Holicow: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for December 2020

On the other end of what I hope is the biggest and most important election of my lifetime, I feel a mix of joy and nerves. I also begin to wonder if there is a need for me to continue to bring politics into my writing here, only to realize the answer: of course there is. That being said, one of the goals of Ogiue Maniax has always been to encourage people to think through the lens of anime and manga, so I’ll strive to strike a better balance moving forward. Let’s just say that the last two months were more of an emergency call to action, and even then, it’s only one step in a long journey to a more just and equitable world.

Part of the last month or two has also been me realizing how many Japanese creators are being sucked in by right-wing conspiracy propaganda, which puts me at different degrees of empathy with Harry Potter fans, but I think I might leave that for a full blog post. Or not.

Last month marked 13 years since I began Ogiue Maniax, and it’s probably the heaviest anniversary post I’ve ever written, in no small part due to everything that has happened in 2020. COVID-19 literally changed the way I blog (even if the actual content might not be so different), and it feels strange to head into December—normally a time where I spend time away while reflecting on anime and manga as well as my personal life—while hyper-aware of the fact that things are simply Not Normal this year.

As 2020 comes to a close, I want to thank my Patreon sponsors, especially the following:

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

And while my Patreon rewards are such that I only include people above a certain pledge amount every month, I want to give a special shout-out to those who’ve supported me for a long time who choose not to have their names on public display. I really am grateful.

Blog highlights from November:

Gold Lightan Is Bananas

Go watch Gold Lightan. It is a ridiculous anime that few can match up with.

Pokémon Journeys, the Original Mewtwo, and Playing with Canon

Thoughts on the recent anime return of the OG Mewtwo from the first movie, Mewtwo Strikes Back

500 “Easy” Steps: Rivals of Aether

My review of the Smash Bros.-style game Rivals of Aether has turned out to be one of my most popular articles in recent memory.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 34 shows both the grace and might of its student body.

Patreon-Sponsored

Let’s Make an Entire Show Out of Dance CG: D4DJ First Mix

My early thoughts on this anime about cute girls DJing.

Apartment 507

Love Live!, Nijigasaki’s Setsuna Yuki, and the President Archetype

Comparing the student council presidents of Love Live! past and present.

Closing

May we have a 2021 that is full of light and hope, and where we can all laugh and sing together again.

In the meantime, stay home for the holidays if you can. Let’s all protect one another.

Multi-Talented Competition: Hashikko Ensemble, Chapter 34

The competitive escalates in an unexpected way in Hashikko Ensemble, Chapter 34.

Summary

After the Rugby Club’s surprisingly strong rendition of a Radwimps tune in the high school’s cultural festival singing competition, the Chorus Appreciation Society fires back with a performance of their own. They win handily, showing the fruits of their training camp. However, even though the Rugby Club captain accepts the results, he has one last request as a third-year soon to graduate: he wants to challenge Jin to an arm wrestling competition! 

Jin accepts, but thinks it should be a best-of-three. Sora (the guy who confessed to Kozue) immediately challenges Kousei, and Yukina (who was last year’s school-wide arm wrestling champion) jumps in to be the third participant for the Chorus Appreciation Society. The impromptu matchup ends with a 2-1 victory for the Chorus Appreciation Society, with Jin putting in an impressive but ultimately losing effort against the Rugby Club captain. Reactions differ among the crowd, ranging from hype to Yumerun’s utter disinterest.

As Yukina is celebrating the win and talking with Kousei, Shion can’t help but think that they look great together. Suddenly, she sticks her arm between them and confesses directly to Kousei: “I like you. Go out with me?” Kousei’s response: “What? No.” That rejection is also the title of the chapter.

Yukina’s Turbo Controller

I genuinely thought that Yukina’s arm wrestling prowess wouldn’t really factor into the story beyond some displays of strengths, but here we are, with a sudden arm wrestling match. It almost makes regret making an Over the Top reference already. The surprise is welcome, however, and it adds to something I really enjoy about Hashikko Ensemble: the series is somehow both extremely predictable and unpredictable at the same time, and where those cards fall seems to just make for a more enjoyable manga most of the time.

