Falling Falling Let’s Enjoy: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for September 2022

The summer of 2022 is starting to wind down, and it feels somehow different from even recent years. Maybe it’s that Japan hit a milestone with Comic Market 100 this past month. Maybe it’s the prospect of COVID-19 Omicron-centric booster shots potentially making me feel safer and more comfortable with traveling—including to Japan itself at some point. Or maybe it’s the passage of the largest climate bill in US history, as well as the announcement of a massive student loan forgiveness plan, that gives the vague sense that humanity can do something.

I hope this is a positive turning point, and that we’ll all be in a better position to do the things we love and plan for the future we want to see.

Thank you to my September 2022 Patreon subscribers, notably the following:

General:

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Naledi Ramphele

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from August:

Shattering the Old Baltimore Ceiling: Otakon 2022

A huge chunk of the blog this month has been dedicated to Otakon. You can find my thoughts on it, as well as links to interviews, here.

S-M-R-T! I mean, S-M-A-R-T: “Fist of the North Star Side Story: The Genius Amiba’s Otherworld Conqueror Legend”

An amazing premise for an isekai parody starring a second-rate villain from Fist of the North Star.

Mother of Mercilessness: Everything Everywhere All at Once

The rare portrayal of an Asian mom as action protagonist touches on so many aspects of the Asian diaspora.

Kio Shimoku

Kio Shimoku talks on Twitter about how he’s bad at doing panty shots.

And here’s a look at the Spotted Flower version of Angela Burton.

Apartment 507

An early review of Love Live! Superstar!! Season 2, focusing on the concept of the senpai.

Closing

As the seasons change and cooler weather (hopefully) arrives, I also want to think about revisiting some old projects. I keep meaning to do more Gattai Girls, but a lack of time and to some extent motivation has hampered that. I also wonder about continuing the Fujoshi FIles after many years of inactivity, but have to consider the possibility that it’s not my place to discuss how “rotten” fujoshi characters are. I’m not that BL and saw the characters with fascination, and am still wondering if I should let those closer to the fandom take over this sort of endeavor. I’m still entertaining the notion of a fan wiki, but who knows where it’ll end up.

White House ga Abunai: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for August 2022

I’m back from Otakon in DC, and hopefully without catching COVID or the five million other diseases currently making life miserable for everyone. Did I make the right choice going to an anime convention? I guess my body will tell me soon. I’ll have a review of the event coming up this month, including my logic as to why I decided to attend despite the obvious risks involved (hint: taking steps to be cautious can go a long way).

By the way, the title of this month’s update is a reference to Jack King from Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo.

Thank you to my August 2022 Patreon subscribers, notably the following:

General:

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from July:

Dance Dance Danseur, Ted Lasso, and Healing Masculinity

A look at two series that challenge toxic masculinity.

We’re All Stars: Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club Season 2

A post about how Love Live! Nijigasaki puts the spotlight on unexpected characters.

La+ Darknesss, Dance, and True Power Levels

This Hololive VTuber has an unexpected side to her that makes things all the better.

Kio Shimoku

Kio Shimoku’s Twitter this past month was pretty light, but I definitely enjoyed finding out his thoughts on various movies, both anime and non-anime.

Apartment 507

Some thoughts on the soccer anime Ao Ashi.

Closing

The summer heat has been harsh here and around the world. I hope everyone is doing what they can to stay cool, and that the people with the power to actually change things don’t just sit on their hands while they watch the world burn.

Ikura NanDemo: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for July 2022

I would love if the only thing on my mind was the summer anime season that’s just beginning. There are plenty of shows I’m looking forward to, but the news coming out the US Supreme Court is just too dire to ignore, especially this close to July 4. A lot of people are going to get hurt because of the family planning services denied to them, and the very fact that we’re seeing an established civil right being taken away is truly disheartening—though I choose not to give up hope.

