Anime Diet Radio Episode 4 – The New Lateness

The huge amount of schoolwork basically put me behind schedule for the editing of the last couple of podcasts…so this one is a little old (recorded two weeks ago). So pardon the news not being so new. This time, Ray and I have got some news about the King of Foreign Otaku, Anno’s puppet show, and ADV’s batch of licenses (we talk mostly about Welcome to the NHK and Pumpkin Scissors). After that we chatter about Lucky Star, Mai Hime, Reideen, and Claymore!

Note that since this was recorded two weeks earlier, I’ve actually seen a lot more Mai-Hime episodes than I had when I recorded this show. (You might be interested in seeing the post I wrote after I saw 8 episodes. Since then I’ve seen 16 and am still continuing.)

Show Notes

  • –OP: “Koi no Mikuru Densetsu” from Haruhi Suzumiya episode 1
  • –ED: “Romanesque” by Fiction Junction YUUKA (from El Cazador de la Bruja)
  • –The story about crowning of the gaijin otaku king is at Anime News Network, here. (http://tinyurl.com/3dalkp)
  • –Anno’s directing of the Danish puppet film is here. (http://tinyurl.com/yu5o7v)
  • –More details about ADV’s licensing of Gonzo shows is here. (http://tinyurl.com/2zdxbm)

You know you watch too much anime when…(part 3)

 

…when you are as crazy as these Argentine otakus. (This video is in Spanish and Japanese, but it’s subtitled in English, don’t worry.)These guys have the shounen cliches down. Cold. And this has the best ending credits sequence and song…since at least Otaku no Video, if not funnier. If they ever make a Spanish version of Genshiken, these guys would be the stars.

Maybe we should do this to Studio Gainax…

…and other anime companies that give us unresolved endings! If Jericho fans can do it, surely so can anime fans. Or we should send something else instead of nuts.
The second shipment of nuts prepares to go to CBS. Those ending-cancelling bastards!

Welcome to the NutsOnline NUTS for Jericho home page, where fans from all over the world are pooling their resources to send thousands of pounds of peanuts to CBS to protest the cancellation of Jericho. In addition to sending individual orders to CBS programming executives, as a Jericho fan you can now contribute money to massive shipments of nuts. NutsOnline will do our part by pooling monies and supplying nuts at a steep discount! At the end of each day we will tally dollars collected and ship out huge quantities of roasted peanuts in the shell!

Why nuts? In the final episode Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich) borrowed the historic phrase “NUTS” in response to a final offer of surrender from a hostile neighboring town. CBS decided to cancel the show, and fans are uprising to save Jericho by sending, you got it, NUTS to CBS executives.

You know you watch too much anime when…(part 2) Ringtone from NHK, purupurupururin!

…after finally learning how to hack your Verizon Motorola RAZR V3m to load your own ringtones, this was the ringtone you chose. And it was the first thing that came to mind.

It even sounds better than the version that showed up in the show! (Edit from Ray: Purupurupururin!)

You can run, but you can’t hide, from your own nerddom.

Hayate no Gotoku 8 – moe parodies are t3h funny

I remember chortling, heavily, when I first saw the preview for this episode–especially when the title was  announced: “Neko Mimi Mode Sends You to Hell!” That, of course, raised some pretty high expectations for the level of t3h funny in this episode and I’m happy to say that it delivers (for the most part). This episode was a great send up of various otaku-moe conventions.

The actual crossdressing scenes weren’t as funny as they could be, to be honest. At least not until they started playing it up and totally milking the cliches, like:

Hidoi desu! Gao...

I have to admit the hints of bestiality–adumbrated by the narrator, no less–threatened to cross the line from being really funny to be just a little creepy. Especially this pose by our friendly Tiger, which is a pose normally seen as a prelude to an assault:

Just what is it that is being censored here?!

(Side note: the narrator has returned to his comfortable groove of being annoying and unnecessarily foreshadowing future events.)

This kind of leads to an observation about how Hayate’s androgyny–which is very apparent in his character design–has really not been played up. Until now, that is. I remember someone at my anime club first watching this saying: “everybody is so cute!” Admittedly, one of the main reasons I still watch this show is not only to see which anime genres they’ll skewer but to see Hayate, with his innocent and cute expression, get subjected to all kinds of slapstick. With a smile.

