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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.

Kanokon pulled from free online broadcast

Moon Phase is reporting tonight that following episode seven, TV anime Kanokon will cease free distribution via online broadcasters GyaO and BIGLOBE. The reason given for the move is “ethical regulations”, which appear to have kicked in following the repeated depiction of racy visuals such as bare breasts, implied handjobs, flashes of nipple exposure, and etc. Apparently a particularly memorable scene occurs in episode eight that the free broadcasters weren’t willing to test against government regulation (Edit: the objectionable content was from “episode 7 and beyond” – not ep. 8 specifically), so from now on online viewing options will be restricted to paid only. Note that this currently does not affect any of the show’s terrestrial broadcast networks; we’ll keep an eye out for any further developments on this story or related censorship issues that may arise. (no more)

The story behind Himajin’s disappearance

June 30th, 2007 was a black day for eroanime fans, the day that studio Himajin closed its doors forever… or was it? When brands Amour and Suzuki Mirano appeared it seemed that the collapse of Himajin was short-lived, and that its reincarnated forms would carry on development of old Himajin properties uninterrupted. The actual story is a bit more complex, and required some digging around in Japanese Wikipedia to unearth; read on for a look at the tangled web of brand shuffling that led to the current state of affairs in one corner of the eroanime industry:

Dire straits for the eroanime industry?

Eroanime production company Anime Antenna employee Murakami Kouichi (村上恒一: producer – Mahou Shoujo Ai, The Guts!, Taimanin Asagi, other Pixy titles) made a post on the official Ani-An company blog on May 6th relating the news that Lilith Soft affiliate brand Pixy is in danger of financial collapse within the year, and that other major brands may soon follow.

He describes how Pixy was established with the goal of setting a revolutionary low price point for the OVAs it produced while retaining a high standard of quality, to make legitimate purchase of the product an option for all consumers. As a result profit margins on each sale became razor thin, but for Pixy’s first year of operation they were selling well enough that it seemed they could squeak by. Now, however, according to Murakami Pixy titles are being so widely pirated that their low-cost sales model is proving untenable. He makes the claim that if the current status quo continues, not only Pixy but adult anime as a whole may cease production within the year. Continued below:

Figure maker Solid Theater acquired by Movic

Rumors of the merger began on the 23rd, but today it was made official: Solid Theater announced on their official site that as of May 1st, 2008 the company will be acquired by figure and goods maker Movic, a subsidiary of the Animate Group. Under the terms of the acquisition Solid Theater will retain its distinct brand identity within the Movic product line, and all current Solid Theater company operations, product support and scheduled releases will remain intact. Preorder announcements for future Solid Theater releases as well as wholesale inquiries will now be conducted through Movic, and a new Solid Theater brand website is currently in development. We’ll bring you any further relevant news on the merger as it appears, though it seems that short term effects will be minimal; a preorder announcement for Solid Theater’s Himomizugi no Onna no Ko is expected shortly. (no more)

Rumor: To Heart 2 Another Days lacks Ikuno route?

An update at Moon Phase has lent credence to the rumor that the long-awaited latest installment in the To Heart 2 franchise, Another Days, lacks a story route for Komaki Ikuno. The invalid younger sister of Komaki Manaka was a big draw leading up to the release of the Another Days expansion, so if this news is true it could mean we’re in for another round of hellfire from irate Japanese fans similar to the ones that accompanied the release of Light’s Dies Irae and Cuffs’ Garden. We’ll be watching for further news on this; the game goes on sale this Friday, February 29th.


kotobukiya_ikuno.jpg

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Why no Miku at Wonder Festival? Zepy explains

Zepy over at Canned Dogs has posted with the news that due to a change in licensing requirements, dealers planning to sell Hatsune Miku kits at Wonder Festival 2008 Winter have run into trouble, with their applications either being rejected or having responses so delayed as to make kit production impossible. This jives with what our survey of the event offerings shows – not a single Miku kit in evidence from any of the major sculpting circles (those with online presences, at least), which contrasts sharply with the bonanza of Miku offerings at WHF Ariake 17. Thus far the only Miku kit to be officially announced (that I’m aware of) is the one coming from Volks, who have a professional organization robust enough to handle the demanding requirements of the new system. The merits of such requirements can be debated, but the strong anti-derivative stand on the part of the Vocaloid IP is certainly a trend to watch. (no more)

