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So Hey, We Made An AMV This Year

Those of you who have followed Daizenshuu EX for an extended period of time may be familiar with the sudden drop in productivity sometime around April through June each year. It is during this time that the wife and I turn our attention to working on an Anime Music Video for Otakon’s contest. We have been submitting since about 2001, and have been regular finalists (either individually or collaboratively, depending on the video) since about 2003-2004.

In 2009, we did not make a single AMV. It was the first year we did not do so since 2000 when I got into the game — we did not even make so much as a trailer! My combination of apathy and laziness toward the hobby was rubbing off on Meri as well, and we simply did not get around to making anything that year. Especially after what we were able to create back in 2007, I felt like I had tapped out any imagination I had left. I was pretty damn satisfied.

(Insert generic description about the life-long friends we made from our years in the hobby, still enjoying watching fantastic video output, the amazing creativity people have, yadda yadda yadda…)

We wanted to make something for Otakon 2010, though. It was the only convention we were going to be attending this year, and with so many friends no longer submitting videos (or working on the intro to the contest, instead), our quasi-vested-interest in seeing the overall contest was waning. Also, to be frank… the last few years of Otakon’s contest have been pretty difficult to sit through. I just have not enjoyed them as a whole. I have always said (as both an editor and a coordinator) that if you don’t like the contest, your only course of action as an editor is to put up or shut up — either make a video that you are proud of and submit it, or quit yer whinin’.

So we tried that this year.

The two of us really love songs that tell a story — you look at examples like our Kare Kano video “Fake” from a few years back, and you can see how much we enjoy a song that so perfectly captures the feeling of a series and its characters in mood, sure, but also does so via its lyrics. Is it us (again) just being lazy? Perhaps.

Cage the Elephant’sAin’t No Rest For The Wicked” was getting lots of local radio play earlier this year with their album getting re-released (and apparently used in the opening to Borderlands, unbeknownst to us). The song was bound to hit us. The song has a great story to it. The song has a great attitude to it. It didn’t take much convincing from Meri before I agreed to it.

We agreed that it should be a multi-source video with a well-defined cast of characters: (1) the main character who comes across these “wicked” folks, (2) the whore, (3) the thief, and (4) the preacher. It was painfully obvious to us (as you will read later on) that Spike from Cowboy Bebop would make the perfect main character — Spike always works well with other series, and the old west vibe of the song fits in a little too well with the aesthetic of the show. Wolfwood from Trigun was the second easiest to cast, literally being a preacher with baggage, conflict, greed, and internal torture. The others were a little more difficult. We wanted to stick with shows in a 4:3 format to avoid cropping, so any more recent stuff was pretty out of the question. Choosing a notable character to act as the thief who holds up the main character at gunpoint was a tough one. We ended up going with Alucard from the Hellsing TV series (as opposed to Ultimate in its 16:9 format) since he definitely has a gun at all times, and he seemed like he might work well clashing up with Spike. The whore was the most difficult to cast — we did not want to go with Faye, since the other characters were all from different universes, so who would it be? What notable female characters could work in this context? We eventually settled upon Lust from the first Fullmetal Alchemist due to it also being in 4:3, and her demeanor fitting in well with the rest of the cast.

What would the point of the video actually be, though…? One morning en route the train station, I had the brilliant idea: Spike would kill them all…!

That proved a little more difficult than I thought. I remembered Fullmetal Alchemist entirely wrong, and we therefore had no footage to show Lust being killed. Alucard can’t die. Huh. All right, then. Our goal as creative editors is to tell the story we want to tell, though, and we ultimately (to quote Tim Gunn) had to just make it work. We are already making something “new” by combining the video and audio, so to take things out of context and tell that brand-new story really is the whole point!

We decided early on that we did not want to do a whole lot of compositing, and instead (to keep things simple for our lazy selves, and also as a partial challenge) wanted to be clever with our editing. No overboard effects. Keep it clean. Sophisticated. Appropriate for the music.

In the end, we only had one composite shot (someone else’s hand being turned into Alucard’s glove pointed at Spike), with the rest handled through creative editing and cuts.

OK… so there is actually another composite shot later in the video, too… for whatever reason, I don’t classify that in my mind the same way. I guess ‘cuz it’s on a TV.

The most difficult section to edit was the first chorus — it was also the last section we edited. The second and third verses feature a very distinct style of editing, which transitions into more traditional cuts for their respective choruses. The first verse+chorus combo of the video had none of this. There was no consistency! What could we do?! The problem was that the bass introduced in the second verse is not present in the first section of the song, which is what the masks and swipes were being timed to later in the video.

To be honest, we ran out of time and imagination before the Otakon deadline. Neither of us were happy with anything we tried. We had to show Spike somehow brushing her off and ultimately shooting her, but how could we do that with nothing interesting happening in the music yet? We ultimately went with a pretty awful split-screen (top and bottom) showing scenes of each character. Just cuts on a beat. No fades. No swipes. Nothing. It was ugly. It was not something I was proud of, but there was no more time before the contest submission deadline.

Something we had never done before was further edit a video after submitting it to a contest. Done is done, right? I was not about to let this one slide, though. It took us a month (and the impending Anime Weekend Atlanta Exposition AMV Contest deadline) to get it done, but we did. We wanted to do something that would set up the style of edits that would happen in the second and third sections of the video, so a similar style of masks and motion came into play. That bass still didn’t exist earlier in the song, so the timing was based off the lyrics, instead. There are still some split-screens at the end of the segment, but things at least have a flow to them, now. The execution style and initial editing was all Meri, while the timing and direction was all me. Good teamwork!

