Month: January 2009
I haven’t kept up with the Vocaloid ranking in god knows how long but I decided to check it out last night. A lot of great songs, but there is one particular one that caught my eye. It’s Hatsune Miku’s “VOiCE”. The song is really great, but what’s amazing is the 3D Video that someone created to fit the lyrics. No matter how many times I watch it I cry. It’s amazing what impact such a short video can have, vs so many anime series that I watch that don’t phase me in the least bit.
Ugh go away lump in my throat. I’m hoping that there is the “alternative” ending. I mean there has to be. We’re only on episode 16. There’s plenty of time to give us a happy ending. I find it hard to believe that we will get a sad ending considering how KyoAni made a joke of half of this series. I will not be depressed, I will pretend this episode was just a “run through the game required for the good end.”
I got a great idea from a twitter friend to finally write a decent blog post. Sadly it’s the post that I’ve been hesitating to write for a really long time. Everytime I would want to write this post, I’d put it off thinking it’s just temporary and that I’d change my mind soon after. I guess I finally decided to stop being a pansy and say it loud and clear: I think I’ve finally lost interest in manga and anime. Read the rest of this entry »
So while there are great guides to Japanese otaku speak, there’s no guides for the Japanese readers to the stupid things American otaku have butchered out of their language. So I decided to attempt to create one! つまりこれは日本人の為にアメリカオタクの「言葉」ガイド。 Read the rest of this entry »
First, a confession: I don’t know the first thing about Japanese visual-kei music. Actually, that’s wrong. I know only the first thing about visual-kei: it’s a kind of bishie glam rock music from Japan.
Therefore, I went into the recent Japantor article about how commercially difficult it is for VK bands to succeed depending primarily on the writer and commenters’ statements about the genre. In a nutshell, VK music gets tremendous download numbers, but is also tremendously expensive to produce because of all the expensive costumes and makeup that the band wears. Thus, it depends heavily on sales, which are pretty non-existent.
The important part of the article is this:
I’d say that 65% of “the people” out there only listen to music because they think they have to. They don’t care about it in the least, aside from using it to make themselves look cool, hip, trendy or in the know. For most, music is just transitory wallpaper, something meant to be used and then thrown away once a new trendy style is released. This is certainly nothing new, and not even an inherently bad thing. Much of the music industry is just that, an industry churning out product, keeping people employed and fed.
The real problem is when you combine shallow fans with the ephemeral state of file sharing. Visual-kei is ripe for plunder because a vast majority of the fans only care about what the band members look like and wouldn’t know a skilled musician if she sat on their face and bounced. To these people, music really is nothing. It’s just this thing attached to a pretty face. A face that will make mom and dad shake their heads in confusion. For many of these kids, the bands are just a tool used to carve out their own special sense of self. The mere possession of the band’s album is a sign of rebellion and oh-so-worldly-wise views. Of course rebellion through music is also far from a new idea, but it’s still total crap.
Now, it’s a well-established fact by now file sharing has changed the way that music is monetized. Sometimes it leads to increased album sales, sometimes it decreases them. Sometimes it increases other ancillary revenue streams like concerts and merchandise, sometimes it does nothing. That’s a dead horse which I won’t beat. A lot of commenters also brought up things like the high price and difficulty of buying import CDs, but that’s only tangential to the issue at hand.
Instead, what I think is the important avenue to pursue is to think about it in terms of branding. Branding can get mind-numbingly pomo at times, where people are buying say, a “lifestyle” over a product. When Donald Trump slaps his name on something like Trump Steaks, the idea is that you are buying the idea of power and wealth, not that you are buying a particularly good steak. According to that Wikipedia article, it’s just the company’s standard steak that’s been marked up because of the Trump name. There are also many celebrities and lifestyle brands where I honestly have no fucking idea what aspirational ideas they are trying to pitch, like Tila Tequila or Coca-Cola.
Granted, this can be hard to wrap your head around. At our year-end corporate meeting, we watched at skit where some of our executives were meeting John Hamm and John Slattery of Mad Men and making a pitch to Sterling Cooper about cable television. The pitch was utilitarian: you can get eight different channels with all sorts of shows on them! Don Draper rejected that and said “Nobody watches TV because they want to see programs. They watch it to be reassured. They want to go home at the end of the day, turn on the TV, and think ‘I am OK.’ Do you understand?” The punchline, of course, was that they told him that they had no fucking idea what he was talking about.
This, to me, appears to be the whole point with VK. The concrete product itself is not what is interesting. The appeal is in the associations. The comments seem to also bear this out when they say that the music is both totally disposable not often times not really coherent as a genre. By coherency, I mean that the reason that the bands are connected is not their musical style but their visual style.
