Archive for June, 2008

The worst of Naruto

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

I saw this at Don’s old server, which he promised to take down, but did not, thank goodness.

The other day G asked if he could watch Naruto, because his best friend J likes it. … So D and I watched an episode with him. It was *all* violence — the entire show was about a one-on-one battle in which one combatant essentially beats another practically to the point of death (that was unresolved at the end), in a training match with teachers observing. Lots of dramatic shots of blood dripping out of the corners of mouths. The nod to character development consisted of some flashbacks in which the loser thought about *other* training battles, and the observers’ reactions (including admiration for the loser’s perseverence mixed with criticism for her lack of ability). D and I couldn’t help but make a lot of snide comments about how this all would work in real life. At one point, when the winner chided the loser about her inability to hold up her family honor, D explained this was Japanese trash-talking. Even G seemed pretty ill by the end of it, after spending the first half strenuously (and then by degrees less strenuously) insisting that this must be a fluke, after all, J likes the show…

If I remember right, this is ep.43. It is just as terrible as they describe it, although at the time of the posting I was unhappy with Don for the “swiftboating” of Naruto (swiftboating means bringing up inconvenient truth about a political candidate). I pondering posting a reply, but the problem is, you cannot argue with the truth.

I mentioned it briefly before, but I started watching from ep.31 or so, where Lee unleashes his ultimate move to protect Sakura. I think I’m just weak against this protection business, it’s too cute. Also, it was a dynamic battle. The following episodes were also great, with Sakura’s self-administered Dramatic Haircut (if I may borrow the expression from the dumb wiki). I got lucky with the starting point.

You’d think I would be desensitized to what Don’s friends experienced, but I am not. I still hate those parts of Naruto.

UPDATE: The quote is preserved at Don’s new server [link].

J.P. on fansubing and its panel

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

I heard of it first as Scott twittered it:

#: I’ve got to say, I really respect Greg Ayres for putting up with all the shit that people say about him.
#: I didn’t believe it when he was telling me about it, but reading through Anime Nano now, I can see that he does get blasted pretty badly.

Seemed like nothing interesting, just another industry insider being silly enough to pay attention to trolls at forums. Right?

Now, check what J.P. Meyer posted (it’s long, but worth reading):

We wanted to go to that panel for some kind of a debate or discussion about the perilous situation that the American anime industry is in, and ask questions about things like streaming video or raws. Instead, the thing was basically a big straw man circle jerk. The “arguments” that people were giving for downloading were so specious that I couldn’t believe that people actually used them to try to justify their actions. We’re talking about things like preferring subtitles to dubs or purposely trying to “hurt” ADV because it’s so big and bad. []

I had sticky, nuanced issues that I wanted to discuss but basically got shouted down after asking some of them and gave up. I tried to ask how Tivoing Code Geass and not watching the commercials was different from watching a fansub of Code Geass when some guy in the audience started babbling on about timesharing. After I said “I’m familiar with the legal decision in Sony vs. Universal (I learned about when I did my MASTERS in TV AND FILM and needed to brief my boss about AT MY JOB IN TV LICENSING)”, the guy kind of waddled out of the room. Additionally, I believe that Greg Ayers had said something about how anime lost its advertising 2 months ago or something. This was news to us, and we said amongst ourselves “Whoa, what’s this? I hadn’t heard about this”, to which the dude in front of us was like “THERE’S NO MORE ANIME IN THE ANIME BLOCK IN JAPAN NOW!” Again, this was also news to me so I was like “Whoa, which one? I just saw the ratings last week and the big blocks like Sunday night and Thursday morning were still there. Do you mean like the late-night shows that air at like 2:30am?” to which he just babbled on again about how there’s no more anime.

Here’s the problem: that discussion is fundamentally about how to get anime without paying for it. The shame argument for buying DVDs is centered around saying “You didn’t spend $30 for everything you ever watched, and now Suncoast video died and that’s your fault and now anime will die too because people won’t be able to buy anime at the mall because you killed Suncoast.” Yet now we’re getting told how to buy DVDs for less than $30 even though that’s what you just said was bad! Similarly, we were also just told how the anime industry can’t afford to price DVDs like Hollywood can, but now we’re going to get told how to be able to buy the DVDs for prices like what Hollywood charges for that season of Lost! If everyone did these practices, the industry WILL STILL DIE. []

This is the same event they’re talking about, right?

Obviously J.P. was rather naive. The only way he would be able to discuss anything “sticky” and “nuanced” is if a) he was sitting on the panel, and b) having moderator actually moderating. So, his frustration was preordained. But still, my sympathies.

Once agitated, J.P. goes on a roll for many paragraphs. Too many to quote in fact, so just read it. The only other thing I want to note is this:

The best, most nuanced, and most intelligent approach to piracy that I’ve seen is from the computer game company Stardock.

That sounds familiar to me, because Shamus mentioned it many times. Still, the fact that Stardock is not a powerhouse like EA hints at certain problems. Why haven’t they swallowed their competitors yet?

Speaking of small underdogs doing The Right Thing and being creamed, BOST will not show Strike Witches next season, yet Crunchyroll will (pox upon their house).

UPDATE: J.P. e-mailed with the following:

Also, I totally forgot to mention in my post how fansubs are a hell of a lot more than just the US until a Spanish dude brought up how he watches fansubs and he’s obviously not going to be going around buying R1 DVDs. Like these:

http://www.minaidehazukashii.com/?p=119
http://www.minaidehazukashii.com/?p=199

I loved comments like “I’d rather translate XYZ into English because it’d be pointless to fansub it in my native language since almost nobody here cares about anime.”

Also, I didn’t realize this until DS mentioned it to me in an email just now, but a big part of the “problem” with streaming (the three of us groaned after that part in the video because Japan most certainly IS streaming anime to America, and we watched some of it!) is that it cuts out the American middleman. If everything’s just going to end up on the internet anyway (not in terms of piracy, but I mean in terms of a paradigm shift), the American industry will shrivel up since the American (and most likely international, unless of course they use IP lockouts so that the ads will remain relevant) viewers will just be paying them for the stream or providing eyeballs for their advertisers.

Not sure how right he is. Someone has to do the work, middleman or not. GEICO did not put Progressive out of business in all these years, ditto Dell vs. IBM. I suppose we’ll see in a couple of years.

Os on Narutards

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Os clarifies his position. On the whole, I find it pretty sensible. He also challenges me to actually wear a headband in public… Which I of course not going to do.

Druaga 12 (Finale for now)

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Kuro scooped me today, so go there for precise spoilers. But honestly, is anyone surprised that Tower of Druaga continues? This is exactly the thing GONZO did with Vandread. God help them if they reach for the 3rd part though.

By the way… Anyone remembers Gascogne? Unfortunately, GONZO cannot repeat themselves here, because Ahmey expired very definitely. She’s more of Kamina, I’m afraid.

Finally, a few short notes:

  • Final battle was quite exciting.
  • What the heck was the water rat?
  • Gonzo is feeding shippers.

QUICK ROUNDUP: Aira posted a suspiciously short item with a bare minimum of facts, and murdered me with the grammar:

ニーバとカーヤに予定通り裏切られてZAP。

Umm… Neeba and Kaaya… planned road… betraying and then ZAP. For the life of me cannot remember what the verb-rareru construct means. It’s either someone made someone do something, or a passive (something is done to someone); neither seems to fit.

Omni writes:

[I]t’s incredibly frustrating to see virtually nothing get explained […] they tease with the mysterious girls and then with Gilgamesh at the end.

I thought it was made clear that H1 (blue) was the lover of Druaga, and H2 (brown) that of Gil, made into ghosts as a side effect of the Gil-Druaga boss battle.

UPDATE: I think that for a dead secondary character, GONZO is loading on Ahmey too heavily. Consider this:


What does that even mean?!

UPDATE LATER: There’s a review at Shameful Otaku Secret (I guess the love of Druaga qualifies these days).

INFORMATIVE UPDATE: J.Greely e-mails:

-rareru is passive. X+toori is “following X”, often used in phrases like omotta-toori, “as I thought”.

So, “as planned, (someone) was betrayed by Neeba and Kaaya, and then ZAP”. The episode summary on wikipedia says, “Neeba and Kaaya end up betraying Jil”, so I’m pretty confident. :-)

Random thought about Figure 17

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

As I mentioned before, the combat weariness of Tsubasa is one of the central themes of Figure 17, and a similar phenomenon plays a role in Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I just remembered another depiction of it, in Death of a Hero by Richard Aldington. While Ender reaches the finish line, the protagonist of Aldington is so worn by the burden of fighting by the end, that he makes a simple mistake and gets killed mere couple of weeks before the Armstice. Watch the anime to know if Tsubasa squeaks by. I’ll only add that when compared to the literature, Figure 17 showed it pretty well.

I do not remember any anime treading there. Banner of the Stars is unparalleled in showing the tension and terror of naval combat in space, but the operation Phantom Flame is not long enough to need to deal with the kind of issues Tsubasa has to deal with. The 08th MS Team does not do it either. And I do not watch mecha and military stuff to remember much else.

Animanachronism on Crest of the Stars

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Daniel’s posting makes me question my decision to bypass the Crest and proceed directly to the Banner, the latter being universally acclaimed as far and far away superior over its predcessor.

UPDATE: TheBigN shares the following anecdote by e-mail:

I speak from limited experience, but at Cornell as a freshman, our college anime club showed both Banner series (one per semester). […] When there was a survey about the audience’s experiences with the clubs schedule, responses were divided with people who didn’t watch Crest before the Banner series tending to pan the series, while people who watched Crest before Banner tended to praise it. And it’s understandable, since Crest introduces you to the universe of the Abh and co, and as Banner of the Stars is just a continuation from there, people who watch Banner first tend to get dropped into the story without any information on how the world works.

I can only blog for myself, and I thought that Banner did an exempliary job of setting up the narration by opening with the mock battle and its aftermath. All the background was painted in masterfuly, with small inoffensive flashback and off-hand remarks in and during the Samson’s speech. I knew it was going to be great from the very way the backstory was introduced. So I don’t know what those Cornellians were thinking.

UPDATE: Evirus is taking an exception.

MORE: Kaedrin takes a balanced approach.

Myself;Yourself at about 03

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

While all my DVDs are packed away, I sustain myself with what was squirreled away at my laptop’s winchester, and that is Myself;Yourself. I find the ugly art somehow endearing. It has a retro feel, but with a nice fuzzy computer coloring. If animators were not so terribly incompetent at making characters move, and stuck to designs, it would’ve been outstanding.

As far as the story goes, it’s a romcom punctuated by Sana’s stupidity. Notes for ep.3 look like this:

Niiiice, way to spoil, you idiot! Want another slap in the face?
Oh noes, San bought two identical compacts? NO WAI! (yes, he DID)
さお — a fishing rod (or a spinning specifically?)
Holy crap, the new girl cleans the fish! — Hoshino
And now the cake? I can see how Nanaka gets driven to suicide.
Oh wait, Nanaka made cookies as planned.
お腹いっぱいだ — I’m full
This crappy animation looks strangely attractive.
WTF. Sana gave her the pink stone? Hmm, it’s sparkling…

Not too bad, and a good training. Perhaps I can get back to Rumbling Hearts after it.

CVN73

Monday, June 16th, 2008

J.P. links to a manga called CVN73. It’s pretty amusing.

Although he identifies the manga as an OEL, speech balloons sure look vertical to me, not to mention rather crude fonts. I think it would make way more sense for the manga to be created in Japanese, if USN expected Japanese to read it in the first place.

Steven e-mails, “That manga about the Washington was released both in English and in Japanese, and the primary audience for it is in Japan.” So, not an OEL, right?

SDB begins Figure 17

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Steven opens Figure 17, and it’s a good trip so far for the readers. For example, he mentions off hand that Hikaru must be returning into a human form because her containning capsule was broken. I did not even think of that. As we see, usually the crack in Ribbers’ container means that it dies, yet I did not bother to give a second thought to the one sole exception of Hikaru. I’m intellectually lazy.

Also, there’s a quote I want to save:

Our Girl is having a hard time coping with her mother being dead. Then an Alien Girl comes into Our Girl’s life. The two end up partnering, and they eventually become close friends. Alien Girl has to learn a lot, and Our Girl helps teach her. But as she’s doing so, Our Girl also learns a lot, about herself and about her life. In the end, Alien Girl has to leave forever. But even though they won’t ever see each other again, they’ll remain friends. There’s a tearful farewell, but Our Girl gets over it, and is happier and more well adjusted because of what she’s been through. The last scenes show that she’s doing much better.

I’m not going to comment on the substance, because of Steven’s request, but one thing: how can they “remain friends” if they’ll never meet again? I suppose all that can be claimed is that they part at friendly terms.

UPDATE: I can’t believe he’s dissing portball:

Pete mentioned that when he watched it, he felt as if he had to struggle to get through it. I’ve been feeling the same. I started skipping through the post-ball parts of ep 3, and I felt like skipping through parts of the first and second episodes.

Portball may be the best part of the anime!

I hate miniblogs

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

The only splinter blog I follow is by the creator of Animanachronism. Personally, I do not believe that a posting can be too short… and I’m about to prove it, regarding:

I’ve been examining ‘I’ll Form the Head!’ at Hop Step Jump because in a post I’m writing this week I want to refer to a specific point that Jeff makes. And it’s quite hard to do that, precisely because he’s written it rather well: there’s an integrated quality to the succession of different ideas, each paragraph taking the baton from its predecessor. This makes it difficult to just grab the quotation which says what I need it to say, because it is at the same time referring back to ideas from the two preceding paragraphs.

Protip: paraphrase. You have the backlink for accuracy checking, right?