Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

I haven’t had much time to watch anime` lately. It’s weird and it’s unsettling, the way that life has intruded and suddenly, I’ve found my weekends occupied with home repair, travels to the in-laws, church, cleaning up the house, pet duties, financial concerns, and so many other nuts and bolts of real life. What I have recently rediscovered though is something which I knew all along — I need an escape, a place of healthy imagination and stories that inspire and transport me. I’ve always known this, but I haven’t taken the time to nurture my own spirit in this way.

It began with a weekend that my wife was visiting her folks and I plopped down to watch When Marnie Was There, a Studio Ghibli film. I think it was the film that drove me to finding something more meaningful. Long story short: like most of their films, it fails to ignite and it misses nearly every opportunity to deliver a meaningful impact. That left me unsatisfied, so this week, I rewatched Plastic Memories, and found it somehow healing. Yes, it’s a heavy show, but its purity and its perspective on making your life count linger.

I had felt like something was missing, and anime was one part of that. There are others, I know, but I’m back to write more about anime`, purity, and truth.

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A moment of introspection, if you please. [Cue the spotlight.]

I read a very interesting blog post called “The Two-year Death and History Repeating Itself in the Aniblogsphere” recently and it ushered in a legion of thoughts about blogging, anime`, and human motivation. First, it does seem that there’s a lot of churn in the anime` blogging world — not that I regularly read any anime` blogs — and that’s probably because there’s a lot of churn in the anime` world.

With an community devoted to watching things (wow, do I make us sound shallow here or what), there’s probably not as much stickiness as there is for real-life communities (like say pencil and paper roleplaying). I.e. it’s easy — for some — to just lose interest in watching something and instead watch something else. If they are blogging about it, then they tend to have a little more invested, and thus the two-year death sentence. They last a bit longer.

So why would they last even two years? Writers are stubborn! I’m sure people also get into this whole swirl of commenting and virtual friendships and all that, none of which has ever felt very real to me. That’s because most of the people that find my stuff Loathe It With a Passion, so there’s never been any community there for me. Sure, I’ve written things with an eye for getting attention from time to time; who hasn’t? But nearly all of the comments that come my way are disdainful hateful rants, so I just don’t care about comments. Thus the policy on this site.

But back to the main point. Churn in any blogging arena is inevitable because no-one can stop you from creating a blog. So you’ll always have the shallow flame-outs who move on to do whatever is new; and I’m not advocating for stopping those people. Part of life is exploring and if you do something and learn it’s not your thing, hey, that’s valuable experience. I don’t think we should raise the bar so high that potential writers are scared of even trying.

Also, I don’t think that there should be some kind of built-in commitment. That two-year death sentence is the two-year cell phone contract. Why require people to write for two years? What if they get lupus or something? What if they make it big in singing or whatever else they like to do? Big picture here, writing about anime` is actually less important than some other things. (Haters, that’s your cue.)

Now I’m not saying people shouldn’t care about their writing or make it as good as they possibly can. They should. You should do your best and be open to getting better and growing and all that. But I just disdain hectoring, finger-wagging statements like “blogging is like a sport — you need to be committed”. Blah. I’d rather just reward the good than yell at people for churning out pages of suck. They don’t listen to that stuff anyways.

I’ve been at this for three and half years. So I’ve avoided the two-year die-off, even though it’s been hard from time to time to keep going. But I guess part of the endurance is that I don’t think of as keeping going, as though I were the last survivor on a battlefield, looking for some resting point, lumbering on through incredible amounts of pain. I just look at this blog as a place to capture occasional thoughts on series that I like or dislike, and hope that it helps others in the same boat. There’s no requirement for me to write X words a day here; there’s no requirement for me to cover every anime` series; there’s no requirement for me to deal with haters; I just write about what I’ve been watching and that’s that.

So in a weird way, OO has survived because it is timeless. Even the blog layout is set up that way — to be content-focused and not time-focused. I think that might be part of some bloggers’ problem. They look at the months they’ve been blogging, sigh, and then wonder what it’s all worth. Me, I look at the guides and such that I’ve written and think, hey, here’s a signpost for anyone else going this way, and I did a decent job of it. I’ve done something good.

As long as I’m able to do something good, then OO will exist.

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Recently, I became acquainted with the taste of my own words. Humble pie. Crow. Mmm, good.

I thought that Taisho Baseball Girls would NEVER EVER be distributed. But as it turns out, a company called Sentai Filmworks has indeed distributed it for the North American market. Sure, that means they’re using subs instead of dubs, but I can officially buy it if I want to. Looking at their site, I find that they’ve jumped on the latest releases (things like High School of the Dead), and are releasing them within a year or so of their Japanese finale.

Wow. That’s a revolution in the anime` business model, one that if not sane, is getting darn close to it. Now we don’t have to wait years to see if there will be a NA release, and we don’t have to pay big bucks for it, either. I guess the big question now is — how good is their translation? The Amazon review doesn’t really go there, and I’d hate to spend $$$ only to find out that Saizen and twrev-Doremi did it better, you know?

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I have to admit that I’m perplexed. In my day job, I’m a technical writer. That means I need to understand general computer hardware/software, the particulars of my business (mortgage/finance), as well as all the aspects of English – audience, grammar, and so forth. What I’ve found is that apparently editing fansub scripts is more complicated and involved than the job I get paid to do! I edited a roughly translated script and was told that I should do QC instead. Really?

There are a few possible explanations here: one, the FSG is immature and petty. Two, I missed something categorical (like honorifics, for instance) that I just didn’t know. Three, they wanted perfection. There might be others, but heck if I know. I’ve seen the quality of English that goes into fansubs, and while there are some standout outfits, most of the time it’s just there, and it’s not rarely awful.

