Splaket 11 + Popket Rebroadcast Double Doujin Event Report

On my recent trip to Japan, I had the opportunity to visit not one but two doujin events at the same venue: the Splatoon-themed Splaket 11 and the Pop Team Epic-themed Popket Rebroadcast. Both were held at Ota City Industrial Plaza PiO, which is the same venue as the Love Live! event I attended two years prior.

Splaket

Splaket wasn’t overwhelmingly large by any means, but it did get plenty of foot traffic. I actually saw a few parents bringing their young, Splatoon-loving kids there. I like to imagine they were otaku parents introducing their kids, but Splatoon is big enough a series that I’m not sure that’s guaranteed.

What stood out to me most, however, were the ways artists and creators of these doujin works transformed the Splatoon concept to fit their needs. It’s like the world established by the games is just detailed enough to girl the imagination and just open enough to let that same imagination fill in the blanks. I saw detailed weapons catalogs, fashion guides, BL, yuri, straight romance, Callie and Marie, Marina and Pearl, and everything in between. It made me feel what an astounding success Splatoon is in terms of visual aesthetic and design.

Popket

The first thing I saw upon reaching Popket was the event catalog—a standard of doujim events. However, when I tried to pay for it, it turned out that the ¥333 price tag meant exactly that amount. It’s based on a Pop Team Epic joke about how animators make only ¥3,330,000 (approximately $33,000 USD) in spite of the grueling labor required. if you wanted them to keep the change, they wouldn’t let you! It was free to enter, but if you wanted that extra item, you had to come prepared.

Given that Pop Team Epic actually had a fair amount of mainstream penetration in Japan, I was expecting a fairly large event, but it was actually significantly smaller than Splaket. I’m not sure why this was the case, but I wonder if it was a combination of factors, like scheduling and Pop Team Epic being a difficult series to parody for the purposes of doujinshi.

The goals of fan works are many, but two are taking the original property to new and curious places, and trying to faithfully extend it such that the characters remain familiar as they’re adventures continue. But Pop Team Epic defies nearly all expectations. How do you parody a work that practically parodies itself? How do you tell jokes on its level? It’s not easy.

What I saw from Popket was less parodying Pop Team Epic and more using it to parody other series. Rather than trying to put Popuko and Pipimu in new situations, the doujin creators mimicked the drawing style of the original artist, bkub, to spoof other works. It reminds me of that artist who keeps drawing parody doujinshi of various series in which all the characters look and act like they came from Fist of the North Star.

Overall

It was an afternoon well spent, and a good chance to connect with Japanese fans. As always, I wish there was more of a doujin culture in the US and elsewhere.

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Report: Retro Doujin Event Game Legend 28

On a recent trip to Japan, I attended a doujin event dedicated to retro games. It was an opportunity on my part to not only attend my first ever Japanese event dedicated solely to video games, but to see just what “retro” meant for a Japanese audience.

Held in the city of Kawaguchi, “Game Legend 28” saw a fairly packed attendance. I’m awful at estimating crowd sizes, but I’d say there was close to 200 people in attendance. The vendors there offered a diverse range of goods, even more than events I’d attended in the past, and it was primarily due to the subject matter. While the standard comics and essays were there in droves, one could also find CDs of video game music covered by amateur bands, entire archives of instruction manuals, people’s personally developed games, and even super-miniaturized (and playable!) versions of arcade and console titles. The last item seemed to be a trend, as more than one table offered them.

When it comes to trends one might not see at a US convention, I noticed that there was a great amount of love given to the PC-Engine (released in the US as the Turbo Grafx 16), and that certain popular Japanese meme characters such as Spelunker still held strong. I also met a woman who wore a Segata Sanshiro t-shirt and sold a photo journal of her time attending a Sonic fan event in Korea. Another dedicated herself to F-Zero, showing not only doujinshi but tiny F-Zero machine replicas as well.

It’s common to presume that doujinshi means “porn,” but I actually saw very few tables dedicated to 18+ material. Even then, one was selling a comic featuring a popular heroine from Tokimeki Memorial. In other words, even the smut was frequently retro.

Ultimately, I enjoyed Game Legend 28, and even bought a few things, including a Sega Smash Bros. parody doujinshi starring Alex Kidd. But the event also inadvertently curried favor with me when a small live brass band played a song from one of my favorite video game soundtracks ever. Following performances of the boss theme from R-Type and the ending theme to Chrono Trigger, they went straight into “Back to the Fire,” the Hydra stage music from Thunder Force III.

