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I’m a fan of characters who support. Whether it’s Dominic Sorel in Eureka Seven, who stands by the long-suffering Anemone or Aida Riko in Kuroko’s Basketball, who coaches and manages the Seirin High School Basketball Team, often times my favorite characters are those who care less for being the “hero,” and who try to make a difference in their own way. Generally speaking, I’m of the belief that there are many ways to make a difference, and that you don’t need to be the one chopping the monster’s head off, nor should we fault others for not aspiring to be that mighty warrior. Indeed, even more recent main characters like Kuroko Tetsuya in Kuroko’s Basketball and Onoda Sakamichi in Yowamushi Pedal are protagonists whose powers are primarily based on “support.”

However, I find that, as much as I enjoy that character type, they potentially are a source of complacency, and one might even argue that they teach people to settle for less. Case in point, while I think Riko does a lot for her team and is just a great character in general, she derives from an archetype that is basically a sideline cheerleader. They’ll either be the newbie who needs things to be explained, or the informative expert who does the explaining, but when the chips are down their purpose in the story is to stare longingly as the hero goes into action. There’s some sexism historically at work here, with female characters being created to serve the male leads, but I don’t want to make the issue purely about sex and gender, especially given all of the work that’s been done to play with and expose those tropes, like how Witch Craft Works essentially genderswaps the typical shoujo heroine and shoujo ideal love interest. I also don’t want to deny the ability for a “sideline cheerleader” to be an interesting character in their own right. Rather, it’s more about the idea that “everyone is the hero of their own story,” and how there are positives and negatives to it.

On the one hand, the notion that everyone is the main character in their own lives, be it reality or fiction, can be a self-fulfilling prophecy of confidence, where one imbues oneself with agency and ambition, and accomplishes their goals. At the same time, it might cause people to seek out “glory” without necessarily finding their own definition for the word, instead conforming to what their society (or what readers supposedly think) are parameters for success.

On the other hand, if one believes in supporting others, this might afford them a point of view that could go unnoticed otherwise. Glory for oneself is unimportant, because what really matters is doing what one can. However, this same mindset carries the risk of encouraging passivity to the point that people might inadvertently lose opportunities to better themselves. Perhaps it even becomes an excuse for why they remain in their rut.

Obviously these are in a way two extremes, and that there is a full spectrum between light and shadow, to borrow a phrase from Kuroko’s Basketball. Characters like Riko and Dominic essentially work in opposite directions towards a center, with Riko coming from the manager character and Dominic defying what it means to “rescue the girl.” There’s a lot of interplay and room for interpretation, and it opens up paths for artists, be they professional, amateur, and/or fan, to explore and defy what they’re told is “normal.” I just find myself thinking about how simply saying that I prefer support characters can carry a lot of implicit meaning.

The last thing I want to leave off with is a scene from Game of Thrones, when Tywin Lannister, the patriarch of the powerful House Lannister, asks his grandson what makes a good king. When the grandson replies correctly with “wisdom,” Tywin is ecstatic and explains that wisdom comes in part from knowing what you don’t know, and heeding your advisers who are experts in their fields. In this case, though the king is supposed to be the one with all of the glory, is it the case that being a king is perhaps the biggest support position of all?

September I feel was kind of an exciting month, and I think I’ve put out some of my best articles in a while. Chief among them are my review of Love Live! The School Idol Movie and a monthly sponsored Patreon post, “The Rise and Fall of Saimoe.” In fact, even though it’s against the rules of my Patreon, I want to extend my gratitutde to Johnny Trovato, who while no longer a patron was the first to take me up on my offer to write posts based on topics chosen by my patrons. Thanks, Johnny.

Over the past month I’ve introduced a new type of pledge, where you can pledge a certain amount based on your favorite Genshiken character. In all honesty it’s just an excuse for me to make bad puns, so that’s why the amounts are all over the place. Of course, this also means that there are now different categories for sponsor shout-outs.

This month’s special Patreon sponsors are:


Ko Ransom




Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:


I haven’t gotten to all of the Genshiken characters yet, but if there’s one that you really want to see (Kaminaga? The younger Yoshitake? Ohno?), then speak up! It’ll be interesting to see which characters are still the fan favorites after all this time.

