So a couple months back as I had been part of the recording of the fall season previews for the Friday Anime Podcast an idea was born out of pure stupidity. Kelloggs, who was also a part of this had regaled us for a while of stories about getting unusual people to watch harem anime. The end result of this was a set of rules for consuming alcohol to a bunch of harem tropes. While keeping in mind that this was built with To-Love Ru: Darkness in mind, Kelloggs, Aeroblip and I were set to try this on Hagure Yuusha no Aesthetica. Plans were made, then Kelloggs had other stuff to do. So in a moment of stupidity, and because it’s my most popular post on the blog, I suggested trying it out on the first episode of Ladies versus Butlers. Not the greatest idea.
As I’ve covered the last two years, I tend to read manga that is pretty terrible and shouldn’t really exist. I don’t feel bad for doing it even though I am bad for it and should feel bad. I can’t help but think that it was still a pretty good year regardless from the manga that I do read, though without a doubt you will not think for one second to pick up any of these.
There are any number of shows that I really do want to watch, but for some reason I never get around to watching. These shows are invariably terrible, but there’s just something that draws me in, but not quite.
1. Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere
2. Golden Boy
3. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
4. Evangelion 2.0 (I actually have a copy that has been sitting unwatched on a bookshelf for almost 2 years)
7. Log Horizon
8. Yuruyuri Season 2
9. One Outs
10. Aria the Animation
11. Code Geass R2
13. Getting Hit By a Car: The Animation
14. Kill La Kill
15. Space Dandy
Last year as part of this series, I ran a post where I decided to write about the experience of watching as many random shows as possible in a single day until I felt burned out. So once again I will be using a random number generator to go through the catalogue of a certain large streaming site where the number of available series has increased significantly over the past year. Instead of 269 to choose from it is now 478. That number will actually be fewer that that since I will not be watching anything I have already completed, and I will be picking up from the last episode after dropping it. I’m going to need a bit of help getting back after this.
The 5th of June 2002, early morning Central Time, watching a sporting event half a world away more in hope than anything else. I was on summer break from school at that point so I could afford to be awake at whatever time I wanted. The event I was watching was the United States versus Portugal match to open group play at the World Cup from Suwon, South Korea. While it’s nice enough to talk about that particular match in the context of the result and how it came to pass, I’m going to take a different angle on this.
It’s been over 12 and a half years since the match was played. Of the 28 players who took part in it, only 2 can still be considered professional players. This particular post is inspired by the 2nd youngest player that day one Landon Donovan. At the time of the tournament he was pretty much unknown to me. He had burned out at German club Bayer Leverkusen before returning to the States in ignominy and San Jose Earthquakes were basically not on my radar. Yet he had so much promise with that shrug of his after his cross was turned in for an own goal in that Portugal match. Here was the future of the national team, his age would ensure that he would be around for at least the 2014 World Cup and 2018 at a push. To think that the lasting impression of him at a World Cup would be this moment four years ago:
Now that his career is presumably over, I think I want to talk about how we as a culture can fail to take into account the emotions of public figures. After that first World Cup, there were visions that he could become that world class player that would play for massive clubs. Then as time passed, he became known as soft, misunderstood, Landycakes, not willing to put in effort and probably the worst thing that could be said in some circles, content to be in his comfort zone.
At the end of the 2012 MLS season, he went on a sabbatical from playing. He embarked on a world tour just to do whatever he wanted to do for a few months without having to worry about being a professional athlete. Among the things he did was play another game barefoot in Cambodia with a group of locals. I think I started to understand him at least a little. He wanted to play the game because it was fun and not because it was a job. Even well paid people can hate their jobs too because it can sometimes be all that they know how to do.
The best example of this I could find in anime this year was in Nourin. That is a show about an idol who retires after really finding that she lacked passion for being an idol. She goes to attend a school in the countryside that is about as far away from the popular idol lifestyle as possible. By the end, she finds herself caring about crops and the small group of friends she makes at the school more than she ever really cared about the mass of idol fans. Sometimes it just takes a little time away to realize what a person really is. I think that’s something we as a society could definitely do better.