At that point, Game Legend 28 could do no wrong in my mind.

Quotable: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for August 2016

August is full of fun and surprises. For one thing, I have two panels at Otakon 2016: “Greater Uglier Manga” and “Such Dog, Much Anime, Wow.” The schedule isn’t available yet, but when it is I’ll be making a post.

Another bit of news is that Ogiue Maniax has, for the first time ever, been quoted on the back of a manga! The title in question is Sweetness & Lightning:

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I consider this quite the milestone, and I’d like to thank my readers, but especially my Patreon sponsors in particular for supporting me:

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Sasahara Keiko fans:

Kristopher Hostead

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

I’d also like to congratulate Johnny for winning my Love Live! contest.

Perhaps the biggest news of all for the blog is that Genshiken is ending! I’ve written my review for the penultimate chapter, and I already have emotions welling up inside of me in anticipation for the final conclusion. You’ll be certain that I’ll have a lot to say at the end.

If nothing crazy happens (like a third Genshiken being announced soon after), I’m considering doing a series of nine posts to review the original series volume by volume. What do you think?

Other notable posts this month include my Patreon-sponsored article on Purity in Anime, my reviews of the Kyoto subway tourism light novel, Kyo Girls Days, and Girls und Panzer der Film, as well as a report on my visit to the university on which Genshiken is based.

It’s kind of a hectic month looking ahead, so I haven’t had time to think of any new projects for the blog. For now, I’m still watching and reading through quite a back catalog, with the intention of clearing up some time to finally review Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross for Gattai Girls. Luckily, it’s now on Amazon, free for Prime users and 99 cents per episode for non-Primes. So, I have no excuses left!

Once again, I’ll be at Otakon, so if anyone wants to come up and say hi at a panel, feel free to do so! I’m actually a tad shy in real life, and it can come across as surliness, but don’t let that scare you.

Charge Ahead!: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for July 2016

Don’t forget, the Ogiue Maniax Love Live! Contest ends this Saturday!

With that out of the way, let’s get back to our regularly scheduled monthly blog update.

As always, much thanks to my Patreon sponsors:

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Sasahara Keiko fans:

Kristopher Hostead

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

A special thanks to Diogo in particular for giving me an amazing present: Volume 1 of the Brazilian edition of Genshiken!

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A new season of anime is on the horizon, and I’m looking forward to checking out as much as I can. I’m most looking forward to Love Live! Sunshine!!, which started airing just this past weekend. Unfortunately, I tend to watch many more shows than I have time to write about, so often some of my favorite series don’t end up getting blog posts dedicated to them. I’m considering doing something about that, but it’s always a small struggle between writing about the anime and manga that no one’s looking at to get them more exposure and talking about the things I like that people already have some familiarity with so that there’s an easier connection to be made.

I think that, due to a lack of time, my posts have started getting a bit shorter again. I believe that there are strengths and weaknesses to larger and shorter entries, but it also means that Ogiue Maniax might feel more like the scratchpad for my thoughts that it originally was in the first place. What do you readers think of this, and is there any kind of preferred ratio for you?

June’s post of the month has to be the review of Genshiken Chapter 125. I know, I know, Genshiken is a highlight every month, but I think this is a real case of the manga zagging when you thought it would zig, and it more than anything else reminds me of how wonderful a series Genshiken is.

I also have more reports from my trip to Japan, including my visit to two different Love Live! events, and a look at Comic Store Wonderland in Osaka, which is home to a ton of amazing autographs from famous manga artists. The Hanayo bag I bought at the doujin event is quite possibly my favorite piece of merchandise from Japan. Taketayo~

Another highlight is my review of the new Cardcaptor Sakura manga. CLAMP is back! I mean, they’ve never left, but I just lost interest after years and years of Tsubasa and XXXHolic. This new CCS really feels like a return to form, and I’ve already got plans to get each issue of Nakayoshi as it comes out in Japan.

Lastly, I wrote a post about Mystic Archives of Dantalian, as requested by Patreon sponsor Johnny Trovato, where I explore the show’s intersection with the idea of chuunibyou.

