Archive for News

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.


The Daily Almanac: As Funny as a Heart Attack

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

This was originally going to be part of my Katsucon report, but I feel that there is enough content here that it deserves its own post.  I’m going to have many unfavorable things to say about this convention in tomorrow’s post, but the truth is that my weekend actually started off on a positive note as I attended a panel for voice actor Greg Ayres.

My long time readers probably remember the controversial interview I did with him two years ago over the issue of fansubs. I approached Ayres before his panel last weekend, and much to my surprise, he remembered me very well. We actually got into a very friendly, and somewhat gossipy, conversation prior to the panel. Then I sat with the rest of the audience to hear his interesting story.

And this time, it really had nothing to do with fansubs.


The Daily Almanac: Tokyo Mew Mew is Kinda Like Porn

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Just had to start off with this photo caption pointed out by MangaBlog this morning. While reporting on the Handley sentencing, The Iowa Independent pictured several shojo comics like Tokyo Mew Mew with the following caption:

Seven manga books, intercepted and seized by federal authorities, led to a 40-year-old Iowa man being indicted on child pornography charges. Similar although non-explicit graphic novels, like the three pictured above, are available at most public libraries.

Now, in a way, they’re right. Tokyo Mew Mew is kind of similar to The Animal Sex Anthology because they’re both Japanese comics. That’s just like how Star Wars is similar to Debbie Does Dallas because they’re both classic American films from the late 1970’s.

But I think that there might be some misleading conclusions formed when you compare children’s entertainment to hardcore pornography, even if you state that one is not quite as sexually explicit as the other. You can kind of see why Handley didn’t really stand a chance facing a jury of his peers when that’s how the Iowan media handles the story.


The Daily Almanac: Katsucon Aftermath

Monday, February 15th, 2010

So yes, I survived Katsucon. As you can see, I wasn’t able to post my daily con reports this time around, but if you’ve been following my twitter feed, you would have seen that I was not quite happy with my experience at the con this weekend. I’m going to spend a little time working on a “Highlights of Katsucon” report to detail just why things didn’t really work out for me. But at the same time, I’m planning to also highlight some of the things I did like about the con, including a very interesting panel from the ever controversial voice actor Greg Ayers.

So be sure to stay tuned to my full con report, which I’m expecting to post within the next few days. However, let me just go over news items from the convention and the little bits and pieces that won’t make it into my report.

Though a bit of a warning, FUNimation was the only company presenting at the convention last weekend, so of course, mostly all of the news will be centered around them.


The Daily Almanac: A Man Goes to Jail for Manga

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Christopher Handley, the man who pleaded guilty last year to possession of “obscene” lolicon manga, was finally sentenced today to 6 months of jail, followed by 3 years of supervised released and an additional 5 years of probation. ANN has the complete details on the court documents released today, which includes a lot of background information on the case that had yet to be known to the public.

There are no words to describe this. Somebody is actually going to be in jail for 6 months just for his manga collection, and that is one of the most ridiculous things that could possibly happen in this country’s judicial system.

I’ve been writing about this issue for years on this blog, about the dangerous precedence being set when you make such works of fiction illegal. But the problem is not getting better, it’s been getting worse – far worse – year after year.

And nobody seems to care. Because after all, what about the children? Won’t somebody please think about the children!

Those fictional, big eyed, blue haired children!

But what’s worst is that when looking over Handley’s background information, you realize that this guy is your average American otaku. He had no prior criminal record, graduated college with a 4.0 GPA, spent a brief time in the US Navy, and then had a solid 12 year professional career as a computer programmer.

The guy had no criminal record! He was a regular, law abiding, tax paying, American citizen.

And now he’s going to jail for fictional pornography?!

He’s spending time behind bars because he read comic books?!

How the hell did this happen?

How the hell could this possibly happen?

But most of all, where does it go from here? Will more American otaku get sent to prison for the contents of their anime and manga collection, or will we finally get rid of this ridiculous law once and for all?


The Daily Almanac: The War is On!

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Sure enough, the big “Secret Project” that FUNimation’s Events Manager Adam Sheehan was teasing about last week was the War on Pants promotional campaign. As explained in this hilarious Inglorious Basterds parody video, otaku going to Katsucon this weekend will be on a mission of killin’ Nazis creating panty paper airplanes. Lt. Ano May then goes on to call on the brave soldiers to fly these “weapons of pants destruction” and show those damn khakis who’s boss.

