The Daily Almanac: It’s Not Stealing, it’s Called Homage!

So as I wrote in my post last Friday, the internet has been going nuts for the past few day over the alleged plagiarism of Nick Simmons, son of rock band KISS’s Gene Simmons, over some panels he apparently lifted from the manga Bleach. Deb Aoki of About.com Manga provides a lengthy recap of all the debates going on surrounding the act and just how bad it is compered to the digital piracy of manga online.

You’re not going to find me quoted anywhere in that recap. I didn’t participate in any of the online discussions or debates for one reason:

I don’t think that this act of “plagiarism” is really that big of a problem.

Isn’t manga an industry filled with copycats already? Why are we suddenly singling out Simmons here for imitating art he saw in a comic he obviously enjoys?

Manga artists are constantly ripping off each others styles and ideas, and that’s just a normal part of the business. Look at the massive dojinshi subculture built around amateur artist selling knock-off versions of their favorite comic series. Originality is something that you rarely see in this medium.

Sure, Simmons was probably cutting it a little too close with copying over so much of the panel like that, but I felt that he made more than enough changes to make it “his own.” That’s why I completely stand by Simmons as he made his public statement today calling his work an homage to Bleach. That is exactly what it is, an homage.

And let’s not forget that Bleach artist Tite Kubo seemed to be completely dismissive of the issue as he tweets (translation by Ms. Aoki), “I’m more interested in the fact that Gene Simmons’ son is a manga-ka than whether he’s plagiarizing me or not.”

After all, what’s really the big deal? Copying is just the manga way of doing it.

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Chu-Bra episode 8 is now streaming free for everyone in America, and maybe in other countries as well. Click on the link and find out for yourself.

There’s really nothing that deep or meaningful about this episode. They go to the beach and everyone wears swimsuits. Every anime has to have an episode like this, it’s required by law. In fact, Hanamaru Kindergarten had their “let’s get them all in swimsuits” episode last week as well.

… and again the week before that.

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And speaking of Hanamaru Kindergarten, Zac and Bamboo talked about the series on last week’s ANNcast. They didn’t like it, but they say that they could also understand why it would appeal to that “kind of guy” into these type of anime shows.

That “kind of guy” is also known as Scott around these parts. ;-)

They theorized that the show wasn’t appealing to them because they just didn’t really care about children. Zac, a well documented bunny lover, says he could find the appeal of cute animal anime, a la Chi’s Sweet Home, but he just doesn’t care about the children.

Hanamaru is my favorite show of the season, but I’m actually not a big fan of the antics among the children either. Yeah, I guess it’s kind of cute and it leads to many laugh-out-loud moments, but overall, I think it gets a little boring after a while. I generally don’t enjoy the episodes that center around the kids.

The reason why I love the series so much is the same reason why I loved Love Hina, the nerdy protagonist. I wrote about this kind of “Everynerd” appeal before, and the same thing absolutely applies to Hanamaru’s male kindergarten teacher, Tsuchida.

Tsuchida is the nicest dork you could ever imagine and serves as a good role model for the male otaku audience. He works hard at his stable job and he takes a lot pride in what he does, no matter how unusual it may be. And I think he earns even more geek cred by the way he brings his Nintendo DS to work and talks about JRPG’s with the boys in his class.

But on top of that, I’m also just infatuated with his relationship to his female co-worker, Yamamoto-sensei. She is the ultimate moé girl – kind, naive, cute, and sexy where it counts. I love this character, so I want my otaku role model to overcome his awkwardness and actually get with her. I’m hanging on every episode waiting for this coupling to happen, and that’s why I can’t enough enough of series. It’s the adult characters, not the children.

Zac mentioned in the ANNcast that he couldn’t fathom seeing this kind of series when he got into anime a decade ago, and he’s right. We didn’t have moé shows back then. We only had bits and pieces of shows, like maybe one or two particular female characters from any given action series. But still, we knew of this type of appeal even back than, we just never really talked about it openly.

That’s why we were ready for such a huge boom in the last five years as we finally started to come out from the underground. And even though this shift has given us a ton of really crappy moé shows, we occasionally get a gem like Hanamaru Kindergarten that reminds us why we love the genre so much.

At least, that’s how this “kind of guy” sees it.

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