Anime World Order Show # 191 – As Fast Karate Said 15 Years Ago…YOU CAN’T DO THAT

In what Gerald describes as possibly the greatest episode of AWO ever recorded, we review the 2018 Netflix anime adaptation of Baki. We thought we’d have the Gundam NT episode out before this, but we’re doing that…SOON.

Introduction (0:00 – 38:19)
It’s been a pretty momentous two months as far as anime/manga goings-on, so everyone talks about what they’ve been watching/reading lately. Or have not been watching/reading, as the case may be. We make no guarantees about future episodes being devoted to talking about Time Bokan or Locke the Superman, since depending on how much you want to look at they’re both longer-running than we’ve been alive. We also talk a bit about the trouble with preserving digital media, particularly from the late 1990s through mid 2000s, especially in an era where streaming or otherwise non-downloadable (legally) platforms are the norm.

Promo: Right Stuf Anime (38:19 – 41:45)
While many classic anime fans are abuzz over the recent myriad of Discotek Media licensing announcements which you can preorder at Right Stuf, we figured we’d give the spotlight to some other classics. The aforementioned Locke the Superman Blu-Ray is up for preorder, and based on recent precedent we suspect that may go out of print rather suddenly so you may want to take advantage of the 25% off preorder discount (that stacks with Got Anime? memberships). There’s also the much pricier Irresponsible Captain Tylor Ultra Edition Blu-Ray set with artbook, which clocks in at $200 (or $350 for the autographed edition). The more preorders of that they receive, the more extras they can afford to produce for it.

Review: Baki (41:45 – 2:00:23)
Remember the end of Kingdom of Heaven, where Saladin is walking away and Balian de Ibelin asks of him “hey, what exactly happens in Baki?” upon which Saladin turns around and says “Nothing”? And then he continues to walk away, before stopping, turning around once again, and appending to his response “Everything”? Maybe that was in the secret Final Cut. You know how those Ridley Scott movies go. In any case, we’re talking about Baki here as we pretend like people somehow don’t know what it is. Join us as we speculate on whether in the future, the American fujoshi sector of anime fandom will go wild for Baki bods.

Note: Clarissa was in fact correct. Yujiro Hanma does in fact have the back muscles that form a demon’s face. It’s Baki who has the MRI done that reveals HIS brain is the one with the demon face:

6 Replies to “Anime World Order Show # 191 – As Fast Karate Said 15 Years Ago…YOU CAN’T DO THAT”

  1. As far as Content ID stuff goes – as someone with a YouTube channel, I’m starting to see anime studios be a little better about ContentID – in the sense that instead of taking down videos they’ll either deny monetization or claim monetization for videos instead. As someone whose channel got demonitized for being too small, this consequently doesn’t impact me much – any money I get is from Patreon or Affiliate Links.

    Now, the *real* fuckers you have to worry about are the European companies (normally based out of Spain or Italy), who will send ContentID take-downs or otherwise region-block videos that contain or even content that they either don’t have the rights to, or have very loosely licensed. [These guys dinged us for the Megazone 23 the Third post we made, and some Belladonna of Sadness bits years before any licensing or restoration effort was done for that among the arthouse circuit. –Daryl]

    Anyway, I was never really able to get into Baki, particularly because of how the muscles in the work are drawn – it hit an uncanny valley level of grotesque to me. When the muscles on a guy’s back are (to use the example in the Show Notes) deliberately and carefully drawn to look like a demon’s face, we’ve entered the point where the work has entered the realm of David Cronenberg Film/John Carpenter’s The Thing-esque Body Horror, and I can only handle that for a limited chunk before I nope right out, no matter how good/batshit the actual *writing* is.

