Thursday, May 18, 2017

You're Not Helping: Why some fan-based "marketing" is actually not that.



It's still piracy, even under that egalitarian labeling you've put all over it.

You otaku should pay way more attention to them than you do.

At The Japan Society in New York on Wednesday, May 17 2017,  there was a buzz in the air; Manga Manga Manga.  How does it come to exist in English speaking markets, what does the future hold, and all that jazz.  From e-book/digital distribution platforms, to content that appeals to international audiences, and a weird look at the activity that is page layout, this was a picnic of forward looking optimism of English translated manga publishers (sans Vertical, because their scheduled staff member has taken a position at another company just a few days earlier, so they couldn't participate),  Well of course it was, you are not going to hear companies badmouth their own industry.  But over that picnic was a cloud of resentful tepidness that will steer the industry more than most people know, and the people who do know, will not care to admit.  It was the black flag of Piracy.


YAR HAR HAR!  HARDEE HAR HAR HAR HARRR!



After the stage lights were off, after the general milling around that happens at the end of these types of things, getting myself into the hushed whispers of people in the know wasn't hard, and it painted quite a picture. 

Within anime/manga fandom there seems to be this notion that if someone translates and then makes available any IP on their own time using their own resources, then it's OK so long as they're not "earning a profit" on it... (just donate to my Pateron "squee").   The thing is, that's just not correct.  I've mentioned it before regarding anime, and now it's time to mention it about Manga.  Scanlations are indeed theft.  No, not theft of inventory, but theft of a license.  Scanlators go out and do what a licensee intends to do, but scanlators don't pay for a license and for some reason don't think they should have to.  Why?  What makes you so special?  Why should you get to do something that other people have tried to invest their money and time in so they can create a business that employs people and actually licenses IP through proper legal channels?  Here are some of the BS answers that I've heard before:

-I'm just making it available for other people, since I'm not profiting from it, I'm not stealing.
Really numb-nuts?  If you rob a bank and get away with $20,000 but the operation cost you $25,000 do you think you still didn't steal anything just because it was a net loss for you?   What you are stealing is revenue that the licensor has to count on to recoup their own costs.


Stick to the plan.


-It's really helping more than hurting.  We're giving the title exposure and that will make it more popular!
Yeah, so you just design our website for us, but we won't pay you, but you will totally benefit from the "exposure" right?  What you're doing is actually hurting these artists, writers, publishing staff, and other employees the most.  You are making these titles available for free to the people who are most likely to buy them in a legally published form.  But now that they have unlicensed versions they aren't going to buy them just to have a second copy.  ...way to go guys.

-I only use them for review purposes, so it helps with "brand awareness" and will generate sales.
What, just because you don't disclose your source for where you got a scanlation means none of your readers will straight up look up where to find it?  (Yeah Anime News Network, I'm looking at you).   This is actually the worst argument of all.  Again, it's something I've mentioned before with AMVs although this time unlike being helpful, it is indeed detrimental.  That is because publishing companies see this stuff.  They see their own title, out there, being reviewed, in (poorly translated) English, and know it's not from a release they created.  You are just rubbing it in their face that scanlations not only exist, but you are now generating web traffic revenue off of something that was stolen from them.

I am sure there are many other arguments that try to paint the scanlators and their accessory helpers in an innocent light, but there is one fact that is indelible;  They are all doing something that they literally have no right to do. They did not license the rights, someone else did, and they are not only stealing from that someone else, but from the entire artistic staff that spend their lunch break, stayed late, missed their mom's birthday, or maybe worked themselves to death (this is Japan) who made sure that said issue of One Piece, Monster Musume, Dragon Maid, Vinland Saga, or anything else, made it in on time.  All that work, and no salary from the international markets that are consuming it at a ravenous pace?  That's enough to make you wanna jump in front of the Yamanote.


There's a Light ...Again.

Manga publishers are actually the last licensees of Japanese pop-culture to experience the bootleg hoards.   This is because paperless-publishing is new development.  The first industry segment to have to deal with this was actually the home media market.  VHS was easy as all kinds of fuck to copy and yes a genlock was needed but there never seemed to be that much of a shortage of fansubs out there.  DVD hits and not only does the entire VHS business go kablam, but now anyone and their idiot friend who just finished Japanese 201 in undergrad thought they could subtitle anything and send it out there on them interwebs (and they did).  And you could argue that anime as a watchable commodity is still something that goes on, yet most of the companies that made it that way are no longer around for failing to capitalize on future developments (CPM,. AD Vision, Anime Villiage, hell even Manga Entertainment might as well be on that list). Before that, it was music that suffered the backlash against bootleggers, with "real" fans refusing to buy SM (Son Mei) CDs of their favorite anime music, although this was back before the recession and when having a job meant you could buy things other than food and payments to your student loan.

So now it's printed media's turn.  Will we see a decimated landscape of former Titans of the industry before the new adopters create and support something like "Crunchy-Scroll" ...you know, something like an unlimited library of licensed and translated manga from a multitude of labels made available to subscribers for a set monthly fee (maybe with a few premium one-shots sold digitally for a little extra a la cart?  Yes, yes we will.  Because if history has taught us anything it is that companies that have found a big cash cow are really slow to change and that goes doubly so for Japanese companies. Their strategic planning moves at a glacial pace and their implementation is always a day late and a dollar short.  This will lead to regression and insular strategies that ignore international markets and as such, may end up producing nothing but titles that resonate exclusively with a Japanese audience.

http://theangryotaku.blogspot.com/2010/07/galapagos-effect-in-my-manga-its-more.html



Human psychology says that there will always be bootlegging idiots who think their not stealing by creating scanlations, but they totally are.  What the industry needs to do is be open to third parties that maintain digital subscription services which are ubiquitous to the point where it's actually easier for 90% of the fanbase to just get their manga fix from that source than it is to download it from a bunch of people who's translation skills aren't strong enough for them to get a job professionally doing it, and so they make scanlations to try and be cool.

After some "off the record" talking with people at this past event I don't think a single company has any plans to do so.  Don't fear the reaper kids.  Or the pirates.






Thursday, May 11, 2017

No post this week

Nothing this week.  Corrective eye surgery.  No can see words on screen goodly.  Writing more is happen later.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

What You’re Missing: No, this time is 'who' you’re missing:

Arriba baby!

