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Tag: DragonBall (page 1 of 2)

Some Extra Funny Images

So late last month I wrote something called “The Great Canonical Debate” (it was pretty good; you should go read it). I wanted to include some type of moderately-snarky image of some type of god handing down a daizenshuu to go along with the section about how there is no officially-declared canon to the franchise, so I had requested on Twitter a great Photoshopped-image to include.

I ended up going with one by our good buddy Tekkaman-James — you might remember him as the great artist who brought Appuragas to life. As seen in my original article, here is James’ image (now available in full-size when you click! Whoa!):

I wanted to share some of the other ones that came in, though. Our One Piece-lovin’ buddy Alex tossed this together, which I almost used:

Our artistically-awesometacular buddy Karan gave us this one. I liked it a lot (‘cuz… it’s God. Get it?), but if you didn’t “get it”, it wouldn’t have really worked.

And that’s all I’s gots for ya’ today.

Otakon 2011 In Review

My first Otakon was back in 1999. I went for just one day, but for little 17-year-old Mike, it was quite an eye-opening experience. Bootleg CDs were obtained (how was I supposed to know what SonMay was?!), anime was watched (Hiko Seijuro walking on-screen during the Rurouni Kenshin OVA received the loudest applause I’ve ever heard), and fandom was confirmed.

Things are different in 2011. I first submitted an AMV in 2001, and then regularly from 2003-2008, nothing in 2009, again in 2010 (finally winning at Otakon with that one!), and doing many AMV panels there throughout the years with our generational cohorts. Shockingly (more so to us than maybe to anyone else), we actually skipped watching the AMV contest entirely this year — it conflicted with other events we had more interest in. All three of our panel submissions were declined, so unlike 2007 and 2010 with DragonBall-related panels (and other years in there sprinkled with AMV panels), we had nothing to prepare for in that regard. Even our hotel roommates had to bow out toward the end (through no real fault of their own), so it was the first time in around ten years that it was just the wife and I attending as regular ol’ attendees.

Having gone to the convention with that mindset (“I am just another person here!”), I felt like I actually had a lot to say about this year’s convention. Maybe some of it is helpful to someone. Maybe some of it is too rose-tinted. Maybe some of it is too critical. Maybe some of it will guarantee I never get another panel at the convention again. Oh, well.

COSPLAY

No, not of our own — never done that before — I’m talking about everyone else! I am of course drawn to the DBZ cosplay throughout the convention, but I notice a few other things here and there. Still a lot of Fullmetal Alchemist, still a bit of Ouran, a lot more Pokemon than in the past, still a good amount of Final Fantasy VII and Kingdom Hearts… you know, the usual suspects. What would normally annoy me (moderately disruptive behavior) was somehow one of my favorite examples of literal cosplay (as in playing it out in costume): the three dudes decked out in full Beastie Boys “Sabotage” outfits ducking and spinning down the hallway blaring the song on a boombox. I applaud you, good sirs.

Only managed to snap a few shots of DBZ cosplay this year, unfortunately:

Quite a few other good ones (Uub, Selypa). I should probably make more of a concentrated effort to take these types of photos. My bad.

WATCHINGS

The plan was to catch the Otakon debut of Trigun: Badlands Rumble and then head on downstairs in the short buffer period to get in line for Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos. I was led to believe both would be subtitled, but it turned out the Trigun movie would be dubbed, followed by a Q&A session with Johnny Yong Bosch. Having zero interest in the latter but still having an interest in seeing the movie, we crammed into line for the HD theater. A good portion of the folks behind us were told they would not make it inside, so I consider us somewhat lucky that we got in at all. Things ran about 15-20 minutes late, but with that being the norm for these types of events, nothing was particularly frustrating.

