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The Road to Comiket

If you’ve seen the fictional portrayals of the event in Comic Party and Genshiken you have some idea of the process that leads up to circle participation at Comic Market – but that’s only part of the story. Girls flying behind runaway carts of books and room for an entire club to stand behind a Comiket table are pleasant fictions of a process that, while challenging, is certainly as rewarding as its dramatic depictions suggest. Read on for a detailed look at the process that leads to selling doujinshi at the world’s largest and most venerated amateur comics convention.

Protoculture News: high school student attacks classmate with knife; the third Nice Boat?

Via Moon Phase: Yahoo! News is reporting that at 7:50 am this morning a 15 year old student at a private high school in Kagawa Prefecture attacked a classmate with a 16.5 cm wide-bladed knife in the course of a fight between the two boys. Both were lightly injured in the fight, with the police stating that the blow sustained by the knife victim was likely dealt by the blunt edge of the blade. The knife wielder is being held by the prefectural police as an assault suspect. Moon Phase speculates that this is yet another copycat crime, the third in a recent spate of assaults with bladed weapons that have been tied by the media to School Days and Higurashi; we’ll be watching for more details in this particular case as they emerge. (no more)

New Site Poll: do you intend to watch the final episode of School Days?

The final episode of the School Days TV anime was shown on satellite/cable channel AT-X last night, and by all accounts it surpassed even the most extreme predictions for how the show would end. Viewers are commenting that the pull from TV following the recent murder seems justified in the light of its grotesque and emotionally disturbing content, and many are surprised the episode was even considered for terrestrial broadcast in the first place. Moon Phase considers it an instant legend, and the general opinion is that it marks a milestone in Japanese animation, for good or for ill. The question then is: will you watch it (or have you already)? The screen shots and episode synopsis are enough for me, personally… (no more)

Protoculture News: Patrick Macias on “Akihabara’s Awful Truths”

Japan subculture guru Patrick Macias published an article in the Thursday, September 27th issue of the Japan Times newspaper dubbed Akihabara’s Awful Truths in which he discusses the increased commodification of the otaku experience in the district. He cites a trend toward commercial gentrification following the Densha Otoko boom, spurred on by increased traffic flow from the newly opened Tsukuba Express line, the opening of the Yodobashi Akiba megastore, and NTT’s increased corporate presence all as factors working to drive otaku from their dark corners and replace them with yuppies, tourists, and maids. We’ve covered various aspects of this phenomenon over the past few years, but Macias’s article is a great read that summarizes many of them. Highly recommended. (no more)

Protoculture News: Ayanami Rei on the cover of Rolling Stone

A bit late on this one, but as I was browsing at Melon Books after taking care of visa business in Takasaki today I noticed that they had the September 2007 issue of Rolling Stone magazine (Japan edition) on their magazine rack. It was plain to see why; along with an Al Gore interview (“ROCK MEETS ECO”) the new Evangelion movie was featured prominently in the issue. Rei with the world floating above her hand was probably meant to evoke the synthesis of the ecological theme with that of the Eva movie, but intentionally or not I’d say it serves the far more effective purpose of symbolizing the global hegemony Gainax is plotting to achieve via the Eva franchise (and Rei in particular). A full image of the magazine cover is below:

Anime News: School Days ep. 12 to “air” in private screening

I miss all the interesting news when I go to bed at 8:00 PM… Moon Phase Diary reports (presumably Zepy‘s source as well) that Overflow has announced plans to hold a theatrical screening of episode 12 of School Days at some point this week. How to cut down on the hordes of rabid fans who would thirst to be in attendance? Make the ticket for entry an unopened copy of the game, that’s how. While this is incredibly lame (mostly due to the income-based, undemocratic nature of the selection process, and the fact that it shafts fans who have already bought and played it) I can sympathize with Overflow to a certain extent on this one; it’s an elegant solution from their perspective. Create a naturally limiting sanction on attendance and make a few extra bucks to fund the production of the Nishieda designed TearMail? What cash-strapped maker could refuse… Edit 2: according to Moon Phase Diary this may be much ado about nothing, as it has been confirmed the episode is scheduled to air on satellite channel ATX tomorrow night. Looks like this thing is going to blow over more quickly than aniticipated. (no more)

