The thing about Anime

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I received a mail from the university telling us to be careful to observe all copyright laws. While I do believe in upholding the law, I would bring to question certain concerns that I have for this matter.

The big bulk of supposed piracy that take place here, as deduced by the email received, was surprisingly, not music, but anime. I checked out the authorities which supposedly represent the copyright holders to these materials. You can check out their website here. Upon reading further, I was surprised to find something which makes me wonder about the fairness of their claims.

Firstly, anime you can find in Singapore are largely not original, even those from legitimate video stores. Imagine that. Those stores actually put these videos on display, and charge a very reasonable price for them. Admittedly, the quality may not be up to standard, but how are WE as consumers supposed to be able to tell apart an original from a pirated version when BOTH of them actually have the OFFICIAL SEAL of the Censorship Board of Singapore. They claim that the Censorship Board merely checks the content for censorship purposes, and nothing more, but the fact that these were APPROVED by a government body seems to ensure that we as consumers are placed in a difficult situation.

If we go out and buy something 'legitimate' from a supposedly 'legitimate' store, only to find that they AREN'T legitimate, then where can we?

What does this mean? Let's say I'm shopping in a mall, and I see this nice video store. I enter, and it has rows and rows of anime which I enjoy. I pick one up, and the price seems good, there's an official stamp from the government, content checks out. I buy it, only to have these people tell me "Hey, you supported piracy! Now we're going to sue you until you bleed, you criminal!" I thought I was supporting the content owners all the while. So suddenly, my whole stash of bought anime is claimed to be PIRATED, and because of that I'm an offender? Please tell me this isn't so.

In their website, they conveniently put up a little list called Authorized Titles, although by the way their website is done, I'm not sure if they meant 'authorized to buy' or 'authorized to download'. For starters, they just list titles, not publishers, so I sincerely doubt it's the former. Wait, they can't possibly mean the latter could they? I don't know. Many of those listed ARE NOT LICENSED TO BE TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH, meaning no one has officially licensed the content owners to do the translation. That simply means, NO ONE CAN GET AN ENGLISH VERSION of the title. Way to go for getting us consumers to support original content.

I sincerely believe that content owners do deserve the right to be paid for their work, yet content owners should now understand that things are different. Your customers are no longer dumb and naive, and they play a very important role in determining the success of your product. I'll take music as an example. The RIAA is going about alienating its very own customers, something which seems to confirm only one thing, more and more people are turning away from your products. Now they're targeting radio stations, but hello? Don't you know that album sales only skyrocket when people actually HEAR the music and LIKE it? All the free mediums that seem to be going around, like radio and mp3, they increase exposure allowing you to make more money, because there's free publicity.

Now to bring this down to anime, I'd say take a long hard look at just WHY anime is popular in a country like Singapore. Is it because people enjoy anime? How did people in Singapore 'discover' it anyway? Why did it get so popular that Animax was introduced? Want my opinion?

It's called the internet.

Fans downloaded a series and enjoyed it so much they started telling others to try it out. This led to huge exposure for all anime titles and spawned a market from which people could benefit from. It's ironic to think that the only reason why anime has such huge market potential outside of Japan is because the INTERNET provided FREE FANSUBS AND SCANLATIONS, boosting popularity and getting the whole world to enjoy anime, but guess what? There's no 'thank you for the free publicity'. Instead, "we're going to sue you for being pirates! Argh!" Let's not even mention the fact that some 'paid for original releases' have lower quality than the fansubs / scanlations.

Licensing companise USE fansubs as a gauge to determine the popularity of a series to be licensed. That happened for Naruto and various other titles. To admit it isn't something bad, it means you embrace the fans and actually THINK of the fans instead of just your own pocket. Ensuring quality of your releases too will help quell some of the fans gripes. After all, if I paid for it, there should be absolutely NO REASON why the quality of that product is LESS than a free fansub.

Here's an insightful link:Fansubs... Our perspective

I'm not denying the fact that in essence, regardless of how anyone wants to twist the law, what's being done is illegal. However, do note that while in the eyes of the law the fansubs are in the wrong, a symbiosis between the fan community and content owners as well as licensing companies is the biggest thing that keeps this industry alive.

That said, I try to get my hands on as many original DVDs as I can, as long as the quality and price is good. I remember the GTO DVD set that I bought, as well as my Gundam SeeD and Full Metal Alchemist DVD sets. I didn't mind getting them, but I'm also still holding on to the fansubbed versions, largely because the quality of the videos and subs are better.

