Kokoro Connect is supposed to be about a group of five friends who go through some weird supernatural shenanigans, but one of them pretty much steals the show. That would be Inaban. She starts off being presented as the responsible and perceptive one of the group and is naturally displeased at shenanigans. Out of all the characters, she seems to have the most interesting character arc because she doesn’t have an unnatural character flaw. And also very importantly in a show like this is that she overcame the odds and won.
Shinsekai Yori is that rare anime derived from non-anime stock. Instead of your usual hot new serialized work, it’s adapted from an existing finished not-light novel. It starts off inconspicuous enough, with a group of friends flaunting their village’s rules. After that, it goes along its way with a constant sense of uneasiness permeating through everything that’s happening. It’s very subdued which is also rare, although I’m not sure if it’s because of how it’s written or if the it’s an adaptation decision. Either way, this show stands out as a very nice change from the usual antics and shenanigans that get animated.
It’s time for another series of festively-inspired anime blogging. In a bit of introspection, I wondered why it is that I can’t seem to do regular blogging throughout the year but am able to churn out twelve posts in a week. And as I’m writing this, it dawns on me that it’s pretty much the only time of the year where I’m not in the middle of some mad rush to get something completed for a deadline. So let’s relax and look back on a year of bad taste in cartoons.
So I was in Asia for a month over the summer.
I talked about Jubeat in my real travel blogging, but I was pretty surprised by the song choice. There’s a good number of anison that I’m kind of surprised aren’t already in jubeat plus packs. The one that I don’t understand why they’re not already selling is the Railgun stuff, that’s a money printer right there. There’s also some Mizuki Nana stuff that I really liked and I’d love to see the Mouretsu Pirates OP hit a DLC pack (probably in a Momoclo pack (why doesn’t this exist yet too)). The Utapri OPs get a shoutout for having a hilarious chart.
I also hit up the Kinokuniya while I was wandering around Orchard St. and gat dang, I wish we had a Kinokuniya in Canada. I mean, it’s essentially a Japanese bookstore with Japanese bookstore selection. Obviously, there’s a wide selection of manga, but there’s also a very large selection of light novels and regular novels and artbooks. I didn’t buy anything because I expected to pick up weeaboo goods in Japan.
I met up with local twitter
deviants pals @riajuunibyou, @ncem, and @kimmouto. We had a cool time in their city doing cool things like not getting murdered by vehicular traffic eating. Obviously, we had to watch an anime so we went to see Pacific Rim. This was pretty cool, since I don’t really watch movies in theatres anymore. But it turned out the Malaysian (?) version had some slight changes which made a scene or two incredibly confusing.
The first time I went to Times Square, much to my surprise, there was an RX-78 set up faced towards Char’s Zaku II. For some reason, there was some kind of Gundam exhibit there. There were a bunch of smaller scale Zakus set up around so people could take pictures and there was a booth set up with a ton of gunpla in display cases. When I went back a few days later, there was also a model White Base hanging from the ceiling.
I also got to meet up with @cokematic (and @fnzna, who happened to be in HK too, but we know each other irl). It was fun since it was my first time in Central and we went to a really nice pub with a really good selection of beers and ciders. After meeting up, we (minus coke, because he has a real job) decided to check out the last day of the local anime convention, Ani-Com. It turned out that Shokotan was there a few days earlier and there was even a live, but I wouldn’t have been able to make it anyway, so it couldn’t be helped. I was surprised to see so many Inu x Boku cosplayers and it was also my first time seeing actual Kurobas fangirl swarms.
Nope, no anime here.
The first place I went was actually the Shinjuku Animate, which I’d stumbled upon by being lost after dropping my stuff off at my hotel and wandering around. I would come back here a few more times for some very good buys: the Fire Sisters Yokoku-hen Quiz mug that I’d totally forgotten about and came across completely by chance and the Free! TV Animation Guidebook which I thought was only sold at the KyoAni store, but there were a bunch here.
The first real stop was Akihabara and I had the pleasure of having @aliveinthewired show me around. This resulted in me snapping up an Akemi Homura nendoroid at Sofmap. I was really tempted to get the Chibimoth plush at Cospa, but I managed to control myself.
Later, we met up with @landroverattack and his friend and went off to check out a maid cafe. Schatzkiste is a place that I would never have discovered or thought of going on my own. It’s a really nice and classy place with a fantastic concept. I think it’s really the best that they have their own cute doujin about the daily lives of the maids.
After getting real food, we went to Nakano Broadway, which was a really cool place. It’s not an Akiba-like place where it’s just blatant nerd crap everywhere. Instead, it felt more like a bunch of otaku shops had been slowly taking over the mall over the decades. I picked up the Penguindrum Triple H CD at one of the Mandarakes here.
