Playpen

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 04:20 on 08-06-2018, Ichneumon
Now I'm contemplating "furry anime" as a thing and realising just how few I can think of, even as someone deep in both fandoms. That said, finding non-stereotypical queer male leads in anime is arguably even more difficult...
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at 12:03 on 05-06-2018, Raymond H
Yes! All according to my diabolical plan!
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at 21:25 on 04-06-2018, Arthur B
I binged Aggretsuko over the weekend, it's pretty fun.
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at 20:36 on 04-06-2018, Robinson L
Raymond: apparently the official name was Stout Meetinghouse so you're absolutely right.

That makes more sense.


Ichneumon: People who deny the Holodomor are terrifying to me in concept in the same way that Holocaust deniers are, even if in practice they're slightly less than prepossessing.

I've encountered both, and while they were not, to me, particularly scary at the time, there was a similar, unsettling detachment from reality as I know it.


Coincidentally, I found out last night that a couple of my sisters are watching Aggretsuko on Netflix, so interesting convergence, there.
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at 12:31 on 03-06-2018, Raymond H
Funny you should say that. I got a gay, Black, furry, nihilist, paranoid schizophrenic best friend who adores Feneko. He doesn't even like girls, but he likes Feneko.
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at 03:07 on 03-06-2018, Ichneumon
Let's not talk long about tankies. People who deny the Holodomor are terrifying to me in concept in the same way that Holocaust deniers are, even if in practice they're slightly less than prepossessing. But then, so were the fascists I've had the amusing misfortune to speak with.

As for Aggretsuko, all I have heard indicates that it is thoroughly charming yet mature, in the actual meaning of the word. But I am also shallow and gay and Haida is *adorable.*
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at 01:31 on 03-06-2018, Raymond H
Ah, also, I'm not entirely sure what the building itself was called. I just know that every Sunday people would gather there to do Quaker-things, and it looked kind of like a church, and apparently the official name was Stout Meetinghouse so you're absolutely right.
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at 00:47 on 03-06-2018, Raymond H
I understand the concern, and yet I would say that's where the cutesy Sanrio aesthetic comes in handy. By coating everything in a layer of saccharine, chibi cuteness, Aggretsuko manages to be biting, but never bitter. If it strikes too close to home for you, I understand, but I'd say it manages to deal with depressing themes without ending up depressing itself.
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at 18:15 on 02-06-2018, Robinson L
That makes more sense. And I'm gonna take a wild guess that it was a campus meeting house, rather than a church - Quakers generally don't go for those things, either. No worries, though, I'm just as ignorant when it comes to most world religions, or even most permutations of Christianity, for that matter.

it's kinda funny/sad that the first time I heard the word "tankie" it was from a guy who wore it as a mark of pride.

Oh ... wow, that's a new one on me. (Not the term, or the fact of having met such a person, but that they actually claim the label.)

We're still friends, although we don't discuss politics.

Probably for the best. I've met at least one Stalin/Mao/North Korea apologist who seems like really good folks, but yeah, I don't think trying to have too many political conversations with them would go well.

re: Aggretsuko
Thanks, that tells me a lot. It sounds pretty good, but it also sounds like there's a good chance it would hit way too close to home just at the moment; I might decide to put it off for a while.
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at 04:11 on 02-06-2018, Raymond H
Also, now I'm deeply curious about what sort of Quaker institute has a campus church which celebrates Sunday mass. Not saying I find it unbelievable, just saying I really want to hear that story.

Wait...I just looked it up, and apparently mass is a predominantly Catholic term. Quakers have meetings for worship. Man I'm bad at this whole Christian thing! I guess that's just what happens when your grandparents are Baptist, your parents are Catholic, you were baptized Methodist, and your college was Quaker.

Nah, 's cool. I get where you're coming from, and you're not wrong. I appreciate the concern, though.

Yeah, it's kinda funny/sad that the first time I heard the word "tankie" it was from a guy who wore it as a mark of pride. We're still friends, although we don't discuss politics.

