Monthly Archives: January 2011

Are There More Light Novel Adaptations in Winter 2011 Than Fall 2010?

No.

At least as far as I can tell. I think it is an interesting question because light novels are in a lot of ways the most interesting kind of material that gets adopted in the past 10 years.

Man, how old was Full Metal Panic?

Anyways, I’ve made a spreadsheet. You can see the full screencap if you click on the image to the top of this post. The methodology was going to Hashihime’s calendars for Winter 2011 and Fall 2010, listing all the TV shows that ended in Fall and the shows that started in Winter, and then mark the ones that are light novel adaptations. With a couple exceptions (like this one).

There’s a nuance in that some of these shows have manga adaptations, but at least one source (ANN usually) would say it is an adaptation of the light novel. In reality it doesn’t matter, because either way the light novel came first.

However it would be mistaken to call it “RailDex” anything, because Railgun is not a light novel adaptation. Go figure.

Speaking of which, this is why I made this chart.

Feel free and please drop corrections on the spreadsheet in the comments!

Maybe I will write more about this later, but the immediate observation is that a lot of these are manga adaptations, and while I was making the list, most of the titles I ignored are either your Fairy Tales or PreCures, which are JUMP-type crap or original shows. Light novels and properties originally as games are in a small minority. There is also a growing number of “media mix” type situations where it’s original, but there’s also a manga or even a light novel to go with, or in the above case as I mentioned, an original light novel series that has a manga adaptation way before the anime. The numbers seem to suggest this being almost as frequent as light novel adaptations where the anime is first-to-adopt.

It makes you wonder what the heck is Railgun actually.


Consumption as Expression, Or Do What You Always Did

Following up on the conversation I had with Mystlord in the comments, we talked about fan expression. I think it’s a logical next step to my post on fanaticism, or lack thereof, in today’s fan base.

I think there’s a lot of merit in thinking that creative expression, in terms of quantity, quality, and the nature of it, can be one way to express one’s fanaticism. I think furthermore the participation of it alone can be some kind of sign as far as a matter of identity. However, just because we might self-identify via our actions, I don’t know if it is a good measurement of fanaticism. It’s like just because you go to a con and wear a Naruto headband while at it, that does not mean you are a cosplaying otaku. Or does it? I personally don’t think so, but it might just be because I draw my lines much higher up than that.

I don’t really have a definitive answer for that question. I do have to say that consumption is also a form of expression. While consumption is not always a creative expression, however, it can spur creativity and become a primary reason to create. Because of consumption, this site exists: If you understand the attraction of BakaBT, then you understand why it is created as an expression of consumption.

Consumption is why anime fans are so hung up on the fansubbing debate. Consumption is why fans take it upon themselves to save the industry [a hilariously trolled thread by the way]. The industry, which in R1 terms, is almost purely an artifice of consumption: Its primary function is to repackage it by translation, and retail it at a lower cost, while being legit. Consumption is why we can have an Anime Diet in the first place, pardon the pun, guys. It’s why I talk about seasons and why some people watch Hidamari Sketch by their annual calendar. There is a reason why back in the days we said “Anime: Drugs are cheaper.” That was the mantra of the anime otaku overseas. I mean, hell, a nontrivial number of fans care for the legitimacy of what they are consuming, when in reality it doesn’t seem have a real impact on the quality of what they are consuming. Why? Maybe they were brainwashed, but that in itself is part of the plea of the pure fanatics: Moralfaggetry is an expression of fandom. It is a form of fanaticism, which I hope is obvious.

As much as more and more people turn to low-quality video streams on the web to get their fix, relegating expensive, ultra-high-fidelity home video releases to its small, economically muscled community, it is a tell-all sign shared by other fandoms: there are fewer “otaku” than ever %-wise, to go back to what Oswalt was saying. And the irony is we are talking about actual American otaku, and not just a culturally-appropriated term as applied to fanatics in general.

Second, I think anime, specifically, is a highly commercialized sort of fandom. In a lot of fandom studies the subject matter are focused geeks. Often they have to turn to fan-created activities because commercially little else exists to satisfy their inflated need in regards to that particular franchise or specific fan niche. It’s like studying people who only love Naruto and not much else, rather than studying “anime fans” in general. But there’s sooooooo much crap about Naruto alone that I’m sure it will satisfy a large portion of fans via its commercial spinoffs alone. I mean, after all, that headband is a licensed product. Multiply that kind of stuff to the nth degree, and you kind of get what is available to anime fans generally.

To take it a step further, the same can be said of Japan’s pro costume shops, its Mandarakes and Melonbooks, its maid cafes and escort services, its Love Plus tour in Atami or the Washinomiya shrine new year specials, among countless other consumer outlets of fanatic expression. Pop culture fanatics are commercially exploited so much more in Japan than they are in America. In fact the only thing that comes to mind that even comes close is when it comes to pop music where America probably outdoes everyone else outside of AKB48.

