A look at copyright in Japan

Loveable rogue Lupin the Third – a case study in Japanese attitudes.

by Bob Johnson

The Japanese approach to copyright and trademarks used to seem a lot more relaxed, especially when it came to characters. In the 1980s it seemed like every other character was lifted straight out of a Hollywood film! In those days, to use some famous character in an anime, was seen as a parody in itself, or failing that, as no big deal. Probably the biggest example of this relaxed era is Lupin III, whose manga spawned an eternal fountain of new TV shows and feature films – plus a lawsuit from the Maurice Leblanc estate. By the time the family of the creator of the original Arsène Lupin caught on to the craze, their lawuit was essentially ruled to be too late.

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Unlimited Date-a Plan

In Another World with my SmartphoneSuppose – just suppose! That THE LORD himself killed you and kinda felt bad about the whole thing. By way of apology, Providence sends you to a fantasy world with magic, and makes you a superpowered hero who is completely sexually irresistible.

All of this seems to have happened to Touya Mochizuki, who, after a certain incident with what I assume was a mechanical rice picker, is thrust into a world where just having a cell phone makes you the bestest husbando. Where in the normal world he might only have been able to aspire to be the straight man in a slice-of-life anime, in this fabricated reality Touya has a preternatural ability to save damsels in distress and win their undying love in the process. Continue reading

Please Tell Me! Galko-chan

The Art of Making a Show About Nothing
by Bolt Vanderhuge

This show in a nutshell.

Just in case it isn’t obvious by now, I don’t really watch “slice of life” shows. I generally like the shows I watch to be about something, and the majority of shows that fit into that genre generally aren’t. It doesn’t help that the majority of shows like this also tend to take place in high school. I realize this is because the target audience of such shows tend to be in high school, but I still don’t get the appeal. When it comes to college-aged man-children such as myself, I understand that there can be a nostalgia factor, but honestly even when I was in high school I tended to be interested in things other than high school. Which is why shows like this tend to be more about the stupid shit friends talk about or do while they’re in high school. Of course, if you’re like me, while some of that can be kind of funny, it doesn’t really stretch very far. Which is why the absolute best thing about this series is that each episode has a run time of less than 10 minutes, which includes the minute and a half long opening.

This show is basically about a small group of friends consisting of a busty, bleach blonde girl called Galko, a grey sweats-wearing otaku girl called Otako, and a creepy rich girl called Ojou, and the pointless stupid shit they talk about in while they hang out together at school. Like how the anus is made out of the same kind of tissue as the tongue, at least according to Otako.

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Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius

Moécratic Vanguard for the black hole of anime gaming
by Bob Johnson

Jeez, next time, why don’t you keep it in your pants?  Every time you whip it out, someone has to clean up after you.  Seriously.  Your credit card has been causing me nothing but trouble.  Now just look at this mess of American-made otakubait games preselling their brand concept on KickStarter.

If you use Steam, you can download one such game, Sunrider:Mask of Arcadius, right now on a whim.  I wouldn’t exactly call it “Free” … it’s more of a demo.  But if you were cheap like myself, there’d be nothing sweeter than seeing that green “Download” box on its Steam Store page. Continue reading

What am I watch?! – Standup Comic Rakugo!

rakugo1There are some things that don’t translate quite right.

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, just as a title, doesn’t really work. You basically need a full sentence in English to unpack “Shinju,” even though MyAnimeList biffs an attempt in “Showa and Genroku Lover’s Suicide Through Rakugo”. In reply, I think my moé-addled brain was able to come up with “Ragtime Stand-up Suicide Pact” – but that’s not short enough at all! What I really want out of anime again, is the “Adjective Noun Protagonist” title format. You know, groin-punching names like Battle Angel Alita, Combat Unit Shinesman, or Ramen Fighter Miki.

Therefore, the English language version of this title should bear the name

Standup Comic Rakugo!

Wherein the dying art of Rakugo is itself the series protagonist. I think that’s bourne out by the four episodes I’ve cribbed fujoshi-squirming screencaps off of.

rakugo2Rakugo is a curiously Japanese form of theatre. It blends rote recitation with poetry, comedy, and voice acting, so it’s no surprise that this attracted top-tier talent.