Protoculture News: nice boat redux, or time to invest in gun anime stocks

Canned Dogs is reporting and Moon Phase corroborates that a fifteen year old boy in Nagano has been arrested and charged with attempted murder for attacking his father with an axe (the father is still alive as of this writing). Moon Phase speculates that this is a copycat crime in the mold of the one that prompted the replacement of School Days episode 12 with a nice boat, and it’s hard to see it as anything else; given what has now become a string of such incidents it seems there is nothing we can do but throw up our hands and resign ourselves to the violence in anime for the indeterminate future being dealt solely by implements not easily obtained by the average Japanese junior high student. Like guns, or giant robots. Or boats.

[ERO] Doujin News: obscenity arrest aftershocks still felt

Since the arrest (and subsequent fining and release) of a doujin artist in August the amateur creators’ community in Japan has been tightening regulation of doujin content. A recent example of the self-censorship occurring as a result of the crackdown can be found in the newest [ERO] Umemaro 3D work set to go on sale later this month, a demo of which was made available a few days ago on his site; the mosaic censorship in the demo is considerably more pronounced than that found in his previous works. He justifies this on his BBS as an action taken in direct response to the doujin arrest. This seems to be a typical response among artists, and we’ll be watching closely in the coming months for any further change both in the degree of censorship and any qualitative change in doujin content. (no more)

Anime News: this year in anime abortions

Moon Phase Diary today compiled a list of the unfortunate happenings that have plagued broadcast anime in 2007, from the resignation of a Gainax producer following some misplaced Mixi comments to the recently cancelled final episode of School Days. The full list (09/21 update) is below:

Anime News: Higurashi 2 TV run suspended

Canned Dogs reports, and follows up. Japan has a history of delaying or canceling anime broadcasts due to sensitive political events; the most notable I can think of off hand being the roadshow delay of the Cowboy Bebop movie and the delay of the broadcast of the original Full Metal Panic TV series (by a whole season) due to the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. While one might not think that the isolated case of a psychopathic girl murdering her father with an axe quite rises to the level of an international terrorist conspiracy, this is Japan, where all news is local and tabloid sensationalism is the journalistic norm. We’ll be lucky if Higurashi and School Days’ broadcast schedules are the only two casualties of this blossoming 2D culture witch hunt. (no more)

[ERO] Game News: Tsuyokiss to recieve a sequel, currently in production

The game that defined the tsundere archetype returns! Officially on sale tomorrow, Core Books brings us a cover image (via Moon Phase) of the November ’07 edition of PUSH magazine, emblazoned prominently upon which is the production announcement of the “SECOND COMING” of Tsuyokiss: Tsuyokiss Ni-gakki (Tsuyokiss Second Term). The original CandySoft release of Tsuyokiss in 2005 was a pivotal moment in the definition of what has since become an iconic character archetype (though it wasn’t invented by the game); what the sequel will do for the tsundere persona is sure to be a topic of interest for moe aesthetes around the world. We’ll keep tabs on this as production moves forward. (no more)

Protoculture News: arrested doujin author fined, status quo continues

Icarus and Canned Dogs are reporting today that Yasamata Shiyami, the doujin author previously reported to have been arrested for obscenity and/or the improper labeling of his books for adult content (the case covered in detail here), has been ordered to pay a fine of 300,000 yen as punishment for his offense. As Zepy and Simon have noted this doesn’t amount to more than a slap on the wrist, and without further information as to the grounds for his arrest or any further action to be taken as a result (against the printing company or bookshops that distributed his work, for example), it seems little has come of the case beyond a bunch of nervous doujinka and tightened self-regulation at doujin events. I’m happy to hear that the author himself got off so lightly, but left wonder what the next step will be in the saga of Japan’s imperiled free speech. (no more)

[ERO?] Manga News: Kodomo no Jikan vol. 4 + “uncensored” Kojika OVA on sale tomorrow

In advance of the October airing of the Kodomo no Jikan anime, Akiba Blog and Earl Box have obtained copies of limited edition Kodomo no Jikan manga vol. 4 (on sale tomorrow, September 12th) and are reporting that the attached OVA episode is “uncensored”. Seven Seas‘ rationale for nixing the English manga release becomes more apparent every day… Edit: Moetron has just posted further coverage of the OVA content. Clicking on any of these links at work is not recommended unless you’re prepared for some very uncomfortable questions… (no more)

