Anime World Order Show # 104 – The [Sword for] Truth Has Set Us Free

We’ve been having a decent amount of guests on lately, huh? This time we are joined by Evan Minto from the Anigamers podcast and Genericon staff to talk about–PER HIS REQUEST–the notoriously disliked Sword for Truth by Osamu Dezaki and Akio Sugino.

We also weigh in on the bits of the ADV/FUNimation lawsuit that sounded interesting to us.

  • The cost to buy Sword for Truth has gone up a tiny bit since we recorded this. The cost of the live-action movie remains the same!
  • Here’s a pretty keen summary detailing the series of events that led to the Section 23 Films reorganization.
  • You can get the PDF of the filing directly from the Harris County Texas District Clerk site if you make a free account, but we’re not gonna lie: we got our copies from here. Obviously, the site will be updated as developments occur whereas a PDF would not, but the main page we looked at from that was this one.
  • The ANNCast with Carl Horn can be downloaded here.

27 thoughts on “Anime World Order Show # 104 – The [Sword for] Truth Has Set Us Free

  1. The fansubs for Golgo 13 finished in ’10. All 50 are subbed. Doutei did 27 through 50. They actually started subbing that second half right after it got licensed. [Ah, you are correct. Though the rationale behind such an action mystifies me. "It's licensed, so NOW let's start fansubbing it"? --Daryl]

    • From what I understand they did 27 on a whim and everyone jumped on it so they kept going. Doutei’s also the D part in GoD, the group that finished the Souten Kouro subs. Given the stuff they sub, I don’t think they care if there is a market in the US or not.

    • To Daryl’s reply, I can kind of understand it, actually.

      Consider: ADV…er, Sentai Filmworks/Section 23/whatever the f**k seemed to keep their commitment to the show somewhat mum, and there was always the idea that just maybe they wouldn’t release any more past the first two sets, given that they don’t seem to be setting the world on fire by being obvious giant huge hit sellers. ADV had pulled that crap before.

      So, foolish as it may seem, I can see some fansubbers feeling the need to do that job just in case.

      Like Duke Togo, it’s never a bad thing to have a ‘Plan B’ for your Plan B.

      • [This was originally auto-flagged as spam. Is that really your email address? The Facebook URL you supplied is invalid and so I've removed it. Please use proper punctuation, character set, and paragraph breaks next time. I have reconstructed what I thought you were trying to say to the best of my ability, though it looks like one of your earlier posts was already deleted outright by the spam filters. Also, I have no idea which post you are trying to respond to, but it sure isn't a comment about Golgo 13 TV being fansubbed. Nobody's talking about Seinfeld and Moritheil didn't post anything. --Daryl]

        It shouldn’t be surprising. These shows aren’t made for you, they’re made for Japanese people. Your entire argument falls flat on its face because you conveniently choose to ignore that “Japanese people” and “otaku who watch anime” are not one and the same. One is merely a subset of the other, and neither is representative of the other.

        The Seinfeld comparison has no merit, because it’s designed to have wide appeal. Most anime are not. Do you really think the average person on one of Tokyo’s streets (outside of Akihabara) is really going to get all the obscure anime references in SZS? They even say as much in ep 11 of Bakemonogatari, which kinda indicates that these shows don’t hinge on the viewer understanding every single pop culture reference. And neither does Family Guy, to take a Western example, for that matter.

        As for Moritheil’s Kannagi comparison, well I guess the Akihabara vendors who trolled raging otaku by putting Kannagi products in their used items bins were also ignorant gaijin who can’t understanding the beauty and purity of superior Japanese culture. Sorry, but there’s no defending this particularly pathetic example of otaku groupthink. Most Japanese people were probably just as quick to lament the sadness of people starting boycotts and Internet protests over the virginity of a fictional character as anyone else in the world. This isn’t explained away by a nation’s culture and attitudes towards prudence. This is just a bunch of sad, pathetic individuals making a big deal for a sad, pathetic cause. Anime shouldn’t be allowed to hide behind “Japan’s culture” from criticisms that they’re not funny, because for the most part, they’re born out of “otaku culture,” which is something else entirely.

        From a Western anime fan’s perspective, our view of Japanese culture comes mostly through anime, which arguably makes us more directly plugged into the otaku culture than our indirect view of Japanese culture. This closed-minded/open-minded concept has nothing to do with culture in most cases , or if it does, only to a mild extent. Are Yamamoto Yutaka’s criticisms of Shinbo’s style also due to cultural dissonance?

