Friday, February 26, 2010

Personal: I May Be Out

Well, after I rallied my faith for that last post, things just went straight down the toliet for me today. First the disappointing Hell Girl license by Section23 and then, literally minutes after I finished venting a bit about it, I found out that my family is in serious trouble.

I have a warning for everyone out there: do not ever do any kind of work for, associate with or in any way that involves money connect yourself with dishonest people. Thanks to a con artist, my family may now end up in complete financial and social ruin.

Normally I wouldn't share something this personal with anyone even in such a vague way but, hey, if everything is FUBAR anyway, why not? Since the situation is ongoing, maybe it will get resolved in a way that doesn't destroy my family completely but for right now, the government is threatening us and likely our business is just history.

So, while I still intend to try and stay a part of fandom, I may be forced to leave it due to not having any extra money for it. I may have to give up on law school but I've decided to fight for that as much as I can.

Just don't trust people that don't deserve to be trusted my friends. It's not worth trusting anyway.

Bye-ni. I hope this won't be the last time.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thanks and Dub Fears!

Hello everyone! This is Richard J., blog navigator, English dub lover and a sufferer of Anime Bipolar Disorder (ABD for short.) This blog has done what I never believed possible when I started it. It has broken double digits for followers!



Uh, for my female readers, forgive the Hazuki service. I really couldn't resist using this image as part of my thank you. (Freud would likely have quite the explanation for this.)

Anyway, I'm very grateful to you my readers! Your faith in me and in English dubs moves my heart.

Now, onto some business. You've probably wondered why I haven't been ranting or at least mentioning sub-only decisions and new companies making them. The reason is I really do want to try and keep this blog somewhat positive/happy.

Still, something does need to be said about NIS America getting into anime licensing. (Old news is new to someone right?)

I was going to post a really insulting pic but instead, let me talk instead more about my fears and also my love for a bit. (This will be a LONG POST.)


This is what I fear is happening.

Sub fans get what they want but for dub fans, we get, at best, only a fraction of what we want. I'm not really all that affected by the NIS licenses as I've not seen the shows but for fans who prefer English dubs and watched their licenses in Japanese, they're left in a bad place. Either they buy now and hope the get the chance to double-dip for a dub later, as some Dokuro-chan fans will soon be able to or they just don't buy it at all.

The sub fans and fans without a strong preference don't have to worry much. They have legal DVDs and subs. For the fan who prefers English dubs however, the options are spend now and hope you can spend again in the future on what you REALLY want, don't buy it at all and risk never getting a dub made in the future or just buy it as is and learn to live with not actually getting what you want out of the release.

The anime market without English dub fans is undeniably smaller and potentially less healthy. How do the companies hope to grow or even thrive on shows that have small audiences and lack a key marketing tool, the English dub, the only part of the release that can't easily be obtained online for free! The more mainstream audience is largely cut from the equation in this model. Plus price-wise, subs are beginning to go up in the cost to fans! Bandai Entertainment already charges more for Hayate and several other shows than Section23/Sentai/Fragment of ADV does for whole sets. NIS America also plans to charge "premium" prices: Toradora is planned to come out at $60 for a half season set if I have my info correct, approximately the same as the high range for Funimation's half-season sets. Many of Funi's sets come out for less though, they have several in the $30-45 range and a very few have started out at less. I think we all know that everything they release is bilingual.

Anime in Japan is also becoming more mainstream-oriented, though moe-haters won't admit it. Anime based on successful novel series, games and such are increasingly becoming the norm. This has the potential to greatly increase licensing costs.

I'm not angry at NIS America. I hope they'll be successful and start dubbing. At the same time, I'm not going to praise them for a job that to me and some dub fans is only half-finished. Fans talk up a good line for LE items but they've already failed in R1. The biggest problem the market has right now is the recession, the second is illegal piracy with both fansubs but most especially bootlegs and third is a failure to recognize who their real consumers are. We English dub fans are the real buyers.

We are not the enemy to sub fans. We are their allies! We want anime to be licensed, to be dubbed and to succeed!

I love English dubs.

