ANIME NEWS NETWORK AND APRIL FOOL'S DAY... NO LONGER AN "ITEM"?
Goddangit!Anime News Network
, the anime news site that was the most reliable of all the major anime sites for April Fool's Day jokes, has decided to quit the tradition out of fear of liability issues (good reason, I suppose) and in order to stop people repeating the fake news around the Internet as fact, even long after it's been debunked by the one doing the posting (but that's the fun part of a good anime April Fool's Day joke).
The shift in editorial policy could have come as a result of one of their 2003 April Fool's Day jokes
wherein they claimed that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had revoked Hayao Miyazaki's Best Animated Feature Oscar for Spirited Away
after a recount proved that the true winner was Lilo & Stitch
. (Would it surprise you that I was the one who suggested that joke, since I still prefer the latter?) The Academy, while amused
, contacted ANN, who had to print a disclaimer article explicitly stating that it was an April Fool's Day joke.
, they ran "groaner"-type April Fool's Day jokes that were so ridiculously over-the-top silly (e.g. Godzilla as a Weapon of Mass Destruction) that they lacked the "first-glance credibility" that is a hallmark of a well-done April Fool's Day joke.
A couple of weeks ago, someone posted a Talkback thread about an April Fool's Day review of the Scooby-Doo Meets Batman DVD
(which really exists, but it's not Japanese anime), so I thought I'd ask if ANN would be doing a plausible April Fool's Day joke this year
before that killjoy forum mod, Nagisa
, locked the thread for being about an ancient article (just kidding about the "killjoy", chill), but Christopher Macdonald (Tempest
) replied that due to ANN's status as a trusted news source, they no longer could do any kind of believable jokes.
This year, midnight rolled in and... zilch new was posted on ANN, humourous or otherwise. People waited a couple of hours, but, when it became clear that ANN wasn't doing the "ha-ha" thing this year, ANN forum member v1cious
posted a thread about the lack of jokes this year
, so Christopher Macdonald confirmed that the ANN editors had discussed this and decided not to run any April Fool's Day jokes, plausible or silly, at all.
"Problem is, the best April Fools jokes are the ones people believe.
However, ANN absolutely can't be in the position where it is propagating falsehoods. Not any more at least.
So the only option left are unbelievable April Fools jokes. Things that are funny, but not convincing.
Last year we did that.
The general opinion of the editorial staff this year was that it was best not to have any jokes, and that they made the site look bad. If not in your eyes, then in someone elses.
Sorry. To a degree, we're all some what dissapointed about this decision, but felt that it was for the best."
I only half-sarcastically suggested some articles they could run, things that are true but that are, frankly, running jokes if you're expecting anything too substantial to come out of either.
Just run serious articles about how really, really, really close ADV Films is to signing up that Oscar-winning director they've been mentioning off and on for two years and how close live-action Evangelion is to getting out of "development" and into "preproduction" (and they really, really, really mean it this time, pinky swear), and about how Funimation Films is revolutionizing theatrical distribution of anime with irregular screenings, mostly midnight showings, at a little over a dozen arthouses nationwide (which is so amazingly different from the way most serious non-Ghibli anime was distributed in theatres before).
Those two still have me laughing.
I understand the decision from a journalistic integrity standpoint (and because they don't want to be sued for libel), but it's still regretable.
So, in memory of ANN's April Fool's Day legacy, here are my choices of the all-time top 5 anime-related April Fool's Day jokes
(many of which people still believe):
5) Microsoft starts up an anime cable network (source: Anime News Network) ANN's finest hour on April Fool's Day, a "we got this screencap of information Microsoft put on their website prematurely before pulling it" kind of joke, complete with a well-done screencap and an authentic-sounding press release. 1 Though the Wachowski's deny it, and I believe them, since Megazone 23 didn't get anywhere near the level of distribution that Akira and Ghost in the Shell got in North America, and since stories where what seems to be a mundane modern world isn't what it appears to be at first are an old sci-fi staple that is hardly original to Megazone 23.
