Thursday, May 31, 2012

Anime Artisans: 015 - Haiyore! Nyaruko-san

Okay, so to make up for all the toes I've stepped on; I've been instructed by H.P Lovecraft to lighten the mood, and post some Nyaruko for the masses.

It's one of the new shows that's airing this season in Japan, and while I don't get to watch it every week, I am watching it, and loving it from top to bottom. (no pun intended)

I was thinking of doing a brief write up on it, but time is preventing me from doing much beyond the occasional Otaku jab or Weeaboo insult here and there. But if you guys are wanting to get into the series on an episode by episode review, then I'd like to point you to our buddy Astro's blog --> AstroNerdBoy's Anime and Manga Blog.

Anyway, I gotta jet for now.

Representing Our Fandom: A Rant

Let's step back and take a look at our odd little fandom for a minute. We're an interesting bunch, no doubt; lovers of moe and various 'deres, Mystery and Comedy, Shonen battle anime and tear-wretching love stories, all united underneath the giant banner of Team Dai Gurren Japanese Animation Fandom. We congregate in sweaty convention halls and brave the stench brought by those that must be oblivious to the monstrosity brewing in the primordial ooze that is their armpits, all to dress in elaborate costumes and mingle with other fans, regardless of whether or not their preferences are even similar to our own. Overall,  it can be a very close and loving fandom (let's ignore the fact that is is probably because of social ineptitude in their daily lives), full of people that just want to have a good time, and are good at doing so.

Starscream is on a strict diet of down and synthetic
pillow stuffing fibers. 
Everybody knows that there is a social stigma associated with being a part of all of this, and we're well aware that the socially inept and awkward are definitely abundant among our ranks. Despite the stigmata, I'm happy to be part of the fandom. I'm happy to watch nerds and nerdettes leave their forums, come out of their social cocoons, and dive costume first into a room of 100,000 other fans dancing the Hare Hare Yukai.

But something popped up on the internet today, and it has brought some resentment to the forefront of my mind. It was a picture of a guy with his Dakimakura tucked neatly into his bed, with a freshly made tray of breakfast foods sitting on top of "her". To each his own, I think, but as I read through the thread it turns out that the guy is insisting that "she" ate every last bite.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

5 Fan-Sub Flaws (It's a list yo!)

Before I begin, I want to say that I have every intention of stepping on toes here. If your toes are too small to withstand the size 13 shoe that's about to walk all over them, then I must urge you to step back, or your tootsies will feel the wrath of my cheap Wal-Mart bought sneakers.

Having said that, this piece here, is not about how fan-subs are evil, or that the people making them are killing the industry, or anything like that... instead it's more of a critique of the fan-subbing "nindustry" as a collective, and some of my more well earned annoyances.

The first Annoyance: " Colored Font"

I understand that not everyone is going to really care what color their subtitle font is, and a lot of fans actually like the use of colored font throughout a show to differentiate between each of the characters speaking on-screen.

But to some of us, that like uniformity in what we watch, and aren't really keen on pastels and high contrast letters that are in a terrible type-set, having red and green, or in the case of the picture above, blue, sets us at rage. Please, pick a neutral color for the love of God! It isn't an arts and effing crafts project, and you don't get any awards for how Roy G Biv you can make it.

The Second Annoyance: "Translator notes"

Now, I'll admit, in some shows translator notes are a near god-send, and without them, we would be lost in a cultural hodge-podge of ignorance.

There are other times, when Translator Notes are a curse of the damned, and must burn in the fire of hell for all eternity, and in the example shown here, the pompous asinine use of a translator note to explain that "keikaku" is a plan, is not only stupid, it's borderline mental retardation. Just translate the frakkin word, and be done with it, instead of waste my time reading something so pointless.

Good translator notes are usually done in inserts for the DVDs, or at the end of a show... once I actually saw some translator notes at the beginning of an episode to give a brief run down of some of the cultural things that were to be addressed, and while the beginning of an episode isn't really kosher, the end of an episode is perfectly fine.