I know, you're thinking "well duh" but when I say I love them I really mean something special by it. Ever since I was a about 4 or 5, I've watched cartoons. All of my life, I've loved the medium and never once did I think I should "grow up" or whatever. The voice of an animated character IS that character to me. When I watch an anime in English, I connect with that character.

I share her struggles, I hope for his success and I fall in love with them all.

It doesn't matter to me if it's a mecha drama like Evangelion, a harem show like Shuffle, a mind-bender like Noein, a girls with guns drama like Noir or the truly epic magical girl show that redefined the genre like Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. When I listen to an English dub, I fall in love with the characters and for however long that show lasts, I live alongside them on their adventure, sometimes wishing it would never end.

I can look at a show objectively after I've watched it but while I'm watching it, I try to just love the characters. To do that properly, I need an English dub.

So I can't hate the corporations for trying to do what they mistakenly believe is the profitable/right choice. I don't hate sub fans for having a completely different viewpoint than I do.

But I won't buy sub-only DVDs. I love English dubs. Without that special spark, I just don't enjoy a series as much as I could.


This is how I feel. I love English dubs. I want to fall in love with the shows NIS America has licensed, I want to love Sentai's line-up and Bandai's series too! I want to love Nozomi's and others as well but to do it, I need my English dubs!

My heart belongs to the VAs who bring the characters to life for me as a person who lives and thinks in English! If I were Japanese, I'd love the Japanese, if I were French, I'd want a French dub. I want to share my love with NIS America but they have to show me the love first.

Hope I didn't freak anyone out with this one. ;) Also, thank you to Cliff who inspired a few parts of this post.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Anime Review: Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit

Anime Review # 004
Title: Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit
Release Type: Complete Series set (Walmart Exclusive!)

Blog Navigator and random Internet Troll Richard J. here, welcoming you to another does of edu-tainment! (No, really, we are both educating and entertaining. That makes us like one of those TV networks for infants, only cooler.)

Today's show is Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit, a series that has some excellent talent behind it on multiple levels. First, the animation production is by Production I.G., a company that has worked on many excellent series, such as the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex franchise. In fact, the director for this series was also a major player in that franchise! His name is Kenji Kamiyama and trust me, he knows what he's doing. Anyone who can write scrips for GitS: SAC has brains to spare. And speaking of writers, this series is based on a novel by Nahoko Ueshashi.

Now, Moribito is a story centered around two major characters. Balsa, a spear-wielding warrior woman who works as a bodyguard and Chagum, a young prince who harbors a potentially harmful sprit inside of him. After Balsa saves Chagum from an assassination attempt by his own father, the second queen hires Balsa to protect Chagum, starting the pair on an adventure that will forever bind them. In many ways, this is a series about family, redemption and a warrior's honor. The fascinating thing is that the lessons aren't necessarily learned by the characters you expect nor for the reasons you might think.

Let me ask one of Balsa's friends for some info. Touya?


Touya: Right! I'm Touya, the best errand runner this city has and let me tell you, I've seen Balsa get into and out of all kinds of situations! She's voiced by Cindy Robinson in the English dub, a voice you don't hear too often but man I wish we could hear more of! She's great here, holding her emotions in perfectly and only letting them out a few key times, giving Balsa a grace and strength that you just don't find many places!

The whole series is on her shoulders when you really think about it and she nails it big time! The main thing is that she never plays Balsa as a cold person. Reserved, restrained but never as if she has no feelings at all. It's quite a brilliant and understated performance.

Balsa's role in the series is to protect Chagum, who is played by Mona Marshall, who plays yet another boy prince very well. (Check her out in Kyo Kara Maoh! for a much more boisterous prince roll. Wolfram is fun.) As Chagum, she imparts an actual sense of nobility in the voice. Chagum doesn't come across as arrogant but rather as sheltered and a bit naive in some ways yet also wise and capable. As the second major pillar of the series, this role is well covered.

Richard J.: So, what are some good points about this series?

Touya: You mean besides being a well-written and paced fantasy adventure with themes of family, redemption and honor? Heck, do you really need any more positives than that?

