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Sunday
May312009

Episode 10 - Jammie Pants

Well we did an episode after all, and we're going to do another one tomorrow so yay! Everyone but Ecks made it this time to cover some of the remaining Pre-E3 news and talk about some games. We also now have an official opening thing! If you have any taste in sitcoms, it should sound familiar. [podcast]http://insert-disc.com/AMIF/AMIF010.mp3[/podcast]

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Music used in this episode:
  • Opening - Resident Evil's "Jill Sanwich" moment.
  • Break 1 - "A Lone Prayer" - Persona PSP
  • Break 2 - Megaman 2 "Title"
  • Ending - "Snake Eater" Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Easter Egg:
  • Baka's TMI

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Tuesday
May262009

Episode 9: Nothing Happened

Man, nothing happened this week, so we just briefly went over some news and what we've been playing. lwelyk, Ecks, and Patz showed up for this, so you know it's still awesome. I mean, lwelyk was there. It's clearly worth listening to. [podcast]http://insert-disc.com/AMIF/AMIF009.mp3[/podcast]

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Music used in this episode:
  • Opening: "It ain't easy bein' white or brown" from Arrested Development
  • Break 1: "Metal Gear Solid Main theme" from Metal Gear Solid
  • Break 2: "Main Title" from Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
  • Ending: "Rawest Forest" from the internet. I believe the guy is called Marta.

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Thursday
May212009

Schoolgirl Milky Crisis review

Jonathan Clements has always been one of my favourite writers on anime. His columns in Newtype USA and Neo are reason alone to buy the magazines. As a translator and dubbing director of over seventy anime titles, he has a great deal of insider information and surprising stories from dealing with fandom, businesses, and the Japanese creators. Clements is the author of the Anime Encyclopedia and the Dorama Encyclopedia. He received the Japanese award for “outstanding contributions to the understanding of Japanese culture”. Greatest cover ever?

Schoolgirl Milky Crisis is a "generic-sounding" name that Clements uses as a replacement for a real title when he is writing about instances and people that he shouldn't reveal.The name also became the title of his recent book (published by Titan Books) that is a large tome of collected essays from nearly twenty years of writing. The book is full of essays, anecdotes, creator profiles, panel transcripts, and a whole lot more. With its broad range of topics and massive amount of content it makes a perfect otaku bathroom reader. And I had every intention of treating it as such. I decided not to review it so that I could enjoy it over a period of time instead of rushing through. After all, I had read a good chunk from the pages of Neo and Newtype before. I ended up reading all 395 pages in four days. Every piece written was a joy to read and I devoured large chunks in each sitting. The book contains chapters on the industry, legality, toys, translation, and more all with Clement’s behind-the-scenes look at these topics. There are chapters that take a look at various manga anthologies dedicated to subject such as golf and pachinko. Jonathan Clement’s writing style is very entertaining and truly packed with unique information. This is a reading experience unlike any other. It is an insightful and clever look into the series, industry, and fandom. My favourite of the larger pieces is one of the panel transcripts. Highbrow Skills in a Lowbrow Medium is an amusing and detailed speech given at the British Centre for Literary Translation. In it Clement’s warns the audience of some difficulties of the job and shares humourous stories from his own experiences. Anyone who is hesitant to pick it up because they already have many writings in their collection of magazines should put that feeling aside. To have all these stories collected together sorted into chapters and indexed itself makes it worth owning. Add the newly published segments and there should be no question as to whether one should purchase. Fifteen (US) dollars is a small price for the content. If you have any interest in the world of anime at all, then there is so much to absorb from this reading. This book taught me that chopping old cabbage can create a convincing sword sound. Schoolgirl Milky Crisis is absolutely brilliant and an informative resource to treasure on one’s shelf.
Jonathan Clements also operates a blog by the same name with even more stuff to read: Schoolgirl Milky Crisis

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Tuesday
May192009

Episode 8: Baka's Awkward Moments

Yes, another epsiode of >Attack Magic Item Flee. This week we talked about video game pricing along with the standard stuff. Also Baka has more awkward moments than any other episode so far. The hosts this week were lwelyk, Patz, Baka, and Ecks; APA couldn't make it once again. Don't let that stop you from listening though! [podcast]http://insert-disc.com/AMIF/AMIF008.mp3[/podcast]

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Music used in this episode:
  • Opening - Audio from "Meet the Spy"
  • Break 1 - "Koopa" from Yoshi's Island
  • Break 2 - "Overworld" from Yoshi's Island
  • Break 3 - "Final Battle" from Chrono Trigger
  • Ending - "Mother" by Mr.T

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Tuesday
May122009

Episode 7: Pre3 - We're So Bloody Clever

SEE? I TOLD YOU WE WERE WEEKLY NOW. This week we once again were without Baka and APA couldn't make it either. So lwelyk, Patz, and Ecks talked at length about the upcoming E3 and what they think will be there. Give it a listen!

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[podcast]http://insert-disc.com/AMIF/AMIF007.mp3[/podcast] Music used in this episode:
  • Opening: That commercial where we tighten up the graphics
  • Break 1: "Dodo's Coming!" - Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars - Yoko Shimomura
  • Break 2:"Birdo" - Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Ending:"There's a Zombie on Your Lawn" - Plants Vs. Zombies

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Monday
May112009

"Aren't the Manga Always Better?"

About a year ago, I was discussing a certain series (no recollection of what) with a friend and mentioned that I preferred the manga of this series. My friend responded “aren’t the manga always better?”. I was a bit taken aback. “Since when the manga always better”, I thought to myself, but hadn’t a chance to vocalize before another topic arose. Now I was well aware that there are many cases in which the manga is considered superior. It is practically universally accepted than the manga of Bleach and Naruto are superior to their animated counterparts. Other hugely popular series share the same fate: Full Metal Alchemist, One Piece, Dragon Ball Z, InuYasha, Yu Yu Hakusho, and several others. Over time, manga has gained a reputation for being better than the anime.

-Honestly this post is long overdue and I do not see this thinking as often I did in the past-
The first thing I notice is that most of these series are shounen. In general, the extremely mainstream series are shounen series. Shounen series tend to be insanely long, and therefore the animation quality inevitably suffers. Shounen anime are full of stock footage and cheap animation technique. Filler episodes, of course, are another key factor that influences people’s view of the animation. The fighting, an important aspect in most of these shows, is very reliant on flashy effects. The pacing crawls along way too slowly. Lwelyk once said “One panel of them just starring at each other turns into a few minutes in the anime”. The low production value and tiring pacing make the manga seem much more desirable. Then there are shoujo series; while not as present in animation as shounen, there is plenty of reason why they are just fine in print. Shoujo series are very often highly dependent on dialogue to tell their story. In a shoujo story of romance and drama there is often little need for anything more than basic shots of faces and a whole lot of word bubbles. The dialogue and drama can be gripping while reading, but tiring to sit and watch. For instance, the anime adaptation of Fruits Basket had little new to offer to fans of the manga. Sure, it can be nice to see a favourite series in a new way, but the story just does not have much use for the moving pictures. The series is so long that what was animated only covered about six volumes out of the twenty-three. His and Her Circumstances is a shoujo anime that is an incredible adaptation and utilities a unique visual style. The original manga’s visual style didn’t particularly stand out, but Gainax took it and made it awesome. The only problem here is, again, it did not cover the full story and had a weird ending. Still, it was easy enough to transfer from the anime over to the manga volumes that continued the story, so that anime still worked quite well. His and Her Circumstances is an exception to the rule; in general I feel shoujo manga are better off remaining manga. But that is only side of the fence. Mecha series rarely have a manga of quality comparable to the animation. The realistic shows have many advantages in animation: The action sequences in mecha can be incredibly well animated- manga would have a hard time capturing Mobile Suit Gundam’s “Sunshine-smooth” battles. A futuristic world or gritty cyberpunk atmosphere can generally be more successfully represented in animation. No, perhaps “more successfully in not correct”: manga and anime have a different way of portraying atmosphere that gives them both a unique appeal. Super robot shows practically require movement and voices to portray the epic level of ridiculous and over-the-top energy. A good chunk of the appeal of Gurren Lagann or GaoGaiGar would be lost in comic form. Cute series in general are well suited to animation. Moe series especially work well animated. The manga counterparts can certainly be cute, but I find that the anime versions are often especially endearing. The character’s expressions, gestures, and voices are important aspects in their cuteness. The atmosphere, music, and overall production are all important parts of a series’ charm. I find fluffy cuteness like Kamichu or A Little Snow Fairy Sugar is a lot more fun to watch than read. Comedy series can be suited well the either medium. Most of these series do not need animation to deliver the humour. However, really insane series such as School Rumble or Ramen Fighter Miki are able to be much livelier. The manga of both just don’t have the same level of crazy energy. In some series the audio-visual aspects more than just compliments the story, but are a key part of the experience. Cowboy Bebop’s is practically impossible to adapt into manga. Two attempts have been made and were both terrible. This, of course, brings up the point that anime that came before the manga are usually superior, and so “the source material is generally better”. This is often true, but a whole lot of anime based off of manga are able to use their resources to create a better (or at least unique enough to have their importance) experience than the original could provide. From Cowboy Bebop episode "Brain Scratch" I realize that I have made numerous generalizations in this post. There are manga better and and anime better in any of these genres, usually with individual aspects that make both just fine. Manga’s print format has plenty of advantages too. Black and white comics can be utilized in very creative ways. Sometimes a lack of animation can be used for the good of the story and visual style. Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro is an example of a series that makes excellent use of the medium and I do not see how an anime would really improve it. Mushishi was a great manga with plenty of artistic merit, but the anime really enhanced the stylization of supernatural elements and the subtle background score was absolutely amazing. Both are worth experiencing for their own merits. In this article though, I wanted to focus on the advantages of animation. Movement, voices, music, and everything can be very well used to create something better than the original work. To sum up my feelings best, manga and anime are different enough that each can have distinctive merits that justify the existence of both. My point is not the glorification of anime over manga, but that assuming that manga is overall superior seems a silly blanket statement.

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