Archive for the 'AKB0048' Category

Schneider on AKB0048

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

The AKB0048 landed in my queue after Kuro shared the picture of goddamn assault mikesaber. But until now I found nothing rebloggable… Except Nova’s tryptich, perhaps:

What I watched: AKB0048. What I expected: Idolm@ster Space Edition. What I got: STALINGRAD.

The force with which it hit Nobar was rather remarkable, but what can you say about it? So, Schneider takes the lead with an article “AKB0048: Elegant Idols, For A More Civilized Age“.

A hallmark of a good world, for me, is the amount of interesting questions it forces you to ask.

Same place, he may be overstating the point about the succession, for the sake of rhethoric. Or maybe he doesn’t. I guess we’ll just have to find out.

Five minutes of AKB0048

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

I watched a whole of 5 minutes of it, and thought that a quick pre-pre-preview of AKB0048 may be necessary in order to keep the opening bracket post to a reasonable size, because I feel like blogging the heck out of it. Maybe.

For now, the point is that I really did not like the introductory concert, with “Aitakatta, aitakatta, YES” being like biting a natto sandwich (and I’m sure someone loves that too). Nonetheless, it does nothing for my impression of the show. Why is that?

To begin with, I am not a great fan of AKB48. I bought a few tracks at Amazon, but I find their lyrics often insipid and repetitive, music somewhat bland and generic, choreography an acquired taste. This is in comparison with iM@S, that offered a lot of wonderful tracks, starting with relations in Asami Imai’s rendition. The two may be indistinguishable for some, like two asian faces, but I find their quiality at different levels[1]. However, since AKB0048 was commonly identified as a sexist phenomenon, it is my duty to support it, insomuch it’s the positive sexism. And being bland is not a crime.

So, I’m going to move on with AKB0048 anime while paying little attention to the tie-up. And I am not afraid to drop series.

[1] Of course it’s possible that AKB48 offers something amazing that passed me by. However, once again, in Idolm@ster, I like about half of the tracks, with the rest being usually tolerable. I think the only one that I came to deleting from playlists was “Jealosy Of The Sun”. With AKB0048, the proportion is significantly different across the available sample.

Who is Karen Iwata?

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Take it from a seiyuus ignoramus: one of the biggest things that I marked about AKB0048 01 was how Nagisa’s voice was far too big for her character, even after the 4-year timeskip. The effect is somewhat similar to what many were observing about Urabe (CV: Ayako Yoshitani). The most common reaction was how the voice was “surprising”. Mauser wrote, “[Urabe’s] voice actress has a very unique voice, totally atypical for anime girls, but appealing.” Karen Iwata’s work voice is not quite as unique, but it is equally unexpected for Nagisa.

Mrs Iwata has no roles listed at ANN, which may mean anything. A stage name, for instance. Or an escapee from pornography, like Natsumi Yanase. But unlike the latter, I do not expect Nagisa’s voice to be as controversial as Chihiro’s was in ef.

UPDATE: Omo tweets the obvious: she is a member of AKB48 group! But of course. For some reason I thought that AKB48 talent was going to voice the “elder generation” or even cameos of “original” AKB48 in “historic recordings”. This brings up how I was at a panel with Yoko Ishida and someone asked her if she’d like to do some voicework. She reacted with a fright. Said that seiyuu were far too professional and she could never do it. Well, Mrs. Ishida… Karen Iwata seems succeeding admirably to me, except being somewhat inflexible at the squeaky range, perhaps.

UPDATE: Fencedude (a staff writer at Sea Slugs) twittered a link to official character page, which includes a picture of Karen. She is the only one with a different haircut! Also, her name is spelled as “華怜”. It’s like “Marina”: having a surprise kanji.

UPDATE in 2015: I completely forgot — until I reviewed this post today — that Karen wore long hair once before. She started to grow it back again in 2015, but then cut it again.

Bloggers on early AKB0048

Friday, July 6th, 2012

I already blogged Nova, who spoke to my sensibilities. Nothing about Nova’s narrative changed after seeing the material for myself, but I am not entirely satisfied for other reasons and tried to find some good naysaying. Unfortunately, the pickings were slim.

Peter S. disappoints completely. Take a load of this:

There’s no reason given for why [entertainment is] forbidden.

All I can say to it is: Have you not watched Oh Edo Rocket, man?

trite personal stories

Woa, epinions. But suppose I have low standards. Now, is this claim falsifiable? What kind of personal story would not be “trite”, in AKB0048?

