Category Archives: Anime and Manga

Netflix Offering Tuition to Aspiring Animators in Japan (Including Westerners)

Netflix is offering a tuition program to students in Japan who are interested in learning to make anime. The program will award tuition to about ten students, including western students residing in Japan who may be interested.

I was immediately suspicious of Netflix’s motives, because there’s a potential for it to be about more than increasing the potential for new programming. After all, anime is one of the great forms of entertainment left that still hasn’t been poisoned by western intersectional politics. Because western entertainment companies are obsessed with activism (at the expense of the product itself), I’m not warm to the idea of western entertainment companies increasing their presence in Japan.

However, as far as that goes, there really isn’t much to worry about. For one thing, Japanese animators mainly produce anime for Japanese audiences. Anime is largely produced from a position of Japanese sensibility, and as I’ve pointed out before, even younger Japanese viewers are treated to content that is more mature compared to what Americans see in the “CalArts” style.

The CalArts style, as shown ruining Thundercats.

It’s one of the reasons why more western youngsters are turning to anime for entertainment. It’s easier to take anime seriously, because anime takes its viewers seriously.

Another, more compelling reason is that Americans wouldn’t be interested in working in anime once they discover that in Japanese animation, there’s no work-life balance, and the pay is dreadful.

Your typical Japanese animator works shifts as long as 16-hours. Because they’re usually allowed to sleep at their desks, many Japanese animators don’t bother renting a home, but instead spend days at a time at their workplace.

They’re not payed very well, either. Japanese animators usually get paid the equivalent of a few dollars an hour. But because they’d have little need to buy a car or pay rent, that income isn’t necessarily earmarked. By the way, I’m not kidding.

Compare this to the typical American wage expectation. What Americans want is a house, a car or two, and to support a medium-size family, and have disposable income on top of that. The wages of a Japanese animator are almost never enough to support anything resembling this.

In light of this, you might wonder why anyone in Japan would make anime for a living. The ones that make anime do so because they like doing it. They’d pretty much have to, because if they decided to do so professionally, it usually takes over their lives for as long as they continue in it.

TL;DR: An American who saw what being a Japanese animator was really like would be strongly unlikely to want to try it for a living.

If it’s a testimonial you want, an American actually did succeed in being hired to make anime in Japan, and here is a link to a story about him (warning: links to Buzzfeed).

Considering all this, I seriously doubt that American intersectional insanity would stand a chance of ruining anime anytime soon.

2020 Digital Manga Sales 3X That of DC and Marvel Sales Combined

In times past, Americans were at least credited as being the world’s entertainers. It seems that role is shifting, if graphic novel sales are any indication.

Sales for graphic novels in 2020 are in, and they show the Japanese manga industry destroying American comics, eclipsing Marvel and DC comics combined by three to one.

The following shows the top ten sales for graphic novels in 2020:

1. My Hero Academia vol. 1 
2. My Hero Academia vol. 2 
3. Demon Slayer vol. 1 
4. My Hero Academia vol. 24 
5. My Hero Academia vol. 3 
6. My Hero Academia vol. 23 
7. Uzumaki hardcover 
8. My Hero Academia vol. 4 
9. Demon Slayer vol. 2 
10. My Hero Academia vol. 5

The list is dominated by Japan’s current most popular manga series, Boku no Hero Academia, as well as Demon Slayer and Uzumaki. What didn’t even place are western comics like Superman, Iron Man, or even Batman.

I remember a time in which Japanese manga was obscure. But times have changed, and Americans have taken a liking to the Japanese graphic novel format.

When one directly compares comics to manga, the reason for the preference by general audiences is easy to understand. While comics usually sees about thirty new pages each month, manga sees 15-20 new pages each week (granted, US comics usually have more color pages). While comics focus heavily on merchandising, in manga, the pages themselves are the focal products. While US comics lean heavily on iconic established characters, in manga, new series’ can thrive because the writers are great at getting us to care about new characters.

