Timed Comment Breakdowns: Cinderella Girls Through 6

The 2011 Idolm@ster anime was kind of a big deal. It was a work made with heart, effort, and finesse, with boom-spectacular dance sequences, cute comedy, and soulful drama (sometimes onscreen simultaneously). It enjoyed nigh-unprecedented success for an anime adaptation of a non-VN video game – aside from slightly-bigger P4A, no other game adaptation comes within 15000 copies per volume of Im@s’s 28,892 copy average. No matter how you slice it, that’s a tough act to follow.

Follow, though, is exactly what the staff of Cinderella Girls, were tasked with doing. This crack team, led by director Noriko Takao (a deputy on the original series) have come out of the gate swinging, offering a different flavor of the franchise that may surpass the original in terms of inner shine. Unlike the original, Cinderella Girls has to this point largely eschewed full episodes focused on individual characters, instead dedicating the bulk of the time to shoving the cast into situations together and letting the organic chemistry go blam like a room stuffed with methane and lit matches. This approach to composition is par for the course for the series’ head writer, Takahashi Tatsuya, who, in addition to heavy involvement with the first anime series, pioneered a revolutionary character-centric method of visual novel design while creating To Heart. This process has two key steps; first, characters are designed and fleshed out by the creative types. Then, once the characters have been fully shaped, the individual scenes and overarching stories are made to evolve out of the cast continually interacting with another in various combinations and contexts. By all accounts, this adaptation has been well-received by fans so far, and a steep uptick in dramatic tension at the end of the series’ 6th episode represents a good opportunity to take a timed-comment look at how viewers have been responding to bits and pieces of the show.

(Spoiler Alert: Episode 6 was a kind of a big deal. I’ll be talking about moments from the first couple of episodes here, obviously.)

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Active Engagement Through Timed Comments: GJ-bu

Studio Dogakobo’s GJ-bu was a cute 2013 comedy show centered around a c-list high-school club. The production team did a good job at pouring in a little bit of extra juice while putting the show together, pulling out a lot of zingy final-act punchlines to polish off its preferred brand of character-skit comedy. I personally found the on-screen product to be a hoot, and was interested enough in the broader audience reaction to pull himado comments and do some basic analysis.

For more information on this analysis method, see this similar post on Ping Pong The Animation, or this introductory post covering particular episodes of Shingeki no Bahamut and Carnival Phantasm.

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Active Engagement Through Timed Comments: Arpeggio of Blue Steel

Arpeggio of Blue Steel was a very nice anime, a naval-themed series with throwbacks to space-based anime of the 1980s, a light-hearted gear that popped up at all the right times, and loads of ambitious 3DCG animation. And it didn’t go unnoticed in Japan – the series itself was a huge success which moved disks and manga volumes alike. Too, just about an hour after this post is scheduled to go up the 19th annual Animation Kobe Award ceremony will be held, honoring, among others, Arpeggio of Blue Steel’s Director.

All of the above are macro indicators of how Arpeggio went over with audiences, but not so much on micro level ones. It’s kind of natural to wonder which parts of the series were the ones that won the largest fractions of the audience over – was it the bear-suit gags, the tense battle scenes, the quotable quotes, or the plentiful new-school takes on the Itano circus? Those questions are exactly the sort of thing a time-sensitive method of anime analysis is built to shed light on, which is why we’re about to take a moderately deep dive into Arpeggio’s scrolling comment history.

For more information on this analysis method, see this similar post on Ping Pong The Animation, or this introductory post covering particular episodes of Shingeki no Bahamut and Carnival Phantasm.

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Active Engagement Through Timed Comments: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?

Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? is a consistently funny and incredibly charming show about five girls who work at a total of three coffee shops between them. Tapping a solid cast, the show was able to ride a bunch of group-driven cute humor to a considerable degree of commercial success, averaging roughly 10,000 disks sold over 6 total volumes. The combination of individual flavor and audience satisfaction makes it another interesting candidate for the following question; which moments in the show went over best with the audience? I’m going to attempt to prod at the answer to that question by making use of the series’ himado timed comment data.

For more information on this analysis method, see this similar post on Ping Pong The Animation, or this introductory post covering particular episodes of Shingeki no Bahamut and Carnival Phantasm.

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Active Engagement Through Timed Comments: Ping Pong The Animation

Anime, unlike a game, a sport, or mechanical tinkering, is a fairly passive hobby. You plop yourself in front of a screen, press play, and maybe livetweet about the episode as it’s going on. But most people watch shows straight through. Outside of refreshing crunchyroll streams frozen for too long to plausibly be a dramatic pause, an average anime requires very little user input to run from start to finish (even books and manga at least require readers to turn pages). That doesn’t mean anime is a shallow hobby, or a passive one, but it does mean that the big moments in anime, the ones that suck the viewers into the screen like some elastic pink thing, are pretty important, since viewers typically aren’t doing anything that would serve to distract them from how tacked-together and plodding a subpar sequence is. A good anime will have a few moments capable of forcing viewers to snap to full attention, and a great one will have several per episode.

These moments are often obvious to whoever experiences them, but because so much subjective and personal experience goes into how one person experiences a work of entertainment, it can be difficult to isolate these on a macro/crowd level. If attainable, that information would be useful in a number of discussions, notably in those trying to tie a particular sequence into discussions of how much it might have meant for the show sales-wise.* Participating in discussion of an episode is a way to suss out your thoughts on a show, but a lot of that discussion is per-mediated in the sense that you’ve had time to digest before you speak your piece on it. By contrast, commenting systems built into video streaming platforms offer a fast-reaction look at how specific moments or intervals in a show evoked strong, immediate reactions. Which, in turn, makes these moments likely candidates for ones that pushed people over the top from being interested to being locked-in.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be taking a look at the timed comment data for several successful shows to get an idea of which moments may have been “high-leverage” ones that brought more fans into the show’s big tent. First up, the eleven episodes of Masaki Yuasa’s Ping Pong The Animation. Full disclosure: I’m writing this having seen the show, and assuming you’ve seen it too. Since this is essentially a list of scenes of importance from a slightly atypical perspective, there’s obvious spoiler potential below.

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