Otou attempted a high road, and I really wanted him to explain what sucked about AKB0048. However, his parsing went like this:

Specifically, how far does the entertainment ban go? What exactly are kids supposed to enjoy doing? I suppose you can beat a stick against a tree like we used to do back in the day when I was little and electricity scared us. But this is a modern society with TVs (do they only show the news?) and the internet, not to mention space travel. And fashion. Look at Nagisa’s shorts, the little hussy, or any of the other girls’ outfits. They’re not exactly wearing burlap sacks, are they? So tell me about fashion. Does it fall under entertainment? Without entertainers, who’s going to distribute the styles to the masses?

The right answer is to go with the flow, of course. But let’s become enough of a stick in the mud and consider: is what they showed us impossible? I once lived in a society where jeans were considered extremely unpatriotic and could lead to beatings. And yet, people still wore them, with care; then joined in the beatings. The setup turned upon the universal hypocrisity: say the right words, do the opposite. Let me underscore: it was a real life, not anime, where rooms like Nagisa’s existed[1]. Granted, entertainment was not banned, but it was… distributed — exactly in the manner that Otou questions. A government committee determined what was permissive, literally[2]. With an adjustment to moefication, I find the setting quite familiar.

I am sure Otou knows about Islamic State, Iron Curtain, and Cultural Revolution, yet appears not to have a visceral idea what it was, or is, to live there. Therefore, for him, AKB0048 lacks in fidelity. It does not help me find where it sucked.

His another issue was this:

I don’t know a ton about AKB48, but I do know that they’ve gotten some heat for some of their more risqué lyrics and videos which their critics think aren’t fit for their young members, let alone the audience.

I plainly refuse to deal with his point above. He seems to be hinting at a certain moral judgement, the kind often baffles me in America. For example, I overheard a segment of TV news today, where they tried to make beef of a woman who was convicted for prostitution working as a school bus driver. I do not mean the bullshit of hanging a misdemeanor on a sex worker, in a country that is about to legalize gay marriage. But the issue of her occupation here is exactly what? Nobody in the idiot box brought up any particular hazard from the woman working the job. Instead it was indignation over a shared understanding. Remove the shared understanding and what do we have left?

Why does he join the the “critics”? He is supposed to be more open-minded than I, but some orwellesque anti-sex “critics” are enough to poison AKB0048 for him.

Evirus gave me some hope, but ended withAKB0048 is mostly terrible” and “not memorable” because the anime “seems little more than a celebration of the real-word AKB48 idol troop”. Okay, but isn’t it supposed to be just that? What did he expect? The rest was the standard finger-wagging at AKB48’s rotation, in oblique phrasing.

So far, our intellectual betters completely failed at operationalizing the hate of AKB0048. I think all we’ve left is Omo, unless help arrives from an unexpected direction. [Or god forbid you have write it yourself — Ed]

[1] Note that Nagisa’s father had nothing against Nagisa engaging into entertainment, only with the appearances. In particular, remember his reasons for prohibiting her to take the audition. They didn’t have anything with entertainment being wrong.

[2] Sometimes, they let some things slip through. For example, Flying Ghost Ship, an anime from 1967, was officially approved for unlimited distribution. My mother belonged to a special movie club, located at a semi-closed scientific base, which managed to show Disney’s Fantasia and 1936 King Kong. So I actually watched all 3 versions of the latter. The club weren’t hiding all that much, but were getting away with it because of the locale.

AKB0048 begins

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Having seen 3 episodes, I know how Nova deceived me, and I know why he did it. It’s all right.

There are many ways to love AKB0048. One is to look at the manual and agree with J.P.: “how can anyone hate a show with micsabers, ita-mecha, cylume claws, and ak-48s?” (he forgot the ghost octopii). Another is to be a fan of AKB48. And many more. Not being big on kitsch nor a fan of 3D, I’ll have to invent my own.

Characters work to carry the anime for me thus far. Nagisa, of course. But even comic reliefs like Sonata and Mikoto, and thin expositions of the active members and Tsubasa. I love them all. That is the main thing.

As far as things going down wrong, their names are a legion. The 3D is plain ugly and loses to iM@S game by a mile – as played by consumer equipment. The butt-wiggle was amusing, but otherwise – not good. The world creation is questionable (even if Otou-san managed to select perhaps exactly 1 right thing to challenge). Worse, it’s derivative. How many anime have you seen where an industrial city has a hole in the middle? Castle Laputa, Escaflowne? I was told that similarity with Macross Frontier as striking as well. I suppose an argument can be made how cliches are there to create a comfortable familiarity, but still, maybe just a bit of a personal touch, please.

