Archive for Editorials

The Head-Scratching Acquisition of “We Without Wings”

Monday, June 13th, 2011

While I was at a panel at AnimeNEXT last Saturday, I received a series of press release emails from FUNimation on the latest license acquisitions they had just announced at a convention in Texas. Among them was the currently on-air anime series We Without Wings.

“Why?” I ask myself out loud after reading that.

“Huh?” asks my girlfriend sitting next to me. I show her the email on my iPhone. “Oh…. why would they license that?”

I look over the email a little more trying to figure it out. I pressed the reply button to send an email back to Jackie Smith, FUNi’s PR manager and my contact within the company.

Dear Jackie,



I almost sent the email as just that, but I realized that she probably wouldn’t be able to give me a response to such a rude and condescending question. So I deleted the message and left it at that, but the question has still continued to ponder in my head ever since.


The Daily Almanac: In Defense of Chu-Bra…

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

You know, I never review new-from-Japan anime series on this blog because everyone and their mother blogs about the newest anime episodes as soon as they hit the bittorrents. But Ed Sizmore of Comics Worth Reading requested to hear my impressions of one of my favorite series this season, Chu-Bra. Ed watched the first episode last night and was absolutely appalled by what he saw.

Ed’s main hangup on the series is with its over-sexualization of adolescent children. The characters are portrayed as just beginning Japanese middle school, which would place them as 7th graders, or 12-year-olds, at the start of the story. However, I think that Ed and most viewers are completely misunderstanding what type of appeal the series is intending to go for. And because they can’t see past this misconception, they’re missing out one of the better anime series to have come out in recent years.


REPOST: The ASOS Brigade – Anime Marketing at its Finest

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Originally posted on December 28, 2006, almost exactly three years ago:

Buzz was generating through out all of last week as a mysterious website popped onto the internets. The simple page made promises that the popular anime series, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, was being licensed in the US. The website only claimed that “The world as we know it will end” that Friday. But for those looking around, one could find hidden messages to decrypt written in the website’s source code. The popular news website also played along by highlighting of the letters SOS written on their posts. The hype was big, and many started to speculate who was behind the mystery.

Well, after my last round of final exams that Thursday night, I checked on the website after midnight to see if the announcement was made. I was on the east coast, but unfortunately, the announcement was going to be made at midnight on the west coast. So I stayed up really late to see that as midnight struck through the different timezones, the website’s source code updated with various messages, including a comedic dialogue between Haruhi and the other members of the Brigade. Finally, when midnight came on the west coast, the website changed with this video:

At first I thought it was a joke. A bunch of fans got together to pull the biggest hoax in anime history. But as the video continued, it became clear that this was no joke. In fact, this was probably one of the most enjoyable marketing campaigns I have ever seen.


REPOST: What’s Happening to the Anime News Network?

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Even before I became an anti-piracy advocate, I had a bone to pick when “professional” anime news site Anime News Network began reviewing TV shows that were not legally available in America and could only be obtained through online piracy. The website began doing this to drive up web traffic and to compete with the ever growing number of non-profitable amateur anime blogs. I felt that a website making money from ad revenue shouldn’t be promoting piracy and profiting off of it like this.

On October 1, 2009, ANN once again began posting reviews of anime shows from the Fall 2009 season, some of which are still not legally available in America. So to spread awareness of this horrible profit-off-of-piracy scheme the website has going, I’m reposting my original essay from last year and starting a 30-day boycott of the site on my Twitter feed.

Originally posted on April 16, 2008:

In Search of Number Nine brought up a very good observation last weekend. Why is the popular anime news website, Anime News Network, doing a spring anime preview? The website has dabbled in such articles in the past, usually being written by an anonymous collection of the websites’ writers and presented in one long feature. But this season, they’re going all out with promising 24/7 reporting of all the new shows fresh from Japan. It’s a move that appears to be blending the website with the anime blogging community, and I must say, I think I preferred it if they stayed where they were before…

A huge header promotes 24/7 anime coverage

Anime News Networks promotes “24-7” coverage of new anime shows


Does Disney Hold the Key to Anime’s Future?

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Hey otaku, did you hear that Disney bought Marvel?

It’s an acquisition that has been the subject of many jokes and ridicule from the snarky community of the online peanut gallery.

Disney has been known for generations as the people behind the world’s most popular cartoon characters and family friendly kiddy fair. Most recently, the company has been striking major success with targeting the prepubescent female demographic, or “tweens” as it’s been called, with series like Lizzy McGuire, Hannah Montana, and the Jonas Brothers.

The acquisition of the major comic book company seemed completely random to the fanboy community as Marvel has very little to do with Mickey Mouse or Hannah Montana. So most, if not all, of the comments from that peanut gallery had to do with how Disney would change these super hero franchises in order to target these inappropriate demographics.

Otaku themselves had their own mini version of the Marvel acquisition when Viz Media announced that the popular Naruto Shippuden series would begin airing on the new TV network Disney XD. Naruto, a fairly violent action series targeted towards boys, seemed to also go against the ideal of Disney being the squeaky clean outlet for little kids and tweens. So once again came the snark of how Disney will ruin the popular anime franchise.

