In this corner, a winner: The crowdfunding effort to make an animated film from the award-winning manga In This Corner of the World met its goal of $165,000 in only ten days.
We're dying to know, Robert: Robert Woodhead of AnimEigo — the folks who gave us that lavish Kickstarter-funded edition of Bubblegum Crisis -- mentioned he has "three projects that are close to announcement: one where the contract is being finalized, one where the licensor wants to double-check some license details, and one where everyone is trying to find the original film so we can do an HD or 4K scan." This has inspired, as you can imagine, an absolute explosion of speculation as to what those projects might be. Any bets? (At least two votes were for Urusei Yatsura, but I have a really hard time seeing that get any traction outside of a streaming license; it's a real dilly of a show but just too niche to be put on disc for a Western audience at this point.)
TPP, get O-U-T: The battle to prevent the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty from enforcing extended copyright terms for all participating countries has taken a major step forward in Japan, where adopting said treaty would have forced the country to remove many of its classic literary works from the public domain — and might well have constituted a major impediment to anime and manga fandom as we know it:
Several creators, including playwright Oriza Hirata, cartoonist Ken Akamatsu [Love Hina], journalist Daisuke Tsuda, and Yu Okubo of the online digital archive, Aozora Bunko, and others, joined the announcement to support the campaign against over-restrictive copyright rules in the TPP. ... In addition to opposing lengthy copyright terms, the anime and fan-art community are also concerned about the TPP's criminal enforcement provisions. There is a particular section that says that "competent authorities may act upon their own initiative to initiate a legal action without the need for a formal complaint" by the copyright holder. The fear is that this would lead to a major crackdown on derivative works, including written or drawn fan fiction, recorded music covers of songs, or cosplayers, who may upload photos of themselves dressed as characters. These are all elements of Japan's thriving “otaku” culture, which has spread around the world and brought in millions of dollars for Japanese creators. Japan does not have a U.S.-style fair use system, in which there are flexibilities for uses based upon the nature, purpose, amount, and effect of the use on the market for the original copyrighted work. So Japanese fans could be criminally liable for their work if any "competent authority" can claim that a derivative work constitutes criminal copyright infringement. This would have a huge chilling effect on vibrant communities of fan fiction that exist on Japanese websites.
No less an economic authority than Paul Krugman weighed in on the TPP and found it wanting:
... we should never forget that in a direct sense, protecting intellectual property means creating a monopoly – letting the holders of a patent or copyright charge a price for something (the use of knowledge) that has a zero social marginal cost. In that direct sense this introduces a distortion that makes the world a bit poorer.
There is, of course, an offset in the form of an increased incentive to create knowledge, which is why we have patents and copyright in the first place. But do we really think that inadequate incentive to create new drugs or new movies is a major problem right now?
The secrecy around the TPP has been bizarre, to say the least. According to the Huffington Post, Congresscritters who so much as share information about the details of a TPP briefing could be committing a prosecutable offense.
Turn, turn, turn: Turn A Gundam is coming to the U.S. for the first time ever, thanks to Right Stuf. The first season set is pretty reasonably priced, but there's no BD for the hardcore fans — for that, you'll have to shell out upwards of $200 for the import, and that doesn't even have English on it. I suspect the folks who want BD editions are going to only rise in number as BD players become ubiquitous (come to think of it, DVD-only players are pretty much gone from the market by now, aren't they?), and as more of the older titles enjoy remastering and deluxe reissues in Japan.
Roots lessons: A detailed article in Discover about Japan's approach to archaeology and how a Japan-first view has made it difficult for Japan to come to terms with its multi-ethnic roots:
As reluctant as Japanese and Koreans are to admit it, they are like twin brothers who shared their formative years. The political future of East Asia depends in large part on their success in rediscovering those ancient bonds between them.
Let's not and say we didn't: Here's a twist — a fan poll of anime titles fans hope don't get adapted into live-action productions. Prominent on that list: Neon Genesis Evangelion. (Things that make you go hmmm.) Also, One Piece and Slam Dunk, although I can see a live-action version of the latter far sooner than one of the former.
I'm outta here: Studio Ghibli director Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who most helmed Arietty and most recently When Marnie Was There, has taken his leave of the House of Totoro. Apparently he's interested in working on things "totally opposite from Marnie," which made me wonder if his ambitions and the studio's general direction had come to be at odds, and he was champing at the bit.
Drops in the ocean: The Japanese government claims its Manga Anime Guardians project has "deleted 700,000 illegal files in five months." The number of files is a red herring; it's the number of people who feel piracy is an easier option than buying things legitimately. I wish them luck, but this isn't a problem that'll be solved by any one approach, and so far the incentives proposed to promote legitimate sales — e.g., some of the streaming services that are too clunky to use well -- aren't exactly setting the population on fire.
One for the rumpus room: Speaking of seinen manga, there's a new Black Lagoon pachinko machine. New? I didn't even know there was an old one. I wonder how much it costs to have one shipped here...
Quote of the week: [re: why Yurikuma Arashi has been criticized on Tumblr for its depiction of lesbian relationships]:
It's weird to me how these race and gender purity tests have popped up and how vocally and forcefully they're supported and approved of. To me, they don't make a lot of sense and do basically nothing but stifle diversity in media and discourage people from writing diverse stories. ... We need diversity in every conceivable form of media. We need black creators and latino creators and chinese creators and trans creators and gay creators and all of those people in all of those creative jobs making media and telling stories. We need it, urgently, and we need it in every single facet of the creative process from top to bottom. What we don't need is a culture where you're dictating to those people what they can or can't write based on a purity test.
-- Zac Bertschy