Category Archives: English Language Modern Visual Fandom

Sword Art Online TV Thing

Lizbeth & Silica

So today the news of a SAO TV adaption by a US media company was out, which I am sure is not coincidental to the fact that last week was SDCC. Or this/these kinds of things are happening out there. In search of media gold, Hollywood is asking people to ship them their mines. Japan happens to be actually pretty good at doing exactly this, so why not pick through their trash for some variety for a change?

And why not? I think it’s a good fit. Fire up that Ouroboros!

Op-Ed: Wow, You Guys Really Will Read Anything We Write

Re: AnimeMaru.

I think it’s just fair to make this point.

yep, nautical anime with trysail gori...

I want to also make another point: People do watch all kinds of trash, because the large number of people with access to free anime or nearly-free anime (legal or not), and the amount of free time these people have for a hobby made up of fans that are under 30yo as its largest demo. I think that’s pretty much a well known and understood aspect of this fandom.

The same can be said of people who are still blogging anime this day and age.

PS. AnimeMaru is a parody site. Fake news for lels and satire, etc. Omonomono is real news for lels and satire, in case you want to know the difference.

Let’s Beat That Dead Horse: Always Debate about Fansubbing

As you get older and if you keep up the good habit of self-reflection and introspection, the various nuggets of wisdom of the world may become crystallized into notions in your mind. It’s not a guarantee but it happens to most, sooner or later. The manifestation of wisdom, to you, might be like a light bulb that finally turned on inside your head. But good luck trying to find words to describe it, or better yet, convince those younger so they too can share in the glow. This difficult task tend to have a low success rate, which is why when we go through this exercise, it make sense to widen your audience. If your success rate is 1%, maybe it helps to involve at least 100 people?

Joke aside, I read ANN Forums so you don’t have to, this week, on Justin’s column on pro-sub versus fan-sub. It’s a good soapbox, but it feels like his concern has mainly to do with people complaining about translations. The resulting thread plays out in expected ways, if civil. To jump to the good stuff:

A handful of pro freelance anime translators participated in the thread too.

There were some demonstrative posts that expressed opinion that were directly rebutted by the OP. Like one guy who complained about “senpai” versus “sempai.” Or the guys who wanted honorifics in their translation even after a few real pro translators disagreed for exactly the opposite reasons. Mostly it was civil and people posted their opinions and questions, with anecdotes here and there. My favorite one has to be the Noragami “name” one; feels like someone can compile a list of stories like that and it would be a fun read.

Initially I was more curious about people’s participation to the ongoing discussion on “sub quality.” I am in no part of it, but sites like this do exist, and has for some time. Because how would nerds be able to tell which file to download, right?

Happy Birthday, Rio-chan!

To break it down some more, this is kind of how I feel about science. The study and research of scientific endeavor, on the whole, is about the pursuit of ignorance. By ignorance I mean in a pure sense, like the opposite of knowledge, if knowledge is a quantity. A thing or concept can only be known, or not known. If you know it, there is nothing about it that would further interest you as someone who persuit knowledge. A scientist is someone who knows stuff and is trying to find out what else we don’t know. This is the pursuit of ignorance. A fool is someone who knows stuff and stops, and doesn’t know what lies beyond what he has. The average fool is just content with that; the worse ones think they know it all, making no effort to make sure that’s actually true.

The thing is the body of human knowledge is huge. No one person knows everything; at best you can only expect that person to know just his or her field of expertise. And often these are people who are professionals, doing groundbreaking research, who’s studied such fields for many years, typically speaking. For someone who is new to a field, it takes a lot of studying existing knowledge to get to the edge of the collective known body of information, the cliff where Human (as a race) ignorance lies on the other side. In other words, to make sure he knows it all. And maybe a cliff is a bad analogy, more like a bridge over the vacuum of the unknown, given how today’s scientific research is driven by all these external factors like public interest, commercial investment, ethics, interests, and whatever, into specific subject matters, not quite as organic as the subjects themselves.

This is also why often we equate learning with research. We all are born ignorant, and we have to learn everything we know, because we were taught it, read it in Wikipedia or something, or found out via empirical experiences. Since it’s impractical to know and learn everything, human minds take what we know and make the best of it. So when you get a bunch of fools who know a few things about Japanese language, anime, and translation, you end up with a bunch of people who are really ignorant, don’t know they are ignorant, and are just doing what their minds think is best with the limited information that they have.

What’s worse, and it applies universally, are the people who don’t even realize they don’t realize they don’t know. Not to mention the larger pool of people who know that they don’t know. Equally bad is that they might not even want to know more or is not interested, even if they do.

What are you suppose to do in this case? Put damn -kuns in your subtitles.

Let’s be clear, I don’t blame them for not knowing; ignorance is an universal condition. The body of information of Japanese language, like any other large and well-studied subject matter, takes years to master and a lot of hard work. It’s not something you would expect the average westerner to have any ideas about. But you should expect the average person to know that they might not know that they might not know, and temper their opinions with that realization. Or maybe they’re just giant babies and would say whatever that makes them feel good with no regards to what that make them look like. I know all too well about that.

