Bonus – 2008-2009 In Review…Moe Is The Sniper

What was supposed to be one or two bonus installments at most became a month-long affair, but it’s finally over: the last bonus installment of our decade in review!

We’ll post traditional format episodes in which we actually review things and stuff next time. Note: contrary to what Silent Scope may suggest, in this instance the sniper is not the key.

PS: the amateur video Daryl mentioned near the end is this one. It involves guys like Yuji Shimomura, Tak Sakaguchi, and various other now-famous people.

77 thoughts on “Bonus – 2008-2009 In Review…Moe Is The Sniper

  1. Why was Kimi ni Todoke never mentioned? It was amazing. [“Romance” is a vestigial term for an emotion I’ve never felt, and so I avoid any show by which that is the focus. When the point of a scenario is to elicit empathy, only you can’t empathize because you have no idea what the characters are experiencing, the only feeling you get is blind rage. Also, the premise of “girl who looks like the girl from The Ring” makes me think it’s that piece of crap The Wallflower whenever someone mentions it. That is why. –Daryl]

    • Kimi ni Todoke only just finished a month ago, so maybe we’ll see it in the next decade in review in 2020.

      You could describe Kimi ni Todoke as “a quirky romantic comedy about a girl with Asperger’s Syndrome who overcomes her social awkwardness to find friendship, and, eventually, love” and be technically correct – and based on that description you’d be fully justified in running a mile to avoid it. But you’d be leaving out the fact that the show contains more concentrated awesome than Gurren Lagann and Godannar combined. Not for everyone, but definitely worth a look.

      Some random bits as I listen to the end of this episode:

      With regards to Bleach, if you’re interested in watching it at all I’d suggest you watch episodes 1-12 and then stop. After about episode 12 the storyline slows to a crawl. Perhaps one day we’ll get a re-edit that makes it watchable; the only way I got through the Soul Society arc was to leave it playing in a small window while I was working on something else. Then I skipped the Bount arc entirely, then I gave up. But the first dozen or so episodes are actually quite good – the opposite of a lot of long-running shows that take a while to get going.

      I was actually a bit disappointed with Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger. Once I took your advice and tried the original I got hooked and went through the whole series in a couple of weeks, but New Challenger just never grabbed me for some reason.

      Wait, “don’t eliminate moe”? Daryl, are you feeling okay?

      By the way, I just got around to watching Spirit of Wonder: Miss China’s Ring – beautiful little OVA. Thanks for another excellent recommendation.

  2. Hey, Wallflower’s fun! As for Kimi ni Todoke, it’s boring but surprisingly well-received.

    “Sky Crawlers” – Brian Ruh seems to dig it. I actually prefer GITS 2.

    “DMC after Metalocalypse” – Viz put the quote for one of the guys who worked on that cartoon on one of the volumes of the manga.

    “I’m really shocked that Viz is gonna release the [Cross Game] manga here.” – It’s short, so there’s not much of a risk on it. Though I just checked Amazon, and it looks like they’re gonna sell it as a 3-in-1 deal. I’m actually more surprised that they’re making money–or at least sales rankings–on those faster One Piece releases.

    “Yamato Rebirth-maybe it’s gonna come out in America” – It’s a one-shot, and it looks like the kind of modernized anime American fans would go for. So I’m guessing it depends on whether or not Voyager’s Star Blazers rights are as convoluted as those for Macross DYRL and every Macross after Plus.

    “Is [Summer Wars] coming out in America?” – FUNimation and/or Sony allegedly seems interested in it.

    • Voyager has no claim or connection with Yamato Rebirth. There is a company supposedly working on the import right now (I’m in touch with them but haven’t gotten any news since February); they would be a new entry into the game if they go through with it. No reason it can’t capture the Star Wars/Star Trek/Galactica/Firefly market if it’s properly promoted. Fingers crossed.

  3. I actually watched Cobra for the first time on Crunchy Roll. I really enjoyed the series. Does anyone know where I can find the original series? [There was never any legitimate English release of the TV series, though torrents for the entire TV series are easily available. A Russian group KRT recently did dual-audio Russian/Japanese releases with slightly iffy English subtitles, but they’re nicer copies than the old ILA releases which were essentially encodes of the Hong Kong DVDs. –Daryl]

  4. I thought the Speed Racer movie was awesome. It’s a fun, cheesy-on-purpose visual feast. Anyway, the Japanese live-action adaptations of the 20th Century Boys manga are pretty good.

    I’ve still never seen Ponyo. I have no interest. In fact, for some reason, I just didn’t have much enthusiasm to see the past couple of Miyazaki movies, and Spirited Away was my favorite Ghibli movie. I also haven’t seen Sky Crawlers. I love Oshii, but he can be very overindulgent.

    I always thought it helped Macross that it doesn’t have a new anime every few years like Gundam, but I found Zero a little disappointing and Frontier to be kind of unimpressive overall, even if it was sort of enjoyable as just another show you watch. It’s not got the charm the original series had nor the charisma and cool factor Plus has. It may be possible that not having Macross for so long has actually hurt it.

    Tytania, oh god, the most disappointing anime since the third Tenchi Muyo OVA. So much squandered talent on such tripe. I can’t believe the same guy who wrote the Legend of the Galactic Heroes novels wrote the novels this was based on. This was just so frustratingly bad. The main character spends most of the show moping about a girl he spent three minutes for. The only interesting characters were the members of the Tytania family itself.

    Casshern Sins is such a beautiful show, I ought to finish it sometime. And hey, Tohru Furuya!

    I love Shin Mazinger. A bit weird in its execution, because Imagawa really makes it his. You sort of have to be used to Imagawa stuff to get a good grasp of it.

    First Contact was the last truly great Lupin III anime. Green vs Red had potential but wastes it. The first half of the special was good but then everything falls apart. There have been a few decent Lupin III TV specials in the past ten years, but none were that noteworthy. It’s too bad if Goro Naya stops being Zenigata, because The Last Job was so mediocre, thinking of it as his last performance as the character makes me shudder.

    Any new Yamato is going to suffer from the lack of Leiji Matsumoto. Not to mention that really, Final Yamato was enough.

