The sun was just starting to set as the group trekked to the set where Senshi Muyo! was being filmed.
"Sugoi!" one of the National Animegraphic techs whistled, spinning his camera around in various directions. "This place is enormous!"
Ayanami Rei remained fairly calm about the whole matter. "Many of these remain unused throughout the year, but over the summer especially we find a boom in requests to use various soundstages. The authors who use them are generally looking to keep the costs of their fanfics down."
B-ko had used her connections with the Daitokuji Financial Group to finance the construction of this enormous labyrinth of sound stages and backlots. This way many of the principal Anime characters could do their shoots and then retire closeby for some cool-down time at the Anipike.
Many authors were taking advantage of that now for their own fics. The fact that many authors seemingly wrote their fanfics on a low-tech shoestring budget also contributed to the sheer volume of sets located around the area. Renting one of these locales was quite reasonable.
Quincy had volunteered to let Genom build the soundstages but that idea was quickly shot down (along with Quincy...literally) by the Knight Sabres. However once more Quincy had outwitted them, and Priss only nuked a Boomer replica of the Genom president.
Rei paused, motioning to an enormous backdrop. "This is just one of the many sets created for Studio Anipike. The residing president over the studios, Ikari Gendo, has proven to be most efficient in running the operation. Vice President Urd also makes for an excellent right-hand goddess too."
Cameraman Dan hoisted his portable camera onto his shoulder. "Who's on the board of directors?" he inquired, taking a few wide shots of Studio Anipike's grandeur.
"The Board's actually quite large when you take into account its different committees," Mihoshi said. "The Board of Directors is composed of myself, Cologne, Escaflowne's Folken, Captains Harlock and Tyler, Relena Peacecraft, Setsuna and Clamp Campus' Nokoro Imonoyama. Then there's a technical support team comprised of Ritsuko, Nene Romanova, X's Satsuki Yatoji--"
"What about Washu?" one of the techs piped up.
Mihoshi couldn't help but smile at that. "Washu's not the super-genius she'd have you believe. However Gourry is a first-rate programmer and we sometimes ask him to do some trouble-shooting if the need arises."
"Everyone's just full of surprises when the camera's not rolling, aren't they?" another tech remarked.
"This is Anipike not Anime," Dan said, glancing back at his crew. He quickly adjusted the picture and zoomed in on Mihoshi. "Well we didn't drag all this gear out for nothing. Mind if we let you begin the tour, Mihoshi?"
"I need to get back to my duties at the Club," Rei stated, heading back towards the Anipike. "Enjoy the filming."
Mihoshi pushed her glasses back up her nose. "I'd be honoured."
Mihoshi: [big smile!] "Well, I suppose I get to be your guide for the moment. We're filming a behind-the-scenes look at a Chaosfic, this one entitled Senshi Muyo! What you're looking at is one of the many soundstages Studio Anipike has for the authors' disposal. Numerous sets are also duplicated to accommodate the volume of fics for such Animes as Sailor Moon or Ranma 1/2. Anything dealing with Gundams or other mecha has a special Zero-G soundstage for outer space battles."
[Cue the muffled explosion that causes the ground to rumble!]
Cameraman Dan: [offscreen] "What was that?!"
Mihoshi: [laughs] "Nothing to be worried about. You get that a lot if you're near a Ranma 1/2 set."
[Ranma and Ryoga walk out from another doorway, towelling themselves off from yet another fight scene.]
Ranma: [sigh!] "You were a little off there today, Ryoga. You almost *hit* me with that Bakusai Tenketsu attack."
Ryoga: "Blame the guys on the special effects team. Besides you were standing too close to the underground explosives for pulling that stunt off."
Ranma: [eye roll!] "Like I want to debate with Falcon. He's enough of a weapons and explosives expert as it is in City Hunter. Oh, Mihoshi! What are you doing here?"
[Mihoshi waves Ranma & Ryoga over to the camera.]
Ranma: [puzzled as he looks into the camera] "What's with the news crew?"
Cameraman Dan: [still offscreen] "We're doing a documentary on the making of really bad fanfics, namely Chaos' Senshi Muyo!"
Ryoga: o.O "That twit who made me dress up in that stupid tutu for his Hades P-chan Zeorymer?!"
Mihoshi: "No, that was Hysteria's fic. You had to wear that red wig for his Ryoga Kenshin fic."
Ryoga: [wince!] "Thanks for reminding me."
