The Otakusphere: Censorship, cultural exchange and reckless fire

Good morning and welcome to another beautiful day in the Otakusphere. Today is a great day. First of all, we had snow. I was worried we were just going to have three months of pre-spring instead of an actual winter,

It’ll be gone by next week, but for now, I will enjoy it.

The other reason to celebrate is that I learned today that s-CRY-ed is going to be re-released on Blu-Ray. I lost my DVD copies of the series and I’ve wanted to pick it up again. Because we should all have some reckless fire in our hearts.

And now, let’s put on some apropos tunes and go on a cruise through the Otakusphere.


Let’s start with two somewhat different takes on censorship. Reasons to anime took a look at when censorship makes a show stronger, and Karandi broached why we should be concerned about censorship.

While I have mixed feelings about School Days, I have to agree the now-infamous Nice Boat turned what was an interesting show into a myth. I do not doubt that the show would have kept a following no matter how it ended, but I have to imagine that it drew viewers to the series.

Yes, by definition, this was censorship, but I don’t think it made it a better show. The course of School Days was set well before this point, so if you weren’t bought in no novelty was going to right the course.

That said, I do agree with Karandi that censorship should concern us. The biggest problem is that it’s done in a knee-jerk fashion without any real thought about the materials or any reliance on facts. Elfen Lied is disturbing and bloody, but it’s not done in a manner that glorifies the violence. It’s very much the opposite. You’re supposed to feel disturbed by it.

The other problem is that it involves a lot of pearl-clutching by people who are concerned about the long-lasting effects on children or society. I’m not convinced that it’s validated.

Anyway, enough of my awkward rambling. Let’s talk about something else that I have absolutely no business talking about — hip hop.

I came across this fascinating post over at D&A Anime blog about the crossover of anime and hip hop, and while I question some of his dates, I think that it reminded me that the cultural products of Japan and the U.S. are not as divided as we may imagine.

I’m always reminded of Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest that traveled over to Japan and became Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and then came back to the U.S. as Last Man Standing. It’s fascinating to see these cultural exchanges.

I don’t have anything useful to say about hip hop, so I would invite you to go read the blog post about it


Now let’s talk about a different kind of power creep — comedy creep.

A few weeks ago, I got into an exchange on Twitter about power creep in shounen titles, and pretty much everything I said over there could be applied to comedy, as this post from Jonah’s Daily Rants shows.

The problem with any long-running series is that you have to continually up the stakes somehow. If you just have a show where X character gets himself in Y situation all of the time, then people are going to tune out. The problem is that escalating has a cost, and eventually it will devolve into farce.

It reminds me of the episode of Happy Days where Arthur Fonzarelli donned a pair of water skis and jumped over the shark. Because he is the Fonz, and the Fonz is cool.

I’m not convinced that any show can avoid its “Jumped the Shark” moment. The best it can do is quit before it gets there.

Dima, who guest posted over at I Drink and Watch Anime, reminded me of something. I miss shoujo shows. Fruits Basket may be fine and all, but I mean I miss those shows about teenage girls who are trying to muddle their way through life. The ones that feel rooted in a real sense of time and place.

I don’t see many of those anymore. But Peach Girl certainly seems to be one of those relics of the past. Granted, I am somewhat sad that Dima called it a semi retro show.

Geez, I was nearly 30 when that show came out.

And talking about comedy, Edy over at Convoluted Situation put up a post about the greatest comedy of all time. The one that Yoshiyuki Tomino made when he conceived of Garzey’s Wing.

To be honest, I’m not that big of a Tomino fan, but I love hearing his disasters narrated by other people. Because when it’s said by someone else it’s not sad anymore, it’s funny.

Finally, I want to wrap up with one of the most interesting posts of the week. Egghead Luna translated a series of posts that comprise a Japanese urban legend about a ghost train, a girl and a strange station.

One of the things that struck me as I was reading it is how much it sounded like similar scenes we see in anime. In particular, there is a scene from Ghost in the Shell where a bunch of people are passing along theories about The Laughing Man. It feels very much like a chat room where people are talking past each other as much as they’re talking with each other. It also feels unnatural, like those asides are only placed in there to make it seem like a chatroom.

But either way, it’s obvious that the translation had a lot of work put into it, and it’s worth checking out.

Well, that is all I have for today. So be good, be careful and learn a lot.

And, as always, thanks for reading.

3 thoughts on “The Otakusphere: Censorship, cultural exchange and reckless fire

  1. You’d be surprised exactly how much crossover anime and hip hop have. Not only is there an overtly rap OP/ED or series every so often, Hypnosis Mic has proven there’s actually a big pool of talent to choose from (…if you’re willing to dilute the genre, in some cases) and people are willing to listen to it.

    Anyways, there’s a bunch of articles I haven’t read here, so thanks for the reading material.

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