As always, if you’re interested in having me write about something, you can make a pledge through Patreon.  And if you’ve ever wondered why that tier is so high, it’s actually because I really want Ogiue Maniax to still be a space where I share and explore my thoughts, and so having the blog just be about fulfilling requests isn’t what I really want. However, because I’m also always eager to broaden my horizons, I invite the opportunity to make me watch or read or talk about something I might not have thought of otherwise.

I hope you all have a great July. I’ll be spending the month getting panels ready for Otakon in August. If any of you are going, I look forward to possibly seeing you.

Fan vs. Official: Bokura no Love Live 12 + Love Live! School Idol Festival Thanksgiving 2016

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In my most recent trip to Japan, I attended two different Love Live! events in one day. The first was “Bokura no Love Live! 12,” a doujin event. The second was Love Live! Sukufesu Kanshasai 2016″ (School Idol Festival Thanksgiving 2016) in Ikebukuro, an official event held in celebration of the School Idol Festival game. The contrast between an event that revels in fan expression and one that presents everything in an official capacity is interesting to me, because I think it shows both the strengths and weaknesses of each approach to fandom.

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Though I had the opportunity to take a look at both, a question occurred to me as I was traveling from one to the other: if I could only go to one, which one would I choose? I took this from the perspective of a Koizumi Hanayo fan. At the doujin event, I could buy Hanayo-dedicated fan comics from people I knew were fans of Hanayo as much as I am (if not more!). I found a bunch of amazing comics and parody works, and I even got a couple of amazing tote bags that might be my favorite purchases of my entire Japan trip. There’s sort of an interesting magic to buying things in person that get lose with just ordering online, and it’s enhanced when you know the person behind the table put their heart and soul into it. Overall, it was one of the best highlights of my trip to Japan.

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However, doujinshi are, of course, not official portrayals of the characters. This is in many ways the advantage of fanart, fanfiction, etc., but what’s also clear is that the fan material feeds off of the official presentation. Much for the art at “Bokura no Love Live! 12” was clearly inspired by the images found in magazines, the mobile game, and everywhere else. There is a kind of power to official merchandise because it presents the characters at their best, but it’s also limiting because they can’t stray too far off from what is deemed “okay.”

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For example, the shirts being sold at “Thanksgiving 2016” were all prints of existing art that could be found in lots of places, while the merchandise sold at “Bokura no Love Live! 12” felt a little more unique because they weren’t officially sanctioned images slapped onto clothing. That’s not to say official Love Live! merchandise has to look blunt and straightforward (I actually also got a swank Love Live! polo shirt just the day before these events), but they seem to lean in that direction.

Another instance of the difference between events has to do with yuri and pairings. Love Live! encourages yuri to a certain degree, but has to keep it implicit because it’s supposed to appeal to all sorts of people (and indeed I saw everything from little girls to businessmen at Thanksgiving 2016). A doujin event, on the other hand, can go as explicit as possible in more ways than one, and can even merge the innocent with the racy and have them all exist in one place. Characters can be drawn to fit the whims of the artists to a greater degree with the doujinshi, but they necessarily must feed off the source material at least to a certain extent. Nico/Maki doujinshi can go the distance, but the dynamic between them is rendered through the anime, the game, and other canon resources.

Official events also have resources on their side. One of the highlights of “Sukufesu Kanshasai 2016” was a live School Idol Festival game where nine different people played simultaneously, each one commanding one of the buttons by stepping on them. The cards being used where all nine of the μ’s girls, but with special outfits for the event, and they were surrounded in a mall by throngs of fans dancing and singing along. A doujin event really couldn’t pull that off to the same capacity, nor could they be the place to get official Love Live! Final μ’s Concert shirts, which were a popular item at both events that granted legitimacy to the wearer’s fandom.

The division between official and unofficial events can be rather gray because of how the two feed into each other. The output of fans, albeit more often in the form of monetary purchases, informs the official companies responsible for Love Live! just what the fans are into. The fans, as mentioned, take inspiration from the official material, and convert it, thus spreading the joy of Love Live! further.

It’s hard to choose between the two when both have so much merit, but ultimately I think I would have gone for the doujin event just so I could have that experience of walking around and buying fan-made works. It’s sort of the difference between attending fan panels and official panels at conventions. The official panels are where you can meet the creators, but many times they’re curated and micromanaged heavily, whereas doujinshi and fan panels can stray from the “company line” so to speak. This makes them, in my opinion, overall more interesting, but I’m well aware that all of the Hanayo rice memes required the source material to emphasize it in the most amusing ways.

