Anime World Order Show # 181 – Sophisticated Adults-Only Animation That Is NOT Kids’ Stuff

It’s a double-length episode as we report on Anime Weekend Atlanta 2019, review the 2009 film Mai Mai Miracle, and continue on with the Decade in Review!

Introduction (0:00 – 44:59)
Daryl and Gerald went to Anime Weekend Atlanta 2019, which marks Gerald’s return to the convention after having missed the previous two years in a row. AWA 4 was Daryl’s very first anime convention, and 21 cons later it’s becoming harder and harder for him to find others willing to go with him. Indeed, the last time Gerald went, he had feelings that the vibe of the convention was starting to shift away from what it used to be, and this year marked another major shift, with AWA being a month later than usual on Halloween. The logistics of this one are gradually making out of state attendance increasingly challenging, and as the attendance grows and the panel rooms shrink, we have to ask: are we so out of touch? No, it’s the children who are wrong.

Review: Mai Mai Miracle (44:59 – 1:25:33)
Daryl, having not learned his lesson after Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms, forces Gerald and Clarissa to watch yet another theatrical film they’ve never heard of, and the results are even less successful than last time since this time around NOBODY else likes the movie. Sunao Katabuchi’s 2009 film may have been strongly beloved by Helen McCarthy (her blog writeup Daryl read from can be read in full here), and its status as a foundational work upon which In This Corner of the World is built upon cannot be denied, but maybe this sat unlicensed for a decade for a reason. Is Daryl so out of touch? No, it’s the children who are wrong.

Promo: Right Stuf Anime (1:25:33 -1:28:21)
As the inevitable Black Friday sale draws near, there’s a Pre-Holiday Sale going on in which the average discount on featured titles is 85% off! Not gonna lie, we’re a little concerned at the steep discounts on some of these Maiden Japan titles, especially when they’re being listed as “No Longer Available” on both Right Stuf’s site and Sentai Filmworks’ site alike. Are the days of the Maiden Japan label numbered now that Sentai Filmworks lists itself as “a Cool Japan Fund portfolio company” in its press releases? Or are they just clearing out stock like normal?

The DECADE IN REVIEW~! Is Not Gonna Solve That Declining Birth Rate (1:28:21 – 2:51:36)
Okay, look. Fine. We confess. Each of these Decade In Review segments has only managed to cover one single year such that this one is only going to be about the discussion of things that came out in the year 2012. And yes, this probably could have been its own episode. In fact, we recorded this and edited it over a month ago but never posted it because we had to get ready for AWA. But listen. We can’t have no episodes one month and then three episodes the next month. There has to be SOME balance at play, people. But how can none of us have anything particularly positive to say about what may just be the definitive show of the decade, called by one AWA panelist “the anime that saved anime”? Are we so out of touch? No, it’s the children who are wrong.

12 Replies to “Anime World Order Show # 181 – Sophisticated Adults-Only Animation That Is NOT Kids’ Stuff”

  1. Haven’t had time to listen past 5 minutes… but AWA ownership wasn’t sold, just restructured. There’s been a new CEO for a few years but he’s not a stranger.

    The new dates make it easier for the kids to travel (pretty sure it was put in the middle of the school year on purpose to keep them out before) but that is filling up hotels. Hopefully new construction at the Braves stadium will help.

    There should be more artists/industry guests as well but AnimeNYC turns out to be tough competition. That’s why it leaned into music and fashion so much.

  2. I actually saw Mai Mai Miracle years ago, thanks to fan subs, when I was in my early 20s because I wanted to see some of the then recent MadHouse films that had not been released in the US (which also included The Princess and the Pilot and The Tibetan Dog at the time). Despite not being that old I still really loved Mai Mai Miracle at the time and actually found it to be very relatable. While I wasn’t a latchkey kid from the 80s like the cast of Stranger Things, I grew up running around my neighborhood going on imaginary adventures with my friends and I felt that Mai Mai Miracle emulated that childhood experience really well without going full fantasy (like My Neighbor Totoro or even the more recent Mirai film by Mamoru Hosoda). I haven’t watched the film in its entirety in a long time, even though I backed that Kickstarter and have the Blu-ray on my shelf, but I actually liked the film a bit more than In This Corner of the World. But what do I know, I also like My Neighbors the Yamadas.

