krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
A piece on Anime News Network described the president of a Japanese television network speculating about artificial intelligence taking over the production of anime. I have to admit one of my first reactions was that this felt so much one of those "one of these days" cyber-utopian visions that there did seem an edge of "trying to provoke a strong reaction just for the sake of attracting attention" to the posting of the article itself. Anime fandom, at least that part of it I can follow, does seem to have a strong undercurrent of disdain for what computer animation has worked its way into the industry. An AI-produced work might look like it was drawn by human hands (assuming tastes don't change at last by then, even if only by the fandom itself turning over), but I can still imagine other people looking ahead with specific aesthetic concerns for the future, given how ready some seem to make accusations about "stuff produced by formula." Beyond that, there's the whole deal with and issue of "sharing the profits of production out to as few people as possible"; the piece made a point of mentioning the familiar worries about how little money gets to the actual people with the pencils.

I can manage to think beyond even all of that, though, and there seems at least the possibility what might begin as "expert systems in the hands of the existing producers" might yet wind up "available to everyone." There, I could remember an online anime magazine from years ago (even if not which one it was to try and delve into the Internet Archive) that had looked ahead with apparent enthusiasm to the moment when people will just have to tell computers what they want to get entertainment tailored to them. The thought of everyone becoming more-or-less inarticulate moguls with endlessly patient creative staffs at their disposal can seem to hold the solution to some very familiar fan woes; the only cost would seem to be collective experiences dissolving into a certain kind of solipsism.
krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
As I worked on my latest "quarterly review" of anime watched at the beginning of last month, in commenting on how impressed I'd wound up with the series Nichijou I did contemplate how I'd also been quite impressed by some other series I'd only seen via the underhanded method of "fansubs," and then added the comment that in some cases series that had impressed me that way had actually been licensed for official subtitled release over here, and yet sometimes watching through those discs had wound up with ominous sensations of feeling like an "obligation." The sudden news that Funimation had managed to license Nichijou (they've recently released two other series from Kyoto Animation Bandai Entertainment did get to release before being shut down) therefore didn't have to dredge up that ambiguous impression from very far. It might not be a strange personal record in terms of "least time passed," but it does sort of feel like one.

I'd at least like to hope impressions that Nichijou's comedy can be enjoyed over again will turn out all right, although there I'm reminded I now have five volumes of the original manga waiting to be read; at the moment I'm trying to concentrate on working my way through another manga series I'd piled up a stack of thick volumes of before getting around to it. I suppose it turned out Vertical getting to license it wasn't just a singular occurrence.
krpalmer: (anime)
Not interminable limbo, then, or even that broken at last only by final dismissal, but news of another tomorrow. It is nice to hear there should be an eighth omnibus published in English of the Viking manga Vinland Saga, even with the temporizing I did at the end of the seventh that "this wouldn't be the worst place to leave off." I'll just have to wait and see where and how things go.
krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
While it may have snowed here last night, making the ground much whiter than I can remember it being for a lot of the winter, one however-skewed sign of "spring" is a new season of anime series starting up. I'm still in that evanescent early stage where I can at least consider watching the series as they stream, hoping they won't be dismissed by everyone else. For one series in particular, I was contemplating going a bit further to take it in; I hadn't quite expected the invitation to go that much further.

