Anime World Order Show # 36 – Cagliostro, Phoenix, and Embracing Love

This episode is a week late due to computer troubles, but hopefully the wait is worth it. Gerald reviews Hayao Miyazaki’s theatrical directorial debut The Castle of Cagliostro, Daryl reviews the 2004 anime remake of Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenix (aka Hi no Tori), and Clarissa reviews the yaoi manga Embracing Love by Youka Nitta.

Man, we’re totally slacking off on these show notes as of late. But hey, we’ve got a Review Index now! It’s incomplete because it doesn’t yet include all the instances where we waste time on “weeaboo” when someone asks us “what do you think about…” but it’s a start. Did you just read “weeaboo”? ‘Cause I think you just saw someone write “weeaboo.” Forget about yaoi paddles, for I have seen the future and it is the past.

Introduction (0:00 – 32:03)
Carl Gustav Horn is officially smarter than us, but he was suffering from an inflamed farceurix which required immediate care. This week, we realize that if we keep asking people to send us Odeo feedback, it would do us well to actually PLAY some of them and respond to them on air. Subjects include: cons and cosplay stuff, Planetes, Chobits, Street Fighter II, and why Fist of the North Star is popular everywhere else in the world except for North America. On a highly related note, the US DVDs released by Toei are officially no longer available. This picture sums up AWA in a nutshell:

Promo: GeekNights (32:03 – 33:11)
Rym and Scott exhibited their full recovery from their pierrotlectomies by informing us that the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition-style promo of theirs was not actually meant to be seriously played by anyone, so we’re playing the Blues Brothers-style one instead. And you thought it was going to be the Blues Brothers combined with the Inquisition…what a show. They’ll be guests at SITACon in New York this weekend, so to help you identify them, here’s a picture (Rym is on the left and Scott is on the right):

Review: Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro (33:11 – 59:12)
Man. Thirty-six episodes before we officially covered anything directed by Miyazaki, “because everyone knows about him already.” Gerald reviews the newly-released special edition available from Manga Video, compares it to the previous DVD release, and in so doing answers the question on the minds of everyone who’s ever been hit by a double-dip DVD release: is it worth picking up the new release if you already own the original one? Sure, every other anime podcast has reviewed this movie by now, but only OURS has the foresight to point out how this movie inspired Time Crisis!

Review: Phoenix [Hi no Tori] (59:12 – 1:26:08)
Daryl didn’t exactly write any notes to himself whatsoever prior to doing this segment, but he figured he’d try and schmooze his way through this one anyway. The result is that he takes nearly 30 minutes to say what could have been said in 15, and he completely forgot to fully say exactly what the Phoenix was in the story. It’s essentially the Power Cosmic incarnate, or for you Excel Saga fans, the Great Will of the Macrocosm. The will of the universe incarnate, as it were. Phoenix is Osamu Tezuka’s life work and perhaps his grandest achievement, having been remade multiple times over the years. The Phoenix being reviewed in this segment is the 2004 remake, but since Daryl can’t ever stay on topic, he ends up talking about the other stuff too. Under the guise of “putting things in context,” you see. Of course, like all of Tezuka’s work, almost nobody in America cares about this even though it’s really good. PS: Vertical’s English-language release of Ode to Kirihito comes out on October 24th.

  • Media Blasters told us at AWA that they do actually plan on releasing the anime, so instead of linking to a torrent for the series, here’s the opening so you can see how nice this show looks; Youtube/Google Video doesn’t cut it
  • Viz Media’s excellent release of the Phoenix manga – which nobody except Daryl seems to be buying as it comes out, provided he can actually FIND IT because much like Golgo 13, stores and anime con dealers don’t tend to carry it…in addition to what’s listed on the Viz page, volumes 7 and 8 of are also out, but they’re practically out of stock at both Amazon and Right Stuf
  • Tezuka in English – a fantastic resource for those who wish to learn more about Tezuka’s output and derivative works over the years
  • Osamu Tezuka World – Tezuka Production’s official English-language webpage
  • This was going to be a link to the full English-language text of the February 10, 1989 article that ran in Asahi following Tezuka’s death, but we can’t find it anywhere. It’s got to be out there, but in the meantime, here instead is the often-repeated quote from said article: “Foreign visitors to Japan often find it difficult to understand why Japanese people like comics so much. One explanation for the popularity of comics in Japan, however, is that Japan had Tezuka Osamu, whereas other nations did not. Without Dr. Tezuka, the postwar explosion in comics in Japan would have been inconceivable.”
  • Japan Media Arts Festival poll where about 80,000 people voted and declared Phoenix the #6 manga of all time – though bear in mind, the list is almost entirely shonen action and Slam Dunk was #1

Review: Embracing Love [Haru wo Daiteita] (1:26:08 – 1:47:35)
But it’s not like the Viz Signature line is the only manga imprint you can’t find sold anywhere! It’s been a while since the last yaoi review, but Clarissa was finally able to track down this Youka Nitta manga released by Be Beautiful. Why the Be Beautiful releases are so much more expensive than all other manga releases despite not really being of superior print quality or page count strikes us as being particularly blatant on the “we charge more because fans are willing to pay extra and that’s it” front, but that’s CPM for you.

Promo: Happy House of Hentai (1:47:35 – 1:47:58)
Last we checked, “Lord Kaosu” and “Hello Kitty” both live in New Mexico, but they’re both guests at SITACon in New York on October 6-8. They’re inviting a whole bunch of podcasters to be guests there, but we unfortunately cannot attend. Not only would it be tricky for the three of us to all get time off from school/work, we’d have to pay to fly ourselves there. Between Anime Weekend Atlanta and Right Stuf’s sale on Geneon DVDs, we’re about spent. So if you head to SITACon and you see these folks, be sure to say hello because they totally traveled across the country to be there:

Say, we’ve got Ninja Consultant T-shirts, too!