There you go. We made an AMV this year. Short and sweet, clocking in at just under three minutes. Is it my favorite video that we have ever worked on? Not by a long shot. Forcing these characters into this story certainly worked, but not as “perfect” as I would have hoped. I do think it is a fun video, which is pretty interesting considering that it is so clearly a “Drama/Serious” video underneath it all. What do you think? The attendees at Otakon seemed to like it, as we actually won first place for the first time ever in their contest. Huh.

(Yes, we will be putting up a downloadable version in the near-future. Just haven’t gotten around to it yet.)

I was tossing this out on Twitter one day, but I thought it would be fun to collect a bunch of links here to go along with this post. We never bothered to look to see if anyone else had made an AMV with this song (of course they would have), but it is fun to take a look afterward and see what is out there. Would they use any of the sources we used? Hilariously enough, all four of our sources have been used to make individual videos to the song!

There are a ton of other ones out there, too. Take a gander through YouTube. Funny stuff.

The Sculpted Monkey King

This past weekend we finally browsed around Grounds For Sculpture, an art… I guess you would call it “location”?… here in New Jersey. Their main showcase at the moment seems to be a collection from Keith Haring, whose work you would probably recognize if you saw it.

While that was neat and all (along with the bazillion strange and nude pieces littered around), only one sculpture truly caught my attention:

It was called “Monkey King“. You put those two words next to each other, and I take note. He did not look like any of the “popular” versions of Son Wukong (with his staff, etc.), but it apparently is indeed him — I guess it is from earlier on in the story when he’s just the plain ol’ “Handsome Monkey King”, and not yet quite “Great Sage, Equal to Heaven” (or, ya’ know, the dude who tends to the horses and doesn’t realize he’s being made a fool of). The piece is by Hyung Jun Yum and was made out of plaster in 2002.

Neat.

Daizenshuu EX Plagiarism Redux

(I initially wrote much of this article back in March 2010, but held off on publishing it due to never receiving permission to re-publish an e-mail. I have decided to just go ahead with it. It helps set things in context, and is a great lead-in to some extra commentary based on some recent forum posts.)

We have shared stories like this before, where another website simply lifted the entire content of a major Daizenshuu EX feature (including hot-linked images and all). It is the Internet — we expect this on a daily basis. In fact, the darn thing even works in the first place because content is re-purposed and shared. Information wants to be free, right?

This was an interesting one, though. It is not as black-and-white as the example linked above. In fact, one could argue that Daizenshuu EX is the one at fault for not taking advantage of the different mediums and outlets. All of these different ways to communicate and get the message out are right there, so why not use them?

Let me explain.

Back in February I received an e-mail from a regular visitor who was concerned. I have removed some identifying information about the visitor from the e-mail below, as well as named-references to the source he is referring to (though I will ultimately “out” them later in the article):

I am one of your many fans who uses your website Daizenshuu EX (along with Kanzentai) to get news on what is occurring in the Dragon World. I am also a podcast listener. Since I support your work, I feel the need to at least inform you of a certain individual who is plagiarizing your work on YouTube and becoming popular for it (and of course, no credit is given to Daizex). You may already know and not care, but just in case you do care about someone stealing your information almost word-for-word and being credited and praised for it, I’ll give you the info.

It is a YouTuber named “(name redacted)“. I believe he is a member of your forums going under the guise of another username, but I cannot say anything in this regard because I have no proof. He is known for his DBZ news and has rapidly grown to have almost 2,000 subscribers, which is a lot of people who use him for DBZ news, and a lot of people who should be getting it from your site. (URL redacted)

Now, if you watch a lot of his videos you will notice that they are complete rip-offs of your website updates. Take for example, (URL redacted) . If you watch this, you will notice that it’s just an almost copy & paste of all the info from your website that you posted a few days ago.

Unfortunately, MY BEST PROOF he has deleted because I actually posted a comment on the video talking about it and he removed the video before I could write this email. It was a video copying your “Additional FUNimation Cast Changes” post, BUT, one thing that I noticed is that he misinterpreted the words YOU wrote: “As a minor aside, it is fascinating to be simultaneous talking about voice recastings for both the Japanese and English side of the franchise. It feels like conversations from ten years ago (the shift from Ocean Studios to an in-house FUNimation cast) have resurfaced in a tiny way!”

He thought you were talking about a possible UK release for the DBZKai series and made a video saying that, copying the text I have displayed to you in this email and talking about it. Then, when I told him he was ripping-off Daizex and also that he got the info you wrote wrong, he deleted it. His latest video (as of 3:40 PM EST Feb 16th) (URL redacted) is the only proof I have that I am telling the truth. If you watch this video, he even admits his misinterpretation and that he did make a video.

I wouldn’t even report this to you if he was a nobody, but he is very popular; his videos have thousands of views and as mentioned earlier he almost has 2000 subscribers. And you will find no credit to Daizex ANYWHERE on his channel. I personally do not believe it is fair for you to put a lot of effort in informing and entertaining the Dragon Ball fanbase for “(name redacted)” to take advantage of it and become popular.

