The Otaku Revolution Awards
I've been meaning to get to this and I'm as late as your sister's period during that scare I had with her.
2010: the future! A time when flying cars fill the air and radioactive mutants are battled with by humanoid-shaped, bipedal fighter robots under a supernova sun as Europe's "The Final Countdown"—the only surviving single of the Great Eugenic Wars of the 80s—blares from speakers on either side of your cyronic capsule as you awake to inevitable nuclear oblivion. What a world of wonder and horror!
Do we dare long for the yesteryear of third gen VHS copies of DBZ movie fansubs, complete with Anime Labs "candy-ass faggot" inserts? Or do we boldly step into a world of steel and strife, where our cell phones play satellite radio, sees through clothing, and massages our DNA so that our children pop out craving only Pepsi and violence?
Come with me, friends, as I take one final look behind me to the year that just passed us by. A year when five dollar footlong sandwiches at Subway was the greatest innovation, when dopey supermodels and irate hockey moms clung fast to the burning comet of idiocy, when Howard Stern spent nearly as little time workingas I did, when a giant mutant honey bun brought Mike and Amber closer in Shortpacked! , when... well, you get the idea. Michael Jackson and Bea Arthur died, a sixth H2G2 book was written, and I barely left home. Let's honor those moments, shall we?
BEST NEW ANIME
Winner: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Runner(s) Up: Shin Mazinger
I wasn't enthralled with 2009's anime lineup. The premises of Spice and Wolf, Eden of the East, Kämpfer, Bakemonogatari, and Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 didn't interest me. Dragon Ball Kai is convenient, but mostly a glorified clip show. The second season of Haruhi was... well... the less said the better. I still haven't seen Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 in its entirety, nor Summer Wars, and I hadn't even finished the first season of Darker than Black before the second one came out.
However, the anime I was looking forward to the most has so gone off pretty well. Yeah, I complain a lot about some of the things in Brotherhood. They speed through some vital manga material, juggle events around needlessly, cut short scenes that I liked, extend scenes I didn't, and various other flaws. I may seem a little negative. Still, it's a fine show, that immerses the viewer in the intricate world Arakawa built in the manga.
Shin Mazinger is another fun show with a colorful cast and an interesting style. Some day, I'll finish it! Er, yeah, I stopped just short of the end, and I can't recall why. I friggin' adored the series, especially the Kurogane crew. More specifically, Tsubasa Nishikiori interested me, due to her mysterious and varied nature. Who was this woman? Loving mother? Grinning lunatic? Shrinking violet? Vicious badass? I guess I'll have to finish it. Oh yeah, and there are some giant robots in that show, too, somewhere.
BEST R1 ANIME RELEASE
Winner: Dragon Ball Z DVD Dragon Box 1 (Funimation)
Runner(s) Up: Rebuild of Evangelion 1.01 DVD (Funimation)
I'm sensing a pattern here. Not only was I not that excited about the new anime released in Japan during 2009, there wasn't anything I was particularly pressed into purchasing. In fact, I only purchased the above releases, and recieved the first Monster DVD boxset for Christmas. It didn't deserve any awards because of the duplicitious actions of Viz, which have all but guranteed my not buying any further sets. I'll get into that another time.
I can't think of anything else I could have bought that would have been better than the Dragon Ball Z Dragon Box. Sure, I suppose dressing up a largely brainless action show like DBZ that drags its combat boots behind it can only make it look so good, but if this doesn't, nothing could. The first forty-two episodes of the series have been remastered by Toei, and packaged with a booklet of information. There'll be seven sets. I'm bound to get at least a few more.
Impatiently, I bought the first Rebuild of Evangelion movie before the Blu-Ray release. It was calling to me while I was still waiting for my Dragon Box to come in. It's a pretty straight forward release, but of course the movie itself is really quite good. The Blu-Ray will even be better, I imagine.
BEST NOSTALGIA BOMB
Winner: Dragon Ball Kai
Runner(s) Up: Gundam 0 (Gundam 00), finding the Fillipino dub of DBZ Movie 5
2009 was a big Dragon Ball-related year for me. Dragon Ball Kai is to thank/blame for that. Riding on a wave of nostalgia for grunting, glowing strongmen firing laser beams out of their hands at each other, not only did I buy a boxset of Pioneer's original DVD releases for the first three DBZ movies, but watching Kai made me also latch onto the idea that the Dragon Boxes were a must-have, and thus that previous category's winner. But Kai itself was the impetus for it all, with it's repackaging of the powering up classic.
