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Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Spring 2014 Anime Season is coming up!

What would YOU like to see me cover?

Grabbing the list from Japanator of titles that feel are getting the biggest buzz, I'm trying to decide which titles I want to start doing recaps for either here at Turning Japanese or at (similar to the recaps I did for "Brothers Conflict" and "Danganronpa: The Animation" a few seasons ago).  Here is the list they have:

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
Knights of Sidonia
The Irregular at Magic High School
No Game, No Life
Nanana's Buried Treasure
Brynhilder in the Darkness
Mekaku City Actors
Ping Pong the Animation (based on a 20 year old manga, which is rare)
Black Bullet
Daimidaler the Sound Robot
Captain Earth
One Week Friends
Chaika the Coffin Princess
Magica Wars
Selector Infected WIXOSS
Kanojo ga Flag wa Oraretara
Mangaka-san to Assistant-san
Akuma no Riddle
Atelier and Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky
Tricks of the Gods

In this mix we have some sports anime (Ping Pong, Haikyuu!), some harem anime (Kanojo ga Flag wa Oraretara, Tricks of the Gods), lots of action shows, at least one borrowing a concept from "Sword Art Online" (No Game, No Life), and a few other titles that I don't know how to immediately classify.  There are more series coming out than this, but this is just the ones Japanator thinks will get the biggest buzz.

So, which show or shows would you like to see me recap from this list?  Or would you like to see me recap a completely different show?

Programming note: Because I have a FUNImation Elite Subscription account, any shows slated to air there will get more immediate recaps.  I don't have a paid account with Crunchyroll, so any shows being streamed on their site will get recaps the next week.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Funimation, Gawker, and the Smearing of a Company

We all know the term "fan service."  In general entertainment, the term could apply to anything in a work that fans would recognize that would be considered a "reward" for being a fan of the work.  As an extreme example, Kevin Smith's film "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" is an exercise in fan service, a virtual "love letter" to the fans of Smith's films because of how many references to other works from the Askewniverse are made in the film.

Anime fans who use the term, however, are referring to shots in an animated work that either involve boobs or butts, or otherwise show off the "physique" of a female or male character.

Now, to be fair, almost every anime show has a little bit.  It's when it gets prevalent that sometimes it can go into "ecchi" territory. The most obvious examples are when they have the characters take a trip to the beach or the pool, giving them an excuse to feature the female characters in skimpy swimsuits.

But remembering that Japan is still very much a very patriarchal society, should an anime company be called a purveyor of "smut" by our standards?

In an effort to discredit a political "enemy," Gawker overstepped their bounds with a recent article regarding anime distributor FUNImation Entertainment, its founder and CEO Gen Fukunaga, and Christian film company EchoLight Studios, which is backed by former presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

The connection is that Fukunaga is also the founder of EchoLight Studios, which is not a huge secret.  What Gawker is trying to use as ammunition is the fact that FUNImation Entertainment has some "fan service" titles in their collection, making it sound like FUNImation distributes anime porn.

Now, Gawker makes it sound like FUNImation is the only company that diversifies its production companies to make or distribute different kinds of films or products.  Hollywood has been doing this for years -- a prime example of this is Disney, which has production companies dedicated to more adult fare versus the family-friendly Disney brand.  In the more independent market, Troma Entertainment produces and distributes mostly extreme B-movie grindhouse style films, but also has one company dedicated to distributing classic movies from the 1940s and 1950s.

Depending on their particular business model, every anime company has a collection of "fan service" titles among their catalogs.  Sentai Filmworks, for example, carries "Highschool of the Dead" among their titles, which mixes "fan service" with zombie stories. Aniplex of America distributes shows like "Oreimo" and "Kill la Kill." Arguably, FUNImation has more "fan service" titles, but they're also one of the biggest distributors of anime in the US.  It's not a major focus of their business -- out of over 200 titles in their catalog, only 60 titles are classified as "fan service," and out of those, probably 27 of those titles have a focus on  "fan service" material.

Although the show "Sekirei" was a top seller for them when it was released on DVD, most of their bread and butter is on the shounen/action titles such as the "Dragonball" series (which is how the company got its start), "One Piece," and "Fullmetal Alchemist."  The show predicted to make huge bank for the company once its released on DVD: the mega-hit from last fall "Attack on Titan," which is slated to get a second season.