The first thing I did as I watched some of the videos was chuckle and take cheap shots at all of the mis-spellings. I suppose admitting I did such right here in the blog post is an extension of that cheap shot, but hey… did you expect anything less from me?

It is quite the interesting situation. Sure enough, if you watch the videos, they are essentially date-for-date and word-for-word reprises of the news updates over on Daizenshuu EX.

The big question to ask is — what’s wrong with that?

Earlier in the post I noted it may be our own damn fault for not taking advantage of the medium — if the audience is on YouTube, why are we not there to take advantage of them and provide them with valuable content in their home territory? Shame on us. People expect the news to be pushed to them wherever they are most comfortable.

(The answer is that I can barely find the time these days to do all it is that I already do, never mind produce video features of each news post!)

In the prior post about the website feature, I noted how you could spin it in a positive way — people were discovering content (and in this case, news) that they otherwise would never have encountered (OK, maybe they eventually would have…). They were reading my words and my feelings. More people than before were doing so. In at least an indirect way, Daizenshuu EX was being imprinted upon the masses! How is that not a plus…?!

You can look at it from the protective side, though, as our e-mail author clearly did… and they’re not even the ones making the darn website updates that are being “stolen” (that our visitors feel so protective and full of honor for the site gives me a feeling resembling joy I think). There is a somewhat “creepy” feeling having your words regurgitated back at you with no attribution. It is pretty disingenuous of this YouTube user to go making update after update, video after video, and never citing their source. That’s just lazy, if not completely amateurish. Don’t they think something is a little weird about that? Lifting so much content and not saying where they first learned about it?

It got more interesting just this week when a completely separate fan posted up a thread on our message board about it. Apparently this content-lifting-individual (or is it a group?) is no longer happy to just copy-and-paste updates into YouTube videos, and instead are running a larger, more traditional website. This is when I start scratching my head a little more. I am not sure how I feel about it.

It is at this point that I do not particularly care sharing the identity of these folks. It is definitely worth it to really showcase the extent they are going to.

You have an update of theirs like this one announcing the inclusion of Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans in Raging Blast 2. The translation of the scan is verbatim copied-and-pasted from Kanzentai, while the image the bottom (with our standard blue border and drop shadow) is ours from Daizenshuu EX — they could have clicked through to the source link (which I provided) and grabbed the original, full-sized image instead of using my tiny, formatted one. Only the former object is credited… and to be honest, I did not even see that credit at first. The news is not our own, but certainly the translation of it is, and to a much lesser extent, the formatting on the image is… well, that’s something.

Head on over to this update of theirs with a gallery of ten animation shots from Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans. To be fair, these ten shots were released by Namco-Bandai to their press partners (of which Daizenshuu EX is one) for free distribution and promotion. Take a look at the file names this group used, though: assets_20100821_animation_10.jpg, and so on. Head on over to the respective “Tidbit” page on Daizenshuu EX, and without looking, take a wild guess at what file naming standard I re-named them all with before posting.

I will let you in on one of our big, dark, pompous, egotistical, hilarious secrets — we absolutely love it when people, especially begrudgingly, have to visit Daizenshuu EX and Kanzentai for news. OK, it is not actually as mean in my head as it sounds when it gets written out like that. The truth of the matter is, both Heath and I (as well as our cohorts!) work incredibly hard to keep up-to-date with the news. We have our regular sources. We have our regular searches. We have worked our way into a position where sometimes news finds us. Honestly, unless you are another DragonBall fansite that has been around at least as long as Kanzentai (never mind Daizenshuu EX) and have the clout to leverage your position, you are ultimately stuck in a endless game of catch-up with us. That is not to say that someone could not come along in a couple years and upset the balance of “power” (for lack of a better phrase), but for the time being… we are it. If you want to know (in English) what is going on with the franchise, you either come to us, or indirectly find out from us via some other source.

Another source like this “Saiyan Team”.

(There is something to be said for news of a different “type”, though. There are other awesome sites out there like DragonNews who cover more fandom-related things than we do, and with an international twist. At the end of the day, though, with the franchise being of Japanese origin, any significant “news” comes out of Japan — and since we focus on the Japanese version of the franchise, well, guess where the majority of the news is being broken…?)

So what is the deal here? Are we just too protective of our own second-hand-generated content? I mean, it’s not like we were the ones who announced such-and-such product. We have broken some exclusive news before, but we certainly do not do it on a daily basis.

Maybe they are just some punk 16-year-old kid first getting into this whole “content creation” thing online. I know I sure had no idea what the accepted rules of society were when I first got into this back in 1998.

What I find most fascinating about the whole ordeal is that example where they removed a video after being called out on completely misinterpreting (some pretty clearly written) words in a news post. They back-peddled on the whole situation. They admitted fault in doing so. Any normal person, at that point, would probably sit back and re-evaluate what the heck they are doing. Yet here we are half a year later, and now their website updates are simply being copied word-for-word.

So I am opening up the discussion. What do you all think about this? Is there anything wrong with what this YouTube user is doing, taking advantage of an open space that we do not have the time to jump into? Quite clearly this is a very self-selected audience that is almost guaranteed to support me, but I definitely would not be opposed to some differing thoughts… because, honestly, I am not entirely sure how I even feel about it.

Hell, for all I know, the person responsible for the videos and site is reading this blog. It is not so far-fetched. All I ask is that, when you run to the comments, you keep it civil and intelligent. I wouldn’t expect anything less of you all, but I suppose I just feel the need to say that, anyway!

