Anime World Order Show # 109 – We Have Finally Reached the Mystery Frequency

In a rare deviation from our usual set of hijinks, Clarissa isn’t around and we review a NEW show for a change as Gerald espouses the merits of Shoji Kawamori’s latest venture, AKB0048.

Update: A lot of people are having trouble seeing the download link. This is an issue brought about with the latest versions of Adobe Flash, which handles the on-page player and text link. For now, you can click here to download.

Introduction (0:00 – 43:24)
Clarissa isn’t with us this time around, so that means it’s time to PAR-TAY by reading the emails asking us about the deeper meanings behind Violence Jack or the lack thereof. That also means it’s time to slag on graduate level anime academia now that she isn’t around to defend her life’s pursuit. The last anti-Clarissa topic we indulge ourselves in has to do with what anime is good to watch with your dad.

Promo: Method to Madness (43:24 – 44:17)
The last time, we thought we had played the most recent promo for these guys. Turns out that we played the old one with the old URL. So we’re fixing that. Their latest episode is about the Rock-a-Fire explosion documentary. That guy lives right in Orlando. Also, we watched that documentary at like 2 AM to ring in the new year.

Review: AKB0048 (44:17 – 1:19:09)
Remember this exchange in Patlabor the Movie 2?
“I understand there’s a 98% hit ratio using the fire control system.”
“And what if your FCS is malfunctioning?”
“Sir? Police Labor activities are normally conducted in pairs.”
“And what if your partner’s Labor is disabled?”
“But the odds against that are a million to one…”
“Training to prepare for that one in a million is our job as cops, YOU MORON!”

Our experience with AKB0048 is the anime equivalent of that.

Closing (1:19:09 – 1:32:10)
We’ll try and record some more things pretty soon, though we don’t know when Clarissa will be around. As noted, the Colony Drop fanzine is now free as a digital download. Also, if you must know, Daryl did stream 2 hours of Japanese pro wrestling which was never released in the US and was from largely defunct companies…but was promptly perma-banned from Justin.tv and Twitch (he wasn’t even USING Twitch!) 30 minutes later anyway. Both by account and by IP. So much for THAT idea.

43 thoughts on “Anime World Order Show # 109 – We Have Finally Reached the Mystery Frequency

  1. damn Justin.tv just does not like Wrestling at all. I know they Banned the account my website had because we were riffing WWE’s Raw. We got cut off in the middle of the stream.

  2. Does Gerald sound a little deeper in this episode than the previous ones, Or is it just because my speakers are acting up? Liked this episode btw.

  3. My thoughts on AKB0048 is that the entire concept makes me depressed.
    It is typical of the dreams that many people, including the anime industry, have today, which is “Do the thing that my Role Model Did, only better”. Instead of these girls doing there own thing and starting a band or singing career, all they want to do is join AKB0048, and take on the name of their role models (literally). They don’t even want to rock the boat, not even (god forbid) write their own songs. The one person who has any ambition in this regard, wants to bring BACK some Center Nova concept that was discarded years ago. While it is somewhat understandable that these girls (BY THE WAY, NO BOYS ALLOWED! WE DON’T WANT YOUR KIND!!) want to be a part of the band that’s bigger than the Beatles and Dethklock combined. AKB0048 sends a very bad message.

    Also the anime has the most schizophrenic art style that I ever seen.On the average episode you’ll see 2D animation, then 3DCGI, and the End Credits has Rotoscoping. There are parts where you will see a 2D character, then 2 seconds later that person is 3D, there are even parts where you will see a 2D Human character and RIGHT behind her are 3DCGI human characters. If Satellite is so incompetent at 2D animation, then they should have just made the whole show in 3DCGI, instead of this sad reminder of the death of 2D animation.
    P.S. I for one, am surprised that just about all the idols are real girls and not some virtual hologram. I thought that concept would go out of style in the future.
    P.P.S. AKB0048. MORE LIKE AKB0013 AM I RIGHT!? RIGHT…?
    P.P.P.S. I have a podcast, that does everything I just criticized, so keep that in mind when you judge this comment.

