Count_Zero (Level 20)

I unlocked 2 Xbox Live achievements yesterday: http://t.co/dmzy5KVh
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I watch a lot of public broadcasting. In particular, I'm a fan of Mystery, on PBS, which has been re-branded in the US as Masterpiece Mystery, to connect it to Masterpiece Theater. The program, rather than having a particular mystery all the time, will run short series of other mystery programs and short films, often done for British television, but not always, and then once that season concludes, they'll move on to the next season. They'll run 6 or 12 episodes of "Miss Marple" and then move on to a series of "Inspector Lewis".
 
Now, there is a history of detective anime. The Detective Conan series is, I believe ongoing, plus there have been other shows before and after that (Detective Academy Q and so on). The thought which came in my head, though, is adaptations of detective novels, from Japan, from the West, and from other countries, and basically doing a short series (even for anime), possibly with longer episodes, with OVA quality animation, on, say, NHK (as from what I understand, it's Japan's equivalent of PBS).
 
This has kind of been done before with Great Detectives Poirot & Marple, but this would be a little different. The main difference would be by having significantly shorter series, with double-length episodes, you can have a bigger variety of characters, and creators. That way, if the broader audience doesn't like one detective series, you're not stuck with a long-running series, nor do you have to worry about canceling it halfway through and alienating a smaller, vocal fan-base. The viewers who don't like this series can wait literally one month, maybe a month and a half, and a new series starts, with a new detective, a new director, and possibly even a new animation studio. Further, by using this concept, you could more easily get more significant directors to contribute to direct or produce a series, without being tied down for long periods. Similarly, you could get significant voice actors or actresses to agree to play major roles who might otherwise prefer to voice films, or might need to take on a lighter workload for various reasons (age, pregnancy, what have you).
 
To do this, essentially, three or four mini-series would need to be in production not-quite simultaneously. Each series would be four-to-six episodes long, each episode being about an hour long, with about two episodes per novel, possibly more, depending on the novel and the amount of time the novel would require (short stories could be handled in one episode).
 
Oh, and why anime? Well, Anime translations into English are more marketable to the west, and quite possibly easier overall than translating novels. Thus, by doing this as an anime, some of the works of Japanese mystery writers which haven't been translated into English could get some western exposure, and thus would expand awareness of the characters outside of Japan.  Yeah, I can sometimes be a little selfish like that.
 
Unfortunately, while I enjoy detective fiction, my knowledge of Japanese detective fiction is minimal. That said, here are my thoughts for the first "series" of series.
 
Show 1:  Kogoro Akechi - From what I understand, this character is, essentially, Japan's first fictitious detective to get a series of novels featuring the character. The character's creator, is a major cultural figure in the same way that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is highly regarded in the US and Great Britain. However, the detective's own stories have never been adapted to anime. The detective (and/or his descendants) have gone up against Lupin III, he makes minor supporting appearances in Daughter of Forty Faces (which features the daughter of Kogoro's rival), the name of his creator is part of Detective Conan's cover identity, and there have been film adaptations of some of the stories, but no anime. Considering how heavily the Sherlock Holmes stories have been adapted to just about every medium in the west, this slightly surprises.
 
Show 2: Jane Marple - I haven't seen Great Detectives Poirot & Marple. However, people I know who have seen it, did level complaints about the show, particularly at the introduction of another audience perspective character (Mabel West) as a narrative bridge between the Poirot and Marple cases (as the two detectives have never actually met in Christie's work), plus the introduction of an unnecessary cute animal (her pet duck). That said while the character concept doesn't fit in well with Poirot (particularly the pet duck), it works perfectly with Marple and, as the Miss Marple stories would probably market better for a mixed Shojo/Josei market in Japan, the character would fit in better there. Besides, Christie usually introduced a series of young female audience perspective characters throughout the Marple stories, with often a new character each novel. With the Miss Marple stories, you could basically drop all of those, and have the audience perspective character (it could still be Mabel West, it could be someone new), fit that role in the narrative more-or-less as needed.
 
