Wednesday, October 13, 2010

WO's Honorable Mention: Strawberry Marshmallow

Miu & Chika

While I'm gathering my thoughts today, and getting my brain psyched up for some serious reviewing, I thought I would give out a nice honorable mention to both an anime and a manga that has entertained me on numerous levels.

Now, I know I've dogged the hell out of manga in the Gentleman's Alliance Cross post I made, but come on, I was having a bad day. You try reading through a manga that takes four passes a page, and listen to "It's not a hard read at all." talk.

So, putting that aside, I thought I would just give a brief run-down of what this series is about.

It's comedy slice of life, and while it isn't a 4-panel comic, it certainly has the look and feel of something very similar to one. It's a brisk read, and there are few parts that will bog down for very long before a great big chuckle escapes your face.

The plot is pretty much non-existent, as it focuses on the lives of five girls, Miu, Chika, Anna, Masturi, and Nobue. When they aren't briefly depicted in school or outside, they are up in Chika's room gathered around her table -- drawing, laughing, arguing, or being typical kids.

The anime does a great job of translating the humor of the manga, even if there are serious liberties taken with much of the content. And while the manga chapters are not really in any particular chronology per se, the anime goes to the point of jumbling them up a little and, those that have read the manga will see things that happen later on, happening right away, and vice versa.

My favorite character is Nobue, and not just because she's the closest to a legal age, and listens to all the same music I do. I just like her extreme apathy, and carefree attitude. She has a stern older sister mentality around the other girls, and yet has a real weakness for cute girls, and gushes randomly, especially over Anna, and Matsuri.

Miu is best compared to the character of Dennis the Menace. She is loud, violent, and a hyperactive ticking time-bomb. She lives next door to Chika and Nobue, and crosses roofs to climb in through Chika's bedroom window, any time she feel likes it. Much of the laughter and hysterics that I get from reading the manga, are usually derived from her unexpected antics; whether it be dressing up like a ninja and doing something stupid, or roundhouse kicking Nobue in the ribs for no reason at all.

Anna & Matsuri
 Anna the British child that has lived in Japan for so long she's forgotten how to speak English, which is a great laugh as well, as she struggles to re-assert her English manners and speech, despite constantly falling back into her new familiar Japanese habits.

Matsuri is the cry-baby girl, that is so kind hearted and incapable of misdeed, that you find yourself wanting a plushie of her character so you can squeeze it till your arms fall off. Which if I had one, I would so do.

Chika is the more the straight man character in the series. Not only is she the opposite spectrum of the humor, she is the only seeming voice of reason and logic, aside from brief moments of clarity from her older sister Nobue. Chika isn't without her charms, and while she does her best to ignore her sister's indifference, and Miu's shenanigans, she inexplicably laughs at the jokes, despite herself.

From a casual look at both the anime and the manga, I would say that they could seem a little boring, and without much strength at all, but unless you are just after mighty explosions and graphic innuendo, which I'm sure most of you are gunning for, then this is not going to be your thing.

What it is, is a laid back casual read, and some interestingly funny everyday moments. If I had to recommend one over the other, I would say to probably read the manga, since it does cover much more character development. Both are good, but the manga on this one is a must.

I think the look of the characters is good, they have a real deliberate design to them, and the anime doesn't seem to muck that up like a lot of shows, where they try to improve upon the look of the mangaka artist.

There are a few times when the manga drags a little but not that much. All in all I'd say its crap factor is the lowest I've seen in a long time. Compared to other shows that just have a huge following because they wanna get it on with the characters, or because they think Lucky Star -- also another slice of life comedy -- is so awesome because they can totally relate to Konata, or one of the twins. Yeah, your ability to relate just went right out the window the minute you fondled yourself during the credit opening, and peeked to the left and right, and let out a sigh.

Tisk! Tisk!

It's doubtful that the average reader will have much in common with the characters, since we are talking about children here; and those of us that have any sort of fond memories of our youth will, no doubt look on it with a certain sense of disgust and embarrassment.

Anna & Miu
 Now, I'm not gonna say that the characters of Strawberry Marshmallow don't each have their own distinctive charm, and even a little bit of forced sex appeal, brought about by the fact that Barasui used to draw lolicon doujinshi pages. And for those of you that have to ask what that is, then get off this blog, you are not ready to be an Otaku!

Anyway, the series -- both manga and anime -- cover a lot of everyday moments brought into the realm of laughter by the extra-ordinary personalities of the characters. From watching as Nobue tries to sucker Chika into giving her money for cigarettes, to the group homework study sessions that end in Miu getting punched to the floor face down for being a brat.

So there you have it, a little look at one of my favorites. So go out there and get your strawberry on! I mean it! Or I'll will rip the cover off of this DVD copy I have of the Incredible Hulk TV Series from the 80s, and cram it up your nose until you read this stuff!

Go on, get out of here! I don't want to see you back until you've at least figured out which character started out with long hair in the manga and then cut it off.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go get some ice cream, because that last image I posted is making my sweet tooth act up.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Re-Enter The Samurai!

Hyakkan Ryouran: Samurai Girls
I'm not going to say that it is impossible to go through and list every single anime or manga that comes out each season and month, but it's just not practical; and I for one don't always feel like waiting around for the opportunity to have all the shows already out and airing before I start writing and blogging about them.

That said, I can honestly say that even though this show didn't make it into  my recent Fall Anime 2010 lists, this is certainly a show that has grabbed my attention, and managed to gleefully slip past my rants and raves. And while it is certainly a show of deliberate extremes, and no-holds-barred avant animation it is fast setting itself up as the new look of the way of the Samurai.

I'm of course talking about Hyakkan Ryouran: Samurai Girls, that "Not just another fighting anime" that focuses on busty and/or barely clad girls with swords, and other various fighting weapons. But wait, could it be that while this is a heavy handed fan-service driven vehicle, it actually has some of the best looking animation this season?

Well, don't just take my word for it. Go out and find some and see it for yourself!

No your eyes do not deceive you, I am actually recommending a show!

What if the Sengoku Period (warring states period) of Japan (1400 - 1500) didn't end and still continues to present day? A time when the Takugawa Shogunate was never abolished, and Japan is isolated from the whole world to develop apart? What would happen it be like with Samurai and Ninja warriors still going to a fro?

Well, This is the setting of Hyakkan Ryouran: Samurai Girls, only it goes beyond just another fighting anime that seems to have infested the airwaves over the past few years, featuring scantily clad girls with swords. This show actually unfolds methodically and with a deliberate intensity. While similar in feel to shows like Koihime Musou this story actually goes above and beyond with just re-writing history, it presents a look at the world that could be. 

