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In a previous post, I had likened the bizarre 3dcg anime gdgd Fairies to an Adult Swim cartoon. I still think it’s an apt comparison, and with the new season currently running this only renews my confidence in that description, but what I hadn’t expected was for there to be another anime like gdgd Fairies, especially not one that’s themed around a giant robot future. This isn’t so surprising once you learn that it’s from the same creator as gdgd Fairies, but what’s impressive is that in some ways this new show’s humor is even more absurd.
Straight Title Robot Anime (yes, that’s the title) takes place in a time when humanity has gone extinct and only giant robots are left to fight an eternal war. Living on this Earth are three human-sized female robots who are trying to stop the war by re-discovering mankind’s great invention: humor. In order to accomplish this, they try to figure out what it means to tell a joke and induce laughter, but the concept is so foreign to them that they’re unable to make any headway.
In other words, this anime is actually all about trying to explain jokes, which is classically regarded as humor’s own kryptonite, but amazingly this just makes the whole premise funnier. It’s also animated entirely in the free program Miku Miku Dance, which was created for just the purpose its name implies (animating Hatsune Miku).
If it wasn’t obvious that this show is from the same mind as gdgd Fairies from, the fact that there’s an “improv” section similar to the fairies’ own “Magical Spring Dubbing Lake” should be more than sufficient evidence. In it, the three robots visit simulations of “ancient human locations,” such as a hardware store, and try to figure out uses for the objects found. I’m not sure how they accomplish these scenes, but I imagine it actually involves them gathering materials from those real-world places and then having the voice actors engage in prop comedy. Here, not only are the voice actors unable to keep up their acted roles and break down into their normal voices, but one character goes from having a very artificial BEEP BOOP I AM A ROBOT voice to having a natural cadence which not even an electronic voice distortion can fully hide.
Most telling of all is the fact that, despite the show being premised around the idea that the robots do not understand what it means to laugh, the robots in this sequence are giggling constantly. The narrator nonchalantly explains this as “interference,” invoking that old Mystery Science Theater 3000 mantra, “It’s just a show; I should really just relax.”
So that’s Straight Title Robot Anime. In my opinion, the humor isn’t quite to the level of gdgd Fairies yet, but its appeal is such that if you liked gdgd Fairies you’ll probably enjoy this too. However, if your only response to the fairies was revulsion then this show won’t help either. These really are both love it or hate it shows, as is evident from the comments both anime received. You can experience Straight Title Robot Anime, gdgd Fairies 2, and the angry comments these shows tend to get, on Crunchyroll.
As a follow-up of sorts to my previous post about American Mahjong, I drew this (read left to right):
Saki and its spinoff Saki: Episode of Side A (aka Achiga-hen) both feature a lot of characters with weird mahjong powers based on elements of the game, but Achiga especially has this tendency throughout its run to obscure the abilities of its characters. One such case is the character Sagimori Arata.
Here’s the joke: Arata, it turns out, also has a special affinity for the circle or dot tiles, which are known in Japanese as “pinzu.” In addition, Arata’s family owns a bowling alley, she wears a bowling glove, and she even got a bowling-related winning sequence in the anime that didn’t exist in the manga. Arata, the bowler, is good with pins.
Did you groan? Did you cheer? Both is the right reaction.
Those who’ve talked to me about Saki know that I totally called this. I just wish I said something on here earlier for proof. What I didn’t predict, though, was how complex the bowling analogy is. Essentially, Arata is not like Kuro or Yuu in that her ability dominates her hand, but rather means that she’s really good at tricky, complex waits using pin tiles, things that increase the probability of her winning with pins.
You can even see it in the screenshot from the anime above. Generally, most hands that you see in mahjong have maybe two possible tiles they can win on, sometimes three. Arata’s pin tiles above are 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, which means she has four winning tiles: 1, 2, 4, 7, twice as many possibilities as normal.
As the character FunaQ explains further, the waits Arata usually goes for have some vague relation to splits in bowling, the most famous of which being the oft-mentioned “7-10 split.” I don’t know enough about bowling to say more than that.
So, seeing as Arata is my favorite character in Episode of Side A, the fact that she has become the delivery system for the ultimate case of punnery means she strikes all the right chords for me.
I have a theory: Chousoku Henkei Gyrozetter actually takes place in the same world as The iDOLM@STER many years into the future. I’m going to lay out my ideas for how this transition comes about while also providing ironclad proof of their shared universe.
1) Inaba Rinne is a Futami Descendant
It’s not clear which of the Futami twins Rinne is descended from, but most likely it’s Mami. It’s not clear just how many generations into the future Rinne is removed from Ami and Mami, but Futami genetics are undeniably strong.
The resemblance is uncanny.
2) The Success of 765 Pro and the Start of the AI Car Boom
Thanks to a combination of talent, spirit, and camaraderie, 765 Productions becomes wildly successful. At first, they do only promotions for car companies, but thanks to rich girl Minase Iori’s connections and the advancement of technology 765 Pro manages to start their own automobile line. They name the car company offshoot “Arcadia,” modifying their logo along the way.
Assistants to the CEO continue to dress in black suits in honor of Akizuki Ritsuko.