    I also utterly disagree that Brotherhood “blows away” the first series. I like both equally, really. I find the first series had a more believable, serious approach to the material, though the second series has a more detailed world. I think they sort of even out.

    Dragon Ball Kai has an advantage in its better pacing through removing filler, but you are vastly overrating that advantage, especially since a lot of it comes off as choppy and lazily cobbled together. The real thing to look for is the English dub of it. Based on the clips I’ve seen, Funimation has finally stepped up their game and have finally given the DBZ story a decent English dub.

    On Nicktoons, however, it will be heavily censored, to the point where you might get flashbacks to the Saban era edits.

  5. I resent the implication that Macross 7 being the majority of the franchise means something negative, however I think my main point behind that fact is Macross 7 (and Plus) represents the franchise at its height. Mostly because it probably cost a lot of money to do both a full TV series and a OVA more or less simultaneously. I also get the feeling from you guys and other people that there’s an underlying sense that with Frontier (and Zero to some extent), Macross no longer feels special. Kind of like what happened with Votoms: Pailsen Files, which is pretty mediocre especially compared to something like Votoms: Roots of Ambition which more or less covers the same material. There’s always been a fine line that separates Macross from Gundam and Yamato, which was its source of inspiration. To say nothing of the follow-up shows like Orguss, Mospeada, and Dorvack which were made to capitalize in the original Macross’s success. Maybe the premise is getting stretched too thin. Kind of like when Macross 2 did the same thing and nobody cared. I dunno, it’s an interesting topic that’s for sure.

  6. Kaiba (and Kemonozume and Tatami Galaxy) are Madhouse productions not Studio 4°C. At this point, given the range of scope of their productions and propensity to loosing losing money, it might be Madhouse who is the “arthouse” studio these days, rather than Studio 4°C, who is possibly more a commercial house.

  7. Probably the only time I’ll use the phrase “criminally overlooked” when describing the decade in anime is 2009’s Souten Kouro. Another Madhouse anime based on a national award-winning manga, it’s not fully fansubbed and not likely to ever be licensed. [I’m a big fan of Souten Kouro and mention it often, to the point where I just had a friend buy the HK set on account that the fansubs never finished. I guess I must’ve thought it was a 2010 show somehow to have not mentioned it, perhaps because I mentally lumped it in with all of the current Romance of the Three Kingdoms shows (which aren’t good). But Souten Kouro’s the real deal! Toyoo Ashida, still keeping it real after all these years. –Daryl]

    Dragonball Kai isn’t the awesome thing I was expecting it to be. As exhaustively reviewed on http://www.kanzentai.com/, the new series is not faithful to the manga: it indiscriminately cuts both filler and manga content, while leaving some filler in. That alone isn’t the problem, the fact that Dragonball Z can cut half the filler out and the Freeza fight is STILL way too fucking long really attests to how terrible the original show was, its voice acting and early animation quality aside. Finally, the reanimated footage is hideous. One of the clues you’re watching something drawn in the Philippines: Super Saiyan Goku’s hair turns dark orange. In my opinion, the best way to get a good Dragon Ball Z experience is still to either read the manga, or watch one of the better DBZ movies.

    Also, I’m not really into video games. I can barely tolerate the bad storytelling in most anime, I could never get into the even worse plots and characterization you’re forced to endure in video games. Have I just boxed myself into a niche group so small that it’s totally irrelevant?

    • I stopped caring about new video games YEARS ago, so you’re not alone I prefer the 16-bit era.

      Mnemosyne started good but yeah I agree about the ending. Scratching my head at what happened.

      @Daryl-I know you were saying how American won’t watched non serialized stories but a lot of the popular moe shows tend to have a loose plot as it’s mostly just about characters. Ex. Hidamari Sketch for example despite having dates associated for the episodes, can more or less be watched in any order you wish. [Even a “loose” ongoing plot is not the same as “absolutely none whatsoever,” and only a tiny fraction of even anime fans are willing to watch shows like Aria or Hidamari Sketch anyway. — Daryl]

  8. Good, very visible (literally) point about the whiteflight towards videogames. It’s also worth mentioning that a lot of manga, especially in the seinen category, has continued to soldier on as proof that talented artists, storytellers and designers haven’t vanished from Japan.

    Naoki Urasawa continues doing his Thang. The painstaking level of eye-straining visual complexity on a page of, say, a Vinland Saga, Otoyomegatari or Dorohedoro to me is a direct continuation of the sort of rampant spirit of invention and creative vision that threaded through OAV and film anime *monocle* Back In The Day. Hiroki Endo recently finished his cyberpunk epic Eden: It’s an Endless World! (Dark Horse’s worst-selling manga acquisition, FYI). Eden is, in a way, the 00s response to Akira and Appleseed, and, in my opinion, it measures up to its progenitors.

    What’s Endo working on now, you may ask? Oh, an MMA fighting manga.

  9. Probably the best analogy to date. I do want to hear more about “neo-shonen” and what Surat defines it as. [I’ve written about it extensively in Otaku USA, talked about it repeatedly on this podcast, and did a panel at Otakon. All it means is the practice of shonen creators deliberately crafting and tailoring their series to appeal to both boys and girls instead of just boys as the “shonen” moniker suggests. Pretty much the standard approach for the last 20+ years or so. –Daryl]

    I don’t know why I’m not enjoying Shin Mazinger. I love giant robots, but I think I was expecting more of the beating the crap out of each other feel. It’s not a bad show, just not what I was expecting even though Imagawa directed it.

    Kimi ni Todoke is just crap. I don’t understand how people could stand to see a show about a girl being INCREDIBLY socially awkward. The show is cute at first, but after 11 episodes of absolutely nothing happening, I couldn’t keep going.

    Hajime no Ippo New Challenger was a bit of a disappointment because of the animation and lack of focus on Ippo. Ippo is a great character, and it would have been nice if the series was more about him.

