Archive for News

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

Monday, March 1st, 2010

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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The Daily Almanac: My Favorite Magma

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Well, we got hit with another snowstorm in Jersey which has kept me indoor for the past two days, and I got hit with a major cold today that has kept me in bed during that time. So today’s post is going to be brief and hilarious.

The Twitterverse has been all abuzz the past day over the alleged plagiarism of Nick Simmons, son of rock band KISS’s Gene Simmons, over a panel he apparently lifted from the manga Bleach.

That’s a story I’ll save for another day, but for now, lets talk about something funny. In response to the accusations a Facebook page, someone posing as Simmons went on an ignorant rant denying he watched anime nor ever “read a Japanese comic book or ‘magma‘.”

Thus gave birth to the My Favorite Magma meme on Twitter last night. All of the best anime and manga titles… just a little bit off. This would probably be the titles your grandmother would say if someone asked her what anime shows you were into.

You can see the entire list with the #MyFavoriteMagma hashtag, but below are my personal favorite magma titles.

Enjoy the list and have a good weekend, peeps! I hope many of you are able to make it to the NYICFF tonight and tomorrow. (^_^)

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The Daily Almanac: It is Time of Closing a Library.

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Jon over at JanaiBlog pointed me to this visual novel app for the Apple iPhone last night, My Neighbor Girl (iTunes link: full version and free trial version) . It’s such a simple and stupid game, but I ended up playing all night. Even though I’m still in the middle of playing the latest Ace Attorney game from Capcom, I opted to play the amateurish My Neighbor Girl instead.

I think what really drew me to the iPhone app was the fact that the Japanese programmers actually tried to translate it into English themselves. Not only did they put together a grammatically incorrect and awkward sounding script, but they actually had their Japanese voice actress attempt to read it out loud!

Now all things considered, the Japanese girl’s English is not all that bad. One might assume that she’s probably the top of her class when it comes to foreign language. But still, she sounds very uncomfortable as she struggles to pronounce the English words through her thick Japanese accent. And she gets no help from the script she’s reading from because, as you can see from the screen cap above, it becomes complete nonsense at moments.

At first I was appalled by all the Engrish and switched over to the Japanese audio and text, but then I decided to give it a second chance. And she eventually won me over. There was something kind of cute about the way she was struggling with her English. Kinda moé, in a way.

So if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, give this one a shot. See if its poor translation wins you over as well.

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The Daily Almanac: NYICFF Anime Preview

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

The New York International Children’s Film Festival begins this weekend, and we have a fantastic line up set for this year. The NYICFF has played host to many American anime premieres in the past, including 5cm per Second in 2008 (read my review here) and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time in 2007.

Unfortunately, the festival was severely lacking any anime last year, but they more than make up for it this year three highly anticipated debut films. I’ll hopefully have my reviews up for all three titles in the next two weeks, but for now, let’s check what the NYICFF has to offer in this year’s anime preview:

Summer Wars

NYICFF 2010 opens with the scintillating new feature from emerging anime star Mamoru Hosoda, a film whose “dazzling fluency of motion and untethered brilliance of invention makes the usual fantasy anime look childish and dull.” – The Japan Times. Kenji is a teenage math prodigy recruited by his secret crush Natsuki for the ultimate summer job – passing himself off as Natsuki’s boyfriend for four days during her grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration. But when Kenji solves a 2,056 digit math riddle sent to his cell phone, he unwittingly breaches the security barricade protecting Oz, a globe-spanning virtual world where millions of people and governments interact through their avatars, handling everything from online shopping and traffic control to national defense and nuclear launch codes. Now a malicious AI program called the Love Machine is hijacking Oz accounts, growing exponentially more powerful and sowing chaos and destruction in its wake. This “intriguingly intelligent” cyberpunk/sci-fi story is a visual tour-de-force, with the amazing world of Oz as the highlight. Like the Internet as conceived by pop artist Takashi Murakami, Oz is a hallucinatory pixel parade of cool avatar designs, kung fu jackrabbits, toothy bears, and a bursting rainbow of colors.

Summer Wars will be showing Friday, February 26 at 6:00 pm (Sold Out) and Saturday, March 13 at 11:00 am (still available). Mr. Hosoda will be in attendance for the Friday showing.

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The Daily Almanac: The Bra Strap

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

So you all remember my manifesto on the greatness of Chu-Bra a couple of weeks ago, right? Well, to sum it up, I thought the series was actually really well done because it combined the visual sexiness of lingerie with a very unique (and serious) take on the awkwardness of puberty. I feel that if you write the show off as being nothing more than lolicon fodder, then you’re doing the story a great disservice.

Well, Ed Sizmore of Comics Worth Reading still wasn’t quite convinced that there was more to this series than its sexy exterior, and he requested that I write up episodic reviews on what I was seeing when I watch this series. While I don’t plan to do this for every episode, I’m going to try to do it for all the really good ones from here on out.

So let’s focus on episode 7, since it is now streaming for free for anyone within the US. While the series has been focusing on puberty through the female point of view up until this point, this episode really centered around the male’s experience via its only boy character, Komachi-kun. As a male, I found myself able to easily identify with him as he struggles to keep his hormones in check while still trying to remain a “good boy.”

I thought this episode summed up the male middle school experience perfectly by centering around the all too familiar event we see pictured in the screen cap above:

Staring at the bra strap showing through the shirt of the girl sitting in front of you.

As the Chu-Bra girls go into the summer, they change into their lighter school uniforms, and with the lighter fabric comes the opportunity to catch a faint view of the bra straps underneath. Everyone notices this the first day, and as the boys gossip over this new development, Komachi does his best to not think about it.

But he can’t help it, none of us could at that age. And whenever he sees a bra strap through the uniform, he takes a longing notice to it. There was still this huge mystery at that time about the complex female undergarment and the unknown holy grail that was contained underneath those tiny belts and latches.

Watching this episode reminded me of how much I was enthralled with this idea during my adolescence, and how this strap has somehow become completely unattractive to me in my adulthood.

Perhaps the mystery is solved the first time we reached second base with a girl. Perhaps we simply desire something more than just the strap after a certain age. Or perhaps girls just learn how to hide their strap better as they get older.

But either way, this episode completely captured that awkward feeling we had with our hormones running wild in middle school, and that is why this series deserves more credit than it is currently receiving from the fan community.

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