Day 12: Kyousougiga

While I first intended this post to be about how the finale of the second season of Railgun was perfect, making a mediocre second to something that resembles the energy from the first season, but then the final episode of Kyosougiga came and blew me away, hence the change in topic.

京騒戯画 | Nine [pixiv]

京騒戯画 | Nine [pixiv]

I can’t say I fully understand what happened the series, with the boundary between humans, gods, beings created by the original Myoue, non-humans, being so blurry. However, there are so many stuff that can be taken from the show, mostly relating to family. With the final episode, we see are shown a father that, because of his own struggles, has placed faith to his children, but is too shy to convey that point to them; and that with the help of love from his wife and his children have come to a solution to his issues. Even in the earlier episode, we are seen how the three children deal with the leaving of their parents. With all combined, the show a really well rounded and heart-warming tale of how each family member are dependent on each other, even if they are bickering and fighting with each other at times. I’d say that Kyousougiga ended being ahe best anime about family, better than any other shows that I have watched this year, including Tamayura more aggressive or Uchouten Kazoku .

Another strength of the show is its references to reality. Despite being fully a fantasy, the show modeled the main setting, mirror Kyoto, on the real Kyoto, remodelling specific historic buildings faithfully in the show. By using the history and/or meaning behind buildings or sections of the building, the show added depth to several scenes (according to episode 5.5). Finally, the anime is filled with homages to Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga, the paintings which the anime borrows the name from. From the original Myoue’s ability, to create living being from painting, similar to how animals are made humans, or became more lively, in the paintings, to the appearance of the rabbit, frog and the monkey, the three animals that are most prominent on the paintings, from time to time. Needless to say, I really enjoyed episode 5.5.

Clocking around in only 10 episodes, the show is 2-3 episode short of the usual 1 cour anime, with extra time filled with recaps or live visit to Kyoto. The results is that there are hardly any filler, with each part either adding to the over plot, adding depth to the character or just bringing out a message. While final episode might be a bit too quick, bring order to the whole mess that accumulated from the rest of the show, making the initial end-of-world issue seem a bit too inconsequential. But heck, I’m not complaining much, since it was filled with dozens of heart-warming scenes.

And really, Kugimiya Rie’s performance of Koto was excellent.

Easily one of the best shows this year.

Day 11: Aniblog Tenhou Tourney

Results from the Aniblog Tenhou Tourney

Born out of an April’s Fool joke post, Aniblog Tenhou Tourney was a small riichi mahjong competition that I created earlier this year, putting aniblogger and ex-aniblogger against each other in a mahjong tournament. Having no experience in both arranging a tournament and creating videos or steams, I was luckily helped by people who had experience in those area, especially from kevo over at Desu ex Machina.  It was a fun little experiment, were participants were able to have fun and enjoy riichi in a more tournament-like format (though I guess some actually do participate in riichi tournaments in real life), and the few viewers were able to join and see how some of the anibloggers play, and enjoy the upsets made during the Tourney.

However, for the people that had followed with the Tourney knew the whole tournament was filled with issues, and it helped to display area that I need to work on. With my inexperience as a manager and facilitator, my personality, the tourney had communication and technical issues, pissing off my helpers. In a way, the tourney showed areas that I personally need to improve on, not just for events like the Tourney but real life stuff like work and relationships.

Despite being a fun and good experience, I do not plan to have another Tourney anytime soon, and even if it does comes back, it would likely be more open, maybe like a aniTwitter Tenhou Tourney. Maybe I’m still affected by the problems that rose during the Tourney, but more likely is that I don’t think I will have the time to hold another Tourney like I did (which wasn’t necessary true also, since something sudden came up during the Tourney) this year.

Despite all the flaws, I really hope that the people participated in the Aniblog Tenhou Tourney had fun.