But if we nerds would take the time to stop ragging on Mickey Mouse and Hannah Montana for a second or two, we’d actually see that they might be on to something with this Disney XD channel.

In fact, Disney XD could be to anime in the upcoming decade what the Cartoon Network was to anime in the past decade.


Thoughts on the Merging of the New York Conventions

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Yesterday, Reed Exhibitions announced that for 2010, both the New York Anime Festival and the New York Comic Con will combine for one massive convention. While some people seemed to be aware of this news for some time, it was the first I ever heard of it. And I must say, I had some very mixed feelings about it.

I’ll make no bones about it, of all the conventions I have attended in the past few years, my favorite has always been the NYAF followed closely by the NYCC. I fill up my Twitter feed with news of each con leading up to it, and I write nothing but gushing reports about them afterwards. It’s not just for hometown pride, it’s because of the wonderful folks in charge of them.


Piracy – Anime’s New Warning Label

Friday, September 4th, 2009

When Crunchyroll began streaming this season’s Charger Girl Ju-den Chan, it created quite a stir. The original show pushed the boundaries of all decency and featured nudity, violence against women, massive crotch shots, and probably the worst taboo of them all… urination! But on top of that, Crunchyroll sparked even more fury from the fans by showing a censored version of the series on their streaming service.

But I think a lot of folks sort of missed the one part of Ju-den Chan that I found the most interesting and shocking of the whole series-

The anti-piracy warning at the start of each episode.


Bandai and the Marketing Blitz of Kannagi

Friday, July 31st, 2009

When the Japanese company Aniplex held an industry panel at Anime Boston last May, their emphasis on the unlicensed series Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens baffled the audience and bloggers.

“Why are they spending so much time talking about Kannagi?”

“The show’s still unlicensed, right? What’s the point?”

“Do they want the fans to pressure American distributors to license it?”

“Do they really expect us to get hyped over this series at this point?”

I was reminded of another industry panel last year held by the Japanese company Kadokawa. That representative was there to introduce the American fans to new Japanese series and get them to demand it to be licensed in America. The problem with this plan is that since broadband internet had become so widely available in recent years, the fans were already well aware of these new titles and had probably already watched them.

So was Aniplex being just as ignorant as Kadokawa was with this Kannagi business?

“Well, we already had the Kannagi license back at Anime Boston,” says Bandai’s Marketing Director Robert Napton in an interview with me two weeks ago at Otakon. “That was the first time we were coordinating with Aniplex in what to say and what not to say. This has been in the planning stages for a few months.”

It wasn’t an act of ignorance on behalf of the Japanese company this time. It was the initial step in one the largest marketing ploys that the US anime industry has seen in years. And from the point of view of this blogger, I thought it was a tremendous success.


Manga’s Role in the Digital Revolution

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Through out the past several years of my fandom, I have seen a shift in the anime market from fans getting their video on TV and DVD to the underground world of online piracy and downloading. After years of ignoring this audience shift and suffering the loss of DVD revenue because of it, the anime industry has finally embraced new technologies and began experimenting with new digital distribution systems over the internet. That is why I claim that Spring 2009 will always go down as the “Season of the Simulcast” for anime.

But anime is not the only medium experimenting this season. Within the past few weeks, the American manga industry has started claiming its own stake into the digital revolution. A new series is being released in both Japan and America at the same time,  and a new manga anthology is set to be available exclusively online.

And all of these new developments have come much to the surprise of this blogger and industry analyst, because unlike anime, I have not seen the manga industry suffer at the hands of the internet.


Spring 2009 – The Season of the Simulcast

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

A year ago, Japanese studio Gonzo was on the verge of financial collapse and tried to dig themselves out by experimenting with a new idea for the US market. They introduced the simulcast, a free, legal, fully-subtitled copy of their Spring 2008 series Drauga and Blassreiter. They would make each episode available on video streaming sites like Crunchyroll and Youtube within hours of it being broadcast on Japanese TV.

This was done in an effort to combat the piracy of new shows being released in Japan. Anime fans – especially those in America – had become too accustomed to the quick and easy fansubbing distribution system that came thanks to the availability of broadband internet access. By the audience using a method that was uncharted and not monetized, the industry on both sides of the Pacific began seeing a huge drop in sales as fans were less inclined to purchase DVDs.

The ad-supported simulcast strategy that Gonzo was experimenting with provided a monetized alternative to illegal fansubbing. By having a team work on subtitling an anime episode prior to its Japanese TV broadcast, the company was able to have their own version available to the audience before any pirated version could be released onto the web.

True, it didn’t fully stop piracy dead in its tracks, nothing will ever stop piracy. But the amount of lost revenue that Gonzo had now regained thanks to the simulcast encouraged them to continue with the experiment. They released the Summer 2008 series Strike Witches as a simulcast, and continue to do so with every one of their series up until this season’s Shangri-La and Saki.