Does Bandai know something Netflix doesn't?

About a week ago I posted that 2011, for all its problems, was a stable year for anime. It turns out that stability was short lived. In an interview with Justin Sevakis and Chris Macdonald on AnimeNewsNetwork, Bandai Entertainment President and CEO Ken Iyadomi announced Bandai’s decision to stop licensing and releasing shows. Some bloggers (including Charlie Maib from Kotaku via Japanator) have suggested that piracy killed Bandai. But if you look at what Iyadomi said, I think it’s more likely that Bandai Japan is to blame. And not blame in a bad way, blame in the sense that Bandai Japan (full name: Namco Bandai Holdings) made a rational business decision. It decided, maybe prematurely, to protect its profits and let mainstream fans get anime digitally.

We'll miss you Bandai

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You call yourself human?

I’m not dead, just low on inspiration. That’s all I wanted to say, really, and while I’m trying to come up with some more legitimate ideas for anime blogging, I figured I may as well link a Supercar music video, by far and away my favourite Japanese rock band. Having been procrastinating for a few hours now, this obviously wasn’t an easy decision, first I was going to use “Wonderword“, then “Last Scene“, then “STROBOLIGHTS“, but, for obvious reasons that will soon become apparent, settled on “Be“…

[Warning: the above video contains a lot of violence and most definitely isn’t safe for work]

…”Be” is hardly Supercar‘s best song (for some better music, please do check out the other songs I’ve linked above), but after watching this music video for the first time earlier this evening, I just knew I had to use it. It’s very provocative, disturbing and, regardless of any deeper meaning, very, very cool looking (by the way, I wonder if any of you guys have seen any (live action) movies directed by Toshiaki Toyoda? Like ‘Blue Spring‘ or ‘9 Souls‘?). Thinking about it, I’m not sure a music video like this could be made in any country but Japan, it’s so morally ambivalent and uncompromising that the sensationalist press over here (in the UK) would probably tear it to pieces. Enjoy!

Autumn in the silent forest

Since I’ve been a bit quiet over the last couple of weeks, I figured I should check in with a small update to let y’all know that I’m still around. If truth be told, I’m feeling fairly apathetic towards the whole blogging thing right now; the end result being that I just can’t conjure up the enthusiasm to talk about anime at the moment. It’s not that the new season is especially bad (in fact, I’m already loving both Kaiji and Moyashimon), I’m just running low on the inspiration needed to write. Basically, I need a break from watching anime and wondering to myself “what I can say about this?” Indeed, I suspect my reluctance to work through a giant (and ever growing!) backlog of collected fansubs is totally related to these struggles with blogging, after all, I don’t feel right about enjoying something without telling you guys about it too! And on that point, I badly need to write about Dennou Coil – definitely the best show I’m watching right now; I could just say it’s awesome, but that’s never enough.
Well, that’s my story. I haven’t jumped ship yet, just floating aimlessly through the interwebs and waiting for that tide of inspiration to guide me safely back home. I hope to see you there?