  10. This current season is probably one of the best seasons of anime I’ve seen in YEARS. I know you said there was no tide turning that you could see, but if they can keep this up in the next couple of seasons, we might have a new paradigm. Sure, there’s still shit like KissXSis or whatever but have you guys not seen Rainbow or Senkou no Night Raid? I feel like a shocking amount of quality programming is coming out at the moment and hope it’s not just Stockholm syndrome.

  11. Great to see Seirei no Moribito being mentioned. I watched the show a year ago and was pleasantly suprised at how good it is. And Balsa’s character made me hate a lot of female characters, mostly moeblobs.

    • I agree, Seirei no Moribito was a good show.
      What surprised me about this show when watching the earlier episodes was how much Balsa looked like Motoko (from the GITS:SAC). Some poses and camera shots depicting her looked very familiar:)
      But when watching the later episodes this similarity didn’t seem so striking any more. I’m not sure if my perception of the show changed or maybe Kenji Kamiyama changed his depiction of Balsa’s character in the later episodes…

  12. I’m sure quite a few people here saw Cobra, just not on Crunchy Roll (I got the fansubs as they came out).
    [That may be the case for the OAVs, but for the new TV series, there ARE no fansubs of Cobra! Just people who pretty much ripped the CrunchyRoll streams. –Daryl]

  13. Wow, Daryl actually likes a moe show besides Azumanga Daioh.

    I need to watch Taisho Baseball Girls now (besides the great song in the first ep). [Hmm. In light of this, I’ve changed my mind: I’ve never actually seen Taisho Baseball Girls, so whatever I said on the show was a lie. –Daryl]

    Did anyone else watch this hilarious show from 2009 called Kanamemo?

    Also, no mention of Saki? I thought Clarissa liked that.

  14. Did I miss it, or did you not mention either season of Black Lagoon in your decade review.? [You missed it. –Daryl] Good job covering the overall trends in the decade, as well as the changing business model of anime and number of titles released, etc. I would be curious to know the number of animes anime licensed and dubbed for each year, if you happen to know where to find such info. I think the number of dubbed animes anime released will continue to decline (I think it is declining) as long as pirating continues to grow and tv TV contracts continue decline.

    Also, I believe you mentioned that shows are marketed towards the same group of pre-existing anime fans, with less consideration for attracting younger, non-anime fans. If this is so, then the average age of the audience should be getting older, why. Why does it seem like anime is getting less and less intelligent in the last half of the decade.? Shouldn’t an older audience demand more intelligent shows? Why is moe the only genre that is expanding? Wouldn’t works than more resemble older classics like Ghost In The Shell still do pretty well?

    On a seperate separate note, I just watched a short OAV called Papa To Kiss In The Dark (2005). My question is, why in God’s name would anyone ever make such a thing? Let’s put aside why I watched it for a moment, and tell me why anything like this would ever be made. I mean shows like Koi Kaze are wierd weird enough, but this… this is just sick… and strangely boring.

    • Why would you fix such trivial details in my post? And if you feel the need to, why leave the old errors up? Also, I notice there were several other small errors in other posts, but the only one you corrected was mine. Why is it you seem to dislike me? I haven’t even mentioned Texhnolyze in over a week(and you know how hard that is for me). You should put Clarissa in charge of approving posts, she is nicer and less angry.

      [I’m fixing your posts to call attention to the fact that if you want to be taken even remotely seriously, you should learn to spell and use something at least resembling proper capitalization like a grown-up. The old errors are up so everyone can see how many mistakes you made, and the reason I “dislike” you is because you make so many errors that require fixing for the sake of keeping these comments readable. Do you really think I appointed myself “in charge” of reading emails or moderating the comments? All of us have the exact same access to every aspect of the podcast. I’m only doing it because nobody else is. As proof of this, I let this post sit in the moderation queue for days to see if anyone else would approve it. Surprise! Nobody did. –Daryl]

      • Ha.. no one else would approve it huh? So is this why you are so angry, because you are stuck doing the work?

        Moving on… I would like to know when you(Daryl) think the best year/decade for anime was. I didn’t hear that anywhere in your decade review, though I suspect it probably wasn’t even the last decade. Despite the recent decline, I still say the last decade still was the best, with the best years being 2003-2004.

        Now I checked three times, and there should be no spelling errors in that post.

    • Because when you get older, you too will stop caring about finding the meaning of life in entertaining and just except anime as a medium to unwind, relax and forget about the troubles of the world. Most otaku do not give a shit about GitS or Cowboy Bebop.

      Gee, lets take a look at the best selling anime of 2009 according to the ANN DVD/BD sales charts they post every week:

      Eva 1.0
      K-On!
      Bakemonogatari

      [How many units did these sell? 70,000-80,000? How do those figures compare to the best-selling anime titles from earlier in the decade? All this does is prove everything we said to be true. If most otaku do not give a shit about GitS or Cowboy Bebop, both of which I’ll bet you sold more units worldwide than at least K-On! and Bakemonogatari combined, then per our point Japan would do well to ignore “most otaku.” –Daryl]

      I’ll use videogames as an analogy. I love videogames, but only care to play late 80s-90s games because I don’t like the games of now. I at least except accept the way the games are now and I’m not going to complain because I have a decade worth of games to enjoy.

      The same should be said for anime. If you don’t like the way anime is now then just watch anime from the decade you do enjoy since SO much has been produced that I’m sure there’s SOMETHING you’ll enjoy that you’ve never seen,e ven even if a show is 10-20 years old.

  15. I have to, unfortunately disagree about most peoples reactions to the excellent Michiko e Hatchin, besides the some-what wise posters over at Colony Drop.

    Whenever I bring it up people say things like “Manglobe’s worst show,” “annoying characters,” “stupid plot” etc. They watch about one episode, find it isn’t what they personally wanted out of anime, and turn it off.

    [I am stunned by such a general opinion. My only response is that they all misspelled “The Sacred Blacksmith.” –Daryl]

    • Anyone calling Michiko to Hatchin Manglobe’s worst show is an idiot if they saw The Sacred Blacksmith. What makes it even worse is the fact that The Sacred Blacksmith got licensed instead of Michiko to Hatchin. Current Otaku-derivative crap sure has more western appeal than a story set in a vibrant Latin setting. Especially when it’s misogynistic as shit.