Manga News: Hobby Japan presents “Happy Fujoshi” nonfiction short comic collection

On October 1st Hobby Japan will be releasing a 144-page A5-size volume entitled Happy Fujoshi, a collection of nonfiction comics from 15 mangaka. “At last, a collection of authentic tales of the fujoshi lifestyle is introduced!”, says the ad copy. “We’ve appointed boys’ love and shoujo manga artists to bring you this assortment of happy love-love stories. The unbelievable daily lives of fujoshi will grab hold of your heart!” While I’ll be guarding to make sure my heart stays firmly where it belongs, I think I’ll be picking this up FOR SCIENCE (to further my ongoing fujoshi research project)… samples of the compiled manga can be found here and here. (no more)

Protoculture News: the doujin crackdown continues

Word came in on Friday from the organizational committee of Sunshine Creation (one of the largest Japanese doujinshi conventions after Comiket) that beginning with the 37th iteration of the event on October 8th staff will be checking the contents of each new book to go on sale there. This has long been standard practice at Comiket and other smaller doujin conventions, but the fact that in their official statement announcing the change Sankuri is tying the decision directly to the recent doujin arrest and other stifling developments on the 2D free speech scene is alarming. The statement refers multiple times to the changing environment surrounding doujinshi and a shifting definition of obscenity – this is the canary in the mine shaft of democracy, and if Japanese artists and responsible adult consumers don’t start standing up for their rights soon they’ll wake up one day to find they don’t have any. Further discussion of the urgent state of free speech in Japan can be found in this recent HD editorial. A translation of the September 7th statement from the Sunshine Creation executive office is below:

Protoculture News: a limit to Japan’s love of the limited?

We’ve heard it as recently as Lucky Star episode 6: the conventional wisdom that explains why, in defiance of all logic and economic principle, items (otaku goods in particular) are produced in lots far below demand. It’s been my frustrating experience over the past four years to observe first-hand the madness involved in procuring said items from their original source (as opposed to obscenely marked-up auctions), a process inevitably involving arcane mail-order procedures (at best), long queues with no guarantee of the item being in stock when you get to the front (the status quo), or the sacrifice of a firstborn child (good thing it doesn’t have to be your own).

Protoculture News: encyclopedia of “yandere” heroines goes on sale

We first reported on the yandere boom back in May with information on the second doujin event devoted exclusively to these most bipolar of heroines. Word is in today from Akiba Blog that they’ve reached enough critical mass to receive their own installment in the “taizen” series of heroine encyclopedias (previous entries include Tsundere Taizen, Maid-san Taizen, and Imouto Game Taizen), with Yandere Taizen now on store shelves. Given the current airing of the School Days anime this couldn’t be a timelier release, and the book naturally features Sekai and Kotonoha along with Shuffle!‘s Kaede, Sakura from Fate / stay night, and other less prominent homicidal heroines. Given the inherently destructive nature of the yandere personality I’m curious to see the extent to which this particular meme will spread… will we get the yandere equivalent of Tsuyokiss, a game where your goal is to survive the jealous love of a bloodthirsty gang of bishoujo? (no more)

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…

[ERO] Game News: world’s first combination dating sim / SimCity game unveiled

First a fishing simulation, and now SimCity? An official site opened yesterday for Batsu Batsu na Kanojo no Tsukurikata (××な彼女のつくりかた), the newest title from eroge maker Kiss. Announced originally in the October ’07 issue of Tech Gian (released August 21st), in addition to traditional dating sim elements the game features a “city development system” superficially quite similar to that of the SimCity series of games; however instead of maximizing the happiness of your citizens or creating a bustling economy the goal here seems to be to socially engineer prime dating spots where you’re then able to court the game’s heroines – amusement parks, restaurants, and “adult goods” shops take precedence over factories and business sectors. The extent to which city development extends beyond a mere gimmick into actual strategic play is unknown, but we’ll be keeping an eye on this as further information comes along. Screenshot scan below:

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.