The Joke Lives On: VegettoEX is Appule

Many of you predicted it. With the release of Episode 17 of DBZ Abridged, the cat is completely out of the bag:

I voiced Appule.

I don’t even remember when it was that KaiserNeko and I first started talking about it — it was that long ago. It was something I was looking forward to for the longest time, and I got such an amazing kick out of doing it.

Despite my incessant commentary on the voice acting of various languages, I have very little personal experience (hey, few film critics have ever made a film!). I recorded a couple quick lines for This is Otakudom back in 2001, and stepped up to play a somewhat major character (“Chow Down Fast”) for S.T.E.A.M. in 2005. Both were directed by Scott Melzer, and everything was in-person at his house. It was very similar to how professional voice acting seems to be done in the US, with a director and single actor doing their lines at a time (though we typically had at least one other person in the room). We would do multiple takes, occasionally play the scene in real time while acting it out, etc. I did another couple quick lines for Scott’s next parody, but I will not be involved with it in any other way.

It was a bit different for Abridged. As we have discussed via interviews with TeamFourStar over on the Daizenshuu EX podcast, most (if not all) of their acting sessions these days are done live over Skype (with the actor locally recording their lines). This is exactly how I went about recording with my lovely director, KaiserNeko. I received the script ahead of time and picked out one line to do several different test “voices” with. I recorded the same line over a few times in these different voices, sent them off for review, and came back together again to finalize the tone of the character with a complete script. It was difficult to get a read on the man in terms of my performances — I couldn’t really tell if he was simply accepting mediocre work just to get it done, or if I actually pulled what he wanted out of my rear-end. That’s why he’s the “pro”, though… he just goes with it and keeps on truckin’ until he gets what he wants!

Interesting tidbit, though: I had to re-record two lines because of a wrong name in the script. In the TeamFourStar dub of the Bardock TV special, the Appule-esque minion killed by Bardock is named “Eachpe” (a play on “Peach”). Written in the script for my episode was “Pierre” (another minion from the Bardock TV special, a play on “Pear”). It was not until the final mixing stage that the error was realized! During the retakes, we kept going on and on trying to get an appropriate performance out of me for Appule’s final line, “Here I come, Eachpe…” For whatever reason, I simply could not hit that range with the character’s voice. KaiserNeko ended up taking a different approach with advice on other lines and attitudes to take to reach the point of emotion where Appule might end up saying that line — we ended up with some pretty ridiculous stuff spouting out of my mouth, but I ended out muttering out the take that was used in the final episode, so it was very much worth it!

I thought I did a pretty decent job. In particular, I think my delivery on Appule’s response to Zarbon asking why Vegeta was not nude in the tank was pretty dead-on. Overall, though? It’s up to you to decide. Hopefully it was a fun little cameo that you enjoyed. If you didn’t like it, though, don’t tell me. My poor ego couldn’t deal with it. Just go post about it anonymously on some other message board, preferably with a link back to Daizenshuu EX so I will end up finding it and ultimately drown my sorrow in alcohol.

By the way, one of my favorite gags in the episode is this:

Ooooooooh yeah!

Internet Persona (And Personal) Growth

I recently archived some of my earliest online endeavors. Some of them are filed away under lock so none of you will ever have a chance to see them. Some, like what I am about to share, are too cute to hold back. It is occasionally a good thing to look back at where you came from, figure out how much you have grown, and where to go from there.

When FUNimation (in conjunction with Pioneer) was releasing the first three DragonBall Z movies state-side back in 1997-1998, I was just beginning my website and writing quick reviews of the releases. Here is what my 15/16-year-old self wrote about “The Tree of Might” (DBZ movie 3), and specifically the uncut home release of its dub, back in 1998:

DragonBall Z Movie # 3:  The Tree Of Might

Was I ever surprised with this one!!  This IS NOT, I repeat, IS NOT the same “Tree of Might” that was shown on television.  It has been completely re-dubbed, and it is SOOO much better.  No more of that, “jerk” crap.  Instead of Taurus (yeah, it’s still “Turles” in the dub,  folks) saying to Piccolo, “And just who are you?” he now says, in a tone that suggests he is quite unimpressed with Piccolo, “Who the Hell are you?”  Just great!!  While the signature move names (for the most part) have still been changed (“Kienzan” – “Destructo Disc”…. “Taiyo-Ken” – “Solar Flare”….. “Genki-Dama” – “Spirit Bomb”… etc.), I must say, it was nice to hear Gokou (uh… whoops… it’s “Goku” in the dub, still) say “Kaio-Ken” the correct way!!  No longer is it being pronounced “Kayo-Ken”… we now get the true, wonderful, “Kaio-Ken!!!”…. I love it.  The new voice actors actually didn’t get on my nerves!!  Goku kept it pretty good, Oolong’s new one sucks like Hell, Roshi seems to have about three different people doing his voice, and….. uh….. Higher Dragon (yes, no more of that “Icarus” crap!! We get an actual translation of “Heiya Dragon”) must have had his Japanese “voice,” because it wasn’t half as annoying as it was as the TV version.  The gay-ass one liners have all been taken out, and I’m pretty sure they’ve stuck to the original Japanese script (from what I’ve read of the translated Movie # 3 script, so far).  I’m still in shock at the new queer names for some of the moves, though… no more “Kamayamaya” for “Masenko,” but now it’s called “Power Beam!”  “Souki-Dan” was “Here’s a power shot!”  Oh well… can’t have everything you want (actually, you can…. buy the sub-titled version!)  This movie is a whole hour long (15 minutes longer than # 1).  It’s a great hour, though.  There’s a ton of scenes in the Movie here that weren’t shown on TV, which made it all the more enjoyable.  The original Japanese soundtrack was also left intact in this movie, from “Cha La Head Cha La” to the ending song (who’s name I can’t remember… I’ll put it in when I watch the movie again).  This is just another example that says the guys behind the dub CAN pull something off that is somewhat worthy of Toriyama’s name.  Once again, I commend them.  Now, if we could only get this “Masenko,” Taiyo-Ken,” “Kienzan,” “Souki-Dan,” and “Genki-Dama” stuff right…..

