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DEAR ANIME FANDOM, THIS IS WHY WE CANNOT HAVE NICE THINGS.



So I am checking out some of the latest anime shows that are popping up on Hulu. And the latest to be added to the list of tepid streaming offerings is the pedophilierrific Vividred Operation, where underage girls live in a near-future utopia where all of our energy needs have been solved by the miraculous Manifest Engine. And apparently girls are not allowed to wear pants.

Within the first thirty seconds of the first episode, in the very opening scene where the main character is peering off into the bright morning sunset, the camera angle pans down and our optical nerves are assaulted with this little gem:



....Aaaaaand from there, we are off to a veritable parade of shameless butt-shots with junior high girls galavanting around in the sheerest of skin-tight short-shorts, with one shot after another of shiny pre-teen butt crack and tightly outlined pubis mons.

About as shameless as you can get; there's no mistaking that this is an anime series aimed at all the slack-jawed anime fans out there who get their jimmies rustled by lingering shots of animated asses.

Oh, and there's something about some sort of robot or alien thing that is threatening mankind, a crazy grandfather inventor and the girls who are humanity's only hope. But really, it's all about the butt shots. Underage. Butt shots. Lots of them.

In a nutshell, this series appears, in plot and theme, to essentially be Strike Witches, Part Three. And some people wonder why anime fandom cannot be taken more seriously.



Somehow, methinks I won't be following this show very closely. I felt dirty and creepy after finishing the first episode. Instead, I'll be sticking to another recent Hulu addition, Michiko and Hatchin (from 2008), which is Worth the Watching.
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(no subject)

My plan to try and restart some sort of anime reviews before the end of the year have been stymied by a frustrating pinched nerve -- it's amazing how something that goes wrong in the back of the shoulder can cause so much pain in the tips of my fingers. In particular, the radial nerve of the right arm/hand, which causes all sorts of deep-aching pains in the arm that vicodin cannot even touch, means I can only sleep a certain way, and more importantly means that it hurts to click a mouse and hurts to type a few sentences at a time. Hence I am avoiding computer usage (other than casual browsing). It's an order of magnitude better now than it was before, at least. Hooray for growing old.

In the mean time, for the past few months I've been flying through tons of anime on Netflix -- a few good shows, but most of it ranging between bad, really-really-bad and terribad. Decent stuff includes Canaan and Ghost Hound, okay stuff includes Gunslinger Girl, Blue Drop, Corpse Princess. The truly awful stuff includes Air Gear, Rosario and Vampire, Dragonaut, Vandread, Moeyo Ken. Frankly, I *want* to so some sort of reviews for the awful stuff, because I have more fun writing those types of reviews. Guess that makes me a sadist, wanting to rip something apart rather than heap praise. There's just so much awful stuff to choose from, too!

Also in the past month, Netflix slashed their anime offerings, more than half of their remaining (already shrinking) catalog was dropped mid-month. And there's been no moves to try and beef up their catalog. No matter. Plenty of other options with much larger catalogs via streaming on Roku, including the 900-pound anime gorillas of Hulu and Crunchyroll, as well as a rather impressive selection via free streaming through Amazon Prime, also Crackle and Funimation's own channel. It's amazing how the availability of anime has changed so much just in the past five years, much less ten or twenty years (could anyone from 1992 fathom what today's media landscape would have been like?).

The only thing I don't like is the notable lack of back-catalog stuff. Looking for all the recent releases? Sure, most of it is just a few clicks of the mouse away! But try and find some anime show from the eighties or nineties? Yeah...not so much. Torrenting is about the only way to go for most of that stuff. And being the old fart that I am, that's the stuff I'm more interested in. Oh well, can't win them all.

So, until I can type for any length of time without having to take breaks to ice down my arm, I'll remain quietly in the background, spooling up the next episode of Humanity Has Declined to watch or somesuch. Happy holidays!


