Starting something new

Well, not brand-spanking new, but new nonetheless.

I've picked up watching Zipangu 『ジパング』, knowing that at least there has to be some newer anime that would be interesting, this one had sparked an interest with me. Though, probably for the worst part, the reason I was interested was because of controversy because in the fan community. Well, just like the Paris Hilton sex videos, controversy will get people to watch at least once. However, thankfully for Zipangu's story, it is something that will keep me watching.

The animation is something that isn't phenomenal but still noteworthy. I think, like most good anime, the driving part is the story. What is most compelling about this story is its originallity - something that I find lacking in many comtemporary stories.

It is the story of a crew of an Aegis -class of the current Japanese Marine Self Defense Force (Nippon Kaijou Jieitai) who, en route to a training exercise, find themselves being trapped in an electrical storm and suddenly transported back to the South Pacific War ca. 1942 or 1943. While there is a lot of character introduction and background, this is about as far as the story that develops in the first episode. However, looking at the brief preview of the next episode and its title "Midway", it leads me to believe that the true action is going to start very soon.

Sure, this sounds right now like a very Sci-Fi series, which is alright, because I happen to be a fan of the genre, but the addition of the in-history moment and the alternative history possibilities leaves me very excited.

Though, thinking of the genre of military and war, it seems nothing like the series of Gundam or Macross which gather lots of attention because of the sincerities of thier stories or thier animation; Zipangu is taken in almost an entirely different light. The reason there is constantly an argument and almost a dissention among many fans away from this series is because this, and other manga and some smaller anime series, seem to begin embracing the "underground" nationalist culture and rejectiing the modern Japanese ideals of pacifism. I've not gotten far enough into the series to see if it is taking the victim mentality for which many criticize Japan to the point of condoning the actions of the Pacific War or even the Second Sino-Japanese War.

I think we've picked up that I am quite a history fan, as well.

I know this is extremely short, but probably anything more about this series is purely speculation. Though, I am right now, too excited about this series for any further description. The story has a lot of development to go and it is taking me a little bit to get a feel for the animation. Though, some preliminary comments about it, the mechanical and weaponry look great and move very well throughout the medium. While the character designs maintain a lot of realistic looks, the series can still suffer from CG-shock, which is the clash on screen that develops because of the overuse of CG, and the actual animation does seem to retain features of the lifeless cel-shading that many anime are falling victim to now. It's not something horrible that is damaging to the series. Though, it is nothing like other sci-fi/mecha/combat series, such as Bubblegum Crisis OAVs of the 1980s.

Well, I'm out for now. Hopefully I'll be able to get back soon with more information and commentary with this series as well .



Errata: RE: Kodomo no Omocha

As I was sitting down having a late lunch and trying to do a little homework, I had Kodomo no Omocha running in the background (I'm the type of person who needs a little background noise to work) and I looked up and saw something that has surprised and perplexed me.

The FUNimation logo and the non-Japanese credits both of which I swore I saw were absent; I had apperently been imagining them. It's the oddest thing.

So, I would like to post an errata amendum to my previous post regarding those comments. The opening and ending theme are untouched with all of the original text left alone. The only comment that still needs to be made is that the first opening theme, "19ji no News" by TOKIO is still absent because of undisclosed reasons that are assumably out of FUNimation's hands. In light of this, my only real complaint is a couple of inconsistant translation errors. Inconsistent because they are present on the menus and packaging (such as the opening title to episode one "I'm a Sixth Grader with an Agent") but within the translation on the subtitle and in the dialogue itself it keeps the original meaning ("I'm a Sixth Grader with a Pimp").

Both of those aside, I am reversing my earlier contemplations about supporting this series. I've liked Kodomo no Omocha since I first saw it in 1998 and had vigourously supported it when being fansubbed. Now, with the improved quality of DVD, a few missing jokes and a missing song are something buyers should be aware of, but does not nessacarily ruin the entire series. I know now that I will be supporting Kodomo no Omocha definately on DVD here in the United States.