As for what’s on the horizon, New York Comic Con is this week, and I’ll be attending all 4 days! Of course I’ll have a con report for everyone to read, and you’ll be able to (most likely) catch me at a number of panels. Of course, given the hectic nature of NYCC, there’s no telling for sure!

Thu. Oct. 8
5:30 – 6:30 pm
VIZ Media Presents: An Evening with Masashi Kishimoto, Creator of Naruto
Location: Main Stage 1-D Presented by AT&T
Panels & Screenings
Fri. Oct. 9
8:00 – 9:30 pm
Love Live! School Idol Project
Location: Room 1A05
Panels & Screenings
Sat. Oct. 10
11:15 am – 12:15 pm
CBLDF Presents: Comics Censorship in 2015
Location: Room 1A05
Panels & Screenings

Warning: Some spoilers for Gatchaman Crowds Insight, many spoilers for the original Gatchaman Crowds

Gatchaman Crowds was an incredible work of fiction. Even going beyond the immediate realm of anime, Tatsunoko’s remake of their 1970s classic was incredibly clever, intelligent, and challenging. Presenting a story and world that asked how an age of social media, crowd-sourcing, and gamification might affect the very ideas of heroism and altruism, the mix of sociopolitical commentary and vibrant visual presentation made it unforgettable. Back when they announced the sequel, Gatchaman Crowds Insight, I was excited but also skeptical as to how they could possibly follow up on the original. After all, this isn’t the kind of series where you can just set up a new villain to fight or upgrade the characters’ powers, and the finer details of its philosophical ending was such that further scrutiny might benefit its messages less than just leaving it open ended.

Whether or not Gatchaman Crowds Insight is an improvement on the original is debatable, it turns out to be a worthy successor, taking the ideas of the original series and expanding them into, of all things, an examination of the danger of overvaluing a “harmonious” society, as well as an exploration of the conflict between the concept of direct vs. indirect democracies.

Gatchaman Crowds was a series featuring five unique transforming heroes who use their special powers to defend Japan, but the arrival of a program called GALAX that could enable ordinary citizens to gain superhuman abilities and help out in times of trouble changed things. By the end of the series, GALAX had gone under trial by fire, its strengths and weaknesses forcefully put on display, with a controversial decision based in faith in human decency being the outcome.

By the start of Insight, GALAX creator Ninomiya Rui has joined the Gatchaman team, allowing his perspective to influence the team, but soon after arrive two important individuals: a new Gatchaman member named Misudachi Tsubasa, and an alien named Gel-Sadra. A being that can sense mood, Gel-Sadra believes that, if everyone’s minds are united and in agreement with each other, then conflict would end. Underlining all of this is a new attempt to bridge the modern age with democracy, full-on popular voting via smartphone, which inevitably has both its advantages and problems, including fostering conversation and the threat of mob justice.

Altogether, the series takes that idea of social media and heroism and pushed it further to examine the challenges of political power and reform. What makes this anime especially impressive is that, similar to the first series, the solutions that come out carry a great deal of nuance that encourage you to think. In fact, that is probably the core value of Gatchaman Crowds Insight, to step back and really consider how words such as peace, harmony, and more embody so many meanings that are capable of both empowering and manipulating people, even if there is no conscious intention.

As with the original Gatchaman Crowds, the linchpin of this series is its main heroine, Ichinose Hajime. She is perhaps even more important to this newer series even as she seems less prominent overall. One potential criticism of Insight is that it goes overboard with positioning its characters as representatives or mouthpieces for various beliefs (the series goes as far as to have characters recite lines of philosophy on occasion), but Hajime’s inquisitive nature that amazingly combines both skepticism and optimism presents her intellectualism in a way that is fun and accessible. While intellectualism is usually thought of as being wordy and philosophical, in the case of Hajime it’s the way she employs the Socratic Method through her fairly limited vocabulary that becomes that ray of light in the shadow cast by the tyranny of the majority. The visual emblem associated with Hajime and only one other character in the series, a gray speech bubble derived from Gel-Sadra’s alien powers, and the truth of its meaning, are key to understanding Gatchaman Crowds Insight and its critical nature.

