My Little Pony and the Offensive Addicts

I’ve been somewhat mystified as to the recent popularity of My Little Pony. When Erin posted her take yesterday, it got me a-clicking MLP links on Tumblr until I ran across the Derpy Hooves “censorship” controversy. Apparently, there was a background pony who had wall-eyes due to an animation error, and the /co/ fandom adopted her and named her Derpy. As a gesture of goodwill to the fans, Hasbro and Lauren Faust adopted that moniker as her official name, and Derpy was even given a minor speaking role in a recent episode. However, Hasbro decided to recut the episode after the fact, removing any references to Derpy’s name and straightening out her eyes a bit. Cue explosive internet controversy.

Now, I can conceive a myriad of completely logical reasons why Hasbro might want to bury Derpy. Maybe the name wasn’t easy to copyright. They’ve renamed many Transformers in the past simply so they could hold exclusive rights to their names. Maybe they felt that Derpy was an offensive stereotype, ala Jar Jar Binks. Maybe they even thought capitulating to 4chan set a bad example for future fan-company interactions.

The point is, Hasbro neutered Derpy for some obtuse reason that makes perfect business sense to them. They’re certainly no stranger to massive fandom controversies, and they don’t really care what you or I think as long as they make shitloads of money. Such is life.

But what really gets me mad are the self-righteous spewings of politically correct moral guardians who claim that Derpy Hooves was an “ableist” character. Here’s an example.

Yeah, I’ve never heard of the term “ableist” before either. Linguistically speaking, I think it’s completely fucking retarded.

Oh, I’m sorry. Did my use of the word “retarded” offend you? Here’s why I don’t particularly care.

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Why I Find Most Anime Reviews Boring

While rereading Strunk and White’s Elements of Style recently, I came across this interesting passage.

In notebooks, in newspapers, in handbooks of literature, summaries of one kind or another may be indispensable, and for children in primary schools retelling a story in their own words is a useful exercise. But in the criticism or interpretation of literature, be careful to avoid dropping into summary. It may be necessary to devote one or two sentences to indicating the subject, or the opening situation, of the work being discussed, or to cite numerous details to illustrate its qualities. But you should aim at writing an orderly discussion supported by evidence, not a summary with occasional comment.

I am distressed by how many anime review blogs, particularly those that focus on episodic reviews, flagrantly disregard this rule. In my early reviews, I would often devote over half of each entry to plot summary, until I realized how pointless it was. Eventually, as I grew as a writer, I realized that the best kind of review has little or no summary at all. A few sentences to establish the context of the discussion is fine, but any more than that is redundant. Why tell your readers the entire plot of a show when they’ve already watched (or plan to watch) it themselves? Are you trying to compete with Wikipedia?

Even worse are the “reviews” that consist of an endless barrage of screenshots with a cursory sentence or two separating each one. This scene was hilarious LOL! OMG look at her panties! This episode was so sad ;~;! You get my point.

A review should be a forceful presentation of your opinion. Don’t get lazy by typing out a lackluster summary with a sentence or two of wishy-washy noncommittal analysis at the end. I don’t want to read about how “this episode had some weak scenes, but overall it was kinda fun.” I want to read about how “Symphogear is boring and cliched as all hell, but the fanservice makes it a guilty pleasure for me.” Don’t just shove your opinion down my throat, thrust it so deep that I’ll be eating from a tube for months to come.

This brings to mind another passage from Strunk and White’s which I think every blogger, anime or otherwise, would do well to remember.

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all sentences short, but that every word tell.

If only every writer would abide by that, the internet would be a better place.

Good Grief, GG!

This little bit of 4chan macro raises some interesting issues for me. I’ve always been ambivalent towards GG; One the one hand, I find their subs to be competently translated and their meme-jokes mildly amusing. On the other, I despise their constant trolling and the irreverent, dismissive attitude they take towards their fans. Of course, that trolling is exactly what makes GG so infamous in the first place. It’s that kind of contradiction that embodies their entire attitude towards fansubbing.

In fact, the exact same thing can be said about 4chan. It’s filled with the most base content the internet has to offer, yet the community still has enough insight and creativity to be considered the heart and soul of the otakusphere. Even those who profess to hate /a/ still spew 4chan terminology and memes, whether they realize it or not. Perhaps us otaku are, by our very nature, contradictory creatures filled with self-loathing.

Or maybe I’m overthinking this whole thing. What do you think?

Time for Baseless Speculation Based on a Season Chart!

And there you have it, the Winter 2012 chart. I won’t indulge in any speculation as to the quality of the upcoming anime, but I will tell you which shows have caught my fancy.