Two new paper airplane designs will be available each day of the convention at the FUNimation dealer booth, and supplies will be limited. There will be a special panel on Saturday night were con goers can enter paper plane contests and win prizes. And finally, the company has once again enlisted the services of American Cosplay Paradise to supply the booth with Strike Witches cosplayers through out the entire weekend.

As always, keep it locked to my Twitter feed this weekend for live, round-the-clock coverage direct from the frontlines in Katsucon as the War on Pants continues.

Do not weep.

War is kind.


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.


The Daily Almanac: The Birth of Cosplay

Monday, February 8th, 2010 posted a series of YouTube videos showing a very interesting cosplay documentary put together by an English-language Singaporean news channel. The biggest thing I learned from this documentary was just where did the word “cosplay” actually come from. In fact, they interviewed the guy who coined the word himself!

I was also amazed to see just how similar the cosplay culture was in Japan compared to what we have here in America. I’ve always held Japanese cosplayers in higher regard to our local talent because I thought they took the art a lot more seriously. But really, these Japanese girls sound just like all the female American cosplayers you’ll come across at any domestic convention.

Also, the “professional cosplayer” they feature in the documentary, Ms. Yunmao Ayakawa (pictured above), will be a guest at Katsucon this weekend. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be doing a one-on-one interview with her on cosplaying and maid cafes for a future Anime Almanac article.


The Daily Almanac: The War on Pants

Friday, February 5th, 2010

FUNimation’s convention guy Adam Sheehan has been teasing on Twitter about some big promotional video they filmed in the FUNimation office yesterday. The project was originally going to involve Sheehan going onto the roof of the office building, but weather conditions forced them to move the filming indoors. He supplied this photo of their state-of-the-art camera system earlier today, and says more details on the secret project will be revealed earlier next week.

What exactly will the video be about? Well, following the release of their hilarious trailer for the series, FUNimation began writing a series of posts about the Strike Witches “winning the war on pants” on their blog. FUNi Brand Manager Charlene Ingram made a connection to the series by tweeting some pants-related jokes towards Sheehan and his secret project.

Sheehan has indicated that the company would be promoting the upcoming release of Strike Witches at next week’s Katsucon convention, and there is a “FUNimation Promotions” panel scheduled the Saturday evening of the convention. So I’m going to bet that this secret project will somehow involve Katsucon and pants… or the lack of them.

As a strong advocate of the War On Pants movement, you can expect The Anime Almanac to provide round-the-clock coverage of all events next week both prior to and during Katsucon weekend.

Give ’em hell, ladies!


The Daily Almanac: Apple is not a Fan of Yaoi

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Yamila Abraham of Yaoi Press elaborated on a quote she made to this week regarding her yaoi manga being recently rejected by Apple. It turns out that she had enlisted a third party app developer to reformat a 13+ yaoi comic of hers to fit better into the format of the iPhone. They even edited some questionable content in order to ensure it would pass through Apple’s screening process. Even with the changes, Apple rejected the app and cited no reasons for doing so.

The App store has a “mature” rating in place to designate programs rated for users 17 and above, but has a strict “no pornography” policy. I imagine this was the reason for the rejection. While the definition of what could be considered pornographic is strictly up for debate, it is completely understandable why Apple would have to scrutinize any boy’s love content that tries to make its way onto the platform. Yaoi certainly raises some red flags for most normal people.

I don’t condone Apple’s choice of censorship as to what it allows on the iPhone. If I had my druthers, I would allow any mature application onto the platform, especially pornography. But the App Store is what the App Store is.

We’re not talking about some form of media protected by freedom of speech. We’re talking about a gated community that is closely monitor by a major American corporation. And unfortunately, major American corporations are not ready to take on hot guy-on-guy action yet. In fact, most of America isn’t ready for that. So Apple’s call to deny the yaoi app is simply for the sake of protecting its own branding.

And frankly, you can’t blame them for that. Strict policies like that make the iPhone the best consumer device on the market today.

On a separate note, Abraham did bring up a good point in her post that I never thought of before. Amazon actually has an iPhone app that allows you to read Kindle books on that platform. As it currently stands, this app is useless for all the manga available in the Kindle store because the picture is so damn tiny on that small screen. But when that app gets ported to work on the larger iPad, it’s going to be the perfect size for manga viewing.

I imagine that Apple might not like that, as this will be in direct competition with their new e-book initiative, iBooks. I think we will be seeing that Kindle app go away sometime in the near future.