(Yoinked from Reddit)
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Quick Non-Specific Anime Update

Since I essentially ran full-force into the brick wall of blogging burnout a few months ago and put a screeching halt to my relentless (yet largely meaningless) anime reviews, I've still been watching various anime shows. But because I didn't want to interfere with my previously-planned schedule of reviews (which at that time I was still planning on continuing), I shifted my focus to other shows entirely.

For the past few months, I've gone back and I've been watching what is available on streaming services through Roku -- notably Netflix, but as the pickings start to get a little thin on Netflix I can easily shift over to Hulu, Crackle or Crunchyroll as well. Netflix's current offerings can basically be summarized as "Funimation's Dubbed Non-Current Greatest Hits". There's a couple hundred series available, but nothing subtitled, nothing newer than 2010, and also (much to my displeasure) basically nothing from before about 1998.

Now, given the choice, I'm much more likely to choose a subtitled version of a show over the dubbed version. Yet, I am most definitely *not* a "dub snob" who will turn up my nose at anything that is dubbed. Back in the eighties and nineties, the quality of the American voice acting was truly a terrible experience that made shows largely unwatchable (although occasionally HILARIOUS). But with experience the dubbing studios have definitely improved, and nowadays badly-dubbed shows are few and far between. Most are "acceptable", and in some cases quite decent.

And the one big advantage to watching a dubbed show over a subtitled one is that I can do what I am doing at this very moment: Sit in front of my computer typing away with some mediocre show on the television in the background. With a subtitled show, I must focus by undivided attention and eyes to screen -- with subtitled anime you can't do two things at once.

ANYWAY...

I kinda sorta want to get back to doing some sort of anime reviews, albeit at a much greatly reduced rate. The previous way I was doing them required many, many hours a week, going episode-by-episode with a shit-ton of screen grabs to boot. Instead, I'm thinking of completely changing things up, one or two paragraphs, a picture or two, more of a capsule review than multi-paragraph theses.

I've already watched a few dozen different series, usually moving along at one episode a week on each as I work through my Netflix queue. It really does run the gamut of good, bad and ugly shows. There's the good (like Canaan, Ghost Hound, Moribito, Birdy), the bad (like Air Gear, Slayers, Kaze no Stigma>, and the godawful bad (like Rosario and Vampire, Dragonaut, Shuffle, Moeyo Ken). There's the Better Than Expected (like Gunslinger Girl, Princess Tutu, Schools Rumble, Full Metal Panic Fumoffu), the Worse Than Expected (like Chobits, Fruits Basket, Blue Gender, Baccano), and the About As Expected (like Sacred Blacksmith, Full Metal Alchemist, Soul Eater, Trigun)...and of course the incomprehensibly unwatchable (like Tokyo Maijin, D.Gray-Man, and Tears to Tiara).

And I really should get back to finishing off what I started with all of those shows that I left hanging from 2011. There's around 20 shows I was in the middle of watching that I just stopped cold-turkey, like Nichijou, Mawaru Penguin-Drum, Ano Hana, Stein's Gate, Usagi Drop, Last Exile, Hanasaku Iroha, Mirai Nikki, Chihayafuru, and many more.

Not to mention that I have intentionally avoided watching anything from 2012 -- even though I've been told this year's shows include some of the best new stuff in a generation. Oh well, I guess that means I just have that much more to look forward to.

Anyway, sorry about the radio silence. I'll make no promises for the future, though, I've been terrible about keeping those promises before.
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A few thoughts on Kevin Lillard and Mitch Beiro

My livejournal has been largely abandoned of late, but I thought I would share a few thoughts on some recent events related to fandom from years past, that have been the "talk of the town" on some other blogs in the past couple of weeks.

The first involves Kevin Lillard, whose name was synonymous with anime conventions for many years. His website "A Fan's View" was the unofficial visual "newspaper of record" for the rapidly growing anime fandom. While he did photograph all sorts of panels and events at conventions, his specialty was anime cosplay, shooting hundreds of photographs and putting the best ones up on his website. Hell, I even ended up appearing in some of the photos (the website is long-gone, however).