Closing (1:47:58 – 1:51:13)
This episode is like, an entire week late. What this means is that in order to catch back up, the next episode will have to come out in a few days. Fortunately for us, the next episode will consist mostly of the recording of our AWA panel on podcasting, which turned out mostly well, boring. Perhaps it would be best to throw in some extra bits while we’re at it for the sake of adding excitement.

52 Replies to “Anime World Order Show # 36 – Cagliostro, Phoenix, and Embracing Love”

  1. I used to pimp Cagliostro Castle as the anime to show to new and non fans, because it’s really a good, solid adventure story.

    I can’t support it anymore because of the sudden, bizzare change to the Streamline style at the opening credits instead of the beautiful, lyrical ‘vingettes’ of the original. Screw ’em.

    and saying TMS ‘insisted’ they do it that way once again rings hollow and stinks of lies, the lies of the anime industry. (otoh, it does make sense if TMS is doing not so subtle sabotage to quash back importing, because JAPANESE fans wouldn’t stand for this kind of thing, see…)


  2. Haven’t listened yet, but I had put some thought into this when I first got the DVD to review. You know, after the RAGE PHASE. It’s gotta be TMS. The credits are all from their side. They even put a CG title for the studio (with dolphins, see) which totally clashes with what follows. I think they just wanted people to read their names and they didn’t really care how that got done. This pretty much goes with the image of TMS Ohtsuka gives us in the interview.

    As for reverse importation, the R2 has been out for a while. Just speculating, but you could probably get it cheap. Over there, anyway. They used exactly the cover I wanted, too:

  3. I’ve been waiting for my Haru wo Daiteita to arrive from Amazon too, first one arrived ok but the next two volumes are taking their time… I didn’t know there were that many volumes done, and especially if it’s not known when/if the next ones will come out I’ll have to look for more of this on-line.

    Personally I’ve been happy with Be Beautiful releases – I actually like this kind of covers better than what DMP/June or even Drama Queen do, even if they have dust jackets. I mean, at least the artwork in the cover is somewhat similar to the art inside, I can’t stand those delicate pastel watercolour covers that make the guys look like girls… it totally puts me off even when I know there’s hot man sex inside.

  4. I have to disagree on your assessment on the current standard of Toei Animation. I’d say the guy who could be the “next Miyazaki” HAS come out of Toei Animation.

    Namely, Mamoru Hosoda.

    He was originally earmarked to be the Howl’s Moving Castle director. His work on the Digimon films and the sixth One Piece film is outstanding considering he’s working within the confines of corporate characters. And his animated version of Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo, was reportedly the animated critical success of the summer.

  5. I gotta clarify on the video thing, Daryl. They weren’t actually showing straight from Youtube, I just linked those videos from there. The videos were on somebody’s laptop. I don’t know if Gatchaman (the intended video) was shown afterwards, but I doubt it.

    Video of a kid running down the hallway screaming SNAKES ON A PLANE, though? True story.

  6. I believe Carl was assualted with a ‘clown pistol’, Daryl’s favorite weapon. I have expectations that Carl dodged the confettii with consumate skill.

    I knew TMS was pushing the ‘Cliff Hanger’ mutation of Lupin III really hard in the ’80s, trying to ‘re-position’ Lupin as a spy. I’m still bugging over the JAL Mamo dub, which was RELEASED ON LD by frickin’ PIONEER in Japan, and the TMS reps go “huh? what? an english dub? no, we have no knowledge of such a thing, it didn’t happen”

    All together now:


  7. kolibri –

    I always thought the cover issue had more to do with the types of titles that each are licensing, especially when it comes to DMP. Most of Digital Manga’s stuff is lighter, and they’ve gotten a lot of artists like Honami Yukine who have a soft, sketchy style or Hoshino Lily who draws a lot of super girly boys.

    I’m interested to see what the titles and cover designs from 801 Media will look like.

    As for Drama Queen, I can’t say that theirs have seemed excessively froofy or girly. The Drama Queen covers I’ve seen (Brother, Rising Storm, Empty Heart, Lies and Kisses, Challengers) haven’t been too bad and the artwork is all just like the artwork inside–okay, the Challengers cover is pretty girly but it’s Hinako Takanaga and her stuff is pretty sparkly and cute all around so it’s not exactly misrepresenting anything.

    It’s true that BeBeautiful’s covers aren’t so bad with the pastels and the flowers and such, but again I think that comes out of what they’re licensing. Nitta Youka, Shiuko Kano and Yamane Ayano tend not to have really girly boys or super flowery manga. Though god, how do I hate the hot pink background on the cover for Play Boy Blues. Girly *and* garish, ugh. At least HaruDaki 1 had a fairly neutral green background.

    I’m actually quite fond of Blu’s covers in terms of design. They’re simple but well executed. I didn’t mention them since they’re also comparable quality/size with the standard Tokyopop releases.

    I’m hoping that the godawful cover image they’ve put online for their upcoming release of Gerard et Jacques is only a placeholder for the real design; Yoshinaga Fumi’s manga are too good to look so awful.

  8. Curse you Daryl!!!! Your review of Phoenix makes me really want to see it, and I can’t find torrents or anything of any kind anywhere….KRAAAAAA!!!

    CURSE YOU!!!!!!


  9. Huh, stuff you should review… Hey Gerald, how about a review of Cyber Formula GPX then, considering I’ve asked about this before…

    Also, I was looking up on information on Tsukihime, and the director, Katsushi Sakurabi also did a show called Rescue Wings. I know I’ve heard this name before, but I must ask; is it any good?

