Breaking Convention: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for August 2020

Time starts to blend together as I stay at home, but there’s a new summer anime season to help get us energized. So far, the series I’m enjoying most is Deca-Dence, but I have to give a shout-out to Appare Ranman!, which is back from a COVID-19-related delay. I wish the best for everyone working in anime.

Incidentally, it’s been one year since the Kyoto Animation arson attack, and Kyoani has announced that they’ll be getting back into animation. It gives me hope.

Thank you to my Patreon sponsors, who support me even as I deviate from the main topics of this blog at times.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Dsy (NEW PATRON!)

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

I like to think that everyone who follows Ogiue Maniax knows my passion for anime and manga is genuine, even if there are times when more important things are at stake.

Blog highlights from July:

Kio Shimoku’s First Audio Interview Is with a Virtual Youtuber!

I took extensive notes from the most in-depth Kio Shimoku interview ever. A must-read for all Genshiken fans.

Our Better Angels: Superman Smashes the Klan

A review of the classic Superman vs. the KKK story told from a modern perspective.

AnimEVO Online and My Return to Mahjong

The AnimEVO Mahjong Soul tournament is this Saturday!

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 30 is where Hasegawa shows her true power. An emotionally charged chapter.

Patreon-Sponsored

The Infinite Potential of Japanese Pudding in Anime

Jiggling and wiggling and crossing class boundaries.

Apartment 507

Discover the twiiist ending of MILF manga Ookumo-chan Flashback.

Closing

Yesterday was Otakon Online, which rose out of the ashes of the canceled Otakon 2020. Otakon has been an annual pilgrimage for Ogiue Maniax, and I’m glad I was able to continue the tradition in some capacity.

May there be an Otakon 2021!

Interdependence Day: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for July 2020

It feels like 100 years have passed since June and July. The world feels liable to change in the most drastic ways, but also to revert back to the same old ignorance. We’re all just individuals in the end, but I hope that we can enrich ourselves just as much as we help those around us. As COVID-19 spikes around the US, I want everyone, even those I vehemently disagree with, to have long, healthy, and fulfilling lives, and to remember that we’re in this together. It shouldn’t be “every man for himself” in this situation.

Thank you to my Patreon sponsors, who support me even as I deviate from the main topics of this blog at times.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Dsy (NEW PATRON!)

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

I like to think that everyone who follows Ogiue Maniax knows my passion for anime and manga is genuine, even if there are times when more important things are at stake.

Blog highlights from June:

Beyond “Friendship, Hard Work, and Victory”: The Promised Neverland

A full-series review of one of the best shounen manga ever.

Beastars and the Fight Against Behavioral Absolutism

My interpretation of what Beastars has to say about civilization.

Learning About the Butterflies and the Bees: Saotome-senshu, Hitakakusu

A great and silly boxing-themed romance comedy series. Highly recommend.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 29 shows a bit of tension between Akira and Jin—a first for the series.

Patreon-Sponsored

Thoughts on Open-World RPGs and the D&D Legacy

It basically turned into a post about JRPGs vs. WRPGs.

Apartment 507

The Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba manga has finished. Could this mean one of the overall best anime adaptations ever is on its way?

Closing

A new anime season is upon us, but in this current situation, that means a lot of shows that went on hiatus due to coronavirus are coming back. I’m most stoked for Healin’ Good Precure, which is finally going to be streaming on Crunchyroll in the US. It’s time for Precure to claim its rightful place!

Thoughts on Open-World RPGs and the D&D Lineage

Open-world RPGs have never really been my thing, though it’s less about genre preference and more about circumstances. I was never much of a PC gamer when RPGs like Baldur’s Gate were around, and by the time similar games (such as The Elder Scrolls series) emerged on more powerful console hardware, I didn’t have any of those systems. But from a distance, I find the branching paths of Western RPGs and Japanese RPGs to be such a wonderful story of diverging Dungeons & Dragons lineages—namely how the former has taken more from the customization and self-insertion aspects of tabletop roleplaying in contrast to the latter and how the latter has went on to emphasize the narrative and storytelling components by way of old Western computer RPGs such as Wizardry.

It might be my ignorance and unfamiliarity at work, but I see expansive open-world RPGs as putting less emphasis on defining strong characters through which a story unfolds. More often than not, my impression is that they are about putting the player in the driver’s seat and trying to convey a virtual environment where they can do “whatever they want” within the boundaries of a game’s programming. Even if they have set things to do and accomplish, these games are meant to feel like your story.

That being said, plenty of JRPGs have user insert characters, including Dragon Quest and Pokemon have audience insert protagonists, and the latter even allows for heavier aesthetic customization now. However, I do feel that there is a more defined sense of a default look and feel to these generic JRPG player characters, and the result is that they also end up feeling like someone you’re observing from a distance—like you’re in a dream seeing yourself from a third-person perspective.  For me, personally, I’ve traditionally preferred that direction.

Of course, I’m making certain assumptions and generalizations when I define Western RPGs as more expansive and open-world, as even those words can change meaning and significance depending on what players are used to and how they perceive the importance of those qualities. For example, it’s interesting to me that the prevailing online opinion on Pokemon Black & White has changed so drastically in the ten years since its debut. 

Back when it first launched, the games were criticized as being too easy and hand-holdy—you always knew exactly where to go next. This was a far cry from the original Pokemon Red & Blue generation-1 games, which gave far fewer explanations and kind of left a lot of things ambiguous. But now, Black & White are touted as being one of the gold standards of Pokemon, and its descendants inferior for their perceived lack of strong and focused storytelling. Red & Blue, in turn, are seen as cumbersome relics that don’t do enough to guide players. It comes down to a generational divide, but even within the specific realm of Pokemon—hardly what you’d call a premiere example of open-world gameplay—this debate about the two Dungeons & Dragons lineages takes place.

I feel that the success of expansive open-world RPGs on an individual level comes down to whether or not the inevitably less defined bits of narrative that are a consequence of heavy personal customization and gameplay systems that encourage defining “your” story as opposed to following someone else’s. Both it and the JRPG style are capable of capturing people’s imaginations, but it’s what we want to do with our captive imaginations that highlights our differences.

This post is sponsored by Ogiue Maniax patron Johnny Trovato. You can request topics through the Patreon or by tipping $30 via ko-fi.

Break the Unbreakable, Fight the Power: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for June 2020

This blog is a reflection of myself, and my thoughts and feelings on anime and manga both for their own sakes and within the greater context of the world we share. So much has happened within this past week, let alone this past month, that I’m feeling overwhelmed. Between COVID-19 and the protests that have emerged in the United States, Japan, and Hong Kong in response to institutional injustice, I hope that everyone can stay safe as we fight for fundamental changes to transform the world into a place where power and authority are not used as tools of oppression.

Thank you to my Patreon sponsors this month. I appreciate your support, not just those listed below, but everyone who thinks Ogiue Maniax is worth something even in these times.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from May:

The House in Fata Morgana and Full House: The Inherent Limits of “Pure” Translations

Translation accuracy and localization have been recurring fandom topics lately. I thought I’d give my perspective on it.

The White Fear of Mediocrity

A thought about Steely Dan in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure turns into an exploration of whiteness in America and its ties to the suburbs that dot the country.

Wishing for Hope, Reaching to Help

The recent deaths and suicides of so many have me wishing that everyone stays safe mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 28 puts some focus on the castle-loving Shinji.

Patreon-Sponsored

My Favorite (?) Anime Computer Games

It is what it says, sort of?

Apartment 507

Thinking about nostalgic sequels and their use of time.

Closing

Whether you choose to stay indoors or go out there to fight for justice, please stay safe. I will try to provide things worth reading, whether you want to engage more with the world around us or to stay within the realm of art. Just remember that the border between the two sides are porous and prone to mingling.

Futari no Social Distance: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for May 2020

Anime Expo: Canceled. Otakon: Canceled. EVO: Canceled. But it’s all for the best as we try to keep one another safe in these strange times. I’m thankful to all the organizers for making the right choice, and I hope to see you all at conventions eventually. In the meantime, I find myself trying to make the most of my time spent at home.

Thank you to all my supporters on Patreon again this month, especially these fine folks below.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from April:

Their Problem is Our Problem: The Promised Neverland, “Coronavirus,” and the Systems that Force Inequality

The Promised Neverland brings the fury as it asks readers to think about the world around them.

When Comedy Goes Nuclear: Spy x Family

This popular new Jump+ manga is probably going to be the next big hit. I highly recommend it.

Eureka Seven, Holland, and Fujiwara Keiji

My tribute to the recently deceased voice actor who brought his A-game to every role. If you want to see my Top 10 favorite anime roles of his, I also wrote something up for Apartment 507.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 27 is, at last, the big performance…with a dash of possible romance.

Patreon-Sponsored

My Favorite (?) Anime Computer Games

It is what it says, sort of?

Closing

I’m nobody special when it comes to giving advice, but I hope everyone can enrich themselves and stay sane in these crazy times. As for me, I’m finding great joy in AI-generated memes (like the one you saw at the top of this post), and incredibly dumb and hilarious #partyparrot memes. (The joke is dicks.)

