Author Archives: Raizen

Webcomic Review: Sonichu

CWCSonichuLeer.jpgMain character on left, title character on right.

Here we go, it’s a review of Sonichu.

Sonichu is a terrible webcomic. It’s famous for being bad, and it’s the deuce in all categories in which something can fail. But I’m not likely telling you anything you don’t already know. At this point, we know that Sonichu is the worst webcomic ever made. You might have guessed that I’m going to give this a score of 0 out of 10. You might have even heard about how bad it was from a friend. You might remember how he went on and on for what seemed like hours about how bad it was, like he’d continually find something wrong about it. His description may even have made you so curious that you decided to check it out for yourself. At that point, you’ll have discovered that not only was everything he said about the comic true, he was only scraping shavings off the tip of the iceberg.

That Sonichu is bad is public knowledge. It’s so infamous that it’s even caught the attention of some of Sega’s staff (and it likely horrified them). As far as I can tell, pretty much everyone who has heard of Sonichu knows its bad, which renders a review superfluous.

Yet, I’ve decided to write one. I’ve read the webcomic, and perhaps I’ll feel a lot better for having reviewed it.

If you’re planning on reading Sonichu, be warned that it’s weapons-grade terrible. Sonichu is so bad that your brain may interpret the comic as an attack against it. Sonichu is so dreadful that it integer underflows and somehow becomes strangely great. It’s still a bad webcomic, but it’s bad in a way that only a total mistake can be. A grand assembly of sadistic minds have conspired to develop inhumanity to their fellow man, resulting in the likes of MKUltra, and an autistic man-child with his head in the clouds outdid them without any effort.

Sonichu is such an immense beast of a webcomic that it’s hard to get through a review of it without breaking it down into sections.

Art

sonichu bad art.pngCan you find anything right with this picture?

Sonichu has the worst art in the universe.

What the author Christian Weston Chandler draws wouldn’t even be accepted on the amateur level as rough sketches, yet it’s what he decides to go with for his comic. It’s painful to look at. The crooked line art, the garish bright colors, his insistence on using Crayola markers to color, Chris doesn’t bother to get anything right.

The line art in Sonichu is jagged and unrefined. Mistakes he makes are not properly corrected; instead, he attempts to compensate for them by doing things like drawing over them and hoping his readership won’t notice. That’s assuming that he does attempt to correct his mistakes at all.

It’s tempting to say that one should not color their work using Crayola markers, but there are some artists out there that can masterfully employ them to make some pretty outstanding work. Chris is not one of those artists. It seems like Chris lacks the coordination to color within the lines. Not only that, Chris is not skilled enough with Crayola markers to avoid their key flaw: that overlapping strokes result in streaks of darker color than what is intended.

Chris is inconsistent in how he draws his own characters. If he wasn’t so easily identifiable by the shirt he is depicted as wearing, one might assume that different occurrences of Chris’ self-insert were actually different characters, as their body shape, facial structure, and proportions can radically change from one instance to the next.

At one point, Chris decided to adopt a more anime style for the comic. What this amounted to was drawing the eyes differently. That’s pretty much it, and it’s hard to notice considering the difficulty Chris has with consistency.

Chris simply doesn’t have artistic talent, and if he did, he didn’t use any of it to make Sonichu.

Characters

I_am_not_Gay.jpg

Sonichu has the worst characters in the universe.

The characters in Sonichu generally fall into one of just a few categories:

The male heroes
The male heroes are mainly the same as each other, just with different colors and slight variation in physical features. Each of them, including the title character Sonichu, have exactly the same motives: To shack up with a female and to help Chris with whatever it is that he’s trying to do, which is usually attempting to shack up with a female. Even Blake, when he heel-turns from being a bad guy to a good guy, quickly becomes indistinguishable from the other males except his color.

The female heroes
The female characters are basically similar in motivation to the male characters, but the main difference is their primary sexual characteristics, and the males are their targets of their affection.

The bad guys
An assembly of copyrighted characters that Chris doesn’t have the rights to, and people Chris knows about in real life that caught his ire, with at least one OC thrown in (Count Graduon). All have pretty much the same motivation: to prevent Chris from finding a girlfriend. Too bad Chris never bothered to establish what exactly they’d have to gain from this endeavor when they could instead try to take over the world or something.