And to be fair, that’s just opinion on translations regarding Japanese. They might have opinions on English, because clearly they speak it and that makes them know-it-alls (because clearly 50% of translation skills required is English so that makes them half-experts right LOL). You can see where this is going. Articles like this Answerman column mentioning extrinsic reasons why pro translations are one way or another, and those things often don’t register in the comments of the masses, because they are already self-proclaimed knowers. They may not be experts, but that doesn’t stop anybody these days.

Which is why I think while it is fair that arguments and debates about fansubs is like beating a dead horse, let’s beat it some more. Get that 100 people so maybe one person get a clue, and the next time we beat this horse we will have a 2% chance.

Okay, I haven’t even touched on the arguments on a more self-centered perspective about “being entertained” (which I think is a totally different thing personally) and thus their entertainment consumption should please them and not upset them because “it sound weird when the dub says -kun and the translation doesn’t.” Nor have I addressed bigger picture questions about why we are even trying to do by beating this dead horse. Maybe I get a kick out of it, I don’t know. There are also legitimate complaints about pro sub translation qualities too, but until we lower the volume on the noise I don’t know how much of legit complaints can surface above it. In other words, make beating this dead horse less metaphorically relevant? LOL.

Beyond Otakudome, Post Script of Kicking Starters

I backed the Otaku no Video Blu-ray Kickstarter. The reason is the only copy of this I own is on VHS, and, well, that’s kind of sub-optimal this day and age.

Beyond the usual discussion of Kickstarter as a multi-purpose fundraising platform, may it be simple preordering and free publicity to powering arts&crafty, independent creators, I don’t know what there is to say about Otaku no Video. This is a sell, but when I read that Anime Diet post I can’t help but to feel an overwhelming sense of irony.

Because it’s precisely that we’re in the year 2015 that a Kickstarter for licensing an old classic that got rebooted into Blu-ray for international distribution seems, at best, trite. I mean, any otaku worth his or her salt knows how to import home video, may it be 1995 or 2015. This is more about just doing the same o’ localized consumption of international media for US-centric prosumers who probably have moved onto different things than living in piles of hard disk drives or otaku paraphernalia. It’s for the kids who watched Otaku no Video when they are young, and for kids who are young and have never had a chance to acquire it in that status-indicative way of buying a home video product.

Also, I guess, this is beyond the usual discussion of what defines an otaku. But which otaku is still fixated on this early 90s classic? Which is why my copy is still VHS. It’s easier to grab that from an illegal site or a friend’s FTP than trying to figure out which storage box it’s currently sitting inside in my attic. Also, which is to say, we’re well into the post-physical media era.

If you read the Anime Diet link, you wouldn’t know that Robert Woodhead priced the goals with assumptions being that majority of backers will go for the basic level, which just means the funding for this kickstarter is not breaking any ground on a per-capita sense. With things going the other way, I think it speaks a lot in both that Otaku no Video is still a title that people (like me) care about, and that there are people who would put down money for it, because $55 is not a big deal in the bigger scheme of things.

Riina the Birthday girl

PS. It took me a while to condense my thoughts about the BGC kickstarter into coherent words and what I found problematic with the approach in putting the product together. Writing about this helped. There are two issues. First, it comes down to my expectation of being able to pay and buy something that’s well-defined. Second, it’s the flaw of democratically defining the requirements, or applying it in the wrong situation.

If you didn’t know about the approach…uhh read all the backer updates to get an idea. TL;DR it was a meticulous and transparent Kickstarter, except where it counted, which is the way how backers determined the specification of the product. That said, let me also disclaim that a lot of the things I mention below are not unique to this particular Kickstarter. I’d think it’s fair to say that Woodhead has done a great job running the BGC Kickstarter, but the reasoning and logic that sounded good at the time all had issues, and these issues will arise in other Kickstarters and similar projects, with the same qualities, following the same reasoning.

The first problem is inherent in backing something that will take input of the backers. You might end up backing something you don’t really want in the end. The trade-off is that you might end up backing something you actually want, to every detail specification, but usually it’s something in between. If we’re talking about a widget, say an iPhone adapter or some such, that’s no big deal, because you can always choose to pick another version of the same thing from a different vendor or Kickstarter that addresses your needs. Or more specifically, the need a Kickstarter typically address in those cases are specific use cases that you are just in for. Things are murkier for something like licensed anime.

The nature of copyright monopoly necessarily mean that only one definitive edition or version of, say, BGC, will ever get released until the next reboot. BGC is probably not a great example because Woodhead has rebooted BGC god knows how many times now, but the typical IP gets maybe 2 or 3 chances at life in the USA, if they’re old enough to live through the DVD era. In other words, you don’t really get to choose. If FUNi or anyone screws up your DVD, you basically have no choice via this licensed release format. If a kickstarter screws the pooch on licensing, or puts out a flawed disc, GLHF.

