Shin Chan

There’s a  lot about Shin Chan that would make people nervous.

To begin with, most people in the west would  assume that a show about a five year-old would be targeted to that age group, which make the show’s surprisingly off color jokes about vibrators, spousal abuse and AIDS all the more shocking. Next, our squeamish attitude towards nudity, especially concerning minors, tend to make frequent appearances by “mister elephant” and Shin’s bare ass embarassing at best and downright disturbing at worst. And, of course, we tend to take a certain quality  in animation style for granted, especially where  anime is concerned. Shin Chan, by contrast, makes Ren and Stimpy  look like fine art.

Admittedly, when I first saw Shin Chan when it premired on Adult Swim a few years back, the grotesque animation put me off. However, after about five minutes of watching, I was laughing too hard to care.

Following the adventures five-year old Shin Nohara, his cute but ever mischevious baby sister Hima, his long-suffering father Hiro, his flat-chested mother Mitzi, and the cast of characters surrounding the Happy-Fun-Time American school he attends, Shin Chan is basically dead baby comedy at its finest. Watch  at your own risk.

Hot Spots For Anime Culture in South Jersey

If you live in the South Jersey area, where’s the best place to get your Otaku fix? Turns out there are plenty of comic book stores that sell manga, pvc statues and robot model kits, Asian groceries and restaurants that serve the kind of food you’ve only read about in Oishinbo: Japanese Cuisine, and plenty of gaming stores featuring Japanese  titles of all kinds.

Places marked with tacks are those I’ve been to. Green tacks mean the place is highly recomended, blue tacks are okay, but  may not be worth the effort, red tacks should be avoided like the plague.

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:

Greg Ayres Interview

He rocked the stage as Hideki in Nerima Daikon Brothers, and stole hearts as the soft spoken cross-dresser Yuki in The Wallflower. Today, Richmond, VA native Greg Ayres continues to steal hearts in the world of voice acting, and continues to rock on the side as a DJ. Thankfully, he was able to take time out of all that rocking to be interviewed over email. 

How did you become a voice actor?

I never really set out to be a “voice actor” specifically. I have been acting professionally since the age of seven. I’ve done stage, radio, TV, film, along the years, and am always looking for new venues to “perform.” While voice acting seems to be the best “fit” so far, It’s not something that I ever thought I would do for a living.

There are lots of people who want to get into the voice acting business, but want to skip the whole “acting training” part. I’m afraid that’s not a reality. With only a few exceptions, almost all of us in this field have some sort of background in the performing arts.

I have to thank Monica Rial for my first gig with ADV Films. They were casting a show called “Spriggin”, and they were looking for a really young boy. Monica suggested that they call her friend who was “in his 30’s but sounded like a kid.” 

In spite of the fact that I didn’t get THAT role, I continued to audition for several other shows over the next year before landing 2 roles in “Steel Angel Kurumi.”

What is the favorite out of the characters you’ve done, and how did you develop that character?

I would have to say Chrono from “Chrono Crusade.” Not because of the size of the role (something that’s not really important to me) but because of the depth, and warmth of the character itself.

There are three things that usually contribute to the development of a character. The first would be the text – if the dialog is stilted it will hinder your performance. The second would be the Director – he or she cast you in the role based on what THEY wanted the character to sound like. And lastly the actor – who takes the visuals, and the music, and the text, and the direction…and brings it all together in the delivery.

I had a little extra help towards the end of the recording, as I was fortunate enough to meet the original Manga-Ka (Manga Creator) for Chrono Crusade. As it was his original story we were working on, I was thrilled to have the chance to talk to him about his original ideas for the character. It really made recording the end of the show very special for me.

What non-anime work have you done/are you doing?

The work I’m most proud of is a totally different type of performance. I have been DJ for the last 28 years (almost as long as I’ve been acting) and continue to do that to this day.

Since I spend most weekends away from home at anime conventions, I bring my decks and throw big dance parties. While I would love to spin in clubs again, I really enjoy turning people on to new music.

 What is the most fun part of being a voice actor? What is the most challenging?

The best part about this job, is that I get to do something that I love for a living. I can’t imagine a time in my life that I wouldn’t want to perform, so the fact that I get to do that for a living is a huge blessing.

That is also part of the most challenging side too. This is not a job where you will EVER get rich. In fact, with the decline of the anime industry over the past years…It’s not really a full-time job anymore. There are more than a few of us that are looking for part-time work so that we can continue to do this on the side too.

Who do you consider to be your greatest influence?

As an actor, I find the people around me to be my biggest influences. Part of the job of being an actor is being able to slip into the skin of your characters. So the people around me provide me the ability to understand so many things that I would never be able to grasp otherwise. So even though I may never go charging in to battle, I have more than a few friends in the service who do just that. I live and I learn through the people closest to me.

 Why do you feel that so many people gravitate towards anime?

I think anime appeals to such a large audience, because the medium itself is fairly broad. Unlike other subcultures that appeal to a specific demographic, anime has something to offer everyone. There are as many different genres in anime as there are in modern film, so as long as you are in the market for a good story…anime has something to offer you.

 What’s next for Greg Ayres?

I’m not really sure. 

The current state of the industry doesn’t look too good. In the last three years we’ve seen three very large anime companies disappear (Geneon, Manga, and ADV Films), and while many people would like to believe it was due to other things…it can directly be linked to loss of sales. 

I have spent the last few years at conventions talking to fans about the effects that digital piracy has had on the industry. 

So for the time being…I’ll keep doing THAT..in the hopes that it’s not too late.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the above link indicates, Manga entertainment is still operational.