JinTai Staff Live Event Talk (Animate)

This is a translation of an animate article about a small-scale screening event for the first episode of Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita where the director/writer/lead actress showed up and talked for a while, mainly focusing on the talk portion. It’s a weird way to get information, but I’m a fan of the series and they talk about a lot of stuff here (using vuvuzelas for the skinned chicken voices, how the first episode was written with the bread scene at the end specifically in mind, etc.) that’s fun and enlightening.

Original article: http://www.animate.tv/news/details.php?id=1342487512

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Ranpo Kitan Roundtable (Kai-You)

In late July, director Kishi Seiji, actress Takahashi Rie, musician Sayuri, and animator Shiraishi Keiko participated in a round-table discussion with Kai-You reporter Yoshida Yuuya to promote and discuss aspects of the show. I found it interesting and decided to take a little time and translate the thing. Of particular interest to me was Shirashi’s comments on the last page about how she used 8mm film to shoot the ending, which resulted in the animation’s antiquated aspect ratio. It’s also an amusing consequence of the roundtable to see Sayuri, who’s in the roundtable as the ED artist and doesn’t typically handle anime production, provide some of her basic observations as a viewer that the anime talent can elaborate on.

The other main purpose of this article, especially evident on the third page, appears to be to drum up interest for a live ustream/nico broadcast of Sayuri’s “Suffocating Girl Sayuri; The Parallel Laboratory of Dawn ~Anime Version~ supported by 2.5D and Kai-You” program, which aired on July 30th. Said program features guest appearances by Takahashi, Kishi, and YKBX (illustrator of Mikazuki’s album cover, whose pictures appear in the original article) and airs another episode on August 26th.

Original Interview: http://kai-you.net/article/19239

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Kishi Seiji+Uezu Makoto on Ansatsu Kyoushitsu (Comic Natalie)

Kishi Seiji and Uezu Makoto talk about various aspects of making the Ansatsu Kyoushitsu anime. I happened upon this interview a few months ago, and found it really neat, so I took the time to translate it more recently once my schedule got less busy. Contains a bunch of neat tidbits, talking about Uezu’s early interest in the series and why he’s soloing the writing duties for the show, Kishi’s struggle to replicate the precision-strike gags in the manga, the backgrounds and color schemes, how they handled casting over 30 regularly appearing characters, and a bunch of other stuff.

Original Interview: http://natalie.mu/comic/pp/ansatsu

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Translation: Ranpo Kitan Staff Comments

The website for upcoming Summer anime Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace recently uploaded a pair of brief comments from the team talking about the show. They were interesting (dealt with the production schedule and the Ranpo stories Uezu plans to integrate) and short, so I translated them. My Japanese is pretty rusty, so apologies in advance for any mistakes. Continue reading

Fun With Numbers: Kishi Seiji’s Rough Road

Way back in 1960, the NBA’s Cincinnati Royals drafted future hall-of-fame basketball player Oscar Robertson with the first overall pick. In his first season, he was named rookie of the year. In his second season, he became the only player in NBA history to average a triple double (i.e. putting up ridiculous stats in 3 separate historical categories). In his fourth season, he was named the league’s most valuable player. In his fifth through seventh seasons, he never made it past the first round of the playoffs. In his eighth through tenth seasons, he didn’t even make the playoffs despite putting up consistently great personal stats. In his eleventh season, on a new team with the man who would become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, his team won a then-record 20 games in a row and eviscerated opponents in the playoffs, winning him his first-ever NBA title.

Robertson was great for basically his entire career, and it’s not like he lost those skills when his teams weren’t winning. So then why didn’t they win? Because in team sports like basketball, teams matter. When his team’s second-best player is a 41-year-old coach coming back into the game as a publicity stunt, how good a player is doesn’t much matter. It still takes good players to win championships, but great players not named Michael Jordan don’t win championships alone.

Anime production is not very much like basketball, but it’s a similarly complex process where circumstances can contribute as much as individual skills do to the net result. Before work on a show can even start, a producer has to successfully pitch an idea to sponsors and justify the business side of operations. A capable cast and staff have to be assembled. Those staffers then have to both have to develop an clear vision for the series and adequately communicate that vision with the hundred-plus animators who typically work on a modern TV anime. And for the project to be a success, that vision then has to resonate with its target audience, something which just doesn’t always happen.

I mention all this because it pertains very much to the discussion of director Kishi Seiji, one of only four directors in the history of anime to helm 3 non-sequel 10k+ hits, and the only one to do so at three separate studios. In spite of having set a career milestone that puts him on the same spreadsheet as Tatsuyuki Nagai and Yoshiyuki Tomino, Kishi has been a constant target for all sorts of fan ire. Taking a quick look at his career, it’s fairly easy to see where this sentiment originates. After a barely-notable start to his career, Kishi spent the years between 2007 and 2010 knocking off three straight winners (Seto no Hanayome, Astro Fighter Sunred, and Angel Beats) and making a bit of a name for himself. Angel Beats, for all its success, has its fair share of detractors, but the majority of bad mojo Kishi has generated comes from the next 3 years of his career, the stretch from 2011 to 2013, that made him one of the many to earn the nickname “the Uwe Boll of anime”. I categorically reject this label, not because all of the shows he directed over that stretch were good, but because the stretch was a daunting one in a way people rarely think about (and included some impressive achievements regardless).

