Category Archives: Blogging

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.

Huggles Boggled

Blogging and journalism are like salt water and freshwater; to some anyways. Today, they are mixed; you can see the afternoon newspaper dying in the streets and reborn online with the likes of industry, pro bloggers and journalists who release bits of news in a blog format.

But are they suppose to? I guess this guy probably doesn’t think so. What surprised me was my own reaction about he being surprised at ANN’s relatively new tack in regards to internet reporting.

Li Mei Asako Nishida

Undeniably true, however, is that ANN is getting more traffic the more they dabble in this so-called “huggle” readership. If you read the comments in that In Search Of post, one of the commenter mentioned this and, well, that’s what blogs are all about! At the same time, unlike other news blog sites that we might be familiar with, ANN is sort of in mid-transition between a more traditional news website to a news blog.

As one of the first major anime fandom company on the internet, I didn’t really pay ANN any mind because it utterly failed to serve my needs (mainly protonews and a source of industry hubbub which was primarily what AoDVD was for). At least, until their mighty encyclopedia started to gain momentum. As a factoid, the first anime entry in the database is Angel Links. That should give you a clue to its vintage.

[Coincidentally that was one of the first series that I’ve had the joy of watching the digital raws while the series was airing. (And the subsequent joy of dropping it.) Anyways.]

So, yes; if we took a look at what fan blogs are about this day and age, we’ll see how things break down:

  • Episode reviews, previews, retrospectives
  • News – Both straight-up news and entertaining news. Does Mainichi Daily News counts? But I was thinking more like, say, akibablog or Canned Dogs.
  • Special features – Like a March madness tournament. Like blogging about your company’s Blu-Ray strategy. Like a sound clip from Yukana. But usually just reports from cons–the home of the huggles.

A lot of blogs mix them up, including this one. But I think that just lays out the things you will see ANN do more of. Being a commercial entity they already have a leg up on getting special interviews, so as a potential reader I hope they can do more of those.

The role of editorial bloggers and editorial blogging, however, is something else. To an extent, the power of blogging comes from the ability to do whatever you want with disregard to any kind of professional standard. If quality writing, professionalism and speed are important things for any publication, why is ANN getting the readership it gets?

Perhaps a better way to see the big picture is to understand how people gather information using the internet. And quite simply put, as long as it isn’t a time intensive and otherwise pain in the neck kind of a thing, people are quite content reading the words of a recent ESL person versus someone who has been writing professionally for decades. What is important is the information within, and does the information in the format presented serves the needs of the person looking for it. Or at least that’s how I judge the quality of information.

But that’s just how I see ANN, as a source of information. Different people perceive ANN as different things, after all.

That’s blogging in a nutshell IMO. After that it’s just a long sliding scale from awful to awesome. We are here to serve our huggling overlords, and many bloggers double duty as both. It doesn’t matter how we call ourselves, our readers can tell the difference (so we believe).

After all, it is the non-Serious-Business nature of internet blogging that makes amateur production feasible; there may very well be no incentive for a person to improve his or her blog if there is nothing to gain from it…much like how ANN has no incentive to improve the quality of its services?

It might be healthy to be obsessed with your blog’s traffic after all?


Election Year

If Saimoe is like the US Presidential campaign (it sort of is, and it even ends around November!) then we’re sort of doing something like the Primary here. Except for another country. And it is irrelevant for the most part, with each other. Plus, we’re about March Madness.

It’s sort of off topic, but I just want to share a few insights about moe elections and, well, this kind of fan activity in general.

1. Purpose.

One thing I really like about Saimoe is how it is impeccable in terms of getting a large group of people on the same page and voting for what they want. I guess that’s the Japanese for you. However it’s a terribly poorly designed contest even compared to its Korean counterpart. But that’s really only half the story. The purpose of Saimoe is somewhat tangential to the purpose of Korean Saimoe in that the latter is really just a popular vote-off. The former is almost a community building event as there is a standardized platform (2ch) where the fan community on the whole recognize as “official.”

When planning something like a moe election, you need a clear goal as to what you want to accomplish, and design around that goal. I like fun, fresh madness. I don’t care so much who wins. I do care about heated competition and excitement and entertainment generally. YMMV, I guess. I think it’s good to have a selection of stuff like this, Touhou Saimoe, SaiGAR, whatever.

2. Design

This is something that’s a little harder and require people who think it through, with experience. But it’s not hard–just get a good feeling as to who are your participants and take their interests into account. Usually after doing it a few times, you get pretty good with it.

3. Promotion

Don’t even bother. Just pick a group of people you want to do this thing with, and do a darn good job. People who enjoy it will just get others to join you. Maybe you want to throw the good word to the people around you just so they know it’s happening, but that’s really all you need.

4. Rules

It’s good to have well-communicated, clear rules. It doesn’t have to be fair, even, but it can’t appear to be partial. In fact even with sucky rules, if people playing the election game think it’s fun, they’ll do it anyways. And usually when their favorites are at stake, there’s plenty of motivation already. Don’t be afraid to take people’s suggestions freely, and freely reject them too. As long as you think it through before committing.

It’s a different bag when it comes to moderating the actual polls. It’s good to be familiar with what technology can offer you, and find people who can work with you. It’s great if people know what’s going on, that there’s transparency in the process. People like fair contests, and they’ll enforce things themselves if it’s made possible that way.

5. Incentive

It’s good to have incentives beyond the mere exercise of the contest. It’s optional for the most part, but sometimes it just makes life a little more fulfilling, even if what you get at the end is a bunch of fanart doodles you don’t like. The way I see it, if people are going through the motions and effort to make it happen, you might as well ride it as much as you can. For the little contest we’re running, we have some used goods. YMMV.

LOL Copyright

I just have to do this every once in a while.

This post is brought to you by killing time with William Patry‘s blog. Patry is better known as a leading copyright (and I guess also copyleft) guru working as Google’s chief copyright attorney, and he keeps a pretty fat blog. And as you may expect, I’m going for somewhat Longcat here too. TL;DR warning! And most of it won’t have much to do with anime, so feel free to skip towards the bottom.

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Momotato Updates, Omo Cheers

And there was order in the world yet again. Peace be with blog-kind and may we wish good will to all in this now-annual tradition.

And I really don’t have much more to say about that. What you could do, however, is to help me help all of us by goading Momotato back into blogging. Since all he does is watch anime off nico^2 (we really could use a blogger who tackles stuff from that perspective, but that’s for another day) anyways, it’s definitely easier for him to, I dunno, write stuff and put it on the internet instead of downloading stuff then watch it. Goad him, how? You can just send an encouraging message either using his email (which is momotato -> google mail) or write embarrassing but flattering things about him in the comments of blogs he reads.

Why? It’s fun and he’s a jolly fella. And I think there’s something we all gain when we bother him, especially those of you who used to read his blog but have since moved on. You guys are really something special and you should let him know, one way or another. Even if it’s just a “happy new year” thing.

And lol what Michael Bay? I guess Manabi’s skateboard does transform…

Random off-off-topic note: I just want to highlight this blog post. In Search of Number Nine is pretty solid of a blog, but purely speaking as a blog. It’s always good to see what some light-weight fans have to say about something you’ve taken for granted years ago, but better.