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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.

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?

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!

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.

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.

Editor’s Desk: World of Lifecraft

For those who don’t want the burden of reading what is likely to become a long and rambling post, I’ll put the “too long; didn’t read” summary up front:

Comic Water is better than Purified Draenic Water, I cancelled my WoW account this morning and have begun the process of reassembling what life I had before mid-June.

For a bit of introspection on two months of lost time and a look ahead at the future of this site and its operator, feel free to read on:

Editor’s Desk: A/D/V and the ABA

Some HD readers may be aware that for the past few months a competition has been going on with the goal of providing recognition to meritorious anime blogs in a variety of categories. Setting aside the inevitable problems associated with classification of sites as “blogs” related to “anime” and then further arbitrarily dividing them based on content, for a first time effort the project seems to have gone off rather well and as of today has born fruit, with the winners being officially announced.

This post is not about them.

Editor’s Desk: The Pizza Frontier

When word came out that Pizza Hut Japan would be doing a time-limited cross promotion with Macross F, I knew that I had to get in on the action. I’d missed the Marimite crossover, I’d missed the Geass crossover, but I’d be damned if I was going to let a box adorned with Ranka and Sheryl pass un-greasespotted by pizza that was meant for my stomach! What follows is the tale of a surprisingly short journey to the final frontier – not of space, but of arterial blockage:

Button Trance: Ar tonelico 2

One area in which HD has long been deficient is the realm of console gaming. One area in which HD’s web coding expert Jetfuel has long been proficient is, by coincidence, said console gaming – particularly of the “moe” variety that incorporates game play elements from roleplaying and tactical sims. Occasionally he gets to thinking about these things, and when he offered to put digital pen to paper and write some of those thoughts down for a new HD column I happily accepted. Here then is the first installment of Button Trance, featuring none other than Gust/Banpresto’s Ar Tonelico 2. We hope you enjoy! -Shingo

Editor’s Desk: HD site renewal in progress

This should be obvious if you’re viewing the site at our home base, but for those reading via a feed or aggregator somewhere, things are looking a little bit different around here today. We’ll be rolling out further features of the new site design over the coming days, but the bare bones are now in place – they’ll be tweaked as we find out just what works and just what doesn’t, but I think the new four-column layout is a change for the better. I’m excited to be moving into the new place and hope you are too – if there’s anything you’d like to see changed, added or removed, comments and questions are welcome! (no more)

Editor’s Desk: vacationing in Goltrock, be back soon (updated)

If you’ve been with HD since mid-’07 you may remember me ranting about Bullet Butlers prior to it coming out last summer. Well, I finally installed it earlier this week (in the process of working on a “2007 eroge year in review” post), and it took me by the scruff of the neck in the way that no game (or novel) has in a very long time, pulled me in, and refused to let me out until I finished. It’s a long game. I finally just got through one of the major story arcs, and am pausing to post this before diving back in – I expect to be finished with the whole thing by the end of the weekend, at which point an exhaustive review will be forthcoming. In the mean time please forgive the lack of updates while I indulge myself a bit longer… a YouTube embed of the Bullet Butlers OP can be found below:

Editor’s Desk: Doujin’s Commercial Evolution

Doujinshi have evolved incredibly since their emergence as amateur “literary coterie magazines” in the 1970s. What was once a near equivalent to the English term fanzine has now become, in many cases, a word that describes product distribution methods more than the nature of the product itself. Read on for a brief overview of the current doujin environment, followed by a look at a few specific cases at work in the brave new world of professional doujinshi.

Editor’s Desk: chronicling the erosion of 2D free speech

Whether you’re a fan of loli or kyonyuu, futanari or shota, twins or tentacles, figures, anime, manga, or doujinshi, increased public scrutiny in Japan is affecting the nature of your hobby – right now. What follows is a reckoning of events that while superficially disconnected combine to show the changing face of otaku media, a landscape less colorful and varied in its delights and perversions than it once was, and one that may never be the quite same again.

