Tag Archives: anime fandom

Bridging The Gap: One Day, Anime LA 2013

Images Courtesy of J. Park
Images Courtesy of J. Park

 

Despite taking place within con-unfriendly temperatures, post-holidays, and amidst a remarkably harsh flu season, fellow podcaster, Jenny Park & I braved on to the Marriott near Los Angeles International Airport for what would become an anime convention experience now a world apart. Our day at the 8th annual Anime LA began around roughly 9:30am, hours before central events would take place. And even so, the halls were ringing with activity where most current cons often find themselves quiet until at least 11. As mentioned before, the world outside is more demanding on human health, which results in what should be lighter numbers. Not so here. Anime LA is what divides casual admirers from the fanatics, and as such, is perhaps a far more exciting and immersive event than many of California’s most industry-centric shindigs. Creatures, heroes, robots, and all manner of fantastical entities were in attendance, and even so there was still room for what I crave most from a convention–great people of passion.

 

So how much Anime LA could we marathon experience on a one-day pass?
Over the years, I have found anime conventions to mostly be more like a customary gathering of friends and family. Anime LA is definitely no exception. However, this particular role takes on even greater significance here. Beginning the day by way of wandering over to visit old buddy, Polo & pals as they make a heck of a morning impression with Eyeshine. Imperial E was bursting with sound as we walked in, taking in what was easily the most active early show audience I have seen this side of a music fest. Not normally a sound I gravitate toward, but potent enough to get one feeling it with aplomb. Things became so energetic, that once time came for the show’s finale, Johnny Yong Bosch’s call for all to join in resulted in an impressive crowd on stage, more than up to the task of leaving a mark. Earnest edge rock, by a most earnest group.

 

Outcasts Among Outcasts

Bridging All Gaps
Bridging All Gaps (Left to Right ; Meri Davis, Justin Sevakis, David Keith Riddick, Matt Schley)

 

And then minutes later, came what would become perhaps the day’s standout as we attended the Anime Fandom Before The Internet panel in LP3. Moderated/Hosted by ANNCast’s Justin Sevakis and Otaku USA/Colony Drop’s Matt Schley, and featuring such American anime pioneers, David Keith Riddick (US Renditions), Meri Davis (Founder and chair of A-kon), not to mention several more of the original CFO guard in attendance, this was a truly unique and packed to the gills event featuring stories of the early days of American anime fandom. Davis shared some heartening tales of the days before cons such as these were ever a thing. A nasty truth revealed when she stated ” We would attempt to always have an anime screening room at sci-fi conventions, horror movie conventions, Star Trek conventions. But even then we were given “the look”. It never ended. We were the outcasts among the outcasts!” Riddick’s recollections regarding their early attempts at fansubbing, which led to the creation of the first subbed anime VHS company, US Renditions were detailed and inspiring reminders of an era where everything was “hands-on” and filled with firsts. (One of the more popular activities being knocking on the doors of their Japanese neighbors in hope of some translation scraps here or there. Having no internet in those pre-Compuserve days meant going out and making an effort to gain understanding of these titles that never saw major release here.) Tinkering with crude analog methods to create well-timed subbed tapes, ready for mass production was also a journey. Stories of early anime clubs, strife, and a screening of Royal Space Force under the name Star Quest at Mann’s Chinese in the 1980s were also on the roster.

But the most important piece of wisdom heard throughout the hour came via Riddick, which was something that I feel many a younger fan would do well to consider:  “This all started by a multitude of tastes and backgrounds. If we let all of that get in the way, none of this would have happened. There were trials, sure. But we felt that there was a higher cause at stake.”

At any major anime convention, such words would feel missed as panels such as these rarely get major attendance. This one however, was packed the entire time. Felt like a summit meeting in a Toho kaiju eiga, or even a bunker conference before a grand battle. Filled with openness and excitement, this was easily the day’s centerpiece for me.

 

“What does it take to be Ultimate?”

