The AnimeNation John on 2015 Spring season

April 11th, 2015 by Author

He says it’s super derivative:

The first episode of Re-Kan seems practically like a reverse clone of Kotoura-san. Sougeki no Soma appears to be an updated version of Yakitate Japan that focuses on dinner cuisine instead of pastries. Omakase Miracle Cat Dan looks and feels an awful lot like a non-crude sibling to Urayasu Tekkin Kazoku. Denpa Kyoushi is GTO for otaku.

He missed Plastic Memories being a clone of Najica Blitz Tactics, as some say. I didn’t watch it and put it for a replay of Mahoromatic at first, although in full knowledge that such analogies often miss the mark by thousands of kilometers. Remember how a number of people thought that ef was like the Hollywood movie “50 First Dates”? In any case, if these two imply that there’s something wrong with being derivative in anime as such, I’m going to dismiss them both. After all, RahXephon is much better than EVA (since we’re on topic, see how Izubuchi explicitly discusses copying — it’s quite remarkable).

P.S. One other guy says:

I just saw the first episode of Plastic Memories.

Employing the most emotionally wringing moments and then trying to inject deviant humor on top.

It really didn’t work.

If this was supposed to put a brake on things, it didn’t quite work. I’m still determined to see for myself. Well, maybe determine a few other suckers try it first for a few more episodes…

P.P.S. And there we go: “Plastic Memories episode 2 is significantly more ordinary than episode 1 was and as a result leaves me rather less interested.”

P.P.P.S. Ubu says they are not the same:

In Najica, the Hummarits were learning to be human and independent, and that’s what the story was really about. In Plastic Memories, the Giftia are already “human” and remarkably independent, though they’re designed to be companions to humans.

Avatar on Lesbian Bear Storm

April 2nd, 2015 by Author

In comments at Wonderduck:

Yurikuma has a completely different DNA than the Noitamina block – it’s Ikuhara being Ikuhara for an audience consisting, these days, almost wholly of Ikuhara. So think Utena and then Penguindrum, but without the usual mask of reality that later fractures.

Honestly, it’s just bad. Okay, some stories you need to break the world in interesting ways without describing to the viewers what’s going on – but you’ve still got an obligation to entertain in the meantime, and this show just -doesn’t-.

Cinderella Girls anime is not very good

April 1st, 2015 by Author

On the cusp of iM@S CG being broadcast, I went on the record with my concerns about history repeating itself twice, first time as tragedy and second time as farce (and Omo dismissed my worries). Now that we’ve seen 11 episodes, things are even worse than I expected.

To be sure, the series opened on a high note. Rin, Rin, Rin, Rin, Rin. And Producer! Genzai, kikakuchuu desu won the fans the world over instantly. Uzupaka wasn’t bad either. But after Mio’s tantrum, things completely unraveled into a series of unit introductions of idols who perhaps should not be debuting. The stalvarts tried to find endearing qualities in Kirari Godzilla and the like, but if you step back for a wider view, this whole parade was horrible.

The 11 was the worst because it was Miku’s turn, and it highlighted what could’ve been. In the initial episodes, Miku shined, and very unexpectedly. If you do not read her manual very carefuly, she’s just a crazy furry who wears nekomimi and says “Nyan”. The anime explained briliantly that she’s not, in fact, a furry – but plays one on TV. The way Miku keeps her stage persona separate from her own was a sign of professional maturity, which put her above her cohort. It is a truism that the thing idols sell first is their personality, their singing or dancing talent second. And it’s a well-known aphorism that “nothing is as valuable [on stage] as sincerety: if you can fake that, you have it made”. Nobody else in this group of n00bs is sophisticated enough to make something to sell – even something as basic as nekomimi-nyan (footnote: Riina tries w/rock). Therefore, they have to sell themselves. If they’ve got good wares, like Rin, it’s great. If they don’t — the picture is rather pathetic. And then the series spends a half of its screen time to wade through that shameful display.

Meanwhile, Miku is postponed into the last unit. The show did not go as far as to imply that she was bumped into the final slot as a retribution for the labor action. She could be a great rival for the main trio, but nope, that would be much too good for this series. What a waste. Mrs. Takao seriously fumbled the ball on this.

UPDATE: Omo: “I actually like this interpretation. I just think you sell some of the others short.” He is a master of being concise.

Evirus: “My only real beef with Cinderella Girls 11 is that Miku didn’t fall into despair.” If you think that it was mean, remember that it’s the man who wrote:

Part of me sincerely wishes Vita had killed Nanoha in episode one of A’s, with Fate arriving too late to save her but still in time to clutch her still-warm corpse. And then A’s could have been about FEITO losing her mind, hunting down and brutally butchering the Velka knights while useless TSAB pinheads desperately try to get her under control and end her reign of terror with impotent lines such as, “Killing more people won’t bring Nanoha back, Fate!”

It’s the same spirit that animates both fantasies. It’s a protest against mediocrity, if you will.

Note that some people are despair-resistant. The only good character of Muromi-san, Otohime, is like that. But we weren’t shown that in case of Miku. She was pushed off into background and muffled while everyone else debuted for several episodes.

Danny Choo is building Chobits

April 1st, 2015 by Author

This is not an April Fool’s joke, he was going at it for a while. I merely saw pictures at his Twitter today:

Danny is an interesting guy. He started out as a fellow animeblogger, but managed to build an impressive website empire, a portal beyond a mere anime blog like this one. From there, he poked at various pursuits, even tried to make an anime (called “Chinka”). When that failed, as did Mirai Millenium, he rode the popularity of his website’s mascot, Mirai, into making little figurines of her. These figurines presently mutated into a 3/4 size sexbot, er, “smart doll”. I expect that Mirai has greater intelligence than Furby by now. You can help to bring about this new future by buying his wares.

NovaJinx on Shirobako

March 29th, 2015 by Author

Nova finally posted the article, which apparently took some pains. Characters were praised, of course:

The characters don’t appear as string puppets acting out a set script through rigid archetypes and a strict division between the good and bad guys, but as concrete people with proper personalities, aspirations, and motives.

Also included was an auto-biographic segment, illustrating how Shirobako can hit home for any salariman, even a Finnish one. One curious bit that was omitted is Nova’s relationship with the character of Oukura. Initially, Nova wrote: “Shirobako finally delivered a character I can truly call my own.” But today, he said at #animeblogger: “I can relate to a whole bunch of characters in Shirobako. Can’t really call any one of them my own.” Everyone who watched the series knows what happened. And I guess that Nova felt better kinship with Oukura’s evident actions at first more than with later ones. It’s telling, really, and is a reason why I don’t blog with excessive personal focus. Doing that could add an attractive personal touch to the blog, if handled well, but you never know where this information leak is going to end. So, while I have a Shirobako character that speaks to me in particular, I’m not going to share who that is publicly.

UPDATE: A surprisingly respectable, but deeply misguided comment from a hater, prompted Nova to comment thus:

First of all, it’s pretty odd to call an anime show out as wish-fulfillment. For one, it’s saying that wish-fulfillment is fundamentally wrong, even if majority of entertainment is more or less just that at heart. It seems to me that ever since Madoka brought the Urobuchi-style double negative to the wider audience, positive overtone in storytelling has become somehow sinful, as if a story cannot be deep and engaging without being gritty and pessimistic. I’d approve the term with shows like Guilty Crown, Accel World, and Sword Art Online, which are clearly designed to appease the teenager ego, but with Shirobako it’s superficial at best.

Sure, I would have loved to have a workplace like Musani. The Corp was nothing of the sort. But to hint that Musani is a whitewashed fantasy dream of a workplace is just naive. There are a lot of companies just like it, usually in creative sectors where most people are in for the job for their personal passion. I’ve seen these small to medium sized firms dominate the work satisfaction polls where heavy industry corps don’t even qualify, and the reason why they never will is exactly the double negative attitude that dominates rigid corporate workplaces that stems mainly from bad management. I’m not saying that Shirobako is strictly realistic or depicts a “typical workplace” (I don’t even know where you got that from), but I find none of its setting to be completely outlandish.

