Saturday, May 28, 2011

How To Critique Anime and Manga - A Review of the Reviewers

Criticism With A Smile!
So you want to be an anime and manga critic huh? Well, for all you professionals, semi-professionals, and just flat out posers, I've got your ticket, and I'm going to refrain from reviewing anime and manga, and instead review you, the reviewers.

Sounds crazy, and insane and stupid doesn't it? Well, when you stop giving a damn about what others think it makes it easy to write this garbage. LOL!

So I've been taking a long close inspection at the anime fandom, and what I've noticed is that everyone has an opinion, whether it be on manga, anime, subs, dubs or even the difference between Eastern and Western animation. Of course the internet is a huge freedom of speech playground; everyone has a voice, and all the nerds are in constant competition to be heard.

What baffles me is how all these nerds that struggle to be heard in the roar of posts, chats, message boards and YouTube comment boxes all seem to easily forget that their opinion isn't necessarily what everyone else is going to agree with. But somewhere between waking up that morning and switching on their computer; they developed a superiority attitude that knows no limits, sort of like a gestapo member that would rather force their views and beliefs on the fandom than simply voice their opinion and have fun.

The more I look, the more I find many critics and reviewers have turned their platform into more a pulpit for debating the singular parts of the fandom that they personally don't agree with. Rather than talk about the subject at hand, they use their podium to preach the hate against some aspect of the industry or the fandom that they have issue with.

So what is the point of reviewing anime and manga if everything falls under the unprecedented scrutiny of their own personal tastes?

The point is that they have some misguided concept that because they've seen a few dozen anime, or have read a few dozen manga, can recite the names of the executives of each anime studio, or recall the minuscule details of some voice actor that they are suddenly an authority on everything that falls under the category of anime and manga. Most of the time this attitude of superiority falls well on the shoulders of the elitists; but it has often proved a catalyst for the creation of snobbish ass-hole critics.

The burden of a reviewer worth his salt, is the ability of remaining mostly unbiased when offering a descriptive coherent review. Afterward, the reviewer can voice his or her personal opinion, but only so long as it's clearly understood that their opinion isn't the final authority on the subject.

This line however for a lot of the elitist critics has greatly blurred recently. They seem to meld together their collective knowledge of anime, and their personal tastes, and calculate that their opinion is superior, simply by the virtue of the amount of information they posses, or the number of shows they have watched.

Of course, one must have a good working knowledge of anime and manga to become a reviewer, or a critic. But lately it seems there are more critics than there are actual fans; and the few fans that are out there are seldom on the fence about a topic.

The critics that voice their opinion about anime, seem to believe that unless they give it a crap review, then they aren't providing some truth to the other uneducated nerds of the fandom. Which is entirely untrue. Sometimes a fan likes to know that something is actually worth while, not that every blessed loving thing in the industry is a wad of crap. To review that way, is far from realistic, and far from establishing a good reputation within the community of readers.

If I found fault with everything that comes out, then it makes me look like an overly unsatisfied prick, that no longer enjoys anime or manga. It does not make me seem refined, or superior. It just makes me look rather stupid and well more or less an idiot.

Satisfaction on a personal level for critics of anime, is one thing, but like I mentioned before, a good reviewer and critic doesn't use their podium as a forum for their own dislike of something. If I had a personal beef with Moe in anime, and I took every opportunity to announce my dislike of Moe, then eventually people wouldn't take me seriously, when I offered them my opinion of an anime. They would automatically assume that I was about to preach against something Moe related, or of course, set myself up to look smarter than I really was.

Most fans aren't really interested in our opinions of anime and manga. Probably less than 30% take what I or some other critic has said to heart. After all a good fan will find their own footing in the fandom, and not rely on what I say. But then, we as reviewers aren't trying to sell the stuff, or prevent it from being sold, we are offering a peek into some small aspect of it. And if in the long run we can educate, and accommodate the fans then we have successfully done more for the fandom, than five hundred ass-hole reviews and smart ass comments could ever do.

I'll be the first to admit that this blog is for entertainment and educational purposes only. Most of the time, my opinion is a hunk of crap, and most of the time, I am do not deal as harshly with the fans of anime and manga as I appear to.

I simply offer a laugh or two at myself and the fandom. But at some point I could take my massive amount of anime knowledge and information, and begin to wield it in such a way, that instead of reviewing and critiquing, I am belittling.

Critics that find fault with more than 70% of what they review are more than likely elitists that have a major chip on their shoulder, and want to be more important than they are. Critics that find fault with more than 90% of what they review, are just internet trolls; plain and simple. They aren't in it for the anime or the manga, and they sure as shit don't want to be entertained.

Some reviewers are only in it for the flaws. And some are in it for the glory. But a good critic, knows that there is always someone out there that will like what you hate, and hate what you like. Your attitude, your snobbish remarks, and your super massive knowledge will never stop this from being.

If you can't be mutually favorable and unsavory, then you are not qualified to be a critic. If all you do is bitch and moan, then you are probably less qualified to even be a fan. I mean seriously, why are you even here if you hate this stuff this much?

Sure it's easy to present a snarky attitude behind a nice smile, or a cute quip. But remember, you aren't the final word, or the final authority; the fans buying anime and manga consistently, while you bellyache and cry about some dumb-assed personal beef have already passed you by.

Just because you can show me pictures and copy and paste what some other fans have said, doesn't make you an authority on any subject either. I mean my God! How many hours do you really spend a day camping out on ANN or Mania hoping to scoop someone on some press release? That's not being knowledgeable, that's being retarded, since first of all, you've already been scooped, and second of all... we really don't need you to link us to a site we can get to on our own.

Copy and pasting is the most unoriginal bullshit a critic can do. It makes an moron out of the critic, and it makes the rest of us look stupid for trusting you to provide us with something worthwhile. So unless you are spamming the internet for lolz then stop that crap. It's as annoying as a jock-itch commercial.

In the end, I don't have much respect for elitist critics. I suspect them of harboring a motive, and don't trust their knowledge. Their 5,000 word reviews are self-glorifying, and vain, and their above-it-all remarks are the sorts of thing a preppy cheerleader would say before she sucks off a jock behind the bleachers. Which more than likely tells me that snobbish critics of anime and manga are just in it for e-penis, and not the fandom.

If however, you are truly devout about the fandom, the anime and the manga; then it doesn't matter whether someone likes a show you can't stand. It doesn't matter that they can watch subtitles with a few grammatical errors, or enjoy something by Ocean Studios, or Bang Zoom. If you have issue with that, then well... fuck you. That's your problem, it has nothing to do with the rest of the fans that probably spend more money on anime and manga than you, or support it like the true fans they are.

Anyone can be an Anime Nazi, but it takes a true fan to sometimes let something go, even if they deserve a beat down to the ground with a nail-bat and spiked shoes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Powerpuff Girls Z - Episode 01

When you think of anime, it's often easy to disassociate it from American animation simply because of the avant guard nature of the entertainment medium, and while that is true for a lot of factors, one thing that will always remain the same is fan appeal. That thing that crosses all sorts of oceans to reach an audience that one may least expect.

This is what happened with Powerpuff Girls, an American animation that managed to not only strike a chord with American children, but took flight across the waters and landed securely in the waiting arms of Japan's eager viewers as well. To popularity so great it warranted its own iteration with a bit more regional flair, and Powerpuff Girls Z was born.