I'm still going to be keeping an eye out for an LD set though ....


Welcome to Akihabara Renditions

Akihabara Renditions's mission statement is to service the North American Anime Community with Merket Analysis, Region 1 Market Coverage, technology, both new and old, and to form a nostolgic historia of Japanese animation's history in the United States.

However, there is a long story between how I got to the name Akihbara Renditions. It started under another name, Little Akihabara. When I was in high school, some friends of mine in the anime club I ran decided that we wanted to run our own fanzine. All sorts of names came about for it, Anime-this, Anime-that ... until it dawned on me.

Akihabara is a suburb north of Tokyo also known as 'Electric Town'. During the economic boom of the 1970s and prosperity of the 1980s and 90s, Akihabara became the Mecca for anime and video gaming fans because of the sheer number of home electronics dealers who had literally everything. I had adopted the name of that city for a cluster or two of computer components stores I frequented; much like the Vietnamese community can be called Little Saigon or Little Hanoi, or regions of New York City and Chicago were once called Little Italy; I adopted Little Akihabara for this area.

I suggested the name for our fanzine and it took, despite the hard pronunciation. However, LA was doomed to become a failed project (or so I thought). As time constraints grew, as well as preparing for University, we never had the time to come across getting webspace and learning the coding it would take to run a good looking fan magazine. It was a project that was worked on every few weeks but never something that left planning and went into production.

However, here on Blogspot, I had toyed with names and such and never liked either of them. The first was Anime-Rant; I'll admit, I was angry when I first thought about it and created it. But I noticed that many of my posts were not really rantish, so I decided on the first change. The Blog then changed names to Pro-Otaku, an attempt at a news/review site not only from that of a fan but from a fan who had devoted much life and time to anime, but was not as such anymore. So, I've decided to take aspects of both parts and combine them into Little Akihabara here.

(The previous was written on 2005 August 27; the following is from 2006 June 27)

Though as I declared in this post that I had yet again changed the name of this Blog. I should have looked around more and did the research, because apparently, there had already been a Little Akihabara on the Internet.

Out of curiosity, I decided to search the web for Little Akihabara one day while on a break at work - just to see where I ended up on the lists. Well, the good news is this: I (littleakihabara.blogspot.com) came up ranked number 5 on Google (though, my link in a forum signature came up number 3) and came up number 1 on Yahoo!

But being number 5 on Google, I looked at the number one spot and saw the exact name. I clicked the link and discovered this was the name of a UK Fansub group. I politely contacted the leader of the group and inquired about their status; the page hadn't been updated in a few years and I thought maybe the group had gone defunct. I received a response back a few days later. The group has been in and out of activity using the name for nearly a decade. Seeing as how their usage of the name dates back about as far as my own serious fandom, I didn't feel it right to stake a claim just because I was a little more active than the other. I've recently confirmed with the true Little Akihabara is under major construction and going to be making a come back real soon. I really want to extend my thanks to Barry for making both this transition of Little Akihabara to Akihabara Renditions and the revitalization of the old Little Akihabara a smooth and friendly process.

Why the name Akihabara Renditions? Well, the Akihabara is there for the same reasons as it was there before; Renditions because the majority of the commentary here is based on interpretations and translations of the actual news of the day. Plus, this is also a bit of a homage to the old US Renditions company which was a major player in the current Region 1 market back in the early 1990s.

So, where do we go from here? Well, I'm not going to just pick up from where I left off. I have actually gone back and edit all of the intermittent mentioning of my former-Little Akihabara and change them to Akihabara Renditions.

Kodomo no Omocha

I intentionally left this out of my previous post because of how mad I was about this production.

Now, I am one to give credit where credit is due and as of late FUNimation has put out some very good direct to video releases. While thier handling of the Dragonball property is still questionable and I still object to it, other releases, most notably Fullmetal Alchemist I have been very pleased with.