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, here is some seriously awesome artwork from one Raul Trevino.  Artist and writer of the most excellent comic Tinkers of the Wasteland (which you can totally see online, but you should just really buy the books because they’re awesome), he also has a beyond amazing collection of original illustrations, including a collection inspired by the tradition of Dia de los Muertos (aka Day of the Dead), most famously practiced in Mexico, but also in many other countries around the world (basically wherever the Imperial Spanish were in charge for any length of time).  His works are great and worth a look, if not a total insta-buy. 


Seriously fun stuff.

In addition to the illustrations, Raul’s comic Tinkers of the Wasteland, is something that many a manga fan will appreciate.  If you’re old enough to remember the amazingly fun read that was Caravan Kidd, then combine that with a kind of visual que/aesthetic of Adam Warren circa Dirty Pair: Fatal but not Serious, and you’ve got this one.  I don't know if these were actual influences, but that's just the vibe I personally got when reading this. And that's a vibe I dig baby.

Post-apocalypse settings are a bit of an overtrope I know (especially because it looks like we'll be having exactly that in real life thanks to Kim tubby the 3rd and President Tiny-hands), but his series pulls it off quite well, and really looks at what kind of dynamic occurs when the world goes to hell and chickens are used as currency.  I won’t give anything away, but if you’re looking for something a little different, and dare I say “grounded” when it comes to comparison against some more popular manga out there, then this is worth a read.


F-ing chickens.

Although some books are out of print, they do show up on the secondary market and are worth tracking down.  Raul Trevino appears at conventions in California as well, so you can even get them signed.  Because he’s cool like that.  You can check out his tumblr or twitter to see some of his illustrations as well.

So even though Cinco de Mayo, sink-o-the-drink-o, and Dia de los Muertos (best holiday ever...) are all totally different things, they are all good reasons to grab a margarita (or eight) and check out Ink and Dead, or Tinkers of the Wasteland.



In addition to books, Raul Trevino also sells prints, and even original art pieces from his online store, which you should totally go to and buy stuff from because it's awesome.




Thursday, April 27, 2017

April 2017 Recap and Leftovers


In the last post of every month, we look at stories we didn't cover, either they weren't big enough for a whole post, or they just slipped past us.  Additionally we will leave you a recipe for a Japanese dish that you may have seen featured in an anime or two that you like.  Except we're not doing that this time because we already made this thing hella long.

From the Law Offices of Insult & Injury
Yasutaka Tsutsui wrote novels called The Girl Who Leaped Through Time and Paprika (among many others), which have also been adapted into anime movies.  Yasutaka Tsutsui also wrote this about a statue in Korea commemorating women forced into sex slavery by Imperial Japanese forces:
Ambassador Nagamine goes to Korea again. This means [the government and the envoy] accepted the comfort women statue. The girl is cute, let's go there and cover it with semen by ejaculating altogether.
                                                   -
Yasutaka Tsutsui

Ok so my first reaction is “what in the actual fuck-shit-ass-peanut-butter-bbq is that kind of comment?”  To which my subsequent reaction was ...oh right, Japan ...because of course that kind of idea would come out of Japan.  Yasutaka Tsutsui has since retracted that comment and stated he did not “intend to offend” anyone, to which I am simply thinking; oh bull-fucking-shit, you know exactly what that statue means and you know exactly what you said, ya weirdo. 

And like it or not, we're definitely getting Rule 34 of this in 3...2...1...

This bukake twist isn’t the beginning nor is it the end of this story.  The issue of Comfort Women has always been a sore spot for Japan, and is often the singular thing that gets erased from the history books by almost every group in Japan across the political spectrum.  Well, not everyone.  When this statue was installed in Korea, the Japanese ambassador was actually recalled.  Yes fine, it was set up near the Embassy as kind of like a big “fuck you” from Korea and all that, and he came back after 2 days, but recalling an Ambassador is a fucking huge thing.  You don’t just go do that every time something happens you might not like.

Even here in the good old USA, Japanese revisionist history proponents took their requested removal of the American version of that memorial statue (located in Glendale California), to the actual Supreme Court of The United States.  The plaintiffs have the audacity to call themselves Global Alliance For Historical Truth, and want the statue down because something something Japanese women something something nothing to see here.  This is an indefensible position to take.  Even the law firm representing them was eventually like “um, nah, we’re out, this is all kinds of messed up.”  Seriously, this lawsuit was originally brought to court by a tiny cute little Japanese oba-san, but it’s still such an insane level of Holocaust-denial pure awfulness, that you almost don’t give a shit that the woman probably ended up in fucking Manzanar at some point.  This is like that time some insane woman tried to sue “all gay people” because Jesus was too busy to do it himself or whatever.  I don’t know what kind of idea they had regarding a legal argument to they could make regarding that case, but the Supreme Court actually made the reasonable decision of telling them to fuck off, and so the statue stays.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Young_Men

Just keep in mind this isn’t just the Japanese equivalent of your racist uncle who has an individual “Make America Great Again” hat for every single day of the week, and can’t stop reminding you that Trump won, so now you college edgimucated librulz all have to join the NRA or something (well... the American case is actually mostly that though).  But the rest of this is an actual government recalling an ambassador over a bunch of insane shit, while the Norkos put another coat of turtle wax on the nukes, and while the Sea of Japan starts getting really crowded with naval vessels which can only speak to each other in "cruise missile."  Yep, Japan is creating an unnecessary shit-storm over a statue of a girl.

 You kids play nice now.
Mostly it's political, but maybe a bit of it is actually because…

Japan is still totally sexist. 
Megumi Igarashi, also known as Rokudenashiko has had her obscenity charge upheld by the Tokyo High Court.  Yes, the country that has had giant rock hard cock parades marching down public streets (more like pubic streets… wink wink) for centuries, still flips the fuck out over a cunt-kayak or whatever she did this time.  Seriously, a vajayjay boat is no big deal when you think about all the insane sex stuff coming out of a country which has apparently forgotten how to reproduce like normal humans

While the fine she received is relatively small, it’s still 100% bullshit.  Why distributing digital scans of your own hoo-ha to people who helped fund your art projects which make use of said digital hoo-ha scan is considered “obscenity” in a country in which “guro” is a thing, is beyond me. 


