First, let’s make things clear: I used to collect Megami magazines.
The first time was merely out of curiosity. Back then, there were hardly any Japanese periodicals available in my country that could interest me; but seeing that my local comic book store stocked at least one of these copies a month, it seemed like a fun enough incentive, if only to supplement my then burgeoning grasp of the Japanese language. Of course, I had no idea that this magazine title was decidedly more “raunchy” than other members of its cohort, like Newtype Magazine for example. Still, there was some excitement to be had — albeit at a premium — to flip through its pages full of titillating anime goodness.
It goes without saying that this was quite a while back. I could only afford so much, and perhaps the only time I really splurged on buying as many of these magazines as I could was whenever I visited the venerable Mecca of Anime and Manga itself (Akihabara, in case you were wondering), and really, could you blame me? These things sold for up to four times its cost after importation if I bought it in my home country, so splurging on them whenever I was in Japan was a no-brainer.
So here, I’d like to look back at some of the older publications I have dating back 8 years to see just what exactly was going on in the colorful world of animu land. Perhaps some of these shows were the very thing that got you into anime in the first place? Let’s see what was going around in the October 2010 issue of Megami Magazine.
Azusa and Yui grace the cover of this month’s issue with a key line from one of the last few episodes of the second season of K-ON!!: “I love you, and thank you.” (Spoiler alert. Too late). October would see the completion of airing of the venerable penultimate season to the original K-ON!, and in the case of this publication, earned a spot on the cover due to the simultaneous announcement of the PSP rhythm game of the same name.
If you haven’t watched K-ON! yet, you might as well do yourself a favor and go for it. For younger generations of Anime fans, this was perhaps the first show that made them aware of “animation studios”, what with Kyoto Animation’s distinctive style. This in part is commonly attributed to directors Naoko Yamada and Tatsuya Ishihara, and many debates have spun around which director has a better grasp of composition and film; but the point, really, is that Kyoto Animation productions during this generation of anime was pure gold. Shortly after the spring board success of K-ON!, Kyoto Animation would take on not-so-familiar franchises and rocket them to stardom, the likes of Hyouka, Tamako Market, and Beyond the Boundary.
K-ON! also marked a turning point in the way people perceive slice-of-life shows, which was bordering saturated during the time of post-bubble Japan. From 2001 onwards, many anime productions were limited in scale to the point that low-budget works (i.e. slice-of-life) predominated if only to bring something to the table. It wouldn’t be until the latter half of 2000’s until we saw a resurgence of high-octane productions, but even then, this took the form of 3D animation to cut labor costs. Still, in an era where 3D rendering is the easy way out, Kyoto Animation decided to use full hand-drawn animation with motion blur effects in epic sequences like the School Festival scene in The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. Even more recent productions like Sound! Euphonium maintain the philosophy of pushing hand drawn animation for complicated set pieces, like the intricacies of musical instruments. In a world where animation was seemingly all about pushing moving images out the door for a darling audience to consume, Kyoto Animation was one of those studios that had a clear brand value that placed production and passion above all else.
Speaking of passion, what’s an era of anime without all of its raunchy underpinnings? Indeed, I wasn’t all that much a fan of shows like Queen’s Blade or even Strike Witches (as shown above), but we all have those moments where we just can’t help but oogle at well drawn anime bodies. For Strike Witches, at least, I have to hand it to Humikane Shimada for turning the anthropomorphized women-as-military-weapons into the madness it is, today.
Yes, even before the whole “shipgirl” craze, there was an obsession for girls with body parts that came straight out of a World War II museum. Humikane Shimada was at the frontlines of the movement, which occurred some time in the early 2000’s. The same motivations that make people turn all your beloved Nintendo characters into female iterations (rule 63 and gender bender and all) is the same shtick that worked here. Although unbeknownst to many, Humikane’s first foray into animated military girls was Sky Girls in 2007. This somewhat understated gem actually predates the premise of shows like Kantai Collection, with the same generalized alien scum and the need for little girls part-mecha to save the day. Only this particular production was backed by a toy model line that was being promoted by Konami at the time, the design of the models being done by none other than Yoji Shinkawa, the artistic mind behind the mech designs in games like Metal Gear Solid and Zone of the Enders. So if you want to know what it’s like to watch a legitimate military girl show that actually started it all, go check out Sky Girls. It’s probably longer than it should be (at twenty-odd episodes), but it’s still a pretty decent watch.
A fun quirk about Megami Magazine is that the October issue actually comes out in September, or basically the publication month is one month ahead of the actual release month. I never really understood why they did that, but regardless, it was around this time that people were getting hyped for Oreimo.
At the time, I wasn’t aware of Kanzaki Hiro’s influence in the self-published (doujinshi) scene. So it goes without saying that there was a huge backing to this production turned animation, and hell, Kanzaki’s style is nothing to sneeze at. His themes may be a little risqué, but it’s hard for me to hate on a show that is just so meme worthy. Hell, the whole fad of creating horrendously long titles can be traced to this stupid show, along with the habit of creating pseudonyms like “Oreimo”. But questionable themes aside, the one thing that Oreimo DID do right was bring otaku culture to light from the context of a character who is seemingly “normal”. There’s this whole thing in Japanese slang where they call people like Kirino “riyajuu” (normies), so making a “riyajuu otaku” (closet nerd I guess) as the main character was both something relatable (to me at least) and refreshing. Throw in some sorta sibling tension that just waves an incest card in front of you, and you have a viral show.
Although I’ll admit that for what this show gave me in terms of entertainment, it ultimately failed in conclusion. The final episode was trash at best, but it was still a memorable show. The one thing I will say though is that Kanzaki’s latest outing with Eromanga Sensei tries too hard to play like a rehashed Oreimo to the point that it just winds up losing itself. It’s sad to think of it that way — the characters are charming in their own right — but still, when all is said and done, nothing beats the OG.
BONUS! — Wall Poster for the month of October 2010
This was the time when people were gearing up for the OVA of A Certain Scientific Railgun. I’m one of those weirdos who actually enjoys Biribiri’s adventures and thinks she and Kamijou are totally meant for each other. But real talk, A Certain Scientific Railgun is perhaps one of the few shows I know that plays both as a slice-of-life and a sci-fi shounen show quite well. If anything, it balances its nonsense with its bubbly cast well enough to make it charming, and yet plays into the greater lore of A Certain Magical Index well enough to make it feel less a cash grab and more an add-on the the bigger worldview of the franchise as a whole. It’s something I pointed out a long time ago when viewing my frustrations with shows like Sword Oratoria in that it fails to even act as a stand alone series, let a lone a supplement to the bigger franchise that is Is it Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?.
But it seems fitting that we remember Biribiri et al., since A Certain Magical Index is finally getting its third season this season. It’s almost like we have to wait forever for these things to happen… But well, here we are.
And there you have it! There are a ton of other things inside this issue, but I decided to cherry pick things that caught my attention, and also share with you some historical tidbits of what was going on in animuland during the time of this production. Do share your thoughts down in the comments below. I’d love to know what you guys were watching during this time, or even what you think about some of the shows I mentioned here. Until next time, ciao!