Another year, another 365 days of miserable disappointments and wretched follies foisted upon those of us foolish enough to still put in a half-cup of feigned enthusiasm over the dead art form otherwise known as Japanese animation. Another 365 days of Japtoons we’ll never care enough to watch or even lie and say we did. Another 365 days of Anime Blogging’s Confederacy of Dipshits banging at the doors of our internet mansion constructed out of withered Plamo boxes and broken dreams, their empty rants and utterances screamed in pre-pubescent basement-dwelling voices serving only to remind us of the throbbing headache in our head and the untouched pile of China White on the coffee table next to the flat-screen TV tuned to a dead channel.
These are no longer the end of days, these are the days after the end of days. For you and I and all of us walk among the post-apocalyptic wasteland of this dead fandom, attempting to reconcile our impending death with cheerful memories of green. The fools and the mentally ill continue on, pretending that there is hope, promise or that things right now are okay. But things aren’t okay; the oceans are dead and dry, the trees and bushes are charred and black and somewhere in the distance a dying baby screams its last essence of life into the dusty air.
This is anime in the year 2009.
THE YAOI PRESS DRUG SCANDAL
Here’s an unlikely phrase: “otaku drug scandal”. When was the last time we had one of those? That old favorite Dragon Half story isn’t really true, and nobody’s surprised or cares when guys like Yoshinobu “The Nish” Nishizaki get busted for coke: how else would they get anything done? Does the case of Noriko Sakai exactly apply?
Well, God Bless America, gang, because it took our proud Japanicomicacartoon fandom to generate a real drug scandal. Back in September, Yaoi Press publisher Yamila Abraham was arrested in connection with Pleasureherbs, a business that sold– among other herbal supplements– Snurf.
The product description claims that the stuff is “the long awaited pill form of 10X extractions of Fevizia, Palenzia, and De la Amazon.” In fact, none of those herbs exist, and the pills were straight DXM: you know, the cough syrup ingredient that all the kids love. Upon further (Google) investigation, the stuff was commonly available online and well-known enough to spawn a couple of “are your kids on Snurf?” parental horror sites.
Abraham naturally isn’t talking (in many words), but there doesn’t seem to be much to say here. A testimonial establishes her connection with Pleasureherbs, and archive.org tells us pretty bluntly that whether they knew it or not, the company was selling bottles of DXM tablets. Internet Court would call this case a slam dunk!
Of course, as Internet Court exists only in the fevered dreams of outraged forum posters, things are still up in the air for Abraham and Yaoi Press as they wait for the American legal system to decide. YP continues to travel to conventions and operate as normal, presumably sans Nyquil. We can’t let a story this golden go without making a joke about dealing drugs at the Otaku Rave, but let’s be honest: there are probably already tons of young entrepreneurs selling in there already.
NOBODY FUCKS UP JAPTOONS LIKE THE JAPANESE
Regardless of Scott “Buy FUNimation Products” VonSchilling’s regular prayers, Bandai Entertainment USA made it through the year without even an ADV Films-style pseudo-collapse. Things haven’t been all sunshine and rainbows for everyone’s second-favourite puppet of the Japanese media conglomerates, however, as they experiment with new methods to sell a product to potential customers who’ve already consumed said product for free months ago. The one-word description of their attempts this year: “shenanigans.” How else can one describe releasing your newly-licensed moé series exclusively at the convention you just announced it at (and one select online retailer)? Did you guys copy notes off of SEGA or something?
But my favourite Bandai Entertainment marketing trick of the year has got to be the entire ongoing saga of Kurokami: The Animation. You may remember Kurokami from our Winter Season preview article, where Dave touched on the series’ single, solitary point of notoriety: it was being aired on US television, dubbed into English, less than 24 hours after the same episode had premiered on Japanese television, a first for Japanimation. What Dave didn’t mention was the station: Imaginasian TV, a specialty cable channel offered in a very few major markets (i.e. NYC, LA & SF) and which from all reports is hard-pressed to find any advertisements to run during programming other than for themselves. That’s a pretty dramatic step down from even the highly-inconsistent and arbitrary middle-of-the-night scheduling of Adult Swim, which is at least available in pretty much every American residence with cable television; it’s probably no wonder that the series went virtually unnoticed.
