And so we’re back with an all new episode of the Nakama Britannica podcast. In this installment, we take some time to introduce ourselves (finally) and also discuss Sunrise’s classic tv series, The Vision of Escaflowne.
00.00 – Preamble (Yakitori – Yoko Kanno)
00.45 – Introcast!
At last, we get around to explaining who we are, how we got here and what exactly happened to those listener questions…
24.27 – “Catgirls, Love Triangle, Mecha”: The Vision of Escaflowne (Yakusoku wa Iranai – Maaya Sakamoto)
Having thus far avoided any attempts at franchise revival, the once ubiquitous Vision of Escaflowne has begun to fade from view of the contemporary anime fanbase. Fifteen years after its original release and amid increasing criticism, we discuss whether it still has anything to offer the modern fan.
We’re joined on this one by our forum guest, ConanThe3rd. (https://crazydicepro.wordpress.com/)
1.30.55 – Epilogue (Forces – Susumu Hirasawa)
Massive thanks also due to daichi383 for his help with the editing on this one.
Edit: Apologies for the drop in quality during the second half, we haven’t gotten all the bugs out of the process yet.
The second episode of the Nakama Britannica podcast is now available. Team member VivisQueen introduces the topic:
In episode two of the Nakama Britannica podcast, we discuss Satoshi Kon. People might be wondering, in light of his recent death, and the subsequent slew of media covering him, whether we have anything new to say about the life and works of a much-missed anime director. The answer is ‘No, but we have a bloody good title to go with it!’
Well, okay, we tried to be a little innovative by coming at it from an angle others might not have considered. Even if he is much-celebrated and much-missed, his works are known for being damn unusual. The question arises, has Satoshi Kon got anything to offer the ‘average’ anime fan, that is, the person who is normally satisfied with their little girls and giant robots? Hopefully we convince you that the answer is ‘yes’.
When people think of Japanese stereotypes, samurais and ninjas must be the most disseminated ones in pop culture. Ninjas were spies and assassins, warriors said to possess the powers of ninjutsu, the ninja techniques, and the image of the ninja dressed all in black is a powerful one.
Samurais in their full armour are also a very powerful image. But for aesthetic reasons, they usually appear in their kimonos in anime and manga.
There are no famous ninjas worth talking about, after all a known ninja is a ninja who blew his cover. But the same can’t be said for samurais. Many of them survived in history and legend and I dare say it’s impossible to like anime without meeting a character inspired by a samurai or even a romanticized version of one. Continue reading →
‘Dennou Coil‘ was amongst the most acclaimed anime TV series of 2007, a beautifully animated, whimsical science fiction story with broad appeal and notable production values, often likened to the adventurous mainstream story-telling of ‘Studio Ghibli’. Naturally, it wasn’t a particularly big hit with the hardcore anime fans, or at least, not on the same level as something like ‘Haruhi’, but it is capable of capturing of the imagination of someone (or some kid) not usually swept away by the conventional tropes of Japanese animation.
Shounen is absurdly popular, period. And just like Naruto or Bleach, other shounen shows helped anime sneak into Western pop culture way before most would expect.
The oldest anime I remember watching was Astro Boy. Astro is officially the first anime serialization of all times and it defined many aesthetic standards of what is called anime. At it’s highest, the adventures of Astro achieved up to 40% of all viewers in Japan, which just proves the power of shounen shows as well as the popularity of Astro’s creator Osamu Tezuka. Astro premiered in 1963 and kept going until 1966 – the show lost popularity when a new show appeared – Ultraman, which brought the advent of the Tokusatsu genre, which inspired Power Rangers in America. In the 80′s, a second series of Astro boy were made and this time in colour. This series were syndicated successfully in many countries, including Australia, U.S. and Even in the UK.
To this day, Astro boy is still remembered and loved by fans of many ages and a new CG movie is scheduled for next year. This new movie has the voice talents of Nicholas Cage, Kristen Bell (from heroes) and Bill Nighy (from Pirates of the Caribbean). Hopefully, this movie will do justice to our hero and will introduce Astro to a whole generation that never seen him in action.
The second oldest shounen anime I’ve seen is Speed Racer. With it’s unique blend of adventure / sports / mystery, the show captivated a whole generation of fans that still remember it tenderly.
