Ooh, Where Does This Door Go?: Aikatsu on Parade! Early Thoughts

Seven years is more than enough time for a franchise like Aikatsu! to do an anime mega-crossover. However, it’s one thing to do the occasional crossover movie or TV special, and it’s another to make an entire series about it. Having watched the first couple of episodes, I can feel a genuine desire to celebrate and respect all aspects of Aikatsu!, but I have to wonder if they’re letting the genie out of the bottle.

The Aikatsu on Parade! Anime (based on the arcade game) ostensibly takes place in the same world as the previous season’s Aikatsu Friends! Kiseki Raki is a transfer student to Star Harmony Academy, where she dreams of becoming a great idol fashion designer. Unbeknownst to her, Raki’s sister has engineered a special school pass for her that in addition to allowing her to transform for performances, gives her access to “doors” that open up to other Aikatsu! series settings.

There’s a lot of care put into this new series to not make Raki seem like a subordinate fangirl to the previously established stars. Her fashion path, more akin to numerous side characters, doesn’t put her in as direct a  “competition” with the older heroines. Also, her personality (basically Dee Dee from Dexter’s Laboratory with a little more common sense) is strong enough to not get outshined by the characters she meets. That being said, she’s still yet to meet the titan that is Hoshimiya Ichigo, which will be the real test. I recently watched the premiere of WWE Friday Night Smackdown, which had The Rock on as a guest, and his charisma is so strong that it overshadowed even one of the biggest current stars in that company.

Perhaps the easiest place to tell that the creators are being thoughtful and considerate as to how the Aikatsu! characters would cross over is the first episode’s ending, where you see practically every significant character ever walking together. They’re grouped in rough categories according to a combination of personality and story purpose, and you can really see that it’s not shallow or haphazard.

Of course Mizuki and Elza would be with each other, and you can imagine each one firmly believing she’s the best. Given that the new series is also going to be having characters from different series singing and dancing together, it’s a golden opportunity for some dream collaborations.

I’m curious as to why they decided to make each of the Aikatsu! series distinct…universes? Timelines? Whatever it is, they establish early on that all these idol schools aren’t just in different parts of Japan—they exist entirely apart from one another, as if they’re wholly separate existences. There’s no wrong approach here, but I’d still like to know the creators’ reasoning for going this route.

Aikatsu on Parade! is on track to being a fun, excellent series that gives Aikatsu! as a whole its proper due. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that this is precarious territory for a franchise to go. Is there really any going back after this? What will it mean for the future of Aikatsu!? There’s no way to tell at the moment, but hopefully everyone in charge knows what they’re doing.

This post is sponsored by Johnny Trovato through Patreon. Top patrons can request specific topics on Ogiue Maniax.

Welcome to This Crazy Time: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for October 2019

October is a special month for many reasons, including New York Comic Con and the fact that it’s my wedding anniversary month!

I’d like to express my thanks to my supporters on Patreon and ko-fi. You give me even more reason to keep writing.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Highlights from September:

Girls und Panzer and the Potential for Propaganda

My conflicted view of being a Girls und Panzer fan today.

The Real Pressures of Being Asian-American: American Born Chinese

Gene Luen Yang’s comic is over 10 years old at this point, but it still hit me hard

River City Girls and the San Fransokyo Aesthetic

What happens when a game tries to be Japanese and American and retro at the same time?

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 20 is a good story about friendship, but has some unfortunate elements.

Patreon-Sponsored

Trick and/or Treat: Halloween in the Aikatsu! Franchise

Closing

Last month, I said something about doing more anime and manga reviews, but that didn’t end up happening as much as I’d hoped. And now a new season of anime is pretty much upon us. Luckily, I do have some posts ready, so I’m looking forward to making up for what I couldn’t provide in September. I know I didn’t make any promises, but I still want to make sure Ogiue Maniax is an anime and manga blog first and foremost even as I approach other topics

 

Masaka Fall in Fall Dato?!: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for September 2019

As autumn comes around once more, and the summer hear theoretically wanes (oh, that climate change), I’d like to say “thank you” to my supporters on Patreon and ko-fi.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Highlights from August:

At Otakon 2019, got the opportunity to interview with two Japanese voice acting greats, Furuya Toru and Inoue Kikuko. Both of them went great, and I highly encourage everyone, but especially Gundam fans to read them.

And I guess it was a very Gundam month, as I also wrote a piece about my intersecting thoughts between G Gundam and the current state of Hong Kong.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 19 introduces a bunch of new and possibly antagonistic characters, expanding the Hashikko universe a little more.

Patreon-Sponsored

My Favorite Switch Games is pretty self-explanatory.

Closing

This month’s blog coverage is kind of dominated by Otakon, but that’s sort of an inevitability with it being such a big event, and one where I feel that I get the best coverage for interviews and the like. My plan is to do more anime and manga reviews/analyses, as well as a few unexpected topics.

I’m also considering simplifying my Patreon sponsor tiers, as the number gags I introduced to reflect Genshiken fandom might make the whole thing too unwieldy for newcomers. If anyone has thoughts on this, I’d like to hear.

 

Kyoto Animation: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for August 2019

What should have been a delightful month of convention goodness took a turn for the sorrowful due to the deaths and injuries inflicted upon Kyoto Animation. Recent news has mentioned that their server data was recovered intact and that most of their old series are archived elsewhere, granting a silver lining to an otherwise dark and cloudy July. It’s no replacement for the loss of so many lives, but it’s something.

In terms of the blog itself, I’m back from Otakon, and you can expect a couple of interviews with Japanese voice actors Furuya Toru and Inoue Kikuko, as well as an overall con report.