But it is all immaterial. I just want to “spend time” with Nagisa and Co., to borrow from SDB (can’t find a link, sorry).

P.S. Look at Nagisa at the lead picture above. Look at her, goddamit. This is the top idol material in the way Haruka (Amami) never was, not even when she beat Miki to the play lead.

Kanata and Chieri in AKB0048 04

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

The title may grace an A&V editorial — there’s so much material in that little episode — but actually I only have time to note that I did not understand what transpired at all. To me it looked like this:

  1. Dance practice is ongoing; the instructor interrupts it.
  2. Instructor singles out Kanata for pointy criticism, especially in view of her belonging to the 75th, so more is expected from her.
  3. Instructor orders Kanata and Chieri to swap places, with Chieri going to the front row.
  4. Kanata throws a tantrum over her demotion.
  5. Chieri asks to be excused from the swap, under the excuse of needing to see 75th in front because she is not yet entirely familiar with the routine.
  6. Kanata runs away in histery; The 77th blame Chieri and express their disapproval to her.

What has just happened? Why is this Chieri’s fault by unanimous agreement? It makes no sense! (Also, what did they expect her to do? Swap quietly?)

And they say that Russian soul is mysterious. Hah!

In the days past I would rewatch the raw, transcribe, translate, and refer to other blogs to get the sense. But now I have no time. Maybe later.

UPDATE: Kotaro-Robert Miyahara suggested that the house went down when Chieri said “私は入ったばかりです。何も分からない。だから、先輩にしっかりしてもらわないと困ります。”. Okay, and…? I need a closer look.

Kurogane e-mailed:

That part relates back to the Asian concept of ‘face’.

When the instructor told Kanata to change positions with Chieri, he was implying that Chieri’s a lot better than her… which is pretty embarassing since she’s been there for two years and having someone who just joined two WEEKS before to replace her totally ruins that ‘face’.

Well, that’s bad enough already, but Chieri’s refusal to swap positions would have been ‘saving face’ if she rejected it outright, but she just HAD to add the “I just only joined recently..” line [The one Robert-Kotaro highlighted above — Author], which was indirectly telling Kanata that she sucked.

Basically, the part about ‘setting an example as a senior’ is usually understood implicitly when you join any organization or class like that, so when you state it outright at a situation like that, it’s pretty much a direct jab at the person. Chieri’s saying that she was expecting her to set the example in that situation (dance lessons) but instead Kanata is going ahead to argue with the instructor and totally ruining the class.

I do agree with her mostly, but in situations like this, the nail that sticks out pretty much holds all the blame. It’s really an Asian thing, and unless you are born as one or lived in the culture for a long period of time, it’s a little hard to get the nuances to actions like this.

Subtitles God-Sent For Blogs

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Kuro reminded me about something: Anglophone blogs have a great advantage over Japanese anime blogs[0]: subtitled screencaps! These things add a good deal of expression or sometimes a tongue-in-cheek call-out, playing off the way readers reconstruct the material[1]. How about this one, from AKB0048, which I was saving for a retrospective post:

Pretty cute, isn’t it? The context for the quote is AKB0048 member lecturing her understudies on the importance of physical conditioning. But Kuro came up with the best one in years[2]:

For those unfamiliar with the setting, they are linked of “cabled” and the words are transmitted mind-to-mind. Yes, it’s Mr. Porky in the background. Look at the Chiyuri’s eye!

[0] Aside from subtitles, what I saw about Japanese blogs in general is rather horrifying. Some explain it with the competition from 2ch. If anyone knows any good Japanese anime blogs, please let me know. I only follow Moero Amazon, and good as she is, Aira is apparently unfamiliar with a cocept of hyperlink.

[1] See also the famous ad for Canal+ where incorrect reconstruction is the main point of the video.

[2] Of course, the creators came up with it first, but how do you capture it in the raw?! A clip on Youtube is nowhere as effective.

Run-list for 2012 Summer

Monday, July 16th, 2012

I read the “in-progress” lists with a certain interest if the descriptions are short. Steven and Chris do it about right. At Ani-nouto, these things are uncommon, because I prefer to lag the season. For example, AKB0048 is the most fascinating series in the current run list. I want to marathon it badly, but I put brakes on it on purpose. Otherwise I would catch up quickly, and waiting is just no fun. Also, I’d be invested into a possible bad ending without a freedom to maneuver shows. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to batch. And then, I only run one or two shows at once. Following broadcast makes the watchlist swell.