What’s more, American comics have recently focused heavily on virtue signaling through expressing activist causes. Natch, western readers viewed this as the cringe it is, which has a lot to do with why westerners are turning to Japanese manga and anime. What’s more, the influencers of western social media have no influence in Japan, and have even been spurned by Japanese content creators that take notice.

But comic companies do get the added perk of getting to blame their fans for their comics not selling well by attributing poor sales to sexism and racism on the part of the fans.

How’s that for a cynic’s quest? “What’s that, comic companies? The Japanese are handing your butts to you in sales? Here, have a soapbox, upon which you can feel a smug sense of superiority.”

Then there’s the big reason: Western audiences are reading more manga because manga tells better stories. As a matter of philosophy, the Japanese desire to produce superior products, and their entertainment is no exception. Readers take manga seriously because manga authors take them seriously.

Recently, I discovered a manga called Made in Abyss. It’s cute appearance is disarming, and it’s easy to be skeptical by reason of it. It really drives home the cuteness, with characters like the adorable Nanachi:

A character designed by someone who gives a care.

It reads like a Dungeons and Dragons story, as directed by a DM so sadistic you’d think he went to college for it. Not only are the heroes in danger of dying by monsters, there’s also danger of poison, parasites, and random mutation by influence of the environment. It’s to the point that fans have even expressed doubt that beloved characters like Nanachi might survive from one season of the anime to the next.

Suffice to say, Made in Abyss wasn’t made for kids. But it’s a great example of how manga has an edge that’s often missing from American comics.

As for what is made for kids, about ten years back, I decided to check out a random episode of the anime, Doremi Naisho, out of curiosity. The episode had to do with “indirect kissing”. That’s surprisingly mature. Yet, Japanese children are better at consuming media with more mature themes because Japanese parents know how to raise children that are better behaved.

Surprisingly mature.

In America, fad parenting takes on many forms, some of which with cultish adherents. You’d think that they’d be quick to figure out that their novel approaches don’t actually work, but noooooooo

Then there’s Dragonball Z, whose many heroes could give Superman a wedgie without breaking a sweat. But it’s more than a simple power fantasy. Involved stories are used to develop characters to the point that, when characters are in danger, there’s a sense of peril, and when they die, it actually comes off as a tragedy. And nearly every major character does, at some point.

Also, there’s Sailor Moon. I don’t get it, but some people like it. That’s cool for them.

Reading this, some might think I’m dead-set against American comics, but I’m not. I want to see them succeed. But right now, the writers of American comics aren’t doing what it takes to make that happen.

There is an Asian proverb that I’ve been using quite a bit lately. You could probably already guess what it is, especially since it’s so fitting, considering the topic. Confucius said, The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. When considering how manga is far outselling traditional western comics, it’s interesting that the groups who aren’t obsessed with profit are greatly overtaking those who are primarily driven by it.

If I’m not getting what I’m looking for from one party, I will receive it from those who are offering it.

Amazon Still Going After Anime

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Online retailer Amazon has previously gone after anime figures that they deemed objectionable, even though a basic observation shows that there wasn’t anything objectionable about them. It seems this trend is continuing, as they’re halting sales of the light novel series, No Game No Life.

If you’re wondering what a “light novel” is, it’s related to Japanese comic books called “manga”, except they’re mainly text with intermittent illustrations.

I’m not familiar with the series No Game No Life, but from what I’ve seen in passive browsing, it’s far from the most offensive series out there. I suspect that the bannings are being carried out by a member of Amazon staff who isn’t strongly familiar with anime.

I’m not a huge anime nerd, but I’ve watched quite a bit. From what I’ve seen, the thing that makes anime appealing is the same thing that some people find concerning about it: some anime can have surprisingly mature themes. The fact is, anime isn’t a single genre, it’s an animation style used mainly in Japan. The anime style and its many variants can be used in Japanese shows that appeal to many different audiences, with some made for children, some made for teens, and some anime is made for mature audiences.