The various permutations of Chris
Chris’ self-insert. His goal is to shack up with a woman. It’s considered a sign of lazy writing when an author uses a self-insert for a main character, but in later issues of Sonichu, Chris installs several self-inserts. I’ve actually lost track of them all.

The heroes in Sonichu are actually morally worse than the enemies that they fight. Disproportionate retribution is a recurring theme in Sonichu. For example, Chris feels justified in cursing a man, causing him to lose his family, just because he was doing his job as a security guard in asking Chris to leave a store he was staying in for too long. Another man had his face raped because a company he ran posted drawings of Rosechu (one of the female heroes) with a penis. In a special episode, Chris shot a man in both kneecaps because in real life he impersonated Chris and Chris was interested in his girlfriend. Chris stages a mock trial so he can sentence to death four men that he didn’t like, and had himself and his characters personally attend to the executions. And there’s more. So much more. The hero-centered morality in this story isn’t just awry, it’s perverse.

It’s bad enough that the characters in Sonichu are so horrible, they were also stolen. Nearly every character owes more than simply inspiration to existing copyrighted characters. Most of the hero characters are obvious recolors of characters from Sonic the Hedgehog, a brand that’s already famous for its recolors and template-driven designs. These characters also have elements of design from Pokemon characters. As if that weren’t enough, he pretty much used pokemon as characters outright, such as Reginald Sneasel.

There are OCs invented by people other than Chris that have been included in this comic, such as Jiggliami and Megagi, whether or not they were used with permission, some of which belonged to people who were trolling Chris in an attempt to influence his webcomic while it was ongoing. What personalities and goals that these characters had depends on whether they aligned with Chris, meaning that they too fell into one of the categories outlined above.

Every character in Sonichu are objects in Chris’ power fantasies, and Chris does jack all to develop them beyond this end.

Story

expositional abuse.pngNotice how even they look bored to tears.

Sonichu has the worst story in the universe.

When one would hear the characters and their abilities described, one would assume that Sonichu is an action comic. After all, what else would a writer do with super speed and commanding electricity for attack? But while there are action scenes employing these abilities, Sonichu is primarily a relationship comic, with the main point of the comic being whether his electric hedgehog pokemon characters find partners, which they quickly do. But Chris doesn’t find his girlfriend as quickly, so much of the story focuses on that.

The narrative flow is dictated by Chris discovering concepts that he finds interesting in anime, video games, or whatever, which he then implements into his comic. Then, when he later loses interest in the concepts, they are quickly and quietly dropped, not likely to be brought up again until the readership reminds Chris that it seemed as though he might have been going somewhere with them. Then maybe Chris reintroduces them, likely to try to conclude that particular story arc because he’d rather be working on another concept that he found out about from some other media franchise.

Sonichu’s story as it is today can be broken down into four main parts:

The Sonichu Episodes
The first episodes focused mainly on Sonichu and his adventures with his recolor friends, including Sonic the Hedgehog. It largely reads as an insipid crossover fanfic written by a five-year-old, except it was written by a man in his twenties.

The Chris-Chan Episodes
The self-insert takes over, and from here on out, the comic is mostly about him and his love quest.

The To-the-Hilt Insane Episodes
Wow. When did it seem like a good idea to Chris to include in a comic intended for kids a sex scene between his cartoon hedgehogs, complete with an explanation for how their genitals worked? Or to commit mass-murder against a bunch of people who were merely hypnotized? Or to off one of the characters with a bomb behind a toilet? There’s so much more, too. Chris would later retcon huge chunks of these episodes.

The Boring Episodes
After a years-long hiatus, Chris continues Sonichu by shifting the attention to other characters, including a bunch of new obvious self-inserts. What’s worse than a comic starring Chris? How about a comic starring a whole bunch of Chris? Even though Chris really unleashes the plagiarized concepts, this set of comics is horribly boring.