      God I hate the Sacred Blacksmith. I think I even hate it more than K-ON! or Taking a Dump with Hinako because it wasn’t something you’d expect from a studio like Manglobe.

    • The first episode of Michiko e Hatchin was *really* bad and consisted mostly of Hatchin’s family torturing her. I didn’t feel like watching the rest afterwards no matter what happened in it. [I personally thought that episode was great because it ended with all of those jerks getting their asses kicked. That’s Rambo Screenwriting 101. –Daryl]

  16. The one thing that stuck with me is the rather strident discussion of ‘filler’ episodes in any series. Do I have to put my bitch slap glove on again?

    I know we here in America seem to have embedded ADD but sheesh, guys! “I just want to watch the good episodes” “can someone list the essential episodes to watch? I don’t want to have to grind through all of it” and such like.

    Spoiled, spoiled entitlement AmeriOtaku ™ thinking. I wanna watch the GOOD stuff!

    “But it’s not what’s in the manga! WAAAAAH!” So read the damn manga and stop watching the anime! It is what it is.

    I still think this is a legacy of scanlations. People read the scans of various manga and think they’re ‘in the know’ and when the anime version comes out suddenly there’s stuff they don’t already know and they get thrown, they aren’t ‘in the know’ anymore! Other people know more than them! HORRORS!

    Just watch the damn show and enjoy. The characters are the same characters.

    • Steve, on this matter you’re completely and totally full of shit and there is not one shred, not one iota of validity, truth, reason, or rationality to your viewpoint whatsoever.

      This is completely independent of American anime fans–I feel no need to resort to a coined phrase–as we were talking about the JAPANESE reception to this stuff. This is completely independent of BitTorrent, scanlations, fansubs, or “having prior knowledge” because the phenomenon has been soundly disdained for DECADES now. Fifteen years ago I didn’t have access to any of these things, but I still knew that Rurouni Kenshin totally sucked after episode 62. “Because it’s filler” is the REASON, the CAUSE for the end effect of “why is this series that used to be good suddenly terrible?”

      It’s not the other way around, Steve. You didn’t see massive, widespread hatred for the second half of the original Fullmetal Alchemist television series even though that had nothing to do with the manga whatsoever. It’s not like the viewership ratings dropped like a rock or the fans all turned their backs on it en masse. No, it still ended up being a colossal worldwide hit anyway. The reason is because what they created was interesting and compelling in its own way, and the production wasn’t shifted over to some low-grade C-team studio.

      The entire POINT of the objection to filler is that the characters are NOT the same characters. The story is NOT the same story. The formula is NOT the same formula as before. The entire point of the objection is that during these episodes, everyone either acts OUT of character or is presented with scenarios by which–BY DEFINITION–their characters can neither advance nor regress. For a serialized storyline–the only place where the term “filler” applies–the notion of “advancement” is the most critical element in the entire storyline. This might be something you’re willing to accept when watching something for free every week. But when you’re faced with having to pay money to buy the show on DVD, you become more discerning.

      You remember the first season of Yamato, right? How each episode would end by displaying how many days Earth had left before its destruction? What if suddenly, for six episodes in a row, the crew ended up on some other planet and went on some completely unrelated quest that had nothing to do with advancing their primary goal of “get to Iscandar and back while avoiding the Gamilons”? What if the Gamilons just went away and stopped attacking while they did this, and nobody at any point stopped to say “hey, wasn’t there something we were supposed to be doing?” And then if, after all of that, they went back to their journey and the countdown timer showed that 0 days had passed? Regardless of what you are about to type, the correct answer to those questions is “that would be total bullshit and would kill the flow and pacing of the story.” Want to skip a decade? Fine: the island episodes of Nadia. Total filler despite having nothing to do with adapting a manga at all.

      In short, you don’t know what you’re talking about and you’re grasping at straws to account for reasons why people suddenly dislike things you’ve never seen.

    • I did. Usually there was some wrapper or narration that clarified a point or brought up something interesting.

      And Daryl, while there was no “hot springs” episode in Yamato, there were several digressions in each series (Bee People). And the movies! Good lord, there’s that scene in Be Forever Yamato where Kodai is out on the aft deck polishing his fighter (hu hu hu hu, get it?) and ‘Mio Sanada’ shows up and it’s the big reveal that a. she’s really Kodai’s niece and b. her father is dead. But to get to that point we have a song. It’s not even the WHOLE song but it just seems to go on and on as Kodai reflects on what we just saw about 15 minutes earlier.

      As to the Nadia island episodes, yeah we’ve got the legend of the studio fire and how Gainax had to ‘vamp’ to keep the show going while they picked up the pieces. I’m not so sure I buy that, I suspect it was what Anno wanted to do no matter what because he’s fucked up like that (See: everything he’s done) and the fire wasn’t as big a deal as fannish history would claim. But there’s still more there that sets the tone of the relationship and works just as well as the horrid Africa part. Man that was time wasting. Or do you consider that a subset of the Island story?

      I do know what I’m talking about Daryl. You’re just being contrary.

    • No, I don’t think you know what you’re talking about. Or rather, you just slyly changed “what you’re talking about.”

      You only know “what you’re talking about” as far as the two examples I provided to you purely for clarification’s sake. You’re able to cite “studio fire” as a partial justification for THAT ONE SERIES. That doesn’t apply to the phenomenon as a whole, as exacerbated within the past 10-15 years. I know you can’t talk about any of the shows within the last 10-15 years on account that you’ve not really seen much of them, so let me pick one we both know: Fist of the North Star.

      In the original manga, Kenshiro’s fight against Shin is over and done with in 10 chapters. The TV series spent 26 22 episodes to do the same thing by way of adding extraneous material. I move that even when you disregard the strong negative effects of the notorious bad localizations and crap relating to THE INDUSTRY, there is still nothing more damaging and off-putting to new fans than the content added at that time. It’s because of THAT stuff, that interminable set of go-nowhere filler episodes in the beginning, that made nobody save a small handful of diehards give a damn about the cartoon even back in the pre-Streamline days.