Thank you again to my sponsors on Patreon and ko-fi.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Highlights from July:

In honor of Kyoto Animation, I’m spotlighting the two posts I wrote this past month related to them.

Thoughts on the Kyoto Animation Tragedy

Locking Horns: Sound! Euphonium – Our Promise: A Brand New Day Review

Another sad moment also hit when Geoff “iNcontrol” Robinson of StarCraft fame died suddenly at the age of 33. I never met him personally, but I felt it harder than I expected to.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 18 is a breakthrough moment for the Chorus Appreciation Society.

Patreon-Sponsored

Takamachi Nanoha: Transcending Yet Beholden to Her Childhood

My thoughts on the heroine of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.

Closing

On the upside, the new Smash Bros. character is out, and he’s a ton of fun. The randomness of some of his moves is causing a good deal of debate, and I’m considering writing something about him with respect to this minor controversy.

Also, EVO starts today, with Smash Bros. Ultimate as the Sunday main event! What a time we live in.

Takamachi Nanoha: Transcending Yet Beholden to Her Childhood

When the character of Takamachi Nanoha first appeared, few could have predicted the strange arc she has taken over the past two decades. Originally a typically cute little sister character from the visual novel Triangle Hearts, the most unusual thing about her was that her siblings were secret ninjas. Since then, she’s turned into a world-busting techno-mage in her own Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha franchise, grown into an adult with an adopted daughter, and become a lasting symbol of otaku-oriented magical girl appeal. But because she’s also clearly a lolicon icon, her legacy is a mixed one.

It’s clear that, on some level, Nanoha’s appeal transcends the age of her character at any given moment. Between her cheerful personally, her ability to make friends out of former enemies, and her massive laser weaponry, she’s basically a cross between Cardcaptor Sakura, Son Goku, and a Gundam. Even as she ages up, eventually into her twenties, this basic core of who she is stands the test of time. She well deserves love and admiration in that respect.

However, to deny her intentional appeal to a lolicon audience is to feign ignorance. You don’t have to be a lolicon to like Nanoha, but you can’t refute that the element is part of her design and presentation.

Years ago, I watched Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s—the first two TV series, when Nanoha was still young. My memories are a bit hazy, but despite moments that made me uncomfortable, I felt I could come away with an overall enjoyable experience. Nanoha as a character shines through, as do so many others. She’s cool, she’s strong, and her magical staff Raising Heart will shoot someone into the stratosphere.

But when the remakes came out years later, I didn’t even want to touch them. It wasn’t the new character designs, which gave Nanoha and the rest the most massive eyes possible. That’s just a stylistic choice I could accept. Instead, where it soured me was in the transformation scenes. Magical girl transformations are a hallmark of the genre, and an opportunity to encapsulate the appeal of a show. The Nanoha movies used that opportunity to linger on their nude bodies for an uncomfortable amount of time, seeming at times more like a gravure video than an opportunity to see Nanoha power up. To be fair, it’s not entirely absent in the older works, but they really doubled down on it for the films for the worse.

Takamachi Nanoha has a strange legacy as a result of everything with which she’s associated. Say you’re a fan of Nanoha, and the reactions are bound to be mixed. Her character is timeless in some ways, but her image is inevitably tied to her young self and all it entails.

This post was made possible thanks to Johnny Trovato. If you’d like to request a topic or support Ogiue Maniax in general, check out the Patreon.

Adhering to Conventions: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for July 2019

It doesn’t happen every year, but this July is going to see Anime Expo and Otakon. If you’re into anime cons, this is a double-edged sword. As I get older, I’m worried I might not have the energy for both.

Many thanks to my sponsors on Patreon and ko-fi.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Highlights from June:

I’m Bad at Understanding Rhythm, but the Manga “Wondance” is Changing That

More love for an interesting manga, especially what it taught me personally.

Dark-skinned Precure: The Importance of Cure Soleil

The significance of Star Twinkle Precure‘s Mexican heroine.

Banjo-Kazooie, Dragon Quest, and the Precariousness of Nostalgia

Looking at how Smash Bros. as a “history of video games” can run up against its role as a vehicle for personal nostalgia.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 17 puts the S in Soprano.

Patreon-Sponsored

The Pros and Cons of $20 Anime Figures

What do you think of these symbols of budget anime merchandise?

Closing

I have two panels at Otakon this year, and I hope you’ll be able to make them. I’ll make another post closer to Otakon so that it’s fresher in people’s memories, but make sure to mark “Star-Crossed Alien Lovers…in Robots” and “Genshiken and Beyond: The Works of Kio Shimoku” on your Otakon schedules!

Crossovers on the Brain: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for June 2019

E3 is next week, and I’ve been trying to finish Super Robot Wars T so I can devote my full attention to whatever Smash Bros. Ultimate shenanigans Nintendo has waiting for us. I wonder if I can get really into a third ridiculous crossover franchise and go straight over the edge.

Before, I get into Ogiue Maniax highlights from the past month, I’d like to thank my supporters on Patreon and ko-fi.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

 

My favorite posts from May:

Spoilers Matter

My counter-argument against the idea that obsession with spoiler warnings hurts more than helps

“Very East-Coast Avengers.” War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas

A look at Marvel Comics’s new All-Asian team, and what it could mean.

Growing Step by Step: Run with the Wind

My review of a really great anime that gives some really important life lessons that I hope people take to heart.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 16 continues the Chorus Appreciation Society’s excursion to another school.

Patreon-Sponsored

The Healing of Heisei Anime

A retrospective of sorts on anime of the Heisei period, which ended recently with former Emperor Akihito’s abdication.

Closing

You know what’s an expansive crossing over of many major players? That’s right, the Mueller Report.

Sure is worth reading, if I do say so myself.