Although I might have second thoughts if the hoo-ha I saw had teeth and appeared to be in a state of constant screaming.
おまんこございます!


Maybe if she moved all the internet servers and production out of Japan and over to Guam or something, she would be able to keep doing what she’s doing, free from the army of old men who still somehow refuse to stop running things over there like the year is 1972.  The country pixelates its porn and has a real problem figuring out sex.  This development is not helpful.

People who go making and enforcing this “obscenity” bullshit… what do they think they are accomplishing?  What's going through their heads?  There’s no government enforced religion like where everyone thinks there’s a magical sky-daddy is going to smite you for some sort of blasphemy which is the result of …seeing a cartoon (hoo-ha or otherwise).  So that's not the reason they hate art.  So what the crap is the driving force here?  It seems as if Japan is maintaining a desperate and iron-strong grasp on a conceptual picture of what once was but will never be again.  You know how sometimes parents go crazy if their kid dies and keeps holding on the dead body and dressing it and talking to it and keeping the room exactly like it was on the day that whatever the hell happened to kill the thing?  Yeah, that’s Japan in some ways.  They are seriously clinging to the cadaver of a cultural past where everything was “better” but much like the USA, those times when everything was “better” were simply only the result of a complete lack of competition in the global economy for literally anything, and incorrectly associating cultural norms of the time with as being necessary for the inevitable prosperity which comes from being the only country around where people aren’t starving to death on a regular basis and the water isn’t full of diphtheria.  Now that you have to share more space in the elevator of life, it never feels as nice as when you have the whole place to yourself.  The mistake is thinking you had the elevator to yourself earlier because of the style of clothing you had on and not the fact that when that was happening you were actually the only tenant in the building, and  a lot more have moved in since then.

 ..."bitch"

But much like that crazy cadaver clinger, the only way to fix the issue is with outside forcible intervention.  Japan is never fucking its way back to a healthy population and so they are going to have to share their toys.  The levels of xenophobia, income inequity, language barriers, straight up racism, and the fact that the entire country seems to think that everyone needs to live in Tokyo.  The types of diversity that Japan needs even go as far as needing socio-geographic changes on a fundamental level.  That kind of thing is usually slow and expensive.


United Airlines.
So there’s no way you didn’t hear about that craziness by now.  To anyone who makes regular trips to Asia… or Europe… or Florida… or Paraguay, or literally anywhere for that matter, please never fly United Airlines ever again.
 
If for no other reason then just remember you could be next.

I know it’s not the fault of a lot of working stiffs over there who just do regular shit like clean the landing gear or deliver orange juice to the terminal lounge, but after the whole doctor-punching thing, there’s nothing I would love more than to see that entire company go down in flames.  I don’t care if that means literally going down in flames, if you’re still flying United at this point, then the plane crashing and your subsequent death from inhaling the smoke coming off the smoldering bodies of your own children while they gaze screaming into your panicked face as you remain trapped under a bulkhead impotent to save them or even lessen their agony, ensuring that the last experience you will ever have is learning what your own child's grilled pancreas smells like, …yeah that isn’t going to make me feel bad for you.  Fucking giving your money to United… you got what was coming to you.


http://www.inquisitr.com/4162613/united-airlines-mexican-passenger-accused-of-trafficking-own-daughter-escorted-off-the-plane/



The FCC hates you, State governments step in to stop them.

For the international members of this glorious audience, who are reading this in far away places like Mongolia or Washington DC, you may not be aware of how much power the individual states of these American States United actually have.  It's a considerable amount more autonomy than in many other countries.  That's why I can take a quick bus ride into New Jersey, bang a 16 year old, and not go to jail for it, where if I did that on the other side of the river it would be all statutory time.  It's why I can drive to Virginia, buy any kind of gun I find for sale and instantly take possession of it, whereas if wanted to do that here in NYC ...well I can't do that here.  States in the USA can set a lot of their own rules, and enforce them with a wide tapestry of enforcement agencies that never talk to each other.  Seriously, you could do a whole Hetalia series just on the internal interplay of the USA alone.



Oh, wait, every high school weaboo has already done that. Like ichi-ban super sugoi-goi kawaii desu!


But if you don't know much about the individual states and how they work, here's a boring educational video that explains a little.
And that's not even counting the USVI or Guam.


To the X and Y generations, the FCC is often painted as the “bad guy” in a lot of stories.  They were the organization of social conservatives who would lose their shit if someone said “tits” on a TV show or something.  The FCC was the guy who Dee Snider told “we’re not gonna take it” in the 80’s and the target of the ubiquitous “fuck the FCC” tagline which made the rounds in the 90’s.  But once the internet showed up, the bad guy became the RIAA and MPAA and the FCC kind of just faded.  The thing is, much like one can be critical of the FDA for some of the stupid shit they do, they also do a lot of important stuff that protects people.  The FCC is very similar, a lot of what they do is actually beneficial to the public and seriously important, so the current ass-raping of FCC regulations is something you should be concerned about.



http://www.theverge.com/2017/4/11/15258230/net-neutrality-privacy-ajit-pai-fcc


It should come as no surprise that our president has allowed corporate interests to come in and destroy the crap out of Net Neutrality and other important privacy protections.  Make no mistake, this has been on the Telecom agenda for long before the election... and if Goldman Sachs Banker-BFF Hilly-Billy were the one bombing Syria right now instead of Cheeto-Face-Tiny-Hands, we’d still have the exact same thing happening.  Some things are inevitable. 

 I don't even know what this is from but I totally had to put it here.

What is genuinely surprising is that individual State Governments are picking up the gauntlet of defending the people, and passing their own legislation which preserves the various protections afforded to their own constituencies, which providers must follow if they want to do business in that state.  What is super-surprising is that this has been initiated by Republicans in state government.  Now, it should be mentioned that these are Massachusetts Republicans, which in reality are kind of more progressive than Arizona Democrats, but it’s still unexpected.

