Archive for June, 2007

Wikipedia and anime

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

Jason made a post about how 26% of all search queries on Wikipedia are anime-related. Then, he took it further and proclaimed Wikipedia to become a premier anime website.

Aside from AoD and maybe ANN, there really weren’t any place to find information about anime. Sure, you could hunt through Animesuki’s forums, but that’s pretty dang time inefficient, and you might get dragged into a discussion about Lucky Star. Wikipedia solved a lot of those problems by providing anyone with a template to easily and quickly distribute information– the technology savvy anime fans carved out a huge niche on Wikipedia and set down roots. It became the defacto fact book for anime.

Nonetheless, with 26% of the top searches, I think that pretty much places Wikipedia as the #1 anime website. […] I go there when I need to research something like Nanoha’s lexican, the ISBNs for Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, symmetrical docking, or the bust sizes of various Mai Hime characters […]

Proclaiming Wikipedia to be the #1 anime website by looking at the breakdown of its own search terms is a bad lapse of logic. But beyond that, he is right: Wikipedia is where miscellaneous information can be found. Traditionally, fan sites performed that functon, and I think they still do. But Wikipedia essintially provides free hosting. It’s the Geocities of our time, without intrusive ads.

Still, I find myself looking at Wikipedia only rarely. The major reason why is that most of what I need is provided by ANN Encyclopedia. It is run “almost exactly but not quite” like Wikipedia. Wikipedia has the advantage of immediacy: A few weeks ago I edited the article about Stellvia, and my edits still stand. ANN also has user input, but in the form of corrections, such as when I corected their article about Rocket Girls. So, ANN loses here, but not by much. But it also has the advantage of being well structured. I often use their indexes instead of googling.

At least for me, specialized sites still go strong, and are going to continue doings so for the foreseeable future.

Update: There’s a good perspective at how the sousage is made, by Kelly Martin (I’m linking Advogato because Kelly’s own blog has no “previous” link and the whole series of posts has to be seen to appreciate it).

Interview with Hung

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

The Sea Sliugs posted an interview with Hung of BasuGasuBakuHatsu. I expected them to touch upon the reviewing of free stuff and Steven’s criticism, but not plopping it right on top. No burying the lede here, that’s for sure. Hung himself handled the “incident” with remarkable maturity [^1].

From there, the interview goes on to AnimeNano (it’s also ran by Hung, in case you didn’t know), and a short-format Q&A about things like favourite series. Pretty interesting. As they say, RTWT(link).


^1: The same, unfortunately, cannot be said about Hung’s commentors. For instance, one “DrmChrs0” immediately called Steven “dick” and suggested that Steven “sucks monkey balls”. I’m new to the stanalone anime blogging, but In the English-speaking political blogosphere this level of discourse is usually found at trashy leftist blogs (re. Amanda Marcotte’s story). One more reason not to have comments at all.

Lucky Star, Comiket, AX

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

My resolve not to do episodic posts remains strong. Still, Lucky Star ep.12 was quite topical when discussing the relocation of convetion.

This is, of course, because AX, which opens today, has relocated to a new location this year: Long Beach convention center. I skipped AX for a couple of years and was going to come this year, but it didn’t work out. When I went to order a hotel, it was impossible. Only the Courtyard had a room left — for $350 a night.

みょうじ・名前はいい, but First Last dammit!

Friday, June 29th, 2007

I react violenty when people use the family-first order in English with Japanese names. It has the same power to piss me off as “u”. Sometimes I have to put up with it, because of, well, other mitigating factors. But today I saw a comment in Jeff’s entry about the reality-based plots making a short visit to Ghibly Studios, so I went to check the author. Looks like a nice enough blog, but… the name order just overwhelms. I guess I’m not going to follow that one.

Some of adherents of this sillinesscustom say that the name is just a tag in its entirety, and thus we should not monkey with it. After all, with some cultures (such as Viet) it simply is impossible to split family from given and perform the normalization. So, the logic goes, to be consistent to the worst common denominator, we should refuse to do that for those cultures where it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do, for the sake of “consistency”.

The reason the “consistency” does not work is because it’s impossible. Cultures exist which prefer their mapping to be done, for example Russians. They have given names, family names, and father’s names, with the latter often mapped to “middle name” in English. Thus, Петр Феоктистович Романов is going get angry every time he sees his Driver’s License which says “Petr Feoktistovich Romanov”. It’s not that it’s wrong, but over time it’s getting annoying. The use of middle name has certain connotations for him.

But even if English speakers tried to preserve the names outside of their cultural context by their complete sound, they could not. For example, a common Russian name “Зайцев” (e.g. the character in a movie about WWII snipers) has a sound ‘ц’, which is absent from English. When a clerk in Safeway is struggling to read the name on the receipt and Mr. Zaitsew is in a hurry, he is going to get pissed more than Mr. Romanov in the above example. The plight of Mrs. Nguyen Thu Huong is even more horrible: ‘t’ and ‘h’ are separate sounds. Not only they can’t pronounce it right, they can’t spell it using English rules, period. The Anglicized name is just a new badge invented for a person, face it.

Finally, from what I gather, Japanese are perfectly happy to have their names normalized for use in English, and perhaps even prefer it. So, as far as I am concerned, fans of consistency can stuff it.

There may be other arguments, although I don’t see them articulated.

Update: Jeff sent an e-mail to remind that he also belongs to the other side. Uh-oh. I completely missed that. If I understood him right, he explains that he has to -san people a lot at work, and that is, of course, impossible with the First-Last order.

Update: Steven asks what I would feel if I saw “Zedung Mao” in a news or historical article. Honestly, I have no idea. Obviously, I didn’t make enough disclaimers about the name morphing being culture-specific (although doings so would make the article unweildy). I have no preference about the way Chairman Mao should be identified in English; I am not Chinese; I don’t watch Chinese movies.

