Opinion Prone

My opinions, let me tell them to you.

Archive for the ‘ Editorial ’ Category

The release of Pokemon Black and White last week knocked a few more type combinations off the list of the unused, including Bug/Electric, Grass/Normal, Dark/Steel, and a handful of others. It also introduced the first pure-type Flying Pokemon (#641, right), so finally, after five generations, we have a pure-type Pokemon for every type.

Still, there are a whopping 44 type combinations that still haven’t been used, which is ridiculous considering there are only 153 possible combinations of the 17 types (136 two-type combinations + 17 single types). This number can be reduced to 32 if we take out all the missing half-Normal types, like Normal/Dark, Normal/Electric, etc., but that’s still a big percentage.

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Tokyo is a pretty expensive place — it is especially bad when 1) it’s your first time visiting, and 2) you are an otaku. You are in Glorious Nippon, the Weeaboo Mecca! There is stuff that you want to buy everywhere. It’s pretty overwhelming.

On the bright side, I think few are naive enough or hopelessly optimistic enough to think that they won’t be spending crazy amounts of money on merchandise while in Japan. On the down side, even those who come prepared with money to spend and a budget to spend it on can get caught up in the insane amount of stuff they encounter while they’re there. There are a few places that almost require a visit, but there are also places that you’ll happen upon almost unexpectedly. Those will get you, those unexpected places full of impulse buys. Here are the top five money-sinks for weeaboo in Tokyo from my own personal experience:

5. Akihabara

Akihabara is the most obvious place. You go there knowing full well that it’s a huge fantard paradise. You go there expecting to see stormtroopers dancing in the streets and flash mobs breaking out in “Hare Hare Yukai” in addition to the maid cafes, manga cafes, pachinko parlors, the billion electronics stores, arcades, and seven-story buildings filled basement to roof with nothing but anime merchandise. Yes, that is buildings, plural, all seven to nine stories tall. Filled with anime merchandise. Seriously. It’s like the biggest convention dealer’s room you’ve ever seen. Multiplied by some obscene number. Sure, buildings in Tokyo all tend to be tall and narrow, so one floor might not constitute as much, but once you’re climbing the stairs in your fourth or fifth building, the magnitude of it all really starts to sink in.

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I think it’s a little pointless to make “best of the decade” lists when a majority of the series you’ve experienced, period, were from this decade. Excepting the random movies and shows I saw dubbed in Chinese or whatever as a kid and those from the glory days of Toonami, most of what I’ve seen debuted post-1999, including pretty much everything currently on my favorites’ list (not that I ever really figured that out).

So instead of that, here are nine series I kind of meant to watch at some point during the last ten years and never got around to, either because I was too busy or too lazy or too cheap or forgot about it. Maybe I’ll get around to some of these eventually, but some of them will probably just slip on further and further into the back of my mind where I’ll forget about them like I’ve probably already forgotten about a dozen other things I intended to watch at some point.

These are in no real order.

1. Voices of a Distant Star (2002)

After seeing 5 Centimeters per Second, I was very interested in seeing Makoto Shinkai’s other works. I was going to include The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004) in this as well, but I think I’ve actually seen a few minutes of that, either of the beginning or the end, I don’t remember. Voices of a Distant Star seems to have a theme similar to 5 Centimeters, which is depressing in that I can relate too well, but it also reminds me a little of PLANETES, which was considerably less depressing, perhaps because it slipped in a lot more comedy. Either way, this movie is definitely something I still intend to check out eventually. I really don’t know why it’s so hard for me to sit down with movies; I never feel like I have enough time.

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You’ve noticed it. Those series’ titles, those band names, and those Japanese celebrities with very particular spellings.

CANAAN is CANAAN, all caps, and not Canaan. LUCKYSTAR has that star in the middle if you can manage to remember the keyboard code for it. LoveCom has a different star, though many will make do with Love*Com. s-CRY-ed is not Scryed. NieA_7 is not anything but. Baccano! has an exclamation mark. L’Arc~en~Ciel is L’Arc~en~Ciel and not L’arc-en-ciel or Larc en ciel. They are tildes, not hyphens, and make sure you capitalize that ‘a’. Dir en grey fans spot the new and the ignorant by chastising those that write Dir en Grey or, heaven forbid, Dir En Grey. Yoshitoshi ABe always has that ‘b’ capitalized; he is never Yoshitoshi Abe. Someone once told me that hyde, the vocalist for L’Arc~en~Ciel, is spelt in unassuming lowercase when associated with that particular band, but spelt as HYDE when associated with his solo work. This doesn’t always seem to be the case, but that’s one hell of a confusing thing to remember, huh?

You're doing it wrong!

You're doing it wrong!

Being a grammar nazi and supremely anal retentive in general, of course I always do my best to ensure I’m spelling things the way they were intended to be spelt, but sometimes, it’s just a pain in the ass, and sometimes, it’s just impossible to tell.

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Wow. This is a topic I’ve intended to write about for a while, but I never imagined that it might cause such rampant drama across the community. Of course it had to start while I was out of town. I’ve only skimmed through a majority of the posts made thus far about fanart and artist attribution, but the number of comments and trackbacks to WAH‘s original post, as well as his two follow-up posts lead me to think that just about every possible opinion has already been shared. For the most part, I agree with WAH, and I’m glad to see that a lot of people seem receptive to the idea of attribution. Still, there might be a few other things that are worth bringing up.