Warning Spoilers
EPISODE 01: PART ONE

We begin this show with a couple of bumbling scientists(Professor Utonium and son)toiling away in their lab, and then within moments, blowing themselves nearly sky-high; and it isn't hard to determine very quickly that this show is going to have some stylized comedic elements in it.

The two get a video message from the Tokyo city Mayor announcing that a monster is terrorizing a local Kindergarten and capturing the children. The villain soon to be known as Mojo the evil monkey monster.

A talking Dog(Peach) summons what the scientist refers to as "Powerpuff Z", and we cut to a classroom I'm assuming still in Tokyo, where three different girls jump from their seats with simultaneous stomach-aches. I guess that defending justice and telling big fat lies have nothing to do with one another; and we are off to watch the first transformation of the trio of heroines.

A brief group-shot pose, and they are off to rescue the kindergarteners from the foul monkey.

Apparently the giant monkey monster is after the children's candy and goodies, and while he has them in the cage insists on taking the candy from the babies. What an ass-hole.

The Powerpuff Girls(Momoko Akatsutsumi "Hyper-Blossom", Miyako Gotokuji "Lexie Bubbles", and Kaoru Matsubara "Powered Buttercup" respectively) arrive to a fanfare of the children who want autographs instead of immediate rescue. Talk about having some whacked out priorities, but oh well, they are the stars of the show after all, and it's high time at least someone respected three girls in frilly skirts saving the city.

After some squaring off, a false start here and there, and the girls chase the flying monkey guru looking monster villain into the air, where they have a hokey up-in-the-air battle with the three of them ganging up on mister monkey.

The fight wrecks a good portion of the city, true to most Powerpuff Girls iterations, and before long the trio begins to exhaust themselves, do to a lack of stamina. So what do you do to combat fatigue in the middle of a city wide battle? Eat ice cream of course!

Not wanting to take anymore chances Mojo Monkey summons a robot/mech to his aid and jumps in to grab a hostage and of course...the fight continues. This time however they are filled with yummy ice cream and launch some major girly hurt on the evil monkey and gang stomp his monkey butt to the curb saving the children of course. Even though we don't see the girls going back to class.


EPISODE 01: PART TWO

This episode is finally where we get to learn the creation of the Powerpuff Girls as we are shown one month prior to the events of the first part.

Professor Utonium is once again working away in his lab trying to unlock the secrets of "Chemical X" to no avail. Taking a break with the vat of chemical goop open, the scientist and his son have a nice break, and the robotic dog Peach acting excited over a tasty bun drops one in the open vat of chemical X. Can we say send the dog to the robotic bathroom with the light out?

So now the samples of the goop show that it has become a more powerful agent than the previous chemical X... and I can only imagine what it is that they are gonna call it. Oh, I don't know... how about Z?

Without warning a freak snowstorm erupts throughout the city, and the mayor calls the scientist saying that an iceberg has appeared in the bay and threatens to turn the city into the North Pole.

The mayor's assistant tells the mayor that the strange weather phenomena isn't just localized to Tokyo and is all over the world and behaving differently as well.

Ken(the Professor's son) implores his dad to quickly use the chemical Z formula to solve the problem. Like just two minutes before it was brand new and they had just created it, and don't even know what it does, but heck yeah, lets throw it at the iceberg!

Springing into action without thought, Ken fires a canon loaded with Chemical Z at the iceberg, and blasts it. It seems to have worked but the beams refracted from the iceberg scatter across the city. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

Naturally there are going to be casualties of the fallout from the blast, and victim number one is a preppy guy-gushing chocolate-eating girl at a nearby school. Though to her credit she does jump in the path of the light beam to save a little kid, and instantly has a transformation sequence into Powerpuff Girl "Blossom".

Victim number two is a fashionista girl lost in her own world, and bouncing along playing with clothes and bubbles. Bast induced transformation sequence later, and we now have Powerpuff Girl "Bubbles".

Victim number three is a skateboarding uber-tomboy that like the others, is in the right place at the wrong time, and gets blasted with some more of the chemical Z fallout lightbeam. One magical girl transformation later(this is getting serious now folks), and we have our third and final Powerpuff Girl... "Buttercup".

The other two seem sort of strangely comfortable with their new found transformation, while Buttercup is less than thrilled about being in a skirt for the first time since Kindergarten. Oh my...

An unexpected victim of the blast was the robo dog Peach that once hit with the beam can now talk like normal.

On the flipside of the beams of light, there are also several beams of black light that travel into the city, and one lands in the city zoo hitting a monkey and changing him into that creepy villain monkey from the first part. No doubt you don't have to guess his first thoughts upon gaining cognizance... take over the world of course!

After releasing the wild animals from the zoo to run havoc, Mojo(evil crazy monkey bent on world domination) sniffs out Blossom's goodies, and gets a one track mind for the sweet stuff.

Not understanding that Mojo is a crazy monkey bent on world domination, Blossom instructs him on the proper way to eat cream crackers. Talk about ignorance is bliss. Though in a matter of seconds she realizes that Mojo is evil, call it woman's intuition. Not to mention the fact that he has a dark aura, and he's smelly.

In her first city devastating fight with Mojo, Blossom succeeds in kicking his monkey butt with her magical Yo-Yo, and naturally like all good villains, he flees to fight another day, and puts the zoo animals back in the zoo like a good heroine.

When the mayor shows up to explain things to Blossom, and to point out the damage of the city... and his car, Blossom freaks and runs off. While we phase out with the other girls under the influence of their transformed Z selves.

Realizing that the girls are under the influence of the Z chemical, Professor Utonium and Ken race off to find them and research them...


OPINIONS:
Overall this is a cool edgy look at the show, but it does have some real outlandish moments, that are obviously inspired by the American counterpart. It's a little early for me to give a major opinion of my take on it; though it is interesting, and it does have style that is different from the Cartoon Network version.

I think the biggest appeal is the fact that now the girls have hands and feet. I'm not trying to diss the American version at all, but I mean seriously, how can you fight crime with those little baseball bat looking nubbies?

This seems like a fun entertaining and very cute show, and I look forward to reviewing Episode 2 soon.

Boyfriend

For those that love a good Shojo manga read and want a simple uncomplicated plot, surrounded by absolutely cute characters and artwork should look no further than Daisy Yamada's 3 volume manga, Boyfriend. It's a typical romantic comic with abandoned love and unanswered confessions, and while it sports serious drama elements, it isn't one of those short jaunt manga series that feels too short for its own good.

Boyfriend revolves around new transfer student Hijiki Tachibana, who has transferred to the new school and a new town because of secrets that she isn't willing to share. In her first day she encounters a silently handsome boy named Hourai and the two seem to click instantly, though only later to find that the same boy who seemed so sweet and kind is an aggressive sulking student that keeps all the other classmates and teachers at arms length, though obviously a genius, and obviously a jerk.

It seems that for a brief moment, this is not a match made under the havens of a beautiful scenic overlook, but instead a somewhat bumpy ride through mixed emotions and feelings of longing acceptance and anxiety.

While Hijiki makes new friends, and attempts to integrate herself into the new school, her feelings for the Hourei deepen, and despite his double sided attitude, she finds herself completely smitten for him.

As the days pass, Hijiki undergoes bouts of depression and anxiety, both from her confusion over Hourei's attitude, and in part from her own inner struggle to overcome some of the things in her past, and those events that had lead her to the current school.

My first take on Boyfriend was sort of a mixture between inner groan and sigh as I started reading. I figured it was going to follow the standard formula for so many of the other romantic drama manga that I'd attempted to read over the years; and to my pleasant surprise, it actually managed to circumvent most of those that seem to bog down a lot of really good plots.

One main factor for this is due to the series' length, and because it's only 3 volumes, it has just enough room to tell the story without having so much shoulder room for mundane weight and plot complications.

Hijiki's character is down right adorable throughout this series, and her expressions leave the reader with the impression she is awestruck. The artwork is first rate, and even though the talk bubbles are not always consistently directed at who is doing the speaking--a personal beef of mine--it isn't so cluttered on the pages that you lose who's speaking.

Another thing that made this such a pleasant read was the pacing of the series, again due to the length, one of those that gave you just enough information, and didn't ruin it's plot by inserting unnecessary dialog and exposition, though Hijiki's narration through out can get a little annoying as it seems she comments on every blade of grass and direction of the wind.

The scenario is pretty simple for the most part, and though it has a few dramatic moments and a few angsty confrontations, it doesn't leave me wanting to go fetch a rifle to put this dog down. It instead left me feeling pretty pleased with the read after it was over.

Daisy Yamada who has worked on other Shojo titles like Innocent World and Giri Koi has done a fabulous job crafting a short sweet and generally uplifting story of love, and challenges.

I would rate this manga slightly better than average, though it does suffer from some formulaic elements from time to time, and even while it may be similar to a lot of other reads, it still entertains.

I think that is the most important thing for me with a manga, is that I don't always want to feel like I have to read for 8 volumes to find a clue to a maybe hint at an indirect vague plot point that will help me understand the whole key to the series that doesn't get revealed until the final chapter. And this story doesn't do that.

I'd recommend this to anyone that wants a good quick shojo read, with a nice conclusion that doesn't leave you wanting to burn it to embers.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How To Get Otaku Friends

I'll be honest, you people are a freaking gold mine of great ideas... and like the last article, this one is also inspired by a "Keyword" search I discovered while checking the stats here on Western Otaku. Though this one may be something of a challenge than previous other articles.

The question was pretty much a simple one. "How To Get Otaku Friends?", and though the question was simple, the answer like most things is not.

Friendship like anything always starts from one of the most important and grounded rules; to have a friend, you must first be friendly. Not really an easy thing to do these days since so many people are either not really who they seem to be, or are merely posing as a friendly person on the world wide web.

One of the biggest setbacks to most otaku in general is going to be their attitude. You will either be presented with a fan of anime and manga that has an overwhelming sense of superiority, or is still firmly wedged in their "closet otaku" phase of fandom. Either way the path of meeting other like-minded friends of the fan-base will be a difficult task.

When dealing with other otaku on the internet it is easy to find debaters and flamers, and this makes fans more out of arm's reach than merely meeting them in the public, but again finding an otaku friend in public, in real life is pretty rare.

For one; most of the people that I see, that are fans of anime and manga are pretty self-withdrawn when they are in the public; browsing through the DVDs and manga volumes, and don't openly engage in conversation, even though I myself are right there with them shoulder to shoulder browsing with them. The second thing is that even if you were by some miracle to get a fellow of the fan-base to acknowledge your presence and say something, there is a good chance that you will encounter the odd-ducks the same as me.

Those few seldom seen nerds that are so buried in the medium that they are practically non-functioning in any normal outside real world setting, and have only sneaked out into the light of day to buy anime and manga, and thus are incapable of speaking about anything except anime and manga.

Now, I like a good conversation about anime the same as anyone else; but at some point, I will eventually grow sick of hearing about the legendary super Saiyan Broly, and how his sheer existence is the stuff of supreme nerdish wet-dreams. Or how the characters in Ouran High School Host Club are so dang relatable to you.

Really? The characters in Ouran, are relatable? What a load of crap. But still, you are going to encounter that sort of thing in your travels looking for otaku friendship, and if you let minor things like that get under your skin, then chances are, you are not ready to be a friend.

Many so-called-otaku are probably going to be under the age of 18; so unless you yourself are around that age, you will most likely have little worldly commonalities between you and them. Chances are if you are a younger person, then and you want to be friends with an older otaku, then you will find little patience in them for your ignorance and over-the-top fan-gushing over every perceivable new hot anime or manga that gets released.

I'll admit, that in all honesty it is sometimes better not to have otaku friends. They seldom let you have your opinion, they chide you for your tastes in entertainment, and they get really pissy when you like something other than what they like, or worse, dislike something that they feel that you should like.

I do not believe it is possible for two people to remain friends based on their fandom. It is best to throw that out the window, and just be their friend based on themselves. The worst thing that has ever happened to the American Anime Fandom is the advent of proclaimed opinion.

I normally don't have anything against people's opinion, except for when they imagine that their opinions are paramount to mine and everyone else's, and then it just turns into a nasty grudge match of words; them trying to convince me something is good, when I clearly don't like it, and or me trying to convince them to abandon their evil ways, and walk the straight and narrow of anime and manga.

It's possible to be friendly, it's possible to be associative, but it just is not possible to be friends with other otaku, at least not based on the otaku aspect alone. To be a friend of an otaku means you are going to get crapped on, pissed on, balled out, griped to, shoveled, and shoved. You are going to have to overlook all that to be their friend, or else not at all.

Abandon your opinions, and take them, and the fandom in stride, or you will be like the thousands of other otaku in the world. Alone and lonely looking for companionship, or at least one other fan that wants to watch Bobobo Bo Bobobo.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Summer Wars

 
Summer Wars
There was absolutely nothing in the universe that could prepare me for the impact of Summer Wars, not the official trailers, not the nerds going back and forth on the internet fan-gushing till they were dizzy-headed; and certainly not the fact that it was made by some of my personal favorite anime creators in the industry right now. Nope, I was a complete noob wondering into my first BD viewing of this show, and now I am kicking myself hard in the back-side for not watching it sooner, and instead letting it sit on my shelf.

What started out as a purchase of whimsy has escalated into one of the best, if not the most enjoyable experiences of my fandom. Of course that is obviously saying a lot, since I hold dear to me most of the anime films of the past ten years; and few films have been able to topple one another save for the bitter rival of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya and King of Thorn.

What I knew about Summer Wars was only what I had seen on the preview of another anime, or heck, it could have been on the FUNimation site for all I know. What I can tell you, is that I saw in the animation something that rose above the norm, and made it genuinely feel epic. Not epic as in "Epic" that the fans throw around everyday on the web, I'm talking about epic in the sense that it transcended itself into a film with a double genre.

That's right, from a certain angle, one may look at Summer Wars as a family feel good anime, reminiscent of early Miyazaki films, and that would be somewhat correct, since the art direction for the film was handled by former Studio Ghibli resident Youji Takeshige. On the other hand, there is a second type of anime here as well; the action sci-fi adventure that so seamlessly blends itself together with the whole of the narrative that it gives itself a life and a style all its own.

In 2006 when filmmaker Mamoru Hosoda complete work on his picture The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, he set his sights on an all new original work that would be an adventure film custom tailored for the Summer theaters, and would appeal to viewers of all ages. Teaming up with writer Satoko Okudera, Hosoda and Madhouse studios announced what was to become the film Summer Wars.

Summer Wars is based around two pivotal plot-points that crisscross one another; it focuses on the Jinnouchi family's birthday party for their 89 year old matron grandmother, and on the events going awry in the world's most popular virtual reality social network, OZ.

