Tag Archives: k-on

Diary of an Anime Lived: The Slice-of-Life Age, Part 1

Or, a caricature of how anime has evolved in the last 15 years.

Today, many of the most popular, acclaimed anime TV series are labeled “slice-of-life” shows: tragicomedies about the ups and downs of ordinary life like Honey and Clover, or quirky, plot-light ensemble comedies like Azumanga Daioh or K-ON!. It’s quite a shift from the kind of SF/fantasy anime that were being held up as exemplars in the late 1990s, back when I first became an anime fan, and it’s a shift that seems to track with the way my own life has changed since then.

Part 1: F&SF&E(va)
I have been a fantasy and science-fiction fan all of my life, and I started writing my own stories in those genres in elementary school. Being a stereotypical kind of nerd, complete with the thick glasses and the social awkwardness, the book that most moved and reassured me was Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. Ender was both brutalized and brutal, a child praised and cursed with his gifts and the responsibilities they carried, and unable to relate to other children normally as a result. Card, at his best, portrayed characters with both compassion and hard-edged honesty about their flaws, particularly in the sequel, Speaker For The Dead. Despite my voracious appetite for novels by David Eddings, Terry Brooks, and Isaac Asimov, I never could find another SF writer who quite managed that balance in my younger years. His stories were not just cool, but moving, and true to the human condition as I understood then.

Would the Ender's Game manga look like this?

My attraction to anime was, at first, an extension of my love of SF and fantasy. Record of Lodoss Wars was actually the first anime I watched all the way through—and despite its rather elementary plot, it fulfilled my appetite for a different take on traditional Western fantasy. Ghost in the Shell of course fit the cerebral SF mold, not too unlike stories by Arthur C. Clarke or the movie Blade Runner. Akira at least had spectacle and the post-apocalyptic mood.

As many of you know, though, none of those shows captured my heart the way Neon Genesis Evangelion did. The words I used back then was: “this is a Japanese Ender’s Game.” On some forum in the deep recesses of the Internet, in 2001-2002, there are posts by me arguing the very same. While Ender and Shinji are very different characters, the situations they are thrust within are very similar: world-consequential battles where they have little say in their fates. Shinji, though, was much more “Asian” than Ender, the product of the parental neglect and tyranny endemic to many Asian and Asian-American households. It was easy for me to identify with him, and more closely than I could with Ender. And Eva at its best also had the same mix of brutality and compassion which I found so compelling in Card’s novels, though perhaps Anno was harder on his protagonists than Card ultimately was. There was a sense that he was expiating his own sins and trying to warn otaku of going down the same road in the original series and movies, a raw confessionalism that the polished remakes seem to lack.

I needed that hardness, that unflinching glance at the depths back then. Catharsis isn’t supposed to be painless. It felt like a new experience, to see a ”cartoon” do the sort of thing that Ender’s Game and Speaker For the Dead had done for me years before. And while it was new, it was also deeply continuous with my love of SF/F. Anime wasn’t really a separate thing for me then. It was one more notch alongside my copies of A Canticle for Leibowitz and Lord of the Rings and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

My voracious search for information about anime began around that time, and I discovered an entire world of anime and gaming that drew upon Eva’s well of dark, psychological SF. There was the story of Final Fantasy VII, Serial Experiments: Lain, and the later homage RahXephon. There were parodies, like Martian Successor Nadesico and Vandread. And if I wasn’t in the mood for SF, most anime series contained some fantastical elements, and not necessarily of the Western medieval variety like in Slayers or Lodoss Wars. Even the romances, which I was just beginning to discover, had overt fantasy elements: Ah My Goddess!, Kimagure Orange Road, Video Girl Ai, to name a few.

There were, in short, few shows that had no fantasy or SF elements on the radar of my fandom then. Little did I know that in those days, from 1999-2003—my college years, and the first period of my fandom—the ground had already begun to shift in the anime landscape.

To be continued in part 2: the hinge years


This is part of 21stcenturydigitalboy’s ongoing Diary of an Anime Livedseries, which is a blogosphere-wide series of articles about the intersection of anime and personal life.

 

The not-so weak sauce of this season

OK yeah, despite my rant, there are shows this season that I do like without finding any major negative flaws. It may be due to personal preference or maybe I’m just right? Who knows? Let’s get to these:

Continue reading The not-so weak sauce of this season

Smogsboard of recently watched anime

Warning: No pics – pics helped taking down our server too many times in the past 2 weeks!

Now, I’m sure I spelled something wrong in the title and therefore, nobody will find this one and read it. So, I’m just going to pretend that nobody reads this and just stop restraining myself. OK? Here we go:

Continue reading Smogsboard of recently watched anime

Makenai Play “Don’t Say Lazy” Live–For Us

And here’s our friends from Makenai, playing live at The Terrace in Pasadena–and dedicating their cover of “Don’t Say Lazy” just for us! They’re wonderful folks, go and check out their website at http://myspace.com/makenaiband!

You can also check out a studio recording of their cover here as well–over 3,000 downloads so far! Join the crowd.

Mike’s Spring 2010 Roundup 1: Arakawa Under the Bridge, K-ON!!, Angel Beats, and Kaichou wa Maid-sama

Taking aim at this season's shows

It’s that time of the year again–time for Mike to bring out some quick first impressions about the new season. What in the world is he thinking?

Continue reading Mike’s Spring 2010 Roundup 1: Arakawa Under the Bridge, K-ON!!, Angel Beats, and Kaichou wa Maid-sama

“Don’t Say Lazy” Cover by Makenai!