4) The original script for The Matrix had a transforming motorcycle scene lifted directly from the anime Megazone 23. (source: the USENET group rec.arts.anime.misc) While a lot of anime fans claim that The Matrix is a rip-off of Megazone 231, I had never heard that specific claim until Anime Nation's John Oppliger mentioned the Megazone 23 influence as fact in a "Ask John" column (though the Megazone 23 part of the quote has since been removed). I (as Kiyone in the Anime Nation forum) pressed him for more details, he told me about this "article" he remembered reading an article with the Wachowski Brothers talking about the original ending to The Matrix, with the transforming motorcyle robots, which was a little too close to Megazone 23 to be coincidental. I did a little research, and found that the "article" was, in fact, just a rec.arts.anime.misc post by "Shuvo", claiming that he had read it from "The Oracle" (the Wachowskis) on a super-secret part of the official Matrix website. When I found that post, I immediately noticed that the date on the post was April 1st, 1999, I did a little more digging, and found another post by "Shuvo" confirming that the whole thing was an April Fool's Day joke. John Oppliger removed the false claim from his column.
3) There's a hentai anime called Fat Girls' Club, featuring fat anime girls, created by Studio DEBU (Source: F*ckin' Otaku) There are several fake anime shows I could mention here, like Pretty Combat Communist Rika-chan, but I'll stick with "FuKu"'s one, since I know the "article" about this one first appeared on April Fool's Day, since the screencaps are well-done, and since I'm a member of the Cats On Mars/FuKu forum (warning: due to unresolved virus issues, only view the Cats on Mars forum with Firefox, NOT Internet Explorer). I know a lot of people are still looking for this hentai anime, which doesn't actually exist, because I still get hits on it on my Sitemeter from time to time (a few a week).
2) They're making a new Project A-ko movie, and, this time, it will be a hentai! (Source: Graviton City.) This April Fool's Day joke, started by Project A-ko fansite Graviton City two years ago, is actually my personal favourite, since Project A-ko is one of my all-time favourite anime films, and, since it's a joke rooted in fact because Project A-ko was originally going to be part of the lolicom hentai Cream Lemon series, but, when Katsuhiko Nishijima and Yuri Moriyama realized that the film they were working on could have much broader mainstream appeal if they aimed it at an audience beyond just perverts, they removed all of the sex and most of the nudity and made it a legitimate anime comedy film (though the slight yuri lesbian subtext hints at its origins). The Graviton City site took a handful of explicit images from a Japanese Project A-ko artbook, where they were showing production art of the original Cream Lemon concept, and pretended that these were storyboard shots from the new movie, and they included links to a fake Anime News Network article and a fake frontpage of the Japanese production studio Media Factory touting the new film (both housed on the GravitonCity.com server, though both those pages are now offline, and I had to link to an old article in this very blog).
1) Akira Toriyama's starting a new Dragonball series, Dragonball AF, which ignores Dragonball GT and takes place directly after Dragonball Z. (Source: Mutliple.) The "AF" in Dragonball AF supposedly stands for "After Future", but it really stands for "April Fool's". This is a perennial April Fool's Day joke that has really taken a life of its own, to the point that some Dragonball Z fans still believe that it exists and that Toei just is asking for too much money for even Funimation to be able to afford licensing it. You can read about the saga of the Dragonball AF hoax in this Wikipedia article.
THINGS I CAN ONLY SKATE AROUND TALKING ABOUT...
(Well, I can talk about this, I just can't name names, post pictures, or give a certain link.)
Remember that Japanese pen-pal story I posted a couple of years ago? Unless you're an old school reader, probably not, and I had to remove the bulk of it.