While there are literally dozens of characters appearing in the film, it does manage to single out a select few, and so in our story, we have the key protagonist Kenji Koiso accompanying his senior student Natsuki Shinohara to their country home under the pretense to work there for the next four days to assist with the festivities.

Koiso and his fellow school companion Takashi Sakuma are part time moderators for the OZ network, and since Kenji is an only child who spends his days in math competitions and coding for OZ he accepts Natsuki's invitation for work. The trip is complicated by the fact that Natsuki had deliberately misinformed her family that she would be bringing her fiancee to the family party, and convinces Koiso to play along for her grandmother's sake.

While there, Koiso receives a mysterious text message with a sequence of numbers, and as a near mathimatical genius, he solves the code and returns it to its sender, only to find his face and name plastered all over the TV the next morning, and that he is suspected of hacking the social site, and wrecking havoc.


While Koiso maintains his innocence to the concerned Shinohara family, a rogue account within OZ begins assimilating user accounts, and soon the entire network infrastructure is crippled; since nearly every person on the planet with an online account uses OZ as a secure manager for their private and valuable information, within a matter of hours the situation turns grim as chaos ensues on multiple levels around the globe.

I have sat through many anime films in my time, and few have had such a strong hook. In fact few of them have appealed so generally to my fandom, and not just my being a fan of anime, my love of film in general. It's easy for me to say that Summer Wars could have very easily been made as a live action film, and there may be some critics out there that would probably think it would be better as such, but I think the fact that it is animated delivers a much more lighthearted and enjoyable experience.

I fell in love with this film within the first 10 minutes, and the marriage of internet technology, the wholesome environment and setting, the close look at Kenji as he is embraced by a centuries old family, is quite a literal treasure trove for the viewer.

I think as far as anime goes, and especially animated film at that, this is probably the most perfect that I have seen. It actually does have something in it that most anyone could like, and it can appeal to all audiences. Something that really cannot be said of most of our favorite shows.

I know I have in my collection titles and shows that I wouldn't feel very cool sitting down and viewing with my parents, or my kid nieces and nephews; but Summer Wars is a remedy for that. It bridges so many gaps in not just style, story elements, but age as well.

I was fascinated by the visuals of OZ, I was enthralled by the massive Junoichi family, I was moved to tears by the dramatic moments between the family members, and I was riveted to my seat as I watched King Kazma battle the virtual rogue Love Machine for control of the millions of avatars he had corrupted in the virtual world.

I cheered, I cried, and I thrust my fist into the air more times in this films that I can remember in all my time being a fan of anime. It touches that part of us that loves a good thrill, a good drama, and a smart and level-headed casual look at real life. And yet smashing all sorts of walls with the social network disaster, blending that reality with the real world and pulling it off so magnificently that I didn't know where to put my eyes from time to time.

As for the release of Summer Wars, I have only had the luxury of seeing the Blu-ray release, and that hasn't hurt my feelings in the least. In fact, my only problem is the size of my HDTV, as this is one of those movies that must be experienced on as large of a scale as possible.

Also for the first time in a long time, I wasn't distracted by the multitude of voice actors, sure almost every name in FUNimation Entertainment's roster were used, but the performances were so well integrated into the picture that I wasn't bogged down with trying to place a voice to a name; which get's old rather quickly. I was most impressed with Michael Sinterniklaas as Kenji, and was glad that I wasn't pummeled by either Vic Mignogna or Justin Cook as the character since that would have been a typical FUNi big name plug, and I would need to slap some fools.

Aside from Sinterniklaas, I wasn't surprised to find Brina Palencia's name as Natsuki's voice over. Even though the performance was great, I was disappointed that it wasn't Caitlin Glass in the role, as my ears definitely heard Brina as Caitlin; a fact that Brina sucks a major loaf of crap when it comes to finding her own voices, and instead sounds like everyone else.

All in all, despite the fact that this film will suffer from second viewing syndrome, and I know that that first time excitement won't be captured again, I can honestly recommend this film to any and everyone. It is without a doubt, the best damn anime movie I've ever seen, Period!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

10,000 Hits and Vampires!

It's hard to believe that in less than a year the blog has gone from just a few meagerly hits to something much more. In fact it was as recent as early this year when Western Otaku obtained its first 5000 hits, and now here we are after having built some good momentum.

I know for a fact that it is because of the views and support of the readers, and it's because of you that I've been able to continue writing articles, and offering reviews and rants and raves on the various aspects of anime and manga.

As an offering to the readers I offer another review.
_____________________________________

Shiki
There are a few things that are consistent about most of the American TV audience, and that is our deep fascination with things monsters, vampires, and the undead. This fascination has spread it seems beyond our shores and has taken a deep root into the foreign minds of filmmakers, and of course that means anime and manga as well.

One notable anime of vampirizm has been Shiki, a complex and deeply emotional look at what happens when one mysterious death begins to slowly reach epidemic proportions in a small village in the Japanese countryside in the 1990s.

Shiki was originally conceived as a novel in two parts by Fuyumi Ono, and later adapted into a manga and illustrated by Ryu Fujisaki; and serialized in Jump SQ. In July 2010 an anime was produced by Daume(Please Teacher, DearS, Strawberry Marshmallow) and broadcast on Fuji TV in the "noitaminA" slot.

The 22 episode horror thriller is one of those that has the hook of a good medical mystery; and while it takes an incredibly long time to gain its momentum in any way, there is still something about watching as one by one the town's folk fall into a malaise and whither away; leaving the small village's hospital dean baffled on every attempt to reverse what seem like a complex and aggressive outbreak.

It isn't until after the fifth episode that we the audience have our suspicions confirmed that this is in fact, the work of a vampire family that has mysteriously moved into the Kanemasa mansion overlooking the village of Sobota; though the town's people are still hung up on the medical nature of the disease that has now in the course of a month, claimed more than a dozen lives.

The show features two main protagonists, Natsuno Yuuki; a high school student that suffers from a terminal case of "gots to get the hell out of town", and the town's Junior Doctor Toshio Ozaki; a thirty something son of a long line of historic pillars of the community and doctors and such.

The classic elements of vampire lore are present in the show, and combined with all the medical exams and doctor-speak get integrated nicely into the narrative. One notable exception is that the series doesn't have every person bitten and fed on become a vampire, and it portrays the vampires as somewhat normal individuals once they are raised up from their graves as the undead.

Apparently one out of every five or six people killed by the sucking of their blood by a vampire will in fact die and then metamorphose into a vampire, usually by the third or fourth day; and so the vampires have a guy with shovel hanging out waiting to uncover the coffins of the fallen.

The biggest challenge I had with watching the show, was wrapping my head around the personalities of the vampires. It seems that it's easy to drive a stake into the chest of a mindless blood-sucking monster, but these vampires feel pain, experience emotion, and long for familiarity, often being driven back into their homes to be comforted by their loved ones, only to find that the undead are barred from entry unless invited.

The undead are so seemingly normal, that aside from their drinking human blood, they would seem pitiable and it really sets the audience up to be very sympathetic to them. Though my pity is often quickly replaced with disgust, as I watch them give into their hunger and feed on not only their friends, but their family as well.

Shiki is one of those anime that does not pull many punches, the brutality is on par with any gruesome Hollywood horror film, and the deaths are not pleasant at all. In fact some are pretty hard to look at, and the combination of sympathy and disgust makes for a fairly sized roller coaster ride of anger and compassion, leaving one feeling slightly drained after some episodes.

