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Monday, November 3, 2014

Interest Monday - Minute-Long Comedies

Hi my fellow Magicians!
Hope you enjoyed All Hallow's Eve on Friday. The station's wi-fi temporarily went caput thanks to the Headless Hessian but thankfully everything's alright now. Hopefully it won't be a problem for this week's episode.

I've noticed a trend in Japanese anime nowadays. Reflecting the extremely short attention span and the audience's limited free-time, minute-long performance piece have started to experience a surge in popularity. For those who don't feel like watching a full length 45-minute show or having a huge number of unwatched DVRs, these shows tend to last between 1 to 15 minutes and manage to compact the best parts of a feature length episode. The best part is that you don't have to necessarily watch these shows in order so if you miss one, continuity is not an issue.
A lot of full length shows are starting to take notes from this format and their plots have transmitted more effective messages to their audiences - a triple crown!

The biggest names in this genre are Tono To Issho (lit. My Lord and Me), I Don't Understand What My Husband is Saying (a.k.a. Danna ga Nani o Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken), and Mainichi Kaasan (lit. Mom's Everyday Life, imported as Kaasan: Mom's Life). Tono and Danna are based on the classic 4-panel comedy manga format (yonkoma) - which are the styles of stories such as Lucky Star and Azumanga Daioh - while Mainichi is based on a serial manga.

These shows have been a huge staple in my otakuhood. I was first introduced to this format in college when Anime Club showed the entirety of the first and second seasons of Tono to Issho. I had way too much fun with the concentrated minute-long humor. It's just astounding how they were able to fit so much in a rather small space! Tono to Issho does caricatures of the feudal lords in Japan while making parodies of geeky topics and otaku slang. My favorite episodes are the ones featuring "little princess" Motochika and the eye-patched lord Date Masamune. They play with social and geeky norms and I love things that challenge my brain and humor like that. :) The 2 seasons of the anime are very easy to get through and there's also the manga series. The show is available on Crunchyroll but as for the manga, your best bet may be scanlations.

The person in pink hair on the left? Yep, it's a dude. That's anime for ya!
I bumped into Mainichi Kaasan during a very drab summer day (which is very rare since I love summer). I just got a Crunchyroll membership and my dad had bought the latest Roku box installment for our TV. My cousin and I were having an Asian media binge and we had just finished a rather intense Korean drama that feels very similar to what's going on now...
Anyway, we needed some comedy to break up the master tool that is suspense so I looked through the Crunchyroll channel to find an anime. I scrolled through a few sections until I saw the poster of a simply drawn yet cheerful face patterned in the clouds. My instincts were telling me that this was not the usual spice of life and sure enough they were right.

This show has the longest format of the minute-long comedies (13 minutes including the title sequence). Even with the longer time, it has packed a lot of character development. Most spice of life dramas that tend to focus either on adults grappling with their careers and youth culture (via flashbacks and romance) or high schoolers navigating everyday life and methods of expressing nerdiness. Mainichi focuses on the pleasures and pains of the family structure as well as the creative expressions of the mother figure both as a character and creator of the series. The show is based on a serial manga drawn by real life mother Rieko Saibara.
The first season focuses on the mangaka's plunge into the world through her children's school books (they act like PTCs without the awkward pauses or subtext, aka what the US should be doing) before realizing her passion and decides to pursue a formal career in addition to balancing raising a family unit. By the time you get to the second season, you feel like you know the family personally enough that you're looking forward to the laugh of the day. If you're introducing a non-initiate to anime, this is the perfect one to show especially if you want to bond with your mom. I feel like I can get into my mom's mind a little bit even with the regional, historical and cultural differences. Parenthood is a nearly universal experience and I like this anime simply because it's teaching me something new every episode.
Mainichi Kaasan has 147 episodes. I've only recently gotten to season two and I'm barely through the first few episodes of it. They're all available on Crunchyroll ready to binge watch to your heart's content!

I've recently gotten into I Don't Understand What My Husband is Saying thanks to yet another Crunchyroll browse plus a friend's recommendation. I'm having loads of fun with this series and the anime is only a month old. The plot follows 25-year-old Office Lady Kaoru who's trying to understand otaku culture through the eyes of her husband 23-year-old Hajime. The results of her attempts are nothing but hilarious. It's currently being simulcast by Crunchyroll with new episodes popping up every Wednesday. I'm only 5 episodes in yet I can't stop thinking about the gags in this show.

Do this if you want your otaku to feel moƩ.

Though I can relate with the wife's dilemma, I identify with the husband a lot more character-wise. These scenes pretty much illustrate a yonkoma about me in relation to the world when it comes to media. For those otakus who have "OLs" in their own lives, show them this show and pray that they do understand. Just saying!
POV on careers in a nutshell
Me: Top caption 3/4s of the time, everybody else: bottom.
Majority of US media, especially Disney at the moment (looking at you Frozen!)
Reactions after my little nerdy spiel.
For those who want a more live action, SNL, Western feel to your comedy, the only sketch shows I can think of that come close to this format are Children's Hospital and NTSF:SD:SUV::. Both of them are featured on the Adult Swim block on Cartoon Network. Both are parodies of hospital and police/espionage shows respectively and they show action-packed and raunchy plots in 15 minutes. I prefer NTSF but that's probably my Kate Mulgrew bias talking.
Ouch Kove. Clearly you need some shore leave - you've been in the DQ too long.
(If you don't get the reference, watch the Bournemouth conference.)
If you're short on time, give these shows a try. In a media-saturated world, it's nice to have something you know you can complete easily. The accomplishments may be cheap, but it's nice to have 'em aplenty.

Speaking of games, I have a new poll this week. Feel free to fill it in and bring some variety to the MK show! :)

Thanks for reading and check me out Wednesday! If you're in the US, have fun during Election Day!

<3 TM

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