Chris is so lazy with storytelling that he often leans on long walls of exposition, some of which nearly the whole page long, instead of breaking down what is being spoken to a number of different panels with accompanying visuals. Comics are a visual medium; as such, a rule of storytelling in comics is “show, don’t tell”. When Chris gets into long walls of exposition, it’s obviously an attempt to move the story along to the point that Chris would prefer to be working on by fast-forwarding past this thing called “developing the plot”. If you’re using dialog to convey the gravity of the situation in a visual medium, then you’re not likely using the medium to its full potential.

But hey, it was obvious to begin with that Chris wasn’t using the comic medium to its full potential. There was a point in which the dialog was numbered so the reader would know what order to read it in.

Saying that you read Sonichu for the story is like saying that you eat muffin bottoms to fight communism; the endeavor and the cause just don’t go together at all.

Verdict

Sonichu is the worst webcomic in the universe. Do not attempt to write a webcomic that’s worse than Sonichu. You wouldn’t be funny, and you’d be committing a crime against humanity.

Sonichu gets a score of Sonichu-itself-out-of-ten:

sonichu out of ten.png

Which would be a zero. It’s the worst there is.

But as bad as Sonichu is, it’s actually quite interesting. It’s a window into a mind that is distressed. Because of Sonichu, we all know Chris-Chan like we would know a brother. A beloved brother who is truly disturbingly fascinating.

Sonichu truly does zap to an extreme.

Howard Stern, Get Over Yourself.

Howard Stern’s remaining audience largely consists of boomers who mistakenly remember a time in which Howard Stern was cool, and Gen Xers who started listening because the boomers did.

While it’s obvious that Stern’s best days are behind him, he’ll sometimes fire off his mouth in an attempt to stay relevant. I’d have no idea what he had to say if it weren’t passed along by new media, which is pretty sad considering his history of proclaiming himself as “King of All Media”. That’s a ballsy thing to proclaim one’s self, but he didn’t use any of that to make the following statement about those who refused the COVID vaccine by reason of their personal freedom:

“Fuck them. Fuck their freedom. I want my freedom to live. I want to get out of the house. I want to go next door and play chess. I want to go take some pictures.”

Howard Stern

If Howard wants so badly to do those things, he can just do them. That’s what those who appreciate their freedoms have been doing with those very freedoms. If Howard himself has been vaccinated, he’d face no risk of getting COVID, if the vaccine were as effective as other vaccines. And if he weren’t (by reason of medical exemption), he’d be taking a risk intrinsic to living life, comparable to catching the flu.

That’s how it goes, sometimes, you don’t have the same kind of health that someone else has, and that makes your choice of activities more narrow than theirs. Fact of life.

Howard, who once upon a time was marketed under the pretense of being shocking and anti-establishment, is now taking a pro-establishment position with no risk of retaliation on the part of advertisers. And over what? He wants everyone else in the world around him to get a vaccine they might not even want, just so he’ll feel safer going outside and doing stuff.

And we’re supposed for feel bad for him after he spent the better part of his life as a multi-millionaire who made bank by contributing nothing to society except firing off his mouth on the radio, and making a movie that no one cares about.

Not everyone can understand why anyone would watch videos on YouTube about people playing video games or eating food, when people can just do these things themselves. I wonder how many of these same people listen to a radio show about a rich man who goes to night clubs and talks about seeing anatomical features that half of all people have?

Another point one can make about Stern is that he talks as though he thinks we’re still consuming the same old news stories that were going around at the early part of the pandemic:

“The other thing I hate is that all these people with COVID who won’t get vaccinated are in the hospitals clogging it up.”

Howard Stern

Remember back when they opened stadiums up with hospital beds, to prepare to treat an expected influx of patients? Remember when they closed those makeshift treatment centers down because, as it turns out, they didn’t need them? What hospitals is he going to that he couldn’t get in because of all the COVID patients?

What’s more, Howard is blowing his stack, saying that people who refused the vaccine should be denied medical care, overlooking the fact that people can refuse the vaccine for some compelling reasons, such as the suspicion that it hasn’t been sufficiently tested before being released to market, or due to concerns over spike proteins.

It’s easy to see past all the bluster and realize that the real reason why Howard is so salty is because we’re going to be the ones writing the history books, by reason of the fact that we’re the ones going out and living life and procreating.

What’s really sad about this is that we lived to see the day that Howard used his platform to proclaim the following:

“Fuck their freedom.”

