12 Moments of Anime #4: KyoAni’s Curveball and MangaGamer’s Home Run

by eternal on December 22, 2009

I don’t really want to talk about Endless Eight. I was away from the blogosphere while the long-awaited sequel to Suzumiya Haruhi was airing, but the drama that surrounded it quickly turned it into a trainwreck. There were some who liked it and many who didn’t; there were theories flying around about trolling and carefully written meta; there was the infamous “betrayal” of Aya Hirano and Yamakan himself. The end result was messy, not unlike a trainwreck, and it’s a little bitter to look back on.

That said, Endless Eight was probably the most memorable anime of the year, despite not being the best. It’s one-of-a-kind, as far as I know, both for its content and for its implications. Unlike other time travel stories, KyoAni was clearly aware of what they were doing here, engaging in a battle of wits with legions of fans. I’m not sure why they did it, and I doubt we’ll ever know, but their cryptic advertising and unorthodox directing of the past prove that nothing in Haruhi is unintentional. Unlike the relatively ordinary novels, the first season was literally tossed on its head, and the Hare Hare Yukai dance became a symbol of moe as an industry-wide trend. Haruhi was loud and obnoxious from the very beginning: much like the titular character, it does what it wants when it wants and doesn’t isn’t afraid of anything.

In that sense, the second season was an ironic success. I can’t say that I enjoyed it nearly as much as I could have, but KyoAni succeeded in throwing an impeccable curve ball that made even more of a splash than the seemingly insurmountable first season. When I look at it that way, I can’t help but feel that they accomplished their goal.

– – –

It might be a bit of a stretch to call MangaGamer’s forray into the commercial visual novel translation scene a home run, but they’ve certainly been the talk of the town over the past year. Leaping into the fray with Da Capo, they proceeded to buy the licenses for Shuffle, Higurashi, and some other respectable titles and beat the fan translators at their own game. Of course, there have been some hiccups in their own translation quality (and let’s not forget their choice of font), but I think we can all agree that their emergence has done more help than harm.

The future looks strong for MangaGamer right now, which is good news for those of us who want to get our hands on DCII and the rest of Higurashi, but they especially deserve praise for listening to their customers. If you’ve been anywhere other than the underside of a rock for the past month, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Censorship has been one of the biggest issues of 2009, pulling our beloved 2D goodness into a mess of politics and ethics, but so far the practical influence on us has been minor. It would be a bit too congratulatory to outright thank MangaGamer for deciding against the removed CGs in Soul Link – it might well have been a wise business move and nothing more – but the fact remains that many companies are unwilling to listen to the pleas of the consumers. For better or worse, though, the English-speaking visual novel community is a small place, and no business can survive by angering their target audience.

If JAST‘s partnership with TLWiki is a sign of things to come, we might be heading into a time in which professionals and amateurs don’t have to be at odds, a time in which we can cooperate under the same fandom with the same ideals. It’s unrealistic, I know, but I’d like to think that 2009 has taken us one step closer to a world in which we can all play the same eroge and live happier ever after. If that isn’t paradise, then I don’t know what is.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

JANAiBlog December 22, 2009 at 1:44 pm

I certainly hope that we start to see more examples of professionals working with amateurs. I strongly feel that anime producers, instead of sending threatening letters to fansubbers, should be making use of their abilities to their advantage. It’s doubtful this will ever happen, but one can only hope.

I remember when Kadokawa stated that they wouldn’t be removing videos from YouTube that contain their content, but would rather place an ad on the video and even share the ad revenue with the person who posted the video. I think this is a great way to promote your product without making yourselves look like bullies, thus giving you better PR in the longrun. It’s a real shame more companies haven’t realized this yet.


Baka-Raptor December 22, 2009 at 2:19 pm

I want MangaGamer’s Higurashi so bad, but for now I’m waiting until the dollar gains ground on the euro.


Aorii December 22, 2009 at 2:28 pm

MangaGamers’ move is definitely nice and shows their dedication to their audience, but I do agree with Visualnovels.net’s podcast that the English visual-novel community should reflect upon its own behavior. Here we have a company whose willing to risk the market (small, risky, and loaded with piracy) and bring us Visnovs and all they ask is a bit of extra legal protection. What did we do: we raged at them. I mean, even if the H-scenes are a big thing to some, would it be so hard to just wait for that inevitable patch to be released by some group that’ll put the uncensored CGs back in? It’s one of those times I feel ashamed to be within the ELVN community…

“We might be heading into a time in which professionals and amateurs don’t have to be at odds”
I have a dream–!!! who knows. As long as it’s not crunchyroll style again.


ETERNAL December 23, 2009 at 11:18 pm

That’s an interesting perspective (the comments deterred me from listening to the podcast, but I’ll probably check out the next one).

This stuff is definitely harder on the companies than it is for us, but I think things are headed in the right direction. Part of what makes it so difficult is that the companies who have to deal with legal trouble are basically competing with the free fan translators who don’t have to deal with any of that, and it puts everyone in an awkward position – the fans wouldn’t pay to support censorship, but the companies can’t risk their business for a few CGs. I’m a bit optimistic about it right now, but above all, I’m genuinely curious about how this will develop in the coming year.


Anon December 24, 2009 at 10:43 am

Part of the problem is MangaGamer does not offer the best products in the first place. They offer download only games for about 55 dollars, their games have some grammar mistakes, and the game in question (Soul Link) isn’t exactly a masterpiece either. Throw in censorship on top of that, and most people no longer see this particular game worth buying. However, although Soul Link would not have been that particularly hurt with censorship, they have Koihime coming out in the future. Take a look at the CG for that, if MangaGamer kept this censorship policy, that would have needed to be butchered significantly, seeing how half the heroines are loli. Yes someone might have ended up putting the CGs back in, but that would only end up being a small part of the community, many people do not follow the inner workings of that community and would have never known (and in later games besides Soul Link, these would then be mosaic images) and would not buy a game with the knowledge that some guy on /jp/ would uncensor it. And more importantly such a patch only works if there are minimum changes in the text, so it did work for Family Project, and it would work for Soul Link since they were keeping the text, but what happens when the game has scenes cut so there is no text where those scenes would have been (quite likely if they did decide to censor Koihime), there would be no such patch. I admit it is tricky, with legal issues, but MangaGamer is significantly more likely to face legal issues for someone finding the title “Suck My Dick or Die” then someone else playing through Soul Link and finding a loli, just look at Rapelay. No one actually cares about the content in Rapelay as long as they know it is rape, but the title makes it a great political tool for politicians who would like to try to suppress free speech to gain a few votes.


ETERNAL December 24, 2009 at 5:32 pm

It’s an uphill battle for them either way, but yes, I’m quite surprised that they’re still offering the rape games. I would think that that’s just asking for trouble, but I’m not sure how the situation has been developing outside of Japan.


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