The dub was thankfully solid (not that I didn’t also think the same of the TV series dub, but it’s a Japanese production — I want to watch it in Japanese at a Japanese animation convention with one of the Japanese guests being the head of the movie’s Japanese animation studio [follow all that?]). As I’ve heard described elsewhere, the three main returning characters had re-castings that were so close to the prior actors that undiscerning ears might not even be able to tell the difference: Milly was a dead-ringer, Meryl was pretty close, and Wolfwood was better (from what little he spoke, anyway). I’m really glad we got a chance to see it first during a convention with such a massive audience, because I’m not sure it would have had some of the emotional impact just by ourselves, even at home in HD with surround sound. The instant Vash appeared screaming on the ground in the opening, the crowd erupted in laughter and cheers. The first moment Wolfwood’s gun/cross got unwrapped, the applause rivaled what I remember from Hiko slashing the Hell out of grunts back in 1999. These were magical shared moments, and ones that I will treasure for a long time to come. Without the audience? Next time I watch the movie, I will likely start picking apart some of the needless exposition, dragging pace of certain scenes, and occasional cheap 3D animation integration. Until then, every time I think of the movie there will be a smile on my face.

Like I said, the plan was to then run on down to Video 1 to get in line for the new Fullmetal Alchemist movie, but the overwhelming crowd and lack of a room-clear following the AMV contest left us in a weird situation: do we wait it out and hope we make it in, and what else could we be doing in the mean time if we decided to just bail? In retrospect, it sounds like we would have been able to get in if we stuck it out, but I’m OK missing out on one movie after having just sat through one immediately beforehand. Besides, without stadium seating, the poor short wife might not have been able to read the subtitles! Insert annoying “chibi” joke / FMA reference here. Funny, right?

We ended up walking on over to the Sailormoon / DBZ panel, instead. More on that later. Much more.

DEALERS ROOM

We buy less and less every year. We at least grab the obligatory gashapon to add to the display in our basement, but unless something major catches our interest (like the DBZ movie 4 program guide from last year), there really isn’t anything to pick up at a convention that I don’t already either own or have on pre-order elsewhere.

We perused the hanger in shifts this year: halfway through on Friday, and halfway through on Saturday. During our Saturday run, we happened across an enormous table filled to the brim with DBZ figures! Most dealers have a few figures and plushies from various series, but this guy had an entire table dedicated to just DBZ stuff. He (unfortunately) wanted to keep a low profile and had no business card or contact information (and declined an interview), but near as I could gather from what he let slip, he grabs a metric crap-ton of stuff when he goes to Japan, and when he needs to pay his daughter’s next college tuition fee, he heads to a convention and sells the stuff. What was most amazing to me was how reasonable his prices were — he easily could have added $5 to the price of any small figure, $20+ to the price of the larger stuff, and I would not have batted an eye.

picture swiped from our buddy TanookiKuribo

I had already grabbed the Piccolo “Creatures” figure elsewhere, and we picked up a few new ones from this dealer. Good little stash, I’d say.

I saw the program guides for DBZ movie 2 and the 10th anniversary movie, but I wasn’t willing to spend $25 a pop on program guides again this year. I almost walked out with a boxed copy of Famicom Jump: Hero Retsuden for the Famicom ($40), but the figure purchases changed that plan.

OTAKU IDOL

Something we had never attended before, Otaku Idol was at least a quick check-in for us this year with our friends Peter and Katie being participants. Due to what I assume is not wanting to overly criticize poor otaku souls, the largest dissections by the three judges were limited to things like “that song was within your range / maybe a little outside your range” or “great job moving around / I wish you moved around a little more”. We watched the ten finalists do their thing, and just about all of them were impressive in their own right. It was no surprise to hear that Peter ended up winning it all in the end based solely on his amazing “GA-GA-GA, GA-GA-GA, GAO-GAI-GAAAAAAR!” first-round performance.

IRON EDITOR

Since we didn’t make it to the Fullmetal Alchemist movie, we also had time later on to attend Iron Editor. After sitting around for a little bit waiting for the event to start up, we got the request to be judges yet again. I love that the AMV winners are played during the second half of the event, but that also means that we literally sit up there for one of the two hours and do absolutely nothing (well, we watch the videos along with the audience). I’m not sure how I feel about that. If we are asked again to be judges (which I certainly enjoy!), I will have to toss some ideas over to Peter (who took over hosting duties this year and did fantastically) in terms of how to make the judges appear to be more than dead weight on the stage. In the past we would choose some of the audience participants for contests, but even that isn’t enough. What else can we do? Hmm…

FAN PARODIES

We were mostly excited to see the Otakon debut of Fanboy Soze, but it sounded like there were a couple other new items being played that might also be fun to check out.

