Opinion: Awkward Moments at Baltimore Anime Convention WP Article

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

“The dark side of the new demographics has not gone unnoticed.” This quote pretty much sums up the entire article reflecting the supposed “seedy underbelly” of the Otaku Fandom, suggesting that the Otakon Anime convention is the home front for perversion and pedophilia. This is clearly fear mongering and a ridiculous “public service” announcement to paranoid parents of the 21st century.

This article did look at both sides of the argument, it’s just that the bad points far outweigh the good points (and there weren’t many bad points to begin with). When I read this article, it made me feel like I did something wrong as if I’m part of some perverted cult. Everyone has an opinion, it’s just that this was a heavily misinformed opinion, which an outsider is presenting to the public as “truth”. Contrary to popular belief, anime conventions are simply a place where people with a passion for Japan culture including Anime, video games, etc come together. The article failed to emphasise the many good points, like how it raised over $60 000 dollars for Earthquake/Tsunami relief in Japan and boosting the local economy. It is ridiculous to think that Otakon exists for only old perverts that have nothing else better to do than stare at scantily clad teenage girls.   

It is true that there are girls wearing little clothing, but it has happened well before the establishment of anime conventions, it’s called a beach. These people also known as “cosplayers” go to anime conventions knowing that they will be photographed and stared at for this reason, to display their passion and work that they put into making the costume to the public. Just because someone asks you for their photo, it doesn’t make them a creep. When someone runs up to you shouting “Oh my God, its Madoka!”  it usually means that they are a fan of the character, not necessarily the person itself. I’ll admit, I do some cosplaying myself. I find it fun to take on a different personality and make new friends that hold the same interest, it doesn’t make me a creep plainly intent on getting an overly warm “hug” with a girl.

The writer also happens to mention the Alper case, where a 34-year-old male last month was charged for having sex with a 13-year-old girl he MET at Katsucon, another anime convention. Does that mean that no anime convention is safe for a 13-year-old child? Of course not! According to the media, nowhere is safe nowadays. Kids can’t even walk to school because their parents are too paranoid about the miniscule possibility that their children could possibly be abducted. Wonder why roads are congested during the morning? Look how many of the cars are filled with school kids going to school in the morning, even the school car park. I see a huge amount of cars dropping off students at my High school, and you wonder why obesity is a problem in Australia. At a young age I would walk to school everyday without the fear of being approached by a stranger or enticed into a white van, it’s just that society has become too paranoid and the media feed off this fear. 

“Anime is a broad medium that ranges from the purely innocent to the pornographic. Some of it fetishizes young girls.” Washington Post, are you familiar with Rule 34 of the official rules of the internet? Enough said.

When I started becoming an otaku I had a fear of being stigmatised for having an enthusiasm towards Japan culture, but a wise man said to me that “You shouldn’t worry about what others think about you, just enjoy what you love most!” which has been my guiding light. When I was working on an anime art gallery to raise money for the Red Cross in Japan, I was printing off pieces of artwork from artists from Deviant Art that were kind enough to donate their pieces. Some idiots called me weird and quoted “uh huh you’re into Hentai!” which was clearly not. I just smiled and said to them “you are just a bunch of immature idiots that can’t even distinguish the difference between two kinds of art. I don’t think I’m weird, in fact I think you’re the real weirdos!” and continued my work. What I’m saying is it doesn’t help that society and outsiders don’t understand our passion, making it easier for them to make uninformed opinions and jump to conclusions.

 

I wonder, why does the article sound like it’s suggesting that a female at an anime convention is such a rare and unusual thing? I went to Wai-con earlier this year and female attendee numbers were quite close to the male numbers. According to this article, it sounds like teenage girls are simply there to dress up in suggestive clothing and be stared at all day. Anime conventions aren’t exclusive to the supposed “geeks that live in their parent’s basement”, I know several girls that visit anime conventions despite not being huge anime fans. Is that such a weird thing? Anime conventions were never exclusively for shady male characters in the first place, it’s simply a place were people can enjoy what they love.