This state/local level is the arena where political representatives will actually listen to you.  You think the President gives a fuck what you write to him?  You think people like senator-for-life Chuck Schumer is going to care what actually affects you?  They’ve got their ALEC money, and lobbyist money and super PACs, and “donations” so they’re fine.  You, young person who actually knows how the internet works and who will actually be hurt by this development, you don’t count to them.  You don’t vote, you don’t earn enough to make serious donations, you don’t own any businesses that they can claim they are using to “keep American jobs” by bribing you not to move… you have nothing they need.  But, lots of local state-level and even municipal politicians have recently learned that the gimmie-vote doesn’t work on their jobs anymore.  So contact them, write to them, even to the Governor’s office, write to local chambers of commerce, they are going to be much more inclined to listen.  Someone who bothers to print out, sign, and mail a letter about net-neutrality is going to be someone a local politician knows they will have to prove their value to.  This is how we stay safe from the culling of net neutrality.


Ex X-Men Artist: International political nonsense
Some artist not-so-subtly worked in some references to recent political development in Indonesia full of good old religious bigotry.  Basically, a group of people wanted to remove the Governor of Jakarta and elect a different one because the current one was not religion X but rather he was religion Q, and well, religion X totally can't have that happening now can they?  So although done overtly, these references to that situation inserted into the X-Men comic did actually make it through all the way to print.  Probably because the people who check for that stuff, can’t be aware of every political situation in the entire universe as we know it.  If an artist in NYC created a similar reference to municipal land use through eminent domain in the Atlantic Yards project, and concealed it in a comic published in Australia, it’s unlikely that’s gonna get noticed before it goes to press either. 



Oooo that’s a touchy subject.  You know what Disney really hates coming into contact with?  Yeah, it’s touchy subjects.  So it would be ludicrous to expect that Disney would not fire this artist and pull the issue with all speed, even more so when learn this particular touchy situation has the term “anti-Semitic” attached to it.  So yeah, of course Disney’s gonna drop that guy straight into pariah-land. 



His art was not really that good when you go back and look at it.

Message to Disney/Marvel:  Hey! This is the perfect time to go “America First”! …Americans know exactly fuck-all about any other countries unless a Kardashian has been robbed in one, so you won’t have to worry about this kind of thing ever again!  You don’t even have to pay for extra proofreaders and fact checkers!  It’s a win for your wallets and, a win for... well since when have you ever cared about anything else anyway?

Much like someone once had a sign up inside the White House once which read “Keep it Simple Stupid” Disney/Marvel’s new mantra can be “Keep the Stupid, Simple.”  Buy up these recalled issues kids, like I said before, this kind of thing is a great financial instrument.  …oh, and I know someone who just got bumped to the top of the no-fly list (wink).    Hopefully, getting fired hasn’t put this Ardian Syaf artist guy one broken pencil away from pulling a Collin Ferguson on the Jakarta MRT.


And in the end, religious zelots X beat secularists Q, because of course they did... yay creationism I guess?  Good for their magical sky-daddy.



At least there are people there who rightfully point out that it's smaller groups of these people, messing it up for everyone else.

This thing is already TL;DR so I am making otaku food/recipes their own recurring segment.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Shut Up Wesley. Shattering otaku expectations with Samurai Gourmet.


Nothing quite shatters the American Otaku psyche quite like being exposed to what is, the real Japan.  This isn’t new, but what is unfortunate is that it’s still a prevalent phenomenon out there.  Actual, factual, regular, real, Japan is nothing like an Otaku thinks it is going to be.  No, I don’t think any otaku is going to go to Japan and think the place is run by giant robots, dragon maids, and has a dating service for monster girls… what is going to happen is these wee-bee idiots are going to show up in Japan and expect that the social constructs that they are accustomed to in America are going to be there for them in Japan.  Sorry fresh, it’s not gonna happen.  Fandom is voluntarily suppressed in Japan much more in Japan than it is in the USA.  Admit to liking Pokemon as a fully functioning adult in the USA, and people just say “fine whatever” but in Japan it’s a great way to get fired.  Fans finding out that they can’t act like fans in the place where the things they are a fan of is a tough thing to deal with.  This happens the other way as well, with Japanese people needing actual psychological help when they come to New York and find out that no, it’s not just “Tokyo with white people” or when they go to Paris and realize that no, it’s not a Miyazaki movie with the Eiffel Tower in the middle of it.  Seriously, that's a medical thing, and they even have a help line they can call for when the cognitive dissonance destroys their brain.



Japan has social rules.  We are talking about a country where if you wear a suit without a tie, you are going to get all kinds of attention.  Mostly the bad kind of attention.  The reason you don’t know that is because it’s not really in any of the anime that ends up being popular overseas.  You wouldn’t judge American life just by watching Breaking Bad or Empire if you wanted to get an accurate idea of what the place was like, so don’t for a minute go thinking you’re getting an accurate picture of Japan from whatever the hell high-school themed anime you’re watching now.  Even if you have been to Japan, unless you’ve had to go apartment hunting, pay your electric bill, go grocery shopping, get your hair cut, buy toilet paper/condoms/feminine hygiene items, all the regular living life stuff, you still aren’t getting the real picture.  It would be like trying to form an idea of what the USA is like after spending a few days in Boston or something.

  Gross.

Why am I even bringing this up?  Because somehow, Samurai Gourmet on Netflix has a one-star rating.  Or I guess it had one when I checked it out last.  Things change, it probably won't stay that way but the fact that it happened at all leads to the sentiment of: What the absolute fuck?  This show is great and there are a bunch of reasons why.  Starring veteran actor and comedian Naoto Takenaka, it connects a number of small moments of zen that center around specific foods.  It shows real Japan …that mundane boring place where regular people go to regular jobs, not the factional-fiction (or fictional-faction, whatever you wanna call it) Japan of trash like what's in Lost in Translation, that seems determined to convince the world that everyone in Japan is actually originally from Mars and like OMG it’s just such a wacky place!  Samurai Gourmet is not Ruroni Kenshin with udon, it’s not Ghost in the Shell: Fast-Food Takeout Edition, it’s just a simple show about simple things.  And it’s that simplicity which is uniquely Japanese.  If you watch this show and come away thinking “oh it’s so bland, quick let me go check out Ouran High School Host Club reruns” then you know nothing.  You are that 12 year old who doesn’t like Empire Strikes Back because it’s "the most boringest one" to quote Red Letter Media.