It goes without saying that the animation and visuals of Samurai Girls is some of the best animation produced by any studio in a long time, especially any that are worth noting, using a flat almost broad canvas stroke look to the animation, and giving off a visual element like that of A Scanner Darkly.

Ironically this isn't ARMS first attempt at fan-service anime, as they are no stranger to mature themed anime, having worked on various titles ranging from Body Transfer, Elfen Lied, and I"s Pure. Yet despite the clear strong heavy eechi moments, this show manages to captivate by an almost force of self possessed will power.

The show begins with Muneakira, a seemingly average man arriving at the request of the Student Council to take on a position at a local school. While doing the tourist thing, he encounters two girls Yukimura and Matabei hiding out in the school's abandoned dojo, and soon finds himself caught up as their accomplice. While attempting to make his escape from the enforcers of the school discipline, a strange orb of light appears from the sky and a mysterious girl named Jubei Yagyu descends with the near unlimited ability of a true Master Samurai. 

Amidst the madness that ensues the girl is only able to be stopped by Muneakira, and the group is arrested for violation of laws seemingly intended to run the education system.

Complicated? Yes. Confusing? Without a doubt. But there is something that seems to force the viewer to watch, to see how this show is going to unfold. The episodes seem to go by with little accomplished, and before you know, the episode has ended and you instantly want more, questions that were not answered, now will only be revealed in the next. And this is the hook of the show, a slow deliberate pace that seems hypnotically timed against the animation, and the curious Mystery girl from the heavens that goes from being a legendary untouchable warrior to a below average girl with seemingly no abilities what-so-ever.

While the show does sport quite a few nude moments, the editing and censoring takes advantage of the unique ink effects that sporadically splatter the screen, especially during moments of emphasis, and intensity; and uses these very dramatic elements as a blur tool to hide a few rather embarrassing shots of our heroines in the buff.

If you are looking for a show that has something of substance to offer, in addition to the usual boobs, panties, and fighting girls then really you should look no further. While the plot seems to be taking a while to get where it's going, there really does seem to be a rather interesting balance, and in all truth it can't come soon enough. Considering some of the mindless and pointless shows premiering this season, I can honestly say that I am taking a bit of a sigh of relief here.

In addition to some familiar modern things combined and meshed with this unchanged Shogunate world, you will no doubt hear familiar names from actual historical figures from time to time. The most significant early name dropped being that of Hattori Honzo.

I am sadly like the rest of the fans, waiting to see what becomes of this show. The direction, and the characters. I can't say I see any that just jump out at me, but I'm sure there will be a few that leave memorable impression. Including that of Princess Sen, and her near masochistic leverage over her servant Honzo.

This show is a feast for the eyes, in more ways than one. Beautifully rendered, and calmly serene, it makes history seem to come and touch the very screen with every ink blotch that is dropped.

Getting Along With Chan - Honorifics Today

Okay, while I'm in the process of doing some research and material gathering for my next review, I thought I would take a stab at offering a counterpoint to an interesting debate on honorifics, the usage of honorifics, and their inclusion or redaction from translated manga, and anime; including their correct translation in the speaking dubs of anime for the Western audiences.

The biggest issue when it comes to honorifics today whether they are coming to us through the translation of popular manga or anime, or even foriegn television and film, is not a question of acceptance; as the many debates that have raged on have fueled. It's a matter of whether or not they are 100% necessary in the English speaking world.

Sure there are differing opinions as to the weight a correctly translated honorific can add to a work, but the argument is not the nodding consent that they exist, but if they are essential.

I have heard and read both sides of this debate and argument for a long time now, and as a casual bystander in the fray -- one that just wants to enjoy his entertainment -- it's becoming a nuisance to have to sift and filter through the over use, or incorrect use, or forced use that the little attachments of the Japanese language have evoked.

Here's the rub; I am pretty sure of two things. One, is that I am an American, and I speak and read English. It is my primary language. I am fortunate to know a few select words in a few languages, but not really enough to allow me the luxury of conversing without the use of a massive translation tool, or someone to interpret what I'm saying, and what is being said.

Now, as an English speaking individual, I have learned the correct usage of several of our own native honorifics (whether these have come to us from other countries and have been assimilated is moot), such as properly calling a person either "Sir" or "Madam" "Mr" "Mrs" or "Miss" or even "Ms" depending on the status of the person to whom I am speaking. There are even nick-names and less formal Honorifics that expand the way we address people in society in a less formal manner, such as "Dude" "Kid" "Sport" "Kiddo" "Missy", "Buddy" and so forth.

Then there are the privileged titles or honorifics that we bestow upon judges and professors of higher learning and medical professionals, such as "Honorable" "Your Honor" or "Doctor". We are not a monarchy, and so we will never have a cause to use the honorifics of royalty such as "Lord" or "Master" or "Highness" or even "Excellency", the closest we may come, would be in the addressing of clergy, such as "Reverend" or "Bishop" or "Grace".

The fact is, we as Americans have quite a few of our own honorifics, and we have a hard enough time just getting our language correct, let alone how to use these additions properly.

Now the debate like I mentioned before isn't about whether or not Japanese honorifics are really right, but the argument for me, is whether it's a matter of preference or necessity.

In the past several decades Japan has adopted several of our English words, and these are called "Loan Words" words that during this past century are relatively new, such as "Computer", "Escalator" "Automobile", "Bus" "Christmas" and many others. This isn't a one sided thing. In fact we have also adopted the use of Japanese words into our language with relative ease, such as "Tsunami", "Sensei", "Katana", "Saki", and the list grows with each day as more cultural exchange in the form of media and business abounds.

What seems a tirelessly wheel spinning debate is the use of Japanese honorifics in media. Where some see this as a must, and others see this as a want, there are still those that see it as a pure problem.

Let's tackle the matter of translation.

I'm going to use Manga and Anime as my main points for all of my arguments, since this is the most furious of debating grounds.

It is my opinion that honorifics should be included in manga.

Now before all you pro-honorific fans go radical with applause, I have to stop you and clarify. I think that if a company is going to go through the trouble of including them, according to the original Japanese, and not translate "San" and "Chan" and "Sama" into their English counterparts and equivalents, then they should be used correctly, and every time without fail.

On the other hand, if a company choses to translate "San" into the English counterpart of "Mr" or "Mrs" then they need to pay closer attention to the context of the honorific, and make sure that gender intent is applied.

Now, as for their use at all.

Why are people called "Misaki-Chan" or "Souma-Kun"? What good is any of this to English, and how can this be ported to our understanding?

Well, it's not easy. We are dealing with a language that almost always uses and refers to the person by their name everytime they are mentioned or even addressed. It isn't uncommon for a person to use their own name when speaking of  themselves when they are the subject. So the honorifics are a means to classify the importance of the name, as status, and familiarity.