  10. Well , hello AWO, I am just writting to let you know that even though your episode was a week late (that kin of help me to keep me focus on other things such as exams) I want to say that it was worth it. It was long and very informative. Now that you guys are also responding to odeo I think I will also record mine……. If I feel like it. Really you guys my voice sounds weird (almost like a Dalek )

    Anyhow, take care Guys.

  11. As for Drama Queen, I can’t say that theirs have seemed excessively froofy or girly.

    Ok, fair enough – especially Lies & Kisses and Empty Heart have gorgeous covers, but then again Rising Storm and especially Brother and make me want to puke. I guess they are Ougi’s work, too – but why does sweet Asuka look like a 40-year old transvestite on the cover? And yet on the first colour page there’s this really pretty picture where the guys actually look as hot as they do in Ougi’s otherwise awesome art. (And a colour page! I’ll gladly pay few dollars extra for colour pages! It’s always so frustrating when you see original work has been in colour and grayscale just kills it.)

    Another series of covers I really don’t like is for Yellow, especially the first two ones are are really far too fluffy for my taste. Thrid on is ok-ish and fourth one is really nice, except Taki suddenly has gray hair – why on earth. A friend of mine didn’t buy the series because she thougth the cover was f-ugly (that’s before she knew anything about the series, and without being able to look inside it’s always dfficult to tell – reading the back covers is just as useful…). And while on the subject, how about reviewing Yellow πŸ™‚

  12. Just wanted to clear things up regarding the filler in Video 4: first off, the filler came from my Video iPod, and most of them were downloaded from Google Video (not Youtube). Not that this is the slightest bit important.

    Second, SOaP parody trailer and “Doctor Who vs Furby” aside (which I only showed once because a member looked at my menu and said he wanted to see it, which prompted a “Don’t say I didn’t warn you!” from me), everything was at least tangentially related to Anime or Tokusatsu (though sometimes it was a huge stretch, like “Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny” or “Bambi vs Godzilla”).

    Also, I showed the SMAP/Gatchaman videos either directly before or directly after the first six episodes of Gatchaman (or possibly both), so there was some thematic relevance.

    Gee, I sound more defensive than I meant to be…

    Anyway, I should let people know that the filler wasn’t planned, it was just a case of “Hey! We have time to kill! I wonder if I can plug my Video iPod into this thing?” It actually worked out pretty well, despite maybe overshowing certain things…

    Next year, I plan to, uh, plan things out a little more. For example, the showing of Otaku no Video will be followed by some filler specifically related to the anime.

    Comments on Cagliostro to follow after sleep and overtime abuse ath the ol’ Real Job…

    E. Bernhard Warg
    Otakon Classic Video Track Programmer
    Anime’s Frank

    By the way, when you guys mentioned me in a previous episode and said “He’s listening right now!” I laughed so hard that…well, let’s just say it was good that I was listening in the car and not, say, the break room at work or the anime section at Best Buy or the mall or grocery store or something.

  13. By the way, I’m listening to Show #36 while proofing OH MY GODDESS! Vol. 24. Although you’re probably too butch to read it, there may be some influence if closely observed.

    The Japanese themselves would on occasion make the “Lupin the III” mistake. I was surprised to see it happen in a U.S. release, especially after so many years of the title being known in English.

    According to the CAGLIOSTRO novel, the tiny nation itself is supposed to be in the Pyrenees, suggesting it was modelled in part on the real nation of Andorra. You can see the ocean in the distance at the end–presumably the Cote d’ Azur, which would fit in with the Monte Carlo-like robbery at the beginning.

    Don’t think I didn’t enjoy Gerald saying “scheisse.” Or is it “scheiss” in Afrikaans?

    I didn’t know about the influence of “Animal Treasure Island” and “Puss in Boots” on CAGLIOSTRO.

    To be fair (or unfair) to Miyazaki, Lupin is shown having a physically hard time resisting Clarisse at the end. It’s *probably* a bad idea to ever assert something was the first of anything (as PULP found out when Jason Thompson went in search of the first “American Manga,” only to find riddles wrapped inside enigmas), let alone the first erotic doujinshi. It seems likely that 1970s anime would have already produced a fair number of them. By the way, you must request that Gerald review his doujinshi purchases at AWA on-air; an actual MACROSS doujin from 1982 was sighted there.

    Yasuo Ohtsuka is a tremendous personal hero of mine. He received me very graciously the first time I went to Japan in 1987. I can’t ever forget his kindness. By the way, in addition to everything else, he’s probably the biggest Jeep (as in the WWII vehicle) otaku in the world. It’s my understanding that the vintage cars associated with LUPIN III reflect his influence, just as the vintage aircraft reflect Miyazaki’s (although both have considerable crossover interests).

    I seem to recall the Streamline release did incorporate the original opening, but barely–you saw only a small portion through a black frame (presumably to conceal the Japanese credits) and the animation itself was obviously slowed down; why, I’m not quite sure.

    I agree that the provenance of the (supposed) Spielberg quote is unknown. It goes back at least to the early 1980s C/FO Magazine. You also used to hear that it showed at Cannes in its day, which as far as I know, is not true.

    What’s frightening about PHOENIX is that it makes you realize there’s a difference between being very talented, and being a genius, and that Tezuka was a genius. Here you see, as a manga artist, the master animator in him–every shape he draws seems capable of changing into any other shape (which is itself, of course, a profoundly Buddhist idea). Your comparison of Osamu Tezuka to Jack Kirby definitely has something to it.

    I would point out that in yaoi, only *after* the guys get together is it possible to start sucking in earnest. I’m surprised neither Gerald nor Daryl made this joke, so the terrible burden falls to me. By the way, Clarissa, how long is it before there are doujinshi about Gerald and Daryl?


  14. Thanks for talking about Phoenix, my absolute favorite manga ever. And yes, the manga of Resurrection IS out here translated from Viz, Daryl.