There’s a stereotype out there that if one blogs about anime they will eventually come to hate that which they watch. Paradoxically, this also makes them more popular with readers. Now I have been doing this blogging thing off-and-on for more than six years now and I can’t really say I’ve come to hate it any more than I did at the start. Does that also explain my perpetual lack of readership to this blog more than anything else?
Writing about any sort of visual medium tends to break down into three different types in my opinion. First is the completely neutral factual approach. That would be taking the Wikipedia approach and saying something like “Sora no Method was created and written by Hisaya Naoki who also worked on Kanon while at Key.” Nothing controversial about that style, but it’s probably the most useful in general. Second is more of a constructive criticism approach along the lines of “Sora no Method is written by Hisaya Naoki and while promising at the beginning fails to live up to the standard of his past works.” That’s pretty straightforward as well, but it can seem a little too forgiving of a series where a reader might be looking for a black or white opinion. Finally, there’s the full on advocacy/hatred angle which would look like “Sora no Method is yet another fantastic show from former Key writer Hisaya Naoki that will appeal to everyone who has taste/Sora no Method is yet another crap work written by Hisaya Naoki since he learned from Satan incarnate Maeda Jun.” That last approach will appeal to a larger audience than any of the others for the simplicity. It also does not make it any less valid a way of making a point either. If a writer loves/hates/is mixed about a show, they can go whatever direction they want.
So when it comes to shows that have been covered by myself over the years, I’ve been largely neutral with a few exceptions. For instance, when I wrote about Koichoco a few years back, I really did not like the show by the end of it. I really wanted it to be better the whole time, but it let me down. I still felt that the experience of watching it and the fun challenge I had in writing one particular post left me feeling that I was a better viewer for having watched it. So I hedged a bit on the opinion and probably felt that I didn’t convey my thoughts on the whole show with a sufficient edge to reflect how much I did not like it after all.
To conclude this particular post, I will just answer my own questions. Do anime bloggers hate the anime they watch? A good number do and probably feel pressure to continue watching those shows because they get the most views/comments from readers. Does that make them more popular because they hate them? I would argue instead that they are better able to reflect an opinion that many people hold, so it draws readers to them. Does my lack of loving/hating certain anime make me less popular? It clearly does not since while I can start writing hate posts about Kill La Kill or Space Dandy all I want, my opinion does not hold much weight, nor am I really putting that much work into expressing a contrary opinion.
I’m a person who is generally in two different camps of fandom. For most people in the anime group, I think that ends up being anime and some form of gaming. For me seeing as the title of this blog is Lower Mid-Table, that has always been anime and football of the association variety. (Note: I generally just call it football on my own, but I let context of conversation determine whether I go for soccer or not. I’m not against calling it soccer by any means.) I’m going to date myself very heavily here and say that I really started getting into it around the turn of the millennium.
One of the things that really makes someone get into this particular sport is to pick a team. The English Premier League was about the only league that even had a highlights package airing in the US at the time, while MLS games at the time were played in sparsely attended giant stadiums with the exception of Columbus. With newly-promoted Ipswich Town putting up a challenge for a Champions League place in 2000-01, they seemed like a fun team to choose. How I sometimes wish I had chosen differently!
What followed the next season was a few rounds in the then UEFA Cup, getting knocked out by Inter Milan, and ending the season in the bottom three. But you know what, I was invested in this fandom enough to want to really be involved anyway. Reading about winning the title in the club’s first ever season in the top flight, the FA and UEFA Cup wins, even being on the wrong end of the biggest defeat in the Premier League were facts I had to absorb.
All in all, it’s proven to be a decent conversation starter with people I’ve met from or in the UK, or why there would be a person at an anime convention wearing an Ipswich Town shirt. As the sport has become more popular over here, it’s become much easier to talk about with every day people. Being supported by major broadcasters at times of the day when people are normally wake helps with that thing. The only point of embarrassment that comes from talking about my own fandom is mentioning that the club I support has been stuck in the second tier for 13 years and having to explain promotion and relegation to some groups of new American supporters of clubs that will never be in danger of not playing in the Premier League.