Our own Obligatory EVA Trailer was played Friday evening — that was an interesting experience. We put that together in 2003 when Sealab 2021 was still new. It actually won “Grand Prize” in the 2003 Anime Weekend Atlanta AMV Expo contest! I still love it to death and think it’s genuinely funny and well-put-together, even without any familiarity with either source material (Sealab and Evangelion). In 2011, though? Barely any response. Wow. Really goes to show just how much comedy is subjective, especially to an audience so many years removed from when it was originally created. Honestly, it was somewhat embarrassing. Really puts things in perspective! I wonder how many of our AMV-related works will stand the test of time — will any of them? I have an entirely different perspective since I actually worked on them, and can’t always remove myself from their creation process.

Fanboy Soze, the new parody from NoN.D.E. Fan Films, went over fantastically. The wife and I were discussing how we think the underlying plot point about how many series (particularly DBZ) getting re-released so many times in different formats may have went over the audience’s head a little bit, but everything else made up for it. All the right jokes hit home, and some that seemed like they may be too old or obscure for today’s fans (such as when “West of Home” in the Zork parody came up) really surprised me with how amazing the reaction was. Conventions really are the best place for parodies like these, and with both the video and particularly the audio being set up pitch-perfect this year, it just made everything all the more awesomer. For those interested, Scott has put together a jam-packed DVD with tons of extras. It’s currently available in a multi-part download via their forum.

The biggest surprise in the parody block Saturday night was Macross 7.5 1/2. Especially for a one-man production, I was absolutely blown away. The entire thing could have ended after the 1-2 minute introduction, and I would have been satisfied, but the fact that it went into a full-episode parody hit it out of the park. There were a couple instances where it dragged or became a little confusing, and of course a little extra production help could have helped, but all-in-all you can color me impressed.

PANELS

Oh geeze. Where to start?!

I guess I have to preface this by saying that I absolutely adore panels. When done well, they can be some of my favorite experiences and memories from a convention. I’ll never forget the discussion at Shoujocon one year equating Jem and the Holograms to American shoujo, the genre’s/classification’s relevance to something like Escaflowne, etc. The gekiga panel at Otakon a couple years back was a fascinating look at where hilariously-manly storytelling could go above and beyond shonen and seinen. Every year in between I have attended a panel that blows me away with the amount of research, knowledge, and professionalism that can be presented by mere fans to their comrades.

The other side of panels is what drove me to start doing my own, not to mention the podcast over at Daizenshuu EX. You know the ones — a dude or two sitting up front that simply like something and want to talk about it. Hey, remember that time Person X smashed Person Y in the face? Yeah, that was awesome! What do you think about Event Z? Yeah, that was pretty sweet. Any other questions? No? OK, let’s attempt to be funny for the next fifty-five minutes.

There is a time and a place for that type of conversation, but a panel at one of the largest anime conventions is not it.

Here is a break-down of all the panels we had the opportunity to hit up this weekend. This isn’t even cracking the surface of what was offered, but it might be a pretty good surface-level glance at the type of stuff available to attendees:

