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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.

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.)

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!)

Cropping Complaints (Sorta) Justified Three Years Later

I almost feel like it is not even worth bringing this up. I mean, honestly… the FUNimation cropping fiasco of 2007 is three years old. Not only is it old, but it is irrelevant with the release of domestic Dragon Box sets.

This just makes me smirk a little too much, though. When Mike smirks, it usually manifests itself as a blog post. And you all have to suffer.

In case you have been living under a DBZ fandom rock for the last half-decade, there was a lovely bit of controversy in 2007 when FUNimation released a so-called “remastered” version of the DragonBall Z TV series on DVD in North America. Among things like lies about the remastering process, the whole thing was brought into a new 16:9 aspect ratio presentation by cropping 20% of the footage (the top and bottom of the screen) to fit it into that viewing window.

Hilarity ensued online.

Daizenshuu EX is (obviously) at the forefront of the English-speaking fandom in a variety of ways. We have been following the series as a website since 1998, which includes all of the North American releases. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience with the franchise as both an original Japanese entity and a domestic “reversioning”. We took a stand against the cropping. Many of the casual fans could not understand why it was an issue for us… and understandably so. If you simply wanted to watch the show, the cheap orange bricks were a wonderful way to legally to do so (something we agreed with from the get-go). These types of fans (of which there are plenty) met the opposition with well-written, researched, and thorough arguments on how we were all just a bunch of fags, should shut up, and just be thankful we ever got the show in the first place. Why do we care so much? These fans do not even notice the cropping, and would prefer that the picture fill up their awesome, widescreen HDTV.

(Wondering why Daizenshuu EX would care about the aspect ratio of DBZ would be like wondering why the health care industry has an interest in American health care reform. We bitch because we love.)

Two years later, DragonBall Kai began airing on Japanese TV, also cropped into a 16:9 aspect ratio (though it was actually being produced in a full 4:3 which was later presented as-is on the Blu-ray release). Some of the scenes were adjusted for more carefully-presented cropping (sliding them up or down a little bit to adjust for a center of focus), but overall, it was a similar process to the FUNimation release from two years prior.

Episode 43 of DragonBall Kai aired on 06 February 2010 in Japan. Almost immediately, there was a bout of fan outcry… on several different forums… on how ridiculous it was that Toei could be so sloppy as to not finish drawing Goku’s arm:

There were actually two camps, to be fair. While there were definitely (1) those that placed the blame on Toei’s art department (assuming it was a completely re-drawn scene that was never completed), there were also (2) others who were quick to place the blame on Toei’s cropping department — these folks knew the whole story (keep reading), and knew that it was an awkward and inadvertent cropping.

Sure enough, if you look at a different encode and frame of the episode as captured from Japanese television, you get a little more insight:

The slightest bit of Goku’s arm is visible at the bottom of the frame. Checking back on the original animation from the actual DragonBall Z TV series, we get the whole story:

What this says to me is that even without some prominent website that has a ridiculous interest in the presentation of the series pointing it out to them… certain fans still noticed a problem with the cropping. Not only that, but they brought their complaints and ridicule online to share with their peers.

The hypocrisy is a bit silly. Why was it unjustified to bring FUNimation to Elitist Weeaboo Fanboy Court over their cropping of the series, but it was totally fine to go after Toei for the exact same thing? Was it just an extension of the complacent American fan culture that has no problem with their domestic releases, but Japanese stuff is OK and funny to laugh at? Lolz Goku sounds like a girlie and his arm is missing?

Sure, it was totally just this one minor scene during one episode of Kai that gave us some laughs online. It was nothing compared to the FUNimation fiasco in terms of prevalence and significance. On some tiny level, though, it made me feel something resembling justification for my complaints against the domestic cropping.

People do notice this kind of stuff, even when it is not specifically pointed out to them. That’s all there is to it.

Oh, and just for the Hell of it, here’s how it looked on FUNimation’s faux-“remastered” orange brick numero tres. It looks nearly identical to the recent shot from Kai. Did anyone complain about it back in 2007…?

Thanks to Hujio and Kaboom for a bit of screen shot assistance!

Individual Contributions to DBZ Fandom

It is always fascinating when we are able to track down the actual first-time uses of certain words or phrases in DBZ fandom. Some of the things we take for granted and simply accept as commonplace were actually created by fans either for simplicity’s sake, out of ignorance, or even sometimes out of honest mis-translation.

