Archive for February, 2009

765 and 961 in Idolm@ster

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

I was wondering what the studio names mean in Idolm@ster, and DiGiKerot said:

<DiGiKerot> The trick is that the character for 6 can be pronounced Mu or Mutsu or similar, so it contracts to NaMuGo, or, rather, Namco, the name of the developer of the iM@S games.
<DiGiKerot> I think 961 is supposed to be Kuroi

I began to pay attention when I noticed the fans’ outrage over the defection of Miki to 961 Studios in the PSP version. BTW, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the “961” moniker in some entirely unrelated anime, but cannot remember which one it was.

UPDATE: Andy writes:

Hm… Keroro maybe? I know they’re constantly doing 723 and 623 for Natsumi and Mutsumi…

Do they make a Keroro game? I don’t know.

Gia on Azumanga

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Gia’s article at AnimeVice reminds us about the 10th anniversary of the original manga run. It’s going to be three long years until the anniversary of anime.

Azuma’s manga upon which it’s based is a 4koma comic strip, and in my opinion helped pave the way for later such strips to be made into anime (Lucky Star and Sunshine Sketch, anyone?). Okay, admittedly, it’s not like it was the first– Sazae-san, whose anime adaptation started in ’69, was a 4koma, as did Di Gi Charat, but still.

It’s a common knowledge that Hiroshi Nishikiori’s seminal work essentially created the genre, but as Gia’s hedges show, things are rarely that simple. Did he, or did he not? I think he did, if we just look at sheer numbers of Azumangesque series before and after, in just few short years. Fair or not, from 2002 on series like Aria and Sketchbook are judged against the Azumanga yardstick. Even Shinbo was unable to repeat the accomplishment, although certainly Hidamari has a lot going for it.

UPDATE: Oh god, Omo Omo Omo. Who does, indeed? The first hit on google is the infamous hater of good anime Charles Solomon:

Although Akari can be a bit of a klutz at times, her existence is so tame and wholesome, it makes “The Bobsey Twins” feel like life in the fast lane. Some critics complained that the popular Azumanga Daioh, like Seinfeld, wasn’t about anything. But the girls in that high school cast acted like real individuals; Akari and her friends behave so well they suggest throwbacks to a ’50s juvenile novel.

Before you tell me that Solomon has no clue, the question was not about the validity of comparisons, but about the certain frame of reference that Azumanga has introduced. Solomon does not build a feature table with checkboxes, he just refers to a part of common knowledge. His message is: you want to understand Aria, watch Azumanga. Which is bogus, since the latter is harder to understand properly than the former. Nonetheless it’s a common way to drive the critique.

In any case, let’s see what Scott VonShilling says about it when he lands Mr. Solomon’s former job.

UPDATE: Answering J.P.Meyer’s question, Charles Solomon is the MSM’s to-go guy for anime. Here’s a blurb of his interview on NPR “Why Is ‘Naruto’ So Popular?” of January 26, 2009:

Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto is one of the most popular manga series in the U.S. Madeleine Brand talks with animation expert Charles Solomon about what led the Japanese series to top USA Today’s bestseller list.

Among bloggers, the foremost anime expert in America found his fame with the hate he piled on beloved classics like Shingu in reviews on Amazon. It goes a while back and I may not remember the precise details. It may be his review of Haibane Renmei I’m thinking about. I expected everyone to know who Solomon was, since he’s so odious.

Maybe it’s the way blogs displaced the traditional media, or maybe it’s just our isolated “submarine” living on the blogs, that resulted in VonSchilling being better known than Solomon.

A READER’S TIP: Don publishes Solomon’s Best (including the “languid gay instructor” who IIRC is the one who’s traumatised by the death of his wife). Don is on my blogroll, but I forgot about that post.

Haruhi-chan vs ハルヒちゃん

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

When I saw Nyoron*Chiruya-san, I did not realize at first that subtitled versions were released simultaneously. By doing so, Kadokawa staged an experiment: let’s check the viewership numbers of raw Japanese versus English subtitled videos.

Haruhi-chan Chiruya-san
Raw Sub Raw Sub
#4 43,158 3,991 n/a n/a
#3 261,390 35,926 173,616 47,906
#2 413,443 87,427 278,415 72,756

Kadokawa, being evil as usual, has already removed #1 issues. The Chiruya-san #4 is not availabe at the time of the writing.

I think these figures show pretty clearly that Sub watchers are a miniscule market when compared with domestic audience. I hope nobody will try to claim that BRWs tilt the balance? This ought to instill some humility into R1 pundits.

UPDATE: Andy e-mails:

One points out that Kadokawa’s not exactly going all-out to announce the Haruhi-chan/Churuya-san videos; I wouldn’t have known about them at all if I hadn’t run across a 4-chan thread. And I watched a couple of episodes raw, for that matter, since I didn’t know that the subtitles were coming out at the same time until I read your post (and hey, it’s an interesting challenge). With the R1 anime meta-media in shambles at this point, it might be too early to conclude anything.

I’m glad that my blog is useful for something (hey, you want to watch any Idolm@aster videos?) And certainly the rigour of this experiment is easy to challenge. But the disparity in numbers is too severe to deny or handwave away.

UPDATE: For a meaningless comparison, a Shamisen’s fansub of Haruhi-chan ep.01 completed 10,000 transfers for .mkv and another 5,000 transfers for .avi: a far cry from 400,000+ legal Japanese viewers.