But recently, Kevin Lillard has fallen on some pretty hard times -- lost his job, lost his home, dead-broke, living out of his car, and there has been a call for donations to help him in his time of need.

There really isn't a whole lot I can add that hasn't been mentioned by others already...except when Dave Merrill added an interesting twist on the whole situation in a recent entry on his livejournal. (http://davemerrill.livejournal.com/767502.html). Dave bluntly calls out a certain type of fanboy (whether it be comics, anime or what-have-you) that puts their fan obsession before "real life" -- which is something that is fine when you're young and stupid, but not exactly a rut you want to be stuck in when you're middle-aged without a future or savings to show for your efforts.

Read it. It's short, and a little harsh...but spot-on. And also rings somewhat true for my life as well, although it wasn't so much that I was immersed in fandom as a fan, but rather as my method of employment for the first fifteen years of my adult life. And when I did finally leave Cold Cut when it went under in 2008, all I had to show for it was a bit load of debt, no job, no savings, and a room-full of comic books. At the age of 38.

Since that time I've obtained an honest-to-god real jorb; it doesn't pay much, but it's steady and reliable employment and I actually am fairly good at it even if it's unglamorous. I'm slowly building up a 401K, I'm in the middle of a payment plan to finally take care of my 5-figure debt. Over the past several months I've been selling off a large chunk of the remaining dregs of my comic book collection, so far to date shipping off somewhere between 15 and 20 long-boxes-worth of comics to Lone Star for a few thousand bucks (what's the point in keeping comics around if you haven't cracked them open to read in two decades anyway?). This, on top of the thousands of graphic novels I've sold on Amazon in years past, which is also on top of the tens of thousands of comics sold on ebay in years past. I still have years to go, but it's a start.

It's not like one day a few years ago I suddenly thought, "Oh shit, I've been wasting my life, just barely treading water, now I'm getting old and have nothing to show for it!" Nah, nothing so dramatic, but that's effectively the result -- perhaps an unconscious realization? Dave Merrill's THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU! cautionary warning might have been directed at me a few years ago. And I certainly know plenty of people it could apply to now, just as Dave knows several as well. Both of us have watched people we know in various fandom circles who are stuck in the same place in 2012 as they were in 2002...and as they were in 1992 for that matter. I hope his "don't let this happen to you" admonition is taken to heart by those who need it.

As for me, I'm still interested in anime, I'm still interested in comics and manga and whatnot. That's never going to change. I'm still watching gob-loads of anime shows, and picking up the occasional comic or two. Haven't been to a convention in a while, but I have no doubt I'll head off to one or three at some point (I kinda-sorta wanted to crash AWA because I've been on an "old school" kick as of late). But I have to keep it all in perspective, remember a hobby is just a hobby -- it is not my life.

-----

Moving on to the next topic that has one small corner of the fandom a-twitter, there's the unseemly matter of Mitch Beiro. Earlier this month, he was arrested and charged with several counts of child porn. (No links, but if you're interested a quick search will bring up the details.) Frankly, no one saw it coming. Mitch was definitely NOT the sort of person that you would suspect, never gave off any clues or hints or "bad vibes". Anyone who has been immersed in various fandoms (whether it be sci-fi, comics, anime, or furry fandom) can probably very easily tick off half a dozen names of people who give off that "child porno" vibe; and Mitch was nowhere near that list.

Mitch was (er, is) a genuinely nice guy. I cannot say he was a friend, but throughout the nineties and aughts I probably met him on dozens of occasions, either on a friend-of-a-friend basis or professionally (I worked on plenty of comics in which he was published). By-and-large, I enjoyed his company. He was more of the "lovable loser" type of guy (and I say that affectionately rather than pejoratively), the type of person who never seemed to get a break in life, but also never seemed to make any sort of serious effort to break out of whatever hole he found himself in. In fact, he's exactly the sort of person the Dave Merrill cautionary warning above could be directed towards.