Some of our favorite examples are things like:

  • Ultra Super Saiya-jin“, a term coined by Curtis Hoffmann back in 1993 in his summaries of the tankôbon to describe the in-between stages of SSJ that Vegeta, Trunks, and even Goku showcase after Cell has been introduced
  • Kushami“, the Japanese word for “sneeze”, also coined by Hoffmann in 1993 as a nickname for Lunch in her transformed state
  • AD” as used for years in the chronology of the series, a mis-translation of eiji or simply “Age” by Greg Werner in the late 1990s from his translation of the timeline in the seventh daizenshuu

There are other ones that we have not been able to track down the first-ever uses for. There is “Mystic Gohan” to refer to the character after his “upgrade” from the Old Kaiôshin (which goes back to at least the year 2000 in quick searches); there is the word “zenkaiincorrectly used as a proper noun to explain the power-up that a Saiya-jin receives after recovering from near-death, which appears to be an English-language-only development, possibly originating sometime in the early-to-mid-2000s; there is “base” that gets used to refer to the “normal” (tsûjô in Japanese), non-SSJ forms of characters, which appears to have become common-place in the English-speaking fandom during the PS2 video game revival for the franchise.

It really gets funny when people cross the line into delusional territory, though. A commenter on our third “Inconsistencies” video posted and asked why the video was receiving bad comments. When another commenter was challenged on their response of it being from “some guy [who] is being critical and nitpicking when he himself has made no creative contribution to this world”, they followed up and justified their existence and contributions to fandom with:

Well if you really need to know, I’m the first person to use the word “canon” in reference to continuity. That was on the Pojo forums way back in maybe 2002. You won’t find any record of that word being used in that context previous to that time either. So, yeah it’s more of a contribution to a subculture in general and not specifically to DBZ, even tho it was on a DBZ forum.
I’ll add that it was a more or less original contribution and not simply a commentary on a finished work.

Yes. You read that right. This individual honestly believes that they invented the term “canon” as it relates to continuity in a work, fictional or otherwise (or, giving them the biggest benefit of the doubt that I can, perhaps just DragonBall). Either that, or they at least have a hilarious (if not obnoxious) sense of humor about themselves.

The word “canon” shows up at least two years prior on alt.fan.dragonball (and probably much earlier if you are willing to dig). This person’s claim is essentially dead-on-arrival from the very beginning.

The word itself goes back thousands of years with this very same definition, so they certainly can’t take the claim in that respect. As far as I know (and I hardly claim to be an expert), the term originated with the Bible and what the church deemed to be the “true” and “correct” stories to include in their official version. The word and its associated phrases (“Such and such is canonical…”) have been floating around with not just anime, but all types of fiction for decades. I know little-to-nothing about Star Wars, but I know there are just as many heightened-emotion arguments about what is canonical with its expanded universe as there are with our own ridiculous arguments relating to DragonBall GT and the movies and the guide books and the international translations and so on and so forth.

That someone honestly believes that they were the first person to use the word “canon” as it relates to DragonBall… and did so only in 2002… and relays this information with the tone they did, propping their “original contribution” above something that is “simply a commentary on a finished work”…

I mean, it goes beyond delusional at that point, right…?

What Makes A Good Blog Entry?

I ask this question both of myself (to try and answer in an actual blog post… how fascinating!), and also of you all, dear readers. What does make a blog entry “good”…?

One thing to keep in mind is that I am not talking about a “blog” from a personal standpoint. This is work-work related (as opposed to hobby-work related), so the goals and methods will be slightly different. Are there any “professional” blogs that you follow? If so, what aspects really drag you in?

Here are a couple of my own thoughts:

Authoritative Tone
You know me well, by now — any writing that I do very purposefully takes on a tone of authority. If you simply act as if you know what you are talking about, it is all the more convincing! This is not something I am too concerned about, since the folks I will be calling on for articles have that authority… and I am the final word, anyway, so I get to copy-edit anything that needs it.

Be Personable
What makes a “professional” or “corporate” blog different from a standard press release is not just the tone, but the delivery. There needs to be a real voice. It can be a fine line walking between conversational and professional, but it can and should be done. Guest writers of relevant notoriety can be a huge help in lending a personable, yet authoritative, tone.

Outbound Links
Again, you know how I operate! If there is a source, it must be cited. Providing links to something other than your own website shows that you live in the real world and acknowledge that other people have ideas and opinions.

Make a Statement With the Post Title
It is a little basic, but it is true — grab the reader’s attention.

Know Your Goals
What do you want to actually accomplish with this blog? Do you want readers to comment? You need to ask them a question each time, then. Do you want to be picked up by news media? Be sure to mention your blog in conversations and other cross-promotions, have it readily accessible from your navigation… all the good ol’ regular stuff.

Maybe the best question to ask is: what makes a bad blog entry? What are some tell-tale signs that something is “off” and perhaps not credible, researched, authoritative, and even worth your time? Things like grammar and aesthetics (while important) are blatantly obvious, so we can skip past those!

YouTube Comment Hilarity: Vegeta’s Eyes Are Burns

Don’t you hate it when you think you’re so darn clever and hilarious that you just have to share it? And it’s not actually that funny to anyone but yourself? This is one of those moments. Forgive me.