  4. Hmm, passed on AKB0048 for the exact same reasons of judging the book by its cover. But after hearing the review it seems that now I should go and look it up. Event thought the idea of anime about AKB48 being praiseworthy still sounds totally off .. 😛

    On another note, after hearing you recommend Moribito I was reminded how much I liked the series when I watched the fansubs and thus I went and ordered the 4 DVD UK set.

    PS: Is it just me misremembering things or does Balsa have totally the same expression as Major (from GITS: SAC) in some of the earlier scenes of Moribito?

  5. I watched AKB0048 for a few episodes but ended up dropping. I’ve been doing that alot, watching shows and dropping them for no real reason. But I’ll take your recommendation and check in on this show again.

    P.S Jojo’s is a pretty fun show. Never thought it would become a staple of the season for me.

  6. I said as much to Gerald on Twitter, but it bears repeating here. I haven’t seen AKB0048, but from your description of why you liked the show so much, it sounds like you need to check out Aquarion EVOL, since those sound like the same reasons that the folks I know liked it. And to preempt a couple of the reasons you probably skipped it: yes, it’s a sequel to Aqaurion, but no prior knowledge is really needed, and most of the fans I know had never seen the original. Or if you saw it and didn’t like it, that’s okay too, because Mari Okada has retrofitted the original story in the sequel and made it awesome. If you thought the mecha looked ugly… well, yeah, it is. That might also explain why most of the fans I know of aren’t primarily mecha fans.

    But you talk about how AKB0048 owns its silliness without winking at the audience while doing crazy, laughable things with laser mics and gay dance instructors? EVOL not only does that as well, it also explains WHY it does all the crazy things with robots and psychic powers and reincarnated love interests, and that makes it even better. Daryl mentioned how he thought AKB0048 was “awesome retarded.” “EVOL” + awesome + retarded gets over 700,000 hits on Google, while AKB0048 + awesome + retarded gets just 200,000, meaning that EVOL is mathematically proven to be twice as much retarded fun as AKB0048. It has a sweet opening theme (Osore!), crazy robot fights that jump to the scale Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagaan took half a series to build to in ONE EPISODE, a sensei character who gives advice through puns and cryptic Zen koans, and one character wears a bikini for the entire show and doesn’t understand why she should wear more clothes. If you Google around, I’m sure you’ll find a list of the crazy antics the show has done, but you really shouldn’t read any of them, because those are basically spoilers. This show is all about watching it take its weird internal logic to new, even more impressive heights of insanity.

    Finally, let me push back against a couple things. First of all, I’m bothered when people use the phrase “awesomely stupid” or some variant thereof. I think doing spectacle right takes a lot of intelligence, and while anime and movies that emphasize spectacle might do so at the cost of good character development, or any attempt to say something about the human condition, that’s okay, and that doesn’t make them stupid. And because video games and anime and movies increasingly raise the bar for what can wow hardcore fans, anything that crosses that proverbial bar gets my respect. Getting noticed in a spectacle over-drenched environment like anime is an accomplishment in and of itself.

    Second, while I used to agree with Daryl that judging an anime by its cover was a wise idea, I’m not as sure about that anymore. Every season, I find one or two new anime that completely confound my low expectations for them. 2 Milky 2 Holmes laid bare the grotesque heart of moe, Sengoku Collection went into weird and interesting places, and Rio: Rainbow Gate became my standard for awesome spectacle anime until I saw EVOL. From this season alone, Girls und Panzer has turned out to be an enjoyable because it’s a straightforward sports anime, Busou Shinkai has really thought through what it would be like to have robot maids who are only three and a half inches tall, and Teekyu is three great minutes of gag-a-second comedy and weird animation.

    My taste are admittedly broader than most anime fans, to the point where my recommendation may not mean much because I like too many cartoons, but I no longer think that anime doesn’t have the power to surprise on a regular basis. Sure, these are two or three surprises a season, and there’s still a lot of junk out there, but it turns out ADV had it right all along: these cartoons are TOTALLY UNEXPECTED. Maybe not your thing- maybe, in fact, almost no one’s thing- but definitely better than anyone would have given them credit for. I’ve only been closely following seasons on an off-and-on basis for the past year or so- and not so I can “be part of the conversation,” even though I am on Twitter- but I have to wonder now if this has always been true, or if it’s a new thing, or if I’m just crazy.