Mind you, at this point he's been arrested and the charges are 'alleged'. Lots of people are coming to his defense, some even trying to trump up wild conspiracy theories. But one news article says he admits he has a problem, which is pretty damning.

The problem of child porn has always been an unspoken and rarely acknowledged undercurrent in some of the darker circles of various fandoms. No surprises there, no doubt because sci-fi/fantasy fandom, comics fandom, anime fandom, what-have-you fandom has always been in some respects an "island of misfit toys" where those who do not fit in can gather and commiserate in their shunning from the larger society as a whole. The over-arching uber-fandom of sci-fi and all its subsets have always been more accepting of those who tip-toe around the fringe of polite society. I really doubt that's ever going to seriously change. Mitch's arrest changes nothing.

Except that I hardly saw it coming. NO ONE SAW IT COMING. Based on multiple interactions with him over the past twenty years, I would never have guessed of the mere possibility. And that is a little scary.

Who else out there is hiding some deep, dark, unfathomable secret? I would like to think that I could pick up on that sort of thing, but apparently I had no clue. Which can only make me wonder about other people I know or may have known in the past. Just sort of makes me a little bit less trusting of people in general. I'm already turning into a bitter old man, I hardly need this to make me that much more bitter. Bah.
Burger King

Interregnum

Okay, so I lied.

Well, not really lied, but when I said over a month ago that I was going to keep chugging away at the various online anime reviews, I obviously did not follow through with my plan. Sorry 'bout that.

Instead, I've been slaving away at something entirely different: making some extra money. I've been sorting through and selling off anything of value in my many boxes of comic books I have sitting around. Throughout most of the past decade I had been selling tons of comic books on ebay as well as on Amazon. And by "tons" I mean tens of thousands of transactions; I have no idea of the total amount sold but it has to be in the hundred thousand dollar range since 2000.

But for the past year-plus, I've let all of that lie fallow as I've chugged away at my regular jorb. Mostly it was because the amount of money I could make selling comics and the time it took to sell those comics was less than the amount of money I could make by just doing a few hours of overtime at work.

Not only that, but the bottom fell out of the comics market on ebay some years ago, and lots of comics are selling today for a mere fraction of what they went for previously...if at all. Furthermore, I haven't bought anything new for years, haven't refreshed any stock, so over time the quality of the comics I have left has declined until there is little of value remaining. It was reaching a point where the money I was earning was barely covering the expenses, much less approaching anything close to minimum wage.

On top of that, one of the places I would sell comics (mycomicshop.com) had stopped buying comics altogether for a couple years as the economy bottomed out. They weren't buying anything, period, so all those boxes of comic books started collecting dust, filling up space in my home.

But last month, I went back and checked and LO AND BEHOLD, mycomicshop.com was buying again! I sorted through a couple of boxes, scrounged together a box of comics I could sell to them, and shipped it off. We're not talking huge amounts of money here, but $100-$150 for a short-box of comics for a few hours of work, so not bad.

That was over a month and twelve shipments ago. And I'm still at it.

I've dealt with mycomicshop.com at various times in the past, and they've always been honest with me. They have an online database you can search through, just stick the name of the comic in, and it lets you know whether they are buying it, and exactly how much they are paying by grade. Ranging from Golden Age to modern comics, just search, click, and ship. Of course they're buying on the cheap, so most of the comics they are buying at a fraction of wholesale, unless it has a collector's premium. Furthermore, about 80-90% of what I have they are not buying at all, so it's a matter of searching and sorting through lots of boxes to separate the wheat from the chaff.