Show 3: Lovejoy - My main reason for picking this is to balance the more Josei leaning (but not quite) Jane Marple pick with something a little more Seinen. In this case, Johnathan Gash's knavish antique dealer/forger. The Lovejoy novels have been adapted to the screen once, for a television series with, if I recall correctly, Grenada, starring Ian McShane (who is now better known for his role in Deadwood). However, much of the more risque content, and some of the more violent content  is removed from the series. While there are still murders and thefts in the TV series, often deaths are more gruesome in the novels, and Lovejoy is often directly involved in the deaths of the villains. In a particular example, in Gold by Gemini, Lovejoy is checking for clues at an old artillery post on the Isle of Man, when he's trapped there by one of the killer's henchmen. Lovejoy is rescued, but the henchman falls to his death - in the TV version he drowns, in the book the piece of jagged rusted metal the guy lands on, and is impaled on probably contributed more than being face down in the Atlantic. In anime, you could get away with being more accurate to the more violent portions of the story. Further, Lovejoy's frequent discussions directly to the reader in the book (which the British TV series preserved) could preclude the need of an audience perspective character. Failing that, though, Lovejoy often takes on apprentices (who often become accomplices to, say, forgery) because he's perpetually broke.
 
Show 4:  Kosuke Kindaichi - Yes, the fictitious grandson of the character, Hajime Kindaichi got his own anime after a manga series, and the original character got some big-screen adaptations of his adventures, but he hasn't gotten an anime either, which makes him, in my book, very elgible for his own series.
 
Well, those are my thoughts for this concept. My apologies if this is worded kind of clunky, as I was basically coming up with the idea almost as I went along. So, what do you think, sirs?
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The country of Hontworl has withdrawn from the UN, and in turn, the UN has blacklisted them. So... either Hontworl is nuts, or they have a superweapon they will use to destroy the world. Or both. Probably both. So, we've got this country - which geographically, appears to be somewhere in the 'Stans, is forming it's own little Warsaw Pact. And here's the Dragon King. And there goes the Triad Alliance's capital city. Okay, so how is Gachaman going to beat that?

"Don't panic, we've got Top Men working on this." So, Shadowlaw is working within the republic of Hontworl. You'd think they'd notice the common similarities between the destruction of the labs and the appearance of the fortress before now.

Well, that was brazen. I have to say, that villains for shows like Gatchaman are considerably less subtle than your standard bond villain, yet they have the same amount of visibility of your standard Bond Villains. Wow, I wonder which came first Galactor or Cobra?

There's Ken The Eagle. And here's Joe the Condor, crack marksman. And here's a little something for the ladies. So, he drives a Shelby Cobra Mustang GT. I was expecting a motorcycle, considering the personality. And a little something for the fellas  - Jun the Swan has Gainax bounce, and she's a motorcycle chicks. Jimmy the Falcon's an extreme sports chick. Rocky The Falcon hasn't changed much though. Nice ride for the team. Condor's ride looks like (but not quite) the Batmobile. Very nice ride for the team. I wonder if the artist for Berserk was paying homage to Gatchaman when designing the look for Griffith as Femto.

Wow, that's pretty quick for the Leonardo-Raphael fighting. So, Joe shares a common motivation with Batman... "My Parents Are Dead!" Only, with, y'know, more killing.

And now the fortress has no-sold some nukes. Surprisingly this came out /before/ Eva. I thought Eva had started the "have the enemy no-sell The Bomb early on" trope. And we get another Raph-Leo Fight in about 3-4 minutes. Wow.

And now the mentor figure has been betrayed and held captive. Yutoland City? (looks at their map) Whatever happened to China?

Me: So... let me get this straight. Humanity's moral development has not kept pace with it's technolgical development.
Beolute: Uh-huh.
Me: And you're saying that humanity stands at the edge of global annihilation.
Beolute: Uh-huh.
Me: And rather than try to restore a balance and bring order to things... you're just going to collect a bunch of great thinkers on your super-fortress, give the human race a "poke" on the whole balance thing, and then pick up whatever pieces are glowing after the apocalypse?
Beolute: You got it!.
Me: How often do you watch Moonraker?
Beolute: Once a week.
Me: Yeah... I'm gonna have to take that.
Beolute: Nooooooo!

So, Beolute is actually Evil Overlord Solaris in disguise. That makes sense.

Pwned!

Awesome I'm Batman Speech. I have to say, that Gatchaman could probably beat the BatFamily (except for, maybe, Batman).  It might be a close run thing, but they'd be able to win.