Nowhere is Hajime more representative of the series’ values than in her relationship with the previous series’ terrifying antagonist, Berg Katze. At the end of the first Gatchaman Crowds, it is revealed that Berg Katze is now inside of Hajime’s body. Every other person was consumed by their doubts because of how Berg Katze brought out their very fears, but Hajime is somehow able to keep him in check. In this situation, many works would have had her suffering at his constant and unyielding presence as the most dangerous kind of devil on the shoulder. Alternatively, they might have made it a metaphor for some internal conflict. Instead, Insight uses it to show just how powerful Hajime’s way of thinking is. Rather than ignore Berg Katze, she is willing to engage in dialogue with the alien, somehow gleaning useful information from someone who’s actively antagonistic towards her and shutting down the conversation when she needs to. To a lesser extent, she can be seen doing the same thing all of the other characters, especially Tsubasa, whose “get-it-done” attitude contrasts with Hajime’s nature, and it overall shows how much Gatchaman Crowds Insight values that questioning of not only established norms but the very formation of them as they happen.

Given Japan’s history with internal propaganda from World War II (deliberately mentioned in Insight) and the more recent controversy over the decision to expand Japan’s military applications on a global scale (a vote made by Japan’s parliament in spite of polls showing that over 50% of the Japanese people were against this), Gatchaman Crowds comes out an especially relevant time. It has a lot to chew on, and I would hope that not just anime fans but people of all backgrounds and interests take a look at this series. Its views are complex and perhaps difficult to digest as a result, but its overall theme, encouraging us as people to think and understand conflict and harmony as being both beneficial and harmful depending on the circumstances, is not to be missed.

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My Love Story!! (aka Oremonogatari!!) is a twist on the reliable yet well-worn tropes of shoujo manga and anime. A manga and recent anime adaptation, it features many of the warm, fuzzy feelings that come with seeing a likable protagonist fall in love, only the main character is a hulking mountain of a man who looks like he stepped out of a manga bout gangster and delinquents instead. Takeo is portrayed as a goofy, lumbering, yet well-meaning guy who’s able to win the heart of a girl he meets through a selfless act, but is slow to realize it because he believes girls can never fall in love with him because he lacks the typical appearance of an attractive guy. When I see My Love Story!! and the message of hope it has for those guys out there who feel like girls will never see them as anything more than a curiosity, I wonder if the series is better suited for our current environment, or if it might have made more of an impact 10 years ago.

What I mean by that is not so much that the show feels older or outdated, but rather that the early to mid 2000s were when sites like 4chan and its Japanese predecssor 2channel truly showed how much they could mold significant parts of how internet culture viewed nerds and how nerds viewed themselves. 2005 marked the drama adaptation of Densha Otoko and the idea that “otaku are in,” Web 1.0 was making way for Web 2.0, and stories about being “forever alone” abounded. There has been the controversy over the “nice guy,” who has symbolized both women’s failure to date the right men and the sexism of men who expect sex just for treating girls nicely. If My Love Story!! had come along to show the difference between genuine compassion and a slick veneer, would it have altered many a nerd’s viewpoints? This is what I’m wondering.

Then again, between harassment of women working in and around video games, an increasingly vocal sense of chauvinism and false victimization over how men are treated, and a variety of other elements in our current media environment, it might be just the right time for a show like My Love Story!! to exist. Maybe now that these aspects are more visible, and now that “nerd culture” and “mainstream culture” are more integrated than ever, the positive messages this series sends are what people need to hear. Another factor in all of this that might complicate the issue is that, at the end of the day, even Takeo is not the handsome prince, he still has numerous qualities that play into the typical image of manliness, and his sheer strength might potentially overshadow his personality with all of its little quirks and moments of weakness. He’s certainly not a “nerd” or “otaku” in the typical sense, after all.

What do you think? Is My Love Story!! the show for today’s anime-watching audience, or could it have actually influenced on the confidence in guys and sense of respect for themselves and for others more greatly if it had been a part of the fabric of our cultures sooner?

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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 be a patron of Ogiue Maniax, check out my Patreon.

Who is the greatest moe anime character?

That’s the question that the Saimoe (literally “Most Moe”) Tournament set out to answer, and its long history of competitions, dating back to 2002, are a reflection of not so much the state of anime fandom over the past 13 years, but rather how internet anime fandom has grown, changed, and even arguably moved on past the concept of moe in both the US and Japan.