Though there’s plainly more to it than I’m able to notice, the art involves tongue-twisters and rhymes, which you can hear just fine with untrained ears. Most essential to rakugo is the timing, tone, and delivery, which is absolutely spot-on. I never thought I’d be happy about a laugh track in a comedy, but without it, I’d probably be just as lost as I was with the deadpan Sayonara, Zetsubo-Sensei (where the only thing that translates is *crippling depression~!*).

I don’t think a dub could do this justice, given the plethora of licence houses from the flap-match reich that underbid on translators and seiyuu. Yet somewhere out there, there is a cadre of passionate voice actors that could get hold of this and prove me wrong with exceptional panache.

Maybe look it up:

Standup Comic Rakugo! (Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju)
Based on the manga by Haruko Kumota
Produced by Studio Deen, Simulcast by Crunchyroll

What am I watch?! Parasyte -the maxim-

This is an anime I caught midstream on Adult Swim’s Toonami. Because the schedule for 11/29/15 indicated that this was the only anime that was showing, this became my go-to for something to watch while I packed my bag for IAD.

I had started during episode 5 and ended on episode 7 (similar to the Crunchyroll box of anime method of viewing), and frankly was kind of weirded out-and this is someone who watched the likes of Tokyo Gore Police.

The setup is such: parasites descend, and/or appear on Earth, and/or travel too far on the Metro Silver Line to take over human hosts. Their usual operation is to burrow into the heads of their hosts via the ear, but since our protagonist, high school student Shinichi Izumi, was wearing his headphones, it goes to the logical alternate destination: his right arm.


Hand job, or blow job, I’m not sure…

Quite handy to have around

Quite handy to have around

Evidently, these little shits can fight and stuff like that, plus have extremely good spatial orientation. That’s cool and all, but goddamn I was laughing about the questionable choice on this “design”. Every one knows what every high school student does with their hands, and jfc, the Rule 34 writes itself.

I’m equally curious by the plot plus cool fights and oddly off put by the character design of the main character/parasite. Everyone else gets the headcrabs, yet our guy gets the a hand with eyes, lips, mouth, fighting ability, and a judging look while you fap thinking you cheated because you used the other hand.

I can’t wrap my head around this, but like the Silver Line, perhaps patience will pay off to something better?

Sugar in the Geass Tank

Stop and go rebellion limits Lelouch’s mileage

by Bob Johnson

Code Geass is a show about family. A family that you want to kill, and the friends whose families you accidentally kill, and all the random dudes that you kill along the way, but who cares about them?

Our ‘hero’ is Lelouch VI Britannia, a fallen prince of a globe-spanning empire run by his father, evil George Washington. He has been hidden with his crippled sister Nunnally at a private school in Britannia-occupied Japan, now known as Area 11. A master of logic and strategy, he starts off with two conflicting goals; to make his family pay for his disgrace and the murder of his mother, and to make the world safe for onee-chan.

Battle Plans depend on Pizza (Hut)

In an alternate history where there is no America, or America is Britain? or you know, whatever, ‘Murica still develops the franchise restaurants it needs to conquer through mass obesity.

After gaining the power of Geass from C2, an immortal cult priestess, Lelouch discovers he can issue one unbreakable command to any person he meets. This is just what he needs to finally begin his rebellion against the Area 11 occupation force, and compel his royal relatives to finally tell him the truth. Steadily he builds a media presence with a supervillain persona, then an elite vanguard for the revolution, and once he gains the financing and technology of Japan’s underground elite, his eventual victory seems assured. But the show goes off the rails right about there, as Lelouch refuses to make quick moves to seize the country. Instead we detour into the background of the Geass cult, only finally getting back to that conquest thing at the season finale.

Of course the logic of Geass makes no sense at all. If you can issue an unbreakable command, why not go with something like “Do everything I tell you” ? For a show to put so much energy into plans and strategy, and not at least lampshade this, seems off. Also, if C2 can give Geass to anyone, why doesn’t she do this more often? Oh, it drives everyone insane. And she feels bad about that. But she can’t stop doing it? Maybe she’s really an Ardat-Yakshi and can’t get off without melting bishonen brains.

