That’s what she said?! Kubo Mitsurou and the kiss(?)

Today, I’m going to look at what Kubo Mitsurou has said about the scene at the end of episode 7, where Victor had a surprise greeting for Yuuri as he came off the ice after his Cup of China free skate. Well, I’m stepping right into a minefield here, so I might as well just take the plunge:

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Personally, I believe it was a kiss, for reasons I’ll go into below. That being said, I fully support anyone who believes otherwise, which brings me to my next point.

What I’m really concerned about is the view that “Kubo implied that it was obvious”—especially when this is used to bash fans whose interpretation of Yuuri and Victor’s relationship is not the same as the dominant one. Read more of this post

A Love Letter to 2016, postscript: the list…and a brief look at what’s in store for 2017!

And so, that was my 2016 in Anime. I definitely have not enjoyed a year in anime this much since at least 2010—and to be honest, I’m not even sure I enjoyed that year as much as I did this one. I should probably admit that most of it comes down to one anime, and one anime alone. When I started following figure skating a couple of years back, and dove even deeper into it over the 2015-2016 season, I honestly did not expect that I’d be able to marry these two hobbies of mine so soon. So Yuri!!! on ICE was a huge revelation for me, even though I soon found myself in the tiny group within the fandom that loved it primarily as a show about the sport. Despite the production issues that ultimately prevented the show from surpassing Rakugo Shinju as my top TV pick, I will never stop praising Yamamoto-san and Kubo-sensei for the story they set out to tell. But I’ll spare you any more gushing at this point—in exchange for the warning that there’ll be several more thousands of words over the next few months!

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Looking back now, I think I definitely spent quite a few more hours on this hobby this past year compared to the previous one. Although I cut down a lot on my forum participation—the frustrations I started feeling in 2015 only got worse in 2016, though that’s a rant for another day—it wasn’t difficult for me to fill that space. Besides my two trips to Japan, I also found myself translating a whole lot more, what with the On ‘Anime Writing’ project that I launched in April and, more recently, all the Yuri!!! on ICE stuff has been posted both here and elsewhere. I hope you’ve found them useful and, in some cases, fun and amusing!

Many thanks to those of you who’ve read my stuff and left comments and feedback! This kind of effort would not be worth it if you were not around, and I hope you’ve found my posts useful or interesting in some way or other. Thank you especially to the other bloggers and translators I’ve been working with (you know who you are). Translating behind-the-scenes material to share is something that I’ve loved doing ever since I started back in 2010/2011, and I’m incredibly grateful that you’ve helped me get even better translations out there this year. And thank you also to everyone else who’s interacted with me on Twitter and Tumblr, where I’ve had many an interesting discussion. I’m still something of a small fry in this little corner of the fandom, so I’m a bit stunned at how many people followed me…especially since I have some rather unpopular interpretations of a number of popular or critically acclaimed shows! But if you don’t mind that, then I hope to see you around in the coming year as well!

Looking ahead, I do have some rather ambitious plans on the translation and blogging front, including several more editorials about how screenwriting ‘fits’ into the anime production process. Some of it will have to wait until I’ve sorted the non-anime side of my life out over the next few months. But in the meantime, you can expect more YOI stuff…as well as an interview with a pair of veteran voice actors about a show that’s returning to our screens tonight!

And of course, as usual, the list is under the cut! Read more of this post

Traipsing through Japan: Films, Butler Cafés and Merch!

It’s kind of frustrating to find out—after a day of experimentation, the bulk of which involved cleaning out my Twitter favourites—that the look I wanted for this post involved simply copying and pasting a bunch of links here. I suppose I can take one positive from that, which was a realisation of just how many more production-related interviews we’re seeing translated this year. I’ll get back to adding to them soon, but first, let me look back on my recent forays into Japan.

I’ve already covered the absolute best experience of my journeys this year, but there were several other highlights that I’d like to share. On the first trip, I went back to see the 1:1 VF-25 at the Skytree Town Campus of the Chiba Institute of Technology. Read more of this post

Teasing out the Joker Game Timeline

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Last week, I wrote about five moments within Joker Game that made the show a worthwhile watch for me. However, another factor involved some of the other places where I engaged with it, namely twitter and tumblr. I know that many fans, especially in the West, maintain that there should be no need to engage with material external to the show itself. But whilst I understand the argument that the show should be evaluated on its own merits, expanding my engagement to these other forums helped me enjoy it all the more.

For example, Read more of this post

A game for 2016: Pick that Voice!!

Read more of this post

So let’s follow some Seiyuu!

In conjunction with yesterday’s recommendation about using seiyuu as a key to learning Japanese through anime, here are some other resources that might provide a starting point. Most radio show information is only in Japanese (or perhaps, Chinese/Korean, if you know where to look), but I have tried to find a few dedicated English blogs/websites that are kept up-to-date.

(1) Kamiya Hiroshi and Ono Daisuke’s Dear Girl ~Stories~ aka DGS

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image source

Read more of this post

Seiyu’s Life: if you really want to learn Japanese, get into seiyuu!