I wouldn't dream of walking up to the Pope and calling him "Bro". It's just rude and disrespectful, in fact given his status it would probably be considered disrespectful to address him as "Mister" or even "Sir". His title has been put in place to reflect the appropriate methods by which he should be addressed, and referenced.

The same as in Japanese. Their language is designed to reflect, on a much broader spectrum the scope of individual addressing, all the way down to family, friends, co-wokers, acquaintances, and professional peers. This is their language, and it has worked well for them for a long time.

Now, it can be argued that abolishing or translating their honorifics is wrong, and bad. And I'm sure for people that really, really love Japan, and Japanese culture it is. But in all sincerity, it's tossing our own language under the rails, when we arrogantly assume that we don't have enough words and expressions to adequately convey exactly what they do.

I'll offer this as an example, if I go to Japan, I'm sure that people addressing me will use my name (David), and attach a "-San" to the end of it. And you know what, that's perfectly fine. I'm sure there might be a few that would offer to call me "Mister" but then, it's a stretch. It's not going to make me think less of their country, or their language because I suddenly have a applied honorific consistent with their own language.

Now let's say that Aya Hirano (VA for Haruhi Suzumiya, Konata Itzumi) was to visit me here in the States, would she be insulted if I addressed her as "Miss" Hirano? Doubtful. I would be showing her all the proper respect and social courtesy I would any one else for a person of her status, on both a level professionalism and acquaintanceship.

I really don't imagine she is going to go back to Japan and accuse us all of being ignorant bumpkins for calling her "Miss" instead of "-San" or "-Sama".

So why the rage?

Why can't we forgo the headache of bending over backwards for a language not our own?

Answer, because as fans, we naturally emulate that which we enjoy. We love Japanese, and so we mix it in. Even if there is a perfectly acceptable counterpoint to calling someone "Sensei" we still feel the need to use it, and hear it. Not because calling someone "Professor" or "Teacher" or "Doctor" is any less acceptable, and applicable, but because we just like their method better.

Admit it, we are just jealous that Japan can give a person the honorific of "-Chan" and we have to resort to just calling people by their shortened names. Personally I don't much care to be called "chan" or "Dave" which when combined is basically the equivalent. Calling someone "chan" is like being comfortable enough and intimate enough that you can get away with calling someone by their silly nick-name.

The gender argument is also pretty weak, by comparison. Again, assuming the company doing the translation is going to go to the trouble of satisfying the stomachs of the fans, then they need to make sure that proper context is used. If they are gonna translate them, then make sure they translate them correctly.

A lot of the argument could really be eliminated, if we just accepted that we ARE NOT IN JAPAN. no matter how much we really want to be, we aren't Japanese. We aren't dealing with a language that has all these pretty sparkly things, and add-ons. And I think until we can actually learn how to handle our own language, we need to stop trying to half-ass someone elses.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Gentleman's Alliance Mess!

The Gentleman's Alliance Cross
I'm going to let everyone in on a little secret; and that is, I actually do not enjoy reading manga all that much. To me, a person who writes, and has written literally hundreds of pieces of poetry, prose and short stories; I find most manga to be an insult to the craft of fine story telling, that allows the writer to get away with using a picture, instead of exposition, and elaboration. I'm not trying to start a flame war here, but the truth is, I was never a person that really enjoyed looking at a picture book. I hated them as a small child, and I hated them as a young adult, and I actually really don't like them much now.

To me a good story is one that allows the reader to use their brain, and forces them to assemble the scenes and the construct of the story with their own imagination; a good writer will elaborate just enough to allow a reader to do this, a bad writer will over-elaborate, and thus turn a good story into a quagmire of swampy rhetoric and a book that doesn't know when to quit.

Now, with regard to manga, I encounter the same thing. This time however it's a matter of the actual drawings on the page. Too much to look at has a sort of sickening effect for me, it's as if the writer isn't trusting me to use my own brain to fill in the missing gaps of the story, and takes it upon themselves to turn a blank canvas into a cluster of images that swim and multiply and generally make me swoon with visual overload.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have mangaka that put so little into the pages that it might as well look like stick figures, because then you are left wishing you had a reference to use for your missing parts.

In reality, there is an even finer line between too much, and not enough with regards to how much can be placed in a single page of manga. Too little imagery, and the reader is left unfulfilled; too much, and the reader wants to barf from motion sickness.

Another really annoying thing, that can cause me much distress is the habit of character recycling. A somewhat common practice among new and fresh mangaka. This is where the artist uses the same character model, with just subtle changes for every other character in every other manga that they create. So when we look at the manga, we don't know which person is which. Unless we go by the hair, and that isn't always enough to really clue us in.

Now if we take all those things: too much art on the page, and characters too similarly drawn; we end up with a swirling mess that would do better if it were simply a visual novel. Now there is one last thing that will kill a story, and that is convoluted plot.

It isn't enough that we have to see this smörgåsbord of images, and characters that resemble each other, but on top of all of that we have manga that have some of the most intricately woven and complicated plots imaginable. This would be fine, if we were reading a novel, but we are looking at pictures people! PICTURES!

So you are probably by now wondering what all this has to do with The Gentleman's Alliance Cross? It's because of nearly all the manga that I've read, aside from Akamatsu's stuff; I find the works of Arina Tanemura the most culpable for practicing and using every single one of the problematic elements for creating a manga, and The Gentleman's Alliance Cross is just the frosting on the cake.

I would like to think that I am pretty quick on the up-take, but despite my best efforts, reading through this Manga has become more of a chore than it's worth. It has so much on the page visually, it's like a Where's Waldo instead of a simple scene; combined with similarly drawn characters, and odd placed dialog bubbles, it takes me three or four passes per page just to figure out what the crap I'm looking at, and who the crap is saying what!

I bought The Gentleman's Alliance Cross on pure whim. At the time, I was just looking for decent romantic non-shonen manga that I could laze away reading, and maybe get some titles under my belt. But what was supposed to be a brisk jaunt through a lovey-dovey romance has quickly turned into a complex spider's web of unimaginable nonsense. After the second volume, I went in search of other Tanemura works to see for myself if this was just a stand alone case, and discovered the one-shot ION that was a much earlier title.

What did I find?

Not only did the main character look strikingly familiar to Haine from The Gentleman's Alliance Cross, but once again we have a case of too much art on the pages. It isn't a matter of showing off how talented a person is at making a beautiful scene, it's a matter of over-kill, and Arina Tanemura obviously didn't know when to quit with the image padding.