Goods News: drop Excalibur, Saber, and pick up that axe

Getchu has a listing online as of yesterday evening for a ZO-3 Fate/stay night SABER MODEL, a custom Fernandes electric guitar produced by the Rights-GT-Project. While I’m not a guitar expert the retail price of 45,000 yen (approx. USD $390) makes me think this is more a gimmick than a serious professional instrument (it comes with a telephone card, for crying out loud); still, a pretty classy statement for an ota-kei cover band or YouTube would-be god of ROCK. Saber’s axe thrashes its way to your door on January 31st, 2008, with preorders open through October 9th. (no more)

Event Report: Comic Market 72, day 3

I was able to participate with a circle ticket on the third day of Comic Market 72 under the auspices of Xiarobo, and together with eima we traversed what has become a well-worn path to the Big Sight on the morning of the 19th. I never thought I’d reach this point, but with my tenth Comiket the thing is almost starting to feel habitual… – just when it shouldn’t, as the potential for the entire doujin scene to disappear in an instant lurks menacingly on the horizon. Reflections below:

Event News: Genshiken-only doujin convention planned for spring ’08

According to this post by pape over at Emo-teki na Hibi plans are in the works for the first ever Genshiken-only doujin convention! It’s scheduled to take place on May 5th, 2008 at the Taitou Kumin Kaikan building in Asakusa, and while there’s no official event page yet the level of detail in the announcement leads me to believe the space has already been reserved. I’m definitely going to be applying for great justice and OHNO LOVE – but May is so far away… ;_; Thanks to SDS for the heads up! (no more)

Goods News: charting the dakimakura boom

The Dakimakura Integrated Research Institute updated yesterday with a retrospective look at hug pillow presence over the past several Comic Markets, from 66 through the recently concluded C72, complete with graph (the pink line is industry presence, the blue is doujin circle presence). The graph measures the number of discreet units for sale, not the volume sold. According to site maintainer Okayama Ken the near doubling in industry presence is indicative of a rise in entrepreneurial zeal but not a corresponding rise in the quality of goods – in other words there’s a rush to cash in on what many are seeing as easy money, so buyer beware. Still, going by the numbers it’s a good time to be a fan of 2D girls on body-length pillowcases. (no more)

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.

Anime News: upcoming Macross TV series gets an 18 year old “utahime”, new provisional title, staff credits

Saturday evening’s Macross 25th anniversary memorial concert was the stage for the announcement of the new official (yet still provisional) title of this fall’s upcoming Macross TV series, now dubbed Macross F (with the “F” for “frontier”). It also brought the news that heretofore unknown songstress Nakajima Megumi won the utahime talent selection grand prix and will star as the show’s heroine, Ranka Lee (guess as to the romanization of ランカ・リー). The staff list was also padded out, with Kawamori Shouji confirmed as helming the project’s original work, general management, story production and mechanical design. It will be directed by Kikuchi Yasuhito, who also directed Black Heaven / Kacho Ouji (HELL YES) with series organization from Yoshino Hiroyuki and character designs by Ebata Risa (!!) and Takahashi Yuuichi. Anime production is from Satelight. Any show that features Macross mechs, Black Heaven direction and [ERO] Hitozuma Kasumi-san designs has a fair chance of kicking my ass in the best way possible, so we’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on it as it develops. :3 (no more)

Event Report: Comic Market 72, day 1

A quick rundown of the first day of Comic Market 72, from one man’s perspective (Shipon will be along later with a bunch of much nicer pictures, including cosplay, so be sure to stop back for that~). Day one verdict: fucking hot, but fun in hindsight.

Site News: new poll up, Akihabara Channel and Canned Dogs feeds in sidebar

As the post title says, you’ll notice a few tweaks in the sidebar over the past couple of days. Firstly we’ve got a new poll, asking a very straightforward question: Among the big summer otaku events in Japan, which gets you revved up the most? Comic Market (doujinshi, cosplay), Wonder Festival (garage kits, figures, cosplay), Chara Hobby (Gundam, toys, figures), and the Tokyo Game Show (games, cosplay, September is really part of summer in Japan for reals) are the four contenders. A glance at the sidebar will also reveal the presence of a couple of blog feeds we’ve decided to feature here, from EvoSpace over at Akihabara Channel and Zepy at Canned Dogs, two of the best Japan subculture news blogs RSSing today. We hope you’ll favor them with your patronage! Results of the previous poll can be found below: