Life’s Great Mysteries: Fansub Groups

By the time you read this post, I’ll probably be in a plane headed back to America. But when I get back, I’ll be ready for the new season. So today, I wanna talk about fansub groups, who spend a lot of time enabling all of people like us that are too lazy to learn Japanese.

So before I started working with fansub groups, there were many things about fansubs that I never really paid attention to and I was wondering whether others were really looking into these sorts of things. Naturally, I saw things like grammar errors and spelling mistakes, which tended to give me a good chuckle.

However, recently I find I’ve started to naturally see timing errors with subtitles. Specifically, I’m starting to see when a timer doesn’t let the subtitles stay on the screen long enough or when the subtitles stay on screen during a major scene change when the person’s stopped talking. So I naturally wonder if these are things that people normally see or only after you find out about them?

Also, I wonder how people choose the fansub groups they watch for shows. I used to just watch whichever group released the subs first, but then I fell victim to gg’s troll subs (sigh…Hidan no Aria). Nowadays, I tend to watch Commie (just because they sub so many different shows), UTW, and Doki.

Do you find yourself generally watching the same group’s releases? Or is every series that you watch subbed by a different group? Or maybe you just follow the blue highlighting on NyaaTorrents? Maybe you know Japanese and have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m curious about what makes a popular fansub group popular.

And if you’re curious about these fansub groups and helping out, I know it can be difficult to jump in when the recruitment posts always have all these qualifications and whatnot. But I’d be happy to lend a hand where I can…I’m still fairly new, but I’d say I have a decent idea what I’m doing.

A final note: if you ever want to know which groups I’m watching, the urls for the screenshots I post usually have the group name in the picture name. And the big question I have for everyone reading this: what’s your biggest pet peeve when it comes to subtitles? Anything you just really hate to see?

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New Prince of Tennis Episode 1 Impressions

So I haven’t decided yet whether I wanna blog about this, and I’ll figure it out when I get back to America. Nonetheless, I just wanted to give my thoughts on the first episode. So, at the end of Prince of Tennis, Echizen goes to America and everyone else returns to their respective schools. At the beginning of New Prince of Tennis, the middle schoolers are all invited to an exclusive camp for the elite tennis players.

The episode starts off with Echizen just being Echizen, which is pretty cool. I thought it was pretty predictable to start it off with Echizen beating an older player like they started the first season, but I was okay with it. I think the episode stayed pretty faithful to the manga, but I can’t remember the manga that well because I read it a while ago. The opening was a bit mellow for my taste. Also, it seemed like the first season showed more scenes with the players moving around the court, whereas this season kinda had still shots of the players after they hit the ball. All in all, it looks like it’ll be interesting to watch, so we’ll see whether I pick it up.

Persona 4 Episode 13

After a brief introduction of the fox, we go straight into what seems to be a two-episode break from the battles. For starters, Nanako starts to notice that Yu is coming home late a lot, so she dresses up like a detective from a TV show (which is so cute >.<) and follows Yu. She eventually finds him hanging out with a woman (a woman I recognize, at least). However, when she brings the rest of the gang, they find her with a different woman.

With Yu busy and Dojima stuck at work, Nanako is left at the summer festival alone. However, Naoto arrives to cheer her up and encourage her to finish the case. Nanako finally finds Yu just as the fireworks start. Yu then takes her to meet all of the people she’s seen him with, and she realizes how much he has helped them.

So the big news this week is that they changed the opening! While sky’s the limit was more mellow, this song takes a bit more of a faster-paced style, which reminds me of the battle themes. The other big news is that the fox has arrived! For those of you who haven’t played the game, the fox would follow you into the TV world and heal you for a price. I’m very curious to see how the fox will come into play in the anime.

So, as you may have guessed, none of this stuff happens in the game because we never see stuff from Nanako’s point of view. Still, it was pretty cute and fun to see. A nice change of pace. Next week, it looks like we’ll see the same stuff, but from Yu’s point of view. I think this was a pretty nice way to do these social links, especially with Yu ending the episode about to tell Nanako all the stuff he did, which we’ll see next week. I was a bit worried that we might not see it (the flirty nurse is kinda funny). More social links next week!

Chihayafuru Episode 13

The national tournament finally starts. However, a new enemy approaches, as Chihaya runs into a strange girl at a temple before the tournament. In the first round at the tournament, Taichi is able to raise everyone’s morale as usual, but Chihaya seems to be overwhelmed by the pressure of the event. Meanwhile, Arata is trying to get to Omi Jingu to watch the match, and we start to see his memories of his grandfather.

We see that the original stroke caused partial paralysis, which later became early stage dementia, causing Arata’s grandfather to forget about karuta. But one day, when Arata is forced to skip a tournament to watch over his grandfather, his grandfather suddenly tells him to go to the tournament.

Back in the present, Arata arrives to see Chihaya collapse. Taichi calls her match forfeit and leaves her in Arata’s care. Chihaya is taken to the hospital, but Arata stays behind. An old friend recognizes Arata and tells him that his karuta is just like his grandfather’s. When Chihaya wakes up, she finds out that everyone else made it to the playoffs before losing. She also finds out that Arata has decided to play karuta.

So Arata’s story ended up being basically a copy of Hikaru with the whole Sai thing and quitting Go. I guess it was what I expected to happen. I wonder if Arata’s message meant that he’s going to be participating in the individual tournament or if he can’t sign up. Kind of anti-climactic for the team tournament to end the way it did, but I suppose the individuals are going to be the focus (kind of opposite of Saki). Still plenty of episodes to go. So far, it’s been pretty interesting.

Life’s Great Mysteries: Watching Anime Socially

So with 2012 upon us, let’s look at another one of life’s great mysteries. Today, I want to talk about watching anime in groups. From the general trend I see online, this may not be such a common trend, but I want to look at how this dynamic changes the experience of watching anime.

So for the most part, the anime I watch is watched alone in my room. However, sometimes I venture out of my cave on the outskirts of town and go to the meeting for my school’s anime club, which meets every week during the school year. Basically, they pick like 4-5 different series and show one or two episodes each week.

What does this end up looking like? 3 hours each week in a dark room with anime playing on a projector with about 20 people watching. Clearly, this is different than watching by myself. How is it different? Random outbursts of laughter become choruses of laughter and personal predictions are met with outcry or agreement.

I like the atmosphere watching with others and it’s nice to get immediate feedback about an episode, but I’m not a huge fan of waiting a week for an episode when I could so easily finish it myself. Still, I found myself greatly entertained when I watched No. 6 for a second time with everyone else.

I also find that watching with the anime club introduced me to shows I wouldn’t otherwise watch by myself, like Nabari no Ou and Outlaw Star (No. 6 and Nabari no Ou? What is it with this anime club and borderline BL?). I start to wonder if this is evidence of the social environment acting in a negative sense, numbing myself to problems I’d normally have with an old show like Outlaw Star or…a show like Nabari no Ou.

Let’s switch gears to a completely different dynamic. What about watching with just one other person or two other people, such as close friends or significant others? Although, I’ve never done this, I’m sure that plenty of people have. Does this add to the experience? Subtract from it?

In the end, maybe it boils down to a matter of preference. Even though writing this blog gives me fairly quick feedback on the episodes I’ve just watched (which is part of the reason I’m still writing), I find that watching with the anime club is still the same amount of fun.

So what’s your opinion? Am I nuts leaving my cave because anime is not meant to be a social experience? Or have you always felt the same, but never quite been able to gather the necessary human beings for such an event? If that’s the case, maybe something can be organized online. Not quite the same, but maybe it can make up for it a bit.

Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai Final Episode

So I finally got around to finishing this show. Basically, the last episode is the final battle between the Kawakami family and the Tachibana group. Everyone arrives on the scene and splits off to fight their respective opponents. At first, the Kawakami family isn’t looking so good, but then Class A arrives to back them up, also bringing Cookie.

Yamato remembers what his father tells him about a country relying on love and his vow to become Prime Minister to protect that belief. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister admits to the truth behind Tachibana’s last operation to the bandaged man, who then reveals that he has recorded the conversation.

In the end, Yamato rallies the girls and they are able to push back, causing most of the group to retreat. However, Saki and Tachibana remain. Yamato, with Cookie’s new upgrade, subdues Saki and Momoyo takes out Tachibana, but at the cost of her life. However, she reveals that she was only faking to get a kiss from Yamato and the battle ends.

I’d say this was an okay ending for this show. Yamato’s failed attempt to cover up his declaration of love at the end of the episode was pretty amusing. But how could they let Yukie take on the former professor guy all by herself? So cruel…Still, it was hilarious when she and Matsukaze switched voices in a panicked scene. I’m not sure how different this anime was from the game, but looking at the show as a whole, I’d have to say I wasn’t entirely impressed. The characters were great, but the plot wasn’t all there and the some of the episodes just seemed…not so good. Still, an enjoyable experience and possibly a formal review later. I miss watching anime on my desktop…this netbook sucks. But I’ll be heading back home this weekend.

Anime Review: Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai

Anyone following this show along with me should be fairly familiar with my opinion of this show. Here’s the setup. Basically, Hasegawa Kodaka is a transfer student who has a hard time making friends because his appearance makes him seem like a delinquent. One day, he walks in on one of his classmates, Yozora Mikazuki, talking to her “air friend.” With Kodaka’s help, Yozora starts up a club called the Neighbors’ Club with the goal of making friends.

There really isn’t much of a story here. Basically, Yozora and Kodaka assemble some lonely classmates in the club and they all try to do activities together that friends would do. It’s a basic slice-of-life situation with a sort of harem vibe as well. I have to say, though, that the comedy in this show is pretty impressive. The show does a great job of just being funny, and keeping the fanservice fairly tactful as well.

Story: 7/10

The characters in this show were pretty amazing in my eye. We have Kodaka Hasegawa, the main male protagonist, who gets roped into this idea of the Neighbors’ Club by Yozora. The most impressive thing about Kodaka is his poker face. He’s put in numerous situations that would make any normal guy lose their cool, but he keeps a pretty straight face through everything.

Along with Kodaka, we have the major rivalry in the show, which is Yozora vs. Sena. Sena’s a wildly popular girl in school, but yearns for real friends who see her true self. Much of the series is a back and forth between the two as they each try to come out on top of the other.

Finally, we have the more support characters: Rika, the mad ero-scientist, Maria, the loli teacher who acts as advisor for the Neighbors’ Club, Yukimura, the effeminate boy (?) who uses Kodaka as an example to become more manly, and Kobato, Kodaka’s little sister. Each of the characters is entertaining, but we don’t see much with regards to character development from them.

Characters: Score 8/10

Animation in this show was fairly good. Nothing that struck me immediately as bad. Not quite as impressive as C3 was, but still looked good. The music in this show is all pretty light-hearted and I felt like it served the situations nicely. The opening and ending themes are also both good songs.

Animation: Score 8/10

Music: Score 9/10

Overall, I’d say that this show was very enjoyable. We don’t really see anything that looks like plot unless you count the last episode, but even that was mostly a flashback. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending of the show, because it necessitates a second season. If there’s no such second season, I will definitely be very disappointed. I’d say the show does a great job of being funny without being so overt about their fanservice like C3 or Majikoi. If you’re looking for a nice show where you can just turn your brain off and enjoy, then I think this show is a nice choice.

Final Score: 8/10

Life’s Great Mysteries: Forums

We’re still in that quiet period in between seasons, so today I want to talk about forums. In particular, I was wondering how many forums people frequent and what about the forums attracts their attention, specifically anime forums.

From what I’ve noticed, anime forums often look similar, with general discussion sections to talk about certain anime and a downloads section where users can post links to download series. I use Cartoon World forums as a source for dual audio anime, but for the most part, I get anime directly from fansub sites.

Another use for forums to create a site for social interaction online. However, I find myself often using chats, like IRC and Skype, instead to communicate. Maybe I prefer to have the sense that I’m addressing someone specific, rather than just leaving a message for anyone to answer. But is it so simple?

Still, I understand that forums provide a much wider scope for communication, allowing you talk with so many more people than you can with a chat. But I feel like IRC is fairly similar if you find a popular enough one. You can definitely get some discussion going on with a plethora of people.

Another thing I’m wondering about is the forum rules. On one hand, it makes me hesitant about posting because I’m afraid of breaking the rules or re-posting something someone else has already said. But on the other hand, I don’t have to deal with the constant stream of disturbing comments people say in chats (usually sexual in nature).

I think the best part of the forum is the permanence. Without having to go through the effort of starting a blog (like someone I know >.>), you can throw out information to the world for everyone to read as long as the forums stay up. In contrast, a chat won’t show you the messages you’ve missed and it will clear when you close it.

I’d say that I want to get to the point where I’m reading forums often because of the wealth of knowledge that I’m sure to find there. I guess the problem I have is sifting through the bogus threads to reach the ones I really care about.

Another problem I have is how annoying it is to reply to someone with a fairly early post, since it just gets tagged at the end and I wonder if it’ll even matter to make the reply. I guess I really just like the way blogs organize the comments.

So that’s why I’m wondering what other people do to keep up with forum posts and such. I tried using email notifications, but that just becomes tedious sometimes for my inbox. So how do you do it? And which forums do you hang around? Any tips for an Asian guy with waaaay too much time on his hands?

Let’s Talk About SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act)

So as the title suggests, I want to give a look at SOPA, a bill currently on the table in the U.S. Congress. I know some of you guys are living in other countries, but I still feel like it’s pertinent due to the wording of the bill. Also, I like to throw this out because maybe I’m misinterpreting things and maybe I’m overreacting.

So I guess the most important question is what is SOPA? Basically, SOPA is a bill designed to allow the courts to authorize a block of certain websites that show evidence of providing copyrighted material to users illegally. This sounds all well and good, but I feel like the wording of the bill makes things a little too broad such that it can affect websites at a much larger scope.

Basically, any website that targets the U.S. is a potential target for this sort of court action. But this seems a bit off to me. Doesn’t basically every website target U.S. users in some way? It’s a world wide web, is it not?

So how does this affect us? While websites with subbed anime may not end up being affected because anime is Japanese, the file-sharing sites that host these downloads, such as Megaupload and Fileserve, will be prime targets.

Although certain sources voice their assurance that sites like Youtube and Facebook will not be affected by bill, I can easily see the possibility for them to fall to the broad wording that I’ve read. Maybe I’m biased because of the incredible implications this has to my normal browsing style.

I guess my biggest problem with this bill is the precedent it sets. I feel like even if this bill doesn’t specifically create the Great Firewall of America, it lays down the foundation for it. And having spent a lot of my time in China, I can say confidently that it’s not very fun having that sort of firewall.

Then what’s the next step? What if America starts to censor the Internet in the same way that China does? China blocks all blogging platforms because they allow users to voice their opinions, potentially about the government. I’d hate to see something like that. But maybe I’m exaggerating.

So my final opinion. If Google’s got a problem with this bill, then I’m gonna have to agree with them. I honestly understand about copyright infringement with things like music (I’d be pretty annoyed if I had to find Japanese music legally, though…so much trouble). But I feel like anime really doesn’t lose so much from the piracy because of how much money they get from merchandise, and the exposure in America and other parts of the world only helps with that.

Most of the information I’m getting come from a combination of Wikipedia, americancensorship.org, and some random news articles. So feel free to check those for the information that I definitely missed. Honestly, I was a little hesitant about posting this because of possible misinterpretations on my end, but I’d really like to know everyone’s opinions.

Anime Review: UN-GO

UN-GO

So this was a show that I didn’t follow because of how late it started up, but I kept watching it by myself. I’m a huge fan of the detective genre, so this show instantly caught my attention.

Basically, the story follows Yuuki Shinjuurou, nicknamed the Defeated Detective. With his partner Inga, he solves crimes in an attempt to defeat the world-renowned Kaishou Rinroku, a famous detective who runs a major corporation in Japan.

The story introduces itself as a cut and dry detective series, with the first few episodes just being mystery after mystery. We find out that Inga has the ability to force people to answer one question truthfully, but other than that, nothing special happens.

I was very close to dropping this show outright, but decided to stick it out. Fortunately, I was rewarded, as the show quickly takes a turn for the amazing. Although some of the endings are a bit predictable, there are many scenes that just blew my mind.

Story: Score 7/10

The characters in this show were pretty impressive to me. Shinjuurou is introduced as a bit of a shunned character who struggles to gain a reputation as the show goes on. The greatest thing about his character in my mind is that above all else, he seeks the truth. He adamantly reveals the truth to all despite the consequences.

Along with him, we have Inga. Inga’s got an interesting vibe to him, quite eccentric. We learn a lot more about him as the show goes on, and it becomes quite interesting, and a tad disturbing. Although not introduced until much later, Kazamori is also an amazing character (and probably among my favorites).

Kaishou Rinroku plays the mysterious entity who seems to be everywhere and know everything. Along with him, we have his daughter, Rie, who supports Shinjuurou and acts as a sort of reflection of his humanity.

Characters: Score 9/10

The animation in this show is a bit different, but I didn’t really mind it at all. The character designs are pretty interesting, although some of them overdo it a bit much. The music in the show didn’t pop out at me, but the opening theme was fairly impressive and the ending theme was okay.

Animation: Score 8/10

Music: Score 7/10

Overall, I’d say that despite the rocky start, this show really did entertain me. I might be biased because of how much I love detective shows, but I really think this show did a good job of putting a plot behind the episodic style indicative of most detective series. The pacing of the show may have been a bit too quick, with only 11 episodes to cover it all. I think the ending was handled pretty well, and it even puts forth the possibility of a second season. All in all, I’d recommend this to anyone willing to put up with the slow start.

Final Score: 8/10