      • So, I think you’re commenting about my 2009 blog post where I suggest that a large part of the reaction to the Kannagi Virginity backlash is cultural insensitivity. Not sure why you’re doing that here. (Thanks, Daryl, for bringing it to my attention!)

        Yamamoto Yutaka comes from virtually the same culture as Shinbo, or at least, a much closer one (both being Japanese) than an English or American bystander commenting on Japanese sexual mores. Comparing the two situations without acknowledging there is a cultural difference between East and West is disingenuous.

  2. I’m a bit surprised that the price for Xenosaga wasn’t quite a bit higher, considering the original PS2 game was fairly well-known and apparently a big seller back in the day. Not that it would have made the actual show any better, of course, but that’s a given.

    Other than that…yes, it’s nice to finally have some clear evidence about how such ridiculous licensing deals were being made in the past…and, unfortunately, perhaps some of the most likely offenders among the Japanese companies involved (Bandai, Aniplex, etc.) haven’t really changed their minds too much in the meanwhile, even if the market hasn’t exactly reacted well to those practices in the long run. It’s a pity.

    As for Sword for Truth itself…I remember a lot less about it than, say, the equally infamous Ninja Resurrection but this was still a pretty hilarious and informative discussion.

    I guess that’s yet another example of how even good directors need a quality script at their side in order to produce something great. Osamu Dezaki’s best works usually rely on some sort of dramatic or emotional content that he can then enhance (for instance, even the rather choppy movie adaptation of the Ashita no Joe TV series is very good on that front), which is obviously entirely missing from something like this. The result? It sounds like he might as well have directed it while sleepwalking.

  3. I’ve been listening for the last few weeks and listening to your guy’s older podcasts n’ such. But it was the Sword for Truth review that made me get on your site.

    HOLY SHIT. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while. I remember when I watched it on Netflix, but what cracked me up is that when I watched it I thought that people thought when it was made in the 90’s that THAT was actually good. HAHAHA! And it definitely is, in an Evil Dead/Haunted Highway kind of way. Cult following-esque. Good stuff. The review of the sex scenes and you guys all feeding off each other, freaking awesome. The guest sounded like Ichigo…

    “BASTARD!”

  4. You still need to review Roots Search.

    That list of shows from ADV: I only bought ONE (Pani Poni Dash), and it was when it was clearance’d at Rightstuf. Even though FUNimation licensed rescued it, I wanted the nice box and extra which weren’t present on the FUNi version.

  5. The answer and counter-claim that was linked is not actually “free” at the Harris County Website, as they charge an “administrative fee” of $1.00 per page. Texas courts. . . As a result, the entire case for ADV v. ARM is $457, a tidy sum for a public document. I’ll probably wait around a year before the documents for the related FUNimation case are uploaded to LexisNexis or Westlaw, unless you know someone who has posted them online somewhere (which is completely legal, BTW).

    You guys had a great show, as usual, but I do think some of your comments regarding the ADV contract were a bit unfair. You are correct that the contract is heavily weighted in favor of the Japanese company, but its terms are not atypical in the world of copyright licensing. Flat fee licensing is particularly common where a larger company (Japan) in an established market is licensing to a small company in an undeveloped market (the United States). I expect that most of the licensing contracts in the American anime industry take a very similar form. Although ADV likely suffered from an unequal bargaining position, I would love to peruse a FUNimation licensing contract to see if they suffer from this as well.

    I will agree that the price schedule for show licensing is truly baffling, but you can be reasonably certain that some of the strange prices were the result of negotiation and aggregation of additional series to the contract.

    Although, I am not as familiar with Japanese copyright law, I know that they are more reluctant than the U.S. to concentrate a copyright in the hands of just one entity. As a result, in some cases every person or entity that added a creative component to a series retains at least some right in the work, no matter whether they intended to sell their interest or not. The specific rules that govern these “moral rights” are a mystery to me, but it is conceivable that some of the irrational prices were an outgrowth of this practice where everyone needs to “get their cut.”

    Keep up the great work, Daryl, Gerald, and Clarissa. Glad to see you releasing more often. Stop by GENCON some year! I am sure you would be welcome.

  6. When was the last time Japan made a ninja+gore+sex OAV like this? The latest one i can think of was Kage/Shadow in 2004 and that was – yes you guessed it – a hentai.

    Mind you, it’s a hentai that has less sex (and a lot less rape) than most non-hentai ninja OAVs. I would describe it as a classy erotic thriller but sadly, it was not directed by Kawajiri. It does however have Mika Doi in a minor role.

