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Archive for the ‘Thursday Talking Points’ Category

I just sent off an e-mail to ACen’s Guest Relations department, responding to their request to have me as a guest at Anime Central 2010. I was invited last year as well, but due to family circumstances, I was unable to attend. This year, I intend to go and enjoy a convention for the first time in a while – I tend to spend far too much time staffing these things out of boredom, so it’ll be nice to sit in on an panel and shoot the breeze with fans.

But my question is, out of those of you who still go to anime conventions, why do you do it? Video rooms have long since gone the way of the dodo, so is it for the friends, for the guests, for the loot, or for some combination of the above?

Zetsubou shita!

(Note: I actually wrote this on Thursday and didn’t hit Publish. Pretty smart, huh?)

According to some solicitations dug up by Mania, Media Blasters is ready to bring the satirical Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei to DVD in May. While we’d heard whispers of this at Anime Expo last year, it’s good to see such a fun series getting the proper treatment. The question is, what kind of treatment will it get?

There’s no dub listed in the solicitation, and that leaves the door open for a subtitled-only release. It would certainly cut Media Blaster’s costs on such a niche title, but one of the fundamental problems with an English-language Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei remains: the cultural barrier between its jokes and an international audience. SZS is soaked in decades of Japanese media and entertainment, and with all the study I’ve put in, I still have to spend a lot of time searching out its more oblique references every time it flashes one of its trademark text-heavy screens full of references and in-jokes.

So here’s a question to you, making this the Thursday Talking Point: if you were watching a show like Gintama, Excel Saga, or Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei, where much of the comedy comes from references to other Japanese media you may not know, which option would you rather have?

– The jokes are translated literally, and have very extensive liner notes to take care of any lingering questions (Example: “They get along like monkeys and dogs” instead of saying “They get along like cats and dogs”)
– The jokes are localized to Western culture, with some notes and alternate audio/subtitling tracks for purists (Example: “Little Sister Fever” instead of “Imouto Moe”)
Excel Saga-style quick, on-screen liner notes to explain the obscure jokes, but letting the general flow continue as usual.

Omamori Himari, the show that just likes to service its fans.

Thanks, Photoshop, we needed you!

If you’ve watched anime enough, you know what “Steam Girls” are, even if you haven’t heard the term before. “Steam Girls” refers to a time-honored anime tradition: in the obligatory “onsen episode,” the animators show a bunch of naked girls in a bath house, but cover their naughty bits with artfully placed bands of steam to avoid the wrath of the TV censors. Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu has perhaps the most hilarious variation on this decades-old workaround, doing visual gymnastics with everything from butterflies to rubber duckies to keep the viewer from seeing anything truly indecent.

In recent years, advertising revenues have plummeted, and DVD sales have become more and more important to the success or failure of a TV series. Accordingly, the focus of steam censorship has shifted away from making the show fit for TV, and has become a way of telling pervy fans “Buy the show on DVD and we’ll take this digital steam away for your viewing pleasure!” This season, the censorship has hit new heights (or new lows, depending on who you talk to) with the shows Omamori Himari, Seikon no Qwaser, and Ladies versus Butlers!

This week’s episodes of Omamori Himari and Ladies versus Butlers were especially butchered, with giant ham-fisted white splotches all over the screen (see above – other sites have more screen caps, or you can see it yourself on Crunchyroll) that basically scream “I am a crippled version of this show!”

Do you think it’s smart business, or does it just annoy you these days?

Boy, 2006 seems like a long time ago.

This sign has probably hung over more drama than any soap opera.

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Tuesday Tunes – which was going to be I was originally going to be about the release of the Nanoha movie single – to talk about the highly publicized Anime Expo board brouhaha from the perspective of a man who’s spent years on the karaoke and press staff of the West Coast’s largest anime convention.

Staffers gossip like you wouldn’t believe, and my IM window has been busy today after last night’s news of a mass resignation from the Anime Expo Convention Committee. The news has been interesting, to say the least, and there’s a lot to dissect about why it happened and just how it affects the convention. Let’s start.

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One Mario having fun, one Mario as an excuse to run around in a bikini top.

Which Mario would you rather see? I know my answer.

The inspiration for week’s talking point comes from the flood of cosplay pictures that accompany every Comic Market, which remind me of how much of a cosplay snob I am. By “cosplay snob,” I don’t mean that I hold cosplayers to a high level of quality (though I do tend to poke fun at the more obvious corners they cut). No, I judge cosplayers by how much fun they’re having, and I think more people should as well.

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David asks: Would anime produced by an American company be considered anime (in our sense of the word)?

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Ratman, The World's Smallest Hero

Image from Inui Sekihiko

Welcome to the first-ever Thursday Talking Point! We have a pretty good question to start with, so let’s jump right in.

Meansdarling asks: What do you think of the American comic industry compared to the Japanese one? I don’t know enough to know where to compare the two. They seem very different, but I’m sure there’s times where ideas have cross-pollinated, or where they’ve worked together.

Dom says: This is a pretty tricky question, because we’re comparing two entire entertainment juggernauts against each other. There will be some overgeneralizations, but let’s dig right in to the heart of the matter.

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I swear I won't do this to you. Yeah...

Picture from 8bit on pixiv.

For the Thursday weekly, I’d like to make it a bit more interactive. Ask me a question! About the industry, about how something works, about why something doesn’t work, try me! I’ll answer it in a column format. It’s a bit late for me to do it for this Thursday, so there’ll be some spillover to tomorrow, but I’ll stockpile questions for the coming weeks as well. Ask away! I promise I won’t strangle you for even the stupidest questions, unlike certain witches in the above image.