Ranma: [giving Mihoshi a handful of money] "Could you put me down on the betting pool for '10 by half an hour'?"
Ryoga: "Ranma, you ready to hit the Cat Cafe yet or what?"
[Ryoga and Ranma head off for the Cat Cafe location.]
Camerman Dan: "So everything we read about in fanfiction is actually done up on soundstages?"
Mihoshi: [nods] "Hai. Sometimes after the Anime series ends the original set is kept and used for fanfic productions. See?"
[The camera pans in through the doorway to reveal the set for the Tendo dojo. Joseph Palmer is there in a director's chair barking out orders on the megaphone.]
Joseph: "Yeah, could we get someone to sweep up those black rose petals for the next take? Kodachi, wonderful work there! Just remember to take it easy with your sprained ankle and all."
Kodachi: ^-^ [chugging back a can of Jolt cola!] "Hai!"
[The camera pans back to Mihoshi.]
Mihoshi: "This is the actual Tendo Dojo used by Kitty TV and Fuji Films. Only a select number of authors are allowed to use the originals because of their distinguished writing credentials. Everyone else uses the replicas we create."
Cameraman Dan: "Is the set for Chaos' fanfic an original?"
Mihoshi: [stifles a laugh] "Are you kidding? They won't even let his filming be done ten soundstages away from anything original!"
Cameraman Dan: "Less damage that way?"
Mihoshi: [shrug!] "In a sense. You'll see what I mean when we get to the replica for Tenchi Masaki's house."
Animegraphic techie: "Ne, what's over there?"
[Mihoshi suddenly comes between the crewman and a corridor. The camera pans over to the entrance, which has the sign "Authorized Personelle Only" and the picture of a lemon.]
Mihoshi: "Matte! You don't want to go near there."
Cameraman Dan: "Lemon? As in lemonfics?"
Mihoshi: [nods] "Hai. This is a subsection of the Studio Anipike called Dojiworks, where the hentai fanfics are made."
Cameraman Dan: "Dojiworks? As in the hentai, Urotsuki Doji?"
Mihoshi: "Given the amount of naughty tentacle traffic that goes through these fics, it seemed appropriate. It used to be called Lemon Studio Doji (LSD) mainly because we wondered what drugs many of the writers were on when they wrote their fics. Trust me: it's not a pretty picture in there."
Cameraman Dan: "We'll take your word for it. So, then, where's the Chaosfic?"
SOUNDSTAGE #0080 (Tenchi Masaki's house & temple shrine)
Sporting a T-shirt with "L. CHAOS" emblazoned on the back, and a cap bearing the fanfic's title, Chaos was hard at work doing what he did best: freaking out. The irate li'l SD director frantically skittered across the set, waving his arms about and leaving in pages of the script in his wake.
"Shimatta! How can the most graceful presence anywhere in Anime be so fashionably late?!" he ranted. "When is Michelle going to get here?"
"Sugoi!" Minako whispered to Usagi. "Look at how big that vein in his forehead's getting."
Tenchi sighed as he managed to snag the fanboy's collar and stop Chaos' flyby. "Chaos, she said she'd be a little late to the filming because she was bringing a friend over the Club. Remember? We rearranged the schedule yesterday to accommodate her absence."
Chaos paused as the kana for "Forgot about that!" fell from the sky and beaned him on the head. Fortunately it was lightweight kana and therefore didn't knock him out of his senses. However it didn't knock his senses back *in* either.
Tenchi, garbed in his usual faded brown shrine outfit, was busy flipping through his copy of the script. "Rei, how fast will you be hurling those fireballs when I release you in Ryoko's cave?" he inquired. "Even though it'll be a practice run I don't want to get scorched by moving too slow."
Rei adjusted her almost outlandish Ryoko regalia and then pointed a finger in Tenchi's general direction. "BURNING MANDALA!!"
A startled Tenchi leaped aside as a barrage of flaming rings shot past him and missed. The long series of steps leading up to the shrine, however, were not so lucky.
"KYAAAA!!!" a frantic SD Chaos shrieked. "MY SET'S ON FIRE!"
Rei stuck out her tongue in embarrassment. "Gomen! I forgot this place isn't layered with asbestos."
"SHINING AQUA ILLUSION!!" Ami shouted, unleashing a watery blast that froze the fire--not to mention the director--inside a block of ice.
With a sigh Makoto tapped on the chilled fanboy. "This is going to put us behind schedule again. Does anyone have a chisel handy?"