  3. I’m still 25 minutes into the latest podcast but I did want to chime in on a few things. It’s flattering to hear that AWA was started by a bunch of punks – and I imagine compared to the majority of anime fans in 1995, we were practically Jello Biafra – but AWA was started for the most part by anime nerds who wanted to put on an anime nerd show. Most of the do it yourself, screw the rules, no Klingons stuff was out of necessity or our own subjective preferences, not an attempt to live some sort of punk rock ethos. Our objective wasn’t to “not lose too much money every year”, but rather that the convention pay for itself, because nobody was gonna go into debt for it. And it did – from the first day of the first AWA the convention’s been in the black, which is not a thing many fan conventions can say.

    As noted above, the convention is being run by the same team that’s been running it for years.

    My idea for AWA’s date was always that late October-early November time frame, and our early dates reflect that. Once the convention got into the 10,000-15,000 attendee range, the options in terms of calendar space became more limited, and as a result AWA was pretty much having to take whatever it could get, which meant bumping up against Dragoncon (which wasn’t always on Labor Day Weekend, either). I’d been pestering the show to move further back in the year for a long time and I’m glad the Halloween date worked out for the show.

    As noted in many places, the app did indeed stink.

    There was quite a bit of shuffling of event space this year – there was some scheduling shifting last year as well, and much of it is coming from hosting new musical-act type events, all of which need more setup time and more space. I agree that this has squeezed panels into smaller rooms, but on the other hand, I’ve been doing panels in those CGC 102-105 rooms for years myself, and sometimes they’re standing room only and sometimes they aren’t. It’s always a roll of the dice to see what panel draws what crowd when and where.

    Getting the word out about the events that are happening – when, where, and why people should attend – is ALWAYS a challenge and always has been, for every show everywhere, and as I noticed myself this past AWA, I can promote the livin’ shit out of an event and *still* have people ask me when and where it’s happening.

    It’s my understanding – and I’m not entirely comfortable discussing somebody else’s money- but I believe Tim Eldred paid his own way for his past few AWAs. Turns out he just became a grandfather, so I think skipping the con this year might have been justified (he skipped Anime North this year as well, and I know for a fact the convention was footing *that* bill). A lot of the regulars couldn’t make it this year, and it’s as you pointed out, the logistics of the show are making it more difficult for out-of-town attendees, especially when those out of town attendees are getting older and acquiring more grown up responsibilities. On the other hand, the people that DID attend in record-breaking numbers seem to have had a really good time. And that’s what’s the important part – it might not be the same show it was in 1999 or 2009, but I’ve seen conventions that stayed exactly the same for years and years, and they stink of the grave, if I might invoke that Halloween spirit one last time.

  4. Further commentary: with regards to popular events being booked into tiny rooms and unpopular events (god of war fan film cough cough) booked into large spaces, allow me to assure you strongly that this is a thing that happens whether the people doing the scheduling are rank newbies or seasoned veterans. I’ve done this myself at this very con, booked somebody into the main events room thinking they’d be a big draw and have it be an “intimate gathering” instead.

    The discounted rate for panelist badges is a thing AWA’s been doing for a few years now. 1-3 hours of programming gets the panelist a discounted rate, 3+ hours of programming gets a free pass. I generally side with the “all panelists should get a free pass” camp, but I can see where AWA is coming from with this; this screens out the maybes and the never-weres and the no-shows, of which there were plenty back in the day, I can assure you.