Howard Stern, whose entire career is owed to free expression and the private ownership of the means of production, is apparently selective when it comes to what freedoms are applied, and how.

Because Howard Stern (and leftism in general) is out of touch with reality, they lack the cognition that freedom is not granted by human government, it’s axiomatic in a similar sense to natural law. Everyone has a right to their own sincere convictions. Everyone, when attacked, has a right to defend themselves. Everyone has a right to their own property, without it being unjustly or unfairly extracted. If any humanly devised system ignores these axiomatic fundamental rights, they still exist, and the system itself is in the wrong. Whether you’re a celebrity, radio personality, or king, if you ignore or act contrary to these rights, you are wrong.

But no one has a right to a life that’s free from risk. Risk, including the risk of getting sick, or getting attacked by an animal, or ending up impaled on something, is an intrinsic element of the reality that we live in. Attempts to alleviate those risks are usually reasonable, but sometimes not. Attempts to eliminate those risks are often wrongheaded.

If COVID is something you’re concerned about, you can plan accordingly for yourself. What you can’t do is limit another person’s freedom of movement or bodily autonomy. Whatever choices you make for yourself, you do with the possibility of whatever consequences that follow as a result.

While Howard Stern is free to have his own opinion, that includes his right to a misinformed or misguided opinion, a right he’s done nothing to waive. While Harlan Ellison may not like it, people do have a right to be ignorant.

But if you’re one of the few people left who still listen to Howard Stern, you should ask yourself what you’re listening to. When you listen to a rich man with a radio show hobnob with strippers and ruthlessly lampoon members of his own cast, is it really because there’s nothing else to listen to? As a person who gets up early in the morning, goes to work, comes home to eat poor people food, and usually barely pays the bills, it’s easy for me to say that Howard Stern doesn’t speak for me.

Bin Laden Wanted a Biden Presidency, Reasoning That Biden Would Lead America Into a Crisis.

This is one of those things that sounds like it was totally made up to troll us, like when people started saying that Nostradamus predicted the 9/11 terror attacks, then passed this idea along in email forwards.

Even now, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone came forward and said “just kidding”, and confessed to being behind the whole thing.

In case you dived right in without reading the title, a letter from Osama Bin Laden is going around, which shows that the terror leader wanted a Biden presidency, because he viewed Biden as so unfit for office that he’d lead the US into a crisis.

As crazy as that sounds, there are receipts. On page 36 of the letter, as Bin Laden goes over a plan against then-president Obama, when Biden was Vice President, Bin Laden specifically stated that he wanted Biden to remain alive, so that he would assume the role of presidency, and lead America into a crisis.

Imagine being so inept that your greatest enemy sincerely wishes for you to assume command, believing that you’d cause an unmitigated disaster.

Except we really don’t have to, because Biden actually became president, and his handling of just about everything, including the abandonment of Afghanistan, has been a sight to behold.

Score one more point for those who believe that Biden was installed in an deliberate attempt to sabotage America.

The New British Police Car is Elle-Oh-Effing-Elle.

There are stories that you read and either laugh hard, or just let the crying take over. Or maybe there’s some third possibility that I’m being too lazy to consider at the moment.

But anyhow, the Brits have updated their police cruisers, and here’s what’s now keeping the peace:

I actually love the British, so I find it sad when they make naïve decisions with obvious consequences, such as the time that they made anonymous knife-surrender boxes in an effort to fend off violent crime, but some criminals went and stole the boxes that contained the knives.

Is there a rape in progress? It’ll have to wait, because Jimmy called some obscure sexuality “invalid” on Twitter. The police in the UK are busy with what they consider to be important. If some lunatic tried robbing me, I’d rather fend him off with bare-knuckle boxing than be rescued by these garish jokes on wheels.

It’s interesting to think that a world-ruling empire that’ll have a person hung, drawn, and quartered if they commit treason is mere centuries away from calling in clown cars over someone’s feelings.

While this development is embarrassing for the Brits, it’s especially mortifying for the British police, what of them have any amount of self-respect. Perhaps that’s of design, considering the left’s adversarial relationship with the police.

