Category Archives: Anime

Cartoons animated in Japan, and sometimes China. And Korea. And Thailand. But they do the character designs in Japan and stuff.

Spring 2011 Anime: Hanasaku Iroha

Hey lady, you know that guy who likes you? Go live with him instead- you're 16, it's probably legal somewhere in the south.

Number of Episodes Aired: 2

Simulcast on Crunchyroll

Alternate Title Suggestions: I Can’t Believe My Grandma is This Sadistic, Flowers+Depression

The amazing thing to me about Hanasaku Iroha is that, with its premise, it should be horrendously depressing, yet mysteriously, it’s not. Our plucky protagonist Ohana gets kicked out of her normal life when her flighty Mom decides to run off with her boyfriend (it doesn’t matter why), and is sent to go live at her grandmother’s country inn- where she’s forced to do physical labor for her keep and is basically treated like dirt. Even Grandma gives her no sympathy, since she disowned Ohana’s mother and no longer considers them part of the family.

Continue reading Spring 2011 Anime: Hanasaku Iroha

X-Men Episode #2: Poor Man’s Storm

You might think from this screenshot that Ms. Stormu is a no-nonsense, lightning-slinging deity; you would be wrong.

Summary: They’ve made Storm weak in order to make Cyclops’ ongoing PTSD over the whole “my girlfriend became a giant psychic bird-creature and died” thing an actual problem for the X-Men, and it’s a huge pain. While this episode is better than the first by virtue of stuff actually happening, these people are still really unlikable for some reason- something not likely to be fixed by introducing Emma “I’m a bitch, deal with it” Frost next episode. Oh dear.

Continue reading X-Men Episode #2: Poor Man’s Storm

Spring 2011 Anime: Nichijou (My Ordinary Life)

If there's any one theme so far this season, it's that little girls have dirty, dirty minds.

No. of Episodes Aired so far: 2

Simulcast on Crunchyroll

Alternate Title Suggestions: School With Goats, Azumanga Daioh -1, Desperate Attention Ploy Theater

I’m going to be a rebel and not title these Spring 2011 anime posts “First Impressions”, firstly because everyone else does it, secondly because I may not be getting to some of these until they’re several episodes in, taking away from the idea of it being an impression of the beginning.

After being too busy to recap/review much anime lately, this season I decided to at least to try all the spring simulcasts on Crunchyroll, plus another select few. The only show being recapped here on an episode-by-episode basis is X-Men, because apparently, I hate myself, but maybe that will change.

Continue reading Spring 2011 Anime: Nichijou (My Ordinary Life)

X-Men Episode #1: Instant X-Men, Just Add Angst

A brooding-as-usual Cyclops: we could have done without this.

Summary: I can’t decide if the problem is that these really aren’t the characters I know, or if it’s just oddly written for a first episode, but something is definitely off with this anime adaptation of my favorite superheroes; so far, Beast is the only redeeming feature.

I don’t know about this most recent X-Men adaptation, I just don’t know- is it boring to me because I’ve been an X-Men fan for a long time, and I’ve seen all of this already? Or is it just boring because it’s boring?

Continue reading X-Men Episode #1: Instant X-Men, Just Add Angst

Thoughts on America’s Greatest Otaku #6

Just between you and me, if you have to drive two hours to get to the main Otaku spot in "Louisville," I don't think that city makes the grade.

Summary: This week’s episode had two distinct themes: traditional Japanese culture (as opposed to the more typical pop culture), and Dom getting the snot beat out of her repeatedly. Surprisingly, both were quite good.

Continue reading Thoughts on America’s Greatest Otaku #6

Thoughts on America’s Greatest Otaku #5

Team Mangaloids enjoy smoking ninja food in a restaurant I would go to if I weren't terrified of people pretending to stab me while I eat- seriously, that's what they do at Ninja NYC.

Now that we’re past the halfway point, how is this show being received, anyway? I don’t see much talk about it online (other than the quasi-pathetic group that cropped up when the show started to say that it was not cool enough for them, for they must be so, so cool), yet according to analytics, a lot of the visitors to Otakusphere seem to come here looking for more about this show. Also, I do tend to avoid the corners of the internet where the comments would annoy the hell out of me, which is 99% of the internet, so I really don’t know what’s going on anyway.

Continue reading Thoughts on America’s Greatest Otaku #5

The Significance of Morning Rescue(?)

Not content with merely deconstructing (by which I mean, ripping the guts out of) its own genre, Puella Magi Madoka Magica is sort of deconstructing the culture that has grown up around anime fansubbing as well.