Our friends from Makenai have recorded a special treat just for you, dear readers and listeners–it’s a studio-quality cover of the famous K-ON! closing song, “Don’t Say Lazy.” Makenai aren’t just nobodies: one of their singers, Pam, was Anime Expo Idol 2008 (see her performance of the Basilisk OP, and our interview with her here after her win), and they’ve been covering anime songs for the past couple of years at various conventions. They also were the in-house band for our last panel, the Indecent Otaku Comedy Hour!

We’ll definitely be featuring more music from Makenai in the future, as well, so stay tuned. We love these guys and we hope you will, too.

UPDATE: now available on Youtube!

Anime Diet Radio Episode 45 – The Late Makenai Holiday Show

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This is late due to tech issues, but this is epic! The stars of this episode, of course, are our friends at Makenai–the anime cover band based in Burbank CA! (One of their lead singers, Pam, was AX Idol 2008–see our brief interview with her shortly after her win.) Recently, we did a lengthy interview with them and they even agreed to perform their version of K-ON!‘s “Don’t Say Lazy“! You can hear an edited version of their interview on this episode, and an uncut video of both the interview and the song is coming very soon! Go visit Makenai at their Myspace page [http://myspace.com/makenaiband].

There were some audio issues with the interview. Another band was rehearsing in the studio next door, and they can be heard in the background sometimes–though the voices of the band are clear nonetheless thanks to a nice directional shotgun mic. Forgive us for the non-ideal recording. Hopefully it should be listenable!

Of course we have the usual crazy news items, which include the Love Plus marriage, Shokotan with cicadas in her hair, and Lupin III stealing a statue and Obama attending the premiere of Afro Samurai: Resurrection (really)?

Finally, as a gesture of goodwill–Pam and the band have also asked us to pass along the following message to help save her dog, Hachiko! Please help if you can.

hachiko.jpg

Hi everyone. As most of you know, my little Maltese puppy Hachiko is sick T-T and he needs a surgery that will save his life.  He has a liver shunt that produces stones to sit in his bladder and obstructs his urinary canal, thus endangering his urethra. Also his bladder could rupture. It is a very serious illness. The hospitals that offer the surgery don’t give us the chance to establish payment plans and it is extremely hard for us to afford it ($4500). So far, we have collected $200 as of 1/18/2010.

I don’t want to lose my puppy :( So I am asking all my friends to please help me with whatever you can, either by making a donation to Hachi’s paypal account or by going to the fundraising events I am organizing.

Thank you to all of you who have been helping me through these difficult time. It really means the world to me to receive the help needed to keep my little puppy.

This is the link for the paypal donation’s account:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_donations&business=miakachan9%40gmail%2ecom&lc=US&item_name=Helping%20Hachi&item_number=HelpHachi¤cy_code=USD&bn=PP%2dDonationsBF%3abtn_donateCC_LG%2egif%3aNonHostedGuest

Show Order

  • (00:00) Ira Glass Introduction
  • (02:09) Regular Introduction
  • (06:18) News 1: Man Marries Love Plus Character
  • (14:03) News 2: Shokotan’s New ‘Do
  • (21:30) News 3: Lupin and Afro Samurai Tidbits
  • (29:39) Interview with Makenai (edited)
  • (51:54) “Don’t Say Lazy” cover
  • (56:28) Conclusion

Show Notes

  • OP: Toki no Mukou, Maboroshi no Sora (時の向こう 幻の空)” by FictionJunction (OP to Ookami Kakushi)
  • ED: 月導 -Tsukishirube- by Yuuka Nanri (ED to Ookami Kakushi)
  • Ray is now already the Tsundere Banana. See all his audio columns so far here [http://animediet.net/category/podcasts/audio-column].
  • The Claymore petition for the second season is here [http://www.shomei.tv/project-752.html]. See Ray’s original article about the subject here http://animediet.net/commentary/petition-for-claymore-season-2]. We were alerted to this by thiago_pagogna on MAL [http://myanimelist.net/profile/thiago_pagogna].
  • Mike wrote something about the Love Plus marriage here and accurately predicted he would become fodder for Anime Diet Radio. The original video can be seen there. [http://animediet.net/commentary/news-and-commentary/otaku-marries-love-plus-character-becomes-possible-anime-diet-radio-fodder]
  • Shokotan’s new cicada hairstyle was reported by Weird Asia News [http://www.weirdasianews.com/2009/12/11/japanese-entertainer-sports-dead-cicadas-hair/].
  • It turns out they’re actually 17-year cicadas, not 15. The one that hits DC is called Brood X [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brood_X].
  • Anime News Network has the two stories about Lupin and Obama http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2009-12-08/lupin-steals-statue-obama-attends-afro-samurai-show].

K-Ommerce

K-On’s influence is vast.  Here are some items that K-On! has sold:

Mio gets kickbacks for selling headphones

Headphones (English link)
Cell phones
Bass guitars
Pens
Hot plates

That’s in addition to the actual products associated with the series: CDs, figurines, manga, and of course dakimakura.

Given that overall Japanese retail sales fell 2.9 percent in April, will the boost from popular anime be enough to effect a turnaround?  Prime Minister Taro “Rozen” Aso, criticized as a “manga brain,” thinks so.  His “Japan Cool” campaign, whose stated aim is to leverage the popularity of anime and manga as Japan’s “Soft Power,” continues to be the focus of government efforts under his regime.  Ultimately, time will tell if he’s right.

Spring 2009 Roundup 1: Hayate no Gotoku!!, Natsu no Arashi!, K-ON

vlcsnap-00212.png

Looking at the twit- and blogosphere these days, it looks like I’m late to this new season party. But let’s get started with a few things, shall we? Today, I’ll be profiling the second season of Hayate no Gotoku, the new SHAFT/Shinbo Natsu no Arashi, and the talk of the town K-ON.

Continue reading Spring 2009 Roundup 1: Hayate no Gotoku!!, Natsu no Arashi!, K-ON