Oh wait, that's if what I paid for with a 'stamp of approval by a government body in Singapore' was actually an original...

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Posted by Gerald at 5/30/2007 01:34:00 AM

Had to be said

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Even though I just posted last night, I can't help but to post this today. God is really good. Even though I was down, His faithfulness and grace to bring me out of it is simply astounding. I don't know how or why He'd do it, except that He loves me, and I love Him too...

So I guess walking closer to Him DOES make it easier. Sure things will get tougher, but He'll also reveal Himself more and more to you!


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Posted by Gerald at 5/26/2007 02:20:00 PM

There are ups, and then there are...

It's like a snowball, it picks up more and more mass as it goes along. Things just seem to go from bad to worse...

Results came out. They were below expectations. Not that they were bad, I just thought I'd do much better...


I can count two areas in my life that aren't doing so well. The week started out great, with both of them doing decently well... and these few days, things turned for the worse... to the point I don't know if they're salvageable...

And it all started this week when I decided to be really serious with God, to really draw closer, and undoubtedly I've never been closer to Him than now.

I guess the devil was really unhappy and started attacking.

I'm holding up as best I can. I do trust in Him, no matter how hard it may be to go on.

If you're reading this and you wanna help, pray for me... but don't ask me about it...

Just... don't...

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Posted by Gerald at 5/26/2007 01:47:00 AM

Times when you look to God

Friday, May 25, 2007

I've been trying to keep my head above the water so far, and by the grace of God, this week, I've managed to do pretty well. But good things don't last forever. The honest truth is that I'm not exactly doing so well right now. I've been praying very hard, and I know that since last weekend, my heart has been set right with God, and I've been closer to Him than I've ever been before. Still, things like that doesn't happen without the devil sitting back and doing nothing, and so there have been ups and downs this whole week, and now it's not all good.

Don't worry, I'm not very depressed or anything. I guess I just thought that since I felt so much closer to God, life would be a whole lot easier to go through. That's not entirely correct, but it's not entirely wrong either. I do manage to seek God's help a lot easier now, but the devil is doing whatever he can to rock my boat. It's times like this that I remember last week's new worship song, which I'd like to share here. This song got me through the entire week, reminding me just how to surrender to God.

Who am I
That You would know me from the start
Set me apart
Who am I
That You would place eternity
Into my heart

You have given to me
More than this world could give
My purpose is found
In You

One life, I lay at Your altar
One love, I have with You
Touch me again
Fill me as You hold
My outstretched hand
One word, You know I will follow
One heart, broken to You
Use me again
Your mercies follow me
For all my days

In Your presence
In Your power
Holy Spirit I surrender

Lord, I lay my life at Your altar. Do to me as You would. My heart is broken before You, total surrender. Just say the word, and I will follow. I pray that as I do this, You'll give me more grace, more strength, more perseverance, to face whatever lies ahead... good or bad...

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Posted by Gerald at 5/25/2007 01:16:00 AM

Long weekend

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My mother came down over the last week, and I managed to get myself a suit for my sister's wedding. I know it's been said before, but


I've been wondering lately just what to expect the next few weeks. I've a speech to write, and I've been putting it off although I already know what I want to say. Spent some quality time with my mum over the past few days, and now it's back to HYP work. Still, I do have time in between to do a lot of other things, including slacking around a bit, so it's all cool.

Anyway, service last weekend was excellent, and I'm really looking forward to a lot of things this coming week. I received a lot especially on Sunday, and I'm hoping to step up a bit more on my discipleship since the message really convicted me. Emerge is coming, and hopefully, many more exciting things are in store for me. It's great to have such an awesome Father.

My rest last night was funny, in the sense I woke up an indefinite number of times this morning and went back to sleep again. Each time I did, I had these weird dreams, a little disjointed, but unique enough for me to take notice. I guess being tired does something to your brain. No, I don't particularly remember them, but they were weird because in a sense, each time I fell asleep again, it was a different dream... or at least it felt that way... Not that I remember them all that much.

Makes you wonder when you dream, what 'triggers' the things you dream. Sometimes, you dream about things which have never crossed your mind, like that new person you kind of met but don't remember anything other than a name, or old classmates, or old events and things which you'd never have remembered if it didn't vividly pop up in your slumber sessions. Certainly gets you to start thinking about them a little though... hmm...

