rock, rock over japan

Listen, you lowlifes who will never amount to anything.

(I added in more anti-spam protections after a rash of spam. If you can’t comment, please let me know. Thanks.)

nyonyo wrote a summary of the director’s commentary for Penguindrum. There’s a lot more there, so go check it out. Swiftly approved. Here’s some tidbits:

Arakawa commented that Kanba’s phone vibrating sounds so realistic that every time she watches the first episode, she checks her own phone. Ikuhara said he’s done the same.

I’ve done the same too. The cell phone effects of Penguindrum and Steins;Gate have been excellent and modern. I do like how they reflect Japanese society in that they always vibrate instead of blasting a Lady Gaga ringtone. Say nothing of the stylized visuals of Penguindrum, but the sound effects and music have been phenomenal. Usually anime puts effort into the OP and ED but rarely does it put the same effort in the BGM (background music). The BGM is usually treated like an afterthough except for the occasional Yoko Kanno series. However, this attitude is changing.

Madoka (really like Mami’s theme), Star Driver (yes, Star Fucking Driver), Persona 4 (Shoji Meguro), Guilty Crown (only good thing about it), and Penguindrum have been excelling in background music. Of course, this was all probably started with K-On!… when the other studios saw it made $190 million… uh… they must have done the “Eh eh eh?” move and went “Fuck yeah, more insert songs! More likeable BGMs! More money! Yeah!”

(Or it got started with Gurren Lagann. I like to think it started with Gurren Lagann, but it didn’t make a boatload of money of like K-On!. And, you know, money money money money money money #occupymugi.)

The problem with Penguindrum even amongst the staff is that nobody understood exactly what kind of show this was going to be. The only one who really knew what kind of show it would be, was Ikuhara himself. So no matter how much he tried to explain to the staff, they can’t completely understand. He could only tell people , “Well, there are penguins in it!” but of course you can’t make a show consisting simply of penguins just being cute. Everyone would be like, “Where exactly is this going?!”

The point where the staff finally clicked and understood the show themselves, was when the ROCK OVER JAPAN sequence was finally completed. It took a long, long time to finish it. Ikuhara was working on the storyboards during New Year’s Eve of last year. Agonized over how to resolve the sequence. Didn’t think he himself was capable of making it the way he wanted it. Started to give up. The sequence did not click for him until one month before the Animate premiere event.

I complained at the beginning of Penguindrum that the transformation sequence was too long. It felt like they purposefully made it to eat up a solid four minutes, which seems like the cause since the commentary makes it feel like they were really rushed. (“The OP was very very difficult. There was no time in the schedule allotted for it.”) But it grew on me. And grew on me. Grew on me to the point it sprouted a flower. I love the “Seizon senryaku!” now. Fully support it. I even hum Rock Over Japan from time to time.

(The original ARB version is great too. I have no clue how or why Ikuhara wanted to use it, but it fits. I just want some rockabilly huge pompadour penguins now. And when I say “now,” I mean last month.)

Ikuhara didn’t have a cell phone for a very long time. Really just got one recently because of Penguindrum. Got a regular phone first and found it too complicated and hard to use. Switched to a smartphone instead and thought that was much better and easier to use.

There’s a lot of things I like about this comment. One, Ikuhara didn’t have a cell phone, yet got one because phones were integral to the workings of Penguindrum. Two, he thought a normal phone was too difficult to use, so he got an app phone. Most likely, since they have iPhones in Penguindrum, he’s got an iPhone. That’s awesome. An anime director moving himself into 2011. Bravo. I can just imagine Steve Jobs grinning in his grave that yet another person found an iPhone easier to use than a normal cell phone.

(Seriously, my mom got a Samsung feature phone, and she has no idea how to add names to the address book. Neither do I. It’s too complicated for the limited UI it has. I think the big issue is that something like a phone or a VCR shouldn’t be hard to use, but since they’re designed by engineers, they are hard to use. I call it the “Joshua Flu.” If you watched Project Runway this season, and, why shouldn’t you? It’s Fabulous Max featuring someone who made a threesome sex tape with Miss Japan, there’s a designer named Joshua. He loves to bedazzle everything. He can’t help himself. He must add that extra flower or button or sparkling thingabob. That’s what engineers are like. Asking us to cut a feature or make something simple is akin to lighting ourselves on fire. So they stick more and more crap into something until you have these mid-2000s Japanese cell phones with TVs, rotatable screens, and other bedazzlements that make the thing just harder to use. Well, this may be surprising… but people don’t want complicated shit. We just want shit to work. That’s it. Joshua eventually did really well in Project Runway, but it took him to understand that less is more.)

(Of course, Guilty Crown has the Joshua Flu. It just can’t help itself. That patient, though, might be terminal.)