I say, move your self-indulgent lessons about translation to the end, and if you have the technical skill to encode and rip or what ever the hell else you do to make these things, then you can certainly manufacture a couple of seconds of video to insert before the credits and school us on what means what.

The Third Annoyance: "Job Ads"

Sweet merciful Jesus, there is nothing more annoying that a fan-sub group that resorts to job advertisements, or recruiting in the middle of an anime. Granted it isn't something that is widely practiced, and only a few retards actually have the balls to do it, as in junk up a show I'm right in the middle of, to plaster a shout out to who the frak knows who, and take me out of a show.

Not only is this stupid, and idiotic, it might as well, be static, and trash in the quality. Congratulations, because, you just made you own work a pile of shit, and what I wanted to see--not your stupidness all over the screen--is now ruined.

This annoyance is actually related to the next two, and while I can usually tolerate crappy fonts, and crappy color, and fan-sub groups that compete with themselves over this garbage, the one thing that I hate more than anything is what I'm about to show you in the next two examples.

The Fourth Annoyance: "Fan Sub Staff Credits"

It's not enough that most fan-sub groups are probably loaded from stem to stern with anime elitists, and weeaboos, but now they are so full of themselves and the service that they provide they crap up my already waning screen image with their "Handles" and Usernames in the credits.

First of all, no one gives a damn about you. You're not original, and your name is nothing... I could look up your username, and there will be a thousand of them, and unless you actually made the show, your name is just a superimposed impostor credit.

The only credit you get, is for knowing how to make a type-set, or how to encode video... big whoopty fucking do!

Not only have you arrogantly assumed that your stupid username is important to slather on my favorite show, you think we'll actually remember you five seconds afterward and come to you for more fan-subbing needs? Not hardly.

Do us all a favor and take your peanut dick name, and put it back in your sack, and go back to converting your old VHS into VCDs. We don't like you enough to remember you.

The Fifth Annoyance: "Too Much Is Too Much"

It's hard to narrow this particular annoyance down, but I'm going to try. 

If you'll notice, in the screen capture from the opening title of Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars there are about eight things that were not part of the original show. In addition to having a bouncy star doing the Karaoke, the pepto bismol pink English title, the barf green sub-title "Sailor Stars", and the godawful purple English translation of the op song, there is also two contact info addresses, and in the top left corner of the screen is the fan-site's logo.

What in the name of blue holy hell is all this shit?!!!

It's annoying as hell is what it is. First of all, this is the ultimate in self-centered ego-stroking, and narcissism... it isn't enough to have a translated song, which I personally hate... there's the bouncing Japanese Karaoke, which makes my eyes cross.

Not only that, it's as if a child got some crayons and doodled the English translations of the shows title on there... for the love of fuck, we bloody well know that this is Sailor Moon!!!! we have the show don't we?

As if being convinced of their supreme importance as a fan-sub group isn't enough, there is not only web addresses under the shows title front and center, but the little logo that just screams, "We take ourselves too seriously." 

This is just too damn much. Please... PLEAASE!!!!! Why in the name of all that is holy do you have to do this shit? HUH?

Is it too much to ask that we try and maintain a little sense of professionalism? Can you not reallocate all this crap to the back?

I mean honestly, let's be real here... I have no intention of trying to find more of your work, I don't care... I really don't and no amount of slapping your logo, your address or anything of the like is going to get me to come to you for all my future Fan Sub needs... in fact, you just made me hate your guts.

To top it all off... this is a MKV file. Which is forced subbed. That means, that I don't even have the option of switching off your evil awful shitty subs to watch the damn thing raw. You are so convinced that your way is best, that I WANT to watch your karaoke, and sing along... and observe your raping of a classic anime, that you won't even give me the same option that I would find on a commercial DVD.

Well, screw you all. Most fan-subs are tolerable, and for the most part, I can deal with the ilk since I know that half of this will never see the light of day in America any other way. But there are a lot of fan subs, and fan sub groups that need to have their heads replaced with Styrofoam, and carved to look like a giant ass. 

If you are a fan sub group and you happen to read this... and if for any reason you contribute to my annoyances, then I hope your fan-subs burn in the ninth circle of hell. You are ruining my anime, because you want to be noticed.