All this arm wrestling talk also makes me think of my childhood playing the Track & Field II arm wrestling minigame. Whenever any arm wrestling happens in media, I just think of the background music and the grunting faces.

The Performance

As the guys are singing, Takano-sensei makes mention of how much they’ve all improved (as well as Kozue’s excellent conducting). In particular, she remarks about their successful balancing of both the lyrics-heavy nature of J-pop with getting the right musical accents. She also uses a couple terms that I think are worth noting—mostly for my sake, as someone who’s not musically inclined.

The first is legato, which is singing in a smooth and connected way; the opposite of staccato. It is not, in fact, simply a Trigun villain.

The second is syncopation, which is singing on the weak beats. 


The general idea, from what I can tell, is that they’ve managed to adapt a J-pop tune into something that utilizes the musical training they’ve all been going through. I wonder if the goal is to strike a middle ground between doing appealing songs to get more members and doing something technically impressive for Jin’s mom and her high standards.

Romantic Perceptions

It’s poetic that Akira has these dramatic nightmares about Kousei and Shion, but to Shion, Kousei and Yukina are the picture-perfect couple. There’s a self-consciousness at work in each case, where one sees themselves as somehow not looking “right” for their love interest. 

I feel like this is a fear that Kio Shimoku tends to express and explore in his works. In Gonensei (The Fifth-Year), one of the core conflicts is how the boyfriend feels a level of inadequacy because he couldn’t graduate at the same time as his girlfriend, and the two drift further apart. In Spotted Flower, the husband similarly panics when he just lays eyes on his wife interacting with her ex-boyfriend, believing that he pales in comparison, despite the fact that he and his wife  just had a daughter. I don’t think it’ll be anywhere near as dark and ugly in Hashikko Ensemble, but I’m interested in seeing how the love web continues to get tangled.

The chapter further contrasts how Shion and Yukina each see Kousei—the former as a strong hero and the latter as an adorable underclassman. As Yukina watches the performances, she recalls happening upon Kousei practicing his singing in private. Unbeknownst to Kousei, Yukina actually sat hidden behind a staircase, listening to him the whole time. It’s as if both girls have feelings because they’ve managed to see what’s on the inside, only it’s two different aspects of the “real Kousei.” If I had to give a preference, I like Kousei/Yukina, only because it’s more hilarious.

When the Tsun and the Dere are Indistinguishable

Right before the arm wrestling match begins, Kozue tells Sora to do his best. When he gets trounced by Kousei, she thinks, “Ah. Figures it was impossible.” While I originally thought that there was a possibility that Kozue might end up on a date with Sora reluctantly, it now looks like she might actually feel something for him after all. I don’t know if you’d call this tsundere, as I think that Kozue doesn’t have that characteristic loss of control of her own emotions, but maybe the childhood friend connection is real. Also, we haven’t seen what Sora looks like shirtless, but maybe he has the buffness she looks for in guys.

Or maybe being into musclemen is more of a fantasy fetish and not something she necessarily wants in a partner.

Songs

This month’s song is “March 9” by Remioromen, which the Chorus Appreciation Society performs against the Rugby Club.

Final Thoughts

During their performance, Akira’s mom is in the crowd. I don’t know why exactly, but seeing her cheer her son on and react like such a doting parent really sticks with me. Perhaps it’s just the way she seems so wholeheartedly excited about her Akira doing this new and different thing by getting into singing. I can sense the love in their relationship.

Koko Nuts: Here Is Greenwood OVAs

Here Is Greenwood is a title I’ve long heard of but pretty much knew nothing about, other than the vague sense that it was popular with girls. Based on the name and an image or two, I thought it might have been a fantasy series. 

Having finally watched the 1991 OVA, it turns out that Here Is Greenwood is actually a shoujo high school comedy about a bunch of weirdos in a dorm. My impression: there really aren’t many series like it in recent memory. The closest I can think of is Honey and Clover, but even that series doesn’t have quite the same level of quiet absurdity.

When I look at humor in anime over the past two decades, it usually goes in two directions: either mellow and low-key or balls-to-the-wall extreme. Those qualities manifest in different forms, whether it’s Hidamari Sketch or Pop Team Epic, but a work usually picks its lane and sticks to it. Here Is Greenwood, on the other hand, has a kind of slow-burn humor of a more down-to-earth anime, but its characters and situations are all over the place. Whether it’s a main character in love with his sister-in-law, the dude who looks like a lady, the Snidely Whiplash-esque plots of a rich upperclassman’s vengeful cousin, or a literal ghost that no one seems terribly shocked by, there’s a sense that both normal and abnormal blend together into a mellow taste.

The OVA is unusual in that it’s not a sneak-peek at the manga or a more liberal adaptation of the manga. Instead, it takes a nine-volume manga and condenses it into a  mere six episodes, operating more like a ” best hits” compilation. The anime makes more sense once you know that, but I also know what anime fandom was like in the 1990s, when Here Is Greenwood was on Blockbuster Video shelves. Knowledge about anything related to anime and manga was sparse, nowhere near the wealth of information we have today. Many OVAs were confusing and open-ended, and the result was tons of fandom speculation and musings. I could totally see someone trying to fill in the blanks of Here Is Greenwood armed with only their imagination (and a few 4th-wall-breaking mentions of the manga in the anime itself) to construct their own mental manga. I could also picture those six episodes defining what “anime humor” meant in fans’ minds, like extrapolating an assumed picture of a period in history based on some anthropological items. 

I think Here Is Greenwood largely holds up, though there are a few questionable red flags in the year 2020 (notably a joke about touching a kid). In general, the series stands in contrast to the pacing of comedy today, but that also gives it some extra charm.

Love Over Hate: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for November 2020

It’s no secret that politics and the health of the United States has been on my mind these past few months, and now we’re a mere two days away from Election Day. I hope that this is the most important election of my life, because I don’t want to imagine another presidency worse than this past four-year ordeal. For those who have already voted, either by mail or through early in-person voting, I hope you remained safe. While I am deeply horrified at the idea of Trump getting another term, I respect the exercise of democracy as long as all who are rightfully eligible are afforded the same opportunity.

Please bear with me as I express my strong beliefs about this election.

Long-time readers may know that while I could touch on a lot of related topics in years previous, my specific political beliefs were rarely ever front and center on Ogiue Maniax. However, the 2016 election changed something in me, as I came to feel that my distanced academic outlook did not do enough. While I still believe in robust dialogue aimed at finding common ground, I’m much more aware of the fact that right-wing extremism is a dangerous part of the current landscape, whether that’s attempting to recruit kids through video games, voter suppression, or outright violence. I changed my policy of allowing any and all relevant comments to a blog post because there’s a difference between disagreement and merely wearing a facade of civil discourse as a means to push ridiculous ideas. I recently deleted a comment that started with the notion that “wokeness” is ruining anime because it’s an extension of a general right-wing corrosion of Youtube as a whole.

As for Trump himself, I’m going to say straight-up that he needs to be stopped if the United States is to survive, literally. We cannot take even more negligence and death rates when it comes to COVID-19. We cannot take a man who purposely sabotages the US Postal Service in the age of a pandemic and in an election year. We cannot take a man who will sell out the US to the highest bidder, a man who abandons allies to the slaughter and allows bounties on American soldiers. We cannot take a man who thinks climate change is fake yet also believes windmills cause cancer. The Paris Climate Accord is crucial to the well-being of not just the US but the entire planet, and if the country does not rescind our withdrawal, we are headed straight for catastrophe upon catastrophe. Most importantly, we cannot take more damage from the Republican Party, which has enabled this would-be dictator to escape responsibility just because they use him as a battering ram to get more federal judges into the system, including three Supreme Court justices.