Well, maybe “more” is not the best term, because I think American enterprises do try just as hard. Still, there seems to be a bigger focus on catering to niche fanatics and what commonly strokes their particular fancies, for Japan, than the more mass-market, Halloween-costuming counterpart in America. How does a Harry Potter theme park rank on that scale? I’m not entirely sure if it is any more or less fantastic than to chat with a bona fide Disney Princess in their theme restaurant in Disney’s Magic Kingdom (in Orlando). But you would think anything worthy of a Hollywood big-buck movie spinoff could qualify for that kind of treatment.

Well, all of the above are, to varying degree, modes of consumption. I suppose I can give you a pass if you made your costume from scratch. But I think it’s good to note there are some modes of consumption where it is also creative and just like anything else humans do, can be of mixed motives.

For another example, to go back to BakaBT, often time that “collector’s curse” in which they have to splurge for the special super LE box with that useless trinket is part of that fanaticism of fandom. However more often than not, it is just as much of a conditioned response to “gotta catch them all” compulsion that some human beings have, after years of training as expert consumers. I guess it’s a subset of perfectionism.

And as I said in the previous post, not even these things are tell-all signs that one is an otaku. These are just examples of competencies, and understanding the reason one consumes is a core anime otaku competency. If you don’t know why it’s better to enjoy anime in its proper form, you have a long way to go in the way of the otaku.


Hourou Musuko, Wandering Seiyuu Madness, What Fractale Is Not

I think noitaminA is fortunate to show Hourou Musuko after Fractale, simply because Wandering Son is a great animation. It’s not to knock on Fractale, but it is overshadowed by Hourou Musuko “stunning” presentation.

This is kind of amusing in a sense. From what it appears on the surface (and we are really doing “Judge-by-Cover Part 4, Winter 2011” here) Fractale has actual plot chops. It has a rich setting and some pretty amusing characters from the get go. It is exactly NOT what people like Daryl Surat is whining about when they talk about Hiroki Azuma’s Database Animal book, about character trait.

On the other hand, what makes Hourou Musuko so great is these superficial things. Granted what is presented to us on a watercolor, sparkly, white-filtered platter is character drama, I can’t help but to notice the stereotypical otaku elements are largely present: the tsundere, the trap, the tomboy, the cooldere, the fast-to-mature, the flirt, the shota (this is a Josei TV segment right?) and the loli-appealing. That gorgeous animation and those masterfully-done characters are what make this show so good at the start. But that is exactly what fuels the desires of the database animal.

This is what we get if we skip 30 some odd chapters, I guess. I don’t know, I can’t offer any of the whining and gensaku hakai outrage those who have read and adored the original manga can offer you, because quite frankly it is outside of my interests. All I can say is it was directed so well that it didn’t confuse me much, if at all, even if the show drops you deep within the original narrative.

And I’m not even done listing all the “elemental” things about Hourou Musuko that appeal to the otaku. Cross-gender forbidden romance? Awesome seiyuu cast? Ball-busting sakuga? The soundtrack? It goes on.

Hourou Musuko makes Fractale looks like the least pandering piece of work on noitaminA ever. And yet people call that stuff moe. I don’t understand it anymore. Or rather, comparing these two show is probably the best example of showing up that people who complain about moe are just talking about shows they don’t like but others do, for no real substantive reasons.

Oh right, the awesome seiyuu cast is well within my range of interests. Let’s just say this. And that. And Nana Mizuki cracked me up. The last time that happened in an anime was probably never, though I managed a chuckle during her Aoi Bungaku segment.

If there’s one negative thing I want to say about Hourou Musuko, it is that the whole gender identity issue aspect feels tangential and is really just a plot device to get drama juicy. Watching the show, I feel not really compelled about Nitori’s gender struggle as much as his attachment to Takatsuki, or what happens between them. Which is to say, episode 1 of Hourou Musuko is like a well-done template for teenage romance. Instead of a cute okama-to-be it could have been several other things (drugs, depression, etc), and it would not have changed the look, the feel, and the awesomeness of episode 1 of Wandering Son.

Unless you have a thing for shota traps, of course.

Fractale, on the other hand, is quite wholesome. Even with nudity, it merely pushes against the line that is dotted with the kind of nudity found in mainstream anime in Japan. I think a part of this is attributed to how unusual, lack of a better word, Kobayashi sounded in the lead male role. I suppose we are just getting started with this episode though, and it wouldn’t be wise to judge this book by the cover. Because despite wanting to say “hey Yamakan went to all these Ghibli and mainstream TV anime and stuck those iconic elements in,” it’s not what is carrying this narrative. Basically, I would probably watch this for the plot and setting.

Okay, Phryne is pretty moe during that scene when she’s talking about smiles. But that is more like moe for Kiki or Nausicaa, right?