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The last thing I’d like to talk about is actually a little card found in the bag of freebies from Thanksgiving 2016 which is a drawing of some of the School Idol Festival-original girls. Unlike The iDOLM@STER, there is a clear stratification between the main girls (be they μ’s or their successors, the new group Aqours), who are considered “Rare Cards,” as opposed to the “Normal Card” girls that are basically fodder for the former. Here, even at this official event was a small token of appreciation for the lesser idols, and a part of me wishes that someone, be they official creators or doujinshi creators, would take the next step and flesh them out. The result would be different on either side, but both would provide value in their own ways.

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PS: I mentioned a freebie bag for “Love Live! Sukufesu Kanshasai 2016,” and I happen to have an extra one. I’ll be holding a contest soon to determine the winner, so stay tuned!

If you liked this post, consider becoming a sponsor of Ogiue Maniax through Patreon. You can get rewards for higher pledges, including a chance to request topics for the blog.

Potential Changes for the Future: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for June 2016

I’m back from Japan, and I had a blast! Look forward to a number of posts this coming month about my trip.

If you’re part of my Patreon (or even not!), feel free to message me or leave comments below. You can ask me anything about my Japan experience this time around. By the way, if you’re wondering what the biggest trend in Japan is right now, it’s Osomatsu-san.

Speaking of, here are this month’s Patreon sponsors:

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Sasahara Keiko fans:

Kristopher Hostead

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

There is something important I need to discuss, which is that some changes in my life (nothing tragic) are happening that might require me to reduce the amount of posting that I do to Ogiue Maniax. I know that sounds kind of strange after declaring that I would up my post rate not so long ago, but that’s just kind of how it is.

The result is that, while I’m definitely going to try, I might not be able to keep up my twice/thrice-weekly posting schedule. I know that part of the appeal of Ogiue Maniax is its consistency and its fairly high output rate, so if any of my patrons want to adjust their pledges accordingly, I totally understand.

I’m hopeful that I can keep up my current rate or something similar, though. I mean, I’ve done it before!

As for this past month’s post highlights:

As always, there’s the requisite Genshiken chapter review. This one got longer than I initially expected, but that’s just because it turns out that there’s a lot to talk about. One notable aspect of this chapter is how it meta-references the anime version. Strangely, there’s no new chapter of Kimi Nakare out yet.

A couple of posts this month were ones I’ve been ruminating on for a while. The first is a look at the fanservice from Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma, and the second is a post about how vital Twitch chat is to the Twitch streaming experience. There’s just a lot to unpack in both, and I hope I’ve done a decent job explaining my points.

There’s also this month’s Patreon-sponsored post, where I look at the BlazBlue anime. While I was passingly familiar with BlazBlue as an anime-style fighting game, one thing I didn’t realize was how many imouto characters are in it. This in some ways sets it apart from similar games, which often deal with only or two little sisters.

The last major post is the first of many inspired by my Japan trip. Check out my report and review of Kansai Comitia 48, a doujin event dedicated to original (as in not based on existing works) doujinshi,

Outside of the blog:

Over at Apartment 507 where I’m currently writing, I’ve started a new series of reviews for Japanese-language manga apps. The first is Shogakukan’s MangaOne. Remember, these are only available on the Japanese app stores. I’ve also started a Vine account because making dumb jokes using anime is what I do, and I recently appeared on a mini-episode of the Reverse Thieves’ Speakeasy Podcast to discuss the Hulu Apocalypse.

So anyway, fire away with the Japan questions! I was only there briefly, so I can’t divulge to you its darkest secrets, but I sure can try.

 

Original the Comic: Kansai Comitia 48 (Original Doujinshi Event)

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Whenever the typical English-speaking anime or manga sees the word doujinshi, a particular image comes to mind. Typically, doujinshi are associated with fan-parodies of titles both popular and niche, the realm of what-ifs that run the gamut from the silly to the sexy. However, many doujinshi are original works, and Comitia is the largest group of “original-only” doujin events in Japan. I attended Kansai Comitia 48 Osaka recently on May 15, 2016, and it was a fun learning experience. Not only could I feel the creators’ passions, but I also have come to view the importance of doujin events in a different light.

