MAG・ネット 29 – 07th Expansion

MAG・ネット is a television program aired on NHK which delves into the realm of otaku culture on a weekly basis. They cover a wide range of things, from seiyuu, games, animators, manga artists, etc and do a very good job creating a professional and illuminating weekly documentary. They’ve had a number of excellent interviews and other insights in the 28 episodes that have been produced so far. My favourite episode was dedicated to the now-deceased old-school animator, Yoshinori Kanada. That opened my eyes up to a lot about the world of animation in Japan and gave me a deep appreciation of the man’s work. Each episode has a special focus, but they also have a segment which briefly covers other events/news of the week. From here on, whenever I stumble across something interesting in one of their episodes, I’ll relay it on this blog!

 

07th Expansion

This episode focused on Ryukishi07 and his famous doujin circle, 07th Expansion, with specific attention paid to his recent mind-bending doujin game, Umineko no Naku Koro ni! It provided a nice background on the circle, and the man behind it, and a good overview of their works. Ryukishi07 originally started the circle with his younger brother, Yatazakura, and they became a famous booth at comiket after the success of their visual novel/sound novel, Higurashi. Since then, their popularity has grown significantly, and they continue to be an increasingly prominent attraction at comiket. Now, the circle has 5 staff, and their works are becoming more professional. Umineko features improved art quality, impressive music, and a challenging style of storytelling that is even studied by some university classes.

Personally, I’ve been mildly interested in 07th Expansion since I finished Higurashi and came to appreciate how original and interesting the story was. I was never really interested enough to play the original game/visual novel because the artwork wasn’t so great, and by most accounts, Higurashi was a pretty solid adaptation. Those compliments did not extend to the next anime adaptation project, Umineko no Naku Koro ni, again by studio DEEN, and again based on a mystery VN by 07th Expansion. Umineko did not sell as well, and was widely disliked by VN fans for cutting out a lot of what made the VN great, and being a messy, mediocre anime on the whole. I actually dropped it.

But, this exposition on Umineko gave me a bit of insight into the appeal of the VN, and what makes the fans tick. Umineko is an altogether more ambitious story than Higurashi, which is already saying a lot. The core of Umineko is the battle between the rational Battler, who tries to explain the mysteries occurring on the Island in terms of tricks and logic, and the witch, Beatrice, who insists they were orchestrated by magic. This fundamental conflict which leaves the reader to try and work out whether it’s a fantasy or mystery, is a really cool idea, and the meta tones to the story lend it an original and exotic feel. To me, the anime just seemed pointlessly confused and possibly retarded, but the VN format probably suits it much more, and I can see why the fan base is so strong. The fact that 07th Expansion remains a doujin circle means it has a close proximity to its fans, and it really feels like Ryukishi07 and his fans are trying to outsmart each other. Whether the story is engaging or sensible becomes irrelevant if you get caught up in that fray!

 

07th Expansion booth at Comiket 78! Ryukishi in the back.
07th Expansion headquarters! Looks very nice and professional!
Ryukishi07's work room #1
Ryukishi07's work room #2. He should have submitted for Otacool 3!
This lecturer likes to study Umineko.

5 thoughts on “MAG・ネット 29 – 07th Expansion

  1. Glad you like it! Thanks for commenting. MagNet will resume tomorrow night so I should be doing these posts again soon.

  2. Oh I found the full program. I didn’t tough I would even watch a full 45 minutes program with my current Japanese level but it was interesting even I didn’t understand too much

  3. The VN tell the story in a very slow pace, same with the manga adaptation-which it closely adapted the game more than the anime and they included some scene from the VN which are didn’t really shown in the anime. But an anime couldn’t simply doing that.

    If you pay attention to the anime adaptation, someone maybe can be confused with it, but really the Studio DEEN just shown the things that really should be shown, in other words the most important part or hints of the story of the VN.

    Actually, what the anime mostly cut are the fanservice…You know, part which is not really important for the story & often pointless, just there for the sake of fans pleasure. This argument supported by the fact, that most of Umineko’s fanbase are from doujin circle–part of otaku who really take many type of fanservice as a very usual circumstance (some of them even considered if every anime/manga should have ‘that’ kind of scene). No wonder if they’re protest with that kind of cute/censored.

    And Ryukishi07 have been confirmed if he’s fully supported the anime behind it, so most likely every scene shown in the anime are from his direct agreement.

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