Monthly Archives: June 2006

The Spilling Ink Pit of Fanservice Looks Like a Black Lagoon

Comiket Is Ground Zero For Cosplay Indeed

I sort of went over services in general, so I hope you understand how I use the same idea here is rational, in that it is rational to pander. It is a no brainer that there is a maid bloom over at Akiba, and it is not really news–it’s just an obvious trend. People squirm, either in displeasure or euphoria, for whatever reason, at the obviousness of it all. In the grand scheme of things, it’s very Japanese.

Looking back at Black Lagoon, it is a rather Hellsing-esqe series where the key difference is only in the original concept. As much as it doesn’t look it, Black Lagoon has some kind of core, character-driven story idea behind it; Hellsing only gives us that initial setup which carries it until the mangaka figures out something better and more interesting later on.

What do I mean by Helling-esqe anyways? Cool action, old school wetworking? Maybe. Badasses, girls with guns? Lots of other stuff have that too. In as much as ink is black and most manga are inked, the paintbrush of what is cool and what are services to the audience is really broad, after you’ve been at it for a while.

In that sense, it makes Black Lagoon the anime so much sharper and powerful than Hellsing the anime. Re-scrambling, we now have the Hellsing OAV which recaptures what was euphoric about that delightful coolness which surrounds the manga series. I am guessing that was the difference.

Perhaps it is good to step back and realize that a good story is still the bedrock foundation of good telling of stories? I’m not a big fan of calligraphy, but to me that’s high art; yet the same ink, the same words, the same people use the same tools to communicate the most mundane things. No matter if you’re a doujinshi artist, a race queen, or MAKO doing a sitcom skit over the internet, it’s the same rationale going forth. Without that bedrock, it’s just spilling ink in vain.

Where fanservice intersects with narrative, there is hope, love, faith for the genre and goodness. Anime is now Japanese, omo gets excited, money exchanges hands, blog posts written. Lesser is when a story exist in vacuum–it becomes something you google up, and maybe read once, or hear others retell it better. Worse is when fanservice exists in a vacuum: it’s pornographic, cheap, boring, and beneath notice.

Casulties of War

Hanabi is copyrighted, but sad gothloli in france is probably patented, too.

Last week, the potentially landmark lawsuit LabCorp v. Metabolite got dropped from the US Supreme Court. The three dissents were hell bent on kicking patentability back a notch, and I am with them. However I think everyone who is actually practicing patent law would prefer to let the sleeping beast sleep for some more.

But I guess we shouldn’t speak too fast. In the mid-to-late 1900s we’ve had some serious caselaw over what is obvious in respect to what can be patented. Needless to say it’s a big, grey mucky area that no one can say for sure all the time. As a subscriber of the future curve theory of social and scientific progress, I feel like a war profiteer, going into this industry during such a time of unrest. Indeed times have changed, will our jurisprudence remain?

Stroke Yourself

Reminder: Kawasumi Ayako @ Otakon 2006!

Because comments are now enabled on this blog. Go to town.

Even the deragned need company, desho? Imaginary or otherwise~

Bishoujo Senshi Insani

The Original Underground Vampiric Mofo

I am a stranger in a strange land when I talk about “bishoujo gaming” in general. Heck, I probably just used the wrong term there–bishoujo gaming is one of those keyword a RAML geek would use to define … that type of games for the PC. They’re mostly devoid of pornographic content as opposed to “eroge” and “h-games” are more typically known for. They’re the one you click frantically to get to from one sex scene to the next. There are all sorts of different labels to describe the various type of the same category of games–divide it up by gameplay and you get things like visual novels and adventure games and dating sims. Divide it up another way through content and you’ll get renai or horror or … the really nasty stuff that everyone plays? I don’t know.

It’s really a hard thing to grasp conceptually. For starters having all these different names probably is a good clue in that it is hard to define what kind of games I’m talking about–don’t be confused if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Heck, short of actually playing one you probably won’t have a good idea. They also vary a great deal both, as you can guess, in the gameplay axis as well as in the content axis.

It’s kind of like trying to “define” anime, isn’t it.

Yet, when you say anime people know what you’re talking about. I’m just shooting in the dark, but this split-personality problem with the bishoujo gaming (sticking to this one for convenience’s sake) scene may be an exaggerated version of what plagued anime in the early and mid 90s in how it is also intimately tied with pornography and having little mainstream appeal. Of course even today we don’t get anything more kiddy than Yugioh and the like, but is there a mainstream banner where such types of game can run under?