Voices of a Social Distant Star: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for April 2020

Well, what a month it’s been. Back in March, the threat of COVID-19 was real, but I did not expect things to escalate so quickly. The number of sick and dead ever increases. We’re seeing the Tokyo Olympics get postponed to 2021 and Comic Market 98 get canceled. New York City and the United States have become epicenters of the virus. I’m among the many currently sheltering in place and doing my social distance thing, and I’m fortunate to be in a position where my life isn’t thrown into total disarray as a result.

Part of that has to do with the ongoing support of my Patreon supporters, especially the following.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Not only is it a bit of extra cash, but having this blog and the responsibility of making sure the Patreon is worthwhile helps me maintain a schedule and keeps my mind active. Sometimes I need to remind myself that there’s always something to talk about on an anime blog, even if we’re seemingly entering a new period in the story of humankind.

That being said, if anyone can’t afford to keep up their Patreon subscription for Ogiue Maniax, don’t feel bad about putting it on pause for however long it’s necessary.

What remains to be seen is how many COVID-19-related puns can I make for these monthly updated posts.

Blog highlights from March:

Friends with Consequences: Spotted Flower, Volume 4

It’s been a few years since the last volume of Spotted Flower, and it ramps up the insanity of this Genshiken what-if like nobody’s business.

Brief Thoughts on Anime, Manga, and COVID-19

It’s the talk of the town…! I’m curious as to how the current pandemic might shape the storytelling and themes we find in anime and manga going forward.

Space Cases: Star Twinkle Precure

The recently finished Precure series is not just yabai, it’s kirayabaa~.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 26 has me legitimately wondering if Jin might be on the spectrum.

Patreon-Sponsored

Aikatsu as Absurd Idol Anime Turning Point?

Idol anime can get quite zany these days. Is Aikatsu! the reason?

Apartment 507

I wrote a review of the Nintendo Switch version of Touhou Gensou Mahjong.

Closing

Stay safe, and remember that we’re all in this together.

Oh, and uh, look behind you.

April Fool’s ha ha ha…

Simon’s Rival?: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for March 2020

At the end of last year, I hoped that 2020 would turn out better. I’m starting to doubt whether that’ll happen. But before I get too somber, I’d like to thank the following Patreon supporters.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

The big news of the day is COVID-19, the new and highly contagious coronavirus. Even within the specific realm of Japanese culture (let alone the rest of the world), it’s causing schools to be closed, anime and music events to be canceled, and even the Tokyo Olympics might not be safe. Asia is in a panic, cases of the infection are cropping up all over the world, and here in the US, an utterly incompetent executive branch is more concerned with the stock market than people’s well-being.

I don’t intend to panic nor cause others to panic, but I hope that everyone, no matter who they are, take care of themselves. Don’t try to power through sick days. Get the help you need. Get a flu shot to reduce the chances of your flu-like symptoms actually being the flu.

Now, back to your regular scheduled Ogiue Maniax update.

Blog highlights from February:

Mewtwo vs. Mewtwo: Notable Voices in “The Wonderland”

Two of the voice actors who have played Mewtwo show up in the same movie! Also, The Wonderland is great, and you should check it out.

Talkin’ About Shaft: Oogami-san, Dada More Desu

The end of a cute and racy manga about a girl with an incredibly dirty imagination.

The Source of Life: “Ride Your Wave” Film Review

Yuasa Masaaki’s new film is great, and its message powerful.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 25 reveals more about Jin’s family, and the fears and doubts he has about himself.

Patreon-Sponsored

Play the Anime in Your Living Room: Discovering Anime Board Games and Card Games

A request to write about anime-themed games turned into a discovery of some quite creative traditional games.

Apartment 507

I wrote a little bit about Jimbocho, the book town of Tokyo.

Closing

Economic impact is inevitable, but I’m curious as to whether COVID-19 will have any creative impact in terms of the anime and manga that will be made. How appropriate it is that the current season of Precure, Healin’ Good Precure, has a medicine and environmental theme.

Play the Anime in Your Living Room: Discovering Anime Board Games and Card Games

When I think of anime and traditional games, e.g. card games and board games, the things that come to mind are Yu-Gi-Oh! or maybe something Pokemon-related. On the more hardcore end are games such as Weiss Schwarz, which allows you to build and cross over multiple series in a competitive TCG, or the digital card game Shadowverse, which carries an anime aesthetic.

What I never knew until very recently is the amount of anime and manga-themed games out there, as well as the degree to which they try to either faithfully capture the spirit of their source material or whatever idea it is they’re trying to convey.

The resource I found that gave me a bit of insight into how deep this rabbit hole goes is Hoobby.net’s Boardgamer section, which you can filter by “anime” or “manga.” Due to issues of accessibility and time, I haven’t had the chance to play any of them (and thus cannot actually give a real assessment), but I can appreciate their existence.