    [You had me thinking this was a real, human viewpoint being espoused until you said Rio: Rainbow Gate was your standard for awesome spectacle. Now I realize you’re either elaborately trying to ruin people or you’re crazy. I’m thinking the first one for the moment. –Daryl]

  7. Hmm…I really don’t know if -much less when- I will ever try to check out AKB0048 for myself, but at the very least it was definitely worth listening to you guys talk about the series.

    The biggest obstacle remains the concept of the show, since outside of its presence in Macross territory I’ve never had even the slightest interest in idols or their related topics throughout anime. Even if the specific production under discussion is just messing around with that sort of material, it doesn’t do anything for me.

    Speaking more generally, I usually want to give shows a certain amount of my genuine attention even if I may or may not end up watching them for the sake of their ridiculously awesome (or awesomely ridiculous) elements along the way. Sometimes this sort of approach works out, sometimes it doesn’t. AKB0048 sounds like it could be fun for a couple of episodes, but I can see it growing old terribly fast for me. Anyway, I’ll see if I’m ever in the mood for something like that

  8. Wait, Korean music “hasn’t gotten as much into the idol scene?” All of the kpop fans I know (and I know a few) are people who are very much into the Super Junior/Big Bang/Girls Generation/Shinee/f(x) stuff, and it’s totally idol music. I think the real difference is that while kpop idols are also kitschy and vapid and very much plastic, they’re stylish, they look like adults and they don’t do creepy things.

  9. Great to see another episode, I’d been looking forward to this one. Daryl and Gerald reviewing a show full of moe girls and loving it, imagine that!

    I also thought AKB0048 was pretty entertaining, but I’m not as impressed by it as you guys were. For me, the character drama, which I think there was quite a lot of, dragged the show down. I couldn’t find it in my black, little heart to care about any of these characters. I guess there’s something to be said for looking at missiles which have “NO IDOL” written on them with a huge stop sign slapped over it, though.

    About another trivia episode, I for one would like that a lot, those are really fun. However,if it’s too much work, don’t worry about it. You’ve yet to release a bad episode in my book.

  10. AKB0048 has a problem of switching back and forth from 2d animated characters to 3d cg models in rapid succession. Those sequences are visual-AIDS. Initial-D AIDS.

  11. Passed right on AKB0048 after reading reviews and watching the first page on google image. Even the review made in this last podcast doesn’t change my mind. I still think it’s a shit, bombastic, pedofiliac pedophiliac anime. It’s like the worst of Macross and Madoka Magica put together.
    NO THANKS. This anime in no way redeems Kawamori. He’s gone off the deep end and is never coming back.

    “Awesome retarded” anime is still “retarded” anime. Just thank God that the anime is only 13 episodes long (its only good redeeming quality). Imagine the suffering and pain going through 50 episodes of this anime.

    [For the record: Space Adventure Cobra is also “awesome retarded” in my book. –Daryl]

    Daryl: you’re welcome to criticise Space Adventure Cobra (tv series and film) I won’t hold a grudge against you. It’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. [That’s just it; it’s NOT a criticism. –Daryl] I love it, I like the characters especially Cobra modeled after the french actor Jean Paul Belmondo. I love the gals, the sexiest female characters ever drawn on screen (except for Julia and Mamiya from Ken). And most of all I love the artistic setting, a mix between epic science fiction and fantasy.

    Cobra has character, soul and a story. AKB0048 has none of these qualities. In fact AKB0048 is exactly what many people were criticizing super robot anime from the seventies to be. 30 minute commercials. Except in this case we’re talking 25 minutes of musical self promotion. I stand by my opinion. AKB0048 is a show to be skipped with no regret whatsoever.

  12. I think the different ways academics are perceived when they talk about manga and anime has in part to do with the mode of communication. You mentioned the difference between hearing someone speak at a con and reading their books or articles. A professor may have the same set of ideas to communicate, but at a convention panel, they are aware they have to do so to non-academics. But in a journal, they have to do so to academics, and it is expected of them that they will write in an academic style–not just because this is academia, but as part of the process of asserting that their subject (i.e., anime) is in fact worthy of academic discussion, because it can be spoken of in academic language.