Original Doujinshi

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While I am certainly a fan of doujinshi based on existing properties, in many ways original doujinshi are more impressive because they cannot rely on drawing in the fan bases of those works. When I think about it, my first exposure to the idea of doujinshi, the anime adaptation of Comic Party, mainly focused on original works. In that TV series, the main character learns an important lesson: making doujinshi is about what you want to do, not simply what sells. Across dozens of creators, that is exactly the spirit I saw at Kansai Comitia 48.

The event site was laid out roughly according to genre, and when you look at the categories listed it becomes easy to see the variety of interests on display. There was the “Fantasy” section, which was by far the largest, but there were also things like Criticism, Travel, Shounen, Shoujo, Seinen, SF/Mecha, Animals, BL, and so on. The first doujinshi I picked up was a record of the author’s trip to Russia, while my favorite had to be a cute romance about a girl with a bentou box for a head. The handkerchief normally used to wrap a bentou box became the ribbon that accentuated her girlish charm. One table was selling guides to girls’ school uniforms throughout Japan, and the circle that was responsible for it consisted of a mix of both men and women.

What About the 18+ Stuff?

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While doujinshi often brings to my pornographic works, the Adult section at Kansai Comitia 48 was rather small. This is not that unusual, because most doujinshi made are in fact not sexual. However, even there the space for doujinshi as a place to explore one’s passions is visible, and one might even argue that it’s where such sentiments are most evident. Many of the 18+ circles were focused on otoko no ko, or boys who look like girls, and one was even solely about handsome bad guys kissing young girls. There was one artist who drew heterosexual josei-style smut, which can be rather uncommon given the sheer amount of BL that exists.

I picked up one adult title at the event, but not necessarily for the reason you might expect. The artist who drew it was actually Kakimoto Kenjirou, a published manga artist in the 1990s whose series, Futarigurashi, ran in Young Jump. It appeared that he was out of the manga game for quite a while, but here he was at Kansai Comitia drawing what he wanted, and the doujinshi I bought was actually a sequel to Futarigurashi. Here was a space where even someone with manga industry experience could continue the stories they wanted to tell, and essentially make “amateur” sequels to their own “professional” works.

A Haven of Lost Drawing Styles

One aspect of Kakimoto’s doujinshi is that, while it didn’t look quite the same as it did in the 90s, he still retained a very 90s style of manga drawing. What’s more, he wasn’t alone. Throughout Kansai Comitia 48, I saw doujinshi with characters that looked like they came from bygone eras of manga and Japanese pop culture. One artist created a giant robot themed after Nagano Prefecture, Naganoizer, and was clearly inspired by 80s anime artists such as Mikimoto Haruhiko (Macross, Gunbuster, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress). Another artist’s style was closer to 70s shoujo legends such as Hagio Moto and Takemiya Keiko.

In the actual professional manga industry, failing to change one’s styles with the times comes at a risk. While popular creators such as Miuchi Suzue (Glass Mask) or the aforementioned Hagio and Takemiya still draw in the same style as they did in the 1970s, many have clearly made shifts over time that correspond with trends in manga as a whole. For better or worse, events like Comitia are where those older styles can still exist, away from the pressures of having to pick up on what’s popular. While some are able to sell doujinshi at a profit, that is the exception. Most doujin artists make doujinshi purely as passion projects.

Comparing with Artist Alleys in America

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I’ve been to quite a few Artist Alleys in American anime conventions, and while you can get a good variety of styles, for the most part I tend to see many similarities in how artists approach works there. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that anime fandom has a rather high turnover rate where many grow out of it as they get older. This is not to say that American anime con artists lack variety, or that they all draw in an “anime” style, but the result is you don’t really get those 80s/90s-style holdouts.

A better comparison would be with the artist alleys at places like New York Comic Con, because you’ll often see artists who are inspired by past generations maintain those styles. For example, you’ll often see artists who love Jack Kirby and aim to maintain his style. They will pepper their drawings with Kirby dots, dynamic poses, and other signature characteristics of the King’s drawings. Similarly, at Kansai Comitia 48, you had artists who still believed in those older styles. Whether it’s because they refuse to adapt or can’t, the result is a window into a different world that is not so much experimental as Indie comics in the US tend to be, but are basically different shades of mainstream from older generations.

If you liked this post, consider becoming a sponsor of Ogiue Maniax through Patreon. You can get rewards for higher pledges, including a chance to request topics for the blog.