Saturday, February 25, 2017

And suddenly! A post about Ai-chan out of nowhere

Yes, I'm talking about that koplak youtuber personae. Seperti yang mungkin sudah kalian tau atau malah rasakan sendiri, saat ini jagad pervvibuan dan perotakuan sedang digemparkan oleh seorang baachyuwaru yuchyuubaa bernama Kizuna Ai chan dess. Alright, fine, rather than saat ini sebenarnya kanal milik Ai (stop think about something lewd, you pervs) sudah beroperasi sejak tahun lalu, kalian yang sudah mengenalnya jauh sebelum saya bolehlah berlagak elitist selama beberapa menit sebelum melanjutkan membaca post ini. Sebenarnya saya hendak memposting ini di FB tapi karena ada cukup banyak hal yang ingin ditulis jadi sepertinya lebih cocok jika dibuat postingan di blog. Anyway, back to topic, saya sebenarnya ingin mengawali post ini dengan perkenalan mengenai nona Kizuna ini, tetapi sepertinya belum ada artikelnya di wiki and actually, contrary to what you might believe, saya paling males browsing untuk mencari material referensi jika di peringkat atas halaman awal google search tidak ketemu informasi yang asalnya dari sebuah portal atau database (wiki, ANN, MAL, manga-update, dan sejenisnya). I also can't find enough reference to talk about the technical stuff, like her mocap or software, so, instead, I will talk about this crazy chick dalam konteksnya sebagai seorang ~youtuber~ dari sudut pandang saya.

(yes, yes you are kawaii as fuck, Ai-chan)

If we're talking about moe chara, there are probably thousands and thousands out there, ranging from animu to mango to video games to mascot to ginjinka to the most trending and hip things that nearly everyone is into these day; mobage waifus. Bombarded with this endless streams of moes, one might find the staggering amount is overwhelming and ended up becoming tired or numb (cue Linkin Park song). Or at least that's what I feel. Sometimes, one or two distinctive gems appears, like Hyun Ae from Analogue or Asuka Tanaka from Euphorium, but most of the time it just a one hit wonder just like our local celeb dadakan (Ellen Baker, anyone? and arguably, Hestia). It took something special rather than what meets the eye to make a character casts a long lasting impression (one of the example from present generation that seems will reach legendary icon stats, IMO is that Hatsune girl). Now, will Ai-chan becomes the next legend? that's something I can only predict but nobody knows for sure. However, in this post I will break her down (noo, not that kind of "break down" you bastard, don't sexualize Ai-chan, there's a reason why I like her for wearing short pants than miniskirt) to show why I think she's got potential.

First, I'll list what I think are elements that make a youtuber interesting to watch/subscribe and see whether it matched with Ai's forte. Despite not following a lot of youtuber, but actually I watch some Japanese youtuber ..okay, only three maybe that can be categorized in the same background with Ai. The rests are musician/singer. But I think that's enough to make me say with confidence that its not the first time I got interested with Japanese youtuber, hence I can also point out what makes Ai-chan interesting. The first is Yuta. You know, that Japanese man.
I like his videos since it give a glimpse of what the ACTUAL Japanese people did or thought, not the one generated by the illusion of animu no sekai.
The second, is this.
Any of you familiar with the girl above?
Cute ain't she? This is one of the three non musician youtuber I subscribe, purotan. Now if you can spare some time, do me a favor and watch this clip.

Aaand, yep, purotan is A GUY.
He's also a body builder.
His youtube consists of pranking people in webcam chat (the reactions are hilarious lololo), though lately he seems only upload gym related videos, perhaps his trap mode is no longer effective as he grow popular and more ppl now recognized him.