Harry Potter, nineteen years later ~ all was well

I know this is supposed to be bateszi anime blog, but allow me this one-off transgression from the norm; I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and I promised kauldron26 I’d post up some thoughts. Though this may be obvious to some, I’m warning you right now to expect spoilers in this post, the last thing I want to do is ruin any surprises for you — so if you haven’t already read the book, bugger off. My short, spoiler-free opinion is this; I loved it.
Now, I guess I need to emphasize the context of my HP fandom. The truth is this — without J.K. Rowling’s saga, I wouldn’t be reading books, period. That may sound sensational, but I’m somewhat ashamed to say that before I discovered Harry Potter (around about 2003), I was never interested in book-reading. I don’t know why I decided to buy the Philosopher’s Stone; probably the hype had something to do with it, but since then, I’ve been totally and utterly hooked on literature. For me, Harry Potter opened that window into an exciting new world of words and imagination, and for that reason alone, I shall cherish it as more than just another story, it’s become an important milestone in my life.
On that bombshell, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn I’ve loved all of the Harry Potter books. People have complained about this and that, about how the books are too long, overrated, whatever, but I never did. I’ve relished every new chapter, greedily devoured every chance to escape into Hogwarts. I don’t want to read through these books in a matter of days, I want to prolong the feelings and the excitement for as long as possible. My favourite instalment is the Goblet of Fire; I was absolutely on edge during its despair-ridden finale. The sheer shock of Cedric’s sudden death sent shivers down my spine; that’s the moment Harry Potter stops being just some aimless, vaguely-fun adventure and delves into the murky depths of Rowling’s universe; suddenly, the clouds blacken, the sky turns grey and the rain starts pouring.
I’m glad The Deathly Hallows finally revealed Snape’s true motivations. If truth be told, I was getting bored with Harry, Ron and Hermione. They are the heroic central characters, but by now, we know what to expect from them; we knew that Ron will get moody and run off, just like we knew he would end up with Hermione, but it’s totally different with characters like Snape and Draco Malfoy, we’re left guessing about them, left wondering whether or not they are good or evil right up until the last few chapters.
Snape’s undignified demise is the saddest thing in this book. Even when he "murdered" Dumbledore, I still had this sneaking suspicion that he would pull a Darth Vadar and redeem himself at the last possible moment. In the end, it didn’t really work out that way, he never did anything, he just died, but in typical Rowling fashion, his memories, and therefore, his unrequited love, redeemed his blackened soul. It’s hard not to feel moved by his Prince’s Tale chapter. It’s the one true glimpse into Snape’s sad life, his mistakes, his aggression and his insecurity make him my favourite character. A real human in a book of heroes.
If we’re handing out GAR awards, Neville wins hands down. For a start, his name is Neville; the most bookish name ever (followed closely by Percy). When Harry meets him at the Hog’s Head, he sports slashes, bruises and scars all over his face. And finally, despite facing certain doom, Neville looks Voldemort straight in the face and yells "Dumbledore’s Army", and as if that wasn’t enough, soon after, he decapitates the villain’s most precious giant-snake. BALLS OF STEEL; all this from the boy who, in the first book, was an untalented, unconfident oaf!
Thinking back over The Deathly Hallows, one of the most poignant moments comes in The Dursleys Departing. Harry’s step-family was always a cruel bunch of bastards, but in Dudley’s somewhat emotional good-bye, we see a softer side to them. It’s a revealing glimpse into the Dursely’s family dynamic, a sad and all-too-late suggestion that they aren’t such monsters after all. Another surreal interlude involves Dumbledore, another character who, struck down in the past by his own deeds, is searching for redemption. Towards the end, Harry enters a dream-like world and has a final, heavily symbolic meeting with the dead wizard. They sit in chairs facing one-another, but lying "whimpering" on the floor behind Harry is a "small naked child, its skin raw and rough, flayed looking". Dumbledore suggests Harry "cannot help" it. Clearly, it’s symbolic of something, but exactly what is no doubt the subject of a million debates currently raging across the ‘net. Personally, I suspect it’s Dumbledore’s tortured sister; the sister he ignored for years and may well have murdered. He is stuck in that place, unable to forgive himself for what happened. Of course, the "child" could also be interpreted as Voldemort, a man so full of childish greed, ambition and hatred that he is literally beyond help. Any other suggestions, dear reader?
In the end, we got the Hollywood send-off for Harry Potter. Good triumphed over evil, with a few casualties along the way. Fred’s death felt rather forced, almost like a token sacrifice, while Dobby’s tragic and heroic end was so much more powerful. The final words, "all was well", in Rowling’s homely writing style, sums it up quite nicely. The nineteen years later chapter was a nice touch, millions of people have literally grown up with these characters and to leave them like this, with smiling faces, waving off their own children to Hogwarts was a poetic way to well and truly close the story. Saying goodbye is always the hardest.