The fact that anime can touch on mature themes or have cultural references specific to the Japanese can result in anime being viewed with suspicion by certain western viewers who are more familiar with the idea of cartoons being primarily geared towards children.

An interesting point that’s related to this is that the Japanese aren’t obsessed with the idea that entertainment media can be used to inform a person’s worldview, or that cartoon characters be used to teach the values that parents should be teaching. The Japanese are morally unaffected by entertainment media because they can understand the difference between fantasy and reality, and are strongly well-behaved as people. The Japanese can consume mature entertainment without adverse effect because they are mature people. They don’t relegate child-rearing to the television set.

Because anime can have mature themes and even be adult-centric, it has plenty of potential to be viewed as weird. What’s more, while many western cartoons have simple plotlines that conclude in 20 minutes, anime can tell long stories that can take many episodes to reach a conclusion. Because of this, those accustomed to western cartoons can find anime very challenging. Considering this, anime is often unfairly criticized, and so are the people who consume it, in spite of the fact that anime fans tend to keep it sensible.

Though Amazon has blocked sales of No Game No Life, Amazon hasn’t given a reason for doing so. But I’m hearing that Amazon has also blocked sale of anime-related items that depicted characters bathing and characters in bed with only bedding. There seems to be a theme of vilification over depictions of nudity, as though there were anything intrinsically wrong with that. Nudity isn’t wrong, it’s a state of the human body (the most natural state). However, depictions of the sort are a typical target for busybodies out to score moral-superiority points.

The stated goal is usually “to fight objectification”, as though a fictional character’s plight were equivalent to that of a real human being. A fictional character can’t be further objectified because fictional characters are already objects. In any case, the busybodies don’t seem aware of the irony that they’re creating in speaking out against the objectification of fictional women, when their cause would victimize real women. The fact is, the Japanese entertainment industry employs and is cultivated by women. If the Japanese entertainment industry were to cave in to the demands of non-Japanese busybodies, many women that the industry employs might find themselves without income, and the busybodies’ endeavor against fictional women would have victimized real women.

When it comes to entertainment media, the best course of action is to allow mature, responsible people to make choices for themselves. If something doesn’t appeal to your sensibilities, you can make your choices based on that. What makes the busybodies problematic is that they’re not content with making their own choices for themselves, they want to make everyone else’s choices for them based on their own personal hang-ups. They don’t trust other people to behave maturely. While they pretend to be about liberation when they stand up for fictional people, they aren’t about liberty for real people.

When it comes to consuming mature media in a responsible manner, anime fans do surprisingly well. It’s too bad that there are people out there that don’t understand that.

If you think anime figurines are objectionable, what are you doing searching Amazon for them?

A few anime figures were recently removed from Amazon on the claims that they “promote child exploitation or depict children or characters resembling children in a sexually suggestive manner.” Because the figures in question do no such thing, there shouldn’t be an issue with showing you which ones were removed:

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This character is Hatsune Miku, one of the most recognizable Japanese characters. Personally, I assumed that she was an adult because she has adult characteristics (i.e. breasts, well-defined hips, etc.). But hey, I arrived at that determination using my brain and eyes. In Vocaloid lore, she’s a software character, so she wouldn’t actually have an age. Does Siri have an age, and would anyone object to finding Siri attractive?

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Notice just how much Tsumugi is expressing her sexuality by standing there, playing an electronic keyboard? She isn’t? Exactly.

miku hatsune.jpg

Miku again, and she looks very much grown-up in this one, too. She’s not even doing anything sexual, just dancing and singing. If you know of a place on earth that has a problem with these things, let me know about it in the comments below.

HLP.jpg

While this one is child-like in appearance, she’s not doing anything suggestive. She doesn’t look like she’s doing anything. However, she appears to be totally down with standing there and staring with a judgemental look on her face, just like the last girlfriend I had.

This representation of the character is a “chibi”, which means she was arbitrarily made child-like, which is something the Japanese do because they like cute things. Westerners should understand this because we have Funco POPs.