    You can compare it to the difference between a lawyer trying to make an argument to a jury, and to a judge. In the first case, the lawyer is going to use plain language and rhetoric; in the second case, they will be writing a technical and formalistic brief. It’s the second kind of communication that we tend to call “lawerly,” whereas the first kind gets made into popular TV shows.

  13. I loved the stories about watching anime with parents. I’ll never forget renting the first five episodes of Gundam Wing on VHS shortly after getting out of school. I was 23 and Dad was 53 at the time. I remember being ashamed at how brain-dead it was and turning it off, to which he gleefully responded, “Thank Christ!”

  14. I have been really sick that last few days with nothing to do so I found a copy of AKB0048 and marathoned it. This was a show that when looking at the preview guides I passed over without a second thought. I liked the show way more than I should have. Like you said it will never see the light of day outside of japan so I’m going to be burning a copy keeping this one around in the pile of shows that have little chance of being licensed. Looking forward to the the follow up in 2013.

    If you need more awkwardly good AKB fun. The drama Majisuka Gakuen was really good. The AKB girls as yankee gangs and violence.

  15. My second podcast to listen too ever (first was Anime Pulse), and I have a bit of feedback…

    Ok, so… You will give AKB0048 a shot, but completely disregard Sakurasou? Really? REALLY?

    And if Jojo is the only thing your watching from the current season, then you are seriously missing out. K, Magi, Btooom!, Psycho-Pass, Shinsekai yori, Little Busters! (YMMV), Robotics;Notes, Sukitte Ii na yo, Sword Art Online, Jormungand: Perfect Order, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!. All of those are Anime that are currently airing, all of them are generally held as being from “good” (Magi, Little Busters, SAO) to “hot damn this is it” (Psycho-Pass, Shinsekai Yoru, Sukitte Ii na yo.)

    Having said that, yes, AKB0048 was a major surprise, and yes, it was “stupid awesome”. But, seriously, could you not consider broadening your horizons?

    Also, no, this is not some new-to-anime-self-proclaimed-otaku who catches all the new stuff and comments on it then eventually burns out. This is fan who saw SEL on VHS, and saw GITS before The Matrix, and drew the connections.

    • Yes. Really. What, precisely, is good about the cartoon where the premise is “guy keeps autistic girl as a pet”?

      I tell you what. When a few years pass from once all those shows end, you tell us which ones didn’t end up being a letdown or completely forgotten about in favor of whatever the current new thing is, and I’ll consider them. Sword Arts Online in particular is the show I heard from everyone as being “surprisingly good” at first, then diving straight off a cliff never to recover. Except once you’ve watched a few episodes in, you’re obliged to see the crushing mediocrity through to the end. (I didn’t count Jormungand since that was basically a continuation of a show from last season.)

      • I was saddened to see you weren’t watching Space Brothers. [We are watching it. Space Brothers is also from the previous seasons. –Daryl]

      • Well, you see, here’s the thing:

        1.) the girl is not autistic (something you would know if you gave it a shot with the “3 episode rule”

        2.) she is not his “pet”, that is just a bit of a joke made by some of the other residents of their dorm, because the male lead has a pension for taking in stray cats, and the girl, while not autistic or mentally disabled,

        Are these masterpieces that will continue to be talked about decades after the fact? No, most likely not (although Shinsekai Yoru and Psycho-Pass…), but that doesn’t mean that they are not enjoyable. Some of them may flop, one of them seems to already have, or at least is walking a very thin line (*cough* K *cough*), but still, dismissing them because, what, they’re not smash hits? Or do they just not fit in with your tastes? In which case, I have to ask, how limited are your tastes when a list of series with genre’s all over the place doesn’t catch your attention? Broaden your horizons, man.

        If this podcast is still around in ten years, assuming I’m not still following this podcast, I will make sure to come back and tell you exactly what I am about to tell you now:
        I do not regret picking up any of the series’ from this season or the last one. Are there some disappointments? A few, but I think it’s better, at least in entertainment, to take a shot at something, even with the risk of being let down, because along with that risk, you could fine something thoroughly enjoyable.

        P.S.: “Sword Art Online”, not “Sword Arts Online”.

