Archive for November, 2007

Taniguchi

Friday, November 30th, 2007

One odd experience of watching Haruhi now is how the history unfolds backwards. When one blogger insisted on calling Shiraishi “Taniguchi”, it confused me. Shiraishi didn’t voice Kyon, so what was it? Well, now I know, and I know where “Wa-wa-wasuremono” comes from. Curiously, both Shiraishi and Ono appear on Lucky Star as themselves, but only Shiraishi became a legend. Poor Ono! If only he were a girl, he could press idol DVDs.

UPDATE: A picture, for the archives.



Kyon and Taniguchi

Taniguchi is an object lesson how an excellent seyuu is unable to move a secondary role to the forefront in the same an actor would (if director permitted it).

Japanese understatements

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Seen in Nakama ch.10:

家事で家が焼けてしまって、生活に必要なものが何もなくて、不便だ

Which approximately means, “my house has burned down in a fire, no life necessities left, so it’s inconvenient.” It’s easy to remember FUBENDA: it’s like FUBAR, only with Japanese tint.

I’m not exactly sure how to use it though… Would it be appropriate to say: “Yakuza killed my family, FUBENDA”, or “We sat in a traffic jam on I-580 for half an hour, FUBENDA”, or “I’m all out of mayo, FUBENDA”? But no matter, we can start an internet meme and make it appropriate.

ef in Newtype USA

Monday, November 26th, 2007

The November 2007 issue of Newtype USA is on the shelves, and it has a one-page feature about ef. It isn’t even an article, just a collection of one-paragraph blurbs in the collage with a poster, and a summary of about 200 words. The anime they write about has little in common with the real ef. For one thing, Chihiro, who is essentially the main character, is not even mentioned in the summary. The show looks like yet another school romance, and the feature would not encourage me to watch at all.

It is obvious how this catastropy has happened (or I think it’s obvious). The article must have been written in Japan, long before the series hit the air, and translated for Newtype USA months later. It’s not their fault really, but here it is.

My family quit the subscription a few months ago. “Not interesting”, they say. At the time I did not pay attention, but I think I understand it better now.

BTW, Newtype attaches a DVD with each issue, which contains an episode of a series. When fansubs get destroyed by Ledford, Sevakis, et. al., this practice is going to up the value of the magazine significantly. And they will be able to continue to put an ugly watermark on the video.

Anti-fansub hysteria today

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

Justin Sevakis (founder of ANN) takes the old rhethoric to the new heights (via Nigorimasen). He does not bother to establish the culpability of fansubbers, simply taking it for granted. And why should he? Even the industry outsiders toe the party line and blame “clueless distributors, selfish fans, deluded fansubbers”.

I have just one question: how is it that the market is overflowing with bootleg DVDs, sold profitably, and nobody is talking about that, but everyone is talking about fansubs?

Behold (yes, I’m going to link to these places now, because they are on the top of Google already): AnimeBallZ, Anime Home, Discount Anime DVD. In fact, small retail locations in San Francisco sell bootlegs (outside of Japantown though).

So, why is this not a problem and what is the plan? Spevakis drops the hint:

Before legal action will be effective, fansubs must be replaced. THERE HAS TO BE A LEGAL, INEXPENSIVE WAY TO WATCH NEW ANIME IN ENGLISH. Not necessarily own, but at least watch.

In other words, studios do not want us to own anything (like a DVD). They want us to “license” the “content” and pay the rent forever.

And fansubbers? They are very convenient to legitimize the new regime.

FRIDGE UPDATE: The story of DIVX is instructive in this regard. The consumers really dodged a bullet there, but we may not be so lucky this time.

UPDATE: Avatar comments:

First, it’s easy to understand why people worry about fansubs as opposed to outright bootlegs. Sure, there are bootlegs on the market, but nobody knows exactly how many there are – could be hundreds, could be thousands, could be tens of thousands. But with the advent of Bittorrent and publicly available tracker data, it’s easy to tell how many copies of a fansub are being distributed… and the morale effect can’t be denied.