"Previously, on Lost
Basically, I submitted an ad to a Japanese pen-pal magazine in 1995 and the first response I got was from a rather attractive 19-year old girl in Machida-shi in the southwest of Tokyo who attended Obirin College and who had many sophisticated interests including kendo, Andy Warhol, yoga, playing piano, and mid-20th century photography. Unfortunately, "Kasumi" (not her real name) stopped writing to me after just two letters because she couldn't understand most of what I wrote, and I also suspect that I came across as being far too much of an anime fanboy (well, some people still think I am, but I was more of one back then than I am now, at least, since anime as a specific "interest/hobby" was still new to me and I hadn't yet "burned out" on the popular stuff), with my second letter to her being in a giant envelope that I illustrated with shots of Chun-Li and Guile from the Street Fighter II
movie (the good anime one, that, if anyone from Sony Pictures reads this, is still sorely in need of a proper bilingual, uncut DVD release, with the original music intact, in North America).
I tried getting in touch with "Kasumi" two more times between 1996 and 1998, but the first time, I received no reply, and, the second time, I got my envelope back marked with a stamped message that read, when I translated it, "No longer at this address" (or something to that effect). In the summer of 1998, when I went over to London, I visited the Tate Gallery
(the old building in Pimlico that's now Tate Britain when the Tate Modern moved over to an old power plant on the South Bank) to see the Warhols, taking "Kasumi" with me in my pocket in the form of her photo. At some point during my visit, I accidentally lost her photo, but, of all the places in the world to lose her photo, the Tate seemed to be the most appropriate, because I was symbolically leaving "Kasumi" with Andy Warhol, an artist whom she greatly admired.
Fast-forward to 2004. I was curious as to what happened to "Kasumi", so I Googled her. I found a couple of people with her name, but the most interesting of them was this model I found listed in a Japanese fashion and advertising model directory. At first, I'm sure it was just a model with a coincidental name, but, looking closely at the photo, the eyes and face looked quite similar to the photo that "Kasumi" sent me, and, more strikingly, this model had the same birthday (with no year mentioned).
Being someone who is always on the lookout for fodder that I can post about, I thought the coincidence was strong enough that it would make for an interesting entry, so I wrote an entry in this blog telling essentially the same story as that which I have just written, only I used "Kasumi"'s real name and I posted her photo and I included her name with her family name in kanji and her given name in hiragana intentionally hoping that she's someone who does "vanity searches" on Google and would find her way to my blog. Within a day, my gambit paid off. As soon as I got on the Internet, I checked my Sitemeter
and noticed that someone from Japan using the Goo search engine
, so I checked my G-mail, and, yup, "Kasumi" had written me and model and pen-pal were one and the same. She briefly apologized that she stopped writing me because she just didn't know enough English back then, but she asked me to remove her photo for "image rights" issues, and I thought I should probably remove all identifying details too. I never heard from her personally again, though I checked the domain she was writing from, and she was actually a DJ with some kind of electronic band. (I've been a little more careful mentioning people I've know since that incident.)
Here's the new part of the story.
On election day in January, I walked around a wintry Nepean for a couple of hours, and, when I got home, I felt like looking up information on her again, because I hadn't heard anything new from her for a while. I couldn't find the model directory I found before, but I did find "Kasumi" mentioned on another page, but one with no photos and no information I did not know already. Worse, the page said that, professionally, "Kasumi" used only her personal name, not her family name, so looking for other information on her was really like looking for a needle in a haystack since her actual personal name (re: the name that is not "Kasumi") is a fairly common girl's name. It seemed like a dead end... until I noticed that there was one good piece of information I had either never seen before or had never really taken note of before. Her modelling agency.
This is where my amazing Kiyone "detective first class"
Google searching skills kicked in: I decided to search Google Image search using her first name and the name of her modelling agency, and found her page on the agency's website within a few seconds. (I'm not magic and can't find information that is not there to be found, but I learned long ago, years before Google facilitated searching for people a hundredfold, to be able to make the most of extremely limited information, so, if the information is anywhere public, I will usually find it sooner or later. And I don't really consider simply searching for information on someone you once knew but lost track of "stalking". If this is "stalking", then everyone who has ever found this blog and contacted me to get the e-mail address of one of my siblings or my parents is equally a "stalker".)
