Potpourri Post


Alright, so, right now I’m at the corner of Good Things Ave. and Horrible Death Bvd. and I figure I should give a little post before I’m forced to use a shortcut through All Nighter Dr. after cutting across Endless Work Pkwy. However, I don’t really have enough thoughts on any one subject to make a “real” post, so, instead, you’re going to get a heaping helping of every yuppie’s favorite fragrance, potpourri. Take a whiff below the fold.

Anime Side: This season has actually been pretty good to me, what with the Geassing and the Macrossing and the Soul Eating and even the Library Warring, but I’d like to offer some “constructive” commentary.

I suppose asking Macross to do something other than focus on members of the futuristic “Chair Force” and pop idols is like asking Gundam to cut back on the giant robots and the “war is bad” message. However, be aware that I will forever hate your diva-like flyboi-s and high-strung musical talents and will only watch your show for the sweet, sweet mecha action.

It’s actually sort of funny the way that three long-running space-battle franchises have devoted themselves to three branches of the military. Gundam (as in, non-G gundam) is very much a show for the regular Army. It’s about big walking tanks that die in large numbers. Courage and teamwork tend to come out as big winners, along with a smattering of “special forces” type bullshit. While my main man, Harlock, is all about the Navy, and the big parts of the Naval tradition other than rum and sodomy, which is to say, formalism and “nobility,” by which I mean the fact that in the Navy, the captain is the king, and everyone else aboard are unwashed peasants.

The Unwashed Masses

Also, stop turning your inbetweening over to hyperactive crack-babies and spend some money there, you know, like, real money, every episode. Having an episode in which the visuals blow us away followed by an episode that I could draw (Note: this is so far away from the truth that if this hyperbole were a duck, it would go MOOO and give milk). Gonzo disease is just going to piss people off.

Gonzo Disease

Rumor Mill side: So, it appears that a couple of you are interested in the story of the 2ch/Gainax battle. Well, gather round, while I spin the tale.

1) The Players: There’s two big forces in this little Drama, Gainax and 2ch, both of which have some history behind them that’s important to understanding the tiff.

A) Gainax: Brought us Eva, which kindled the “heart of darkness” of many a poor fool. Also brought us End of Eva, which was basically a large middle finger being waved at the otaku community*. Gainax is, fundamentally, a company that got its start from maniacs and isn’t quite sure whether it should be proud of this, try to move on to other things, or both. Probably the best understanding you can get of the attitude of Gainax to the rest of the community is to watch Otaku no Video. Half of the show is devoted to the awesomeness of Gainax’s founders for bravely being Otaku in a society which isn’t really hot on the whole counterculture*, the other half of which is basically devoted to joining with the “cool kids” to mock the poor slobs mercilessly.

B) 2Ch: Is not 4chan, seriously, if there’s one thing that you need to understand about the difference between us geeks and those otaku, look to the message boards. 4chan is a place full of rage and self-loathing. It hates everything, and tries its best to tear down everything it can. This isn’t to say that it can’t be creative, but, fundementally, it’s not a place of creation, but, rather, of negation. It is from 4chan that we get Rickrolling and 99% of image macros.

4chan/SA sense of Humor

In constrast, 2ch, especially right around the time of the “event’ is a place where a much of people get together to support each other in whatever aspect of hobby-dom they care to pursue. It can get mean, but 2ch’s mean is nothing like 4chan’s all-consuming, self-devouring hatred. 2ch brought the world “Densha Otoko” and generally exists to reassure members of the fanbase that, even though they may be social failures, they are not alone. This isn’t to say that it’s “better” than 4chan. In fact, the nihilism of 4chan goes much easier with my psyche than the strained, quasi-circle-jerk quality that 2ch strives to exclude. (Note, I don’t spend time on either of these boards nowadays, so, if things have changed, feel free to correct me)

The important thing to remember about 2ch is that it’s much more of a community than 4chan, and it has a lot thinner skin. Hating on 4chan is like pissing into an ocean of piss, as the phrase goes, while 2ch much more vulnerable to attacks, especially when they come from within the counterculture*. Also, relations between the two boards haven’t been particularly good, mostly dating to incidents near the founding of 4chan that I wasn’t around to care about, and, so, don’t have the scoop on.

2) The Event: In case you couldn’t tell from just watching episode 4 of Tengen Toppa etc. etc. (hereafter, TTGL), it was directed by a different person than the normal director. This meant that the art was “weird” and the story was sort of “off” from other episodes (remember, only 3 episodes had appeared previously and they were good enough to make viewers fear for an appearance of the dread “gonzo disease”). 2ch, naturally, made some rather disparaging comments about the episode. A Gainax production assistant responded by saying rather rude things about 2ch’ers on the Gainax internal Blog. These comments were re-enforced from the producer of the show up to that point (and co-founder of Gainax), Takami Akai. To give you a snippit, here’s a relevant quote from the TTGL wikipedia article about the incident ” [reading the comments on 2ch was] like putting [his] face next to an anus and breathing deeply.”