As for flaws, Kurogane is pretty succinct, and I would be among those who find the BGM clashing a lot more than it should, despite if the music when consumed on its own, may be pretty okay. The animation is not perfect, but a Toradora-7/10 sort of rating would be more than what I can ask for out of Yamakan’s latest bid to bet the house. I think he’s on a good start towards that.


Defining Features of Fanaticism, Or Why You Are Not Otaku

Fandom appropriates. There are some people out there who are hung up on the whole “otaku” term or the “moe” term and what have you. Words like anime and manga mean different things once you cross boundaries of languages, cultures, subcultures, and individuals. It’s not I’m trying to play definition Nazi, because I don’t have to. I’m just going to state the obvious, only because somehow I’ve not seen anyone taken that into their accounts, of what defines whatever word they are trying to use to describe themselves or somebody else.

Before we can even talk about words like otaku or moe there is one word I want to nail down. It’s fan. It’s not even “geek” (which is probably a better indicator of what I’m addressing, since there’s no “Japanese definition” trap here). It’s not that people like Patton Oswalt is using the word otaku one way or whatever Henry Jenkins is trying to say that these people do; I’m sure their ideas are interesting in their own ways when it comes to pop culture and its role in modern discourse in the mind of the public. It’s not what I am talking about. What I am addressing is the fanaticism in fans. Or the lack thereof.

Because to me that is one of the defining trait of being a fan. And being a fan is the ground level of discourse in which we view people like Gleeks or otaku. And without some degree of fanaticism you just cannot be one of them.

Why is fanaticism a part of fan? Wiki’s definition is pretty straight forward, so we can start there. Basically, it’s like what it takes to move up the corporate ladder–you need to go-get, be pro-active, show your enthusiasm. Of course the outlet of enthusiasm is different between each individual and between different fan scenes, but ultimately the exact object of your passion makes a fan. So there are two elements–

There is a passion; to something.

I used the word passion for short, but I could have used a lot of different words to describe this fanaticism. However there are some words that aren’t suitable, like “like.” I mean I like vanilla ice cream. I guess I am a fan, but surely it would only be a figure of speech. I don’t go to ice cream conventions or have ice creaming paraphernalia. It’s like how anyone can have a favorite color, but it doesn’t make anyone a fan of that color. Where do we draw the line is up to debate, but I’m not here for that debate. So I’ll use a marker of unmistakable threshold here–passion.

I think when it comes to traditional fandoms, for example, collecting stamps, knitting or even Star Trek, a lot of this stuff makes sense. It makes much less sense in the case of, for example, a film buff, or almost criminally, the American use of the term otaku.

To put it in a different way–are bibliophiles fan of books? I think this is kind of a word-mincing that I want to engage in. I’m going to use books as a crutch to illustrate my point, because books (and book fans, pardon the terms) have been around for centuries so people have had the time to sort out the different types of people who like certain things that have some degree relevance to print media.

There is some notion, that by some working definition of the term, that book fans exist. They are fan of books. They like books. They are pro-active and enthusiastic about books. What about books? Probably every aspects of books–fiction, non fiction, references, and even magazines and newspapers. Paper quality, binding, the way to display them on a shelf, you name it. They can even be fans of library sciences and other more meta-y things. These people, however, may or may not have expressed tastes about particular copyright subject matters. Twilight, for example, is a series of books that some bibliophiles may like or dislike.

It’s the simple application of passion to specific things. It’s like how an anime otaku could dislike Fractale. Or how an anime otaku could dislike moe. Or lack of application, in the case of dislikes.

But if some 8 year-old expresses his or her love for Ponyo the animated feature, I am not going to say that person is an otaku. Nor would it make sense to call people who like Twilight, generally, bibliophiles. By corollary, anime otaku are people who like anime, not because they like a few shows and now are disenchanted about every other anime that wasn’t those few shows. Gleeks are not categorically fans of television programming. Or even prime-time television programming. Or even television programming on FOX. Maybe not even musicals generally! So…

The fanaticism is missing. It’s the tell-all sign that you are or are not a fan. Just because you write about something, doesn’t mean you are a fan. Just because I write about eroge on my blog doesn’t make me a fan of eroge, or even writing about eroge. Heck even if I play them, it doesn’t make me a fan any more or less than someone else who do not. Just because somebody reviews some anime, it doesn’t make that person a fan. It’s more about who you are–your passion and not your action–that speaks to  your fanaticism.  It’s what you like and not who you identify with that determines the type of fan you are.

