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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Defeated by kiddie castle

Two days after the fact, and my legs are still sore. There was this buffet on Sunday doing all-you-can-eat sushi for $20, and it was good too. I really liked the unagi, but my friend says it wasn't too good, which makes me want to try really good unagi. Maybe it was just the sauce on it that I liked.

Immediately after the buffet where I ate about four plates of sushi, the whole group of us who were there went to the kiddie castle in the park and did Ninja Warrior throughout it and otherwise just ran and played around for a good number of hours. I was jumping off swings, playing hide and seek and spinning around on this crazy tire-like swing, almost being unable to stand after getting off of it. I'm lucky I didn't lose my glasses or throw up.

Next morning, my legs were sore, and stayed so all day. This morning, still sore. Obviously this means I don't play on playgrounds enough.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

The sun sets on Suncoast

The closest Suncoast to me, I believe possibly the last one in Tennessee, closed today. To commemorate this occasion, as well as the sales, a few friends and I headed to it to get some deals. I spent way more than I should have and got all of Galaxy Railways, Maetel Legend, and G-Saviour.

Yes, that's right. I actually bought, meaning paid actual money for, G-Saviour. I'm sure it will be nowhere near worth the $15 I paid for it, but I still haven't seen it yet, and the Gundam fan in me tells me that I should see it, no matter how bad it is.

At least I now have plenty of stuff to watch while waiting for TV-Nihon to sub the last episode of Kamen Rider Den-O. Such a good series. I'm eager to finish it and move on to Kamen Rider Kiva though. Also looking forward to the ending to Gekiranger, although not so much to the next sentai series Go-Onger.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Movies, movies, more movies

Movie-wise, this has been a long Friday. I watched three different movies today, two being new and one being one I hadn't seen in a while but had just recently bought. Now, there shouldn't be any spoilers in here that aren't already included in the film's advertising, but if so, tell me.

I Am Legend was a really good movie. I generally like a lot of Will Smith movies, and this is no exception. Most of the time, it's just him talking to his dog, mannequins or recording devices. He pulled off the whole stranded alone thing well with talking to the many New York mannequins to stay sane, reminiscent of Tom Hanks and his volleyball in Cast Away. I thought the "vampires" were pretty interesting as well. I didn't quite see the ending coming either, and it did work well. I haven't read the comic though, so I don't know how it compares to it.

Obviously, the big movie of the night was Cloverfield. Now, did it live up to the hype and the viral marketing? Eh, not so much. Oddly enough, my fear about there being hardly any actual shots with the giant monster was mostly put aside. It was actually quite unique and interesting, and boy did it cause a lot of damage. One complaint a lot of people might have is a legitimate one though, one that actually affects the viewing experience and possibly even being able to finish it all at once, and that's the shaky cam. It's an interesting and worthwhile endeavor, but it can make those with even not-so-weak stomachs somewhat nauseous. You'll also probably leave the theater speculating the answers to a lot of questions you are most likely going to think up, but that's what sequels are for.

Finally, at the end of the night, I came to my dorm and watched my newly-purchased Mobile Suit Gundam F91. It had been a few years since I had seen it. It's pretty good. The animation is nice for early 90s. The pacing will most likely seem fast to a lot of people, especially seeing how what was supposed to be a full-length Gundam series got shrunk down into this two-hour movie, but it's not too bad. The titular Gundam itself is pretty cool too. It's a good movie in the franchise and goes well with my Gundam movie collection.

Ok, that's it. I'm tired now. Busy weekend ahead of me.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Back to School

Back on campus now. Yesterday was tiring thanks to my sinuses. Only had one class though, but I also had some club business. Today, two classes since my first one was canceled. Tomorrow's the first club meeting since before the break. It'll be nice t see everyone I haven't seen yet since last semester.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Newtype USA goes bye bye


Newtype USA is ceasing publication after the February issue, although I don't know if that means the "February" issue that comes out in January or the "March" issue that actually comes out in February (what is up with that anyway?).