Contrary to earlier reoprts, “The Tree of Might” is already available, on Dubbed VHS, sub-titled VHS, sub/dub Laser Disc, as well as sub/dub DVD.  Pick up a copy!!

SCORE —- 5.5 out of 7 DragonBalls

It is horribly embarrassing. To be fair, I was 16 years old — random cursing and slurs was awesome, and knowing any amount of Japanese (never mind character name pun origins) at that time was equivalent to being King of the Moon. I insisted upon spelling the main character’s name as “Gokou” (something I have done a complete 180 on) simply because it was “different” from what “THE MAN” told me it was. I used a numerical grading scale, something I would never imagine doing these days. I somehow managed to use more ellipses than I even do today. I used the wrong “whose”.

You can probably imagine me bashing my head against the wall right now.

At the same time, it is interesting to see some of the things I have not compromised on. I still have a huge problem with mispronunciations. I still have a huge problem with replacement musical scores. I still have a huge problem with revised scripts. Amusingly, these things all affect me far less due to the widespread availability of the shows in their original Japanese format — as you have come to hear me explain time and time again, an English dub these days is irrelevant to me (up through the point of it affecting greater conversations and information accuracy widespread-ness).

I think this is why I have more patience for kids on our forum over on Daizenshuu EX than a lot of you wish I had. I know that some of them just need a path and a guide. VegettoEX of 1998 was just a punk-kid with delusions of grandeur. He kept working at it, though, until those delusions were at least halfway real…!

Now you have to suffer with me whether you like it or not… which is just the way I like it.

Otakon 2010’s Yûji Mitsuya Panel of Awesomeness

There are plenty of stories to share about this year’s Otakon, and rest assured that many more will make their way to either this blog or our podcast over on Daizenshuu EX. One story in particular is a combination of news and hilarity (and has pictures to go along with it!) so you can imagine that I could not wait to share it with everyone.

Saturday afternoon at 1:30 pm, veteran voice actor and director Yûji Mitsuya was holding a second Q&A panel. We had missed out on his panel Friday afternoon due to conflicting events, but made sure to be open for Saturday’s panel. Mitsuya is perhaps best known to DragonBall fans as the voice of Kaiôshin in DragonBall Z, so while he is not necessarily in the same “importance” league as, say, someone like Toshio Furukawa or Mayumi Tanaka (both of whom are somehow tied to him in one way or another…!), he is no stranger to our extended anime fandom.

While it could be the subject of an entire blog post in-and-of-itself, and while it certainly is never a surprise to me, it continues to be an extreme disappointment to see how few people turn out for Japanese guests at anime conventions these days. Whether it is a lead animator, the creator of a series, a notable voice actor… it does not seem to matter. If they are not the hot English voice actor of the moment (hey, remember when Richard Ian Cox was the big shit for, like, a year?)… no-one comes to see them. It is incredibly sad when you take a step back and realize that we are all coming together to celebrate Japanese animation and culture (debatably, anyway; there is an argument for it all just being general nerd-culture-celebration loosely focused around anime).

But I digress.

Despite the ridiculously low attendance to the panel, Mitsuya charged forward like a champion with all sorts of stories. We heard about drunken sempai lessons and advice, learned how he formed a quasi-male-idol band with Toshio Furukawa (Piccolo) in the past, forming a theater group with Mayumi Tanaka (Kuririn, Yajirobe), and much later on after moving around so many times (keep reading!), ghost-directing the cast of Rurouni Kenshin for three months before deciding to allow himself to be credited and specifically choosing and mentoring Mayo Suzukaze for the lead character’s role based on her own theater performance. The man was just full of astonishing stories and genuine humility.

Then the fire alarm got pulled.

Translator Toshiyumi Yoshida first asked if we should all just stick around and continue, but Otakon staff insisted that we all must leave as the entire building had to be evacuated. In an amazing showcase of professionalism, Mitsuya suggested we all come along with him to the outside plaza there on the third floor and he would gladly continue telling stories and taking questions. So… the dozen or so of us followed him along and continued listening!

As we got going into the next story, Otakon staff insisted that we had to evacuate all convention center-related areas, including this outside area. Mitsuya was far from done, and insisted we all continue on with him! We traveled down an escalator, down some flights of stairs, and ended up alongside a wall outside of the convention center. Just as we started up again, Otakon staff yet again insisted that we continue onward away from the convention center.