Recently, I’d been watching old clips of George Carlin, and there’s a line that stuck with me that rings with the painful truth about the Conservative mindset in America: “If you’re pre-born, you’re fine. If you’re pre-school, you’re fucked.” It drives home the fact that we’re forcing babies into a world that doesn’t give a damn about them; otherwise, we’d have reliable healthcare and infrastructure that prioritizes bringing people out of poverty instead of acting like all the suffering the poor have to endure is somehow deserved.

Readers might be wondering if I’m going too far off track from the core focus of this anime blog. To that, I say: While there is no inherent political direction to anime, with works that go in every direction on the political spectrum, there is a strong and complex history of feminism through anime and manga that has helped to shape the lives of adults and children around the world. How many, including myself, were inspired to see the notion of women as heroes in a new light through shows like Sailor Moon? What about the fact that there was an episode of Hugtto Precure! dedicated to addressing the stigma towards C-sections in Japan, or how Delicious Party Precure has a non-cisgender character? Even something decidedly more horny and muddled in its politics like Darling in the Franxx portrays a world where pregnancy is controlled against people’s wills, and the main couple can’t actually have children.

Remember: You can be morally against abortion but still be in favor of bodily autonomy. It’s about leaving the choice up to the person whose body has fundamentally changed due to pregnancy.

As with every month, I’d like to thank my Patreon subscribers, particularly these fine folks below.

General:

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from June:

If You Love Literature and Violence, Gimme a Hell Yeah—Hibiki: How to Become a Novelist

I finally got around to reviewing a really great manga about Japanese literature, and it’s one that comes with no shortage of pleasant surprises.

A Deluge of Riches: Super Robot Wars 30

At long last, my actual review of Super Robot Wars 30.

Hololive Alternative, TakaMori, and the Speed of Memes

A post that talks about Virtual Youtubers, but also the way that information changes so quickly in that world.

Kio Shimoku

Kio Shimoku’s Twitter this past month was pretty light, but I definitely enjoyed finding out his thoughts on various movies, both anime and non-anime.

I also got to ask him about his participation in a Star Wars artbook.

Closing

I know many in the US are feeling like their votes don’t matter—otherwise, this stripping of civil rights would never have happened. And indeed, voting is very limited in what it can accomplish. It can be disappointing to see those with greater influence, especially politicians, not do enough to exert more lasting change. However, to not vote at all is to concede a very fundamental power. And while it may seem like a drop in the bucket, the consequences of its utter absence will be far deeper and suffocating. Please don’t give up.

I Asked Kio Shimoku About Star Wars

The cover to Star Wars: Tribute to Star Wars. A blank border surrounds a drawing of Darth Vader with stormtroopers behind him. The title logo is in front as a gold plate with the corners beveled and the Star Wars logo cut out. The art is by Yasuhiko Yoshikazu.
(Cover by Yasuhiko Yoshikazu)

I purchased the artbook Star Wars: Tribute to Star Wars for one reason: Among the many manga artists who contributed their talents to this collection is Kio Shimoku, author of Genshiken. I expected some nice art (of course), but the real shocker comes from his comments.

Some years ago, I suddenly thought I'd like to retell Star Wars, and I created 350 pages of thumbnails of Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace just for me. So, I'm pretty attached to those characters. (I especially like the duo of Nute Gunray and Rune Haako.) I've wanted to do Star Wars: Episode 2 Attack of the Clones and beyond for a long time, but...I'm busy, so I keep having to put it off. Someday I'll do it, though (just for me, of course)!

As seen above, Kio states that he once drew 350 pages of thumbnails for a Star Wars doujinshi…and that he’s a fan of Nute Gunray and Rune Haako. If you’re not that into Star Wars, you might be asking, “WHO???” And if you are a fan, you might be asking, “WHY???”

Nute Gunray is the viceroy of the Trade Federation, and Rune Haako is his right-hand man. In other words, they’re the bad guys at the beginning of Episode I: The Phantom Menace. So that answers the “who,” but as for the “why,” I actually had to ask the man himself on Twitter. Here’s his response: 

He even followed up by finding his original thumbnail with the characters and confirming something I suspected: The doujinshi he’s referring to is a genderswap doujinshi, titled Sister Wars. Kio had previously talked about it in his interview with VTuber Luis Cammy.

I don’t own the doujinshi—though I wish I did. That being said, there may be a few copies floating around on auction sites and such. I haven’t yet tried to get my hands on it, but maybe I should make the attempt…

In Fandom, Is Age Just a Number?

As I scroll down Twitter these days, I’ll occasionally happen upon what seems to be an insightful article or piece. I know it’s probably worth reading, and that I’d get something out of it, but something prevents me from clicking and actually looking. I’m not exactly sure why that’s the case, but the fact that the people who wrote these pieces (or decided to link to them) often feel like they have something to prove about themselves exhausts me. At the same time, I’m well aware that a younger me from 10 years ago would likely have thought differently, and would be more eager to engage.

I think this is what it feels like to mature/grow older. Not enough for an actual IRL mid-life crisis, mind you—more like the fandom version. I think it’s clear from my posting history on this blog that I still engage with my passions pretty regularly, but something else that probably comes across is that I sort of exist in my own world. Sure, I read and view what catches my attention, I think about where the industries and fandoms are going, and I keep writing as an exercise in contemplation. And I talk to other fans every so often. However, what I don’t really do is actively engage with the fandom at large or try to explore the absolute depths of a given topic. More and more, I feel in my body that time is finite, and I’m not sure I have what it takes to go full-steam ahead on any fandom, general or specific. Heck, I don’t even listen to podcasts as much as I used to, and that was an easy way to check out the opinions of others.

Doing my own thing isn’t actually all that terrible. Perhaps one of the reasons I interact less is because the discourse is poisoned by how social media currently works. Still, it comes with a drawback of me feeling disconnected from other fans, especially younger ones who grew up from grade school with manga in their local libraries and such. I’m happy we’ve gotten to that point of easy access, but it fundamentally changes the presence of manga in one’s life. Similarly, the fact that The Simpsons has become the mark of a Millennial/Gen Z divide based on whether people engage with the original jokes or the memes that sprung out of them is fascinating, yet revealing of the passage of time.

I also know that to many older individuals, I still probably come across as a young and spritely sort, and that there are plenty of people with decades on me who still have passion and energy. Taking that into account, maybe the sensation I’m experiencing is that I’m aiming to walk a few blocks to get to my destination, and I’m seeing others sprint or run marathons. My journey is worthwhile, but it’s short and more leisurely, and even though it’s not a competition (and I don’t view it as such), I nevertheless can’t help but notice the people who pass me by.* It’s less about comparing accomplishments and more about being on different wavelengths, and I’m getting used to shifting between them.

*For the record, I used to be part of a casual running group, and I was anything but swift, so I also know this feeling from actual experience.

Against the Barrel: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for June 2022

I have to admit that the world feels overwhelming. If it’s not COVID rates ticking up, it’s deadly shootings and war and racism and the fact that these things are all tied together. As an anime blogger, I also think about these things in relation to entertainment, and in light of recent events, we’re seeing old boogeymen like “violent video games” being brought up. I remember those conversations from two decades ago, and though my perspective has changed from childhood to adulthood, I’m not so naive as to think that the root cause is violent entertainment. Rather, it’s at best a symptom of a deeper problem—that power is conflated with self worth, and that gun lobbyists want men to feel that threat of emasculation so badly that they’re willing to go to extremes.

I’m not someone who believes that glorifying violence in entertainment is inherently a problem. I like my action series plenty, and even if something like sports can be argued to be a conduit for aggression, I don’t think that it’s automatically going to lead to the kind of mind-poisoning we’re seeing from cultures that refuse to confront their own pasts. As long as media can be media and not propaganda, even the most depraved depictions of human behavior can have a place. If fiction is the only alternative for someone to find themselves comfort, that’s not the fault of the fiction.

On a less somber note, I’d like to thank the following Patreon subscribers:

General:

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from May:

Lots of Brain with a Bit of Heart: Combat in Girls und Panzer das Finale

A review of sorts for GIrls und Panzer das Finale, especially Part 2, but more of an analysis of how combat is portrayed in the series.

Ultimate Dancouga in Super Robot Wars 30 Is Quintessential Obari Masami

How this particular SRW30 DLC captures the essence of its original creator.

The Tools to Express Yourself: Blue Period

Thoughts on the moving story of a guy who’s suddenly inspired to become an artist.

Apartment 507

Why Zhong Lanzhu makes Love Live! better by being a heel.

Looking at the way the English translation of Spy x Family adapts Anya’s kid speech.

Kio Shimoku

Kio Shimoku’s Twitter was full of design drawings for Hashkko Ensemble. There’s a lot of insight into his early decisions for the manga.

Closing

I’m going to leave off on a nicer and more personal not: I finally beat Super Robot Wars 30! It only took…200 hours. I want to write an overall review of it, but part of me wonders if all the existing posts might be enough.

Dang, Spring Anime Is Really Good: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for May 2022

I know I’m probably not the first person to say this, but the Spring 2022 anime season has been rock-solid. I can’t watch every show, but the sheer amount of quality made for quite an enjoyable April, even as the world continues to teeter between hope and despair. Spy x Family, Ya Boy Kongming, Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club, Birdie Wing, and a whole host of other series are just knocking it out of the park.

Thanks again to all my followers on Patreon!

General:

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from April:

Navigating Your Cultures: Himawari House

My review of a comic about living in Japan as an Asian expat and searching for identity.

Super Robot Wars 30, Gaogaigar, and J-Decker: The Compromises of a Composite Narrative

Thoughts on the combining of two different Brave anime in SRW30.

The Art of Love: Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop

A great little movie that went under the radar.

Kio Shimoku

Kio Shimoku’s Twitter was full of design drawings for Hashkko Ensemble. There’s a lot of insight into his early decisions for the manga!

Closing

One other piece of big news from April was the announcement and release of the final DLC for Super Robot Wars 30. I still can’t believe Shinkalion made it in! It makes me want to draw giant robot fanart…

Mou Mantai: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for April 2022

Mou mantai is Cantonese for “no problem.” It’s also a signature phrase of Hong Kong native Zhong Lanzhu from Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club, whose second season started today. The new anime season is upon us (again!), and I’m feeling positive about new shows, including seeing Lanzhu and the other Monster Girls in Love Live!

Of course, to say that there aren’t any issues is not entirely truthful. April Fool’s, I guess?

Life is good, but not perfect by any means. There are things we can’t control, like the unexpected twists and turns of international affairs. But there are things I can affect, and because life is personally busier at the moment, a part of me wonders if I should reduce my output for Ogiue Maniax. Right now, I typically do 2–3 posts a week (which I’ve kept up for the past 11 years or so), and the new result would be 1–2 posts a week. This would obviously make things easier for me, but then I feel like my Patreon might not be worthwhile anymore for those who still follow me.

A part of me also wonders if the reason I’m feeling this way is because Super Robot Wars 30 is so danged long. Enjoyable, but I think only now (months later) am I reaching the final third of the game.

Speaking of Patreon, my patrons continue to support me. To them, especially those below, I say: Thank you.

General:

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from March:

Kizuna AI, Uruha Rushia, and the Search for Authenticity

A philosophical look at how we engage with Virtual Youtubers.

What’s the Justice, Indeed—Cyborg 009: The Cyborg Soldier

My review of the amazing 2001 retro-style retelling of the classic manga

What Drives Them—Mobile Suit Gundam Reconguista in G Part III: Legacy from Space

Thoughts on the third G-Reco movie, and a realization about the best way to follow the story.