The best thing about ION was that it was such a short read, so that there wasn't time to bog down in complicated plot devices, and unexpected twists and turns. In fact it was somewhat enjoyable, and despite the similarity in character, it was not bad.

On the other hand, the more of The Gentleman's Alliance Cross that I read, the deeper the complications, and the harder it became to follow. On top of all the mess with mega-detailed image overload, and similarly drawn characters, we now have the beginnings of vague-plot. This is a nasty little difficult thing to wield, and for a novelist it can be a story killer. It can take hundreds of pages, and thousands of words to develop a vague plot, using subtlety and deliberation; not just anyone can pull this off. It takes serious dedication to the story to weave such intricacies, and Tanemura had started using this approach to the plot early on.

First we have the revelation that one of Haine's friends -- a girl -- is actually a cross dressing boy. Not to mention this character blends so well into the other characters that it's hard to tell he/she apart sometimes, so this is a nice complication. Then we have the main love interest, is actually a twin, and not the actual boy that the main character is in love with, so when we bounce between them we have a hell of a time trying to figure out if we are looking at the nice twin, or the ass hole.

Then we have the complication of Haine's past. The fact that she was sold to a family, and has some real blood-relatives that make appearances, which once again look so familiar, it's hard to tell if they are people we have already seen before, or if they are new. Several times, I got so confused by who the hell I was looking at, that I had to walk away from the book and just clear my thoughts.

Not only this, but there are so many characters that play double roles, that it's hard to keep up with them. Not only is this a visual cluster-frag, not only have I been lost in the dialog bubbles wondering who said what; but now Tanemura has started playing musical chairs with the characters, and I'm the last one to find a seat!

How in the name of Zeus's butt-hole is this supposed to be entertainment? How can frustrating your readers be satisfying in the least? I like the story, at least what I can understand, but why does it have to be so complicated to the point that I want to cry from frustration at rying to get through a single damn page of it? This is not fun, or entertaining, I don't feel good after reading a volume, and I sure don't want to have to have a freaking wiki page open on my computer to figure out who all the characters are.

In all truth, I think I lost much of my respect for manga in general after the forth volume of this series. I lost a lot of respect for mangaka as well. Instead of making a series that was enjoyable, it became a monster of unimaginable proportions. A monster that is best left to nerds with more time on their hands to figure out.

I don't like wasting away valuable entertainment time on something that requires the Rosetta Stone to read. I enjoy a smooth narrative. If this were a novel, it wouldn't be so bad, because at least then, I could fill in the gaps, I could make the assertions, and I could at least know who was saying what. With this, I just fail. And I feel strongly that this isn't because I'm stupid, or ignorant; it's because the artist wanted me to fail.

Friday, October 8, 2010

More Fall Anime 2010... (Re-Deux?)

Yeah, it's a foregone conclusion that just as I hit "post" on that last blog entry, I turn around and see a crap-load more anime airing in Japan, that just screams for a mention here. Of course it could be that I just have a type of keyboard illness that forces me to vomit words at infinity; either way, there are a few more shows here that I guess I have no other choice than to satisfy the sickness, and talk about.

I just hope that as soon as I post this entry, I'm not forced to write another one. I wanna do my review of crappy anime and manga now dammit!!!!

Okay, I won't bore you anymore with my candy talk... let's get to the Anime!

Yosuga no Sora
First up (this second blog around), is Yosuga no Sora. It's the story of Haruka Kazugano and his twin sister Sora, who come back to the village of Okukozome-chou, a place in the mountains that they often visited as children during their Summer vacations, and spend time there with their dear old grandfather.

This time however the twins are going back to live there, since their parents have died in an accident, and they are soon re-united with some of their old acquaintances, and introducing them to a few new friends.

On the surface, it's supposed to seem like a tranquil scenic story with some dramatic and melancholy themes, but there is something else going on. Promises that the twins made, the location of a "lost item" and the real motivation for their returning to Okukozome.

It looks interesting, and it seems like compelling story writing and character creation; but at some point there is a real jaw dropper, when you see a little moment of brother kissing sister. I'm not trying to spoil anything, but I think you viewers need to know up-front that there is definitely going to be some twincest here. But then, obviously you can't have a story with twins that there isn't a little bro on sis nookie right?

In all honesty, I really have no idea what I am supposed to expect from this show. I don't know if it's gonna be a mental case of psychological trauma, or a show that ends up dead-panning itself due to the combination of themes. I mean really at just episode one it could go in any number of possible directions. I know that it at least has piqued my interest enough to try it for a few more episodes at least. Provided we don't have to endure too many more moments of Sora fantasizing about her brother with her legs apart.

Shinryaku! Ika Musume!
Okay, so those of you that know me, know that I am down for watching and liking some of the oddest crap known to man. But I never expected that I would like, let alone simply adore a "Squid Girl".

Yeah, it's alright to laugh a little now. I chuckle to myself about it every time I look in the mirror and call myself a sick bastard. But you cannot deny that there is something refreshing and totally adorable about Ika Musume (Squid Girl) in the new anime Shinryaku! Ika Musume!

I mean come on! how many Cat-Girl anime shows have we had crammed down our throats, and Dog-Girl shows rammed up our collective butts? Can we not have a little Squid Girl to take the edge off?

Okay, so it's not the greatest and most compelling of plots I've ever seen in my life, but then; we're talking about a girl that comes to the surface intent of conquering humanity for their evil deeds of polluting and devastating the ocean. Yeah, it's got a little moral story here, how that if we toss trash in the ocean enough we might get invaded by a single solitary Kawaii Squid Girl; and you know what, that doesn't sound too bad.

Sure Squid Girl is a little naive about how to actually invade the surface world, and in her attempt, she punches a hole in the side of a Beach house restaurant, and gets wrangled into being a waitress to pay off the debt. Nevermind that she has squishy flat tentacles for hair, and that they can do cool things as if they were extra arms, and never mind the fact that she was under the impression that there would only be about a thousand people top-side to enslave.

Bottom line, is that this is one cute show, and Squid Girl is awesome. Her ignorance and determination make this a show really worth watching, despite that for now it does seem to be a little flat on the notes.

Blah Blah Blah My Sister Is Cute Blah!

Now for our next honorable mention, I just have to gripe here a little. I know it isn't my fault that shows have some stupid titles, and in fact, it's probably a show's title alone that sells a lot of the garbage, craptastic gurgle-bile waste that floats over here through sweaty Doritoes stained fingers via the internet. But just who in the hell can even remember a title like Ore No Imouto Ga Konna Ni Kawaii Wake Ga Nai let alone pronounce it?

Oh, that's not the half of it. The actual translation for this show, is something along the lines of There’s No Way My Sister Is This Cute.