If there’s one fact I always find interesting about Saimoe, it’s that its original winner was Kinomoto Sakura of Cardcaptor Sakura. There’s something just so appropriate about her being the first champion, given how beloved she is among anime fans of all stripes. However, Saimoe is also often a snapshot, a look into the zeitgeist of at least a corner of anime fandom, and in that same tournament it might come as no surprise that its silver medalist was Osaka from Azumanga Daioh. These days Azumanga Daioh is viewed as a relic of the Early 2000s, an excellent show for sure, but not as timeless as its fervent fans (of which I am included) would have hoped for.

Other than Sakura, who has stood the test of time as Saimoe champions? It’s okay if you don’t remember who has won Saimoe before, as anime fandom as a whole has a tendency to burn briefly yet passionately for its favorite characters, where in the moment it seems as if her fame will last forever, the sheer memetic popularity of a Suiseiseki (Rozen Maiden) or a Takamachi Nanoha (Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha) blinding fans from seeing the long-term. That’s not to say that characters such as Aisaka Taiga (Toradora!) and Rosemary Applefield (Ashita no Nadja) are forgettable or bad, but that the otaku mind can be a fickle thing.

Among these titles, it seems as if Madoka Magica‘s popularity still endures, giving a kind of strength to previous winners Madoka and Mami, but one factor that also has to be considered is that the numbers for Saimoe participation rose rapidly in the mid-2000s, and then declined sharply afterwards. To give an idea, for final-round votes, Sakura won in 2002 with 580, Suiseiseki won in 2006 with 2306, and most recently Saki and Nodoka from Saki tied each other at 187. This can be explained by the fact that the mid-2000s were when Saimoe truly opened up to international participation, but also that the idea of “moe” no longer carries as much subcultural weight.

This is perhaps best exemplified by that Suiseiseki victory. It was during that time that fervent fans on 4chan and other communities figured out how to vote for their favorite characters, and whether they were genuinely voting for who they believed was “most moe,” were backing their favorite characters, were trying to push a running gag forward, or they wanted to rally behind their chosen girl, Suiseiseki embodied all three. She was the center of the DESU DESU DESU meme, Rozen Maiden was generally popular among hardcore fans, and her character does have distinguishable moe qualities overall. The heyday of Saimoe was indeed also the heyday of 4chan, and while it’s questionable as to whether Saimoe had ever been more than a popularity contest, when looking at the “rise and fall” of Saimoe, so to speak, what comes out of the other side isn’t so much as a return to the idea of “moe” from the earlier days when Cardcaptor Sakura won it all, but something new and different that I can’t quite fully describe.

Let’s compare the winners of Saimoe 2012 and 2014, all of whom come from the anime series Saki. 2012’s champion was Onjouji Toki, a character who is strictly moe by all conceptions of the often-nebulous term. Toki is a sickly girl whose ability to peer into the future to win at mahjong set her up as a tragic figure that overshadowed even the protagonists of her story (the ending theme to Saki: Episode of Side A, “Futuristic Player,” is actually a reference to Toki). It’s hard to describe her as anything but “moe.” In contrast, while there are cutely tragic elements to Saki and Nodoka, their dual-victory in Saimoe carries a very different set of meanings. First, it can’t be ignored that Saki dominated the overall bracket, to the extent that it could be argued that the fans who care most these days about “moe” overlap significantly with Saki fans. Second, and I think this is more important, Saki has a major yuri component, and I believe that is the true meaning behind the tie. In fact, Toki, Mami, and Madoka also all attract yuri fanbases.


Yuri to some extent has been a factor in people’s views of characters as moe (see Nanoha and Fate’s popularity), but the role that the cute girl plays in the aspirations and fantasies of anime fandom seem to have changed. Moe as an idea was arguably overwhelming and overpowering at its height, but now it seemingly has begun to secede, and in its place is a network of interests of which yuri is a part. I put it that way because I don’t think “yuri” supplanted “moe” as if that would even be possible. After all, yuri as a vocabulary word predates the solidification of moe by at least a couple of decades, so if anything moe was the young upstart terminology. Rather, moe may have gradually melded itself back into the fabric of anime’s iconic characters, to the extent that trying to ask who is the “moest” has become a more difficult and less directly appealing proposition overall.

Commercials about deodorant are not a common topic on Ogiue Maniax, a blog dedicated to anime and manga discussion. However, one thing that anime, Old Spice in 2015, and superhero comics have in common is a love of crossovers in varying capacities. With Old Spice, this comes in the form of ads where its two biggest spokesmen, Isaiah “Hello Ladies” Mustafah and Terry “POWERRRRRRRRRRRR” Crews pit their respective deodorants against each other. It’s been a long time coming (and basically instant money for Old Spice), but what stands out to me about these commercials is just how much they actually pay attention to keeping their respective superhuman abilities consistent as they’re utilized to both entice the viewer and outdo each other.