Miyake said Ringo’s first appearance had a huge impact, but each episode after that explained more and more why she was the way she is. Ikuhara agreed that Ringo was the first character the audience grows to understand. Miyake said along with the viewers she would be going, “Oh, that’s why she’s like that! Oh, there’s this side to her, too!” week after week.

I totally understand a girl who lurks below the house of her beloved, stalks her according to the diary of her dead sister, drugs him, and then tries to rape him cowgirl-style. She then gets drugged herself and gets sexually assaulted by a hawt blonde. Yes. Totally understandable and relate-able.

(Maybe Ikuhara is referring to the desperation that her family’s unhappiness is her fault. Like how children blame themselves for their parent’s divorce. That would make more sense. Nah, he’s referring to all the drugging and raping.)

Miyake commented that there’s so much food in the show. During recording they all focus on the food and at the end of recording everyone will say, “Now I want to eat that for dinner tonight!!”


The staff was instructed to make all food look incredibly delicious. Arakawa says it does and you get hungry watching it even though the show airs in the middle of the night.

Yes. Now I understand why Sailor Moon’s hair look like dangos– Ikuhara was hungry! I don’t think the food looked that great, but there are apples everywhere. I was a bit disappointed that the commentary didn’t touch on the apple fetish, but I guess that’s something to talk about in the future.

(Apples? Ringo-chan? iPhone? Explain!)

The famous seiyuu were cast with the intent of putting them in roles different from their typical typecasting.

I thought Mamiko Noto did an excellent job for Yuri. All the Fabulous Max scenes were awesome, and it’s not her normal low volume voice. In fact, it’s the opposite– booming, full of confidence, and quite adult. Horie Yui was Horie Yui for Natsume. At least she’s not a haremette. Oh wait…

Ikuhara said all the characters have their secrets and over time the secrets are slowly revealed. But the viewers are not aware at the very, very beginning of the fact that “every character has a big secret.”

As a card-holding, lifetime member of the Utena Fan Club, I expected nothing less than secrets and more secrets. And they delivered. I am guessing Momoka is still alive, and Sanetoshi is actually a gender-swapped and disillusioned Utena. Can’t wait to see how everything wraps up. We’re all just rock and roll men.

13 Responses to “rock, rock over japan”

  1. <- watched week after week just because of "Seizon senryaku!"

  2. Wonderful show. It’s had me since the first SEIZON SENRYAKU! It’s had a ridiculously strong showing over the last 17 episodes.

  3. Penguins x Octopus peeping girls with magnified glasses are hilarious. Anyway, what I like with Penguindrum is the opening only an the penguins themselves.

  4. < - watched week after week just because of "Seizon senryaku!"

  5. I strongly object to this unfair characterization of engineers! People ask me for more and more features, and when they get them… they don’t like them! Too complicated, they say! But all those options have to live somewhere, no matter how you slice it. Turns out what they really want is a little man to interpret their erratic behavior and make up for their mistakes (We’re talking about people who think Excel spreadsheets are the pinnacle of technology).

    I will make one concession, though. Drag-and-drop is appropriate for anything: file management, advanced weaponry, you name it.

  6. >People ask me for more and more features, and when they get them… they don’t like them! Too complicated, they say!

    Never trust users.
    My favorite is when Managers insist on some cool feature…

  7. Re: music. SHAFT has had excellent use of music at least since Tsukiyomi Moonphase, with Zetsubou Sensei‘s soundtrack being a standout. Plus, who can forget the way Kimi
    no shiranai monogatari
    was woven into the star-gazing scene in Bakemonogatari (cue your “makes a lot of money therefore trend-setter” explanation for the outburst of musical creativity in anime soundtracks).

  8. Also re: music. No mention of Macross Frontier? Those soundtracks made quite a bit, IIRC.

  9. /I expected nothing less than secrets and more secrets.

    and i expect to see a Hot Pink Cadillac,

  10. Don’t Blame the engineers! It’s not their fault. They want things to be simple and easy too but when companies file patents for the most simple concepts such as UI interface (e.g. slide to unlock), means that only one company can do it one way and everyone else has to do it another way. Which then makes things difficult for the end user to get used to. “Style” patents (Design patents) are not things that promote innnovation! especially when you grant them for 14 years!

  11. @cube: Jason basically took care of Macross Frontier by mentioning Yoko Kanno (who composed the music for MF, as well as many other fantastic soundtracks).

  12. Dammit Jason, read “I even hum Rock Over Japan from time to time.” this morning and thought, “that seems silly”. Started humming it this morning and I’m still humming it tonight.

  13. 6.09 of ep16. BEST-Seizon Senryaku!-EVER!

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