Changin’ My Life: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for October 2017

October is going to be a special month for me from this point forward.

That’s because something big has happened, something I once thought impossible: I got married.

Seriously.

I won’t go into too many details, but I’ll just say that my wife is a very special person to me, who’s stuck with me through thick and thin. This even includes my time abroad in the Netherlands. I actually met her thanks to Ogiue Maniax, though I wouldn’t recommend writing anime blogs as a way to find relationships.

So I want to give a very, very special thanks to my Patreon members this month, because your continued support lets me pursue this blog as a passion project.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Viga

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

 

In other, non-matrimonial news, I recently did a series of manga recommendations on Twitter. Check out the thread!

Also, here are my favorite posts from last month:

Tomino Yoshiyuki’s “Big Picture”: WHy the Gundam Creator Can Be So Hit or Miss

Recently, I got to thinking ahttps://ogiuemaniax.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=16417&action=editbout Tomino and all his eccentricities. Here’s my hypothesis on the “Tomino style.”

Fighting Evil By Moonlight – Heartcatch Precure!: The Novel

I reviewed the Heartcatch Precure! novel, which ostensibly focuses more on Cure Moonlight than the anime.

Beyond the Brokeback Pose: Don’t Meddle with My Daughter

A look at the idea of superheroine sexualization and fetishism as a kind of cultural export, through the lense of the manga Don’t Meddle with My Daughter. It actually got retweeted by the author!

Return to Genshiken

Return to Genshiken: Volume 5 – Pride and Fujo Justice

Part 5 of my Genshiken re-read. Ogiue starts her journey here, but it’s Sasahara who really grows.

 

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My Favorite Light Novel Anime

Self-explanatory, but a fun topic all the same.

Closing

Here’s to an exciting new life!

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My Favorite Light Novel Anime

Light novel anime adaptations get something of a bad rap, but there are plenty of gems in that sea. If I were to list all of the light novel anime I thought were good, I’d have a pretty hefty list—big enough that even I’m surprised by looking at it. Instead, I’ve narrowed it down to a few, with reasons why I enjoy them so much.

1. My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected (aka My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU)

I’ve written at length on more than one occasion about why I think so highly about Youth Romantic Comedy, but every time I think about it I come back with even more reasons. This time around, an aspect that sticks out to me is how the series positions its central love triangle with a kind of thoughtfulness one might not expect.

Even though they all have significantly different perspectives on life, the characters’ contrasting viewpoints allow them to accomplish tasks that each of them alone could not. This extends to their love triangle. Where usually girls in these series are interested in the same guy for the same reason, Yui and Yukino are drawn to different qualities in Hachiman. Yui sees him as a good person deep down inside (whether he realizes it or not), and Yukino sees Hachiman as someone on a similar, socialization-shunning wavelength.

It’s good stuff.

2. The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi

In general, I’m pretty fond of the Suzumiya Haruhi anime, even if it’s not viewed with as much reverence as it once was. The story of a girl who might very well be god of the universe without realizing it hits a lot of interesting notes. However, I put the film The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi on a whole other level. The powerful emotions swirling around the characters—especially Nagato—as well as the tough decisions they have to make, just sticks with me in a way that not even the series’ other high points can. The only significant flaw of the movie, in my opinion, is that it requires viewers to have all the background context of the series prior to watching, but I think it can still probably do fine stand-alone.

For more of my thoughts, check out my review.

3. Humanity Has Declined

I sometimes forget that this series is based on a light novel because of how witty its satire can be. Taking place in a world where humankind is no longer the dominant race on Earth—instead supplanted by a race of fairies—it often showcases the folly of humanity by having their mistakes repeated in fast-forward by the fairies, who are somehow brilliant and imbecilic at the same time. The fairies can easily fashion new and highly advanced forms of science and technology, but are extremely prone to group-think, bandwagoning, and lack of foresight. It’s all too fitting that we as a species would get outdone by more extreme versions of us.

This is another series I’ve written a review for, which you can find here.