 

Mere minutes later, and in the same room, it came time for local animator and Star Blazers/Votoms luminary, Tim Eldred’s Animation Workshop to begin. Much like an introductory class in animation production, Eldred touched point with visiting students, and offered a compelling visual journey into the art of making life from drawings. A majority of the panel was a study of previsualization via footage he brought for Ultimate Spider-Man, a series he had a decent hand in. We were able to catch a shot-for-shot comparison between the original storyboards in montage with partial audio (an Animatic), and the final for-air footage for the show’s initial episode. In the rough footage, it was easy to see where shots were leading into others, character dynamics would add nuance, and how vital planning is to visualized action. The pre-viz also featured many different styles due to the number of unique artists tasked with making each scene come to fruition. While some of this does remain intact in the finished film, the objective is primarily about creating a cohesive whole that won’t distract the viewer. Hearing input and questions from the students was also fascinating. In all, it was a fun primer for what is still a competitive and challenging artform that remains refreshingly  hand-drawn.

Bring The Pain

 

After a short break, it came time to dive headfirst into the animation abyss with the popular Buried Garbage panel, hosted by original columnist, Sevakis. An hour dedicated to some of the most painful moving images this side of a malignant tumor. (make of that what you will) Starting things off on an infamous note, Sevakis shared choice moments from one of the most hilarious misfires on both sides of the Pacific, Yoshiyuki Tomino’s interminable Garzey’s Wing. For those unfamiliar, it is a late-1990s OVA from the world of Aura Battler Dunbine that must be seen to be fully comprehended. Scratch that, there is no way to make sense of the unrelenting bizarre that is Garzey’s Wing. Attempting such a thing is akin to looking into a Lovecraftian inscrutability that could only result in sheer madness. Add to it, one of the most painfully constructed dub jobs ever executed, and you have something that could only induce laughter. And this was mere prelude to clips from an obscure piece of anti-North Korean anime propaganda, Megumi which loses credibility points by way of melodramatic direction, and some truly hideous dubbing made by the original Japanese producers. And while these anime productions read as possibly the worst things ever animated, they are nothing compared to the collective horror that was bestowed upon a near-capacity audience. Indonesia’s Ali Baba, and India’s Naughty Monkey (Not a joke) burn a mark on the soul that is nigh-impossible to remove. This is no drunken tramp stamp, these suckers are going to haunt many con-goers nightmares for years to come. The bloodlust in that monkey’s eyes alone..

 

A Perfect Day For A Jungle Cruise

 

Fresh out of that ball of unforgettable, it was off to the spacy LP5 for the much-anticipated Ghost In The Shell: SAC 10 Years And Counting panel featuring Schley, and special voice actor guests, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Major Motoko Kusanagi), and Richard Epcar (Batou) celebrating a decade of the prophetic science fiction masterpiece. Looking back at Kenji Kamiyama’s tv version of Masamune Shirow’s classic manga, and the films it inspired led to some interesting revelations about the property’s legacy. Epcar and McGlynn spent a great time sharing memories of working on the series, as well as candid revelations regarding their relationship to the Koukaku Kidotai franchise. From Epcar’s longer history as Section 9’s rugged cop, to McGlynn’s favorite SAC episode, the Q & A session that followed did something that so many modern conventions simply do not — inspire very real technological and ethical discussion. From character dynamics, to the very core of living with organics and tech rendered virtually inseparable, the questions that GiTS poses came though both the guests, and the audience quite clearly and earnestly. From privacy concerns, to transhumanism these were topics that remain every bit as relevant now as they did in the wake of the initial series’ run.  Another panel unlike most. And a mythology far more resembling our world that many may be willing to admit.

 

Delight In Dysfunction

 

Lastly, what has become something of a convention ritual returns, as Zac Bertschy & Sevakis bring ANNCast Live to Anime LA. Having done this a few times in the past, we knew what to expect for the most part; off-the-cuff anime Q & A with an acerbic edge. For a few moments, it seemed like attendance was well below normal numbers. But soon into the show, the line of audience members with questions for our hosts eventually increased long enough to cover an entire hour’s worth of recording. Questions ranged from the state of streaming anime, to favorite films of the year, and were given the kind of unpredictable fun listeners have come to expect. While it also invited some of the usual strange questions  one would almost come to expect from an event like this, there was enough knowledge and humor on display to make the now-infamous giveaways more than worthwhile. Topping it all off  was  a sudden bolt of interest in my partner who suddenly decided to step up with a question regarding TV anime’s history that will make for her first non-Double Chop appearance.