In contrast, there’s anime fandom. One must always suppress power levels or whatever that bullshit is called. At least in the US, I would safely say that more people watch some anime than watch any soccer. Yet, the idea of liking it has this perception that it must be carefully revealed only to other fans. There’s at least 2.5% of the population here that is staying up late on Saturday nights to watch, but it seems to be stuck in only willing to be underground.
I say all of this because I really just want to be able to express who I really am in public. I don’t think the consequences of doing so will be terrible other than possibly losing my job, but even if that wasn’t a problem I probably would keep it hidden. It shouldn’t just be a realm of socially isolated college students and dicks who harass people on Twitter. I would like it more mainstream, that’s all.
As some of you may know, I am pursuing a mission of watching as many new shows as I can this season to completion with the allowance of one dropped show (that I’ve already used). I got a question on Twitter yesterday in reference to the fact that I was still continuing to watch Imocho. While I find that show that uses the initial perversion to draw viewers in to a rather tame story of acceptance, it seems that it has been deemed the terrible show of the season that no one should be watching. Thus began a deep journey into what is the point of what I am trying to accomplish this season.
2013 was definitely a show filled with many shows of assorted variety. It probably says a lot that I can think of tons of shows of appalling quality yet struggle to come up with more than one show that I genuinely loved. Anyway, let’s rank these things and move on with out lives in 2014 because that’s truly for the better.
In January when I was still watching Space Brothers, there was an event I knew was going to happen from watching the live action movie last year. Hibito did end up crashing the lunar rover into a massive crevasse. What happened with the next few episodes was the series at its very best. The dumb light moments were gone for that span and it was replaced with a drama where the threat felt real. Hibito did get out of that situation, barely, but the scars would last. The conclusion of that arc later took a hit in my mind when I found out the inspiration for the astronaut figure left on the moon. After that, the old Space Brothers returned and I could no longer enjoy it in the same way.
Sometimes the best insight into characters can come at the most surprising times. When the Neighbors Club took a shopping trip there were the usual antics that come with a harem comedy. In the middle of this was a conversation at a coffee shop between Sena and Kodaka where we learn more about the latter than all previous episodes prior. It’s brief, but we learn that he has a massive inferiority complex. He doesn’t feel that he deserves to be loved by anyone and at that point it’s obvious that he is willfully ignoring the feelings of the girls around him. This conversation really marked the transition of the series from one about girls falling in love with Kodaka to a show about helping him find his confidence.
While this show disappointingly ended with Hero subjected to Female Knight and Demon King shoving their chests into his face, there were moments of genuine quality in Maoyuu. Having taken Crimson Scholar’s place in being subjected to public execution, Older Maid Sister gave a speech that wasn’t so much a call for her own safety as much as a call to destroy the existing order that was drawn from her own experience of being taken in by Demon King. Even as she is being beaten her will shines through and she will not have her spirit crushed.
The spring season opened with a 2nd show involving a demon king only this time they ended up in modern Japan. There wasn’t much glossing over what happened on Maou and Ashiya’s arrival though. Here were two foreigners who did not speak the language trying to figure out a way to make some money and find a place to live. Their social support network consists of just the two of them and their mysterious landlord Miki. A long struggle to survive in low-wage hell looked set to begin.
Yuyushiki is at it’s heart a show about 3 cute girls doing cute things as friends. Their club activities fittingly involve looking things up on the internet revolving around a theme of the day they come up with on their own. The moment I think that best summed this up took place in the 7th episode. When talking about Yuzuko’s unusual eye color she ended up coming across a Wikipedia article for the protein that sends information from the eyes to the brain. Yes, Pikachurin. In this show of many tangents, a discussion that begins with cat’s eyes concludes with speculation on the gender of the children a scientist has. That’s Yuyushiki research in a nutshell right there.
