Danny Choo, that most famous of bloggers who has managed to turn wacky articles about Japan and PVC figures into a stable career, has announced the formation of his own animation studio, “Mirai Studios.” Their first planned work is an explicitly moe show drawn from the same vein as K-On! or Ichigo Mashimaro or So Ra No Wo To, about a squad of cute female firefighters called Chinka. There’s even a preview trailer out for your convenience.
Potentially this could be a good thing. Danny Choo has money, the anime industry needs money, maybe he can pump some much-needed capital into the system.
On the other hand, I see a big problem with the whole Chinka thing: the whole production seems practically insulting to moe fans. When you take in the basic concept, the character designs, the presentation, it all leads to the idea that moe fans are easy to manipulate, that all you have to do is push the right buttons and they’ll come flocking to you, ready to buy whatever merchandise you throw out. And I’m not saying that merchandising a popular show or having a show built on merchandising is wrong either, but with Chinka you can almost see the piano wires and checklists that are the backbone of this whole concept. They have merchandise available for the show before it even begins, and the trailer is actually rubbing your face in the fact that it has some kind of tsundere or yandere-type. It doesn’t even need to say anything else about the character, as if all you need is the switch and fans will step right up. It knows you want more, and is glad to give it, for the right price.
With shows like Hidamari Sketch, K-On!, and Lucky Star, even if they are designed to appeal to a moe audience and have shameless promotion sewn directly into their very souls, the initial impression these shows gave even before episode 1 hit was that people who worked on these series were trying to entertain and not just fall exactly into what moe fans think of as “moe anime” and doing so on the most shallow of levels.
That all said, I of course have yet to actually see Chinka beyond the aforementioned preview. If it turns out to be a good show, I’ll be glad to be proven wrong. Please prove me wrong, Danny Choo, for everyone’s sake.