The “final boss” being Nagi, indeed…

Finally: I totally dug the references to Hayate going for the “Maria-san ending” and, if I’m not mistaken, a subtle allusion to a joke from Haruhi Suzumiya in the Butler Network omake at the end. (Is that a common or well-known sort of joke in Japanese culture? Somebody correct me if I’m wrong. If this were Lucky Star, which KyoAni is stuffing full of references to their past productions, I’d be more sure that this was a Haruhi reference. But considering the last episode was current enough to mention Gurren-Lagann I wouldn’t be surprised!)

Mai-Hime Initial Thoughts: Turning Straw into Gold?

Episodes that have “rain” in the title usually mean the show will be serious eventually.

I’ve been away for a while due the impending end of the school quarter, so here’s my first substantial post in a while…and it’s on an older anime, natch. I’m actually watching it on DVD via Netflix, which is not my usual source for anime these days, if you know what I mean. :) This show, of course, has been out for a few years and in my case was barely on my radar until recently–until I heard some strikingly positive reviews from people I trust, and from the Animenfo.com page. What gives?

Based on the first 2 DVD volumes I’ve watched so far, I’d say this show was a victim of my genre stereotyping. When I first heard about Mai-Hime, I lumped it together with shows like Shuffle!, Magikano, and other harem/fan-service anime. I’d heard there was quite a bit of fan service plus action, and it simply didn’t interest me. Of course, I couldn’t have been more wrong; even in the first 8 episodes I’ve seen I can plainly detect genuine drama and character development–real heart and substance amid some of the sillier stuff (like the whole character of Mikoto). Mai, in particular, is a very balanced and believable female lead for a show aimed at male otaku. The pieces of a compelling and wrenching conflict are being put into place for her, her friends, and her family, and I am told that it only gets more intense from this point on. The wonderful Yuki Kajiura score (as if it could be any less!) only heightens the mood and lends genuine beauty and pathos to the intense and sad scenes, though the battle music is not quite as compelling as comparable themes in her other work. This has, in short, the makings of a great melodrama, with people forced to make significant choices and to deal with the most primal of emotions. I can’t get enough of that stuff.

They even mention “sister complex” in the show itself. The writers have got to be aware…

But this show seems to have another identity. It is definitely a prime example of what my co-writer calls “shori” anime, a show all about and with ostensibly strong female leads but whose target audience is slavering otaku males. Any show that features an entire episode about an underwear-stealing demon and has scenes in the bath where they’re poking and squealing about how soft their bodies are must be. And let’s not even mention the omake sections, which are full of can’t-broadcast-this-level fan service, and the rather bizarre emphasis on close-bordering-on-incestuous siblings (real and imagined). Or an entire school run by a loli, akin to cutesy Testarossa in Full Metal Panic somehow being in charge of an entire military brigade. Granted, a lot of these elements show up more at the beginning of the series, and as of the second DVD, they are fading. My guess is that this is another example of a typical “hook ’em with fan service for the sucker punch of drama.” It may be my changing tastes, but I find this sort of transition to be more and more unnatural as time goes by. I understand that humor helps us empathize with the characters later on and that nobody likes to see unattractive people on screen…but it helps drag down the believability factor which is important for the great drama that the show seems to be promising.

I may be nitpicking, though, and I may be confusing it all with the excessive omakes (I think I’ll just skip them from now on). The point of this show seems to be to take the conventions of fairly cliched genres–here, the magical girl and fan servicey school comedy–and to turn that straw into the gold by giving us, well, characters worth caring about who get thrown into very difficult situations. Especially Mai, whose desire to be responsible and caring is both touching and believable, even if it is occasionally expressed in unbelievable ways. (I clearly see that it will lead to heartbreak later on.) In that sense Mai-Hime is a lot like Evangelion, which took the giant robot genre and stuck genuine depression and self-loathing in the middle of it. This is more about love than misanthropy, though, which is refreshing, and these are people whom we actually like as opposed to pity at best. People who haven’t tried writing stories before sometimes don’t realize how hard it is to achieve that, so my hats off to anyone who’s able to take fairly standard anime genre stuff and make it better.

Next time: my own mid-season review!

The Spring Review, part II

Lucky Star – Hirano Aya pick up! I’ll never understand why some of our loyal readers don’t think she’s cute or any good at voice acting, but oh well. I think she does an excellent job here – I mean, I think she carries the whole show almost by herself. But hey, Luck Star isn’t a character driven anime, it’s an Otaku humor and reference driven anime. It’s really nothing like Azumanga Daioh (where people worked together as a team to present us with the funnies), or School Rumble (where there are plots and something way outrageous happening all the time). But it stands on its own, especially when Hirano Aya does something to start a sequence.