It just gets better. From her page at the modelling agency was a link to her official site, with a dedicated URL and all. I mean, I have a website too (technically several), but it's a freebie Blogger thing that only exists because I go out of my way to make it a reality, and it's only ever updated during those brief respites from procrastination. I'm not really, at this present time, someone who can really be considered a commodity1
. (I can't even seem to get a job at McDonald's fer crissake!) I certainly am not someone who is anywhere near important enough to have an "official site", a professional webpage with a dedicated domain name that an agency, which is footing the bill, would be using to promote me, and where the design and content of the page would be handled by paid web technicians and publicity writers. God, I suck.
But, my former penpal is such an "important person" who is a commodity simply for being beautiful. And I respect her for that. There's no resentment whatsoever. (A lot of the preceding paragraph is self-deprecation for comedic effect and nothing more.) I can't link to the site because I respect her wishes and don't want to identify her, but it's got a cover page (with a graphic where I think they're trying to make "Kasumi" look like a Japanese Audrey Hepburn) and an information page, and a gallery of her pictures, and a profile page that lists an impressive amount of companies that used her in television and print advertising (in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China), with corporate clients including TDK, Compaq, Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Hyundai, Nestlé, Kirin beer, Nike, Procter & Gamble, and, my favourite, Sony, for the Playstation 2. It even says which game she did a commercial for, but I don't want to name it, since I think I found the exact ad she's in on YouTube.com (and she's the star, not some anonymous person in the background).
And the best part of all? She has a blog, and one she updates almost daily, at least when she's not jetting somewhere exotic and glamourous to do a commercial or photography shoot. And, reading it (sometimes in raw Japanese, though usually using AltaVista Babelfish machine translation
), I can see that we do have some things in common. We both have a propensity for posting self-pics
(though hers are a lot more pleasant to look at than mine... though I do like the overall composition in some of mine, where I put more thought into the arrangement and framing than it might appear at first). We've both been to Paris
. We both talk about movies and art and things we've bought. One weirder one is that we both have gardens of some sort with "chinese lantern" plants
a.k.a. "ground cherry"... here's a good photo from some random Flickr member of what I'm talking about
; it's a heart-shaped pod with a tomato-like fruit inside). She also has a tabby cat that looks remarkably like Ember
, only thinner.
Not that I'm saying that she's a lot like me. She likes to wear a kimono (which technically shouldn't be pluralized with an "s"), and she also poses a lot in wedding dresses for bridal magazines and catalogues (whereas, if I did that, it would be... gay). I just like finding coincidences, though, like Mr. Eko
says, (I) "Do not confuse coincidence with fate".
I'm happy that I found "Kasumi"'s blog, as, of all the people I have ever come into personal contact with in one way or another, even if that personal contact wasn't long, she seems to have, by far, the most interesting life, one that's worth reading about.
And, since I'm not identifying "Kasumi", I can mention one slightly amusing thing: she turns 30 next month, yet her official model age is only 26. I suppose she'll claim that she was lying about her age when she briefly wrote me, but, considering that she was already in college in 1995, that's rather... unlikely.1 If I really stretch, I suppose I'm a tiny bit of a commodity in that this blog is one of thousands that Umbria Listens mines for entries about consumer products or services which it then aggregates into a collective overall "consensus" plurality blogosphere opinion which it uses for informal market research information that it then sells to major corporate clients. But, in that case, the commodity is the words I have written. The writer is irrelevant. As someone who is pro-corporation and pro-wanting-to-tell-corporations-things-I-want-them-to-make, I don't mind that Umbria Listens does this, but I don't get a damn penny for my efforts here.
WELCOME BACK TO SUPER FAB BIG-TIME COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT RETRO VIDEO FUN TIME PARTY!