Running (not had that many in months!):

  • AKB0048: Seen 5. It’s great, everyone is great. Chieri is not overpowering or nasty, Nagisa is not whiny or clumsy. It’s like Miki Hoshii and Haruka Amami, remember those? Only instead of P-san, they fight for the love of the ghost octopus. The shadow of the real AKB48 is not as opressing as I expected. Omo threw off a comment about Oba Nobuna: “It doesn’t matter if you’ve taken an interest in the gender-flipping historical-re-enactment genre or not, good show is good.” It applies here fully as well.
  • Mysterious Girlfriend X / Nazo no Kanojo X: Seen 6. This is starting to get good when it was demonstrated that all-knowing Urabe is only human. I know that it ends in a no-ending, but I’m gobbing it up. It’s a wonderful love story for teenagers of all ages.
  • Tari Tari: Seen 1, on “free” legal streaming. PA Works batted it out of the park (is this what they say? hope the spirit of Evirus forgives me). It remains to be seen how well they follow up, but so far the only concern is that one of the characters, Sawa, may come dominate the proceedings. She is that much better than the rest of the 2+3 group, and she’s not the notional leader even.
  • Joshiraku: Seen 2. Basically the same as Kill Me Baby, only funnier and vastly more educational.
  • Oba Nobuna: Seen 0. Supposedly it’s one of “strong servant protagonist” versions, and we’re not to be served the whiny passive-aggresstive of Saito of ZnT. But we’ll see.

Recent postponements:

  • Sankarea: Seen 0. Supposed to be a cute undead; Aroduc says that “Rea’s father sucks”, whatever that means. This is probably a sight-unseen cancellation in fact.
  • Accel World: Seen 3. For a shounen, it’s quite good. But for my anime, the pace is uneven, characters are oddly constructed and their backgrounds appear poorly thought out. Actually, it’s possible that more thought was given to those than to backgrounds of AKB0048 understudies, but the emphasis on their motivations is too great for their depths. Porky is no Naruto, truly. I think I should drag it along for 3 more episodes for the arc to complete, then drop.
  • Chihayafuru: Seen 5. It was not Nodame, alas. Masterpiece of a sports anime, maybe. Animation is astonishing. But the story background is so stilted, I could not stand it. Also, everyone in the show is a bit unpleasant, even our muda-bijin Chihaya. Suspending, because it looks too masterpiec-y to drop outright and did not peeve me enough like Denno Coil.
  • Mouretsu Uchuu Kaizoku: Seen 6.5. Marika’s bad day in the office did me in. I thought it would be a fun series to see with other bloggers, like the original Dog Days, but actually it’s a torture of uncomfortable and uninteresting. Also, Tatsuo Sato is losing it. He was not afraid of romance in Shingu, was he? This is a de-facto cancellation. Really did not want to cancel, so maybe one day… I know that ending was okay.
  • Dog Days Dash (as DiGi reminds us, there’s a serviceable pronounceation): Seen 1. Well, what can I say… Just not feeling it. It’s like K-ON2. That was a great anime on the merits, too, but it was only too obvious that it was a derivative. Saving for a rainy day.

Recent cancellations:

  • Shining Hearts: Seen 6. Everything about it is awful, the story is most of all. The art is supposed to be beautiful, but it’s not, absolutely not. People just have no taste, I guess. Steven tried to entice me with Rouna’s chest. Seriously! Do I look like a furry?

UPDATE: Omo on Summer 2012.

UPDATE: Zyl, too. Note the injection of interest into the pirate show:

Mouretsu Pirates was an odd kind of series for me because there wasn’t that much pirating. Or bodaciousness either. Until I read somewhere (likely via Ani-Nouto but I can’t remember) that the director wanted this series to be about how someone decides to be a leader. Marika has talent, luck, support etc. But what fascinates me most about her is her overwhelming need to be free, to be herself. The two flashes of her closely guarded inner self – the only time she calls Ririka “Mom” after the first Yacht Club cruise and allowing herself a small smile when Chiaki says she believes in her – accentuate her indomitable, independent streak.

Emphasis mine.