Kodomo no Omocha, or as they use the colloquialized fan pronounciation of Kodocha for thier licensed version, seems to be a cry back for the days of Dragonball when they were still business partners with Saban (one of the better moves they made was splitting from them). I have to say, my disappointment when I got home and put this disc in, is probably unmeasureable.

Whoever holds contractual rights to TOKIO's song "19ji no News" and TOKIO's namesake (as the lead singer does appear in the first episode) would not allow FUNimation to purchase the rights to replay these scenes in thier North American version, or perhaps, they were asking too much money and FUNimation wasn't willing to spend. On some forums, some members had said this sort of thing was announced, but I had never heard as such nor could I find anything about it in any of the news sites I checked out.

All in all, FUNimation did probably the best they could in the situation and that was to put the second opening theme as the opening theme for the entire series.

FUNimation had another critical error and that was replacing the Japanese logo text with thier own logo and erasing the credit names and writing over them in English. I don't remember either of these transpiring on the Fullmetal Alchemist DVDs. Also, I don't play favorites with this sort of act here - I really perfer the video to be left alone and have a translated credit sheet at the end.

However, as I skimmed through the first episode, most everything else looked in tact.

I'm unsure as to whether or not I will be purchasing another FUNimation release of Kodomo no Omocha; I suppose it all depends on how easily and cheaply I can find an LD complete set. Either that, or I could learn a little bit of video editing and replace the pieces that are missing and I think should be returned.


Now Featuring Updates!

I'm apperently not very skilled at this whole "update on a regular basis" sort of thing, so please look forward to more spontaneous updates in the near future.

Believe it or not, I moved into a new apartment by myself almost two months ago and I went a month without cable and internet, so I had a lot of time to occupy and decided I had better get started on this ever growing pile of "TO WATCH" stuff I had had lying around.

Just after I had moved my TV and VCR/DVD deck in (which was about a day after I had moved everything else), I sat back and watched my un-completed Bubblegum CRASH OAV set. By Uncomplete, I mean I have 1 out of the 3 episodes in the OAV. Not to mention, it is on VHS, so we can debate visual qualities later. However, even though I've had this OAV for quite sometime and had seen it before, it had been ages since I had seen it. Bubblegum CRASH, while compared to its prequel Bubblegum Crisis, its no where near as good but it hold true to some of what BgC fans come to expect - hot girls, hot mecha, hard/punk rock - but also it seems the advancements in anime technology and style that came about in the early and middle 1990s are also adding thier own spin on an old Cyberpunk classic.

Soon after I did BgCrash, I broke out some VHS fansubs that I still need to get on DVD. The big thing on my list was Marmalade Boy. I had started watching the series agin from the beginning more or less to try and get myself reaquainted with the characters. I really do want to get this series on DVD, but I am going to have to either wait a little bit longer or I am going to have to find a good deal coming up at AWA here in about a month. However, I have been watching Marmalade Boy very sparingly. I first started watching the fansubs about the last semester of high school, more actively in the summer following it. I only got up to episode 28, which is somewhere near the middle of the series I believe. However, I remember exactly how addicting the story was. This is why I have to be sparing with it - since there are four boxes out now, they can probably cover the entire series, which means I will be spending a bunch of money right away just to meet my fix. Whoever coined the phrase "Anime - Crack is Cheaper" is right.

