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HD Goes to AX, Shingo Still MIA

Breaking radio silence inform any and all that may be interested that at least one representative from HD will be present at this year’s AX. If there’s any interest in staging a mini-meetup, leave a comment and we can work something out.

Haruhi Season 2 – For Real – Confirmed – Proof – This Is Not A Drill

After countless false starts and years of crushed dreams, we now have confirmation that the second season of Haruhi is in fact quite real, and that a new, never before seen episode has aired tonight.

Will the new series live up to its predecessor? Will it be enough to make up for the interminable, soul-crushing years of desperate waiting?

At the risk of judging prematurely, and having not seen any portion of the episode myself, I feel comfortable answering with a definitive categorical “YES”.

“Creators Cafe” Set to Open in Akihabara

For all the amateur and professional manga creators of the world who are being held back by poor working environments, the Akihabara Seisakujo is here to solve all your problems. Billing itself as a “Creators Cafe”, Seisakujo offers studio desks and various art equipment, including high-quality scanners and PCs equipped with Photoshop, for a modest hourly charge (starting at 500 yen).

Everything Old Is New Again, 2009 is 1989

With apologies to TV’s Patrick Macias.

Remakes, relaunches, renewals, reimaginings, whatever you call them, making old things new is all the rage these days. On some level, it clearly smacks of laziness and a dearth of fresh ideas, but like it or not there’s big money to be made in recycling things that would otherwise be lost and forgotten. For now at least. And while it’s not nearly as widespread as it is in, say, the North American movie industry, this phenomenon is slowly but surely making its presence felt in the otaku realm as well.

The Color of Toei

Taking a step back from the unsurprisingly controversial sentiment of the previous article, here’s something everyone can enjoy!

That’s a lie, but it is something that I doubt anyone will feel very strongly about (famous last words) although I am hoping that someone with a bit more expertise on the subject will be kind enough to chime in. Also, taking an unexpected foray into the realm of the 3D today, but bear with me. At least this one has pictures.

On The International Brotherhood of Otaku

Shokotan recently blogged in praise of a group of American cosplayers, saying that “Americans are really great at making weapons and stuff” and wondering “How can they carry all that stuff around??”. The cosplayers in question have certainly put their hours in, and the results are impressive (although it’d be nice if there were some pictures from a better angle) but what’s more interesting is the statement that follows. “I want to know more about the otaku of the world!” she exclaims “The Internet makes it easy to keep up with the latest productions in real time, so the number of otaku across the world is increasing rapidly”

Now, say what you will about Shokotan. Shingo doesn’t care for her, but I’d call myself a fan. Nonetheless, she raises a very interesting point, which happens to be something I think about quite frequently. In short, how is it that otaku in This Country and otaku in the Other Country can have so much in common, and work toward so many common goals, and yet still have so little contact with each other?

Princess Waltz

Princess Waltz

New Vocaloid Character Information: Megurine Luka

The latest information regarding the third vocaloid character has been released today. The new character is named “Megurine Luka” (I am working very hard not to call her “Luka Migraine”) and features the voice of Asakawa Yuu, probably best known for her role as Sakaki in Azumanga Daioh. I can’t expect her to become anything resembling the cultural phenomenon that is Hatsune Miku, but I must confess, I absolutely love this design:

Otaku Metaculture: Otaku no Video

Taking a step back in time today to take a look at what is arguably the grandfather of all otaku metaculture. Join us for the grandiose and yet ultimately very personal tale of otaku in the 1980s and beyond.

Kotobukiya Kannagi Series Vol. 3: Dog Girl Tsugumi

Hobby Channel has a preview up of the latest in Kotobukiya’s Kannagi series. Due out in April of 2009, this one is “Dog Girl” Tsugumi. There’s nothing wrong with the figure itself, although personally I am not the biggest Tsugumi fan, but it’s a bit irritating that Kotobukiya is bringing out these “theme” versions of […]

Real Life Origins of Kannagi’s Meido Kissa

I’ve been going back and forth on the issue of whether or not Kannagi, with its otaku-heavy supporting cast and frequent allusions to visual culture, can constitute proper otaku metaculture or not. Although it never becomes the focus of the series, it’s done with such reverence and genuine expertise that it’s difficult to ignore.