“Everywhere you looked, there were older girls dressed as little girls and little girls dressed as littler girls — and grown men taking photos of all of them. Sometimes, the men asked for hugs, too.” I’m sorry, what? Are you suggesting that there are sixteen year old girls cosplaying the characters from Kodomo No Jikan? At the very least all I saw was a twenty year old girl dressed as Yuri from Angle beats and Orihime from Bleach. To be honest it wasn’t really that revealing or suggestive at all. “At the trade bazaar in the bowels of the Convention Center, one could buy all the too-short schoolgirl outfits one would ever need. Also on offer: hentai, or pornographic comics, some of which leaned Lolita.” Its just COSPLAY. There is nothing sexual about it, and if you think otherwise than you need to get your priorities straight (a trade bazaar? It’s the dealers room genius). When going to Wai-con, there was hardly any adult material as with many other conventions I have been to. Even then you had to ask the clerk and they would bring it out from the back or under the table, and this made up about 5% of the total stores that actually sell this sort of stuff. I read one of the comments on the bottom of the post arguing that “Lolita is not something that is purely sexual, it is there to make you feel beautiful and elegant”. So what if these girls like to dress in Lolita fashion? I’m sure they dress up without any sexual intention, neither would the majority of cosplayers that go to conventions.

The article focuses too much on selection of detail, framing male otaku as a “bunch of geeks that watch too much cartoons”. Rather than emphasising the good points that conventions bring such as Otakon, newspapers such as the Washington post focus on the (very few) bad points which ends up sending the wrong message to the general public. I’m not saying that you should agree with me rather, you should form your own opinion. All I am doing is contributing an opinion from an otaku’s point of view, after all otaku are human and have rights too.

If you would like to visit the original Washington post article, here is the link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/awkward-moments-at-baltimore-anime-convention-as-art-form-comes-of-age/2011/07/31/gIQAFYY5rI_story.html

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Categories: Discussion Topics

First Impression: Usagi Drop

August 9, 2011 Leave a comment

The moment I watched Usagi Drop I was shocked, in a good way. I first thought that this was going to be some Moe show with artistic merit but it was more than that. While other shows take a few episodes to bring the viewer into the story, Usagi Drop only took one and this what surprised me.

Daikichi Kawachi receives news of the death of his grandfather, but that’s not all he found out. It is revealed that his grandfather also had a Love-child, the six-year-old Rin and no one is exactly sure who the mother is. After the funeral, the family have a discussion about who will take in Rin. While they all make excuses as to why they can’t take in Rin, someone mentions that Rin should be put in an orphanage. This enrages Daikichi as deep down he knew what his grandfather wanted, a loving parent and not an institution. Despite his hectic schedule at work, he decides that he should take responsibility and take her in.

After watching the first few episodes, I was absorbed in the drama and the blooming relationship that was being formed between Daikichi and Rin. I got the impression that these two characters make a great team, while Daikichi was confused about the direction he should take his life, he took on a huge responsibility of raising a child despite the sacrifices he had to make, and Rin gave his life meaning.

While it is still to early make a thorough judgement about this series, I remain optimistic for Usagi Drop. If you like a good drama with a degree of slice-of-life elements, than look no further than Usagi Drop. I wish this series a bright future and I will look forward to every episode.

Rated: 8/10

Categories: First Impressions

Guide to Figure Collecting in Australia

July 31, 2011 Leave a comment

I would say that this is the best time to buy figures from overseas, mainly due to the strength of the Australian dollar compared to other currencies. I have recently become a small time figure collector (My collection would be bigger but money is an issue for an unemployed,  busy high school student in his last year) and I have learned the hard way that figure collecting is an expensive hobby. For example, at Supanova 2011 I saw the Race Queen Miku Figure and rushed up and asked the dealer how much it was. Halfway through my sentence I looked up and saw the price-tag, and realised it was more than a hundred dollars. I then went to the nearest corner and cried. 

Now because of the almighty Australian dollar, it has never been a more excellent time to buy figures from online dealers (like J-List and Play-Asia) and not just figures, I bought several T-shirts from J-List for an awesome price a few weeks ago, and I have also been considering placing orders online for pre-order figures.


Don’t get me wrong, I still like to go to my local figure dealer and buying them physically. I prefer to have a good look at what I’m buying and get a good fix on the quality and legitimacy of the figure, because in the past though I have been burnt by fake figures. One day while looking at some figures in my local figure dealer I spotted a MikuMiku Kagami Nendoroid figure on the shelf. I checked the price, $25 dollars?! Hell yeah I’m getting it! Impatiently I bought it and took it home to set it up on my shelf, after I opened it I took a closer look at it and something wasn’t right. 

Upon closer analysis of the figure I realised several problems:
-the quality of the painting was dull and messy, not to mention inconsistent.
-the joints were too loose.
-all the attachments could be pulled out too easily.
-Kagami’s hair was all wrong (the area connecting the hair to the head).
-the hands holding the leeks were flimsy.
-the stand holding her up by her legs was one size too large (this pissed me off above all the problems with the figure).