Back in the 1990s Katsuhiro Otomo made a film called Project Z.  It was a well-made and excellent film which took a look into the aging population shift that is still happening in Japan today.  And everyone else in the theater I saw it in said they hated it.  Why?  Well, they were expecting Akira Part 2 basically.  Which is funny by itself, because if you actually knew anything about Japan in the late 1980s you’d realize how much of a social commentary Akira actually was… but all you could see was “ooo wooosh boom!  Motorcycles!”  So there is a real disconnect that American audiences seem to have and not realize it.  This continues to happen with weaboo fools, falling in love with a fictional Japan that doesn’t exist, and then having their brain short circuit when confronted with reality.  Will this ever change?  No probably not.  But you should still be watching Samurai Gourmet

 What do you mean  I can't cosplay 24 hours a day here?




Thursday, April 13, 2017

Your Name, here. Digital film distribution to global audiences.



Digital distribution makes the world smaller, films more accessible, and offers audiences an escape from what seems to be an endless shit-parade of Hollywood drivel.

Siiiii, bitches.

If you haven’t gone to see the feature length anime movie Your Name yet, then you should go do that because it’s good.  Like, one of the best films of all time level good.  The best part of what I just wrote, is that it almost doesn’t matter where you are, because thanks to digital media storage, you can be in flyover-country and still be able to access film selections that were once the exclusive domain of places like The Angelica in hoidy toidy big cities. 

Despite the fact that human douchebagery continues to infest almost any aspect of life that involves a shared space, going to the movies can still be fun.  In fact, over the past decade, this activity has actually improved in terms of the enjoyment factor.  This is in large part due to the obsolescence of the 35mm film print.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s nostalgic and fun to hear the sprockets engaging and seeing that celluloid turn, but there’s nothing about it that doesn’t suck when compared to modern alternatives.  They degrade quickly, are easily damaged, expensive to make, expensive to maintain, even more expensive to insure, they can burst into flames, to watch them requires complex high-maintenance machinery which is prone to malfunctions, and they are quite a heavy and inefficient medium for motion picture storage.  You can wax nostalgic all you like, but if you need an ambulance, you want a brand spanking new one showing up, not a friggin Ford Model T, no matter how nice it looked.  When I was in the home media business back in the 35mm print and VHS days, sending prints anywhere was a pain, and sending them to Canada was damn near impossible.  This was because Canadian authorities assessed taxes on the insurance amount, even if the prints themselves were simply being returned to their original owner after a simple telecine transfer.

They ended up driving them back across the border themselves without declaring the film prints, because, as he put it; "Fuck You, Canada."

You put all this together and you can see why art-house cinema was a limited entity, mostly existing in larger urban areas.  Going to see Ghost in the Shell back in 1995 was a major undertaking and required convention attendance to do it.  Not so is the case today, where digital mediums allow for any cinema across the globe to screen just about anything relatively instantly.  No waiting for the print to arrive, no rundowns, no re-spooling the fucking things, and no massive insurance costs.  Just calibrate and hit go.  Enter the modern movie-going age, now with 20% more anime.

Right now there are kids in school who are going to reach adulthood not knowing what the hell this is.


This has allowed something like Your Name to receive a much wider distribution than something like Princess Mononoke did in 1997.  Getting a print of a movie with a limited audience and no major studio behind it to mall multiplexes in whatever-town, was and continues to be, prohibitively expensive (read; impossible).  Not so today with digital distribution and projection taking the print "out of the picture" quite literally.  A studio in LA can have it's new release in theaters from NY to Guam within a few hours now.  However, with movie theaters in decline as an industry in general, what does this really mean?  Well, independent and foreign titles being available with close to zero overhead is no white knight magic pill happy day fix everything cure all that is going to come in and save things, they just are not a big enough draw.  But what I do see is that within 10 years, this kind of thing is going to help facilitate the rise of the popup theater.  What’s that?  It’s independent entities which license films and screen them in third party auditoriums.  College theaters, performing arts centers, non-traditional venues, convention centers, and hell, maybe even the occasional drive-in are all potential screening locations for limited runs.  These entities can operate out of a friggin PO Box until it’s show time, then bring the digital cart with the movie on it to whatever venue and collect at the door. 

In 3D too!


On the converse upscale side of that, there is also the possibility of private screening clubs.  People who buy memberships in private clubs which can have their own screening rooms and offer premium first run movies in an environment free from phone-using d-bags and that trashy mother fucker who just lit up a spliff in the back.  The “we’re rich and want to watch anime movies” demographic is something I am assuming is not really that big, so I think this kind of thing is going to be more of an outlier if it actually manifests at all. 

Again, eventually movie theaters most likely will stop being a thing within our lifetimes.  As internet becomes more internet-y, ah la cart Hollywood films are going to show up on services for people who either don’t feel like having to share space with other assholes, or we’ll all be too terrified to sit in a dark room with strangers because we’re in for a few more James Holmes Aurora Specials and that will be that.  This will slow going in development because studios are going to hate the idea that more than one person can potentially be watching the movie in a living room somewhere for one single price, and consumers won't be ok with paying what would most likely be something that's 3x the price of a movie ticket that the studios would charge because of that first thing.  Eventually, they're gonna have to accept that they're now just pay-per-view, but with no sports, and just go ahead and jump in so they can avoid becoming completely irrelevant.



Your Name currently benefits from the largest potential theatrical audience of any anime in the USA, even though Makoto Shinkai doesn’t want you to see it.  Well, fuck him, he doesn’t tell me what I can or can’t do.  If he doesn’t want people to see the movie he can wish in one hand and shit in the other.  Notice I wrote “the” movie, not “his” movie.  You know why I did that?  Because it’s not his movie.  He didn’t pay for the fucking thing.  He didn’t finance it, he doesn’t control the rights to it anymore, he wrote/directed it and while that's a big deal, that’s as far as it fucking goes.  That would be like you designing a T-shirt, and then selling it to the public via major vendors, but then you go around telling anyone who has one that they can’t wear it on an elevator because …reasons!  No, shut up ass, you're acting like George Lucas.  The movie belongs to CoMix Wave and Toho, and they have bills to pay, none the least of which include all the salaries of the massive amount of people who worked their asses off on this movie.  Fucking selfish creative-types who forget where their actual domain of ownership ends, just piss me right the fuck off.  So go see the movie.  Go see it twice, and be sure to buy Junior Mints and Dr. Pepper.  You’re being entertained and helping the economy.  That’s good.