      • *and the girl, while not autistic or mentally disabled, has never really had to do anything for herself, because she focuses so much on one particular thing- her art. Other things, like proper conduct around members of the opposite sex or basic things like how to “take care of yourself”, she has not had to learn, she has not tried, she’s always had someone else deal with that kind of stuff while she focused everything on one particular thing.

        Apologies for the flop on my part.

      • Yeah, the girl isn’t autistic! She just possesses an unrealistic suite of characteristics which force the main character to take care of her as if she were!

        The (insert number here) episode rules is nonsense. What everyone possesses is a this held my attention for whatever reason rule. If, heaven forfend, Sakurasou Needs Reminding to Wear Underwear Musume is a masterpiece, it will prove that out whether Daryl Surat watches it or not.

        I have no idea how long you’ve watched anime. Perhaps you are simply an omnivore, but just like with American television I find that paying attention to who made what from what source material pays enormous dividends with anime. Whether a previously enjoyable genre gets colonized by pedophiles as happened with magical girls, or companies fall into crudely imitative shows until they wring all the profit out of a particular genre variation, trying everything will burn you out.

        P.S. the word you’re looking for is penchant, not penion unless the main character is being paid for his animal hoarding.

    • The Pet Girl of Sakurasou is bad, but not because of its premise. It’s just the usual J.C. Staff being bland and lazy. Funny, because the previous season had the amazing Joshiraku that was also animated by them.

      Also, I noticed not once did Gerald actually talk about the characters in AKB0048. He just said “this show is cool for having beam sabers and mecha.” For the record, I dropped that a couple of episodes in.

  16. In terms of anime to watch with your dad: if you/he are up for older stuff, watch Matsumoto shows (it’s Otoko no roman for a reason) and Lupin, Lupin, Lupin. I’ll confess that, with Matsumoto, I’m guilty of trying to force on others one of my formative experiences which was watching Starblazers with my dad before school when I was in preschool. With Lupin, you have the stuff Miyazaki worked on for the wholesome Lupin, and Mystery of Mamo for a taste of the hard stuff.

    On a related note, I highly recommend watching Only Yesterday with your mother. We got to catch it in the theater and really had a blast. Never has slowly falling in love with a socialist organic farmer looked so appealing!

    The friend who got me to watch OreImo kept us updated on AKB0048. Your recommendation tips the scale, and I’ll give it a try.

    I’ve recently started watching current anime again, and I’ve been trying the give everything a shot style of watching. Sakurasou is just as creepy as you surmised. The main female character has to be reminded by the hero to put on underwear. This is why light novels are creepy as hell.

    Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed Hyouka, which managed to inflate its bog-standard light novel characters to nearly three dimensions. The series was low key, slice of life with a lovely attention to detail. Finally a high school mystery series with mysteries that might actually get solved by high school students!

  17. When someone says “Longtime listener, first time _____” I always expect 1) a duck quack sound effect and 2) that person to tell you the state they live in.

    Blassreiter is indeed a special anime.

  18. Great episode, AKB sounds interesting.

    Hopefully down the line, you can review Osamu Dezaki’s Treasure Island adaption, as thats quite obscure, which is surprising as it’s pretty awesome.

  19. Hey, am I blind or is there no direct download link?

    What’s up with that? [It’s something to do with Adobe Flash. As of the newest version, sometimes it loads the on-page player, sometimes it doesn’t. I put in a backup text link for this episode, just for safety’s sake. –Daryl]

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  21. The “ugly” feeling you get after reading an arc of Violence Jack is actually intentional on Go Nagai’s part. Somewhat recently Go Nagai and Evangelion’s director had a conversation that was transcripted into a magazine. Apparently Go Nagai did have some intentions as an author while writing Devilman and Violence Jack. Apparently his goal was to show violence in the most ugly way possible in order to show the reader that violence is truly something to despise. Apparently the episode of Evangelion in which Shinji sits in the dummy system Eva-01 as it rips apart Eva-04 had a similar message. I believe the conversation ended with both of them deciding that they’re messed up in the head, but at least they traumatized children into hating violence.

  22. I saw the first ep of AKB0048 the other day. It reminds me of Macross Frontier but I’ll watch a bit more before making a sound judgement.

  23. So akb48/similar groups are some kind of pedophilia but this anime which basically promotes the same thing, underage idols, is a great anime. I sense double standard here.