For those that know about Otakusphere but somehow don’t yet know about Madoka (a group that probably contains all of two people, but hey, I aim to please), fansub groups have been keeping the Japanese commercials for the beverage “Morning Rescue” in their cuts of the popular dark magical girl show, and the commercial has become internet-popular. Due to demand for the actual product, Jlist (and possibly other retailers I’m not aware of) have started carrying the drink for people outside of Japan to order. I don’t know the numbers, but Peter (owner of Jlist) has tweeted that the drink is selling well.

Fansubs of unlicensed shows are considered more or less morally neutral; while digitally downloadable versions of licensed shows can be considered theft (and let’s just leave it at that, without getting into the whole piracy/theft/copyright infringement definition quagmire), downloads of unlicensed shows don’t really do anything; you’re seeing something that isn’t meant for you, since you won’t be viewing the advertising the way the targeted market will (or have access to the product even if you do see the advertising), but you aren’t finding a sneaky way around an actual purchase, either, because there’s no actual product available for you to buy.

However, when fansubbers start leaving in commercials, and those commercials lead to actual sales of the Japanese products that companies paid the TV station to advertise, doesn’t that end up becoming a net positive?

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mean it’s a net positive in financial terms. For every one person who orders a bottle of Morning Rescue from Jlist after watching a fansub of Madoka Magica, there are probably about a thousand people who will just watch it and do nothing- not enough to make the company that makes the drink a lot of money.

Still, you have to wonder; if the world has become flat enough, thanks to global retailing and shared interest in different subcultures, that the commercial is creating the same desire for a product that it was meant to inspire in the targeted audience, doesn’t the once-lowly fansub watcher therefore become part of the targeted audience? From Morning Rescue’s perspective, they don’t care if Madoka fans live in Japan or China or Timbuctoo; they want people to watch the show, see their commercial, and buy their product. If someone in the U.S. orders a case of Morning Rescue based on the commercials they saw in a legally “gray” fansub, are they any less valid as part of the target audience than a person in Tokyo who bought one? It’s still advertising dollars well spent.

I haven’t been covering Madoka Magica on a regular basis, mostly because my recaps of individual episodes would end up being a .WAV file featuring the sound of my jaw hitting the floor continuously. But I think the Morning Rescue phenomenon that spawned from the Madoka fansubs has really interesting implications for the future of digital anime distribution, legal and otherwise- I mean, I’m not sure what they ARE yet, but they’re certainly interesting.

Thoughts On America’s Greatest Otaku Episode #4

Smiling Stephan +ridiculously huge plush Miku= Good Episode.

With episode #4, Tokyopop’s quest to get me to consume more sushi continues to pick up momentum. Seriously, that seems to be the underlying goal here, because after each episode I may not feel particularly keen on buying any Tokyopop products, but man do I want some sushi.

This episode had what could have potentially featured the most interesting challenge yet- finding a mentor to teach you an otaku-related skill- but it was kind of rendered moot by the fact that only one member of one team (Dom) actually participated. Now, I would call out the other teams for not doing the challenge, but it’s hard to tell how much time anyone had from the way it’s edited; I get the impression they may have been seriously pressed for time in Oklahoma City and Nashville to make more time for Otakon and New York later on, in which case I can’t really blame them (yeah, I’m biased towards the east coast, not gonna lie.)

Hey look, it’s Deb Aoki! I want to be like Deb when I grow up; that is all.

However, bonus points to Dre of some variety for pointing out to Stu Levy that Team Mangaloids were perhaps better equipped to tackle their challenge at San Diego Comic Con versus his team in Oklahoma. However, I don’t blame the show for this; it seems to be a reality show staple to stack the deck really unfairly like that. Remember that episode of Top Chef: Just Desserts where they took all the chocolate out of the kitchen, and the one guy who wasn’t planning on using chocolate in his dish anyway was just like “Screw y’all!” No? I have to find other humans who have actually watched that show.

Viewing SDCC was probably the most interesting part of the episode, in part because you could actually SEE it; New York Comic Con/Anime Festival was so packed this year, all you could see when you looked straight ahead was the freckles of the several people invading your personal space in front of you. If SDCC was as nicely un-crowded as it looked from this episode, I’m seriously jealous of west-coast con-goers right now, because I feel like the ridiculous crowding ruins the NY conventions for me.

As an added bonus, I finally learned how to pronounce “Wacom” from this episode- I’ve been saying “Way-com” for like, ten years now. And, my god, do I want that tablet…..

The other interesting part of this episode was meeting AGO contender Selene’s entire otaku family, complete in cosplay with anime wall-hangings galore. I’m slightly disappointed we didn’t find out more about the parents, however; are they really otaku as well, or do they just play along to make their kids happy? In a way, wouldn’t they be the most awesome parents ever if they cosplayed as Bleach characters for the sake of familial harmony even if they’ve never seen Bleach?

I really have nothing to add to this picture. That’s just…wow. A contender indeed.