Bloggers on middle AKB0048

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

I was not particularly attentive to efforts of episoders back when AKB0048 was in its middle. Now I am reaping the problem by not having a whole lot of interesting stuff to reblog. It’s made worse by high-brow bloggers tending to show their worst or at least overthink it. The Paper made me roll my eyes so hard for seeing everything through the prism of gender. I bet she eats her gendered cereal with a gendered spoon. Schneider made me roll my eyes a little over painstaking picking-over of Sae vs. Megumi and coloring with his intrinsic nasty.

AJ The 4th used the Shoji Kawamori link with a decent success. The question of the same songs repeated also bears pondering. I mean, how often do you hear the 60-year-old Irving Berlin’s “I’m Dreaming Of A White Christmas” nowadays… Jokes aside, the impact of alien entertainment under the ban is certainly different. Just can’t imagine ban planets supplying AKB0048 much revenue. So, who knows, maybe it’s considered something akin to Olympics: challenges are the same, competitors change. The little fan of Orine promised to buy Orine’s card, not a moldy AKB48 record!

In the end, Fencedude was most reliable, and the retellings were easy to skip (Why do they even bother transcrabing episode events in the first place? Every episoder does it: Omni did, too.). Here’s his Sae vs. Megumi:

Sae is Youko, a member of the 76th Generation, and it seems she was very close to Megumi. Megu clearly does not see Youko as Sae, and probably never has, even at the end, when she called her “Sae-san”, she was just trying to bury the pain she’s feeling.

That’s the kind of reflection I wish was more popular. There was some personal touch to it, as well. And in 07, I had certain misgivings about the Peace Mission, too.

P.S. Did anyone notice that Sae has a personal relationship with a hardcore fan of hers?

AKB0048 01-08 Q and WMG

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

I tried to blog the titular notes back when Ani-nouto started, but it wasn’t very successful, IMHO: the material was too transient. Two years down the road nobody is going to care about small plot twists in an anime; at most they’ll like to know if it were any good, and why, in a capsule summary. But reading Fencedude predicting the outcome of Peace Ceremony was fun enough that I’m going to dump a few of them now. Enjoy! Snicker if you know how wrong I was (13 was shown less than 24 hours ago).

Good anime cannot be spoiled, but beware of hard spoilers, yada yada.

Mayuyu. She is either a cyborg, or a robot (android). If she’s a ‘droid, we now have robots that can emit aura. Otherwise Kirara would not react to her. I did not pay attention to her concert performance, so I am not sure if she emits the aura, but apparently one cannot succeed without Succession Kirara giving a nod. From spoilers that I have, this may be problematic: why bother with idols if you can make robots? Unless, of course, the secret of Mayuyu’s technology is hidden well and cannot be independently discovered. But we seem to be getting too deep. It is easier to presume that she’s a cyborg, in which case she has a soul and aura is not an issue. But the creators saw fit to give her cool, robot-like demeanor and strange behaviors, patterned after an emotionless robot girl model. Why? What did they mean by that?

The robotic behavior could be patterned after the original Mayu. I’m wondering if she is (was) (in)famous in AKB48 for such quirk. What did fans think of her?

Speaking of real AKB48 members: they never voice their own successors. In theory, this can change, but even so the openings are very narrow. According to ANN (I know I should do better but… OTZ), we only have two theoretical cases:

  • Mayuyu Watanabe, voices Chieri (!)
  • Sayaka Nakaya, voices Orine

There is no Karen among members. Although some names are kept in reserve, like Sachiko and Paruru, I do not recall her mentioned. Therefore I find it unlikely that Nagusa will succeed Karen Iwata. As for Chieri succeeding Mayuyu, that’s out of the question! Although they are cold enough for match outside, it’s the inside that matters. Also, I’m sure Chieri is destined for a greater succession than Mayuyu. Well, unless it turns out that she was majorly augmented all this time, thanks to dad.

Orine can still succeed Sayaka, but that is the only case among the whole set. Why is that? Why don’t they want to exploit it? Worse, a large possibility exists when members have to voice successors of other members in the future seasons.

Mysterious redhead of 4 years ago. Who was she? She looked like Kanata, who, as we know is angling to succeed TakaMina (but is not going to live long enough). Kanata is 75th, so it’s absolutely out of question for her to participate. Not to mention that she launched in combat for the 1st time in 08.

Naota. The only fan recognized by an idol, member of WOTA. You know, if groupies in our world would literally protect and save lives of stars (and vice-versa), it would probably change some of the dynamics. Anyway, so far I have no idea how special Naota’s relationship with Sae is, but we weren’t shown much. It could be routine. The question is, do we have a death flag?

What has happened to the DES battleship after TakaMina went out of commission?