4. Kino’s Journey

If there’s one thing more recent light novel anime tend to lack, it’s a strong sense of atmosphere. Sure, they’ll have complex environments and elaborate magic systems, but they don’t capture the sense of a world in flux the way that Kino’s Journey does. Kino is a “traveler,” an unusual profession where she travels from one land to the next, learning about what each distinct culture is like. It’s a quiet and contemplative series, but at times can swell with tension and action. I’ve written a little about Kino’s Journey before, but only one of the short films.

I’m really looking forward to the upcoming new anime.

5. Slayers

While light novel anime are sometimes thought of as a more recent phenomenon due to the increased influx over the past 10-15 years, in my opinion the true grandmaster of the light novel adaptation is Slayers. Black magician Lina Inverse fancies herself a hero, but she’s more an agent of destruction, feared for her lack of concern for collateral damage. As she continues to make allies, she finds herself having to fight for the fate of her world, but not without keeping her characteristic wit, fury, and hungers both literal and metaphorical.

It was one of my gateway anime, and one of the first series that I was proud to own. Its mixture of humor, adventure, and dramatic development at the right moments makes it forever a classic in my mind. It’s one of the defining series of the 90s, and while its age often shows, I think it still has potential for wide appeal to a current audience.

This post was sponsored by Johnny Trovato. If you’re interested in submitting topics for the blog, or just like my writing and want to support Ogiue Maniax, check out my Patreon.

 

 

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Ogiue’s Hot ‘n’ Juicy: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for September 2017

As summer comes to a close, I hope that the autumn weather might spark some interesting ideas for posts. I’d like to give some food for thought to my readers, and for my own satisfaction. Speaking of food, there’s going to be an extended restaurant analogy for this update. I hope you don’t run away!

Before I start, though, I want to extend a thank you to my Patreon sponsors for the month of September.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Viga

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

I recently ate at Wendy’s, a trip that had me reading about some of the fast food chain’s recent changes. Apparently, Wendy’s in recent years has suffered from being seen as behind-the-times in spite of the relatively high quality of their food—ironic, given their slogan of “Old-Fashioned Hamburgers.” Customers still thought the food was great, but Wendy’s has had to play catch up, which is why they changed their signature burger a few years ago, re-introducing it as “Dave’s Hot ‘n’ Juicy Single/Double/Triple” before changing it to just “Dave’s.”

I feel like Ogiue Maniax is in a similarly precarious position. I know my readers still enjoy my posts, and I feel like I’m still serving what made people come to my blog in the first place, but it feels a bit stuck in another era. This is perhaps because of the blog format itself; this sort of anime/manga criticism exists much more readily on YouTube these days, and even that format looks like it might be in trouble given all of YouTube’s recent monkey wrenches that mess with people’s abilities to make a livelihood through the streaming video service.

I wish I had a new burger to provide something fresh, but I don’t. At least, not yet. I don’t rely on Ogiue Maniax as a career, so maybe I’ve gotten complacent, but the last thing I want to happen is for this blog to lose its core identity of thoughtful analysis.

At least, I hope they’re still thoughtful. Here are my personal highlights from the past month of Ogiue Maniax:

Capitalizing on a New Home: Otakon 2017

My Otakon 2017 con report! It also includes links to interviews, film reviews, and such.

Hell Hath no Fury: Benten in The Eccentric Family 2

Benten is one of anime’s most intriguing characters, but the second season of The Eccentric Family takes her portrayal to another level.

A New Way to Look at Precure Character Archetypes


This one’s kind of unusual: a look at how some recent Precure merchandise categorizes its extensive character list.

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The Star that Shines Brightest: Thoughts on the Aikatsu! Five-Year Anniversary Crossover
Five years of Aikatsu! Really?!

 

Closing

This doesn’t have to do with anything, but I should really write about Voltron: Legendary Defender one of these days. I have a lot of thoughts I want to get out there.

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The Star that Shines Brightest: Thoughts on the Aikatsu! Five-Year Anniversary Crossover

“Five years of Aikatsu! sounds strange. Sometimes, the series seems like it’s been around forever. Other times, I remember it as one of the many young upstarts nipping at Precure‘s “anime for young girls” throne. However my feelings sway, the reality is that the show is long enough now to have a mega crossover event.

