Stay on topic, stay on topic…Za Tangento!

With classes out for the young’uns, scheduling conflicts, and all our editors away at Fanime – requiring me to do all the technical stuff. The horror… – it fell on Enzo and yours truly to take up the proverbial sword (microphone) and talk about anime! It’s a tough life we lead. Join us for a podcast of a more intimate sort.

Following the same format as last time, this podcast is a very special one, because it’s our very first (and totally unplanned) two-person podcast! Despite Enzo and I watching almost entirely different series (Enzo is bathing in the resurgence of sports anime, while you know the crazy shit I get up to), we still had a good time chatting about anything that came to mind. Combined with some amusing technical snafus (I should probably get at least one dependable computer ;_;) and no small amount of random tangenting, this podcast was a lot of fun to record. Hopefully you’ll have as much fun listening to it as well.

Important Note: Due to a technical problem (my fault, sorry), you may need to boost your volume in the second half to hear what’s going on. Sorry about that, and we’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.

  Participating Writers
  Time Index

With only two people and a more relaxed atmosphere, we were all over the board! If you’re worried about spoilers, we tried to call them out ahead of time, but here’s a list of a few of the things we talked about. These are in rough order, but I didn’t include timestamps because A) I’m lazy and B) we revisited some of the topics multiple times:

Opening and ending themes are ‘strawberry’ and ‘maple’ by e+on.

  Listen to the Episode
RandomC Podcast #02 – An Intimate Affair | Duration: 75.07 – 96 kbps [flv:rc_podcast_002.mp3 350 0]

Download 160 kbps (119 MB)



  1. Omg, this podcast was so intimate. Kiss already, you two…. 😀

    Just like Silts, I was already into anime when I began watching slice-of-life shows. I don’t think that genre is a gateway\introduction for many folks.

  2. It’s not weird at all, keep it coming!
    As someone who can get confused when watching discussion shows with many speakers, I liked that there was only two of you. It was more conversation-like. Although RC podcasts haven’t really confused me before either. The point I’m trying to make is that you guys are better than discussion shows.

    That comparison between Chaika and D&D wasn’t something I was expecting, but damn was it fitting. Enzo’s explanation of Brynhildr was also spot on.
    Stilts is as M as ever, and we all love and respect him for it. That question bomb at the beginning though! =D

      1. Heh, I’ve heard that if you want something done right, do it yourself, but this is new use of that phrase.
        Are you sure you’re not Kyoukaisen’s author in disguise, because that self-depraciating style of humor is eerily similar to his.

  3. Sweet, I can’t wait to listen to this when I have more time tomorrow, really likes to hear enzo’s opinion on things. Only thing I see missing from the time index that I would have loved to hear is a small discussion on No game no life just to hear both sides of the medal.

      1. Well, I mean, you’re WRONG. Not often you get an anime that throws out Coulomb’s Law, but if that’s not enough for you, I understand.

        *throws rolled up bits of paper towel at Enzo’s head*

      2. NO Game No Life is one of the FEW ( did you just hear me say few ? ) PERFECT anime
        brilliant author , super great story ,very nice animation and great characters

      3. I can’t fathom how anyone can call No Game, No Life ‘soulless.’ It’s not even of those “Last thing I would ever describe it as.” It’s a critique that, I would dare say objectively speaking, is not appropriately applicable.

  4. On the topic of light novels: most of them appear to be written by people who grew up reading manga, not novels, for the people who’re growing up mainly reading manga, not novels. One glaring issue is the quality of writing, to the point where many authors appear to have hard time expressing their thoughts, as anecdotic as it sounds. When it comes to putting into words the appearance of characters, the visual manifestation of their emotions, sketching the current environment and things like that, they struggle. When I see light novels explicitly using SFX’s, or describing reactions with virtual sweatdrops, it’s almost surreal. These tools were introduced to partially remedy the natural limitations of manga/anime compared to novels/live action, not to cover up the lack of literary talent. It appears that anyone who would like to be a manga artist, but can’t draw, is accepted as a light novel author candidate. As long as it sells and new volumes are released several times a year, it’s all good. Of course, not all the light novels are like that, but it’s a trend.

