Category Archives: Suzumiya Haruhi no Uuutsu

Trying to Get Simoun Out of My System, Attempt #2

With the shows I’ve been following coming to an end, a quick review is in order. Maybe it’ll remind me that there’s more to life than the girls onboard Arctus Prima.

If you didn't get it, it has to do with Otome

Simoun vs. Ouran High Host Club

It’s not that I am not afraid of comparing apples with oranges, but it struck me that what is missing in Ouran Host Club is exactly what makes Simoun so good.

I like to criticize Suzumiya Haruhi no Uuutsu on the basis that Kyoani, outside of maybe Air, has generally gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to adding that “feel” to a show. I have a hard time putting it to words, but it can be said that the same effect can be replicated when you cook chicken breasts the wrong way, that they come out tasting like soft chalk. Granted, the effect is nowhere nearly as bad. FMP: TSR was as bad as it gets, and it isn’t that bad at all. Maybe it’s the consistency? Does it lack “soul”?

But I feel that is exactly what makes Ouran Host Club remind me of Suzumiya Haruhi no Uuutsu. Ouran, as visually impressive as it is, fails to reach that visceral-ness Suzumiya Haruhi did. But like Suzumiya Haruhi, Ouran is a very cerebral experience, it is very smart. The characters are both flat and round in order for the gags, both visual and mental, to work, and I think the show did a decent job of that. That’s not to mention my favorite part of the show–the direction. It’s sharp and clever. Even in its weaker moments it doesn’t fail to impress. In some ways it surpasses most anime that I can remember on the technicals, even if it couldn’t hit those “we pour love and money into this episode!” peaks that shorter, TV anime this past year did.

I can foresee that in the near future I’ll come around to enjoy Haruhi again. But for now, this show is the diametric opposite to Simoun: it’s clean, it doesn’t leave you attached, it impresses visually and mentally, but leaving you a little longing inside.

Tsuyokiss vs. Simoun

In some ways Tsuyokiss only reached the first step of what Simoun did, but since it gambled all 13 episodes on that one thing, it came out pretty well when we look at Tsuyokiss on that one thing, and only that one thing. That one thing, well, it is probably best described as a dialogue the anime production people have with the audience. It tries to tease you, it tries to please you. It knows what it has to work with is crap and it doesn’t care even if it is the worse case of original-adaptation-cide ever. It is unapologetic about it, but in a way it expects you to know that much. In the end it delivers on a platter of something that is like a B- high school group project, but since you were a part of the group, you get sentimental over it.

Simoun, on the other hand, has gotten that bit over with when Mamiina broke out with fists and claws. Since it is twice longer than 13 episodes, it can’t afford to do the same either. Their first tour with Wauf was all about it.

Simoun vs. Blood+

Blood+ is a very clean show. The production value shines through. It is intelligent yet it has the pacing of a typical 90s anime that aims to dramatize. The story, in retrospect, is a powerful one. However, most of the power was robbed by its mechanical, one-fight-per-episode formula that is as mediocre as it gets. There is some sense of overall planning and vision, but on the ground it doesn’t please or tease or amuse anyone. It tries too hard being cool the whole way, when it could have gotten a lot farther by shedding the drama and just get things done, and offer up some twists.

On the other hand you can look at it as a sign of respect. Blood+ knows we know what it has up its sleeves, and it’s just a matter of waiting it out. However it feels like all this formalistic pretense just gets in the way of me trying to enjoy Saya’s plea.

Simoun vs. Honey & Clover 2

I hope Mamiina didn’t mistake rats with hamsters.

The concluding 12 episodes of Honey & Clover was rather good, I thought. But the break between episodes 26 and the recapping episode 27 really spoiled things. As here we were, all ready to accept things as it was with how the first 26 episodes ended (and it was a decent way to end something that “doesn’t end” I thought). Yet now there’s real closure.

Of course, by episode 26 you get a good idea how Takemoto is going to take things, and what happens between Rika, Mayama; Yamada, Nomiya; and obviously Hagu… Can’t say I am NOT surprised but somehow how it ended felt right; things ended as it should (save for the little oddness with Hanamoto-sensei that will boggle and mislead a bunch of fools).