A wicked grin on her face, Haruka pulled out her Space Sword. "Give me two minutes with him."
"We just want him thawed, not turned into an ice sculpture," Ryoko countered.
The combined cast of Sailor Moon and Tenchi Muyo! all turned around as Mihoshi called out to them. "Komban wa!" she said cheerfully. ANd while the blowdtyers were busy thawing out Chaos, Mihoshi happily took a few moments to talk excitedly to the cast about her & Nakago's honeymoon.
"Where would you like us to set up?" Camerman Dan asked Artemis.
The little white cat shrugged, leisurely seated amidst the branches of the holy tree Funaho. "Doesn't really matter so long as you stay away from the other cameras...and Chaos."
"Ne, Dan," one of the techs asked uneasily, pointing to the shivering block of Chaos. "Is that the director?"
Cameraman Dan nodded. "You're about to see history in the making, boys. Get the gear set up and make it quick. We've probably got about ten minutes before we need to get serious."
"Ah, so you're the ones National Animegraphic sent to us," Aeka remarked, helping to adjust the Jurian robes on Ami.
"Setsuna warned us about this beforehand," Haruka said, helping herself to some of the food at the caterer's buffet table. "Never ever doubt the extent of her spy network; it hasn't failed yet."
By this time Chaos had managed to stop his imitation of an iceberg and dried himself off. After the usual greetings and handshakes with Cameraman Dan's crew, Chaos grabbed a megaphone and started barking out orders.
"Okay people, let's make a fanfic! Ami, you finished with wardrobe yet? Makoto aren't you supposed to be offscreen for this scene? Ne, Usagi, you know if Minni-May's finished on the pyrotechnics for the school explosion yet?"
Usagi shook her head. "Apparently she's a little behind, but if we're behind in the filming as it is, that won't matter."
Chaos sighed. "Ne, where's Ryo Ohki?" he asked, turning to Lady Tokimi. She just shrugged. Chaos lifted the megaphone up to his mouth again. "Hey, could someone please cue Ryo Ohki?"
Chaos's eyes bugged out as an ominous shadow appeared over his form. Seconds later the enormous battleship mode of Ryo Ohki crashed down on top of him.
"Arigato," his voice warbled out from beneath the ship.
"And to think he gets to have Luna turn into that," Rei remarked, shaking her head.
"Could be worse," Kiyone replied with a shrug. "If this was Senshi Muyo!'s alternate universe we'd have Artemis as Ken Ohki too."
"We've already got me playing your role from the TV series while this fic centres on the OAVs," Makoto countered. "Chaos never was one to pay attention to continuity all that much."
"Concessions, concessions," Ami said, making another quick adjustment to her Jurian gown.
"Alright then!" Camerman Dan stated, adjusting the focus on his camera's lens. "We're ready to film!"
Minako: "Why'd I take this role? Well to be perfectly honest we're all contractually obligated to cater to our author's whims in their fanfics...most of the time. Something of a God complex meeting James Cameron, I suppose. Even still the pay for this one's not half bad--and after all we have all the real entertainment right here!"
[Minako points down to the shaky hand of Chaos that slowly tries to pull the rest of him out from beneath Ryo Ohki. The camera then moves around the set, where we see Tenchi's house in the distance, and in the foreground is the entrance to Ryoko's cave. Focus in on Rei.]
Rei: "As for me, crossovers are always something I enjoy doing. It's one thing to talk business with other Anime characters at the Club, but it's a completely different experience to work with those characters outside of your resident series. Granted you're at the mercy of the script but that's just the way fanfiction goes."
Kiyone: "I think that almost any kind of fanfic can be done well so long as it is written well, has been edited, and is plausible. For example, one could easily write a Fushigi Yugi/Ranma 1/2 crossover or a Slayers/Ruin Explorers crossover. All it takes is a good plot to draw the characters together and the rest kind of takes cares of itself...at least that's how the theory goes."
[A laugh is heard from Haruka. The camera pans left with Rei still in the shot, though now focusing on Haruka. She's leaning against the buffet table, with Usagi in behind raiding the food.]
Haruka: "The worst is when you get self-inserted author avatars running around. They can be the most demanding directors and the most trying actors."
Rei: "That is true. We've had instances where avatars made us do thirty takes for a scene just because they think they're not being good enough."