And so we get to the main event, Comiket. Comiket is an amazing experience but everyone was not kidding when they said that it’s incredibly physically challenging. I don’t think I’ve ever sweated as much as I did standing in those lines. I’d planned on going all three days, but the first day almost destroyed me and I’d gotten everything I wanted on the first day, so I didn’t return.
I was actually pretty well prepared. I didn’t die of dehydration because I brought a litre of water from 7-11 with me before getting on the train. It turned out there’s a train from Shinjuku that goes directly to the Big Sight (the Shonan-Shinjuku line turns into the Rinkai line). When I got on at Shinjuku, it was already pretty full. No one got off until the Big Sight.
Comiket really is the final boss of lines. The line kind of begins once you get off at Kokusai-Tenjijou and you climb the stairs that are lined with anime ads. It was a few minutes’ walk to get from the station to the Big Sight. The line really begins once you hit the part where you have to wait for people in front of you, which was about when I could get a pretty nice shot of the Big Sight and the massive line in front of it. At the top of the stairs, there was a giant screen playing various PVs and CMs and this was where I saw the Kyoukai no Kanata PV for the first time.
It only took about an hour of being in line to get down to the West Hall. Luckily, I overestimated what’s considered popular and all the booths I were after were fairly well stocked. Rito didn’t have any of her Houtarou/Eru stuff, so I just bought a calendar from her. The other Hyouka thing I picked up was this. I also made sure to get something from Yadokugaeru which ended up being this Senjougahara doujin and this Monogatari doujin they did with 10-Colors. While wandering around, I noticed As109’s booth and picked up their Monogatari stuff too. The last C84 thing I bought was this Tokikake doujin.
After I was done, I decided to check out the industry booths, which were also supposedly at the West Hall. It turned out that you had to go outside and make a huge round around the cosplay area and go up to the upper levels. It was ascending the stairs out in the sun that started to take its toll on me, but I figured it’d be okay once I got inside again. When I got to the top, though, what I had before me was a bunch of snaking lines for the booths. At this point I internally screamed oh hell no and walked right past the lines and went down to the East Hall.
So on my way to the East Hall, I started to feel like I’d faint, which was BAD NEWS since I still had a while to get to the hall. I’d already seen four or five people having to get carried away from collapsing so I was extra conscious of not becoming one of those. I pushed on until I ran across the Family Mart right by the escalators down to the hall. I have to say that I’m super impressed that it was fairly well stocked and running smoothly. I bought a bunch of food and rested before heading down, where I managed not to buy anything.
I met up with @aliveinthewired and we joined up with the reverse linecon to the monorail, which was stuffed, as you’d expect. The ride had a really nice view of Odaiba. When we pulled into Shimbashi station, I noticed there was a huge crowd of people and felt dread. Luckily, the crowd was for the riajuu linecon to Odaiba (there were fireworks there that night), so we were spared more lines.
The next day, instead of going back to Comiket, I decided to take a trip to Ikebukuro to check out Otome Road. It turns out the Ikebukuro Animate had actually moved relatively recently. This made it a bit harder to find the actual “Otome Road” since all the directions on the internet in English basically said to go to the Animate and you’re there.
I really liked the Ikebukuro Animate because it’s easier to move around than the Akiba Animate. Of course, there was also the giant Free! banner hanging from it. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much in the way of Free! merch at that point in time; everything was getting released in September and October. Also, the women to men ratio was the opposite of the typical nerd ratio. This was the case for pretty much all the otaku shops on Otome Road.
Going to both of the Ikebukuro Toranoanas was really amusing. Both are in otherwise nondescript buildings a few floors up. When I was going to Tora A, I got in an elevator with these dudes in suits. Everyone got off at the Toranoana floor. When I went to Tora B, in a different building, I got in an elevator with a bunch of girls. Again, everyone got off at the Toranoana floor.
I’d actually stumbled onto actual Otome Road by wandering around looking for Mandarake. I took a quick look around, but I didn’t really feel like poring through shelves of BL doujin and I didn’t have anything I was looking for. I also took a look around the K-Books and Lashinbang and ended up buying the Free! ED single.
And the rest
At this point, I had a few days of doing non-weeb stuff, which may be surprising. I got to meet up with @Ayu, who took us to this future sushi place where very little human interaction is required. The ordering touchscreens apparently randomly challenge you to minigames and I used my Cure Peace janken skills to win 10% off my bill and a tako nigiri phone charm. I also got introduced to the wonderful concept of nomihoudai.