Richard J.: Well, I think it's important to point out a few.

Okay everyone, this release is hands down a steal. The price is absurdly low for a complete collection. This series has great animation, thrilling battles, moving plot developments and a cast of characters you can really support. The story of how Balsa came to be a bodyguard alone makes this series worth owning. Why did it do badly in the ratings on [adult swim] you ask?

Moribito makes you think. It is a series that was made for anime fans that like to savor their series like a fine wine. (I recommend blackberry wine from Wild Vines as a post-viewing nightcap. It's a delicious and inexpensive wine.)

This series has a fantasy angle with spirits and magic but rather than feeling stupid and tacked on, like it would in some series, it is heavily integrated. Many fantasy series make the mistake of never explaining why magic can't solve every problem but this series really does a great job of showing how problematic it is for short-lived humans to try to understand situations that span many life-times. It also shows how easy it is for a culture to just forget what was once so very important. There are some important life lessons in this series.


Touya: Okay, if the English dub for this anime series is great and the plot is awesome and cool, then what's the catch? I'm an errand runner, if I don't know the downside, I can't haggle with the merchants properly!

Richard J.: Actually, the series itself has very few downsides. Mainly, the ending includes a sequel hook and there is no sign of a sequel coming, though the main plot is fully resolved and it's far from a cliffhanger ending. It's just, you get the impression there might be more and you're excited at the prospect. So it's disappointing there's not a sequel because the first series is SO GOOD.

Second is the packaging. Let me make something clear: you want this cheap complete collection, you've got to go inside a Walmart. I've checked Walmart's website and I did not see this collection. (They do have a previous set with less than half the series but it's not the same.)

Also, when you do buy it, you have deal with a stackpak case. In other words, the DVDs are all on one spindle! Though fear not, a cheap replacement can be had from Sleeve City.

Here are some pics of the collection in the replacement case I got:

First, here's the front cover in the new case.


Second, the spine. If you plan to duel Balsa, you're gonna need one.


The back. There are words and stuff.


Now, here's the interior, disc sleeves spread by my prehensile paw.


For the record, you can get Moribito's singles release and a sweet art box as well.

In conclusion, I feel the positives vastly outweigh the negatives with this series. It's just a great story. Any fantasy fan should get this series now. Not just anime fans, it's got so much to offer non-fans as well. Frankly, this series just does an amazing job of telling it's story.


Touya: So what's the rating chief! Oh, I hope it's a good one!

Richard J.: The Cat Girl Scorecard reads:


Oh heck yes. That's just the score this series deserves! The negatives just CAN'T beat the sheer good here. You should totally own this series. It's not quite perfect but it comes REAL CLOSE.

Media Blasters totally scored when they pried this one away from Geneon's cold dead fingers.

See you again soon!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Ani-Valentine's Day!


Valentine's Day has a lot of history and meaning in different countries.

It's that time of the year, when girls give the men in their lives chocolate, when men start planning their White Day gifts in return and when love is in the air! Of course, that's in Japan. In the US, this is the time of year men start measuring anatomy and bank accounts by seeing who can splurge on the best flowers and jewelry and get it delivered to their woman's office in the most appealing way. (Too bad Valentine's is on a Sunday this year, so any gift-giving will probably just come from the heart rather than the ego.)

Anyway, today it seems like an appropriate time to discuss anime crushes. Yes, we all have at least one, even if you'd never admit it. 2D characters, being pure fantasy, can easily capture your imagination and heart if you aren't careful. Having an anime crush is a harmless fantasy that lets you think about the qualities you find most appealing in a mate, friend or just in general.

My personal heart-stealer is Captain Teletha "Tessa" Testarossa of the Full Metal Panic! franchise.


Tessa is the Captain of the Tuatha de Daanan, Mithril's powerful submarine though many people question her competence at first sight. The light novels (click link for a place to get the first 3 in English!) give some details about her involvement with the scientist chiefly responsible for the Arbalest, Sousuke Sagara's enhanced mecha as well as her own work in creating the Tuatha de Daanan. Tessa is the Captain because she helped build the sub and has unique talents that are necessary to run certain systems. Inteligence is a turn on for me and Tessa got that.

