Archive for January, 2011

Yamakan just cannot shut up

Monday, January 17th, 2011

You’d think with hist whole career on the line he would spend more time thinking about Fractale, but if so, you’d be wrong. Divine has just posted a news-op on the thing, jumping off an interview Yamakan gave to Asahi Shinbun.

“It is becoming the norm to order some of our work to anime productions in China and South Korea. Not because we want to suppress our personnel costs, but rather because we are unable to find enough people to work (in Japan),” Yamamoto, 36, said.

Heard that said about American engineers before.

Another concern for the industry is a possible shrinking fan base. Estimates put the population of die-hard anime fans at around 150,000. But Yamamoto suspects the number now falls short of 100,000.

Kinda like American private pilots, huh.

“The anime industry is said to have become introverted. But our business is about providing something fun and exciting to people. I decided to stop being inward-looking,” Yamamoto said.

What a troll. Oh well, at least he’s doing what he loves, supposedly at least.

Also, Fractale is pretty good, although I cannot tell anything about it save that Phryne has issues. Crazy bint.

WAH on Fractale

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Writing for his own new-fanged teamblog, WAH pulls all stops in being anti-CSW:

If I had to use one word to describe Yamakan, that word would be “pretentious.” After leaving Kyoto Animation, this guy has been doing nothing but talking smack about other anime, why it isn’t good enough for him, and how it’s not helping the industry. While there may be some truth to Yamakan’s observations, he’s done nothing to live up to his mouth. He directed Kannagi, a shounen romance show 100% targeted at otaku, and produced Black★Rock Shooter, another otaku money-maker. This isn’t to say these shows aren’t extremely well done, but they’re targeting the exact same niche and doing the exact same things Yamakan supposedly frowns upon. So while watching Fractale, there’s this overwhelming feeling of him trying to break away from his otaku roots… and it’s just not working.

In what seems like an attempt to draw one’s attention away from how unoriginal the setting is, Fractale’s world is partly populated by holographic avatars who stand in for people in faraway worlds. These avatars look like rejects from Kamichu or Welcome To The Space Show, and feel shoehorned in for the sake of trying to spice things up. Another thing that’s shoehorned in is the show’s soundtrack: It’s typical orchestral stuff, but in more than a few scenes it adds nothing, and in fact just distracts from the action. But the cracker — the one that just slays me — is that the show’s setting and presentation themselves seem shoehorned into an otherwise normal otaku anime. There’s a spineless lead, two mysterious girls, and one lolita.

Ouch.

There is just one problem with this: even when WAH is this eloquent, he may be wrong. May be, as in e.g. I am not quite sure if he was objectively speaking wrong when he parsed K-ON2, but I took out something different from early K-ON2 (ep.7 notwithstanding). SDB loved Fractale 01 and was dismayed by Aroduc’s disapproval of the episode. Still, yeah… Yamakan needs to do a lot of work to atone for all the badmouthing. Kinda like WAH himself needed after his “I lived in Japan, so I am better than you are” phase.

More IM@S CDs

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

According to Quadrain, “Slowly but surely Columbia has started to roll out the Master Artist albums.” He has Anglospheric-looking cover scans, but no links to anywhere. Amazon has nothing. Googling for “COCX-36511” brings up the same CD, but with Japanese cover. Pretty fresh too, release November 3, 2010 in Japan.

P.S. CDjapan has it.

SDB and 2DT on 1920s in anime

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

I think 2DT’s post about Taishou in anime is far too brief for the topic. My favourite reference is old SDB’s post that predates Chizumatic itself. His take-off point was the Sakura Taizen movie, which as we all know stacked rather poorly against the rest of the franchize. Steven later recanted and valued OVA and TV series higher. Appropriately, his attention shifted away from the Taishou setting and none of his later posts had the clarity that the garbage movie brought out.

I don’t find that particular setting (alternate 1925 Japan with mecha) at all interesting or convincing; it’s entirely too nostalgic and unrealistic for me. In fact, I’m a bit offended by it, and a lot repelled. It was the last interval before the end of the old order where the underlying ugliness was sufficiently submerged so it could be ignored for purposes of nostalgia. [Historic excourse follows — Author]

The way that era is portrayed in Steel Angel Kurumi and in Sakura Wars: The Movie, is so divorced from reality as to approach hallucination. [..] My big problem is that the culture they portray is far too sanitized. Japan in 1925 was nothing like as wonderful a place to live as they are trying to pretend. They’re showing it as a golden age, when it was actually a prelude to a nightmare.