On the subject of Aggretsuko, the main subject matter, and its main selling point, is its dealing with the millennial workforce. Basically, Retsuko belongs to the generation of workers born after the bubble economy burst in '91, and so she and her friends struggle to survive in a corporate system that has failed to update with the economy, and thus gives them pitiable wages for inhumane hours and poor prospects for the future. There's also the fact that Retsuko is an Office Lady, a position personally designed to weed women workers away from promotion and scuttle them away as soon as they marry, but even without that cultural context, Retsuko's story can resonate with anyone who has ever worked a dead-end job or felt trapped in a harsh, cold, uncaring corporate environment. Aggretsuko is ultimately a comedy, but it's the kind of comedy that addresses the pain and dissatisfaction many young workers find themselves possessing. Throughout the series, Retsuko feels unhappy, and latches on to some idea or action she believes will allow her to escape her current existence, only to find that every solution to a problem presents its own new set of problems. There will always be areas of your life that you will be unsatisfied with. Nobody gets a perfect happily ever after. But you do make connections, have experiences, and find new things that make life a little more bearable. It's like Holly said "As the days go by, we face the increasing inevitability that we are alone in a godless, uninhabited, hostile and meaningless universe. Still, you've got to laugh, haven't you?"
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at 18:15 on 01-06-2018, Robinson L
Raymond: I mean, I don't know about you, but if I'm trying to find ammunition against organized religion, Quakers seem like the most impotent salvos I could find.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, I should put that up on my wall somewhere. (Although from what I hear about certain Evangelical branches of the society, you wouldn't be entirely starved for material.)

Also, now I'm deeply curious about what sort of Quaker institute has a campus church which celebrates Sunday mass. Not saying I find it unbelievable, just saying I really want to hear that story.

I should make clear that I found a whole plethora of socialist individuals during my college experience, ranging from the honorable and admirable to the cranky and North-Korea-idolizing. The cranks make for better stories, but they don't erase the existence of their saner brethren

Nah, 's cool. I get where you're coming from, and you're not wrong. I appreciate the concern, though.

Coming back to the original topic, you've made a good case for the English dub of Aggretsuko, but for the sake of casual anime viewers, would you care to make a pitch for what the heck kind of show it is, and why one might be interested in watching it?
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at 12:15 on 01-06-2018, Raymond H
Well, it usually was their parents' account, so they still weren't paying for it. Uh...yeah.

I am reminded of a quote by George Orwell: "In addition to this there is the horrible — the really disquieting — prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words "Socialism" and "Communism" draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, "Nature Cure" quack, pacifist, and feminist in England." Which I suppose is unfair to feminists, but which I find doubly hilarious because
1) The college was a Quaker institute
2) The more, shall we say, interesting individuals who self-described themselves as socialists on campus would go on long and bitter tirades about how disgusting and horrible organized religion is, and how if they ever went to Sunday mass at the campus church they'd only go there to start a fight because those darned religious whackjobs had it coming. I mean, I don't know about you, but if I'm trying to find ammunition against organized religion, Quakers seem like the most impotent salvos I could find.

(Also for any actual socialists in the playpen, I should make clear that I found a whole plethora of socialist individuals during my college experience, ranging from the honorable and admirable to the cranky and North-Korea-idolizing. The cranks make for better stories, but they don't erase the existence of their saner brethren.)
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at 10:29 on 01-06-2018, Arthur B
At the risk of sounding like an Internet grandpa... kids these days don't even know how to pirate right.
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at 02:58 on 01-06-2018, Ichneumon
...wow.
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at 09:44 on 31-05-2018, Raymond H
Enh, this was Senior year, and I remember back in Freshman year, people's ideas of how to protest capitalism was to Netflix their movies, rather than patronizing the local ma and pop rental place. So, I mean, I guess this was an improvement..."shrugs"
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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).
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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...)
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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!).
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at 13:25 on 29-05-2018, Raymond H
Oh, yeah. Heheheh...you 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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