If the UK is willing to go as far as designing their police cruisers to look like clown cars, why don’t they complete the motif by making their prisons look like circus tents?

The cars are merely garish. The real tragedy is behind what they represent: the British police are encouraging people to rat each other out over wrongthink. That the authorities are encouraging people to betray each other over differing opinions is something that’s now happening in the UK.

The War on Terror is Over. Congrats to Terrorism for Winning.

Before getting started on this, I’ll first share what I’m drinking. It’s called a Painkiller. It’s three parts rum, four parts pineapple juice, one part orange juice, and one part cream of coconut, garnished with nutmeg:

Having an ice fairy around can help keep your beverages cool.

It’s a great thing to drink after a day of making circuit boards for the U.S. Armed Forces, which they then leave in the middle of the desert for some thugs to take. As though I haven’t said enough to point out how rewarding the Electronics Technology career path is.

About two decades back, I actually did buy into all the jingoism and flag-waving, so if you’re wondering what becomes of such a guy when consequent affairs take nearly 20 years to fall to shit, here you go.

In case it hasn’t been evident enough, I’m reacting to the American pullout of Afghanistan, which the Taliban has immediately took over, in just a few days. It’s almost as though the Taliban was poised and ready for it to happen, and the people merely surrendered to its inevitability. I don’t remember the initial American invasion as being nearly as quick. Of course, Iraq fractured shortly after American forces withdrew. What was the invasion of Iraq about, again? Weapons of mass destruction which were never found?

As it is, it seems the only enduring legacy of the War on Terror is the Patriot Act, which enables the federal government to spy on its citizens as they masturbate. And now that the War on Terror is officially over (with terrorism overwhelmingly victorious), America’s trained armed forces have surrendered an entire country to a bunch of hairy men who think that pedophilia is normal.

Getting right down to business, the Taliban has announced their plans for the protection of women by having each woman over a certain age compelled to be married. Which makes the new Afghanistan sound like an incel’s dream come true. As weird as that may sound, America’s elites already work around the clock to ensure that the American working poor are screwed, albeit in a different way.

I think we can agree that no American administration has failed harder than the Biden administration. In just a few months he is already by far the worst president in the history of the republic, unless he can somehow pull off some mythical feat comparable to curing cancer.

But hey, the Abraham Accords were a solid example of peace-brokering and leadership. It involved Bahrain, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. It seemed unlikely that it would ever happen, and yet, America’s President pulled it off.

Oh, hold on. It was the Trump administration that pulled off the Abraham Accords, not the Biden Administration. Oopsie.

And speaking of, Biden has already tried blaming Trump for the Afghan withdraw, as though the current person-in-charge has no say in the matter. Then what? Biden just retreats from view again, not to address the public for another few days?

Why were there even any Taliban to negotiate with? If you go to war with someone, and they are the enemy, aren’t you supposed to kill them? If they can be so quickly deposed and forced into the mountains, what have American soldiers have been doing in Afghanistan for nearly two decades? They can find Saddam Hussein in some hole, and they can blow up Osama Bin Laden, but the most advanced military on the planet can’t beat a bunch of religious zealots whose most advanced technology may have been a PS2?

As much as we can blame Biden for what’s gone down, he’s playing his part. When Afghanistan was invaded, it ensured that the U.S. military remained skilled, destabilized a key region, spent down some dated technology (such as the Daisy Cutter bombs), and they left when it was time. Osama Bin Laden confessed to a crime he didn’t commit: the 9/11 terror attacks were committed by Saudis that were ideological rivals with the Al Qaeda terror network, all of which were taught in a mosque that operated in Hamburg, Germany. And last I checked, the same mosque remained open. We can also blame George W. Bush for the part he played, but when it comes down to it, George W. Bush did as he was told.

I think the question now is, “who’s next?” China may be pointing the finger and laughing now, but America’s next target may be specifically chosen to limit China’s influence. And militarily speaking, China is in little position to do anything about it.

“I know what it’s like to lose. To feel so desperately that you’re right, yet to fail nonetheless. It’s frightening, turns the legs to jelly. I ask you, to what end? Dread it. Run from it. Destiny arrives, all the same. And now, it’s here. Or should I say… I am.”

