Monday, August 27, 2018

Akikan is a good show with a weird/dumb premise, and I love it


"Akikan" is a powerfully stupid anime about a "war" between sentient, anthropomorphized, steel and aluminum drink cans organized by a small but somewhat influential government agency. These humanoid-cans are called "Akikan". They aren't robots, but rather advanced and powerful human-like cans with superhuman abilities. The reason for this supposed war, called he "Akikan Elect", is to figure out which kind of can should be eliminated from the market place. 

I adore this series. It's so cute and dumb as to be endearing. It's also really funny. The animation is choppy sometimes, but the voice-acting is so over-the-top, and the dialogue so preposterous that I can't help but become engaged with the idiocy going on. Even though there's a plot to this series, I don't really feel like that plot matters all that much. There are action scenes, and conflicts, but this show is more like a sitcom. It's all about the ridiculous characters and their reactions to things. The main conflict of the Akikan Elect hardly matters. 

Melon (a can of melon soda), the main Akikan, is full of personality and is short tempered and free-spirited. Yell (a Gatorade like sports drink), is a duty bound and subservient Akikan; she's almost like a soldier. There's a decent amount of conflict between the two characters, since they're both different kinds of cans, but they're more like frenemies.

My main attraction to this show, aside from it's premise, was how it was so difficult to obtain on DVD. It's strange to think that this series was so rare to find out in the wild, or even online. I remember eBay sellers trying to sell used copies at prices that were clearly trying to bank on the rarity of it. I'm not sure when it occurred, but sometime a few years ago all the DVD's dropped down to normal price. Maybe there was a re-release of it on DVD; maybe there was a warehouse full of them; I have no idea. 

Oh, I forgot to mention the main hero of this series Kakeru. Most of the real humor derives from his eccentric nature. He's loud, perverted, and says very strange things. Often he'll be talking to himself, so stay attentive when he speaks and you'll see what I mean. Kakeru, by the way, collects cans as a hobby. It's not the strangest hobby, especially in Japan where collectible bottles and cans are always on the market place. I just found it somewhat humorous how this hobby of his was mentioned only in the first episode, and never talked about again. Why even make it a part of his personality if it never comes into play again? 

This show is weird, but it does have a sort of devoted following. If you Google search "Akikan", eventually you'll stumble upon fan art and even OC's based on this show. Maybe I should create my own "can-sona" and join the fandom? 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Samurai High School: Mochizuki Kotaro

I’m not totally sure what I want to think of this as, but I’m going to talk a bit about quite possibly one of my favorite dramas among the small handful that I’ve watched -- Samurai High School, and in particular it's lead character. "Samurai High School" aired 9 episodes in 2008 on NTV in a late night time-slot, and is a super-natural slice-of-life/coming-of-age comedy about Mochizuki Kotaro, a high schooler who comes to be possessed by his ancestor of the same name who was a samurai that fought under Yukimura Sanada.

Mochizuki Kotaro of the present (left) and past (right). 
The premise of the show is fairly basic -- When Kotaro is under duress, his ancestor will take over and due to the culture gap between 1615 and 2008, hijinks then ensue. It begins rather episodic for the first handful, portraying various incidents at Kotaro's school that he is dragged into and must deal with while trying to do damage control on his ancestor taking over his body now and again.

Kotaro has an over-bearing mother, a little sister with better grades and prospects than himself, and no real ambition for what he wants to do with his life. He's a fairly standard slice-of-life protagonist when you write him out on paper. But I think the thing that truly stands out to me about Kotaro is how earnest he is in his mediocrity, and how aware he is that it stacks the deck against him.

Kotaro's ancestor is loud and abrasive, ready to fight for anything and against anyone, which often puts Kotaro is some very real physical danger. He criticizes Kotaro for essentially being the opposite, avoidant and non-confrontational, but frequently tries to guide his descendant into not letting the world beat him, or his friends, into submission.

Much of the core theme of the show beneath it's time-travel-ish antics is Kotaro learning that even though the world is unfair, and the race is rigged for him to lose because there's nothing in particular he accels at, that doesn't make him worthless. He's got a good heart, people he loves, and even if the world isn't going out of it's way for him, Kotaro can still carve out his place whether the world likes it or not.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Let's learn subpar English with Ribbon-chan!