However, while this blitz of nostalgia and old VHS was going on, I was doing a good bit of small DVD investment as well. It's hard for me to remember exactly all of the DVDs I picked up, but there can't be that many anime DVDs. I finished off my Giant Robo DVD collections, including the GinRei Special. Now I need to get some friends over for a weekend so we can watch all of GR because anime that good needs to be shared. I also picked up the Matsumoto Reiji Classic My Youth in Arcadia. I've not sat down to watch it, but I might if there is another Friday by myself or something. Arcdia, from the last time that I watched it, is something that cannot be rushed and must be something one is in the mood for, much like a glass of good scotch. The appreciation for good scotch that connessours are usually rambling about is generally what I myself have both said and heard from other fans who have been graced to watch this film. I can understand why not many people, especially newer fans, would not like this film. There are not overtly sexual female characters who likewise get called "XXX-tan" nor is there a running gag and humor. Matsumoto tells very detailed and dialogue rich stories, which even as a fan, can get dry and boring. Damn, I sound like an elietist, but its true. Matsumoto's work is on the borderline of a privlidge to watch. Of course, sinc AnimEigo did the translation and authoring work for the North American release of Arcdia, the final product is absolutely fantastic. Another movie I picked that I had not seen in a while was the second Urusei Yatsura movie, Beautiful Dreamer . This film, like the other UY films I believe, is directed by the same man who directed the TV series andhas become a big name as of late becasue of his direction of films like Jin Rou, Oshii Mamoru. I like to watch Oshii do the TV version of the UY TV series, but I don't nessecarily like his work on the films. I think it is the unique way of how he sees and interperets things and I'm not fond of prolonged exposure to that sort of thing. The TV series is set up so rarely a continuous story runs the full length of a normal TV episode; instead, each epsiode is composed of two parts, usually the stories are unrelated to each other. It also may be that I like Takahashi Rumiko's method of storytelling and characters, and that's where the TV series is based, out of her manga; however, when a film project comes up, there are probably a pool of ideas dicussed and then the story is written. This is where Oshii can gain a lot more control over how the series is presented. Beautiful Dreamer is a psychadelic trip of a movie; literally, Bill Murray's Grounhog Day on acid. It's a good film, but be warned: saying it is strange, weird, unique or what have you is only a tip of the iceberg.

I've also been playing catch-up on all of my downloaded stuff, too. I am making head-way into Touch, which is becoming more and more of a favorite of mine. Like Takahashi, I really like the way Adachi Mitsuru writes simple stories and complex characters in them - yet all of it is just as dramatic and interesting as a regular TV drama. It is definately not like the anime of our modern time now. I even scored a torrent of his mid-1990s shounen baseball anime, H2. Because of formatting issues though (for some reason, the group decided to use OGG) and this makes it a little more cumbersome to watch. Though, I have checked out a couple episodes of a drama of H2 that was running earlier this year or even last year and I like the premise of the story. Hopefully the anime will be just as good. I've also considered picking up the manga for this series, as well as completing my collection of Touch.

Speaking of sport anime, I've also bee watching the late 1980s to early 1990s classic YAWARA. I'll admit, that after watching a lot of 2003 anime and I picked up YAWARA that it was a refreshing shock, like diving in a cold pool on a hot summer day. The animation, which even I would describe as dated, is blissfully 80s. The story is semi-far-fetched, a girl who has been trained all her life by her Judo master grandfather reluctantly working to capture not only the National Citizen's Acheivement Award but also a gold medal from the Barcelona Olympics. But the emotion and tactics demonstrated in the anime are very true to life (or rather, as true to life as an anime can get, I suppose). The series has a very slow start though; the first episode really gets you geared up but between there and about the 11th or 12 episode, the only real perks are the few fight scenes. Once the story moves forward through, it is engrossing to say the least.

Zipang, which, intrestingly enough is brand spanking new (Well, April start time, I believe) has garnished some interest from me, too. I've downloaded the first episode and done nothing with it other than check a few brief interests in it. I think that it is probably the only anime I've ever checked out because of controversey from the fan community. And with school just starting, and having a lot more reading to do than normal, I think I will have to do some very strategic planning to get this series watched through as well as perhaps trying to pick up a couple of other series.

Last and certainly not least brings me to Moble Suit Zeta Gundam! I'm up to about disc eight now and we're getting to Char's meeting with Haman and the rest of Axis Zeon. Needless to say, I'm excited, but I've just got too much stuff going on right now to just plop down and watch it all now.