There's a method to my madness. Over the years I've managed to whittle down my comics to about 44 long-boxes-worth comics, plus three full bookshelves of graphic novels (used to be much, much more). First I sort out all of the near-mint comics and then separate out those they are willing to buy above a certain dollar amount. Then I sort out all the very fine comics, lather rinse repeat with fine comics, then very good, then good comics. Plus their database is updated all the time, so I can come back the next day/week/month and some of the comics that they weren't buying before are now on the buy list.

For someone who has a ton of comics sitting around doing nothing, it's an easy way to make a couple thousand bucks, and I'll keep at it until there isn't anything left to sell, I guess. Looks like I could use it in the near future, with what I'm guessing could be a failing head gasket. Like I said, twelve boxes down (each 30-40 pounds), who knows how many more to go? Good times, good times.
Crazy Cat

ಠ_ಠ ಠ_ಠ ಠ_ಠ ಠ_ಠ

External RSS feeds to Livejournal have been broken now for nearly a week.

Reading a whole bunch of sites via RSS feeds to Livejournal is one of the main reasons I come here anymore.

Livejournal has been aware of the problem for the past week. Still no fix in sight.

In the grand scheme of things, it's a very minor annoyance. But an annoyance nonetheless.
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Anime Burnout!



For the handful of people that may have been following the various reviews that I have been doing, ya'll may have noticed that I have slowed down quite a bit over the past few months. For the casual follower of my reviews, ya'll might have also noticed that I've been plodding through shows that first aired several months (or even over a year) ago, and here it is the first day of Summer and I haven't even touched anything from 2012.



I think the problem can be diagnosed as a case of Anime Burnout. Or, more specifically, Anime Review Burnout, because I'm actually watching just as many of the cartoons as I always have, but it's a chore to get around to actually reviewing them.



The simple fact, which I have been obstinately avoiding, is that the amount of time I've been spent writing and ham-fistedly critiquing the shows far outweighs the amount of time it takes to actually watch said show. If it takes twenty minutes to watch an average episode of your average anime series, it should not take the better part of an hour (or longer) to whip up a full-fledged review complete with image scans and online blog reactions. I just sorta-kinda burned out on the whole process.



A little while back, I made the decision not to take on any new shows (as in the Winter 2012 Anime Season, much less the Spring 2012 Season or the now-upcoming Summer 2012 Season) until I take care of what I'm already working on. My plate is full, have to clear off room on my plate before I add anything new. This is why I haven't touched anything from the current year yet, even though I posted a "upcoming season preview" some months back.






So, here's the deal: I'm throwing any semblance of any sort of schedule out of the window. I've never really been concerned with being timely with reviews, and this just is a confirmation of that already-existing policy. I will continue to methodically work my way through reviewing shows from 2011 that I'm already in the middle of watching, episode-by-episode, until I'm done. Even if it takes until the end of the year. (At the moment, that's well over two dozen episodic shows from the Spring, Summer and Fall 2011 Anime Season)



I will completely finish off what I started, which means reviewing in full every single show (even if it's just the first episode) of every single series, movie, OVA, or special from 2010 and 2011. That's right -- there's still a tiny handful of shows (mostly odds-and-ends movies and specials) from 2010 that are on my place. The rate that I'm plodding away at right now (roughly an episode a day, or less) seems about the right workload for me, so it is going to take several months until I'm done.



When I am finally finished with that, in all likelihood around the end of this year, I'll do my comprehensive year-end review and rankings. THEN AND ONLY THEN will I finally take a look at stuff from this year. (I've heard there's some really good stuff, but I've intentionally avoided looking ahead or reading various people's reactions and reviews lest it taint my own views).



At that point, I'm planning on drastically changing how I do reviews. For example, for a series do a review of the first three episodes together as one review. Then those shows that get a passing grade, do a review of the next group of three episodes. Then if those get a passing grade, watch through to the end of the series. So, that means between one and three posted reviews for a series rather than one for each damn episode. And for many (but not all) specials, OVAs and movies, shortened reviews rather than a full-length post. The idea is to cut the amount of time I spend writing about shows by at least half, closer to two-thirds or three-quarters.