Thanos, Avengers: Infinity War

Is This YouTube Ad Insensitive to Gays?

The above ad has been appearing on YouTube lately. The evidently stupid thing about it is that a person doesn’t need to take some online quiz to know their sexuality. It’s as stupid as saying “What’s your favorite color? Take this online quiz to find out!”

People like what they like, and don’t need some online quiz to determine what their preferences are. If a person needs to take an online quiz to affirm their sexuality, just imagine what all else they can’t do without help.

If any of my readers are gay, I’m interested in their opinion on this. I suspect that turning their sexuality, which in this current age is a protected class, into some mere triviality to take an online quiz on may be insensitive to them. I know that if I were to find a “Find out whether you’re straight” quiz, I’d see a cynical and underhanded agenda from a mile away.

But I know that gays can speak for themselves, so if you are one, let me know what you think about this. Did you determine your own sexuality without an online campaign trying to convince you?

Announcing a New Blog: Lotus Stew

After having reviewed the statistics for this blog, I have determined that the most popular posts have to do with Japanese entertainment, particularly anime, manga, and video games. Considering this, I’ve decided that this content may flourish better on a separate blog.

Therefore, I’ve started a new blog focused more on this content, called Lotus Stew.

The blog is named as a reference to the expression, “lotus eater”, which refers to a person who consumes escapism, which is itself a reference to the island discovered by Odysseus wherein men consumed a certain lotus that caused them to give up their cares.

Therefore, the name connotes a hearty indulgence in escapism.

At the moment, the blog still looks sparse, but it’s still a work in progress. I plan on transferring over some content from this blog, in a transparent effort to inflate its content, but stay tuned, because I’ll be adding new content, too.

If you’ve been following this blog for content on things like manga, you’ll want to follow that one too, or you might be missing out.

I’ll see you there!

Kadokawa Announces English Similpub, Bypassing Western Localizers

If you’ve been wanting manga continually delayed as Japanese cultural references are vetted through the filter of some gender-confused blue-hair, you’ve just been handed another L.

That’s because manga publishing company Kadokawa has just announced a similpub, releasing English versions of manga alongside the Japanese releases, effectively translating manga in-house, bypassing western localization companies with a direct-to-consumer model.

That’s a win. A huge, massive, epic win. Not only does this mean that manga is no longer being passed through the industry equivalent of a Twitter puritan with an interest in making it more “safe” for the trigger-sensitive, it also means we no longer have to wait months for a translation. What’s more, it also means no more need for “scanslations” by the fans as we wait for some super-slow American localization company to translate from Japanese to English, which should be all there is to it.

What Kadokawa is doing is the equivalent of “If you’re going to take so long doing something so simple, we’ll just go ahead and do it ourselves.”

I remember that this has long been a problem with video games, until game companies such as Nintendo adopted a similar similpub approach. That was great for people like me, who considered importing copies of Pokémon in the time it takes for an American company to localize the titles, which typically took around half a year, potentially longer, in the event that Nintendo wanted to release the games in the November window, for obvious reasons.

My first import game.

All that waiting for what should have been translating Japanese text to English. If interpreters can translate speakers in real time, reading text and providing translations shouldn’t be hard. Sadly, much of the game industry is still slow in this regard, with Nippon Ichi’s Disgaea being delayed by months as the translation is done by localization company NISA.

Kadokawa’s announcement is excellent news for those who want to read manga in their own language, but at the same time, want the manga to be unfiltered, direct translations of the Japanese originals. An argument can be made by the localization companies that translating is an art form, and sometimes, a direct translation with intended nuance can be difficult to do. It might sound like they have a point, but then, who better to translate than the publishers who have a direct line of contact with the authors, and could therefore more directly determine what was intended?

When manga is translated by a localization company with their own agenda, the result can be information lost that makes the artistic expression less resemble what the artist intended. This has been a problem for a long time, but in times past, it has been easy for localization companies to get away with it. In the nineties, there weren’t fan communities that were as well-developed as they are today. Today, it’s trivially easy to find fans that know the Japanese language, and could quickly point out differences between translations and the originals, often very quickly.