Damn weeaboos!

Monday, May 28, 2012

News & Stuff 005: Bakemogatari, Theme Parks, and More

Look alive, Sunshine, it's time to get off the weekend Toonami high that I would hope so many of you have been on. Let's jump right into some anime news

Get ready for some financial pain if you're a Bakemonogatari fan, because Aniplex announced that they will be releasing US Blu-rays for the series. The set/sets are due to hit shelves this fall, and will most likely be sub only. Anybody that has been keeping up with Aniplex's domestic release track record will know the set will probably retail for a decent sum of money, so be prepared for the expense if you've been looking forward to this one. Although Aniplex's prices are pretty steep for most of the fans I've come across, I'm sure this one will sell pretty well, as the net-dwellers have been babbling about Bakemonogasomething almost non-stop.

So sell a kidney or something if you're like me and want to see what all of the fuss is about, and keep an eye out for this set later this fall.

My favorite band of Pirates is going to be immortalized in their very own theme park. Construction recently began on a 133 hectare Chinese theme park with One Piece themed rides, restaurants, and attractions. The project will supposedly cost about 60 million yen, although I'm sure that it'll turn a profit rather quickly. Wait a minute, something's wrong here....

The Chinese are so good at bootlegging things that they're trying their hand at bootlegging a theme park. That's right, this park is in no way sanctioned by Shueisha, Toei, or Eiichiro Oda. Whenever I hear about a knockoff Apple or Android store in China, I can't help but chuckle at the knockoff situation in China, so this theme park situation is particularly hilarious.

Shonen Jump Alpha is stepping up its game a bit, it seems; They've added the manga "Sensei no Baruji", locally known as Barrage, to their digital distribution line-up. Now I honestly have no idea on what this manga is even about, but I'm really supportive of it's localization. Why? Because it's still in its infancy. From what I can see, only two chapters have been published, and the author has yet to prove his mettle. This is quite a risk on Shonen Jump Alpha's part, as this new manga can go either way. While I was (and still am) against the move from print to digital distribution, I'm glad to see that the medium is allowing Viz to shorten the gap between Japanese releases and localization. Let's just hope that this new title isn't a dud, so that this sort of timeliness can become the norm.

There always seems to be a plethora of news on the K-ON! front, and K-ON! fans seem to love their merch. Today, I bring you two extra special doses of WTF, in case your prescription was running low. It turns out that somebody thought it was a good idea to make K-ON character themed banks that watch you as you move around the room. Yeah, that's right, Scooby-Doo portrait style. So if you silently wish that your wallscroll/body pillow of your favorite K-ON character would stare at you every time you entered the room, you may want to seek professional help, but you'll also want to look out for those banks.
Some K-ON themed panties are also set to hit store shelves, and I have to ask: Are these really supposed to be purchased by women, or are they just for pervy men?

That's all the news that I have for you today; Now get back to choking down that anime!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

WO Reviews: Okami-San and Her Seven Companions

Okami-San is a school romantic-comedy series based on a series of 12 light novels. The eponymous character Okami (the Japanese word for Wolf) is a member of the Otogi Bank, a school club of sorts that trades their services for favors that they can redeem whenever they need to. Many of the episodes in the series remind me of the "Mysterique Sign" episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, as the club runs around trying to complete their client's requests. What I initially found to be the most interesting about the series, was the fact that nearly all of the characters are based on or represent some sort of Fairy Tale character or story. Okami is the Big Bad Wolf and her best friend Ringo is Little Red Riding Hood, so on and so forth.

There are actually 8 "main" characters aside from Okami, so the title is a bit misleading. For the most part, I thought that the characters were all pretty great. I repeatedly got the vibe that I wouldn't mind if each one of the characters had received their own episode, because they are all pretty interesting. What actually did bug me about the characters, is that I didn't get to see enough of them. It's a pretty tall order to squeeze in 9 characters in just 12 episodes, so I can forgive the show a bit here, but I really would have liked to see more of quite a few of the characters. Nevertheless, I liked what I did get to see, so the characters get a pass from me.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Confirmed: New Toonami Programming Leaked

Update: Adult Swim Employee Jason DeMarco confirmed the scheduling via twitter. It's official, the new programs are Deadman Wonderland and Casshern Sins. 

