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?

Patreon-Sponsored

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

Patreon-Sponsored

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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The Fun of Farming Games (Except Farmville)

Until recently, I never played farming-themed video games. The closest I ever came to it was basically growing berries in Pokemon. Ever since I began to play the 2014 Story of Seasons for the 3DS (previously known as Harvest Moon), however, I think I’ve come to understand the appeal of farming simulators, and to whom they hold the greatest attraction.

The first thing I noticed is how much there is to keep track of. You’re quickly told about different plants, traders arriving on certain dates, certain items being more valuable in different seasons, birthdays, all while trying to make sure you’re watering your crops and feeding your livestock. Thankfully, the game is not based on a real clock and therefore does not require you to perform chores based on time in the real world—something that was a pain in some Pokemon entries. What’s more, balancing the crops you eat to survive vs. the crops you sell seems tricky, and makes me wonder how actual farmers find that sweet spot.

Being as successful as possible requires not only intimate knowledge of the game’s farming mechanics, but also diligence and the ability to plan far in advance. In other words, farming as a game is ideal for people who thrive on creating and maintaining a schedule, and excel in efficiency. While the farming setting is fairly laid back and I’m not sure it’s possible to squeeze every last second for all it’s worth, proper planning is the domain of virtual agriculture.

The topic of farming games brings to mind the deadly specter that is the dubious “king” of the genre, Farmville. As once the most notorious of the Facebook social games out there, Farmville has been criticized harshly for basically exploiting its player base by both getting them addicted to the constant need to pay attention to the game, and for bilking them of their money by making the experience one that relies on negative reinforcement. However, I think that this does not necessarily apply to all farming-themed games, and a comparison to Story of Seasons shows the difference between a game where managing the ins and outs of a farm can be a positive and enriching experience, and one that leads down a long, dark path.

In Story of Seasons, as you get better at the game, you are not only able to do more, but there’s a greater sense of efficiency. By playing as best as you can, you spend the least amount of time necessary on a given task. Alternatively, you spend as much time as is enjoyable for you. In Farmville, however, the main function of the gameplay is to be a “time waster,” not just in the sense that it’s something you do in your free time, but that the game keeps its players glued to the screen for as many hours as possible. One rewards you for playing more by allowing you to do more, the other punishes you for not putting in as many hours as everyone else.

The Farmvilles of the world can go to hell, for they show how the fun of a genre can be corrupted, but perhaps they can lead people back to less exploitative examples. I get the charm of farming games as a kind of stress relief by way of meticulous micromanagement. I feel a simple joy in seeing my turnips fully grown and ready to be picked, and thinking about how to best use them is its own interesting strategy. There are elements that I wish were more automated, but even that brings its own strange catharsis. It’s as if stress and relaxation are balanced on a knife’s edge, a feeling I imagine might also come from a real farm.

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.

Every Day Young Life: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for June 2017

This month is AnimeNext! I missed last year’s move to Atlantic City, but I’ll be attending this time around. I have at least one panel I’ll be on at the con, but the schedule’s not up yet so I can’t say when. I’ll be making a post to Ogiue Maniax once the schedule is out.

As for my Patreon sponsors for June 2017…

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Viga

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

One of the personal running jokes of this blog for me is the lack of a new entry for Gattai Girls. I have no real excuses, except that it’s been slow going watching the series I plan on writing about next. I really hope I can get it done in the next month, and might even devote most of my free time to it.

Speaking of shows about female robot pilots, I was recently reminded of Stellvia of the Universe after finding out that opening singer angela is going to be at Anime Expo. Most likely, that’ll be the next next entry whenever I get around to it.

Here are the monthly blog highlights:

Tonight was the Night: The End of VGCW, Video Game Championship Wrestling
Last month, I said farewell to a companion that saw me through some rough times: fake real video game wrestling. While not a wholly original idea, VGCW ended up being something special.

Kiryuin Satsuki and the Curse of Power Girl
Power Girl is forever fated to be a cheesecake heroine but Satsuki from Kill la Kill was able to overcome it. Why?