But was it all just ending for having an ending’s sake? Is it really just a long-ass ending thing? It would certainly make Honey & Clover one hella unique anime. Not only as a romantic comedy it was rather unconventional, it has the longest ending sequence ever.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni vs. Simoun

Satoshi visits the Spring, only to realize boycotts and local conspiracies murdered Onashia and her relatives over dam construction at the ruins. Add drugs, dogfighting, gruesome torture, and identity crisis. Tempus Spatium makes a guest appearance in the form of Mion’s tatoo.

Higurashi was great up to episode 5. From then on it tries to explain and continue to add more to the wholesome mix of loli horror, but it never quite reaches the same peak. A mostly linear downhill ride, I’d say. Admittedly this genre is fairly NOT my bag of tea but I enjoyed what little there was to enjoy about this show. The OP itself was awesome for setting the mood and all.

Bokura ga Ita vs. Simoun

One makes me feel gay, the other doesn’t? And while I think I would be pretty comfortable watching Bokura ga Ita with other, non-anime people, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with myself watching Bokura ga Ita even if I was by myself. Those times I wish I was watching Ouran High instead. Less yucky, more pretty.

But nonetheless it’s a nice, alternative take to the same genre. I’m just not sure if I can take it…period. It drives me insane.

And let’s not forget. I’d rather have other people walk in on me watching Neviril kissing some other equally “moe-looking” chick than stick-figure Yano and Bokura ga Ita’s simple visuals. It’s that bad. Or it’s that good? I suppose that’s shoujo anime in its bare form.

Simoun vs. Coyote Ragtime Show

I’d be pretty happy if Angelica hooks up with Amuria or Onashia or something. She is a pretty, enlightened, old fashion gal and I think without her the Coyote Ragtime show would be only a shadow of its current self. I enjoyed the show, that said, because it has this die hard feel to it. Too bad objectively the show kind of tanked in some major aspects. I blame it squarely on Katana, Bishop, and Mister themselves. Being such important aspects to the show they are really pretty … lame. Swamp, being the token black guy, at least did his job well enough. Considering we have three (to 4 to 5 if the Coyotes break up) narrative perspectives, at least 2 out of 3 involves something less lame, like the 12 Sisters or Chelsea and Angelica, the show wasn’t too terrible to watch. But as a proof of concept I think it fails terribly. Maybe it would have been better if Bishop and Katana had more going on rather than being sidekicks.

Simoun vs. Aria the Natural

An episode of Aria is like an episode of Simoun once you remove any trace of conflict. The girls do not kiss each other, but they might as well. I think what really makes Aria works is the SD. I hated Aria-prez when Aria first got animated a while back, and now that’s all but a remote memory–it shows just how powerful your brain is in ignoring or filtering out stuff that it really doesn’t like. And that can include those girl-on-girl kisses. It would be just as an irritant as Aria-prez’s incessant whining.

And some might even like that!


Fall, Spiraling Away into Seasonal Melancholy

Koyori

Looking back at these past 9 months, a lot has changed. Suzumiya Haruhi’s lasting impact in the minds of the fan-sphere is a weird one. For people like me, we cling to it. But like many of Kyoto Animation‘s works, it lacks that consistency which reminds me of warm, home-made breakfasts; toasty winter holiday family fests; and that cup of hot chocolate on a chilly winter day. The fallout is evident but surprising despite the cynical blog-sphere and fan scene. Its strong fan response in Japan is trapped within the cultural context and language barrier, unable to affect the outside world in any significant way.

The more I dwell on Kyoto Animation’s Kanon, as a result, the more it boggles the mind. I suppose one could say that by the end of Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid, one would have a good grasp as to the style they are after. Fumoffu won us over with its crisp juxtaposing humor, but when it comes to writing a teenage mercenary’s real life, they have a ways to go.

