s perspective will cut it.

Lastly, it is usually the case that anime of a certain genre sells better than others in America. So short of just saying “this anime doesn’t belong in this genre” is there any value to the whole “license” and “dub” thing? Because to me “dub” is just a “how much it will sell/target audience” thing. I mean, this guy thinks Lotte no Omocha deserves a license. That’s probably the low bar for this season in terms of how marketable something can be–how do you market the whole “this guy is in this 11-yo succubus’s ‘harem’ but he is also her mom’s lover and his daughter is the succubus’s half-sister, all before the thing about how she has to extract his semen to stay alive” bit? (And for the record I am watching it, and think the anime is pretty okay for what it is.)