On the next episode, the group goes to Otakon 2010, so I’ll probably spend the entire episode looking for a glimpse of myself in the background because I was actually there, plus Washington D.C. (whatever) and New York (yaaay!). Now, Team D&D may be my favorites, but if Diana and Dre can’t find anything suitably otaku-ish to do in NY, there will be words.

I’m getting sushi tonight, I don’t care what anyone else says. Even if they’re all like “Oh, we’re going to Outback, you can get a Bloomin’ Onion for your main course if you like,” I’ll stand my ground, because that’s how badly I want sushi right now- Bloomin’ Onion badly.

Anime and Manga Bloggers for Japan

Donate to Japan Relief, and even Homura will smile. Hey, it could happen.

I wasn’t going to say anything about the situation in Japan on this blog because I’m not sure I feel it’s my place to tell people that they should go donate to the relief efforts, which is pretty much all I can do. However, what Daniella Orihuela Gruber is doing with Anime and Manga Bloggers For Japan over at All About Manga immediately made sense to me. Obviously, I owe Japan some of my happiness, and I’m glad that Daniella put together a framework for me to donate that just felt right. I would have donated anyway, but to tell you the truth, just sending off a random amount of money to a relief organization has always felt a little strange to me.

One thing I’ve learned from Twitter over the past few days is that natural disasters seem to spawn lots of highly random pro-Japan fanart on the internet, so I figured I might as well partake of some of that while in a drawin’ mood. Now, anyone can show you pink, frilly little Madoka cheering on Japan, but honestly, how many cheerful Homuras have you seen? Actually, thinking about the kind of Puella Magi Madoka Magica art that is now available on the internet in spades, I probably don’t want to know the answer to that.

That’s about all, I just wanted to help get the word out about this nifty little fundraiser that came around at just the right time for me- consider giving if you haven’t already.

Thoughts on America’s Greatest Otaku: Episode #3

In which we learn that Japanese dolls are pieces of art, and American dolls are just “Meant to be played with.” Um, it’s rare that I get to say this, but if that’s the case, then I’m on Team America here.

This week’s episode was kind of let down after the actually-quite-good cosplay romp that was last week’s, but still watchable enough. The main problem was that the competitive eating contest didn’t seem to have much to do with being an otaku, or the theme of “Personality” either, really. Yeah, there’s that one famous hot-dog eating Japanese guy who’s way more attractive than anyone who shoves hotdogs in his face for a living has any right to be, but I don’t see eating contests as being a big part of otaku culture- am I wrong here? Plus, eating contests just look kind of gross in my opinion.

I do however like the trend of Dre and Diana winning hands down while Team S&S does unbelievably badly at everything, despite the fact that Stephan seems to be the most intelligent co-host; I guess being smart doesn’t help much when your quest is to imbibe lots of ramen and frozen yogurt (?) at a rapid pace. I guess the winning team doesn’t actually win anything, since this was the second time the same team won the weekly challenge but there was no mention of a prize.

I would have taken Professor Brau’s class.

Once again, the show is elevated by the guests, who are a batch of interesting folk who probably wouldn’t get a chance to star on an internet TV show if AGO never came to be. The contestants weren’t as memorable to me this week as last week (which is no insult to them personally; I just didn’t think they made strong cases for being the ‘greatest’ otaku, as opposed to several previous contestants), but the guests from academia and business were interesting.

Actually, the people at the Kansas City Art Institute didn’t say anything terribly interesting, I just know I would have killed for a kids’ manga-drawing class like that when I was that age. Kids these days don’t know how good they have it, back in the day we needed to walk fifteen miles in the snowpocalypse to get the lastest derivative How to Draw Manga book, etc. etc…..

Does anybody have a theory as to how this order was determined? It doesn’t look very fuel-efficient; doesn’t Tokyopop CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT????

Best: The segment with Dr. Laurie Brau about culinary manga- once again, Dre and Diana get to do the best stuff, and I’m so glad that someone in academia is doing something that actually seems different and interesting and not the redundant, masturbatory exercise that most academic study appears to be. Seriously.

Worst: Watching people stuff food into their mouths- wasn’t gross enough to put me off the show, but still general-purpose gross, not to mention kind of random and unnecessary. I’m also kind of annoyed by the food choices- a chance to eat five times as much of something as usual, and Team Mangaloids picks Kix cereal? Ladies, did you forget that chocolate exists? It should have at least been limited to foods with an otaku connection, like Pocky or something.

Next, the show apparently goes back to California, because spending the first week there apparently wasn’t enough (?), and I see if the other AGO co-hosts can find a way to stand out from the mini-golf playing, pancake-annihilating shadow of Team D&D, who seem to win everything.

Go, Team S&S! May you win a no-prize in the next challenge, which will hopefully be much less gross.