The Otakusphere: Pacing Problems, cultural literacy and the evil that is Bandai Visual

So I’m back with another roundup on my thoughts on some of the big posts I’ve come across. Or at least posts that I thought were important. Well… maybe important is to big of a word. Perhaps, interesting?

Anyways, lets get on with it.

To be fair, I’ve had far away and no where bookmarked for a long time, but after reading this treatise on cultural literacy, I’ll definitely be checking back more often. I’m kind of torn on the whole thing though. To be fair, I’ve always been fascinated with how groups define themselves. Although I do have a sense the next post is going to contain references of how we as a subculture create our own myths and then create an in-group/out-group dynamic.

Also, it seems that reddit has an anime section. This seems like an awesome way to both build the community (if you’re one of those people who believes in community), or just get more hits on your blog (if you’re an attention starved blogger like um… yeah anyways.)

Only the Bitch Knows had a pretty fascinating post on Shigofumi (and Bandai Visual’s release on it). The first part brought up an interesting point about pacing, stating that slower shows are more complex. It’s not something I really agree with. I think slower shows have more of a chance for interpersonal drama and reflection, but if dot Hack is a horribly complex show, then I’ll stick to my “mecha-porn fests” (as Owen called them in this post)

All of that said, the real meat of the post revolved around Bandai Visual’s release of the show. Now in all fairness, I’m still not a fan of the idea of “buying to support the industry”. I’m a much bigger fan of the idea of “buying because you enjoy the show.” And while I don’t really like BV’s pricing structure, I have to say “not buying to punish the company” isn’t a really sound idea either.

And to finish it all off a man that needs no introduction, Owen S. wrote a really long diatribe on true tears. Now I haven’t seen the show. I don’t really have any intention of seeing the show. I’m still trying to catch up so that I’m even with all the people who’ve seen all of these show, and am a bit concerned about talking about stuff that is two or so years out of date.

That said, he made an interesting distinction about eliminating taste from judging whether a series is good or not good. Now since I agree that you have to take taste into account, I don’t think it’s a factor that can be eliminated because on some level you have to make a judgment about whether you think a show went far enough, did enough, was dramatic enough.

And that in the end is all personal taste.

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The Otakusphere: ADV, ADV, ADV, the end of an era and some more ADV.

So a while back I tried writing this column called Anime Bloggers Unite! It didn’t last too long. Well I resurecting it and giving it a name I actually liked (and stole from a much better blogger than me). And it makes me feel like singing, “I’ve been around the Otakusphere and I can’t find my baby.”

Okay enough of that, onward and forward.

So ADV’s news has been the biggest thing that’s hit in the last week. The mysterious pulling of several of their titles from their online store, and the even more cryptic letter they sent to ANN about it. Well there’s several opinions floating around out there, probably the most positive coming from Nigorimasen! which basically says everything that I would say about it. That it’s a good thing that they’re trimming the fat. It also mentions the canceled IcV2 article over on Robert’s Anime Corner Store.

Now I want to point out two things here. First, it’s a damn shame that we get one part of the information as hearsay and no information from the PEOPLE WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO BE GIVING US INFORMATION! I’m a little ticked at the people over at ANN for running with the first article without having any actual facts other than they pulled the titles. Granted, someone could come along and say they’d be irresponsible for not writing about it. But writing about it without the facts, is in my opinion, just as bad.

Of course, if you want to stock up on some ADV titles before whatever shit hits the fan, there’s a fire sale going on over at RightStuf. And to top it all off, ADV has made their choice as far as the format wars: BluRay. Oooo who… Yet another format that I probably won’t start buying until it’s been out for about five years and they force me to switch over. CuteProxy had an interesting editorial about whether it’s a good thing or not. Personally, I can hope that it’ll drive the price of DVDs down. But personally I don’t think it will. At least not until it’s almost the end. I mean I remember the clearances in VHS right up to a couple of years ago when the movie companies said they would stop producing them.

