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moe-46550-2008-ani-com-august-bleed_through-bounen_no_xamdou-nishimura_haruWhat a week this has been. Characterized by Xam’d, Halo 3, Sins of a Solar Empire, and the general lethargy that goes along with being cooped up with very little to do than stare out the window at the icey world around me, I’ve actually come up with a post. Yes, I know, my idleness should have been spent posting much more than I have recently, but oh, well. Hindsight is 20/20.

That said, I haven’t even been watching as much anime as I would have liked to in my free time. But what time has been spent watching anime, has, as I mentioned earlier, been spent on Xam’d, which leads me to the subject of my post: Anime has thrived, thus far, on a strong contingent of rabid followers, labeled otaku by some and weeaboos by others, but what significance does it hold for you? How different is that from the past?

Xam’d is an interesting starting point for this discussion in that it’s exclusively available through the PlayStation Network (which, in turn, is exclusively on the PS3). Being the conscientious boy that I am, I checked it out when the series piqued my interest, and to my surprise, it was Japanese dub with English subs. So far so good. But here’s where the tricky part comes along: it’s 3.99 per every HD episode, which strikes me as exceedingly harsh for an anime… and what’s more, it’s only a rental. So that’s… over $100 over the course of the series that I can only watch for some arbitrary amount of time that Sony and their affiliates have deemed suitable for watching a 26 minute per each of 26 episodes show.

Just another pretty vector to be filed away?

Just another pretty vector to be filed away?

Now, if you’re thinking “what the hell?” I’m with you, but I also have some food for thought to throw at you: Japan’s anime populace isn’t as stingy as we are. They buy their series for painful amounts of money (especially when they release single-episode OVAs for 56 bucks in Japan!), and their figurines, and their need I go on? My point being that Sony is justified in selling the series for 400 yen an episode, but that doesn’t translate in America to dollars. We want our series immediately and preferably for free, and even those of us who are fanatics want something that’s tangible and not just a rental.

So is this a fundamental difference in culture? Is it a product of the internet? I’m actually siding with the latter. It seems that early fansubbing and its associated fandom were things completely dominated by the true fanatics of our culture, and otaku (Japanese for house) would be absolutely true to describe them. But then Gen X was displaced by Gen Y as the dominant generation of anime subculture, and with it, we brought out own evolution of the term ‘otaku.’ We’re no longer quite the subculture we once were. If you said, “I like anime” in the late 80s you have received vacant stares and been required to define what you were talking about (or my dad would have ridiculed you for liking shows where the dubs sucked so badly that the characters’ mouths moved long after they were done speaking). Now, though, even though some might look down on us, they look down on us as just another type of geek: anime is such a major part of the nerd subculture that many of us think of anime in conjunction with ‘bittorrent,’ ‘IRC’ and streaming sites.

Just another two-page spread?

Just another two-page spread?

This is where I find myself at a loss, though. Part of me hearkens to the labor-of-love 1980s fansubbing and VHSes and DVDs of the past, where an otaku was judged by his insanely immersive fandom. Another part of me says, “嫌だ” and shuns it as dirty and old-fashioned compared to the slick hard drives and HDTV I have set up in my room. The few DVDs I own are mainly of series that I guilted myself into buying, and now they just take up space. I devour my anime ravenously with few looks back and very little time spent thinking about it. Moreover, I shop around for my fansubs. Long gone are the days an otaku would have defended his sources of precious anime with his life. Now are the days that people get on forums and IRC channels and whine about how they could have translated this or that better, or they wish the karaoke was done in this manner. Everyone’s a critic, very few actually savor the experience. I wonder: would I would feel differently if I went back in time and I finally got that badly labeled VHS in the mail and put it carefully into my VCR to watch the newest (read: a month old) episode of DBZ that I had to call a friend of a friend in California to even get my name on a list? Probably.

This is my final statement, and I think it’s something we should all hearken to: there’s a difference between the man who drinks wine and savors it, tasting every particle of its existence he reluctantly commits it to his stomach, and the frat boys who serve up hard liqour and cheap beer for the expressed purpose of getting drunk. Let’s aspire to be the former with our anime, and even if we don’t buy everything we watch, let’s at least be discerning and savor the nuances of our chosen lifestyle, even if we are pretending our cheap alcohol is fine wine.

以上です。

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4 Comments

  1. All the links really make this post what it is, especially with snapshots or similar software enabled! Good post.

  2. Great post, I loved the snapshots and links. Anime has changed tho, now that the internet has made it more readily available. Times are a changing. But I personally prefer to download. Its way cheaper and I get to experience waaaay more anime, and (as mentioned by brian in the last post) sometimes I get to experience a bit more of the culture. and if its a decent enough anime *coughfmacough* I may just go ahead and buy the entire series.

  3. I was expecting a talk about the over dramatic topics of anime at times, but nonetheless an important issue! I seem to whine when i go down to best buy and find out that a whole Box Set is worth 50-80 bucks but when you bring me that fun fact I’m afraid I can’t really complain. As for the meanwhile I shall strive to be not a connoisseur of wine or a drunkard, but more of a bootlegger/bittorenter of anime making due with what I have.

  4. Okay, so I finally read it. Amusing and occasionally horribly disturbing links. Although, I must say, I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with making mention of odd subbing choices, even if we’re not putting up too much sacrifice for our anime atm, or subbing them ourselves. There are countless testaments to the extreme laziness of humans, and I’ll be damned if I have to look for new subgroups when I can just bitch about the one I’ve got!

    Also, you just had to kick me off the boat when you decided on your link for ‘fine wine,’ didn’t you? didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU?!

    See you at club– I’m probably going to miss pre-show.


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