    I would really, really like a US release of Takahashi’s version of Phoenix, but I have a bad feeling Media Blasters is just going to sit on it forever.

    But hey, I feel like the only freak doing things like buying Phoenix 2772: Love’s Cosmozone on VCD because, well, I just didn’t have that version yet.

  15. steve harrison said…

    I used to pimp Cagliostro Castle as the anime to show to new and non fans, because it’s really a good, solid adventure story.

    I can’t support it anymore because of the sudden, bizzare change to the Streamline style at the opening credits instead of the beautiful, lyrical ‘vingettes’ of the original. Screw ’em.

    The reason why I hadn’t picked it up at Wal-Mart yet! I rather just be happy with a copy of the film I downloaded already.

    and saying TMS ‘insisted’ they do it that way once again rings hollow and stinks of lies, the lies of the anime industry. (otoh, it does make sense if TMS is doing not so subtle sabotage to quash back importing, because JAPANESE fans wouldn’t stand for this kind of thing, see…)


    That’s probably a good reason off the bat. TMS lately seems to like doing what AWO has mentioned before such as with “Requiem from the Darkness”. Going back even further, I’m reminded of the English credits for the old US Renditions dub of “Orguss” personally. Can’t explain why they bother doing English credits there, but perhaps TMS was rather desperate to get their shows distributed outside Japan in those days.

    Though I haven’t seen the Manga dub of Cagliostro in a long while, did they even pronounce the name of the country with the “g” being silent? Somehow I heard it that way and got annoyed too about it. They never do anything right if it means throwing in some R-rated dialogue in favor of something I wouldn’t mind showing to a 12 year old.

    gavv said…
    I spoke to the american TMS rep literally on the shuttle bus from the airport to Anime America ’93 back in the day, and he had basically confirmed it yes, and TMS was also the ones insisting originally on the ‘Cliff Hanger’ designation.

    No doubt thanks to a little known laser disc video game that thankfully didn’t have to get explained by the AWO guys like a few others had! I’m only surprised I knew the game by name, but didn’t realize it was the first two Lupin III flicks at all (re-edited with crappy voiceovers).

    steve harrison said…
    I knew TMS was pushing the ‘Cliff Hanger’ mutation of Lupin III really hard in the ’80s, trying to ‘re-position’ Lupin as a spy. I’m still bugging over the JAL Mamo dub, which was RELEASED ON LD by frickin’ PIONEER in Japan, and the TMS reps go “huh? what? an english dub? no, we have no knowledge of such a thing, it didn’t happen”

    Rather a shame these companies never pay attention to what gets done with their productions.

    Carl said…
    I didn’t know about the influence of “Animal Treasure Island” and “Puss in Boots” on CAGLIOSTRO.

    That French film the guys also mentioned was Paul Grimault’s “The Shepherdess and the Chimneysweep”, or was known under an English dub as “The Curious Adventures of Mr. Wonderbird”. In the 1970’s, Grimault along with writer Lance Prevert bought back the rights to the film, re-edited and animated newer sequences to produce the 1980’s release of “Le Roi et l’Oiseau” (The King and Mockingbird). Studio Ghilbli recently was repsonsible for a recent showing of said film, and DVD release in Japan.

    I only wish someone would release that classic here (nice replacement for the $1 DVD you can get at Kmart)

    To be fair (or unfair) to Miyazaki, Lupin is shown having a physically hard time resisting Clarisse at the end.

    That was one of my favorite moments in the film as well.

    I seem to recall the Streamline release did incorporate the original opening, but barely–you saw only a small portion through a black frame (presumably to conceal the Japanese credits) and the animation itself was obviously slowed down; why, I’m not quite sure.

    Who knows either. At least some of it was kept in. When talking about the Streamline release, not too many realize the film was also cropped inward through video post, as if the original source Streamline had of it had the black bars purposely on there from the original film print and they didn’t want to have them kept in for their release.

    Thinking again of the opening sequence, I wonder if TMS even has the original negatives of that sequence in textless form? It would’ve simplified things so much if the English credits would just be overlayed on top of the visuals instead of how Manga or Streamline had presented it before.

    I agree that the provenance of the (supposed) Spielberg quote is unknown. It goes back at least to the early 1980s C/FO Magazine. You also used to hear that it showed at Cannes in its day, which as far as I know, is not true.

    People just expected so much out of this film.

    Anonymous said…
    An Almost Live reference! Will wonders never cease?!

    That was a classic! Too bad I only saw it for the few years it was on Comedy Central in the early 90’s.

  16. Gotta throw in a big YEAH, BRUTHA for Planetes. I thought my personal all-time-anime-top-ten list was unassailable until I saw that series and had no choice but to scoot it in. (Bumping Lupin III to no. 11, ironically. But now I can say my top ten goes up to 11.)

    Planetes has everything in it I love about SF. Watching it makes me cry for A. how beautiful it is and B. how far we still have to go to make something like this on our own shores. I then settle for just being happy to live in a world where something like this is possible.


  17. Regarding Otsuka Yasuo there is an excellent documentary on him available with English subtiutles on a region 2 disc.

    I highly recommend this to anyone seriously interested in the history of animation, not only the history of anime.

    Of course you do need a player that can handle a region 2 disc, but then if you are a serious fan you have owned one for years.

  18. Thanks for the mention of my commentary track, but geez, you could have said a little more about it in the show than just “there’s a commentary track.” πŸ™‚

    I did find the review segment fascinating. Was Cagliostro really the first use of the word “lolicon” in anime, or were you just exaggerating? If so, I might just have to find some way to crowbar that into my next revision of the track. (It’s getting really hard, I’ve stuffed so much stuff in there already. πŸ™‚

    It’s a source of disappointment to me that there aren’t any other fan-made commentary tracks for anime films that I know of (apart from my own more recent commentary track for an episode of Robotech). I know there are anime fans out there who know huge heaping amounts of stuff about their favorite movies. (Carl Horn, for instance.) And Disney hasn’t put a commentary track on any of the Miyazaki films. It would be a great opportunity for anime fans to spread the word.