If they keep the Gatchaman movie on par with this OVA in terms of story and tone, I'd totally look forward to this. That's some impressive CGI for the time.
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Take the What '90s Hentai Suits You Best?

Your Results:

F3: Frantic, Frustrated and Female 100%
A young woman fails to find her climax, in spite of the help of her 'sister,' landlady, friends from school, and even a ghost.
1+2 = Paradise
A young man finds himself torn between two very hot young women.
70%
Count Down
A series of hot short stories, usually with a twist. Covers most fetishes at some point or another, though most stories lean towards the darker side than comedic.
54.3%
The Rapeman
Designed as a dark comedy (but only funny if you know that), the Rapeman is exactly what he sounds like: a "hero" who makes terrible women into better people by reaping them.
52.9%
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As an Anime fan, I've enjoyed a great many series that were originally licensed by CPM, but I can't feel quite so melancholic about their demise, at least not in the same way.

CPM is the 3rd of a series of major US anime licensors (sp) that have had to do major cut-backs, if not close their doors entirely (the other two being ADV - which is still around but had to do layoffs and sign distribution deals with some of their licenses, and Geneon USA which basically is no more than a holding company - which once again sub-licensed many of their shows to Funimation).

I was one of the ones who said good riddance - but not because I feel they were out-dated in their business practices, but for a different reason - Central Park Media had a boatload of really good films and movies, including Grave of the Fireflies, a film that is considered one of the greatest animated films in the history of cinema. Not just Japanese animation, but of all the films, live action and animated, in the entire world. That's an view held by not only me, and other anime fans, but by people like Roger Ebert, who is considered the best and most knowledgeable film critic alive today. I stress that because Grave of the Fireflies was out of print. If you wanted to get it, you had to get it used. I could go on about the truly classic anime they had licensed, but I already have - I've reviewed a lot of them for Bureau42 - but to get them I had to get them through Netflix.

 Grave of the Fireflies used is reasonably priced, about $20. Getting a copy that's unopened or advertised as in mint condition (so you don't have to worry about scratches) - runs $50, for 2 disks. It's about the same for the Record of Lodoss War OVA. I was lucky and managed to pick up a copy when it was still in print for $25 at Fry's.

I'm listing all these prices because that's money that Central Park Media could have made a chunk of. All they needed to do was a few things. If they weren't able to get DVDs in print, either set up sub-licensing deals like ADV and Geneon did, to get some additional capital to stay afloat and keep their titles in print - or set up streaming deals with sites like Crunchyroll and Hulu, getting the subtitled versions (CPM's dubs leaned a bit toward the iffy), allowing CPM to get some money from them, again, allowing them to stay afloat.

And that is what I wanted them to do. I wanted CPM to live. I wanted to see the Anime Industry in the US to be healthy again, perhaps leaner than it was before, but still alive. It tried to keep itself on life support by putting some of their titles available for streaming through NetFlix, and for sale through iTunes, but it was dubs only, and not the big titles - not Lodoss, not Patlabor, not Grave of the Fireflies. I kept wanting them to hold on though. As I became a staff writer for Bureau42.com, I started reviewing some of their shows, and other older anime series that had been reccomended to me, or I felt needed some more exposure. Among them was Record of Lodoss War, the entire Project A-Ko franchise, and at the time of this writing, the Patlabor Franchise.

However, as of a few weeks ago, I hit my breaking point. Over the past few months, I'd been singing the praises of Patlabor, of Project A-Ko, of Record of Lodoss War to high heaven. However, as I reccomended each show - I got asked one question I dreaded, and the one question I had to expect to be asked (and, if my efforts were to be successful, the person I was reccomending the show to had to ask), "Where can I find it?"

From there, the only answers I could give were - eBay, the Library, Pawn Shops, you can get it used on Amazon.com. I never reccomended Bittorrent, though I started considering it towards the end. I found myself needing to make a choice - do I keep quietly wishing CPM well, hoping it returns to health, or do I wish it ill, wish that it folds, so that it would be forced to liquidate it's licenses, thus allowing other companies to pick them up (or in the worst case scenario, making them available for fansubbing again). To help me decide, and because I'd been reviewing Patlabor for Bureau42, I decided to contact CPM and ask about the status of their licences, in part because I was uncertain if some of the shows I was hoping would be re-licenced were still licenced by them. I sent them an E-mail and waited, and recieved no reply. So, then I tried calling them on the telephone. This is significant because I live in Oregon, they're in New York, so it would have to be a long-distance call, unless I could find a working toll-free number.