“Every desperate situation always gets solved” is a statement that I find especially weird, as if this is supposed to be a bad thing. This is how I found the working life to be vast majority of the time. I’ve faced pretty much every equivalent situation to what are depicted on the show, and every one of them got solved one way or another no matter how dire they seemed at first. The worst people on the job were those who believed there was no way out and chose to rather sink than struggle, and try to push the blame for the failure on someone else (Shirobako touched on this with Titanic, as you should know). As for the few individual resolutions that you brought up in a belittling wording, I don’t see why they wouldn’t work for the given situations. A change of pace and scenery is extremely beneficial for creative process, as any blogger worth his salt knows. That’s also why my 3D-animator friends have ball pits, nerf guns, and general freedom to come and go at their workplace, which I could have only dreamed of.

And as I tried to say on the post which you hopefully at least read, in my professional experience jerks always have backstories, just like everybody else. I really hope you aren’t in a managerial position, because the worst bosses are those who believe that they don’t. Bad bosses subscribe to the simplistic belief that people are rigidly bound to their respective character archetypes (the jerk, the slacker, the honor student), and that’s how most entertainment, anime or otherwise, depicts people. Shirobako does not, which is already something that sets it apart from the rest. Having a backstory does not “justify” douchebag behavior, but it does explain it.

I’m not saying you should enjoy the show if you honestly didn’t, but I don’t really agree with any of the points you raised. To me it seems that you’d rather wanted Shirobako to be like those terrible dime in a dozen American reality TV occupational shows with their heavily dramatized content of people yelling at each other and the situation being irreversibly fucked up 90% of the time.

There’s no getting away from the fact that a number of people prefer the negative entertainment, but what Nova’s defence of Shirobako touches is a productive ad-hominem: the analysis how this entertainment taste is deeply rooted in the individual’s basic outlook.

Shirobako ends

March 29th, 2015 by Author

There’s no wishy-washing it, Shirobako is an outstanding series. I had a small trouble accepting it at first, because of the meta premise. Anime about anime is inablity to see outside of one’s cocoon, is it not obvious? How many Hollywood writers set their flicks in New York and L.A. because that’s all they know? And did they have to wrap it around a large-eye japanimation moe protag? Intellectual bankrupcy, I’m telling you! And yet, so much love for the people making the final art possible went into making Shirobako, that it went far beyond a comedic pseudo-documentary. Competency in every aspect, too, of course, but primarily the characters were the attraction.

One extra note is that I said many times, “truly excellent anime cannot be spoiled”. That applied to Shirobako in full, as I watched the waves of enthusiasm on Twitter and knew about everything in the week’s episode. It only worked to whet the appetite.

Liked: Absolutely
Rewatch: Yes, R2

Oto and Pon on LL 07

March 25th, 2015 by Author

They are proclaiming the Nico turnaround already, with some choice analysis:

Oto. […] This reminds me: I kinda like Nico now. Not because of anything the show has done, but because of what you’ve been saying about her off air.

Pon. Yeah, in the posts I’m just saying what the show does with her. I’m not ready to unroll the Unified Nico Theory yet. Last time my suggestion was that not liking her in the beginning is part of the effect. It’s something I do a lot … I’ll dislike a character, and then they’ll become my favorite.

Oto. That’s weird. You’re weird.

Pon. Fuck you. One thing I like about this show is the blocking, or, I don’t know what you’d call it … the positioning of characters relative to other characters, especially when there are several on-screen. That part where Nico’s inexplicably in the closet or in a classroom or something is pretty good.

Oto. It occurs to me that the show has done one thing to make me like Nico. She’s the joke character. We’re supposed to like when “funny” things happen to her. Like how her position on stage is the closet. Well fuck you show. I tend to feel bad for those characters and thus start wanting to protect them.