The third, is this guy.
THIS GUY IS THE BEST! His name is taipon, he did lots of wtf things, reviewing lots of wtf items, and talks lots of wtf stuff (like the origin of the word "manko"). Not all of his clips are perverted though, some are just simply hilarious. Anyway if you watch the clip above, you'll notice there's a TECHNICAL similarity between his clip and Ai-chan's. The way he edited/cut some part of the video so its more compact, adding text and the way he ended the clip abruptly. Now I don't know if this is something common in Japanese's youtuber but my point is, the reason Ai chan's videos FEELS SOO GOOOD to watch isn't just because of her looks alone, but because the editing department is doing a good job. I'll write more about this later, for the time being just enjoy taipon's interview with JULIA.

It seems he knows how to gain fan from the ladies side too.
Despite the thumbnail telling you not to watch, I'd say its recommended to watch the video above because its hilarious. If you feel symptom like want to vomit during watching, just scroll and bathe your sight with JULIA's boobies again.

Anyway, Yuta dan purotan mungkin tidak begitu relevan lagi selain sebagai pengisi pengantar artikel ini, tapi taipon dengan satu juta view di beberapa videonya jelas ada korelasinya dengan topik post ini. Here I'll write about what makes both Taipon and Aichannel videos interesting, based on my own observation. Mind you, this is purely subjective observation so don't use this blog post for your tugas akhir or skripsi, kay? Now that I think about it, perhaps this post should be titled Belajar Menjadi Seorang ~Youtuber~ Bersama Ai-chan. Here we go.

(1) Looks
Of course appearance has a part to play (all hail The Ugly Man theory). That's what grab our attention at the first time, after all.
I'm not going to discuss about her look any further. Ai's moe cosmetic is on level 11 out of 10. Her creator understand all the spot and element that creates critical charm for otaku (silky hair, sleeveless clothes, frills, zettai ryouiki, floofee hair accessory, you name it). I'm also liking the decision to make her wears short pants, it breathes realism dan menjauhkan dari godaan cheap panty shot yang terkutuk, considering she moves A LOT (during 3000 years of my life, I've only seen one or probably two panty shots IRL but I can positively say I've seen short pants more than I can count). In this department, Ai is peerless.
But looks is just the surface, there are also two other elements, the first is voice. This is important because youtuber is about presentation and you can't present something nicely if you have trouble with speaking or your voice quality is not on acceptable level (those lets play videos that the speaker sounds like mumbling, ugh). Well surely Ai has a superkyoot voice BUT it doesn't get dragged too far into the "high pitched moe voice" subspecies category. Her voice is just right (*make oke oce hand sign before it gets copyrighted), not too cold but not annoyingly clingy either. She's also very expressive, from looking smug to teasing audience to feeling devastated, she could pull all of that. I like the way she sometimes drag her words in cutely manner but not spamming it too frequent, its realistically girly. But enough fanboying, the second element, is body language. By now you must be realizing that she moves a lot. Now, her fluid moves might be attributed to the motion capture technology behind it, so I won't talk about it, but her choice of moves that still looks natural even when she did it perpetually, that's what caught my interest. If you pay attention to her fingers, you'll get what I mean.
You'd think that this kind of stuff is easy to pull right? Since motion capture technology allow us to create a smooth and natural animation easier nowadays. Well, I thought the same thing too, until I watch this.
This is a rehearsal for anime (Magical Girl Naria or something) using the same technology (I think) as Ai. Since the seiyuu are first timer, you get to watch faults and mistakes as well how one use virtual body. If you don't move, the character obviously won't move either. Ditto if you make awkward stances or movement. Not only movement, but you also need to keep talking and without any script. While there are a lot of lets play with crappy commentator you wish they'd just shut up, Ai chan is not one of them. She can always find something interesting to be commented. And sometimes references (the tune she hummed at the beginning of INSIDE lets play is actually a popular song in 90s so maybe shes actually oldfags lol). Anyway try watch the video above and you'll begin to see how big the power gap between those three beginners and Ai-chan. Untuk bisa bergerak dengan keluwesan seorang Kizuna Ai di atas panggung, that is not an easy feat. You need to have an amount of experience and confidence just like a stage performer IRL. Without that, you'll just fidgeting and looks restless seperti presentasi seorang mahasiswa yang 85% absensinya bolos kuliah.

(2) Personality
Even if you have shoo preetee face and angelic voice, without this element, your charm will get weary soon because surpriiisee, you're not the only one with pretty face and voice in youtube realm. Personality will give you character that will draw loyal fans (but also banish potential fans that don't find your character fits with their preference, but who need them riight?). And what if you could have more than one personality? You may not realize it but Ai actually could pull of many traits, sure she looks like Chirno in her google draw video, but have you seen her doing kanji test? And one more thing, she behaves UNLIKE your typical standard one dimensional moe chara. She can deliver savage punchline, she can roasts her own fans, she can act smug but also panic and clueless when things went beyond her comprehension (something that I particularly love to watch since it makes me want to say "modaaar awkawkawawk"). And if you think she's childish because she like to made up her version of sound effect during her lets play segment, think again.
This is Snack Ai, turn out she has a Galau Jikan segment where you can email her your SUFFERING and she'll give you wise advises and words of comfort (my God, did she just henshin from Milky Holmes stupid level to Akari oneesan?). You can watch the segment here. So far, there are 3 episodes. First and second episode still have snack bar with dagashi on the background, but from eps 3 they change the setting into bar, though there seems to be only one kind of wine bottle on the shelf (WTF?). Anyway, in eps 1 Ai tell her costumer to at least use perfume to hide the smell of his smoke. In eps 2 she soothes a broken hearted man (d'aawww brb nulis email curhat) and in eps 3, not only she helps a school boy from the confusion of study vs passion that we know so well but in this eps she changes her dialect into Kansai mode. Ai seems to be able to handle various character that I'm seriously want to see her doing rakugo.

(3) Contents
The core. For me this is the important key that make me decide whether I'm just going to watch the video or srsly subscribing the channel. I have interest with experiment and discovery, so channel that did one trick pony usually don't get much of my attention. So far, Ai also did well in this section. Setidaknya ada 4 kategori yang bisa saya pakai untuk memisahkan video-video gajenya di youtube. Let's play, where she plays game just like thousand of youtuber out there, then review thingie, where she reviews things (obviously), though because of her form she can only review virtual things like webs or software lmao, then the bar segment where she provide therapy for the ronery souls, and last is total randomness like when she performs PPAP or Senam Kesegaran Jasmani virtual, or that clip above. With this many kind of lists, there seems to be more than enough material around for her to continue her antics for years ahead. And if there's nothing interesting at present, she can always choose to go back in time. Japan has a lot of amazing retro stuff after all. Maybe she can start her own GameCenter CX.

(4) Interaction
Being a performer isn't to feed your own ego. If you just do "hey ppl look at me doing this lol" without building a sense of involvement with the audience, you're not doing it right. Especially if your persona is Ai-chan where 99.9% of your audience will be desperate human (some might already become something else other than human) who's in the dire need of companion. If you watch Ai-chan's videos you can hear that she doesn't only do monologue.
Also, if you read the comment section, some of the comments are being liked and replied by her. This girl knows how to have fun with her audience.

(5) Presentation
Last but not the least important, is the way you presented the video. Like I've mentioned before, just like taipon's, Ai's video also went through well done editing. The most obvious thing is the cut between speaks, this results in not just shorter duration but also creates more impact, no waste of frames. Also, notice that they also use close up to make more impact on some lines. There's also that typical FONT IN THE SCREEN that you commonly see on Japanese TV show. Speaking about duration, I'd say the creator went in the right direction by making Ai's clips in short duration. Sure, most otaku probably have all the free time in the world, but if you want to reach greater range of audience, consider that in today's world where everything moves fast and we just keep getting busier and busier, its hard to spare an amount of quality time to watch a youtube clip (emphasis on the quality part). When I receive youtube notification from Ai-channel, I can watch it ASAP because hey its only 3-4 minutes, I can manage to spare that amount of time. In fact, if there's TWO new clips from her in the same day, I'd still watch it between a short break or something. Compare this to anime that begs for 22 minutes of uninterrupted quality time. Well of course there are exceptions, like some of her lets play or interview video but in general, having a daily dosage of 3 minutes Ai-chan is rejuvenating.