I couldn't. So, I looked for a non-toll free number and found several, and of all the numbers I tried, all were disconnected, save one - and that one was busy. As I'd gotten up early  because of the time difference, and because I thought they were in an important meeting, I decided to call back in an hour. It was still busy. It was busy when I called an hour later, and then another hour after that. I spent an entire business day on the phone, trying to reach someone from Central Park Media, and had nothing to show for it.

For me, that was my turning point. Through their silence, through un-bounced and un-responded E-Mails, through the repeated tone of a busy signal, Central Park Media had painted a very vivid picture of their operation. It was most likely entirely inaccurate, but it was vivid nonetheless. The vision was of Central Park Media staff coming in for work, taking their phone of the hook, going into the break room, with a tape or DVD from the back catalog, and watching it, and then when that ended, moving on to another show. All day long.

They say to never attribute to malice what can be justified by incompetiance, but that day, in my mind's eye, the two possiblities intercected into an most annoying picture, and I came to the conclusion that even if the image that was so firmly entrenched in my head was entirely false, that the shows and films that CPM had licenced that I so loved would never see print again, as long as they were in the hands of CPM.

I have to take one little aside for a moment to explain a little piece of personal philosophy, that will explain my next steps. There are some people that believe that information should be free - as in beer, as they say in the open-source community - that information should be made freely available to anyone and everyone who wants it at no cost and no strings attached. I am not one of those people. However, I do believe that information, in the form of books, movies, music, that which is the stones on what defines one's culture, one's era to future generations, should be available. If there is something I feel is important to me personally, to the history of of professional wrestling (the status of much of ECW's tape library lead to me holding this opinion), to the status of anime fandom, it needs to stay in print. We know where we are going by the path that we left behind us, and we as anime fans better understand the path our hobby will take, and the titles that will come to our shores in the future, by the titles that were licenced in the past - from knowing how anime fandom moves in waves by genre, while certain things ("shonen series based on stuff from Shonen Jump" will generally stay popular), as an entry point to new fans and as junk food entertainment to older fans, or because it's just that good. Consequently, the series, the music, the films, the books, the manga, needs to be available, in some form or another. I don't need to be able to get it for free, I just need to be able to get it.

Thus, upon realizing that if CPM stuck around as it has done for much of this new millennium, quiet, waiting, sitting on it's catalog and not doing much with it - eventually, I and other people who want to be able to see these shows wouldn't be able to get them anymore. The disks would scratch, formats would change, and eventually, if we were lucky, all that would remain would be bittorrent. If we were unlucky, we wouldn't even have that. So - if CPM died, there was a chance that those series that they still held might stand a chance at life, with a different company, with fansubbers, or through Crunchyroll and YouTube.

So, in the course of my reviews on Bureau42, posts on the RPG.net forums, and on my audio feedback to, particularly, the Otaku Generation podcast, I begain bad mouthing CPM. Ultimately saying, on Otaku Generation, that CPM didn't have the common decency to file for bankruptcy so someone else could buy-up the licenses for the shows they currently held and bring them back to print.

This leads us to the death of Central Park Media.

I do not claim credit. It is highly improbable that I was responsible. Even if, by some freak of statistics, I was responsible, I do not want the credit anyway. I'm not particualrly proud for saying what I did, however, I feel that it needed to be said. Now, from here, it is up to the US anime industry and anime fandom - the industry to license the shows that merit saving, and anime fans to contact them and point out the shows worth saving to them (which I will be doing) - as well as, if necessary, fansubbing the shows that slip through the cracks.
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I'm probably not going to post on this blog very often - my primary off-site blog is at countzeroor.wordpress.com, and I write for Bureau42.com under the screen name of AceCaseOR.

That said, I'm going to point towards my comment on this article on the site, which is certainly blog worthy, but I didn't realize that until I'd finished writing it. Ah well, that's life.
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