Archive for February, 2009

GRR! Investigation for gaming in libraries? Srsly?

Man, if this is the case, I’d better get packing.

Librarians buy Rock Band and video themselves using it for YouTube. You’re seriously going to tell me that this warrants an investigation for wasting tax payer money??? These people have 1) obviously never been in a library and 2) obviously have never looked at what libraries in other states are doing. A huge portion of my job involves programming for teenagers. Gaming, when you look at the lifespan of the equipment versus the number of uses, is one of the most cost effective solutions to get people (especially tweens and teens) into the library and keep them entertained.

A full Rock Band set costs about $100, throw an extra guitar in there you’re getting up to $130-150. Okay, lets go full tilt and say you needed the game system to go with it- the game is out on all systems so go with the cheapest model of Xbox (okay, I don’t advocate for anyone to buy the Arcade instead of the slightly better model, but that is a discussion for another day) or the Wii (then you get WiiSports but have to get another remote for the other guitar). Lets say you’re even pushing $350 dollars now, oh no! Oh wait, I’m going to use this system again and again for gaming programs, staff development (we always have bonding sessions off the clock), non-gaming specific programs (anime club, teen advisory board, summer reading party) for years. I’m going to take care of the equipment so the likelihood of it breaking is low. My kids are going to bring in their own games for us to use on game day, like they always do. Say that we even only use this equipment 7 times a year (the number of game days I held last year) for 5 years. 35 events. That’s about 10 dollars an event. How many events can I host that cheap- and no less bring the kids to the library in droves?

Idiots- this investigation is going to run them way more than $350.

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Female friendships in anime/manga

Anime News Network has started a nice discussion on female friendships in anime and manga. A lot of the points they raise harken back to my discussion good shoujo- the fact that so many anime/manga plots are male driven and even the female-aimed series the girl is usually a wishy-washy husk of a person who is nothing without a man defending her, fighting for her, etc.

However, I can think of a few good examples that they don’t touch on in their discussion. Feel free to throw some more out there!

Yoruichi/Soi Fon- Bleach– okay, I know you have that Sailor Moon!whole lesbian love thing going on here, but these two are tight and no man is coming between them. Yoruichi’s “betrayal” of soul society put Soi Fon off, but in the end it did little to change her feelings. They have romance and camraderie holding them together like super glue.

Konoka/Setsuna- Negima!– wow, is there a lesbian undertone theme here? Yeah, it’s not intentional. Yes, Setsuna serves as Konoka’s protector and definitely feel some responisiblity from a childhood accident to be close to her. But it’s clear that these girls would be together anyway, duty or not, and nothing is going to change that.

Usagi/Rei/Ami/Makoto/Minako- Sailor Moon– finally, no undertones! (well so long as I don’t get into Haruka/Michiru) Again, we do have the “duty” element since Usagi is their princess. But that duty doesn’t have too much to do with their present day activities, and after the initial Rei/Usagi fight over Mamoru the five of them are extremely close (especially for teenagers) with that sexual tension that Haruka and Michiru have.

In creating this list, I have come to realize that I primarily thrive on male-centered shonen. I mean c’mon- only three examples? I’m pathetic! I need to broaden my horizons.

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Awards for voice acting? A good idea for improving the quality of dubs!

North by Northwestern has a great article on the difference in quality between American/Japanese voice work in anime and the idea of rewarding quality work in America. In Japan, this is not a question; most seiyu are legacy actors who have done voices in dozens of anime and games (try playing 6 degrees of Romi Paku– it’s easy and fun!). The quality is superb, the voices fit the character, and the performances are emotional. There’s a real reason why so many people prefer the Japanese voice track to the English one- and frankly after hearing the show in Japanese I usually can’t imagine the character sounding any different.

But to be fair, voice acting in America is getting better. Although the actors named in the North by Northwest piece really talk about non-anime roles, I can think of a few anime ones for which the voice actor really deserves credit:

Crispin Freeman as Tsume in Wolf’s Rain: You know, I might not have said this a month ago. But after meeting the man I can really say that he put his heart into that role and on a second viewing it comes off as much more genuine to Tsume as a character. A for effort.

Steven Blum as Roger in The Big O: This show, as a whole, has one of the best English voice casts. Perhaps the characters origins lend themselves better to the English, but however you look at it, it was done right. Steven does a great job with Roger’s voice, and it just feels right. On a whole, Steven has done many good roles (at least by comparison with other dubs) but him as Roger is definitely my favorite.

Karen Bernstein as Amy in Sailor Moon: Yeah, I know, I’m reaching really far back on this one. But Karen was the first voice for Sailor Mercury, and even as a young one watching Sailor Moon after school I could recognize that her voice was right for the character. I can’t say the same about the actresses who succeeded her in the role.

In any case, I can’t think of that many, but here’s hoping that changes! Do you have any you would put out there? Feel free to comment!

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Add me on Good Reads

Okay, I honestly can’t imagine much of a reason why you would want to know about my reading habits, but if you’re a sick individual who is actually interested I am not available on Good Reads. Be warned- most of my reviews are about YA lit and not necessarily otaku-related. However, I am going to make an effort in the coming weeks to add more in the way of manga reviews.

In any case- friend me! Or just add yourself to Good Reads; it’s a great community and the more members join the more valuable it becomes!

OtakuLibrarian on Good Reads

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Right Stuf’s “Year of the Otaku”

otaku.rightstuf.com

Right Stuf’s Stuf for Clubs program is one of my favorites because they are so active and one of the few remaining programs that supports anime clubs for libraries with speedy viewing permissions and screeners. This year, they’ve launched their “Year of the Otaku” program- basically celebrating Otaku year round. They’re currently accepting entries for their first contest (“What Kind of an Otaku Are You?”)- There will be one grand prize ($100.00 gift certificate for anything in our online store) and four runner-up prizes ($25.00 gift certificates). Be sure to pass the word on to all your little Otaku club members!

Direct contest link

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NYCC creepiness

I was very, very sad to be unable to make the New York Comic Con this year due to a series of work related events. However, Kotaku has made me feel a bit better because no matter how much I love Blue Dragon, this would have creeped me the hell out too.

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Movies to break you into Anime

Forgive my absence! Sickness & blogging sadly do not go together, especially when one is at work during said sickness. Anyhoo, enough whining from me:

Wired did an interesting piece on movies for anime n00bs which presents some great descriptions of the staple pieces for newcomers. These are the ones that every otaku has seen and will watch time and time again regardless of age. The only one that I would note as conspicuously missing is Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies), though I do know many people who purposely exclude it because it’s just so damn depressing.

However, as usual all of these movies are oldish (I know Spirited Away wasn’t released here until 2001, but still), aimed at the young’uns, and primarily very neutral. The piece got me thinking about what  current movies could be used to jumpstart non-otaku into current or recent anime franchises. Without further ado, I give you my quick list of modern movies:

1. Akira

Okay, okay. I’m starting out with an ancient one on my list of current titles, I know, I’m a hypocrite. But how can one skip Akira? Although it isn’t current, Akira serves as a backdrop for everything that anime is. The plot is deep and enthralling even to non-otaku, and the influence on modern anime is clear. This movie is a key primer to modern anime!

2. Ghost in the Shell (and Innocence)

I often say that Ghost in the Shell is a great way to show adults that anime isn’t just abstract, slapstick nonsense. In fact, if you don’t have a decent attention span and a head for philosophy, you’ll be lost within the first half-hour of this movie. But get a group of liberal arts majors together and you’ll end up with a rousing discussion about humanity and the future of mankind. Plus it’s a great segue into one of the best action/sci-fi animes out there (definitely worth noting how different the anime, manga, and movies are from each other to whoever you’re showing it to, lest they be sorely disappointed).

3. Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

Perhaps this is extra poignant given the abortion of a Keanu Reeves’ nightmare that is currently in production in the US (am I obsessed? I think I sound obsessed). Although the movie is set in the timeline between two of the episodes of the show, it is definitely watchable by a non-viewer and gives them a great taste for what the series is about. It has enough action and heart to convince a non-otaku to give the show a chance.

4. Perfect Blue

Another oldie, I know! But this is the film to convert your horror fanatic friend to the dark side, so to speak. A very Hitchcock-esque piece about a former idol whose change of careers provokes some obsessive fans with horrifying results.

In any case, this is just my short list. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments!

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