In other words, it’s ok to steal real market share, as long as it’s swept under the carpet. And we’re talking about real market here, bootleg DVDs sell into DVD market, whereas fansubs satisfy different market. And “morale effect”? He can’t be serious.

Fact is, the market has been hollowed out by widespread digital distribution of fansubs. That doesn’t mean that every single title’s sales have suffered; for a handful of very good shows, people will watch it and enough of them will go out to buy it. But for everything else, it doesn’t work that way – people will watch a few episodes (or, more usually, the whole damn thing), decide “eh, it was all right”, and not spend any money on it.

“Fact”, indeed. This reminds me vividly about Hollywood execs blaming tanking titles at texting. Before, if they produced a stinker, it would collect at least some revenue, on the strength of its advertizing. But now, they say, teens text each other that the movie stinks and nobody goes to see it. Seriously, that was their excuse, I saw it printed on paper! And the result? Same as with anime: widening gulf between the few good titles that sell and the rest which tanks. Well, of course a couple short years later they’ve got to blame BitTorrent and forgot how texting ruined American cinema. If fansubbers did not exist, media execs should’ve invented them.

He is right about one thing though. It is absolutely the case that I refuse to buy DVDs sight-unseen anymore. Enough is enough, Netflix it first.

UPDATE: In comments at Jeff’s, David Ma expands on the point:

I think most of the problems with DRM stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of what product various industries are attempting to sell. Should be movies and music be treated as entirely intellectual property you purchase a license to use or should it be treated as a physical product?

In the case of treating it as a physical product, the ability to listen or watch the material should be transferable with the product but usage [e.g. the act of watching — Author] should be as a singleton. There should be no ability to restrict usage of the product as long as this condition is met.

Right now the situation is that the music and movie industry are trying to tell everyone that it’s both so the consumer should have none of the benefits of either, but all of the disadvantages of both.

Damn straight (but please use fewer words next time, or at least get a blog that I can link). Fansubbers really are peripheral to this debate.

UPDATE: Beta Waffle provides a fresh perspective on the broken Japanese market.

UPDATE (IS THIS THE END OF IT YET?): SDB gives the fansub demonization argument fairer hearing than it deserves by ignoring the Sevakis’ real point:

The ANN editorial makes the same point. As long as R1 fans who try to be honest have to wait between one and three years in order to buy shows blind, or maybe find out they cannot get them at all, while they can see shows within a week of broadcast, for free, if they’re willing to be dishonest, then there will be a lot of people who give in to temptation.

In reality, Sevakis only spent one sentence on the above (very reasonable) point, by saying that he does not “blame” the fansub watchers. The rest of the article was, approximately: “We will sue, sue, sue! Oh, and maybe provide some legal downloads. But then we will SUE, SUE, SUE!” OK, to be fair, he used the word “must” and uppercase “LEGAL”, “INEXPENSIVE”, but he wasn’t very optimistic that anyone will listen. And he used “must” with the legal rights to be defended, too.

If Steven’s point above was made more often, it could be a reasonable discussion. Here’s another point he makes:

Chizumatic favorite Media Blasters may have a new idea: they’ve started releasing DVDs with subtitles but no dubbing. That’s a hell of a lot cheaper and easier to produce, so their R1 overhead is low. So far they’ve been doing it with crap titles (e.g. Aoi and Mutsuki) which they probably also paid a low license fee for, and that means they don’t have to sell many DVDs in the R1 market in order to make a profit. I have no idea how successful they’ve been at this, but keep an eye out to see if they start doing more of that — and if others begin to imitate it.

I noticed the subtitled release of Muteki Kanban Musume too, by reading Josh’s release news. Definitely an item to get, I wrote it down into the purchase plan.

JP Meyer finds even better example of a subtitled release than Ramen Fighter Miki: Simoun. I completely forgot about that, since I never was interested in the show (despite Jeff Lawson giving it the top of the year).

Not dead yet

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

I’m hesitant to post another hiatus notice, but it looks like I have some RL things compete with blogging, and the Japanese TV season ended the start-up and discovery phases, so expect just an occasional post about a Netflix catch after this quick status. By an odd coincidence I have more series in flight than ever.

ef:

Seen 6. Amazing, captivating, touching, intriguing, intricate.

Dennou Coil:

Seen 8. Imaginative, dynamic, ghiblesque, subtle, competent.

Bamboo Blade:

Seen 5. Hilarious, funny, comedic.

Sketchbook:

Seen 4. Warm, pointless.

Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya:

Seen 4. Overhyped.

Magic User’s Club:

Seen 2. Curious, old.

Kimikiss:

Seen 1. Beautiful.

Myself; Yourself:

Seen 1. Acceptable.

Clannad:

Seen 1.5. Pretty, plodding.

Mokke: Seen 0.

Prism Ark: Seen 0.

Moyashimon: Seen 0. Inventive.

Shugo Chara: Seen 0. Latecomer.

ef astroturfing

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

I thought they liked it, but according to TJ the bloggage spike was manufactured by Owen’s stooges.

Mainstream journalism

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Seen a link today about a high-schooler suspended after writing names of a few of his classmates into a Death Note book. I’m pleasantly surprised by the reporter, Sean Muserallo, getting basic details right:

The Japanese comic book is about a high school student who rids the world of evil with the help of a supernatural notebook. Anyone whose name is listed in the book dies.

I’m happy to see the NBC12 website also provides helpful links, including a link to ANN. My happiness is tempered by the fact that they linked live-action movie seen by essentially nobody in America instead of anime, which is actually on the air. But at least they tried.

School Rumble begins

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

So, everyone on the Net goes mad about ef. Meanwhile, in the Region 1…

I picked School Rumble by suggestion from Nanobot. He promised “amazing character development involving Karasuma”, and after watching 4 episodes I am pretty certain that cruelly pranked me. Karasuma is a side character with a Rock Lee haircut, who has no lines and no actions.

The comedy is pretty solid, but so far there was nothing but comedy. Animation is ok, I guess. Outline eyebrows under hair. Scales well, but nothing to write home about overall. For the record, I don’t mind low shade count, a-la Azumanga or Dennou Coil, if something else is there to carry the show, but bare comedy does not cut it for me. I’m thinking about dropping.

ef stampede

Monday, November 19th, 2007

The blogging enthusiasm about ef has caught me by surprise. It is my top pick of the season, but I was certain that most people would share Jeff Lawson’s sentiment and get bored quickly.

DS has posted a strip at Daijobu, which runs like so:

BLOGGER (spotts a torrent): Oh noes! Everyone’s gonna be posting about “ef – a tale of memories” in an hour!!!
BLOGGER: I haven’t even seen it yet, and there isn’t time to read all the summaries at RC!
BLOGGER: I have to think of something or I’ll be left out this time!
Wait a minute!! I have an idea!!

Check out the original strip if you want to know what the idea was. But the point is, a certain blogging fervor is clearly in the air.

I find ef engaging mostly because I feel for Chihiro in a way I felt for Reki. The difference this time is, Reki had a hope. Along the way her window is shrinking and this creates a feeling of raising stakes; it is a Japanese production after all, it does not have to have a happy end. Chihiro does not have any hope, we know it from the start. So, what should we root for? Her accomplishments, against impossible odds. I would love to see her children to carry on her memories (although this is very unlikely in ef).

Wonderduck and YKK

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

At first it’s surprising that someone might not be aware of the iconic work, but on the other hand, we all had to discover it one day. So does Mr. Duck.

I am (proudly) an anime man and do not read manga as a rule. There is a certain danger in knowing too much, for which YKK may be a good data point. IMHO, the anime stacks poorly against its manga origin, and the knowledge of manga poisons the whole experience.

BTW, the thought of Misago as an android did not occur to me. I thought she was some kind of a mutant, although, certainly, her unlimited lifespan hints a feral android. Maybe a failed “Beta” model?

UPDATE: I should probably mention that I found about YKK from Chibihalo, who used to write fanfics for it. So it was like… “Wait, wait, you tow a Texan from the front? Hmm…”