Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 03:40 on 31-05-2018, Ichneumon
Given the retail prices on Japanese Blu-Rays, I would say these folks are by no means speaking from anything resembling personal experience, and that for as critical as I may be about business practice in both Japan and the Anglophone world, I find their motivations highly suspect (assuming they’re not just morons).
at 12:08 on 30-05-2018, Raymond H
Yeah, my real gripe with those people was how they believed any amount of paying for anime or manga on their part was enabling "corporate greed", because, as their line of thinking went, if manga tankobon only cost 100 yen in Japan (which they don't) then clearly the only reason they're more expensive in America is that fatcat CEO's want to squeeze the proletariat of their hard-earned money.

Honestly I feel bad for Mononoke. If Cinedigm is the one to pick up the DVD, that means not only was it stiffed by Disney, but GKids as well. Man, you amputate ONE foot soldier and suddenly everyone's clutching their pearls. Americans, amirite? (Wait...)
at 04:47 on 30-05-2018, Ichneumon
To be completely fair to the fansub purist crowd, there are a number of instances where Japanese companies have indeed mandated very specific translations of their properties, some inferior to a more liberal or subtle reading if not, at times, outright bizarre due to the language barrier. That said, I'm more comfortable with using official channels to watch something where available, and I am always happy as a clam to see previously unavailable shows see a proper physical release in my neck of the woods; I was over the moon to find out Cinedigm had picked up Mononoke for a reasonably priced DVD release, for instance (which I in fact own!).
at 13:25 on 29-05-2018, Raymond H
Oh, yeah. know I still don't know if that was real or not (some people say it was a fake). Ah, I still remember those College Anime Club people, who swore that the only way to truly appreciate anime was through fan-subs, because official subtitles were licensed by The Man.
at 12:08 on 29-05-2018, Arthur B
I'm reminded of the whole "Keikaku means plan" thing, which presumably came about because a fansubber was just very slightly too chicken to just plain use "plan" in that context.
at 11:31 on 29-05-2018, Raymond H
My understanding (as someone who does not watch very much anime) is that dub quality with respect to anime has come forwards in leaps and bounds over recent years.

I would agree, to a certain extent. However, I think this progress has come with its own set of problems, which is perhaps best exemplified through the shifting of what I would refer to as Sturgeon's Glut (the cruddy 90% of any art form). When it comes to older dubs, the Glut mainly consists of bowlderized and sanitized husks, where everything has been reduced and dumbed down so as not to harm the kids because as we all know, animation is only ever for kids. Now, on the other hand, the Glut mainly consists of dubs that are so slavish in their devotion to the original, Japanese source text, they adhere to it as literally as possible, without any regard for how unnatural or stilted this may make things sound in English. The problem I have with this is that, despite older shows like Speed Racer and Gigantor being pretty heavily altered for English-speaking audiences, the goal in this was to make these shows accessible to audiences who had no prior familiarity with Japanese media. Even people who don't like those shows will often admit that they served as "gateway shows" and put anime and manga on their radar. However, since any change to any aspect of Japanese media these days is often regarded as tantamount to this and results in people throwing major hissy fits, this has resulted in a lot of anime pandering to the pre-existing fanbase, rather than attempting to draw new people in. In fairness this is a phenomenon that's affecting the anime industry as a whole (lower birth rates and tanked economies tend to do that), not just the dubbing industry, but the end result is that there's very few anime these days that you can sit down and enjoy even if you know nothing about kawaii or doki-doki or even anything Japanese beforehand.
at 10:15 on 29-05-2018, Arthur B
My understanding (as someone who does not watch very much anime) is that dub quality with respect to anime has come forwards in leaps and bounds over recent years.

I've been watching a lot of Italian movies lately, and the interesting thing about them is that the dub vs. sub question there is very different because of the way they were produced back in their heyday: since most productions had international casts anyway, they just had everyone speak their lines in whichever language they were most comfortable with whilst shooting their scenes and then produce a series of dubs for different markets, so the Italian soundtrack will have the original Italian actors dubbing themselves plus Italian voice actors dubbing the non-Italian speakers, the English soundtrack will have the English actors dubbing themselves with and English voice actors dubbing everyone else, and so on. (This is true even of major productions like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.)