  2. Digital archiving is easy, just use flash drives. They have plenty of space and can last decades without being used, since they have no moving parts. [It’s definitely got benefits, but solid state storage currently costs 8-12 times that of hard drive storage, and the electrical charge can degrade over time unless you periodically do a full rewrite of the data (yes, the drive itself can last for decades without being used, but not the data stored on it). This makes it inconvenient for long-term digital archiving on a large scale, since some archived records may not need to be pulled for decades. –Daryl]

  3. Guess it’s feedback time!

    In this episode someone mentioned some “weird anime”, and that reminded me of I’m Gonna Be an Angel!, an anime that time forgot (probably because only half of it got a DVD release here). You CAN find a decent quality english softsub, and a 720 upscaled DVD rip but in Japanese only. IN OTHER WORDS I CAN SEE WHY ALMOST NO ONE SEEN IT. Anyway, I am bringing it up because the anime, despite having a very “weird” premise and “weird” things happen in it, underneath all of it there is a real story, and real characters. In other words, something I approve of. This world should have less LOLRANDOM shows, and more shows that actually have a story to tell and operate on sound internal logic. Somewhat unrelated, but the soundtrack is AMAZING.

    Regarding digital archiving, there is actually a simple solution. Have something like an M-Disk, something that is guaranteed to last at least a few decades, and periodically copy the data from one disk to another. After all, there is no such thing as a permanent medium, but there IS such a thing as a long-lasting one. And with enough time passing, as it always happens, some works will run out of people who care for them, so they will be forgotten, lost to the Sands of Time™. And that is totally fine. Especially considering it gives new freedom for the people of the future to reinvent everything all over again. Lord of The Rings has already been written 70,000 years ago, you cannot prove me wrong! I always try to get music on CD (not CD-R), because I know those will last a while, and I always use them as backups. And I get my shows on Blu-Rays and DVDs. Partially for safekeeping, partially because I don’t want to stuff my hard drive with hundreds of extra gigabytes.

    Might as well mention what I been watching. Recently I seen none other than B The Beginning on Netflix, twice, because I liked it AND because I was very confused by the salad of supernatural and crime drama plot threads that were supposed to all connect, but on the first viewing I got only about half of it. I also got the soundtrack from Japan (damn them and their bonus tracks!), Yoshihiro Ike done some great work here. I actually learned of the anime only because The YouTube Algorithm™ recommended me the soundtrack.

    I also spent 90 US dollars on the last volume of Bandit King Jing. My fourth most expensive media purchase. I am both happy with my purchase, and sad no one rescued the manga. It is one of those cases where the anime is just worse, with the protagonist being a nearly perfect Gary Stu.

    P.S. I guess if I ever get the desire to see a director’s cut of something, I will not hesitate to mention it on Twitter. That way, there is a high probability my senpai will call me toxic on his podcast. Then I could die on peace.

  4. Thank you all very much for another wonderful episode. I think AWO means even more this year, when we don’t have the opportunity to sit in on your panels. However, I have confidence that John Kyosuke Hiba will come out of retirement once more to secure the vaccine for COVID-19, and hopefully next year, with the help of a few strategically inserted survival knives, we’ll all be able to assemble in person as before. If not, Plan B is that American anime fandom will have to be rebuilt once more from its 1970s origins, as only the full-body protection of a fursuit will be safe.

    Daryl’s and Gerald’s conclusion that what Grappler Baki demonstrates is an incredible ability by Keisuke Itagaki to command the possibilities of manga to his purpose is very well taken. Baki, as you know, makes the list of top-25 selling manga of all time. If you’re going to call yourself a “manga fan,” I don’t think that means you necessarily have to like Grappler Baki, but I do think any manga fan should keep in mind the fact that it has sold better than 99.9% of all the manga series ever created.

    It’s understandable if Baki isn’t to everyone’s taste; it’s not to every Japanese person’s taste either. I always have to try and check myself when saying, “Japan” this, “the Japanese” that—when, even in an era of demographic decline, Japan still has the 11th largest population in the world. In other words, when your domestic market alone has 126 million people, you can have a very successful series even if only a small percentage of them are into it (and of course, you can have the more modest successes found in the otaku demographics, which rely on even smaller percentages). While many of the best-selling manga in Japan have also been successful in their English-language releases (although not *as* successful—a title that sells by the millions here may have sold by the tens of millions in Japan), it would be interesting to do a panel around those manga that are among the all-time sales giants in Japan, yet have had sparse releases in the English-language market, such as Golgo 13, KochiKame, Oishinbo, Hajime no Ippo…or Grappler Baki.

