Friday, October 14, 2011

I feel guilty for liking Masami Obari

It's no secret that I've largely left the anime fandom due to the overwhelming torrent of mediocrity that has seeped out the industry in past years. In fact, with the exception of the upcoming Persona 4 adaptation, I really can't see myself returning to active participation in the fandom anytime soon.

Given how much I've moaned and groaned about the lack of quality in anime, I must admit, I feel some degree of hypocrisy when I utter the phrase, "Masami Obari is one of my favourite directors."

For those who don't know Mr. Obari, he is pretty much anime Michael Bay; he absolutely loves giant robots and the objectification of women, and he couldn't tell a coherent story to save his life. So, pretty much like the live action Transformer movies, but anime.

If you are unfamiliar with his work, he is the director of mecha anime such as Dancouga Nova and Gravion, both being shows ranking among my top 10 despite no objective merit of their own, as well as horrifying fetish pornography, such as Angel Blade, which Meimi once reviewed, much to her horror and disillusionment.

Obari is a rather strange chap. In the early 90s, he led a revolution in character design and action choreography, resulting in a sea of competitors. However, as these competitors made further strides of their own, Obari stayed with the style he created, ironically looking like an out of date copy in the process. In fact, certain shots have become so iconic of the man, that they appear in nearly every work he's done, almost to the point of self parody.

What truly defines him as a subpar director however, is his complete inability to tell a story. Often times, his works start with interesting plot premises, only to devolve into an incoherent mess with no satisfying resolution. In fact, if anybody can tell me that they made sense of the story of Super Robot Wars Original Generation: The Inspector, then you are a greater man than I.

So yeah, despite being nothing more than cheap fanservice for mecha fans, I love Obari's work. There's nothing of substance in them, but goddamn, are they fun.

And with that, maybe I should apologize to fans of moe. Like them, I too am guilty of loving stuff that is nothing more than vapid, unsubstantial trash. But then again, unlike moe, I can't get arrested for my trash. So no, guess I don't want to apologize to moetards.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

So I heard you like Date.

There is a character type I like to call the Capcom Hero; the ludicrously over the top guy who wears ridiculous costumes, carries ridiculous swords, spouts idiotic catchphrases, acts like a dick and thinks he's the coolest thing alive.

In any other world, that guy would either be seen as a douche, or a parody of horribly written Marty Sues.

Yet Capcom continually markets and sells these characters with great success. Devil May Cry's Dante and Sengoku Basara's Masamune Date are what I consider the ur-examples, who are intensely well loved by their respective fanbases. And as much as I like Date and the Sengoku Basara series in general, I've always liked Date on a more ironic level; as a lame, insecure dude who tries so hard to be cool that it somehow ends up actually being kinda cool.

Yet people seem to love these characters completely free of irony. I really do have to ask, why?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

This is totally a post of substance!

Last week, I talked about the new My Little Pony cartoon and the fandom that had spawned around it. I particular, I drew attention to the creativity that has seemingly defined that fandom, and their ability to create new content. Well, here's some of that new content; cartoon horses engaged in faux-suicide to the tune of Engrish rap:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gender Based Marketing - Time for a Paradigm Shift? Part 1

Anyone even the tiniest bit immersed in internet pop culture has no doubt heard of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (henceforth MLP) by now. For the uninitiated,  MLP is a cartoon show based on Hasbro's long running My Little Pony franchise, primarily targeted at girls ages 3 and up. And it's doing very well in the ratings, both with young girls, and adults, ages 18 to 34, primarily men.

Not to put too fine a  point on it, but the MLP fanbase is shitastically huge. The primary non official fansite, Equestria Daily, has garnered a whopping 38 million hits in it's short eight months of existence. Furthermore, it gains new hits at the rate of about 3 per second.

Even more striking than the size of the fandom however, is it's self sustaining, self renewing nature. After the end of season 1 of MLP, the fanbase didn't shrivel like many expected it to, in fact, it expended. In lieu of official content, fans took to simply creating their own. A wealth of fics, vids, art and even games began pouring in. This in turn created a seeming perpetual machine of fandom; the larger it got, the more more people it attracted into it, in turn creating an even greater amount of fan content.

In a sense, MLP is the Western equivalent to Touhou. The difference however, is that MLP holds several key advantages over its Japanese counterpart, outlined below:
  • Capacity for Monetization
    • The Touhou franchise is the intellectual property of the one man development team, Team Shanghai Alice. In contrast, MLP is owned by Hasbro, the toy making juggernaut which following the huge success of the Transformers film, is now entering into the entertainment industry with its television channel, The Hub. As a corporation worth billions of dollars, Hasbro has far greater capacity for marketing, merchandising and distributing as compared to a single person.
  • MLP is not Absurdly Japanese
    • The other key advantage MLP has over Touhou is that it doesn't have an identity irrevocably tied to its nation of origin. Touhou is ridiculously Japanese, thus meaning its appeal its primarily centered in Japan, with only limited appeal outside the admittedly wealthy island nation. MLP by contrast, can be very easily exported, which Hasbro has already done, having brought MLP to key foreign markets such as Singapore, France and others. 