    1. I thought it would be better to give an example to illustrate how an episodic character can be introduced in one sentence:

      He was fat and lacking in hair, except for a pair of gray eyebrows about two inches apart, each thin enough to have been drawn on with a single pencil-stroke, high up there over eyes slate-gray and serious, higher still above the pink catenary mouth that probably even smiled when he slept, there, under the small, upturned thing he breathed through, which looked even smaller and more turned-up because of the dollops of dough his cheeks that threatened to rise even further and engulf it completely, along with all the rest of his features, leaving him a smooth, suffocating lump (save for the tiny, pierced ears with the sapphires in them), turning as ruddy as the wide-sleeved shirt that covered his northern hemisphere, Mister Glidden, behind his desk at Sunspray, lowering the moist hand I had just shaken, his Masonic ring clicking against the ceramic sunburst of his ashtray as he picked up his cigar, in order to study me, fish-like, from the lake of smoke into which he submerged

      This is the first thing that came to mind, even though it’s been long enough since I’ve read it for me to forget the name of the novel (fiction, mind you), so it took some time to find it. Of course, I don’t expect to see that level of writing in every novel, much less every light novel, but neither do I think that the readers should be happy when the description of a character is limited to stating height, hairstyle, eye color/glasses, and, if female, following with as many sentences describing her chest as were used for all of the above.

      1. I wouldn’t really call that good writing, as that sentence is way too long to be comfortable to read. The amount of detail in the description is cerainly amazing (maybe even a bit too much?), but that information would be more easily understood if broken down into several sentences.

        I do mostly agree with what you say though.

      2. It’s not uncommon to see sentences that are half-page long in literature, even when it’s hardly necessary to make them that long. If you’re able to construct something that’s grammatically correct and still makes sense despite its enormous length, it’s a plus in the eyes of the critics. I wonder if here it was done intentionally, but, regardless, if the author wanted me to remember it, he sure succeeded.

      3. @Conrad

        I’ve read a lot of literature (both the high-brow “literature” and just books in general), and hyper-long sentences are still rare. We remember them, which is a useful attribute, but that doesn’t mean they’re common – they just stick out in our mind. They’re also generally not a great way to do things, though there are exceptions (there are exceptions to pretty much all things).

        What I have heard (and tried to use, with inevitably erratic results…nobody is perfect) is that it’s best to describe a character with 3-5 attributes. Not exhaustive ones – you don’t have to give the “relevant” stats, their height, hair color, b-w-h (if they’re female), etc – but 3-5 distinctive attributes that will stick in the reader’s mind. Hairy arms, a thick jaw, a caved in chest, sunken eyes, etc…attributes that will make the reader remember that particular character, even if they can’t envision them 100% (no human can do that, really).

        That’s what light novels – at least, in my limited experience – lack.

      4. @Stilts
        It might indeed be the case that we simply tend to remember the successful use of the very long sentences, and I agree that, putting the author’s style aside, it’s better to use more reader-friendly format unless there’s another purpose. In this particular case, a couple of reasons come to mind. First, when you look at someone’s face, you usually perceive it as the whole, not as the list of distinct features listed sequentially. Putting the entire description in a single sentence gives it certain fluidity and naturally links one discrete feature to another. If the description this detailed was broken up into a large number of short sentences, it would be overwhelming. Unraveling the thread versus having the pieces of a large puzzle thrown in your face. Second, it might also give a feeling of impatience, as if the character voicing that description wants to spit it out in one breath and get over with the person he describes asap. Well, both points are strongly subjective and rely on the reader’s impression, which might not match the author’s intent.

        I also agree that this is an extreme example, after all, it wasn’t the first thing to come to mind for no reason. I didn’t bring it up to promote long sentences or medical record alike physique descriptions, rather, to illustrate how powerful a tool the words could be in the format of a novel, which is something light novels threaten to make one forget. Oh, and that the description options aren’t limited to constructs like short/tsundere/childhood friend/redhead/small chest.

        And, aside from the matter of the presentation, a bit about the content. If I brought up an excerpt from a novel by that author, might as well throw in his words on how he was taking off the ground:

        So I sat down and made a list of everything I felt I should know more about. Astrophysics, oceanography, marine biology, genetics… Then when I’d finished the list I read one book in each of these areas. When I’d finished I went back and read a second book until I’d read ten books in each area. I thought that it wouldn’t turn me into a terrific, fantastic expert but I’d at least have enough material there to know if I was saying something wrong. And I’d also know where to turn to get the information I want to make it right.
        While I was doing this, to keep the words and cheques flowing I wrote books involving mythology. And once I started picking up things involving astrophysics I’d write stories that played with those sorts of things. So that’s why I started out with mythology.