It was just last week that the team of Digimon Tamers did a reunion where they faced an enemy named “Political Correctness”, which had an attack called “Cancel Culture”, in a setting where misinformation was presented unashamedly by corrupt media outlets peddling fake news. This clearly shows that the Japanese don’t have the same values as western media companies, and that they clearly view the likes of cancel culture as an enemy to overcome. Which it is.

And it was the week before that the president of Kadokawa inadvisably suggested that manga writers started self-censoring to make manga more palatable to the likes of Google and Apple. This resulted in huge backlash against the Kadokawa president, and Kadokawa itself demanded that the president take a 20% pay cut, on the reasoning that his remarks would cost the company money.

If Kadokawa had gone through with it, Kadokawa would have been the manga example of Get Woke, Go Broke, showing once-and-for-all that embracing the likes of political correctness would make a manga company less successful. But that didn’t get very far, as Kadokawa as a whole was not as enthusiastic about giving up money just to virtue signal.

And it was earlier this year that localization company Seven Seas Entertainment came under fire for publishing a light novel that was hugely different from the Japanese original, and they eventually caved and re-released the same light novel, bringing it more in line with the Japanese original. The same Seven Seas Entertainment is usually more enthusiastic about releasing manga that has the potential to be controversial, such as when they acquired the rights to publish a particular one about a decade back, but backed down when retailers threatened to stop stocking Seven Seas products.

But with a direct-to-consumer, similpub model, there wouldn’t be any need to drag manga through the localization process, or through stodgy retailers, meaning the only ones that would censor a translation of Kadokawa’s manga would be Kadokawa themselves, and Kadokawa has already demonstrated a lack of interest in self-censorship.

What’s more, a direct-to-consumer, similpub localization model would eliminate expensive middle-men from the localization process, resulting in higher profits for Kadokawa, and faster. Not only that, English-language consumers would get translations much sooner, and more in-line with the Japanese originals. Everyone wins! Except for lazy localization companies.

I know that some in the political correctness crowd might not be happy with this development, and might respond with a boycott of some kind. But what are they doing reading manga to begin with? Weren’t they aware that they were reading censored versions of media produced by writers that don’t have their values? There are better ways of coping with the fact that not everyone has the same ideas as they do, such as getting over themselves, accepting the reality of the matter that different people are allowed to express different viewpoints, and develop thicker skin. Perhaps then, they’ll come to comprehend this development as a win for them, too.

MyAnimeList has provided a list of titles that will be the first to be included in the program, some of which will be available for free for a limited time. This might be a great opportunity, so why not check it out?

This App Rocks: Vibration Analysis

For a while, I’ve been sometimes feeling down, while at home. It was a feeling of unease, which is difficult to describe. But after a while, I started to get suspicious, as this feeling mainly occurred when I was running a certain fan.

I had purchased a cheapo fan from Walmart, to help me circulate the air when the weather gets hot. But I noticed that I felt unease when the fan was running, particularly when it was running at its “3” setting, closest to “off”.

The suspect

I remember reading somewhere that it’s possible for a person to feel unease when exposed to a certain frequency, which is around 19 hertz. It so happens that I had a “Vibration analysis” app on my phone (developed by Dmitriy Kharutskiy), which could pick up certain frequencies.

Here is an example of how the app looks when it’s in use:

In line with my suspicion, the fan let off a vibration at around 19hz when at its high setting, “3”! I decided to measure the frequency at the “2” and “1” settings, for which it let off different frequencies.

When the fan was off, or running at a setting of “2” or “1”, my feeling of unease disappeared, almost immediately! If I were to continue to use the same fan, it would be better to avoid leaving it on the highest setting.

The Vibration Analysis app rocks! It’s very much deserving of a five star rating on the app store. Who knows what else one might discover about their environment by running this app.

Apple’s Update May Have Introduced a Backdoor to iPhones That Bad Actors Could Exploit

If you own an Apple device, that device may already be scanning the images on it. An update that went live just last week can determine whether images on devices such as iPhone are illegal. Privacy activists are up in arms over this development, concerned that the program involved could be repurposed by authoritarians for censorship.

