Saturday, December 28, 2013

2012: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

The author is a life-long fan of anime. The author first acquired a taste for anime at the tender young age of five and has never looked back. The author spends far too much time treading back and forth between Japan―their homeland―and the United States, where they currently reside. (Apologies for the anonymity, but it was requested by the author. - Ed.)

On December 31st, 2012, I walked out of the Mandarake in Akihabara into the chilly Tokyo night. After three days at Comiket, I was beat, but not beat enough to forgo the chance to pick up some last-minute goods before retiring for the night. On my way out, I saw a sign on the shop's door:

"The word of the year is 'imouto'."

So here we are, nearly fifty years after Tetsuwan Atomu. Our long, meandering journey through the history of anime leads us to this pithy little sign posted outside on of Tokyo's largest otaku interest shops, and the word of the year is "imouto". In one simple, elegant sentence, the staff of Mandarake evoked the zeitgeist of a generation: a generation who worships archetypes, not characters; a generation sensitive to trending words and phrases; a generation who revels in the predictability of industrially-produced plot lines and personages. There is no lament in the sentence, "The word of the year is 'imouto'." Only glee. In Dostoevsky's immortal words, from universal reason, we have arrived at universal madness.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

2011: The Year of the 'Dokes

Patrick George Jones (@Whats_Ur_Name) is just another guy on the planet Earth living in the Milky Way. He puts the "Pat" in "Psychopath" every time he spits hot truths into the microphone on his podcast called "Oh Great! Another Podcast" ( if you're feeling dangerous). He also runs a website called THE WORST REVIEW SITE EEEEVAR, so clearly he is qualified to write reviews.

This photo describes 2011 as well as ALL OF ANIME.
As questionable as this phrase may sound, 2011 shook up the anime industry.

This is the year that Akiyuki Shinbo struck gold and lightning. This is the year that someone finally freed Kunihiko Ikuhara from his cage to make another anime. Most importantly, this was the year Japan was rocked with one of its worst earthquakes. That Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 anime that came out a while back about a "what-if" worst case scenario is now the reality we face.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Mike (@cinco_bajeena), a lapsed anime blogger, has the same origin story as plenty of other fans of a certain geography and age: a cloudy mix of Vampire Hunter D, Ghost in the Shell, Akira, and Macross Plus. You can occasionally find the telltale byline otou-san at Altair & Vega and Sea Slugs until his own blog returns from the deep again, as it probably will someday.

One of the calling cards of the aging anime fan, a relatively new species in the West, is his insistence that they just don't make 'em like they used to. And in the 21st century, a case could definitely be made for that. While the OVAs of the late 80s and early 90s heralded an anything-goes era of experimentation where the spectacular outweighed the sensical, anime in the post-industry-collapse world is increasingly marked by formula and safety: works that guarantee a hardcore otaku audience yet alienate other potential consumers.

But we've heard all that before. Years as recent as 2010 give us plenty of reason to believe this is the case — there's always hope.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

2007, Part 2: Seven for Seven: Two for Love

Having covered three tales of technology for 2007, Part 2 from Owen (Twitter handle @riajuunibyou) covers the human side of anime in two forms, one from a digital distribution and another from the more traditional means.

More often than not, stories about love inevitably turn into stories about time. Whether it's the aftershocks of a breakup, a long, hard look at loves past, or even new love budding in the present, the lens of love is always there to colour matters. With each new relationship, the examination of the past is all but certain—we look to the past to think about the future.

Consider 2006's The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. It uses time travel not as an escape or an afterthought, but as a way of underscoring the pinning of love and how obdurate such feelings can be; it uses time travel as a means to emphasise, through repetition, how even the most fervent attempts to undo time cannot undo hearts. Love, it decides, is inevitable—just a matter of time.

The two anime covered this time as we embrace the shows from 2007 have no scientific or fantastic aspirations, yet in themselves do contain that dimensionality with their nuanced take on a subject well explored. It's unavoidable, after all, that the sum of one's here and now is but the result of every year, every day, every second that we've lived, and it's this that we bring to each relationship, new or old.

Love is like time travel in that regard. Romance stories in such a vein take the long route, an introspective that starts then and ends now; as much as it is about the feelings and hopes and dreams that two individuals bring together, it's also the way in which so many of us are shaped by what we've gone through and those we've loved, and how that affects those we're now in love with.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

ZA SHAZAI (Our Apologies)

I humbly prostrate myself before your feet, Milord.

As editor and curator of the Golden Ani-Versary of Anime, I desperately ask for your forgiveness. Choose one of the above formats for a proper apology.

