Otaku Links: an excuse to talk about Ping Pong

17 April 2015 | 1 comment

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  • I have a special place in my heart for Flash animation, both because I was a professional Flash developer before I became a journalist and because I was in high school during the height of Newgrounds. I had no idea Ping Pong: The Animation was done in Flash until I watched this video. If you haven’t seen Ping Pong yet, don’t make me cry. You can watch it here!
  • Put two anime titles into this tool, and receive a list of all the voice actors they share in common. I found this service on r/anime and I’m obsessed with it.
  • I always like checking out the Reverse Thieves’ Anime Awards after a season ends. Check out their favorite shows, characters, and more from Winter 2015.

Sorry Otaku Links has become more erratic lately while I’m finishing up the book. Just 15 more days until it comes out!

What I’m Watching: Spring 2015

15 April 2015 | 3 comments

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The rumors are false: actually, there’s plenty of good anime to watch this season. We just had to wait for the anime oysters to sift through the crap.

I’m going to start the season out watching six shows, and possibly pick up more as I go. Here’s what i’m reviewing for Anime News Network, and what I’m watching just for fun (though keep in mind, I self-selected my ANN reviews).

What I’m reviewing

Kuroko’s Basketball

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We’re at the third freaking season of Kuroko’s Basketball but, dare I say it, things are just getting good. Currently, Kuroko is narrating an extended middle school flashback to his Seirin teammates, a section of the manga known as the Teiko Arc. We all know it’s going to end in Shakespearean tragedy in order to set up the events of Kuroko’s Basketball in present day, but it’s impressive to watch the storytelling get increasingly fragmented, erratic, and dark.

Where I’m watching it: Daisuki

Gunslinger Stratos

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I can already tell this futuristic story is going to be hit or miss. The anime has been adapted from a video game by Gen Urobuchi, the creative mind behind Psycho Pass and Madoka Magica… but also Psycho Pass 2 and Aldnoah Zero. A mediocre first episode gave way to some fascinating questions about alternate universes and doppelgangers, which I hope will become the nugget of originality that this science fiction story needs most.

Where I’m watching it: Crunchyroll

RIN-NE

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I’m exactly in the age group to have discovered Rumiko Takahashi back when Ranma ½ and Inuyasha were still fairly new, so I felt a twinge of nostalgia when I watched this first episode. It doesn’t hurt that I’m a huge fan of “person inexplicably can see the supernatural” plots as in Natsume’s Book of Friends. Sakura Mamiya is the perfect straight man to Rinne, her shinigami-ish transfer student classmate, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Where I’m watching it: Crunchyroll

What I’m watching for fun

MY love STORY!!

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One of the things I liked about Yowamushi Pedal was the variety of body types. I love how Takeo looks nothing like the typical shoujo hero, and yet this is his story. The entire synopsis that I’ve heard takes place in episode one, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the story develops from a typical love story into something more.

Where I’m watching it: Crunchyroll

Baby Steps 2

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As big a sports anime fan as I am, I have no excuse for not watching this show sooner. Ei-chan is an unusual sports protagonist because he 1) is not part of a school sports team and 2) he actually loses—a lot! I’m not saying it’s a realistic story by any means, but it’s certainly a different take on the sports anime narrative.

Where I’m watching it: Crunchyroll

Blood Blockade Battlefront

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When this many people tell you to watch a show, you listen. I tried out BBB because pretty much every anime fan I know was watching it. It’s a fast paced science fiction story with characters I’m already starting to love. I don’t think there’s anything brand new here, but as my friend Grant says, there’s something to be said for executing the basics well.

Where I’m watching it: Funimation

The Heroic Legend of Arslan

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This is shaping up to be your typical high fantasy, with the added bonus that it’s being adapted by artist Hiromu Arakawa of Fullmetal Alchemist fame—and you can see that clearly reflected in the character designs. Given that this is the fourth time the Arslan novels have inspired an anime, I’m expecting a powerful storyline.

Where I’m watching it: Funimation

What are you watching this season?

Build Your Anime Blog: The complete interview list

13 April 2015 | No comments yet

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It’s now just a few weeks until I launch my new book, Build Your Anime Blog, into the world. I’m scrambling to edit, make corrections, and adjust the formatting, which is all essential work with nothing to show for now.

So while you’re waiting, I thought now was a good time to release the complete list of the 12 interviews I conducted with anime bloggers to make the book happen.

Ever since I dreamed up this book idea, I knew I wanted to use my journalism experience to make interviews a huge part of it. However, it’s also been the part I’ve been worried about the most since I thought it might lead to hurt feelings. This is by no means an exhaustive list of my favorite anime bloggers. I picked them because their names came up in a poll where I asked readers who their favorite anime bloggers were. They’re certainly not the only ones, but they were the ones who were responsive and with whom I was able to schedule interviews in my limited amount of time.

Notice also that all the bloggers on the list are independent. There are lots of talented bloggers at larger outlets like Anime News Network, but I chose people who started and continue to maintain their own blogs because that’s blogging success that doesn’t depend on you getting selected for a gig. Anyone can do the work to make that happen.

I could probably make excuses and caveats all day about this, but that’s not why you’re here. Without further ado, here’s the list, in the order that they will appear:

Thank you to everyone who participated in my reader poll to vote for their favorite bloggers. There are so many amazing ones out there, I never could have decided on my own!

Anime Boston 2015: A recap

8 April 2015 | 8 comments

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My Anime Boston story is an unlikely one. In 2010, I applied to attend Anime Boston as a member of the press, and was rejected since at the time, the convention did not accept student press (I was hoping to go on behalf of my journalism graduate school).

That could have ended after my frustrated tweet about how badly I wanted to report on Anime Boston. However, Tuan Pham, who was and remains director of Public Relations, saw my tweet and invited me to write for the staff blog, a new idea he’d come up with in which people live-blogged Anime Boston’s events.

The idea was a hit, and Tuan has continued to invite me back each year to reprise my role, now as Lead Blogger for the convention. Even better: the longer the blog has been around, the more popular it has gotten.

Anime Boston is a vacation for me, but it’s also a weekend in which I work very hard to report on awesome anime topics. I wanted to highlight some of my posts here:

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Gender Identity in Convention Culture

Since outdated Massachusetts laws legally require Anime Boston to only permit two gender identities for registration—male and female—some attendees think we’re backwards when it comes to gender identity. I wrote this post about Anime Boston’s current and proposed gender sensitivity policies.

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How to Get a Job in the Anime Industry According to Crunchyroll

A lot of people have seen my article Meet the girl who gets paid to watch anime, but I highly doubt some of them have read past the title. During this panel, Crunchyroll brand managers talked about the long hours and tons of travel time they devote to bringing anime to all of Crunchyroll’s members and fans. They also mentioned they’re hiring and offered some pointers for how to apply.

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Ping Pong: The Animation Dub Premieres at Anime Boston

This post did not do well, possibly because I has to tell, not show, people what the Ping Pong dub was like. I thought Lindsay Seidel as Yurie was nearly indistinguishable from her counterpart in the Japanese performance. It also blew my mind that Micah Solusod, who plays Smile, also played Soul from Soul Eater—and Anime Boston guest Koki Uchiyama, who voiced Smile in Japanese, also played Soul!

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Fan Activism: Five Times Fans Changed The World

I enjoyed this panel detailing the times that fans have pooled their resources and influence in order to create change and do good works in the community. It’s amazing what happens when we channel the passion we have for fandom into raising awareness. I highlighted Anime Boston’s several charity events prominently.

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Celebrating Passover and Easter at Anime Boston

I was worried people would find this article offensive, but it actually did very well. On Passover/Easter weekend, fandom isn’t the only thing Anime Boston attendees are passionate about, and I enjoyed documenting the spectrum of ways people celebrated religious holidays while they were away from home.

Despite the 40 degree weather (at a time of year when it’s 70 degrees at home!) Anime Boston is hands down my favorite convention. Hope to see you there next year.

How a blind fan watches anime: An interview with TJ Olsen

6 April 2015 | 2 comments

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When I asked TJ Olsen, a music promoter and anime fan, to talk about his experiences watching anime, he was a little surprised that I was at all curious. “I never considered that my experience was all that different,” he told me.

I disagree. TJ and I like a lot of the same shows, but since he’s blind, he perceives our favorite characters with audio cues. We spoke over the phone last week about anime, accessibility, and Kill La Kill.


Otaku Journalist: Have you always been blind?

TJ: Yes. I have been blind since 11 months of age. I lost my vision due to retinoblastoma, which is a form of retinal cancer. I’ve lived my entire life completely blind.

OJ: When did you first get into anime?

TJ: Age 12 or 13 if memory serves. I first got into anime through some of the early shows that were on Toonami. I’m 27 now, so this was about 13 years ago, when they started airing actual anime. Dragonball Z, and eventually Gundam Wing, and things like that. I began delving further into it, collecting DVDs and things like that. There still to this day is a gigantic bin of anime DVDs with braille labels sitting in my closet.

OJ: What are some of your favorite anime right now?

TJ: I’m really enjoying Kill La Kill, I find that to be very entertaining. I’ve been watching a lot of my old favorites like Rurouni Kenshin, .HACK//Sign, and Escaflowne. Haven’t really explored too much into newer stuff yet, though I got recently reinvigorated once I signed up for the Funimation streaming service. I’ve also just started watching Black Butler.

OJ: As somebody who only watches dubs, what do you think of the fact that Funimation is putting out dubs almost as quickly as subs right now?

TJ: That is fantastic. I’m going to start watching Maria The Virgin Witch, which they just started dubbing. That looks really interesting.

I think Funimation’s dubbing is really amazing because I signed up for Crunchyroll briefly with the trial but realized, “Oh, it’s nothing but subs. It’s not helpful.”

OJ: What could Crunchyroll do to become more accessible to blind people?

TJ: The only thing I can think of is if there’s a way to make the subtitles computer readable so they’re not part of the image but actually textual. I’m not technically inclined enough on the video side to know how feasible that is. But I know there is a technical standard that allows for that to exist in some form.

OJ: Let’s go back to Kill La Kill. What do you like about the show?

TJ: It’s just kind of goofy and weird. I think there’s a lot of social commentary in it, like there was in FLCL as well. It’s totally of out there, but if you actually think about it, it’s snarky and interesting.

OJ: Have you heard anything about the outfits they wear in Kill La Kill?

TJ: I’m gathering they’re rather scantily clad based on some of the descriptions, the comments made in the show. That’s also kind of cool—the other cast members are breaking the fourth wall and saying, “Wow, the way you’re dressed, that’s kind of absurd.”

I think, at least the way that I’m interpreting the show, that it’s largely mocking that aspect of anime [in which characters are often scantily clad]. I’ve always liked satire and social commentary in all its forms, which I think explains my tastes. When I first got into anime, it was largely because the storytelling was so much more intricate and interesting than I found a lot of American television to be at that time.

OJ: Do you know any other blind anime fans?

TJ: I know other people who are casually in it. I know a few vision-impaired people who are. I don’t really know a lot of other blind people in general. I know a handful, but it’s never been a large part of my social circle.

OJ: Do you ever watch anime with seeing people?

TJ: I absolutely do. My roommates are very into anime and a few good friends of mine are.

OJ: Do you think your experience watching anime is different from theirs?

TJ: I think to the extent that I’m relying mostly on auditory cues, my experience watching anything will be different. To a point. I think we’re all still absorbing the same content, but our primary means for getting that content differs. Your experience interacting with the world around you at large will obviously be different. I think a subset of that will come into the way you consume media. I don’t think it’s any more or less different than anything else.


Read more interviews with anime fans on Otaku Journalist:

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