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Sunday, April 26, 2015

PADS


No. I'm not talking about that kind of pads.

To start off with, hi. I'm back from one of my longest blog-writing breaks. Why? I just didn't really feel inspired to write anything, and when I did, I didn't have the time, or my computer wasn't available. I might've said this before, but I just cannot write without feeling like it.
I've also been surprisingly busy, considering I don't have a job. I've been playing in a big band orchestra, I've been composing music, spent time with friends, and occasionally, even drawing as well as playing games (I've got Bloodborne now too, and I'll probably start playing tomorrow).

But as much as I've done all that, I've also done something that I've longed to do for a looooooong time.
And what could such a thing be?

Quite naturally, it's binge-watching anime to an extremely unhealthy extent. There are just so many that I've neglected to watch earlier, and some new ones too. If you ever want some recommendations, just ask me.

But yeah. I've spent days upon days (hell, at one point it was weeks) watching anime lately. Now, I know that some of you might not understand this at all. I know that the appeal isn't for everyone, especially people who don't get the Japanese culture, which is indeed, very different from many Western ones.
But what I can't accept is when people think that anime is childish, and thus, not worth their time. The mere fact that a person would refuse to watch it for such a reason, shows to me that those, if any, are the people that are childish. That's because such a thought would arise from the thought that anime couldn't possibly have anything worthwhile to offer them. Which could not be more wrong, and is a pretty naive thought, really.
Now, of course, much anime actually is childish. The ones that are directed towards kids, like Pokémon and Digimon. But you wouldn't think that all hollywood movies are for kids just because some happen to be?
This goes not only for anime. I've seen many people diss Western cartoons/animations in general because of the same reasons.
But don't get me wrong, I have nothing against people who simply don't enjoy the media, for personal or other reasons. It's not for everyone, which is a simple fact. But not liking cartoons because they're "childish" is about the same as not liking books because one doesn't like the covers.

But enough of that; there's no need to go into deeper detail.
Clearly, not all anime is good, according to anyone's standards. But it's easy to see which ones are popular, and with a little research, it's easy to find out which animes will suit you. Sometimes though, I've been really surprised and enjoyed something way more than I thought I would have, based on the descriptions and art styles (different anime art styles are as broad as western ones are, even if there are certain stereotypes).

There's another thing that bothers me too. I don't get the people that watch dubbed anime, most of the times. This is for a couple of reasons. Mostly, it's because all animes I've ever seen dubbed, have been really poorly dubbed. This includes pretty much all languages I've seen them being dubbed to.
Now, of course, if it's a show aimed towards small children, it makes sense. Once again, using the example of shows like Pokémon. This is mostly because small children tend to be unable to read, especially as quickly as is required.

Disney movies, however, are actually somewhat okay when dubbed into at least Swedish and Finnish, probably because they know that the movies will sell. Also, because the original language for Disney movies is English, the cultural difference isn't nearly as vast. There are however, just a few good English dubs of anime out there. I think that much depends on both the voice actors, the translators, and their understanding of and investment in the anime they're trying to dub. If my memory doesn't betray me, Kino's Journey is one of the animes that works just fine in English. I think the voice actors did a good job, and there isn't much Japanese culture to shred in the anime anyway.

But the other reason I have a problem with the dubbing, is because so much is lost in translation. Admittedly, I don't even understand much japanese myself, but everyone can tell more from the tone of voice and the words that are used in the original language. That, and in Japan, where anime is a huge deal, they actually put a lot of effort into the voice acting, in general. This is not to say that watching dubbed anime is boring, if you don't have access to (or really hate reading subtitles) the original subbed version. I just know that most people, after trying, will get more enjoyment out of watching the subbed ones. But I know that in many countries (including ones like Germany, Spain and the U.S. of A.), people are simply not used to watching subtitled anything. In Finland, it was actually decided very early on that all foreign movies and such would be subtitled instead of dubbed, because it's cheaper. Well, of course, the same rules didn't apply for shows aimed towards kids, for natural reasons.
But if anything, that decision allowed for many Finnish children to at least partially hear/learn foreign languages, while still being young enough for it to make an impact. If it were not for that fact, you could be certain that my English speaking/writing ability wouldn't even be this good.