Manga News: Dengeki Comic Gao to suspend serialization

Via Moon Phase Diary: according to an advertisement in this month’s Dengeki Daioh, sister magazine Dengeki Comic Gao is to see an indefinite suspension of publication, presumably beginning after this month’s issue (due out on the 27th). Several of the manga currently serialized in Gao will begin running in Daioh, including Venus Versus Virus, Wagaya no Oinari-sama, Kemeko Deluxe, ef – a fairy tale of the two, and Gurren Lagann; the others will presumably end or suspend their runs with the next issue of the magazine. It seems a bit odd that the magazine’s official site shows no sign of the move, so we’ll keep an eye out for the next few days to make sure this information is accurate. (no more)

Protoculture News: otaku news and community site Akibanana launches

Another site we’ve had our eye on that’s been brewing behind the scenes for several months has finally come online: Akibanana. It opened last week around the same time as the new English Akiba Blog, and already has a decent body of a dozen or so posts online on topics ranging from Lucky Star and Haruhi to cat cafes and robot soccer. With the field of English language news and coverage of Akihabara-related events becoming more crowded I’m not sure where Akibanana will find their niche, but I wish them the best – those seeking a more detailed primer on the site can find it over at The FØØL’s Progress. (no more)

Protoculture News: English version of Akiba Blog goes online (updated)

We’ve known it’s been brewing in the wings for a few weeks now thanks to a link on the Japanese Akiba Blog site, but as of today it’s finally live – English Akiba Blog. Little is known about the spinoff beyond what can be immediately seen: it’s a direct English translation of the content of the Japanese side, with advertisements tailored to an international audience from Hobby Search (figures) and Himeya (eroge); who is doing the translations is unknown, but their tone is decidedly Engrishy. It’s hard to say what impact this will have on the English language otaku news establishment in the long run, but from the perspective of one Japan-resident blogger it’s clear there’s a major new player on the scene, and we’ll be watching this one closely. Update: I just received an email press release from the organization behind the new English Akiba Blog that sheds a bit of light on who’s working on it and to what end. Text of the PR follows:

[ERO] Game News: 2007 Bishoujo Game Award results published

The 2007 Bishoujo Game Award results are in, and the people have spoken: in the period covered by the poll (September ’06 through August ’07), Pulltop’s Harukani Aogi, Uruwashino (EGS) emerged on top in four categories (BGM, “Pure Love”-type, Scenario, and User’s Choice), sweeping the overall grand prize in the process. Bullet Butlers received honorable mention in the User’s Choice category as well as sharing the Media prize with two other titles, where it’s noted that given its release date the game didn’t get adequate time to be voted on before the voting period was closed. The full list of winners and a description of the voting and selection process follows:

Doujin Event News: Futaket 4 confirmed for this spring

According to the official site for futanari-themed doujin convention Futaket the date and location for the fourth iteration of the event have been confirmed: Futaket 4 will take place on May 4th, 2008, at the Tokyo Toritsu Sangyou Boueki Center Hamamatsu-cho building. This building is operated by the same management that instituted a reactionary anti-doujin policy last October, so it’s encouraging to see that an arrangement has been reached that will allow the event to go forward. The future of ABC (the event that sparked the furor last fall) is still in question, and given the lingering climate of unease surrounding erotic doujinshi I don’t think this announcement from Futaket can be taken for granted either, but it’s definitely positive news after a solid year of doujin bashing. We’ll be tracking further details on Futaket 4 as they emerge. (no more)

Bishoujo Game News: English visual novel localizer Hirameki closes shop

According to a statement on its official site, as of January 2nd, 2008 visual novel production house Hirameki has closed its doors. I never followed the company’s activities very closely, but this news is certainly a blow to the cause of visual novel fans and bishoujo game fans of all varieties, ero or otherwise. Those familiar with the history of English localization of visual novel-type games will see this as part of a pattern that has brought down every other company solely devoted to their production in the past; only on the margins have such games ever been profitable, and given the current environment it seems unlikely this will change. Still, I can’t help wondering what would happen if the right company came along… Despite the official closure of Hirameki’s doors many of their titles are still available for purchase, including the critically acclaimed Ever17 and Phantom of Inferno. (no more)

Event Report: Comic Market 73, days 2-3

In which is documented a day and night of preparation, followed by a day of circle participation at Comiket 73. Caution: this post should not be read by minors, those desirous of continued employment, offended by bad art, or with any sense of taste whatsoever. If you find the details of this post to be stultifying and the content drab and awful, congratulations – you’re perfectly normal.