    The diversity of tastes and demographics found within Japan means, perhaps ironically, that a manga can be “too Japanese” in diverse ways. “Galapagos Syndrome” is a phrase, and a vivid one, sometimes used to critique the perceived limitations of Japan in the global market. But when you interrogate (I use the term in hopes of getting tenure) the concept more closely, Japan is neither a small group of islands, nor isolated from the economic and political currents of the world. Is Japan even weird? In comparison to what other, normal country, that should serve as our standard of measure? Not to throw around big numbers again, but whatever the Japanese way of human life is, it happens that more human beings are living it each day, than are the populace of those 95% of the world’s nations that have fewer people than Japan.

    You mentioned Locke the Superman, which runs to this day in Shonen Gahosha’s Young King Ours magazine, where its dormmates have included Drifters, Hellsing, Excel Saga, and Trigun. Young King Ours, by the way, is a spinoff of the more mainstream seinen magazine Young King, whose reader demographic is “people who beat up the readers of Young King Ours.” Manga possesses that Jimbo Jones market that I feel we lack in American comics.

    Regarding Time Bokan and Karate Master, both are referenced in the English edition of Yoshitaka Amano: Beyond the Fantasy–The Illustrated Biography, whose original French version was written by Florent Gorges. Florent’s book was nominated for both an Eisner and a Locus Award, and it’s a wonderful example of how we can benefit from scholarship on Japan done by fans from other national scenes; the fact Japan Expo in Paris is even bigger than Anime Expo is simple testimony to the longstanding strength of the French fan community. I learned a great deal from the biography, which, as the title suggests, is heavily illustrated (it is as much an art and photo book as a biography). It helps to put together some of the missing pieces in understanding the last half-century of Japanese pop culture, particularly the links formed between the literary SF community in Japan and the anime and game industries, as exemplified by Amano, and by Studio Nue (who, as the bio explains, played a critical role in Amano’s career). The biography, by the way, has 10 pages on The Angel’s Egg, a project of which Amano remains intensely proud (the section includes a photo taken in his archives with him showing off the original art he did for the cover of the 1985 novel—the same art was also used for the cover of the 2013 Japanese Blu-ray).

    You discussed the prospects for an upgraded release of the Speed Racer live-action film; being originally a Tatsunoko work (in fact, it was Amano’s first training assignment), it’s also discussed in the biography. Amano gives moving praise to the film, saying: “Speed Racer would be adapted in Hollywood by two children from the generation raised on Tatsunoko’s work: the Wachowskis,” remarking that the filmmakers had given his late mentor, Speed Racer creator and Tatsunoko co-founder Tatsuo Yoshida, “a beautiful posthumous award.” Amano remarks that the global success of the Speed Racer anime showed that Tatsunoko’s international ambitions were fulfilled from the beginning. You meet a lot of Latin American fans at Anime Expo (many from Mexico, of course, but some coming from as far as Chile), and when Amano-sensei was signing I saw some who’d brought items from shows Amano worked on that were broadcast in Spanish—not only La máquina del tiempo (Time Bokan) but Tekkaman: El caballero galáctico, Pinocho, La ranita Demetán, and La abejita Hutch.

    All seven of the 1970s and 80s Time Bokan TV series had character designs by Yoshitaka Amano; although his international fame came later, Amano spent the first 15 years of his career at Tatsunoko. The biography asserts that Amano was, in fact, the first professional character designer in the anime industry; prior to Tatsuo Yoshida assigning him this task around 1969-70, anime character design had been handled by various people working on a series—directors, key animators, etc. Since Tatsunoko’s specialty was original series (i.e., as opposed to manga adaptations), this created a particular need for a dedicated idea person. The bonus was that in Amano, they had an artist who was literally still a teenager (and thus closer in age to the target audience—about those scorpions: HEEEA-vvyy!) yet could do professional work at a high level. Amano notes that at one point he was having to do the character designs for Gatchaman, Casshan, and Time Bokan simultaneously—which meant not only the main characters, but, for every episode, each supporting character, background character, antagonist, even the monsters; it was like being a short-order cook, with requests coming in multiple times each week from the scriptwriters.

    Amano, by the way, had received his initial job offer from Tatsunoko based on a visit he made to the studio during winter vacation when he was 14 (never again will I regard light novels as unrealistic), but on that same trip, he and a friend had worked up the courage to cold-call some manga-ka they admired to ask if they could visit their studios, one of whom would later become one of the artists of Karate Master, Joya Kagemaru. Kagemaru, Amano recalls, not only gave them a tour and showed them some original art, but signed their books and even took them to a cafe where they were able to have an extended conversation with him.