Hot on the heels of SHIROBAKO, I was glad to find another series that gives fans a closer look into what goes on behind the scenes of their favourite anime. In fact, Seiyu’s Life goes further than that, because it actually covers the range of work you might find a Japanese voice actor doing, from narration to audio books. It also shows the harsh reality of the industry: in a saturated market, even those seiyuu who land the occasional bit part are considered successful, and most of them have to support themselves with some other part-time job.

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NB: “Sumomo mo momo mo momo no uchi” (roughly ‘Japanese plums and peaches are both types of peaches’) is a tongue-twister, which seiyuu and other performers often use to practice their articulation. The opening theme, ‘Seiyu’s Life’ has a grand total of four of them—test your ear and see whether you can work out what the other three are! ^^
(and p.s. the first little ‘blurb conversation’ in the ending theme is about tongue twisters!)

I was aware of most of those details prior to watching this show. A friend of mine told me years ago that she’d once run into one of the Hunter x Hunter seiyuu at a convenience store. I also learned about ‘how kissing sounds are made’ a while back—probably around 2007/8—though I don’t remember which radio show or drama CD free-talk it was mentioned on. And there are a few other realities in the seiyuu industry that would never be covered in a show like Seiyu’s Life, mainly to do with the types of work that you’d never want your kids to listen to or watch (see Koe de Oshigoto). Nevertheless, I was glad to find myself learning the odd new detail, such as the terms used in voice-over sessions (‘koboshi’ = ‘over the cut’). And whilst Seiyu’s Life doesn’t live up to its illustrious predecessor, the messages encapsulated in Futaba’s story—especially the importance of being prepared for anything, of endurance, and of knowing where you want to go and how you are going to work towards it—apply to just about every individual, no matter where you come from or where you want to end up.

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The harsh reality of the industry: four aspirants…one success (?)…

So let me take one goal and suggest how you might work towards it: learning Japanese…by following seiyuu! Read more of this post

The truth about Urobuchi Gen’s involvement in Aldnoah.Zero

Disclaimer: This overview of how AZ came into being is based mostly on interviews I have collected and read over the last eight months, so any translation errors or misinterpretations―though I hope there are none―are entirely my own. Corrections and clarifications are always appreciated. You’re also welcome to link to this or quote parts of it, but please don’t copy and paste substantial amounts elsewhere. And without further ado, let me begin…

Last major edit on September 24, 2015

I am well aware that my love for Aldnoah.Zero makes me an outlier in the Western anime fandom. A lot of my posts and arguments probably make me seem like an apologist, or maybe just someone completely out-of-touch with everyone else. But believe me, although I take pains to justify why I appreciate this show despite its flaws, I’m not trying to convince anyone else that they should like it. Some of its flaws are, indeed, issues that would drive me up the wall if I did not consciously overlook them. But what frustrates me is that people will channel their hatred of the show into ‘talking crap’ about its creators, based on little more than speculation over the deal with Urobuchi Gen. Personally, as someone who enjoys finding out about the creative process, I just want to set the record straight.

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The project was revealed on February 16, 2014,
with Urobuchi credited for coming up with the “story.”

This post presents a summary of how Aldnoah.Zero was created, focusing in particular on the pre-production period. One of the triggers behind my decision to torture myself was that some of the things people kept saying about Aoki Ei and co. reminded me of the fandom of another series, where misinformation someone had deliberately spread led to some wild fan speculation and myths that were then used to criticise its creators. In this case, fans just took the ‘fact’ that “Urobuchi was replaced by Takayama Katsuhiko” and ran with it, resulting in a number of theories that are contradicted by what Aoki, Urobuchi and all of the other creators have said. But I’ll leave the verdict up to the reader. You can either believe what they said in all the interviews I reference here, or you can speculate about how they’ve all conspired to cover up what really happened—prizes are available for the most believable and the most outrageous theories!

TL;DR

  • Urobuchi wrote the plot and the history of Earth and Vers; Aoki created the characters and their storylines. This is what they agreed on right from the start (Spring, 2011).
  • Takayama was brought on board towards the end of 2012 because they knew that Urobuchi wouldn’t be able to write all of the screenplays himself.
  • Urobuchi left in early 2013 because of scheduling conflicts (with Kamen Rider Gaim).
  • Despite the switch, Urobuchi’s plot outline has largely been maintained.

As for the non-TL;DR, let me begin with an annotated timeline. Read more of this post

Location hunting: Tanuki edition!

I only had three days in Kyoto this trip, and with the Gion Matsuri also fighting for my attention, this meant that I had to choose between two other sets of sacred grounds to check out: Ōmi Jingu and the special train on the Ōtsu Line for Chihayafuru, or Kyoto itself for The Eccentric Family [Uchouten Kazoku]. But to be frank, even if I’d been able to walk properly, I’m fairly certain that the latter would have won out, for after becoming disillusioned with how tourists flock to the city all year around, this show is the one that had me falling in love with Kyoto all over again.

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And as luck would have it, these pilgrimage maps
were still available from the Kyoto City Hall!

Read more of this post

Location hunting: Sound! Euphonium edition

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The Sound! Euphonium x Keihan Railway Collaboration started yesterday, and since I was in the region, I decided to check it out… If you want to use one of these one-day passes, not all stations stock them, so look it up before you go!

Read more of this post