  • Remembering Satoshi Kon
    Presented by Daryl Surat (Anime World Order / Otaku USA), I knew what I was getting into with this one — a deliberate format, examples to back up claims, microphone etiquette, and all the other stuff that goes along with a fantastic panel. I learned new things, I remembered things I forgot, and gained an even larger appreciation for the late Satoshi Kon than I already had. Daryl gives himself a hard time by admitting that much of his research extends to on-disc extras and basic online research (indeed, much of what he covered is listed in the Satoshi Kon Wikipedia article), but it’s the way that it’s presented in-person that makes it so engaging. I can’t say enough good things about this panel.
  • Becoming a True Pokemon Master: An Introduction to Competitive PKMN Training…
    We arrived just after the start of this panel (thanks to having to run from the convention center over to the Hilton), and it was filled up enough to have to wait for a couple folks to leave before we were let in. That means we unfortunately missed the beginning portion, so I have no idea who presented the panel and how the first half went, but I was impressed enough with what I saw. Things were a little rough around the edges (you don’t need to read entire paragraphs off your PowerPoint presentation — please learn how to outline!), but the content was solid. I had never heard of “RNGing” before, so I can definitely say I learned new things. The content was excruciating for the wife who had zero knowledge and interest, so this was definitely one for the hardcore fans, and them alone.
  • Anime News Network
    Chris was at least aware of how bad this was and acknowledged it at the beginning, but the panel was basically just “what do you want us to talk about?” I can understand how that is somewhat appropriate for a mainstay website/panel like this, so it gets a little bit of slack. Nothing particularly enlightening or enthralling either asked by the audience or answered by the panelists, but them’s the breaks. Lots of prizes for the audience, so at least the bribes were appropriate.
  • FUNimation
    The only industry panel we attended this weekend, FUNimation’s was by-the-books, covering recent releases, current statistics, upcoming plans, and a few light announcements. Nothing earth-shattering out of the panel (still no Sailormoon! Blargh!), but for the DBZ superfans, we at least got some preliminary clarifications about the upcoming Blu-ray sets (un-cropped, apparently a new remaster). It sounds like they had one or two more announcements they were hoping to make, but the ink wasn’t dry and they had to hold off on them. Oh, well!
  • Deculture! A Macross Panel
    Walked out after the first ten minutes. The panelists did not introduce themselves, could not get their words out, seemed woefully unprepared, and did not know how to use a microphone anyway. Having recently watched the original Macross TV series (finally!), we have still been riding a high of enjoyment about the franchise. An overview of all the series and some new tidbits of information sounded like a great time. Unfortunately, this seemed like it was destined to be the exact opposite of a great time.
  • Unusual Manga Genres
    We only managed to catch the second half of this one as presented by Erin Finnegan (Ninja Consultants / ANN), but it was still a great time — endless examples of every niche genre spanning hilarious to serious and back again. She knew what she was talking about, was aware of the time constraints and adapted appropriately where necessary, spoke loud and clear… again, another fantastic panel that both enlightened and entertained, the two things I want out of every panel.
  • Masao Maruyama Q&A
    Despite him attending the convention for years, I think this was actually the first time we had a chance to stop by the Madhouse director’s general Q&A panel at Otakon. Another by-the-books professional panel with the expected questions from the audience, but a great and honest commitment by Maruyama to secure funding for and complete Satoshi Kon’s unfinished work (The Dream Machine) was a testament to his own professionalism and integrity.
  • Noburo Ishiguro Q&A
    Why waste time talking about things like Yamato and Macross when you can spend 20 minutes talking about the production of Cream Lemon?! That’s how things roll with Ishiguro! Lots of fantastic anecdotes dropped in this woefully-ill-attended panel.
  • Birth of a Generation: Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon
    In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that we submitted detailed proposals for two DBZ-related panels (one was media-focused regarding parodies and homages in both Japanese and American popular culture, while the other was a more formal dissection of how and why the franchise seemingly failed in Japan this past year). Neither were accepted. I can deal with that — we got our panel last year, it went well, and I suppose you can have someone other than the folks who run the oldest-currently-running and largest English-language resource for the franchise who do this stuff on a daily/weekly basis run a panel about it (ugh, sorry for how amazingly egotistical that sounds… but I’m also not sorry…). This was going to combine TWO FRANCHISES, so I totally get it: twice the potential audience. Makes complete sense, and I might make the same decision. Unfortunately, it was quite possibly the worst panel I’ve ever attended in my life. To be fair, we arrived about 25 minutes into the one-hour block. It looks like they had a PowerPoint at some point, but by the time we arrived, they were already well into a line-up of questions from the audience. The two panelists admitted they weren’t really experts (they just like the series), could not answer any of the legitimate questions asked of them (one regarding “the lost movie” from DBZ), and spent far more time bantering about whether Tuxedo Mask, Moonlight Knight, or Super Saiyan Vegeta would win in a fashion contest, or just how friendly Goten and Trunks really were with each other. The audience walked all over them, the panelists let them and indulged them with each and every painful question, and I struggled to convince the wife to stick around and watch the rest of the train wreck with me. Here’s the conundrum, though: the audience seemed to love it. They cheered with each and every Q&A, kept running up to ask more questions, and seemed to be having a great time. Plenty of people walked out, too, but plenty of people walk out of every panel, so I can’t really make a call in that regard. It just flabbergasts me. These people had absolutely no authority, no real preparation, no presentation skills at all, and yet received both a time slot and free compensation. I’m sorry, what world am I living in that this is not only OK, but appreciated by the audience? Am I the crazy one, here? One of the reasons I love doing panels is that I get a chance to share information and adoration with fans who don’t already partake in that stuff online. They have questions, I have answers, and everyone leaves in a good mood with knowledge they didn’t have an hour prior. That fulfills me in a way that I don’t get in any other fashion at conventions these days anymore, and with the personal interaction that even the podcast doesn’t truly have. At this point, I just don’t even know what to do about it.
  • The Abridged Panel
    A perfect example of a lackluster panel for me, but an extravaganza of awesomeness for others, and one that I totally understand and respect. People attend these panels to see their favorite “Abridged” series creators do some voices, share some new clips, yell things when bubbles appear on the screen, and gracefully accept the random fortune cookie tosses. Thrown in the mix you have people asking the obligatory questions like how to get into abridging on their own, and at the end of an hour, you’ve got a fantastically-attended panel full of laughs. I get it. Not for me, but I get it.

