End of Semester Report

The past few months have been an interesting experience for me, as it has been the first time I kept up with a blog on a regular basis. And now, I have something  to confess: this blog was started as part of an online journalism class. In fact, everything you’ve read so far has been judged and graded by a professor at Rowan University. Being given the  option to end the blog, I’ve decided to keep it going (having almost 900 hits at this point, I figure somebody’s got to be reading it).

On going back over what I’ve done so far, the Greg Ayres Interview stands out, not only because it recieved a good deal of traffic, but because of how fortunate I was to get it. The Lolicon article was the most popular by far, being a controversial subject, and a complicated issue in the anime community. The “Two Nukes Not Enough” article got some traffic, as I caught  the story as it was catching on.

A personal favorite was the U-Con at  UCONN photo post, because it was my first time covering  an anime convention.

The post I worked hardest on was easily The Anime Tour of New York.

Now that the semester is over, I’ll be dividing my time between Otaku’s Delight and  my two other blogs, The Witches Dance and The Cinema Cell, and will not be updating as frequently. However, I  still have plenty of reviews lined up, along with an article on the history of anime, so stay tuned.

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The Anime Tour of New York

On April 24, members of the Doki Doki Anime Club took a trip up to New York, as we do every three or four months, to check out the sights, sounds and tastes of Anime culture. Our first stop was Mitsuwa marketplace in Edgewater, NJ. As close as you can get to Japan without leaving the country, Mitsuwa features restaurants, including an authentic Ramen stand, and a supermarket  specializing in Japanese inports. From there, we took a shuttlebus into NY, where we used the subway to navigate to our favorite haunts, incuding Kinokuniya bookstore, J and L games, and the Chinatown Fair Arcade.

If you’re an Anime fan, there’s no better way to find the collectibles you want – that is, the rare DVDs, the CDs of your favorite J-Pop bands, the games, figures, stuffed animals, art books and everything else – than shopping in the Big Apple. You just have to know where to look. As  mentioned before, Kinokuniya is an awesome  stop,  as  is Elizabeth   Center, Image Anime, Midtown Comics, and Forbidden Planet.

If you want to try the  kind of food your favorite anime characters eat, NY is the perfect place to do it. Prior to my first NY  trip, my experience with Ramen was limited to the cheap bags you find in the supermarket (of the kind perferred by starving college students). However, there’s no comparison with an authentic Ramen Bowl (if you’ve seen the early episodes of Naruto, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about).  There’s also a wide assortment of sushi, pastries, including taiyaki and gourmet cake, authentic bento boxes, and plenty of beverages like aloe drink (yuck) and Boss Coffee. And that’s just at Mitsuwa. Once you get into the city, there’s Yoshinoya (a Japanese fast food restaurant), Mei Lai Wah Coffee house (which has the greatest pork buns, both steamed and baked, known to man), and, located in a back alley, the dumpling  place. Not to mention a wide array of sushi restaurants and stores.

While on this journey, I sought to figure out what it was about anime and Japanese culture that had such an effect on Americans. Asking around, I found that some had  grown up with it, becoming attached  to shows without even realizing where they came from (shows such as Speed Racer and Star Blazers, for example, were anime before the term anime even existed). Others were drawn by a chance encounter with a movie or series, forever changed by a radically different means of storytelling. As for the why, the  response was always the same: there’s just some thing different, more mature, about the way animation is handled in Japan, a difference that allow the stories to be told and expressed in ways that American filmmakers are only starting to catch on to.

Altogether, the trip was a success. Now tired, poverty-striken, but pleased, we await our return by doing the one thing that Otaku are known for – watching anime.

If you are interested in taking the Anime Tour of New York, here’s a map marked with some places of interest.

Chris Patton: “I Can No Longer Appear at Conventions”

Last night on facebook, American voice actor Chris Patton announced that he was done with attending anime  conventions. The 39 year old Patton cited fatigue and a desire  to get back to work in his descision.

“Voicing commercials, audio books, eLearning, and to a somewhat lesser extent anime and video games is what pays my bills,” Patton wrote.  “Not conventions. And yet, imagine, in the last five weeks, I’ve spent four of those weeks MOSTLY holed up in a hotel, unable to audition, or work.”

Although he will finish out the rest of the convention season, his final appearance will be Nan Desu Kan in September.

