「FanCruft ∝ Anime ∴ Awesome」

Less Blogging, More Twittering

May 23rd, 2011 by RedWordSmith

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Perfection is lack of excess. — Warrigal’s Improvement to the Above

Acen was last weekend, and I had a great time. Although the winner for best AMV, while excellent comedy, kind of makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with Chicago fandom. Seriously, an extended dirty joke about Ouran Host Club was the best AMV you all saw? But I digress…

This is mostly just confirming what I’ve already been doing for awhile — I’m going to focus more on short messages on Twitter, and reviewing things again (I should have a touch more time now that I’ve got my degree). Quite frankly, there are roughly a billion anime bloggers out there, and I think the marginal benefit to running an anime blog is really, really low. I’m not sure a review site is necessarily high-value, but it’s something I want to create and do, while blogging about anime per se is not really that interesting to me.

The Utility of Haruhi Suzumiya (And Other Musing on The Endless Eight)

March 12th, 2011 by RedWordSmith

Last month, the second season of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was released on Crunchyroll, for those that hadn’t already seen it, which just so happened to include me. Some of what I’ll mention may be a bit old news, but there are also a few issues that this season brings up that I doubt have gotten too much attention, so that I can still write something interesting about it.

To get a few “general impressions” out of the way first: the second season has an odd on-edge Twilight Zone feel to it that the first season didn’t, and I love it. The show really emphasizes the trouble that Haruhi causes the rest of the SOS brigade, and the abuse that she puts them through, in a way that I don’t feel the light novels pull off nearly as well. The look of sheer existential horror on everyone’s faces when (ROT13)Funzvfra fgnegrq gnyxvat conveyed what was going on a lot better than any amount of text ever could. The Endless Eight are far, far better than they sound. This dramatically understates how amazing it actually is, because it sounds like a craptastic ploy to pay the animators less and it absolutely is not — I couldn’t resist going through the entire arc in one sitting (yes, I know that’s not the air order — don’t care). The second season also paints Haruhi in a less pleasant light overall, and if it had come first, I doubt the series would be as popular as it is.

So, about that time loop: I was originally going to write “If I were to find out tomorrow that I had been reliving some of the best two weeks of my life over and over again, I’d be ecstatic. I’d be somewhat disappointed that I kept forgetting the previous loops (not much of a chance to learn from my mistakes), but I’d still think of it as a huge opportunity to try new things without much consequence. Even without doing anything extreme or out of the ordinary, for instance, since the loops vary in their details, I could pick a random anime series by true random number and watch it each time…” whereupon it occurred to me that true random number generators usually rely on quantum events/radioactive decay, and I don’t actually need a godlike entity to rewind time in order to do this — it is, in fact, perfectly possible for me to get a giant list of anime I haven’t seen yet, pick one using HotBits, and rest secure in the knowledge that “I” was almost certainly going to watch everything on the list if many-worlds is true. (For reference, FanCruft’s current random anime script does not use true random numbers, but a simply call to the rand() function instead, which is described right in the manual as being of “dubious” actual randomness).

I’m not sure if I’ll do this or not. Nonetheless, bravo Haruhi Suzumiya, for causing a real-life quandary for me.

National Top Level Domains Less Popular For Anime

January 11th, 2011 by RedWordSmith

I’ve recently been playing around with Alexa’s list of the top million websites; just browsing through it, it looked as if .net domains were unusually common for anime websites, so I decided to have a closer look. What I found surprised me. Net domains come up more often for anime websites than for the general population of sites, but so do the other “big 3″ TLDs, .com and .org! Here’s a chart:

[Barchart of anime TLDs]

So, .com domains are marginally more popular for anime sites than usual. I was right on the money for .net — an anime site is twice as likely to have a .net ending for its domain. Even .org is marginally more popular (I made the mistake of throwing out the exact numbers after I made the chart — oops — but believe the difference is somewhere around 6% vs 4%).

So, what’s going on here? Note that the way that I found anime domains was pretty crude — I searched for the string “anime” in the name of the website, so sites like CrunchyRoll wouldn’t be counted. Also domains that include the string anime in them but actually aren’t about anime would be counted (and I know there are a few of these). Just looking over the sidebar at Wikipedia, it seems the word for anime is “anime” in most languages. One thing that I did notice, look at site throughout, is that there are a variety of languages for sites — it’s only a slight exaggeration to say that every other site is in Spanish or French. Possibly, anime webmasters have their international audience in mind, and don’t want to limit themselves by choosing a country-specific TLD.

The Story Crisis

January 10th, 2011 by RedWordSmith

Fortuitously timed, this story making the rounds about James Cameron and plot seems to back up my impression from yesterday that western shows aren’t quite matching the depth of the longest-running anime series :

All of a sudden I’ve found myself in a world where story is for snobs, and only the elites want good characters. All of a sudden Edgar Rice Burroughs is high falutin’ and Back to the Future is impenetrable arthouse fare. I’m not standing here demanding deep and meaningful themes or exquisite metareferences in the text – just simply good old fashioned two-fisted storytelling. Giving a good yarn, and filling it with exciting characters. The action set pieces become disconnected free floating fireworks displays if there’s no story to support them and no characters to give them meaning. Maybe you want to spend 17 bucks for an IMAX 3D ticket to sit there dumbfounded by computer displays, but I don’t know why that FX extravaganza means we can’t also be wrapped up by the story. — Devin Faraci, “James Cameron Calls Out The Story Crisis In Hollywood

Of course, I, and other anime fans, can’t talk too much. I just finished watching the first episode of Zombie, which, I’m guessing, will make Excel Saga look like Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Seen via ANNZac and AICNAnime.

Long Shows and Long Thinking

January 9th, 2011 by RedWordSmith

Some anime series are huge. In fact, the most popular series are extremely, extremely long. A lot of people believe that this is because popular shows are “dragged out” to make as much money as possible from them, and I think that’s a very likely explanation, but one which is also incomplete. It occurred to me today while catching up on Bleach that long shows can possible both attract and encourage a sort of long-term attitude. Watching one of these behemoths in their entirety from start to finish is not easy. At a minimum, you have to remember to actually watch the show; actually understanding the show, however requires a sharp memory and an eye for detail. Or, at a minimum, a willingness and knowledge to consult reference works judiciously.
There are, of course, long running live-action and western animation series — Dr. Who, The Simpsons, various soap operas. But they do tend to be more episodic (on the whole, very dubious for Dr. Who, very clearly for The Simpsons). A lot of the cable dramas that have become popular over the last decade and a half or so are moving in this direction, but to the best of my knowledge none have quite made it. Some Sci-Fi series have an equivalent mythos to them once you add in ancillary work — Star Trek and Star Wars both definitely fitting the bill.
Notice that some of the densest plots I’ve mention are Sci-Fi “space operas.” I don’t think it’s a coincidence. This is 100% speculation, but I suspect that long-running shows attract people who can keep a lot of mental notes on what’s going on. This is especially important for a show like Bleach, where the philosophy is that you can never have too many characters.
Note that this is not at all an issue of “game-time” versus real-time. Some of these long shows that I’m talking about move much slower than real-time, with a few days or hours taking weeks to go through (like 24, only not a stupid gimmick).
Which leads me into thinking about effects in the other direction. Again, speculation, but could it be that keeping a show in mind for a long period of time could improve long-term thinking? Maybe.

FanCruft © 2011, 2012 Nic Smith. Individual comments as noted.