Yet with the delivery of Suzumiya Haruhi (as an adaptation) and its tender treatment on the tragic subject matter within AIR, we’re left with hope. This tender feeling, for someone as cynical as I am, is, well, tender. It’s like a lonely candle flicker on a chilly autumn night, its end only the next breeze away. Yet my hopes are up only because Kyoani’s track record. Only because Kanon’s potential as an anime hasn’t been depleted by Toei. Is this on solid ground I stand?

Inherently the process from start to finish, animation is complex to create. I think for every one think Kyoani gets right, there is probably one thing they could get right, but it’s out of their reach. For one thing Kyoani gets right, there’s also probably 3 things that could go wrong just by luck. Considering how bare-bones the typical Japanese animation production team can get, it’s not an unfathomable fear. Or is it? I’m just putting numbers down just to scare myself. Why? It’s obvious…

I want to enjoy Kanon 2. I want to be able to embrace the fan splooge. I want to see a good mood anime piece with Nayuki. I’m fed up with TEROGE adaptations. I want to be able to come home and melt into the emo embrace of an exemplary Sad-Girl-in-Snow story.

But I think somewhere I also want to see Kyoani struggle with failure. They’re due one. Maybe it won’t be this time, but who knows?


To Rewatch, To Buy Blind: Herald for Kanon

She Kicks High

Just how often do we rewatch something, and just how much does “not knowing what happens next” drive us to certain consumer (or non-consumer) decisions? The more I think about this topic I realize two interesting notes. At first my answers to these questions merely fill out the presumed value of a bigger economics picture, but it seems that it can help answer some substantive questions as well. Like, what do well-received anime series have in common?

The questions about rewatching and why we watch/buy shows we have not seen are invariably linked, I think, because the same mechanics play in part to answer both questions. One way to look at it is a simple, common-sensical approach that a great show is worth re-watching. In some context this means you simply pull out that copy of Haibane Renmei to feed your melancholy soul on a snowing Saturday afternoon. Another context means I bought Cowboy Bebop to rewatch, partly, but also as something to have in my library so others can watch it too. At least in both instances we are making use of what people buy home videos for.

The reasons that drive us to pursuit new, unviewed material are different, it seems. Perhaps, and for many bloggers, it means to find out what is new, and to discover if this new anime is of any merit. As long as there are new anime coming out, they will naturally find its audience and people will watch new things. For some, they watch new things only because it’s “good” — on par of the old things that are “good.” (“Good” here meaning having one or more desirable attributes.) Many people decide new things to buy based on this standard. Sometimes some of us stumble upon new shows.

But the pattern that is underlined by both is a matrix between quality and sharing. To some, a pursuit for new is a qualitative matter: we hate cliffhangers and unanswered questions. To others, it’s to find more of the same: “good” shows, show with attributes we like. Also, in the process of blogging, or mapping it into the fan scene consensus, or simply talking about a show that interest you, it generates interest for that show. It brings people into awareness of its existence, and in turn, an interest to see it.

To that end, a “good” show that gets talked about all the time is de facto the show that will get watched the most. Evangelion comes to mind. A show that no one talks about, and is crap, will not get watched. I can probably name some names but that would do the really obscure and crappy show no justice.

That much is probably common sense, too. But what’s interesting now is how we could tweak the parameters of “Interest” (to denote what makes sharing likely) and “Quality” to explain some other things one sees. Like the popularity of Naruto or DBZ. Like why Kirameki Project is obscure. Like the importance of the first episode. Like the importance of sending out the “right” “vibe.” Like how to market your show to the right audience.

To me, after all this analysis, it seems to describe my anime watching habits pretty completely. The reason why I watch a lot of new TV fansubs is because “new” is a qualitative trait I look for in shows–being kept up as to what’s happening in the scene, what are the new developments. It’s also a preference towards art style, as I don’t particularly like certain styles of retro-looking animation.

What’s interesting is that shows themselves can create “Quality” elements. Watching the 16 episodes of Simoun, for example, creates a (very, very strong) desire to find out what the hell happens next. For some, the first 2 episodes of Fushigi Yuugi would have done the same, at a lesser degree. Or the first 2 episodes of Initial D. The “pilot” effect is strong when coupled with this sort of hook. Some people look for this kind of quality as a “good” thing, too. There are other responses which a work can solicit from us, that people desire. A very funny show naturally is qualified by its humor or jokes. It could even be a tongue-in-cheek sort of humor, but as a rule of thumb there aren’t too many people who can appreciate it to the extent as other more obvious traits.