When placing characters into a crossover, especially one that involves a direct conflict, what’s important is maintaining the strengths and identities of the characters being brought together. Superman is immensely strong, unbelievably fast, and has a variety of astounding abilities, while Batman is extremely intelligent, excels at planning, and puts in more effort than anyone else. Detective Conan is a master of deduction and observation, while Lupin III is renowned for his deception and improvisation. When these characters meet, there is ideally a clever interaction that enhances their mutual reputations, and that’s what happens when Isaiah takes on Terry.

Both Isaiah Mustafa and Terry Crews exhibit reality-bending powers in Old Spice commercials, but they’re uniquely different when compared to each other. Isaiah’s “ability” is that he can quickly and seamlessly transition one environment or object to another without a moment’s notice, owing to his status as the ultimate ladies’ man. Terry essentially invades space through the sheer power of his intensely hyper-masculine personality for men, cloning himself, appearing where he shouldn’t, and even blowing himself up. What you see in these series of commercials is how the two try to one-up and counter each other with their specific skill sets, a battle of equals who realize that the other is just as potent and manly as the other, only in different ways.

Basically, while it’s always been clear that a lot of thought is put into Old Spice’s recent commercials, what we see here is an actual consideration for Isaiah and Terry as unique, superheroic characters. Isaiah can’t do what Terry can and vice-versa, and never is there a conflation of what the two are capable of. It’s the superhero duel the world has been waiting for, and in a way I hope it comes to define and influence all future crossovers in mainstream media and advertisement.

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Hato Kenjirou is one of the central characters of Genshiken whose struggles with gender and sexuality and overall cheerful yet reserved personality have earned him many fans. Some folks have decided to create a fanzine all about Hato, and while he’s not everyone’s favorite character (see name of blog), I think it’s really awesome and I encourage all Hato fans and perhaps even fans of Genshiken to either send something in or at least take a look when the finished product arrives.

Submissions are open for HatoZine, and are due on October 15, 2015. Make sure to check out the submission guidelines too.

As for myself, I indeed plan on writing something. Or have I already written something and just haven’t sent it in yet???

And of course, thanks to Alison Wilgus for telling me about HatoZine.




Love Live! is huge, no doubt about it, and I would say deservedly so. Between the quality of the anime TV series, the appeal of its characters, the addictive nature of its mobile game, and of course the slew of songs produced, in a way it’s no wonder that Love Live! manages to attract both male and female fans in large numbers. I attended the New York City premiere for Love Live! The School Idol Movie, and as expected was greeted with a long line full of cosplayers, glow stick wielders, capes adorned with the characters’ faces, and just generally fans who love the main idol group so much that they practically treat the showing like a live concert. Watching the movie amidst an audience of differing values and perspectives, what I found most interesting is how the movie juggles all the various aspects that go into the franchise while maintaining both a fun experience and a solid narrative, and which speaks further to how malleable Love Live! is as a fan experience.


Synopsis and General Thoughts


In the world of Love Live! are idol groups that represent specific high schools. Kousaka Honoka, a new attendee at Otonokizaki High School, forms a “school idol” group called μ’s along with eight other girls so that they can save their school from rapidly declining attendance and closure. Eventually, through various trials and setbacks, they not only manage to keep their school, but win the biggest school idol competition, the “Love Live,” defeating the defending champions A-Rise in the process. However, because they cherish the specific circumstances and experiences that brought them together, they decide that they will retire μ’s and its name. As the TV series, ends, however, they receive a note of great importance, leading directly into the film.

The note turns out to be a request to fly to New York City and shoot a live performance to promote a bigger and better Love Live, which results in the film being split into two parts: first, the trip to NYC, and then the build-up to a concert back in Japan. Given the first half, I find that there’s something special about attending the NYC premiere, especially because of how much care and attention they put into replicating New York’s landmarks at overall atmosphere. Jogging through Central Park, visiting the new World Trade Center, what stood out to me in particular were actually the restaurants. Visiting thinly veiled analogues for such NYC institutions as Junior’s (where they experience American cheesecake for the first time) and Japanese restaurant Kenka (where the surrounding St. Mark’s Place atmosphere is captured surprisingly well), it’s clear that the people responsible for the movie did their research, and in terms of capturing the NYC experience they did a good job.