On a more general note Nakama Brittanica had an interesting post about there being a golden era of anime from 1995 to 2003 (basically from Eva to Fullmetal Alchemist). In part, I want to agree that there was a lot of creative stuff that came out of Japan during that time frame. And there is a lot of current anime that is having to live up to the pretty high bar set by shows like Cowboy Beebop and Fullmetal Alchemist.

But on the other hand, I think it’s a bit heady to call it a Golden Age. I mean from what I’ve seen and heard there have been series like Welcome to the NHK!, Monster… even Beck that seem to live up to and even surpass some of those earlier shows. In part I think there’s a halo placed around some series that really shouldn’t be.

That said, I do think that there needs to be another series that would have wide Western appeal (among non-anime fans), because that is what series like Cowboy Beebop and FMA had. They appealed to audiences that didn’t usually watch anime. The industry is ripe for it. But sadly, it might be a couple more years before we see it.

And that might be a couple years too late.

Anime Bloggers Unite! Strange Warnings, The Bah Humbug Spirit and Pedantic Posts abound

Okay so I haven’t picked out a rotation for this, but for the people who read this blog regularly, you know the deal already. I’m going to pick out some posts I thought were good and not so good and give my opinion. And I’m probably going to pick up some hate today, but it’s all good.

So on with the fun.

With all the hub-bub and reviews of the new Anime Network player, a geek by any other name had one of the freshest comments I’ve seen. That the TOS for the player states that you have to 18 to use it. While I understand that it’s a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo to protect ADV from liability, I have to agree with her. With the demographics for anime skewing younger, making it against the rules to use the player does seem a bit silly.

And on the silly side of things, Furu Anime Panikku had another fun blog post about whether he would really use the merchandise that he bought. Granted, the stuff he has kind of makes me jealous. Although I really want a TERRA satchel. That’s all I want. And I would so use it. Why? Why can’t I have that?

And on the why side of things, I came across a couple of pedantic posts that might interest the more culturally inclined. Reverse Theives did one on the differences between popular anime in Japan and popular anime in America. Fair warning, skip the intro. It’s really dry reading, and come on, we watch ANIME. I think we realize that there are cultural differences. Also I think the later part is a bit skewed toward the traditional college age anime fan, rather than what has been really popular in anime. Unless you think Pokemon had a dark side? Perhaps that lost episode about the team Rocket bloodbath.

The Anime Blog had an interesting post on what Christmas means in Japan. The only problem is that it starts with a tongue-in-cheek rendition of what Christmas means in America. I could do an entire blog post about how the counterculture seems to be invading my nerdspace. But I’ll leave it at this – I like Christmas in America. I like the crass commercialism of it. I like Christmas lights. I like the madness at the mall as I dash through the crowds trying to find the perfect present. I like the idea of sticking a dead tree in my living room and stringing lights and tinsel on it. I even like tinny renditions of Carols through department store speakers. So leave my holiday alone and go pick on Easter or something.

Last but certainly not least, That’s Not Kanon had a thought-provoking post about how people associate themselves with particular anime characters. Seriously, I’d love to be Alex Rowe, hell I’d settle for Takuto Kanashiro (from Argentosoma), but I’d probably have to settle for being Krillen.

Anyways, that’s all the interesting stuff I saw in the anime blogosphere (that I don’t already subscribe to). So I’ll leave you with two posts about women, both real and plastic.

And if you want to send some hate my way, leave a comment or email iniksbane@gmail.com.

Anime Bloggers Unite! Haruhi, Fan Art, Meta Meta and All time favorite series

So I thought I’d do something a bit different. My poll is almost up, and it looks like most people who visit this Site are too ambivalent to vote. But for the majority of people who aren’t, they’d like to see me do critique and analysis on blogs.

Well as part of that I thought I’d step out of my shell a bit and offer up some stuff that I came across on AnimeNano. And to show that I’m not a copycat, I’m actually going to add my own thoughts.

