Category Archives: English Language Modern Visual Fandom

How I Watch Anime

This is a long form comment for this blog post. Chaos-kun does good work and I feel the call to pitch in:

I am genuinely interested in how other anime bloggers approach watching and writing about anime – so in a rare show of audience solicitation: let me know in the comments or in a post of your own how you go about this blogging malarkey.

Haruka & the Crabs

But, see, I don’t write about anime. I watch anime, and I write as a part of that experience. My horse is squarely in front of the cart. The funny thing is I also write for a site where the writing comes before the anime, or at best together. In short, writing, discussing, participating in the fandom for anime, may it be for a specific title or thing or the broader identity-political community and everything in between, greatly influences my watching.

It’s actually similar to how having a “theater room” and nice a TV (or projector or whatever) and sound system can have an impact in how you watch anime. In that sense you get out as much as you put in, except in a different way. For example, a long-time observation is that anime viewing in the west is a largely decontextualized exercise. It’s like how you might watch a comedy about an indigenous African interact with a Coke bottle in the ’80s, you can do the same with Americans and Europeans with Japanese cartoons. All I want to do is be able to not only have the option to re-contextualize my anime (like, for example, understand all the references; but also understand how Japanese fandom interact with anime and how anime answers back;  how anime is a part of their lives), but also be able to enjoy it for what it is, with or without context. I mean, all I seek is understanding. And it isn’t like I can’t enjoy Star Blazer or Robotech, I just can’t stop there.

To use the anime diet analogy (we’ll come back to this in a moment), it is the difference of being able to digest the nutrients of what you eat versus being able to understand the palettes excited by the food particles that went through your mouth, and write it down in floral and verbose texts to put on a blog post. The latter is why I write about anime; some anime is friggin awesome and I have to deal with what happens after I watch it. The former is kind of like the true enjoyment value of what I’m watching, or maybe the educational or thematic payload. This might be part of what makes B cinema fun to engage in, but I think the analogy stands to all kinds of other entertainment.

In that sense, I enjoy watching anime because of both. There are plenty of crap anime, guilty pleasure, plain pleasure, kind of guilty, tits and ass, or whatever other people call it. If it fits my constitution and I have the time for it, then I would watch it. This is also why I think of Africans and Coke bottles because you have people complaining how something is of poor nutritional health and others are saying it tastes great and have less filling. I’m like, geesus, nobody said you can’t drink light beer, and nobody is forcing you to. Except instead of light beer it’s just some late-night TV anime.

But when we go on the long haul, things are different. A balanced diet is the turning point between an obsession and a lifestyle. I say this partly as a warning–being in fandom for some time I’ve seen people falling in and out of it, and for all sorts of reasons. Some people may OD and burn out, but that may not always be a bad thing. For others because they have found balance in how to incorporate this anime hobby thing into the way they live, and are comfortable of the sacrifices they make for it, they are still doing this anime thing as if it’s 1989. I’m not judging, but each should judge within themselves to make the right decision. Well, rather, only if you are in the long haul and sufficiently distant and comfortable with the thing can you make a rational one anyway. Although for some the rational one might not even be the best one.

It’s like when I think about a friend who has a series of NAS and dozens of terabyte+ drives, who spent thousands of dollars and who-knows-how-many hours on his rigs, where a majority of that storage is just BakaBT seeds, I question the point behind the exercise. I’m not really judging, but at some point you can go beyond that point of balance. It’s just coming from someone like me, who at best downloads some fansubs just so I can delete them after I watch them (I’d rather spend money on anime goods than another HDD), it seems a little alien. But at the same time I feel my money is just going into a drain somewhere given the nature of what anime goods tend to be in this part of the world, where has you can always use a NAS. It’s like the difference of living to watch anime and living where anime serves as a specific aspect to the way you live.

[This is why I have no love for US DVD/BD releases outside of Aniplex and the occasional NISA boxes; they feel like POS. It’s like I can spend $400 on those R2 Fate/Zero BD sets and be like, “hey Mandarake is still selling them for 2/3 of what I paid them for” just because of what I actually bought in a physical sense–a finely, thoughtfully craft collector’s item. Not some wannabe, crappily crafted collector’s item that makes up far majority of such releases in R1. Because that sort of context matters not to Americans.]

