Thursday, July 26, 2007


Japan has some interesting restrictions on political campaigns. No billboards, other than specific places near city hall and other public landmarks, and even then they're only alloted a space the size of an A3 piece of paper. No television commercials. Only a small net presence.

However, they are allowed to stuff mailboxes. And, of course, they are allowed to drive around town in cars equipped with loudspeakers, but they can't say anything of consequence. ("Hello! I'm (insert candidate's name)! Thank you very much! Vote for me! Thank you very much! I'll do my best! Thank you very much!)

Also, NHK allows individual parties to present their various platforms/manifestos in 15 minute timeslots starting at 11:00 PM. Then they wonder why people (especially young people) aren't getting interested in the elections...

Right now, there's a (thankfully) small party called Shin-Puu (New Wind) ranting away their 15 minutes. The two party reps are both old men, and their speech patterns sound very old-fashioned conservative. (Patriotic Fervor, and all that.) Much of their ranting is on the evil of foreigners.

If I understand them correctly, they want to:

*Deny citizenship to all foreigners,
*Stop the teaching of English in Japanese elementary schools,
*Strengthen the Japanese national defense systems
*Abandon Japan's three anti-nuclear principles (!)
*break all diplomatic ties with China.

Japan has a far-far-right wing. Why does this not surprise me?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

An epiphany, of sorts.

A long time ago, I picked up a CD of anime music that had been released by Rhino Records. It was called, "The Best of Anime," which in retrospect seems a kind of pretentious title. Anyway, most of the songs on that CD are in Japanese, and at the time I just listened to the pretty sounds while scouring internet 1.0 for translations. (The best resource at that time was a website run by a guy billing himself as "Sailor Bacon." I didn't get the joke either.)

Recently I listened to the CD again for the first time in a while...and found that I no longer need translations. Not that I understand them perfectly, but in my head the pretty sounds have suddenly morphed into actual language. This is at once amazing and bizarre...

(Sailor Bacon's website is still out there, too. It has morphed into "", and if Sailor Bacon is still running it, he no longer calls himself that.)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

...was a quick read.



Sunday, July 08, 2007

A brief discussion of the word "otaku"

御宅, or "otaku," literally means "your house." In Japanese, it can be used as an almost absurdly formal version of the word, "you." ("It is a great honor for us that you grace us with your presence" level absurd.) Anime and manga fans used it often enough in their communities that the word otaku (written おたく) came to take on the meaning, "fanboy", or "person with obsessive hobbies". Most often, the hobbies referred to are anime and manga, but there are also military otaku, video game otaku, and idol singer otaku, to name a few.

Now, in America, anime fans have also adopted this word, specifically meaning anime and manga fanboy. American fans generally consider this a positive term, in contrast to the somewhat negative connotation in the original Japanese.

During the late '80s and early '90s, "otaku" took on a much more negative meaning, after the media reported that serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki was a "porn-anime otaku," although evidence for this may have been exaggerated.

Since then, the reputation of otaku in Japan has been recovering, although many people still think of them in a negative light. In particular, Japanese journalist Akihiro Otani has been claiming for years that all otaku are potential criminals. Whenever there is a sexual assault/murder of a young child, Otani tries to tie it to otaku hobbies such as figure collecting or video collecting, even if the guilty parties have no such collections.

This notwithstanding, otaku culture in Japan is gradually becoming socially acceptable again. Stories about otaku and their lives, like Densha Otoko are even being adapted into successful TV shows and movies.

Why am I writing all this?

Well, it seems that some of the negative characteristics of the otaku stereotype are also trickling into America. Last week, at the AnimeEXPO convention in California, a "fan" who violently disliked the movie "ROBOTECH: The Shadow Chronicles", went to the Harmony Gold booth and threw a pie in director Tommy Yune's face. To Yune's credit, he treated it as a joke and posed for pictures. However, on the blog of the assailant (who goes by the nom-du-net "Khyron_Prime"), he refers to it as "the non-violent equivelant [sic] of an assassination." He seems to think that Harmony Gold has betrayed the "hardcore fans" and screwed up the integrity of the original Robotech series (ignoring the fact that the "original" series was a bastardized pastiche of three unrelated anime shows).

I can't really comprehend drowning oneself in a fandom to the extent that one would be willing to risk jail time and financial ruin to pie someone over the plot of a fictional movie. When I am dissatisfied with a book/show/movie, I just stop watching...