So to sum up, one day at Anime LA was akin to what is often a weekend for me elsewhere. With more familiar faces per square yard than I have been privy to an event in years, there was almost too much to do. Sadly, I missed the 20th Anniversary of Giant Robo gathering. Was also unable to attend other musical performances that I had hoped to catch. (including Momotama which took place every day but Saturday) But this only serves to support my enthusiasm. As a celebration of anime, it was a little strange to see an increasing meme, as well as Doctor Who fan presence. Despite this, there was also a healthy crowd of fans far more ready to salute an artform that while in recent years has suffered some significant falloff, also has engendered a unique collection of generations. All unique, and yet collectively excited about colorful moving drawings. There is a higher purpose capable of being sought out in this crazy anime world. So fittingly dramatic that it should be found in the dead of winter.

Image Courtesy Of J.Park
Image Courtesy Of J.Park

 

Image Courtesy Of J.Park
Image Courtesy Of J.Park

 

 

Eyeshine Site

 

Tim Eldred is hard at work on the upcoming Marvel animated follow-up to Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes which is to premiere everywhere in May. On the anime front, he can also be found hard at work at his new Yamato fan realm

People Worth Following On Twitter:

David Keith Riddick

Meri Davis

Matt Schley

Justin Sevakis

 

Until Next..

 

 

Bridging The Gap: How Oncoming Trucks In Slo-Mo Went Mainstream

Initially, I had been looking to avoid any posts on this subject after reading endless posts regarding the news in the wake of Bandai’s shuttering of new acquisitions of physical media, and now its backing out of several other regions, including France. But the ensuing talk and blogging that has come since has more or less left me feeling the need to make sure Diet readers gain an important insight regarding where the industry has been over the last several years. Most noise-making by far has been a writeup at Kotaku, where he not only professed his ignorance of the nature of the industry, but echoed sentiments often more recently heard by many within the continuously dwindling US anime infrastructure. While much of what was important about the post dealt with the media reality we all currently share, I also found it to be fraught with questionable statements, and not to mention lacking in any grounded fact. While it may be true that piracy has been a long-standing issue in anime fandom, it has also in fact been one of denying the inevitable.

A large portion of what makes Charlie Maib’s article so misguided, is that like so many contacts, associates, friends, and peers within the LA-based anime world, many seem to only be focusing strictly on ONE major point of concern, the piracy issue. Now while I consider myself to be a firm supporter of artist rights, concepts of ownership, I also find it deeply important to look at changes that affect this. If there’s a piece of media (not just anime) that I truly enjoy, I will shell out the money and pay for it. And one can also see me constantly directing interested parties to ideas and works I like in hopes of helping them survive in such a volatile climate. But the writing has been on the wall regarding even larger problems for such an absurdly long time- That physical media as a means to support an industry was fatally flawed from the start, and was never meant to last.

And this isn’t merely about anime we are dealing with here, we are talking all media, down to movies, television shows, etc. The very foundation of what was once a collector’s only club was likely only meant as such during the early days of home video. Many may not remember a time when a single VHS cassette of a film like Raiders Of The Lost Ark would go for roughly $80.00 . It was a number of years before the dreaded $24.95 price tag was even considered by the major studios. And a major reason for the change of heart was the advent of cable tv, a  growing new market that was sapping away ticket sales for films released in theaters. The world had changed, and the movie industry had to grudgingly adjust to the new reality by taking a large hit. And this is far from the first time this has happened. Since technology has gathered steam, profits for such an industry has had to rush to keep up by retaining losses in often risk-taking new ventures. This has been a constant struggle, and we see it prevalent in so many ways we collect media.

Top this off with the reality that even in the days of magnetic media, people could make copies of their own. Anyone remember your local Sam Goody? A large part of the music chain’s intake came from the sales of blank cassettes, be they audio OR video, and often sold at the counter as if to know full well what customers were doing with them. And this was in the era of stereo consoles, often packaged with dual-cassette decks. In other words, the recording industries were looking for something resembling a happy medium between consumers and the industries they support. To assume the left didn’t know what the right was doing is nothing short of selective blindness.