Regardless, there is a sequence in episode 6 that cannot go without comment. In it, the Kannagi gang visit a local meido kissa, which is very obviously modeled on my all-time favorite Akiba meido kissa, the Cafe Mai:Lish. The Kannagi animation team have really done a bang up job in this episode of recreating the Mai:Lish perfectly in 2D, down to the slightest detail. Have a look at some side-by-side comparisons.

2009: The Untranslatables

Thinking about the problems facing the transplantation of manga kissa to the new world, I got to thinking about the vast number of otaku cultural elements that are wildly successful in the Other Country, and simply do not exist anywhere else. Even in the relatively short time that I have been interested in anime and manga, the official releases seen in North America have seen an exponential increase in both quantity and quality. Things that it seemed would never get an official release even two or three years ago are now considered perfectly normal. It’s now possible to find genuine gachapon in all sorts of places, genuine manga anthologies are showing up in otherwise normal locations, and translated light novels are coming out almost every month.

However, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, we need to remember that an otaku’s work is never done. For all the progress that has been made, it is important to remember how much further we have to go. Certain things are still not suitable for release in gaijin-land, and no matter how badly we may want them, they probably never will be. I promise that I won’t make a habit of doing posts that are nothing but enumerated lists, since I think that pretty much every other blog on the tubes has got that style covered, but since it is the beginning of the year I would ask you to grant me this one indulgence. Without much further ado, I would like to present a list of ten things that will NEVER be officially released in English for a North American market. I would invite all those reading to please prove me wrong.

Akemashite Omedetou!

I couldn’t resist…

Happy New Year from everyone here at Heisei Democracy!

Oretachi Ni Tsubasa Wa Nai Countdown Begins

The official Navel site has started a countdown (or rather, a count-up) for the release of their new PC game, Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai ~Under the Innocent Sky

I haven’t heard much buzz about this, but I may just be out of the loop. It does look promising, but I’ve always been a sucker for a girl with feathers on her back. Does anyone have more information than I do?

Podcast Plug: Gainax Invasion

No news or wall-of-text column right now, just a quick plug for a podcast I appeared in, over on wildarmsheero’s inimitable Mistakes of Youth site.

GO HAVE A LISTEN

Topics discussed include, but are not limited to, the time that Antony and I assaulted Gainax headquarters twice in one day. I’ll give that story a proper writeup someday, but in the meantime, here is some oral history of otaku insanity for you.

Tokyo Teleport Station: On the Viability of Manga Cafes in North America

Me again, returning to my roots with a fresh TTS post! The rest can be found here, for those of you playing along at home. It’s true, I have actually written for HD before, back in the cretaceous period. This is how I’ve managed to sneak into Shingo’s web site without him being around.

Speaking of not being Shingo, I want to make it clear up front that unlike some people I could mention, I am not in Japan. I have been, in the past, and will be in the future, but for the moment I remain in exile. Previously in Boston, I just very recently migrated west and found myself in San Francisco. As much as I loved being in Boston (Cambridge, anyway, and if you’re in the area please do show some love to the Tokyo Kid) I absolutely love being in San Francisco. The food is good, the weather is actually quite pleasant (which is to say NOT shoving sunshine and triple-digit temperatures in my face all the time) and the “Japan Town” is nothing short of glorious.

Otaku Metaculture: NHK ni Youkoso

Welcome back, Heisei Democratizers!

First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you for your ongoing support (seriously, if you’re reading this right now, that’s support). However the site evolves, I will do my best not to disappoint you.