It’s not much of a stretch to say that Muromi-san isn’t exactly heavy in social commentary. What little there is is run through the character of Otohime the former business owner under the sea who has to work in a fishing shop. The episode is about much more than that though. There’s the convenience store worker who had dreams of his own, but with his girlfriend now pregnant those dreams may be permanently on hold. Otohime herself is looking to stand on her own terms after she lost her business, but it doesn’t look like that is happening. Her frequent fights with Muromi always seemed to be about how Otohime had fallen, but this episode revealed that they were really a frustration with how things change. Life can’t simply go back to how it was before the economy tanked. The episode ends fittingly with an all-night drinking session outside of the convenience store talking about business in an unstable economy.
C3-bu ended up turning into a sort of gunsoft version of Rambo when the protagonist Yura was questioning why gunsoft didn’t love her as much as she loved it. Early on in a quest to improve her skills the club goes to a temple and sets Yura a goal of being able to shoot a single 5-yen coin from across an archery range. After failing for the day and having left her gun at the temple, Yura returns and enters one of her vivid delusions. The next day she returns and imagines herself in the middle of an ancient battle and fires a shot through an incoming arrow. Did it really happen? Was Rento also sucked into Yura’s imagination? Or did she simply shoot into the hole of the 5-yen coin?
Having saved his friends from Kokabiel in the last episode through force of will, Issei and the rest of the Occult Research Club embarked on a more pedestrian mission; cleaning the school’s pool. The feelings of those around him had swung fully in his direction. When even Yuuto is confessing his feelings for him, you knew Issei was in the form of his life. So when he had to have more of his dragon energy sucked out of him by Akeno, the audience was in for a show.
Having wrapped up the series proper, Kiniro Mosaic started a take on chuunibyou and ended up turning it into a short musical number. Going completely off-script in the adaptation happened to yield the best of this series. The musical number relied on being interested in these characters and their idiosyncrasies, but the case could be made that the musical number could stand on its own. I’d be interested to see if anyone who did not watch any of Kinmoza would understand the musical bit.
For a high-concept harem comedy about a character who is forced into making ridiculous choices, the opening scene is one of the most ambitious narratives of the year. They try to tell history as a series of choices made by people who would go on to be famous for those decisions. Unfortunately, it’s hardly a successful story as it drags on for far too long and it is followed up by Furano, Ouka and Kanade being involved in dirty jokes. Failed ambition is better than not even trying.
There were hints of this in the opening episode that the relationship between Setsuna, Kazusa and Haruki would hit its peak. The concert’s three songs sum up the series perfectly. The first was the song that brought them together, the second was a dialogue between Kazusa and Setsuna about romantic conflict and the third was about love lost. The performance captures everything that made this series the surprise of 2013.
Outbreak Company was one of the better shows this year with its attempts to portray a divided society and in the final episodes the attention turned to the Japanese government and the place of otaku in society. Imports of anime and manga were restricted early on in the 11th episode. It became clear that this was the dark side of trying to spread culture. Matoba revealed that it was all a plot to have the people learn Japanese and to become more interested in anime and manga than developing their own culture. When Shinichi learns of this he and Minori become expendable because they do live on their own. Ultimately, he uses the ties that he has forged in his new land to get protection after he tells Petrarca they should make their own anime, manga and light novels. That was a potentially dangerous thing to do.
For ideal reading experience please play the embedded Soundcloud clip:
Think about that for a minute. There are just so many things that can be said about the mayor of Toronto in title only. I will just let this list of stories do the narrative work for me.
I literally took one headline per week in constructing all of that above. There was no shortage of headlines to pick from most weeks. I even had to leave all the stuff about his being stripped of powers by the city council because of the other stuff he was doing at that time. Anyway, I have to give a special thanks to this post to Tim whose Twitter bio was the inspiration for the title of this post. He also does great work in making the politics of North America’s 5th-largest city as funny as they are.
This was a strange year for the fact that there were three series with a very strange common element. Yes, judging by the title of this post, they all have to do with demon kings venturing over to a different world and having to deal with the economic consequences of their actions. Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, Hataraku Maou-sama and Yuushibu deal with this concept in different ways even as they are filled with light-hearted moments throughout. For the purpose of this post, I’ve decided to evaluate them on how deeply they get into the realm of economics.