MEETING PEOPLE

With no panels of our own, we didn’t even bother trying to set up some type of community meet-up. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that if I was putting in so little effort, I wouldn’t be meeting too many new people! Major props to Doug (“Drabaz”) for recognizing me during the Friday evening fan parodies block. Having just recently spoken with him on our podcast about his custom LittleBigPlanet level, it was great to chat in person for a bit. The only other new meeting took the entire weekend, but I finally got a chance to man-hug our buddy MasakoX from TeamFourStar after the giant “Abridged” panel Sunday morning. It would have been criminal for him to have flown all the way out here and then never get a chance to say hello at some point, so I am incredibly grateful for him taking the time out of autographing gazillions of program guides, DVDs, books, bare chests, and whatever else fans were throwing his way to instead briefly hang out with us.

There were of course all the catch-ups with old friends, but two new people? That’s it? Lame, Mike. Very lame.

SO WHAT DID I ACTUALLY THINK?

Otakon 2011 was pretty fantastic. We saw a lot of great people, saw a lot of great things, had a great time, and I don’t see why I won’t be back in 2012 for my 14th consecutive time to the only convention I actually still go to. Some things still need work, but they always do, and I look forward to seeing it continue to evolve.

Holiday Break Gaming

This past Thanksgiving break, as was expected, I dropped a bit of minor cash on all the great sales digital distribution providers were offering. Between some indie pack sales on Steam and some discounts on Xbox Live, I probably acquired a dozen new games over the last week. Some of them will end up like many others in my Steam list and never get downloaded, but others will undoubtedly end up being discussed on whatever end-of-year podcast we end up doing around these parts.

I ended up playing a fair amount of different types of games over the last week. I figured I would break them down for my own sanity (and see what you all were up to):

Dragon Quest IX (DS): $33.62 via Amazon

I almost cannot bring myself to finish the main quest. I really do not know why; perhaps it is due to this part of the story not being particularly interesting (unlike the early, town-by-town stories which I found absurdly endearing)… but I really should just go and get it done. If I want to come back and do some maps, I can do so — nothing is preventing me from doing it. C’mon, Mike! Finish a game! Instead of beating it, though, I just fought some liquid metal slimes for a bit…

DragonBall: Raging Blast 2 (PS3): $34.99 via Amazon

I finally finished unlocking the last couple of characters. While this was more of a “for work” type of game, I was having a good time with it, nonetheless. As you will read, I have been enjoying the heck out of “Galaxy Mode” and its constant stream of dangled carrots. There are still a few characters I want to get back to and learn a little more in-depth, so it may be one of the first DBZ games in a long while that I actually return to after completing its review.