Toradora 12

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

At first broadcast season’s end, Toradora, not to put too fine a point at it, is a consistently excellent show — at what it does. However, as it focuses like a laser on teenage love, its scope stays narrow, and thus it does not deliver what I would like.

If we look at, for example, original Nodame, for all the inevitable romcom it also was a compelling story of struggle and accomplishment: S-Oke, Mrs. Lutz’s school, R-stars, the competitions, and even Saiko’s mastery of moe rage. It may be my demographic. Maybe teenage love issue looms large for teens. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s not very interesting by itself, and so the Toradora’s excellency is wasted on me.

I think I see a trend. I dismissed Marimite pretty much for the same reason: its characters live in a made-up world of irrelevant emo. In other instance, when Nick twittered “Toradora 16: yeah, the characters are loud, but I’m finding it a more interesting romance Anime than ef”, I immediately registered a disagreement of taste: what made ef interesting for me is Chihiro’s struggle to complete the novel (as mentioned previously).

I really need another Rocket Girls.

P.S. The above bodes ill for Kimikiss.

UPDATE: Mike of Animediet probably meant to link to this entry, not the end-post, when he placed Toradora below H&C. I should note that although he refers to the above, I do not mean to agree with him on the place of Toradora in the pantheon: he is seeking “poignance and power”, not struggle and accomplishment.

Media Blasters trailers

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

The Midori no Hibi set included a promo DVD for Media Blasters and their Anime Works label (or is it “imprint”). It’s always fun to pick on trailers.

Ironically, Midori no Hibi itself was there too, and honestly the trailer was so-so. I think it would not entice me to watch by itself. That’s a serious loss for a trailer of underappreciated series.

I never had much interest in Oh My Goddess franchize, save for the Adventures of Mini-Goddess, but the visuals are so amazing that I’m wavering. On the other hand, it may be letterboxed. Might as well throw one into Netflix queue. Win for the trailer.

{Update: Steven e-mailed to tell me that: “The MB release of the first season of Ah! My Goddess! is not letterboxed. It’s anamorphic. It’s also a very high quality release in every way, as good as you can get from anyone else.” See also: AMG Continuity.}

Berserk seems like a trash with swords (not necesserily is such, but we’re talking the trailer). I even selected a flattering picture. Loss.

Phoenix is curious. The trailer presses on Tezuka heavily, and I disliked Astroboy. Can be anything, but at least it’s teatrical animation level. Draw.

The trailer for Ramen Fighter Miki makes me regret missing the v.3, which now cannot be gotten except off eBay. Win.

The problem with the mecha powered by pure lesbian power is, I know about it, so I cannot tell if trailer would deceive me into trying it. I would say not, it’s pretty honest. So, a loss.

GaoGaiGar almost made it, because I would really like to see some thing “old and good”, like Patlabor. But 49 episodes? Also, the quotes from ANN et.al. irritated me immensely. Clearly a misrepresentation was going around. Trailer loses!

Iria – Zeiram, in contrast, seems ok. Looks too much like Blue Gender though. So I’d say a win, if weak. {Update in 2012: See a comprehensive review by John Sato.}

I also skipped a bunch of trailers, about a half actually, from which I could not get a compelling snapshot. Maybe I’m too picky?

QUICK UPDATE: Awww, I knew I was forgetting something: Genshiken. They had that nice pale girl with a mole. Draw for the trailer: no change in my inclination.

Robin Sevakis on Gankutsuou

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Two days before John wrote that “the Gankutsuou anime deserves praise for simply being a high quality production from beginning to end” (yes, really), there was an Anime News Nina strip about it.

She should’ve saved the joke for something more deserving, like ef.

Strange death of Oi Hayaku

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

In comments to his quit post, Coburn answered Owen’s questions about the reason thus:

I’m not sure if there’s any single thing. To some extent I’ve often been on the verge of quitting, only to pull myself back for some reason or another. It seems like quite a big effort to go to, and honestly looking the end product I’m kind of ambivalent. I guess the strange death of OH played its part in making me assess what it was I really wanted to be doing too.

The website is up, and the last post was two weeks ago.

Developing…

Coburn’s stopping

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Indeed I’ve seen that Coburn stopping announcement. Sadly, he seems serious about it. When I do it, it’s always bullshit and tsunderism, but not here. As they say in Abridged Yu-gi-oh ep.07: “Goodbye, sweet prince”.

Owen on Mnemosyne

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Apropos Funi’s traditional failure to license anything that I would buy, here’s what my database refers for Mnemosyne:

Take the random chaos of Gantz, the gore, sex, and plot of Bible Black, the deep symbolism and raped mythology of Evangelion, a bit of cyberpunk ala Real Drive, a bit of immortal love ala Kurozuka, Dragonaut’s QUALITY moments that are made for humorous blog screenshots, and H2O’s utter failure of an ending. Cover everything with a generous helping of pointless, gratuitous, lesbian sex after the fashion of Shoujo Sect, and bake for 45 minutes. Voila!

Funny how Kodomo no Jikan is off limits for America, but this is a-ok.

UPDATE: In comments:

The pity of Mnemosyne is that it’s really quite good. The terrible cruelty that flies around the show, however, makes it difficult for anybody with a soul to watch.

(by Wonderduck)

Jaalin on Haruhi-chan and Churuya

Friday, February 20th, 2009

What a coincidence, the next day after I blog them, Kadokawa posts new shorts and there’s an article at Random Curiosity. In it, Jaalin did not write a single word about the scandalous lack of mini-Ryoko.