The climax of Shiki once it reached that point was pretty methodical, and the vampire purification of course turned ugly, eventually resulting in a near war where vampires began killing the living instead of sucking their blood, to exact revenge on the humans, and the humans getting so bloodlustful that some innocents were caught in the crossfire.

By the end, it was a total ruin, all is vanity it seems, and while I walked away from the show feeling down, and perplexed; I can't say that it was any better than some of them deserved. And even though the show wasn't meant to be a narrative of thought provoking tales of sympathy and or hostility, it still managed to stir up some good and interesting debates with myself about other real monsters in the world.

Shiki is a 22 episode anime that feels more like 44, and while it isn't the best vampire anime I've ever seen, it is one of the better mysteries, and it manages to have great timing with regards to its episode cliffhangers. The characters were pretty diverse, and only a few of them irritated me; not that I can't find something to gripe about.

All in all, it's not fantastic, but it is better than average horror, and it is a real thinking person's anime. Some will no doubt watch it to see the blood and cool and interesting deaths of the vampires; and I can let that go, coughing that up to brainwashed retardation and inbreeding. But the real meat and marrow of Shiki is the war with the monsters that are within each of us, and like most of the villagers, needing but a single excuse to come out, and do unspeakable things.

If anything, I took away from this show that lack of restraint, and uncontrolled desire; for food, for pleasure, when you strip away the consequences... it matters not how we obtain them, but like everyone else, even the monsters are afraid when faced with their own ultimate end.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tenchi Muyo: The Battle Hymn of the Ryo-Ohki

First of all, I want to apologize to anyone that has had trouble viewing the latest blog post from a few days ago, as it seems that Blogger was having some technical difficulty, and the posts were temporarily removed... meh.

As a side effect of that, it seems that the comments suffered deletion, and I'm hoping that they will come back.

_________________________________________

To celebrate the Tenchi Muyo Ryo-Ohki re-release next month, I sat down and wrote a little parody about the confusing mess that is often associate with the Tenchi Multi-verse. I for one am often thrown for a complete loop by the various spin-offs and sagas, and the difference between canon and non-canon, and of course the ever mentioned OVA 3. lol.

So to better elaborate on some the sheer lunacy I often feel, I recorded this song about the Tenchi-verse, and will share it with you all today. It's not the best thing I've ever recorded, and it's deliberately nerdish so just overlook any and all inconsistencies and inaccuracies, and you'll be fine.

It's just some random silliness on my part.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

New Slayers - The Hourglass of Falces

New Slayers: The Hourglass of Falces
Sometimes being a fan of a franchise means that we love something so much we get irritated and aggressive when the thing we love comes under threat, and often that goes to include threat from the thing itself.

It is probably no secret that I have been a pretty devout fan of the Slayers franchise for a while now, and I have yet to encounter an adventure or a piece of adventure that has failed me as a fan. That is, until I sat down to check out one of the latest manga versions.

Now, like a lot of other great franchises, Slayers is one that has burst out of its own developmental bracket, and has moved way beyond its own realms. We've seen Lina Inverse and Co. take on monsters in the future, in alternate timelines of famous events, and even go at it solo a bit. But there has always been a level of expectation that has gone hand in hand with any of the fantastical journeys of the magical heroine.

In 2008 a new manga was published in Kadokawa Shoten's Dragon Jr magazine, and it just so happened to be yet another adventure of Lina Inverse and friends. This time however several things were added and altered which had me scratching my head before we ever even got to the table of contents page.

The new manga was entitled Shin Slayers: Falces no Sunadokei, or New Slayers - The Hourglass of Falces; though either way you slice it, it translated into a new adventure of Lina, and at first I was just fine with that.

I will admit that I have not kept up with every single adventure, nor read every single manga volume, or adaptation of some of the anime seasons; but I have kept a good over-view of the ever-continually growing universe of Slayers. At least enough to take on a few internet punks that try to get rowdy and argue facts.

The final thing that was a real shocker to me is that it was a dual effort by Asahi and original series creator Hajime Kanzaka, but I'll elaborate on that later.

The basic plot of the manga is pretty simple, Lina and company get shipwrecked on an island in the south of some place, and discover a quaint village nestled in the middle of the island filled with overly happy and giving people.

The fact that the slayers are there obviously means that something is about to go down, since it's impossible for them to simply find a nice vacation get-away spot and get some R and R. Something that is clearly pointed out in the manga.

The village is home of some big huge secret, and within a very brief time of our castaways being there, they are attacked by a magical gun wielding female pirate, that commences to terrify the town's folk to a stupor... literally!

Of course no pirate or villain will last long in the path of Lina, and the villains were soon dispatched, and of course, the slayers want her ship so they can get off the island and get home. Things turn from bad to worse when the fleeing Pirates are intercepted by a group of heavy-armed solder types, and the three groups clash at the climax of the first chapter.

So then what is my beef? I'll tell you.

In my time reading the novels and the manga, the one consistency about most things relating to Slayers is that it only has a minor amount of fan service; and by that I mean, the occasional bath scene here or there, and of course a big breasted secondary character sprinkled throughout the series to give Lina a more deeper hatred of her child sized bosom.

What we've not seen, at least not me personally is a surge of more modern fan service elements, and in less than two pages into The Hourglass of Falces, that is just what you get.

It's made known to us that all females in the House of Seyruun after a certain time must wear bondage style clothes, and to accommodate this soon to be wardrobe change, Amelia begins wearing a tight fitting blouse, and a short mini-skirt. In addition we have two additional characters named Luke and Millena--a horny dude with Millena on his brain, and Millena a voluptuous, bursting at the seams hottie--along for the ride and you soon begin to realize that this is not the same Slayers you thought you knew.

By the time I got to the end of the chapter, I had seen Amelia's panties at least four or five times, I saw Lina's crotch about four, Amelia getting her--much larger exaggerated--boobs fondled and squeezed by Lina, and at least three sultry poses from the various female characters.

I wasn't sure if this was a real honest to goodness manga I was reading or some screwed up in the head Doujinshi that a hyped-up hentai artist with rule 34 on his brain had concocted.

I'm not saying that a little ecchi in my manga is a bad thing, but what they--and I include Kanzaka in this debacle--have done is take a lighthearted group of characters and made them into flesh for the fans. I'll admit that seeing a new side or two of Lina isn't that bad, but when is this going to end, and how far are we going to take Lina? To the point where her and Amelia are having a three-some with Gourry while Zelgadis video tapes?

Is the story bad? Not really, the translations by Turtle Paradise are a joke though, and their grammar is so bad it makes me want to barf all over the screen when ever I see them clutter the talk bubbles with additional profanity; also something that wasn't so common in a good Slayers read.

In fact, the artist even went so far as to re-vamp--yet again--the look of the characters, and now instead of a teenage Amelia, we have a big titted skank that looks like she's gonna give a few blows-jobs in the back alley, while Lina looks like a crack-head... it's just, seriously not a good look for them.

So what is the bottom line here?

It's a piece of putrid crap, is what the bottom line is. I expected something more from the creators, and the fans. I didn't need to see such an abrupt about-face, and resorting to stereotypical fandom cliches is a low blow even for Kanzaka. If I had to guess, it was a deliberate attempt to bring Lina into the next decade; and we all know that only naked asses and giant tits are what sells.