Editor’s Desk: doujinshi, obscenity, and Japan’s imperiled freedom of speech

In the light of the recent arrest of a doujin artist on obscenity charges we take a look back at the past five years in the history of free speech regulation and litigation vis a vis drawn pornography in Japan. We examine the current state of affairs and speculate as to the fate of the free speech right enshrined in article 13 of Japan’s constitution, one that now seems to rest on a very fragile footing indeed.

Pure Love Renaissance : C72 Omake! – Itasha

Shipon displays his stealthy cameraphone skillz and shows off some itasha he snapped at Comiket 72 and discovers that it’s not just hardened street racers who moe up their cars. There’s some soccer mums too…

Editor’s Desk: against the cult of personality

Sometimes a fellow needs to let off a little steam, and this post is it. What follows is a semi-coherent rant against what I see as a pox on today’s Japanese 2D culture: the blight of entertainers selling their personal attributes over the art they pretend to represent, and the following that such pretenders breed in their wake.

Pure Love Renaissance : Comiket 72 Cosplay!

Shipon rocks the camera-fu at Comiket cosplay on all three days – here are almost 100 photos from all 3 days of cosplay at this summer’s Comic Market at Tokyo Big Sight. Enjoy!

Pure Love Renaissance : Comic Market 72

Shipon deals out on his Comiket 72 experience covering sunburn, long lines, cosplay, an HD meetup, record numbers and how a good night’s sleep can make a BIG difference when a 5 hour lineup awaits.

Pure Love Renaissance : Wonder Festival Summer 2007

After meeting up with random people from both hemispheres in the tremendous line, we were all set to Wanfesu. Shingo and I had agreed on a system – he would stalk the resin and garage kits and I would shoot the new releases. I think I got the better end of the deal.

Editor’s Desk: Saturday in Akiba

I went down to Akihabara again this weekend, this time in pursuit of the guidebook for Wonder Festival 2007 Summer. Some pictures were taken along the way, presented below along with amusing anecdotes which you might like to read! Including: Nami SOS being molested by tentacles, Ruuuuuuuuuuu!, a creative use for Bust Emperors, Evangelion coffee, some very nice cosplay, and why you should never, ever carry a knife on you while you’re in Japan.

Editor’s Desk: Lost my Music

I went down to Akihabara over the weekend for the first time in almost three months. The purpose: to obtain a catalog for Comiket 72, to hang out with a couple of doujin pals, and to meet up with EvoSpace of Beast’s Lair and Akiba Channel. Despite the sweltering heat all three objectives met with success. Trip report follows, along with some belated notes on AX and some not so belated ones on Satsuriku no Jango:

HDTV Episode 04: Sunday in Akihabara

Shipon returns today with episode four of HDTV, for a look at just what happens in Akihabara on a fine Sunday morning in spring after the streets are blocked off and throngs of shoppers are allowed to freely mingle with maids, policemen, salesclerks, street musicians, panhandlers, and cosplayers of every description.

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).

HDTV Episode 03: the wonder of Moe Soundrops

Shipon represents today with the third installment of HDTV, in which he acquires some of the most curious items to come out of Japan’s moe boom: audio gashapon “soundrops”, prerecorded audio clips of moe stereotypes, anime characters, and other things in handy portable form, ready to be unleashed at a moment’s notice. I’m not sure whether these are a force for good or purest evil, but form your own opinion – view on:

HDTV Episode 02: the Comic1 experience

In between hunting down doujinshi and documenting the avian wildlife of the Tokyo subway system Shipon unleashed his camera fu at the first ever Comic1 last Monday, April 30th. He brings us a rare look inside the halls of doujindom tonight in our second installment of HDTV: a man, a camera, and the burning spirit it takes to spend a day blurring out faces.

Pure Love Renaissance: Sunday on Chuo-Dori

On Sundays and holidays, Tokyo’s capital for all things anime, computers, electronics and anything otaku closes it’s main street. Chuo-Dori comes alive with singers, cosplayers and sightseers. It’s a time for hanging out with friends, checking out upcoming talent and blatant consumerism. Shipon spent a day documenting the scene, then another 5 days blurring out people’s faces.