Day 10: Crunchyroll

After months or maybe years, I finally craved in and subscribed to be a Crunchyroll premium member, mainly because I wanted the convenience of streaming anime on my phone through data. With more and more airing shows appearing on Crunchyroll, and that Crunchyroll app is available in most mobile OSes (available on the biggest three) and some TV devices (PS3, Xbox 360 etc), watching anime through legal means is only going to become easier and easier (and really, I wonder if it is easier for us, westerners, to watch anime that are on CR easier than it is for Japanese to watch the same show not through CR).

With Crunchyroll having a larger and larger presence in the Western society, providing a channel for anime studio to finally monetize on the Western audiences that does not involve DVD/BD sales or licensing with traditional broadcaster that are likely to ask for changes, it might, like Kickstarter, to start realizing the presence and potential of the Western market. Just like how Youtube and NicoNico might have helped push the anime shorts, Crunchyroll and Kickstarter might help anime studios think seriously to put more effort in serving the western audiences, and maybe finally bring Limited BluRay over also (O wait, Aniplex already does this, having its disks be as expensive as the Japanese equivalent).

While I’m sure that sites like Crunchyroll and Kickstarter will help producers to think about the western market when creating or planning for an anime, only future will tell how big of a change it will bring to the anime industry, as currently, the bulk of the revenue that the studio receives aren’t likely from Crunchyroll but still more traditional, local, venues of Japanese broadcasting and merchandises (and obviously, a lot of anime, even current ones, aren’t on Crunchyroll, so the effect is still limited for now). And if it does, what would happen to shows that are highly rooted in Japanese culture, something that ironically some of us really like.

Day 9: TRIGGER happy

It’s an understatement to say that Trigger is the rising star for 2013; this studio is one, if not the most important studio for this year. With the exception of Inferno Cop (which started in December 2012, with the majority of the show airing in 2013), all of their shows happened this year, with Little Witch Academia showing around March and Kill la Kill airing in the Winter 2013 season. More importantly though, Trigger is composed of people from Gainax, specifically, the staff behind Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Hence, despite being a newly created studio, it production has already gain massive praises, especially with the sakuga-loving crowd.

アッコ | ピロアキ* [pixiv]

アッコ | ピロアキ* [pixiv]

Inferno Cop, with the limited animation, gained praises with its wackiness. LWA suddenly appeared and woo-ed the audiences with the studio’s ability to create a highly fluid, well animated, lively show that has a simple, yet effective, plot . Kill la Kill feels like the spiritual successor to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, with a simple plot so that it won’t clutter and prevent the studio from showing their ability to create fluid and lively action scenes. Especially with Kill la Kill, it was hyped to be one of the best show in Winter 2013 season, something that the show lived up to.

Another interesting event for Trigger was not related to shows that aired this year, but a show that they are making and will release years later: Little Witch Academia 2. Appeared on Kickstarter months after the release of the first Little Witch Academia , it was fully funded within a day, and ended with it reaching several of the stretch goals, showing the support that the audiences, especially western audiences, had for the show. Obviously, Trigger was not the first animation studio to use Kickstarter to fund their projects, with Production I.G.’s Kick-Heart being another example. With Kickstarter, there is a direct channel of communication between the audiences and the producers, something that have greatly helped game funding, but with animation studios, it does not only break the wall from producers and people who fund their works (broadcasters?), it also breaks the cultural barrier, giving Japanese producer direct access to Western audiences, giving them a better grasp of their tastes, which, despite the fact that these audiences are willing to go the extra mile to watch something foreign to their culture, might be different from the local Japanese’s tastes.

And different it might be. Despite LWA2 being fully funded so fast, a LWA event was cancelled in Tokyo because of the lack of sales. While it might be because of another larger event happening around the same time, causing interested parties choosing the larger event over this event, it might point to the fact that LWA isn’t as well received in Japan than in the western world. Additionally, it seems that more westerners supported the Kickstarter than Japanese, though that can be pointed to the fact that Kickstarter is a English site, and does not have a Japanese site, and the fact that there are just more Westerners than Japaneses in the world. However, it can, and I guess it does, point to the differences between local and foreign anime viewers, and with platforms like Kickstarter, Japanese producers make shows that would fit more of the westerner’s taste, and hence changing the landscape of the anime industry.