Toonami's return has to be the biggest domestic anime news this week, and Adult Swim is banking on that. The network has kept tight lips about the entire situation, and has tried to keep an air of mystery about the upcoming programming schedule until Toonami actually hits airwaves again. Fans have been wildly speculating about what new shows will appear on the network, and have hit every series from Panty and Stocking to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

Well, it looks like somebody at Adult Swim goofed, and now the Toonami schedule is up 5 days before it was supposed to be. Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Ghost in the Shell, and Cowboy Bebop (Shocker!) are all returning this weekend, along with two new contenders. Deadman Wonderland and Casshern Sins are listed as well, and seem to be the network's newest acquisitions.

I can't say that I know much about Deadman Wonderland, aside from the fact that fans were going crazy for it back when it first premiered, but it seems like a decent fit for the block's matured audience. The fact that Casshern Sins is on the block actually kind of pisses me off. In just the last two years, there have been dozens of anime that are monumentally better than Casshern. Casshern had an awesome premise, and I thought it was actually pretty beautifully animated, but it was so incredibly slow and boring that I couldn't make it through the entire series.

This is pretty awful for the block. Casshern has to be the most incredibly boring anime that I have ever seen, and now the future of Toonami is banking on it. What about Black Butler, or Darker than Black? Both are critically acclaimed series that hit the Adult Swim/Toonami demographic. There's a sea of great anime that would thrive on Adult Swim, and Adult Swim decided to run their ship aground on Casshern Isle.

Here's to hoping Casshern won't do too much damage.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Anime Artisans: 14 - Lum

Well it's time for another blast from the past, and what better way to go back in time than with the great Oni Princess herself?

That's right, I'm talking about Lum, from none other than the classic anime Urusei Yatsura!

Here, enjoy some awesome art after the break!

Girls Und Panzer Preview

Everyone likes the idea of a girl in uniform, and considering the multiple talented people that are behind this project, it's no wonder each of these girls look adorable enough to squeeze.
The new show, Girls Und Panzer

is an all new show from the creators of Squid Girl and Upotte!, and already it's moving along to the top of my must see list.

Toonami Returns!

Well, those of you that have been bummed by the lack of anime on TV are about to be a little less bummed. Adult Swim announced via twitter that the late-night anime block will be returning to TV starting this month. On the 26th, Toonami will replace the current 12 am to 6 am Saturday night block with traditional Toonami programming, as well as some new programming.

It's great to see that the fans have been heard and Toonami is making its return. Sure, it'll be great to see some of the classics on TV once again, but I'm excited about something entirely different. With Toonami on TV, does this mean that we may get to see more NEW stuff on TV? Shows like Fairy Tail, One Piece, Shin Chan, and Sgt. Frog fare a much better chance of being completely dubbed to the end if they are on TV, attracting new viewers and selling extra DVDs. Shows like Soul Eater are perfect for Adult Swim, and will be excellent for drawing in new fans.

So let's hope that Toonami survives for at least a few years, and brings in hundreds of new anime fans!

Monday, May 14, 2012

WO Reviews: Outlanders

Outlanders "Remastered"
Well, being on this classic anime kick has had me digging in the vaults for some of that vintage stock, and Outlanders was one of the titles that popped out.

It's been more than twenty years since this anime OVA first saw the light of day, based on the manga series by Johji Manabe, and that saw eight volumes.

The hard truth is that sometimes OVAs make good on the premise of a manga series, and sometimes, they just don't. Sadly, the OVA in this instance merely skimmed the surface of what the manga was all about, and while a lot of the quote-un-quote gist was kept intact, there was a lot of the plot left to be desired.

Not that it really mattered back in 1986, since it was solely focused on showcasing the sexy Princess Kahm, and giving the readers a look at what a motion visual version of their favorite series would be like.