Art by Kiriska; I drew this.

Art by Kiriska; I drew this. Yeah, yeah, yeah~.

I don’t really use fanart here. Almost everything I use is official art and the occasional screenshot, and hell, most of my earliest posts had no images at all. Official art and screenshots, regardless of artist, generally belong to the series’ company, which is easy to look up, so I don’t particularly feel the need for accreditation there. The fact that official art is usually purposed for mass distribution is also a good argument. Fanart, on the other hand, is always tricky business, even outside of the aniblogosphere (or perhaps, especially outside of the aniblogosphere?). Legality aside, it’s a question of common courtesy and manners. Regardless of your thoughts concerning your own work, be it your own fanart, writing, quotes, coding, or whatever, there’s no point in pushing your ideologies onto others. Just because you don’t care about being credited for your creations doesn’t mean other people can’t be touchy about their stuff. It’s their right to be touchy if they want to be.

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The fansub and scanlation debate is an old debate and not really something I feel like getting into. This post isn’t really about that, though it’s certainly related. What I want to address is more general: in this economy especially, how much of the entertainment people buy have they already sampled? How much of it do they decide to pick up spontaneously, as they’re browsing through the store aisles?

Read it before you buy it?

Read it before you buy it? Or buy it before you read it?

For anime, how many of your DVDs contain series you haven’t seen at all until you bought them? The number of series being broadcast on television has been dwindling for a while, but more and more companies are streaming their goods online, in whole or part, so there are still plenty of legitimate ways of seeing a series at least partially before buying it (and in addition to DVDs, there are now also budding download-to-own schemes for various platforms). Does anyone walk into the store without an idea of what they want to get? Does anyone just decide to buy a title coincidentally sitting next to the one they intended to get, thinking that it kinda looks interesting?

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As is my routine now, I reread Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last night in preparation for the movie, which debuted at midnight, but which I’ll not be seeing until this weekend. It was either my third or fourth time reading it. I know I reread it two summers ago just before the final book’s release, but I can’t remember if I’d reread it another time between that and when the book itself released (HBP is the sixth book). I think Half-Blood Prince is probably my least favorite of the series. I’ve always felt that my opinion of Harry Potter started to sour a little after the fourth book, after which I felt that J.K. Rowling lost a lot of focus and inserted many unnecessary and pointlessly distracting things when she should have been focusing on more pressing matters —  so I guess the sixth book would be an accumulation of those disappointments. I don’t think my impressions changed much during subsequent rereading(s) of HBP.

So I guess I’m kind of surprised that this time, I think I liked it much, much better.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (US cover)

(This post contains no spoilers for any Harry Potter book or movie.)

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So this has always bothered me. A lot of anime, manga, and Japanese video game characters are fourteen or fifteen years old. Makes sense, that’s the primary target audience. That in itself isn’t what bothers me — what bothers me is the huge, huge difference there usually is between the portrayal of the fourteen-year olds and the fifteen-year olds. At fourteen, characters are depicted as innocent, naive, and both childish and childlike. In some cases, I find their behavior applicable to people as young as eight, which is kind of ridiculous. At fifteen, characters become much more mature; they are tougher, hardened to some extent, and a little more serious. Usually, I can very easily imagine those characters being seventeen or eighteen, or sometimes even in their early twenties. Does such a dramatic shift really happen between the two ages?

One year difference?

One year difference? Riiiight.

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I hate spoilers.

For things you actually care about, once revealed, you can never unhear or unread or unsee. It’s incredibly frustrating to be working your way through some material only to have someone blather important plot points to you or inadvertently reveal that a certain character dies later on. As such, I’ve always taken to seeing movies opening night or reading books the day they come out because otherwise, I don’t feel like I can freely browse the Internet until I do.

A little extreme, maybe, but it’s dangerous being a Harry Potter fan when there are trolls roaming the webz with “***** KILLS **********!” flashing in their forum signatures. I’ve never attended a midnight book release for Harry Potter for the same reason — drive-by spoilers. Some people have nothing better to do. I actually blocked a few friends temporarily on Facebook and AIM for the week leading up the Deathly Hallows‘ release because I had zero tolerance for the various nonsense and fake spoilers they were spouting. Spoilers are serious business! Who are you to deprive someone of an experience?

What?! He dies? Noooo!!

What?! He dies? Noooo!!

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So at Heroes Con this weekend, the Longbox was revealed. The popular analogy of the moment is that it’s like iTunes, but for comics — that is, it will serve both as a platform for companies to distribute their comics for download and as the software consumers would use to read their downloaded comics.

Longbox for comic viewing

It has some very Apple-inspired aethestics.

I’ve written about the idea of digital distribution of comics before, but had only considered a web-based platform because that was what most companies seemed to be experimenting with at the time. And really, I think one of the other reasons I hadn’t considered the iTunes model before is because I couldn’t really see the comics (or manga) industry ever agreeing on a universal solution, especially considering how haphazard and all over the place everyone’s digital model is for anime and television streams and downloads. And yet, how convenient and elegant it would be if they could agree? If you could find all your comics in one place for the super cheap price of $0.99/issue? It’s just about perfect.

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