All in all, the growth of Ai-chan sure is something interesting to follow, I'm looking forward for more hilarity and koplakness from her. I've got nothing in particular to complain, except probably more of her vids need to get English sub ASAP, so more ppl around the globe can appreciate her sense of humor. I also won't mind having a figure of her as long its not chibi and she's not in generic cute moe pose number #812457. That's all I guess, and if all this paragraph still have no effect of turning you into her subscriber... least we can get some high quality reaction image material from her like the one above, so there's that.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Big Fish and Begonia: a Review


Last year, there are 3 anime(?) movies I anticipate with full spirit. Ghibli's Red Turtle, Shinkai's Kimi no Na wa, and B&T Studio's debut, Big Fish and Begonia. First time I heard about this movie was when it appeared on next-season-animu-chart, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Curious, I tried to find more info about it and ended with a trailer in Youtube. It was SUPER GORGEOUS AND PROFOUND. I was surprised when later found out it wasn't made by Japan but a Chinese studio instead. Last summer, during my trip to Comiket, I actually planned to watch the Japanese theatrical release (along with the premiere of Kimi no Na wa), alas both plan failed. But while Kimi no Na wa is easily substituted because we got our own release, waiting for Big Fish and Begonia is more painful due to the lack information of its DVD/BD release. Not to mention this movie tend to go under everyone's radar because its a Chinese cartoon (literally). Finally, with some frequent relentless search I manage to stumbled upon the raw. But this being a Chinese movie, I can't consume it without subtitles. So the file just got piled up in the corner of my hdd, UNTIL some good people at MAL forum decided to join forces and made a subtitle. It took five months but at least its finally finished last January.

Now about the movie. Wiki said that it's an epic fantasy, and I couldn't agree more. The movie took 12 YEARS in the making, you can see all the effort in every frame. It's breath taking. Visual wise, I think there's some Ghibli influence in it, the world building and other worldly but homely ambience. But what's the point of good painting without a history behind it? That's where the plot came in, and its also doing a great job making this anime shines. Big Fish and Begonia tells a story about a magical creature girl- argh, screw it, if you're familiar with mythical jianghu, tales of demons alias film siluman china, it would be far easier to explain, afterall the movie integrates many elements from ancient Chinese literature. So in this movie, there are two worlds, human's and non-human's. When a non-human reaches a coming of age, they must follow a ritual called rite of passage where they deplore to the human world in the form of red dolphin in order to experience firsthand about The Law of Nature (that's some DEEP words right there) for seven days and seven nights. The heroine of this story, Chun, enjoyed the experience of being in human world that's livelier than her home world.. that is before she learn about the horrible things human do to the nature (because human are bastards, rite?). Eventually she got trapped on a fishing net during a storm but got saved by a boy. She was saved but unfortunately, the boy died saving her. Haunted by her regret, Chun begin her journey to bring the boy back from Agharta, eh salah, well anyway you get the point right?

If you love tragic siluman love stories kind of movie (Painted Skin, Mural, Sorcerer and The White Snake, etc) then you're sooo going to enjoy this movie. All the familiar tropes are there. Forbidden exchange, sacrifice, one sided love, fantastical majikaru batoru, and stuff. Also, mahjong against god of death, kind of. And as I said before, the magical worlds also full of awesomeness, there's many small quirky details that's fascinating to see, like magical potted plan, lamp, cigarette. There's also abundant DEEP AND PHILOSOPHICAL talks as well as narration. Stuff like the meaning of life and of course things that asians can very much relate; FAMIRI HONORU. Last, for a drama movie, I expect the movie will have some sad scenes, turns out its not some, but a lot. Good thing I watch this midnight.

Final verdict: Definitely recommended! 

You can download the raw from here and subs here.

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