This brings us to the first in a new (hopefully) ongoing series, properly titled On the Creation of a Comprehesive Index of Otaku Metaculture. Which is to say, my attempt at creating a (more or less) complete list of anime, manga, and video games which happen to be centered on characters who are themselves afficionados of anime, manga, and video games. For our first installment, we will be featuring a retrospective for a franchise that is very near and dear to HD (hint: the site is named after it).

State of the Democracy

Happy new year, all!

By now I’m sure you’ve noticed that there hasn’t been much in the way of new content recently (understatement alert). A quick disclaimer: I am not Shingo. I have never been Shingo, and no matter how hard I try, I will never be Shingo.

Haruhi Update: 20 minutes of video, no new information

On 7/7/7 at 9pm Tokyo Time (guess they thought that 7/7/7/7 would just be silly) a video was posted to haruhi.tv which appeared to show Haruhi and Kyon, err, I mean John Smith vandalizing a school field. This had previously announced in a full-page ad in the Asahi Shinbun, rendering the site site badly borked at the appointed time, and the video was only available for about an hour. Nonetheless, frantic refreshing of the site eventually paid off. Diego managed to get in just before I did, and has a thorough write-up available. My take: It’s certainly a very interesting video, and it’s nice to know that they’re going to this kind of trouble to drum up interest in the second incarnation of Haruhi, but boy it sure would be nice if they actually gave us some kind of information with this. Full video available inside.

BREAKING NEWS: Haruhi Second Season (for real this time(we think))

Ok, I know you’ve all heard this one before, which ended in disappointment, but this time it really appears to be legit.

BREAKING NEWS: Akiba Liberation Demonstration

The revolution may not be televised, but in this case, it certainly will be blogged. Saturday’s Akihabara Kaihou Demo (Akihabara Liberation Demonstration, previously covered here) appears to have been a remarkable success. Our man Animaestro had this to report from the field:

Today Akihabara had the rare treat of experiencing the first ever Revolutionary Otaku Demonstration. Headed up by representatives of Revolutionary Otakuist Union, Revolutionary Moeist Union, and the Revolutionary Himote Union, a motley of cosplayers and otaku of various stripes marched through Akiba chanting revolutionary slogans and waving banners.

Full photo and video coverage inside.

Tokyo Teleport Station: The Triumphant Return of UCC Coffee

The return of a long lost friend was witnessed in Akihabara last week. HD’s Senior Coffee Correspondent, Seiya, weighs in on this ongoing story.

Tokyo Teleport Station: Lesbian Witches of the 1970s

For a change of pace this time around (and because the visual aid I need for my next otaku vignette is proving surprisingly elusive) I would like to offer up a review. Rather than rehashing reviews of things readily available elsewhere in the world, I intend to dip into the hefty backlog of things that I feel have long been unduly neglected and unappreciated. In this installment: Lesbian Witches of the 1970s (kind of).

Tokyo Teleport Station: Dumpster Diving

In this installment of Tokyo Teleport Station, Seiya sheds some light on the best way to get ahold of internal production documents straight from your favorite animation studio. Hint: Asking them nicely isn’t going to do it.

Tokyo Teleport Station: The Shinjuku Subway Boiler Room

In this edition of Tokyo Teleport Station, Seiya recalls an exciting tale of danger and infiltration, and explains why it is impossible to save money by entering a subway station via the ceiling.

Tokyo Teleport Station: The Secret World of Japanese Cosplay

In this week’s installment of Tokyo Teleport Station Seiya peels back the slick veneer of the Japanese metropolis to reveal its gritty underbelly: organized cosplay.

Tokyo Teleport Station: The Great UCC Conspiracy

Ace investigator Seiya represents today with the first installment of Tokyo Teleport Station, an item that (we hope) will become a regular column here at HD. In it he’ll be covering everything from the etiquette of watching pornography in a capsule hotel to the proper way to break into Tokyo’s Gainax HQ (AT Field optional), but today he deals with a far more pressing issue: canned coffee. And you thought the NHK was a conspiracy…

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