But ultimately, the problem I have with the translation, comes down to the fact that the translators and some times voice actors often do an awful job, which changes the entire personality of characters. That, along with the fact that there is a culture clash, which leaves us with a weird atmosphere, in many cases. Who knows, if anime gets any more popular, and shows aimed towards adolescents and adults are actually aired on decent networks, maybe the dubbing will be better too. But thus far, they clearly don't reach the same level as the original adaptations.
For my fellow Swedish-speaking Finns, the situation might be equated with trying to watch "Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix" the movie dubbed to Swedish. Not impossible, but not as enjoyable (except for comedic reasons) by far.
Thinking of it, abridgers on the internet actually tend to do a better job than companies when it comes to dubbing anime. Probably because most abridgers actually know what the anime is about, and they don't need to worry as much about things lost in translation.

Enough ranting about that. For those of you who are still here and have not been bored away, good for you.

Trivia time. I've noticed that almost every single good/known anime is based on mangas. There are exceptions; some are based on visual novels/games (like Clannad and Pokémon), and a few (like Code Geass, and I believe [Tengen Toppa] Gurren Lagann) get their starts in the form of anime. But most of the time, they are based on mangas. That's pretty interesting to me. In Western movies, there are ones that are based on books and comics too. But except for super-hero movies, they are often not as popular as the books. But in America for example, anime seems to be much more popular than the mangas that they originated from. I geuss that the format is just easier to take in, and get your hands on.


But here's what I really wanted to talk about today, all other ranting aside.

And that is, PADS.

But what is it?

It can be devastating, empty, longing, sad, philosophical, horrible etc. Even if you don't watch anime, you can probably relate to it, as it's pretty much the same as PSDS, but focused specifically on anime.

PSDS, is Post Series Depression Syndrome, so you can probably figure out what PADS is.

Especially binge-watchers like myself, know of this phenomenon. Have you ever spent whole days watching or reading something long, like a tv-series or a series of books? You've been fully invested in the story, the characters and the whole. But then, suddenly it all ends, and you're finished. You lose your sense of direction. Something that took up pretty much your entire life, for a short while, is now gone.

This is, PSDS.
And it is very real. Some select people even tend to develop actual depression, with PSDS as the trigger (probably not as the sole cause though).

Not all are affected by it to the same extent. It can also happen even if you've watched something over a long period of time, only a little bit at a time, but it's usually not as extreme in such cases.

Well, I'm actually a very emotional and empathetic guy, despite what some may think. I also get really invested in things I like (can be anything from reading to playing games; the list goes on).
So when that all suddenly disappears, I can really feel it.

I'm also a super ultra hyper duper binge-watcher. I've been known to spend more than 16 hours a day, for a few days, wathing only anime (eating while doing it too), and occasionally playing the piano (I can't get rid of that). So I race through series, anime or not, at a very fast pace. But most of the time, I'm still somewhat okay, because I can move on to the next thing (or gather inspiration from what I've watched, and turn it into some kind of art form [including music]).

While I've watched several Western tv-series and read several books, they almost never affect me as much when they end, as a manga or an anime does. But there's a real difference between animes as well.

You see, I am never as devastated when something ends, if it has been a mostly comedic anime, or something otherwise unserious. This is also the reason why I think anime affects me more in general. It's because the Japanese tend to create more grand and emotional stories, and they use characters with very distinct and passionate personalities. I'm not saying that never happens with stuff from other countries, but the Japanese have a large abundance of that kind of material. And that really speaks to me. Another thing is the fact that the Japanese tend to view the world very differently than somewhat more Western people tend to do. They often focus on different things when it comes to story writing too.

Realism is often pretty completely abandoned. The comedy is also very different, and may take a while to get into. There is a different way of observing nature, and so on. The characters are often very different than stereotypical American movie protagonists. That said, there are several similarities too. The Japanese are obviously very inspired by Western media in several cases. But they always put their own spin to it.
But the entirely different cultural understanding, is precisely why I find that most dubs fail to live up to the original.