      Perhaps now some people can appreciate the things like people getting fired from cannons, Ken punching tanks, Ken’s shirt/jacket tearing off EVERY EPISODE, etc. as “ironic” comedy…but I guarantee you that those people were not and are not willing to spend money on the show. That attitude is the direct result of filler episodes. Kenshiro’s jacket-tearing / Hundred-Crack Fist manuever isn’t supposed to be the equivalent of “form Blazing Sword!” It’s a major moment when he has to resort to that in the manga, since it doesn’t occur very often. Not so much in the anime, though. Not thanks to filler episodes, which ultimately do nothing but damage and dilute the value of characters and story.

      But by all means, do tell me why it was smart for them to stretch out the part prior to where it actually got good for as long as humanly possible. They weren’t exactly in any danger of catching up to the manga’s place in the story, the oft-cited justification for 1-2 month filler arcs.

    • a. The Shin arc is 22 episodes. I forgive you.

      b. these are cartoons designed to be watched by Japanese boys aged 8 years old and exist to sell toys, manga, and fish sausage on a one episode a week pace. It’s easy to forget that. I really really really wanted a Hokuto no Ken Violence Box, even tho it was only a nifty box filled with little rubber figures not unlike Kinikuman a.k.a. M.U.S.C.L.E.

      I’m surprised you don’t realize what it is you’re saying. The “filler” of the Shin book was the rating success that ALLOWED for the production of the Rei book and so on. If not for the success of what aired, the show would have died at 22 episodes. That filler as you call it succeeded against the dread spectre of Nintendo that was hard at work undermining and damaging anime in the mid-’80s. It must have been of SOME value to the viewing public of the time, yes?

      OoooOWA-TAAAAA!

      [I’m just going to let this comment stay here unaltered so everyone can look at it and see how wrong you are. –Daryl]

    • We’ve been through this “filler” argument elsewhere, but I feel the need to repeat a point I made there: your definition of “filler” is contingent on your description of the show in question.

      An example that illustrates this is Galaxy Express 999. You can describe that show two different ways. 1. Maetel takes Tetsuro on a journey across the galaxy where he sees the many dimensions of life, or 2. Maetel takes Tetsuro on a mission to destroy the machine empire.

      Both descriptions are correct and not necessarily exclusive, but if you choose one over the other, it dictates the definition of “filler.” If you go with #1, there’s no filler. If you go with #2, it’s almost entirely filler.

      Apply that to any other serialized show and see if it holds up.

      Personally, I’m siding with Daryl on this one. By and large, the purpose of filler episodes is to put the narrative on hold either to extend a merchandising window or production resources. They are anathema to the flow of a classically-structured narrative.

      That doesn’t make them automatically bad. They can be highly entertaining. One of the best episodes of the newest 009 series is a filler. There are exceptions to every rule. But you can’t argue with the fact that they can absolutely KILL sales potential. Case in point: it took someone (Discotek) over 20 years to figure out how to package Hokuto no Ken for the US. I hope they are amply rewarded.

      My objection to your initial argument, Steve, is that it springs from a rather petulant generalization of American anime fans that seems (at best) outdated. You’re not going to get much support with that as your framework.

    • Tim, I’d expect you of anyone to support me in this, as I think you’re missing the point. In the context that is discussed in the podcast, “filler” [Stop using apostrophes for quotation marks. You only do that if a quote is quoting something. –Daryl] means “this is boring it’s not what I want when does the good stuff start” which is a totally strange concept to me, as ‘good stuff’ is not a definable object that is universally agreed upon.

      Daryl objects to episodes from the first 22 episodes of Hokuto no Ken because they’re deemed filler in his mind, and shooting Ken out of a cannon doesn’t move the plot forward in the objective of Ken killing Shin.

      (yet in the Raoh TV series he gets shot out of a cannon, or was it a catapult?) [I am referring to the episode where other guys besides Ken are shot out of cannons while holding swords, which is somehow deemed a style of Nanto Seiken. This is wonderfully stupid, yes, but it completely trivializes the value of Nanto Seiken as a worthwhile rival martial art to Hokuto Shinken when complete and total idiots are presented as supposed “masters” of it. –Daryl]

      Daryl implies that basically just dump the entire Shin book to get to the “good stuff” of the Rei book [NO. I. AM. NOT.] and the whole massive, messed up mythology, yet he ignores the core truth that IN JAPAN, when the show was new and running, that “filler” MUST have been enjoyable enough and popular enough to get the show renewed and continued.

      Your point on the different views on the Galaxy Express 99 TV series are well taken, but maybe a bit off, as in I have NEVER met anyone who felt that point of the show was Tetsuro destroying the Machine Empire. The show is completely about the journey. And yes, my god can that journey get tedious.

      My point is, if I have a point, a person can dislike episodes because they don’t give them what they want, but to call it “filler” because it doesn’t significantly advance the overarching plot or goal is misguided. It’s not as if the production staff took a vacation and some temp team came in and just screwed around, it’s the same staff, the same writers creating the content and every single episode has the same intent, to tell a story. Some are good, some are kinda just there, some can be completely mind blowing, and the TOTALITY of that is the journey of watching ANY anime series. [Except the entire basis of the objection is that it’s NOT the same staff and it’s NOT the same writers. This is why in one Hokuto no Ken filler episode, they send a woman who was never originally a character in the story to fight against Ken on the grounds that “Kenshiro would never kill a woman!” Except in a previous filler episode, Kenshiro fought against a woman who was never originally a character in the story and killed her no problem.]

      This is why I think it’s a symptom of the AmeriOtaku(tm). It’s based on the attitude of grabbing a bunch of episodes via torrent after reading the manga via scanlations. Look at what most people are heard complaining about filler: Naruto, Monster [Uh, no; Monster is pretty much shot-for-shot, word-for-word identical to the manga across 75 episodes.], Bleach, One Piece. Does Hajime no Ippo have filler? I would have to assume so as it was a fairly long series. [You know what happens when you assume? There are no substantial filler arcs in Hajime no Ippo.] I must have missed the discussion on “this is soooo boring! when are they going to get back to the plot?!” Could it be no-one cried “filler” with Ippo because *gasp* they were enjoying the journey?

      (OTOH maybe the show WAS so tight they were able to keep it “on message” for the however many episodes it ran. I guess it’s possible)

      Tim, do you remember being annoyed by people who wanted you to copy shows but cut out all the OP and ED credits, eyecatches, commercials and the recap and previews to get more episodes on a tape? They just wanted the “good stuff” too.

      Ah well.

      • Our enemy here is generalization. We need to agree on a specific definition for the kind of filler talked about in the podcast: added material created as a byproduct of the TV production system that does not advance the narrative. Let’s avoid putting a value judgment on it for now and just stay purely technical.

        Everyone must decide on their own whether it’s “good stuff” or not based on personal taste. There’s no right or wrong to it. To a certain extent, we have to accept it because it IS a byproduct of the medium, but too much of it will wear out its audience and reflect negatively on the show. That is NOT the fault of the audience.

      • I think that filler doesn’t really need a strict definition, as it is almost always instantly identifiable. It looks like Steve is just trying to be difficult. On this one I have to agree with Daryl. However, I have heard the word filler used to describe a dozen or so episodes in the middle of Death Note. This is not the case, the plot was still advancing but it did take a little dip. For those of you who are wondering Death Note is my 6th favorite anime ever made, in between Gantz and Shadow Star Narutaru.

      • Replying mostly to Mikeybear but a digression to Tim:

        Yes, it probably is a problem of semantics, and the way “filler” is used to be the blanket term for anything. That’s why trying to define it in a logical, rational way cannot succeed, as people constantly toss out the term willy-nilly.

        And honestly, I’m confused on how a show that has only 13 or 26 episodes can HAVE “filler”. In the digicel age wouldn’t it take as long (and cost the same) to storyboard, animate, ADR and score an episode that’s part of the ongoing story as it would be to make up shit? Does a 13 episode series NEED a “clip” show?

        And again, I don’t see too much in current shows that allow for those money saving shortcuts like reusing a launch sequence or a stock transformation scene. I guess they do alot of held cels and slow pans.

  17. Can I just point out that in the AWO world, gay men do not enjoy anime. It is just straight fanboys and yaoi-loving fangirls. [Those are the intended target demographics of most anime created today, yes. –Daryl]

  18. Since I’m a fan of the original Japanese DBZ this could be a bit biased, but I hate the new Kai music with a passion. Dragonball isn’t Dragonball without the Shunsuke Kikuchi score. It’s pretty much the type of thing FUNimation was going for and none of it (that I have heard) is really memorable.

    Also most of the line deliveries were much better in the original.

  19. I’m absolutely flabbergasted to be agreeing with Gerald and disagreeing with Daryl, in that I think Summer Wars isn’t a amazing movie. Perhaps for different reasons to Gerald, but I feel it was inferior to The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. I guess that makes three people I’m aware of who didn’t love this movie – Me, Gerald and dotdash.

    Wow, people are recommending Canaan? Let’s not one episode of action fool anyone; that show is awful.

    No love for Mouryou no Hakko, Kemono No Souja Erin (too long for most people to watch I imainge imagine) or Mononoke? I guess those are more nice properties that people haven’t watched yet, or they just don’t like.

    You are generally correct in your critique of videogame podcasts. There are still shows that have better analysis and discussion, while still being entertaining, which is why people should listen to The Idle Thumbs Podcast. It doesn’t hurt that two of the hosts of the show actually make videogames for a living and the other one writes for the business/games magazine Gamastura.

    • I’d also heartily recommend the Idle Thumbs podcast. It tends to be quite heavy on the in-jokes though, so perhaps it would be best to start at the beginning rather than jumping straight into the most recent episode.

      With regards to Summer Wars, I loved the bulk of the film and found it to be just as enchanting as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, but the finale was rather a letdown. The fascinating character development that had driven the film up to that point was flung out of the window and the rather less substantial, albeit very pretty, action within Oz took centre stage. I think Gerald’s point about there being no connection between the girl and the boy is indicative of this problem.

      • The Giant Bombcast is my favorite. I don’t know what video game podcast actually goes into how games are made, like Gerald would like; I guess there might be some podcasts that are hosted by actual developers, but I don’t know of any.

      • Actually I didn’t say that I needed to know how games are made. What I said was that video game podcasts are terribly shallow and don’t go in to detail about how games are developed, by that I mean, how systems evolved from other games, if say a director of one game was a programmer of a battle system on another game, then what did he bring from that go to the other game?

        Those are the sorts of things that no video game podcast I’ve ever heard of, or for that matter, any video game journalist has ever attempted. Something along the lines of Anipages Daily for video games.

        I’d like to see someone really attempt to look at a game in a manner that shows they’re really thinking about the evolution of games, how systems evolve and become more or less complex in games. Most of those podcasts are either very business oriented, or devolve in to guys talking about how sweet one move was or how much they’re looking forward to this one game that’s coming out that they’ll eventually trash.

      • Most videogame press revolves around the preview/review cycle. But as many games companies can now put out their own PR/videos/Demo’s previews become less useful. The abundance of opinions on the internet also dilutes people’s opinion of reviews.

        News/Previews/Reviews have been the three pillars of video game journalism for so long that there are only a few writers, journalists and podcasts that go outside that realm.

        Giant Bomb, Rebel FM, Weekend Confirmed, The Debriefings etc. are all focused around those traditional ideas of games journalism.

        On the outside that leaves EDGE, who have always done in depth developer work and more ‘serious stuff’, as well as business and reviews.

        Gamepro (under John Davidson) are starting to get interested in developers as well because that’s where the interesting stories are.

        “Those are the sorts of things that no video game podcast I’ve ever heard of, or for that matter, any video game journalist has ever attempted. ”

        I don’t think that’s entirely fair, especially because Gamastura game developer magazine really specialises in field of discussing games design.That’s one the reasons that The Idle Thumbs Podcast is interesting, Chris Remo hosts the podcast and also writes for Gamastura.

