The Waiting Game

Evangelion-3.0-Asuka-ShinjiAnd with apocalyptic inevitability, Evangelion 3.33 is delayed in the UK. Fans must now wait several more months to see the world end on their TVs, although the hiatus is liable to allow for more cinema screenings, of what is, after all, a cinema film.

Identifying as a fan brings a sense of active entitlement. You love your favourite shows so much that you wear them on your chest and your pencil case. Their logos decorate your desktop. But that’s not enough, you want to get up inside the gubbins and see how they’re made. You want Making Ofs and interviews, and advance news of what will happen. Modern media encourages this; it practically demands it, and we can all agree that this is what fans sign up for.

But does it really have to be so quick? Any artistic achievement in localisation is becoming almost impossible. Simulcasts and lightning-fast schedules have turned translation and dubbing into desperate triage. This whiplash turnaround, supposedly, is designed to thwart pirates. But the pirates are serving a market of viewers who want everything yesterday.

I guarantee you, if you made watching anime your lifelong career, you would never have the time to see it all. So take it easy. Smell the flowers. Delve in the backlists for shows you might have missed. I’m shocked at the number of self-proclaimed otaku, clutching the latest 13-episode flash-in-the-pan fanbait, who have never seen Akira, or Cowboy Bebop, or as a bunch of big-name podcast pundits recently confessed, Voices of a Distant Star.

I wonder what these people think they are fans of. Presumably it’s That Thing That’s On Right Now, and they get angry because someone in a London office has to change an entirely notional date on a spreadsheet. But if you do really need it that much, that soon, maybe you need help. Let’s make this five-month gap an Anime Spring, when everyone can try something that’s new to them even if it’s old to Amazon. The delay has bought you five months to do something else. So pick something you’ve never seen and give it a whirl. And write in to NEO to say what you’ve found.

Jonathan Clements is the author of Anime: A History. This article first appeared in NEO #121, 2014.

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Anime: A History Review Round-Up

41bkTuP9TdL._SY445_Some very nice new reviews recently for my Anime: A History, out now from the British Film Institute. I don’t think I’m able to point you directly at the very positive reviews in print mags such as Neo, MyM and Sight & Sound, although the online ones are just as complimentary.

Over at Cartoon Brew, Neil Emmett notes that: “Anime: A History is heartily recommended for anybody who wants an insight into the industrial politics that lie behind the on-screen images.”

PD Smith at The Guardian says: “This study is authoritative and detailed, and will be essential reading for anime fans and scholars alike.”

At the London School of Economics blog, Casey Brienza says it’s: “a magisterial effort and will undoubtedly prove invaluable for scholars, particularly in the social sciences, who are interested in the political economy of anime production. Indeed, while Clements may profess to be skeptical of history as a narrative project, his book may well shape the discourse on the subject for years, if not decades, to come.”

Andy Hanley at UK Anime net says: “[T]hese links from the past to the present, and the insight they present towards how the industry may change in the future, that make Anime: A History such an important book — it’s educational, but the information you glean from it extends well beyond a historical appreciation of the medium, enabling a deeper understanding not just of the anime that we all love but also how, and why, it has come to exist in the form that we recognise as anime.”

And a woman I have never met before says: “Anime: A History is no tedious chunk of verbiage made purely to advance a clueless academic’s quest for tenure.  From the earliest days of the medium, whose date of origin, first screened title and first auteur still have enough ambiguity around them to drive whodunnit lovers crazy, to the current century where fluidity of formats and markets has introduced whole new areas of uncertainty, Clements takes us on a thrill-ride through a hall of mirrors where nothing is quite as it seems and fifty shades of undisclosed lurk in the shadows.”

Hugos and Gareths

More than one way to skin a catbus, in our 24th podcast

manga_uk_podcast_logo.jpgJeremy Graves is joined by Jerome Mazandarani, Andrew Hewson and Jonathan Clements, for a series of rants and ill-informed commentary about anime, manga, the storm over the Hugo Awards, and your most awkward convention moment. Download it HERE.

01:00 Delays, to Fairy Tail The Movie and Jormungand. Jonathan Clements is accused of being a complete Cnut. Stuff that will be happening at the Birmingham Comic Con and Kitacon.

04:00 Breaking out the world’s smallest violins for Torrent sites. and BBC3. The exciting world of “back catalogue”.

10:00 What counts as “good sales” in Japan? 500 Nutters? How can a film make a loss in cinemas but still profit its production committee? The mysterious case of Heartbeat and Emmerdale Farm (not anime, but just imagine…).