Seeing news the Japanese discs for the new Macross Delta series had been listed with English subtitles did remind me how the Macross Frontier movies had been released with them, and how I had gone to the point of ordering the box set from Japan as "I value it that much higher than these other titles" converged with "I'm not just spending money on an object I'd put on a shelf and never actually watch," although I tried not to make a big deal of that afterwards the way a certain number of importing English-language anime fans sometimes seem to do. It is, of course, the "end-run" way around the perpetual licensing enigma some people are very intent on assigning exclusive blame for; it's also going to get very expensive to buy all the discs the series is going to be split up among. I remembered all the times having got my hands on "fansubs" of an anime series would make me buy the licensed release before getting around to seeing the series, just because that was the right thing to do (even if I could suppose some insisting it was that much more righteous to import the Japanese releases). The simple, cheap, and unexciting solution is not to watch the Macross Delta fansubs. That, though, does happen to be a lot like what happens quite often with me.
krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
When Kodansha Comics announced they'd be publishing Makoto Yukimura's Vinland Saga manga in English, another "if only you could see this too" title got ticked off the list. A number of years ago now, I had been quite impressed by his Planetes manga, one of the first to leave me with a wistful "now what else can live up to this?" feeling on finishing it; hearing he had moved from the future to the past and was working on a manga about Vikings did get my attention. Time passed without a licensing announcement for it, though, and after enough time, when it was mentioned it was on that metaphorical list I just mentioned.
Ups and downs )
krpalmer: (anime)
Not that long after pondering "out loud" whether there are more anime and manga fans on this side of the Pacific than I'd supposed, the Answerman column on Anime News Network did happen to address a question like the somewhat more specific one I've wondered about, "how many people in Japan watch anime on TV without buying the discs afterwards?" Any reminder there are more fans of anime and manga in Japan than the few thousand implied by the usual sales figures (and that our own tastes don't necessarily "outweigh" theirs) seems welcome, even if the "they have to be higher than that" numbers I once thought had to be out there remain elusive.
krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
The "Monster Musume" girls looking out from the magazine racks at the nearby bookstore meant another issue of Otaku USA magazine had arrived. I buy it regularly, "I can start at the beginning, so I will" having led straight into "it's the last English-language North American anime magazine--might as well do my bit for it." It could also be, though, that just what it covers and how seems a "known quantity." As I pulled a copy out, however, one of the cover blurbs caught my attention.

"Do We Matter?
Geek media is huge, but what about anime?"

This was something different. Getting to the article "Do We Count?" by Daryl Surat about how "As 'geek' culture assimilates, 'otaku' remain outcasts," I spent some time mulling it over, and as I did I just happened to see an online piece (on a site that does at least try to mix in some coverage of manga, and even an occasional piece on anime, in with its "comics" news) making a similar point about manga, one pointed out in a few other places afterwards.
I was interested in what Surat would say, but... )
krpalmer: (smeat)
The news some months ago that Viz had licensed the long officially-unavailable-over-here Sailor Moon caught even my attention; long years of history came to mind. I have a recollection of having first seen a bit of it on TV just before first leaving for university, where I saw some posters not that long after arriving and joined the anime club to at last see more of the stuff I'd seen watching Robotech ten years before, and in connection to that I sorted out (much quicker than with Robotech) that Sailor Moon had also come from Japan. Those first glimpses of it pretty much convinced me I wasn't in the target demographic, though (the line from the song "One Week," "the boom anime babe that makes me think the wrong thing," can seem to cut a little close), and the unimpressed opinions the anime club had about it didn't quite seem to just dwell on the "localization." Within a year or so, though, I was getting the sense that whatever disdain those who held themselves in the know had had to start with, the show really was managing to broaden the anime-watching audience over here. Before I'd left university, the club had just happened to show a "fansubbed" short subject attached to one of the Sailor Moon movies when I was there to see it. Beyond that, though, I still didn't count myself as very familiar with something "everyone else" seemed more so, although when a certain memorable MSTing gaped at Sailor Moon and Daria getting crossed over into a "technothriller" I realised I knew more about the Japanese animated series than the American.
Not that long afterwards, all things considered... )
krpalmer: (anime)
Solicitations for anime discs that'll be on sale next year usually catch my attention right about now, provoking a few mixed feelings about time's endless rush. Beyond that, though, one of Sentai Filmworks's "we'll surprise you by only saying we've licensed this title right when you can start ordering it" announcements did get my attention. I only watched a few episodes of the mecha anime series Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse when it was streaming; everyone else seemed to get annoyed pretty fast with it (some even for the specific reason that it didn't measure up the "visual novel" computer games it was based on), and that seemed to sap my desire to keep watching it until, when I went on vacation for several weeks, I came up with what seemed a clever explanation for why I was about to drop it and didn't return to it after getting back. That should have been the end of it with stacks and stacks of other stuff to watch, but I suppose I got to feeling sorry for the series for not being what other people wanted to see (even as that might have added to a persecution complex built on the thought of "modern mecha" series getting squeezed between people who aren't interested in the genre to begin with and people whose tastes were set with series made two to three decades ago and can't accept more "modern" touches folded in), and now that a second, altogether unexpected chance stands open I'm toying with the thought of taking it.

