MMD Cups. It’s been almost a decade (since 2009 I think) that every half-February and half-August, we are granted with a bunch of MMD videos made according to a selection of themes and acting as a vitrine of what each participant has best to offer. Each time, we have our bunch of amazing videos but also disappointments and people who give up or post their entry much much later (sometimes a year later for what was supposed to be completed within a month). Also the opportunity to see how the current trends are going and who are those among MMDers we will have a chance to discover as future gems or simply mere opportunists who intentionally only shine on MMD cups. What does this edition has to offer this time? Is MMD still going strong? Or is it still on its slow decline? This is what I’ll try to find out through the selection I made below.
Before getting into the topic, the selection below is far from complete and only reflects my own interests or entries that in my opinion have some particularity that make them worth watching.
By けぜめ. This is the sensation of this cup. Finally an MMD dogfight which doesn’t look like a mess. From an author who came a pretty long way (even though he deleted his previous videos, but you don’t miss anything if this comforts you*). Almost comparable to MinusT to some aspects. I like how he doesn’t waste resources in adding unnecessary elements and only focusses himself on the dogfight (perhaps a bit to much some might add). I hope he won’t screw up in the future and he’ll keeps things more or less that way.
Indeed, the sensations are always in opportunist genres I’m not interested at all. As if the MMD scene always want to troll me. But we have a particularity this time.
By ＋⌒o⌒＋ (or SUWAWA). This looks like a reprise of KamS’ animation but in MMD. This is one of the few videos that I suspect of having “cheated”. What do I mean by that? Well, if you go to Nicolog (http://www.nicolog.jp/watch/sm31766343) and observe the progression of views and mylists, you can notice a “pH-jump” at a certain time, meaning something not normal occurred that boosted its popularity (in fact, you’ll not be able to see it as all stats before August 24th vanished!!). Touhousubs pointed me to the “クッキー☆” and “SWK is GOD” comments the video got. But I do have another assumption. At some time I suspect SUWAWA to have bombed his own video with ad tickets, which obviously made its popularity climb like crazy. You can at least go here, as an alternative in order to observe this phenomenon better (all data since its upload on August 18th is there, and you can even see ad ticket points): http://www.nicochart.jp/watch/sm31766343
By MSK. Was supposed to be a mere unassuming and rather cheesy sounding full voice MMD. It’s got nice moods, the performances can bring a smile but aren’t particularly bad either and the story looks rather pointless. So, nothing to be amazed of, except if you absolutely want to hear your 2hus for once. However, numbers prove me wrong again. The other case of pH-jump: http://www.nicolog.jp/watch/sm31787393
But wait, there are 2 of them! One on August 22nd and another one on August 29th!! To say I’m rather baffled is an euphemism. This one also got “クッキー☆” (unavoidable on those kind of videos) and “SWK” comments.
By aaaaah. Ah yeah. That video showcasing ray-casting effects in MMD. Nice atmosphere and inspiring. If you like those and are desperate about finding some (the genre is underrepredented and plagued by MMDers giving up and dropping motivation), you’ll like it.
D-2‘s entry. Hit or miss, as usual with him. Personally, I think he saw much better days. But you might like it anyway. It’s a bit like a horror short with the KanColle cast. Can have its charm. However, the Voiceroid voices might make you cringe if you happen to not like them.
By のりタマ, HIEI LOVE series. Still works pretty well and pretty classy. One of the last remaing KanColle MMD efforts that don’t feel rushed or lazy. Probably an indicator that the tide is turning among KanColle MMDs (the only ones remaining being the countless rubbish picture-card shows, as always).
MMD band edition with many franchises covered.
Melfy-chan is back again for some new SoL silent shorts. Lacking a bit originality and inspiration over the years but still nice to watch.
Another day at the SDM series. Again, a series which I feel it loosing its appeal over time. Can be still nice to watch if you like the series. Note the appearance of Sobakasu Patchouli.
ZX Tech‘s 2D maze series. I’m not really into it because of the yukkuri voice and its tone but you may like it if you happen to follow this guy.
Vocaloid is alive!
Well, for those who’ve been watching MMDs for very long, you’re still tempted to believe that Vocaloids are still a thing with MMDers… despite being completely abandoned by the scene since competing franchises such as KanColle and Touken Ranbu made their apparition between 2013 and 2015.
By まく. VOTOMS ANOTHER series. Mechas and Vocaloid. A it bland some might think, but it’s nice to it ongoing.
Pat Labor and Vocalo/Utau-loids
By 南瓜のたね. Slice of life and Vocaloids. Even though Vocaloids are being forgotten the rest of time (which is a shame, really), it’s nice to see them make a resurgence at least during MMD cups.
Same vein. Rin with mini-Miku.
Completely underrated and overlooked. Some kind of battle MMD. Looks cheap but remains enjoyable. For those who like those kind of amateurish-looking MMDs that still manage to do their job while not crapping.
Other chosen bites:
By ロットん. Pretty neat and accurate reproduction of a scene from Fast and Furious 8, down to small details and sequences (note: I didn’t watch the movie). I’m personally not into those kinds of MMDs because they don’t inspire me or talk to me (I prefer original efforts rather than mere reproductions). But if you like them or enjoyed that movie, you’ll like this one.