Death and rebirth

Welcome to the latest version of Bateszi Anime Blog; all WordPress’d up and ready for action. I hope you like the new layout too – this is the fifth time I’ve changed it in a year! Please note, since I’ve switched over to the WordPress system, a lot of the old Bateszi URLs will no longer be working – the most important one being the RSS news feed; if you subscribe, please update your feed readers to point at this new URL. Regular service shall be resumed shortly, but in the mean time, please bask in the shiny newness!

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – "Listen to me, you fucking furry"

This episode confirms it; Gurren Lagan is made of all kinds of awesome. The first 10 minutes… I’ve been sitting here for 20 and I still can’t articulate everything that’s so good about it. I’m talking about the knife fight. The way the characters move, the way they talk, the art, the fluidity of animation, it’s all just perfect. A jaw-dropping and perfect distillation of everything that I love about shonen anime. The mecha battles too. They are grandiose in execution; the explosions from their missiles could almost be mini-nukes for way they cover the screen with violent, multi-coloured mushroom clouds.
Often I feel like there a knowing wink at the audience from Gainax, almost as if they know they are exploding the world with this show. The rock music in the background is a definite sign that they are just absolutely rocking out while animating this. Gurren Lagan is something to watch if you want a big smile slapped across your face for 24 minutes. This episode confirmed it for me; it’s the best show in a good season of anime by a long way. Now for some dialogue from this episode:
“Listen to me, you fucking furry”, “I’m the Gurren Brigade’s Lord Kamina, who’s name quiets crying children!” “Mens souls, uniting with passion”, “Who the fuck do you think I am?” and finally, “DABBU DABBU DABBU DABBU DA!!!”. Best. episode. ever. What a rush!

Another new blog layout, Rock Lee style

It’s been nearly four months since I last tinkered with the layout, but last week I caught the designers bug again (*sniff* along with a cold too *sniff*), and so… this is the result! Of course I hope you like the fresh new look, I have to admit it’s a little more ‘accessible’ than my last (decidedly pink) effort, and besides it has awesome characters in the banner, albeit in a grungy stained style; naturally Rock Lee needed to appear on the blog before the second series of Naruto begins.
Anyway – irregular service will resume shortly. If you have anything to say about this new layout, like it or loathe it, I’d love to read your comments.

New layout, same person

Developing in the background for a fair few weeks now, I’m pleased (though… perhaps relieved is a better word?!) to finally unveil the colourful new layout of “Bateszi Anime Blog”!
In an attempt to break away from my conventional (boring) grey style, I’ve ended up with a “passionate” red colour scheme – gasp – if just to prove it’s not only the yuri fans who can get away with pink; us Shounen Jump fan boys are in touch with our feminine sides too!
I wish I could say there is some over arching concept behind this drastic overhaul – I could make up something about the “autumn leaves” in the banner, but truthfully, it’s all about as random as the butterflies you can see in the right menu, but don’t they look pretty? If you have any comments, good or bad, I’d love to read them.

Greetings and Salutations

As is the proper tradition for us newbs, here is my belated introduction to the hectic world of blogsuki.
If this is the first time you have come across BATESZI; HI! I hope you stick around! Of course, that’s entirely down to your (and indeed, my) tastes in anime- I’ll give you fair warning though and say I won’t be reviewing Haruhi, Fate/Stay Night or whatever other “cute” series are popular right now. Sorry- we’re all about the mucky gems here at BATESZI, so prepare to gasp at the dramatic highs and gut-wrenching lows of Kiba, fall in the love with the beauty of TOKKO and drown in the deep, dark depths of Black Lagoon. I’m starting to worry I have bad taste in anime, but stick with me anyway.. could be worth a laugh?!
If you gloss over the hypocrisy of actively blogging the semi-popular Ergo Proxy, my main goal for BATESZI is cover the more overlooked and undervalued anime out there, as well as chipping in with the occasional article (read: rant) every now and then too. A long and winding road lies ahead. Thanks for reading and come back, please.