Cazador, eps 7 (yes, I got lazy): and is it possible…(gasp!) that I found action in this eps? Yes you bet your ass Scott I did! Hoy shit, there was one sequence where a gun was used and there were two people dueling! Unfortunately, this didn’t involve Nadi, Ellis, or any girls. This was the “Lone Wolf and Cub” guy fighting the sicko bishonen. Yawn. And it was short and choppy, just like Madlax. I was impressed that the “Lone Wolf” guy can subdue that monster of a bishonen, but the action is too short for me. I got this strange feeling that Nadi’s going to power up and we shall have a lot of action later. Who knows?

Instead of flaming cross-like explosions, this will be the new explosions used in the Upcoming Eva movies

Remember when the first angel attacked, all the explosions became flaming crosses that stood tall? Well, what if Anno is really out of his mind (oh gee) this time? Given the opinions of an ex-Gainax producer and his smart assistant for some 2ch fans, I think this is somehow appropriate:

Credit to whoever made this except the creator of this site.

Easy-to-Watch Shows

This season, I’ve called Nagasarete Airantou a “guilty pleasure” type of show, a series where I’m perfectly aware of how cliched pretty much every element is and yet I find myself enjoying a lot. I felt the same way about Zero no Tsukaima, too. But I think there’s another element to why I find myself watching it, often over shows that I know are more substantial, like Darker than Black. Shows like that are easy to watch.

What do I mean by that? There are some animes where I’m comfortable watching it while eating lunch or dinner, where I can just sit back and relax and not have to pay too close attention. I find myself clicking on those files consistently more often and sooner than more serious fare like Bokurano. It’s like I have to mentally prepare myself for that type of anime; I have to feel like deliberately setting aside some time (even though it’s the same length of time as these “easy to watch” shows) or else I feel like I’m not really watching the show. Easy-to-watch shows, on the other hand, I tend to watch on a whim, and it doesn’t feel like so much of an investment. And this is not just a comedy/drama divide, either. I don’t consider Hayate no Gotoku in this category; perhaps it’s because of the high expectations I placed on it from the start, but I tend to think of watching it as an “investment” as well.

I could be real snobby about it and say that this means there’s something deficient in my tastes, but you know, not only is there a place for shows that are easy-to-watch, I think there’s something actually good about them. This is, after all, entertainment, and there’s a place for comfort food in one’s anime diet just as much as in a regular diet. It’s sometimes good to let the time go by imperceptibly (because that’s my experience with these easy-to-watch shows) and let the formula wash over you. I’d still want to preserve a distinction between this sort of thing and work that tries to reach for something else, arguably something more enduring, but I don’t in the least want to denigrate it.

So what shows do you find “easy to watch”? What’s your anime “comfort food”?

The Big O…what a title, eh?

Now, what’s with the title: “The Big O” anyways? Why why why why? Not to use a stupid post to steal the thunder of the podcast post, but I just feel like listing a few links about “The Big O”.

www.bigobc.com

www.amazon.com/BigOOrgasms-Have-Coming/dp/0767907485

www.ivillage.co.uk/relationships/sex/archive/0

magazines.ivillage.com/cosmopolitan/archive/0

www.imdb.com/title/tt0280240

www.thebigo.com/main.html

www.bigo-productions.com

www.bigoboats.com

This was the first page in google search and there was one link about the anime. Now what the hell was the creators of the anime thinking???

I hope the Kosaka Makotos in Japan don’t scream “Big O, big O, bigO” when they do it with the Kaskabe Sakis…Yeah, I know that was dumb, but right now I’m not sober at all. XD

So sue me. BTW, we had a little screw up somewhere in our podcast. Can you find it?

Anime Diet Radio Episode 3 – The Jerry Springer Director Gossip Edition

Note: this episode contains more profanity than usual, and is thus tagged “explicit” in iTunes. I contemplated releasing a bleeped version in true Jerry Springer fashion, but I didn’t have time!

