It’s Time to Yule: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for December 2017

EDITPatreon has decided NOT to go through with the changes described below.

This month’s Patreon sponsor update is, funny enough, going to be about Patreon.

Before I go into detail, I’d like to give thanks to my Patreon sponsors.

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

Recently, Patreon has changed the way it handles patron subscriptions and creator payouts. There’s some controversy over the exact intent behind this change too–Patreon claims it’s to increase consistency of payments, critics argue it’s a greedy move to extract more money. Either way, what it means is that many users might end up paying more. Where a $1 pledge once meant you pay $1, it now means $1.36 per creator you support.

If you want to keep supporting Ogiue Maniax at your current pledge level, feel free to do so. But if the extra financial burden from this Patreon change is too much, feel free to lower your pledge amounts as much as necessary–even to $0.

One thing I’m considering is lowering my rewards to compensate for this change, so patrons can get the same perks for the same amount. Tell me in the comments or on Patreon.

My favorite posts from last month:

Teikoku State of Mind: Anime NYC 2017

It’s been a while since New York City’s had a dedicated anime con. Check out my thoughts on Anime NYC (spoilers: it was fantastic).

10 Years After: Ogiue Maniax 10th Anniversary

Wherein I reflect on a decade of anime blogging.

Raspatat at Koshien: An Iconic Dutch Snack at Japan’s Most Famous Stadium!

A snack from my time in the Netherlands!

Genshiken Re-Read

Return to Genshiken: Volume 6 – Eyes as Black as the Abyss

My favorite volume of Genshiken, period.

Patreon-Sponsored

Aikatsu Stars! and Nikaido Yuzu, the Ultimate Kouhai/Senpai

I was asked to write about my favorite Halloween anime, only to realize that most of them are Precure episodes. Go figure.

Closing

Kio Shimoku announced a new manga. Am I going to review it on Ogiue Maniax? The answer is “very yes.”

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Aikatsu Stars! and Nikaido Yuzu, the Ultimate Kouhai/Senpai

At first glance, Nikaido Yuzu in Aikatsu Stars! is not an especially unique character. She’s an energetic, bubbly character in a show filled with energetic and bubbly characters, in a genre (idol anime) conducive to energetic and bubbly characters. One or way or another, however, she comes to stand out over time, especially with the slight shift in her role between seasons from kouhai to senpai.

I previously wrote a little about how the heroine of Aikatsu Stars!, Nijino Yume, undergoes a similar transition. At the start of the series, Yume’s the new girl aiming for the top. By the time Season 2 rolls around, Yume’s at the apex as a member of the elite idol group S4. In contrast, Yuzu starts off already a part of S4, going from the youngest member to the oldest between seasons. But unlike Yume, who has to get used to being looked up to, Yuzu’s personality and approach to life transitions almost seamlessly.

To the former members of S4 who graduate, Yuzu is a bundle of youthful enthusiasm. But to the younger members of S4 who come in after her, Yuzu is an eccentric wise man of sorts, her decisions seemingly bizarre but ultimately with some underlying purpose or reasoning—even if Yuzu herself doesn’t quite know what that is herself. This balance is on display in episode 67 of Aikatsu Stars!, when Yuzu sets up an elaborate treasure hunt on Aikatsu Island.

Yuzu tells the participants, many of whom are her underclassmen, to find a treasure that’s so well hidden that even she can’t remember its true location. As one hint after another comes up to help the hunters along, there’s a certain sense that they’re not just clues, but philosophical ideas about what it means to live. In a twist straight out of “The Purloined Letter,” the actual treasure is revealed to have been disguised as an overly obvious giant treasure box-shaped prop at the very beginning, and the treasure within is…friends. Literally. Out of the enormous box comes the three former members of S4. In that moment, between S4 girls new and old, Yuzu is simultaneously the wide-eyed “kid” and the experienced “adult,” so to speak.

Compare this to Yazawa Nico from Love Live!, a character known for being older but acting younger. Nico’s cutesy behavior is meant to contradict the fact that she’s a third-year in high school, and lets her act as a foil to the young-but-mature Nishikino Maki. Yuzu, on the other hand, isn’t really a “contradiction”; she just “is.” Her actions and behavior fit, whether she’s dispensing advice or giving it, because they reflect a generally positive approach to life that’s all about excitement without being beholden to “newness.”

Aikatsu Stars! is generally a fairly lighthearted show bordering on the wacky, and Yuzu fits well within that universe. Energetic and bubbly she may be, but those are surface qualities that open up to a sense of loyalty and adventure, rendering her a unique figure. She’s the kind of character who could thrive in any degree of prominence, whether main, side, or even background figure.

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.