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Thursday, March 30, 2017

March 2017: Recap and Leftovers

March 2017 News and Event Roundup ...With stuff, and things.

In thelast post of every month, we look at stories we didn't cover, either they weren't big enough for a whole post, or they just slipped past us.  Additionally we will leave you a recipe for a Japanese dish that you may have seen featured in an anime or two that you like.



High School of the Dead, dead.
Daisuke Satō, the artist and creator of High School of the Dead, has himself become dead at the age of 52, which for a Japanese person seems way too early.  It is very sad that we're likely to never get any more of this awesome series any time soon.  Maybe in his will he left instructions for George Romero to pick up the torch and carry on.  Hell, I'd take Ric Romero if it meant we got even one more episode of this awesome series.  Probably not going to happen though.  At least he kept the jiggle alive.

 Photo from Animate Ikebukuro, Tokyo, 2010.  ...I think.
He will be missed.


JonTron becomes Destiny's child (and the internet's bitch).
So there's this guy on youtube who I am told regularly produces funny and entertaining content, and his channel is called JonTron.  And boy did this guy step in it recently.  I was actually planning on checking out that channel at some point because I've heard good things, but now I don't know if I can enjoy it.   That's because regardless of content, I know I will have to engage in mental gymnastics in order to keep what he said over on the Destiny channel separate from the contents of his entertainment videos.  That's like, actual work, and a big detraction when it comes to the enjoyment factor.  Maybe after this whole hubub dies down.  It's not like I'm NOT going to ever check it out, I am just going to be giving it some time.  Regardless of that issue, one of the end results of the 2 hour incoherent mess between those two was the following:



Yep, bitch got fired. Consequences will never be the same! To which my reaction is:

What a dumbass.  C'mon you should have known better.

The back and forth itself between JonTron and Destiny doesn't last for the entire video, but it is still like enduring a mental root canal when the only anesthetic available was Fugu Venom mixed with Sriracha and then injected it straight into your eyeballs.  Both parties involved seemed to know disturbingly little about what they were talking about (25% at best), and JonTron spewed forth mindbogglingly ignorant fallacies based on conjecture and jingoistic assumptions.  On the flip side, Destiny seems to trip over his own face in his spastic reactionary attempts to refute the mental misfires that JonTron delivers... it was like watching an animal shelter burn down but being too far away to do anything about it.  JonTron's arguments are, In my opinion, (for the most part) easily blown out of the water, but it seemed as if Destiny had the only gun and not the ammunition to do it, as there were a lot of things he himself seemed to be unaware of or just not acknowledge for one reason or another.

Don't say I didn't warn you (seriously, it took me 3 days to get through all of it, even that self-congratulatory stuff at the end), but if you really want to check out all 2 hours 1 minute and 5 seconds of this disaster, you can follow the link to the youtube video here.  However, if you would like a more concise and mercifully brief summary of the conversation, please take a look at the below video which I believe sums it up perfectly:

Yeah, it was an hour and a half of that.

So the fallout;  Jon Jafari goes on to blither a whole bunch of jingoist nonsense and sprinkles a bit of tacit macro-racism dust over it for good measure (he's not being racist, but offering up arguments which seem to need mechanics that most people would consider racially biased in order to be valid, and that can make people interpret it as racist sometimes)... And did it as JonTron all within the public sphere.  Is Playtonic being reasonable by Removing him from Yooka-LayLee and any (or presumable all) of their upcoming releases?  Hell yeah they are, what do you expect a company to do when faced with that kind of PR?  Seriously, what can you expect?   Remember how fast Nike dropped Tiger Woods?  What, did you think they were gonna double down and start a new campaign with him, with commercials going "check out how much our guy gets laid... yeah! So, just do it.  Nike!" ...yeah what were they thinking missing out on such a golden opportunity like that.  Companies are always super-touchy about this kind of thing (and that's not a new phenomenon, it's been that way for a long time).

But Platonic gave such bullshit reasons; "oh we're so self-rightous, and we are sensitive to the great cultural struggle of blah blah blah!" (shut the fuck up).   Yes, it's the UK and they do have thought police over there, so maybe they're afraid to not say something like that.  Over there, if you don't constantly "support the cause" you can expect a visit from the modern equivalent of The Committee for Public Safety to escort you to the guillotine for being counter-revolutionary, so maybe they're hedging their bets, but c'mon, Playtonic can't pretend this isn't totally about the money.  

What's really going on is, JonTron is a brand.  He himself is the asset that they are paying for, and when potential customers now have to do mental gymnastics to try and separate the performance of JonTron from the now very public pariah persona of JonTron, and it takes a lot of work.  Having to do that work, quickly causes the evaporation of any potential enjoyment the customer might otherwise get out of this entertainment product.  He took a shit in his own Golden Grahams.  I don't even care what his points were because he did a shit-job making them... he really did.   In terms of businesses in general, no company is going to let something like this hurt their own bottom line.  JonTron is probably still going to get paid for his initial work, as he should (even the Animaniacs had pay or play), and this is just about Playtonic engaging in damage control rather than actively punishing someone.  If he did a better job separating the JonTron brand from what happened, and had more of a (well let's face it) more of an adult discussion, he most likely wouldn't be in this situation.

The one thing I think shouldn't happen is people asking for refunds, or not buying the game even though they had planned to just because they booted JonTron, or didn't boot him fast enough or whatever, it doesn't matter.  It just hurts the employees and the other workers who had fuck-all to do with this or the subsequent Playtonic decision later.  They're just working stiffs, don't punish them because of this fucking mess.

Long story short, JonTron came off as a dick and now I am going to move "checking out his channel" much much much very-a-lot further down on my to-do list.  Geez after enduring "debate" or "interview" or whatever you can call it, I need a Gin-tonic, forget Playtonic.  Gin donations can be sent to our Patreon, which we do not have, so go give it to our other blog Pinky Mixology which also doesn't have a Pateron. ...Just mail us gin... that works.  Tequila is fine also... bourbon too. Ya know what, we're not picky.