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Get Behind the Bandwagon: The Added Fun Value From Loving Shows Some People Hate

To some extent, I’ve always been cogniscent of the fact that I’ve gravitated towards of a variety of indicators for the success of anime, rather than just word of mouth, because I have idiosyncratic tastes and using said variety of indicators helps illustrate that the case for or against many shows isn’t as clear-cut as many narrative-spinners would have you believe.

For the record, If there’s a worse anime blogger than Rick Reilly is a sports columnist, I’ve never met them. But I’ve read too many terrible columns by sanctimonious 70-year-old baseball writers about how Yasiel Puig has zero class and too many terrible columns by sanctimonious anime bloggers about how Kill La Kill is somehow “saving” an anime* industry that isn’t actually dying or lacking for fresh content not to see a lot of similarities between the two groups. I’m not saying that all writers who take a critical perspective on anime are like this, but far too many of them are more interested in grinding an axe against a genre rather than actually having a serious discussion about it.

But something hit me after I read this recent Andrew Sharp piece (he’s also the writer of the #hotsportstake series that mocks the aforementioned type of writing) about the appeal of bandwagoning on playoff football teams. One of his criteria that jumped out at me; “Does this team piss off Phil Simms and Jim Nantz?” I hadn’t thought about it for a while, but the Rex Ryan Jets were some of my favorite bandwagons for that very reason (plus the fact that those Jets played a defense best described as a shower of linebacker-shaped meteors backed by Darelle Revis eclipsing the sun). While my appreciation of a show is maximum when a show is great, my enjoyment of a show in a holistic sense is more of a 60-20-20 combination of 3 factors:

1. How much I enjoy it.

2. How well it performs commercially, usually in disk sales but potentially in other categories. It has to at least be a lock argument for having had break even sales.

3. The presence of a persistent group of (for lack of a better word) haters. Not just people who sort-of dislike and avoid it, but people who can’t resist taking paragraph-long potshots at it any time it gets mentioned.

This means that, as good as Attack on Titan was, it’s not a max-entertainment bandwagon. No one of any consequence particularly hates the show, and it’s just done really well. By contrast, Girls und Panzer was a near-perfect bandwagon show, putting up megahit numbers in the face of a number of vocal and hilariously ineffectual critics (it would be on my shortlist already if I weren’t currently watching it). There is really nothing sweeter in fandom than watching a show pile up vocal critics and subsequently both be good and sell well in spite of them. This post contains my personal shortlist of series I’ve had the privilege of being a fan of long enough to watch them do the Shaq thing and dunk all over the place.

To clarify before I actually get to the list, I don’t believe it’s a bad thing to hold any particular set of opinions. I do believe it’s a bad thing to constantly spend time talking scrap about stuff you don’t enjoy, and more generally about the way things are, rather than actually doing something about it. If you’re so upset about the majority of anime that get made nowadays, put up and post links to the BDs of the series you do like on your blog, or just buy them yourself. It’s trivially easy to use amazon for that sort of thing in this day and age.

That said, here are my personal bandwagon favorites of the past several years:

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First Reactions: Arpeggio of Blue Steel Episode 10

I have to admit, I was expecting a lot more of this episode to focus on the rest of the cast’s effort to rescue the now-submerged Iona and Gunzou. I wasn’t expecting, or even really hoping for, a focus on those two. But that’s the direction the show decided to go in, and it produced an outstanding piece of work as a result. There were a few moments where they went a little overboard with the drama (Takao’s sacrifice laid it on pretty thick), but the majority of this episode was quietly stuffed with character detail for Iona and Gunzou.

Arpeggio-10-2

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First Reactions: Arpeggio of Blue Steel Episode 5

Arpeggio really seems to be alternating its format week by week, going from battle episode to aftermath to battle episode again. It’s a format that makes sense for a series that’s packing 2 episodes per disk (some of the biggest selling point goes into every volume), and they’re liable to keep it up unless the ending shaves the time between battles down to nearly zero and turns every matchup into an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink shakedown like the one in episode 4. In which case the people who stuck around just end up getting more bang for their buck.*

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First Reactions: Arpeggio of Blue Steel Episode 2

The first episode of Arpeggio was very much an introductory one a few very high-octane minutes followed by an origin story for the main characters and their supertech submarine. That expositional phase of the series apparently mostly ended last week, as this week’s episode was what I would guess will be the meat of the series; naval combat that was as snazzily animated as it was thought out and tense.

Arpeggio-2-1

Episode 1 also brought some predictable backlash, with many commentators criticizing the full-3DCG animation style. Personally, I have the same stance on it that I had on Kaiji (loved it), Aku no Hana (not a huge fan), the cars in Initial D (Eurobeat), and many other shows with atypical artstyle. Choosing to be different means nothing, it really comes down to how well it gets executed. So far, the show’s been doing a more than respectable job of that. Meanwhile, the market continues to speak for itself, as the BD for the show’s first volume is currently the 8th-most preordered one of the season and rising in spite of a significantly shorter solicitation time.*

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