  • Black Rock Shooter because noitaminA. And no, I’m not typing that stupid star symbol every time I mention the show’s title.
  • Miniskirt Space Pirates because it’s being directed and written by the guy behind Martian Successor Nadesico. Also, the title has a level of frankness I haven’t seen since Snakes on a Plane.
  • Daily Lives of High School Boys because I’m still trying to find a male-centric slice of life show with enough fujoshi appeal to challenge the dominance of yuri-subtext “four girl” shows.
  • Rinne no Lagrange because mecha. It has a kind of Strike Witches vibe going on though, so I’m a bit wary.

Usually I have more shows I’m interested it, but most of this season’s offerings look rather uninspired based on the admittedly limited information we have thus far. So, do you light novel/manga readers want to hype your favorite franchise and prove me wrong?

Answerman the Advert-man

Y’know, I never really liked the new Answerman on ANN. Zac had a brusque trollish charm; he was an asshole, but he was a funny asshole. Brian, on the other hand, is trying way to hard to present himself as goofily snarky, but still somehow manages to come off as arrogantly pretentious like everybody else on the site. However, his more recent columns have taken a real dive and now seem like nothing more than thinly-disguised advertisements for licensing companies, Funimation in particular. I posted the above image to 4chan to get their reactions, and hoo boy did I get an earful.

Didn’t you know?
ANN likes to see itself as part of the “industry”.
That’s also why they hate fansubs, despite using fansubs.

ANN is just part of the “establishment” if you can even apply that term to something as irrelevant as anime licensing.
Companies own media and there are still people who assume media isn’t just feeding them the views of said companies, more at 11.

I’ll admit, I read the ANN news articles quite a bit and on a daily basis. That said, their opinion articles, reviews and staffers are full of some of the worst hypocrisy this side of the anime fandom. Truly, they give us /a/nons a run for our money.

I can’t disagree with any of these points. I realize that the Fourth Estate is devoid of integrity these days, but I still can’t help feeling a smoldering sense of unease knowing that even my anime news sources are bought and paid for by media conglomerates.

Well, except for 4chan. But that place is just a worthless shithole, right?

Chronicles of an Anime Audiophile: Those Damn FLACs

Any excuse to post Mio fanart.

I’ve always been a bit of a videophile. That’s why I’m unable to abide the terrible video quality on Crunchyroll. However, I recently discovered my anal-retentive pickiness also extends to music. I recently became dissatisfied with the audio quality of my cheap, $10 Walmart earbuds and decided to spring for a fairly inexpensive but high-quality pair of Sennheiser around-ear headphones.

Almost immediately, I began to notice problems with my music collection. A lot of my anime soundtracks, particularly the ones with lower bitrate encoding, now sounded vaguely flat and lifeless. My iPod sounded cheap and tinny. The problem wasn’t in the headphones themselves, since high-bitrate music and videos with FLAC audio sounded absolutely amazing through them. No, the problem lay elsewhere.

Without even realizing it, I was becoming an audiophile.

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Review – Space Battleship Yamato

Although I’ve never seen the original Space Battleship Yamato anime, nor it’s American incarnation Star Blazers, I’m always a sucker for a good sci-fi action flick. My particular interest in this film was piqued when I saw the trailer; it almost seemed as if the Japanese film industry was trying to make its very own big budget popcorn flick in the vein of Star Wars. As one of Japan’s premier sci-fi franchises on par with Gundam, Yamato seemed like the perfect film to receive this kind of pseudo-Hollywood treatment. However, it was a big gamble… most live-action adaptations of anime created thus far, whether by Americans or Japanese, have been a disappointment. Could Yamato break this trend?

I’m happy to report that the end result is a flawed but fun high-octane sci-fi action film. Although it suffers from all the pitfalls inherent to Hollywood-style blockbusters, it also does an excellent job of playing to its strengths. It is, in every sense of the word, a popcorn film… and a damn entertaining one at that.

In the year 2199, the Earth is under siege by an unknown race of aliens whom humans have named the Gamilas. Although humanity was successful at resisting them initially, the aliens’ technology evolves at a rate faster than humans can match. Now the Earth has been rendered uninhabitable by constant meteorite bombardment, with only a handful of survivors living underground in squalor. The United Nations of Space has refitted the old, scuttled Japanese warship Yamato into Earth’s final star cruiser, intending to evacuate as many survivors as possible. However, a message from the planet Iskandar in the Large Magellanic Cloud offers humanity aid, promising them a device that can cleanse the Earth of radiation and make it livable again. The message also contains schematics for a powerful Wave Motion Engine, which will allow the Yamato to make the journey quickly using warp. As humanity’s last hope, the Yamato sets out on a desperate journey to find Iskandar, dogged by Gamilas attacks along the way.

More after the break.

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