I went back to Akiba and Nakano Broadway one last time to look for Hyouka merch and acceptable Hitagi figures. This time around, I checked out the Gamers first. This was a very good choice because it turns out they had a summer of Key event going on and had an entire floor dedicated to Key goods. You obviously had your Little Busters since it actually got an anime recently and there’s the Angel Beats and Rewrite and Clannad, but there was some Air and Kanon too. But the most important thing was they had a pile of Clannad 10th Anniversary artbooks that I had given up on because I skipped the C84 pixiv booth.
Other than that, I ran across a really cute C84 Kurobas doujin at Toranoana. I also found the Araragi pen at Robot x Robot, but it was really expensive and I couldn’t figure out if it was refillable with standard inks. Instead, I picked up a small plush Penguin #2. The only Hyouka merch that I found was the Kamiyama tracksuit and Chitanda eyecover thing at Cospa.
There was one last surprise when I got to the airport. There’s a temporary Cospa store at Narita that’s there until some time next year (I think it’s March or May). Unlike the main Cospa store, they had smaller Wooser plushes in stock, so I picked up one along with a large Ume-sensei phone charm.
A long time ago, I was searching for news about the newest Kishida Kyodan and the Akeboshi Rockets album, POPSENSE. POPSENSE came with a bunch of these funny little blue-haired faces, one of which was the album cover. One of these faces was noticeably different, having black hair and red eyes. It turns out that was supposed to be Hagana, one of the main characters from World End Economica and it turned out that the OP track was on this album.
That’s how I found out about World End Economica, which was a weird-sounding title and surely couldn’t have had anything to do with economics. But I was wrong, because it so happened that it was written by a certain Isuna Hasekura, who was responsible for everyone’s favourite wolf goddess medieval mercantile adventure. This was exciting to learn about until I realized that it was never going to be translated because it was a doujin visual novel. I shouted into the wind on twitter and magically received a response:
@blkmage HI!! I'm 'World end economica' writer. We are to complete the translation. Please wait a moment!!!
— 支倉凍砂@三日目シ－５３ａ (@i_hasekura) July 17, 2012
So now it’s been almost a year later and finally available for purchase with my hard earned yencoins so I can actually read it. Is there anything to it beyond economics on the moon? Why, yes, in fact, there is.
World End Economica is about quantitative analysis.
Our story begins in the grand moon city with a young vagrant, Yoshiharu, who’s pretty good at trading and has an intuition for it. At this point I’m wondering how the hell human civilization managed to build a financial centre on the moon but it’s still possible for someone to succeed at trading manually. And the story answered with Hagana, an incredibly socially awkward girl whose only skill is being amazing at math and is distraught because math is actually totally useless in the real world.
You might be able to see where this is going. Quantitative analysis is what we call the application of mathematics to finance. The idea is to take into account all of the data on the market and somehow model it so that you can predict and optimize when you buy and sell various stocks, how much of each stock, and at what rate. And of course, when you’re dealing with this much data and this many calculations, you’ll need to get a computer to do all of this for you and you can get computers to automate trading for you. This automation is what’s called algorithmic trading, where you essentially rely on computers and algorithms to figure out and do stuff automatically.
Because of how well it’s able to optimize profits and how quickly it gets data and processes it, it’s how a significant amount of trading goes on today. As a result, the market becomes a giant feedback loop of inputs going into these algorithms. The algorithms process this stuff and make decisions and take actions and generates a whole new set of data to be fed back into the algorithms again.
Now, this is great for all the mathematicians and computer scientists out there because all of a sudden, there’s another career track that’s opened up that’s willing lure us away from academia with large bags of money. But then the question is that once algorithms are doing all the trading, what do the traders do? This is something that I don’t have an answer to because I don’t really know that much about finance.
This also turns out to be a question that our MC asks himself too. He’s managed to help this girl discover that her talents aren’t a waste and that she can use them to help people. But in the course of using and developing her skills, she’s basically making bank and obsoleted him out of nowhere. So, is there a role for people in trading and finance if computers can do it all?
And that could be a pretty frightening question if you think about it. We’re used to robots replacing people for menial labour because they’re stronger or more efficient and better at doing rote tasks. But now, we’re able to replace traders with computers. And if you think about that for a bit, you realize that these algorithms fighting it out on the market are responsible for a huge chunk of wealth in the world right now.
And that brings us to the other question, which is can we trust the computer? Obviously, someone has to know how to transform the processes and data so that it can be shoved into a computer, but once we have something complex enough, it kind of morphs into a magical box. There’s no way to verify that this thing you’re feeding a ton of data is doing the right thing. So when your gut and the box are in conflict, which do you trust when you have tons of peoples’ money on the line?
Unfortunately, this is only episode 1 so I have to wait an unspecified amount of time before Spicy Tails decides to translate and release the next installment to find out where this is going. So far, it’s been intriguing enough for me to stick around, even though the art and music are fairly sparse and the editing could use some work. I guess the answer to getting my attention is to write a story about math.