Now consider this; imagine a property with the self sustaining nature of Touhou, but on an even grander scale, effectively marketing towards and monetizing its ever growing fanbase. Surely Hasbro must be swimming in pools of money made from its MLP franchise by now?

But they aren't.

The sudden and meteoric rise in popularity of MLP amongst adult fans was never planned for, and caught Hasbro completely flat footed. Almost a year after MLP debuted, Hasbro has only made very superficial moves towards monetizing this new found fanbase, primarily in the form of licensed t-shirts.

Most interesting however, is that toy sales, Hasbro's bread and butter, has also been fairly lukewarm amongst the adult fanbase.

The reason for this is that the brand marketing for MLP is intrinsically tied to gender. Unfortunately, marketing for girls' toys has been historically been condescending and lackluster. An overabundance of pink is used, cartoon accuracy is sacrificed for supposedly more appealing colours, and gimmicks are often overly simplistic.

In turn, this has severely limited Hasbro's ability to market towards its adult fanbase. Adults, especially men, feel awkward and uncomfortable walking through the girls' toys isle in stores, which are over blindingly pink. Furthermore, cultural bias and preconceptions tend to imply some sort of deviancy, or at worst, pedophilia, to men buying toys primarily targeted towards little girls. For those men who can bring themselves to take the plunge to buy the toys, they are often disappointed due to the low quality of the toys, coupled with inaccurate designs (a common trait amongst most girls toy franchises).

Ultimately, Hasbro's failure to monetize its adult fanbase lies in its failure of marketing. It is still stuck in the gender defined paradigm of marketing its Pony toys solely towards young girls.

I won't pretend to have the answers; I don't know of a truly comprehensive marketing plan that could incorporate both MLP's primary demographic as well as its sizable periphery demographic without compromising one for the other. What I do know however is this; without change, Hasbro is missing out on monetizing what is possibly the most dynamic fanbase it's ever had.

Note: This is part 1 of a two part article. On the next episode, I'll be considering gender based marketing in the context of anime and manga. 


Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Top 3 List of Things That Should be Adapted into Anime

Despite not having watched anime in over a year, I'd actually like to get back into it...if only something worth watching would actually come out of the decrepit cesspool that is the anime industry of today.

So, in lieu of anything watchable, here's a list of things that would totally get me back into the hobby should they ever be adapted into anime!

3. Yes, Minister

"Open government, Prime Minister. Freedom of information. We should always tell the press freely and frankly anything that they could easily find out some other way."

That's right, I'm starting my list with an old British sit com. Of course, it probably doesn't hurt that said old British sit com is Yes, Minister, easily one of the all time greats of televised comedies.

Even back when I genuinely enjoyed anime, I could never bring myself to like anime comedies, which I always found to be tired, formulaic and frankly, low brow. So what better to revive a tired old industries than a show about old government bureaucrats? Besides, you know you'd love Sir Humphrey-chan.

2. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Oh god, I'm in love.

Wait, what's this? Nausicaa is already an anime? In fact, it was the first movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki? Why yes, but what I meant is that I want to see an adaptation of the far longer and significantly different manga version.

Whilst the Nausicaa movie will always remain one of my all time favourite movies, and Nausicaa, my favourite anime character of all time, I can't help but feel its ending was somewhat rushed, amazing though it was. Similarly, I always felt that there was a lot more story to be told about the world. That's where the manga comes in. The point where the movie ends is not even the half way point of the manga! What follows is an amazing adventure that goes far deeper into Nausicaa's character than even the movie managed. Now I know the day will never come, but how wonderful would it be if Studio Ghibli ever decided to make a 52 episode series based on their first ever feature film?

1.Burning Rangers

To the brand new sky we dive! Wings we have of shining white!

Rounding up what is easily one of the more ecliptic lists I've made is the 1998 fire fighter sim, Burning Rangers. For the dirty Communists amongst you who don't know what Burning Rangers is, it's an old Sega video game, where you played as the wondrously cheesy superheroes, the Burning Rangers, a team of futuristic fire fighters in a bizarre society where technology has wiped out all manner of danger or disease, except fires, for unexplained reasons.