Move over Ken Olson, SONY is the new fool in town.
Sony Motion Picture Group Chairman Tom Rothman just opened up SONY's 2017 Cinema Con presentation using the phrase: "Netflix My Ass" with absolute no self-awareness what so ever.  It may just be pandering to an audience who view the proliferation of streaming as the greatest threat to their industry, but when that industry collapses, this quote is sure to displace the infamous Ken Olson quote that always tops articles and trivia lists with titles like; "The top 10 times corporations got things super wrong" or "Top 5 worst technology predictions by CEOs."

Seriously, this guy's entire life is now defined by this one thing and that's never going to change.

This kind of statement not only shows contempt for Netflix, but for the entire Netflix subscriber base, which (news-flash) have 100% overlap with customer base of Sony Pictures.  That statement not only insults those people, but also the entity that they derive a significant value from.  Contempt for your customer used to be the norm, but now that's really only something Airlines and Comcast can do.  The "Netflix My Ass" statement is going to become the indelible marker on the timeline of progression of entertainment media consumption and delivery, where every analyst, student, commentator, and industry publication will look at and say "right there" when trying to find the exact moment when the old-guard of the industry passed the event horizon and was no long in a position to adapt to a changing market (even if they wanted to, which they don't).

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/netflix-my-ass-sony-boss-reveals-stunning-blade-runner-2049-footage-988909
 
In 5 years, Sony's Tom Rothman will have to be handing out resumes, but he might as well just hand out head-shots with "I'm the guy who said 'Netflix My Ass' that one time" written on them, and just hope someone out there hasn't heard of that yet.  Sony will sluggishly continue but will learn nothing, because we are talking about the same company that thought putting Barbra Streisand's hairdresser in charge was a genius move.  Actually, speaking of companies which are painfully out of touch...


GameStopped.
In what should be a shock to absolutely no one, GameStop has announced the planned closure of over 200 of its retail locations. GameStop is a textbook example of when "just keep doing what you're doing" can take a company down when they forget to keep track of what's going on in the outside world.  In this case it was a combination of failing to keep up with media technology and a complete ignorance of the massive cultural progression in terms of the general popularity of pop-culture and its growth into multi-billion dollar industries (yeah, vidjya games included).



GameStop is one of those pop-culture entertainment companies founded at a time when it was seen as good business to have barely restrained contempt for your customers.  The locker-room Alpha Male was still the embodiment of the perfect executive, and nothing said alpha-male more than shitting on those "nerds" and "geeks" that were into stupid stuff like video games and comics.  (Hell even the owners of Anime Crash did that until the very end... made it impossible to get any effective marketing done).  This also caused many of these retail spaces to give off a a vibe of a particularly hostile environment to potential female customers, so strong that even Vivian James is like... "man, fuck this place" (again I'm talking about back in 1999-2002, not like 6 months ago).

 

This vile contempt also manifested itself into some of the most counter-productive sales tactics and business decisions.  Combined with the disastrous environments created by studios with poorly executed pre-order strategies, and neglecting of beta testing.  Remember when I said that in today's business landscape only Airlines and Comcast can show open contempt for their customers?  Well, even though you can't really count the people who use it as "customers" the DMV springs to mind as well.  See, it's a place where everyone inside would rather not be there if they had the option.  When you're a business that operates like that to your customers, then you really have to hope that any alternative option to you, doesn't come along any time soon.  Basically, if your company acts like a douche, don't be surprised when no one wants to be anywhere near it if they have a choice in the matter.

This now puts Game Stop on the same path as Borders Books or Blockbuster Video, being a place so unpleasant and inept at filling the expectations of customers, that the hemmoraging of said customers away from them is going to prove fatal.  That migration when there was an alternative to getting the same thing from a different source, has in fact occurred and can not be undone.  People have flocked to alternative providers in droves and have no intention of coming back.

This is actually in the GameStop strategy handbook under "dealing with customers."

These kind of death-spirals are usually where incompetent executives and CEOs do the most damage, implementing quasi-effective penny pinching cost-cutting measures that serve only to alienate customers and lose more money for the company (yea, that really annoying thing you did saved the company $100... but the fact that the customer you pissed off was planning to come back and spend $1,000 and has since changed their mind because of that, kind of puts it in the loss column don't ya think?).  They erode any goodwill or consumer trust they had, treat employees like crap, and then go on to do unethical things banking on it being worth it because of the chances they won't get caught.


In an age where there are so many examples of "doing it wrong" in terms of retail chains, it's amazing how their management never notices when it is happening to them.  If they were smart, they would become an online marketplace to facilitate people re-selling their unwanted games and take a piece of the transaction in exchange for facilitating an indemnified and trustworthy purchasing environment which is something Craig's List can't and won't do.  Close your brick and mortar, your own customers (through their use of the service) will also function as your inventory managers, and you just cut overhead by 80%.  You're not gonna beat Amazon on the new stuff, but this is a great place to be. Well that is if the Supreme Court doesn't ruin it, because...


Justice is Blind (from eating lead paint).
Yes, the Supreme Court of The United States of America, the bag of robe wearing dildos who brought us the judiciary shit-stains of Morse v Fredric, Citizens United v FEC, who hate your "num chuck sticks," and know less about technology than a sea slug, are now about to potentially further fuck over America even more, by hearing a case about product repurposing and re-selling as it applies to patent law.  This is a horrifying prospect, because if the case is decided in favor of Lexmark, it has the potential to make unlawful, the second hand selling of anything patented, once it's been altered in any way.



Even if this only extends to hardware, a decision like this would be the rallying cry for Intellectual Property holders to make the same grab at limiting what people can do with the physical packaged media they buy.  They have tried this before, but if they smell blood in the water they will gladly make another try.  SONY, Electronic Arts, Warner, Marvel, Disney, all those companies would love to make it a violation of their copyright protections for you to take a movie, game, book, music album, or anything physical that has one of their properties on it, that you legally purchased from a retailer, and directly sell it to someone else.  Get ready for some new awful challenges coming in the future.   