There are also places where “Quality” and “Interest” overlaps. These elements, both qualitative and external to a show, are where the most excellent shows and franchises do well in. I suspect why Suzumiya Haruhi’s “perfect storm” rationale behind its massive popularity is a combination of hitting people with the right kind of qualitative traits (high production quality, good acting, suspension of belief, the right genre) and some not-so qualitative traits: such as capturing a very important, vocal segment of the fanbase; a wide approach instead of a narrow, element-based appeal; and having the right amount and right type of marketing (during a market lull to a degree).

On the “Interest” side of thing that tend to be external, we have obviously, the right kind of marketing. Samuel L. Jackson, for instance; or the name GAINAX. Shoujo is a good tag word in the North American market, as another example. Even having the right OP/ED song by the right kind of people makes a huge difference, but that might also be qualitative.

A strong fan interest kindles more fan interest. Hype begets hype. Suiseiseki is not a lonely doll but the banner of an army. VIPPERs. Dancing VIPPERs. SaiMoe. Animesuki forums. Anime conventions. Comiket. 2ch. And many others. All these are factors, “Interests” which leverage people into buying, watching, rewatching, or finding out about shows. It may be simple word-of-mouth. It could be hype. It could be just that a person sees for the first time images from a new show, and is interested.

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The Role of Fansubs in Today’s World: Food & Fuel for Fans

Canned Peaches

Aside from fansubbing for freedom, just why do people fansub? Who would commit copyright infringement of derivative work in producing a translated version of their favorite show, and do it again when they reproduce and distribute them?

I’m not sure how many people watch mainland Chinese-produced TV shows, but being able to watch some of the CCTV’s programming at my grandmother’s place via satellite, my impression was that they’re actually passibly ok. Granted sometimes it’s so obvious which segment is produced “with an agenda” and a lot of the TV stations there struggle to put content on the table, it’s not to say there are no interesting shows to watch.

But a Chinese fansub of Lost? Yeah, nothing like that. Definitely butchered Desperate Housewives just won’t fly with Chinese people in its purported ported form.

In retrospect this was almost like the case how anime took off in the US. We’ve had some anime on TV already for the longest time. Granted I wouldn’t call anime then really anything special, and anime as a form and as an industry has evolved in Japan over these decades, yet we had them in their rare dosage. Fast-forward to 2006; you can get relatively fresh anime on satellite/cable or even off the air with some regularity. Top hits like Cowboy Bebop and Naruto? Even family shows like Shin-chan? Crazy and unimaginable 10 years ago. HD anime? ZOMG.

But has anime as I know it landed on Plymouth Rock? In a lot of ways it has. Like Avatar? OEL manga? Otakon and AX? Manga sales in big-box bookstores? It has exploded, in some sense, in the mainstream of US. It’s even more pronounced in some other countries like France, where manga folds into the large print industry there like an adopted child from Asia.

Yet, in some ways it has not landed; in other words, how anime is in Japan (and indirectly so, the frame of mind behind the production thereof) has remained mostly a Japan-only situation. Partly, that’s what drives me to the internet in the first place–you could talk Pokemon and Digimon with people in real life, but not Magic Knight Rayearth. Some people knew about Evangelion, but most people didn’t really want to talk about it for the most part (lol). Best Buy may carry some of my favorite titles locally, but no one ever ask me to talk about them save once, when I worked there.

I suppose all I am doing is to suggest a new framework to examine the purpose of fansubbing. As an anime fan for a while and blogger for a short while, it struck me that while my preference is in the meta, anime fans still cannot exist without anime. That’s half of the reason why this blog exists. As such, fansubs are the fuel for fandom.

Fansub is food for thought; the carbohydrate culture where you cultivate fanboy germs.