Yes, we have just under 4 years left to cover in this year-long worship of the past five centuries of anime (four years that have taken forEVER, Editor-san), but due to circumstances beyond control (a temporary three-month dispatch to places unknown and a few conventions to see), the ball has been dropped. That's not to say that interest has waned; there's just so much mental energy that the editor can devote to this project that every weekend became either a recharging moment or a trip back to the apartment to make sure nothing went up in flames.

Perhaps this may have resulted for the best, as it gave our final contributors some time to process and the editor some time to contemplate how to proceed from here. Some terrific ideas have been tossed around, including a possible convention run, another project for next year, the rumored "Hall of Fame" vote, and even a printed publication. Most, if not all, of those ideas will likely be tabled to the beginning of 2014, but stay tuned for information!

Meanwhile, we have a few weeks of publications to catch up with until we hit the end of our mad trip through time. The time machine is repaired, and with an "El Psy Congroo!" we will be returning to our journey, but not before we stop back at 2007 to pick up something we forgot (Part 2).

Until then, please accept our deepest groveling "orz" in the cutest manner we could find for free online.

There. That should do it. Thanks for your patience.

Friday, September 27, 2013

2009: The Internet Finally Takes Over

Feeling rather humbled by participating in the project, Raindrops (@DaydreamsUK) is a relatively new blogger from the UK who has been a fan since the early nineties. She spends most of her free time watching anime and speculating furiously about the future of the industry overseas. Choosing 2009 was originally a thinly-veiled excuse to mention her favorite show, and you can follow all those opinions on her blog, Raindrops and Daydreams.

As we draw closer to the fifty-year milestone for anime on television, we've seen the medium moving from monochrome to color and from cel animation to digital. Along the way, it's inspired a vast global audience and survived several new home video formats. 2009 ended up being a year bursting with the same rich innovation as anime continued to explore new approaches both on screen and behind the scenes. While I'm not sure whether any will end up as future classics, there were so many interesting projects on offer that I was forced to make some tough choices in selecting the series I wanted to introduce.

The first title on my list, however, should surprise nobody who was active in the fan community four years ago. Its sequels are still selling well today, its theme songs have become anthems and the script was often rumored to be "untranslatable" by fans trying to rationalize the length of time it took to appear in the US. The series I'm talking about is Shaft's Bakemonogatari.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

2008: A Briton's Guide to Anime

@IanWolf writes manga reviews and features for MyM Magazine, anime and manga reviews for Anime UK News, and a "Beginner's Guide to Anime" for On The Box. He has a degree in Media Studies from Teesside University, where his love of anime really flourished. He also works for his local anime convention, ONECon in Middlesbrough. His main ambition is to boost the reputation of anime in Britain, which is not always good in the eyes of the media and general public.

In this article, I will be mainly be talking about the anime industry in the United Kingdom, but for those of you from outside of the UK, don't worry; there will still be plenty of interest. Plenty of anime will be covered--some fantasy, some sci-fi, some historical and some romantic.

The thing people have to understand about anime in the UK, however, is that it has never really had a good reputation. This first occurred with the video release of the tentacle-rape themed Urotsukidōji: Legend of the Overfiend back in the 1990s. When it came out, the newspapers attacked it, saying how horrible and violent Japanese cartoons were, as all cartoons for the British were for kids. Attacks came from both the left-wing and right-wing presses. However, in the end the moral panic it stirred up backfired, as Urotsukidōji accidentally received all this free publicity in a country where the anime market at the time was very small. Sales of the video boomed.

Conditions were also not helped by the fact that many anime distributors in the UK at the time practiced something called "fifteening". Companies wanted anime to be seen as something different, edgy and controversial, so they insisted that their video releases should be no less than a "15" rating, ideally an "18". Therefore, if a release was likely to be given a "12" rating, they would add excessive swearing when they dubbed it into English so the censors would give the release a "15". (Editor's note: this practice isn't strictly a UK practice; remember the original Appleseed OVA?)

In terms of anime shown on British TV today, there is hardly any broadcast at all, and just about all of it is shown on digital channels. The only anime that really gets shown are Pokemon and the Studio Ghibli films. Recently the rather small Sony Movie Channel announced it would start showing the Bleach films late at night in August 2013, but that's still a small piece of the pie. DVDs and Blu-Rays are also relatively slow in coming over to Britain. For example, One Piece, arguably the most popular anime of them all, was first broadcast in Japan in 1999. It came out on DVD in America in 2006, but in Britain, it was not released until May 2013. Also, many releases get delayed or are faulty in production.