The obvious objection there does seem to be there was always a "second chance open" in that the streaming video was still available... but I suppose that in this, and in a few other cases, there's a difference between buying and watching. There are certainly some series I feel sorry for but haven't bothered to buy, in any case. For example, while I feel sorry for the unpopularity of Stella Women's Academy, High School Division Class C3 Club for ending up something different from what it started as but struggling to wrap everything up and I'm contemplating buying it (although there's a contrary opinion or two out there), I feel sorry for Fractale for starting with grand promises but not managing to deliver just about anything such that its director wound up a figure of derision, but never got around to buying it.

All of this does mean discs piling up, though. Perhaps I'm beginning to grow more level-headed at the thought of more Japanese companies directly entering the North American market and "harmonizing" their disc prices with those in Japan to help protect their home market from "reverse importation" because I'm starting to think it won't be all bad to just save the money to buy an exceptional standout every year or so and otherwise make do with the streaming video that seems there to increase the pool of potential "cost is no object" purchasers as much as possible. If, on the other hand, streaming video also passes away for some unimaginable reason, I suppose I'll start watching old movies or reading more books.
krpalmer: (anime)
I noticed the announcement of a Kickstarter intent on raising almost six hundred thousand dollars to make a "pilot episode" for a science fiction anime series and wondered how close it would get to its goal, then perhaps didn't dwell too much on it until, in an aside to a related discussion, I noticed someone talking about how the rate of donations had picked up in the final days and the project was getting pretty close to being funded. All of a sudden, the thought of contributing and getting to see just how this latest experiment in "crowd-funding" would turn out got to me despite the reproachful awareness of "only pitching in now," and I went and added a pledge. Later that day, "Under the Dog" reached its funding goal with time to spare.

One just-earlier Kickstarter with a similar intention but different results was sticking in my mind, though; it might have played a small role in my wondering about just what would happen and holding back. Of the two large anime discussion communities I delve some depth into, I did notice some people on The Fandom Post's message board being quicker than anyone in the Anime News Network talkback thread to gloat about how the "Robotech Academy" Kickstarter had ground to a halt and was shut down well before its actual deadline. There were, however, also people on the official Robotech site forum dwelling on how Under the Dog showed more, and more interesting, preliminary work. I do just wonder a bit about whether for some people Under the Dog was more appealing because its creative team didn't bring as much of a "track record" to mind.

How the episode's worth of animation now crowd-funded will turn out is something I'll have to wait to see. How much further crowd-funding can be stretched is a question I continue to wonder about; at some point, the compromises of seeking funding from deeper pockets may have to be made. As much as promises of the show being "old-fashioned" in a good way appealed to people, I can think that if they want to see three anime movies that feel that way to me right now, they might try Mardock Scramble. Nevertheless, the accomplishment does seem something.
krpalmer: (anime)
I can suppose "dreaming in anime" is "a thing," but also something that to make a big deal of will make you seem "obsessed." However, dreaming about the way it's sold on discs and what happens after those discs are sold does seem sort of different...

Waking up, the impression that an exchange program had been announced for the box-set release of Zeta Gundam managed to stick with me long enough to transfer into waking memory. That that particular release would sneak up on me dreaming caught my attention. I have the impression the combined scandal of the opening and closing themes being left off the DVDs sold over here and the subtitles seeming sort of inaccurate marked the end of a golden age to some fans, and certainly did seem to throw Bandai Entertainment into the unfortunate role of the "R1" company that could always find a way to mess up its most eagerly awaited releases until the day it was shut down, but I also have to admit I watched through Zeta Gundam, and then a second and a third time just trying to confirm the personal impression, with the feeling I'd been oversold on it beforehand. On the other hand, I'd watched through all seven Blu-Rays of Gundam Unicorn just the week before, and felt better about it in particular at the end.

In any case, I somehow don't have the impression the dream included news of the replacement DVDs including the opening and closing themes, which made what you would get sort of elusive. Nor did it seem to identify just who you'd be sending away to, which eliminates any sort of prophetic edge. It was still odd enough to be remembered, though.
krpalmer: (anime)
In another last flurry of contributions, the third and concluding DVD set from the online streaming and crowdfunding site Anime Sols for the series Dear Brother has been funded. It's a relief for me to know this series should be completed; after all, I'd actually found the time to watch the first episode of the series to get a first sense of motivation for contributing to it. At the same time, it was about as nervewracking a wait as the one for the final volume of Creamy Mami. If the site does get around to pledge drives for other anime series in the future (it didn't start anything new in these final days), I fear I may be a bit more inclined to rest on my laurels in general cases.
krpalmer: (anime)
Reading an interview on Anime News Network with Jonathan Clements about a "history of anime" he'd just written piqued my interest. While I'm not as familiar with his previous work as some, the thought of adding another volume to my small number of actual books about anime did interest me. I went ahead and ordered it, but even as I did I might have been wondering just what I would be getting into, whether I would be informed and interested or finish with the uncomfortable feeling of having read a very extended introduction to the sort of "portents of doom" forecasts made by those who seem convinced the stuff they're interested in isn't being made any more.
Numerous parenthetical asides )
krpalmer: (anime)
After three successful pledge drives on the streaming-and-crowdfunding site Anime Sols for the series Creamy Mami, I had supposed the fourth and final set would have a fairly easy time getting funded. After all, the site had even sent out the DVDs for the first set and proved there are results available (although it then had to send out replacement discs for one DVD with malfunctioning subtitles). However, as the deadline got closer and closer and the set was still thousands of dollars short, I started to worry, and also contemplated how there had been a special (American) Thanksgiving deal for the third pledge drive, where every pledge would count for two pledges, and whether this might have let a few people drop out of the grind.

Things started to pick up in the very last days, though, and I even got to the point of increasing my own pledge to the point of a "get your name on the DVD" promise. With hours left, the set reached its goal, and now I just have to wonder about the final Dear Brother set. It gets nervewracking, and it also gets expensive. There's also the little wrinkle that I haven't actually gotten over the name (and the thought that least other people want it more than I do) and watched any of Creamy Mami yet; it at least seems possible I won't be left in the middle, though.
krpalmer: (anime)
In posting about thoughts of taking a big plunge and importing a Blu-Ray set of the Macross Frontier movies with English subtitles, I suppose I had a sense I was "committing myself" in some fashion to doing that in the end and not just letting the thought lapse. There was an initial difficulty, though, in that the set has a Playstation game included, which means that the Japanese Amazon site won't export it. In overhearing the discussions of fans much more experienced at this sort of thing, I noticed someone saying he would place an order with CD Japan just to be certain, but cancel it once the Japanese HMV site had its entry up with its better discount. I just waited for it to turn up on the HMV site, even as I noticed the number of copies on CD Japan tick downwards...

Then, I was overhearing comments that HMV Japan had sold out of its own allotment seemingly as soon as it had been available. I grappled with thoughts like "well, if they don't want my money..." and how I'm at least hoping the set of figures I ordered will show up (and also worried someone somewhere would attach specific blame for this to the regular denunciations of Harmony Gold), and even began to put words down to sum up the experience. Then, I reminded myself again there was a third site offering the Blu-Ray set for export, and if I wasn't as familiar with it the link had at least been posted to the message board. In a sudden burst of activity, I set up an account and filed my own preorder. Now, I just have to wonder how many other people have resorted to this last choice and if I'm already lost in that rush. Still, I can add a bit more to "at least I thought about it this time" now.
krpalmer: (anime)
After contributing to a DVD set on the "crowd-funding" site Anime Sols to join in the final rush and try to ensure its grand experiment didn't come to an end right away, I suppose my completionist urge kicked in and I contributed to the second set of the same series, still feeling sort of awkward about mentioning the title "Creamy Mami." (This feeling was sort of alluded to in Mike Toole's latest column for Anime News Network.) It might be similar to how I'd acquired "fansubs" of series I supposed wouldn't be licensed over here only for them to be picked up after all, whereupon I bought their DVDs sight unseen. However, funding for the second set seemed to stall out after a while, and I started worrying about whether it was worse to not have anything at all or to have something incomplete as various people started clucking on message boards about how it would have been better to have at least shipped the first set out before asking for follow-up contributions and an actual Kickstarter to put Bubblegum Crisis on Blu-Ray easily racked up its necessary amount...

