One Year Out—Reflections on the Industry

It’s been a year since my last post on antiotaku, and while I still think it was wise to end the blog when I did, I had a sudden desire to offer some reflection on the past year in anime. Perhaps the recent passing of Halloween has implanted some desire to have this blog, zombie-like, rise from the grave. Primarily, I have that urge because, from the standpoint of an anime consumer, things have never been better.

I don’t want to make it sound like the industry as a whole is sound—there are plenty of questions about how anime studios will continue to fund their work and the viability of the world anime market in an era of fansubs. But, if you are someone like me, an American who watches a fair amount of anime in any given season, the last year (really year and half) have been remarkably positive. Here are just some of the reasons why:
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The Road Goes Ever On and On

November 8, 2011 6 comments

Four weeks ago, bear informed me that he would be retiring from anime blogging. With that knowledge, I had to make the decision whether to try to keep antiotaku running on my own, or let it die a graceful death. I had, during the spring season, taken over posting duties completely, but that was during the victory lap portion of my graduate degree work, followed by two months of comparative vacation. Making four posts a week regularly took a greater toll during the summer season, when my new job officially started, and writing five to six posts a week, which keeping this site afloat would require, seemed particularly daunting.

I decided to review every new show this season as a stalling technique, a way to keep content flowing at the production speed I would need to maintain year-round. That, I figured, would not commit me to covering any particular series until I made my decision. It would also provide me with the knowledge of whether I could consistently put in the 12 or so hours each week that it would take to keep five posts coming. Having done that for the month of October, I found my answer.

It is with sincere regret that I announce this will be the final post on antiotaku.
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November 7, 2011 3 comments

I mentioned in my final post on Usagi Drop that one of the strengths of narrative is the ability to give a greater understanding to lives and situations that differ from our own. That, in my humble opinion, is one of the best things about reading fiction, or watching movies, the thing that can elevate it beyond wasting time on mindless entertainment. And one of the best parts about anime and manga’s willingness to tackle unfamiliar ground, to cover strange and obscure concepts no other media will touch, is that they provide windows into experiences we are unlikely to ever have ourselves.
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Summer 2011 Season in Review – Blown Away

November 4, 2011 4 comments

American TV has slowly started experimenting beyond the standard “debut every series in September and see what sticks” model, but it’s still the case that fall is the season where the big ticket items are debuted. Similiarly, the big anime seasons tend to be spring and fall, with the winter and particularly the summer season left to left to flounder with continuing shows and one or two decent new offerings.

That was certainly the case last summer, as noted by our very tepid awards post for summer 2010. It was not the case in winter 2011, with some remarkably solid offerings including Madoka, which is still the most likely candidate for show of the year. It’s also not the case here, with some strong continuing series being equaled or bested by shows that debuted this season. Neither of us were prepared for how remarkably strong, on balance, this season’s offerings were.

It’s unfortunate that the strength of the best series of this season eclipsed some other gems. When the most competitive category is “Best Show We Didn’t Cover,” that’s a good sign that summer 2011 was a great three months for anime. And that remains true even though the second most competitive category was “Most Offensive Series.”

As bear didn’t have a chance to watch most of the summer shows, this post is written entirely by 3HM.
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Usagi Drop Episodes 10 and 11 – An End Has A Start

November 3, 2011 1 comment

As winter comes, there are a lot more sniffles around the office where I work. I’ve had a sore throat the last few days, the lady in the office next to me spent the whole today clearing her throat constantly, and our office manager is once again going around telling the story of when our company was a lot smaller, and everyone in the office was sick or home with a sick child.

There are a lot of single mothers where I work, and they spend much more of their time off caring for sick children or taking them to the doctor than they take off for their own reasons. I’d never thought about it much, other than to roll my eyes at the extra work I’d have to do because one of them was home with a sick kid.

If you had asked me about it, I’d probably have agreed, purely on an intellectual basis, that being a single mother is substantially more difficult than just being single, or having another partner to help take care of children. Thinking about all the time and energy that went into taking care of you, you can kind of map that onto the average amount of free time someone who works a full-time job has on any given day, plus the additional expense of all the stuff kids need and want badly enough to whine about, and realize that working full time and being the sole caretaker of one child, let alone several, is a pretty tough job.
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Gundam AGE Episodes 1, 2, and 3 – The Next Generation

November 1, 2011 2 comments

It’s difficult to just talk about a Gundam series absent any deeper context. As one of the two most venerable mecha franchises in anime history (the other being Macross), there were Gundam episodes coming out before I was even alive. And although Sunrise has been willing to effectively reboot the series on more than one occasion, there are certain tropes that always seem to apply to any show with “Gundam” in the title somewhere.

Gundam AGE is another reboot, with no acknowledged ties between it and any of the predecessor series beyond the bare minimum: the name Gundam for the hero’s “mobile suit,” the usual mecha designs, and the annoying spherical robot named Haru (see above). In fact, there are enough differences, at least in the opening episodes, that I feel an initial review is warranted, even though my pledge to cover every new show this season didn’t extend to kids’ series.
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Maken-Ki! Episodes 1 and 2 – Worst of All Possible Worlds

When I got down to looking over the offerings for this fall season, there were three works in particular that I singled out as pathetic pieces of trash that wouldn’t even be worth one episode to watch through. Those series were C3, Mashiroiro Symphony, and Maken-Ki! As it happens, I was wrong about the first two; neither would qualify as high art, but C3 is far more effective in its drama and Mashiroiro Symphony is far less offensive in content than I was expecting.

By contrast, Maken-ki! was exactly what I was expecting: non-stop, unmitigated perversion. It’s pretty upfront about being as trashy as possible, such that I don’t even know if this review will do justice to how disgusting it is. To do that, I’d need to break my own personal rules about what was acceptable to include as a screen cap.
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