The premise of Outlanders is quite simple... A photojournalist named Tetsuya, happens to find himself in the middle of an alien invasion snapping shots of an alien woman taking names and kicking ass, and when confronted by the horned beauty, lets his lower half get the better of him.

Well, this is all that is apparently needed to seal some sort of interest for the Extraterrestrial Bombshell, and soon poor Tetsuya finds himself whisked away aboard her organic ship, and engaged to who he learns is, Princess Kahm, the daughter of a warmongering Emperor bent on cleansing all the humans from the Holy Planet.

Decidedly against her father's plans of mass eradication, Kahm rationalizes that if she marries Tetsuya, then her father will spare the human race, and things go from rapidly wrong to warp-speed worse, as Kahm and Tetsuya do everything they can to evade fate, and seal the deal with a little "ooh la-la".

The series is very reminiscent of shows like Urusei Yatsura and perhaps a little bit of Carpricorn, in that it has a pretty rediculous happenstance encounter for the two interested parties, and while there is no denying Princess Kahm's sex appeal, the show's fast pace—running at just under an hour—makes for some really fast work on Tetsuya's part.

There are two dubbed versions of this show; one produced in L.A., and the other by Central Park Media.

I watched the second one, since I'm a sucker for Sean Shemmel. Who despite sounding exactly like Goku from Dragon Ball did a really good job as the less than heroic Tetsuya.

Of particular interest is the online voter poll that was initiated by CPM to let the fans vote on which VAs they wanted cast as the characters of the show. In fact, there is a seven minute behind the scenes on the DVD about that.

All in all, Outlanders was not a disappointment, even though it is twenty-five years old; and while I wouldn't call it a masterpiece by any long shot, I would certainly give it a reluctant Four Stars for sustainability, and managing to make a naked hottie still look amazing after all this time.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

AMV: Russian Lullabye "Labyrinth of Flames"

Even for a two episode OVA series, this is one of the funnier, zanier anime from the early 2000s. This is probably the best song that could have been put to this.

What If It Was Anime? - Metal Gear

I'm sure that you've heard of the Metal Gear series if you have been anywhere near the gaming scene, or have had a pulse for any time in the last 10 years. Games in the series typically revolve around mobile, nuclear-equipped, "Metal Gear" tanks that have been crafted as a way to ensure militaristic dominance. Typically, the series' main protagonist, Solid Snake, undergoes a covert-ops espionage mission in order to deal with various events involving the nuclear super-weapon. Recent installments in the series have focused on other characters, such as Raiden, Snake's replacement, and Big Boss, the original "Snake". A word of warning before I get too far into this, Spoilers are ahead; It'd be impossible for me to do the series justice without referencing some pretty big plot points.

First and foremost, I'm unsure as to why there is no Metal Gear Solid anime as of yet. It could be because Hideo Kojima, the man behind the series, has seemed reluctant on the two newest entries into the franchise. In both scenarios, he has been pushed and convinced by both the fans and members of his team, and has only relented his opposition reluctantly (In the case of Metal Gear Solid 4, he was convinced by the fan's unrelenting desire to see the end of the "Patriots", a storyline introduced in MGS2).

Anime Artisans: 013 - Lupin III

I've been on a Lupin III kick recently, and I thought that I'd share some of that on the blog. There's something oddly satisfying about seeing Lupin and his partner in crime Jigen hanging out, with priceless works of art hanging on the wall of an unkempt room. The only thing that would make it seem more complete would be a frenzied Zenigata peeking through the window, attempting to close in on his ultimate catch.

If you've managed to get this far into the fandom without hearing about or watching Lupin, then you'd better turn off the ecchi and watch one of the classics. If you really can't go that long without thinking about moe schoolgirls or an overabundance of pantyshots, then at the very least watch it for Fujiko, who always finds ways to appear nude.