To all readers in the US, if you see voter intimidation at your polling place, contact the Election Protection Hotline.

And now, back to Ogiue Maniax proper.

Thank you to this month’s Patreon sponsors.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Dsy

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from October:

Smash Bros. and the Concept of Restrictive Consequences

A thorough look at how the notion of constant freedom plays heavily into competitive Smash Bros., and how it contrasts with the ability to be “very wrong” in other fighting games.

Manga Made for Theater: Maku Musubi

A recent manga series focused on a school drama club that has a nice theme of finding a new creative direction after the loss of a dream.

Dick Dastardly’s Gun Kata: Appare-Ranman!

Last season’s transcontinental racing anime is not quite what I expected.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 33 starts a battle of the bands at the high school culture festival! Lots of great side characters return for this one.

Patreon-Sponsored

Anime Faces: VTuber vs. Horror Games

Thinking about how the limitations of virtual youtubers actually enhances the horror-game-streaming experience for viewers.

Apartment 507

Love Live! Nijigasaki’s Yu Takasaki is the Perfect Audience Character

The new anime pulls off transforming the mobile game’s player character into a fleshed out individual.

Closing

Vote if you can, stay safe no matter what, and I’ll see you on the other side.

16 Bands Enter: Hashikko Ensemble, Chapter 33

Fierce (?) competitors lie in wait in Chapter 34 of Hashikko Ensemble!

Summary

The school’s cultural festival has suddenly turned into a battle of the bands, and the Chorus Appreciation Society is in a 16-band bracket to see who comes out on top. Among the groups participating are a number of familiar faces: Kurotaki Mai (the deep-voiced girl who once saved Akira), Tsuyama’s crew, Mimi-sensei and a group of teachers (with Takano-sensei on piano), and even the Rugby Club that tried to recruit Kousei. 

During this, Shion is visibly bothered by Yukina’s presence and closeness with Kousei, all but confirming her having romantic feelings for him. But when Kozue asks why Yukina’s into Kousei, her answer absolutely flabbergasts Shion: “Cuz he’s cute.” 

Mai’s band wins, and the teachers forfeit their match because all they really wanted to do was put on a single performance. The Rugby Club is going directly against the Chorus Appreciation Society in the first round, and to everyone’s surprise, one of the players, Sora, asks Kozue to go out with him if the Rugby Club wins. She agrees but only as a form of rejection—she actively encourages the audience to reject their opponents and Sora’s convenient love story in the making. However, the Rugby Club turns out to be better singers than she anticipated, meaning it might not be such an easy win after all.

A School Tournament?!

It’s not surprising to see tournaments happen in Hashikko Ensemble. After all, if they’re going to eventually be in bigger events, the Chorus Appreciation Society is going to have to see some long competitions. However, this is quite different from the more refined environment and structure of the M-Con, the inter-school event they had previously they participated in as an exhibition.

I really like this direction, particularly that the series has suddenly become more about music in an interesting way by having music fever take over the school and generate all this excitement and energy. Also, while it’s indeed looking to be a tournament arc after all, “winning” seems less important than having all the characters reach their personal goals. Looming overhead is the powerful shadow of Jin’s mom (despite the fact that she hasn’t even shown up yet), and in a sense, she’s the real boss fight.

Love Bonanza

The increasing presence of romance in Hashikko Ensemble is all but undeniable. It’s not even that Shion’s interest in Kousei is clear as day now, but also the strange love polygon that now exists between her, Akira, Kousei, Yukina, and maybe even Mai. What’s more, there’s also the lovey dovey couple team (Yukio feat. Mayomyon) metaphorically tossing hearts into the air, and a public confession to Kozue from the kid who tried to warn his classmates about her judo skills?!  And the latter’s going to be the most pressing plot point leading into Chapter 34?!

It’s not nearly as messy a relationship web as good ol’ Spotted Flower, but it sure is getting increasingly complicated.

