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In the competitive world of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, the Japanese player known as Earth is widely considered the best Pit main in the world. Over the past couple of months, he’s placed 13th at Genesis 3, one of the largest Smash tournaments ever, defeated Ranai (the best Japanese player) to take his first championship in Japan at KVO, and has even gotten engaged!
KVO Grand Finals Set: Earth vs. Ranai
It turns out that Earth’s not just a skilled Smash player, he’s also a competitive mahjong player and a fan of The iDOLM@STER! Given that his interests align quite a bit with my own, I decided to ask him a few questions over Twitter, which I’ve translated and transcribed below (with some small edits for flow). Remember to follow him on Twitter at @earth_tyt!
Why did you become a Pit user? What is Pit’s appeal to you?
Earth: I like characters with no glaring weaknesses and an orthodox style of play with plenty of possibilities, so that’s why I became a Pit user.
Pit appeals to me because he’s all about observing your opponent’s actions and exploiting their weaknesses in neutral. In this respect, he has good moves you can throw out such as dash attack and up smash. I also just like his visual style. :)
Do you have any advice for other Pit users?
Earth: I think that Pit is a character that rewards a player’s hard work and effort. That’s why I want more people to use Pit.
Earth vs. SlayerZ at Genesis 3
So you’re not only the best Pit player in the world, you’re also a mahjong player!
Earth: I love mahjong as much as I love Smash Bros.!
Where do you play mahjong online? Or do you prefer to play at mahjong parlors?
Earth: Tenhou! I also go to mahjong parlors! (* ‘-‘) b
What rank are you on Tenhou?
Earth: I haven’t played much as of late, but I’m a 5-dan* on Tenhou. (´△｀)
How has your experience with mahjong influenced your play in Smash Bros.?
Earth: I’ve competed in a lot of mahjong tournaments, and it’s taught me to have strong nerves. In a good way, it’s made me into someone who doesn’t get shaken emotionally. That’s something I’ve brought to Smash as well.
You’re also a fan of Yayoi from The iDOLM@STER. What do you like about her?
Earth: I like everything about her! But if I had to choose, it’s because Yayoi always tries her best and is always thinking about her friends and family. (´ｰ｀)
*NOTE: Ranks on the Tenhou ladder go from 9-kyuu to 1-kyuu, then from 1-dan to 10-dan. 5-dan is quite difficult to achieve and typically requires a great deal of skill, practice, and dedication.
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I have a theory: Chousoku Henkei Gyrozetter actually takes place in the same world as The iDOLM@STER many years into the future. I’m going to lay out my ideas for how this transition comes about while also providing ironclad proof of their shared universe.
1) Inaba Rinne is a Futami Descendant
It’s not clear which of the Futami twins Rinne is descended from, but most likely it’s Mami. It’s not clear just how many generations into the future Rinne is removed from Ami and Mami, but Futami genetics are undeniably strong.
The resemblance is uncanny.
2) The Success of 765 Pro and the Start of the AI Car Boom
Thanks to a combination of talent, spirit, and camaraderie, 765 Productions becomes wildly successful. At first, they do only promotions for car companies, but thanks to rich girl Minase Iori’s connections and the advancement of technology 765 Pro manages to start their own automobile line. They name the car company offshoot “Arcadia,” modifying their logo along the way.
Assistants to the CEO continue to dress in black suits in honor of Akizuki Ritsuko.
3) Shijou Takane is Responsible for the Rosettagraphy
At first glance, the Rosettagraphy makes no sense. A mysterious stone tablet that tells humanity how to build advanced cars that turn into robots? It sounds like nonsense, until you remember that Takane is equally engimatic, and that she is capable of speaking in many tongues. As we can clearly tell now, it’s because she holds the secrets of not only technological growth but also of prophecy. If she had revealed it to humanity too soon, who knows what would’ve happened?
Takane was a Messenger in Many Ways.
4) Gyrozetter AIs are Actually Based on 765 Idols
How else would you explain this?
I rest my case.
If you’re into anime and aware of the concept of lolicon, then you probably have an idea of what the word means and the kinds of characters associated with it. Lolicon, after all, means the eroticization of very young characters, particularly female ones, right? It turns out to not be so simple, and I don’t mean in terms of “she looks 10 but is actually 500.”
I’ve been re-reading Sharon Kinsella’s Adult Manga lately (which is one of the best academic texts on manga and the manga industry), and in one chapter she writes about lolicon and doujinshi creators, as well as their relationships to professional manga In it, she gives the definition of “lolicon manga” as manga which “usually features a young girlish heroine with large eyes and a childish but voluptuous figure, neatly clad in a revealing outfit or set of armour.” It’s still pretty consistent with the current general conception of lolicon, but the “voluptuous” trait might seem a little strange.
Kinsella points out Gunsmith Cats as a lolicon title, but unlike the idea that it’s lolicon because of Minnie-May Hopkins and her child-like figure (see above), the example given is of the older-looking Rally Vincent.