Since this was on the internal blog, nobody really worried about the effects that this would have. However, someone decided to leak these posts to 2ch, which, naturally, was not pleased. In fact, the board went, as they say, apeshit and made a huge ruckus. Now, Gainax at this point had four options, as far as I can see, one of which were great. The first option would be to stand by the production staff and tell 2ch to go screw off, which would naturally hurt their operations something fierce, but they would keep the production staff intact. Second, they could try denial, which has the problem of both sounding weak and not mollifying the fan community. Third, they could just issue some token apology and try to ride it out, which wouldn’t make them any friends, but would be much less combative than option 1). FInally, they could give someone the axe and deliver the head to the sweaty otaku, which might mollify them enough to keep the cash flowing.

In the end, Ganaix co-founder Takami took the hit, and stepped down, effective episode 5 of the series. Now, this sort of a decision rankles me, because it smacks of stupid appeasement. There’s smart appeasement, in which you’re effectively playing for time against a foe that is temporarily superior, like Russia’s WWII strategy of trading land for time, Republican Rome’s frequent buy-offs of the Gauls, or Fabius Maximus’ famed delaying tactics. Then there’s stupid appeasement, in which you trade something permenent for a minor temporary advantage, which 99% of the time will not help (I’d like to go on record here as noting that Chamberlin’s infamous Munich accord is not a member of this class, if you’re interested in the reasoning behind this, send me and e-mail and I’ll rant at you). However, Gainax really had no choice, as the company had become big enough that the ego of major members of the staff was not something that the shareholders cared about. The choice was between losing one guy, and maybe losing a bunch of the staff and/or the company, in the event that things got really bad. So, Gainax folded like a toilet-paper sculpture of Fallingwater after a rainstorm and 2ch got a feather in its cap.

Would you trust these men with the future of your animation company?

3) The Fallout: TTGL went on to make Gainax a lot of money, which makes many people happy. 2ch continues to roll along without having to consider that, as a huge repository of social rejects, it might occasionally have rude things said about it, and that freaking out about that sort of shit is just going to make more people say rude things. Also, I got some Lols, so the whole thing is a net plus from my point of view.

Future Side: I should be stupid busy for the next couple of weeks, but, after that, expect another edition of Nomad’s Super Awesome Manga Review.

* Alright, so, without going into the full detail of the theory I’m working on, US fans should think long and hard before referring to themselves as otaku. The otaku mindset is a counter-cultural one, and, as such, otaku DON’T get along with society in general, and DON’T get any respect. Geeks, on the other hand, are a subculture, and can co-exist with the main thread of American civilization without too many odd looks. Before you call yourself an otaku ask, are you happy with being reguarded as a Weaboo by US geeks and Japanese otaku alike. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t, just, be aware that it means you’re part of the 300 lbs of shower-less, anti-social contingent, and will be judged based on what they do. I’m not okay with that, so I’m happy to be a geek.

You will never be this cool

5 Responses to “Potpourri Post”

  1. 1 newgeekphilosopher May 26, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Wow, and I always hoped 2Channel would have prospered as a realm of good interaction in brotherhood after the Densha Otoko thing happened. I loved that book, it gave me hope as a young man that I too would find love if only I stopped moping and called up some girls. Trouble with that mindset is that there’s no guarantee that girls will answer your calls.

    It’s tragic that more people haven’t read “Train Man” in the West, as it presents a good model and ideal of forum communications.

    Also, the last picture is cool.

  2. 2 The Animanachronism May 27, 2008 at 11:11 am

    I didn’t know that about the contrast between 2chan and 4chan. Very interesting.

  3. 3 lelangir May 29, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Nice post, learned a lot. I didn’t know that otaku was a counter culture rather a “sub” one. I mean, this could elicit a lot of discussion about how the counter is, invariably, very similar to the main and all; but if I call myself an otaku (apparently I don’t readily fall into your description of the category) or weaboo or whatever, am I not ‘helping’ to change the meaning of otaku? The discourse on social movements is always defined by the people positioned within its territory – subsequently, those actions produce a response by everyone else – so, in effect, the “otaku” are propagators of their discourse insofar as they are, ex posto facto. I guess this means if I had enough social/cultural leverage I could re[constitute]write what it means to be an otaku, because seriously, I’m not versed enough in 4chan and whatever to really know what it means in the first place.

    Of course this is masturbatory speculation, so, yeah, I’ll be skiing down mt. Pretension.

  1. 1 A Man and His Cane, A Boy and His Blog[osphere] « “Lelangiric”, or so they say… Trackback on May 30, 2008 at 12:41 am
  2. 2 “lelangiric” » A Man and His Cane, A Boy and His Blog[osphere] Trackback on June 27, 2008 at 10:44 am

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