It’s been a while! And have we got juicy news for you in this podcast…director and producer gossip from the hallowed halls of Studios Gainax and Ghibli. Hideaki Anno’s infamous interview in the Atlantic (broken here), Goro and Hayao Miyazaki’s catfight, and Takami Akai’s resignation from Gainax are all up for comment. We also chatter about Claymore, El Cazador de la Bruja, Hayate no Gotoku, and Darker than Black, among other ongoing spring season shows.

No extras this week–because no extras were necessary. :) Everything got recorded this time. And everything is fair game!

We welcome your comments, feedback, and questions you’d like us to answer on air. Visit us at http://animediet.net, if you’re listening to this via iTunes. Thanks!

Show Notes

  • OP: Intro to Lucky Star + Lovely Complex OP
  • ED: “Jerry Springer,” by Weird Al Yankovic
  • The original Anime Diet post that broke the Atlantic Monthly Anno interview to the anime blogosphere is here. (http://animediet.net/archives/117)
  • This is the transcript/translation of the interview with Goro Miyazaki, which shares the juicy details. (http://tinyurl.com/2u2lcp)
  • This is the story of how Takami Akai took on 2chan and lost. (http://tinyurl.com/2vrrd8)

The Spring Review – it’s early but it feels like summer here in Taiwan.

This country has already hit 80+ degrees in May. Spring isn’t quite over yet and the shows I’m watching have only reach eps 6, but I feel like reviewing anyway. So here goes:

Claymore – the plot picked up after eps 5, before that it dragged a little bit. I got the chance to read a little bit of the first volume of manga and I discovered that Clare was on her own a little bit longer before she was joined by Lucky (I know, I know, I won’t go there, but his name is such a easy joke target). I thought the drawing in the manga wasn’t very impressive and looked rather like sketches in someone’s notebook, just cleaned up :P. Back to the show. The appearance of Teresa really moves things along and the story turns up a big notch. Waiting to see how this arc ends. the women seiyuus are awesome.

Reideen – Yes, this is a giant robot story, which I vowed I would never touch, but I needed to be inspired by heroics, so I’ve been watching it. It’s interesting and I can see some similarities with Rahxephon, but Rahxephon was trying to be a type of Eva but not a clone of it, whereas Reideen is a story on its own. I’ve watched up to eps 9, it’s episodic so far, and I’m still waiting to find out about Mishima Reika…uh hum, I mean Midorina Akira. The main character, Saiga Junki, isn’t as clueless as Kamina Ayato, and is certainly nothing like that bitching and whiny Shinji (but hey, I went through that once). The plot is slow paced, but the animation and the battles are realistic physically and quite nice for CG. However, I do like Rahxephon’s battles better, being unrealistic and all.

El Cazador – What can I say? It’s really not an action series, and I feel like I’m being fooled into staying on board because of the beginning sequence, but I’m getting more and more disappointed. I think Nadi is a decent character and her background story in eps 6 certainly adds more depth to her character, but I can’t say it was really all that interesting. As for the younger girl, she’s rather typical clueless and worry-less airhead (maybe I’m missing something here), and even if she isn’t an airhead, she kind of doesn’t do that much except for comic relief. The reason I’m particularly harsh on this is because this basically tells me it’s an action story by its intro sequence, but it really isn’t, and yet it was introduced as drama, but part of the “Girls wit Guns” series, which reads like action. So far I’m not impressed in either the action department or drama department.

Combat Butler Hayate – now here’s a sincerely funny show that doesn’t try too hard most of the time, but it’s funny anyway. The only thing I find slightly annoying is the narrator. His snide comments isn’t said in British, hence it’s not as funny as if someone said it in British, ala the newest Q before the mistake called Casino Royale was released. All the references are nicely placed and I’m certainly having enough laughs here (Lord knows we can all use a lot of these). The seiyuus are top notch.

Ikkitousen – is this even count as the Spring selection? Anyway, T&A with an decent plot about power and control. Good for fans of the Romance of the three Kingdoms who don’t mind the fact that a lot of the famous male heroes are turned into women, also good for the fan who liked the previous effort (and the manga). Good watch when one needs a large dose of fan service.

Nodame Cantabile – funny, funny, and funny…and I know nothing about classical music and I’m no shojo fan, so I’ll leave it there. But a good watch for both men and women (thank God there isn’t a bunch of bishonen in this show, and Kawasumi Ayako’s Noda Megumi is so cute and funny).

Will update with part 2 and pics tomorrow. It’s 12:33 AM in Taiwan time right now.