Still, there might be something about this character that comes off as odd. The chained collar around the neck of this angelic character implies an intention to confine. Considering this, this particular character comes off as having the highest potential for objectionability of the bunch (speaking from a position of relative ignorance of the manga or anime that may depict her).

Aoi Kannazuki.jpg

So this one (grown-up) is dressed like a maid. And there are people who think about sex when they think about maid outfits. Does this make maid outfits sexual?

No, it doesn’t.

Sexuality is something that occurs in the mind. People arbitrarily find things sexual which actually don’t have anything to do with sex. For example, feet. Why feet? I don’t know, but some people see them as sexual. Also, certain food items, like ice cream and pizza. I don’t know why people sexualize those, but it’s something that happens in their minds.

It should be obvious that I’m not overly favorable toward the idea of finding a work of expression objectionable just because there exists the potential to view it a certain way. If someone did, there would be a slippery-slope effect where that person might come to the point of objecting to just about anything, regardless of what the intention of an artist may have been.

I admit that I don’t know much about the characters pictured above, aside from Miku. If the other works that these characters were featured in sexualized them in any way, it wasn’t made apparent in the figurines themselves. But even if the characters are portrayed expressing their sexuality at any point in a manga or anime they were featured in, why would that be a bad thing, provided they were expressing it in a healthy way? Sexuality is one of the most human of traits, and is a universal aspect of human life. I suspect that the real problem is that certain people have an unhealthy view of sex and sexuality.

One related problem that I can point out in fiction, including in western media, is the gender double-standard when it comes to infatuation. When it occurs with girls and women, people assume pureness of motives. But when it’s boys and men, they’re portrayed as though we should be suspicious of their intentions. In reality, the experience of limerence is equally valid for both sexes.

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As I’ve said before, if you don’t like a work of art, just don’t look at it. Not everyone has the same standard of what is objectionable, which is something that they can only decide for themselves. If you’re such a repressed person that when you see an adult anime woman singing you think “child exploitation”, what are you doing browsing anime figurines on Amazon?

By the way, I don’t actually know the ages of the characters depicted by the figurines. I went by characteristics, because that was how they were being unfairly judged by Amazon. I don’t really know much about these characters, aside from Miku. The characters were judged unfairly based on aesthetics, so I deemed their aesthetics as being what’s relevant to the discussion. If anyone wants to be nitpicky about it, fictional characters don’t actually have ages. Everything about them is arbitrarily made up, and whoever made them up can just make their ages whatever they want. That’s something to know about stuff that’s just made up.

The Pokemon anime spoiler that’s difficult to avoid (Alola league results)

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Ash has won a Pokemon League tournament in the Pokemon anime. Yes, that actually happened. The anime has been running for over two decades, with each generation of Pokemon typically concluding with a Pokemon League tournament where the winner would be declared the champion.

To be fair, Ash has won two similar victories in the past, those being the Orange Island League and the Battle Frontier challenge, but neither of those were leagues in the same sense as the Alola League, which held a tournament as other traditional Leagues do.

There have been those who have insisted that Ash should have won other league tournaments in which he participated, but I prefer to be more realistic about it. Most league tournaments in the Pokemon anime are single-elimination tournaments, wherein contestants are eliminated as soon as they’ve lost, after just one round. These tournaments can be pretty brutal, especially if there is a large number of participants, which would necessitate more rounds. While Ash may be the main character of his story, he’s every bit a person as everyone else who entered the competition, and those other people have had experiences just as valid as his. Because a large crowd participates in Pokemon’s league competitions, the odds of any particular contestant winning are very slim, but can significantly improve if a person is of a higher skill level. Because tournaments typically attract highly-skilled participants, the odds of an average-level participant taking top honors is very slim.

Ash’s league victory comes just after we’ve gotten a strong hint that the next generation of Pokemon anime will take place across all regions featured in the main Pokemon games, with the possibility that Ash may no longer be featured as the main character. If this turns out to be the case, granting Ash a league victory would give the character, and fans all over the world, closure that they’ve collectively been waiting a long time for.

Well done, kid.

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