PAST MY BEDTIME PART IV – In the midnight hour, she cried moe, moe, moe.

So, if the “dread spectre of moe” isn’t the real problem with late night anime on TV Tokyo, what is? Well allow me to state the bleedin’ obvious for a moment.

Giving the anime industry free rein.

By brokering the slots of anime, and rarely being involved in production beyond standards and practices, TV Tokyo basically have given the producers of anime for those slots free rein.

Later than NTV’s slots, the ratings are rather paltry, and the belief seems to be that there isn’t an audience that want to watch anime at 1:30AM and later. Instead the plan seems to be to rely on a pre-existing audience for the show. An audience that will be fanatical enough to find it wherever it might end up in the schedule. That’s even before you take into account that various parts of production committee will then be relying on them to also be fanatical enough to buy the various offshoots of the content necessary to make the whole exercise financially rewarding for those involved.

In part that’s a necessity of this end of the anime business, but in terms of getting eyes in front of the screen or making TV shows with a broad appeal like NTV’s or Fuji TV’s noitaminA do, it can’t beat the concept of developing a specific spot in the schedule with the broadcaster’s input. It looks like TV Tokyo themselves realised this and so they established an anime department last year, leading to them launching, with Sony’s Aniplex, the Anime no Chikara slot this year.

The kings (pun intended) of late night anime on TV Tokyo are Starchild Records, the anime subsidiary of King Records. Today, we’ll look at the Sunday night 1:30AM slot they’ve dominated since 2004.  Of the following shows – only three shows didn’t have Starchild credited on ANN (Rescue Wings, School Rumble, Nabari no O), most have a Starchild staff member on production or planning (often Atsushi Moriyama) and a lot have their own homepage on Starchild’s website.

Unfortunately the English language licensing website they set up (presumably as part of their ’04 US visit) hasn’t been updated since 2004, so I’m fumbling in the dark over a lot of these. They frequently handle DVD distribution for these shows too. Basically the series have become much more like infomercials for the CD and DVD releases, not to mention all the ancillary character goods, than a show designed to attract a rating. And while “moe” makes money, that’s what’s going to dominate these slots, because the TV ratings really don’t mean anything. As soon as something else becomes what sells to a niche, fanatical audience, then Starchild’s roster of shows will become full of that (you can see some that happening to a lesser extent with their post-Eva catalogue in the 90s). Though I do wonder with Atsushi Moriyama’s involvement with the Azumanga Daioh production led to their pursuit of similar properties in the slot discussed below, as most have his name attached in some way.

So sci-fi fans, if you are bemoaning the lack of sci-fi anime, it’s your own fault for not buying enough CDs, DVDs and merchandise. Your wallet just didn’t want it enough in comparison to the hug pillow brigade.

Doki Doki School Hours (2004) *
Studio: JC Staff
Director: Yoshiaki Iwasaki

A poor man’s Azumanga Daioh.

Fafner (2004) *
Studio: Xebec
Director: Nobuyoshi Habara

Evangelion for dullards.

Mahoraba ~Heartful days~ (2005) *
Studio: JC Staff
Director: Shinichiro Kimura

Apartment building sitcom teaches us that mental illness is adorable!

Pani Poni Dash! (2005) *
Director: Akiyuki Shinbo

A poor man’s Doki Doki School Hours.

Studio: JC Staff
Director: Katsushi Sakurabi

A reminder that slice of life doesn’t have to be about schoolgirls. It be can about helicopter rescue pilots too.

School Rumble: 2nd Semester (First series aired during the day) (2006)
Studio: Studio Comet
Director: Shinji Takamatsu

There was then a brief break from animated fare while unusual looking costumed hero Lion Maru G (who was also produced by Starchild) took to the air, before cartoons returned with…

Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight! (2007)*
Studio: ufotable
Director: “Team Manabibeya”

A poor man’s Azumanga Daioh. IN THE FUTURE! Where apparently all 17 year-old girls look 10.

Heroic Age (2007) *
Studio: Xebec
Director: Toshimasa Suzuki

Robot show that blew its most interesting idea in the first episode (namely: SPACE TARZAN).

Minami-ke (2007)*
Studio: Dome
Director: Masahiko Ohta

The story of three dull sisters.

Minami-ke: Okawari (2008)*
Studio: asread
Director: Naoto Hosoda

That somehow warranted another series. From a different staff.