Take this manga and throw it away. Just set the son of a bitch on fire, and pretend that it was a bad dream. Nothing about it is seemingly canon, and aside from just being able to have the characters on the printed page again, it's worthless.

 Taking a good series, and re-painting it with ecchi fan-service is like painting a giant vagina on the statue of liberty... someone somewhere will think it's cool, but the parties responsible should have their asses stomped in.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Evolution of Gainax

I was going through the search words again for the blog, and came across another gem that just begged for another write-up; and this time it isn't about dating Otaku Women, or subs versus dubs. It's about a topic that I have actually been pretty vocal about over the past four or five years, and it has to do with a particular pebble in my shoe; a company by the name of Gainax.

When I was a young fan of anime--by that I mean new to the fandom--I had heard the name, and marveled at the power they wielded over the anime industry; it seemed as if their influence was boundless. I mean, come on, they had created such instant classics as Evangelion and Gunbuster, these were the fans of anime that became their own creators of anime, and in less than a decade, their production company was a name known by almost any self-respecting fan of anime, both in the industry and out.

Unfortunately for me, I avoided most of those so called "Giants" of the anime industry, if not because of the hype, for the fact that I was one of those fans that was constantly looking forward to the advancement of the anime media. I wasn't really interested in giant robot anime, or a lot of the early big-hit shows that seemed to me to infest the fandom. I just wanted to watch what I thought would be good shows, and to me that meant a firm resolution to never look back.

It didn't take me long however to eventually find my way into the video store holding the DVD case of This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, and my next chapter in the fandom and my love/hate relationship with Gainax would be underway for the better part of this past decade.

The cover of the first volume of This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, was a pretty interesting piece of artwork, and it had all the great elements a fan of my maturity wanted. The only really damning thing about it, was that it was clearly labeled as "From the creators of Evangelion and FLCL". What also probably didn't help me very much was that it featured hot semi-nude anime girls, and impressive artwork, and at the time I was a huge follower of most of ADVs titles; I just didn't see how I could go wrong with such a combination.

Well, sometimes reality and the harsh truths that lie therein are much easier to cover over if we convince ourselves that something is one way or another; and I had firmly convinced myself that after the first volume of this show, that I owed a huge apology to Gainax. First for having shunned them for so long, due to my inability to cuddle-up to classic anime, and second because this was one of those shows that seemed to throw o many great genres at me that I was reeling from the one-two punch from their deft cleaver delivery.

As the volumes of the show slowly emerged, and the waiting game started I found myself doing what most fans do during those times, and that was to buy more anime. At that time, I made it a common practice to go and buy as many box-sets of anime as possible, since those were like boxes of pure gold, and gave me a chance to grab the whole show at once, and not just wait around for the singles—like I was doing with This Ugly Yet Beautiful World.


One such title that I managed to snag while waiting on the rest of my singles just so happened to be another series by Gainax, called Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, or just Abenobashi for those that don’t like really long titles.

It was one of those rare surreal shows that managed to cross almost every genre and boundary with each and every episode, and yet as I watched it, I noticed that there was a slowly progressive serious tone that was ever-so-slowly working its way into the series. Something, that at first I was fine with, but the further it progressed the more aggravating it became.

I had to ask myself, “Why take such a lighthearted series, and begin to make it dark and moody?”

While the series is probably one of the best that I’ve seen from Gainax, it had something of a strange and unsettling ending; one that made me bring all that I had seen prior into firm doubt, and this twang of uneasiness followed me closely while I made my way through the rest of This Ugly Yet Beautiful World; which it would take me almost another year and a half to actually finish, for lack of being able to find the last volume at any of the places I visited, and it would be a random internet order that would finish out that collection.

Now I want to say for the record that Abenobashi did not have the worst of endings an anime can have, in fact compared to some of the other giant floating pieces of crap out there is had a pretty decent ending; but the about-face that Gainax had done to throw in its bit of seriousness was what had made me question the filmmakers to begin with. And once I finally got my hands onto the final volume of This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, I knew right away that this was something that I just couldn't forgive.

For days afterward I pondered the ridiculousness of Gainax, and I vowed that from that day onward I would be hard pressed to ever watch another of their shows. And I stuck to that firm resolution till an article in a anime magazine had me second guessing myself. It was about a new up-coming series called Gurren Lagann, and it was supposed to be the return of Gainax in all of their glory.

I debated and debated, and wrestled with the notion of watching it, and when the first double-disc box-set was released, I picked it up. I mean, I rationalized that I was a changed fan. An older fan now, and there wasn't any way that I could succumb to awkward endings or even some silly studio's angst.

Well, again. The events of my experiences with This Ugly Yet Beautiful World seemed to have a complete and total repeat. I watched the first two discs, and despite all my self-warnings I found myself sucked into the narrative of the series, and by the time I went and purchased the second two-disc box-set, I had abandoned all my doubt, and my misgivings about Gainax, their shows, and any sort of bad or terrible plot they were going to throw at me.

Gurren Lagann was one of those shows that managed to transcend its own style, its own genre, and it made an open mockery of everything that made those shows so great by taking the enormous, and making it ridiculous. Of course, little did I know that by the time I saw the main character bite the big one, I was too far gone to turn back. I thought "Oh, how tragic for a comedy action adventure anime.", and I wasn't phased... until I noted that somewhere around the end of the fourth disc, things radically changed.

Now people tell me all the time that I am being obstinate and stubborn; and that may very well be, but the gimmick of the series, was completely shit on by its creators, it was supposed to be farce, and a parody... not death and despair, and once I got to the end of that disc, I knew that Gainax were the worst of the worst. Somewhere in their evolution they had taken on a random insanity gene that made them trash and ruin their own shows, because it was not in their mental capacity to provide the audience with a good ending.

I dropped Gurren Lagann never to finish it. I figured Gainax could kiss my ass on that one, and ironically I figured they were stupid enough to do it with pleasure. I didn't need to see the end of the show to know that Simon was going to be alone, and a decrepit wondering fool, and that everyone you loved were either going to die, or be gone after it was over. It was like taking a beautiful comedy and a stand alone work of art, and slapping the fans in the face repeatedly screaming "We are the reason you like anime, LOVE US YOU FREAKS... LOVE US!!!"

Needless to say I was flamed miserably by my fellow fans of anime, those that hailed it as a masterpiece, and a work of art. Well, I'm sure the Gladiatorial arena was a work of art to its designers, but it didn't stop the fact that it was a tragedy and a lost cause.

It was at this point that I pretty much decided that Gainax as a collective had lost their minds. I didn't have any doubt that everything they did was cookie-cutter to this piece of trash. And so when the opportunity arose, I purchased the Gunbuster vs Diebuster blu-ray combo pack, for one reason, because it was the only way to get the Diebuster film in America, and for two; because I wanted to see the origins of the most notoriously vile studio in the history of anime.

To my utter shock the films were great. They were classic giant robot anime, and I could appreciate them for that. I could admire the overwhelming odds, the angst and the drama.

So where the hell did Gainax go so terribly wrong with me? How in the name of God had they gotten so conceited?

The answers would lie in the next three productions of theirs, and boy what a couple of odd birds they managed to fly straight out of their collective asses.

The next thing that I watched by Gainax--still looking for some clue as to their mental handicap and affliction--was a brand new series they had made called Hanamaru kindergarten which roughly translated means "Gold Star" Kindergarten.

