It is pretty interesting to see how Comiket has been mythologised, both inside and outside Japan. Just like Akihabara, the electric town, Comiket has become a symbol for the Otaku Lifestyle. Every year, hundreds of thousands of anime fans from around the world gather at Tokyo Big Sight to get a taste of this time-honored otaku tradition.
Many come away disappointed.
I think about privilege a lot. It’s something that I suspect a lot of children of immigrant parents have to think about, especially when they grow up listening to stories of their family’s poverty. “We worked so hard so that you could live well!” my mother has often told me. “Appreciate the sacrifices we made for you!”
As a result of these constant reminders, I’ve never doubted for a moment that I’m privileged for growing up in Australia. But it has been a lot harder for me to figure out exactly how my privilege affects my life, besides an abstract notion of “having more food and money.” The thing about privilege is that its hand is mostly invisible, and so even if we can detect some of the benefits, we often don’t notice how it seeps into our very way of thinking.
These days, I think of privilege like this: it’s a cushion that gives you less things to take individual responsibility for. Like how “male privilege” insulates men from having to think about protecting themselves from sexual harassment in public places, or how “white privilege” stops white people from having to worry about being stopped by the police just because of their appearance, the privilege of growing up in a developed nation absolves us from making decisions about our health, education and finances that we’d struggle to navigate if left to our own devices. We benefit from society’s collective knowledge, even when we understand very little of it.
The worst thing a privileged person can do is pretend that the invisible cushion is the result of their own handiwork.
That’s what I think about when I read How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom. It’s the kind of story you’ve probably seen before, about a person from the modern world going back in time or into a fantasy world and advancing their societies using modern knowledge. Somehow, this average shmuck has all the specialist knowledge and administrative expertise to enact sweeping social and economic reforms to immediate success. We all know that things aren’t so simple, but it’s a thought experiment we like to entertain because a part of us thinks that we’re cleverer than the people of long ago.
June 2018 Update: Oops, I burnt out on light novels so I’m now going to talk about video games instead
It’s finally out!
I’m thrilled to announce that Mari Okada’s biography From Truant to Anime Screenwriter: My Path to “Anohana” and “The Anthem of the Heart” will be getting an English e-book release on May 4, published by J-Novel Club. You can read a free preview of the book’s prologue at J-Novel Club’s website, and you can pre-order the book from Amazon here.
If you’re a subscriber to J-Novel Club and you pre-order the premium ebook, you’ll enter the draw to win a shikishi signed by Mari Okada herself.
I’m biased – I’m keen on promoting this book because I translated it myself. Hopefully if this sort of book sells well, it could pave the way for more English translations of books about anime creators. So if this sort of thing interests you, please do buy the book!
Moving house is a pain in the butt. This is true no matter which country you’re in. This month, I moved house to west Tokyo. I really like where I’m living now because I’m within cycling distance of most of the anime studios in Tokyo. But moving to a new house was actually way more stressful for me than moving to Japan in the first place, mainly because it was my first time going through a Japanese real estate agent, buying my own furniture and setting up gas and electricity and whatnot. So in a way, this past month has felt like I’m finally moving into Japan for real.
I also happened to meet my fellow ANN Tokyo Correspondent for the first time last January, and this was the first month where we ate out together after going to an assignment. Since ANN is an international organisation where most of its members work remotely, I don’t often experience that feeling of socialising with my colleagues. My life has been all over the place in these past few months, but now I’m starting to feel like I’m settling into my job. It’s a nice feeling.
At the same time, I think it’s time for a change.
People like to complain about journalists a lot. Readers routinely vent their frustration at Anime News Network for whatever reason. For example, the latest This Week in Anime column had a vocal minority of people accusing the website for being “insulting and derogatory” because the writers used the word “heteronormative” in an opinion piece.
Of course, there is more to ethics in journalism than picking the “right” side in the culture wars. So I would like to dedicate today’s blog post to some of the ethical concerns I deal with as an anime journalist on a day to day basis.
Any opinions expressed here are my own and don’t reflect the stance of Anime News Network or Crunchyroll.
I mentioned in my The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done! blog post that I liked Bookwalker Global’s other exclusive light novel release: The Combat Baker and Automaton Waitress. Now that I’ve finally gotten around to reading volume 2, I figure I should write a post explaining why I like it.
Put simply, I’m a fan of the setting of The Combat Baker. It is a postwar story about a former soldier who takes on a mundane-sounding job in a fantasy European setting. I guess in that broad sense it is like Violet Evergarden, although the tone of the story is very, very different. The Combat Baker also puts a heavy focus on the political backdrop of its postwar setting, as well as how that affects people in a rural town. I quickly found myself sucked into this world that SOW had created.
As cute and fluffy as the cover images make it look, there are some disquieting elements to the setting of The Combat Baker beneath the surface. Thanks to the presence of fantasy technology, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact time period it’s based off, but the general “mood” of the story makes me think it’s around World War I. The victor of this fictional war is a country named Wiltia, whose citizens have Germanic names and whose physical appearances are defined by their blonde hair and blue eyes.
So, obviously, fantasy Germany won the war and annexed an entire continent.
Haoliners is the name of a Chinese animation company that partners with Japanese studios to create shows that air in both China and Japan. I’ve written about them before, where I noted that a lot of their shows aren’t actually made at the same studio. This is not a surprise when you consider that they’ve produced over 10 shows for Japanese TV since opening their Tokyo studio in late 2015. No fledgling studio can lead that many productions straight off the bat.
So where are Haoliners shows actually being animated? Haoliners has studios in China, South Korea and Japan. If you look carefully at the credits, however, each show has involved a great deal of outsourcing. I’ll briefly note down the lead production studio in each case. (I’ll just be focusing on the shows that had an English release here.)