There was a rally in the final days once again, though, and the second set squeaked over its goal with two hours to spare. What will happen for the third set I don't know, but at least this wasn't a "one-time only" success. I've also noticed another set on the site is getting pretty close to success, and I even watched the first episode of it before deciding to contribute. "Dear Brother" is at least less embarrassing to mention, and I've noticed it described an earlier and more melodramatic version of "Maria Watches Over Us," elegant and refined interactions among high school girls that just might be read one way or another. The comparison seemed apt to me, but I was inclined, with a few of the older students, to remember the Mystery Science Theater 3000 "riff" "She's an attractive man, isn't she?"
krpalmer: (anime)
When I was off on vacation, I heard that a project I'd been following news of for a while, the "crowd-funding" streaming site Anime Sols, was now under way. Because I was on vacation, though, I didn't have the bandwidth to check out the first episodes of older anime series there before deciding to pledge towards them being released on DVD, and by the time I'd got back from vacation I was starting to notice comments wondering whether any of the series listed on the site would reach their targets. At that point, finding the time to watch new series on the merely streaming site Crunchyroll and discs already in my collection seemed the usual challenge for me, so I just let events take their course and worried a bit as the first pledge times on Anime Sols started expiring well short of their targets.

When it was announced that a new episode of Little Witch Academia was being crowd-funded on Kickstarter itself, I decided to put in money for that; the episode had met its first goal in its first few hours, well before I made my own pledge, and I suppose I meditated a little glumly on the contrast. In what seemed the final days, though, all of a sudden one of the pledge totals on Anime Sols started climbing, and I started noticing comments it just might make the goal. With that, the simple thought that I ought to help out, just to keep this new possibility from a dispiriting oblivion, got strong enough for me to put money down. I still hadn't watched any of Creamy Mami yet, the title being the sort of one you feel embarrassed just to mention (it's apparently an old-fashioned "magical girl" anime, anyway), but it was the closest to meeting its goal.

As it turned out, that first series did reach its goal with time to spare. Just when I was thinking "at least that's something," another series put on a rally and squeaked past, this time without my thinking to contribute. The "glass half empty" perspective might be that these first successes are only for parts of their series, and there's always a dropoff from one volume to the next, but the "glass half full" perspective might argue that the site is a little more known now, and has at least proved it can accomplish something.
krpalmer: (anime)
Now, it turns out the Jmanga official online manga site is closing down, and those people who aren't lamenting how it was a chance to compensate creators for offbeat and niche-interest stuff (short of importing untranslated volumes, of course) are making knowing comments about the whole "you can only read your purchases while the site is still in operation" angle. I never quite got around to getting over that hurdle myself; I took note early on of how there were listings for Macross Frontier manga volumes on launch (and there still are as I write this), but the option to buy apparently never developed, and I also took note later on of promises that some of the titles cut short when Del Rey's manga arm was turned into Kodansha Comics would be made available, but again the titles I was particularly interested in didn't seem to be among them. That does sort of limit what I can say on the topic; I'm inclined to muse a bit on my "not quite getting into manga as much as some others have." Whether something giving more of a sense of possession can come along is a question, but there's also the troubling possibility of "taking their ball and going home."
krpalmer: (anime)
An interesting guest, usually one involved in the anime industry, on the Anime News Network's podcast will get my attention, and an interview with Robert Napton, there for "the last days of Bandai Entertainment," seemed to qualify. Another podcast a few years ago now featuring Chad Kime from Geneon shook up the "received wisdom" I had about that particular now-defunct company once releasing anime on this side of the Pacific, and I knew I had "received wisdom" about Bandai Entertainment too...
A new perpective )
krpalmer: (Default)
A little while ago, I admitted that every so often I start to agree with the criticisms of "older translators" about the ostentatious inclusion of Japanese terms in anime and manga translations, and named Frederik Schodt and Matt Thorn as those translators. It was only on hearing a piece of unfortunate news that I thought I could have mentioned a third name, that of the just-deceased Toren Smith. I hadn't thought of him, perhaps, because he'd made his criticisms a while ago, drawing back from the manga industry. With a bit of thought, though, I was able to remember one of the very first manga paperbacks I bought had been worked on by his Studio Proteus, back when I thought of it as "poor man's anime"; it was the best way I could think of to get to better know the anime referenced in a significant MSTing I'd come across early on.

It is possible Smith's more far-ranging criticisms were easier to disagree with than a simple "isn't it better to appreciate stories and visuals than to dwell on their foreignness?", and there certainly seemed to be advantages to the new era Smith drew back from. Still, the thought "it was too soon" outweighs just about everything else.

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