Up next (as in probably the next day), I'll be posting a long-delayed "Where Things Stand" post that summarizes the last four months of reviews. Then I'll keep working away at the remaining shows from 2011 I'm still watching (I'm close to wrapping up the Spring 2011 Season shows at this point). Any "season preview" posts for 2012 shows are on indefinite hiatus until I've cleared by queue of 2011 shows.



P.S. For those of ya'll who occasionally comment on my reviews either on Wordpress or on Livejournal, please be assured that I definitely do notice your messages. Even if I very rarely respond, I am listening.



Furthermore, in addition to all the crap that I'm reviewing here, I'm watching a whole bunch of other anime shows, currently I'm working my way through what's available on Netflix. Lots and lots and lots of dubbed anime on Netflix -- the decent, the bad, and the terribad. It's easy to have a dubbed anime show on the television while I'm typing away on the computer, so I can listen without having to keep my eyes glued to the screen for subtitled. I half-jokingly call it "Hilary Haag's Greatest Hits", because it almost seems like she's a voice actress in literally everything on Netflix. For better or for worse (mostly the latter). I'll do some sort of quick summary of that crap at some point in the future. There is some interesting stuff out there worth recommending. And even more stuff worth ridiculing.






So, that's the deal. I'm going to keep what I'm doing at my own pace, and finish off what I started before moving onward. I'm not touching 2012 until I'm done with 2011. The end. And as always, have fun out there, kiddos!

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Anime Review: gdgd Fairies Episode 2

Anime Review:
gdgd Fairies Episode 2




What this is about: Separating the anime wheat from the chaff! Reviewing every subtitled anime show from 2010 and 2011! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.



Series Premise: Gdgd Fairies is a weekly anime television series featuring computer generated animation, starting in October 2011. Three magical fairies, pkpk, shrshr and krkr, sit around talking about the world and practicing their magic.



Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:



Very Quick Episode Summary: pkpk, shrshr and krkr sit around and talk about waking up late, finding money in your pockets and life's little joys. Later, they decide to hold an extreme bungee-jumping-bread-eating contest. Then they make fun of a baseball pitcher accosted by a giant chicken.

My Impressions: Does anyone remember the very first episode of Lucky Star when the girls were just sitting around a table talking about eating chocolate coronets for several minutes? The bulk of gdgd Fairies is *just like that*, with the characters sitting around talking about the most unusual of topics, coming to the most unlikely of conclusions. Especially the emotionless, demure krkr as she seems to always be trolling the other two nearly all the time.

You can't take anything in gdgd Fairies seriously. At all. It's like watching an inside joke for about fifteen minutes, either you "get it" or you don't. It's like some Japanese writers got stoned out of their gourd and decided to watch a Xavier: Renegade Angel marathon. Then decided to create a Japanese anime version, only with cute moe-style anime girls. The whole shebang seems almost designed to fit within the old Cartoon Network "Adult Swim" post-midnight block of programming.

The verdict:

I can't really call this a "good" show or not, but I can definitely say it is different and you can never expect what is going to come next. The inanity of the bungee jumping contest makes no sense, and krkr breaking out in her non-voice-acting voice (that whole segment has to be unscripted) at the end. This show is just bananas, I tell you! Bananas!




For more information:

  • My earlier reviews of the series:
  • Info resources:
    Sampling of Online Reviews:

    • If anyone posted an honest-to-god actual review of the second episode online in the past eight months, they've done a damn good job of hiding it from Google Search! No reviews at all! Except for mine!




      ROUND TWO (Second Episode) RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

      Thumbs-up for Round Two: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Episode 2, Ben-To, Chihayafuru, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate/Zero, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hunter x Hunter, gdgd Fairies

      Thumbs-down for Round Two: Working Season 2, Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain, Tamayura: Hitotose

      Coming up next: None - round 2 is over!