Apple has implemented the feature to detect whether images on a phone victimize children. While the endeavor sounds noble, there is room for the suspicion that this cause in particular has been selected because few people would disagree with it. However, the same thing could be said about counter-terrorism, which was the reasoning behind the Patriot Act, which continually violates the privacy of Americans.

There aren’t many people out there that need to be told that Cheese Pizza is illegal. I knew that it’s illegal to possess or share, but I had no idea that it was such a pervasive issue that it needed to be fought against on the device level.

The way the software works is by checking the hash values of images on the device. A hash value is a code that could be used to identify an image, and in the case of the software, it checks the hash values of images against a blacklist of hash values for known illegal images.

This is going to be misused. Hard.

When Cheese Pizza is brought up, it’s customary to virtue signal, and this will be mine: as far as I know, the most provocative image on my computer is just a drawing that doesn’t even depict any real people. I don’t even know whether any of the oceans of anime images on my computer clearly show any tube steaks or roast beef sandwiches. But I doubt that the algorithm is going to be looking for anime doodles, anyway.

My concern is two-fold: whether there would be false positives (which might not often happen), and whether the algorithm could be reverse-engineered and repurposed by authoritarians to go after free expression that should be protected.

For one thing, the hash values of images can be changed. One way of doing this is to simply edit the image, though this wouldn’t likely be effective against an AI that’s been trained to categorize images based on appearance. The problem is, it’s possible for a person to hack the hash value of an image, then share it with other people. An image that seems harmless might have a hash value that trips a flag, resulting in an investigation.

The algorithm is almost certain to be repurposed by more authoritarian regimes. It’s one thing if Cheese Pizza is illegal in one part of the world, but there are places where homosexuality is illegal, and a repurposed iteration of this software could detect LGBT+ material.

Then there’s China. The place is pretty much a country of over a billion slaves. Over there, it’s illegal to say anything against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The country already has a social credit system that automatically assigns a numerical value to people depending on their activities, with those scoring low enough being publicly shamed by having their face displayed on electronic billboards. It’s a system that works using cameras and facial recognition, which isn’t perfect. A person who is misidentified could be accused of a crime they didn’t commit.

If Apple’s new software could be used to seek out images on a Chinese blacklist, it could identify anyone who has a chance of being critical of the CCP.

I don’t go looking for illegal stuff, but that doesn’t mean I’m not concerned. Over a year ago, a car on the other side of the state I live in ran a red light, and I was issued a fine because a traffic camera misidentified the car’s license plate as my own. False positives happen, and we live in a world where disinterested state employees could cause problems for someone they’ve never even seen. The technology isn’t perfect, and that makes potential for problems that otherwise might not exist.

Right now, there is a lot of power in the hands of just a few people who manage the technology. As it is, you might not even own the device you use to read these words, and you may only have a license to use the software that runs on it, which can probably be revoked at any time.

It might be Cheese Pizza today, but tomorrow, it could be your politics. Silicon Valley is dominated by leftists as it is, and it’s not hard to find extreme elements of leftism that views anyone right of center as being criminal. Suppose that there’s a meme of Pepe the Frog that was relevant to the participants of the Capitol siege on January 6th, and you have that image on your iPhone somewhere, not aware of its significance. There’s no telling how you might have slipped up.

Did Apple just introduce a form of backdoor that allows external actors to determine whether a file is on your device? I don’t know, but as I see increasing authoritarianism employed just to fight an easily-survivable virus, it’s easy to feel a little concerned.

You can now be psycho-analyzed by your phone. Not really a new development, as it’s been a thing for a long time, as psychological information about you has long been sold to ad companies to the end of serving you targeted advertisements. It’s also been a thing for a while that activist groups engage in slander campaigns to try to make resistance figures out to be pedophiles, because that’s currently the go-to insult that can be used to destroy a person as cheaply as possible, in as few words as possible, and it’s the one insult that bypasses the hearer’s better judgement and causes them to assume the worst about the accused.

I suppose a person could try to fight back against this by switching to a phone running Android, or some kind of Freedom Phone. But it could be that they’ve been doing stuff like this for a while, but it just hasn’t been advertised.

I could imagine that pedophiles might be sweating bullets, about now. But considering the potential for abuse from the software itself, it’s easy to see why they’re not the only ones that should be concerned.