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Fillers, popularity and profits May 23, 2006

Posted by Lupus in Anime, Ramblings.

Anime, in terms of how much story they can pump out each week, moves much faster than manga. An average episode of anime might contain as much story and action as two to three chapters of manga, and this means that anime based on manga often catches up to their original, run out of things to base themselves, and leave the production team with a dilemma:

Do we do ‘fillers’, or do we stop the anime?

Filler as I use it here means “original content not found in the manga, used to fill up the time needed for the manga to develope more storyline.” Two very popular shows are now in their filler arcs: Naruto and Bleach.

While Bleach has decent filler contents, Naruto fillers suck. Naruto fillers has been going on for a long time now, ever since Sasuke ran off to Orochimaru, and tries to fill up the two years left blank by the manga. The quality has very apparently decreased – the drawing loses consistency, the animation quality drops off, and the story becomes absolutely laughable.

Why did Studio Pierrot decide to make their own story, instead of waiting for more manga material to work with? The answer is obviously profit, the thing that drives all corporations. As long as popularity for the series continues, advertisements, tie-in merchandise and other sources of revenue will continue to generate a profit for both the studio and the TV station broadcasting the show.

But such low quality production is as likely to make the show unpopular as it is to keep up its popularity. A lot of people followed the Naruto anime, but once it entered the fillers arc, these supporters began to drop in numbers. It has become so unpopular around here now, you can’t even find any of the newer episoders on the *cough* legal *cough* file sharing network at my university. On the other hand dozens of people share the manga and good television shows like Prison Break.

If, like I said, popularity wanes due to the existence of such filler arcs, wouldn’t it be better to stop producing the show all together until there is more content to work with? Many fans who are pushed away by the fillers simply would not come back, because they have lost faith in the show. That means that when the story resumes there would be less people watching the show and buying its merchandise, which leads to less profit for the companies.

Maybe the answer is that overall, the profit from running fillers are better than not showing the show at all. Afterall, with a second season to air after a long time (and Naruto fillers have been running for a looooong time) popularity will take time to gain its momentum again. Also, during the time when the show leaves the public’s mind, tie-in products would probably suffer more devastating sales drop than if they continued to show inferior fillers.

But all this profit comes at the cost of the anime’s – and the production studio’s – goodwill and reputation. This is probably a cost that many in management never thought about. While the Naruto and Bleach manga continue to suceed and gain popularity, the fillers are slowly but surely destroying the anime’s reputation – and its fanbase. Maybe by the time the original story rolls around again, there will only be a few hardcore fans left, and Naruto might never attain its immense popularity again.

(I also have thoughts on anime that don’t have enough manga material ending, but that’s another story altogether.)


Exam, no time May 23, 2006

Posted by Lupus in Site News.
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I have also have had not much time to download anything new, so nothing interesting to say on the newer shows. I have been watching Gatekeepers, something I’ve meant to do for a long while, and I’ll get a post on that cranked out after the exams.

Don’t have time to think about much now a days. So damn busy.

The Super Saiyan Syndrome May 15, 2006

Posted by Lupus in Anime, Features, Manga.

Dragonball and its sequels* are some of the most popular and well known anime shows in the world. It was phenomenal when originally released in Japan, took Asia by storm when translated, and even in America it was received with great enthusiasm (amongst those who watch anime/cartoons anyway). I have a 24 year old American friend who still regularly wears a Dragonball Z t-shirt, and that is surely a testament to its popularity.

It obviously had its flaws, such as the ridiciulously long “let’s-stare-at-each-other” time, its action consisting mostly of (awesome) flickering vertical black lines, and it invented what I call the “Super Saiyan Syndrome” (The Syndrome).

The Syndrome refers to when a character suddenly gains incredible power in order to defeat an enemy that he could not possibly have defeated previously. Sometimes he has to work for it, sometimes he doesn’t. Usually it seems to be triggered by anger or, as seems to be the only moral lesson to be found in shounen shows, “in order to protect the ones who are important to me”. However they get it, it always involve a physical transformation and a ridiculous increase in power. There are usually a number of levels.

Now let us examine some culprits.

Is there anything cooler than ninjas? Ninjas that transform, obviously. Naruto, Sasuke and Gaara all transform at some point in the story. Naruto gets his kyuubi power, Sasuke gets Orochimaru’s seal, and Gaara turns into that sand monster thing. Naruto in the newest Naruto manga chapters demonstrates most ably the Syndrome – hell he even did a spirit bomb.
Super Saiyan reference? Nah, no way

We started with Ichigo getting Shinigami powers, with a Zanpaktou. That’s cool, we all love normal people turned heroes. Then he learnt the inital release, then power-uped by “fighting along-side Zangetsu”, then Ban-kai, and now Vaizard powers. He has to work for all the them, true, but no one would notice if you replace the names with Super Shinigami, Super Shinigami 2, Super Shinigami 3 and Super Shinigami 4 respectively. [sarcasm]Kubo Tite gets props for a transforming sword instead of a transforming person.[/sarcasm]

Yu Yu Hakusho
Pretty much everyone except Kuwabara transforms. Hiei’s eye(s), Kurama’s demon fox form, Yusuke’s demon form, Genkai’s (HAWT) young form, Toguro with his vents… the list goes on. Togashi has since cured the Syndrome and Hunter X Hunter is better for it.

Tenjo Tenge
Souchiro’s black hair incarnation is definitely Super Saiyan, and so is Aya when she activates her eyes. If you still need convincing, find volume 9 of the manga and read the first chapter. Souchiro is definitely Super Saiyan.

Can’t find that picture I was referring to… but with girls like this, who cares?