Ten! Ten! Ten!: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for November 2017

This month is the tenth anniversary of Ogiue Maniax. I’ll have a special post for that occasion. In the meantime, I’d like to thank my Patreon sponsors, especially the following:

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

My favorite posts from last month:

The Precarious Balance of Tradition and Progress: Sakura Quest

A review of the unique P.A. Works anime

Love Live! Sunshine!! and the Complexities of Anime Tourism

A follow-up post of sorts to the Sakura Quest review, this one looks at the relationship between anime and influencing the movement of populations

Gattai Girls 7: Shinkon Gattai Godannar and Aoi Anna

The latest Gattai Girls is actually one of my favorite anime ever. (It was also a somewhat subtle hint towards me getting married.)

Patreon-Sponsored

 

Halloween Means Precure!

I was asked to write about my favorite Halloween anime, only to realize that most of them are Precure episodes. Go figure.

Closing

I’d like to end this month on a more serious note.

This past Halloween, there was a terrorist attack in lower Manhattan. While I did not know any of the people who were hurt or injured, my condolences go out to their friends and families. I went to school in the same area back in 2001, when 9/11 occurred, and hearing about the attack brought me back to what I felt then: the confusion, the need to evacuate, the unsettling feeling that the world will never be the same. Circumstances were different this time around, but I know the fear and unease that can linger over New York City in the face of such a crime. At the same time, just as then, I’m always surprised by the resilience of New Yorkers to just get back up and go about their day. On some level, it’s a product of being accustomed to the hustle and bustle of such a crazy metropolis, but I also think that it’s a semi-conscious effort to not let fear cower us into submission, or make us doubt each other as human beings.

Hate does not defeat hate. Trust, education, and openness to new ideas are the key ingredients to a better tomorrow.

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Halloween Means Precure!

I’ve come to realize that my favorite Halloween-themed episodes in anime come from the Precure franchise. This might be because it runs all year long (thus making holiday celebrations a common part of the shows), but I also think the mix of magic (in the form of magical girls) on a night associated with the occult works in its favor. Out of the many Halloween-themed instances of Precure, three stand out in particular: an episode of Suite Precure, another from Maho Girls Precure, and the movie Go! Princesss Precure: Go! Go!! Gorgeous Triple Feature

Before I proceed, here’s the requisite SPOILER WARNING.

Suite Pretty Cure

One of my main criticisms of Suite Precure is that, once a major character development moment passes, the show acts as if the new status quo is the way it’s always been. The key example of this is when the character Siren goes from antagonistic cat character to fellow human Precure. All of her history as a villain is seemingly forgotten after a couple episodes. The one major exception comes in the Halloween episode, where the now-Kurokawa Ellen dresses up as a cat girl. When a classmate asks about her costume, Ellen (without missing a beat) casually begins to mention that she used to be a cat, which prompts the other Precures to jump in and brush it off as a joke. It’s a clever bit of continuity in a show which often put it on the back burner.

The character Atarashi Ako is herself dressed as a princess, which is also a joke based on her true identity. Amusement all around!

Maho Girls Precure

The Harry Potter-esque world of Maho Girls Precure lends itself perfectly to a Halloween episode. One of the running jokes of the series is the way that visitors from the Magical World will sometimes forget that they’re supposed to be hiding their identity and will just casually mention things that the Muggles (so to speak) shouldn’t know. Halloween is presented as a major exception, because in the festive, costumed environment, magicians can come as they are because people will think they’re dressed for the occasion. Even then, the Maho Girls find a way to push the limits. The star of the show in this instance is probably Haa-chan, the third Precure and by far the most powerful of the trio in terms of magic. She appears throughout the episode in bizarre costumes, like a mummy complete with sarcophagus, and an alien being taken away by Men in Black.

It’s just a fine episode of nudges and winks and fulfilling the expectations one might have for a Halloween episode in a show about wizarding magical girls.

Go! Princess Precure

Go! Princess Precure: Go! Go!! Gorgeous Triple Feature is actually an entire Halloween-themed movie, consisting of two shorts and one longer standard Precure movie. It was (appropriately) released on October 31, 2015. Go! Princess is already one of the strongest entries in the franchise, and many of its strengths—animation, charismatic characters, strong and positive themes—can be seen in the movie. Interestingly, the main thing the film seems to take from Halloween is the prominence of pumpkins. Whether they’re jack o’ lanterns or pumpkin desserts, the iconic Halloween vegetable seems to overshadow the costume and trick or treat aspects of the holiday. In a way, it’s probably the best of the three story-wise, but the weakest in terms of Halloween hijinks.

I do need to make a special mention in regards to the movie-exclusive transformation, though. The Cures here have a special Halloween-themed power-up that is appropriately flashy.

So those are some of my favorite Halloween anime. In the 90s, the holiday wasn’t a big deal in Japan, but has grown in prominence over the past couple of decades. If we were to move away from Halloween the holiday and more towards “monster”-themed anime, then Kore wa Zombie Desuka? would rank much higher. If you have your own special Halloween shows, feel free to leave a comment.

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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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 about 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.

 

Patreon-Sponsored

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.

Patreon-Sponsored

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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