Super DragonBall Z (JP PS2): $64.90 via Play-Asia

On a whim, I tossed this goodie back in. After a couple rounds of reacquainting myself to the controls, I was back in the groove. It is no secret how much I love this game and how much of a crime I feel it is that these darn kids today do not respect it. I played a good amount of rounds as my custom Mecha Freeza (whom is simply named “Mecha”), spamming all sorts of wonderful projectiles before rushing in with quick combos. “Crack Bomb” and “Freeza Cutter” have re-entered my daily lexicon. Consider yourselves warned. I note the Japanese version specifically because that is the one I originally purchased — the American release does not feature the original Japanese voice cast, a deal-breaker for me.

VVVVVV (PC): $5 via official website, Steam, etc.

I had been waiting on some type of sale or bundle before picking it up, since it was almost guaranteed to hit that point sometime soon in Steam. That being said, it is a steal at the regular $5 price point. The simple and limited controls of “left or right” and “change gravity direction” are brilliant and right at home in today’s world of platforming’s glorious return. The music is also fantastic and will have you tapping and thumping along. Much like the recent Super Meat Boy (which I will probably grab on Steam rather than Xbox Live, the only reason I do not already own it), the ability to instantly pick up where you left off after dying is exactly what these types of punishing games need to do to keep it fun and satisfying. I am most curious about playing the game without a controller in the later levels, as it seems so counter-intuitive to do any amount of progressively-difficult run-and-jump maneuvers on a keyboard, alone. Then again, some people say similar things about FPS games and equality of dual-analog sticks to mouse+keyboard… and those people are wrong… so who knows? I could be wrong about this control judgment.

And Yet It Moves (PC): $9.99 via official website, Steam, WiiWare, etc.

Part of another indie bundle on Steam, I had been hearing about it for a few weeks and blindly purchased it when the sale kicked in… and I could not be more happy with a purchase. The art direction is jaw-dropping, and the twisty-world mechanics also fit in as a perfect complement to something like VVVVVV. Much like the aforementioned game as well, the checkpoint and instant-restart system in place is perfect for that “just one more level” tug. Everything about this game screams “quality” from the art to the haunting music to the puzzle design, and you owe it to yourself to check it out. A WiiWare version was recently released, though I have not checked out the demo to see how it plays on the console.

Mega Man II (NES): $5 via Virtual Console

I have never been particularly “good” at any game in the series, but its extraordinary music and difficult-yet-fair level design always brings me back around. While I rented III more than any other as a kid, I recognize the quality of II just as much. My session with Mega Man II was just filler in between some other obligations, so all I did was breeze through Metalman’s level… but it was enough to get those memories flooding back.

Game Dev Story (iPhone): $3.99 via iTunes Store

Sure, I am a couple weeks late on this one by the blogosphere’s watch, but who cares? It is an absolute blast. I have been playing in bits and pieces and am still only on my first run through (I am about twelve years in and have completed 32 games and done a few contract jobs), but I cannot wait to play through again. Having now learned all the ins-and-outs of which systems will come when (which should have been obvious, but I was not expecting pun-erific accuracy down to the Bandai Playdia), what the benefits are of training and hiring certain employees, what the best types of game and genre combinations are… what is essentially “Let’s Play Game Management Company!: The Game” could not possibly be more fun. Certain aspects are a little rough around the edges, but its cute factor and attention to detail are overwhelming.

So many other games were acquired and not-yet-touched (‘Splosion Man, Trials HD, Gish, Recettear) that it simultaneously fills me with both joy and dread!

This all got me thinking, though: what are your “holiday trends” with regard to gaming? Do you dive into one specific game and not move onward to the next one until that first one is complete? Are you like me and cruise from parts of one game to parts of another game, making slow bits of progress along the way? Also, did you snag any great deals over the last week?

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!

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)

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…

Daizenshuu EX Removed From YouTube

I was both anticipating (expecting, really) and dreading this day — today was the day that the “daizex” YouTube account was removed due to “copyright infringement”. What makes it so delicious is the “third strike” which resulted in the take-down:

One of our “Inconsistencies” videos.