In episodes 69 and 70 of Aikatsu Stars!, the characters if the latest series encounter their predecessors from seasons past. While there are plenty of interactions across the cast, the main focal point is how heroine Nijino Yume meets her protagonist senpai, Oozora Akari and Hoshimiya Ichigo.

One thing is crystal clear after these episodes: out if all three main characters, Ichigo is by far the most memorable and the most meme-able.

That’s not to say that Akari and Yume are bad characters or uninteresting. However, everything about Ichigo leaves an impression. Like in so many other franchises or enduring works, being the original confers a kind of aura of greatness. Whether it’s Amuro Ray from Gundam, Superman, or Cure Black and Cure White from Precure, there’s a sense of reverence for being the first.

But it’s not just being the inaugural protagonist that elevates Ichigo; it’s that she comes across as amusingly superhuman compared to the other two. Like Cure Black and Cure White in their own crossover specials, Ichigo is portrayed as the strongest. She scales cliffs with ease. Her skill with an axe is so notable that the crossover puts special emphasis on it. I’m fact, nowhere is the animation as lovingly handled as the tree-chopping scene, as the anime plays with dynamic angles, fluid animation, and perspective. Yume and Akari recede into the background in the face of Ichigo’s might.

If you look at the S.H. Figuarts figure for Ichigo, she actually comes with an axe. It’s an identifying element for fans. What would Akari and Yume come with? It’s less obvious. One might argue that they’re more subtle as characters, and that this is a strength, but even Cure Black and Cure White don’t overshadow their Precure successors this much.

It might sound like I’m being critical of the franchise for not developing its later heroines more, or of the crossover episodes for not doing a good enough job, but I’m not. I found the crossover episodes to be a fun celebration of all things Aikatsu! I especially enjoyed seeing the previous S4 (Yume’s senpai group before she got to the top of her school) and Soleil (Ichigo’s group) perform. It was also great to see my favorite, Ichinose Kaede. My thoughts on Ichigo are more of an observation.

On a final note, I thought the character designs for Aikatsu! and Aikatsu Stars! would clash more, but they really don’t. I think they made the original Aikatsu! girls’ faces a bit rounder to make the different casts more visually cohesive. This is generally the sign that a crossover knows what it’s doing.

This post was sponsored by Johnny Trovato. If you’re interested in submitting topics for the blog, or just like my writing and want to support Ogiue Maniax, check out my Patreon.

Sound the Gong: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for August 2017

Otakon is this month! With guests like the director of Eureka Seven, JAM Project, and more, I’m unbelievably hype for this year’s convention. If you happen to spot me at the con, feel free to say hello.

Thanks to all of my Patreon sponsors!

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Viga

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

I want to talk about Twitter for a bit. In the past, I’ve never really had any of my tweets go wild; the most successful one I had for the longest time was this:

That was almost two years ago. But all through July, I’ve been hitting it out of the park in ways I hardly expected. I was never good at the social media game, so seeing my tweets go viral again and again is hard for me to wrap my head around.

Have I figured something out? Only the future knows…

Anyway, here are monthly post highlights:

 

Gattai Girls 6: The Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Jeanne Fránçaix


After three long years, it’s finally the 6th entry in Gattai Girls review series! I look at mecha anime starring female robot pilots.

Pre-Evo Thoughts: Video Games vs. Chess Analogies


Gamers love to say that their favorite game is comparable to chess. But couldn’t we think through the analogy more?

Bootleg Products and the Defiance of Value


Bootleg stuff is often either demonized or written off as harmless, but what effects does it have on a fandom’s ability to grow itself?

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Aikatsu and the Power of Not Running Jokes into the Ground
The Aikatsu !posts continue! This month, I look at how great the humor is in this series. You might think I’m being paid by the creators or something, but it’s just that my biggest patron is a huge Aikatsu! fan!

Return to Genshiken

Return to Genshiken: Volume 4 – Ogiue Descends

Ogiue’s finally here! Starting this volume, I’ll be using the Japanese books along with the English ones for my re-reads.

Closing

Hopefully the next Gattai Girls post won’t take nearly as long. I’m waffling between… Patlabor and BBK/BRNK. What do you think?

