Sunday, June 25, 2006

Ohayo Kangofu and the 'Camel Toe' Dilemma

I do about 100 different things in the course of a day, as it has always fallen to me to be the one who wears all hats in the business. From finance to customer service to marketing to web design to warehouse management, I'm always the end of the line for every decision - and no matter how much I pencil and paper something, when the rubber meets the road I always have to be ready for the unexpected.

[UPDATE: As of Aug 14th, 2006 the remaining text and graphics of this post have been voluntarily removed by me at the request of the Editor of NewType USA. A final edit may be in order, I haven't decided yet.]

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Witch Hunter Robin - Better In Japanese

Jamie and I were rewatching Witch Hunter Robin recently (among other things), and this time we decided to try it in Japanese rather than the dub. I usually prefer to enjoy Anime in English, but that's not a generalization. I tend to get around to watching series that I like in both languages eventually, and it's more accurate to say that I find many dubs to be as enjoyable as the Japanese dialog - though some companies do better dubs than others. For instance, ADV tends to use the same voice actors over and over and over and over and over again (and they tend to employ actors that have a rather narrow acting range at that) so after you've seen several ADV dubs you start to get a little weary of the same voice potrayal showing up time after time after time on different characters. Of course, it's cheaper for them to do it that way, and if anyone has become cheaper than a nickle when producing Anime...but I digress.

Witch Hunter Robin is much better in Japanese than in English. In English, you loose many plot subtleties, like the fact that Robin has trouble sometimes speaking good fluent Japanese. The Japanese voice acting is also much better, so much so that it creates a different atmosphere for the drama.


The creators of WHR obviously set out to make one of the most stylish Anime series ever seen in the 'goth' genre, and certainly achieved their goal (though in my mind nothing will ever out-do Vampire Hunter D). Unfortunately, the story they created is a little lite on real drama, a little too heavy in seriousness, and a little short on substance. Pacing is also a major problem, but this does not mean it cannot be an enjoyable experience. The series is usually categorized as Action/ Horror genre, but I think 'Supernatural Drama' offers a better characterization. The ending, while not a train wreck, was not how I would have wanted to see it wrapped up, and (in classic Anime style) leaves a great deal of loose ends. The eluded too (and hoped for) chemistry between Robin and Amon does not materialize, nor does the ending satisfy many of your 'who, what, where, and why' questions created in the earlier episodes.

Bottom line is that if you have previously only seen the series edited on Adult Swim, it's still worth a look uncut on DVD, but make sure you view it subtitled in the original Japanese dialog if you want to see WHR give you the best it has to offer.

Note: I have not intention of wasting anyone’s time (or my own) blogging out Anime reviews here - there are about a 100 million better writers out there than me (like Flash Gordon) to have at that. If this post resembles one in any way, it's purely a coincidence. :-)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Figure Otaku

Among other things, I'm a figure Otaku, and I don't even mind using that word when describing myself. I always think of 'Otaku' as meaning more or less just 'nerd' when it's applied to me - an Otaku doesn't have to be a 'freeter' - and figure collecting is defiintely 'geek chic' in my book. Someone once said that rule #2 is 'don't get high on your own supply' (I think rule #1 was 'never underestimate the other guys greed...'). Rule #2, is of course, impossible to follow when so many cool figures keep coming in for the store.

The trouble with being an Anime 'anything' collector is that ever present problem of space. Where do you put all those DVD's? Where do you find another shelf for manga? Where am I going to find more wall space to hang that new cel? Where the hell am I going to put all these new figures...

...sooner or later your going to be headed out to buy yet another bookcase, DVD rack, curio cabinet, whatever. Then it's not too long after that you discover you need to move your collection into a larger room. Once that is no longer an option, you'll just need a bigger house...

So, I bet you didn't know that it's Anime collectors that really drive today's real estate market. :-)

We had a new house built in 2003 (a whole separate story - trust me, never have a house built), and one of the things that I made sure I had in the new house was a manly library where I could warehouse my ever growing collection of Anime figures and books. I have several barrister bookcases (you know - the ones that have glass doors that fold up and slide in), and they are laid out with every other shelf being books and manga, and the other 50 percent set aside for figures. I even added halogen under counter lights to the figure shelves so that the displays look impressive.

Before my Mom passed away in 1998, one of her most treasured possessions was a beautiful antique turtlewood desk that used to be in her living room. I inherited that desk, and it now resides in my library, and ends up being the holding coral for the new figures that have come in (see above) - until I find the time to categorize them and set them up the way I want to in my bookcases. I have a rather odd system in setting them up that goes by size, color, series, and of course, the characters importance in the Anime (prominent characters tend to go towards the front, where characters with supporting roles might be further back).

I simply cannot keep the collection from growing, and every time I say this is the last figure something else comes in that I just must have - which is just about everything. Right now I collect both polystone resin and polyvinyl figures (PVC figures have really increased in quality over the past few years), and I probably have maybe 600 figures total - so many in fact that relocating them from our last house became a real problem, and back then I only had maybe half as many. Check this out: I even have a rider on my HO insurance for them (and my cel collection). With about 8-10 new additions a month, I figure I'm good space wise for maybe 2 more years. After that, I suppose this house will have to go on the market too...

...and I'd probably have to hire a crew of people just to come pack them up for the move... -_^