Some of the games focus on a broader theme from anime and manga. “Book Makers,” for instance, puts you in the role of readers of a shounen manga’s tournament arc, and you’re basically sending in reader surveys to determine which characters progress in the competition. Sadly, it seems like the game is out of print, or at least no longer has a functioning website. Perhaps the idea was too niche. Another game, “Light Novel Label,” has the player as a light novel editor fostering your authors.

Others are based on established properties, and it’s in that realm that the sheer variety of the games I found genuinely surprises me.

It’s one thing to have a simulated tactical board game based on Girls und Panzer. It’s a popular title and the competitive tank-battle motif plays perfectly into the format. Even the Love Live! board game isn’t terribly surprising, even if its concept of “make a sub-unit and gather more fans” is more of a stretch than GuP. Where it gets really wild is in examples like the Pop Team Epic card game and the Mayoiga: The Lost Village card game.

The Pop Team Epic card game, or more specifically the “Pop Team Epic KUSO [SHITTY] Card Game,” is actively designed to be hilarious but also kind of anti-fun–appropriate for such a trollish manga and anime series. In the instructions, it says, “Whoever remains is the winner. If all players are out, then Bandai Corporation is declared the winner.” The Lost Village’s card game seems to be a mystery/horror game where you play as five of the characters from the anime and try to survive your trauma, but anyone who’s seen that TV series knows that it does not lend itself well to a board game, and perhaps not even to an anime. The most important thing is that you can indeed play as the breakout “star” of the series, Hyouketsu no Judgeness.

Perhaps the most shocking game I found in terms of just existing is the board game for Genma Taisen, aka Harmageddon, from 1983. It’s not entirely out of left field, but I just never expected that anyone would have tried to distill that series into some kind of playable format, though the fact that it predates the Famicom might be a contributing factor.

A lot of the games don’t seem to have much longevity, which is tragic in its own way. Maybe someone will see one of the less beloved games and give it a second chance, and sparking some kind of second wind. Until then, they seem more like curios and conversation pieces.

This post is sponsored by Ogiue Maniax patron Johnny Trovato. You can request topics through the Ogiue Maniax Patreon or by tipping $30 via ko-fi.

Hellmaster Februeezo: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for February 2020

February has been a turbulent month, as I’ve been paying close attention to the impeachment and its aftermath. But in times like these, I think the ability to find in the stories we love a joy that is both comforting and invigorating is important. Having this blog helps me in many ways, and I try to keep it positive yet critical.

In that respect, I’d like to thank my patrons, who help Ogiue Maniax keep going.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

In other news, I’ve started writing again for Apartment 507. It’s been about two years since my last article on there. I’ll include anything I write there in these monthly updates.

Highlights from January:

“Genshiken Nidaime” Ogiue Chika Voice, “Yamamoto Nozomi,” Gets Married

Call me biased, but any bit of Ogiue news is worth noting.

Our Rap Battle Goes On! “Change” Final Review

One of my recent favorite manga, about Japanese rap battles, comes to an abrupt close.

Byleth and the “Fire Emblem” Tactical Spirit in “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate”

It’s a tiny bit outdated at this point, but I still think Byleth’s style embraces and adapts Fire Emblem gameplay into Smash.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 24 brings an interesting twist to Jin’s character.

Patreon-Sponsored

Nijisanji, Hololive, and the Virtual Youtuber Kayfabe

I was asked to write about these virtual youtubers, and so I did!

Closing

I know this isn’t anime-related, but please listen to Adam Schiff make his closing remarks at the impeachment trial. I think these words will stick in the public memory for a long, long time.

20/20 Vision of Escaflowne: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for January 2020

Here we are, at the dawn of a new decade. It means a new anime season, naturally, but there’s this combined sense of wonder and dread at what might be a new era.

As we begin 2020, I would like to give the biggest of shout-outs to my Patreon supporters:

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

I actually was considering giving credit to all of my Patreon supporters this time around and not just the $3.00 and above tier, but I had to take into account that some might purposely choose to remain anonymous. Just know that if you’ve helped out Ogiue Maniax in the past or in the present, no matter how much it’s been, I want you to know that I’m grateful.

Highlights from December:

The big thing on Ogiue Maniax last month was my decade in review series. You can check out all the parts below.

2010–2019 Part 1: Prediction Results

2010–2019 Part 2: Looking Back

2010–2019 Part 3: Looking Forward

2010–2019 Part 4: Best Anime Characters of the Decade

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 23 is full of excellent humor and even better art.

Patreon-Sponsored

The One and Only: Aikatsu on Parade! and Hoshimiya Ichigo

The queen is here! See how the current season of Aikatsu! handles the return of its original heroine.

Closing

2020 will be a tumultuous year, from American elections to the Tokyo Olympics. I wish everyone safety and happiness, and hope that we can all find both comfort and inspiration in anime and other creative experiences.