Are they serious? Why don't we just recite a couple of paragraphs from Hemingway and use that as the title? At least they spared us the often overused cliche of ending the thing with an exclamation point or two.

But aside from the title which is more than a little silly and verbose, it seems to fit in with the theme of the show. Which seems pretty basic.

You take one average seventeen year old high school guy that has a terrible relationship with his younger sister, toss in a stern Anti-Otaku Police Officer for a father that doesn't seem to know the meaning of the term "loosen up" or that he has a pole up his ass, the average mother, and the seemingly perfect average non-eccentric Japanese type of family, and you have the makings for a dull show.

Dull until younger sister Kirino drops a DVD of some magical girl anime, and it's found by older brother Kyousuke. Well that isn't so bad, but the "Little Sister Love" hentai game inside it, is cause for a triple take.

Confronting his sister with this new found anomaly in his average life, Kyousuke is shocked when his sister confesses to being a closet otaku. And not just any otaku, the sort that compulsively collects, as well as has a bizarre attraction to "Little Sister" H-games.

Swearing to keep it a secret between them, Kyousuke promises to help her any way he can, since revelation of her passion to mom and dad would spell the end of their seemingly perfect average lives.

I guess you can say, that the plot is intriguing, and interesting, and that for now the characters aren't annoying, which is a huge plus for me. But the underlying message I'm getting seems a little darker than maybe it actually is. I mean, could there be some sort of secret meaning to why all of Kirino's games are about brothers loving sisters?

I just don't know if I'm ready for that answer yet. But aside from the stupid title, which only makes some sense after you've seen the episode, it isn't all that bad. Again... I shall wait and see.

The World God Only Knows

Moving on with this list (no I don't feel like talking about Bakuman!) is the anime adaptation of The World God Only Knows. The manga has been amazingly popular, and despite the particularly convoluted plot it seems to be an even balance of humor and service to the fans.

Okay, so let me see if I can take a stab at this thing here. What you have is the story of a second-year high school student (interesting that there are so many shows in high school... why don't they do any in a retirement center or something?) Keima Katsuragi. He is a master dating sim gamer and is even known by the internet community as "The Capturing God" for his skills at getting any 2D girl in a game.

If only his real-life social network was as colorful. Instead of being the "Capturing God" in the real world, he is instead an otamegane (a derogatory name for a person who is an otaku with glasses).

It's not until Keima gets an e-mail offering him a contract to "capture" girls that the interesting stuff starts happening. Accepting the offer, he is immediately met by a demon from hell named Elsee. Apparently, it isn't a game. Elsee has been charged with bringing back runaway spirits that have hidden themselves in the hearts of girls; and the only way to seemingly break this hold is if someone captures their hearts, or makes them fall in love.

It makes it really challenging since Keima is only really interested in the 2D girls, and has no need for those in the real world. Which I'm sure is problematic for Elsee since now that the contract is signed, both their lives are on the line.

So there you have it. A demon girl, and a nerd loser out to capture the the hearts of innocent girls to "free" them of the spirit trapped within them. Sounds more like a means to get some cheap lovin'.

Anyway, for those of you out there already eager to caress yourselves while viewing this show, you'll be glad to know that a second season has already been green-lit and will be on its way. God help us all.

Last on this list is a few OVAs that haven't slipped my slippery mind.

Sora no Woto
Both Sora no Woto and Spice and Wolf II have new goodness added to them.

Sora no Woto gets two OVAs that serve as additional episodes to the 12 episode series. The first being in between episodes 7 and 8, and the other one pegged as an unofficial 13th episode.

Spice and Wolf II just gets the usual consistent Episode 0 treatment, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me at all. Why make a prequel episode? Why not just add to the end, give us a little peek into the future of their lives, or a peek at Holo naked again...ANYTHING but a freaking prequel!
Spice and Wolf II

Sora no Woto at least has the common courtesy to offer us full episodes that even have the same opening credit (which I love!!!!!1!1! yeah i R acting like a n00b here), and breathtaking animation. I can honestly say that some of the shots in the Episode 7.5 OVA are more impressive than the series, and that is saying a lot.

So there you have it. My continued take on the Fall 2010 Anime Block of broadcast shows. I hope you all go choke on the goodness of each and every one of them, or at least suffer a few nights of insomnia trying to decide which one has more "Eww" factor to it, and fan-service; cause I'm not telling.

Who ever left their copy of Eiken in the corner needs to pick that crap up before someone steps in it!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Some Fall 2010 Anime (This stuff is actually in color?)

This Fall anime line-up has a few interesting titles so far, and even though it seems to already pale in comparison to the schedule from the Summer, there may be something hiding in the shows that haven't yet his the airwaves in Japan to pique the interest of the fanbase; but don't quote me on that, so far it seems like re-hash and rubbish!

I'm not going to list every single anime that is airing this Fall, so if you want that information you'll just have to get your chubby little Otaku fingers to typing and searching Google or Yahoo to find it for yourselves!

One of the earlier anticipated titles is MM!, a show about a guy Sado Tarou who has a problem with only getting sexually aroused when girls beat on him. His masochism being what it is, he feels that he will never develop a normal relationship and chooses to seek help in the "Voluntary Club", yet one more stereotypical "Club" that makes people's wishes or desires come true. Hoping that the people there will help cure his condition, Tarou gets in over his head. For one he encounters a girl named Isurugi Mio, who thinks she is a god (as if we haven't been waiting for another god-complex girl to come along), and Yuno Arashiko, the person responsible for his masochistic condition in the first place.

I can already tell you that this is going to be a very frustrating anime at least for a person like me anyway. It features masochism, lots of fan-service, and all the things that will go with a typial harem comedy; I'm not even gonna call this a romantic comedy, I just can bring myself to slap that sort of label to an ecchi fuelled freight train such as this.

Iron Man
The next anime to hit is none other than the anticipated Iron Man anime that Marvel Comics/Madhouse has made.

Taking the man in the iron suit and porting him to Japan could be something of a brilliant move, and Madhouse animation studios is doing everything in their power to make the transition as focused and purposed as possible.

The series seems very promising, and the characters look as good as anything one would come to expect from Madhouse, but based on some fan reaction, there could be some slight backlash to the porting of popular American only franchises to Japan.

Any backlash will most likely come in the form of noob rants that wont carry much weight, since to them the only thing anime is something originally from Japan. Phem!

For a lot of fans, this is a means of seeing more of our hero, and the fact that a lot of the style and character from the films makes it into the anime is something to be said for Marvel.

I'll be checking this one out, no doubt!

Letter Bee Reverse

Another title that has been on everyone's "must see" list is Letter Bee Reverse, the sequel to the successful first season show following the adventures of postal carrier Lag Seeing and companion Niche.