Furthermore, she discusses the lolicon-esque qualities of Ah! My Goddess, but like Gunsmith Cats she isn’t just talking about the younger Skuld but also Belldandy and Urd, who, Urd especially, seem to go almost entirely against the current conception of lolicon used by people. Other titles from Monthly Afternoon (home of Genshiken!) mentioned as lolicon which seem to defy that definition further are Seraphic Feather and Assembler 0X.
Ah! My Goddess
This could be considered merely a rather broad definition of “lolicon,” but there are three things keep me from drawing that conclusion. First, according to Kinsella the influence of lolicon-style on the manga industry is somewhat acknowledged by professionals. Second, the character designs of Azuma Hideo, the “father of lolicon,” are very much in that blurry territory of the “child-like but voluptuous.” Third, is a conversation I’ve had with ex-manga editor and current Vertical Inc. editor and frontman, Ed Chavez.
According to Ed, one of the most significant lolicon characters ever is Lum from Urusei Yatsura, a character known for her sexy figure, and he also considers the origin of lolicon to actually be Maetel from Galaxy Express 999, a character notable for her mature and motherly qualities. I remember finding his categorization a little out of the ordinary, but when taking Kinsella’s words into account as well, it starts to make sense. It is that intersection of youthful but in certain ways adult, where for example the body is more developed but the face remains youthful, though neither is necessarily at any extreme.
Lum (left), Maetel (right)
Given this idea of lolicon, one of the most fascinating lines of thought to come out of this can be summarized with the following: if we go by this older definition of lolicon, even many of the fans who consider themselves vehemently against lolicon, who try to avoid it like the plague, would be categorized as lolicon fans themselves. Again, characters like Rally Vincent and Belldandy have been presented among fans for years and years now as the positive counterpoint to their respective series’ younger-looking characters, but they too now fall under the same umbrella.
Taking that into further consideration, the question becomes: given the anime of the last 20 years or so, what female characters wouldn’t be considered lolicon? It seems to encompass a large majority, where even characters defined by their mature, sexual bodies like Miura Azusa from THE iDOLM@STER and Fukiyose Seiri from A Certain Magical Index are grouped in, not to mention characters like Lina Inverse from Slayers.
Miura Azusa (left), Fukiyose Seiri (right)
I am not using this as a platform to invalidate people’s opinions, or to accuse anyone of being hypocrites. The term lolicon seems to have transformed over time, and the current generally accepted definition of it isn’t somehow less valid than its origins discussed above, though it may make for some inconsistencies in communicating, and at the end of the day Minnie May is still there. Rather, I think it shows a clear example of how words can change over time, that the boundaries by which we categorize things may not simply be about what traits are and aren’t present, but how those traits interact with each other (though that subtlety makes it susceptible to being more narrowly defined), and furthermore, how those traits are then perceived by those viewing.
In the end, Kinsella provides a quote from a senior editor of Monthly Afternoon:
The form of the manga is the same, but the themes have been changed to make them easier to read and understand for lots of people. Aah! My Godesss is a good example. It looks like otaku manga, but the content is different, the story has been changed so it can be read by a wider audience.
Could it be that, by taking the styles originally associated with lolicon, and putting them into contexts more relatable to a broader audience, this lolicon aesthetic no longer exists in that form? Where once the term referred to a broader range created by the interaction of certain traits, by having that larger readership claim one end of that spectrum, does the lolicon genre as we currently know it come into the forefront?
I’ve recently been watching the new season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as I also watch the on-going The Idolm@ster anime, and it has me thinking about the upper limits of my own fandom and what effect that might have on how I identify as a fan.
I think My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is quite a good show. It’s funny and charming and it has remarkably good characters. Whenever I see people praising the show or expressing their love for it and its ponies, I know where they’re coming from. I’ve seen it, and I think it’s worthy of praise. I even have a favorite character, Twilight Sparkle. The Idolm@ster I was less immediately fond of, and kept watching primarily to understand this franchise which I had heard about for so long but never knew anything about. In time, I grew to like the show well enough, and like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, I gained a favorite character within the show. In this case, it’s Akizuki Ritsuko.
However, I’m not sure how much I can call myself a fan of the show. I like it to be sure, and I think it’s excellent, but something about it keeps me from identifying as an MLP fan, and it’s not because the “bronies” are so outspoken. That’s not a problem at all. If there is something “amiss,” it might be that I have experienced greater passion for other shows, and so by comparison, as highly as I think of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, I know my capacity to love a cartoon can be much greater.
This makes me wonder, if I hadn’t come to MLP: FiM or The Idolm@ster as the person I am now, Ogiue Maniax blogger and academic of dorkish things with plenty of experience in geekdom and a propensity for expressing in writing that which I cherish, would I have more readily considered myself a fan of that series and devoted more of my time and energy to it?