Anyway, see you at Otakon!

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Aikatsu! and the Power of Not Running Jokes into the Ground

WARNING: Spoilers
For all of their abundant, game-shilling elements, the Aikatsu! anime have done a remarkably good job of standing on their own. Whether it’s Ichigo or Akari from the first series, or Yume from Aikatsu Stars!, the franchise creates fun, interesting protagonists and then surrounds them with a large cast of equally charismatic and compelling characters. Another important quality of Aikatsu! is that it excels at not letting any of its running jokes overstay their welcome, which is best seen in how it handles its famous “cliff-scaling” gag.

In an early episode of Aikatsu!, Ichigo tries to get in contact with a world-famous fashion designer who lives atop Angely Mountain. Ichigo, willing to do whatever it takes, ends up climbing all the way up, unaware of the fact that she could’ve taken an elevator. After meeting the fashion designer, Ichigo goes on to view her as a guiding voice of sorts, someone to ask for advice. And every time she visits, she takes the hard way.

Ichigo’s “pilgrimage” is not overused. It doesn’t show up every episode, or even every other episode. Every time that mountain shows up, it’s an opportunity to laugh but also to view progress. Eventually, Ichigo climbs it with such ease that it becomes symbolic of her drastic improvement as an idol. I knew that, whenever that cliff showed up, I would smile with glee.

Not every running joke is used as sparingly. Yurika’s vampire gimmick is prevalent. Even here, however, the frequency with which Yurika plays up her faux-occult origins becomes part of the humor. Because Yurika works hard to maintain what pro wrestlers call “kayfabe” (essentially living the role), it becomes one of her endearing qualities. Her constant refrain of “I’ll suck your blood!” is presented as one of the many reasons Yurika’s fans love her.

When it’s revealed late in the first season that Ichigo’s mother is a legendary idol, nothing is more perfect than the further revelation that Hoshimiya Ringo is already well accustomed to visiting Ichigo’s designer. “It’s been a long time since I’ve done this,” she says, ready to climb. The cliff-scaling is not a gag exclusive to Ichigo, but actually permeates the entire idol universe of Aikatsu! 

In one of the later openings, Akari (Ichigo’s successor as heroine) can be seen climbing along with her friends. Thanks to the context established by Ichigo, the scene encapsulates what’s great about Aikatsu!, instead of feeling like a callback to a worn-out image.

This post was sponsored by Johnny Trovato. If you’re interested in submitting topics for the blog, or just like my writing and want to support Ogiue Maniax, check out my Patreon.

Mori Summer: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for July 2017

AnimeExpo is over, and the all-new Otakon in DC is on the horizon. Meanwhile, EVO 2017 is less than two weeks away. With a new season of anime upon us again, it’s time to get back into the swing of seeing how the new crop holds up.

I’m happy to see that my Patreon supporters are still with me. A special thank you to…

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Viga

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish the latest Gattai Girls in June, but I’m getting close! I’m going to make myself get this danged thing out even if it drives me mad. It’s about time I got back around to talking more about giant robots anyway.

Even though a strong season just ended and there are plenty of shows in it that I enjoyed, I’m not sure how many of them I want to write full reviews for. So why not have a poll?

I might end up doing the other ones anyway, but I’d like to see what people would be most keen on.

Here are the monthly blog highlights:

Nerds in the Mist: Katou Megumi and the Role of the Non-Otaku

The “Boring Girlfriend” is anything but. Find out why Megumi is one of the most interesting characters around.

Does the Japanese “Vegeta” Voice Not Translate to English?

This post of mine was the biggest success of the month in terms of views! Read my thoughts on voice acting in Dragon Ball Z!

Magic School Bus Meets Terminator: Cells at Work

I love this manga so much. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted. The human body is a wondrous thing.ß

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The Fun of Farming Games (Except Farmville)
I never really played farming simulators before. Then I tried Story of Seasons. See my thoughts on the genre and where I think the appeal and satisfaction lies.

Closing

I feel strangely inspired to write some new posts after being in a small rut. I hope that what I bring to the table continues to be enjoyable and thought-provoking!

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