So, this series is kind of a trip. It's definitely heavily influenced by "Moetan", even having the legendary POP work on the character designs, but it sort of came out of nowhere and left no impact during it's run. And even though there are two seasons of it, "Maji de Otaku na English! Ribbon-chan" isn't popular at all. There is absolutely zero merchandise to coincide with this show, which is odd because Japanese animation companies will produce any kind of merch to promote a show. I suspect these characters all appear in an illustration book by POP, since I was able to find a high quality image of Nerd (below.)

Still, as usual, I love it. Why must I be so attracted to strange and obscure shows like this. Each episode is less than or about 4 minutes long, and usually end with an FAQ session with the characters Nerd (the wanna-be magical girl) and Valko (the main villain of the series.)

The first season isn't about the show itself, but rather, it's about the cast trying to find the budget to actually make their show. The first episode shows an action sequence from the final episode, which was really quite dramatic, but it also took up all of their budget. By episode two they're going to conventions trying to raise more money for their animation, just to lose it all again by episode three because they spent it all on a vacation and booze. We finally see the opening theme song by episode 6 or 7, and that shows us how serious and dramatic this show was "meant to be"; it's so dark and brutal actually, the lead characters are all in shock. 

So, in all honesty, this show is essentially pointless, but I love it.The actual plot of the show is about a student, Ribbon, who's terrible at speaking English, but has to use English skills to battle evil forces. That's why the show still takes breaks to do a quick English lesson, but, the English they use is quite bad and unusable. Again though, this show isn't about that at all, it's just a show with those characters trying to find the money to make that show. It's a dumb joke, and if this show ever came to the US officially, I think it'd have a cult following.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Cyber Adventurer Sono Citrus

Hey, all. I've been given instructions to introduce myself, so my name is Angela, but I am and have for at least half my life at this point been known in a large variety of internet circles as Sono. I met Guimo through a mutual friend at the time when we both attended a concert across the street from my college dorm, and we've been friends and on-and-off collaborators ever since.

I started watching anime as a young kid around the beginning of DiC's release of Sailor Moon on television and old re-runs of Speed Racer. I became captivated by their use of over-arching story as opposed to the episodic storytelling of American cartoons of the time. Like many, I threw myself into that hole and never looked back, being part of the culture that saw anime and manga sections of my local book and video stores grow from a single niche shelf to an entire case and then entire sections of stores. I was and am still proud to have been part of that.

Just after college some friends got me into Kamen Rider and Super Sentai and I embraced the Tokusatsu genre with just as much passion as I had anime and manga. I made a name for myself in the community surrounding Kamen Rider and Super Sentai, and have begun folding Japanese TV Dramas into the fold of my media experience.

I consider myself an adventurer above all else, and I like to learn to do a little bit of everything. While my main career is illustrator, focusing on video game art and charatcer design, I've also been podcasting for about 4 1/2 years and am throwing my hat in on video production and streaming. My other hobbies include cooking, crafting, video games, and Dungeons & Dragons. I hope to bring a little bit of all of these things that I love to Downtown Otaku.

Reborn! Reincarnation! Rebirth!

Well I was never truly gone, I just switched gears for a bit. The original "Downtown Otaku" blog is long gone, torn to shreds by one too may copyright strikes, and my own indifference. This new incarnation hopes to be much better than my original blog, with the added assistance of my wonderfully talented and dear friend Angela. And, more symbollically, I feel like this rebirth was overshadowed by the eternal spirit of Sasami, and the guidance of Billiken. This is definitely how things ought to be. 

Since the time the original Downtown Otaku blog died, I found my way through the murkiness of this world through spiritual advancement, intellectual pursuits, and my various hobbies. I became ordained in many of the counter-culture religions, like the Church of the SubGenius, The Holy Order of the Sasquatch, The First Church of Dana Scully, Scientist, and of course Discordianism (just to name a few). I even founded my own church of sorts, though I haven't put much effort into it yet; The Church of Sasami was founded sometime early last year as a tribute to not only Sasami, but also to the many long dead Angelfire/Geocities websites that have long since been abandoned by their creators. In the future I'll probably start working on that site again... or maybe not. 

I'm still going to keep working on my other site, Reverend Guimo's Blog, which is my main blog where I talk about weird movies, toys, and spiritual nonsense. I also have an enormous collection of links from the strangest parts of the internet, so if you like the sound of that I'd love for you to come pay me a visit there. 

So what to expect here; we're not entirely sure as of yet. We have some things planned out but it'd be impossible to really gauge what we want to do until we really start doing it. At any rate, we'd like to update a few times a week so we hope you'll swing by for a visit when you get the chance. 

And with that, I'll end this first update here. Until next time!