Event Report: Comic Market 73, day 1

In which a day in the life of a Comiket attendee is chronicled, including rain, shine, trains, lines (lots of those), loot, and a little bit of cosplay to boot. Also contains commentary on a few of the salient aspects of this event that set it apart from those prior, as well as an appreciation of the folks who gathered to party afterwards. If Comiket is war, I’d say this day’s battle was won!

C73 day 3 survived, report coming soon (and happy New Year!)

Congrats to everyone who made it through the day yesterday, and a happy 2008 to all! I’m slowly recovering from the zombified state incurred by 10 hours of sleep in the past 72, but once I’m back on my feet here and can put some things in order it’ll be time to start cooking up some serious reportage. Thanks to all who stopped by to say hi at the table yesterday (risking life and limb to get there no doubt), and may the force be with all of us in subsequent doujin-related endeavors. :3 (no more)

Back from Comiket 73, day 1 (updated)

Just walked in the door from the first day of Comic Market 73, and before I collapse I’d like to thank everyone who showed for the meet-up afterwards! Akihabara proved to be surprisingly accomodating thanks to the artful assistance of EvoSpace, and though there were a few rough edges I think things went quite well. Lessons learned will be applied for future gatherings (should they occur, and I hope they will). I wish everyone the best of luck on subsequent days of the event, and hope to see some of you on the third day if you feel like stopping by. I’ll try to put up a bit more on day 1 tomorrow, but full HD coverage of Comiket this time around will likely come after things are all wrapped up. Update: and it’s off to day 3, on zero hours of sleep! I wonder how long this adrenaline will last…(no more)

[ERO] Game News: Light pleads mea culpa over Dies irae flaws

With production first announced in August of ’06, Light’s long-delayed “gakuen romance battle opera ADV” Dies irae finally hit store shelves on December 21st. In the past week the game has been met with a storm of criticism, much of which is reflected in reviews on its Erogamescape page; while there are many who rated the game in the 70th percentile based on its independent merits, an equal number have declared it a “land mine” and a “betrayal of expectations” (two possible tags in the EGS system). The chief complaints appear to be threefold: first, art used in promotional material and magazine articles was either altered or omitted entirely from the game’s final release; second, characters expected to be possible romantic targets were not; and third, prior to release the game’s writing credit was given to a single popular author, but the ending credit roll revealed a team of six additional writers on staff. More below:

[ERO] Game News: erogereview.com goes live!

Several months in the making, Japanese eroge review site Eroge Review (can’t beat the naming sense) is now online! The brain child of Nargrakhan and Ayyo, the site has been established to house English language reviews of Japanese language bishoujo games (primarily adult titles), the only site I’m aware of devoted exclusively to such noble pursuits. There is currently a single review up (the rather underwhelming Kissing!! under the mistletoe), but as the former proprietor of Elizar.com is on board for the project we can likely expect several dozen archival reviews to appear on the site in short order. I’m not affiliated with them in any way, but I wish Narg and Ayyo all the best in this endeavor and hope to see a lot more great reviews over the coming year. (no more)

Happy Holidays from Heisei Democracy!

Happy Holidays from Heisei Democracy! ***This message brought to you by the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, Ohno Kanako Appreciation Division***

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.

Anime News: Moegaku 5 official site online

This one came out of left field: word is in tonight from Moon Phase that Moegaku, the ill-reputed English language learning dating simulation game I found languishing in the bargain bin at Gamers last year for 1050 yen, is receiving an anime adaptation. Dubbed Moegaku 5, according to GA Graphic’s coverage Hirano Aya will star as “the goddess“, mentor of protagonist Tsukishima Moe and interlocutor with the five international bishounen designated to guide her through the world’s various languages. The show will air for 15 minutes every weekday starting on January 14th, with the other 15 minutes of the block occupied by a more traditional live actor language program setting in which Hirano will also be featured as “Aya Onee-san”. I’m not sure what the most surprising element of this news is; the fact that the Moegaku franchise survived the bargain bin, the fact that Hirano Aya is involved, or the fact that they’re trying to teach children five languages simultaneously in half-hour increments. We’ll be keeping an eye on this as the project develops. (no more)