But that is just more context and background. So when I make caps from CR for my too-legit-to-quit anime writing gig, I basically use the “view in dedicated window” feature, pause wherever, screen-cap the window (720), and paste it in a psd file in photoshop. In that psd file I have a pre-defined selection that crops exactly where the video is. The only real challenges in capping a CR stream is the seeking of a streaming file, and accidentally capping with the timestamp pop-in within the image. The occasional CR watermark may show up but I stopped giving that a damn. Oh, I guess sometimes I do turn off the subs, case-by-case.

This is a rather laborious method than hot-keying every-so-often to do a screen cap (or what some people do which is use some program to do it for you then sift through that), so instead I make sure I watch what I do episodic-blog at least more than once, so I already know which scenes I want to capture. Naturally, I don’t episodic blog much here, because just this one aspect of blogging kills any momentum I have about blogging anime. And when I did, I basically used a camera. Remember my Xam’d posts, guys?

After I’m done capping I use some simple Photoshop features to save for web, and resize/crop when it needs to be done. That’s basically it. And as you can see, FUNi’s streams is simply uncappable using this method, so to hell with that.

But the funny thing is, even with a file (of the right format) it still takes me a good amount of time to cap. I just take too much time thinking about that, and it doesn’t really make my life that much easier. Because all of that teeth pulling makes up my think time about writing about anime.

Ultimately, when I blog about anime it’s because there’s a specific idea or ideas I want to express, or some specific thing I want to say, like an observation or even a funny little detail. Without it, it feels really retarded to just have an opinion on something. I need some kind of context to put it all together. A story, a narrative, a gut feeling. Whatever it might be, that should what drives what you write.

The great anime for blogging, for me, are the shows that fills me with these things after I’m done watching them. The ideas come easy. I know where to screen cap. The words write themselves. So that tends to be the stuff I write about, because they fight the crud in the way of enjoying anime to the fullest. Also it would just seem I have more to say, and higher chance of something worthwhile to say about it. The opposite is true too, both in that some shows I watch don’t really fill me with ideas so I don’t write about them, and shows that I have a hard time watching and understanding typically are shows I don’t write about either.

As an aside, I love anime bloggers who are actually thoughtful about what they write. Almost as much as those who put sweat equity into what they write. Those people are good people.

I rotated this image...

The way I watch anime  has changed over time along with the nature of anime and the technological advances and changes. The way I write also reflects that change, but in ways that don’t show up in a typical blog post “made for consumption.” In a sense that makes my writing much harder to understand in a gut feeling kind of way, because it’s as if I’m cracking inside jokes to myself. Anime fandom has gotten younger and more vibrant, where as I am not so much. Compare to my younger self, today I am probably more interested in appreciating anime for what it is than the stuff surrounding it, but only because I’ve gotten beyond all that jazz. Ironic, I guess, but it’s more like there’s a fine line between worrying about blogging than worrying about having something worthwhile to say. Now THAT is ironic.

But that doesn’t make me immune to the minutiae. Right now, my number one worry is that dead Sony receiver of mine. The low-end receiver went kaput like 2 months past the warranty. LOL. The HDMI inputs don’t switch right anymore, and maybe this week I can score a low-end receiver for an appropriately low price. As you can see I don’t put a lot of stock in sound, but probably more than many, like everything else about my anime viewing habits.

So for now the annual introspection series can wait till next week. As you know, all I’m going to write about is The Idolm@ster anyway.


Re: Impossible Spring 2014

I am still watching new anime, and relatively speaking a lot, just less than I have been. I chalk it up due to work and these con blitzs. In some ways my trip in Feb is still draining me emotionally and man, I need a vacation where I just sit around and relax. Maybe I can just skip AX and take those days for OFA grinding.

Rabbits

Just going to piggy-back on Author’s list. This means also not inserting a table in this post. Uguu tables.