There was a brief period in Nazi Germany where things had improved a lot (especially compared to the chaos of the final days of the Weimar Republic) but hadn’t quite gotten as ugly as they finally did around 1943. It would be a period of a couple of years around the time of the Berlin Olympics, and it could also be seen in about the way these series’ see 1925 Japan. No one does that for 1936 Germany, because they understand how monstrous it really was. The underlying hideousness hadn’t really started to express itself, but everyone knows it was there. But Japan remains to this day in almost complete denial about the equivalent underlying ugliness of the old order, especially in the 75 years between the Meiji Restoration and the end of WWII. To this day, a majority of Japanese do not see Japan’s involvement in WWII as coming from Japanese imperialism; they see it as a necessary response to American aggression. They see the attack on Pearl Harbor as resulting from an American-organized economic boycott of Japan, but don’t in turn understand that the boycott was a response to Japanese aggression against China. And they don’t seem to acknowledge the consequences of the imperialism which caused Japan to acquire control over Formosa, Korea, and Manchuria and which eventually led them to attempt to conquer and rule that entire part of the world.

[..]

They don’t talk about Japan’s “government by assassination”. They don’t show how the Army had effectively taken control of the nation in all but name by then, abusing a rule in the constitution which gave the Army effective power of veto over the civilian government through its ability to bring down any ruling coalition any time it wanted. And if any politician, whether MP or minister, was too vocal in advocating policies the Army didn’t like, he was likely to be visited by a group of mid-level Army officers, in something essentially identical to what in another time and place was called a “death squad”, with identical results.

By the 1920’s the civilian government in Japan could only rule as long as it did what the Army wanted, and individual civilian leaders could only stay alive by toeing the Army’s line. By the late 1930’s Japan had abandoned the pretense of civilian rule entirely, and the prime minister was an Army officer. But even as early as 1910, Japan was for all intents and purposes a military dictatorship.

Indeed.

One related thing that bothers me is how the national-socialist regime basically became the scapegoat for losing the war, while international-socialist regime that was our ally is still admired by many. Leader of confuscian-socialist regime is “favourite political philosopher” of a close adviser to our president. Looks like it’s unimportant how many people you murder, it’s only important if you win. Given such hypocrisity, it’s small wonder that Japanese may be ok with the Nazis, not to mention their own evil past.

UPDATE: Steven says “I’m more forgiving about that kind of stuff now.”

UPDATE: J.P. Meyer comments:

My favorite work from the Sakura Taisen franchise is the 2nd game. This is because it’s the only time in the entire series where they actually address all that historical ugliness that’s bubbling just below the surface that SDB was referring to. Instead of the villains being like evil spirits or demons or whatever like in most of the other games/anime/etc., the villains are the ultra-nationalists in the military. So instead of how the other games would have missions like “Oh noes, the amusement park that symbolizes modernity, which in turn also symbolizes liberal democracy and social progressivism is being attacked by monsters!”, it’s like “We need to rescue this general/government minister/socially-prominent person before the fascists assassinate them!” or “We need to foil this coup or else no more Taisho Democracy!”

It’s also my completely unfounded hypothesis that the reason that the series eventually moved from Japan to France and America is because the timeline had finally gotten too uncomfortably close to when all of the Japanese historical badness was getting too out of control.

That said, I’m still completely unsure how really to think about the politics of that series since there was still a ton of bad stuff going on even before the _really_ bad stuff later on. Like “Yay democracy, we have universal manhood suffrage and labor unions and student activism!” along with laws severely criminalizing dissent and political assassinations. The “_really_ bad stuff” (read: WW2-era Showa stuff) gets portrayed as bad by the series, but the “less bad” stuff isn’t even comprehended. I wonder if it’s even aware that that stuff was going on (read: the kind of societal problems that built the groundwork for a society that could accept all those later atrocities that Saburo Ienaga talks about in The Pacific War).

The last part may be reaching a bit too deep, like asking if Russia in 1910 was “pregnant with Bolshevism”. But sure, if you don’t teach them, they aren’t aware.