16:00 The Ghost in the Shell live-action movie, and the chances of everyone being crushingly disappointed again. Who would you pick to direct a notional GITS movie? As promised, a link to our interview with the director of The Raid.

19:00 Speaking of people called Gareth, we’re back to Godzilla. The chances of Martin Scorsese directing GITS (unlikely). The prospects for Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow, “based on the book that looks like a manga.” The chances of Kurt Sutter beating up Jerome, and a bizarre tangent about the script-writers for The Shield.

25:00 The politics of handing out a Lifetime Achievement Award to Katsuhiro Otomo, and other issues to do with enticing Japanese guests to foreign events.

29:40 The ridiculous scandal over the Hugo Awards, in which Jonathan Ross is appointed to host, SF fandom kicks off, Jonathan Ross withdraws, SF fandom kicks off again, and Jerome Mazandarani goes through the fall-out arising, beginning with the press coverage and working backwards.

41bkTuP9TdL._SY445_36:00 The ridiculous scandal over the Hugo Awards, this time from the perspective of Jonathan Clements, who has brought up the Worldcon twice before on this podcast and got nowhere. A very different version of events, beginning with the fight on the committee and working outwards (and ending with a plug for Anime: A History for Best Related Book).

44:00 The quest for panel parity, the gender division within fandom and whether or not that is reflected in film festival juries and, er… podcasts like this one. The hidden influence of Jonathan Ross on Ghost in the Shell: Innocence and its UK sales.

48:30 Will you be releasing season two of xxxHolic? And an answer that transforms into a plug for Blood C.

50:25 Pros and cons of releasing something on Blu-ray before DVD. Why do we have to keep releasing stuff on PAL when modern TVs can handle NTSC conversion…? Why not make everything a Combi-pack?

59:00 Netflix makes it to the Consumer Price Index, thereby suggesting that our secret masters believe “the next format is no format.” The problems of marketing collectibles to people who cannot afford to collect very much.

63:00 Releasing classic films on Blu-ray. The origins of the Blu in Blu-ray: can the Japanese just not spell?

64:00 Prospects for Star Blazers 2199, a.k.a. Space Cruiser Yamato 2199. Tweet us if you want it. #2199uk

kumadori.jpg65:20 How would Scottish independence affect an anime company, if at all?

69:00 Top of the Pod! This month: what’s your most awkward convention moment? Here’s a picture of Jeremy’s. Tell us yours by tweeting #mangatotp

The Podcast is available to download now HERE, or find it and an archive of previous shows at our iTunes page. For a detailed contents listing of previous podcasts, check out our Podcasts page.

The Irish in Iceland

vikings audibleFrom A Brief History of the Vikings, by Jonathan Clements.

The Icelanders’ own records mention around 400 original settlers, over fifty of whom had names that implied mixed Irish ancestry, or Celtic nicknames denoting considerable time spent outside Scandinavia. Their slaves and concubines (the mothers of many later generations) were also predominantly Irish, some of impressively noble birth. The Saga of the People of Laxardal mentions a haughty slave-girl with no appreciation of her duties, brought to Iceland already pregnant with the child of her Viking captor. She is eventually revealed as Melkorka (Mael-Curchaich?), the daughter of the Irish king Myrkjartan (Muircertach?), kidnapped at fifteen years of age. Faced with feuding women and clearly unable to control his Irish mistress, her owner eventually installed her in a homestead of her own across the river, recorded as the now-deserted site of Melkorkustadir.

Not all of the Irish who accompanied the first settlers were ill treated. The Norse matriarch Aud the Deep-Minded, who figures large in the Icelanders’ tales of the first settlers, brought many Irish slaves with her from Dublin where her late husband Olaf the White had been king. After unsuccessfully relocating to Caithness, where her son Thorsteinn the Red was killed, Aud and her entourage gave up on the harsh life on the Celtic fringe and set out for pastures new.

Aud would eventually free several of her slaves and set them up on their own – freedmen including Vifil, whose great-grandson would become the first European to be born in America, and Erp, a thrall whose mother was supposedly Myrgiol, an Irish princess sold into slavery in Britain. Although such tales often have the ring of truth, it is important to remember who was telling them – later generations of Icelanders hoping to put a polish on concubine ancestors by inventing noble backgrounds for them. Irish names certainly persisted among the Icelanders for many generations, including Njall, Kormakr, Brjan and Patrek.

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