        Now I wonder, how many light novels authors follow the same approach, at least to an extent, and how many read 2chan instead.

    1. No. We had to switch over to use public domain music so we couldn’t get slapped by a take down notice (and because it’s less work for us anyway). Now we have everything in place, we just have to actually do all the little website reformatting nonsense and submission to get it on there, and we haven’t done it yet ’cause we’re starting on the season preview. Soon!

      I know we keep saying that, but seriously, soon. Probably. Definitely probably maybe. Soon.

  5. Though I do think No Game No Life is the better show between the two, I do disagree with the opinion on Gaworare. I’m quite enjoying the plot that’s forming in the show and it’s far from the plot-less slice-of-life stuff that pervades most of this genre. It’s doing a pretty decent job juggling the funny parts with the more darker ones too (I’ve seen so many shows screw this up) so the show’s only getting better in my eyes.

    Got the same opinion on Chaika though. While it’s not top of the line, it is a solid show and I really appreciate how it doesn’t treat the viewer like idiots. Slowly expositioning the world is a far better way for me to get engrossed in it than some hastily dumped information.

    As for AnoHana, I’m not the biggest fan myself, though not for reasons of it being emotionally manipulative. I was actually rather bothered by the plotholes instead, the fact that some of the drama seemed rather dragged out for drama’s sake (as in, characters acting like idiots for no good reason) and some pacement issues. I can understand your point though – just calling something emotionally manipulative is rather vapid, because fiction exists to arouse emotions within you. And well, that just won’t work the same for everyone. Not to mention I’ve heard the same complaints directed at a lot of Key shows I like (like Angel Beats! and such) and I’ve had the same feeling you did (people having their heads up their arses).

    1. Gaworare shows some pacing issues, as well as overly dramatic reactions even when they aren’t mined for comedy (think the scene of Mei falling for Souta). I don’t remember manga having the same problems, at least not to that extent, so, while decent, this adaptation could be better.

      AnoHana is likely better received in the East because of the wider use of soy products. You know, phytoestrogens…

  6. Enzo on Sidonia…The close-up scenes which focus on character interactions are terrible and stilted

    Totally agree. Tsutomu Nihei was at his best with his first work, BLAME!, which was a manga with a protagonist who was virtually silent, evoking emotion through body language and cyber-environment p*rn. Love Nihei, and I’ve followed his stuff for years but I’m sorry to say that watching him try to go mainstream with Biomega and Sidonia was kind of painful- mainly because he can’t write emotions worth sh*t- which is likely why he chose to make Killy a silent protagonist in BLAME! to begin with, I really think he should have stuck to what he’s good at, with the silent emotional allegory model…

  7. Jeez I remember Reboot airing on YTV in Canada when i was growing up. I dunno if Enzo remembers the character, but Megabyte voiced by Tony jay was one of my favourites from the show.

    1. Hunter X Hunter is like One Piece to me – it looks good, and people I respect say it’s good, so I trust them, I just don’t have the time to marathon 131+ episodes of a show right now. Maybe when I drop one of my jobs I’ll be able to, though there are a few shows ahead of it on the list, AnoHana among them.

      1. I agree with you on this Stilts. I find HxH great and am up to date with the manga, but there’s just too many episodes to go through in the time life gives…
        Marathoning anything longer than 1 cour can be a struggle timewise too, 2 cours is the most that’s feasible for me and that’s not often.
        Maybe we lack guts?

        Speaking of marathoning, I need to thank Enzo for getting me to watch Mushishi the first series.

      2. You’re welcome about Mushishi… And I would humbly argue H x H is way, way better than OP – and it’s not nearly as long, either. But that’s just MHO.

        On the plus side, it is nice to see over 100 comments on the H x H 131 post (even if almost half of them are the same two posters expounding at length on why it sucked).