It’s extraordinarily clear when it comes to Simoun. It’s just a huge pain in the ass to try to talk about this show: 1) It’s full of spoilers, so I can only really talk about it with people who has kept up as I did. 2) It needs subs, as the show itself is full of expository material, and hard to understand for me, and many others. 3) It needs a lot of subs, as the first bunch of episodes doesn’t really get into the show much, but rather more like an extended, no-apology extended introduction. Besides, all the juicy stuff happens later on.

Another example is FLAG. It’s a shorter series unlike Simoun, and it is very visual and visceral. However even if I can follow it raw, people just don’t pay attention to it out of lack of subs being available. At any rate, there’s a gap, imaginary or otherwise, between untranslated works and translated work. I think it’s fair to say, right now, FLAG is a show that has fallen through the fan network crack out of its poor fansub availability.

The idea that fansubs fuel fandom is predicated on a very obvious idea, I hope. If no one talks about the show, there cannot be any hype. The fan community thrives on words of mouths. People want to “take part” in the bandwagoning; the adoring and talking-it-up of a certain franchise. It’s half the reason why people hear about Fate Stay Night and Tsukihime, or even like it for some. We know hype, well, sells. But more importantly hype generates MORE hype, in the case of something genuinely interesting (and I mean that both in good and bad ways). It’s what drives fans, both people who flock to that and people who gets pissed off from hype. It’s why people bother talking about that stupid Bandai PR thing regarding Solid State Society.

But I did say Fate Stay Night, so I’ll be clear about it: yes, hype can exist in a vacuum without fansubs and anything like that. That is exactly why hype generates more hype–Fate is hyped already, and other fans feeds on top of it. Nonetheless you need something to start it off, and fansubs are one of those things. Again, look at Suzumiya Haruhi. (Inversely, hype also drives fansubbing.) And of course, the major argument today about needlessness of fansubs resides that the marketing machine is already in full swing as far as penetrating the fanbase online and the massive crowd of normal fan through more traditional outlets (TV, magazines, cons, store displays, websites that gives you the first ep for free, etc). Still, fansubs are a fairly unique way to market in which the substitutes just don’t go nearly as far. I think even today it is an important method to generate hype, if not the primary method to generate hype for titles that I am interested in.

If I had to say why, it would be because the historic nature of development of the anime fan scene has evolved in a way that is dependent on fansubs. Think of it as bonsai. See the next section for an alternative take on the effects of fansubbing on anime fandom.

While it isn’t conclusive or a solid indicator, you can get a feel as to popularity of currently-ongoing shows by just how widely available as fansubs that they are. Take Aria the Natural for instance (one slacking in being subbed), and compare it with Zero no Tsukaima (one that is right on top).

From another perspective, this role fansubs take on is just an extension of what they originally were for: to promote awareness of something wholly unavailable in one isolated demographic. However, that fansubbing is still alive and well today goes to show that the mission is not complete from some perspectives. Anime has yet to fully land on Plymouth Rock. The commercial infrastructure may be available, but it just hasn’t happened yet. Alternatively, what are fans to do when faced with this artificial chasm between the Japan scene and their local scene? News travel just as fast as these copyrightable “food for fans” and not even taking money into account, a fan will do what a fan has to do.

As fuel, fansubs sustain the internet fan infrastructure, and fans wear this badge in honor of the internet’s nature as a massive, unstoppable copyright infringement machine.

In essence, this is a description of fansubbing’s role in the meta. Just like the natural ecosystem which arranges the organisms in a food chain, the entire enterprise of fansubbing–from raw hunting to production to distribution to consumption to even talking about fansubs–affects the way how some fans perceive anime. In fact, given how anime companies outside of Japan are often run by people who at one point are a fan of the works because of fansubs or what have you, fansubbing historically may have left some mark in the way people look at anime as a business.

The reality is, though, that fansubbing is hard work. People do it because they like the material, because they like the process, and/or because they like the result. The flow of content from providers to consumers generates an imbalance. There is little apperciation for the fans (as they bitch about fansubs and don’t buy the local release) and little accountability for fansubbers (as they do things fansubbers shouldn’t to do).