Pon. They got you. No saving you now. Gonna have to leave you behind.

Oto. Oh god. It was all part of their twisted plan all along.

Pon. It’s a pretty normal plan. Par for the course.

Good times. However, they are only on 07. It’s much too early to like Nico! At that time, I (ani-)noted “My problem with Nico is that she’s ballast. Her otaku sense was not terribly useful thus far.” That was the focus. Yet already they’re talking about a turnaround. But not to spoil too much, Nico’s stature is going to grow from now on. I wasn’t as receptive, so only I changed my mind about her at the time when her love of the idols was put to the test and was found greater than Honoka’s, way in the final arc. What are these two going to do then? Declare her the Best Girl?

Tamako Love Story

March 24th, 2015 by Author

The Tamako Love Story was firmly suggested to me by Justin Brough. One day our conversation moved to it, and I mentioned how I dropped the Tamako Market TV series. Justin claimed that they fixed it all up in the movie. And yes, they did — everything that was possible to fix.

The animation needed no fixing to begin with, but KyotoAni went bananas completely with the best talent they had or borrowed, budget no object. In my humble opinion, they topped Disappearance. In this age of 2015, when son of Miyazaki is trying to destroy the anime with computers, this sort of thing is amazing twice.

And so, Dera was basically gone (with token appearances), thematic concerns completely erased, what else to ask? Unfortunately, other than the feast for the senses, there wasn’t much in the movie for me. It is Tamako’s love story, for crying out loud. Wonderful in its way, but I wasn’t into it recently. Did not even bother to root for poor Midori properly.

The worst part was how big a role the retard moe played in the setting. The idiot-savant Kanna is one thing, but Tamako herself comes off as retarded more than naive or innocent, especially in contrast with her friends Shiori and Midori.

Liked: Kinda
Rewatch: A party movie among others

Strange psychological effects of Shirobako

March 17th, 2015 by Author

Promised myself never submit patches or animeblog in zeitnot before bed, but real quick now. One strange thing about Shirobako is its powerful hold upon my semi-subconscious. Just two phenomena:

#1 – exceedingly powerful deja vu – completely false at that. Examples:

#1.a – in 12, 13:16, Ema says “watashi mo, anna fuu ni, e ga kakeri you ni naritai”. The way she said that was somehow evocative and I knew I heard it elsewhere. It took a half an hour, but I found it: I heard it in AKB0048 17, 08:02. Tomochin says it, and it’s “konno fuu ni”. Completely false, but seemed like the exact feeling, and so strong, too!

#1.b – in 16, Kinoshita says “planes are protagonists”. I know I heard this somewhere, but I cannot figure it out. It was more than a year or two ago. Possibly GaruPan. Not Strike Witches for sure. And back then it was for real, but creators of Shirobako meant a certain ambiguity and merely used it as a setup for the next dialog.

#2 – after 16, a tweet: “I did not see a grim grind like Shirobako since Figure 17″. That undoubtedly was prompted by Iguchi’s trials. Sure, as CKS once observed, we’re guaranteed a delivery for each episode, but here’s a thing: these episodes are never ending. For those not familiar, Figure 17 primarily deals with the protagonist, who is a 10 year old girl, having to engage in combat every other day, and it’s excruciatingly real. At first it looks like a magical girl and monster of the week type of thing. But the stress is taking its toll gradually, and there’s no way out — if she wants her world to survive, that is. Shirobako is not like that in the sense that Aoi is not spiraling into alcoholism as Musani struggles to meet the challenges of production. But it feels like that — I don’t know if I have the strength left to complete the series.

Onepunch-man anime site is up

March 12th, 2015 by Author

The anime was announced a few days ago, but now they have the site up (h/t Chris Beveridge).

I followed the (re-imagening) manga on scanlations and it’s very good. The power inflation is pretty horrible, but we’ve not seen our Majin-buu arc yet. I’m really curious about the anime take, since a big part of the attraction is the art of the fights. Not sure how that could be translated.