Netflix, and its place in anime for the future

netflix-logo-small

I’m going to begin this post by saying that I am quite optimistic in the recent news Netflix have given out in terms of their future relationship with anime, and putting it on their platform. If you’re not aware of it though, here is a rundown of it all.

Netflix plan to bring more and more original content to their platform: new shows, feature-length movies, documentaries, etc. Exclusive license acquisitions also fall under this category. A figure they have given is US$8 billion by the end of 2018. Even with big names like Disney deciding to break away from Netflix by pulling their content off and focusing on their own streaming platforms, Netflix have found a perfect way to tap into the TV-watching audience who turn more towards internet television, podcasts, online streaming and on-demand video than live television. In their third quarter earnings interview, it was revealed that a ‘sizable chunk’ will go towards 30 new anime series and 80 new original films, all slated to be released by the end of 2018.

The anime-watching community are very quick to defend the service they have grown used to, though (Crunchyroll/Funimation), so I can totally understand why they are extremely sceptical and pessimistic in Netflix’s plan. Simulcasting has become the norm now. Viewers in the West get to watch shows the same day they are released in Japan, and with simuldubs being brought in by Funimation, it could be fair to say that they are a rather impatient lot. They don’t want to wait weeks or months for their shows to come to the West; they want them now. In addition, they can also turn to pirating and torrenting shows. So are Netflix capable of introducing simulcasts/simuldubs? Possibly, but putting together a dub costs money and time (hiring voice actors, translation, etc.) Amazon have already shown they are keen to jump on the anime bandwagon by acquiring licenses for shows the viewers are curious about (Scum’s WishWelcome To The Ballroom, Love & Lies, Made In Abyss, Land of the Lustrous, Inuyashiki).

Netflix can join the likes of Crunchyroll, Funimation and the others, and be a platform that the anime community can warm to. But only if they are willing to listen to the fans, and not treat anime as some kind of faceless commodity.

Continue reading

Advertisements

How to be a good senpai (…or enjoying anime while being older)

I turned 34 a couple of weeks ago.

I think it was only recently (in the last few months or so) when it occurred to me that I am no longer that young weeb I had been playing for the last 10 years, and that I should stop trying to act like I am. Is this called maturity? Is this the one thing that some weebs fear the most? I’m supposed to grow up when I reach 25 or something, and yet now, as I reach my mid-30s, it just hits me like a cannonball out of nowhere. I don’t know the hows or the whys, and I suppose it doesn’t matter really. What does matter is that acting like a young/reckless/rebellious weeb now just makes me look like an idiot.caitycomics_38_by_caityhallart-d9y4br4I grew up in the 90s. Back when I started on anime, Sailor Moon, Evangelion, NadesicoTenchi Muyo! and Pokemon ended up on my watch list. I felt weird liking Sailor Moon because as I was watching the original English dub (the DiC/Cloverway one), it was pictured as for-girls-only (of course I know it isn’t but I was just a young kid then). I tried to get the few friends I did have in high school into Evangelion until I realised that, truthfully, I really really hated it. Nadesico just happened to be sort-of popular in the UK, but I can no longer remember any of that now. Tenchi Muyo! was just this condensed piece of crap on Toonami that I felt obliged to watch as a new anime fan. And Pokemon was something that everyone was talking about at the time.

Between around 2006-2007 and now, I had been involved in a lot of things in the UK anime community. When I was at college, I had campaigned for years to build an anime/manga society, only to find there was not enough interest (it was only until a year or two after I graduated when one was finally set up). I had been doing volunteer work for about a dozen various industry and fan conventions across the country, only to just get tired of…well…not actually having any fun over that weekend. It just felt like a duty to me. I had been close to the committee of one fan convention, only to grow tired of going altogether because it seemed such a waste going sometimes (and that decision has nothing to do with the committee themselves btw; they are all amazing people that I wish I still had contact with). I’ve made a lot of friends. I’ve lost some too (in my total hardcore weeb years when I obsessed too much over shows). You see, because the UK community is not massive, that makes it rather tight-knit; most of us all know each other, and when someone is called out on a bad thing, pretty much the entire community will end up finding out about it. This definitely applies to the last 6 months (don’t want to go into too much detail on that, as I don’t want to get any more dragged into it than I have already become).

I know what you may be thinking. I might just be panicking that age has just suddenly caught up to me, that I’m beginning to think that I don’t deserve to be a part of this community which is, in all fairness, full of youngsters, and that I shouldn’t listen to that logical mini-me in my head and just not worry about it. Well I can’t help it; I just can’t.

adulting

Perhaps I should look at this dilemma/Catch-22/whatever you want to call it in another perspective. But in the weeb culture does age necessarily mean maturity? Just because you realise that you look a lot older than that Naruto cosplayer ordering his next beer at the bar at the con you’ve been going to for years doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re smarter. More experienced in the fandom, certainly, but not always smarter. Perhaps, as you read this, you could believe that being an older anime fan actually has its advantages…well it’s all the more often now that attending fan cons can make you stand out even more, especially when you’re surrounded by the 16-25 folk who just plan on getting drunk over the weekend (only because their parents aren’t around to ground them when they puke on their cardboard cosplay of…I dunno…Kirito…or Mikasa…).

 

junkogross

Or maybe I’m just feeling this way because of how I got into anime in the first place. As I said earlier, Sailor Moon, Evangelion, Nadesico, Tenchi Muyo! and Pokemon were on my TV set or in my VHS player (either bought or taped). Back then in the 90s, we didn’t have the luxuries of frequent fan conventions, anime streaming, Anitwitter or waifu/husbando culture…we were the outcasts, and it felt like we were doomed to be outcasts for as long as we ‘supposedly’ grew up, had nice careers, wife/husband and kids, and so on. But then, as time went by, nerd-dom became the cool thing. Movie and TV adaptations of comic books came out in their droves, Japanese-only games got licenses in the West, Spirited Away got its Oscar, movie channels began to show more anime movies, Hatsune Miku made her first appearance on a US talk show, e-sports arrived and exploded…

…I could go on.