While being handwavingly shonen when it comes to anything plot-related, Code Geass doesn’t shy away from a certain adult appeal – this show’s fanservice is legendary. The leading ladies are lesbians or just accidentally fall onto each other’s boobs. And your imaginary girlfriend will be unable to put down her yaoi paddle whenever Suzaku is strapping into the Lancelot under the watchful eye of Count Megane Shonenai.

If you want drama with your cheesecake, Lelouch is fawned after by the sweet Shirley (who Milly also has a thing for), the tsundere Kallen, and the ancient but loliform C2. One of the mooks from Lelouch’s army picks up a lady who turned from a badass Britannian agent into a sweet and perfect waifu following a serious blow to the head (thanks, Japan 😐 ). Suzaku has to fend off throngs of fangirls to accept rabu from his princess; this causes Nina to devote her yuri energy solely to the cause of nuclear devastation.

Kallen pilots doggy-style

Kallen serves with distinction.

Despite its shortcomings, the show has some rewatch value. Instead of focusing on Lelouch, pay attention to Suzaku Kururugi, our real hero. Suzaku fights institutional racism to become the first Japanese knight in Britannia, and pilots the most badass mech in the world. If Lelouch would just stop fucking with everything, Lt. Kururugi could change Britannia from within. Was that really naive?

Though there is a Season Two, the Table Heavy Industries analysis division informs me that it’s not worth it to continue. Judging by the way the show was already puttering out, I’m inclined to agree. This show promised to deliver the revolution in 30 minutes or less. What I got was stuffed with hot cheese, but the toppings slid off instantly, and when I thought about it, I noticed my Pepsi was missing.

Maybe look it up:

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
Written by Ichiro Okouchi, directed by Goro Taniguchi
Produced by Sunrise, Licenced by Funimation

What Am I Watch: Toonami Edition

by Gristle McThornbody

For the first time in 3.2 years, I got a chance to catch Toonami. They have a good lineup, and an interesting anime worth exploring more would be Michiko & Hatchin. I only caught the 1st episode, and so far it passes initial tests, such as the theme song, and animation, which is by Manglobe. The same people who drew up Ergo Proxy and Samurai Champloo bring us this lusciously animated piece about an escaped criminal (how topical), Michiko, who rescues an adoptee, Hatchin, from her abusive foster “family”.

Michiko & Hatchin

See where I get the FLCL vibe?

Initial impressions are that this plays like FLCL + 70’s action/blaxploitation flick with the appropriate soundtrack. Thus far, it’s slick and interesting, and I’ll be sticking around for at least the 3 episode test-and if I like what I see, than in the din of the next month, I’ll complete it and report back.

Did I mention that Michiko is voiced by Monica Rial?

It’s funny that in this current period of anime stagnation that I just found this one. Odd that this one flew under the radar.

Michiko & Hatchin
Written by Takashi Ujita, Directed by Sayo Yamamoto
Produced by Manglobe, Licenced by Funimation

Lost in Scanlation

Who will bring America’s awesomeness back into English?
by Bob Johnson

9/11 never looked so kawaii

9/11 never looked so kawaii

Dedicated manga readers seem to both love and hate scanlations. The love comes from having good new manga ready faster than official releases. The hate comes from the inconsistent or kludgy quality. Then depending on the commenter’s sense of self-righteousness, there is the inevitable white knight lecture on copyrights.

Well, I’m sure that the creators of anime and manga never, ever wanted to inspire others to be creative. That’s why there’s no word for doujin in Japanese.

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The Moé is Love, The Moé is Fight!

As Japan’s military expands, so too does the anime market
by Punch Rockgroin


Of course you can’t take this seriously, when did anyone think the Italians were a threat?

Japan’s armed forces have been a question lately. With China quickly building up their naval presence, there is reason to worry. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agrees that a strengthening China is a bad thing, and wants to build up Japan’s forces accordingly. But not everyone agrees, no sir. Others think this increase in military strength is just Abe wanting to return to the old (read: before WW2 was ended in nuclear fire for Japan) ways and take the country back to war. But… thinking so much about such a serious matter is so stressing. The average otaku doesn’t want to think about the consequences of provoking an army that’s tens of millions strong. They’d rather think about cute girls in tanks, or guns as cute girls, or what airsoft would be like if they and their friends were all attractive teenage girls. Considering the industry is made of people like this as well, the world of military moé really wasn’t that much of a stretch.

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