Back in late-August/early-September (the International Date Line messes with things), I finally did the journey to Japan that a lot of people would like to do. I committed to do this a year from the day this post goes up after I got some encouragement from my mother who is no longer with us. Even several months later my feelings on the trip overall are mixed basically because of one fact, the longest conversation I had with any single individual while I was there lasted 45 seconds. (The 2nd longest was probably the guy at customs welcoming me into Japan at 25 seconds.)
Like Peeping Life that would air late in the year, Tesagure! Bukatsumono had a third season that was the first to be broadcast to a larger audience. The show itself is part of a trend of series that are really little more than voice actresses engaging in normal conversation only they do so in character. What makes shows like this work is the ability to allow the audience in to their inside jokes and references and use them at a later time. Also, referring to another voice actresses in the context that they are voice actresses works well too.
It’s rather cliche at this point to watch an anime after reading the manga and come out disappointed with the former. Last year it was Trinity Seven which I was slightly hyped up for and the adaptation was so bad that I sort of gave up on the manga too. This year’s play on that theme is Jitsu wa Watashi wa… a manga about a bunch of supernatural idiots that are in a romantic harem comedy.
Originally a Youtube sketch comedy short series, Peeping Life made its first full-length TV series appearance this past season. Using CG rendered characters and characters from various Tatsunoko Pro series of the past, along with some originals, this series was something different from pretty much anything else this year. If anything, it at least had the best opening animation of the year.
Last week it was a certain mangaka’s birthday. Okayado is best known for being the creator of Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou, a series that has a surprising level of popularity outside of Japan compared to inside. At least to the point where foreigners on Twitter were expressing their birthday messages before anyone in Japan.
The following is a list of series that I have not finished (mostly not started) this year. Any inconsistencies in titles are completely intentional because that’s not really the point.
- Absolute Duo
- Akagami no Shirayuki-hime
- Ame-iro Cocoa
- Arslan Senki
- Assassination Classroom
- Chaos Dragon
- Concrete Revolutio
- Dance with Devils
- Death Parade
- Denpa Kyoushi
- The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan
- Doamaiger D
- Ghost in the Shell: Arise
- Heavy Object
- Hidan no Aria AA
- Joukamachi no Dandelion
- Kekkai Sensen
- Maria the Virgin Witch
- Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku
- Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
- Noragami Aragoto
- Owari no Seraph
- Prison School
- Ranpo Kitan
- Rolling Girls
- Sengoku Musou
- Shomin Sample
- Show by Rock
- Sky Wizards Academy
- Sore ga Seiyuu
- Venus Project
- Yuri Kuma Arashi
This can all be summed up with the following FUCK RICK SANTORUM.
Take it away Akari Daisuki image bot:
The third season of Working aired back in the summer. It’s a season that will be known for introducing the parents of Aoi and Souta more than anything else. Actually that should have been the case, but they had to go and mess with the ending. I hope the use of the separate OVA or special to extend a season isn’t a new trend.
For anyone out there tempted to watch this series after reading this post I will simply say this: don’t watch Triage X. It’s a bad show and anyone should feel bad if they do end up liking it. Yet, there was one episode I still remember fondly from its 10 episode (10 episodes is always a sign of a bad show) run. Unfortunately for those hoping I’d have taste it’s the 8th episode.
The 2nd season of Nisekoi aired earlier this year. It didn’t really do anything with progression of the plot in that particular realm. In the manga, however, there was plenty of progression towards a resolution of the harem at the center of the story. It’s really disappointing how that is turning out. Continue reading 12 Days of Something V: Working Towards the End
It’s a fairly tired trope in anime and manga these days to have a woman who is approaching or above 30 years old and is still unmarried. Oregairu‘s Hiratsuka Shizuka is yet another one of these characters. Yet, anyone who knows my opinions on this show will know that I believe she is the best girl in the whole thing.