As for the second half of the movie, it’s very much designed to conclude the story of the nine girls of μ’s, which in a way is a major surprise. Not only would it be obvious to have their adventures continue forever given their appeal (and I’m sure they’ll find a million ways to extend the overall life of the group), but the film doesn’t even mention the fact that they’re creating another anime with a new group of girls aspiring to be school idols. One of the criticisms of Avengers 2 is that it feels like a stopgap between two different status quos, and it would have been all too easy to feature the new girls in the movie conspicuously as a way to promote them. In fact, there’s nothing of the sort, at least as far as I can tell. This movie, whether it’s truly the end or not, at least feels like a conclusion to a long and entertaining journey.

As a film that’s supposed to be both the sequel and bookend to the story of μ’s, I find that Love Live! The School Idol movie strikes a good balance of calling back to beloved moments of the TV series, being its own story, and giving enough time and energy to each of the characters without having them overcrowd each other. Some figure more prominently into the main narrative than others, especially in the second half, but there was clearly a lot of effort made to keep the movie tight and not to bog it down with having to showcase each girl like it was a fighting game movie. Notably, entertaining musical numbers group the girls together by year (there are three 1st years, 2nd years, and 3rd years among the group), with one girl in each group being the “center,” and are in a way reminiscent of a Fred Astaire movie.

The Characters of Love Live! in The School Idol Movie and Beyond

A lot of the time, what makes Love Live! work is that the characters’ key traits allow scenes to practically play themselves out, and this comes across very well in the movie. For example, certain characters have their favorite foods. Kotori loves desserts and sweets, so naturally she would view America and New York as a never-ending wonderland. In contrast, Hanayo loves food in general but reveres plain white rice above all else, and suffers in an environment that emphasizes bread and pastries and considers rice merely a “side dish.” In such a circumstance, the normally quiet and reserved Hanayo would act out. It only makes sense for Umi to be a nervous traveler, for Maki to be flustered by a close interaction with A-Rise’s leader Tsubasa, and so on. It’s moments like these which capture the appeal of the characters so well, while tying them into the story.


There are a lot of different values carried in Love Live! fandom, and given people’s differing opinions on favorite characters (Hanayo is the best), level of interest in yuri, amount of fondness for idols in general, and more, it occurs to me that one of the strengths of Love Live! is that it has as much or as little “depth” as you want it to. Take the character of Nico, who’s also by far the most polarizing figure among Love Live! fans. Her appeal (or to some lack thereof) comes from the fact that she’s both the most cynical and optimistic member of μ’s when it comes to being a school idol. She’s sort of like a pro wrestling fan who knows all of the behind-the-scenes information behind wrestlers’ real personalities and controversies, but at the same time gets more excited than anyone else (with the possible exception of Hanayo) by the illusory presentation of the performance.

In wrestling terms, Nico would be a “smark” turned pro wrestler. Having all of this enthusiasm and background knowledge and fully believing in its potency is what prompts her coy, girlish persona and her use of her signature catch phrase, “Nico Nico Nii!”, which has been optimized to be the perfect idol moment. And yet, it’s very easy to say that Nico = “Nico Nico Nii!” Hanayo is rice. Rin is meows. Eli is “khorosho.” Both sides, the simple and the elaborate, are represented well in Love Live! The School Idol Movie, and rather than impacting the quality of the movie and Love Live! in general, I think what it serves to do is widen its appeal. Whether that’s a good thing or not is, of course, up for discussion.


As a final note, I’d like to talk about the present we received at the premiere. Attendees received character signboards as well as codes for the Love Live! School Idol Festival mobile game. It’s the first time I’ve received anything of the sort, and I think it went a long way in making fans of Love Live! feel like they were part of the franchise experience as a whole, even if they couldn’t fly to Japan. As shown above, I received a Nozomi signboard, which I’m happy about, as she is indeed one of my favorite characters. But if anyone has a Hanayo… leave a comment below.

Actually, one last thing: internet fandom in a nutshell.