The Super Saiyans are great because they are easy to write, allows the underdog to win, and are incredibly exciting. I still remember how exciting it was to see Gohan beat the crap out of Cell when he went into Super Saiyan 2. But really, after all these years, you’d think mangakas would’ve invented other methods of making fights exciting? Or is it a “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of thing?

*Except the bastardisation that is GT. I could feel my childhood dying when I watched that.

*Lurker Aspect* “Insufficient vespene gas.” “Shit.” May 13, 2006

Posted by Lupus in Site News.
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Tinkered around with the site for 4 hours. I’ll make more changes in the future, but right now I’m pretty happy with how things are looking. Nothing too fancy here, that’s for sure. Maybe I’ll get a custom header shopped later. I need to re-learn how to HTML properly too. And get a blogroll running. OMG SO MUCH TO DO. As long as I don’t have to study.

Article tomorrow!

P.S. It’s 4 in the morning and this really scary noise just came out of nowhere. I know it’s somewhere in the house, but I can’t place it. I’m scared, someone hold me.

Hopefully I can get things in order and really take off May 11, 2006

Posted by Lupus in Site News.
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This weekend I’ll be going home, to unlimited and fast Internet connection. Once free from the chains and shackles of my university’s insanely cheap Internet usage restrictions, I’ll try to do some upgrade to my blog – like actually put links in the side bar, and installing some widgets.

I’ll also reply to the comments that I’ve received so far, and write up one or two articles I have on my mind, if DOTA doesn’t grab me like a tentacle monster grab women. There’s a poll that I would really like to make.

Look forward to it.

Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu: The most over-rated anime ever? May 9, 2006

Posted by Lupus in Anime, Ramblings.

Before I’m zerged by hundreds of raving Haruhiists out seeking the blood of their god’s enemies, let me say that I enjoy the show a lot, and hold it in very high regards.

But I have no doubt about it: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is overrated. Despite all that it has going for it – interesting story, likeable characters (Mikuru is annoying as hell though), excellent direction and execution – Haruhi and her merry friends are unlikely to find a place in the Pantheon; at least not in my Pantheon. It is an excellent show – but I don’t think it’s as good as everyone makes it out to be. And no, I’m not just saying this to be different.

What Suzumiya lacks is CHARM. Oh sure it has that applenty in its various characters, but what I mean is that feeling you get when you watch something that really strikes a chord. I got it when I watched Neon Genesis. I got it when I watched Azumanga Daioh. And I get it with every single Studio Ghibli movie I’ve watched.

What really set those series apart from the competition is that they are (or were) different and unique. Evangelion is the father of the whole “mind-fuck” genre, and still, to my mind, unsurpassed in mind-fucking. Azumanga is a unique comedy that isn’t LAUGH OUT LOUD funny (though it’s often that), but an innocent funny that brings a smile straight from your heart. Ghibli movies take often used themes and ideas, inject them with a large doze of childhood and imagination, and reaches out and connects with your inner child.

Suzumiya doesn’t touch me in that way (though I would let the three girls touch me in whatever way they want). It doesn’t grab my attention – and my imagination – and run with it. Despite its roster of divinities, aliens, espers and time-travellers, Suzumiya Haruhi is still essentially a generic schoolyard comedy slash mystery.

Neither of its parts are particularly great: the jokes are, particularly Mikuru’s continue harassment, a bit hit and miss (I think it’s the timing). The mystery fails as a focus because we don’t (and probably won’t) really find out much about the nature or origin of Suzumiya’s powers. The mixing up of the episodes seems no more than a gimmick to me, though I’ll have to wait till the entire show is done to draw any conclusion on this part. Mikuru tries too hard to be moe.

The sum of the parts are more than the parts alone, but it’s still not enough to generate a resonance in me. That is the heart of the problem. I want to love Haruhi, I want to laugh at all the jokes, I want to fall head first into the mystery – but alas, that important something is missing.

I admit I’m drawing early conclusions, but so are the people who are declaring Haruhi their new god.

Pedophilia by any other name May 7, 2006

Posted by Lupus in Anime, Ramblings.

I haven't exactly given this a lot of thoughts, but isn't "lolicon" simply another word for pedophilia?  I would love to hear what people who think "Loli's are hot" have to say about this…

Well, even I’m jumping on the blogging bandwagon May 7, 2006

Posted by Lupus in Site News.
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I used to despise blogs.  Maybe it's just the blogs that I encountered, or maybe it's the very idea of a journal/diary – things that I deem to be highly personal – that people publish for the world to see.  I don't know why, but it used to be that whenever I hear that someone keeps a blog, my respect for them would instantly go down a notch or two.  I might even go as far as to say that I had a somewhat personal vendatta against bloggers – something that I still don't completely understand. 

What changed my mind?  I started discovering blogs that have a purpose.  I think I started with Lost Garden (www.lostgarden.com), with the infamous article on the Nintendo business philosophy.  Then I ran into BlogSuki (www.blogsuki.com).  Blogs that don't have articles with topics like "My life sucks" or "I'm going to kill myself".  Those are fun to read if they belong to your friends, but shit – I don't really care if you think your middle-class, surburban lifestyle with access to internet and enough leisure time to write up 3000 words entries on why the girlfriend who just left you is just a giant slut sucks.

Anyway, that was a really long and cumbersome sentence, and I'm digressing.

So I thought I could also write a blog.  I'm not going to talk about how my life sucks – I think I'm far more fortunate than most, and I'm content.  I think I'll focus on Anime and Gaming, my two prime hobbies.  But as the blog name suggests, I'll more than likely stray far and wide in my random ramblings.  I might even reach into those *gasp* oh so forbidden topics of religion and politics.  Hopefully I won't have anything too heavy though, blogging is primarily a way for me to alleviate boredom.

Here's to the birth of my blog!  I give myself 2 months before I get bored/forget that I have a blog.