Astro on his status

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Astro suddenly decided to update and there were a few moments…

I got about halfway through episode eight [of Lucky☆Star] when I caught myself checking my watch and wondering if this was an hour-long show or something. I turned it off at that point – I realized that it really wasn’t that good of a show and I was wasting a lot of time just for the 30 or so seconds of really funny stuff in each episode.

I managed to clear the hurdle and it seems to be getting livelier and not tilted so much towards the inbred otaku humor anymore. This actually intrigues me a bit. The ep.11 seems like an entirely different show at times. Can a show drop the old fanbase and replace it in the middle of a run?

I tried out a Manabi Straight and Master of Epic, but neither grabbed my interest enough to watch more than the first episode. Someday I’ll give Manabi a chance since it comes so highly recommended, but not now.

I thought the first episode of Manabi barely made the job done for me, because I cringed looking at Manabi’s antics. I am of an opinion that “it gets better later” is not an excuse at all. On second watching it turned out that I missed a lot of great moments about it (for example, the effect of her song). Don’t know whose fault that was.

[] Sola has kept me glued to the screen. There is only one episode left to go, and I still have no idea how it will end. Up to this point it has been outstanding, and each episode has gotten better in many ways. The animation quality has actually improved with every episode, and there are times where it is absolutely stunning.

I’ve really enjoyed it, but I don’t really feel like trying to spread the word that much anymore. I imagine that the type of people who would like this show are watching it already anyway.

I turned away from Sola because a couple of people mentioned that Sola was “like Kanon and Air”. But if Astro can take it, it most assuredly wasn’t. Those dumb anime bloggers never know what they write… Just kidding. But not entirely. It looks like the wisdom of the crowd was not very advanced in this case, so I’m downloading ep.1 of Sola now.

Update: psgels provides an illustration of what I have just mentioned about Lucky Star:

Unfortunately, the show has been getting more repetitive with every episode, and the characters are getting duller and duller. Not only that, but it’s about to get completely overshadowed by the other Otaku-based show: Tetsuko no Tabi.

That’s the sound of the old fanbase leaking. Can the new one come onboard fast enough? I loved the less otaku-centric direction, but it’s only me.

Naruto

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

I am still nurturing my plans to blog about Naruto‘s greatness. But for now, this is what Concrete Badger had to say about it:

While Naruto follows the cliches of the martial arts genre with the intermittent recaps and lengthy dialogue that go along with the action scenes, it has a surprising emotional clout and real heart where the characterisation is concerned. The relationships and storylines have plenty of mileage and of course seeing ninjas in action always has some entertainment value. As surprised as I am at saying it, this show is actually quite good after all.

The surprise of the last sentence is often seen when Naruto is blogged. For example:

I see quite a few people posting to Usenet and other forums: “I thought Naruto was just another DBZ clone, but I was greatly mistaken.” Seems like a good time for me to jump on the bandwagon. Yes, I thought that Naruto was a stupid DBZ-wannabe anime, and yes, I was greatly mistaken.

So, the surprise occurs because Naruto is commonly derided.

Still, I find it difficult to explain what is so good about the show, which is why there’s no post even now. Concrete Badger made as good an effort as I could ever manage.

I fail at unique insights

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

I made two observations in my previous entry about Dual: its Evangelion references and the visual similarity to Tenchi. Now it turns out that just about everyone comments on the EVA part (AD2225 wrote it on the same day, even). As for Tenchi, Owen drew my attention to the fact that Masaki Kahishima is the creator of both. I have to say, Dual and Tenchi are a bit more distinguishable than Stellvia and Gravion.

Hidamari Sketch

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Hidamari Sketch and Manabi Straight aired in the same season. Many expected them to compete head-to-head, but the two turned out nothing alike. Manabi has a great plot, larger than life characters, and UFOtable. Hidamari has… Yashinoya-sensei, if that even counts.

So after 3 episodes, my main problem with Hidamari is how limp and pathetic it is. Mind, so says the man who loves Azumanga to death. I am even following that blatant pandering vessel Lucky*Star. 4-koma adaptations do not have to be so weak.

Parallel Dual starts

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

I saw 4 eps. of Parallel Dual: Visions, or whatever its name is, by accident. Seems like mindless fluff, but if I get a chance to see more, I probably will.

The animation sometimes reminds me of the old Tenchi OVA.

At other times, not so much.

Also, it looks like these people parody or copy Evangelion, I’m not sure which.

For some reason, I always feel cheated when a character jumps into a mech and starts kicking major ass (Hellooo, Hibiki! Hellooo, Kamina!). At least Shipon had to work for it. Even thinking rationally, fidelity [^1] of the show gets injured. Need to ask Astro some time how much it took. Not sure if it is The Most Annoying Trope Ever, but it sure is close, and is annoyingly common in anime. Oh well. Dual never pretended to be a masterpiece.


^1: In communication studies it is said that a narrative has to have high fidelity and coherence to be persuasive. Fidelity is a measure of how well the story matches the world experienced by the audience. Coherence is a measure of internal contradiction (well, the inverse of it), e.g. Vandread’s plot is coherent but not “realistic”.

Greatest Engrish Evar

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

What can I say. I’m weak. I am rewatching Manabi Straight again. But I solemnly swear not to do episodic blogging… Or… Maybe just a little bit? What the heck, who am I kidding! Prepare for Manabi flood.

JUST AN SCHOOL GIRLS WITH HAPPY DAYS COME UP SMILING IN EVERYDAY LIFE

The screenshot is from the end-of-the-episode sequence. The “POWERFUL x HAPPY” is just too cute for me to handle. And the irony of it, when applied to Taka-chan… I’m melting.