Mitsuya was unphased. Much to the surprise of Yoshida, the entire group plugged onward with him and Mitsuya inside the nearby Sheraton hotel. We plopped in a corner and continued onward with the stories and questions! Mitsuya explained how he ran into Nathan Lane (the voice of “Timon” in Disney’s The Lion King) in New York and screamed “I am Japanese Timon! I am Japanese Timon!” into the frightened actor’s face. Unprovoked, he would burst into his characters’ voices and lines to describe his excitement over the roles and love of his fellow actors.

I managed to get in the last question he had time for. It was still quite a ways off, but did he know if he would be returning to voice Kaiôshin in DragonBall Kai…? The answer that we received confirmed quite a bit about the show’s production.

Mitsuya knew exactly what we were talking about, and admitted that he was not yet sure, himself. Being a director more than a voice actor, he is friends with the director of DragonBall Kai and has already expressed his desire to return to the role. What he told us next spoke volumes in very few words — he was unsure if they would be able to afford him, and if the series would even make it that far. He even slyly mumbled that he would be willing to take the job at a reduced rate!

With the entirety of Ginyu-Tokusentai being replaced with new voice actors (including Kenji Utsumi as Recoom, despite him returning to the show to voice Shenlong), along with plenty of other voice actors that have become much bigger in the industry since their roles in DragonBall, it has really made us wonder just how expensive DragonBall Kai actually is to produce, despite us always describing it as “cheap” and “a money-grab” and “half-assed” in almost every way. Hujio and I later discussed how it seems that these days we get confirmations of actors returning either very close to their first appearance in the series… or not at all. Many times it will not even come from the official site for the series, and instead from the actors themselves or their fan communities (such as the case with #17).

Branching off of that, we could not help but speculate further. Was the licensing of Kai to FUNimation for American distribution a way to raise quick capital to fund the further production of the series? When it was first announced, it was clear that the series would go through at least the Freeza arc, since the villain was clearly shown on all production materials. The fact that it would be moving onward into the next story arc with Cell was a very casual “announcement”.

At the end of the day, this set of rambling paragraphs is less about DragonBall and more about how great of a time we had with Mitsuya. His courtesy and enthusiasm is unparalleled, showcased by his desire for a group photo with everyone at the end of the “panel”:

What a freakin’ great time…!

(Thanks to Hujio and… oh hey, myself!… for the photos :P)

No Registration Needed! Need To Be Registered!

I saw this posted up at the library today and chuckled quite a bit:

What I’m pretty sure they are saying is that there is no extra registration necessary for their little Guitar Hero competition, but anyone who wants to complete must already be a pre-existing, registered member of their “Summer Reading” program.

What are your thoughts on forcing these teens to be members of the “Summer Reading” program before they can even participate in the video game competition? It seems to me that they would not even know about it unless they visited the library to see the poster in the first place, though it is possible that they heard about it from a friend, saw it on a website, etc. In any case, the library has most likely already accomplished their main goal of getting the kids to come to the building in the first place (the same way retail establishments get you into the store with giveaways or sales in hopes you will purchase something else), so why burden them with extra restrictions? Sure, some kids will show up just to play the game and ignore all the lovely books and the fascinating learning establishment that encompasses them, but is it that big of a deal? Maybe there have been issues in the past with random hooligan kids, but even random hooligan kids should have a chance to walk past some books…!

Say It This Way ‘Cuz I Said So

I won’t lie. I sometimes lurk around other forums. There are only a couple I regularly keep up with (my own, the FUNimation DB forum section)… but there are a couple others I have bookmarked that I check in on every couple of weeks. I feel somewhat of a responsibility to keep up with what the general zeitgeist seems to feel, think, and discuss. Even if they are discussions I have zero interest in participating in, if I am going to call myself an authority figure, I should at least be aware of what the current trends are.

This thread on the GameFAQs “DragonBall – General Message Board” area piqued my interest. I have a morbid curiosity in seeing how people explain Japanese pronunciations to other people in textual form. Someone wanted to know how to pronounce “Kuririn” — a valid question, especially considering that I have been working on my own pronunciation of the name for years. I know how to pronounce it, obviously, but my linguistic lack of skills have always slurred my “r” into “d” sounds! I think I have gotten it down pretty well these days… though I am certainly no Julian ^_~.

Anyway, this response made me chuckle:

Krillin. You’re not Japanese.

We have done whole podcast topics about “today’s fans with regards to the series and the way they view it (both the Japanese version and the English version, in relation to their [dis]placement)“. It is totally fine if you want to be that way — as Julian has humorously quoted (and I paraphrase), “If English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!”

Why bother with the “Japanese names”…? You speak English! It makes so much sense! We won’t even bother with examples like “Cell” and “Trunks” which Japanese-ify “English” words with their inherent extra syllables, but:

  • What about some of the other character names, though? Don’t you say “Kami“…? OK, fine — maybe you try to be self-consistent and translate/speak it as “God”. I will give you an “out” on that one.
  • Don’t you say “Goku“, which is a Japanese reading of the Chinese name for the Monkey King…? OK, fine — maybe you drop the “Son” surname to feel better about it and yourself.
  • Don’t you say “Tien“, which is a reference to something Chinese, never mind that it is not even how his name is spelled/pronounced in the original Japanese version of the show? I suppose this is pretty similar to the “Kuririn/Krillin” adaptation…
  • The name “Kuririn” is every bit of a pun-based name as “Ginyu“, which American fans typically write out and pronounce near-phonetically-equivalent to its original Japanese pronunciation — why is that one OK? Don’t you see the hypocrisy?
  • Don’t you say “Kamehameha“, which is a combination of actual Japanese and gibberish?
  • I am seeing hilarious conversations these days where dub fans are now trying to figure out which sounds “more cool” to keep, since the dub of (Z) Kai has changed things like “Destructo Disc” to “Kienzan” — their own overlords (the FUNimation English dub) won’t stay consistent for them, so they are left to flap about in confusion.
  • Worst of all… the Viz manga (you know, the English version) spells it as “Kuririn“. This has nothing to do with pronunciation, of course, though… but it somehow seems relevant, ya’ know?