Dragon Ball Kai is basically "DBZ without the bullshit", a version of the program that cuts out large swaths of non-canon filler material, touches up some of the visuals, and changes the music. Returning are most of the main cast, tired as they seem at times (did Ryo Horikawa smoke constantly since GT ended?), except where deceased, unavailable, or Toei uninterested. We even got some stunt casting, with Aya Hirano as Dende.
I'm enjoying watching Kai, but it's not something I would buy on DVD, unless Funimation finally got their act together and finally produced a worthwhile DBZ dub. The old and new bits clash, and just point out how lazy Toei was with this. The new soundtrack is decent, but I long for the martial arts movie-flavored score of Shunsuke Kikuchi. It's something I would watch on television, but not really collect. Maybe it's because I'm actually a fan of a lot of the filler.
Also this year, I found a video file for (most of) the Filipino Creative Product Corp dub for DBZ movie 5. I've posted a clip or two here in the past. Expect more. The 0 Gundam in Gundam 00 and its classic RX-78-2 color scheme was pretty cool, too. But it being in a Gundam program, naturally some people bitched.
BEST RANT (ANIME-RELATED)
Winner: In Defense of Shinji Ikari
Runner(s) Up: Why I Disliked The Fullmetal Alchemist Dub
I love anime. I love ranting. So, naturally, I love ranting about anime. I do it often, because I'm always discussing anime with other fans, whether on the ANN forums or 4chan, and I often find subjects that arouse my passion (and no, "my passion" is not code for "my penis"... though I'm bound to use that one). This site has been a great place to rant in long form, as anywhere else I'd get a "tl;dr" response.
One of the biggest gripes I have as far as anime is the treatment Shinji Ikari, the main character in Neon Genesis Evangelion, recieves from a lot of anime fans. This sense that he's just some utterly worthless coward with no redeeming qualities annoys me, since a lot of anime fans seem to miss the point. Yes, he's weak-willed, that's the point of his character, and largely the point of the series, a study of miscommunication among people, a criticism of modern youth, not to point out that they're "too wimpy", but to point the finger at their distant parents and indifferent community.
"Why can't he be more badass?" some folks cry, likening his situation to Simon's from Gurren Lagann, and preferring Simon's more active development and downright awesome adult persona towards the end of the program. "Why can't he be a Kouji Kabuto? Why can't he be hotblooded and righteous and enjoy piloting a giant robot like any red-blooded teen boy should?" Well, because that's not what Anno was going for. Realistically, a teen boy would be scared out of theier mind in Shinji's situation. That he even eventually accepts his role as the pilot of Unit 01 is a small miracle.
My rant was less a defense at times, however, and more of a condemnation of these internet tough guys who think they would be slapping bitches and kicking ass with a big grin on their faces. Guys, super robot pilots are cool because they're not how most people are. Real robot pilots are appealing because they reveal how normal people might act in those conditions (not that Shinji is that "normal"... which should garner even more sympathy, and doesn't). They both have their purpose. Prefer one over the other if you will, but if you're looking for Kouji Kabuto in Shinji, perhaps Evangelion isn't for you. I'm not saying you should accept Shinji Ikari despite that, just don't condemn him so easily. If you want to say he's poorly written, that's another argument altogether.
Anyway, aside from that rant, I went into why I was less than impressed with the Fullmetal Alchemist dub produced by Funimation. I realize that, yes, I'm in the minority here. Most people seem to love that dub, and I've come to accept that. It's probably a little better than I've give it credit for, and is certainly one of Funimation's better dubs, if you compare it to their worst. However, I was a little disappointed, considering just how strong the Japanese track was. I did a fairly thorough comparison between the voices in my rant, grading them as I went along.
BEST RANT (NON-ANIME-RELATED)
Winner: Gamers Are Assholes
Runner(s) Up: Amateurism, theft, ripe at Etownian, Brainwashing? Think of it as cleansing them of (your) idiocy
With all the serious topics Judd and I have ranted on in 2009, you'd think one of them would be the winner of this category. Fuck it. Gamers are assholes. I wanted to express it. It turned out to be a rather involved rant, concerning my rage over it. I laugh every time I read it, because I really can't picture myself being that angry about it. I obviously was at the time I wrote it, though.
