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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Obligatory "4Kids Being Sued" Post

I know this is one topic that is going to have mostly a mixed reaction judging from the message boards over at Anime News Network on this topic.  But since it’s gotten 8 pages worth of mentions over there I thought I would put my thoughts about this down to blogosphere.

4Kids Entertainment is currently facing a lawsuit in regards to possible business infractions when it came time to paying those who own the Japanese rights to the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise.  The lawsuit accuses 4Kids of hiding profits as “service fees” when making hidden deals with companies such as Funimation in regards to distributing the show on DVD and in developing video games.

For those who aren’t familiar with 4Kids Entertainment (all 3 of you), the company started in the 1970s, but didn’t start television distribution until 1990.  It was around that time that they acquired what would become one of the many anime properties under their wing – “Pokemon.”  Most notably, the first 8 seasons of the show.  In that time, they added such titles as “Yu-Gi-Oh!,” “Sonic X,” “Shaman King,” and “One Piece.”

However, when acquiring these properties, 4Kids also earned the ire of anime fans by editing the shows to make them more “Americanized.”  Not simply making minor edits to make them more American kid friendly, 4Kids has made some very, very weird choices when it comes to their edits on the show.

As prime examples:

“Pokemon” – food for some reason seemed to be a victim of the “Americanization” treatment.  Because most Americans wouldn’t be familiar with what “rice balls” were, early dubs called them “donuts” (while clearly showing rice balls on a plate), while others replaced the rice balls with either a sub sandwich or a cracker or some other “American” food.

“Yu-Gi-Oh!” – Instead of focusing on the original story, 4Kids decided to shoehorn into the dubbed version messages about friendship. So a whole plot about a character’s amnesia is abandoned so that Yugi can talk about how his friends helped him out in yet another tight situation.  No wonder true fans complained about the show being repetitive.

No One Dies On Our Watch! – 4Kids seemed to think that kids couldn’t handle the topic of death.  There are numerous examples in the licenses that they acquired where they would replace someone’s death with either saying they were “taken away,” “imprisoned,” or just simply “disappeared.” Guns wer forbidden in 4Kids edits, as well.  They were either replaced with water pistols, something that didn’t look like a gun, or just simply disappeared.  Thankfully they didn’t seem to resort to the Steven Spielberg/”E.T.” re-edit treatment of turning any of them into walkie talkies.

The most infamous of their license edits was that of “One Piece.”  Some anime fans blame 4Kids specifically on why the show never became more popular here in the U.S.  Along with editing out blood, guns, and generally anything that they deemed inappropriate for American kids, they also changed the opening theme song to something more “rap styled,” and re-edit episodes in ridiculous ways, changing the order of how some things happened in the show.  Funimation managed to get the license back from them, and is now releasing new dubs of “One Piece” in its original broadcast edit.

What’s sad about this is that many of today’s generation get interested in anime because of shows like “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and “Pokemon,” edited by 4Kids.  I’m a little older, so my interest was sparked by a show that I didn’t realize how badly it was edited and dubbed until years later – what was formerly released in Japan as “Gatchaman,” but was known here in its heavily edited form as “Battle of the Planets.”  I can understand some edits – in “Battle of the Planets,” one of the characters was a cross-dresser, but they turned him into 2 characters in order to avoid the topic altogether.  I was re-sparked when I was doing my undergraduate studies and my father had Anime Network on Video on Demand, and bored I would check out what was there and got hooked on a few shows.

But back to the topic at hand.

4Kids, to the chagrin of anime fans, has been losing money over the past couple of years.  They were delisted from the New York Stock Exchange last year. And now with this lawsuit and the loss of Yu-Gi-Oh! From their licensing, it’s possible that now 4Kids will go under because no Japanese company will want to work with them to license work in the United States. So it’s possibly the end for them as far as anime licensing goes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cosplay Assistance: Akatsuki Clouds

My next immediate cosplay project is coming up this weekend.  Now that I'm done with my costume except for a few minor fixes, I'm working on my stepdaughter's next.  She wants to go to Anime Boston as an Atkatsuki ninja from "Naruto Shippuden."

So naturally, one of the things I had to look for was a pattern for the red and white clouds on the cloak.  The first thing I found was a guide for placement, which I thought would be a big help once I found the patterns.

Created by Apocali at deviantART
So even after a Google search, and after finding one person's clouds weren't going to help me, I finally decided to cut the cloud outlines from the side of the tutorial from a printout that I made earlier and increase the size of each of the pictures.

So here are the templates that I made:

What you'll want to do is right click on each of these pictures, choose "Save As," and save them to a file.  Use a photo program to either increase the size of each picture to 8.5" by 11" or choose "Full page" as a printing option.  What I used was HP Photo Essentials that came with my printer and chose "Full Size" when printing.  If for some reason it doesn't print out to the full size of the paper, trace the image in pencil and then follow the pattern around it.

Here's a good tutorial on how to make the clouds once you have your patterns.  I plan on adding black dimentional paint as an outline to make them "pop" more and to hide the stitching a little bit.

I hope that helps some people who are making the cloaks.  This weekend I'll take pictures of the progress on the cloak itself.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I've Been Busy

I haven't posted as much as I would like, but I assure you that will change once Anime Boston comes around.  Because of budgetary issues I'm only going to be there on Saturday, but I will be sure to get some good interviews since I've been approved for a press pass.

But here's a picture explaining why I've been so busy as of late.

Welcome to my cosplay costume for Anime Boston!

I still have to fix some things on the coat and the skirt, but otherwise expect to see me in this outfit if you happen to be there.

For those who aren't aware of who I'm supposed to be, it's Julia Silverstein from "Blood+."

I decided to go as her because despite going to two previous conventions this will be my first time cosplaying, so I wanted something that would be simple enough to put together.