But that’s not the end of the story! Recently, Bandai Entertainment’s promo sheets came out, revealing the release date for the severely-delayed Kurokami DVD and announcing the series’ exciting transition to the Blu-Ray format that those guys with Playstation 3s are so hyped about. The first DVD, scheduled for next February, contains six episodes with English and Japanese language tracks and subtitles for $30, a slightly better deal than the worst of the bubble years, but there’s a fun surprise for owners of high-definition TVs who wanted to watch the show: the Blu-Ray disc contains four episodes and only the English dub audio track for $25. That’s right: dub-only and less content for your money!
Ah, I think we’ve heard this song before! It’s the Spectre of Reverse Importation, the greatest fear of the highly-inflated prices in the Japanese home video market. It’s why the US DVDs of the original Mobile Suit Gundam TV series, which were released before the series came out on DVD in Japan, lack the original Japanese audio tracks. To make matters worse, unlike DVD, Blu-Ray uses the same region code for both America and Japan, so it’s even easier than ever to buy the far cheaper round-eye release. Kurokami isn’t exactly burning up the sales charts in Japan, but it seems clear that Bandai Japan doesn’t want to take any chances. If you want to watch the show with the Japanese audio track and English subtitles, you’ve got no choice but the US DVD release — even the Japanese BDs, which are $90 for three episodes, just include the English, Japanese, and Korean audio tracks, not English subtitles.
Or you can wait for some enterprising young pirate to combine a fansub script with the audio and video from the Japanese BDs and produce a true HD multilingual release. Not that we’re condoning violating the intellectual property rights of the American rightsholders, that’s bad and wrong and you should feel bad. It’s just something to consider.
THE DEATH OF A.D. VISION
Hey kids! Remember A.D. Vision? They were the hip cats that sold a lot of porno Japtoons in the 1990s and used the capital from catering to horny fanboys to become one of the industry’s leaders.
Pop Quiz: What do Walt Disney, Albert Speer and A.D. Vision all have in common?
Answer: They’re DEAD.
That’s right, this year one of the largest companies in the beleaguered U.S. industry of Japtoonimation imploded on itself, spreading its assets to a number of new companies that all happen to be run or owned by people that used to be affiliated with A.D. Vision. Is that legal? Who knows!
So what’s to blame for A.D. Vision’s death? Poor management? Bad luck? Poor management? Fansubs? Poor management? The poor economy? Poor management? Don’t ask us! What we do know is that back in 2007, A.D. Vision entered into a partnership with a Japanese company called Sojitz, which provided A.D. Vision with a much needed truckload of cash and some new Japanese contacts and licensing agreements, while Sojitz got a 20% stake of the company that thought financing Sin: The Movie was a good idea. Things started looking bad for the Houston-based anime company when a bid to buyout the floundering Geneon Entertainment went sour, and the whole house of cards began to fall apart. Turns out things aren’t always peachy when East-meets-West, as anyone who’s seen Black Rain or Mr. Baseball could testify, and Sojitz eventually pulled out, crippling A.D. Vision as all their recent titles had been licensed through Sojitz. Whoops!
Shortly thereafter A.D. Vision announced a partnership with two new companies, Switchblade Films and Sentai Filmworks. These companies would act as licensing companies and work with A.D. Vision, they also just happen to be run by A.D. Vision President John Ledford II! If your spidey sense is tingling, take note: These companies popped up well before A.D. Vision’s implosion this year, way back in 2008, seemingly setting things up in advance for A.D. Vision’s eventual demise!
In September of this year, A.D. Vision announced it would be shutting its doors while two new companies popped up, apparently taking over control of A.D. Vision’s assets. Section 23 and AESir Holdings both own different parts of A.D. Vision’s corpse, as it’s been seemingly cut up and shared around these four companies with absolutely terrible names. They’re all headquartered in Houston and owned or run by ex-A.D. Vision employees and the whole thing looks like a rather clever way for the people in charge of A.D. Vision to hold onto their assets in the face of impending doom.