Yeah, and there has been such kinds of games. I think Thousand Arms or Harvest Moon is the first popular one of the bunch. Not popular enough, I guess.

But I digress. I, for one, don’t really want to know if you spent last night playing a game where you are a high school boy bent on raping every girl in your school or vicariously doing so by mentally manipulating every guy in the school, using every sexual fetishism possible, and end in a double suicide with your true love that you found in the process of turning the world into some level of hell. I want to know if you spent last night playing a game worth playing in front of all your friends! Or better yet, it’s a game where it is short (I average about 1.5 “bishoujo games” a year) and sweet and free. In other words: visual novels that are actually good novels; sim games that are actually fun, complex, not too obvious, yet not too mysterious that it is unintuitive; adventure games that have good gameplay elements; games that have good production values; good visual style; replayability; compelling; and a list of other things. That’s not including a list of things they shouldn’t be: clickfests; all porn nothing much else; music that doesn’t drive me crazy; too linear; dumb story; too episodic; etc.

I think back in the late 90s I bought a game, one of the earlier commercial attempt at porting this genre over, called Graduation. It’s Graduation II in Japan, and it is categorically a “raising sim.” I guess you can think of it like Harvest Moon, minus all the farming stuff. It was actually kind of fun, even if each time I finished the game I felt as if I just wasted 3 hours of my life. Heck, you can experience the fun with just $7 on top! It is such an old game, that it is probably easier to buy it than to pirate it.

We need more games like those.

And I’m not the only person who think so. NNL translated a few games, insani some more, and there are others that I just fail to name. They’re fan organizations, so they invariably are shady and their work can be found alongside of their original counterparts, nicely packaged for YARRRRR. Well, that doesn’t do us too much good in the short run. There are also other commercial ventures, but they tend to miss.
Still, we need more games. I think insani and a bunch of other people actually took up taking a few of the Japanese fan originals and porting them for English speakers. Now that’s free for all to begin with, so everyone can rest easy… Except that majority of them have no mainstream appeal, plus they kind of fail even more of my categorical limitations. I appreciate the doujinshi visual novel format a lot in how they can be innovative and go the extra mile to be artsy fartsy, but it really is hit or miss.

Which is why Galaxy Angel still needs your help. Even though that game still fails in a couple areas where I’m kind of a stickler for, such as length and cost, but it’s worth your support in the long haul.

And the long haul is what I am in for. I remember reading an interview of some North American licensing executive. He said he got into the business of licensing and porting anime for North America because he saw bootlegged anime. Why? Because bootleggers would not exist if there is no immediate return; and immediate return is only possible when there is already a system for the long haul in place. I ask the same question about our pirate culture. Would a bootlegger bother to download and repackage, say, Planetarian in English, and sell it? Have you seen it? And more importantly–if not, why not?

There is a whole second part to this rant–actually that’s what I am really itchy to talk about. The problem here is partly because I am, in the end, still in the dark. I don’t have facts nor even solid impressions. More importantly, this is all important background to set up the questions I will ask, which will have no real answers. To be continued, then?

Service Service!

Mitsuishi Kotono Is The Best!

Community service is a part of a healthy person’s livelihood. It should be something he or she does on a regular basis. Ok, no, I’m not talking about public nudity.
The tricky part, however, is all in the motivation. Why should we service our community? There are probably a dozen or more ways to answer the question, from duty to passion to communism to some twisted self-fulfillment.

And in a way, it parallels public nudity. No sane, normal person would go out naked. If you examine the exceptions, there are really two types: mental instability, or because it is the norm. Exhibitionists? They’re crazy. Girls go wild on spring break, nudist beaches, nudist colonies and rural African tribes? That’s just how it works. I suppose the former is a fibby line, but the later is fairly obvious.

If you look around, there are plenty of charitable efforts by normal folks. There are multi-billion dollar charities. We must get something out of it. Perhaps it could be said that people who are compassionate towards the needy are crazy in how they give away what is rightfully theirs freely. It is like the exhibitionist in that regard.

But a community that serves itself publically through a good, healthy, community spirit of service–people who are willing to donate their time, effort, and money to greater causes and serve the needy–can also be a community thing. It makes sense that it is easier and more frequent for a group of people to spend a day build some houses, rather than a few, independent pioneers who tries to do the same. Perhaps amongst other crazy people, you don’t feel so odd thinking like a crazy person?

I wouldn’t know–I am crazy.