ADV, who publishes the USA version of Newtype magazine, licenses the name from Kadokawa Shoten, who publishes the original Japanese version of Newtype. ADV seems to be planning to replace Newtype with a different magazine, which begs the question of if ceasing Newtype USA has to do with the license of the name itself. I hope it's more of a licensing issue than it is problems from ADV. With them shutting down the 24/7 channel version of The Anime Network and Anime ADVocates still "under construction," it doesn't look too good simply from an outside view to see these things happen in such close proximity of each other.

Part of me is sad to see Newtype go. It is one of, if not the most notable anime fandom magazines published in the US. The other part of me is kind of meh. Newtype is too expensive, especially considering its target market. There's still other magazines like Otaku USA and Protoculture Addicts to pick up the pace, but still, the Gundam fanboy in me is sad at the loss of the name.




ANN posted up an email ADV has been sending out to Newtype subscribers that announces the replacement magazine, PiQ, and saying that those with subscriptions of Newtype left will get twice as many PiQ subscriptions.

It basically sounds like it's Newtype without the Newtype name. I do like how it basically doubles the subscriptions that current subscribers have, but I hope the opting out does have some other form of compensation.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Back from Ohayocon

That was a fun trip. Got to Columbus at around 2 in the morning Friday, and while my Senior Director of Marketing tried to set up the booth, those who would be manning it at 8am went to sleep. It eventually got finished sometime around noon, and it was a pretty awesome booth with the grids, rope lights, banners, music and the projector. It didn't get quite as much attention as it did when we got our Con Kitty there Saturday, but it still went over well.

Sitting at the booth was mostly entertaining by having other people in the booth to talk to. We would get some people to talk to us about MTAC, but mostly, it was to find out where Ohayocon registration was or where or when events were.

Got a few photos of mostly some cosplays I liked from the shows I like. Also took some photos of the two wallscrolls I got, the only actual merchandise I bought at the convention. Feels weird to spend more money on food than I did on useless but nice-to-look-at wall decorations.

The trips there and back were interesting to say the least, involving discussions of movies, comics, cars, TechTV, NSFW and many 20 questions games, some of which were also NSFW.

Got back around 1 this morning. Glad I didn't have anything to do today. Sleep was really nice. I had a lot of catching up to do online though. Always the rough part about coming back.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays!

A couple of minutes in MS Paint.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

End-of-semester reflection, pt 1

The end of yet another semester has come once again. This has been my seventh semester in college at MTSU, and as with all semesters, it too has presented itself with its own challenges and eventfulness that actually warranted a month-long break. If I chose to go over all of those in one post, that would be a freaking long post, possibly rivaling the paper I wrote and put in my last post, so I'll go with the one that I was able to put into actual words first: the anime club.

Ok, here's the rough part.

Running this thing is hard. It's especially hard when the tiniest negative criticism usually makes me question what I'm doing. I try to do what I think is right, I get ignored and brushed off by people who think I'm over reacting and trying to be too orderly. I try to give in and we hardly even get what we're watching every week done, if that, and usually within a day or two of the actual meeting. Do I back down too easily, or am I too much of a straight-laced, order-bound figure head?

Here's a good case in point. We can't figure out what to watch in this club. We try to nail down a couple of running series, but later a couple of people complain about not liking them. I try asking the club up front at meetings what they think, and most of the crowd is quiet (a disturbing change from when I actually want them to be quiet when I give announcements). Our polling system failed last year because of few too many people voting on stale choices, so we tried this semester without one. A few people cried out, so I gave the people a poll that I know won't work because too few actually use it, and what do I get? Half, maybe less, of a regular meeting's attendance actually voting on it. Luckily, the choices haven't been bad, but it's still disheartening to see such little participation, which was one of the main problems in the first place.

It's amazing how figuring out just what to watch turns out to be so complicated. People wonder why we hardly ever do anything, but that should be obvious when an anime club can't collectively decide what anime to watch, and even then it's only a small number that seems to actively try. Maybe I expect too much. I, and some others, want this club to do some kind of big stuff, although we can rarely figure out the what or, more often, the execution. Even then, it seems some could care less. It's hard to do club activities that would actually get most of the people involved when we have so many varying tastes and interests in activities.

Too many of us seem to take things way too seriously and personal. Again, for me, I question a lot of my decisions when people criticize me. Others get some negative feedback, and they seem to want to just flat out avoid the club. I'm not talking about feedback like insults or yelling at someone. I mean simple disagreements in club business. Yes, club business does need to be somewhat serious, as we (or at least I) do actually want to run this thing like a club and not just some easy way for use to watch anime on a projector screen. However, we need to learn to not be so personal and use supposedly shot down ideas or any criticism for excuses to avoid meetings.

We've also had some other bumps in the road, like MTSU setting up a new system for student organizations to keep track of their members, throwing my whole method out the window, and relationship issues between club members that seemed to polarize some members for a little while, but those seem to be more superficial issues that are in addition to all the stuff I said above.

Now for some good news.

This semester has seem some more good additions and friends to the club, which is always nice. Some of them even seem to have good officer potential, which will come in handy with one of our officers stepping down during the break. The club AWA trip went decently well, and we have a good start for MTAC (no more 20 people in one room this time). What few All-Day-Anime days we have had have gone decently well, with a good turnout for the mecha-themed day and for the two AMV panels we've had. Plus, we actually finally have a club shirt design. I'm putting my foot down in that this is what we're going with. Any more going back and doing changes will result in even more going back and doing changes and then us never getting this done. Thank god next year's design is already ready.

As for what I need to do now, I need to basically reflect on what the hell we're doing here. Just basically rethink some issues, come up with some things to present right off the bat, and figure out how to get people involved more and get us to actually do stuff. I want to see more actual anime club projects. Also have a good bit of cleaning and organizing to do on the website and forums.

Sometimes, it's nice to have a month of free time just to play catch up.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

A Very Brief Look at Anime Fandom Around [MTSU]

Ok, I'm back home from college and kind of bored. I'll probably go into some end-of-the-semester stuff later, but for now, I figured I would go ahead and post my paper I did for class. Well, here it is.

A Very Brief Look at Anime Fandom Around [MTSU]

by me
December 4, 2007
Global News and World Media Cultures

Every Wednesday night of the school year, a group ranging from 20 to 30 people gather in the Business and Aerospace Building at Middle Tennessee State University to meet friends, hang out and take a break from the hectic life that college tends to bring. Oh, and they also watch about three hours of anime.

The MTSU Anime Club is just one of the various local anime-related activities where people can turn to for their anime fix.

Anime, or Japanese animation, first came to the United States when the Japanese series Tetsuwan Atom was brought over and dubbed over (replacing the original audio track) with English voices, becoming what we know as Astro Boy. Anime became more popular in the U.S. in the '90s when more gritty and mature titles such as Akira and Ghost in the Shell arrived on the scene. These and other similar works contained more sex and violence than most animated works on TV, attracting a new American teen audience. Anime, as well as manga began to become popular, also expanding the American audience to more females with more titles aimed at them, such as Sailor Moon. Then, in the late '90s, the mega hits of Dragon Ball Z and Pokémon helped establish an even stronger market in the states to digest these Japanese works. After the turn of the millennium, anime distributors like ADV Films and manga distributors like Tokyopop established a noticeable presence within multimedia and book stores, such as Suncoast and Books-A-Million, and anime became an inescapable subsection of American popular culture (Thompson 224-233).

More and more people, particularly teens, became entranced by anime, seeking out people with the same interests. New activities, imported from Japan and given an American touch just as the media itself was, began to become popular amongst these anime fans, which became known as otaku, a term from Japan that refers to hardcore anime and manga fans.. They began to congregate and mingle in clubs and conventions, meeting new people and making the fandom grow even larger and stronger.

But what is this anime fandom that has seemed to pop up in the states, or even the local area of MTSU for that matter? Fandom generally refers to a subculture of fans and their similar aspects and activities, all tied together by a common interest. Therefore, the anime fandom here would be the subculture of anime fans that share similar aspects and activities related to their love of anime. As far as MTSU is concerned, this fandom is represented by the MTSU Anime Club. In addition to getting together to hang out with fellow fans, MTSU Anime Club members also go to conventions, cosplay, make AMVs, create anime-based fan works and watch fansubs, just to state a few more notable aspects of this fandom.

Anime Clubs

MTSU Anime Club is, as the name would suggest, an anime club. Anime clubs have popped up all across the country in colleges, high schools, libraries, community centers and even private homes. These clubs serve as a community gathering point for people interested in anime to try to find others with similar interests.

“People go to our clubs for a social clique and the notion that there are other people with a relevance in their, and our interests,” says Phil Shin, who joined the MTSU Anime Club over a year ago and is currently the club treasurer.

Anime clubs provide a place for local fans to gather and enjoy their interests together, such as watching anime. However, anime is a very broad interest. Different people may prefer different kinds of shows or different viewing environments. Some may like large social gatherings over a small group of friends, while others may want the reverse. Sometimes, the needs very so much as to have multiple anime clubs, just like here at MTSU and its two anime clubs: MTSU Anime Club and Genshiken, which takes its name from a manga and anime series of the same name about a Japanese anime club.

“The need for two clubs, beyond the personal reasons, is to accommodate the wants of how people would watch there anime within a giant social click,” says Shin. “Some people like it festive and chaotic while others like a more relaxing environment.”

MTSU Anime Club tends to be a larger club with a broader selection of series, while Genshiken tends to be a smaller group of around 10 members with a slightly less varied selection. Both clubs, however, serve an important need within the local anime fandom by providing a focal point for their members to get together and socialize.

Anime Conventions

Every April, MTSU Anime Club members prepare for one of the most anticipated events of the year. No, not finals. Instead, it's the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention, more commonly referred to as MTAC (em-tak).

“Anime conventions are celebrations of fandom,” says Cole Stant, senior director of marketing for MTAC.

Anime conventions like MTAC provide venues of staples of the anime fandom. These conventions, ranging in attendance from a couple hundred to over 35,000, allow fans to come together and celebrate all things anime. Cosplayers show off their costumes, AMV creators display their latest works, and fan artists and creators give the public a chance to see their material and possibly buy some of it. These conventions give them the chance to compete with others and test their talent.

That's not all either. Panels give attendants a chance to learn about random issues. Video rooms show various different anime titles. Gaming rooms allow for friendly playtime and fierce and heated tournaments. Dealer rooms give fans the chance to buy all sorts of merchandise from their favorite series. English voice actors discuss their works with their fans, giving the fans a chance to meet their favorite celebrities. Concerts and performances allow for additional entertainment. These are but a few of the convention standards found in conventions held in almost every state.

“The vast majority of anime conventions are non-profit, volunteer organizations ran by fans of the artistic medium which they gather to celebrate,” says Stant. “Anime conventions are quite literally ran by fans, for fans.”

“I, personally, go to cons because of the variety of merchandise that they have in their dealer rooms,” says Tyler Smith, who goes by Tak among the MTSU Anime Club. “The items that I look for are primarily1/8th and 1/6th scale PVC figures of anime heroines.”


Cosplay, a combination of the words “costume” and “play,” is a hobby where individuals dress up as characters they have a particular interest in. It is widely practiced among some anime fans, especially at anime conventions like MTAC that allow fans the chance to dress up as their favorite characters and show off their works to their peers in the anime fandom. At these conventions, one can see people dressed up as anything from ninjas and pirates from the popular shows Naruto and One Piece respectively, the giant creature Totoro of My Neighbor Totoro, bakers from little-known series like Yakitate!! Japan, and even personified Pikachus of Pokémon fame. The particular reason one may cosplay can vary from person to person.

“I cosplay because I enjoy sewing and anime, so it is a great way to show off the hard work that I put into making costumes, as well as expressing my fandom in a creative way,” says Danielle St. Pierre, who also goes by the name of Cospenny within the MTSU Anime Club.

Tanner Eads, a MTSU Anime Club member who cosplays the character Chouji from the popular ninja adventure series Naruto, does so for another reason.

“I cosplay because I love the character I dress as. I dress as them because I see myself in their actions and would like to see more of their actions in myself,” says Eads.

St. Pierre and Eads are two of the many fans who like become their favorite characters through costumes and display them to others in convention contests and online. Websites such as cosplaylab.com have thousands of pictures of costumes that fans, such as St. Pierre, have made and contributed to the viewing of the public of the Internet. Others take photos as cosplayers pose for the camera at conventions and post them online as well.

“I have found fellow cosplayers and con-goers to be extremely supportive and friendly,” says St. Pierre.

Anime Music Videos

In parts of this fandom, anime and music go hand in hand as those interested in both combine the two into what are known as AMVs, or anime music videos. But what are these AMVs?

AMVs are video clips of anime that are edited together and synced to a new audio clip, often a song of the creator's choosing. The video clips can come from one or many different anime series, and the audio can range from songs to comedian stand-up clips to even movie trailers.

“[AMVs are] a person's vision of a music video that is set to Japanese anime that is their own specific interpretation of the song or show,” says AMV creator Stan Montgomery.

Montgomery, who joined MTSU Anime Club in August 2007, is one of several in the anime fandom who submit their works to conventions hosting AMV contests. These contests judge AMVs by technical aspects such as video editing, syncing with the audio, special effects used and overall presentation and flow, as well as creative aspects like the story told through the animation and the audio and the originality of the work. Montgomery won both the Best Action and Technical Achievement awards at the MTAC International AMV Contest in 2007 for his entry, an AMV titled “You Know My Name” that uses the song of the same name by Chris Cornell and video clips from the anime Karas.

AMVs may be hard for some to get into due to the work that goes into making them. Aside from putting the clips together, there's gathering the clips, planning out what to do, and even learning the ins and outs of the chosen method to put one's AMV together.

“You have to have stages you go through. You have to have a planning stage, a drafting stage, and then you'll have a first few drafts that will look bad and you'll have to go through and edit,” says Montgomery. “I did one, finished it, finalized it and everything, didn't like it, so went back and started over.”

With the advances of the Internet and sites that host AMVs like animemusicvideos.org or even just stream them on youtube.com, even those who do not go to these convention contests or make their own AMVs can enjoy the creative works of others.

Fan Works

In Japan, a popular interest among fans are doujinshi, fan-made comics often based on the characters and plots found in Japanese media. These doujinshi are a sign of dedication to the fandom. While the actual concept of doujinshi isn't as prevalent here, there are still some examples of fan works in the American anime fandom.

Anime conventions tend to have an artist alley and an art show. Artist alley are booths run by artists and creators where they sell their works to passer byers. They are more or less a business venture, selling a product that they made. Some artists at artist alleys also do commission works, requested works that one would pay artists for. Art shows tent to be more display oriented, allowing artists to show off whatever they have made to the public for free, possibly allowing for sales at the end of the day. The works at the artist alley and art show tables can vary from buttons to to bookmarks to portraits to even some doujinshi. Sometimes, some artists may be able to pay a little extra for a dealer room table, putting them among dealers of a variety of anime merchandise where they can sell their own works.

“I'm looking forward to just having the experience of having selling my own work,” says William Johnson, who goes by the name of Kyoji within the MTSU Anime Club.

Johnson is in a group that will be making its own doujinshi for MTAC in 2008 and displaying it at an art table. This group will work on doujinshi for the games The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy Tactics, as well as an original work.

“The fact that somebody might buy one of my doujins and will take it home and read it excites me,” Johnson says.

Even outside the convention environment, these fan artists can still put their works on display. Fans who create fan fictions, which are stories, usually in prose form, using copyrighted characters and plot elements, can be posted and found at sites like fanfiction.net. Artists can place their original work or fan art on sites like deviantart.com.


Possibly the most morally questionable aspect to the American anime fandom would be the existence of fansubs, which are anime in its original Japanese voices and has been subbed by fans who do not have permission to distribute the anime. Fansubs provide easy viewing material for club and conventions, but the legality of them may make some weary.

Due to such copyright-protecting doctrines as the Berne Convention and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, this unlicensed distribution of anime is technically illegal. However, in the past, a blind eye was often turned so that fansubs would increase awareness of lesser-known anime, usually as long as fansubs would stop once a series was licensed in the U.S. and did not detract from sales from American releases. However, with high-speed Internet access, fansubs are able to be produced of the most current shows in Japan within days of their original Japanese airing, and the easy access to them have anime industry officials worried.

“These illegal outlets damage the ability of Japanese producers to sell DVDs and sell into Television in local markets and make it increasingly difficult for the studios to pay the animators, voice actors and actresses, writers, original creators, and everyone else who makes the anime,” says Arthur Smith, GDH (Gonzo) International President. Gonzo is a Japanese anime production studio (Smith).

Others, such as Anime News Network's Justin Sevakis, argue that the fault lies on the industry for their slow turn around on getting the latest Japanese titles into the U.S., and that the industry's failure to provide the product that the market is calling for, which is anime brought over faster, will continue to fuel the fansub market until a solution is reached (Sevakis).

This leaves anime clubs and conventions with a dilemma. Do they want to stick with licensed shows that a U.S. distribution company gives them permission to show, or do they want to expand their variety and have the newer and the lesser-known and unlicensed shows to show to their members? Some clubs and conventions do the former, and some do the latter. MTSU Anime Club tends to fall in the latter.

“[We show fansubs] to give a broader variety of anime that is not out yet in America and to keep up with mainstream Japanese visual culture,” says Shin about the MTSU Anime Club showing fansubs. Thanks to the Internet, the MTSU Anime Club seems to prefer to stay ahead of the trend that the U.S. anime distribution companies set and instead stay a bit more current with Japanese releases, and that doesn't seem like it will change soon.


Not all fans of anime are deep into the fandom. Not everyone is in a club or goes to conventions or participates in all of these activities. Some just casually watch anime when they can, not really telegraphing their interest in the material as much as some 'hardcore' fans might do.

Daniel Potter downloads Bleach episodes weekly and watches anime on Adult Swim, but he doesn't do many of the activities discussed earlier, nor has he even been to an MTSU Anime Club meeting, despite being an MTSU student.

“Probably that has to do with the fact that I'm not as hardcore as some others; I like pocky OK but I've never daydreamed about an [Fullmetal Alchemist] tattoo,” says Potter.

Potter is an example that not everyone related to the anime fandom has to join in all of these related activities. One doesn't need to spend hundreds of dollars in convention dealer rooms or work for hours upon hours on a new costume or AMV to be a fan of anime. Just watching anime does not make you like it any less. It is perhaps the most pure activity in the fandom. After all, it's what got everybody in it.

Works Cited

Eads, Tanner. Personal interview. 3. Dec 2007.

Johnson, William. Personal interview.2 Dec. 2007.

Montgomery, Stan. Personal interview. 3.Dec 2007.

Potter, Daniel. “Re: Questions for Global News Report .” E-mail to Nicholas Qualls. 3 Dec. 2007.

Sevakis, Justin. “Editorial: An Open Letter to the Industry.” Anime News Network. 25 Nov. 2007

Shin, Phil. Personal interview. 3.Dec 2007.

Smith, Arthur. “Arthur Smith – President of GDH International – Interview on Anime Piracy.” Active Anime. 21 Nov 2007

Smith, Tyler. Personal interview. 3 Dec. 2007.

St. Pierre, Danielle. Personal interview. 2 Dec. 2007.

Stant, Cole. “Re: Here you go.” Email to Nicholas Qualls. 2 Dec. 2007.

Thompson, Jason. “How Manga Conquered America.” Wired. 15 Nov. 2007: 224-233

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Monday, December 10, 2007

What's Up Doc?

Watching Space Jam tonight made me miss old school Looney Toons, especially in the face of this crap. Who honestly thought this was a good idea?

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