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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.


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.