The lab coat and the skirt were both made by me.  It was my first time sewing clothing, which is why I have to make some minor changes to it such as topstitching along the top of the skirt and fixing one of the facings on the lab coat.  There's also no interfacing on the collar or the facing, so it's kind of flopping around.  But that's something I'll think of for the next time I make this lab coat.

If you look at Julia's profile picture, you'll notice that the skirt is pretty short.  Since I'm just south of 40 and have "mommy legs," I wasn't about to go that short with the skirt, so I made it just long enough for me to be comfortable, which is just above the knee.  And that would be my intention with any skirt that I make for cosplay from this point on.

I tried to make a top, but every time I tried to fix something, it would get screwed up, so as I was about to try again I found a bathing suit top that fit the costume.  And since I needed a new bathing suit anyway, I picked up some bottoms as well.  I just have to tighten up the top a little more when I wear it so that "the girls" don't make a sudden appearance when I have to bend over for anything.

I'm going to point out that the picture of me is just of the outfit, no accessories except for the clipboard (which will not only serve as a convenient place to put my notes from interviews, but also will hopefully help in identifying my character because there will be a "medical profile" of the main character Saya on there).  I still have to get the following items: black pantyhose, high heeled shoes (but not so high that I can't walk in them), a belt, a red hair tie, and some costume jewelry.  I will most likely make the necklace(es?) that she wears because it looks ridiculously simple. But I have a friend who is going to look through her costume jewelry for some clip on earrings that I can possibly wear. I'm planning on wearing my own glasses, since that was part of the point of why I chose this character was so I wouldn't have to go without my glasses.

The last thing I'm doing is dying my hair. It just so happens that my natural hair is roughly the same length and style as hers, so I'm going to go to a salon the week before and have my hair bleached and dyed to her hair color.  I don't want root showing before we go down.

When the whole costume is done, I will post another picture up here.

My stepson is planning on going as Sebastian from "Black Butler." He's already got most of what he needs for that.  My stepdaughter's costume is next.  Since I don't watch "Naruto," when she told me she wanted to go as an Akatsuki (I had to ask her to spell it for me), I thought it was a particular character.  Didn't realize it was a whole group. So that's going to be this coming weekend's project.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On Netflix: Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl

"Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl" is one of a number of Japanese gore filsm that became popular around the height of the movement, although this one has a bit of a lighter touch than previous films in the genre.  Based on the manga by Shingiku Uchida, the film is very gory, but it's also very, very silly.

The plot (what there is of it) involves a vampire named Monami who falls for the handsome Mizushima, who is already in a forced relationship with the vice-principal/science teacher's Lolita-dressing daughter, Keiko. After Monami turns Mizushima into a half-vampire, she kills Keiko during a fight.  But what no one knew was that Keiko's father was secretly a kabuki-dressing mad scientist who had the school nurse as his lab assistant, so he puts Keiko back together Frankenstein-style, and now it's the ultimate battle for Mizushika's affection, regardless of how he feels about the whole thing.

Like I said before, this movie is high on the gore factor, typical of this genre.  But it's also high on the goofiness, making fun of several different subcultures such as lolita and ganguro cultures.  Ther is also a group of girls who are participating in a wristcutting competition.

The budget on this film looks like it was done on a shoestring at times -- the blood doesn't look real most of the time.  But then that's part of the charm of this film. It allows you to laugh along with this film, because it definitely is not meant to be taken seriously at all.

If you are looking for something that's reminiscent of "Dead Alive," I highly recommend this one.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Our Thoughts And Prayers Go To Japan

Art by Noizi Ito, illustrator for the Haruhi Suzumiya light novels
I am sorry that I haven't written more here about it, I've just been trying to wrap my mind around it.

So far, over 10,000 feared dead, with 1,800 confirmed as of last night. Nuclear reactors are in danger of meltdown.  And a volcano just erupted earlier today, which may or may not make it difficult for planes to come in for assistance. Food and water is scarce at the moment.

Anime News Network is keeping a running list of anime/manga/industry members who have checked in online.

American simulcasts have been postponed until further notice, since right now it's news 24/7 over there.

Japan has one of the lowest rate of blood donations in the world, so if you can give blood at your local American Red Cross donation center or scheduled blood drive.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

So What's Going On With "Dance In The Vampire Bund?"

@NebsTV on Twitter posted on today being the one year anniversary of when FUNImation made its announcement that they would release Dance In The Vampire Bund censored because of concerns about violating US child porn laws, and the outcry from anime fans about the decision. This forced FUNImation to make another announcement that they would take the episodes on a "case by case" basis before making a final decision.

So now, it's a year later.  The show was simulcast on FUNImation's website, and is scheduled for its DVD release this summer.

Is it going to be censored or not?  Don't know yet.  FUNImation hasn't said either way.  I posted on their forum earlier tonight to see if I get an answer.  If I do, I'll post it here.

But when they made the announcement, I didn't fault them for the decision.  It's still their company, and if they have to censor in order to make sure they comply with US laws, then they have to do it.  The sensibilities in Japan are different than they are here in the United States, so I don't think what FUNImation was planning was a bad decision.

Think about when Seven Seas Entertainment acquired the rights for Kodomo no Jikan, a manga that was controversial because of its subject matter involving a nine year old who was infatuated with her teacher and did some rather adult things to get his attention. After going with the title "Nymphet" (because it turned out, "Kodomo no Jikan" was also the title of a hentai anime), Seven Seas made the decision not to publish the title after looking at further chapters in the series and deciding it was getting rather close to lolicon.

So was Dance in the Vampire Bund close enough to lolicon for FUNImation to consider censoring the show?  I'll give you an answer as soon as I find out what it is.