      3. I would agree with you on that HxH is much better than One Piece. Don’t get me wrong, OP is one of my favorite shounens but Hunter is something beyond that. It sometimes seems like a deconstruction of a genre or at least something more mature than your average shounen. It’s really hard to understand why it’s not as popular as One Piece/Bleach/Naruto or even Fairy Tail.

        Also great podcast, pleasure to listen.

  8. I enjoyed the intimacy of this podcast a lot. Having just two people was much easier to follow than when you had seven, or even four people on at a time. I enjoyed hearing the full explanations you gave, which is really why I like coming here in the first place.

    Keep up the good work!

  9. On the topic of sports anime, I participated in four different sports in high school and loved every day of it. However, watching sports was not my thing and still isn’t (barring Olympics) so I think this kinda spilled over into my anime preferences. Not saying that these shows can’t be great. It’s just that there’s no drive to pursue them.

  10. Running the comments way further off-topic for a sec, what do you guys (Stilts and Enzo) think of Selector Infected WIXOSS as of episode 9, and the difference with the snapshot impression (was it huge?) ?

      1. In one line? Stick to what you’re good at, Okada-san.

        It wasn’t terrible, but I found it be pretty trite and the writing to be on the clumsy side. Plus I don’t especially like the teen-girl-as-suffering-messiah sub-genre that’s developed, especially when it’s a transparent attempt to flog merchandise.

    1. I’m in the same boat – I dropped it after 2 eps. It’s not like it didn’t have potential – and I disagree with Enzo, Okada Mari should absolutely try new things to grow as a writer – but there was nothing about it that drew my interest. I kept getting further and further behind with no desire to catch up, so I didn’t.

      Plus, yeah, the shameless attempt to flog merchandise isn’t really my thing. I can put up with it for an interesting story (I watch Love Live! despite it shamelessly promoting CDs), but it didn’t help my interest level any.

      1. I found your comment regarding the attempts to flog more people to buy the card game merchandise odd, as the story (at this point) was really far away from even trying to show the card game being played at all. Odaka-san would’ve done something in lines of a Yu-Gi-Oh clone if she had wanted, but she turned it into something in line of PMMM with a shallower decent down to the deep end than PMMM’s steep dive at that infamous episode.

        OTOH, it would be nice to have something of a short version summaries / dropped conclusions regarding the other shows that all of the authors did not blog if they had actually went and watch the shows for either a 3 – episode acid test or an actual dropped show (no need to write anything on something not picked up). Of course, images optional…really, no images accompanying the mid-point post is fine!

    2. I’e really been enjo WIXOSS – and I agree that it’s not promoting the card game at all, but using it as a medium to tell the story. I’d definitely place it in my top 10 favorites, shows I watch as soon as they release: along with most of the sports, Knights of Sidonia, and No Game, No Life. However, I’ve always been partial to the dark, twisted psychological shows. With Hitoe’s reaction at the end of episode 8 I KNEW what had happened, but I hadn’t seen it coming before that episode, so it was a real shock. Of course, I’m alway a deer-in-the-headlights for twists and turns, but still, I’ve found WIXOSS to be real enjoyable.

      In the first podcast I remember one of them – Takaii, maybe? – saying that they only really saw one ending for the show right at the beginning. However, just because you know the destination, it doesn’t take away from the value and enjoyment of the journey. I mean, why even watch Slice-Of-Lifes? WIXOSS is great and deserves a fair watch, even if the end game – perhaps not the specifics, but the moods – are predictable.

      Of course, I’m that odd American that is watching and loving every sports anime except the sumo wrestling one; I even started reading Baby Steps, and am on chapter 85 at the moment. Yowamushi Pedal is my number 1 anime! So this could well be an opinion of a minority, here. 😀

      Atalla Wanderer
  11. Very nice podcast folks – nice to meet Stilts for the first time and nice to finally hear Enzo’s voice finally.

    Thanks for your thoughts and reflections – to be honest most of them I have read previously on your posts here or over in LiA, but there were some interesting new tidbits to be sure.