One of the more poignant news items I’ve read recently is that the London Anime Club (LAC) intends to “close doors” by the end of 2008. The cited reason is plain and simple: low attendances, with the popularity of “the London Expo”, “fansubs” and the accessibility of popular anime and manga in “mainstream shops” all said to be contributing factors in this lack of interest.
According to its official website, the LAC has been hosting regular gatherings for anime fans since Tuesday, 12th of April, 1994; apparently, only 12 people turned up to that first meeting, while 10 years later, in April of 2004, the club achieved its highest ever turn-out of 206 people, and yet, little more than 4 years on from that record, attendances have plummeted. The LAC is one of the longest running anime clubs in the UK, but, for whatever reason, it seems like today’s anime fans are no longer attracted to what an anime club might have to offer.
Once your eyes have passed over the last few words of this very article, Nakama Britannica will be finished! For a few months, anyway. Having contributed some 28 articles since late April, we intend to enjoy some well-earned holiday for the next few months and will return at some point in October. So, once things go quiet, don’t fret, for we will be back, we just need some time to catch our collective breath, I mean, blogging is a tiring business, don’cha know? Naturally, if you are a regular reader, we offer you our sincerest thanks, and urge you to stick with us during this hiatus.
We’re taking a break, then, but rather than go out with a whimper, we have this group article instead. An idea sparked by blissmo’s Spirited Away review at Yukan Blog!, we present to you our thoughts and feelings on this one particular (and rather special) scene in Spirited Away, the train scene. For those not in the know, Spirited Away is a 2001 fantasy anime from the famed director Hayao Miyazaki. It won an Oscar in 2002 for Best Animated Film, the first anime in history to have won an Academy Award. Our writers Ben, Lewis, Martin, Paul (me) and Ryan have all contributed interpretations, but if you would like to add your own, please don’t be shy about leaving a comment below. Anyway, on with the show…
Browsing through the internet’s many blogs and forums, it’s common to find “fans” of anime trying to separate the best anime from the worst, trying to decide whether or not it’s okay to enjoy moe anime; one side says it’s good fun, the other declares it’s sexist and disgusting. They might shout at each other for a few days, but the discussions will end when one brave soul inevitably intones “I like what I like”. The illusion of objectivity is shattered as it becomes clear that this person, regardless of what you might say, loves or loathes certain anime for his own, very personal, reasons. He doesn’t care that certain anime might be highly-rated or popular, well-animated or stylish, none of that is relevant to him and nothing you can say will change that opinion. After all, that’s the beauty of being an individual, we all like different things. Apparently some people don’t like Cowboy Bebop? Freaks!
I read The Anime Almanac‘s recent essay with a great interest. Effectively titled “Greg Ayres and the Fight Against Fansubs”, it presents an industry-biased perspective on the massive proliferation of anime fansubs, via the enthusiasm of Greg Ayres, a “hardcore otaku” turned professional English dub actor. Basically, this colourful-looking chap travels to conventions dotted all over North America to preach the ills of downloading anime. According to the essay, one fan of his (called ‘Steve’) even goes so far as to admit that “I just wanted to say that because of your blog on MySpace, I have sworn off of fansubs as my New Years resolution for this year” which is impressive, though a more cynical person would point to the fact that this Steve is already enough of a fan of Ayres to be reading the man’s blog in the first place.
I don’t think he’s preaching to the choir, but at the same time, there doesn’t seem to be enough dialogue with the “hated minority”, as the Anime Almanac hyperbolically puts it. Viewing jpmeyer‘s video of the panel, one senses that there is some intimidation at work, as if Ayres (and by extension, the majority of the crowd) isn’t willing to listen to the speaker’s argument. Instead, as is usually the case with the fansubbing debate online, there is no grey area and no discussion, just white noise. A line is drawn between fans, who then proceed to shout at each other until blue in the face. Ayres is quoted as saying “the biggest wussies will always draw their swords on the internet”, but looking at jpmeyer‘s above video and considering that Ayres‘ insult was itself intended for an online publication, it’s a shame that the opportunity for a potentially important debate is lost within such double standards.
If you a veteran anime / manga fan, chances are you know who Osamu Tezuka is, or if you are a new to anime or manga and never head of him before, either way, this mangaká, director and animator led such a life, that the Japanese refers to him with two different titles – The god of manga and the father of anime. Truth is, he deserves both titles.
Osamu Tezuka was born on the 3rd of November 1926 in a reasonably well-off family. His father was a cinema aficionado who owned a projector and his mother was a housewife, who used to tell young Tezuka many stories.