I'll give the classic example of the difference between stereotypical American and Brittish comdy, to depict how important cultural differences can be.

While the American one tends to focus on "owning" someone else with clever one-liners, or something like that, Brittish comedy is more about the actual protagonist being the silly one, drawing the attention to him-/herself not by being cool, but by being funny, perhaps by being embarrasing.
Japanese comedy tends to be more like the stereotypical Brittish one, though that is of course not always the case.
Also, thanks to the internet and other media, cultural differences tend to get smaller over time. For example, "The Simpsons" tends to use more of the stereotypical Brittish humor in general.

But here's another thing I like about anime. The characters, while they may be goofy, get really serious when it really counts. They have clear morals, burning passion, and through the series, they often show much character development.
And like I said earlier, the stories are often very grand, meaning that at times, the whole world will be at stake. That is somewhat similar to many Western films. But with anime, the characters express their emotions much more often than the characters I can see in the Western alternatives. It ranges between anger, sadness, happiness and simple understanding and knowing what has to be done; determination.
I realize this could be said about pretty much anything, but I think you'd understand what I'm trying to say if you watch a good anime or two.

More than that, Japanese writers tend to be really, truly evil. On the same level as George R.R. Martin. One makes a big mistake, if one expects that no important characters will die before the end of a popular anime. And often, very many characters are killed off, sometimes, very unexpectedly. And more often than not, it's when the characters are either fighting for a cause, or protecting someone else. But sometimes, they just die in bed from a sickness or something like that, in a very tear-jerking manner. Anything can happen, really. But all the same, there are lots of happy moments as well.

This was focusing mostly on the scripts too. A lot more could be said about the art, the "camera" angles and such things, but I don't have time for that now (and you probably wouldn't be interested anyway).


But here is the point I was coming to. Because there is so much to be invested in, in a good anime, the loss is all the greater when it's over. I often stay and reflect upon the characters, and the story, and wish for there to be more, when a show is over. While I have learned to adapt and move on, some animes leave such a big hole that I can easily feel it. The most recent one that did this to me was Gurren Lagann, but not too long before that, I watched Code Geass, Clannad, and Shingeki no Kyojin (and read even further in the manga), and all those left the same or similar feelings, to different extents, for pretty long amounts of times. It takes time to snap back into reality. If I can react this much to a character dying or ceasing to do new things in a story, I don't even want to know how devastated I would be if a close friend of mine were to die. Contrary to popular belief, I keep my feet on the ground, even though my head tends to float through the sky with the clouds.

A final thing I want to mention, is that almost all of the stories, want to teach some kind of lession, or express a powerful moral or way of looking at life, all the while telling a fascinating story. One of the most used lessons is the one of going through with one's passions, and never giving up. One very clear example of this "lesson" phenomenon, is the popular GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka).

I could go on about this forever, but I suspect I may already have bored you enough, if you've even managed to make it this far.


I'll end this by showing off some things I've made during my absence from writing.

First off, I've actually invested some money in virtual instruments for once, and made a pretty unserious but somewhat interesting orchestral track using them. The volume is a little low though, because of poor mixing, so you may want to bring it up a notch.

Conquest of the Uncharted


At the moment, I'm also working on a pirate theme.


I've also composed a track that was inpired by all the anime I've watched recently, which is a solo piano composition.

A Song for Someone Else


Other than that, I drew a sketch based on a picture I found on google, of the character Levi Ackerman, from Attack on Titan.




























Today is actually Pico Day, which is the birthday of Newgrounds. Not only that, but it's the 20 year celebration! I wasn't going to do anything to begin with, but I drew a small thingy using paint.net, using my mousepad, today... Because we all know I'm too lazy to spend half a minute to actually go get my mouse.
























I'm not really an artist, yet at least (as in a painter/whatever, though I'm obviously a musician). But I try to make small things now and then, just in case I someday actually decide to get passionate about creating art.



I've also been working on a secret project, which is actually finished, but there are a few things to do still, before publishing it.



I think that I'm pretty much done for now.

I'm impressed if you read all the way through my incoherent ranting.


See ya next time, ya'll ;)