Goods News: Vocaloid2 Kagamine Rin gets a twin

Word in today from the official Crypton blog that voice synthesizer software Vocaloid2 #02 Kagamine Rin, voice sampled by Shimoda Asami, will be released as not one but two separate characters in the same package. Rin is being joined by “Len”, her twin brother (?), who is specced for a slightly deeper voice at slower BPM. Release is still scheduled for late December of this year, at a price similar to Miku‘s 15,750 yen retail. Could this gimmick give the pair the boost they need to equal Miku‘s explosive popularity? We’ll keep an eye on this. (no more)

[ERO] Goods News: Toranoana-limited official Ikkitousen Dragon Destiny “fan book” up for preorder

Ikkitousen Dragon Destiny meets the stars of the doujin world in a 36 page, B5 size full color illustration compilation set for limited release from Toranoana, entitled the Ikkitousen DD Official Visual Fan Book. Featuring the likes of Mogudan, Kino Hitoshi, Eiwa, Azasuke, Same, and Maruto, it’s hard to imagine a higher profile collection of artists gathered to deliver their renditions of mangaka Shiozaki Yuuji’s iconic cast of characters. The volume is available for preorder from Toranoana now, with release expected on November 23rd at 1,050 yen. Those interested internationally will have to investigate proxy options as this is a Tora-only limited release. Sample images and further information 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.

Weekend Event Roundup: Dream Party Osaka, Clayz Matsuri, Queen’s Coliseum II, Sukima Festival

In this post we hit the highlights of several events that went down over the November 3-4 weekend: Dream Party Osaka, the Kansai version of Dream Party Tokyo; Clayz Moe~ro Matsuri, the yearly expo of Clayz figures and work by associated sculptors (blog); Queen’s Coliseum II, the first [ERO] doujin event to take place at the Taitou building in Asakusa following the dropping of the censorship banhammer; and Sukima Festival, a collection of niche themed doujin events that just happened to also include Hatsune Miku and Gurren Lagann.

Goods News: Momoi Haruko “Momo-i! World Tour 2007 in LA” sees DVD release from Toranoana

That’s right, the Momoi Haruko concert from AX 2007 is coming out on DVD! Despite being treated with neglect and disrespect by the convention staff (Canned Dogs coverage) Momoi managed to keep her spirits up and prepare for the concert, presenting herself to the small crowd of fans gathered in the ghastly Monday morning time slot allotted her with a true professionalism and genuine energy that is hard to describe without having been there. It was easily one of the top five concerts of my life, and I’ll definitely be picking this up to relive the experience (despite the hefty 7,560 yen price tag… ;_;). The disc is set for release on January 1st of next year, with initial sales planned at the Toranoana booth at Comiket 73 (December 29th through the 31st). (no more)

[ERO] Protoculture News: artist Nakayohi Mogudan opens new official site

Famous for his fantastic renderings of Ayanami Rei as well as his designs for Scrapped Princess and Brave Soul, doujin artist and illustrator Mogudan opened a new official site earlier today. He had closed his old location some time ago and was operating out of a temporary site for the past several months; hopefully the more robust content at the new site means that he’s found a permanent home. Notably lacking at the new site are any references to his Ayanami doujin line (aside from the site address itself), instead his “works” lineup includes illustrations for Toranoana’s recently scooped doujin compilation as well as his eromanga cover work (primarily for Comic Unreal) and Orchid Seed’s Feane PVC figure based on one such illustration. Here’s hoping this new site migration marks a resurgence in productivity for this bastion of iconic 2D erotica, and thanks to Faust for the scoop! (no more)

Protoculture News: latest word on the doujin crackdown

The Yomiuri Online today reports that the Metropolitan Boueki Kaikan Taitou building in Asakusa, the site of several dozen small doujin events each year, has closed its doors to adult doujinshi – perhaps for good. The Yomiuri article cites investigation of the content sold at Abnormal Carnival as the reason prompting the closure (declaring it “judged as an unfit use of public space”), but apparently it’s not just ABC that is affected: Queen’s Coliseum II has been contacted, and we can assume that other near-term events have as well. This development has the potential to put a serious dampener on the niche doujin scene that had depended on the facility for space, and while other privately owned locations are no doubt available for rent it is unclear in what form such events will survive. I’ve sold there as a circle myself on two occasions and been there as an attendee many more, and I’m going to miss the place… we’ll be keeping a very close eye on this situation as it develops. Update: further details below: