The Anime Pulse #14 – The Japanimerican Way!

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of The Anime Pulse. Last week, I kind of did a potpourri column of different things that were on my mind and with the growing difficulty to find just one thing to talk about to fill an entire column, I decided that going forward, I’m going to adapt the same format for every column.

A little bit of boring history, but I began writing columns in 2009 when I became part of the WrestleView staff. As a pro-wrestling fan, I had a lot of topics to talk about so I broke them down into little sub-sections. It was a format that worked because once you talk about some of the main topics in Anime, as with Pro-Wrestling, sooner or later you find yourself running out of material.. or in my case, material that I’m actually interested in talking about.

Not only does switching to this format help me write out a column, but it also allows me to talk about many things rather than just one topic. Of course, if there is something big enough I can fill an entire column with, I will definitely talk about it, so I’m not ruling out the “one column, one topic” format completely.

Anyhoo, enough banter.. let’s get on to this week’s topics and the first one I’m kind of salty over.

Half-Assing It

If you’ve read my columns or my anime previews, or heck, even if you follow me on Twitter, you’d know that I am a BIG fan of Arslan Senki. I could, actually, fill an entire column with my thoughts on this, but I will save that for around seventeen weeks from now when the series ends and I give it a proper review. In short… IT’S AWESOME.. GO WATCH IT.

*ahem*

The opening to the show, at least among my circle of friends, got some mixed reactions. I will state that as a standalone song, UVERworld has performed and created an amazing track, however, as a song that’s supposed to fit the style of medieval times of swords and boards, kingdoms at war, etc… it just doesn’t fit… at all. There are many, myself included, that feels as if Aoi Eir’s ending theme “Lapis Lazuli” fits the overall atmosphere and should have been the show’s opening theme.

Be that as it may, I cannot discount the fact that as a standalone song, “Boku no Kotoba de wa nai, Kore wa Bokutachi no Kotoba” (try saying that five times fast), is very good and I was really looking forward to the full version’s release. In my last column, I stated that the release was supposed to be on May 15th, however, it was pushed back until May 27th. That date has come and gone and I was able to subject my ears to the full version and wow… the song was as good as I was hoping it would be. I love the song to death with one little minute and tiny problem.

The production was ATROCIOUS. If you listen to the TV-Size version on the anime… it’s crystal clear. The instruments and the vocals sound balanced and it has a very high CD Quality sound to it. The full version, however, did not receive this treatment. It sounds as if the vocals were sung a note lower than in the TV Size. There seems to be some echo throughout the track, either that, or the harmonization of the vocals was never balanced out. At points, the sound quality sounds muddled and in other parts there are glaring imbalance issues between the levels of the instruments and the vocals.

Now, I will admit, I looked up the theme on YouTube and anyone who knows anything about YouTube is that the quality isn’t always guaranteed, but I tried many other videos on YouTube as well as Nico Nico Douga and all of them, no matter which one I listen to, all have the same quality. So unless there is one original poor-quality video being passed around and everyone is just copying it and uploading it, I’m going to have to say that the studio screwed up the recording of this track and, quite simply, half-assed it.

Sadly, I’m believing that more and more because of Attack on Titan. As you know, the internet lost their collective minds over how good the opening was to the anime. The second opening was equally as amazing and people were just chomping at the bit to get their hands on the full version. When REVO from Linked Horizon released it, we were treated to the same exact issues: Imbalanced instruments and vocals and just poor production quality all around.

Maybe…. Hopefully they will re-release it in a cleaned up format, but if Linked Horizon hasn’t done it yet for Guren no Yumiya and Jiyuu no Tsubasa, I’m pretty sure UVERworld won’t for… well.. I’m not typing that long title out again.. let’s just called it Boku no Kotoba. After all.. if they can half-ass the production, I can half-ass the name. Eye for an eye, I say!

The End is Coming!!!

So myself, along with my colleague, Elizabeth Lotto, have posted some articles right here on The Outer Haven dealing with the foretelling of the end of anime according to Neon Genesis Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno. He said that he doesn’t believe anime will be gone, but its popularity will certain die out over the next few years.

I actually sat and thought about this and yes, it does seem unfathomable due to the high popularity of anime not only in Japan, but here in the United States as well. To make a bold statement like that seems inconceivable, but… the thing is… it’s actually quite possible and it’s all because of what happened not that long ago in the past when the anime world say it’s version of Black Tuesday.

So the anime world was thriving. Companies were licensing anime left and right in order to bring it across the big pond for us Americans to indulge ourselves in it. There was one little problem… these companies were licensing every single thing that came out and they would do it very quickly in order to prevent rival companies from getting their hands on it. While getting as many licenses under your belt could be good for a company because it would give them an expanded product catalog for us fans to choose from, the glaring issue was that these companies weren’t paying attention to quality and were simply aiming for quantity.

What happened was a TON of TERRIBLE anime shows got released and nobody bought them because they would plop down the money for a promising show only to discover that it was complete and total garbage. What happens after you scorn the population with terrible anime over and over and over again? The answer is simple… people just stop buying it all together. This lead to the big anime crash and a lot of companies stopped licensing shows because they simply couldn’t afford to take the risk, but this also turned out to be a gold mine for anime fans because you would walk into an FYE or a Wal-Mart store and find a lot of these shows dirt cheap as these companies were discounting them heavily just to move the inventory out of their warehouses and if you knew your stuff, you could pick up some gems for relatively little to no money.

Fast forward to today and once again, the anime industry has bounced back and is thriving once again. Popularities are at an all-time high and companies like VIZ Media, FUNimation, Aniplex, and so forth, are scooping up shows left and right and boasting on the internet that they have acquired the license to said shows. With services like Crunchyroll and FUNimation’s Premium Streaming, accessing these animes has never been easier. Heck, FUNimation is even dubbing the animes AS THEY AIR and putting it behind their pay wall.

So… do you not see the trend here? Do you not see the pattern? This isn’t going to be something that happens overnight, mind you, but over time, these companies are going to sell some pretty big hits and with the way they are scooping up shows left and right, they may get a little too greedy and feel that the public will buy anything that they license and we’re going to be in the exact same spot we were during the last anime bust.

But there is one little factor that many people are not taking into consideration: The internet. The internet is a very powerful tool and fansubs, I believe, will not die. The Japanese government is gearing up and trying to take down anime distribution sites (like Anime Take which got taken down a few months ago), but there are simply way too many and if one dies, another one is just going to pop right back up. Plus, webmasters can actually take measures to protect their identity and as long as the website is hosted outside of Japan, Japanese officials would have to obtain, through foreign policies, the rights to perform searches. It’s kind of tricky.

So even if the anime industry “dies”, I believe it will go back underground for a while until the popularity will build back up. Then we’ll see this vicious cycle repeat itself and do you think the third time around companies will learn from past mistakes? Of course not because MONEY MONEY MONEY!

EW! Get That Ugly Thing Away From Me!

So a couple of columns ago I asked the question on whether or not you avoid certain animes because of their art style alone. I will now share my thoughts on this.

I am, at my very core, a fan of anime. I started watching it back in 2008 when I was encouraged to by my friend Mike (in fact, he just wouldn’t shut up about it until I did it.) So I didn’t really see a lot of the older, hand-drawn series or even the older art styles when it came to the eyes and hair of the characters. I “grew up” in the CG era where there were plenty faded gradients, detailed and colorful eyes, and more Gaussian blurs to simulate high definition artwork than you could shake a stick at, but I still wanted to see some of the older series that I was told that I need to watch before I die. Series such as Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Ninja Scroll, etc.

I went back and watched some of the older shows and I enjoyed a lot of them. The old art style didn’t bother me one bit as I was hooked on the story and the characters the most. I think watching older anime is much akin to playing an old NES game after diving into a high def game on PS4 or Xbox One. The older classic is still fun whether it is for game play or story reasons and the graphics didn’t matter one bit.

So to those who turn their noses upward and shun the classics just because the art isn’t full of CG explosions and effects that would even make Michael Bay feel jealous, then I say you are watching anime for all the wrong reasons and you’re really missing out on some of the greatest stories ever told.

Welp… that’s going to do it for me this week. If you would like to voice your opinion, you can do so by shooting an email over to joshpiedra@theouterhaven.net. I will even include them into a future column and make you semi-famous. Also, if you feel inclined to do so, you can follow me on Twitter @PulseIn

Until next time,

Ja ne!

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture.Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.