I'll have to be honest, I haven't finished the first season, and since I knew that there was a second season in the works; I sort of assumed that Lag's quest to find fellow Letter Bee Gouche wasn't going to happen, or wasn't going to be resolved.

I really need to finish up so I can get started on this one. It is high on my to-do list, and since the first season seethed with sheer awesome, I am anticipating great things.

The look and animation of Letter Bee is what really won me over in the beginning; not so much the main character as I find Lag a bit of a wuss, and his constant crying, while intimately compelling in the beginning, has sort of grown old; and I find myself wanting to tell him to just shut the hell up, and act like a man. The best part of the show is Niche; she really makes up for a lot of what the show is lacking. Not to mention her hair is incredible... so yeah pardon the fan-gushing on this one.

Panty & Stocking

What do you get when you combine Powerpuff Girls and the perverse toilet humor of a Nickelodeon cartoon gone very bad? Well you get the latest hunk of smeary crap Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt!

Whether you are convinced it's the greatest thing Gainax has ever done, or you are just into sex jokes, this is one anime that has certainly garnered a lot of attention quickly.

Personally it's nothing but irreverent and twisted, there are some humorous moments, but I doubt even that will have enough staying power to keep the fanbase satisfied for long. The show is obviously a parody of a lot of other titles, and while breaking the mould, and the bounds of storytelling -- not to mention character studies -- it does sport impressive deliberate animation, and blindingly brilliant transformation sequences.

I don't want to say a lot about this show now, since I do plan on writing a review later on; but if toilet humor, sex jokes, and perversion are not your thing, then do not blame me when you feel like scrubbing down with a steel-wool pad after viewing.

I'm more than a little disappointed in this season of anime from Japan. It seems that the direction of shows over the past few years has hit some sort of twisted and provocative meandering speed-bump. If it isn't doused with a heavy helping of lolicon themes, and ecchi content, then it's just vampire this and vampire that. I'm not impressed here people, I want stories that will transcend their own genre, and I want shows that will have people talking about them years after they've already stopped airing.

Instead I get this crap! Aside from a few halfway decent titles, that I will only casually watch, I'm not feeling things very much. If the titles that I've listed here are is the best Japan can do, then I am in trouble.

Guess it's time for me to take my starting point, and begin my sprint through the streets of Japan slapping furiously at the fanbase.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

WO Interviews: Astro Nerd Boy

(no he's not Danny Choo)
Taking a break from my usual sarcastic and critical approach to the Otaku pop-culture, I thought I would tackle something a little more seriously minded, and get with fellow Anime/Manga afficianado AstroNerdBoy to comment a little about some things in the industry, and personally as a fan.

AstroNerdBoy is best known for his massively popular AstroNerdBoy's Anime & Manga Blog, as well as being one of the administrators of the FUNimation Forum on-line community.

When he isn't blogging away episode and chapter reviews of anime and manga, or getting away with blurbs about lack of sleep; he is contributing elsewhere on the internet and various communities doing what he does best, enlightening us with his rhetoric and refreshing opinions.

"I'd like to kick this off with the usual question.

How old were you when you discovered Japanese entertainment i.e Anime/Manga?"

"Nineteen. I'm not sure I would have even paid attention to anime or manga had I not been in Japan at the time. I did unknowingly watch anime as a kid (Battle of the Planets, aka: Gatchaman) though I just thought it was a cartoon. I also saw the live-action The Space Giants (aka: Ambassador Magma or Magma Taishi as it was known in Japan) as a kid but again, it wasn't "Japanese entertainment" as such."

"Which would you say you prefer over the other, anime or manga?"

"I don't prefer one over the other to be honest. I generally prefer the original source story over the other adaptations of the same story. So if the manga spins off an anime then I prefer that manga, but if the anime spins off the manga, then I prefer the anime. That said, in general, I like both media forms."

"Looking around at the typical ages of the fan-base, and the people that go around with the Otaku label; would you consider yourself "old" by Otaku standards?"

"I would consider myself "old" by any standard. *lol* I would not consider myself "otaku" though I am obviously a fan of the anime/manga format and passionate about certain titles."

"You have expressed on several instances that you do not prefer dubbed anime, and that much of this has stemmed from your personal experiences with the anime Love Hina; is it safe to say that you are an Anime Purist? (A person who watches anime with no dub or sub)"

Astro Nerd Boy:
"I am a person who watches anime in Japanese with subtitles exclusively. However, I don't chide people who prefer dubs though. It is only for a title like the canon Tenchi Muyo! OVA's where the original Japanese story contains little things that need to be carefully translated that I tell people to watch the Japanese version to get the accurate story (assuming the subtitles are accurate)."

"How important are honorifics to an American audience aside from having the constant repetitive -Chan, -San, -Kun, -Sama attached at the end of each person's name?"

"I think they are very important. After all, we include various European honorifics (Spanish, French, German spring to mind) when they are used, but for some reason there was a great fear of Japanese honorifics. I think that's what makes the 70's mini-series Shogun so impressive in that the producers kept it real by letting honorifics stay in during dialog."

"So then, is there no other way to express respectful attribute of title or status, or is this something that is simply a culture clash, that hasn't quite found its footing here in the states?"

"I think honorific usage has gained a much wider acceptance today than in the 80s or 90s. That's largely thanks to fansubs and scanlations, which not only caused anime and manga to grow in popularity, but also have educated fans about the hierarchical nature of Japanese society.

Japanese writers of anime, manga, and light novels use honorifics as a literary device because honorifics aren't used quite that extensively in modern Japanese society. In that light, I don't subscribe to the idea that honorifics can or should be force translated. I completely reject the notion that leaving in Japanese honorifics is being lazy while ignoring them is not being lazy.

Take the Slayers anime for my first example. There's a female cleric character named Sylphiel who is in love with the fighter character Gourry. As such, she addresses him as "Gourry-sama." The official translation turned this into "Gourry, darling" some of the time whenever Sylphiel appeared to just be fawning over Gourry. However, that translation does not work when Sylphiel yells "Gourry-sama!" to get his attention or in some other situation where she's not fawning over him. In those situations, the honorific usage was simply ignored. Yet Sylphiel's manner of addressing Gourry has not changed but in the official English translation, it has.

For example two, lets go to Slayers Next. In the episode They're Talking About a Girl Named Zelgadiss, Gourry, Xellos, and Zelgadiss have to disguise themselves as women to enter a female-only village. The cleric Amelia always addresses Zelgadiss as "Zelgadiss-san" but the official translation has this as "Mister Zelgadiss." Before this episode, folks could argue, "Oh, that's a good translation so what's the problem?" However, the "san" honorific is gender-neutral so when the group enters the village, Amelia continuing to address Zelgadiss as "Zalgadiss-san" isn't a problem. However, the official English translation for this episode still has her saying "Mister Zelgadiss" which makes NO sense considering he and the other males are in disguise lest they be caught and punished as males in the story. If the official translation had just retained the Japanese honorific, there wouldn't have been an issue.

I know I've said a lot but to me, leaving the honorifics in manga and in anime subtitles is important. They aren't that difficult to learn and if it is OK to leave in various Western honorifics, then why not Japanese honorifics?"

"How much anime or manga do you usually manage to finish?"

"I try to finish everything I start. There have been series that have started off poorly and ended up being enjoyable to me (Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha) so if I start something, I do what I can to finish it most of the time."

"I know that you do a lot of reviews on your blog, and I'm sure elsewhere, how much viewing and reading are you able to get accomplished?"

"To be honest, the blog has been detrimental to that. Back in 2002 when I first started looking seriously at anime, I watched a lot of anime that year and the years following. When I started writing for Community Anime Reviews, my viewing dropped a little but not a great deal. However, once I started episode blogging, a single episode might take me hours to completely blog. That's because I watch it, then I start writing but I often end up watching a second time before finishing the piece. Then I go through and do image grabs. If the episode or manga chapter causes me some questions, I may take hours doing research on top of all that, as I did during a recent xxxHOLiC two-chapter story that dealt with an aborted fetus spirit."

"Do you follow the new releases of anime and manga as they premiere in Japan, or the broadcasts from each season?"

"I am generally aware of the new anime titles that are released but on the manga side, I'm pretty clueless unless it is a title from a manga artist that I really like. If there is an anime that catches my eye, then I try to make a point of watching it as it comes out of Japan. Otherwise, I have a huge backlog of stuff I've yet to watch."

"This is a question that I'm sure a lot of people have been wanting to ask, so I'll go ahead and ask it.

How do you watch your anime? Do you watch it fan-subbed, or raw? Since a lot of the anime and manga that isn't licensed in America can usually only come here a few ways; imported, fan-subbed, or raw."

"Heh. My Japanese skills aren't good enough to watch something raw, so I will admit to having watched fansubs of unlicensed titles. That said, I am a HUGE supporter of anime in the U.S. and have purchased a ton of anime titles, to say nothing of the manga I've purchased. I make a point of supporting titles I like with priority given to titles where the R1 company does my subtitles right (meaning, they are accurate and retain honorifics).

I've also on rare occasion splurged and imported anime from Japan. I also import all of the Negima! manga tankoubons published as well as purchase the Del Rey (and soon to be Kodansha USA) releases. I was doing that for Ah! My Goddess but financial constraints forced me to drop the Japanese versions.

The bottom line though is that I have always supported the things I like, which is why my video collection has not only anime, but various TV series I've like over time (Max Headroom being the latest addition there), Hollywood movies, British comedies, and more."

"Would you say that the fan-base has changed over the past decade, and how is being a fan now different than being a fan then?"

"I think the fanbase has changed in that there are more fans and they are all on the Internet. Look at Pokemon as an example. When that was first brought to America, Nintendo and 4Kids were able to get away with renaming characters, changing stories, and removing Japanese references to go so far as to call onigiri ("rice balls") a doughnut. *_* Years later when 4Kids attempted to bring over the very popular One Piece, they were unable to get away with the same kinds of thing because though the audiences were still kids for the most part, they were more sophisticated because of the Internet. Plus, I'm sure most of them had been watching the fansubs and though most wanted an English dub, they wanted a proper English dub and not something edited and changed for U.S. consumption."

"As a person with high moral and ethical and religious views, how does -- if any -- anime conflict with your ideas and principles? Do you find it detrimental to follow after the principles of religion and view anime, or read manga?"

"If an anime or manga is that opposed to my Christian beliefs, then I just won't watch or read it. I have to take these on a case-by-case basis. Negima! is probably the series that is the most borderline for me because of the constant ecchi fanservice. However, the fact that the nudity is Barbie Doll stuff combined with the fact that this is one of the better written manga titles out there are enough to keep me buying. I do NOT take this manga out in public though because based on some of the covers alone, people in the waiting rooms of doctor's offices, auto repair shops, hair cutting shops, etc. would get the wrong impression of what this manga is about.

Now remember, what I'm OK with may not be something that another Christian is comfortable with and that's fine. We all aren't the same."

"With each season of anime, and each new published manga, it seems that the perversity factor has begun to reach a fairly consistent level. Would you say that the industry has gone after the ecchi content more now than in the past, and how would you say the Moe and Loli fan-service anime and manga has affected the fanbase?"

"In Japan, the ecchi and sex sells just as sex sells in the U.S.

You know, as I think on this question, I'm reminded of a Ranma 1/2 episode I saw when the series first aired in Japan in 1989. I was STUNNED to see female Ranma in a steamy bath, naked (obviously), and with her breasts fully visible through the steam. As my friend Robert pointed out to me, Japan's take on nudity is different from America's take. So fanservice and ecchi content has been a staple of anime and manga out of Japan from the start.

As to how the Moe and Loli stuff has effected the fanbase, I'm not sure. What it has told me is that despite the "progress" of the modern era, apparently many men still crave the younger girls on a primal, sexual level. Being that these are 2D girls, I suppose it allows these guys to give into that urge and lust after and fantasize about girls they wouldn't dare do so about in real life. ^_^;;;"

"As a reader of your blog I was present during much of the fallout of your article regarding the censorship of Dance in the Vampire Bund several months back. Not to re-open that can of worms, but do you as a viewer, or reader think that the issue of more nudity and sexuality in anime and manga could become a double edged sword later on? "

"As a person who is politically pretty libertarian, I don't care how much nudity and/or sexuality is placed in manga and anime. As a Christian, I won't be choosing those titles and don't now based on my own standards. Frankly, I don't see it is the government's business to decide what people should and should not read just as I don't see it is the government's business to decide what I should or should not eat.

Marketing a non-hentai anime or manga title with heavy nudity or strong sexual themes is always going to be a double-edged sword. There's going to be a certain market for that stuff but then there are going to be people like myself who aren't interested. Then, you have the busybodies who want to get involved for the "greater good" and REALLY jack things up by going after things I find personally acceptable."

"Most broadcast series with an excessive amount of ecchi in Japan have censor blurs, and light streaks, and of course fog to remove much of the nudity for public broadcast, but what message does this send to the audience, and especially those that don't quite understand the cultural popularity of anime, doesn't this express a deliberate attempt by the Japanese industry to make shows that they know have these things in them?"