If the idea of superhero fire fighters doesn't make you wet with excitement, then I refer you to the Burning Rangers themesong, easily the greatest themesong in the history of the universe:

And if that doesn't make you wet with excitement, then clearly you have forgotten what happiness feels like. Kindly report to the nearest laboratory, you robot.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Transformers: Prime - Review

Wow, it's been some time since I've updated this thing. Oh well, better much later than never, eh? Anyway yes, I am back.

That being said, things are going to be pretty different here from now on. As I have subtly hinted at in the past, I have been growing increasingly tired of anime. In the intervening months since that post, my opinion has not changed. In fact, I don't think I've seen any anime since that post. So where does that leave Taikutsu Remedy? Western animation, games, comics and the rest of nerdom, I guess.

In which I pretentiously insinuate that my time in absence was an epic journey of self discovery in which I drove a bitchin' car.

Now that's out of the way, let's dive into my newest love; Transformers: Prime!

Capitalizing on the massive financial success of the live action movies, Transformers: Prime (henceforth TFP) is the latest in the long line of 30 minute ads masquerading as childrens' entertainment.

The most threatening derp face ever conceived.

Cynicism aside, TFP is nonetheless an amazing show. Produced by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the writers of the first and second Transformers movie, TFP is essentially what the movies would have been without director Michael Bay. And the result is a smartly written show with appealing characters and amazing visuals.


The Autobots and Decepticons, two warring sects of sentient toys, have waged battle for millennia, leaving their home planet of Cybertron (sold separately) in ruins. For reasons inadequately explained, they have now found their way to Earth, where they battle for the hearts and minds of children, and the wallets of their parents. Also for fate of the Earth or something, but that's not important.

Childrens' toys dueling under the moonlight.


Optimus Prime
The heroic, valiant and chronically noble leader of the Autobots. Look, you know him, you've seen him in the theaters and you probably owned his toy as a kid. Has an annoying habit of doling out inspirational speeches, seemingly on demand. Also has frightfully feminine hips. Voiced by Peter Cullen, Lord of your childhood.

Hey, it's Optim-OH GOD THAT MOUTH

Second in command of the Autobots. Arcee is a sarcastic warrior woman who is presumably the robot equivalent of a ninja. Other powers include the ability to transcend the laws of physics, given that she can transform from an average sized motorcycle to a 25 feet tall robot. Voiced by Sumalee Montano, a Harvard educated former investment banker, which is the best former career anyone could possibly have.


Voiced by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, which pretty much describes his entire character. Seriously, he's The Rock, but as a robot. It's awesome.

Can you smeeeeeel-you know what? No. I'm not going to do that joke. Finish it yourself.

The big, lovable oaf of the Autobots. A metalhead with a head of metal, pun! Has tires that are literally five feet long. Voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson.

He's like an onion. On the outside, he's a giant, hulking death machine. But inside, he's a big lovable oaf. A big lovable oaf whose hands are stained with the blood of hundreds.

The youngest member of the Autobots and the kid appeal character. More or less like his live movie incarnation, but more akin to a robot puppy, and less like the murderous robot with a gimp mask for a face that he was in the movies. Voiced by stock sound effects.

Aww, whose a cuddly widdle alien death machine?? You are! Yes you are!

A cranky medic and general scientist guy for the Autobots. Spends most his time complaining, hating people and breaking medical ethics. Voiced by Jeffrey Combs, who having made a career playing mad scientists, is probably also one in real life.

Unfortunately, Ratchet was not aware that kidnapping was a crime when he brought back his new pet.

The evil leader of the Decepticons. Mad and absurdly powerful, his crimes include war, genocide, raising the dead and not brushing his teeth. Once sang an amazing song about summer alongside a pink pony. Voiced by Frank Welker, the richest actor you've never heard of.

His backstory states he once fought on the side of good. The side of good were idiots for ever trusting a face like this. Seriously, who the hell was their HR manager? Dr. Evil?

Megatron's conniving second in command. Cruel, cowardly and deliciously flamboyant, he rocks high heels better than anyone. Even women. Voiced by Steve Blum, who you may know from pretty much every anime that's ever had an English dub.

Starscream's heels - pretty much all you'll ever need to know about him.

A voyeuristic pervert, Soundwave spends his time spying on people and recording them. Apparently what would be a crime in any other society is instead a commendable skill amongst the Decepticons, who have him as their chief communications officer. Also, he has no face, try not to get freaked out by that. Voiced by the people he records.

Soundwave can deploy a remote drone from his chest. So technically, he's attacking you with his tits.

A flamboyantly gay Decepticon doctor, Knockout is as flaming as a robot could possibly get. Homicidally vain, Knockout's idea of health care is to stick his long, hard drill into people. Voiced by Daran Norris, whose most famous role involved the line, "Now suck my cock."

Who wouldn't want to leave their body in this man's hands?

Knockout's bear. Voiced by Adam Baldwin, apparently the only Baldwin in the known universe who isn't related to those other Baldwins.

Mantits! Glorious mantits!

Cruel and sadistic, Airachnid is about as close to a lesbian serial killer as a childrens' cartoon can possibly get. Spends nearly all of her screen time trying to kill the various men in Arcee's life, presumably so that she can have Arcee's love to herself. Voiced by Gina Torres, who is married to a man who goes around offering pills to awkward computer nerds who can't act.

Love hurts. And she loves SO MUCH.


Animated by Polygon Studios, the lovely chaps behind the CG portions of Ghost in the Shell Innocence and The Sky Crawlers, TFP is a lovely piece of work. Being a weekly TV show, is is admittedly not as beautiful as the aforementioned movies, but is nonetheless a visual treat, especially when viewed in HD.


Unfortunately, the show does suffer from some of the common shortfalls of the weekly CG shows, such as a limited cast and sparsely detailed backgrounds. The character models are amazingly detailed and intricate, but the cost of such is that there are very few characters given how expensive their models are, resulting in a rather bare cast. Similarly, the locations tend to feel lifeless and barren, a product of the small cast and poorly detailed environments.

You can't see it, but the background is totally featureless. Also, the fat robot is fat.

In contrast, the characters move fluidly, with the bots really coming to life in fight scenes. Polygon Studios are masters of their craft, and it shows when it comes to action. When combined with its epic musical score, the action invokes a cinematic flair rarely seen in weekly television.

She will pay you in rape dollars.

Most impressively however is how humanlike the robots are. Designed with eyebrows and expressive eyes, the robots are able to emote at a level never before seen in Transformers media. Combined with subtle body language, the cast of TFP come off as more human than most humans I've seen in cartoons and anime.


Stuff like TFP are the reasons why I don't watch anime anymore. The writing is far more sophisticated than all but the best that anime has to offer, the animation is beautiful and the voice acting is incredible (and in a language that I understand!).

All attempts to come up with a suitably smarmy captioned have failed. All you see here are the ruins of broken dreams.

Special mention must be given to the voice acting, which is probably the best I've seen in any tv show. Steve Blum in particular deserves a medal. Known amongst anime fans as the voice of Spike Speigel, Blum has reached an even higher plateau of acting, positively owning his role as Starscream. Seriously, I'm willing to contend that the show can be enjoyed even by the blind, that's how intense the audio erotica is.

I realize this is an anime blog, and as a result, most of my readers may not be the target audience of a Transformers show. But if there was ever a time to broaden your horizons, it's now. I guarantee you it's better than most the pedophilic crap that's been coming out of Glorious Nippon. And if you really must insist on maintaining your weaboo cred, it's animated in Japan, so you could just take it as dubbed anime.

As an aside, the sheer amount of homosexual overtones in the show is rather amusing. The Transformers fandom has always been known to have a very strong sub base of yaoi fangirls, and I very much suspect that a few of them have snuck into the writing team. Between Starscream's heels and hooker legs, Airachnid and Knockout, there's no way this can be intentional.

Americans can catch Transformers: Prime on the Hub. Canadians can catch it on Teletoon, though I'm pretty sure Canada is a fictional country. Everyone else can find the show here, though the more noble amongst you can download it via iTunes.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Rant Regarding Them Gay Folk - Thank God I'm Not American

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog for a legal/semi-political rant.

Those of you who follow American politics might have heard about the recent case of the three Iowa Supreme Court Justices who ruled in favour of gay marriage who were voted out of court by their fellow Iowans a few days ago.

This is balls crunchingly ridiculous.

Now before you moral guardians out there get on my case, my revulsion with this whole affair has nothing to do with gay marriage. For the record, yes, I do believe gay people have just as much right to be miserable as straight people. But that is not the issue here. Before I am a social liberal, I am both a positivist and a Dixonian legalist; part of what this entails is that I believe the rule of law must stand, regardless of any moral issues I may have with it.

My contention here is that America is the only country I've ever heard of where people vote for judges.

This is insane!

The judiciary is the last sanctuary from politics and special interests. It's very existence hinges on judges being able to make rulings without having to look over their backs to see if they've pissed off anyone. Similarly, the entire reason judges are appointed and not elected are so to keep the judiciary free (or as free as possible) of politics.

As I've mentioned prior, I'm a pretty big fan of the separation of powers. And to see one of the three arms of government metaphorically anally violated like that is kinda depressing.

Anyway, I think I need to veer this blog back into the realm of anime before Taikutsu Remedy gets renamed into Activism Remedy, so uh...dakimakuras suck. Go sleep on normal pillows. Yeah.