    Thanks for your efforts. ^^

  12. notes listening to the podcast:

    -Oh crud, I had the same feeling as Stilts on M3…
    -…cloning logins on Skype? =.=’ (along with extreme bad timing everywhere @ Stilts’ place) and the subsequent volume down on Enzo…GG Stilts, GG
    -From children’s books assuming smart readers to sibling love…how does that transition even happen at all…
    -Phantom Menace being compared to Sidonia no Kishi? (too bad the Gauna is way too different from the titans and the angels)
    -…Captain Earth vs Sidonia…such different moods for the mecha category comparison…
    (no idea how I ignored Mushishi and everything between it and Space Dandy’s Summer cour)
    -(Somehow I’m miss the nice timestamps for each segments at this point)
    -Westernized dubs or live action and anime…must be because there’s real-live equivalent readily available so that the Japanese-made equivalent is somewhat non-sense to mainstream North-American viewers…especially sports
    -Stilts’ anime backlog, getting ever longer by the minute…

    ps. I still think RandomCast works better (or RandomConversation…)

  13. This was a very chill podcast and it was very cool for it. As for why western fans dont tend to gravitate towards sports anime, i think i can give my two sense on that. As stilts already alluded to, the modern anime fans (including the western) tend to be enamored with anime’s more “fantastical” elements; its ability to make the ridiculous look cool, the mundane look beautiful. That is what anime’s alluring appeal is; this sort of resplendent surrealism that is conveyed through the proper melding of story and animation. When you throw sports into that equation however, i think that’s when you begin to break those barriers of surrealism. Now one can bring up the argument: what about anime’s that tend to tell more realistic stories such as animes that resemble cop dramas. Well, stories such as those, live or die more on their human drama (whatever medium you use, human drama is universal), and that is something that an anime can still portray very well to its audience whether they are someone who enjoys anime or not. Animation can also convey action fairly well and still immerse you in what’s going on whether the budget being used to portray that action is high or average.

    The world of sports on the other hand is different as it has a very physical science to it. There’s a very tactical human element, unbreakable rules, fluidity, and a sense of physical intimacy with whatever sport you play so someone who most likely loves sports is going to be looking for those realistic-based elements when watching something sports related. The average animation budget usually put into today’s anime, I would argue, cannot properly depict that realistic, fluid, physical effort that goes into playing sports and I only say this because a lot of the times, still frames, pan shots,and limited in-between animations are used for key actions and that takes away from the energy of the particular sport in question. Perhaps someone who is already used to the print of anime would be more tolerable of such things, but if you are talking about someone who enjoys sports who isnt a fan of anime, and you are trying to convince them to watch an anime about sports, they will most likely be looking for that fluidity that one would find in watching live-action sports that today’s average tv animation budget just cant deliver, which will push them away from it. Usually when watching animation, your mind tends to fill in the blanks where animation may be lacking, but sports is more of a realistic endeavor so die hard sport viewers, especially the cynical ones, will not be satisfied with having to fill in the blanks. And that automatically pulls that person out of the immersion of watching the sports, especially if it doesnt feel like they are actually watching the sport.

    Now that’s not to say that you cannot convey ideas on limited animation, but for something like sports, where the selling point is the sport itself, viewers are going to be expecting to feel that same feeling of watching sports in real-life, and to convey that sense of realism in anime form from a visual aspect, you need that budget to do so. I feel like the recent show Ping-Pong works so well because of Masaaki Yuasa’s surrealistic style to the show. As grounded as things are in that show, the series play’s to anime’s surrealistic strength with the artsyle it uses; it looks interesting so people are going to gravitate to it. Trying to portray sports with realism on a limited budget, i feel, is harder to do, because it becomes harder to keep the viewer invested in what’s going on if the animation is not as interesting (in this case, interesting would mean that the animation would have to look so good in portraying the realistic movements of the sports that the viewer would be interested in how good it looked). Again, western audiences love anime for its more fantastical and flashy elements, so if they are not present, they wont be as interested (this is probably why someone might enjoy something like Kuroko no Basuke over baby steps as kuroko no basuke plays to anime’s more over-the top elements that made western audiences fall in love with it in the first place).