The result is that there's no one, single, obviously "original" soundtrack to the work in the way the original Japanese is the original soundtrack to an anime - and so I tend to just watch the English dub.
at 06:56 on 29-05-2018, Raymond H
Playpen post since I don't think there's enough I have to say about this show for a full article, but Aggretsuko is really great. It's been a while since I found an English dub that made me smile the way this one does. As a translation geek it annoys me to no end when people either try to not translate mythical or cultural shorthand at all, or do it with clunky footnotes, or simply steamroll over the shorthand with a sanitized localization (yummy jelly donuts!), as opposed to finding a dynamic equivalence. However, Aggretsuko's dub pleasantly surprised me, to the point where I ended up watching the whole show with it, something I almost never do these days. I think, even with all the little touches that mark Aggretsuko as very much a Japanese show coming from Japanese creators for a primarily Japanese audience, there's still enough of a universal appeal to the show that even if you have no previous knowledge of OL's, karaoke bars, or nomikai, you can still understand and empathize with the characters and plot, and the dub highlights this spectacularly, with people talking like actual English-speaking people, as opposed to the formally-equivalent-but-stilted dialogue I find more and more often in anime. Also it's funny as hell, so go watch it!
at 22:36 on 25-05-2018, Robinson L
Even more belated greetings, Ichneumon. Hope you've got your power situation sorted out by now, and I look forward to reading those articles, whenever you have them ready.
at 00:37 on 21-05-2018, Raymond H
Happy belated greeting! (It's been a busy weekend)
at 08:13 on 20-05-2018, Ichneumon
I kept thinking I should check back in and missed the place but always got distracted. Maybe once I get my power back on I can finally write you some articles; I still have that major quibble with “Games Are Not Art”, and we’re lacking any articles on the late Joel Lane, Steve Rasnic Tem, the Leviathan anthologies from Ministry of Whimsy...
at 10:21 on 18-05-2018, Arthur B
Welcome back. :D
at 03:36 on 18-05-2018, Ichneumon
Hey y'all. It's been a while.
at 13:49 on 25-04-2018, Raymond H
Okay. Thanks! Argh, cherish the fact that you live in a country where you don't have to pay exorbitant shipping fees for a single English paperback. You don't know how good it is until it's gone.
at 08:40 on 25-04-2018, Arthur B
I'd personally go with Midnight Sun or Ancient Images out of that lot. Or possibly The Count of Eleven if you're up for something with a really dark sense of humour.
at 22:58 on 24-04-2018, Raymond H
@Robinson: Thank you! I'm happy to be here.

@Arthur: I have a question about Ramsey Campbell. I'm interested in reading him, but don't quite know which of his works is a good introduction. The works of his that are available on are
Ancient Images
Midnight Sun
Ghosts and Grisly Things
Night of the Claw
The Count of Eleven
The Long Lost
Nazareth Hill
The Overnight
The Last Voice They Hear
Pact of the Fathers
The One Safe Place
Silent Children
Scared Stiff
I know you've written reviews for several of these, but there are also some titles I don't recognize. I think Obsession seems as good a place as any to start, but do you have any higher recommendations?
at 15:30 on 24-04-2018, Robinson L
Welcome to the site.

@Arthur: thanks for sharing the Kickstopper link; I found it comparably interesting and enjoyable to your other Kickstopper articles.
at 12:33 on 24-04-2018, Raymond H
Uh, hello. I'm Raymond, and I'm new here. Just thought I'd say hi.
at 19:32 on 02-04-2018, Arthur B
Kickstopper fans may like to know I've put another one up on my RPG-related blog, since the subject matter (a third-party supplement for a less-popular setting for Call of Cthulhu) is niche enough that I don't think the article belongs here.
at 22:30 on 10-03-2018, Robinson L
I did wonder if the narration is holding the book back for me. The problem is that as slow as I am with audiobooks, I'm a speed demon with those as opposed to printout. It was either the audio, or wait another 5-10 years, if not more.

Fortunately, I'm also incredibly stubborn, and it takes a lot worse than this to get me to abandon a project (including an audiobook) midway through, so no worries about my putting Annihilation down.

It's just that, so far, I don't have a whole lot of interest. I listened to another chunk yesterday, and so far, the only part I've felt an emotional connection to the story is when the narrator (
talks about her husband's decline and eventual death after his own excursion into Area X
. Even
the death of the anthropologist

didn't affect me, because 1) I'd been forewarned by the narrator, and 2) I hadn't seen enough of her character to feel anything.

I'll carry on with the book regardless, I'm just hoping I get more reason to care about the story and/or the characters.
at 01:10 on 10-03-2018, Adrienne
Robinson L - well, there's never a surfeit of plot in the books; things do happen, of course, but the atmosphere and the mystery and the language are more salient to what the books are trying to do.

I'm not sure whether audiobook is a good way to read them, either - the beauty of the prose seems like it might get lost with a bad narrator? (But i don't like audiobooks all that well to start with, so i'm definitely not necessarily a great judge.)

But in any case - yeah, i expected to hate them and then thought they were fantastic; at least give it another few chapters. :)
at 15:30 on 09-03-2018, Robinson L
Er, well, I only just started on Annihilation yesterday, and I'm pretty slow when it comes to books. I got it on audio, and I've only listened to the first chapter (which is apparently the first seventh of the book). So far, I'm not thrilled about the narrator - I'm pretty sure she's the same one who narrated the Hunger Games, and oddly, I think her voice felt more natural to those books, despite the fact that she doesn't remotely make a believable teenager. I also haven't emotionally connected with any of the characters yet, and the mystery of Area X is mildly interesting, but not particularly exciting yet.

Your post makes me hopeful that things will indeed pick up at some point. But I'm afraid it's going to take me a while before I'm able to talk about the substance of the book, let alone the whole trilogy.
at 02:58 on 09-03-2018, Adrienne
Holy shit, i just finished Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach trilogy and i am dying for people to talk about it with. I didn't even expect to like the books, but they were amazing. I feel broken open by the experience.
at 20:41 on 27-02-2018, Adrienne
As someone who loves basically all the Hainish novels, despite their myriad flaws -- i am all for there to be more stuff about them here, Arthur, and i look forward to your reviews!

(I haven't been around much recently for many reasons, but one is that i think Star Wars is fashy and terrible. But i'm glad y'all are having fun discussing it here!)