    Oh well. Maybe someday.

  19. kolibri –

    Yeah, sometimes the artists themselves do somewhat strange looking art. Though now the next time I look at those I’ll have to go through and compare the cover art w/ the interior more closely.

    I actually haven’t read Yellow at all yet. But I’ll keep it in mind as something to check out and maybe review.

    Carl –

    Man, I haven’t so much as touched a sketch pad in some time, and before that there’s no way I was up to the task of putting out a doujinshi. But perhaps someday…

    Now that I know we have listeners in Japan, I keep hoping that we’ll start finding AWO doujins. I can only hope that they’re ridiculous enough to live up to our retardedness.

  20. Speaking on Tezuka, make sure to pick up Ode to Kirohito. I’m about 3/4 through and I’ve spent the week trying to digest it. So far, I was a bit more moved by Adolf, but I’m absolutely floured by the craft in Kirohito. I get the impression that Tezuka himself, like many of the characters is trying to find a metaphor to reconcile the tragedies of the world. His art is amazing. The seamless fluidity in design is brilliantly unique. There is a scene where a doctor travels to a remote village. The plane flight is photorealistic, the doctor arrives and a bit harsher than Tezuka’s typical cartooning. He meets a village elder, and the elder is depicted in cubist fashion.

    What do people think of the individual manga Phoenix works? I’ve been working my way through the Viz releases. I recently finished book one of the split release of Civil War. Since I’m not done, I’m not completely sure what to think of it, but it almost seems like a meditation/act of political cartooning.

    The last one I finished was Nostalgia. The sci-fi chapters have seemed a bit more radically experimental to me. Nostalgia was like the bible meets classic ‘Trek, and I thought it was convoluted by design.

  21. Clarissa, a dojin of the hijinks of AWO would rule. Naturally, it would be compared to Genshiken, but there would be something very very different about it.

    Like Daryl thinking he looks JUST LIKE Duke Togo when he’s about to pop a clown pistol on someone, and then FACEFAULT the sad, yet humor filled reality.

    Break out the drawin’ stuff, lady. There’s amusement in the air!

  22. Planetes gets a big thumbs up from me as well. Some of the best near-future hard sci-fi I have seen (anime or not).

    12 Kingdoms: Yeah! I love that series! I heard that there is a novel series being brought out stateside; does anyone know if these are the original novels that inspired the series, or a novelization based on the series?

  23. I too need to chime in with my assertion that Planetes is the cat’s pajamas.

    Gerald, I know you said you only watched ten episodes, and some people find the series a little slow, but you owe it to yourself to finish it. I think it’s a fair comparison to put Planetes right up there with Patlabor in terms of characterization and direction quality. And as Daryl mentioned, it had a truly excellent conclusion, which is a rarity in anime these days, it seems.

  24. If Tanabe met her death at the 11th episode I might give it another chance, but short of that, it would be hard for me to deal with that annoying, pushy, whiny and self righteous brat. When I watched the show, the first thing that came to mind was Patlabor, but with far less interesting characters.

  25. the director, Katsushi Sakurabi also did a show called Rescue Wings. I know I’ve heard this name before, but I must ask; is it any good?

    I had hopes that Rescue Wings would be Chopper Dave: The Series what with its focus on helicopter piloting, but unfortunately, nobody bothered to subtitle it with any priority. Froth-Bite–who also fansubbed Phoenix and Black Jack, also at very low priority due to utter lack of anyone caring–has put out about one episode of it a month. So far they’re at episode 8. I haven’t watched any.

    It’s a source of disappointment to me that there aren’t any other fan-made commentary tracks for anime films that I know of

    For the most part, fan-produced commentary tracks all seem to follow Mike Nelson’s MST3K/RiffTrax lead of just making fun of the movies. It’s understandable, since it’s not like you need to be an expert in the film to do that. A pity, since I was really hoping for tons of interesting trivia and anecdotes about Commando. The “Cagliostro was the first anime where they said the word lolicon” bit might not be true, but it is the earliest instance I can recall. The second earliest being an early episode of Urusei Yatsura where one of the pre-Onsen Mark teachers has a crush on Lum.

    If Tanabe met her death at the 11th episode I might give it another chance, but short of that, it would be hard for me to deal with that annoying, pushy, whiny and self righteous brat.

    Considering that you were already able to deal with 48 episodes, 8 OAVs, and two movies of Kimagure Orange Road featuring the two most filthy diseased cunts in all of anime ever, Madoka and Hikaru (to say nothing of C-Ko from the Project A-Ko movies), Tanabe shouldn’t register as even a blip on the “annoying anime girl” radar.

    As I think about it, watching through KOR just might have been the event which made that something inside me die what made me human. The soul, as it were. Once upon a time, I hated Fist of the North Star and felt sad and depressed over the poor US Senator from Jojo’s Bizare Adventure that was forced to be Dio’s chauffeur. Now here I am, dubbing in the Benny Hill theme song to that part in Saving Private Ryan where the guy gets knifed really slowly. Thanks a lot, Izumi Matsumoto. Your cerebrospinal fluid paralysis was your karmic punishment for irreparably setting me on the path of misogyny and damning my soul to Hell in the overall sense. As Geena Davis would say, “die screaming, motherfucker.”

  26. Trust me, the transformation Tanabe undergoes in the process of getting some reality slapped into her is well worth it. Don’t let her turn you off. Besides, the later episodes focus mostly on Hachimaki anyway.

    The fact that the characters actually grow and change, and even unlikeable characters (like Lavi) actually end up doing interesting things, is one of Planetes greatest strengths, IMO.

    Oh yeah, I just finished the KOR TV series recently. I still haven’t watched the last set of OAVs and the movies, but I’m hoping Hikaru accidentally eats a bullet at some point. Not that Madoka’s much better, really, but I’ve still enjoyed KOR for what it is. And if I need my karmic come-uppance, I just watch the Project A-ko episode that spoofs “I Want to Return to that Day”.

  27. Am I the only person who has trouble coming up with examples of female anime characters that AREN’T annoying in one way or another? I just consider “annoying” a given when it comes to that.

    It would take some serious freakin’ work to come up with a list of 10.

  28. Oh good, Daryl mentioned KOR in regards to annoying female characters, so now I don’t have to.

    Winter, you are most certainly not the only one. I loathe probably 99% of female characters in Japanese media. Which is one of the reasons I can’t watch harem shows or indeed, almost any heterosexual romance stories, and one reason why I like yaoi almost exclusively when it comes to fan works involving romance/smut.

    Ah, Japan. Intent on making everyone not only pedo, but misogynist as well.

  29. Daryl….if enjoy fucking Renge from Air Master who is both horribly annoying and not funny so I guess everyone is guilty.

  30. If you’re planning on picking up a new R2 disc of Cagliostro, now might be your last chance – looks like production on them has been stopped. Hopefully this just means they’re going to make a new version, but who knows. Oh yeah, and for anyone that thought a first-hand Japanese DVD would be cheap because the original material is old? This is Japan, you should know better!

  31. Is there any real reason to pick up the R2 disk? I know some time ago there used to be valid reasons for it, but now it seems we get as good a quality release as the Japanese and often get the same if not more extras. Was there anything on this release that warrented a purchase?

  32. It was the preponderance of annoying female characters with cocks which drove me out of yaoi fandom. I found that everything I loathed in female characters kept showing up in pretty boys instead. I mean, clearly there are exceptions, but there are exceptions in str8 luv stories too. The difficulty of finding stories with strong characterization is multiplied for me in yaoi because you have so many romantics leads who are written as flatchested girls. I haven’t read any of the English yaoi/BL releases except Antique, and I don’t think Antique counts in that category.

    Further comments on annoying female leads: as I’ve gotten older and crankier, I’ve relaxed a lot on this issue. First off, I’m so stunted I read stuff aimed at middle schooler and high schoolers featuring characters who are the same age as the readers. Secondly, I spend a lot of time helping folks in that age range with academic issues. These two factors in my existence dovetailed into a realization that a lot of what I thougth of as bad characterization (in that I didn’t like the characters) was actually pretty accurate depictions of adolescent behavior. Factor in cultural expectations of girls, and you get some pretty bizarre examples of cute.

  33. Elizabeth –

    I can’t deny that. Though personally I’ve found that if I’m selective about what I read, I can still find *way* more tolerable stuff on the yaoi side of things than I can on the het side. Especially in terms of fandom. Let’s face it, at least 90% of everything is crap. But if there are 15 male characters in a given show that I like but I only like/mildly tolerate 1 female character or hate all of them, then at least I can find around 10% of stories about 15 different male characters in whatever combinations. Whereas 10% of things with the 1 female character I can maybe tolerate, or even the rare female character I really like, often ends up equaling only 1 or 2 things, or nothing at all. (Especially if it’s not big in the US and I’m relying solely on Japanese doujinshi for my fandom fix. But I’ll stop before I rant too much about how terrible Japanese doujin fandom is in regards to the female characters I like.)

    But I do spend a good bit of time ignoring large stretches of yaoi fandom and beating my head against the wall when yet another perfectly reasonable character gets turned into a weepy mess so that he can be uke. Ugh.

    It sucks too in original BL and yaoi. Hey, writers, it’s an opportunity to write a relationship between people who don’t have to deal with the same gender barriers or social script; to have new conflicts and issues that you can add around the characters themselves. But nah, let’s just recreate the same annoying default het relationship but give the girl a penis. Gah.

    Thankfully as BL has gone on, I’ve begun seeing more range and diversity in it. More reversibles (though still not enough IMO), more age range, more emotional switch ups like aggressive ukes and passive semes. Also some of the most popular artists, like the former Biblos big three, don’t do the super girly guys. A lot of BL works are very short stories, meaning that there’s a lot of repetitive but easily accessible fluff like the cliche “girl but with a penis” characters/stories. But overall the earlier BL audience is aging and creating a somewhat more jaded/demanding market for different stories, so it’s getting better.

    (I’d like to see more josei manga over here as opposed to just shoujo, since I would hope that the older audience might be a bit more selective and we might get some het relationships that aren’t so boring and sexist. But it doesn’t seem like it’s happening.)

    I do admit that I often end up being harsher on female characters or het relationships in terms of being annoying or having bad characterisation because of the gender issues. When so many female characters are retarded helpless spazzes because hey, that’s what girls are like, or God help me because that’s what makes a girl cute (moe, I’m looking at you) I have far less of a tolerance for putting up with that characterization. I feel like it’s unfair of me and I’m trying to ease up on it a bit (yes, remember kids, misogyny is bad) but it’s hard when there’s still so little range.

    I guess it doesn’t help that I read/watch a lot of shonen, which is written for 8-12 year old boys who mostly think girls are still pretty lame and icky. Oh god the useless retarded fanservice characters.

    I…think I’ve lost whatever the hell I was saying somewhere in here. Er. Well, hopefully it’s still semi-intelligible. What little brain power I have right now is going towards programming.

