Anime World Order Show # 166 – Otakon 2018 and the Murder Schnauzer Needs the D…Agency

In this episode, we have returned from our voyage to Otakon 2018, and offer up our press coverage of same. Then Daryl subjects the gang to the 2016 anime adaptation of the spy mystery series Joker Game.

Introduction (0:00 – 1:04:00)
All three of us were at Otakon in Washington, DC earlier this month. In fact, we were all guests on the Anigamers podcast talking about the convention shortly after it wrapped up on Sunday. THAT IS THE TRUE ONE HUNDRETH EPISODE OF ANI-GAMERS DESPITE CLAIMS OTHERWISE. We give our thoughts on the convention as we experienced it, which–as is true for everyone–is merely a fraction of what went on there. If you 1. were present at Otakon 2. attended our events 3. actually liked them, then please go ahead and leave a post on their message boards. Getting panels at Otakon isn’t easy–even some of ours got turned down!–so favorable feedback helps ensure we continue to get panels approved for next time around.

Promo: Right Stuf Anime (1:04:00 – 1:06:58)
The Mobile Fighter G Gundam Ultra Edition Blu-Ray set is now available for pre-order, and it is a Right Stuf exclusive! Get yours in now, since it ships out in December and I think the preorder price is actually going to increase after some point. Everyone else is excited about the shot glass extra, but personally we want to walk around with the replica photograph and ask passersby whether they’ve seen this person. Currently, we have to use the photo of that naked girl Steven Seagal was showing everyone in that one movie. You know, the one where he beat up everybody and nobody laid a finger on him. That one.

Review: Joker Game (1:06:58 – 1:51:34)
Although this entire thing is sure to disappoint Mark Artem, nevertheless we feel compelled to discuss the 12-episode 2016 period piece spy mystery anime Joker Game, for while the anime version was only around for a few short months it turns out that the series has gone on for roughly ten years in one medium or another. Indeed, stage plays for Joker Game are coming out in 2018. Someone out there is digging it. Maybe not Gerald, who simply COULD NOT DEAL with the POWER, but enough people. You just have to suspend your disbelief a little bit. Just a little bit. Opinions are somewhat divided, but if there’s one thing we can all agree on it’s that at least this is better than boring-ol’ Night Raid.

6 Replies to “Anime World Order Show # 166 – Otakon 2018 and the Murder Schnauzer Needs the D…Agency”

  1. I was actually there at that same Junji Ito panel, although I was there from the start. The presenter had a germ of a good idea, one about beauty and obsession and how the latter tends to twist the former into horror, but she didn’t even really conclude her idea so much as give some examples and just…stop.

    When others brought it up afterwards, she acknowledged that she could have explored more of the feminist or gender issues behind both body horror in general and how it specifically relates to Ito’s work, but that’s simply too little too late. She also could have used more examples: she focused a lot on Tomie, along with a few examples from Uzumaki and some other short stories, but there are plenty of other relevant examples she could have used from other, more recent story collections like Dissolving Classroom.

    It’s a real shame because there was clearly demand for the subject. There was a line 2 or 3 layers deep before it started, which for a manga-based panel at 11pm on a Friday is amazing. She just needed to show up with more than just a half-baked concept for a panel.

  2. Great episode as always (I particularly loved the Lego mecha part). To think, you started in 2006, and kept the EXACT SAME level of quality for over a decade. [Darn. We never improved. –Daryl]

  3. Regarding the absence of Devilman Crybaby cosplay and artist alley stuff at Otakon… another way to look at this is to consider another anime that hit Netflix right about the same time: Kakegurui. I saw a fair amount of stuff from that in artist alley and quite a few cosplayers from the show… all of them women, because every male character in Kakegurui is absolute garbage, while the girls are awesome. Also, the girls’ uni is pretty great, and if you cosplay Yumeko, it’s a perfect excuse to try out crazy-pants red-eye contact lenses.

    So, I don’t think it’s the binge aspect that keeps Devilman Crybaby off the radar of mainstream anime fans, since Kakegurui was released the same way and about the same time. I think it’s just that our anitwitter bubble doesn’t fully align with anime fandom as a whole.

  4. For a quick, flashing moment, I wondered if the disconnect between what anime is popular online, and what’s popular if you ask a roomful of anime fans, might also apply to other aspects of online discourse–issues of politics, culture, and so forth. But it was only for a moment, and I put the thought aside as plainly absurd.

    I believe the idea of recruiting a cypher expert through a crossword puzzle was used in the recent film based on Alan Turing’s life, The Imitation Game, although I’m not sure in this case who used it first, or whether both it and Joker Game might be drawing from earlier influences (didn’t Mercury Rising use a similar idea?).

    I know someone who’s seen a number of the Danganronpa stage plays, and we considered the idea that “otaku theater” might be something that helps to keep the bills paid for theatrical companies that might not be able to sustain themselves on “serious” plays alone. The two might even intersect sometimes—a few years ago, Boom Arts and Portland Playhouse put on an English translation of Toshiki Okada’s Enjoy, which is set in a manga cafe.

    I think the problem with Joker Game’s characters being too pleased with their cleverness and finesse is that ultimately they’re in the same situation as the soldiers they look down on–neither of them, no matter how good they are at their jobs, make policy. A skilled, courageous soldier might be (and often is) giving their all in the service of an ill thought-out battle plan, campaign, and war. Likewise, a spy might be brilliant at gathering intelligence, but they have no power to make their leadership act on it, or even read their reports.

    I would think that one of the issues Japanese spies would confront is how race would limit their options when assuming a false identity. If you think of many of the combatants involved in WWII–the Americans, the British, the French, the Poles, the Soviets, the Italians, the Germans–you could find examples where all of these nations had agents who tried, with various degrees of success, to assume the identity of one of those other nations. By contrast, the most feasible option for a Japanese spy to assume another national identity was Chinese.

    One way around this particular problem for Japan was (as many intelligence agencies do in any case) to recruit non-national, and in Japan’s case, non-Asian assets willing to work for them. This famously included the German Kuehn family living in Oahu–the so-called “8-Eyed Spy”–but also both white and black Americans; Annapolis graduate John Farnsworth spied for Japanese naval intelligence. Ernest Allen, Jr., professor of Afro-American Studies at U. Mass-Amherst, has written extensively about the Kokury?kai’s efforts to influence and sway black nationalist movements in the 1930s. Baccano! meets Boondocks.

  5. I have trouble with believing any international spy agency from WW2 and the Cold War era was very competent or accomplished much. Basically, anything but Le Carre stuff where spy agencies and governments are corrupt disappointments just pisses me off.

  6. >believing any international spy agency from WW2 and the Cold War era was very competent or accomplished much.

    Clearly you don’t read much in the way of history books. Just the way the USSR acquired nuclear technology spits directly in the eye of your so-called “belief”.

    As for the Joker Game, the part where a spy learns who was in his supposed class in school, what was the teacher’s nickname, what were the pranks they played on said teacher – such things actually happened during the Cold War, but obviously not in Japan, or in any agency that dealt with week-to-week cases. Otherwise yes, that was the level of the cover story of someone that went to the other side for years.

    [We can’t speak for the commenter above, but we never said “any international spy agency” ourselves; in our episode we said Japan specifically. Also, we were not talking about the cover story that a spy must themselves memorize before going undercover in that episode synopsis. –Daryl]

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