K-ON2 turns awesome at 07

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Surprisingly, the improvement occured in an episode that turns upon a heavy retcon in a large degree. Usually such tricks are employed by desperate creators, but it worked here.

Note that Sakabe wears a red necktie, which makes complete sense: in school time she appeared before Azusa and graduated in the same year. I updated the helpful diagram.

The question “What part do you wash first in the bath?” sounded like “お風呂にはいったら、どこから洗いますか” (入る is one of those nasty ~u verbs that end in -ru). I think the joke was even slicker in English.

Smithy on Marina Inoue

Monday, January 10th, 2011

In the post about IS, Smithy drops this remark:

Inoue Marina, known for her roles as Natsuru in “Kämpfer”, Kana in “Minami-ke” and who also stars in this season’s “Freezing” will play the role of Laura [in Infinite Stratos].

Meanwhile, Richard Stallman is known for posting weird personals at Craigslist, Adolph Hitler is known for his impressionist paintings, and Pete Zaitcev is known for fixing bugs in euca2ools.

Idolm@ster anime announced

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Woke up today to find Twitter aflutter with rumors of an IM@S anime. Apparently, it was announced at a live event. So, not a fake. But before I die from happiness, I have to remember that IM@S-based anime had a mixed record at Ani-nouto to date: Xenoglossia was dropped when it turned gritty and bloody, the OVA was plain poorly made. And indeed, what can you do? Puffy Ami Yumi “anime”? Time will tell, of course. We only know one thing: nothing will unretire Yurika Ochiai a.k.a. Yurina Hase. Japan, you suck so much sometimes.

UPDATE: Lawl, Miki celebrates in DiGi’s strip. You poor thing. Also:

Although speaking of iM@S and giant robot shows, can I just reiterate that Xenoglossia is actually a pretty good show. Sure, it was offered up to Sunrise as a sacrifice for them to be a little subversive with, and as a result doesn’t really bare any similarity with the original work, but compared to most recent Sunrise works it’s not only unusually consistent, but downright coherent.

By the way, if I remember right, IM@S anime is going to be the first time in my anime-watching career when I will see an adaptation while pre-poisoned. Remember all those whiners: “manga was better”, “UBW is the best path”? I always laughed at them so hard. But looking back, if I watched Xenoglossia now, and saw what Sunrise have done to Chinaya, I would be livid. There is going to be some comeuppance, I’m afraid.

K-ON2 begins

Monday, January 10th, 2011

I’m rather unhappy with the proceedings. At one point, I noted: “having every episode like every other consistency in directing does not make, WAH!” By now I’ve re-read WAH’s argument and he did not even mention consistency, I just misremembered. But episodes are all the same anyway. Certainly, new character receives a voiceover line every time, but other than that it’s like watching Endless Eight. And how iyashikei it is, crazy. I remember only one other anime like it: Sketchbook.

To add insult to injury, I am also re-watching Lucky Star and it is much more to my liking. Proceedings are more lively despite the endless talk, and even during the talk. It feels like having a certain meaning, or purpose — granted, moreso post-Yamakan. And energy! On this pass I am eating up the hot-blooded store manager, who I mostly fast-forwarded before. But forget L*S, the original K-ON had more energy too, and I liked it more than this. What is this, was Kyoto Animation gradually slipping? Or I just cannot appreciate a superior production? I can see how it is superior, all notes are hit just as planned, and on a massive budget.

I did not think about dropping yet, but I expected more… or something different.

BTW, I grabbed a bunch of food presentations. It comes close to Azumanga‘s food in quality. Again, budget well spent.

Evirus on Freezing

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

Karmaburn:

Freezing feels like Queen’s Blade only bloody, grim, and dark instead of stupid and funny.

Bandai defied Robert and SVS

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

I was bringing my true tears ducks in line for a cancellation announcement and found an old post from 2009, almost 2 years ago now, when SVS twittered “I don’t think Bandai will even be around in July.. (>_>)”. The days when FUNi only licensed shit, good times (they only mostly release shit these days, with a random Oh Edo Rocket thrown in). In 2 years, SVS essentially departed blogging and Bandai is still around. I am sure they hurt, for example my Toradora is unexpectedly printed by NISA. And the plastic disc business continues to circle the drain. But hey. Cheers to resilience.