For those who are unfamiliar with them, over at Daizenshuu EX we created a series of (so far) three videos in our “Inconsistencies” line (itself a multimedia extension of our “Filler Guide“). In conjunction with a podcast episode (where we discussed the same topic matter among several hosts), we would create a short, narrated video that showcased the differences between the original manga (comic) version of a scene from DragonBall and its later TV adaptation. In our first video, we presented a scene where one character (Vegeta) sees another character’s transformed state (SSJ Goku) in the TV version, which never actually happened that way in the manga, and what the ramifications would be from this. In our second video, we presented a scene where the villain (Freeza and Dodoria) who murders a character (Cargo) is changed when adapted to the TV version. In our third video, we presented a scene in which there is a slight change in the order of events in a scene (Piccolo pushing Goku out of the way of a blast from Freeza).

In all three videos, panning and zooming shots from the original manga version are presented with original narration. A short clip from the corresponding TV episode (with subtitles of our own creation, since we are using the original Japanese version of the show) is played. To conclude, we recap with a couple more panning and zooming screen shots from both the manga and TV versions.

They are basically nerd-erific showcases of dedicated love for the franchise. While we have not quite seen anything exactly along the lines of what we created, other examples do exist out there — our buddy MistareFusion created a great video that has fun analyzing what appears to be a very intentional nod to Star Trek in one scene from the DragonBall Z TV series:

Are we using copyrighted works “without permission”…? Sure. Does that extend to even things like using music from the TV series, in addition to showcasing an actual scene from it? Absolutely. There is no delusion here.

Is it “fair use”…? Let’s hold off for a minute on that.

The way that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) works is that if any kind of provider or host (let’s say YouTube) is notified by a rights holder (let’s say Toei Animation) that one of their works is being improperly used, stored, transmitted, etc., that provider or host must immediately remove or otherwise take down the infringing material. There is no review process until after the material is removed — if and only if the creator of said infringing material (let’s say me) chooses to file a counter-claim (in which they are saying that the material is not infringing, may actually be fair use, etc.). Basically, if you are notified to take something down… you take it down without question, or face further action. The rights holder faces no immediate repercussions for issuing take-down notices to content providers — this means they can issue take-down notices willy-nilly in blanket rollouts and hope for the best under the (safe) assumption that everything will be taken down with no argument. There is the potential for a horribly chilling effect on free speech when organizations hide behind the DMCA to remove legal commentary (for example, issuing a DMCA take-down notice on something they simply don’t like, rather than something genuinely infringing), but that is not the subject of this post, and not something I have enough familiarity with to authoritatively rant about.

YouTube works on their own personal “three strike” rule, whereby an account that receives three take-down notices from rights holders will be immediately deactivated. My main “daizex” account had received two notices of take-downs from YouTube regarding two prior videos:

  • While working on my review of Ayumi Hamasaki’s “Rule” CD single and DVD, I edited a short video clip from the music video to include on the page. Within minutes the video was removed from my account with a take-down notice from the music rights holder in Japan.
  • On April 1st of this year, we received a take-down notice on the opening theme to the video game DragonBall Z 3 (“Budokai 3”) for the PlayStation 2 (which can still be viewed here and here and here on YouTube via other users’ accounts). We subsequently removed other game-related videos from our account. This was legitimately just a case of, “We think this is cool and will post it up for folks.” There were no “education” or “review” pages associated with it.
  • This morning, we received the following e-mail:

We have disabled the following material as a result of a third-party notification from TOEI ANIMATION CO.,LTD. claiming that this material is infringing:

DBZ Filler Inconsistencies: Video #3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_Y3KQRusWY

This is the third notification we have received alleging copyright infringement in one of your postings. Consequently, your account has been terminated.

If one of your postings has been misidentified as infringing, you may submit a counter-notification. Information about this process is in our Help Center.

Please note that there may be severe legal consequences for filing a false or bad-faith notice.