    [I sense that you have a questionable grasp of the English language since, your poor sentence structure aside, we never put forth this argument. That may be what you think you heard, but that is not what was actually said. –Daryl]

  24. I am a fellow anime podcaster and my feeling on AKB48 made me avoid this show. Well, I’m going to marathon this for my review thanks to your review! Thank you and you’ll always be one of the insperations that got me started podcasting. Thanks again for your awesomeness.

  25. Just catching up on my podcast listening, and I’m glad I didn’t pass this one over for time after seeing the description. I gave AKB0048 a chance on your recommendation and I’m not at all disappointed.

    Like many folks, I took one look at The Chart®, saw AKB, and said “yeah, right” and never thought of it again. I marathoned the first season and I just started the second one on CR.

    It’s definitely not without flaws, but as far as this genre of anime is concerned, this seems to be as good as it gets, which is definitely good enough and entertaining enough to keep me watching without ever feeling like it was a chore. The show does look fantastic (admittedly this is not my favorite art style, but the there is no denying the quality of the animation which is itself a pleasure to watch) with one noted exception: as others have mentioned, the sudden transitions to cel shading were jarring, and something about the modeling, specifically during the “dance” scenes, does dive deep into the uncanny valley for me. It’s not jarring or unpleasant during the battle scenes.

    While the show does have its share of “awesome stupid” (e.g. a troupe of Idols on flying platforms battle mechs with micsabers all while singing sugar-pop) there is a fair amount of material that puts this clearly in the “database animal” category as well. Lots of cute girls in cute categories doing cute things, but mixed in with a plot that has enough mystery to keep me watching. I’d personally like a much higher ratio of crazy to kawaii, but that’s anime for you, and this show is still well worth it.

    Overall I’m rarely surprised with anime, and when I am it’s usually in the opposite direction, so when something like this comes along I’m as thrilled for the surprise as I am for the show. A solid B- where I expected an F.

    Thanks guys!

  26. I didn’t add a whole lot in this review and spoke in general terms, since I actually have an AKB0048 article coming up in a future installment of Otaku USA Magazine. It’s generally not our policy to review series that aren’t finished like we did here, but now that the second season has finished I’ll just leave this addendum that won’t be read by anybody that isn’t subscribed to our comments:

    Despite the reduction in concert battles and increase in bathing scenes/boob jokes, I enjoyed the second season much more upon re-watch compared to what I said during later episodes posted after this review. There are two reasons for this. The first is because of the 70s sports anime approach to characterization and development the show has continually tread in (though refracted through a lens of ultra-modernity). The ending is more or less conclusive, and they’d have to reach a bit to do any continuations. That said, they definitely rushed to wrap things up, and a lot of stuff happens rather abruptly toward the end.

    And that leads to the second reason it worked better upon a second viewing: it’s more removed from then-current events. AKB0048 is a show where art continually reflects life: the trials the characters experience is very close to what the actresses themselves go through. As such, it’s clear to me that the reason the finale feels rushed is because they lost time having to rewrite things partway through to reconcile in-show how an existing character who’d been introduced as “among the best of us all” could ever be seen as that in the far future world this takes place in.

    For as the second season was airing, that character’s real life equivalent made international headlines in every mainstream news publication as a result of the severe punishment she was given for committing the “idol singer betrayal” of…seeing a guy when she’s a full-grown adult. That incident reflects the reality of what being in an idol singer troupe primarily targeted to the hardcore otaku demographic entails, and the entire world saw it. The space fantasy anime-ized subplot equivalent of this, taken on its own, isn’t so bad in and of itself. But it’s not such an easy thing to divorce it from what happened in the real world to prompt it.

    It may only be within the confines of a fantasy animated series, but at least someone SOMEWHERE in the great promotional media machine saw fit to ask the question “did this person actually DO anything worthy of scorn from other people? Is all of Akihabara really going down in flames because of something she did? If that spirit is to be lost, shouldn’t the real blame for that be laid upon amoral corporate/government figures looking to make a buck?” Given that the producers of the band are themselves the producers of the show, the answer to this is more of a “maybe” than I’d have liked. But that’s still better than like, anything else from “within the bubble.”

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