Judd's disgust over photographs being used without being sourced was palpable in his rant, though his rants tend to be slightly more levelled, whereas I'm a foaming-at-the-mouth lunatic. Speaking of which, my rant on people's outrage over President Obama's speech to children is effectively sarcastic and, I've been told, right on the mark. Honestly, people are outraged over the President speaking to their children? He's the President!
BEST GUNPLA-RELATED CONTENT
Winner: Zombie Nemos
Runner(s) Up: All the other gunpla related entires!
I have to admit, I suck with gunpla. I've got a few of them and they barely hold together. I never detail them, I rarely use the decals, and I can't even get them to hold their weapons half the time. My gunpla look utterly pathetic. I put them on my dresser aside my bed, on display, but they're like monuments to my laziness.
Judd, on the other hand, I don't know, he's some sort of gunpla dynamo. He never fails to impress. See that gunpla guide link on the right bar? Yeah, go to it. I'll give you some time. See it? Yeah, that's pretty thorough, isn't it? The guy seems to know what he's doing. I should send him my gunpla, maybe there's something he could do for them.
Anyway, this year's best gunpla project was the Zombie Nemos. In November, Judd customized his collection of Nemo models to an appropriately ghastly set of undead mobile suits, just in time for Halloween. Pretty epic gunpla work. Not that the rest of his work with gunpla isn't. This one's just the clear winner.
BEST IN-DEPTH ARTICLE (ANIME-RELATED)
Winner: Rocking The Dragon (Dragon Ball Z Dubs)
Runner(s) Up: Penguin Truth's Somewhat Incomplete Gundam Tier Chart, Sideburns and Stealing: Lupin III, The World's Greatest Thief
Occasionally, a rant about anime gets surprisingly involved. Even though something may be labeled under "Rants and Raves", it may have an extra dimension which differentiates it from the average rant. That's right, sometimes I write something with a little depth to it. It's like lightning striking twice in the same spot, I realize, but that does happen.
My favorite article to write, and the award-winner was my "rant" on English dubs for Dragon Ball Z. After a short history of the various dubs (that I was aware of), I listed and graded them with the traditional letter grades. The first dub I covered was actually the Japanese dub, for comparison purposes. Then the Funimation-produced dubs, including the Ocean cast dubs of seasons 1-2, the first three movies, and the in-house dub. Then the Creative Product Corp and AB Groupe dubs. It was a hell of an article.
My Gundam Tier Chart and guide was something I worked on for quite a while, but as it says in the title, it is somewhat incomplete. In other words, I still haven't watched every Gundam anime. I still plan to, when I can work up the interest to get to Stargazer and finish MS Igloo. I've seen it used as copypasta on 4chan's /m/ board. Er, because most of the time it's me.
My "Lupin III week", where I posted clips of Lupin III anime throughout the week, went off without a single response, as did my feature article on the franchise, but I think if you find and read it, it was worth a mention. Poor Lupin, never enough love over here in the U.S. Of course, it doesn't help that it's an article here.
BEST IN-DEPTH ARTICLE (NON-ANIME-RELATED)
Winner: The end of radio as we know it...
Runner(s) Up: N/A
I pride myself as a good writer. At least a decent one. My strength lies in fiction prose and poetry, with essays and article writing an auxiliary skill at best. When I do write articles, it's not about serious, important matters, or even anything somebody not in my world would care about. However, I'm not the only one with a writing talent here.
Judd is apparently a fair writer himself, writing articles here and there for OR. One of them, his entry about radio, is not only well-written, but very insightful, which is more than I can say about my rants on Fullmetal Alchemist or Carrie Prejean. We may disagree on who the talent on radio is (psh, Opie and Anthony, Judd? Really? I guess Jim Norton is funny, though), but I can largely agree with him about radio's downfall. That doesn't stop me from hoping satellite will someday live up to its ambition, though.
The year 2010 is here, and with it, hope that the laser-wielding robots don't destroy our Nintendo Wiis wanes as our iPod Touch devices get too advanced for comfort. Sure, nuclear holocaust hasn't quite broken out yet, because most maniacs are still busy lining up their Zuzu Pets for combat. And while my continued laziness is all but guaranteed, so is the continued work here at Otaku Revolution! Stay linked!
- Penguin Truth
(2010.... YEAR OF THE FUTURE)
(Hey, you think this entry is eligible for an award next year?)