She also has this amazing habit of playing with her hair that always just make me have a moe overload.


Oh yes. Lovely. I love girls who play with their long hair!

Ah, sorry about that! Anyway, Tessa's got some odd habits too. As Full Metal Panic!: Fumoffu informs us, Tessa likes to sneak into Sousuke's bed when able (lucky stiff) and she appears to lack awareness of the dirty connotations for some things she says. Tessa's had a somewhat sheltered life but she's still a capable tactical officer in Mithril's organization, as the early events in China show in Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid. She also handled incidents in the first series well, even putting her own life at risk. Unfortunately, Tessa has difficulty putting her emotions aside with Sousuke. Which leads to a hilarious scene in The Battlegroup Commander's Sort of Boring Day, an OVA episode sequel for the Second Raid. I find the duality of her character interesting, strong while in combat but an almost naive girl outside of it, in many ways she and Sousuke are similiar.

The OVA also shows us that even the girls can't help but want to get their hands on Tessa! Of course, who can blame them? I mean, look at her.


Tell me you aren't interested? (Get bigger pic here.) Tessa's English dub voice is Hilary Haag, who I personally could listen to reading a phone book. She imbues Tessa with a warm tone and a sort of breathy quality that sizzles my brain.

Captain Teletha Testarossa would be my choice for an Ani-Valentine. I'd be quite happy to receive even giri-choko (obligation chocolate) from her! Stupid Sousuke'd probably get honmei-choko (favorite chocolate.) Why is it that making chocolates for people isn't a tradition in the US? It would be so much more personal and awesome than store-bought crap.

So are there any anime characters you'd like to spend Valentine's Day with if they were real? Feel free to share, there's nothing wrong with having a nice fantasy or two, as long as you know the difference between fantasy and reality. And really, is it any stranger to find an anime character attractive than, say, a celebrity or a supermodel? (Whether a 2D lovely like Tessa or a real-life lovely like Grace Park, my chances are still zero.)


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Funimation Licenses Dragon Ball Kai.

Oh like anyone else was even in the running. Funimation owns this franchise in ways almost as legitimate as the Japanese. (Not literally but you know what I mean.)


Like a raging storm of shonen action and fanboy bait, Dragon Ball Kai (which will go by Dragon Ball Z Kai here in the states) has descended upon licensing news analysts in a shocking move that is sure to stun exactly one groundhog who was too frightened of his shadow to learn of this license first hand. (Phil will be informed after the additional six months of winter.)

Sure none of us were expecting this. . . . Really, we're all shocked. . . .

Okay, not really but level with me folks: wouldn't you totally be shocked if this were animated and licensed?


Yes, yes a thousand times yes.

Ah, but we'll have to live with epic Goku and epic DB action. Not a bad thing of course.

Now, try to figure out which roles will be re-cast in the English dub due to various actors having retired, not wanting to reprise roles or generally being hated by fanatic fans who are already frothing at the mouth. (Certain posters out there are clearly rabid!)

Bonus points if you can tell me what English dub I referenced in the first pic. Remember, I'm testing you all and you need all the points you can get before 2012, when a giant panda will appear to destroy the Earth, powered by the collective squees of the masses. (That's right, a PANDA, now you know the truth hidden from you that I have discovered in Dan Brown's secret sock drawer!)


Add FUNimation Anime to a Site or Blog

Funimation's widget seems like a nice thing and I've added it. Took me a few minutes to figure it out too.

February began yesterday, as did my efforts to help remove filthy old carpet from a house. Surprisingly easy once you get going. (Don't pay people hundreds of $$$ you could spend on anime to do work you can do yourself.)

This month, I have a few reviews planned, the beginnings of a contest to begin before March, fanfic that hopefully won't suck and hopefully some other fun stuff. Hope you join me willingly. (Because I really don't like chasing after you.)

Now, I'm getting back to trying to figure out a widget.

I'm only 27 and I already feel outdated by technology! Yet I still have no Chi of my very own. Sad.