  • Rabbit House – I think it’s amazing that how tire I am typically, I am still trying to catch up to date on this. It is totally to Rabbit House’s credit such as the case. It might seem like a big endorse coming from me, which you will see why as you read through this list, and it probably doesn’t deserve it.
  • Puchimas S2 – I too will batch it later. I did start, and at some point I realized FUNi’s stream is not serving up the new ED for some reason and I’m like :v Screw this nonsense.
  • One Week Friends – Without Author’s baggage, I’m no more likely a friend of this kind of sap. This is all on me though; just not in the mood for this, which I’m sure is a competent production of feels generation.
  • Mangaka & Assistant – Comedy. The pacing could be a lot better, it needs to learn from SYD.
  • Kawaisou – I enjoyed what I’ve seen. But I need to watch beyond one episode…
  • Precure All Stars Selection – I don’t Precure.
  • The World Is Still Beautiful – This is the kind of show I would watch because it is easy, on CR, and is not terrible. The whole shoujo-ness is really embarrassing to see but otherwise it’s okay. Overall probably a wholesome recommendation.
  • Love Live S2 – Yes.
  • Broken Blade – Didn’t watch it the first time, no interest the second time.
  • Chaika – This is like, Scrapped Princess the anime remixed, right? Because it’s just like Scrapped Princess in terms of setup. And written by the same guy. That said the voice cast is pretty fun to watch and the story moves at a good clip. I think I’m one or two behind, and will probably drop, even if it is a nice change of pace given the usual light novel fare that gets animated these days.
  • Jewelpet – Ha, no.
  • Ping Pong – Best anime this season. I will go through the depths of FUNi hell to watch this. Problem is Ping Pong doesn’t excite me.
  • Kanojo ga Flag o Orareta – Not sure if I like this or Azuki Azusa anime more. Maybe needs more Yukarin. Probably will get cut if time runs short due to Acen and Anorth next couple weeks.
  • Escha & Logi – Nope. Speaking of which I have Totori on my Vita now so I’d rather pour the time into that.
  • Seikoku no Dragonar – Haven’t heard anything good about this.
  • Mahouka – Too slow, but intriguing. Unfortunately it puts me to sleep so it’s hard to make it even to the third episode.
  • Date A Live II – Passed on season one so…
  • Mekakucity Actors – I really want to watch this now that I dropped Nisekoi and Monogatari S2 looms like a distant rain cloud. But maybe it’s better for me and Shaft to take a break for a while.
  • Majin Bone – Nope.
  • Nanana – This is like Zvezda, a lot. Too uncanny. Also totally enjoying it right now.
  • Knight of Sidonia – In Netflix hell. Probably will marathon at some point.
  • Brynhildr – Will catch up. I liked the first episode or two I saw, but it’s a little slow. I just know it’s really rewarding LOL.
  • Daimidaler – Right on top of this nonsense.
  • Fairy Tail – Nope.
  • Blade and Soul – Not enough boobs.

There are other entries I am following, like Jojo and Mushishi and Cap’n Earth and Diamond Ace, (and dropped, like all these sports shows that I would at most watch one ep.), but let’s just say I would rather blog less and watch more anime because of the limit on time and energy. I can add that this Spring, I found myself wanting. There isn’t that one anime that’s got all the hype. Ping Pong is the only thing truly remarkable in a sea of the usual stuff, but it isn’t exactly the most hyped sort of thing. Maybe it’s also that I haven’t had the time to watch episode one of everything I wanted to see, so there’s something still out there. I still wouldn’t say this season is particularly bad or whatever, because I think it’s more me than it, so to speak, but I certainly wouldn’t disagree if someone else makes that claim.


Flower of Connectedness

Just going through the thousands of things in my various feeds and ran across this on Pikasha’s blog post:

Hana...hanaga...

At the guest reception at Sakuracon, we saw this adoring Nagahama’s table. He said it’s a hand-made gift from a fan. I hope you realize this, fan person!

Captain 'Murrica has his flower

Chocolates makes a great treat and souvenir in Seattle. I should’ve brought home some.


On Chokaigi 3

This screenshot is taken right after Nanjo announces her next song in the fripside performance: Shooting Star

What’s amazing about Niconico Chokaigi is that it isn’t just “Japanese internet vomited into one place” (Makuhari Messe being the barf bag), even if that in itself is a big deal in a “this is why you can’t have nice things” kind of way that I can write a lot on its own, but that someone overseas can “catch” the vision of it and live it up as if I was there. It is truly a wondrous application of the internet where joy can be spread across the world in real time.