And that’s not all. The amount of time fans spent talking and arguing about fansubs as if it is important alone is shocking :-) The legally-grey nature of fansubs only makes it all that much more the fuel for the fire. Fans treasure what feeds them, after all, so we would feel defensive about it naturally. It’s a bit of a paradigm shift especially from a fan’s way of thinking, stepping in the shoes of the corporate?

The historical basis is undeniable. Just like how we have workshops on fansubbing at cons and the now-defunct elaborate fansub trading networks of the 80s and early 90s, it was what it meant to be a fan for many back then. It’s the actual stuff you do besides talking about it with your friends or on Usenet. That shaped how fansubbing has lodged itself squarely in the heart of fandom, even if fans and fansubbers today are a different breed than how they were 10 years ago.

More seriously, I suppose what I am trying to get at is that unless you subscribe to some hardcore variant of the free culture idea, fansubbing and English-language anime fandom relate mostly on a historic basis. It is not going to go away until the gap between domestic commerical services of anime catches up with Japan’s level of service to the extent that it becomes easier for people like me to rely on the domestic labor (and pay them appropriately) to feed the inner fanboy.

One caveat I should raise is that while my premises are based on a generality, in reality no one owns a license to distribute anime in the US or any other country. Rather, they have a bunch of licenses to distribute specific shows in very specific capacities. So while one person can fairly proclaim that fansubs are unneeded/needed today, it’s only true for titles on his radar. Odds are there are still shows out there that could use the magical powers fansubs have demonstrated to have in the earlier days of English-language anime fandom. That said, it’s a whole different question as if the magic still works for those titles off our radars.

On the same basis, one should realize that fansubbing is a divisive topic and even the different R1 distributors have different opinions on the matter if you dig deep enough. It’s ultimately a decision that individual copyright holders and licensees have to decide individually in order to pursuit whatever course of action they think is best. I’m not going to speculate what that may be, but please do realize that these courses of action can be different.

Lastly I thank DarkMirage‘s little blurp slamming people bitching about Bandai’s threatening PR; and doubly thanks for calagie for the NYT article link.


Comic Cosmology or the Future of Doujinshi

YooriStyle

First, that Wired article really needs responding, thx PPP.

Disclaimer aside, the author of that article, Jennifer Granick, is working for Stanford Law School’s Cyber-Law clinic. Did that get me interested? Heh.

I’ve read pieces about doujinshi’s role in the manga-laiden content industry in Japan. I’ve read people shopping for doujinshi in Japan (check out Shingo’s … loot). Now I’ve read the reactionary nudgenudgewinkwink of a law professor’s yaoi doujinshi shopping trip in Tokyo.

Of course, that’s not all. Wired is considered as mainstream press, to me. Doujinshi, however, is not quite a mainstream item even in Japan. It’s the crowning icon of geek fandom, as the semi-annual Comiket is the holy grail of Japanese visual culture fans everywhere. But for us who cares about things like media content cartels and the rights of derivative use of copyrighted works, it’s an anomaly.

Since Suzumiya Haruhi is the top pick for day 3 of Comiket 70, that would make a fine example: Would you allow your fictional creation, the characters, settings, and concept of a juvenile science fiction series to be pasted all over the internet in various form of sexual deviancy? How about the animators and their drawings? The character designers and their designs? The voice actors’ likeness robbed?

Well, I don’t want to know your answer to having your work’s integrity reduced–how about the fact that Shingo spent over $600 on them and a fifth (I didn’t look at his loot pic closely) of the doujinshi he bought ($120) was pornographic, Suzumiya Haruhi doujinshi? Multiply that by, say, 120000 (a rough estimate of attendees on the third day)? Ok I know the numbers are way off and they’re estimates, but it’s still there to make a point: The reality is that in North America, that kind of profit making is not possible; at least not without a big, fat lawsuit attached.

Yet that is just not the case at Comiket, or the doujinshi scene generally. Creators often turn a blind eye to that. The behavior is reinforced when many of the creators themselves are a part of the doujinshi scene. The top two people for the Comiket committee are both professionals in the field; a manga critic and a manga editor for a major publisher. That’s not to mention the number of circles run by people who are professional mangaka, illustrators, designers, animators, etc.