Haruka: [sigh!] "Sometimes it's a wonder any of us haven't killed them in the middle of filming. I know I've been tempted."
Usagi: [busy stacking a pile of dim sum on a plate] "Ne, Haruka-san, what about Beans?"
Haruka: "Mame-chan? Well she's always been a pain but I can't really think of any other self-inserted character I'd rather work with. She's...well...."
Haruka: [nod!] "Normalcy is a rare thing to find in avatars these days. They always seem to write in the extremities: either they really have no powers and everyone else around them does, or they're the most powerful one in the story."
Ryoko: "What about that Australian, Brett Handy and his "Oh my God!" series. He has god-like power, but it was all done in good form; he wasn't going around scoring with Urd and so on."
Rei: "Thankfully Chaos tends to stay out of the fanfics he writes and just concentrates on the crossover material he's working with...such as it is."
[The camera moves over to wardrobe, zooming in on Aeka doing the finishing touches on Ami's Jurian robes.]
Aeka: [talking to Ami] "So I said to her, 'Hey mom, it's *my* life! So if I want to sit on a beach and walk around naked....'"
[Ami giggles as Aeka notices the camera and turns a bright shade of pink.]
Aeka: o.O "A-Ano...."
Camerman Dan: "Um, we can edit it out or just do a voice-over narration during that line, Aeka."
[Suddenly who should pop out front of the camera but the slightly bedraggled director himself!]
Chaos: ^-^ "Um...ohayo! I'm Lord Chaos, the director of this fic I affectionately call Senshi Muyo! I spent a whole two hours last week writing up the script for it. What I'm hoping to achieve in this fic is something on a more epic proportion. Okay, so the concept for this crossover seems absurd. But that's the beauty of it!"
[Chaos begins walking around the set as he ruminates about his production. In the background we can see lighters, gaffers and cameramen busy prepping for the next scene.]
Chaos: "You see, we authors are all on the cutting edge of the avant-garde. We've all got a common goal of making a great series even greater, giving it an immortality on paper when its screen time comes to an end. Hopefully when we put the last words down we'll have paid adequate tribute to an Anime that inspired us. Now in the words of a contemporary of mine--!"
Mihoshi: [calling from offscreen] "Chaos, look out!"
Chaos: [glancing back] "Na ni?"
[Not watching where he's going, Chaos winds up clotheslining himself on a lowered boom mike.]
Chaos: "ITAAIII!! As I was saying, authors of fanfiction have more limitations placed on them than people might think. The greatest one is that of knowledge in Anime. The more a writer is familiar with a series, the more of an otaku they are, the better grounded they are in their writing. And since I am a fanboy I've got quite the info on both Tenchi Muyo! and Sailor Moon. What I intend to do here is give newfound depth and insight into the characters of the Senshi by placing them in a "fish out of water" situation...namely by casting them opposite the hapless Tenchi. That way I can push past the surface, peel back the layers and reveal the real, inside--!"
Makoto: [walking past Chaos] "Chaos, you're ranting again."
Chaos: o.O "Mako-chaaaaan!! *Ahem!* Anyhoo, the casting's pretty straightforward. Most of the Tenchi crew's been replaced with Sailor Senshi, but the ladies are still around for technical reference."
Ryoko: [aside to Tenchi] "Not to mention a good laugh."
[Tenchi tries to stifle his laughter but it's still caught on the camera. Chaos remains totally oblivious to this.]
Chaos: "The casting goes as follows: Rei plays Ryoko, Ami plays Aeka, Minako plays Mihoshi--typecasting on that one, I know--Makoto plays Kiyone, and Michelle as Washu. I've also opted to scratch Sasami's character completely. Haruka now replaces that opening in a new role I created especially for her!"
Haruka: [dryly] "Gee, thanks."
Chaos: ^-^ "Hai!"
Cameraman Dan: "I don't mean to seem rude, but aren't you short three Senshi then? What about Usagi, Hotaru and Setsuna?"
Chaos: [lament!] "Setsuna's busy working a fic with Ophelia and I couldn't book her in; I had to change the last ten pages of the Senshi Muyo! script when I learned she wouldn't be able to appear. Usagi will have a guest cameo as herself towards the end, and as for Hotaru...."
[Chaos nervously glances back at Haruka, who's now pulled out her Space Sword and is nonchalantly testing its sharpness on a nearby tree.]
Chaos: o.O [sweatdrop!] "Ano...let's start the next scene, shall we?"
Back to Fanfics