I know that I did better than most of what I’ve seen, although I’m sure it wasn’t perfect. What frustrates me is that I received no useful feedback; I have no idea whether I missed by an inch or by a mile. And the script was for Shiki, not something like Saiunkoko Monogatari!

I guess this is just one of those weird experiences that leaves you wondering.

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Nyaatorrents has hung a sign above its chat room, telling people to turn off their ad blockers. Why is that? First, the guy who runs Nyaa is probably not making as much money as he’d like due to people blocking his porn ads; second, people are probably complaining that they can’t find the download links. (I’m just guessing here because I don’t hang out in the chat room, but I’m pretty sure I’m dead on.)

I don’t use ad blocking per se, but a proxy filter called Glimmerblocker. Over the past months, I’ve laughed as Nyaa tried to outsmart those of us blocking ads. At first the ads were served from one directory, so it was easy to block them. Then the serving directory took on random names such as OMG and LULZ and so on; at first the images were all JPGs or PNGs, but then GIFs started coming through, so you couldn’t filter on just the graphic type anymore. I gave up on a regex to handle all the permutations and instead wrote one that blocked all graphics from the site. Yet, I download torrents from there whenever I want.

Here’s why Nyaa is stuck: serving up HTML links using anything but a href tags requires non-automatable solutions (such as creating custom Flash objects that launch URLs, for instance), which means that they’ll never be done. If you mess around with your filter, you should be able to block the graphics but leave the links intact. Doing that leaves you with some very small but functional links. Voila`! Porn avoided, and torrent happiness achieved.

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In a word, awesome.

New Voice Productions is raising funds to license Hoshizora Kiseki, with different levels of contributions leading to credits in the anime` itself and DVDs when it’s done. Not only that, but because they’re new, they’re looking for vocal talent. The movie itself was produced by the folks that did Voices of a Distant Star and it’s not at all bad. I couldn’t find much of it except for two parts on YouTube, though.

Anyhow, I just had to say that their marketing tactics are fantastic and they’re worth checking out. I could see me throwing $50 their way just because they are fans and they’re involving fans in the process.

Gumbatano New Voice Prods!

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Scarywater Is No More

Sometimes things happen that make you feel really old. When I first got into anime`, I loved Scarywater — the tracker/website over at a.scarywater.net. From there, I downloaded the first anime` series that I really loved — To Heart: Remember My Memories. It gave me Onegai My Melody, too, as well as Sainkoku Monogatari, D-Gray Man, and many, many others. It had a great archive where most of the torrents worked, a search feature so you could find them, and a total lack of lame and offensive ads (unlike Nyaatorrents, for instance). Lately, it hasn’t been as useful, but I still checked there for Onegai My Melody: Kuru Kuru Shuffle.

Very little lasts in this world, but it’s still sad to lose something that brought a lot of enjoyment into your life. Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s just anime`, but anime` tells stories and the characters sing inside you — and now those stories are stilled and I have only memories.

It’s even sadder because this was the last place I really felt at home in the anime` world.

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Lack of Posting

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been occupied with other things, but I haven’t stopped liking anime` or watching it. My interest in discussing sucky anime` has pretty much evaporated except to note which new shows suck when the next season hits; I probably won’t be critiquing older lame series that FS groups decide to release.

One thing I’ve finally picked up on, though, is that perverts gather together. There are certain groups that don’t do ecchi/hentai but they’re all over the PG-13 to R-rated trash that just barely makes it past Japanese censorship. Here are a few:


So if they’re the only ones doing a series, it’s a safe bet that that series sucks.

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Mourning MiniNova

This past week, they (a Dutch court) officially put the last shovel of earth over Mininova, which had been my #1 site for anime` torrents. To comply with the court order, Mininova took down ALL unlicensed material, which of course meant all fan-subbed anime`. I’m totally down about it.

MiniNova was unique in torrent-land, because it allowed you to publicly thank the uploader, and to comment on the torrent. That way you found out quick if the torrent was poor quality, something else in disguise, or whether it was worth your time at all. Sure, you’d see stupid little flamewars from time to time, but it was interactive and I liked it. Since then, I’ve been out to all the other torrent sites — you name it, and I’ve been there, and none of them are interactive. That’s why I stopped going to Anime Suki and other sites like them so long ago. I had no idea what I was downloading and sometimes even Google didn’t help.


MiniNova is no more. Let us mourn.

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The Anime` Blahs

One of the big problems with anime` is that series start strong and then enter the land of suck pretty quickly. So every time you start a new series, you’re preparing yourself for the worst. Eventually this wears you down and that’s where I’m at: kinda tired of anime` as a whole.

I’m officially sick of seeing every fourth character in a show end up gay or lesbian (here’s looking at you Vampire Knight, Ga-Rez-Zero, K-On, and so on). I’m also tired of seeing the same stock characters reappear in every show (for example, the spazzy photographer chick), the same lack of foreshadowing in almost every show, and the mindless thinking that different settings and cool animation can atone for lame plots, boring characters, no theme, and a lack of emotion.

So where does that leave me? Watching Onegai My Melody, knowing that it will end in a few short weeks as it hits episode 52, sitting on my hands for Honobono to finish up Hime-chan’s Ribbon, and hoping against hope that they don’t screw up Pandora Hearts.

What else is there to watch? The mecha stuff never interested me. Sports animes likewise bore me to tears (Prince of Tennis = yuck). Anime`s based on video games usually suck big time (Valkyria Chronicles, for instance). So what’s left? Pervy hentai junk or stuff aimed at middle-schoolers (Pretty Cure)?

I’ve got the anime` blahs.

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