3) Shijou Takane is Responsible for the Rosettagraphy
At first glance, the Rosettagraphy makes no sense. A mysterious stone tablet that tells humanity how to build advanced cars that turn into robots? It sounds like nonsense, until you remember that Takane is equally engimatic, and that she is capable of speaking in many tongues. As we can clearly tell now, it’s because she holds the secrets of not only technological growth but also of prophecy. If she had revealed it to humanity too soon, who knows what would’ve happened?
Takane was a Messenger in Many Ways.
4) Gyrozetter AIs are Actually Based on 765 Idols
How else would you explain this?
I rest my case.
Ever since I thought of a mahjong manga where the hero would have to travel around the world and experience different variations of the game, I’ve thought about how the different types of mahjong that exist would be conveyed to readers. Previously, I had analyzed Singapore Mahjong (which turns out to be quite similar to Malaysian Mahjong), and even thought of things that could be emphasized in an arc featuring Singapore Mahjong.
This time, I want to talk about American Mahjong, also known as the official style of the US-based “National Mah Jongg League.” In terms of comparison with other forms of mahjong, it has a number of unique features, such as joker tiles (essentially wilds), and an exchange of tiles between players known as the Charleston. The scoring for the game changes annually, with hands coming and going, and it requires players to buy a new card every year to keep up, sort of like expansion packs for a TCG in the sense that it forces its players to pay up if they want to stay relevant. The most recent one was $7.00.
I must emphasize that I have not had the chance to play American-style Mahjong, and so there will be no real gameplay analysis in this post. That said, I have taken a close look at the rules (and even went out of my way to buy one of their cards), so if you’ll let me indulge for a day, I want to try and write what I think an Akagi-style narrator would say if presented with American Mahjong with respect to Japanese-style Riichi Mahjong.
The American style of mahjong is spelled in English as “Mah Jongg,” with two G’s. It is a simple change which hints at the vast differences lying within.
Where one might assume certain universal truths of mahjong, such as the formation of multiple sets of three tiles, or for irregular hands such as “Kokushi Musou” and “Chii Toitsu” to be the rare exceptions, American “Mah Jongg” defies expectations. Instead, every possible winning hand is like a Kokushi or a Chii Toi unto itself! The fundamental structures of mahjong vanish leaving barely a trace, and the only thing that matters is the entire hand as a single and unique entity!
Indeed, if each round of mahjong is like a fierce battle in a greater war, then American “Mah Jongg” can be said to exist in a world that has not only abandoned conventional firearms and vehicles, but has forgotten about them entirely.
Guns! Cannons! Tanks! Planes! All are part of a history lost to the ages. Instead, each player is like a team of scientists trying to assemble their own nuclear bomb to launch at their enemies! The blueprints are complex, the research intense! Knowledge of bullets and boats do not matter! Everything is for the sake of completing that deadly atomic weapon.
However! That world is also subject to different physics from our own, and with each revolution around its sun, the construction of those weapons must also change! Every year, there comes a time when the old rules no longer matter. The scientists must then realize where their existing knowledge still applies, and where it will inevitably lead to a technological dead end!
“Mah Jongg!” What that second G stands for is unclear, but it may very well mean “galaxy,” for compared to Japanese mahjong the American style is millions of light years away!
While Genshiken-related merchandise remains relatively sparse in the grand scheme of figure collecting, Kodansha recently collaborated with Kaiyodo to bring two Hato Kenjirou figures to loyal readers.
The first figure comes from an issue of Monthly Afternoon and features a standing Hato, while the second one comes from a limited edition Japanese release of Genshiken Volume 11.
Featured here is Standing Hato. As can be seen from the photos, the quality of the figures is trading-figure-level, so it won’t match up to a really good model, but as far as trading figures and gashapon figures go, it’s actually fairly impressive. There doesn’t seem to be any significant bleeding in the paint job, and even the details on the purse hold up to a certain amount of scrutiny.
Aside from the seams separating the pieces which make up Hato’s hair, there aren’t any really noticeable flaws, and even that is just part and parcel for the level of figure we’re getting here. The flower pattern on the dress and the details on the denim jacket also look good.
Next up is Sleeping Hato, otherwise known as Unconscious Drunken Hato.
Aside from some minor flaws, the second figure is just as solid as the first. They even did a good job on the toes, which I get the feeling would be enormously easy to mess up on a figure this small and relatively inexpensive (it came packaged with the volume for a bit extra, though I can’t remember exactly how much).
Because Sleeping Hato has to be constructed from more parts than Standing Hato, the seam in the dress between the torso and the legs is much more noticeable, though I don’t find it to be the biggest deal in the world. Again, given the typical quality of these figures, this one does a good job. You’ll note that they sculpted his hair to match the fact that he’s supposed to be lying down.
Actually, Sleeping Hato comes with one additional feature that most other figures lack: It’s a refrigerator magnet!
There’s a small magnet sticking out of Hato’s back which I’ve chosen not to photograph, but it’s pretty much what you might think it is. Are your to-do lists for grocery shopping feeling a bit lonely? Do you wish you had company for your magnet souvenirs from Japan? This crossdressing fudanshi figure successfully accompanies all fridge doodads! What’s more, 9 out of 10 people can’t tell that it’s a man!
So there we go. Both figures at this point will be pretty difficult to find, especially because they were both packaged as extras. I’m certainly not the biggest fan of Hato Kenjirou, but I have to say that both of them look good if you judge them by overall figure standards, and great if you judge them among their peers.