Saekano has a rather unfortunate English title that includes “How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend.” Clearly that is something that will never be embraced by a casual audience. Then again, this show that I so anticipated last year would be completely impenetrable to that same audience.
Gate was and still can be considered a show that brings up interesting ideas, and executes them about as well as a terrible writer with ambition would be expected to. Nowhere did this become more laughable than the introduction of a character by the name…sigh, Piña Co Lada.
Continuing from yesterday’s post, I have to highlight the shows that did better than I thought they would. That’s more than I can really expect since I put nearly everything down these days as a 7/10 show unless it lets me down immediately by taking me to a dumb Hooters clone. At least everything I watched this year after that particular episode was better so it’s a plus.
Every year watching anime you start to notice patterns where very little is surprising in terms of quality. Just do a little research on a studio and director and your own tastes and 9 times out of 10 it will be exactly what you expected. This post is going to focus on those few shows that failed to live up to my expectation where tomorrow’s will be about those that exceeded them.
Jozy Altidore is something of a mystery player. The American striker plying his trade in the Northeast of England at Sunderland has something of a bad reputation. While no one really calls him Dozy Antiscore, it can’t be debated that he has very rarely troubled the score sheet in the Premier League. It’s never a good sign when you get quotes like this from the manager after a match:
“If Jozy had scored, you would have said it was a great decision to play him. I tried to say him at halftime to look for the net and don’t keep thinking about that, but he needs a goal.”
His defenders on the internet last season were pointing to the World Cup for his breakout and possible move to a different club. Let’s see how that ended:
With the numbers 69 appearances, 2 goals standing out to anyone who looks at his performances in England, he still has his defenders. They say things such as; Sunderland is a club with terrible players, no one will pass him the ball, he needs a manager that will let Jozy be Jozy out there. So through the magic of Football Manager, we are going to give him just what he needs…
Over the past few episodes of Shirobako, a show about a group of girls trying to make it in the world of anime production, there has been a pretty surprising theme. Quitting a job is a perfectly fine thing to do in pursuing one’s passions. At the same there’s some risk involved in doing that for at least 1 of the people who did it as well as someone still considering quitting their own different job.
I bring this up because it’s had a bit of an impact on my own life. In order for that to be the case I’ve really had to have been thinking about this for a while. You see, basically I’ve been trying to rationalize reasons why I continue in my own job. I think many people out there do this as well, but they have perfectly legitimate reasons for staying. However, I’m in a point in my life where I can probably do something else with my own life.
Shirobako simply brought up my own thoughts on wanting to quit my job. For the first time in my adult life it feels like the job market out there is good enough to take a chance. I think I can pursue happiness away from this demographically cursed part of the country and start anew. Even the number of people quitting their jobs around the country is growing and that is a good sign.
So in the coming year I will try to pursue my happiness. It will hopefully take me somewhere that I don’t feel constantly cold, alone and with little prospect of changing. I just needed a group of people involved in animation production that like Ideon a little too hard.
During the NFL season, there is a group conversation a bunch of anime/sports fans have as the games are going on Sunday afternoons. There’s even a fantasy football league that is in it’s third season. I thought I did alright, but I didn’t make it to this week’s championship game as everyone really wants to be. But that’s not the part any of you care about, it’s the team names:
This end of regular season look doesn’t include the period when team names were changed to mock someone who actually liked the ending of Kimikiss. Who really liked Mao at the end of that series anyway?
I really don’t want to relive getting dumped out in humiliating fashion by Kelloggs, so instead, I will just provide some highlights of these conversations. Which include making fun of tweets like this:
Heralding the birth of the greatest trophy in the history of college football:
Mocking Kobe Bryant’s shot selection as he tried to pass Michael Jordan on the NBA’s all-time scoring list:
Laughing at the University of Michigan’s football team:
My favorite Breaking Madden gifs of the year:
And as always, completely out of context anime screenshots:
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.
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.