Knowing this manga, I could see Kio swerving the readers by having the Chorus Appreciation Society lose in Round 1, and having Kozue reluctantly start dating Sora. There’s maybe one path of hope for the rugby player, which is that a person can earn Kozue’s respect through skill and power. In this chapter, she basically gushes over Yukina’s high proficiency in a huge array of industrial skills (including gas and arc welding, crane operating, etc.), so if the poor guy can show similar prowess (in singing or otherwise), maybe he can impress her. That said, it’s probably more realistic to see Kozue be into Yukina.

Divergent Feelings

I was thrilled to see Mai show up again in this chapter—doubly so to see her singing. All signs have pointed to her becoming a more important character as the series went on, and while it’s still uncertain that she’s going to join the Chorus Appreciation Society, I’m still rooting for it. There’s also the matter of her previous interactions with Akira, and while he has Shion on the brain currently, I could see a future where these two get together instead. 

I think Hashikko Ensemble has been emphasizing how different potential relationships can potentially end up being in terms of interpersonal dynamics. Chapter 33 highlights this by the ways that Shion and Yukina each view Kousei; the former sees him as brave, cool, and strong, while the latter looks at him like a cute underclassman. When picturing those two possible couples, they’re just so fundamentally different. But this is also the case imagining Akira with Shion versus Akira with Mai, which has a similar dynamic of two very different individuals on the one hand, and two very similar people on the other. 

Songs

This time, I’ve included each of the groups participating in the tournament this chapter, followed by what song they perform.

Nighttime Festival Club 2.1: Itoshii no Ellie” (“Beloved Ellie”) by Southern All Stars

Noi Majo (Kurotaki Mai’s quartet): “Hakujitsu” (“White Day”) by King Gnu

Yukio feat. Mayomyon: “Shibuya at 5 o’clock” by Suzuki Masuyuki and Kikuchi Momoko (You might recognize Suzuki as the singer of the opening to Kaguya-sama: Love Is War)

Teachers’ Angel (Mimi-sensei + other faculty): “Boku no Koto” (“About Me”) by Mrs. Green Apple

Rugby Club A Capella Group: “Zenzenzense” (“Past Past Past Life”) by RADWIMPS (as heard in Your Name)

Final Thoughts

Back in the pre-pandemic times, I used to go karaoke somewhat often. One of the most common songs among one of the groups was actually “Zenzenzense.” This chapter makes me want to learn all these other songs and bring them out someday. May there be a future where we can karaoke to our hearts’ content.

Manga Made for Theater: Maku Musubi

Whether it’s Glass Mask or Beastars, there’s something exciting about seeing theatrical performances in manga. Perhaps it’s because we’re viewing a medium that thrives on ingenuity in presentation and strongly projected emotions through the lens of another that emphasizes dynamic page composition and intense closeness. A recent genre work, Maku Musubi by Hotani Shin, stands out because of how it delves deeper into the process of creating a play, told from the perspective of a girl discovering her potential as a scriptwriter.

The plot: When she was little, Tsuchikure Sakura loved to draw manga. But now, as she starts high school, Sakura sees her childhood art as a hurtful and embarrassing part of her past. When one of her old drafts inadvertently ends up in the hands of the school’s drama club, Sakura gets drawn into their world. While her drawings don’t make for the best manga, they might just be the perfect material for theater.

It’s always a little heart-wrenching to see someone’s dreams get shattered, and Maku Musubi goes in depth on just how much drawing manga meant to Sakura. It was her way of letting her imagination flourish, unbeholden to the judgment of others, but it’s also due to past criticism that she feels unable to keep making comics. This is not uncommon in stories both fictional and real about creators, but I find the angle about Sakura’s pivot towards theater to be filled with storytelling potential. 

Many works would keep her on a path towards pursuing a career in manga with a “never give up” theme. Maku Musubi instead presents the interesting notion that its heroine isn’t necessarily untalented as an artist, but rather just hasn’t found the avenue of expression that best fits her. Although a story about teenagers, I think it has the power to resonate especially with adult readers, who might look at their own lost childhood aspirations with a bit of regret, but who could find inspiration in channeling those dreams in a different but still fulfilling direction.

This manga also has a great cast of supporting characters, especially the members of the drama club. A mix of experienced but eccentric upperclassmen and newcomers looking for change in their own lives, it greatly reminds me of the club aspects of Sound! Euphonium and even Kannagi to some extent. The introduction of a nationwide competition between school drama clubs also brings it away from a slow-paced slice-of-life feel and towards challenging its characters to change and grow. 

Maku Musubi was actually on my radar for a while, and I’m actually kind of mad that I didn’t get around to it sooner. As of Volume 1, Hotani’s work really appeals to my taste and aesthetics, especially with its cute yet striking depictions of both inner and outer human emotions. Consider me a fan, and I can’t wait to see these characters on a bigger stage.

Talk About a Scary Month: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for October 2020

The new anime season is starting up with plenty of potentially great shows, and we’re one month away from one of the most important general elections in the history of the United States. It would be an understatement to say I’m feeling some whiplash.

Before I get into the two sides, though, I want to thank this month’s Patreon sponsors.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Dsy

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

First, the fun part:

For the new anime season, there are strong sequels galore—the two I’m hyped for are Haikyu!! To the Top part 2 and Golden Kamuy season 3. In terms of new titles, I’m curious about Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai (I’ve heard good things about the manga over the years), Hypnosis Mic (because everything fans have told me about it is bonkers), and Taiso Samurai (gymnastics + MAPPA).

I’m also looking forward to experiencing Love Live!: Nijigasaki High School Idol Club as a full-on anime instead of as the story in a mobile game. I’m curious to see how the different art style they’re using will affect the feel of the show. The Fall usually is traditionally great for anime, and while real-world events have thrown many anime off course, things are looking strong for now.

And then the not-so-fun part:

We are less than one month away from seeing if the United States is capable of rejecting a president who wishes he was a dictator, the corrupt politicians and businessmen who continue to enable his reckless destruction of the US, and whose combined greed and incompetence have the blood of over 200,000 people on their hands. And now, we find a president who not only denies reality when it gets in the way of him being beholden to debtors for what may be over a billion dollars, but is also currently hospitalized due to COVID-19: the very pandemic that he has tried to deny over and over again in order to prop up the economy at the expense of human lives.

I know I have readers outside the US, and you don’t have a direct say in the outcome of this election, but you’re probably concerned. I’m thinking of this as the most important election of my life, but that’s only because I hope and pray that it doesn’t get worse from here.

Now, back to good ol’ anime blogging.

Blog highlights from September:

Gattai Girls 11: “Granbelm” and Kohinata Mangetsu

Gattai Girls—wherein I review giant robot anime starring female pilots—is back!

Wyld Stallyns’ Greatest Triumph: Bill & Ted Face the Music

My review of the long-awaited sequel to one of my favorite movie franchises of all time.

Try Angles: My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Climax!

The anime adaptation of one of the best modern light novels comes to a close.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 32 starts a new trimester and a new story arc for the singers of Hashimoto Technical High School, and it’s one of my favorite chapters yet.

Patreon-Sponsored

Hololive EN and Multilingual Fluency Among Virtual Youtubers

Some thoughts on crossing the language and (sub)cultural barriers through the new English-language VTuber group

Apartment 507

The Matter of Family in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

When it comes down to the appeal of this popular series, I really think it’s about familial love.

Closing

Take care of yourselves.

Over the Top: Hashikko Ensemble, Chapter 32

A new story arc begins in Hashikko Ensemble, Chapter 32!

Summary

Summer is over, and the students at Hashimoto Tech are back to school. While things seem mostly the same, there are some differences. For the Chorus Appreciation Society, they can now use the music room to practice. Tsuyama’s crew, the Mimi-sensei-obsessed guys who had previously competed against the Chorus Society, now all have girlfriends. And for some reason, there seems to just be a lot more singing at school overall. It turns out that the latter two things are related: Tsuyama and co.’s performance in front of the school is the reason they got girls, and now all the boys think a capella is the key to popularity.

Back with the main characters, Jin is naturally beyond excited about more singers at school, Mimi-sensei is having a bit of a crisis over losing her place as conductor to Hasegawa Kozue, and Shinji wonders why the girls aren’t coming to them. Right then, a tough-looking girl shows up next to Kousei, and when he tries to shoo her away (assuming that she doesn’t care about music), she puts his hand in a death grip and overpowers him. Kozue identifies her as Kawamura Yukina, a third-year construction major and the school’s reigning arm wrestling champion—a title she won by beating both guys and girls.

The chapter ends with students remarking about how many damn a capella clubs are springing up. It all looks to be headed in one direction: a singing tournament!

Excitement

I love this chapter.

I thought I knew where this manga was going, with Jin trying to prove his mom wrong and Akira fretting over Shion. However, the way the school has changed feels like a subtle yet still seismic shift, as if they’re entering a new environment where the rules are different. What’s more, this all stems from their singing! This series is delightfully hard to predict at the best times.

It’s typical of an action or sports series to up the stakes or expand its scope, and this feels similar yet noticeably different in terms of fallout. Genshiken didn’t really do story arcs in the traditional sense, and I find Hashikko Ensemble to be somewhere in the middle in a good way.

Mama Mimi

I do feel for Mimi-sensei, but what I’ll probably remember more about her in this chapter is her hilarious interaction with Shion. No longer conductor, she tries to let Shion be comforted by her, but Shion responds by asking, “Are pecs boobs?”

Later, Mimi wonders if this like a child being weaned from their mother’s breast.

The ridiculousness of Shion’s question followed by the wordplay from Mimi is top-notch.

Yukina is a Badass

Yukina is technically not a new character, but might as well be. It’s not 100% certain if Yukina is a delinquent, but she certainly has that energy. 

I really want her to join the group.

While she’s not the only physically strong girl around (Hasegawa is a skilled judo player), Yukina adds a certain level of cool. Not only would she be the oldest among the students, but her connection to Kousei—whatever it may be—seems intriguing. At the very least, we haven’t seen anyone treat him so lightly 

Is there an element of romance between the two? The characters are certainly entertaining the possibility. Akira thinks Shion might have a crush on Kousei, so he immediately tries to see how Shion reacts to Yukina, but it’s not entirely clear. I can practically feel Akira’s incredible self-consciousness, though I still think he’s somehow mistaken.

Songs

In this chapter, they practice “March 9” by Remioromen, which is Shinji’s pick for the Festival.

They also sing the official school song, though there’s no audio resource for that.

Final Thoughts

When Shinji asks why they’re not getting any girls, Kanon responds that 1) the Society already has girls and 2) a capella is cooler. It makes me think about how I’ve been translating gasshou as “chorus,” but “glee” could work just as well. And one particular TV show aside, it’s true that glee clubs are not exactly considered exciting. I do wonder if I should have been translating it as glee all along, but I can live with my choice.

I Love Villains with Secret Weaknesses

One of the big mysteries of One Piece is just how Blackbeard is able to use multiple Devil Fruit powers when that should theoretically kill any being. I don’t have any strong theories as to what the truth is, but I do know one thing: when we do discover the secret, I think it’ll be one of the most satisfying moments in the entire series.

I love that trope, I really do. Whether it’s Sauron realizing that the One Ring is steps away from Mount Doom, and is filled with terror, or Voldemort coming to the horrifying realization that his Hocruxes are being eliminated, one of my favorite moments in fiction is when a villain realizes that their special hidden achilles heel, and thus they themselves  have been exposed.