Overall, Gawker is way off base on this one.  In their attempt to smear someone else, they ended up dragging in another company and making them out to be what they weren't. In the future, the writers at Gawker should do some more research before writing their pieces.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Anime Boston 2014: The Aftermath

One of my goals for the upcoming year is to post more here.  So here is my first post for 2014: how I survived Anime Boston.

Because of how expensive the trip can get (and it got more expensive for congoers this year since they got rid of the one day passes for every day except Sunday), I only go on Saturday because that's when most of the major events happen during the week.

And, oh boy, was there a major event on Saturday.

But before I get to that -- one thing I've learned about going to Anime Boston is that, if I want to keep my sanity, only attend the stuff I really need to attend in order to write stories.  What this usually means is industry panels -- panels that are held by major distributors.  Last year, I attended panels for Sentai Filmworks, Aniplex of America, and Funimation.  This year, the only industry panel I attended was Funimation because it was scheduled back to back with Aniplex of America, which was in another building and would have required me to go through the bag check again if I had gone.  And Sentai didn't have a panel this year despite being a sponsor.

This year, most of the events that I needed to go to were in the afternoon, so it gave me some time to explore the Dealer's Room and Artist's Alley beforehand.

When I go to Anime Boston, I have an unofficial tradition that I have to get at least a DVD and a t-shirt, which started with my first year going in 2011 (I bought a Dr. Who t-shirt for my husband, and I purchased the first "Eden of the East" movie before it officially went on sale, getting it signed by voice actor J. Michael Tatum who was there that year). This was my haul for this year:

I should say, this was PART of my haul -- towards the end of the day I bought a $20 grab bag which included a Gundam toy, a manga, and a few other things.  But these were the things I bought on purpose. :-)

When I went in this year, it was with the goal of buying "Akira" here since it was on my initial Christmas list.   From watching it this weekend, I like what Funimation did with this special edition, which celebrates the movie's 25th anniversary.  They included both the 1988 English track and the re-done 2001 track as well as the Japanese track.  Plus, there's a bunch of extras related to the remastering of the film and other things that are interesting.

The t-shirt I looked around for awhile before I decided on what I wanted to get.  This one I thought was totally adorable and funny at the same time (and not black -- the three anime shirts I have on rotation for these occassions are all black).  Considering that next year's theme for AB is "Kaiju vs. Mecha," I'll definitely be wearing this next year.

And then we have the three manga I bought as part of a "Buy 1, get two free" deal.  "Excel Saga" is one I collect (I have the first seven volumes -- I thought I had eight when I bought this one, but when I went home discovered that I didn't).  "Toradora" I had heard of, but thought it might be interesting.  And "Taro and the Magic Pencil" was one that I bought for my son. Since I brought it home, he's been reading it on his own and asking me to read it to him -- for a kindergartener, he reads like a third grader.  So that might be one where I'm going to look for more of those titles when I go to cons or online.

Like I said, there was a doozy of a big event this weekend that warranted this much of a packed house:

 This was just before the premiere of the first three episodes of the "Attack on Titan" English dub, where they announced that lead character Eren Yeager would be voiced by Bryce Pappelbrook ("Sword Art Online," "Blue Exorcist"). I know some site reported on the audience singing the "Jeager!" line when it came up, but I would argue that it was the most audible of the singing -- I could hear people around me singing the entire song.

I ended up talking with the press guy who was sitting next to me, who at one point said, "Why is this show so popular? It's not Shonen Jump!" (I think he was being sarcastic), and at one point admitted to me that this was his first time seeing the show and was taking guesses as to what the Titans really were (which he was WAY off, and I didn't want to spoil it for him in case he decided to continue watching the show).  Unfortunately I didn't stay for the Q and A afterwards because I had told my stepdaughter and her friends that I would meet them at 6:30 to go home.

After watching these first three episodes in the dub, now I want to get this when it's released in June. (Just the standard edition, only because the collector's edition, as cool as it looks, is out of my price range and has too many small parts that might get lost and in the hands of a curious five year old)  Or maybe next year's Anime Boston purchase?

Overall, I had a pretty good time.  Next up: Another Anime Convention!