Curated From Check Them Out For More Content.


And here I previously thought 16bit Sensation had gone a little too soft on its criticisms of exploitative game-creation culture. After weeks of exploring opinions and extolling the virtues of working, often quite long and hard, on the art you love, Another Layer now arrives at some remarkably frank assessments of the darker side. None of the subjects discussed in this episode are technically new. But the mere dismissal of things like automation and overworking has given way to outright disdain by the writing and characters. It’s to the point that there’s not a lot of time for flagrant otaku references—the anime has reached its conceptual climax.

This spins out of confirming what could already be seen was happening with the room full of people tubes Konoha found last week. Planet Games Japan is harvesting the imagination of as many game creators as it can get its grubby global mitts on. The basics of AI generation were covered in last week’s episode for the audience’s benefit, so the sheer scaled-up horror of this setup can come across clearly. The ideas of artists are being used as a real-time dataset for infinite training of the company’s generative engine. It’s all in the name of pumping out more resonant “content” to rack up money for the executives while the people still ostensibly making the games are left suspended in an unconscious mind mill 24/7. They still pay them fairly, CEO Glenn Faulkner assures Konoha.

As with the business-minded worldwide recentering of otaku culture foretold in the tenth episode, this drastic sci-fi shift is hardly the stuff of fiction. As discussed last week, AI-generated art and games are already flooding the market, with concerns about homogenization and dilution of the creations. Of course, the executive solution wouldn’t simply be to relent and allow artists to create at their rate with comfortable compensation, but instead, to subject them to a capitalistic nightmare. I mean that literally, as the idea of unconscious employees working in their dreams was broached in the story of a startup in our timeline just recently. It’s a ghoulish solution to a problem created by the desperation of its preceding advancement, extreme enough that Another Layer offers it no compromised consideration.

Konoha, simple as she is, reacts with raw rejection. She recalls how she was raised on the art-evolving tech of the 2010s and views it as a one-way street that led to this horror show. She declares that advancements like her digital drawing technology should go to hell in the same handbasket as AI and artist-absorbing brain pods. It’s the sort of conclusion she would jump to; Konoha is a good girl who just wanted to create more of the things she loved, using what she had learned through all her time with them. She was never a “genius,” simply someone with decades of inspiration that she could deploy ahead of her time. For all the technical discussion of the demerits of AI and automation in this episode, seeing Konoha break down as she tries to rationalize her love for her art with what she has lost in pursuing it still makes for an affecting emotional highlight of this entry.

Konoha may be jumping the gun because Another Layer‘s real lesson seems to be a bit more nuanced and, as it always has been, earnest. Creating for the love of itself can cause you to push yourself, work more hours than is necessary, and burn out your creativity for a time. But the end products of that effort can still be celebrated because they were ultimately made to deliver joy and love. When Alcohol Soft pushed themselves to make The Last Waltz in 1999, that love was at the forefront of their hard-working montage of doing it for themselves. By contrast, the tube-entombed laborers of Planet Games Japan are being made to do all this at the behest of their executive overlords. Pointedly, this isn’t a result of advanced artificial intelligence assimilating humanity—it all happens at the behest of mere humans (or as humans as CEOs can be considered to be). As with the comparisons to Mamoru’s misgivings about moving onto Windows way earlier in the anime, the issue was never about streamlining game development, nor was it about the “talent” that Toya despairs that she doesn’t have. The mere human act of creating anything is enough to contribute to the great culture of bishoujo.

That is a lot for an episode that’s otherwise tied together with a chunkily animated escape sequence and the swerve of the aliens seemingly returning at the last minute. But it’s the sort of meditation I’ve kept returning to Another Layer for all this time. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a homey game development office or a shiny sci-fi corridor; the writing’s finger on the pulse of the human drive to make is resonant. And it’s energizing that it so soundly spoke out against the natural enemies of that process in this week’s episode.


Bonus Bits:

  • The radio tower seen throughout this alternate future is name-checked this week as the “Akihabara Sky Tower.” It is based on a radio tower which was really being considered for construction in Akihabara around 2001! Obviously, those plans fell through in our universe, with the super-tall broadcasting slack being picked up by the Tokyo Skytree some ten years later instead.
  • The song that Mamoru distracts a guard by playing (out of his smartwatch, tied to a rat because he’s just that ingenious) is “Go Go Waitress” from Welcome to Pia♥Carrot!! 2. A 1997 release by Cocktail Soft, it was, naturally, the sequel to Welcome to Pia♥Carrot!!, which has been glimpsed throughout 16bit Sensation‘s run. Of course, it was another Tatsuki Amazuyu and Misato Mitsumi joint.

16bit Sensation: Another Layer is currently streaming on

Chris mostly knows many of these VN game characters from the fighting games they popped up in. You can catch him meditating on any amount of game, anime, and manga subjects over on his blog, as well as posting too many screencaps of them as long as Twitter allows.

Source link

- A word from our sposor -

Episode 12 – 16bit Sensation: Another Layer