Also the box had hints of inferiority, especially the name of the figure which is spelt as “MikkuMiku Kagami” and the photo poses on the box had a weird contrast compared to the rest of the packaging. After all these flaws in the figure, I concluded that this figure was either a bootleg figure that was either sold to the store as a second-hand product or an inferior production figure (which may explain the low price), I then I face palmed.

Why am I ranting about my stupidity? Because I want you too learn from my mistakes. I can only give some advice that I have learned through my experience collecting figures in Australia, hopefully my advice can give you a good direction if your starting figure collecting within Australia.

Buying from a dealer:
-look for the AAA Anime Distribution sticker or a reputable distributor on the back of the box.
-when buying from a convention, get a dealer to help you and make sure that they have knowledge of their own stock.
-do some research beforehand if you want a particular figure, look online for information and bootleg sighting alerts, a good place to go is MyFigureCollection.net. At least you will be able to compare products and determine its legitimacy.
-if  the price of the figure is too good to be true, it probably is. This has happened to me too many times, remember: figure collecting is an expensive hobby! You have to be willing to pay the price.
-take your time to look at the figure, analyse the figure and especially keep a close eye on the details of the box.   
-keep the receipt! you’ll never know when you need it.

Buying online:
-buy figures from a specialist sites (such as J-list.com and play-asia.com). There are even customer loyalty points you may obtain from each purchase which can be put to your next order.
-it is discouraged to buy from Ebay because you’re more likely to get ripped off or get an inferior product.
-if you are buying from Ebay, then note the country of origin. Try to avoid places such as Indonesia or China because chances are it will be inferior. Ask the seller for close up photos of the figure and ask where they got it from if it isn’t mentioned.
-stick to sites that have some kind of insurance such as a guaranteed refund of the product, because if something goes wrong than at least you have a contingent.
-and finally do some research and check out the forums for advice and bootleg alerts.

Figure collecting in general is a rough road but if you remain patient and alert than it will be a rewarding hobby. I must say that the quality of the figures are excellent and looks great on your shelf and desk, it truly is worth getting at least one decent figure from your favourite anime. Some people are anime fans before figure collectors and some are the contrary, it doesn’t really matter which one you are to appreciate its artistic beauty. Figure collecting has a worthy place among the otaku fandom and the Australian fandom! 

Categories: Discussion Topics

Amagami SS Review

July 17, 2011 1 comment

Recently there have been a lot of Anime spin-offs of dating sims and eroge titles (Bridge to the Starry Skies to name a few) and many tend to be filled with copious amounts of fan service and a harem that only teenagers could dream of, but most of them fall flat because they introduce too many girls at one time, leading to the sacrifice of the plot and tending to leave the love polygon unresolved. Amagami SS is a different beast altogether however, rather than following the generic cookie-cutter harem anime structures that other shows tend to fall for, Amagami SS asks the “What if” question (if it’s the best way to describe it) and goes down numerous paths with different results. In essence, it’s very similar to dating sims as it tends to favour character arcs rather than dumping a bunch of different character types and let the plot sort itself out, which is a refreshing change and leads to stronger romances between characters.

Amagami SS follows the story of Junichi Tachibana, a teenage boy who got his heart broken by a girl who stood him up on Christmas eve, now he is a second year High School student wishing for a fresh start. He is a little hesitant about love and feels uncomfortable celebrating Christmas due to his painful past, however his encounter with one of the six heroines from his school will open his heart to love again.

I really love the fact that they chose to divide the anime into separate character arcs, because this allowed the focus of development between the couple which blooms into a deeper relationship, rather than having a half-assed relationship that lasts about five minutes before moving onto the next character type. Because of the larger focus on character development between the two, I can actually relate to the characters, and not necessarily feel rushed to understand the relationship (it also helps that the whole season is 26 episodes, rather than cramming it into the usual 12-13 episode season), not mention that the pacing between each character arc wasn’t too fast or too slow, it found a comfortable balance so I felt satisfied after each episode.

I really hate to label some negative points to such an excellent series, even if they are fairly minor. The character types are a bit stereotypical and this may be a bit of a turn-off for some viewers. We have the senpai (Haruka Morishima) the tomboy-ish childhood friend (Kaoru Tanamachi) the quite one (Sae Nakata) the sporty one (Ai Nanasaki) the airhead (Rihoko Sakurai) and the responsible class representative (Tsukasu Ayatsuji). Have you seen any of these character tropes before? I am just about positive that you have. But I believe that this is easily forgiven with the deeper relationships and the interesting character developments these characters produce.