Miku exploring a rollercoster (!), mix with MMD and photographs
By マスク・ザ・春原. Kemono Friends bandwagon. I sincerely preferred when this MMDer did his nice street performance videos.
By 雲雀１３. Random 2hu+Daddy series. This time, Daiyousei and Daddy. Chatty, so you’ll need knowledge of Japanese to full enjoy. Otherwise nice shading and use of filters to attempt an atmosphere.
By ジョー. Hmm… what the hell is this? Someone trying to embrace full animation and discarding yukkuri voice to see if it works well. Well, when it just ends in chattiness only and nothing special writing-wise, it won’t look magically more appealing. Might work if you have knowledge of Japanese and happen not to like yukkuri voice.
Mujin‘s underrated mini-drama series with PMCA characters. Hit or miss. Might like if you happen to like Mujin’s works.
By 秦々. Marisa’s mushroom picking adventure. This is a silent short, or rather something that wants to look like one. This is pretty enjoyable and may give you a smile, in addition to be pretty nice visually. However, his narrative style and constraints are way too obvious, making it look just on par with 霧雨あろえ/ぱにょぺらんP‘s shorts. It looks like only Clover (or クローバー) seems to be at ease with this particular silent format. At least, this MMDer did experiment all possible narration styles by now (unfortunately not being particularly efficient in any of them).
In conclusion, to be honest, this MMD cup confirmed what I saw during the MMD drama festival and had let me quite unsatisfied. From what I saw, we had less participations than usual, and most importantly a lot less killer videos. Last year we got very nice surprises, especially in the full voice department. This year, for example, full voice attempts were hardly noticeable. Not even Kemono Friends raised the bar. Still we had our share of nice videos (this is what this post showed, and there’s a lot missing or that I omitted). Indeed, it can happen that some MMD cups could be less rewarding and with narrower content from time to time. But I still feel the tide definitely turning. Trends are what they are and I suspect the average Japanese otaku of today tending to spend less and less time on home computers and perhaps more time on mobile devices. Which means indeed less time for creative hobbies. Indeed, no MMDer will have the gut or naivety to acknowledge that, as they all know it’s a pretty rubbish reason, but I guess they tend to become like me and don’t see time flying. Just seeing how most MMDers are struggling to complete relatively ambitious and promising efforts seems to confirm that (if not scrapped or abandoned, plaguing some promising series and sometimes entire genres ending up deserted). Seeing a part 2 of some elaborate MMD drama taking more than 12 months to complete (which is more than a Fantasy Kaleidoscope episode, may I remind you!), a typical viewer fan of MMDs is indeed tempted to ask him(her)self questions. What I observed on the other hand is the migration to shorter formats or “Twitterisation” of MMD. Now, instead of series we have more short single efforts MMD drama-wise. Real talents are not considering MMD anymore (or rarely) limiting the number of groundbreaking efforts. We have a lot (perhaps too much) test videos or just glimpses of some gag or action scenes. More in the vein of what we see on Twitter. That’s a bit unfortunate, but the tide can turn back at any moment if you’d like some hope.
And finding the excuse of “we’re not producing for those filthy passive and lazy viewers” is just too easy. If not the viewers, who’s going to support you, encourage you, give you feedback or help you when you begin to lack perspective on your own art and are prone to screwing up? The view of a non-artist can be as important as the creator’s one as the former can have a foreign and unbiased view about a certain work. Also, viewers can be experienced on their own after seeing many works and being familiar with great things, great ideas, various styles but also mistakes artists tends to do and the bad or good habits they can have. Because someone isn’t creating shouldn’t mean (s)he should shut up. How could literature, cinema and music critics exist if there weren’t “viewers” who are not always creating themselves? For me, viewers are as important as the works themselves, as they help the creation process in their own way. So, a message to MMDers, especially the ones who have been acting very carelessly those last few years, don’t look down on your viewers simply because they’re not creating. By your careless attitude, you’re only generating frustration and disappointment among them and giving yourself a pretty bad image. You also give the MMD scene a poor image of immature and irresponsible people. Not having time anymore or having more important worries are indeed a perfectly valid reason for not creating or losing contact. Indeed, as a hobby, it is perfectly normal that an artist can have a break, be in a hiatus or simply in lack of inspiration resulting in long period of inactivity. But when you disappear and don’t tell anything (especially when you have ongoing efforts), how are we supposed to know? Only a few had the decency to confess they can’t produce anymore because of their tight schedule. Only a few apologize when they are late or for their slowness. Some of them post progress from time to time which i find very nice. I really wish MMDers were less careless especially when they have awesome potential they don’t seem to be aware of. In this case, it is the viewer’s job to tell him/her and unfortunately viewers don’t do that because they don’t want to hurt or put pressure. But sometimes, that might be necessary. It also shows that you’re actively interested in what certain artist does and not simply passively watching.
It may be better for me to end my conclusion here as it is getting way too long and starting to get polemical and that might not be a good thing. Indeed, my view is certainly biased and jaded on its own as the MMD scene is still pretty rich in content, even nowadays (2017). But I feel we are lacking the variety and enthusiasm of the early days. I hope one day that I can be proven wrong and that MMD today isn’t just copycat dance videos, lazy picture card shows or (often rubbish, but with some gems) yukkuri-voiced comedies.