Thursday, November 29, 2007

My Challenge To The Anime Studios/Producers

Here's my idea.

A twenty-six episode series anime series. It's a mecha series/harem anime in which all the things make sense (and it's a series that Steve Den Beste would watch and love-think of it as the hybrid love child of Vandread and Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu). Interesting characters, neat plots, and minimal loli.

All the usual package deals and such...and within 24 hours of release in Japan, a full version of the show, subtitled, will be avalable on US and UK iTunes. Possibility of there being the same release on the Japanese version of iTunes. Add in a season pass.

(Oh, and if the series takes off and a second season is made-there will be that possibility-I will retain rights to write the pen&paper RPG version...and it will be fun).

I'm willing to bet cash money that people would pay $1.99 an episode (the first two are free...) or $45 for a season pass for a series that would come out from Japan promptly. And, it would beat fansubbers out of their game. Not that I'm in any particular complaint about fansubbers, but it's time to use the technology, not fear it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Fansub Issue(s)

Steve Den Beste has lately been talking about all the problems with fansubs, the Japanese anime market, release times, and how it probably will kill a few of the anime companies here in the United States (it has already killed Geneon).

My opinion is very much an end-consumer one, so take it with a grain of salt. My issue is very much one that SDB notes-that it can take anywhere from about 2-3 years for a series to come from the United States. It has been bitched over, talked about, discussed, dismantled, dismembered, Wikipediaed and folded into a little hat by the time American fans can see it...

...unless they watch the fansubs. Only the fansubs give the non-Japanese speaking fans the illusion that they're "watching" the series with the fans in Japan or speak the language. And, let's face it, there are some series that are too old (Gundam, Legend of the Galactic Heroes), too weird (School Days), or just too niche (a judo anime who's title I can't recall off the top of my head) for an anime studio to make a decent profit off of.

Especially considering what Japanese studios think of fans...

Case in point, I am a die-hard Gunbuster/Diebuster fan. Big fan, I think that any anime fan that hasn't seen Gunbuster at least once needs their head examined. Or their Otaku rights revoked. But, when Bandai Visual brought out Diebuster out on DVD, they released it at $39.95 for two episodes on a DVD and weak/anemic extras.

Two episodes on a DVD. Of a six-episode series, I can...somewhat accept this. But, nearly $40+tax, you better stuff the rest of the DVD space with as much stuff as you can. Hell, throw in a second DVD of just "The Making Of" information.

Even worse? Freedom. Six episodes, one episode per DVD, next-to-no extras, $39.95 for a half-hour episode. That is easily more than a dollar a minute. Not even counting tax.

No wonder the Japanese studios are afraid of re-importation of anime DVDs from the United States. What most Japanese fans pay for one episode, they'd get about 2-4 episodes, maybe 5.

And, let's be fair...the dubbing setup in the United States isn't good yet. Most fans will freely admit that most dubs...could be done better. Unless the series has major popularity, the dubs are not of pretty high quality and they take a lot of time. Most series could be subtitled in a few might take a few months to get a series properly dubbed. And, with the way that anime series are done (usually just-in-time or so...), it would be nearly impossible for a American distributor to get the scripts in enough time to do an English-language soundtrack.

What would really work would be a distribution agreement with Apple/iTunes. $2 for an episode of a series, $50 for a "season pass" that would automagically download each new episode, with official subtitles. Of course, this would require Japanese studios and TV execs (whom are not an imaginative bunch among AMERICAN execs, and the Japanese ones have to be worse) to work out that they have to get their product out to fans-both American and Japanese-faster and easier.

Of course...I think the only way they'll get realism is to be whacked over the head.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

You Know, You Have To Ask Why....

...nobody has thought of this before.

It makes a lot of sense, in a whole "why not?" sort of way...I don't see any reason why you couldn't build a sealed-package pebble-bed reactor that would fit on a flatbed truck, fit the cooling tower on a second truck, and just deploy it somewhere where you need lots of power.

Hell, combine it with solar power, and you can use the solar power for "home" use and the nuclear plant for "industrial" use (refrigeration of food, running wells, recharging electric trucks and farming equipment, tools, etc, etc). For some small towns in the United States alone, they could work a co-op setup where all the towns in a close area chip in to get the reactor, giving them enough power to do things. Oh, and sweat equity in setting up the power wires and such.

Or for military applications...a lot of gruff is being put into military technology such as diesel-electric hybrid drive for light armored vehicles, the increasing need of electronic systems on the modern battlefield, and keeping the batteries charged for all the gadgets that American soldiers carry. Probably in 10-15 years, military units will probably mount fixed high-energy lasers and railguns for anti-artillery/missile defense in major firebases. The time will come when the power is needed...

There are a lot of options out there, and maybe this will be what, in some places, allows locations to become civilized.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Six Ages Universe

I've been coming up with ideas of a metaverseal concept for a series of game universes, using HERO 5th as the game system. I call it "The Six Ages", and it'll consist of five major game universes.

The First Age is the focus of the game Glories. Think of it as the Hero 5th version of Exalted-it's the era of Atlantis, Shangra-La, and similar cities of myth and legend, when magic was alive and bouncing through out the world, the swing of a hero's blade could carve canyons....and this all ended when the "magic" (actually the quantum energy that allows the rules of physics to be broke) is sealed away. Most of the gods fall asleep, and the world rolls into the Second Age, which is the world we live in.

On 9/11/2001, the Third Age sets off with a bang when the planes crash into the World Trade Center. This awakens the trapped power that was sealed away...and it's woken up and it's as pissed off as a force of nature can ever be, and this game is Capes and Cowls. Think less Heroes and more The Ultimates. The good guys are good guys, the bad guys are bad guys and it gets very interesting when the lines start to blur...

As time goes on, and we get to the Crash-a massive, major event that ends the superhero era. It is PROBABLY about the start of the 22nd Century...we think. The Crash ends with a lot of the records of the past century or so scrambled and messed up, and this leads us to the Fourth Age-it's a cyberpunk/space exploration era and the subject of Survivors. Think a mixture of the Aliens universe and a lot of the bad cyberpunk films of the '80s and '90s, which leads up to a war between humans and an alien species-a nasty, and brutal one that leads to an empire being formed.

The Empire that forms-the Terran Empire, which is the title of the book, is the core of the Fifth Age. There's very definitely an aspect of Traveller to the universe. Got some ideas on how to handle some of the problems of huge empires, such as "how do you keep the Emperor/Empress from going Nero on you?" and more. Much fun, then then the power REALLY comes back...

Our last gaming age is the Sixth Age and this is the era of the Legion of Super Heroes, New Gods, and such. Superpowered and super human beings and aliens...much big fun. No title for this book yet, but there will be one...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Dream A Little (Girl) Dream...

Steve Den Beste's comment about the otaku's dream girl hits hard in many, many ways...

Mostly because he's described one of the problems of any otaku-getting women interested in him in a good way. Most otaku girls/women tend to have issues...and they tend to be interested in men that most otaku males are not.

Case in point, YaoiCon was held last weekend and the hotel was near San Francisco Japantown. The restaurant there I like to eat at when I can (sadly, not daily-long story) had a horde of fangirls. Most likely they were very young-high school to early college-due to the high amounts of giggles over sexual pairings and triplets and other odd combinations. The only series they talked about? Naruto. The proposed relationships? Let's just say that anybody that has had any idle fantasies of Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy slashfic would find the love geometry disturbing...

So, for the fan that isn't highly can see the issue. Or that don't have on their Character Sheet "Dark Flaw:Secretly Not Gay".

Also, the Otaku Dream Girl is interested in the main character because they like him. Not what they can do for them-get them beer, solve their problems, be their last-choice date because the guy they wanted to take out dumped them at the last minute. They realize that the character's heart is good, even if his efforts are at best bumbling...or naive. Or, better yet, they know the character is worthy...and is worth knowing better.

The main character knows where they stand with the Otaku Dream Girl. It's not a game of "emotional minesweeper", or the ever-popular "does this outfit make me look fat?" passive-aggressive BS that some women think is their due. Or wondering if the girl is hanging out with them because the main character can fix their computer/do magic/has wished for a girl like her to stay with him forever.

Sadly, that's why the Otaku Dream Girl is a fantasy-the attractive girls want to have Johnny Depp, or Orlando Bloom, or whatever androgynous male boy-toy that looks good in boxers is this year. That is "kind" and "sensitive" and can know their emotions. Oh, and dress well, too. The ugly girls want something that tends to validate that they are fucked up, and not worthwhile. And the guys? We're confused here.