At the beginning of the fall, players everywhere prepare for the epic contest that is Fantasy Football. In the quest to choose the best players to build a title contender, there are many hours spent researching who will succeed and who will fail with late round draft picks. That’s generally what happens with fantasy football leagues. But, what would happen if you made things different and rewarded failure?
You basically get a draft like you do on the right here. Brandon Weeden first overall didn’t quite pan out as planned, with him suffering injuries and being replaced by Jason Campbell.
The actual fun part of participating in this league had to do with the scoring. 25 points for interceptions run back for touchdowns will do that. Cheering for interceptions to be run back against your own team does have a downside though. It’s much easier when your own team sucks than if they are competitive.
Also, it goes without saying that it actually turned into a mutual love fest on the weekly calls admiring the bad quarterbacking throughout the league. When Matt Schaub was on his historic run of interceptions returned for touchdowns, it was like the Chicago Bulls run of NBA titles.
Blaine Gabbert started only 3 games this season and averaged over 50 points a start. This would make him the Wilt Chamberlain of the Bad Football League. However, no one would be able to stop the rookie bad quarterbacking sensation Geno Smith. The Jets quarterback leads the league in interceptions and is the joint leader in interceptions run back for a touchdown.
Those weekly calls are really the big reason I participate in ventures like this. They provide a seemingly endless source of fun on my Sundays. It doesn’t matter if we discuss the state of our respective fantasy football teams or the latest anime that we have watched (This is a group of anime fans after all) or how Linda from Golden Time is the worst human ever if she really existed.
While basking in the glorious failure of well compensated athletes paid to throws an oblong leather object can be fun. I can safely say that it’s really about the community involved in doing so. Mainly, I need to do more stuff like this in the future.
I probably don’t talk about the manga I read as much as I should on this blog. I do read much more than the average person on MyAnimeList.That would be 63 different manga at the time of this post being written. Almost all of them seem to fall into the realm of unlicensable, borderline eromanga . That said, I do believe there is some quality in that list that I’m going to use this post to highlight.
With the advent of the next generation consoles complete, it is now possible to more easily stream gameplay and commentary to audiences on sites like Twitch or Ustream. I bring this up because it’s very much relevant to the history of this blog and my social presence on the internet in general. Mainly, it’s impossible popularity to be attained when the potential pool grows beyond a certain size.
Earlier this year, I had tried briefly to stream some gameplay of a game I owned on Steam on the Twitch channel that I had set up. No viewers at the time and that didn’t really matter because who really wants to see me fail at Surgeon Simulator 2013? Fast forward to last month and with it now being easy to use to both view and stream on a new console. The end result. No viewers and my being left wondering what the hell the point of the new technology is.
The way I see it is that it will be much more common. I’m not alone in thinking that.
There is an inherent advantage that those who have built up an audience have. They have the networks to publicize their work playing games and even to get paid money to do that. I don’t see anime blogging ever getting to that point since the audience simply isn’t there to enable that, but the fact of the matter is that those who are able to first leverage technology get the full benefits from it. It’s completely just that it is that way. So best of luck to those trying to pull in an audience streaming on your PS4 or XBox One in the near future. Try to keep it small and social. It’s better that way.
I had this idea before when I went through all of the dropped anime I had to find whether I would watch the next episode and actually like it. This post shall imbibe some of the holiday spirits and expand on that even further by including even those shows that I dropped. Streaming anime makes ideas like this possible, whether that is a good thing for one’s health and sanity will be found out below. The following is my day of randomized anime sampling.
This isn’t a post intended to raise debate. The answers have already been settled. These are the best, acceptable and worst girls from harem anime this year, objectively.
In the last couple of spring and fall seasons, Fantasy Anime League has taken place on MAL. While some people out there take this deadly seriously or devote entire pages of coverage to how they are doing in that particular edition, I haven’t much talked about my own entries into the competition. That’s because I enter each time without any sort of clue what the hell I’m doing.