Sincerely,

— The YouTube Team

Were the first two claims pretty accurate? Sure. Does that diminish the accuracy or weight of the third claim? That’s up to you to decide. Personally, I think if anything is going to be called “fair use”, it is a video like one in our “Inconsistencies” series.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) breaks down the area of fair use as such:

There are no clear-cut rules for deciding what’s fair use and there are no “automatic” classes of fair uses. Fair use is decided by a judge, on a case by case basis, after balancing the four factors listed in section 107 of the Copyright statute. The factors to be considered include:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes — Courts are more likely to find fair use where the use is for noncommercial purposes.
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work — A particular use is more likely to be fair where the copied work is factual rather than creative.
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole — A court will balance this factor toward a finding of fair use where the amount taken is small or insignificant in proportion to the overall work.
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work — If the court finds the newly created work is not a substitute product for the copyrighted work, it will be more likely to weigh this factor in favor of fair use.

(A-1) Was our video commercial in nature?
No. We were not enrolled in any revenue-sharing program via YouTube. We do not make any money off of Daizenshuu EX — while we do accept donations, any money received is put immediately back into the site for things like product reviews, hosting, etc. If you care to know, we’re in the hole. Always have been.

(A-2) Was our video educational in nature?
Maybe. While not a scholarly work in any way, an authoritative presentation of information could be considered “educational”. At the very least, it was “insightful”… or so we like to think ^_~.

(B) What was the nature of the copyrighted work?
Well, the copied work was creative (a fictional, animated TV series).

(C) What was the amount of copyrighted work used in relation to its larger whole?
Within our three-minute-and-sixteen-seconds video, the vast majority was original narration and still-shots from the manga and TV versions. Footage taken “verbatim” (for lack of a better phrase) plays between 0:30 and 1:26 (including fades in and out), meaning it is less than one minute in length, and less than one-third of the short video. As for an amount in “comparison” with the original product, are we comparing in relation to the one particular episode? An episode is roughly 22 minutes long. Are we comparing in relation to the entirety of the TV series? DragonBall Z is 291 episodes long, while its preceding and proceeding series have 153 and 64 episodes, respectively…

(D) What is the effect upon the potential market?
Our video is clearly not a substitute for the original product, in that we are constantly interrupting scenes with original narration and swiping them away to move onto the next point. We discuss roughly one minute or so of content from one TV episode of a long-running series. Furthermore, in this particular video we do not even discuss (never mind showcase) what is typically regarded as the most substantial and important “part” of the episode (Goku’s first SSJ transformation) — I personally think that is relevant to this fourth defense point, but you may disagree.

So where do we go from here?

I am not entirely sure. I think it is worth it to file a counter-claim with regard to this particular “Inconsistencies” video, but it is a lot of work for little value in return — which is exactly what the rights-holders are hoping for from an attitude out of those they issue take-down notices against. There is also the fact that some of the material on the channel as a whole was more legitimately “infringing”.

In the long run, though, I do not need YouTube to host these videos. I could just stream them myself on Daizenshuu EX all on my own! One of the reasons I put them up on YouTube, however, was — of course — the massive audience potential. We serve such a niche audience with our website that it can be difficult to find the right ways to reach out to and extend that audience. Our goal is simply to spread our love and enjoyment of the series (and specifically the original Japanese version of it), and a lot of fans out there just have no idea where to look for something like that. We have had plenty of new, regular visitors tell us they found us video YouTube, via our podcast listing in iTunes, via seeing us at conventions, etc. They are all great ways to reach out to that audience, so it made sense to explore that avenue.

The other side of me just wants to abandon it (YouTube being the “it”), though. We all know how ridiculous the comments are, and if we are not greatly expanding our audience there, then is it really worth it to keep producing for it? I am well aware (and have been constantly reminded), though, that the majority of people simply watch the video, smile, enjoy it, and move on with their lives. I consume media online in very much that same way. Positive feedback can be difficult to come by! While I joke that the negative feedback on the videos (from folks who generally are not our target audience to begin with) acts as a pretty huge hurdle to overcome in wanting to produce more, I recognize that plenty of folks out there actually do enjoy them and would not mind seeing more. With that in mind, I actually made a video showcasing the Bandai Playdia video game system exclusive to our Facebook page.

So. Uh. Thoughts?

(Oh yeah… curious to see that “Inconsistencies” video that resulted in the channel take-down? I tossed it up over on our Facebook page. Enjoy! We’ll see how long that lasts!)

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