I mean, shit… what about other shows where a character’s name is a Japanese name…? Do you “translate” it for fear of being seen as anti-American? Do you call the author of the series “Bird Mountain“, and if so, how do you reconcile the fact that his studio is literally called “Bird Mountain“…?

Why is it OK to keep some names with their Japanese pronunciations, and then disregard all others while scoffing at anyone who doesn’t choose to use your preferred dub’s spelling? Much like folks who have only read Viz’s translation (which has exclusively used the spelling “Kuririn”), I would wager that if the name was never changed to “Krillin” in the first place, these folks wouldn’t even blink at “Kuririn” all these decades later. I hate to play this card, since I am so sick of talking about it (and you are so sick of hearing about it)… but is it not simply because FUNimation just happened to have decided to change that name?

It is entirely inconsistent. It is ignorant. It is fearful. It is arrogant. It is hypocritical.

The mentality of “STFU your not jap spell/pronounce it dis way” is laughably moronic when you are using other Japanese-based (if not un-changed, entirely Japanese) character names in the same breath.

Yes, I am right and they are wrong. I dare you to argue otherwise ^_~.

(P.S. – Oh, and to answer the question… Japanese is pronounced very phonetically and with few exceptions. クリリン breaks down to “ku – ri – ri – n“. The ku is a short syllable that sounds close to the beginning of our word “cool”, the ri is a short syllable that sounds close to the beginning of our word “reed”, and there are two of those in a row, and then the last syllabic-“N” sound is pretty obvious in that it sounds just like it does at the end of our words like “pen”. It all slurs together pretty quickly so that it sounds like what I talked about here [MP3 example included]. “Krillin” is something that I feel is a totally legitimate transliteration of the name, but let’s not pretend that “Kuririn” is absurd.)

(P.P.S. – To semi-quote myself being sarcastic recently… “Shit’s serious, yo.” No, this is not a big deal. At all. It does not affect anyone’s day-to-day life. Just felt like writing about it.)

Prized Possessions: Nakao’s Autograph

We somehow lost our digital camera’s battery charger a while back. Since we buckled down and purchased a replacement one, I have been looking around for random things to take photos of. It is one of those cases where you do not know what you have until you have lost it… then you get it back and go nuts…

I am sure I will get bored with taking photos of random things again very soon. Until then, I will populate a new blog category: Prized Possessions. I can be incredibly materialistic at times, and get a kick out of showing off the random crap I have accumulated over the years. Hey, some may call that a “character flaw”… I call it “great blog fodder”.

It is no secret that I moderately worship at the feet of a one Mr. Ryûsei Nakao. It is not as creepy and overboard as I might lead you to believe — I mostly just play it up for amusement. At the same time, I really do think he is pretty amazing at what he does, and is worthy of the respect he receives. While Freeza is one of his best-known and well-loved roles, Nakao has brought his voice to tons of other engaging characters. I have recently learned about his role as Mayuri Kurotsuchi in Bleach (which makes so much sense…!), but one of my personal favorites is that of Iizuka from the Rurouni Kenshin OVAs (you know… the one OVA series… perhaps if I say that enough times, it will become true?). As a stark contrast to Freeza and Kurotsuchi, Iizuka is just a regular guy. OK, fine… he is a a mole within an organization and not really just “a regular guy”, but compared to some of the other notable characters Nakao has played, that is the best description possible.

I think the guy is incredibly talented. Can you guess which of the items on this shelf is one of my most favorite things ever in the whole world like totally radical man?

Meghan grabbed this for me at Animazement 2009 when Nakao was a guest of honor (alongside Trunks’ voice actor, Takeshi Kusao). Notice the autograph on there? Here is a close up:

What did I tell you?! Nakao wrote my freakin’ name. Radical.

I have been looking for something along the lines of a see-through (maybe glass?) cube that I can put the figure inside of to keep dust off the base. Any suggestions on what I could get?

Behind The Joke: Appule

Regular fans of Daizenshuu EX no doubt have heard us drop Appule’s name in semi-sarcastic and humorous ways. It has grown into something of an “in-joke” over the years — it is funny enough on its own (“lolz random character”), but the way in which the joke continued to build upon itself adds a little bit to its mystique and hilarity, and may be worthy of discussion.

So, hey. Here you go.

Many years ago, I started working on a “Character Guide” for the website. It ultimately never turned into anything because I constantly bite off more than I can chew. Whenever I finished a page for a character, I realized I wanted to include even more information, and constantly found myself going back to do additional research. It was a never-ending cycle, so I eventually just gave up. Other areas of the website were far more important and useful.