Nabari no O (2008)
Studio: JC Staff
Director:Kunihisa Sugishima

Agreeable ninja show.

Today In Class 5-2 (2008) *
Studio: Xebec
Director: Tsuyoshi Nagasawa

A poor man’s Manabi Straight. IN THE PRESENT!

Minami-ke Okaeri (2009) *

Studio: asread
Director: Kei Oikawa

If this dishwater gets three seasons then there must be a lot of Softy Walters out there to make it worthwhile.

Natsu no Arashi! (2009) *
Studio: SHAFT
Director: Shin Oonuma

Borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered forties.

Kanamemo (2009) *
Studio: Feel
Director: Shigehito Takayanagi

Newsies, the moe generation.

Natsu no Arashi! Akinai-chu (2009) *
Studio: SHAFT
Director: Shin Oonuma / Kenichi Ishikura

More larks with the time travelling ghosts.

Hanamaru Kindergarten (2010) *
Studio: GAINAX
Director: Seiji Mizushima

Something about a school for weird looking glove puppets.

* Starchild Records involvement

11 thoughts on “PAST MY BEDTIME PART IV – In the midnight hour, she cried moe, moe, moe.”

  1. >> Something about a school for weird looking glove puppets.
    This made me giggle. A lot.

    I’ve really been liking this series of posts, I’ve learned so much from it! Please continue to be awesome!

  2. As always, go where the money goes. Sweet, another high school girl show made for adult males to sell adult “toys”. I guess you don’t have to put together figurines, unlike models. I miss robots. We’ll get a Shin Mazinger release at least, right? Right?

    1. It’s not, as there’s plenty of precursors both in late night anime and anime in general. Plus I think 19th century/early 20th century literature has to take a lot of the blame, both in terms of the Victorian cult of the child that a lot of books that WMT adapted were part of, and the sort of melodrama that informed space opera. Much of modern anime comes across as being the inbred descendants of Yamato and WMT to varying degrees.

      That being said, I definitely think that sort of inoffensive, light comedy of Azumanga Daioh is something King Records had in mind when looking at material to produce.

  3. How is pani poni dash and school rumble moe? They are extremely good comedy, well directed animation, and just odd. Clannad, Kanon, AIR, and even Haruhi are moe shows. Best of the bunch but yes moe none the less. There was a generation when we all just had crappy Gundam shows on and it’s ripoffs. I hate the mech genre more than anything in anime (though i do like Nadesico and i can stomach Eva). All the mech shows were pretty much emo. What I would prefer is a variety of shows. I do like moe, but that’s not all I want to watch. The better moe shows that i named above have better art, better stories, more sympathetic characters than anything the mech genre ever put out (besides eva…..though shinji is a emo bastard). Gundam to me is all one dimensional characters, infact the robots have more intelligence than the ones piloting them.

    1. Did I say either were moe? No. If you’re taking that from the title, then I’d also be claiming Heroic Age & Rescue Wings were, which is patently absurd.

      However, if you can’t see that Pani Poni Dash contains moe elements, particularly in the anime version, you’re wearing blinkers.

  4. I like this assessment, really, I do. But I do think that Otaku’s comments are understandable. I admit that Pani Poni Dash has moe elements, but to call it a “poor-man’s Doki Doki School Hours” is bad form. That show is as bonkers as a rubber mallet, and funny to boot.

    The real problem is that along with School Rumble (which you said nothing bad about), that makes only two shows out of 17 worth looking twice at. And only one of these was made originally for that time slot, the other being a sequel.

    That covered, I have a thought: taking into consideration Otaku’s post, has there been that much of either a decrease or increase in high-quality anime being produced? This is of course ignoring actual animation quality, as newer shows have the digital advantage. I personally avoid much of older anime precisely because it is mostly silly knock-off space operas and badly done Gundum clones. So how much has actually changed?

    Sure the market for anime has expanded hugely, and so the total number of shows has gone up and up, especially in the last decade, but is the percentage of decent shows actually decreasing? I’m inclined to say no. Excluding the sequel School Rumble, 1 good show to 15 crap ones is actually a pretty good ratio if you think about it.

    I’m not advocating consumer apathy or anything, but I really think we could be a lot worse off. Like the anime industry could be shrinking instead of ever branching outwards. As long as animators keep trying 1 new thing for every 15 money-grubbing enterprises, there will still be plenty of great anime to keep the critically minded busy.

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