So rather than just watching Chokaigi at home this year, I decided to get a couple friends together and watch it at the guy’s house whose most capable of doing it. This just means good internet setup, a good multimedia set up (he’s got a big TV and easy hook-up to his network), lots of power plugs, what have you. In the end we still needed a few things–more HDMI plugs would be nice, or some way to play R2 DVDs, or a better HTPC solution, but it turned out really well. You can watch the streams you all care about and talk about it, rather than let your English language comments lament in the sea of Nico memes, or make a mess of your twitter time line. Or private chat rooms wherever, which seemed to be the better venue in retrospect.

I thought Chokaigi is possibly the closest thing to an “anime con” in the sense that while it is an industry event, it dips its feet in fan culture much more so than most other industry events. It’s hard to explain or describe this gap and oddly enough we talked about it this weekend. Just what makes an AFA or an AX versus AnimeJapan? It’s hard to explain, I think, maybe because I haven’t been to all of those events, but it’s also the sort of content you promote at those venues. Maybe it’s more a SDCC or NYCC?

At any rate, through the myriad numbers of region-unlocked live streams, we were able to watch a ton of streams on Nico over the weekend and live it up real-time. This means watching that awesome anison concert on Saturday night/Sunday afternoon featuring IVE Special Unit. Takase Kazuya doing backup dancing with Maon for Ray is just amazing. In fact that whole IVE set is amazing. But what’s also amazing is to go on twitter and see the JP feeds I follow respond to the events I watch on the streams, and other non-JPers watching the same.

The number says Chokaigi 3, this year being the third Chokaigi, has about 7.6 million viewers across all its official feeds (and there were a bunch of those), which is just to say that’s only like, two thirds of total Chokaigi streams, if we go by streams not on its schedules as not official.

Anyway, just saying you can live up Chokaigi if the technology is there, the infrastructure is there. I didn’t pay the 2500 yen or whatever for Cho Party, but at that 525y entry price for premium, this is the cheapest way to brighten up a weekend. That and a VPN. And having the image of Mocho eating a Lawson generic pastry in your retina.

Update: Say hello to some Ps that we met earlier in the year:

Ps


On Con, Con Meta, and Meta Cons

Kelts wrote about the “festivities” around AnimeJapan, along with the industry events that happened around the same time. Just excerpting because why not:

And in the two days following AnimeJapan, the second annual Project Anime Tokyo was held in the flashy UDX building in Akihabara. The conference is designed to bring together overseas anime convention organizers with Japanese studios for communication and collaboration. The brainchild of Marc Perez, CEO of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, and Nobuyuki Takahashi, president of Studio Hard Deluxe, the first meeting was held by the SPJA in Los Angeles in 2012 at Anime Expo (AX), the largest anime convention in North America.

“One of the things we want to prove to the industry is that we (anime conventions) can promote them with very little investment,” says Perez. The conference is now a twice-yearly event held in LA and Tokyo alongside AX and AnimeJapan. “We also want convention organizers from around the world to share ideas and best practices. One of our goals is to eventually establish a joint charter, rules and regulations about things like bootlegging and piracy and so on.”

You know Project Anime? The con about cons? People sat in panels about cons and industry and press and what not. I think this might be what a commenter was referring to about SPJA. And the end is still just a matter of signaling and getting people to leverage available resources. Conventions may be an underutilized resource, if indeed they are still growing (and most signs point to yes, at least in America), so then there’s going to be some way where somebody can leverage these resources with Japanese businesses in a manner in which someone (likely in Japan), with all the access and resources available, come up and execute a more unified strategy to bring it to market, to market, to promote, to build and deliver.

Why do I keep saying this LOL.

But I’m not sure if this is something we can (even naively) say is good or not, because now we’re getting to the place where you have to roll up your sleeves and make your spreadsheets and decks sparkle like an idol on stage. And there will be winners and losers in the end of all of this, just a matter of how much, and how many.

Give the full article a read, I think it plays consistent with the overall theme about where fan money is going to overseas, what Japan is (or isn’t) doing about it.

I wonder if the  Anime Anime guy would get something out of Project Anime.

Anzu & co

PS. Studio Hard Deluxe? That sounds like an upgrade to Vertical, Inc.

PPS. Just how effective are cons at actually promoting sales of things? How about brand recognition and awareness? How about building up a fan base? It’s hard to say…