Well, despite the fact that the show looked animated by a couple of grade-schoolers, and the series itself was a direct rip-off of America's Rugrats, it made no sense why in the world Gainax would make such a show. It had nothing in it that should even remotely be Gainaxian worthy. But yet, for once they didn't manage to wreck it with a tragic ending; I mean come on, how could they, we're talking about a show that has kindergartners as its stars!

Interestingly enough I really liked Hanamaru Kindergarten, it was one of those rare lighthearted shows, that didn't feel threatened by its own existence, and it while it had some rather unorthodox themes, it was a very well executed series that actually had me wanting against all odds to appreciate Gainax. Though their next two productions would have me busting a gut, and holding a barf-bag in front of my face.

Now far be it from me to ever point a finger at another fan and call them odd for liking an anime, but the simple fact is that I am one of a few minorities that took one look at Gainax's newest anime series and face-palmed myself nearly to freaking death. I've been flamed for this one as well, but I honestly don't give a crap anymore, I think the show is garbage, and the humor is filthy, and it's a great indicator of the mentality of the fanbase, since deep developed plots are not what they wanted, when they begged and screamed and creamed themselves over Pany & Stocking with Garterbelt. And yes, they misspelled "Garter Belt" as one word instead of two.

When I first got wind of this series some months before its debut I actually wrote a little something about it here on Western Otaku, and despite my best efforts it remains one of the most singularly popular blog posts on this site. Which blows my mind really.

So what did Gainax do?

They made Panty & Stocking a show about whorish angels that have no restraint, no morals and no manners. They are vile, they are disgusting, and the comedy in the show is designed to out-do America's South Park in almost all ways. Sex jokes are the staple of this series, and that's all just the first episode too.

The fact that this show is so loved and beloved by the fanbase is a mystery that I have not been able to solve, and you guessed it... I hate Gainax for it. I thought before that they were just crazy, and had somehow lost their minds along the path of their own journey; but now I know... they aren't crazy they are worse. They are sell-outs!

Despite all its dirty skankiness and its vile humor Panty & Stocking is nothing more than the Powerpuff Girls on some sort of Ecstasy trip, with a little bit of shit-humor thrown in for good measure. Bravo people, bra-freaking-vo! I think somewhere around the shows launch, and what with all the group masturbation over this title is when I lost a lot of respect for the collective fans of anime; which isn't that hard to do considering my views on most of the nerds anyway.

But despite all that, I did give the show something of a view. I mean, I'm not about to stand here and tell you something is a giant piece of crap, unless I've seen it first hand right?

So how am I so sure that Gainax are industry sell-outs doing anything for money?

Well, it's when they are willing to do anything to make a buck that I am convinced, and earlier this year when Gainax and Subaru joined forces to make a anime automotive auto-ad tie-in that I had no longer any doubt about it.

Afterschool Pleiades was some great corporate kiss butt's brain-child, and an attempt by the Japanese to do some more of their cross merchandizing with the anime industry. A tactic that has gone on for quite a while actually. In fact it's clear that a lot of the anime shows are used to push consumer product, and with a billboard out there showing Sgt Frog advertising for Coca Cola or something, I imagine it does well.

However, selling a coke, and making an entire 25 minute anime--that has absolutely nothing to do with the car Subaru--and using it as a marketing strategy for a car by naming the lead girl Subaru, is beyond insanity. Sure its original, and sure it's kind of a cute magical girl anime, but it is just off the rocker insane.

I know it seems that I have a lot against Gainax, and from a lot of you reading this, maybe I do. But I know that the only thing that can ever threaten an entity of Gainax's size will be Gainax itself. I would love to tell you that I've seen everyone of their shows, and though I have a few on my shelf un-opened, I just haven't seen them all. There may be other really good ones, but my hands are pretty scarred and burned from all the times I've had a title of theirs strike back at me when I least suspect it.

For me, the "Evolution of Gainax" is one that I wish would have stayed back there with their roots of the 1980s anime. But like all things, we grow and we get power, and we come undone.

Maybe, their next anime will be something I'll want to watch, and I can continue my love/hate for them some more.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Great Subbed vs Dubbed Debate

Sometimes it's not about whether a show is good, or bad, or even if you can follow along; sometimes it's just about the basic translation, and despite the total insanity and moronic ass-holery dip-shitting that usually comes from the fans of anime, the core of the Subbed vs Dubbed debate is about proper translation.

THE ARGUMENT:
1.) Subs are superior to dubs simply because subs are closer to the exact translation of the series.

2.) Dubs are superior to subs, since it takes more talent to convey in spoken dialect the intent and meaning of the translation, and most people in America speak English.

The whole nut-shell argument about this debate is that fans that watch a subtitled anime are getting a more accurate translation of the series, and what the author/creator intended; as opposed to the dubbed fans, that get a mere interpretation of the series, which may or may not be subject to some voice actor's impression of the character/dialogue emotion etc.

Most fans that are pro-dub, argue that nothing is exempt from interpretation, and that it is foolhardy to presume that Japanese anime is/should be any different. While on the other-hand, the pro-subbist fans, express that they are getting the dialogue straight from the original actor's mouth, and that only the subtitles are translated, which to me seems like a stupid argument really.

In all the time that I've spent floating back and forth on the currents of the inter-webs, I've yet to encounter many fans that are willing to let their opinion simply rest, and just shut the hell up. Instead they push and push, and push, and push and make themselves, and that which they argue for seem idiotic.

The biggest argument aside from fan-subs vs professional subs, is that of subbed versus dubbed, and wouldn't you know it, everyone has got an opinion. Well, everyone also has an ass hole, and just like them, their opinions are of the same value to another person with an opposing viewpoint.

THE BREAKDOWN ON SUBS:
Here's the real nastiness about subs, and this is coming from quite a few years of experience here; is that just like anything else, they are nothing more than an interpretation, and the individual translator's impression of the original content. People who are multi-lingual will know how damn difficult it is to accurately translate something from one language to another, and there really isn't a master-level "how-to guide" on making a translation, aside from sticking with the basics and making the original intent of the piece get conveyed.

What the fans of subs won't tell you is that it makes them feel special to be able to hear the original work in its original language and read the translation on screen, because that alone makes it closer to the original; and in some small context they are close, but not 100 percent correct.

The audio and the video may be unaltered, but the text is still being translated, though fans of subs are un-flinching in their belief that subs are superior simply because of a few factors, that they chose to believe, or not believe.

More than half of the fans of subs are basing their preference on easily available fan-subs, provided by nerds for other nerds free of charge, and when they watch fan-subs of shows a year before they are released, then naturally the balance of their viewing gets shifted to subs more than dubs, and once something has been watched subbed first, it's harder to wrap an English voice around that which you've already conditioned yourself to watch, read, and listen to.

Subs however despite what the moronic fan-base will tell you are nowhere near perfect. In fact, getting a good textual translation of an anime is just as hard as getting a good dub, though the fans of subs will hide those facts, and pretend they don't know what you are talking about. Since they prefer to believe that no matter the translation, as long as its a sub... it just cannot be incorrect.

unfortunately, the amount of energy that goes into a professionally translated sub for a show gets about the same hasty treatment as a speed sub from an underground fan-sub group, and more often than not, it's one man or woman that translates the entire anime--I'm sure for consistency's sake--and no doubt versions are going to differ.