  5. Oh man, I forgot Yamato 2199 and Psycho-Pass came out in the same year. Ironically, they’re both shows I didn’t bother watching the follow-up seasons due to the writing, for entirely different reasons, even though I was pretty into them when they started.

    Yamato 2199 started off pretty strong, but what pushed me away from the show was the slow realization that 99% of the human characters were being written like characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation, while being in the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. I think the point where I checked out was shortly after Melda was captured and NOBODY besides Kodai and Akira seemed give a damn that the Gamilas were committing slow motion genocide on humanity and had probably killed at least one relative of every crew member at that point. it was super weird that the Gamilas had more understandable and narratively believable behavior than the humans, and I couldn’t sit through so much screentime for characters I wasn’t invested in.

    As for Psycho-Pass, I got to the end of the first season, then swore off stuff totally written by Gen Urobuchi. The ending was so damn stupid – without getting into spoilers, capturing the bad guy could’ve been done several different ways without relying the main character if the government leveraged their tech more than not at all. That told me Urobuchi either does not think things through when he writes, or that his plot and character writing bends in service of whatever message he’s pushing, which are both the hallmarks of bad writing. What little he wrote of Gargantia backed up that impression.

  6. I love your annual trivia episodes, that’s not one of the pay ones, is it? [To clarify, in Patreon there are separate settings for “charge for this” and “make this for Patrons only.” We have never marked anything as being for Patrons only; everybody gets everything we do at the same time whether they’re a Patron or not. –Daryl]

  7. You guys should really think about making all your panels on to DVD or Blu-ray like documentary style or claim them to be documentary-style so you can sell them I would love to have a collection .I’m not able to see all the conventions. Make it a high tier on Patreon. I’ll gladly pay into that.

  8. There’s nothing wrong by itself in directing works at older audiences by appealing to nostalgia for their youth, and it’s been going on for some time. American Graffiti and Stand By Me are two examples from the boomer generation (Lucas and King had nostalgia for their own actual youth; now we have nostalgia for Lucas and King as brands).

    But I kind of raise an eyebrow like Roger Moore* at the notion that this should be the kind of anime made in order to keep older fans active in the medium. Anime is severely imbalanced compared to manga in its demographic diversity–the median age in Japan is 46, and it’s not hard at all in Japan to find comic books not only written by and for people that age, but starring characters who are that age. When it comes to cartoons in Japan, it’s a whole different story–you would think the average Japanese person–or at least the average Japanese person worth your time and investment as a viewer–was a teenager. How should we evaluate the growth and achievements of an artistic medium, over a century old, which makes the vast majority of the nation it comes from invisible as protagonists? Say what you will about comic book movies, but The Avengers are old enough to drink. Some of them more than others.

    Again, it would be one thing if the issue was that 2-D, drawn entertainment in general was not taken seriously in Japan for adults, but that’s clearly far less true for manga than it is for anime. And it’s not that it can’t be done–no one proves this better than Sunao Katabuchi himself (I’m picturing his mentor Isao Takahata bolting the door, lowering the shades, microwaving some popcorn, and then watching Black Lagoon). Stuff with adult protagonists doesn’t have to be real hi-brow and intelekshul** (just as most anime starring teens isn’t, and most manga for adults isn’t–and most live-action for adults isn’t), it just has to be visible.

    –C.

    *No, no, no–Roger MOORE played The Saint. Roger Moore.
    **Although that could be a nice thing to throw in there.

  9. Mai Mai Miracle seems like my kind of movie. I have no problems with stories about other time periods, or people who are not like myself. I also don’t think old things are stupid because they’re old, so there’s that.

    Plus, I grew up with only television, so I GUESS it’s just like living in rural Nippon without electricity… right?

  10. Gas powered refrigerators still exist. Not everyone lives where electricity is available. My best friend lives so far from town that the little electricity she has is generated on site. Enough for minor things but not an electric fridge. She is so far out that there is no cell phone reception at her house and she goes into town to change books on her Kindle.

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