That awkward moment when you realise she is a stereotype

At times I felt that the plot structure in each arc was a tad bit predictable (encounter-conflict-resolution) but it didn’t bother me so much and I dismissed this idea, it just seemed to be a bit of  issue according to some of my friends that have also seen this series (and they are entitled to their opinion). Those that want a strong sense of variety in their anime however should be cautious about watching this, but for most of us this isn’t a major problem that wouldn’t compromise the series. 

Now in relation to dating sims in Australia (for the record, Amagami SS is classified as a dating sim-NOT an eroge!) it seems like the underdog of the gaming industry. Most people associate dating sims with perversion and heavily sexual denotations, which may be the case for western dating sims, however dating sims from Japan are not the case. It focuses more on the relationship aspect rather than the sexual one (any sexual interactions are considered a bonus above all else really). It really is hard to find a pure and meaningful dating sim here in Perth especially, you have to look very carefully to find one and if not, finding it online is the better bet. The culture here just seems to shun this genre and favour mainstream gaming (forgive if I sound like a hipster!), and a good dating sim that tests your comprehension and social skills seems more like a  good change of pace.

I highly recommend Amagami SS as you can just sit back and watch this at your own pace, the relationships and character developments are easy to understand, yet so important and meaningful. There are some funny and charming moments and the final bonus episode caps off the series excellently with a hilarious (and somewhat scary) premise, it really is a great anime series for what it is and breaks from typical dating sim/eroge based anime.

Overall Summary

Positives:
Separate character arcs to strengthen the plot
-Great character and relationship developments
-likeable characters
-Good pacing
-Bonus episode!

Negatives:
-Stereotypical character tropes
-Plot structure a tad bit predictable

Rated: 9/10

Categories: Anime Reviews

First Impression: Nichijou (My Ordinary Life)

July 14, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ll be honest. At first I thought this was just going to be another generic slice-of-life comedy with the typical set-up and punchline that you would find off a show such as Lucky Star and A-channel, hence the title “My Ordinary Life”.

But I was clearly mistaken, this show is the polar opposite of being ordinary, I found myself laughing out loud constantly while thinking “What the hell is going on?!” at the crazy humour this show possesses.

Nichijou follows mainly the three female High School students and their seemingly normal school, however they get involved in some crazy antics (the principle wrestling with a deer? Chaos ensues!) and we also see the daily life of a wind-up robotic girl named Nano, created by the eight year old scientist known as Hakase, there are also some wild side characters and segments to keep the show fresh and original while still keeping true to the “4 koma” style sketches that are evident in slice-of-life comedies (I use slice-of-life very loosely for this show) 

After the credits rolled at the end of the first episode, I was left wanting more. As soon as the episode was available I pushed aside my backlog and immediately watched this anime before I watched anything else, I was hooked to it mainly because of its fresh humour and how it broke away from the typical tropes and characters in current slice-of-life comedies.

Moar Nichijou desu!!

Although I have to say that this is one of my favourite shows in a long time, it has some minor shortfalls and flaws.
One problem is that some of the jokes require pre-existing knowledge of Japanese culture and because of this, some of the jokes fell flat due to the cultural differences which left me clueless, also the Japanese word play and puns left me lost in translation trying to figure out what was funny. Also some of the jokes dragged on a little too long, although it did work at times it was best to just move on as some of the jokes started to get a bit stale, and made me want to fast forward to the next segment.  

Despite these shortfalls I would still strongly recommend this show, although it requires a bit of knowledge about Japanese culture the anime makes up for it through crazy jokes and fresh character tropes, as well as the overall art-style which reflects the simplistic insanity of this show. In the end it was a hilarious anime that fails to disappoint and I look forward to the rest of the season!

Overall Summary

Positives:
-Not your typical slice-of-life
-Fresh humour
-Likeable characters – you’ll have a hard time picking your favourite!

Negatives:
-Requires pre-existing knowledge of Japanese culture at times
-Caution: Japanese word-play!
-Some jokes drag on too long

Rated: 8/10

Categories: First Impressions

blog launch

July 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Hello everyone!
My name is Ian Koh-Dawson a.k.a De_geso893 via twitter.

I felt compelled to start my own blog about anime influences on Australian culture and voice my opinions by reviewing anime!
I’m pretty new to this and forgive me if I appear a little slow and awkward at times.

I have been watching a lot of shows lately and I’m itching to start reviewing some anime and discussing some topics. 
I would like to thank Kiddtic from kiddtic.wordpress.com for directing me to become an anime blogger as I was juggling around the possibilty of starting my own blog, and quite frankly, I didn’t know where to begin!

So thanks for the support especially everyone on twitter and I hope I can make this a decent anime blog site!
Be sure to follow me on twitter @de_geso893

me as Madara at the Supanova Perth show

Categories: Discussion Topics