(Brought to you by YouTube.com, "You Tube: Enjoy it while it lasts!")
Coming up next on the Retro Video Fun Time Party
, the English version of Peter Schilling's 1983 German New Wave hit, "Major Tom (Coming Home)"
. This is a song that is sort of a tribute to David Bowie's "Space Oddity"
, and it intersperses actual NASA space race footage with shots of a few homeless alcoholic drifters sitting around a campfire and smoking pipes (representing "Ground Control") and a tower of cars (representing a rocket), very similar to the cars on a spike
as seen in the "Bohemian Rhapsody" sequence in Wayne's World
Back in late 1983 or early 1984, when I was 9 years old, I remember being so impressed by the short clips from this video that they played on Kidsbeat
, a news and pop culture information show for kids that was produced by Global (which, back then, wasn't anywhere near being a national network) and aired on TV Ontario and which was, in the days before there was either MuchMusic or MusiquePlus, pretty much the only place I could watch even partial clips from music videos, that I used several week's allowance and bought the vinyl single
from the (long-gone) Sam the Record Man outlet in the Beaconsfield Shopping Centre. Though I didn't play it much back then because my father's complicated turntable scared the crap out of me. I actually play that vinyl single more *now*, since I found that old-but-still-perfectly-functional Sony turntable in the basement of this house when we moved to Nepean.
Another thing about this song is that, should I ever make my dream cartoon about the kickass flight attendants (which I used to want to call Air Rage
, but they used that title for some direct-to-video movie starring Ice-T
, so, if I ever make it, I'll call it Non-Stop Service
, which is a flight attendant term for "flight that makes no in-between stop" but which would also be an amusing double-entendre for the copious amount of "fan service"
I'd include), I'd try to license "Major Tom (Coming Home)" to be the opening theme song, at least for the first season.
YouTube isn't quite at the point where, you can think of any music video you've ever seen and, within a minute, be watching it, no matter how obscure the video is. For example, Paul McCartney's "Nintendo" music video, "Où est le Soleil?" doesn't yet show up, and neither does Renaud's "Morgane de Toi", and, while there is a video for Billy Ze Kick's "Mangez-moi (les Champignons)"
, it's some weird Alice in Wonderland
parody shot in a field, not the video I remember with the Dr. Seuss-like animated mushrooms. But YouTube.com is, without a doubt, the most extensive source of music videos available online, and I would not be surprised if, eventually, it becomes a complete repository of everything that MTV, MuchMusic, and MusiquePlus has ever shown. If the intellectual property lawyers don't shut it down first.
Some extremely cool YouTube.com member, with the extremely cool user name Outrun
, possibly taken from the extremely cool classic Sega arcade game of the same name
, has uploaded the video for my absolute favourite 1980s Canadian pop song, "(Caught an) Angel in my Pocket" by Ottawa-based CanCon pop group One to One
(whom, as frequent readers may recall, I saw (briefly) perform live on stage at the Super EX last August before the hypnotist show
, though neither song in their two-song set was "Angel in my Pocket"... grrrr!).
So make three wishes, catch a falling star, and watch the video for this ethereal song in all its giant-leopard-skin-pattern-head-ribbon-that-kind-of-looks-like-the-Wu-Tang-Clan-logo-is-eating-her-head glory
LORD OF THE RINGS: THE MUSICAL & MORE ANIME CUTENESS...
A blockbuster musical stage show extravaganza based on J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy
has opened in Toronto(to mixed reviews).
Take this excerpt from the review of The Hollywood Reporter's Lynn Slotkin
, for example:
" We are in Middle Earth. Many factions are searching for the all-powerful "ring." Forces for evil want its power to rule the world. Forces for good want to prevent that but become just as power-hungry. It is left to two hobbits, Frodo and Sam (James Loye and Peter Howe), to return the ring to its source and destroy it. They are aided by wizards, elves, dwarves and talking trees. They also are hindered by orcs, a giant spider and a slimy, lizardlike creature named Gollum (Michael Therriault).
