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.)
That’s how I want to begin this post, because whenever I think about my blog, I just want to apologise. I’m sorry for not updating, I’m sorry for not doing the 12 days of anime, I’m sorry for just reposting old articles instead of writing anything new.
Another overseas trip, another anime con.
Your mind can be a dark and scary place.
Alone with only your worst thoughts stewing in your mind, the entire world feels like a prison. Your every problem is magnified to impossible proportions; you feel like you’re up against a suffocating wall with no weapons to fight.
A part of you is aware that your problems would be seen as trivial by other people. “It’s all in your head!” they’d say. But it’s not trivial, because they don’t understand that your head has become your enemy, and that it’s with you all the time. That’s why you never tell them. You never tell anyone.
And eventually, you snap.
The best thing about The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done! is the afterword, where the author reveals just how much research he did to write a shogi-themed light novel. Usually, light novel authors use the afterword to thank the book’s illustrator, editor and the readers (in that order), but Shirow Shiratori goes out of his way to thank dozens of people involved in the professional Shogi world. He even recounts a personal story from his high school days, when he played Shogi against “the high-school Ryuo.”
The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done! is a novel that takes a traditional Japanese board game seriously. It took four years of research before the first volume was even published. Think of it like the Hikaru no Go of light novels, except with unfunny lolicon jokes and the worst opening chapter in the world.
Seriously, it cannot be overstated just how bad of a first impression this light novel makes.
Lately, I have been thinking of doing NaNoWriMo. Then I remember that this is a stupid idea when I already write half the word count of a NaNoWriMo novel every month just for work. I say all that, but a part of me thinks: “Wouldn’t it be fun to bury myself in a complete nonsense story for a month and make up shit as I go along?”
I’m sure that the author of My Sister Lives in a Fantasy World has had similar thoughts, because the series reads like a giant NaNoWriMo draft.
In the latter half of the series, major characters and plot points get introduced out of nowhere, powers and abilities get made up on the spot, and half the word count is spent on characters explaining how the nonsensical setup of the story is supposed to work. But I still like the series, mostly because it’s the most fun I’ve had with the “Overpowered MC” concept in a while.
I am not a games journalist, but somehow I ended up doing games journalism.