Which is to say, I think genuine otaku are people who do very little social activities among other fans. They do not participate in a lot of these things pop-culture scholars study. Fansubbing? Youtube memes? AMV? LOL. I mean let’s put it in simpler terms. If I really like anime, what would I do? Watching it would be the first thing, right? And if you’ve gotten a clue about how much anime is out there, you probably would know that true anime otaku spend most of their “fan time” watching anime. They probably would spend money buying anime rather than going to cons or do any of this stuff most self-proclaimed otaku do. Once you get beyond that, it becomes more of a matter of inclinations and preferences in which the anime otaku sates his passion for anime.

Now of course that is just one version of anime otaku. There are many manifestations, and I am sure many do reach out socially to augment their fandom. But it becomes a matter of that line-drawing exercise I side-stepped earlier. Like someone can really like cartoon porn of characters (so they draw cartoon porn of the cartoon porn they just watched), or someone might like anime but they like to socialize just as much (I think this is probably the case for most fans that actually subscribes to the common mode of what makes a fan a fan). Whatever. But when these instincts become definitive of your “otaku” nature then I think it has ceases to be about being an otaku and more about being some kind of scenester.

In a similar way, I think how these sub-genres and fandom that sets up an “us-versus-them” schema tend to perpetrate a notion of fandom that is defined by understanding. Just because I understand and speak about anime fandom doesn’t mean I am a fan, for example. However this is very much so not the case in this day and age, in America. It is very much identity, and sometimes it gets even political.

Fandom appropriates. Because fanaticism is rooted out of an sense of need; fans take what they have to sate it. I think for some, that sense of need is one rooted in identity. Still this is not the case for everyone. When we take words and mold them to our uses, people are going to complain about it because we are not alone, and we are not alike (especially when people hanging on the same label as it swells, definitions diverging). One observation here is that fans really do take anything that’s not bolted down for their own, from words and loosely defined catch words to music videos to whatever else under the sun.


Judge-by-Cover Part 3, Winter 2011

Seiyuu_joke.

Beelzebub – Miyuki Sawashiro reprises a baby pokemon slash deadly seed of the demonic overlord. I am not sure if it is entirely impressive, or just a waste of time. It delivers the hijinks with sufficient precision that most of us who watch crap cartoon in bulk would find it entertaining. However its non-ending-JUMP-y premises kind of tickle me in the wrong way. Not a huge fan of checking my brain at the door, so it’s on probation. Last year made me slightly more picky about comedies this year, unfortunately. Was it as funny as Mitsudomoe S2? Probably not, yet.

Oniichan no Koto naka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne – It feels like a complementary piece to OreImo. I like the art style, actually, and it works surprisingly well in terms of “serving up” the fanservice elements in a way where it is obvious yet without being too grotesque. Or I should say, it is grotesque in a way that doesn’t interrupt the flow of the visuals. Better than Kiss x Sis, right? Right, but you wouldn’t use that measuring stick unless your standards are really low. So far it’s unclear where the show is going to go, so I will stick with it a couple more. KitaEri does a pretty kimoi job here, and I think that particular category of cliente appreciates that.

Level E – Feels like Bantorra, but it plays out more like Occult Academy. Can’t say this is bad, really. I guess it’s a keeper. However I don’t really like any of the characters so far. It feels like everyone in the series is like Mikaze from Occult. There’s just something that sticks out like a splinter in the character animation and design. But I guess it “adds character” and doesn’t really subtract from the overall experience. Just makes it hard to like, you know? The genre makes this a must-watch for me, I guess.

Dragon Crisis – It’s kind of iffy, but if I had to say rotten or fresh I would go for rotten. It didn’t fail by much, though. I would watch this for Yukana alone but she had to carry the first episode, and she failed to do that. At this point having Kugyuu play the role like Rose is a detriment for me, not a plus. As far as story goes, it’s kind of too fruity of a presentation, but I will probably stick around enough to make sure the setting is something I can pass on before passing on this. If there’s one truly notable thing here it is that 1/3 of Besame Mucho is on board this show, possibly saving it from sinking further into mediocrity.

Kore ga Zombie desuka? – It’s like a more palatable Inukami. I think I will stick around for the jokes for now, but this kind of anime is really hit and miss. I laughed at the jousou jokes and all the play on stereotypical magical girl (I know someone made a Saitama Chainsaw Girl joke already), the zombie abuse, and of course the Mitsuishi cameo. But none of them are sticking points (unless Mitsuishi repeats her performance!) so I’m kind of on the fence on this too. It might be another case where if it wasn’t pure-simulcasted on CR I would have passed.

Speaking of Crunchyroll, its Noitamina snag of Wandering Son will make good head-to-head compare with Funimation’s Fractale stream. I might just write it up for Jtor or something? Well, it’s kind of meaningless because I would just be writing about Hulu. They use Akamai too…so it’s basically the same sort of thing to a large extent. CR is behind the ball in a few technical areas, but discerning videophiles may appreciate what CR provides that Hulu doesn’t just as much. Well, it’s a good thing right? You read that, TAN? Get on with the program already!