During the course of a normal year watching anime, I drop a lot of shows. It ends up being about 9 out of every 20 from my reckoning. That said, I make many, many mistakes in the eyes of my readers, followers on twitter, or people who even think of the name Emperor J. That includes those who have lived in mountain monasteries their entire lives and have no concept of blogging in their minds. So to further their confirmation bias of my taste, I present to you the list of my worst drops as rated by MAL and other comments throughout the year.
When Wooser aired last year, I pretty much dropped it immediately and dismissed it as poorly executed perverted comedy on the basis of just a single episode. It wasn’t until recently that I went back and marathoned the series in a single hour. Honestly, though I can’t say that I revisited solely on the basis of curiosity or because some random number generator told me I should. Actually it was more moments like this:
That’s right, the first episode of Senyuu featured Wooser playing with a hula-hoop as one of the prospective heroes. Alright, so the perverted mascot character makes a special appearance in another short anime that was hinted at in the final episode of his own show. That alone wouldn’t be enough for me to be interested. No, he would have to make a guest appearance in a post-apocalyptic show to really do so.
And here’s Wooser making his grand appearance in Miss Monochrome. So in this scene he was locked out of the mascot character festival as the Nendroid version of Miss Monochrome took center stage. While that’s awful luck for everyone involved; Wooser losing popularity as Miss Monochrome only became popular as a Nendroid rather than an idol, that wouldn’t be enough for me would it.
Well what do you know, Miss Monochrome is a post-apocalyptic anime. At least it’s more realistic than Coppelion. So I went ahead and gave Wooser another chance. It was pretty good for the short format if woefully inconsistent. The 2nd season begins airing in January.
In May of this year, Gibraltar became the 54th member of UEFA after over a decade of Spanish protest. I don’t intend to get into the politics of Gibraltarian sovereignty, treaties signed over 300 years ago, European law regarding its border with Spain or the domestic politics involved in the current standoff. No, instead this is about Football Manager and the costs of cheating at a game that is a series of spreadsheets.
Infinite Stratos at its best is a whimsical harem series with a bland protagonist who comes good in spots and the real focus is on the girls who have affection for him. This formula worked well enough in the first season for the fact that it kept the story and character development as simple as possible. With enough demand for more IS, a second season was ordered up and ready to go into one of the most packed seasons in recent memory. I wouldn’t be the first person to say that it has been a disappointment even by the first season’s low standards, but why did it have to be this way?
Katsuragi Keima for most of the time I knew his existence as a character from The World God Only Knows‘s universe was a fairly average harem lead noted for his lack of affection for any other human beings. He viewed people very much like characters in the visual novels he played; either they were characters he had to conquer and pursue down their various routes or they were simply mob characters that could safely be ignored most of the time. This served him quite well in his job helping Elsie capture loose spirits that inhabited girls with gaps in their hearts since he could follow them. There was still a big question the remained with this approach. What would Keima do if he found himself affecting a girl’s genuine feelings?
The Yamakan vehicle Senyuu.can be seen as one of the latest examples of the short five minute (or less) comedies series that have become more prominent in the last year or two. The names of these shows typically last as long in the memory as the episodes themselves. Recorder to Randoseru and Teekyuu are in or will have third seasons airing by the end of the year. On the other side there are examples like Ai Mai Mi, Boku no Imouto wa “Osaka Okan”, Haitai Nanafa, Mangirl! and Sparrow’s Hotel that throw jokes at the wall for 2-3 minutes straight hoping something sticks, and in many cases are more well known for having microscopic budgets. Then there is also the rarer examples of light-hearted storytelling like Aiura and Yama no Susume, which are more short-form school life series than anything. So what makes Senyuu. special?
If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying. – Mark Grace
The critical moment in the 8th episode of C³-bu comes when the protagonist of the series, Yura, reacts to being struck by a stray shot from a member of the Meisei team by continuing to fight and winning the battle and tournament for her team. The nature of the victory represents a pivotal moment in the development of her character going forward, but how does it reflect human nature in this circumstance? Additionally, what can we learn about Yura as a character in figuring out why she acted the way she did?