Did I mention that Section 23 likely refers to a Texas bankruptcy law? They sure are cocky motherfuckers!
COLONY DROP ACHIEVES VICTORY
When the year began, people weren’t wondering whether or not Colony Drop would win the anime blogosphere: they were wondering how hard we would win. We take this responsibility very seriously.
We knew we were on the right track early in the year. CD’s critics, defeated by the vacuousness of their own patron deity, had retreated to anonymous postings where they could further the online Japtoon discussion by sticking their fingers in their ears and calling our staff ignorant “gaijin” who could not begin to understand the Superior Nippon No Culture. This admission of defeat– followed by an even further retreat, to dark sectors of the internet far beyond the reach of the average netizen, to the unlinkable— pleases Colony Drop.
Spurred on by this victory, we moved on to the Twitters, a “miniature blogging” service used by anime bloggers primarily to log their doujinshi-fueled masturbation sessions in real time [and talk about the junk food they’re about to consume -Ed]. This excursion delivered us personally to the fans in a way we never dreamed and certainly never hoped for. We’ve made friends, immediately alienated friends, reduced internet tough guys to pitiful, whimpering shadows of themselves, and even gained a groupie or two along the way.
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, Colony Drop has entered academia. Friend of the site and respected author Helen McCarthy has listed Colony Drop as recommended reading in one of her college courses on anime. Higher education indeed!
It might not have been much for Japanese cartoons, but 2009 was a year we here at Colony Drop were damn proud to win. We wholeheartedly accept this prize, and we’d like to thank all of you for making it possible.
— The Colony Drop Family
MOST DANGEROUS NON-COLONY DROP ANIME BLOG OF THE YEAR, 2009
As our Moments of 2009 post comes to a close, we’d like to take a moment to announce the winner of our first annual MOST DANGEROUS NON-COLONY DROP ANIME BLOG OF THE YEAR AWARD. The award is presented to those who have excelled in the art and mastery of the anime blogging medium. This sure to be prestigious award will no doubt fuel anime bloggers to strive for an even higher level of bloggitude in the coming year, and we’re proud to announce that the first winner is someone very near and dear to the hearts of the entire Colony Drop family, and, we’d expect, anime bloggers everywhere.
He first captured our attention when he organized his favorite female anime characters by age, naturally starting at pre-pubescent levels. In the fall of 2008 he catapulted himself into the echelons of The Great Anime Bloggers when he headed to Japan to study abroad, and shortly thereafter had an emotional breakdown when he crushingly realized that Japan wasn’t quite the otaku–friendly paradise his precious cartoons had led him to believe it was. Naturally, this soul crushing realization was documented in great detail through numerous posts.
He remained quiet for most of 2009 and as the year came to a close, it looked as if he wouldn’t even be in the running for the award. He surprised us all in December when he dropped a figurative atom bomb on our collective Internet psyches when by announcing he’d given up 2D girls for real ones, with a post proudly boasting of how he got himself a real, honest-to-God, girlfriend. The Internet hecklers heckled and people waited with bated breath for the unveiling of lonely otaku blogging’s new queen. Whispers among the crowd questioned how long such a relationship could actually last, if she read his blog and if she was even aware that they were dating.
He followed up with another post comparing their relationship to one from the anime Genshiken while speaking of her addiction to World of Warcraft. But the meat of the story wasn’t in the post itself, it was in the comments, where internet strangers criticized his misogynistic expectations of her and the girlfriend herself (and her friends) showed up. Things spiraled out of control from there and things came to a startling, if unexpected, conclusion when she broke up with him. Via comments. On his blog.
The winner of the the MOST DANGEROUS NON-COLONY DROP ANIME BLOG OF THE YEAR AWARD for 2009 goes to none other than Koji Oe of the blog クロス† チャネル. Not only did he play a substantial role in bringing about this Densha Otoko-esque watershed moment in the history of online otaku relations, he serves up a warning to dorks everywhere: don’t be a sexist dick on your blog, or if you are, don’t show your blog to your girlfriend.
— Colony Drop Staff