  34. Some clarifications, I shouldn’t have said I left yaoi fandom, but rather that I’ve stopped reading most yaoi.

    One of the things I find very, very interesting in a lot of shoujo stuff is the Japanese approach to the “average girl”. In shounen stuff, the average boy has some sort of special ability or else an interest that he hones to mastery through hard work and unwise training methods. (One of my favorite bits from Even a Monkey Can Write Manga was in fact the commentary on the dangers of emulating manga sports and martial arts training methods.) The hero is normal in terms of grades and either rebels against stupid teachers or gets along with cool teachers. Average boys still have something that makes them stand out. Average girls on the other hand are much more like a true mathematical average. While average boys stand out for abilities, average girls don’t really stand out, or else they stand out for embarrassing qualities like clumsiness or poor cooking or difficulty with math. In an American children’s book, average kids are nevertheless portrayed as individuals. Residing in the fat part of the bell curve might limit their chances at an Ivy League education, but they can still find a way to stand out. This is also true for average boys in Japanese works. Average girls get rewarded by remaining average and getting noticed by the world. The road to happiness lies not in action or dynamism, but in simply being. So I guess we all hate this. Hell, from the sound of all those Japanese women refusing to marry and have kids, they hate it too.

    At the same time, I find it odd (common and entirely understable, but odd) that we express our dissatisfaction as hatred of characters rather than hatred of creators or aspects of creators’ works. Anyway, I guess it must be obvious that I started writing this, read the response and then finished writing it. Ah well.

    I think we would all do well to read the essays on boxing in David Remnick’s new collection of reporting. Boxing has spawned some really fantastic and insightful writing, and Remnick is a fine specimen of a distinguished breed.

    Also, Slam Dunk is a really excellent comic. I’ve watched only a little of the anime, but trusted authorities assure me that it’s one of the most effective manga to anime transitions in television history.

    Additionally, I dislike both Hikaru and Madoka intensely, but the spineless protagonist whose name I can’t remember is the one I really can’t stand. Of course, I’m talking about these characters as if they’re people, rather than aspects of a creation I dislike. With regards to Orange Road, I felt like the main character’s cowardice kept getting spun into virtue. You could write a story about a guy who can’t decide which girls he likes or can’t figure out how to tell a girl he doesn’t like her that way, but I want clear indications that these are failing in his character. They’re failing that are the reader can sympathize with, yes. In the end, that sort of behavior is more about protecting yourself than protecting others. When an author treats that sort of indecision as a mark of sensitivity, I want to stab.

    In closing, I’ve resolved only to read by female for female works about wealthy, troubled, hott young men who adopt prepubescent girls, only to find themselves compellingly attracted to them. And then, they can’t control themselves.

  35. I just got done watching the first episode of the new Super Robot Wars anime. I was not sure if the story was going to be different from the gameboy version but now my question has been answered. Yes. It follows the same storyline as the gameboy advanced version did. I have to say that I really liked the story for that as well as the characters. If you are familiar with the game there are 2 storylines, Ryusei’s and Kyosuke’s. So far the anime is from Ryusei’s story. But I couldent give a damn about Ryusei, I just want to see Kyosuke and his team kick the ass of the invaders/army. Its not that Ryusei’s story is bad, but I just like the mechs and characters better for Kyosuke’s story. Im also glad that its following the GBA storyine because it is nice to see the characters animated, along the mechs. No more SD mechs for me (well, until SRT:2 comes out). EVERYONE needs to see this because Super Robot Wars is a really really good game, and so far a good adaptation.

  36. Great comments from Elizabeth and Clarissa.

    If you ever get a chance to go and listen to Dr. Antonia Levi’s panels on yaoi and shounen/shoujo you should do it, she has some extremely interesting analysis on these subjects (I heard her panels in Anime Evolution in Vancouver). She talks a lot about “female masks” – female characters who’s only role in the story is to act as someone girls can identify with. Only many women hate these kind of characters (often without being able to explain why). Next time you hate a female character just ask youself a simple question: “does this character have a role and consequence in this story” – if not, it’s a female mask and you’re right to hate them. Not to say that there aren’t other reasons for hating crappy characters, but you’d be surprised how rarely you hate the “real” ones.

    The thing is (and I’m generalizing and being incredibly sexist here) – whereas most men find it difficult to identify with female characters, most women have no problems doing that with male characters. I read and watch lot of shounen stuff too – because characters and stories and interesting, and I almost never identify with girls in the stories.

    Let’s take something archetypically shounen like Naruto for example – it’s a fantastic story about friendship, love and loyalty, and it has nothing to do with girls whatsoever – in fact the first real female character doesn’t appear until 80 episodes in or so (that would be Tsunade) and even later these real female characters are more exceptions than the rule (although I think Sakura is becoming a real character in part II). But it hasn’t stopped the series being extremely popular with girls too – and lets face it, it ain’t the identifiable female characters they watch it for. I mean, the most cosplayed character from Naruto with the girls must be Sasuke (and not Sakura). Girls like it because it deals with emotions they can relate to: loneliness, being accepted, friendship.

    Anyway, BL. It’s all guys, but not really. I mean as much as we’d like to think so, guys (and gays) don’t really behave this way – this is literature by women for women and because the creators know their audience so well they can create stories and characters that really resonate with us. When you see a BL character that really annoys you and you think “chick with a dick” maybe you’re again looking at a version of a “femal mask” character, where the author has tried too much to draw out characteristics that women should find appealing and identifiable (but don’t). Personally I hate whiny bitches, no matter the gender.

    Hopefully that made sense. I love having this type of discussion at AWO comments πŸ™‚

  37. It’s terribly late to be commenting, but in regard to the Twelve Kingdoms question, the novels are the original source. In fact, a lack of later novel material to finish out the originally-planned 68 episodes was one of the reasons given by the studio for cutting the anime short. Still, they do flesh out the Taiki storyline beyond the anime, and one can hope that someday the author will write more. If Morioka Hiroyuki can promise at least a dozen Banner of the Stars novels, why can’t we beg the same of Fuyumi Ono?!