One thing we can get optimistic about is that as Americans, we know our government is run and influenced by large corporations and pretty much nothing else. And one of America's largest would really hate it if this case went Lexmark's way.  Mega-retailers (all of them), the credit card and finance companies that enable their sales, logistics companies, and a few other major players are worried about an impossible onus of tracking down the source of every original patent, and being commercially liable for not getting it right.  When all that corporate power wants something to happen, it's going to happen.  And as insane as it sounds, we can actually add "hopefully" to the end of that sentence.

For the first time ever, this might be a good thing.


Keep your ghosts in shells and wash your whites separately.
Non-Japanese actors playing Japanese characters in Hollywood adaptations?  What is this, 1961 Breakfast at Tiffany's?  We need to end casting decisions that don't take race and nationality into account at the highest level.  Not only has a non-Japanese actor been chosen to play a Japanese character, the actor isn't even Asian.


End racism in Ghost in the Shell!  Remove Lasarus Ratuere from Ghost in the Shell!  A non-Japanese actor being shoehorned into a role of the clearly Japanese character of Ishikawa is just intolerable!

Like, so OMG racist!

Oh... you thought I was talking about Scarlett Johansson.  ...well I guess the same would apply.  Both are clear cases of casting decisions which obviously don't take the race and nationality of the original character into account.  I mean, if you feel that way about Scarlett Johansson but not about Lasarus Ratuere then... what kind of criteria are you using again?   Yeah, see what I did there...  Taking that position is not one you can really come out of all smelling like roses.  So if you bitch about Scarlett Johansson but not about Lasarus Ratuere being cast in Ghost in the Shell, then it's you, you're the one being racist.

Well, lets see what the "victims" of this horrible cultural appropriation think about the situation...

I know you've seen it already, but it's still here... still a thing.

Of course the only opinion that matters is that of Masamune Shiro, but I think he's still in his stasis chamber (it's either that or he's still too busy counting all the money from the ginormous payment he got out of this).  Somehow I doubt he'd give a shit either way.  With the trailer making the movie look like "Jason Bourne with Robots: pew-pew-pew! wooosh! ka-boom!  Matrix stiff!" or as some have named it "BlandRunner" ...I don't think I really want to be first in line to see the thing anyway.


Fearless Extended.
Fearless Girl, the new and very talked-about art instillation in Lower Manhattan, remains temporary, but its presence in its current placement will be extended to February of 2018.



NYC Public Advocate Letitia James is leading efforts within city government to make the statue permanent.  You can still support her in her efforts by contacting the Office of the Mayor, your NYC Council Representative if you live within the City, and ...I dunno, maybe The Parks Department or something?  In dealing with government, writing hand-written letters is always much more effective than emails, twitter, or some online petition that no one is going to read.  So seriously, it's not that hard to just buy a stamp and send something on its way. they take this thing seriously.


An Ai for Art,
Artist Ai Weiwei will be doing art in NYC.  So... that's a thing.


You got a Weiwei in your eye...
Looks cook but y'all know the pigeons are just gonna crap all over them things in the first week anyway...



You Smell That?
I know last time I said I'd put up Teriyaki, but something happened, so too bad, it's not happening.  In it's place, we shall be showing you another Japanese staple of cuisine you may have seen in one anime or another, Omu-Rice.  Yes omu-rice, rice in an omelette, with... like ketchup on it.  The filling can often vary but is usually some default of beef consume cooked rice and some stuff.  Although, filling it with straight up mac & cheese w/ bacon is also an option.
Beef flavored filling;
So start by making some rice.
While that's cooking, misen your plus by taking 3 eggs out of any refrigeration and just setting them someplace where they will come to room temp.
Chop yourself up half an onion into itty bitty bits.
Mash 2 cloves of garlic into mush (or you can boil them before-hand and they'll spread like toothpaste).
You can use ground beef, or just use some shredded slices of roast beef from the deli counter, if you're looking to same time and not deal with raw meat and so on.
So start up a pan with butter/sesame oil/olive oil/lard/whatever, and add onions, and the meat.  Let that cook for a bit while adding soy sauce beef broth or bullion, and any spices you like or whatever.  As it cooks, add your cooked rice in with it and stir it around, getting everything mixed together evenly.  You may want to continue to add water or just have some around to prevent this from burning.  You can add things to make it spicy, sweet, savory, or add shreadded cheese to make it all Philly Cheesesteak or cheese-burger, or even taco spices for taco style.   Anyway once that's all cooked up (doesn't really matter what you cook it in) put it aside and get the eggs ready.


Ends up looking like this mess but that's ok because this isn't the part people see.

Eggs and such;
Regarding the eggs, it's best if they are already at room temp when you start, so take them out of the fridge before hand.  Eggs in the USA and Canada are scrubbed, so they don't have their protected membrane covering the outer shell, which means refrigeration them is a good idea.  Anyway, whisk 3 together in a bowl, and then add 1oz of water (seriously, do this, your eggs will cook better and not stick.  No, don't add milk, milk burns, add water it doesn't burn). 

In an omelette pan, or something with curved edges, add more oil than you think you're going to need, get it hot, then pour in the egg.  move it around a bit, and as it cooks just kill and bubbles that get too big.  The heat from the oil is mostly likely enough to cook this stuff on contact enough so that sticking won't be an issue.  once it's half solid, add the filling and you can probably kill the heat.

 Don't put the filling in the center.  Put it 1/3rd from the edge.

Then flip the top while plating and get it under there so that everything's bundled up.  Add ketchup, mayo, bbq sauce, whipped cream, whatever you want really.

Time-saving cheat;  Just get some whatever-fried-rice from your local Chinese take-out place and use that.  Maybe jazz it up with a little pepper sauce or something.  Perfect for creatively dealing with bland and boring leftovers.

Browning is to taste.  The less oil you start with and if you skip adding that water, the more browning will happen.  I like browning but some people don't.

Here is one broken in half, which is how you'll often find it in presentation windows at omurice restaurants. Except I just mashed this one because I was about to eat it.

Then you eat it.  And remember, the best part of omurice is that there is really almost no limit on what you can stuff in there.  Mac & Cheese, pizza sauce and pepperoni, pulled pork, poutine, loaded nachos ...something healthy I am assuming.  All that good stuff.

And that's it for this post.  Go get ready for Hanami or something.


That means stock up on saké.  Might we recommend a domestic variety?   It's good.  Not Harushika good, but still good.

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