    I definitely related to Clarissa’s remark about saving net content on hard copy; probably much, even most of whatever I saved from the internet during the 1990s is in printout form, whether line printer, dot matrix, inkjet, or laser (whatever I could access at the time). I have printouts going as far back, I think, as dickety-nine—we had to say dickety, because Reagan had stolen the word eighty. I seem to recall that at the time, maybe fewer than half of the students in my dorm had personal computers, and those that did would have likely had no connectivity, even dial-up; the phones were out in the hallways, not in the rooms. And of course, even if they had owned modems, that doesn’t necessarily mean they could access the internet with them (a BBS would have been more likely).

    In the year Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket came out, if you were an anime fan, and you wanted internet access—and really, who else would—you may not have done it through a device you personally owned (I say “device,” but that term implies the multiple options in common use today—you would have almost certainly had just a desktop computer), but rather through a college computer lab, to which you physically walked, in order to use one of a number of terminals inside linked to a minicomputer that was a node in the net—in my school’s case, a VAX 6310. At the terminals, you could read and reply to e-mail and newsgroups, but the terminals were “dumb” units meant only for data entry and display, and had no disk drives; if you wanted a copy of whatever you were looking at on the internet, it had to be a hard copy from the lab’s printer—often, a sheaf of wide, green-and-white striped accordion paper with tear-off sprocket strips that issued forth line by line in an endless, rhythmic shriek (didn’t ADV’s mastering firm use such a line printer in their logo…?).

    The internet originated in part as a network between academic institutions, and at the time I first got to access it, it was still largely thought of that way—to the extent that whenever I was away from campus and back in Houston (where my family was then living), I sought out part-time jobs at local colleges and research institutions, and even signed up for summer university classes, with the thought in mind that it would also allow me to have a net account. With the Telnet protocol, I could use those Houston accounts to login to my original school account back in Southern California, and keep up with things. What’s even funnier is that whereas before, I had been walking several blocks from my dorm to a computer lab, now I was making a 45-minute round trip drive from my home to a computer lab for the same purpose.

    Still, it seemed worth it. The idea of having to travel to some location in order to catch up with online news seems absurd now, although I guess seeking out a hotspot is in that spirit. But even if you made that trip once a day, it would still be several times faster than communicating by regular mail, just as the newsgroups were a faster form of networking and info gathering than print fanzines or magazines. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but it’s interesting that being an active anime fan online during the administration of George H.W. Bush (as featured in Cleopatra DC) in no way lessened my interest in getting involved with print zines and magazines; I guess I viewed them as a separate means of activity or expression that also drew me. I think there must be some lasting truth to that, as the far more developed internet fan scene of today hasn’t prevented the parallel success of Otaku USA magazine. On one of my forays to the store recently, it felt good to see the new Otaku USA on the racks, even if I was masked and goggled like the guy from My Bloody Valentine. Harry Warden, not Kevin Shields.

  5. I remember there being a rush of HD anime between 2008 – 2009 as it looked like Blu-Ray would win the HD media wars. What I remember most is Bakemonogatari, which was kind of a big deal for broadcasting in HD (I watched it on a tiny analog TV placed on top of a mini-fridge when I was studying in Japan tho). I think after Japan made the full switch from analog to digital in 2011, this was more or less when HD production become fully standard I think. But yeah, both the switch from analog to digital and from SD to HD was weird because shows like K-ON! were initially broadcast in full screen with the sides chopped off unless you got the satellite channels that played it in widescreen HD. After the anime industry more or less got digital animation right in around 2003/2004, the switch from SD to HD was probably the most recent growing pain.

    I saw ads for Kengan Ashura on TV over here, and was convinced it was Baki. But then when I saw commercials for Baki, I just assumed it was a second season where they found clarity and decided to do it in 2D, as God intended.

    This review seriously convinced me to try and give Baki a chance. But at the same time, I think random clippings of the manga posted to Twitter may be all I need to get my fix. The amount of power in each panel is just too much. Not sure if I could handle full 30-minute, animated chunks of it.

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