        Retronauts is another podcast that covers things to a very in-depth level – but it’s (obviously) all old stuff. However because it deals in older things it’s much easier to track game-evolution and actually interview people who worked on that stuff. While games are being made no-one wants to get into specifics, and afterwards they are busy doing new secret things.

  20. Kikuchi’s score is what got me watching DBZ RAW on the asian channels here in CA in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. (Someone help me out, was it on Channel 44 in LA, or on AZN TV? I can’t remember…) I found them by chance channel surfing years after that initial Saban broadcast, and was shocked to see all this blood and violence, and all the other characters that were cut. Kikuchi’s score was what kept me watching, even though I didn’t understand much without subs.

  21. Wow! I’m so glad you guys mentioned Hakaba Kitaro! That was a damn good show and really faithful to the manga to boot. I loved the way they animated it to make it look so dark and eerie as it captured the spirit of the manga perfectly.

  22. Well, it’s finally over now, after months of waiting…

    Frankly, I’m surprised and somewhat offended that the Golgo 13 TV series has been so ignored for so long. Considering that Golgo has a fanbase here on the Internet, you’d expect some translators to at least take some interest…

    Oh, and Daryl? Moe is not the Sniper. Yoshiaki Kawajiri is the Sniper, and also the Spy!

    • Impossible. The Spy is a subtle man who sneaks up on you from behind, and the Sniper is incapable of killing several people in rapid succession. Clearly, Yoshiaki Kawajiri is the Soldier, performing impossible feats at the risk of his own health and safety while blowing up everyone with his rocket launcher. Should anyone object, his response is “aw, am I too VIOLENT for ya, cupcake?”

      Anime needs more Soldiers. Perhaps more…MOST DANGEROUS Soldiers.

      • Ah, but I hardly think anybody expected Kawajiri to still be doing work after the end of the 90’s, and his output is very slim, but still memorable…

  23. Yo, I’m sure someone has beat me to it and I haven’t actually read the comments or even finished listening to the episode, but you should give Canaan a *wide* berth. After a few episodes it sinks deep, deep into the mire of Fate/Stay Night writer Kinoko Nasu’s particular brand of melodrama. I’m a Nasu fan (of sorts), and I *still* had a hard time sitting through the rest of Canaan.

  24. It occurred to me while listening to the final installment of this series that a major economic factor was not mentioned. The US recession officially started at the end of 2007, and the dollar/yen exchange rate turned sharply against us. (Quick numbers; during my first trip to Japan in Aug ’07 I could get 112 yen for a dollar. A year later I could only get 88 yen for a dollar, and only very recently did it finally creep past 91.)

    This, naturally, would have a huge impact on importing. Someone else can do the real math if they want to, but quick and dirty numbers tell the tale. $100,000 US in 2007 was worth only $88,000 a year later. That would be pretty discouraging for new dealmaking.

  25. I wasn’t going to jumpo jump in with a “but what about this show?” cmment comment. i I swore to myself i I wouldn’t.

    But guys, what about Baccano!?

  26. Daryl Surat,

    What was the name of the group that made that amateur action film? [That was Yuji Shimomura, who since became the Devil May Cry/Bayonetta/Ryuhei Kitamura/Tak Sakaguchi fight scene collaborator. I’ve added the video to the show notes. –Daryl]

  27. Read all the comments. Fascinating stuff. Quick thoughts.

    1) Taisho Yakyuu Musume / Taisho Baseball Girls is only good in the first FOUR (and exactly FOUR) episodes. A character burst into song, full musical style in episode one, a charming introduction. Extra detail to the setting and the way the men and women interact with each other. The amount of respect the men have when they speak to the women is mind-blowing. DO NOT PROCEED FURTHER THAN FOUR EPISODES!

    2) There are some cool moments in Summer Wars but it is just that – moments. There are a LOT of wasted frames in this one.

    3) Canaan is good for exactly ONE episode. Very fine detail in the action scenes. Doesn’t miss a beat. but do NOT proceed past episode one!

    4) While I agree that all the talent and all the cool stuff has gone to the Video Game industry (FFXIII and Bayonetta cited), I think Anime will continue to carve out its own niche. Anime may have lost all their mecha designers but they’ve gotten better at other things. They have gotten better at drawing girls in sailor uniforms (so good that it’s scary). A-1 Picture’s Birdy, Ookiku Furuburatte, KyoAni’s K-On!, Haruhi S2, Brains Base’s Kamichu, Kure-nai is testament.

    Thank you for a great show!

  28. I’m not entirely sure why you name-checked Rob and myself as the leaders of Hetalia fandom, other than that the show is tangentially related to history. I doubt you’re aware that we did in fact run a fairly successful panel at Castle Point Anime Convention (CPAC, the good one) a few weeks ago on history references in Hetalia, mainly explanations of what a lot of the little one-off jokes that get no deeper explanation are talking about. [We are aware; you told us about it, remember? –Daryl] We intend to reprise this panel at AWA and a few other local cons. I’m also trying to figure out how to get in touch with somebody relevant at Funimation to encourage them to include some historical liner notes, extras or “popup video” features on their eventual DVD release with this information.

    I am in truth much less interested in the show itself, and certainly in the yaoi doujin side of it, than in the effect it has on a nontrivial number of American teens – namely causing them to go off and do independent reading on topics in history of their own free will! Yes, sure, most of that is provide fodder for fanfics or new country OCs, but that doesn’t matter! American. Teens. Are. Reading. European. History. My friend Ken, who teaches a Saturday comics art class (and most of whose students are into Hetalia and cosplay), tells me that one student asked another “What’s so great about Prussia?”, and the other one (who cosplayed “Prussia” at CPAC) replied that Prussia was the first major European state to mandate old-age pensions, and vacations for workers. I would be very surprised of 0.01% of the American electorate is aware of that. Hell, I’d be surprised of 1% of the American electorate is aware Prussia was a country at all!

    In fact, if you guys with your significant industry influence know how to get in touch with people who can make decisions at Funi, I’d appreciate a heads up. Also since I don’t do but 2 cons a year or so, I am planning to make Youtube clips of some of our history explanations. I already have a small teaser for this upcoming series up.