So what're you waiting for, go catch up on the latest escapades of the Master Thief! There's more than enough Lupin to last you a while, and more is coming out with the new series on TV and the new Discotek Lupin III Season 1.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

WO Reviews: Black Butler II

Black Butler is the story of a ridiculously wealthy boy who sells his soul to a demon in exchange for revenge. If you didn't know that much, or you don't want to read any spoilers for Season 1, it might be wise for you to hold off on reading this review. Sebastian, the demon contracted by Ciel Phantomhive, aids his master in avenging the deaths of his parents while maintaining his estate and acting as his personal Butler. Alright, can the yaoi fangirls stopped squeeing at the idea of Butler/Master relationship between two guys so that we can continue?

Black Butler is an ongoing manga that isn't a big shonen brawler, so naturally the anime situation is kind of wonky. The latter portion of Season 1 takes its own route and abandons the manga, much like the original Fullmetal Alchemist series did. As a result, Black Butler II is completely removed from the manga, and was created to build upon the success of either Black Butler Season 1 or the manga itself.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Darker Than Black Season 3?

The internet is starting to buzz about the possibility of a 3rd Darker Than Black Season, all because of a post on 2chan, or something along those lines. As it stands, it's all baseless rumors and here say, but I think that a third season is a real possibility. Darker Than Black seems to be quite the popular anime, in Japan itself and internationally, so I can't imagine why they would stop riding that money train.

If you haven't had the chance to check out the series yet, now is definitely the time, as every Darker Than Black property is licensed and readily available. All of you lovers of Science Fiction or Supernatural anime will find Darker Than Black is right up your alley.

Personally, I love the series, and am very excited about the possibility of seeing more of it. Season 2 was a bit disappointing when compared to season 1 and the OVAs, so hopefully the third season will redeem the series and pick up the storyline.

Here's to hoping that this will turn out to be true, and we'll get to see some more of our favorite contractors this fall.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

WO Examines: Dusk Maiden of Amnesia

Filled with spooky stories, and decades of extended remodel, and near labyrinthian sized buildings and hallways, Seikyou Private School has been the focus of the strange and supernatural for more than sixty years, with the most common name in the school's featured ghost stories as Yuuko Kanoe, the tragic girl who was killed as a result of an accident, and now haunts the campus.

Unfortunately for Teiichi Niiya, the rumors and stories become a reality for him, when he discovers the ghost of Yuuko, and gets more than he bargained for, when he realizes all too late that the deceased has taken a liking to him.

The plot gets further interesting when, Yuuko creates a Paranormal Research club to help her with her memory, since despite her best efforts, she has no recollection of her past, how she died, or the events leading up to her death. 

So together with Niiya, and two others, they set out through the school unraveling the paranormal mysteries and legends that surround almost every facet of Seiyou.

Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is based on the manga by Maybe, and serialized in the Monthly Gangan Joker comic magazine. And while it has enough spooky environment and animation to get your chill factor off and running, the one thing that it has going for it above all that, is great comedy, and interaction between Yuuko and Niiya.

I sat down to give this anime a passing glance, as I usually do when trying to decide which shows I'll pick up for the season, and after the first eight minutes of episode one, I was hooked like a fish.

Not only is it witty, cleaver, and intense. It has one of the freshest and coolest female leads in a show since Haruhi Suzumiya. 

Granted, Yuuko and Haruhi are polar opposites, but the spontaneity of Yuuko from one moment to the next is what I usually find myself hanging onto the edge of my seat for. And then sure enough, she'll deliver.

Some of the highlights of the first few episodes, are of course, the first half of episode one which is told from the perspective of club member Momoe Okonogi, who is oblivious to the invisible Yuuko, while Yuuko moves things and the room, and even goes so far as to drink from her cup. And of course, the passionate way Momoe explains about how a marker they found with the name Yuuko on it was a sign of someone who loved her, and how Yuuko was a real person, and all the romantic ideology that goes with her memory, as Yuuko kicks the stone over out of stubbornness.

When she isn't clinging madly to Teiichi, or annoying the other members of the club, Yuuko is calm reposed, and eager to put away her decades of isolation and loneliness.

She's both sad, and funny, spastic and charming. And were it not for the fact that she was dead, would probably be the ideal girl for Teiichi. Which of course is the outcome I'm rooting for.

Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is my top tier show for the Spring season, and one that I highly recommend.