Which is something of an important affliction to consider, particularly when discussing the anime industry, and how it has essentially cratered due to virtual ignorance of larger changes in the world. Everywhere we turn, closures of physical media outlets have become chiming reminders that a paradigm has reached its final point of shift. And yet only an enterprising few have allowed themselves a means to survive by ways of adjusting to new realities. Even if the profit margins have been at times drastically lowered, there is at least some growth, especially in the realms of streaming video services like Netflix, Hulu, and Crunchyroll. With coding becoming more and more sophisticated, alongside great advances in how content is shared online, there has been a great deal of potential found here. But leave it to hindsight as the piracy target sees itself coated with another bright shade of red, when the obvious continues to dog the discussion…

While Maib’s ideas make the point that piracy helped lead toward this violent shift, anime as a sales-centric industry certainly did little to counter it. It wasn’t as if noone saw this coming. In fact, one can also say that once digisubs became a thing, the once laborious daisy-chaining of VHS recorders had been liberated to the high bitrate sphere of the internet, with little means of slowing down once bandwidth rates went up. Even in the days of dial-up, this was happening on a much larger scale than ever could have been dreamt of in the days of analog. Even as the american anime boom was under way, granting any new label the ability to bring out a battery of shows, often offering financial shelter to dozens of people, not to mention english voice acting talent, the simple reality that the entire party was dancing on a limited tap. As evidenced by Carl Macek who once bemoaned the idea of subtitling, let alone bringing every title under the sun to growing legions of fans, there was a glaring warning sign hovering over the proceedings that call into question; just how much of this stuff is actually worth owning?

Television series come and go, that’s the nature of the beast. And not every show is worth keeping, let alone watching more than  once. Thus comes the fatal flaw in the anime as a hard media commodity scheme. The very idea that we are consumers are asked to pony up roughly 4-6 dollars per episode for a show that may not be worth a second viewing comes at odds with the movie collector’s mentality. The people ultimately know what they want, and will pay for it. The problem comes when we are inundated with the latest, and are essentially given no choice in between. When this happens, and our homes are buried with bricks of material that we cannot even give away- it presents a serious problem. So by the time bandwidth went hi-speed cable, the very idea of mindlessly selling was rendered instantly obsolete. Couple this with the Japanese studios ignoring potentially profitable crossover titles, and opting to merely cater to the otaku market, it is not unlike cutting one’s nose off to spite their face. Anime had gone global, and the first reaction was to pretend that outside markets behaved exactly the same as theirs.

Couple this with an increasingly sophisticated new culture of fans, read and willing to watch anime without need for localization. I know twelve-year-olds watching subtitled anime, who have no predilection to having their favorite shows in english. In another of the all-encompassing ways the internet has altered the world culture, the concept of localization was marginalized into something that no longer made any clear-cut sense. Dubs were practically created as a manner of course rather than a means to highlight the very best the medium had to offer. Entitlement had suddenly become something not only beholden to the fans, but to those relying on anime to pay the bills. (gross miscalculation)

And yes, while I agree that to a degree, fansubbing helped create something of a culture of entitlement, one has to remember that with any technological advent, progress is imperative for survival. What someone forgot to do was make this a major point of discussion while the floodgates opened around 2000. Especially when the medium had shifted toward discs containing DIGITAL material. With home systems utilizing the same language, this was the elephant in the room that noone seemed ready to confront. And this was a crucial first mistake. And yet the years after saw entire sets of shows reach prices of nearly 200+ dollars. As long as they sold, supposedly all would be fine. This almost collective state of denial continued as sales began to plummet around 2004-2005, which was around the time that anime productions began to shift more toward strictly otaku-bait material. The warning signs were emerging, and yet again, noone took action on the leak in the hull. As long as the guests topside were distracted by glitter and flash, all was okay. And the longer this took place, another culture was brewing, one with even less willingness to buy anything.