I suppose I can just call myself a bitter person for being envious, because we didn’t have it like the millennial fans have it now. We had to work hard to both embrace our fandom and keep it hidden from the people who would torment us for liking it. My own family still see it all as just ‘crazy violent cartoons’, and so I no longer bother trying to reason with them now.

I will of course defend anime, because that is what I have always done. I’ve been a part of this dumb-ass community for over 20 years now. I will not quit. Even if I do end up turning to religion or take up golf or collect jazz records or something, I won’t turn my back on those ‘crazy violent cartoons’ that the media have (and still do) portray them as.

I’m hoping that this new reinvention of this dumb blog will show that I can now look at my fandom through the eyes of someone who has been a part of it for over 20 years, and try (emphasis on ‘try’) to look experienced/jaded/act-like-I-know-what-I’m-talking-about…and not feel any shame or disgust at the same time.

large

Try to be a good senpai to these kouhai millennials and stuff…

Happy Science, and their relationship with anime.

This is a post about Happy Science. You may not have heard of them.

They are one of many ‘Japanese new religions’ (or Shinshukyo) that still operate. No way are they on par with the likes of doomsday cults like Aum Shinrikyo (now known as Aleph). It would be wrong to call them a hippy cult, but peace, love and understanding is essentially what they are about. Believers and converts are required to follow a set path in life, and must have “the aspiration and vision to seek the way and contribute to the realisation of love, peace and happiness on Earth”.

The founder and leader Ryuho Okawa (the reincarnation of supreme deity El Cantare) claims to channel spirits such as Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, among others. However, while the group doesn’t aim for monotheism like most major religions, it recognises many gods…I presume one idea of this is that they see no need for religious war.

So why on earth am I writing about them here?

I’m pretty sure that it was when I was looking into how some religious organisations use anime as a medium to show people their beliefs (and whatnot). I first came across the shorts made by Aum Shinrikyo/Aleph, showing founder Shoko Asahara using supernatural powers like levitating and phasing; the shorts are still scattered here and there on YouTube. But this didn’t directly lead me to Happy Science, though. I’ve had this interest and fascination of religious groups and cults for a good long while; not at all joining them, but instead I think about what drives people from mainstream religion to such beliefs that, to some, could be seen as threatening to everyday life. I researched some more into ‘Japanese new religions’, and pretty much one of the first things that came up was concerning some anime movies that Happy Science had produced to show its beliefs; not so much as propaganda, but to act as information. This, and spreading the message that a deity known as El Cantare is there for all of us, to shield us from greed and lust.

And so I managed to find these movies, and see for myself…

Continue reading

Why the McDonalds anime commercial is the best commercial they’ve ever done.

Right now here in the UK, McDonalds are churning out the usual factual commercials on how all of their burgers have British and Irish beef, how they embrace fresh ingredients, and about their new idea for putting books in Happy Meals (which on paper sounds great, but any kid would rather play with a toy). Their current ad campaign, though, focuses on how the assorted variety of customers have their “best times” at one of their restaurants (from celebrating a soccer match to finding your future wife), with an appalling piano cover of The Jam’s “That’s Entertainment” playing in the background.

On the other hand, like some restaurant chains, they like to ignore the glaring rumours about how they treat their employees. Here in the UK, McDonalds employees are often on what’s called ‘zero-hour contracts’. In them, the employer (McDonalds) isn’t obliged to give out any minimum working hours, while the employee (the poor hapless kid with spots occasionally getting your order wrong) isn’t obliged to accept any work offered. Sounds great, right?……but the employee must also sign an agreement that they must be available for work when and where-ever, and there’s still no guarantee they’ll get the number of hours they signed up for, meaning it could be anywhere between 1 to 48 hours a week.

With this, as well as the question behind whether their food is genuinely healthy (eg. due to the high amount of fat, grease and additives, a Big Mac can take up to 3 days to properly digest), McDonalds have been desperate to win peoples’ hearts for like forever. Everywhere in the world.

And as in Japan, where at least one McDonalds (or McDonalds equivalent) is found on every block, this generation’s kids are happy that they won’t always have to subject themselves to traditional Japanese cuisine and can splash out on Western food, despite the fact that westerners themselves usually frown on their food.

Continue reading

Tokyopop’s return part 2: The Plot Thickens.

Well we have all been waiting with baited breath to see what Tokyopop really do have up their sleeves for their so-called comeback. I implied in my last Tokyopop post on how they had started talks with Disney for doing adaptations of Disney works; this would most likely mean the likes of Frozen or Star Wars or any of the Pixar movies appearing in print comic form.

Head honcho Stuart Levy, who never gave up on Tokyopop even when Kodansha left them, several of their staff were fired, their German office was shut down and Borders (their largest customer) went bankrupt, has gotten himself into a bit of a corner, unfortunately.

It all began when Tokyopop uploaded Angel’s Egg onto their Youtube channel, in the possible hope that they would have acquired the license for it. Angel’s Egg is a very rare piece; from 1985, it was a co-production of Ghost in the Shell creator Mamoru Oshii and Final Fantasy/Vampire Hunter D illustrator Yoshitaka Amano. This seemed a little too good to be true; Tokyopop venturing back into licensing again…but the girl behind The Anime Nostalgia Tumblr, and a friend of mine, saw straight through this:

Continue reading