Posts from April 2010

Why anime in the west is dying

The president of Bang Zoom! Entertainment recently wrote an article about how anime releases in the western world, specifically North America, are dying. Many others have weighed in on the issue and by and large have come back with bland responses to what is a firebrand and alarmist editorial from a unique position within the release chain. While the president's motives tinge the post with a dubious slant, the core argument is one that has been used before and will no doubt be used again. It's the same argument used by the commercial music and movie sectors, the difference being that instead of companies posting record profits, anime related companies are disappearing, and not simply the upstarts but powerhouses that used to be staples of any release schedule. To summarise the article: fansubs and piracy are killing off the western anime industry. There is no proof offered, no empirical evidence backing up this assumption but it rests upon common wisdom to support the argument. The argument is wrong.

The reason commercial, western anime releases are dying off is because the companies can not offer a competitive, viable alternative to fansubs.

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On the Aniblog Tournament

I have purposely refrained from comments on the ongoing anime blog tournament as I wanted anyone visiting my site for the first time to get a feel for exactly what this site is about rather than intimating that some sort of introduction was necessary beyond the about page. In short, I didn't want the first post new visitors saw to be about the tournament. I've also kept away from discussing the tournament on the hub itself, but that is for more complex reasons.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Senkou no Night Raid (Lightning Fast Night Raid)

Senkou no Night Raid is ambitions in many respects: it features a selection of spoken languages including Chinese, Russian and heavily accented Japanese and it takes place in a time when Japan's misguided "Co-Prosperity Sphere" idealism was still prevalent. That the series comes from A1 Pictures, responsible for Kannagi and Sora no Woto, and like the latter series is aired within the "Anime no chikara" (The Power of Anime) slot; its pedigree not in question. The first three episodes then demonstrate a series confident in story but shy with characters - a tale of espionage and artifice told using adolescents with super powers. With an estimated thirteen episodes and only the vaguest hints at an overarching plot, like Higashi no Eden before it, the short run could be the worst thing to happen to such a promising series.

straddles the line between demanding political manoeuvring and pulpy action thriller

Set in Shanghai in 1931, a group of four young adults are trying to retrieve a kidnapped company president; their rescue attempt is beset with problems though from an exploding car to a chase by boat turning out to be for a decoy only. After meeting with their handler, they mount another attempt to extricate the hostage, this time from one of the enemy's heavily manned forts. This does not pan out much more successfully than before and is only the first in a series of missions for the group, each of whom is gifted with a special, near magical feat which enables them to perform tasks impossible for others. Investigations into violinists passing information to the enemy as well as a serial bomber exhibiting similarly fantastical powers will test their burgeoning abilities, however their nemesis could well be far stronger than they yet know and is the sibling of one of their members.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Rainbow Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin

A story of incarcerated juveniles trying to survive the horrors of a detention centre in a post-war Japan is not the most obvious or accessible material to construct a series from, but Rainbow Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin does exactly that. Who better then, than Madhouse to craft something thoroughly engrossing out of the dark and violent? With a mostly untested production staff as well, barring the art director from Aoi Bungaku. The thrash-metal opening may jar horrifically against the serene introduction, potentially turning away the indifferent or the apathetic, but a momentary persistence reveals a gripping tale of camaraderie against constant oppression and though the story of the first three episodes may cover some of the most grotesque acts people are capable of, it is a powerfully human story and difficult to turn away from.

gruesomely authentic and provides a voyeuristic glimpse into a time that demands to be remembered rather than avoided

Six masked adolescents are being transported to Shio reformatory, scorned by the populace and beaten by the guards, their punishment for their varying crimes already long begun. Violated and humiliated by the on-site doctor, all six are shown to their cell where a lone occupant, Rokurouta Sakuragi, awaits them. Their confrontational first meeting ends with Rokurouta uninjured and the others unceremoniously pummelled; what starts from there is a spirit of survival, each one enduring the constant beatings and malevolence perpetrated against them while coming to terms with their own pasts. One guard in particular seems to take a perverse, sadistic pleasure from thrashing the inmates - Rokurouta especially whom he bears a special grudge; his duplicitous tendencies threaten to splinter the group when their survival relies on their comradeship.

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3 Episode Taste Test: K-On!! (Season 2)

K-On!! is not the harbinger of doom that so many make it out to be. For a show about the twee shenanigans of five high school girls and their band, it certainly is divisive. The first three episodes of the second series however do not highlight why; sure the opening sounds like it was dragged from the circle of hell reserved for naughty bagpipes and a lot of the animation work is demonstrative of a company with enough cash to be extravagant, but it's the fervour of the audience on both sides that likely bifurcates one's opinion more than anything. Despite the nagging question of its purpose, the series' the opening episodes prove an entertaining, sporadically cringe inducing saunter through a world without raunchiness, without violence but with plenty of sunshine and smiles.

the series is diverting attention to other members before the cash cow is unceremoniously milked

Picking up where the first season left off, the majority of the girls in the Light Music Club have now entered their final year of high-school and are dealing with the trials of schoolwork and attempting the get their band, Afternoon Tea Time, off the ground. The first piece of trouble comes from the realisation that after the end of the year, only Azusa will be left - a mad and ultimately fruitless scramble for new members ensues. The cleaning out of the music room cupboard reveals a hidden treasure in the form of their homeroom teacher's guitar. Lastly, peppy drummer Ritsu has a rare crisis regarding her instrument choice, saying that her position at the back of the band keeps her from the spotlight. Her trial run of different instruments ends much as Mio predicted, but does lead to a new song from keyboardist Tsumugi.

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