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Posted by Gerald at 5/22/2007 12:12:00 AM

The rise of the Amateur Professional

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


This video is very insightful. It talks about consumers who are innovators. It pits traditional professional innovation models against the newer community based innovation models. It talks about WHY big corporations dislike community driven 'projects' and where the direction will be for future innovations.

I'm a very firm supporter of Open Source, largely because I dislike the idea of not fully having control over something that should, rightfully, belong to me. This video (talk) is very important for everyone, as users and consumers, to understand the importance of the Open Source community, and to be fully aware of what it's about. I don't see anything wrong with huge corporations like Microsoft, as long as they don't turn into another RIAA.

Unfortunately, that's a debate for another time.

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Posted by Gerald at 5/15/2007 12:16:00 AM

Spiderman 3

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Despite being overhyped, I still liked Spiderman 3. It wasn't a fantastic, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping kind of movie, but it's still a pretty decent show, with enough content to keep you interested despite having a longer than usual running time. Having to wake up early and catching it in the morning when I'm tired and inclined to visit dreamland had me worried because I'd doze right off if the movie was too boring and draggy. Thankfully, it wasn't.

This episode of Spidey boasted not one, not two, but THREE villains, although the line between villain and victim as well as villain and hero was questionable in all three cases. Expounding more would mean divulging spoilers, but somehow, the ending was satisfying to me, largely because I'm kind of a pacifist, and I quite liked the way things turned out in the end.

Spiderman has always had plenty of emotions, with a lot more 'human' issues than any other comic book character i've ever known. Sure, he has super powers, but that doesn't make him immune to love problems, people problems, relational problems, work problems, money problems, ethical problems and any other thing we face as normal human beings. In fact, having to carry the extra burden of responsibility as the city's protector makes solving ANY of these problems that much harder. Having Venom in this movie just amplifies this concern as we see how Spidey would be if he were actually less selfless and behaved more like what every other regular human being (read SELFISH, INCONSIDERATE and VIOLENT) out there. I'm guessing a lot of people feel that there's nothing wrong with being Venom. It's sad really.

The problem with the movie, was that there were a few fairly significant plot holes. Again, for the sake of not revealing the story, I won't go too much into it. However, it is apparent that the producers tried to squeeze in too many things that some parts of the plot just don't seem to connect. More than once I caught myself going "Huh? How did that happen?" and it wasn't because I was dozing off. Character development was also lacking, as the new 'villains' had little screen time. They were practically one dimensional and didn't undergo ANY changes. I'm guessing that due to the fact that there were THREE of them, screen time had to be divided evenly between all of them, but that just made their characters shallow and uninteresting. In essence, the story had a lot of potential, and it had a proper ending (which is why I'm not particularly keen on having to watch a 4th installment), but should probably have laid off a few 'emotional' scenes and focussed a bit more on plot and character development. That would've made the movie a whole lot nicer.

The movie is really not a bad watch. I'd recommend catching it if the opportunity arises. It is after all a good blockbuster which 'wraps up' the Spiderman story since the first movie. That in itself is worth the watch, so sling by your local movie theater to catch it.

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Posted by Gerald at 5/10/2007 01:52:00 AM

Yet another personality test, judge for yourself its accuracy

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Found this test from CK's blog and decided to give it a shot. Pretty interesting test.

Your view on yourself:
You are down-to-earth and people like you because you are so straightforward. You are an efficient problem solver because you will listen to both sides of an argument before making a decision that usually appeals to both parties.

The type of girlfriend/boyfriend you are looking for:
You are a true romantic. When you are in love, you will do anything and everything to keep your love true.

Your readiness to commit to a relationship:
You are ready to commit as soon as you meet the right person. And you believe you will pretty much know as soon as you might that person.

The seriousness of your love:
You are very serious about relationships and aren't interested in wasting time with people you don't really like. If you meet the right person, you will fall deeply and beautifully in love.

Your views on education
You may not like to study but you have many practical ideas. You listen to your own instincts and tend to follow your heart, so you will probably end up with an unusual job.

The right job for you:
You're a practical person and will choose a secure job with a steady income. Knowing what you like to do is important. Find a regular job doing just that and you'll be set for life.

How do you view success:
You are afraid of failure and scared to have a go at the career you would like to have in case you don't succeed. Don't give up when you haven't yet even started! Be courageous.

What are you most afraid of:
You are concerned about your image and the way others see you. This means that you try very hard to be accepted by other people. It's time for you to believe in who you are, not what you wear.