  38. Since my main-gah for the second (uncompleted) issue of UNDER THE INFLUENCE is called “Hikaru Hiyama’s Jungle Book,” it’s obvious that I have, er, sympathy for her. Hikaru is the only one of the three who knows from the beginning what she wants, and, it seems, she gets punished for it by the show. We are told, according to the KOR novel, that she went on to become an actor in New York (it was this episode that inspired the doujinshi story, as I immediately pictured her at a Sonic Youth show in 1994) and I like to think she ended up with the more interesting life. No–I’m certain that she did.


  39. 16 female characters I do not find annoying at all

    Emeraldas (Queen Emeraldas)
    Maetel (Galaxy Express 999)
    Ed (Cowboy Bebop)
    Yomiko Readman (Read Or Die)
    Guu (Hare + Guu)
    Jane Flower (Space Adventure Cobra)
    Fujiko Mine (Lupin III)
    Gin Rei (Giant Robo)
    Sen (Spirited Away)
    Belldandy (Ah My Goddess)
    Haman Khan (Zeta Gundam)
    Maj. Kusinagi (Ghost In The Shell SAC)
    Yawara – Fashionable Judo Girl
    Jigoku Shoujo – Hell Girl
    Lady Oscar – Rose of Versailles

    Feel free to disagree if you wish.

  40. With few exceptions I agree with Daruis’ list, although, personally I’d add Misa Hayase and Remi Shimada to it as ladies whom I can deal with. The near perfect combination of feminity and capability.

  41. I’ve had this argument before.

    Ed and Major Motoko Kusanagi have no gender. Emeraldas is Harlock with boobs. Belldandy is almost single-handedly responsible for the poisonous “helpless, super-powered girlfriend who is defined purely in terms of her relationship with a spineless male” stereotype.

    The problem as I see it is literature is innately sexist. Male characters are defined in terms of their strengths, but female characters are defined in terms of their weaknesses. Whereas a male character may be strong in face of adversity, despite the problems aligned against him, a female character becomes strong becauseof adversity, as a result of the process of victimization and recovery. Look at characters like Jane Eyre and Scarlett O’Hara, or possibly even Lady Snowblood as an extreme example, and you’ll see what I mean.

    And as much as I find Hikaru’s shrill antics annoying, I have to agree at least in part with Carl. She knows what she wants; she pursues it aggressively. Unlike most anime females, she has a sexual identity and is not afraid to pursue it. None of that mincing, shrinking, “iie, yada, ecchi” bull-shit. That at least makes her more believable than some of the stuff you see in anime.

  42. Any love story is as much about the idea of love, as it is about love itself (I’m not sure how different the two are in everyday life, either). I’m not as hard on the kids of KOR (and the show began the fall I myself graduated high school) for the same obvious reason I try to show sympathy towards characters like Shinji and Asuka–because they’re very young, and they’re very desperate. How many of us would like our lives to receive their final judgment when we’re a teenager? Put down your pencils, turn in your papers, that’s it?


  43. I haven’t reread KOR since I drank the non character hating Kool-Aid, so my feelings for all the characters remain frozen in spite. Still, I could see a certain subversive pleasure in cheering Hikaru on. She grated on me mostly ’cause she was so much everything I trained myself to despise as a nerd female. I was in my early twenties and near enough to the characters that I didn’t think of them as the kids they are (or were). My lens at the time was definitely one of character identification. My dignity in male/female interactions was far too important to me (and too fragile) to allow sympathy with a girl who never even thought about dignity. I’m probably not going to take another look at KOR, but here’s to having the guts to throw dignity to the wind.

  44. Darius Washington said…
    Haman Khan (Zeta Gundam)

    Ohhhh man. I hated her, I found her annoying but not as annoying as the rest of the female cast (plus Katz). Maybe it was because of the voice acting (I watched it in English because I am wierd like that.). Oh well.

  45. Kolibri

    To the degree that Sakura is a real character now, she was a real character at the start of Naruto. A 12 year-old girl who develops a crush on an outstanding loner, engages a rivalry with her former (or not so former) best friend, and wants to keep weird guys and uncool people at arms length seems pretty real to me. Sure, she isn’t Rock Lee or Gai, but, jesus, she’s easily the best of the three main characters. Is she irritating and not a particularly good person? Oh yes, and so are many girls in early adolescence. It’s very easy to regard good characters as those we find admirable or likeable, but the world is full of people I don’t care for who are nevertheless real.

    I agree that Naruto’s characterization isn’t always golden, and its best characters are fun rather than deep, but Sakura’s story is a breath of fresh air from all the get revenge, prove myself, notice my freaky eyes and issues wanking of much of the cast. Again, she’s annoying because clues come slowly to her, but that too is realistic. Growth and learning take a while. Frankly, I’m just glad she’s not Hinata. Ick.

    Anyways, in terms of the female mask stuff, there was a pretty lively discussion of this in the romance novel community in the late 80s. The general consensus was that there are two kinds of love stories, one between two characters, the other between the reader and the hero. The former has the opportunity to grow into more than an escapist fantasy, while the latter allows for more effective escapist fantasies. One’s preferences in reading experiences shape which type of story works better.

    I do agree that most BL stuff is pretty far from reality. For the most part, the audience wants sparkly fantasy material whether the fantasy is dirty or pure. In my imaginary doujinshi, Kakyouin is currently freaking out about whether Joutarou will like the lunch he’s made. If I could draw, I would draw that story. Most as revenge.

    Anyway, I started typing this response, left for work, and I’m back now. I would have responded to Carl’s post first because it’s important to put men first (I’m assuming you’re a woman), but fate dealt out computer access that made that result inevitable

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