Patton’s voice work in anime includes Ichiro in Nerima Daikon Brothers and the homunculus Greed in Fullmetal Alchemist. He recently completed an audio version of Alex Finn’s novel Beastly.

Abridge Too Far

Yes, I made a horrible pun with the title of this post. And yes, puns are the lowest form of comedy there is.

Moving on…

We all love watching anime. Chances are, if you’re visiting this page (unless you happen to be a certain online journalism professor, a friend/relative I badgered into visiting this page, or an internet denizen who wandered here by mistake) then you should agree with the previous statement. But sometimes, anime, for all its strengths can be long-winded, overly convoluted, and prone to worthless filler arcs used to bide time while the manga the series is adapted from is still being written. What can an impatient otaku do?

Maybe download the episodes online, edit them into the most essential bits, create a comedic fan dub, and stick it online?  Hence the creation of the abridged series.

An abridged series is exactly what the term implies – a heavily edited version of an anime, containing the most basic aspects of the story while dubbed with an overload of crude  jokes, fourth wall breaking humor, and American pop culture references. They are essentially the US equivalent of the various dojinshi sold at Comiket each year (i.e., using already popular characters to create fan made media).

The concept started with the very first abridged series, Yu-Gi-Oh. A British fan of the American dub, Martin Billany, known across the internet by the moniker LittleKuriboh, originally started the series as a joke, and  was surprised when it became an overnight success. Since then, various anime series (and even a  few live action ones) have been given the  parody treatment.

However, as with many fan-created internet works, the threat of copyright infringement and lawsuits linger over the  genre. It’s unlikely that a company such as Funimation or 4Kids would see much difference between a ten minute fan parody or an outright fan dub, although to date, not much has been done  to halt abridged series (save for an attempt by YouTube to take down LittleKuriboh’s videos, though he later started another page). For their part, abridged creators include warnings at the beginning of videos indicating that the work is a parody, and to “support the official release.”

Doki Doki Anime Meeting

Today, the Doki Doki Anime club met at the Collingswood public library, as we do every second saturday of the month.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed to make it on time (up late last night), so I got there around 11.

Among the programming lineup were episodes of Ghost Stories (a testament to the kind of fun you can have with an American dub) and Fullmetal Alchemist. Afterwards, we discussed the arrangements for the next NYC trip, to take place on April 24th. Assuming I have all my affairs in order (classwork done, cash saved up, equipment borrowed, etc) I’ll be covering the whole event for your nerdly pleasures. I do it for you, people.

Coming up on Monday: Where to find Japanese culture in the South Jersey area.

Farewell, Iwate Swan

I can’t believe it.

It had been months since I checked out Iwate Swan, the YouTube page of vlogger and Japanophile Roger Swan. Last night, wondering if he had posted anything new, I decided to check, only to be shocked by the comments offering condolences to his parents.

On Jan 27, days after making what would be his final video, Roger Swan bled to death of acute pancreatitis. He was 23 years old.

I only knew Roger from his videos, and then only for a matter of months. A reviewer of Japanese movies and culture, Swan managed to accomplish what most American Otaku dream of doing, actually moving to Japan and taking up as an English teacher. However, he was kind enough to bring his  incredible experiences back to us in his videos, which demonstrate what an incredible person he was.

A memorial fund has been set up in Swan’s memory.

His final video:

Dem Rep: “Two Nukes Not Enough”

Facebooking is hard to do, something New Hampshire State Rep. Nick Levasseur is learning the hard way. Yesterday, Levasseur wrote on his status “Anime is a prime example of why two nukes just wasn’t enough.”

Wait,  what?

The  Republican party, naturally, jumped on this, calling the Representative’s remarks ‘hateful’ and insensitive to the Japanese people, and for once, I have to agree with them. Disliking Anime is one thing, but saying that an entire country should have been nuked because of it? Did Goku pee in this guy’s cereal, or something? Did Lupin the 3rd steal his car? What exactly would possess him to say something like that? Unfortunately, no details as of yet have been provided on the context for the original comment, although he did issue an apology soon afterward (it reeks more of “I’m sorry I got caught,” than anything else). Let’s just hope the rest of the Dems in New Hampshire have the good sense to oust him before he embarrasses them again.