Rob Howell's set and costume design is nothing short of spectacular. The set revolves with sections rising and falling suggesting mountains, valleys, rumbling rivers and deep earth. Paul Pyant's brilliant lighting is equally as effective in creating this dark world.
Then why is "Rings" so boring? Because with our senses being bombarded by dazzling images and blaring sound effects, there is nothing left for the audience's imagination. Added to that is the complicated story. Those unfamiliar with the books and films will be mystified by Shawn McKenna and Matthew Warchus' crammed book. While there is an extensive synopsis in the program, there is so much information whizzing by in the production that we have either information overload or not enough information for clarity.
Most problematic is that, for the most part, we don't care. With most of the cast declaring their lines as if on a mountain addressing the multitudes, there is an unengaging sameness to many performances. The usually compelling Brent Carver plays the wizard Gandalf with such deliberate uncertainty in many scenes that you wonder why anyone would revere him. But he then rises to the occasion by being commanding when faced with evil."
I could write a much better Lord of the Rings
musical than that, and I'm not even that much of a fan.
If I did a Lord of the Rings
musical, it would just be three hours of Frodo walking very slowly towards a volcano, with Gollum stalking him, and they take turns taking the ring from each other.
They sing the following couplet over and over, reversing roles depending on who has the ring:
"Now I have the ring!"
"Oh, how I want that thing!"
Occasionally, other characters would walk in, just to say a line ending in "-ing".
"You shall not be passing!"GANDALF THE GREY:
"Oh no, off bridge I am falling!"GANDALF THE WHITE:
"Why are my clothes and hair whitening?"SAURON:
"My giant spotlight eye is burning!"CHARACTERS I DON'T KNOW BECAUSE THEY WEREN'T IN THE MOVIE:
"Time for some Shire-scouring!"DRIVER OF THE CAR THAT SNEAKED INTO THAT ONE SHOT IN FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING:
"Which way to Nürburgring?"
Also, I saw a couple of episodes of a new (to me) anime yesterday.Ichigo Mashimaro
, which will be called (rather logically, since it's a literal translation of the title) Strawberry Marshmallow
when Geneon releases this 13-episode series in North America starting in June, a slice-of-life comedy about a 16-year old girl (who sometimes claims that she's a 20-year old woman) named Nobue Itoh who either has to deal with or take care of her younger sister, the cheerful 12-year old Chika Itoh, and Chika's friends, trouble-prone Miu Matsuoka, timid Matsuri Sakuragi (who has a ferret), and the British-born Ana Coppola. (There's a suspicious lack of onscreen parents, so Nobue seems to be a kind of daytime guardian.)
Most of the episodes seem to be just stories about the girls going about their usual afterschool activities in the cutest of ways. Sometimes they get into cute mischief, but there's a total absence of any serious conflict. When it comes to this sort of anime, there's often a very fine line between "cute" and "creepy", but this one stays firmly on the cute and innocent moé
side of the line, the opposite of the exploitative lolicom
. Even a non-graphic scene in a sento
bathhouse falls far short of being prurient in any way (other than maybe one fart joke). It's a show you watch for the nostalgic and charming atmosphere and nothing more.
There's also some unintentional comedy in here for English-speakers: Ana is a girl from Cornwall (the southwestern English shire county, not that pissant eastern Ontario city) who moved to Japan some 5 years before and somehow forgot how to speak English, and she sometimes encounters foreigners who speak to her in English, and, although their first language is supposedly English, they barely talk better than that "American woman" on one of the Hawaiian episodes of Urusei Yatsura
who said "Oh gureito! Ai jasuto rabu Jyapanizu boizu!" ("Oh great! I just love Japanese boys!"; I also mentioned that character in my Sakura Wars review in 2003
.)Here's the first episode, at YouTube.com.