    Does Afro Samurai count?

  7. Now whenever I spark up, I hear the voice of Peter Marinker saying “Marijuana is a drug dating from the 3rd millennium BC…In ancient Sanskrit it was known as ganjika…”

    I was going to go into a lengthy post elaborating on aspects of Japanese licensing, but my suggestion is just to listen to Biggie Smalls’ “Ten Crack Commandments,” as he more or less gives the same information, but with better flow.

  8. TROY, WHAT?

    Good to hear the Ninja Consultants are going to be back at Genericon this year. Genericon is by far the best anime convention within walking distance of my house.

  9. I can imagine one of the biggest reasons for Japanese companies not letting the American side handle some of the merchandising is so nobody has to get stonewalled by awful situations like with Macross (more controversial than Hitler) or Golion and Dairugger. According to our intrepid CDX reporters who were at New York Toy Fair, Bandai wants to make some high end Golion and Dairugger figures but cannot due to Mattel sitting on the Voltron license. I’m not sure if that license applies all over or just outside of Japan. Being limited to Japanese markets never stopped Macross.

    Of course, maybe Japanese companies just know how to market in America and don’t NEED any help!

    • Also, remember what happened with Samurai Pizza Cats? They can’t release the show in Japan due to Saban owning (and I think losing) the masters. Has the show even been released here on DVD officially?

  10. Just a couple of thoughts on the ADV license prices.

    I believe I read a Justin Sevakis (I’m too lazy to look up how to spell the name) post about this around 2007 or so. Granted, I’m still not horribly surprised by the amounts. My uneducated opinion is there was a lot of heat around the industry at the time. If my memory serves me, it was around the same time GiTS: SAC had just come out. FMA was pretty big. I get the feeling the American licensors felt like they needed to keep putting out stuff, and the Japanese felt like they could charge whatever they wanted.

    I’m not really sure if they thought any of it out. I mean the Japanese companies probably felt like they could sell the shows for those prices, and the American companies felt like they had to buy them for those prices. It’s not horribly surprising that they overestimated the price. Although I’m always a little surprised when business people say, “They couldn’t see a bubble coming,” when it seems pretty obvious they weren’t taking the actual market into account. *shrugs*

    That said, I seem to remember thinking that Bandai was pulling back around the same time. I wonder if the licensing prices had anything to do with that.

    All of that said, I still have my copy of Kurau. :)

    • Helps to recall the past. :)

      Remember, Japan does tend to keep locked in to old ‘playbooks’, or action lines. Once something gets codified in business, that’s what you use forever and ever.

      Back around 2002-2003 ADV was sending out regular press releases about how huge the anime biz was in America, numbers in the range of over half a billion Dollars in sales were showcased again and again (nobody ever bothering to point out that like 90% of that was Pokemon) until it became its own action line within the American home video reporting community. ADV was pushing that line as late as 2005. Naturally, the Japanese companies, doing their research by reading summaries of articles prepared by the lower level minions and the occasional trip to the fantasy land of L.A., thrilled to hear of all that money, naturally wanted more of their share, as well as the cut-throat bidding for series that hadn’t even aired pushing prices to completely unrealistic levels. ADV (and to some point CPM, echoing the action line of the big money) did it to themselves.

      And those levels are still there, because the action line of BIG MONEY HERE is still in place. It will never go away.

      • You know I hadn’t thought about that, but you’re right. :)

        Is it still at the same levels? That would seem a bit ridiculous. I mean I’m a crazy person who spends between $50 and $100 a month on anime, but I’m sure I’m in the minority there. It really makes me wonder how a company like Funimation can even stay in business. Even with their DBZ millions :)

  11. This is really a response to the previous episode. You guys had mentioned the Patlabor limited editions. Well, RightStuf is having a crazy sale for both Pat 1 LE and Pat 2 LE for the price of $38 together instead of $180. On the night that RightStuf posted this news on their Facebook (Feb. 17), I immediately ordered them, and now they’re still backordered. [A few hours ago they posted that the sets arrived and that they do in fact have some extras in the event some haven't already ordered them. They're here if anyone reading this doesn't already own them. --Daryl]

  12. Has AWO finally died? Should I weep for you? [No. We're at a convention and have been getting ready for it lately. The next episode is recorded but not edited. Follow "AnimeWorldOrder" on Twitter for updates regarding stuff like this. --Daryl]

  13. Hey. I wrote you an email and then, like, 3 days later my email got hacked so I’m sure it sent you a lot of spam. I don’t know how often you look at the emails to filter that shit out.

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