Tea Shop Beloved – Defloned talked about the plethora of favorite series that people seem to list. Especially when it comes to all-time favorite series. This post is close to my heart. I’m still struggling with how to define an all-time favorite series. And why, some series that have some problems are on my all-time favs list, but some series with problems aren’t.

But I do agree with Defloned. There isn’t any reason to have more than 20 all-time favorite series. It’s a sign that people aren’t really being serious with themselves. They confuse an initial emotional reaction with a series really being good. I do think the initial reaction is important, but I think it’s a question of how long a series haunts you after watching it. Do you find yourself thinking about what the symbolism in Wolf’s Rain could mean, or that stupid picture in RahXephon. Good lord. That’s going to drive me crazy for the rest of my days.

To be fair, it’s in part a reaction to a misconception I’ve heard floating around lately. That an enjoyable series must be great or else it isn’t good. Why can’t someone just enjoy a series? It is entertainment after all.

The Ramblings of Dark Mirage

So I don’t read DarkMirage. I know I should, but it’s kind of like picking up the DaVinci Code. Everyone tells you it’s great, but because they tell you it’s great you don’t want to read it. Although I did think this blog post was interesting. Granted, I don’t know jack or shit about what he’s talking about, but I did think the part about the high price of the dojinshi was interesting. Mostly because it’s part of a larger phenomenon, I’m seeing lately – so I’m going to coin a term here: The “I did this” argument.

I’ve heard this in the fansub debate too. The idea that X people did all this work and should get paid for it, even though they didn’t create anything. It’s a little more substantial in the fansub argument, but not by much. Granted, I don’t draw and I don’t do translations, but I wouldn’t expect people to pay me more than the cost of materials to make a copy of something that someone else did. That tends to be why I support indie artists at the Artist’s Alley. Rather than getting a picture of Ruroni Kenshin dressed up in TERRA gear. Ew… that’s a bad thought.

On to the next one.

Furu Anime Panikku – This one was mostly a self-reflective post about the blog. But what I noticed here was an idea about different types of blogs – mostly episode recap blogs. Granted, I don’t really read episode recaps myself, mostly because I don’t usually watch fansubs. (Except for Blood +, damn you Sony for not making a R1 release yet.)

I do think this is an interesting social phenomenon that we tend to gravitate toward a certain type of blog. Whether it’s personal thoughts and reflections, or analysis. To be fair, I do it myself. I tend to frequent the same blogs again and again. And in all honesty, those are the blogs that I try to emulate here with mixed results.

But I do think episode recap blogs do have a place in the anime blogging community. Let’s face it, they’re in some ways the ultimate expressions of fandom. They’re talking about what they’re watching and offering up their opinions. In some ways they’re the primer for the hype that starts about a series.

And speaking of hype (how’d you like that transition), HappySoda wrote an pretty standard review about Bandai’s release of Haruhi. What caught me here was a reference to what I like to call: the curmudgeon-hype formula. The amount of hype a series gets is inversely proportional to how much a curmudgeon will like a series.

Last but definitely not least, the Anime Blogging Collective has launched a retrospective on the last year of anime called the 12 days of Christmas. Seriously, I don’t know how many of these guys there are, but check out What is eternity doing tonight?, The Animachronism (who has one of the best titles for a blog ever) and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?! along with at least one post by AnimeOtaku – all of which wrote some awesome posts. Well they always write awesome posts. (I subscribe to all of these blogs) EDIT: AnimeOtaku is not part of the collective, but he did do one post for the project.

And Anime Sophist is having a month of El-Hazard, which is neat too. Considering it was one of those shows I watched way back when. Granted, I still haven’t seen the last episode of the OVA, but still he writes a mean review. (I subscribe to this one too.)

Okay, so if you think I missed something, or you’d like to see some more just leave a comment or email me at iniksbane@gmail.com. Also, if you’re interested in participating in the blog in review project, please send me an e-mail. I will be starting next week if at all possible.

And as always, thanks for reading.