Who is your true self:
You are mature, reasonable, honest and give good advice. People ask for your comments on all sorts of different issues. Sometimes you might find yourself in a dilemma when trapped with a problem, which your heart rather than your head needs to solve.

Click here for the test.

On another note, I just watched Phantom of the Opera today, and it was worth every cent I paid. The sets, acting, singing and dancing were magnificent, and most of all, I ENJOYED the show. I'm now hooked, and if only I had the money, I would've gotten some souvenirs. Still, at $25 just for the program booklet, it's not surprising I gave it a pass. You can't help but FEEL for the show. It's THAT good. Definitely one of the most wonderful shows I've EVER seen.

Watching Spidey 3 tomorrow (finally). Had to postpone it because I was meeting my supervisor on my HYP today. Insightful, and at least I know where to start. Reading up on the subject would be crucial to fulfilling the requirements I guess. It doesn't seem TOO difficult, but I'm not taking things too easily. God help me!

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Posted by Gerald at 5/09/2007 01:09:00 AM

Being the 'Computer Guy'

Saturday, May 05, 2007

I really identify with this article, largely because I do know a little bit more about computers than most people do. No, I'm not an expert, and no, I don't claim to be really knowledgeable about everything computer related, so I totally relate to what the author of that article goes through.

I think we now live in an age where using a service or tool is very easy, and because everything has been abstracted out for us and simplified, we've taken these services and tools for granted. We don't need to know ANYTHING about how things work, just how to use them, which kind of summarizes how people view computers. Computers are unfortunately, almost essential to some people, and having it 'not work' is simply a huge problem. It doesn't help that they know NOTHING about how to fix it.

Although I generally like helping people to fix their computer problems, it sometimes comes to the point where it becomes irritating. I don't mind helping people who genuinely need help, and who actually try to understand what's wrong so that they won't need to fix it again. They are conscious that I'm doing them a favour by helping them out, and don't take it for granted that I will do things for them anytime they feel like it. They respect my time, and I usually do my best to help them out. Unfortunately, there are also a small number of people who actually couldn't be bothered with what's happening to their computer and expect me to be the 'one time fix' for their ailing machine. They don't know what they want you to do, nor do they know what can or ought to be done to their computer. They don't even know if it's working right. All they do is ask you to look at my machine, and fix it please. They don't even know what's WRONG with it. And when you ask them some questions to clarify or explain to them some things, they give you a "that's why I'm asking you to help me! I don't know!" kind of answer. Talk about a serious WASTE OF TIME!

In any case, I'm feeling totally out now... It must be because I'm tired, or thinking too much... Why is it that I seem to be worse off after the exams than before? Sadly, things just seem like it's the worst about now... Throwing in the towel seems like a good option... Although I somehow know it won't happen...

God help me...

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Posted by Gerald at 5/05/2007 10:43:00 PM

Ragnarok Revisited

Friday, May 04, 2007

Post exams, with a lot of time, what else is there to do except play a few games? I tried some MMORPGs, and I HONESTLY tried to play them for real, but NUS' Network just doesn't seem to like us students playing. EVERY game outside the network is laggy, unstable and totally UNPLAYABLE. After repeated attempts at trying to tunnel through, and STILL failing to achieve sufficient playability, I threw in the towel and decided to approach things differently.

Remember a time when Ragnarok Online was really hot? Well, I started my own little server, internally, on the NUS network. It's not really all that great, I admit, but it's fun when you get to play it with quite a number of people. As it stands, we have just under 10 players, which may seem imperatively insignificant, but we're growing little by little, and it might just be a lot of fun to see a community of players leveling, PVPing and MVPing together. Online games are MEANT to be community based, and our community is small, but it's very FUN to be a part of. PLUS, since we're on a network which doesn't go across the internet, lag is virtually irrelevant.

Since the server is hosted on my PC, it's on pretty much 24 / 7 (not like that's very different from normal). I also have the job of making sure everything runs smoothly, and I'm not spoiling it by cheating. The one rule I stick to, is to use my Admin powers ONLY to resolve problems or test our stuff in the game, but NEVER to be part of my playing. Which is essentially why I use two separate accounts. It keeps me honest, and that's very important to me personally.

That aside, I still think RO is a cute game with lots of potential. True, a lot of new things have come up since I last played, but that only serves to add more new things that I can explore. I'm still excited about the game, although I guess in the long run, it won't last very far. At least we all have fun while we can.

That's what the game is about after all.

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Posted by Gerald at 5/04/2007 02:57:00 AM