    People dont think so very often, but animation is a very key part of story-telling. The 1997 version of Berserk had a very great story behind it, trying to depict a very dark, ruthless world, but the very weak animation hampered the story-telling and in my opinion, held it back from being the epic it could be. It’s like watching a movie you know had an amazing story, but it was edited in a shitty fashion…that’s not cool. One also has to consider anime’s demographic in the west, as well as what goes into loving sports. The love for sports from fans of it is usually a vicarious endeavor; just look at the way people talk and argue about sports most of the time; it’s almost as if they see themselves as those people who are actually playing the sport or if they own them (fantasy football/basketball anyone). Most western anime fans probably dont have that vicarious love for sports (again, they were most likely attracted by the fantastical element of anime to begin with) so why would they be interested in watching an anime about sports. Yes sports shows usually are about the drama, but a love for the sport facilitates an interest in the drama. And that is my long spiel (Sorry : P) on western audiences (or audiences in general) and sports anime. I hope i was able to articulate efficiently what i was trying to get at.

    1. I think you raise a very compelling argument for why sports anime aren’t more popular. But I don’t think it matches the reality because it’s not culture-specific – they’re more popular than they’ve been for at least a decade in Japan, which is why I raise the issue of the gap in popularity between Japan and the West.

      1. True, which is why emphasized the fact that anime’s popularity in the west, or rather most anime fans tend to like anime for the reason’s stilts mentioned upon explaining what he loves about anime. It’s the fantastical element that draws a lot of western audiences in. Things like code geass, gundam, dragon ball Z; that’s how most western fans define anime (and that’s how a lot of them were exposed to anime which shaped how they perceive the medium) where as anime is more mainstream in Japan and hence perceived just a smidge differently than westerners. The genre of sports just doesnt seem to jibe with the image what you’re average western fan sees as the lovable element of anime. I believe that is a key reason to the disconnect with sports and western anime fans. It’s different in Japan where anime and manga has been what its always been down there.

  14. I liked the quick sort of comparison between clannad and Anohana because it brings up an interesting question in regards to the praise (or hate) each one of those series gets. What defines the fine line between raw emotion and melodrama? How do you know whether you are getting raw emotion versus melodramatic antics? Clannad is widely praised by anime fans but some find it to be manipulative and melodramatic and some say the same for Anohana. So who’s right in this situation? The obvious answer is that no one is as you cant really say for sure; you can only have an opinion about this conundrum based on one’s perceptions about the guidelines of good writing and story-telling and what indicates manipulative, melodramatic writing (as well as truly understanding what melodrama is).

    It’s fascinating because someone could find a person who thought clannad to be melodramatic drivel as that person having their head up their ass in the same way someone who found Anohana to be “too much” to also have their head up their ass so i found that very interesting. Me personally, I thought Clannad was fine for what it was, but when comparing it to Kanon 2006, it just didnt hold up. Kanon 2006 knew when to pour on the raw emotion while demonstrating restraint and subtlety at the same time, often allowing the viewer to interpret many of the emotional nuances of certain scenes on their own. That was what i felt was missing from Clannad. As for Anohana, overall i thought it was good, but to me it started of really great and ended up only being good, which is still absolutely fine as that’s still a success in my book, but the drop-off brought me a little dismay.

  15. You guys are doing fine! “2 dudes talking” is a legit podcast genre in podcasting – a ridiculous amount of people seems to want to listen in on other people’s conversations.

  16. Enzo is a Chicagoan?! Boss baby. 😀 (CTA buses aren’t too bad depending where it’s going/coming from. Just that people are annoying. The L can be much worse. XD)

    1. I never minded the L much, to be honest. I spent much of my youth in the suburbs, though, and in a funny way the buses in the suburbs are worse. In the city everyone but the 1% rides public transit – in the suburbs, if people didn’t have cars typically there was a reason for it. And some of those reasons were somewhat unsettling in a person sitting next to you on a bus.

  17. Nice. Was it you Enzo who talked abou Otherland back in the podcast in which you guys talked about books? If so, thanks man, it was a great read. Some really good quotes about society and machismo too.

  18. For Stilts and others: 7 reasons to watch Ping Pong even if you are not much into Sports Anime, and besides it being “interesting”, “adult”, and “focusing on character development”:
    Show Spoiler ▼

    About Sidonia no Kishi promoting militarism and being anti-pacifist (warning: mild spoilers about future episodes)
    Show Spoiler ▼

  19. Ping Pong is seriously the most underrated show this season, the tears ep 9 put me in are real people. Peco’s monologue at the end… it’s so beautiful. あいしてるぜ、ペコ T-T


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