Kio Shimoku

Kio Shimoku’s Twitter has a nice countdown for the final volume of Hashikko Ensemble.

Closing

March 28 was Ogiue’s birthday! I’m glad people are still holding the torch, even a little bit.

The Heat Is On: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for March 2022

I’d be lying if I claimed I wasn’t full of fear of where the world is going. While violence is nothing new, there’s something about these particularly brazen lies we’re seeing used to justify a takeover of a sovereign nation that has me worried that the world is going to scary places, if not already there.

That said, while I sometimes would like to more fully disconnect my fandoms from the world at large, it’s a great deal harder than one might expect. Case in point, I started watching 2001’s Cyborg 009: The Cyborg Soldier, which is about people who were kidnapped and forcefully integrated with machines, who then rebel against the massive warmongering arms dealer that made them who they are. Even an adaptation of a classic action manga has dimension. That’s not in the same ballpark as, say, a harem series, but I think it’s ideal to discuss both the anime and manga that embraces every level of political engagement to those that are more passively political. Heck, isn’t the biggest anime basically Attack on Titan?

Here are the special Patreon members who continue to show me their generosity. While the lack of new members might be viewed as a sign of stagnation, the fact that so many continue to stick with me is something I appreciate.

General:

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from February:

Rise of the Dojo Dojikko: Mabataki Yori Hayaku!!

My review of a cute-girls-doing-karate manga I’ve been really enjoying.

Summer Cure Makes Me Feel Fine: Tropical-Rouge! Precure

This Precure’s full of energy and avenues for change!

Power and Truth: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn

It’s been a long time coming, but here are my thoughts on Gundam Unicorn at last. Speaking of political anime…

Kio Shimoku

Kio Shimoku’s Twitter was pretty light in February, but I expect that to change in March with the final volume of Hashikko Ensemble.

Closing

I’m impressed how well Cyborg 009: The Cyborg Soldier holds up. It feels just as fresh today as it did when I’d catch episodes on Cartoon Network back in the day, and the focus on diversity, peace, and criticism of warmongering feel more relevant than ever before. I hope the ideals that anime brings can be something we can reach in our lifetimes.

Is Loving a Genre Like Supporting a Local Sports Team?

I’ve been mulling over something lately: Is it safe to define a genre or trope preference in fiction as a case where you’re more accepting of less-than-stellar results? Much like supporting a local sports team through thick and thin, is being a genre fan about enjoying even the mediocre?

I’m ready to admit that the analogy falls apart under close scrutiny for a whole host of reasons. There’s no clear metric for winning vs. losing with something subjective like fiction. Supporting a player or a team, something made up of real people, is very different from being into a particular fiction genre—a more fitting comparison might be a favorite animation studio or book imprint.

But when I think about a genre I enjoy—giant robot anime for instance—there’s something about my appreciation that feels like it goes well beyond considerations of quality. When Good Smile Company announced a ton of new model kits for their Moderoid line, the sheer variety and obscurity of the line stood out to me. Some of the excitement came from the representation of series I consider personal favorites: Godannar!!, Reideen, Granbelm, Rayearth, The BIg O, and more. But it also came from seeing new or relatively obscure things get the spotlight, like Daitei-oh (the Eldoran series that never officially got an anime), Zeorymer, Promare, and iDOLM@STER: Xenoglossia. Not all of these series are genre-defining heavy hitters, but that they exist as merchandise fills me with warmth.

In contrast, I’ve watched a good amount of idol anime at this point, but I still don’t see myself as a fan of the genre. I appreciate the titles that stand out, though.

Perhaps, however, supporting your local fiction genre also comes with being able to recognize that you have a bias towards the tropes and expectations that come with it, because sometimes having a truly disappointing instance stings extra hard. But I also wonder if, like how you have sports fans of consistent winners and those of perennial underdogs, there’s a difference between the fans of a genre that’s seeing the limelight and one whose star has faded a bit—or, for that matter, a genre that may have once been big versus one that has never really ascended in the first place.