With this all in mind, the original complaint in the article does in a way make me feel very YOUR DOING IT WRONG. The band wishes to be compensated for the music they are making, which I would normally agree with. Yet, the point of a VK band is perversely not in making music but in simply existing in a certain way. If the point for the band was to make money simply for the music, then there would not necessarily be a point to the whole VK package. They could save thousands and thousands of dollars on costumes and makeup. Thus, they come to a double bind: they can’t make money on their music since music is not really what they are selling, but at the same time if they focused on the music they would no longer be VK.
Pretty decent episode this week. This one focused on the butler Aoyama and how his bitchy mistress kicked him out of his job because he lost to a duel with Mei-chan’s butler. In the end of course she takes Aoyama back to her because despite it being “forbidden” there’s obviously more to relationships between butlers and their mistresses. That’s probably going to be the main focus of the story. In addition, Lucia-sama was revealed to be Hongo Shiori, the same as Mei, the next in line to inherit the Hongo family fortune. That’s probably why she wants Mei dead lol. Oh well obvious plot is obvious. I’m sure justice will prevail in the end. I’m just hoping for some hawt makeout scene between Mei and her butler, but I may be asking too much in this kind of drama.
After a night’s sleep, I realized that I had some more to say, seeing how I tried to stuff 4 anime together into my last post.
The Tenchi Muyo OVA was the most harem-y of the anime that watched, although it’s still not really that harem-y. All the ladies might like him but at the same time the show would go off and be about spaceships or filling in the big universe. Tenchi in Tokyo became un-harem-y in an interesting way.
In Tenchi in Tokyo, Tenchi leaves most of the gang and heads to Tokyo to go to school so that he can take over his family shrine. He gets paired up pretty quickly with a new character Sakuya and eventually “picks” her. That’s not really anything too special, as lots of harem setups end with the guy choosing a girl. The difference is that it’s not the climax of the series, like it might be in say, an eroge adaptation. It happens about halfway in, and even before that Tenchi is spending most of his screen time exclusively with Sakuya so he basically has for all intents and purposes “chosen” her.
Occasionally the gang do pop up, and Tenchi usually tries to hide from them or keep Sakuya from noticing. Fortunately, this doesn’t cause Sakuya to fly off into a rage when she notices them. The important realization here is that all of the standard harem antics that happen all the time are kind of antithetical to any kind of development in the main couple’s relationship. Yes, you can create some jokes if you have some side characters show up in disguises or something to spy while they’re at a restaurant, but at the same time that’s going to derail whatever mood the two were trying to establish. How are you supposed to have some alone time when everyone bursts in going “HAY GUYZ WATS GOING ON IN HERE?”
And eventually, it does piss Tenchi off and he tells them all to go away. Now, this was a plot device as well to make the “real” plot start moving, but even outside of that I’ve kind of always wished that someone would say that. It also exemplified the annoyances that I have with the second season of Clannad. With all the KER-RAZY hijinks going on and all the emphasis on characters that aren’t Nagisa, how am I supposed to believe that she and Tomoya were making babies? Meanwhile, I could totally picture Tenchi and Sakuya humping.
It’s pretty sad when a harem show’s title itself points out that the main character is useless, yet compared to the whole pantheon of harem leads Tenchi is one of the least useless ones out there. He helps out at the shrine, works on the farm, has a cool lightsaber, is pretty good at judo, and is part of the royal family of a galactic empire. Sounds like a pretty useful guy. When push comes to shove, rather than saying oh I don’t know “Can’t you just uh, not have the baby?” or something, he gets down to business. He even manages to have relationships with female characters which don’t begin and end at her punching him because of some complete accident.
While Tenchi Muyo is one of the earlier harem series, it’s not actually important to watch in any real kind of way in order to get the genre. Watching a show like Macross is critical in order to get Nadesico, but there’s nothing really from Tenchi that establishes any kind of baseline or easily referenceable text. My gut feeling is that this comes primarily from the fact that harem shows are basically at their cores about the fetishes du jours.
For example, Tenchi has a mad scientist in Washu and a magical girl loli that transforms into an adult in Sasami. It’s got to have been like, 10 years or so since I’ve seen those character types used in any kind of harem show. On the other hand, it also doesn’t have any sad girls in snow or maybe-or-maybe-not blood related little sisters or tsunderes or yanderes or or or. I get the feeling that watching Tenchi Muyo now would be like watching say, Clannad in 15 years and wonder what the deal was with all of the girls. What is the deal with Fuuko’s starfish? Why does Kyou keep acting angry and then nice? And why aren’t there any (I dunno), adults who have to go back to school? Those are my favorite out of the popular moe characters here in 2024!
Would I watch it even if I weren’t forced? I might not have watched everything in the series, but for completion’s sake I’d watch the OVA.