Either one molds the culture, or the culture molds you. By this point, convention numbers had reached impressive levels, but sales continued to decline. The variety of shows suddenly began to wane. Even as more shows seemed to appear, their diversity began to falter as more began to feed off each other in tropes and stories. There was little for this rabid fanbase to go in regards to anything that could possibly sustain itself in a financial sense. So naturally, with hi-speed internet being what it was, and little to no streaming service ready to take on the new era, piracy reached epidemic proportions. And merely telling them to stop was in no way a tennable strategy. Much like opening a shop in a town without the best neighborhood, one cannot do so without a good, manageable storefront and security system. Without it is not unlike an invitation…There. Said it. Piracy may be a terrible thing, but it is also an inevitable thing. This is not cynicism, this is pure unadulterated reality in most senses, and not merely business. And on the flip-side, fansubs have not provided any real value outside of filling the pirate void for over a decade now. If anything, the piracy and fan entitlement issue is merely a byproduct of inaction on the part of higher-ups unwilling to face the issue directly while the technology was evolving. The Ostrich Method has never been and will never be a sound business strategy.

As long as there is a culture of not merely need, but also want, piracy will always be.  And backpedalling such a slow realization is in no way a realistic reaction. Look at how it worked for Woodstock.

So when we look at all that has happened, it becomes more important to question how we got here, and where the real problem has festered, and what it has infected along the way. In a very real sense, it hurt everyone, and everyone is almost equally to blame for believing in the permanence of a medium that was built on an impermanent foundation. When one takes into account the reality that television was not designed specifically for shows, but for selling ads, the fallacy so many had been laboring under comes into view. We were all hit by it. Noone got off clean. The fans, the pirates, AND the industry are now in this difficult spot due to a continued assumption that physical media had a continued place in the sphere. It was a grand scale change that happened over several years, and one particular group of entities continued to pretend that it wasn’t happening. Many even backing out when they could have stayed and weathered the storm. For so many, the panic button seemed far too reasonable an option. All the while others continued to see hope in a place where we could actually meet the companies halfway by sampling the product before making an informed choice. It makes me so sad that many Japanese companies up and ran without taking a bold series of baby steps that could have helped lead the charge for a new, more promising entertainment landscape.

Like the wilderness, the internet is The Great Equalizer..It’s a terrible shame that so many industries seem so unwilling to step up to the challenge.

Analog Diaries V: The Social Network

Looking at the bulk of the stories I’ve been sharing on the pages of Diet via my Analog Diaries column, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a small shoutout to a period in my fandom that so few I speak with seem to mention, let alone talk about. It is something of a footnote in the anime and manga phenomenon that doesn’t get coverage in many places online, especially since the internet can be said to be the bomb that truly blew the fandom floodgates open. But before PCs were truly widespread, and bandwidth was reasonable, connieurs of J-culture had to resort to other means to gather information, and find friends around the world with commonalities such as these to chat up.

My first brush with folks who traded tapes, zines, and materials from Japan was through the friend of a relative who had once stationed in and around Okinawa. As it turns out, since his travelling back and forth from Japan had begun to slow, it became common for this guy to have a network of pals willing to share the wealth via parcels, and classic postal service methods. There was a romance to this as it was clear that it took effort to really make these friendships last. And what would come from a lot of this would not only be some truly cool buddies from all over, care packages of stuff would often land, granting him access to things I would not see anywhere for years. This person’s room was awash in pin-up art, figures, and videocassettes, and it was something that would likely leave a burn mark within for a very long time.

Flash forward to roughly the mid-90s, and I am essentially in the California desert, many miles from anything resembling hobby shops, let alone convention venues. Access was almost completely nonexistent, save for the occasional run-in with your local geeks at the local Suncoast, and buddies. And our pally from the service had long since vanished, so it was pretty much time to either pack it in, or doggedly keep seeking out others with similar passions. When it came to learning anything about such a medium such as this, about the best ways to do so would be to save up, head out toward the Los Angeles area to forage the popular haunts, and naturally, talk to folks who really knew what was up, the elder fans. However, as in anything geek, there were many times where it felt like the only way into such a world was to “know the code”, perhaps a secret handshake, or perhaps even a little blood sharing to just get a glimpse at something else made by Miyazaki, Oshii, or even Dezaki. The walls keeping the average, passtionate fan were many if you knew noone. Simply put, if you didn’t know anyone, anime fandom was near to impossible…

…Or so I thought…

Soon after anime on VHS was beginning to gather ground, and the ADVs, Central Parks, AnimEigos, and others of the world were beginning to see an upsurge of younger fandom, I had the good fortune to spark up a conversation with someone while chatting up a mutual admiration, the manga collective CLAMP. And that’s pretty much all it took to be introduced to an already long-established world network of not only shoujo manga & anime lovers, but an entire living, breathing faction of fans with a love of the written word, as well as a humongous DIY spirit. I was introduced to the world of Friendship Books, and pen-pal circles.