"Well, the only censor blurs I'm aware of happen in hentai titles (and of course, live-action Japanese porn), but then again, I don't watch the modern ecchi titles so maybe I'm out of touch here. I do remember that in the 80s, TV anime titles seemed to get away with a bit of detailed topless nudity flashes here and there. I don't know if that is happening today or not.

That said, the Japanese mostly make anime titles for Japanese audiences. Western audiences finding a taste for their product is just icing on the cake. So I don't think that Japanese producers take the West into consideration when making their anime. On the Japanese side, any nudity is just excused, especially if it is for young teen males who might find such things "essential" (as I've seen it joked about in the manga Hayate the Combat Butler)."

"Following on the heels of the previous question, should American Anime distributors re-asses their purchasing standards for anime based on the weighty decision of possibly being forced to edit and censor their product? Basically, should a company knowingly secure rights for an anime title that they know they may later on have to trim and edit?"

"That's up to the marketing people at the American anime distribution company. If a company decides to license something that they may feel would land them in a negative light and hurt their overall business, then I feel they shouldn't license it. No matter what , there should be no legal requirement to censor anything."

"Do you as a fan find it frustrating when companies drop or fail to release all the available episodes of a series, or is this 'Just Business'?"

"Oh yes, it is VERY frustrating. I understand the business needs of a company to not spend money on a title that people aren't buying enough of to make it profitable. That said, dropping an anime or manga title will anger those fans who did buy everything that was released. Thus, you have a two-edged sword here as well.

For example, an R1 anime company licenses the first series/season of an anime to see how it sells before deciding on purchasing more series/seasons. For the sake of discussion, lets say that it sells OK, but not to the levels that justify licensing more from a business standpoint. Now, the R1 anime company hopes that the message gets out that in future, more fans will support a series right from the starting gate if they want more series/seasons licensed. However, I think that while most anime fans understand this, those "burned" by getting only part of the anime series (or manga title) take another lesson -- don't invest in a series until you see a greater commitment from the R1 company.

When a company is more fan-centric, they will at times make decisions to continue producing an anime or manga series even if it isn't doing well for them but at least has a vocal cult following. The series will be chalked up like a loss-leader product in a supermarket (or other store) to keep the fans happy and hopefully buying other stuff. However, when the cold black-and-white of dollar amounts on a spreadsheet come into play, then I see the alienation of fans and a stronger drive of those same fans to fansubs just so they can get the whole series."

"According to Robert Brown (Anime Corner Store) internet retailer; it has been heavily suggested that an anime's profit is pretty much determined within the first 120 days of sale once it hits the street. Do you think that this is the reason some titles in America do well or fail, or is there a more major influence from on-line downloading?"

"My experiences with FUNimation tell me that what Robert says is right. Again, we are faced with the cold reality of a pure business model versus the "do it for the fans" mentality that allows for a title that doesn't sell so well to carry on.

Online downloading of anime has certainly had an influence on things. In the days before digital fansubs, a company like ADV could license subpar crap, put a pretty package on it, and lure people into buying it on a whim. Today, that can't be done and fans who REALLY love an anime title will buy it when it hits the street even after they've watched the fansubs. They won't fall for marketing of crappy anime titles with suggestive covers and marketing schemes because they've either already watched it or they've read blogs of others who have."

"The arguments have been made, that downloading fan-subbed anime that is unlicensed falls within a gray area of the industry, and that it couldn't possibly harm the market. What are your thoughts on that?"

"Considering that any anime can be licensed at any time, then one could argue that there can be a negative impact. However, fansubs have clued in R1 companies on what could potentially be a very profitable title to license. As with many things, fansubs too are a two-edged sword as I see it."

"Do you think that leeching ripped anime (dual-audio DVD) and fan-subbed anime are the same?"

"No, they aren't the same at all. However, the fact that there is a demand for such ripped downloads proves there's a market for legal dubs and subs online. I wish all anime companies had their entire libraries out digitally, both in dub and in sub, for people to legally watch."

"It has been suggested that seeders and leechers pervert the intention and integrity of the fan-base, do you think that is an accurate assessment?"

"I don't know if that is an accurate assessment or not. What I do know is that we have been raised to turn on our radios and listen to music, talk, or sports at no costs to ourselves beyond purchasing said radio. Ditto for the TV. That mentality continues and so anime AND manga companies should find a way to get paid while continuing that kind of service."

"With the digital age taking our favorite shows into the direction of streaming, do you think we will see an age when traditional DVDs and BDs of our shows will become obsolete?"

"Yes. I dream of a day when I can have my video collection on a server of some kind with offline backup of said videos. I'm sure that Hollywood and even R1 anime distributors would love for a day to happen when they completely control how and when you view a product, something that doesn't happen with physical media like a DVD or Blu-ray. So I hope that in future, we'll still have the ability to have videos at our beck and call to watch when and how WE want to do so."

"Will manga ever cross the digital boundary? As in, do you think we will ever see legal digital manga sites?"

"I think if it were up to U.S. companies, we'd already be there, or at least much further along. The Japanese are apparently very afraid of digital content though, which is a shame really. I only purchased RIN-NE after seeing Viz post chapters online and saw how they were adapting it. Oddly enough though, I haven't bothered to keep current with it, mainly because it isn't a title that fires me up to read it on a weekly basis.

Assuming the Japanese start allowing it, I'm pretty sure you won't see legal, digital sites that are a "one stop shop" like the illegal digital manga sites out there now are. Instead, each U.S. publishing company would just have the titles they've licensed on their own company's site."

"With the popularity of portable and digital devices everywhere, and the ability to carry our episodes of anime and digital books with us, which do you personally prefer, the physical copy, or a digital copy?"

"On the anime side, assuming I had off-site backup of my all my digital files, then I'd be fine with 100% digital copies there. On the manga side, I'd like the same thing, though I admit that I like the feel of a physical book in my hand when I read in bed versus an e-reader."

"As a fan, what are your hopes for the future of the industry both here in America, and in Japan?"

"Obviously, I hope they continue to succeed. I would love for all anime in Japan to be legally simulcast in the U.S. and for all manga chapters to be legally published in English (online) as they come out in Japan."

"To conclude, I'd like to say thanks AstroNerdBoy for taking the time to answer these questions; with your insight and opinions. Do you have any closing comments?"

"I'd like to thank all those who've supported my anime/manga blog and read my dribble over the years. ^_^

Hopefully, I can keep it up for a while to come. ^_^"

you can visit AstroNerdBoy's blog and read more of his thoughts on the Anime and Manga industry at AstroNerdBoy's Anime & Manga Blog, make sure you check that out.