If I were to say why I’m so fond of this idea, I’d say that it comes partially from how it resembles “boss fight” sensibility. Of course, this sort of storytelling element predates video games by a significant margin, but it is arguably most straightforward in the context of games. Only the worst weapon can harm Dr. Wily. Lavos Core attempts to fool enemies by hiding its true self in a seemingly unimportant floating “pod.” This idea can even extend to something like Gradius, where the final boss is a weaponless and disembodied brain. Here, the idea is that your final adversary is defenseless precisely to imply that you were never “supposed” to reach it—the soft, squishy point behind layers and layers of minions and firepower was meant to be unassailable.

But that puzzle aspect is only one component, and what really makes it satisfying is that the moment of unwanted revelation about their weakness being exposed is predicated on a contradiction. Villains like Voldemort and Sauron want to be invincible, but by pursuing that goal, they inadvertently create the cracks in their own armor. Voldemort fears death above all else, so he tries to achieve immortality by placing pieces of his soul into other objects and hiding them away, which in turn makes those very items a source of obsession for Voldemort. Sauron is already immortal, but his desire to control and dominate everything results in his transferring most of his power into the One Ring. Even when he first loses the One Ring in combat, the fact that it’s near-impervious gives Sauron a certain reassurance. He will eventually reunite with the ring because nothing is strong enough to get into Mordor if it’s not on Sauron’s terms. They use both smoke and mirrors and sheer martial strength to try and hide these flaws, so to see their best-laid plans begin to crumble gives me joy.

It’s precisely because Blackbeard goes to such great lengths to hide the workings of his multiple-Devil-Fruit usage that makes me confident that the reveal (and the ultimate use of it against Blackbeard) will be one of the best plot threads to come out of One Piece. His obsession with power, and the weak-minded truth of his being provide a perfect formula for this trope to play out in the best way possible.

Nine Feels Like Seven: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for September 2020

I seriously am having trouble believing that we’re almost to the Fall season. Nothing says to me the effect that COVID-19 time dilation has had on my mind that the month of August feels like it went by in a flash.

In terms of anime news, what sticks out most to me is that the last big anime con of the year, Anime NYC, has finally declared its cancellation for 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic. While New York City has managed to go from the highest infection rate in the nation to the lowest, an event with 30,000+ people is inevitably going to be the worst kind of Petri dish. They made the right choice.

However, even before anime and anime cons, the ever-approaching US election is occupying my thoughts, fears, and even hopes. If you’ve read this blog at all lately, you know where I stand politically, and I strongly feel that continuing down this same dark path created by systemic racism, income inequality, and Trump’s unbounded corruption is going to lead to a United States that is weaker, sicker, and more concerned with hierarchy than equality at the expense of its people and its economy. If you’re a US citizen and you haven’t registered to vote yet, there’s still time. And while I can’t force anyone to vote one way or another, I do hope we can all recognize the threat of authoritarianism we have seen explode in recent months.

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled Ogiue Maniax update with this month’s Patreon sponsors.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Dsy (NEW PATRON!)

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from August:

Healin’ Good Precure and the Age of Coronavirus

My thoughts on the potential impact of COVID-19 on the biggest magical girl franchise.

A Farewell to Arms, the Studio Behind Genshiken 2

Genshiken 2 came out when Ogiue Maniax first started, so with Arms declaring bankrupty, I thought it to be a good time to reminisce.

Success and Failure in the Ongoing Attempt to Bring Giant Robots Back to Kids

The site’s most popular post in a while, this is my survey of kid-oriented mecha shows of the past 10 years.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 31 is the most music-heavy chapter yet, but more importantly, it talks about Macross!

Patreon-Sponsored

Saint Snow’s Dazzling White Town Is from Another Time

My review of the debut single of Saint Snow from Love Live! Sunshine!! Spoilers: The songs are amazing.

Apartment 507

Mobile Games Are Temporary, But Their Anime Are Forever

With the announcement of the North American version of Magia Record closing, this article feels even more relevant.

Closing

The United States is not the only country facing the threat and sad reality of authoritarianism. Stopping this hateful and foul ideology is paramount for the safety of the entire world, and I hope we can make our way out of this to a better place.