The Revival (?) of Studio Gonzo
A journey through the (in)famous studio’s ups and downs.

Patreon-Sponsored

Aikatsu Stars Season 2 and Notions of Perfection
Aikatsu Stars! makes a big deal out of Perfect Elza. What could this mean for the series?

Return to Genshiken

Volume 3 – Stimulation Simulation
It’s the true beginning of Saki x Mada. ‘Nuff said?

I might sound like a broken record player, but I can’t believe the next anime season is creeping ever closer. It feels like only yesterday when I was watching out for the spring season.

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Aikatsu Stars Season 2 and Notions of Perfection

The second season of Aikatsu Stars! begins from an interesting place. After the end of the first season, heroine Nijino Yume becomes a member of S4, the top idol group at her school. In Pokemon terms, this would be equivalent to having Ash start a series as a member of the Elite Four. She’s not just improved, she’s established as one of the best. Given this setup, I find it interesting how Aikatsu Stars! season 2 brings up the difference between “great” and “perfect.”

Confronting heroine Nijino Yume is a new rival idol academy called Venus Ark, which travels around the world on a cruise ship looking to poach idols from other schools. At the head of Venus Ark is Elza Forte, who, much like deceased pro wrestler Curt Hennig is known by one word: Perfect. There’s even a tangible symbol of perfection in the form of wings that appear only when a perfect performance is given, and at the start of the series “Perfect Elza” is the only one who has them.

But what does it mean to be perfect? Does it mean to never lose? Does it mean performing in such a way that it would be the equivalent of a perfect score in the Aikatsu Stars! arcade game? As the primary rival of the season, Elza is there as a goal to aspire towards and overcome, much like Shiratori Hime in season 1. Whether Yume will beat Elza or not is up in the air, but my hope is that Yume challenges the concept of “perfection” as presented by Elza. Perhaps Yume could show that the best possible performance is not necessarily a perfect one, but the one that connects to the audience best even if mistakes are made.

I understand that Aikatsu Stars! is based on a card-based arcade game that has a more concrete idea of what it means to play a “perfect game,” as well as cards that just have better synergy. However, the first Aikatsu! series (back when Ichigo was the main character) went above and beyond those restraints, and season 1 of Aikatsu Stars! really emphasized a balanced mix of product placement and story. I don’t need for the development I’ve described above to happen, and it’s not even the only way for the series to be strong, but I’d like to have a series where the kids watching don’t feel the need to strive for “perfection,” only their best.

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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Overhead Kiss: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for May 2017

May’s always been my favorite Guilty Gear character. 6p is Life.

While they might not be able to shoot people out of cannons, my Patreon supporters are just as powerful. Thanks to the following!

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Viga

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

I found April to be a fine time for Ogiue Maniax just because there were so many fine shows coming to an end. Personally, I’ve also been reading a lot of manga I had neglected for a while, and I’m hoping to write my thoughts on them either here or on Apartment 507. Do you have a favorite show thus far? I’d be interested to know.

Starting this month, I’ve decided to change up how I do these posts. Instead of listing almost every post I’ve written over the past month, I’m going to give my three favorites plus any sponsored posts from patrons.

Top 3 Posts

You’ve Finished Kemono Friends! What Next?
This for all you Friends out there who want a little more. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Fight for Survival, Dream for the Future – Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
I’m a long-time fan of Gundam, but I felt especially impressed by this latest TV series.

Bodies Apart, Souls Together: Your Name
See my take on what might be Shinkai Makoto’s most “complete” movie ever!

Patreon-Sponsored

Yamato vs. 999 and the Makeup of a Journey
This time, I was requested to write about “anime that take you on a journey.” I used that opportunity to analyze what it means for a series to portray a “journey” in the first place.

As always, if you want to not only request a topic for Ogiue Maniax but make me write it as well, you can check out the highest tier on my Patreon.

The month of May will feature the next entry in my Genshiken re-read series, so look out for that! Also, watch out for giant whales.

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