Secret Santa 2013: Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket

This marks the 4th year that I have participated Secret Santa Project organized by Reverse Thieves. My choices were: Flag, Mobile Police Patlabor: Early Days, Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket. Being someone who grew up with Gundam, 0080 was the obvious choice.

war end 2 | G TONG [pixiv]

war end 2 | G TONG [pixiv]

Few years ago, I decided to watch most of the TV series from the UC Universe that I didn’t have a working knowledge of, by the end had covered all of the major TV series, the two movies (Char’s Counterattack and Gundam F91), but just never got around to the OVA (0080, 0083 etc). Hence, this was a good opportunity to fill gaps.This means that I came in to Gundam 0080 with a wealth of the ‘history’ of the Universal Century, and more importantly, I already knew parts of Gundam 0080, and hence a lot of the main plots didn’t surprise me. In the end, I feel that all those knowledge might have deterred from me fully enjoying this show.

Seen from the end of the show, the intent of the show is to display the effects of war has to a community, especially one that had nothing to do with the war in the first place. This intent is displayed mostly by the change in the main character, Al, an elementary school kid living in a neutral country (Side). First thinking that war is just a plaything, distant and full of consequences, but finally after the war has taken people that he knows personally. The show does a good job in showing the horrors of war, with the last scene, where as he start crying as the principle talk about how the war has affected their country, his friends thinks that he was crying because the war has ended and no more spectacular battles can be seen, was especially chilling, showing the massive difference between Al’s former self (having the similar mentality as his friend) and current self. However, it would have been more effective if it weren’t for the fact that Al himself was helping to stir trouble in the first half of the show. It’s beyond belief that the kid decides to do all those questionable things, as if he never stop to think once if what he is doing is questionable. Ironically, it was his friends that told him that Zeons are bad, giving him the possible chance to question his actions. While I can sympathize with the kid after all that he had gone through by the end, I was faceplaming as how stupid he is at the first half of the show.

Such friends

Such friends

Another intent of the show is to put a human face to both side, to show that there isn’t necessary a good and bad side. I’d say 0080 does a very good job at portraying this. While it was Zeons that started the fight in Al’s world, it was the Federations that placed their hidden research center there, bringing people like Al into the fight indirectly. The main Zeon pilot, Bernie, subsequently fought not for Zeons but for the country. And Gundam, the usual heroic icon, is later seen as a wall to the survival of the country, despite the fact that the pilot for that Gundam bearing no ill-will for the country. However, the most important fact that both the Gundam and Bernie are important figures to Al just makes the human side of the pilots much more prominent, as they are more often seen outside of the pilot suit living normal lives than they are fighting in mobiles suits. The two pilots aren’t seen as machines longing for battles (ironically, like Al was as first), but are just fighting to stay alive. Unlike the characters from the TV series , they don’t have grandiose reasons to fight (ie ideologies), but more pressing issues like survival, and would be better off if the war didn’t exist. 

and look what happened

And look what happened

Music was mediocre; there weren’t any tracks that stuck to me aside from the ending theme.

Is this a good addition to the Gundam universe? Absolutely. While I would have preferred a better main character, you rarely see the wars in Universe Century in the eyes of a civilian, one that never get into a mobile suit to create history. While some other Gundam shows have showed the horror of war (Victory Gundam and Turn A Gundam comes to mind), it is rare to see a main character so hopeless in the face of war, especially when some of the mess is caused by the main character itself. However, as a show that shows the horror of war? While 0080 does a decent job, especially if when displaying the effect it has to an individual, there are better shows out there that display such horror (ie, I find Sora no Woto better in terms of displaying the horrors of war), mainly because of how aggravatingly stupid the main character is at the first half.

Wars are horrible and kids are illogical.