In that sense, taking backer feedback is fine, if not also an improvement. Ultimately you can have a shot at influencing the outcome of the product. If it doesn’t work out, you might be stuck with it (as I believe all these ways of influence are backer-only). You can also choose to not back it, but you might not be able to get your hands on the “collector” version of the goods. You can still do so with BGC at retail today, just at a slightly higher price point/fewer bonus items. (BTW I backed at poster + basic level). So maybe that’s fine, at least, if you’re willing to just ignore all the crowdfunding aspects as the ultimate “other choice.” Then again, at the time of BGC Kickstarter, this availability was not entirely guaranteed.

The first downside with taking backer feedback in the way Woodhead has done so is that during the process, you really had no clear idea what you were getting, besides the basic anime-on-a-disc part. In that sense, that’s all I could justify paying into such a Kickstarter, and all I am willing to do so in the Otaku no Video Kickstarter. How can I possibly pay double-triple-whatever on the basis of the product itself, if I don’t even know if I will like the addons? At the same time, part of what makes Otaku no Video Kickstarter more premium-heavy than basic might just be that we now have a known process in which BGC was produced, so there’s less uncertainty. Although I’m sure it is only a small part compared to, say, the price tag. I mean, please tell me people are not buying Otaku no Video because of challenge coins or some similarly useless, albeit shiny, bullshit.

The second downside of taking feedback this way is that for every item choice that went to a vote, it becomes a bunch of compromises. Like if you poll 3 people on 3 product choices, you might get 2 out of 3 people picking one way for each choice, thus democratically come to conclusions on the decisions on a product, but the end result may contain things all three people did not want. That said, I think Woodhead took some pretty conservative choices for election to begin with, and nothing really crazy happened–which is kind of what I’m referring to in the previous paragraph. It’s now a known quality.

Which is just to say, welp, I guess I have no choice in this matter. Maybe it’s not a problem if I liked the choices people came up with. It’s like the running jokes about RightStuf promo image voting and how the “Megami” one always gets picked. Is this like an American misconception of democracy or what?

Crowdfunding: Copyright in Fandom


For completeness, I am talking about this particular kickstarter – School Idol Tomodachi. They’re just two folks doing it like it’s 1999, and are operating with a minimal regard to copyright at least as per my interpretation. You can make your own interpretation, as I’m posting the Q&A I have submitted. Or rather, what I PM’d them on KS:

Is this licensed by klab or bushiroad? Do you have permission?

Deby & Engil says:

Though we never talked to them directly nor got an official authorization from them, we know that they are aware of the existence of this website and tolerate it, as they tolerate fan sites since it helps them grow their users base.
Every single fan site violates copyrights in a certain way, and it’s up to the license owner to sue. Most of the time, and this is the case, they consider it as “fair use” and let people do their stuff, since it’s free advertisement for them and it’s harmless.
If at some point the lisence’s owners change their mind and ask us to take the site down or close the Kickstarter, we will do it.
Hope that helps~

And it does. Thank you.

I don’t really have a bone with the concept behind it, but it still rubs me the wrong way when someone promotes his or her own project by selling straight-up stuff they don’t own to market it. It’s one “commercial activity” too far for this ossan. I guess there’s nothing wrong with it per se, but from a business point of view it would be weird to see a fan project go raise money when the actual commercial products the site is a fan of can’t be equally shameless. That Kickstarter (TM?) stuff still is worth something in PR money. Well, for shame tiering, there is always that Clannad Man thing as a lowest tier (that I care to signal boost). This is somewhere above that.

To an extent, too, this is largely a changing mores kind of thing. These two developers are just 23 years old. Kickstarter was a thing before they even started college, assuming they were on a standard path. Paying for your own fandom from your own pocket is getting to be passe, it seems. Of course, at the same time, crowdfunding works for fandom precisely because it enables that “country club” thing for things beyond large tracts of land for golfing. The bone I have with it is just, again, as with Kickstarters in general, the simple buyer-seller relationship that Kickstarter permits to happen in the context that has been largely reserved for traditionally memberships. That ~30% that Kickstarter and its payment processor takes out of is 30% a private fundraising via paypal will not (which is just ~3%).

At least if you kickstart a con, you can do what Otakon does… When you are kickstarting a CD album or a board game or a smartwatch, you really are just preordering. And if this fansite kickstarter kept it clean, it wouldn’t be as bad as those. But now it’s a question of “is it okay to second-hand sell loveca”? Is this a question you want to even ask in the first place? Among other things.

Another interpretation is just that these folks don’t know any better. It is not out of the question. I think Dave choosing Indiegogo is a smart move, for example. Good for you, Kawaiikochan Man.


This School Idol site publishes a public API so you can pull its card entries (among other things). It’s both hilariously bad and pretty cool at the same time. I mean, like, AWS is not cheap. It’s like one-upping a production committee by putting out your favorite light novel’s anime adaptation. Except in this case it’s code that the production committee don’t care about? And the fans are trying to sell things the committee would sell? Because, like, how else can you raise money, besides selling t-shirts with Honkers printed on it, right?

It’s not like I dislike any of this. But this is no longer about copyright as much as businesses trying to make money and how fans fill the gap in a very meta kind of way, and copyright only goes to show how inadequate it is at trying to cordon off a way to get it done. It’s entirely too weaksauce for this 21st century stuff.

Maybe Gaben should take note on this.