In 2004, while still working on the section, I decided to develop a page for a character that appeared for a very limited amount of time. I had already done characters like Nappa and Raditz who, while they were only around for a short period of time, could still be considered “major” characters. My stipulation for myself was the character that I did a page for next had to at least have a name — no random characters like “Jingle Village Filler Man #2”. One of the first characters that came to mind was Appule. He was one of the most minor of henchmen, yet the fact that he not only had a name, but had a name that was actually spoken aloud during the anime, is what solidified the choice for me.

The character profile was slightly more interesting than others to write because Appule gained a palette-swap named Oran in the anime who occasionally replaced what might have been Appule in the manga — it was difficult to tell in black-and-white with so many henchman looking so similar to one another. I even enlisted the help of our forum to scan through some of the scenes and figure out exactly which character was absolutely Appule in which scenes.

After writing the character biography page, I quickly adopted him as my scapegoat character for random jokes. What really solidified the joke for me was the Sparking! series of video games on the PlayStation 2 (and eventually the Wii) — so many new characters were being tossed into the game, I joked often (on and off the podcast) that when they announced that Appule was a playable character, we would know that they had finally begun scraping the bottom of the barrel. With the first Sparking! game featuring 90 playable characters and its sequel featuring 129, it didn’t seem like there would be many other notable characters to toss in.

In December 2006, Namco-Bandai announced a port of Sparking! NEO (released outside Japan as Budokai Tenkaichi 2) for the Nintendo Wii. We received the game first in North America as a near-launch game for the console, but it took a little bit of time for the game to be released in Japan and Europe. As a fun extra for the delayed port, these versions received a couple new characters to the roster. Guess who was announced?

Appule would go on to be a regular roster choice in Sparking! METEOR (released outside Japan as Budokai Tenkaichi 3), fulfilling his destiny according to my jokes.

In 2008, TeamFourStar debuted their DBZ Abridged fan parody series. In the very first episode, Raditz makes an off-hand joke (after killing “The Farmer”):


On Episode #0135 of our podcast, KaiserNeko confirmed for us that it was a reference to our recurring joke with the character, launching Appule to even further in-joke stardom.

MIKE: And I have to say, I guess I’ll interrupt you, ya’ know, how you’re describing the process, there are certain jokes that almost seem directly aimed at Meri and myself.

MERI: Hah, what?!

KAISER: You know, that might actually have to do with the fact that I am a hardcore listener of your show!

(a little later in the show)

MIKE: I have to ask, was there an Appule joke early in that episode?

LANI & KAISER: Yes there was!

MERI: I thought so!

MIKE: I didn’t hear it the first time. Meri was like, oh my god, they just made an Appule joke. I was like, really?

LANI: “So this was why Dad said I couldn’t keep Appule…”

MIKE: Yes! Ah, Appule, these guys are right up my alley!

KAISER: Actually, ya’ know, when we wrote that joke I was thinking of you.

MIKE: Aww!

MERI: That’s so sweet!

KAISER: That’s mostly because, I thought he’s the ONLY person who’s going to get the joke!

That same year, I decided to pay tribute to my favorite, ridiculous, minor character in the series. I collected every single last bit of footage from the anime in which Appule appeared (including an episode during the Garlic Jr. filler arc where it seems like Vegeta kills an entire planet of Appule-esque characters), and tossed together a funny little trailer called “Dead In Two Episodes” in a couple hours. I did not end up using every last second of footage, but only because many of the scenes are just redundant shots of the exact same thing. For all intents and purposes, every scene of Appule appears in the trailer. I happened to finish the trailer in time for Anime Weekend Atlanta‘s “Professional” anime music video contest that year. It was nominated for “Best Trailer”, but I have to imagine it was only because there were so few trailers submitted to the contest.

In November 2008 on Episode #0152 of our podcast, our buddy Jeff asked us about character name puns that had not been “completed”. For example, the Jump Super Anime Tour special completed “Vegeta” with “Table” (using the entire word “vegetable” now to form two distinct name puns). For whatever reason, Appule’s name was brought up:

JEFF: Well, that kinda leads to the question, are there any other characters that haven’t filled out their pun yet?

MIKE: Aahh… yeah!

MERI: “Paragas” — “a”…!

MIKE: “Broli” — “co”…!

JEFF: No, no, wait. I could say Appule… Appu… Paragas…

MIKE: He’s neither Saiya-jin nor vegetable.

JEFF: True. But, like, “Appule” and “Paragas”, you could say “Appu… ra… gas…”… never mind.

MIKE: So Jeff, you want Appule and Paragas to fuse!

MERI: SOMEONE DRAW THIS!

MIKE: Into what?

JULIAN: Oh noooo!

MIKE: What is the resulting fusion name?

JEFF: “Appuragas”.

Within a week, that drawing existed. Our listener Tekkaman-James created “Appuragas” for all the world to see:

Just this year (2010), a new line of figures call “Freeza’s Force” has been seeing a release in Japan. While the first line contained the expected characters like Freeza himself and all of Ginyu-Tokusentai, the third line was set to contain Appule (along with plenty of other extremely minor henchmen). I was more than happy to place my order when he became available for purchase on Play-Asia!

So that brings us all the way up through today. It may not seem it (especially after an action figure and even an appearance as a playable video game character), but there are plenty more places to take Appule. Hopefully we will see some more of him in the near future.

Long story short, The Farmer has nothing on Appule. We also certainly would not some kind of short manga explaining “Appuragas” and his origin story…

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