For those unfamiliar; pen pal circles are as they sound, and yet offered an interesting way to get to know others without the interference, and often static that an instantaneous internet can at times elicit. To begin, one would select a fictional moniker; a name for yourself that could either be original, or naturally be that of a favorite character. (we seeing the seeds yet?) And to spread awareness of your profile to those looking for new pals to write, one would create what was known as a Friendship Book.

Apologies for this not being the best example. More in storage.


As you can see, Friendship Books cold be made out of anything from construction, to washi, to standard line stock. These books would start with a page, often decorated with an anime/manga image, and a brief opener, describing the kinds of shows you liked along with one’s mailing address. The page complete, the book could then be sent to other pen pals, and sent randomly around to other pals until the book was completed front to back, at which time the book was sent back to its author. And to see where it went was often interesting, and even moreso, was to see the creativity expressed by those placing their profiles into it. It was a fascinating process that could become messy quite quickly should one not send a few out with every replied letter. Many would even come back from as far away as Japan, or even Germany.

But the friendships that formed out of this curious move were often very cordial, and fun. Especially when con season returned. One of the more notable events each year was to be able to meet some of these fellow writers, which naturally had its highs and lows.

In all this was a truly interesting time as it was also more possible than ever to hear about current shows, as well as swap tapes of series that either hadn’t been licensed for US distribution, or even favorites that the american market would never even consider. The fansub community was still in relative infancy, so it was also a peak time for the empowered few to take their Japanese skills, and shell out free cassettes featuring anime that for better or worse helped pave the path for how anime fandom was going to burst in the near future. I would even argue that prior to the internet’s massive impact on the anime industry as a whole (rise AND fall) , it was really up to a significant, and yet largely silent subculture within subcultures. It was how I was able to first begin reading Ginga Tetsudo 999 in Japanese, as well as see shows like Escaflowne, Gundam Wing, Wedding Peach, and many others before the companies began paying real attention. And the prime motivator for all of those I met throughout this time period was less about what one had, but rather who they could share their love of all of this with. There was no malevolence, or selfishness involved, it was merely enthusiasm.

It might have been slow, but in that came a sense of build-up. Of anticipation. Even if the show was so-so, there was something of an in-the bunker vibe that came from this kind of community that made every new major show something of an event. When was the last real time we’ve experienced this?

Long before I had a net connection, and a station to type from, it was all about pens, paper, glue, and a lot of motivation(oh, and stamps).

And it is something that I at times only wish to see more of as it has the world’s fans scramble for some kind of sense of community that feels lost at the moment. And perhaps this was all because of it’s rarity. Lack of access can do amazing things when one thinks about it. Perhaps it is here that answers exist. Of course there is no going back. But one can at least hope for the kind of long form love fans have for their interests, all in the name of finding others with the same affliction. Not in the name of a cure, but in the name of understanding.

 

Understanding via creation. Isn’t that what much of this is all about?

Analog Diaries Part 2: Thinking Of The Children

A product ripped from the blogs of recent days, The Analog Diaries is a series of recollections of a time before digital distribution. In the days when passion was gargantuan, and access was low. Created in memory of the days when all fans had on their sleeves were their desires amidst a media climate rivaling the Southern California Desert. It was a time of heroes, villains, fools & miles of tape. Welcome to the land of uncool.

How else could it have played out? A young life, within limited means.

There were only two real roads into the anime medium during those days. It was either what was provided for us on the tube, or at stores/swap meets where we could find an assortment of both authentic toy replicas as well as knockoffs emblazoned, “Made In Macau”. It was perhaps this one array of simple elements that led me down this strange road. And on that road contained a dozen or do bizarre detours, and speedbumps that only a few of us noticed. When you’re a kid, if it was cool to you, that’s all that mattered. And cable showings of edited & dubbed versions of Unico, or The Legend Of Sirius were rare. But when they came on, it was not unlike treasure landing at my feet. There was little keeping me from the tube when works like this were on. I even vividly remember catching the original Uchu Senkan Yamato feature on KTLA Channel five on a dreary Sunday morning at Grandma’s. Or how about the time’s I caught Gatchaman on mexican TV with much of the violence well intact? Better yet when Nausicaa came to cable in the form of Warriors Of The Wind? There was a quality to all of it that left me not merely surprised & inspired, but racked with longing for more.