I once argued that if you took a dozen PhDs all fluent in both English and Japanese, they would offer you a dozen different interpretations of the same Japanese document they would be asked to translate. This is human mechanics, and not something that can be changed. Unless you'd prefer a machine to do the translation, in which case one need only go to Yahoo babelfish.

THE BREAKDOWN ON DUBS:
The worst part about dubbing anime, is going to be the delivery. I've heard from fan after fan after fan that no English voice actor can just properly portray some specific character, and that's probably one of the three most damning pieces of evidence against dubs. The other two being the wrong voice actor for the part, and the last being bad translations/re-writes.

If i have to hear about re-writing or changing a line of dialogue or a scene, or hell even the whole show in the next thousand years it'll be too damn soon!

While dubs do take longer to produce as opposed to their sub-only released brethren, it is clear that the dubbing industry is plagued with lots of issues. Most of which greatly stem from the three points I listed above. The recording process itself is not the issue, nor is the technical aspect, as if fans really know anything about that.

Most dubs suffer from bad translations, and fumbled honorific usage, along with terrible name pronunciations. But for those of us that like dubs, it's a thorn in the flesh we are willing to deal with to get a show that caters to our sense of laziness. A show that doesn't require our constant attention to enjoy, and one that can be slightly modified to cater to our English American ears.

In addition, we get to have the convenience of easily recognizing our favorite VAs, and we can fan-gush after them as if they were big time Hollywood stars, and not some college students that just got lucky recording a string of words behind a microphone.

Dubbists will tell you straight up, that no dub is perfect, and that they are always going to be subject to multiple factors, but that like subs, they are all each one open to interpretation and variable translation. Though even when changed can make for entertaining media. To the fans of the dubbed anime, it isn't about the exacting law of the translation, it's about the spirit of the anime, which most fans of dubs will admit is its most significant quality.

The single worst issue I have with dubs is the over use of the same Voice Actors, and the limited resources it places on a dubbing studio, taking the time to properly dub a show is a lengthy process, and when a company has multiple big names, and shows of any length, it makes it hard to wait out the dry spells to get a new dubbed show.

AGREEING TO DISAGREE:
Fans of anime have one serious flaw with them, and that is their inability to agree to disagree. Not one of you sick bastards is ever able to just let something go, you can't walk away with your own opinion intact, or refrain from an altercation... instead you have to take it to every new extreme, and force through will-power alone the other opposing side to see it your way, and for that; you all fail.

Subs are not perfect, and just because it makes you feel like a special little fan that's had your bottom patted by the Japanese, to watch a subtitled anime, doesn't mean that it is any better than a dub. If you think so, then you are retarded, and a moron, and your mother didn't love you.

If you think that dubs are better than subs, then guess again. It's arrogance and laziness that makes them accessible, not better; and just because you masturbate every night to the voices of Steve Blum, and Laura Bailey doesn't mean that you are the majority of the industry or the fanbase.

Yes there are good subs, and yes there are bad subs. Yes there are good dubs, and yes there are bad dubs. But you've got to be kidding me, it you think that just because you've watched a few shows in Japanese with subtitles makes you any sort of expert on the matter, please. You are probably just a little kid that hasn't even had a testicle descend yet, or a child that hasn't even gotten through puberty. Your opinion is crap, just like your self-importance. Go get an education, and watch lions mate in the wild on Discovery Channel, and then come back, and watch some more shows.

Dubs are not the saving grace of the industry, and they aren't the spawn from hell you make them out to be. And just because you've listened to a few terrible voices in English makes you pretty dumb to imagine that every Japanese VA is perfect God-Like better. You just can't tell a bad Japanese performance, because... hello! You don't speak ****ing Japanese! You really are an idiot aren't you?

Well, like I mentioned before, everyone has opinions, and everyone has ass holes, and like them your opinions are always going to be based on what you always personally like, what makes you feel good, and what brings a smile to your face. I seriously doubt a fan of subs would grind his teeth all the way through them while they played out on screen because it was such a chore to read. Or a fan of dubs would wear ear-muffs to watch an anime in English. We pick these things because we on some level like them, and if you can't see that we each have different tastes, that are not yours, then you are a bigger douche-bag ass-hole idiot than I thought.

The biggest mistake the anime fandom ever made was trying to share it's personal interests, cause it makes opinions evil, unless you can argue correctly, and it makes likes and dislikes breeding grounds for flaming and hating.

IN CONCLUSION:
The internet is full of one opinion after another, and one fan's garbage is another fan's gold. So in the end, it's pretty obvious that fans of both sides are just deluding themselves into some sort of stupidity, thinking that their way is better.

Well, since neither side is right, or wrong; then what's the point of the never-ending debate?

Damned if I know. I just know, that I hate your opinions, and most likely I don't even like you for it, seriously **** you! Take your better dubs, and your better subs, and go shove them up your ass, and let those of us that want to just watch the damn show do so in peace and quiet.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bleach: 16 to Thirty


Everything is falling apart, Rukia is taken, Ichigo has been near mortally wounded by soul reapers and is in the fight of his life to regain his spirit energy, and in a month's time Rukia will be executed for her crimes. It's a bleak time to be a fan of Bleach these days. But not to worry, because I am here to dance my way through these episodes and continue to offer my review on the series 15 episodes at a time!

One of the important things that I have to keep telling myself, is that Bleach is one of those shows that will have a lot of ups and downs, and that like any good action adventure series of any length, it will explore the dark side of the villains as well as that of the heroes. It isn't any set rule that it has to be funny and charming all the damn time. Is it?

While there are still some great and entertaining moments to be had, of the things that I should point out is that there seems to be a Spirit Energy explosion in almost everyone as a result, or indirect result of Ichigo and Rukia being around them. Probably mostly due from Ichigo.

So, with this outpouring of power from nearly everyone; Ichigo and friends begin training for a mission to embark against the Soul Society, and bring Rukia back from her prison, and eventual execution. Ichigo is driven to recover her at all costs, and with the help of "Hat & Clogs" attains more power and control over his spirit energy, and with the assistance of his friends, they invade the Soul Society.

Now, I for one was expecting a lot more of the Soul Society when I first laid eyes on it, and I was just sure that it was some bristling metropolis filled with shimmery people, and Soul Reapers; but what I got was a land filled with average looking people, in fact it was one of those settings that reminded me of some turn of the century shogun state in Japan.

So It didn't take long before everyone of the rescuers ended up separated as soon as they arrived, and now our heroes are off in little bands, both looking for clues to Rukia's whereabouts, and having to face off against Soul Reapers, that seem more like a rabble of renegade assholes than anything remotely resembling something noble.

All in all, the time spent preparing for the journey to the Soul Society, and the time spent running around searching for Rukia is something of a challenge to get through, but I mean come on; what would any good shonen anime be if it didn't have epic amounts of getting nowhere in the middle of an epic arc?

I can say for a fact that there are some characters, like Chad, that I have grown to like a lot more, and some that have just crashed and burned in my opinion. I see no reason in the world, why Orihime needs to have Spirit Energy, let alone a group of tiny fairies that pop out and are commanded by her with an "I REJECT!" nonsense yell. I facepalm and groan every single time I hear "I REJECT!"...

I really wish one of the editors of the manga or even a producer of the anime, or hell someone in the ADR booth had REJECTED that load of garbage phrase.

Other than that, there are some conspiracies going on in the Soul Society, and some political intrigues that I hope get revealed later on, but for right now, I just hope that Rukia isn't too angry with Ichigo for coming after her, regardless of her telling him to stay put and die.