Work with me on this one:
I was thinking and looking back on some of the anime I have been interested in over the last year or so – less so with manga because manga has less of the release schedule ephemerality of anime – and thinking about the ones that failed. Titles that started off strong and then did a what the ???? because product had to be jammed into the pipeline and the visuals were still there even if the story went south.
Two titles come to mind immediately: Kado, The Right Answer and Izetta, the Last Witch. This post is not the place to go into why these failed but rather to argue that perhaps, they at least did a small good thing by starting out strong, creating a buzz and encouraging a bandwagon effect for somewhat similar properties that eventually did better but on their own were just too freaking weird to consider before an earlier work broached the subject, broke the ice and/or “gave permission”.
Exhibit A: I don’t think a studio would have had the balls to try Youjo Senki [Young Girl’s War Diary aka Tanya The Evil: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saga_of_Tanya_the_Evil ], which was already a known, if perhaps bizarre light novel property until someone broke the ice with Izetta [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Izetta:_The_Last_Witch ]. Tanya is a university debating society rebuttal to Izetta, right down to the skewering of the idea of turning a WMD into a PR opportunity. Izetta was a fairytale war romance complete with a Red-Haired Anne back story and girl-wedding set-scene. Tanya is a disenchanted, murderous little shit trapped in a ‘comedy of justice’. As one Twitter so succinctly put it, she is Wile E Coyote driven to endlessly set herself up for the next anvil. And war is hell…
Exhibit B: Kado, the wrong story turned into an epic trainwreck with a poorly implemented BL/ anime pirate fable tacked onto a first contact story This probably happened because most of the work was going into putting the 3dCGI wizardry through it’s paces but it also tacked on the groaner ending because idiot cultural nationalist allegories are a thing that studios think you can slip a Japanese audience if you run out of something better. Oh lookie, the black ships, urrr cube. The outlander is here to take our anime or sumthin. Tadah it is the long-ago-alien but now our goddess Amaterasu (or is it her daughter?) to the rescue. The end. Fuck you.
But Kado can be easily seen as giving permission for something weirder along a similar vein. I doubt they could have sold UraHara without Kado. Visual overload thing kewl! What if we do it as post-pop irony and late superflat instead of hard-edged fractal scifi? Sounds like a plan; let’s get the alien outlanders to try to steal No1 Japanese street fashion creative output from cute girls.
Exhibit B.2: This one is a real stretch, but try it: Gate [: Jieitai Kanochi nite (Kaku Tatakaeri) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gate_(novel_series) ] is still doing business as a manga because it had a fair amount of militarist web-novel to draw off of but ultimately, the anime was less than satisfying, even at 24 eps. So much for one form of cultural nationalism tarted up with fantasy tropes.
Yo! We found another light novel; this one does the soft nationalism thing with fantasy charas: [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restaurant_to_Another_World ]
Japan has an Olympics hosting deadline looming and the dawning realisation that the logistics for it are heading towards massively fucked up. There is going to be a lot of improvisation needed. Chinese tourists are easy: point them at the shopping districts. Olympic tourists, wandering around from one impromptu venue location to another in the killer late summer urban heat will be a whole new level of nightmare.
If the Japanese Gummint got together with a national restaurant industry council, It could not have come up with better hospitality propaganda and soft cultural nationalist cheerleading than Otherworld Restaurant.
Lookie how the weird and dangerous outlanders behave nice when confidently served our great food. We take the best that we can find from our culture and from others and perfect it until it wins hearts and minds. (We also hire outlander “trainees”) Outlander customers behave and appreciate! They leave much bags of gold and jewels behind and do not sick up in the washroom.
Dear Customer! Please observe our dress code…
Is Second Time a Charm too odd a theory for tracking anime? More wild speculation is needed!
Next up: No group has yet to do an English scanlation of a certain manga chapter.