Or the number of “professional” doujinshi circles, for that matter. People can make a living off this? That would be news to me if it didn’t make way too much sense. Even if for the most part doujinshi is inexpensive–usually size of trade paperback comics, and often with some colored pages, each going for about 1000 yen–it also doesn’t take a whole lot to produce one.

And here is where I totally kudos Granick’s second point: a creative environment fosters creative people when they’re allowed to innovate on other people’s intellectual works. It’s a careful distinction I’m making: it’s not about having the bread-cutter and bread so you can invent sliced bread, but being able to use knives, breads, chicken, widgets, and whatever so you can learn how to invent crap as a skill, and being able to make your creation relevant at least to a significant amount of people.

Indie artists and indie comic artists know how hard it is to break in. It’s kind of a serendipitous event that I’m so familiar with Megatokyo, because that could be considered as one of those webcomics that has kinda made it. And how so? It hitched a ride on roads paved by others. At least, if the road construction crew known as Air, Kanon, Martian Successor Nadesico, Bubble Gum Crisis, the concept of shoujo manga, and many other did pass by you, something like Megatokyo might ring a bell.

Indeed, it’s about harvesting that nexus of popular culture in order to web in an audience. It’s totally undeserving, but on the other hand it’s artistic expression at the edge of everything to fill in a vacuum untouchable by the legalities of copyright law and the common practices of copyright IP licensing. Just how do you make a pornographic version of Super Mario Bros crossed with Final Fantasy 7? Yet I’m sure there’s a significant demand for that, you sickos.

The nodnodwinkwink is really just that: America’s content producers and distributors: drop it already. You’re never going to reap where you are never going to sow, so why not let freedom of speech reign? Why not let culture develop like culture does? It fosters creativity! If you worry about integrity, you can still make a point out of that–Japan’s doujin scene is very good about that kind of ethical codes (unlike English-language fansubbers, sadly)! Besides I think any sensible individual knows to keep their Melfoy x Harry Potter yaoi somewhere where the sun don’t shine, and we can just tar & feather those insensible ones anyways.

Second, the future of Comiket.

Talking to a friend who talked to some of the Comiket committee people makes me understand that Comiket itself is just like any other convention structure that you’d expect. Considering the sheer size and the kind of obsessive behavior they have to combat, they actually have quite a tough time. On one hand, the recent years of Comiket had the local riot squad and FD handy at the event, just in case something breaks out; that’s not to mention the scores of security people they hire and the medical people. On the other hand they have to combat things like crime because the overnighters (people who camps out at the Big Sight from the day before) are usually loaded with cash (well, that goes for all the Comiket shoppers), attracting gangsters. Not to mention it’s just a big pain in the ass to anyone who lives near Tokyo Big Sight and the surrounding transit system.

But troubles aside, it’s still the pinnacle and heart of the Japanese doujinshi scene. While doujinshi and the like are sold all year round, in stores as well as in other cons and market gatherings, there’s already that legendary aura around this event. It’s still the de facto commercial end of operations, drawing clubs, circles, veterans and nubz alike. If someone were to pull a calculator and did a net revenue thing, it would yield an impressive number. Even with the fact that the doujinshi scene gets away with rubbing copyright law, it’s becoming a large enough of a thing to worry some corporate interests.

And of course, there’s just a problem with its sheer size. It’s hard to run a con that huge. Otakon capped its attendence in knowing that to run a con that’s even bigger it would require some significant change in its costs, characteristic, venue, and/or organization. From its humble beginning, Comiket went from 750 attendees to its fire-hazardous mass today. The real attendence is sketchy since they’re tallied on a per-day basis, to form a total of 420000 for C70 this past weekend. Obviously a lot of people went on more than 1 day, so there’s a lot of double or triple counting.

Still, one must contemplate the eventual end of Comiket. I’m in no place to guess how it will end and why, but it can’t go on forever. Has it already gone Red Giant? Will it go dwarf or nova next? These are exciting times indeed.