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Recently I accomplished one of my goals over the past couple of years: I finally created a team of 9 unique Hanayos in the popular mobile game Love Live: School Idol Festival. Seeing as how tomorrow I’m going to see the Love Live! movie, I think now’s as good a time as any to discuss how I play School Idol Festival  as a fan of the franchise, but also as someone who knowingly restricts his exposure to the game, and creates games within games.

There was a time when I didn’t feel as strongly about Love Live! as a whole. All I knew was that I liked the anime quite a bit, and when I discovered the increasingly popular mobile rhythm game, it introduced me to the collector’s mentality that goes into supporting idols, digital or real. What began as a curiosity became an understanding of how involving the rhythm game with its collectible card aspect, character loyalty, and other aspects could be. The game taunts you with the prospect of buying more gems to give you that next gashapon-esque crank of the lever. If you choose to not give the game money, it then becomes the absolute biggest time sink there is. It’s a dangerous combination not uncommon to mobile games, and seeing the potential threat to my free time that the game posed, I knowingly restricted my goals. Thus, the All-Star All-MaddenHanayo Team starring Jerry Rice became my aspiration. I could pick my battles, prioritize certain events over others, and prevent the game from destroying my free (or not free) time.

While I hit my original goal, what’s funny is that somehow I feel that, by aiming for it so intently, it actually got further away from me. What I mean is that in the process of trying to get 9 unique Hanayo cards, I ended up with full teams of Eli and Umi without even trying. I’m sure there are fans of those two characters who would devote their everything to having full squads, but it was merely a stepping stone in my process. Again, it’s a good thing I didn’t approach the game with a completionist mentality, or else I would really be in trouble.

In the end though, I find that the game was merely supplemental to my fondness to the anime, which is why I’m looking forward to the movie far more than my anticipation over getting the final 9th Hanayo on my team. There’s an interesting disparity between the worlds of the game and the anime, and that has to do with the role of men. While players of Love Live! traverse all sexes, genders, and sexual orientations, there’s still the residual effect of idols classically being a point of desire for guys. A lot of the rewards for playing the game are messages from the girls, who will talk about how they want to be alone… with you.

In contrast, men are virtually non-existent in the anime. This is what perhaps makes it yuri fuel for a certain contingent of the fanbase, and certain characters’ actions acknowledge that men exist in a kind of abstract sense (Nico’s behavior, for example), but a lot of the character dynamics and interactions are pointed towards each other rather than the hypothetical viewer/player. The game is where I show my support as an extension of my fondness for the anime, and even if I ever buy a CD (NicoRinPana of course), then that’ll also be supplemental to my fondness for the overall narrative and theme of Love Live!

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Comic Zenon is a curious manga magazine. Featuring current manga by the Fist of the North Star artist Hara Tetsuo and also supported by North Star Pictures, one might get the impression that it’s a comic for manly men who love manly things, but they have a lot of other things going for them too. More recently they started up a poll to ask English readers what manga they would like to see translated, and many of the titles on there look fantastic.

Of course it’s up to you to decide which ones to vote for (and you can vote for multiple titles), but here are the ones in particular I really want to see make it.


From the artist of La Sommeliere, Hana Kaku: The Last Girl Standing follows a young, petite girl who discovers the world of Mixed Martial Arts. I read the first two chapters in Japanese, and while it never got around to the actual fighting that early, the art and the characters really sold the manga for me. Seeing Hana’s eyes widen as she sees watches her new best friend demolish a car with the power of MMA made it an instant must-read.

CZ_a_CZ021As someone who loves to eat and also read manga about characters eating, Wakako-Zake is a shoo-in for me. This isn’t just about the joy of having the perfect food, it’s about the satisfaction that comes from being able to revel in the simple subtleties of eating. The anime is currently being streamed on Crunchyroll, and with each episode taking about 2-3 minutes there’s no reason for you to not check it out. In the anime, Wakako is also voiced by Sawashiro Miyuki (Fujiko in The Woman Called Mine Fujiko, Twilight in Go! Princess Precure), using something closer to her Serizawa voice from Pani Poni Dash.


I don’t know as much about this title, but Forensics Girl Hayama-san seems to be some kind of quietly awesome mystery manga. According to the description, the “manga is full of investigative techniques that you can try at home!” While manga about detective girls can vary in quality immensely, they’re also often some of the best works I’ve seen (Her Majesty’s Petite Angie, Daughter of Twenty Faces).

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