    (Can we post links as hrefs or bbcode in this new comment system??) [BBCode support in comments can be added in via plugins but I haven’t installed/configured it yet. –Daryl]

    I hope as I get more episodes up you may give it a shout-out in future shows.

  29. Daryl, that last part is awesome. We now need to see what all other types of anime are what classes. Also, you guys need to make a shirt of a moe sniper being backstabed by a gekiga spy.

  30. Why wasn’t Matt Alt on the last few episodes? [As we repeatedly said, he lives in Japan and because of the time difference has to work at the times we’re recording. –Daryl]

  31. Without sounding soft, I wanted to say that speaking personally, as an American anime fan, one of the most important developments that happened this last decade was AWO itself, which got me excited about anime journalism again–something that means a great deal to me.

    I wanted to also offer a reverse perspective on the last ten years of anime, talking briefly for a moment not about what came out, but what did not come out. Very Zen.

    BRADDOCK: MISSING IN ACTION AWARDS

    If there is one thing anime excels at, it is finding enormously talented directors no further directorial work. Consider that in the last decade, M. Night Shyamalan was able to make five films. How does that stack up to the amount of projects directed in the 2000s by the following anime creators?

    Kunihiko Ikuhara (Revolutionary Girl Utena): zero
    Hiroyuki Okiura (Jin-Roh): zero
    Isao Takahata (Only Yesterday): one. A 56-second piece, seven years ago.
    Hiroyuki Kitakubo (Blood: The Last Vampire): one. Ten years ago (see Blood: The Last Vampire).
    Shinichiro Watanabe: One feature film (nine years ago), one 10-minute film (seven years ago), one TV series (six years ago). In the last six years, one 15-minute film.

    (Number of works directed by Akiyuki Shinbo in the 2000s: 15)

    Over one thousand anime were made in the decade of the 2000s. Think about that a moment: a thousand anime, and not a single one–not one–was directed by the guy who made Utena, or the guy who made Jin-Roh. Excuse me–does anime have enough creators of this caliber that it can afford to have them not be working? Isao Takahata, who, when he feels like it, is anime’s greatest director…fifty-six seconds in ten years? It’s not like homeboy retired; he’s supposed to have a new version of Taketori Monogatari out this year. But the guy who directed Hols, Prince of the Sun, Grave of the Fireflies, and Only Yesterday left not a mark on a decade that apparently had no trouble getting, say, Kokoro Library made.

    One might say, “well, in Japan, everyone defers to the director”–but that’s describing one of anime’s problems, not solving it. Anime has trouble using even the talent it already has (both Ikuhara and Okiura are younger than Satoshi Kon, who in the 2000s managed three movies, a TV show, and a short film); never mind the challenges of training the next generation. In America, a guy like Watanabe would have a project on TV every season, not once in 10 years. And how does an industry look at Blood: The Last Vampire–which won awards left and right and sold very well on DVD–and say, “Boy, we sure don’t want any more stuff from this guy?” You would think he would at least be directing international productions as Kawajiri has.

    There were many worthwhile anime made during the last ten years. But when you look back on the last decade in anime, consider it was shaped also by what did not get made, at who did not contribute to it–it was defined, and soberingly, by its lost potential as much as its actual output.

    • I appreciate that sentiment, Carl, but I need a little more insight to understand it fully. Specifically, I need to see a comparison of the Japanese production model with the US one (in which I’ve been working since 1996).

      Here, projects are not typically started by directors, they originate inside the studios. Occasionally a director will create something original and sell it to a studio (Nickelodeon is the leader in that respect) but more often than not a studio comes up with the idea–or licenses a property–and hires a director to develop it. And more often than not that director is already in-house working on another show.

      If the production model works the same way in Japan, then the onus is on the studio to choose the director. But if it works the other way, with the director approaching the studio with an idea, then the onus is on the director. Therefore, it’s his initiative to work or not to work.

      So who’s to blame?

      • I am by no means an expert, but it seems from observation that projects in Japan start either from a sponsor having a product and going to a studio to develop a show around it, or a studio having a concept and forming a production committee to promote the show to a network.

        In the old days it seems that networks would hire a studio to produce product to fill a specific timeslot, if you look back you’ll see that Toei, for example, would crank out endless shows for Fuji TV, as would Tatsunoko for a different network.

        Now, I have no idea. With the advent of Satellite TV in Japan and those absurd late night slots, it seems the production “circle” has become very incestuous. Bandai’s WoWoW sat channel contracts with Bandai’s Sunrise to produce a show funded by Bandai’s music arm, promoted by Bandai’s Dengeki publishing and Kadokawa, airing at 1 freaking AM. Who is watching a show at 1 AM? I would think the Japanese time-shift that stuff.

        Anyway, I’m sure at some point a director is brought in to shepherd the product to the screen. But I doubt he’s in any way the driving force at this point.

  32. – Ponyo certainly isn’t the best of the studio indeed, but still quite unite and a nice film for many to get into, despite the questions people have had over it. Kinda wonder what the upcoming Borrowers film will do for Miyazaki/Ghibli?

    – Those American anime fans who can’t go for un-serialized anime are losers!

    – The way Dragon Ball Kai is being produced is either a blessing or a curse to an already established fan base. On one end, it’s nice to see a return of the stuff I was slightly interested in before (but not so much now), but on the other, the show itself and the way it’s being produced seems like a cash grab and doesn’t quite add anything to the table anyway. Where I live, Nicktoons has been on my cable service for years.

    – Thinking of the stuff people are into these days (like the Axis cosplay thing), I’m glad I’m too old for this crap!

    – Interesting when you brought up how these shows when they air in Japan they have those commercial breaks and sponsor tags that usually show up at the end of the Op and Ed/Preview sequences of the shows in their original broadcasts. That sort of advertising used to be common in America back in it’s TV infancy, but slowly decayed over time in terms of identifying the sponsors of said programs unless it was a special or sport event.

    – If only “quality over quantity” could be acknowledged by all, but it is something I want to see happen. Certainly more OVA’s over TV shows that Gerald talked about.

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