Access…the ultimate dilemma.

And yet this very lack of access possibly even contributed to my later denial of admiration, and even disdain for it in just a few brief years later. Made all the more dramatic when my younger brother started on his weekly trips to the local video huts.

Continue reading Analog Diaries Part 2: Thinking Of The Children

The Analog Diaries Part 1: The Land Of Uncool

A product ripped from the blogs of recent days, The Analog Diaries is a series of recollections of a time before digital distribution. In the days when passion was gargantuan, and access was low. Created in memory of the days when all fans had on their sleeves were their desires amidst a media climate rivaling the Southern California Desert. It was a time of heroes, villains, fools & miles of tape. Welcome to the land of uncool.

Perhaps this post was inevitable. There seems to have been an array of toweringly large picket signs adorned with lights in place saying that I needed to share a little about the early days of one of my most cherished hobbies. So when this weekend finally came to pass, and I shared some of my concerns and hopes for the japanese animation industry, it only felt natural to share some memories of my own regarding the early days of the medium within the US. And very much like a brave few fans, my memories are borne out of what was available on television at the time. From catching the bug at a very early age with Star Blazers (Uchu Senkan Yamato) & Battle Of The Planets (Gatchaman), to of course the big guns of Robotech(Superdimension Fortress Macross, Superdimension Cavalry Southern Cross, Genesis Climber Mospeada), these along with a number of live-action tokutatsu shows aired on local affiliates helped solidify massive parts of my childhood. Even as the american mainstream embraced mere crumbs of these new & engrossing worlds, I was ready for an entire course by age 5!

Continue reading The Analog Diaries Part 1: The Land Of Uncool

Bridging The Gap: A Great Crossroads

In the wake of the fallout caused by a single blog post by none other than Bang-Zoom’s Eric P Sherman, it has occurred to me that the fandom has fallen into what can only be described as a cultural flash bomb, illuminating not merely the dying cries of a niche market, but what seems to be nature’s open-ended plan for media as a whole. It’s something that affects us far more than some may suspect, as the classic measures have heavily been in place over the last years, including cut staff, outsourced work, and desperate moves toward more fan-bait oriented material.

Like any anime diet, it is important to understand the tactful truth of a situation with good bedside manner, rather than an imagined scenario borne out of closed eyes, cynicism and fear. One must know how their body works before applying any kind of reductive cure-all to their living plan. For as few outlets are in existence that contain all the facts necessary to waylay the onslaught of raging fandom, there is a need for a semblance of solidarity in crucial times like these. And this goes for all subcultures, and not merely what brought you, the reader to this site. Media creation and consumption is mutating at an alarming rate. It can be said that the fate of the DVD was foreordained when it was made clear that amassed & copied kilobytes of data was the medium that contained the wonders of our favorite shows and movies come the late 90s. It was only a matter of time that piracy & the age of free would come knocking on virtually every doorstep, which is why it was so important that those in higher rungs of influence to embrace the technology, and shepherd it into a new age. But alas history has proven overwhelming for many, and we now live to see the end result.

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Lucky Star brings 10 Billion Yen In Revenue for Washimiya Town

Our correspondent Kona-chan (tukasakagami) just informed us that thanks to Lucky Star and its usage of the shrine at the Town of Washimyiya, Saitama, they have gained 10 billion yen in total thanks to the Lucky Star Phenomenon.

We all know that Otaku from all over Japan travels to the shrine thanks to the success of the anime. The highest number of visitors reached 450,000.

Knowing that aside from the New Years Pilgrimage, usually people don’t really care to go to shrines in Japan. But thanks to Lucky Star, the amount of visitors going to the shrine has been amazing.

A certain Mr. Sakata sold sweet buns to the visitors.

Cards of the Hiiragi sisters were sold for great success.

The number of people increased 50000 to 1400000 in ’08.

Just goes to show the power of anime, eh?

For rest of the facts and stats, see Manichi JP.