So a while back, I captured a commercial for DragonBall GT eyedrops off of a raw VHS tape from many years back (“many years back” being… ya’ know… 1997). I threw it up on YouTube, of course.

I lost it when I read this comment:

youtube_vegeta_comment

I couldn’t help myself. A couple seconds in Photoshop resulted in:

vegeta_eyes_burn

Lesson of the Day: “Brick” is NOT an Insult

Daizenshuu EX has been around in some capacity (whether it was named that or not!) since January 1998. Yeah, in internet years, we’ve been around for eons. Once it began to receive any kind of traffic and notoriety, you can reasonably assume that we started to receive the kind of both loyalist- and oppositional-styled comments that anything with any type of popularity receives. And we did. I actually very vividly remember someone back in 1998 claiming that we “stole” all of their DragonBall GT: Final Bout sound samples for our site. There was no basis for that accusation, of course, but it was a telling sign of things to come.

Fast forward to 2009. The site is eleven years old, and even the podcast is coming up on its fourth anniversary. The types of and volume of comments we have received over the years remains astonishing to me. No matter how much I see, though, I am continuously flabbergasted by some of the complaints people seemingly pull out of thin air.

One particular commenter on an outside forum took issue with our reference to FUNimation’s DragonBall Z season box sets released from February 2007 to May 2009 (you know, the faux-“remastered” box sets) as “orange bricks”.

Thankfully, our buddy Jacob put in his two-cents on the matter, but… seriously?

It was another clear example of someone wrongfully assuming something about us based on their own, personal, complete misunderstanding. Who knows? Maybe they purchased all of the season sets and somehow feel wronged by the upcoming Dragon Box sets. Maybe our reiterations, with each subsequent release, of the boxsets’ problems somehow made them feel “stupid” for falling into the trap. Perhaps they take issue with our dislike and overall-non-discussion of FUNimation’s English dub, and decided to aim their frustration at another topic. For whatever reason, this individual decided that we were using “orange brick” pejoratively, it was “asinine”, and it was an “insult”.

News flash, internet: that style of DVD packaging is referred to as a “brick”. Also, the sets happen to be orange. “Orange Bricks”. Genius, isn’t it?

orange_brick_open

See how the inside packaging stacks the discs on top of each other? See how the packaging folds over top itself for easy storage? When you stack things over top of each other and place them all next to each other, you can pretty easily see where the “brick” description came from. We don’t call “steelbooks” as such because they are super strong and read great literature to us; we call them that because they open up (like a book) and are metal-styled containers (like steel). Welcome to the world of various styles of DVD packaging.

orange_bricks_shelved
(image courtesy of Metalwario64)

It’s cases like this where I wonder what the actual issue is. The person decided to harp on us for something, and rather than a legitimate reason, they made one up. Sure, it may have been legitimate in their own head for a short period of time, but I can’t imagine hearing the phrase “orange brick” is what first made them run furiously to their keyboard to type up a mean post about the poopie-head website they disliked.

Funny how no-one has a problem with the phrase “blue brick” in reference to the new DragonBall TV series “season” sets. If anything, it proves that FUNimation once again made a fanbase-fracturing decision to go with that format (cropped, DVNRed to death, etc.) for Z, and even legitimate descriptions of their products cause undue shenanigans across the internet.

bricks

We can’t please everyone. We know that. That’s the real issue that I’m writing about, I guess… if you have a problem, say what it is. Don’t hide behind some newly-made-up argument. Come out and say what’s on your mind, back it up, and be a man (or woman!) about it.

Preferably, above all else, actually know what you’re talking about before you criticize someone.

I almost make it out to be that there are thousands of people running around the internet shit-talking Daizenshuu EX, which I hardly doubt is the case. All the nice little e-mails and comments we get are fantastic, but they just don’t give me anything to write about! 😀

And yes, I just wrote a blog entry legitimately using the phrase “poopie-head”.

Kids and Social Networking – Your Thoughts?

I am going to be doing a little presentation next week at a luncheon at an organization regarding children being online and social networking. The focus is keeping them “safe” in some sense, but it will be more along the lines of just being aware of what is out there, how to keep tabs on it, building the necessary vocabulary to understand it, etc.

I think the big thing I am going to harp on is just helping people understand why people join these sites and do the things they do. Once you understand the why, everything else falls into place. As far as I can tell from observation and my own personal experiences, the main reason is just selfish validation. What I mean by that is that people are using these sites basically for the purpose of having their own existence justified and validated by receiving positive feedback. Whether it’s Digg promoting things, Facebook with the “like” button and status update responses, Twitter and getting responses to tweets… everything is intended to be a virtual pat on the back to just prove that you exist.

While narcissism extends far into adulthood, there is no denying that it is far more prevalent among children (especially teenagers) and their rebellious age. It is always about finding your place, understanding where you fit into the world, blah blah blah.

What does everyone think about this? Would you describe it differently? What other reasons do people have for joining and participating in these social networking communities?

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