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Friday, September 23, 2016

Ep. 38: EF Ratio


Josh and Emily try to stay focused this week while Josh’s temporary houseguest creates some adorable (but slobbery) background distractions. This episode features a few now-obscure yet once-expensive computer systems, an announcement for a new hypothetical podcast series, and lots of factoids about everything from musical instruments to Japanese dating traditions. Also, halfway through the recording Josh scores his biggest comedic critical hit against Emily to date and makes her laugh so hard she cries. Don’t forget to check out patron J T’s awesome pencil drawing of Section Z -- and if any more of you have video game drawings from your younger years, you better send them in! Don’t make Emily send the Assorted Boos after you!

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This episode was made possible by:
Game Track Title Composer(s)
M.A.S.K. III:
Venom Strikes Back
Main Title Ben Daglish
Section Z Stage 01 Theme Kumi Yamaga, Tamayo Kawamoto
Ghouls 'N Ghosts Main Theme Tim Follin
Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo YU-NO Movement 1 Ryu Umemoto, Ryu Takami, Kazuhiro Kanae
Jantei Monogatari Adventure Part 2 Tsukasa Masuko
ESPN Final Round Golf 2002 BGM 3 Unknown
Bugs Bunny in
Crazy Castle 4
Untitled Track 24 Unknown

...and listeners like YOU.

15 comments:

  1. The 90's didn't just happen?

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    1. I'm not convinced it isn't still the 90's.

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  2. Maude's Missed Encounters is the best segment since Burger Time Time.

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    1. You sure it isn't "Mod"? Maybe Josh's friend is into import gaming.

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  3. you guys just played a track from one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. Kudos

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    1. You're welcome. ;) I picked the wrong track, though....I now know that tracks 67 and 69 are the best tracks on the album(Other World 1&2), along with FANKY TANG. I'll have to request those as well.

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  4. Hey guys!

    The question of what makes something "Anime" is very interesting. It's also a question for which, due to globalization, there is no longer a clear answer. I do agree more with Josh, though: to be true anime, it should be at least designed or initiated by people living within the Japanese cultural milieu.

    I have long been fascinated by Japanese animation. Outside of my early introductions to it (Robotech, Voltron and Speed Racer), I really began to become interested in anime through video games, as well as its availability in video stores. In any case, the more I’ve learned about anime, the more I’ve realized its origins have always been more intertwined with western culture than one might initially suspect. For example, Josh joked about the EF Ratio, but the big eyes always thought synonymous with anime are actually Western in origin. Osamu Tezuka, the "God of Manga" who introduced big eyes to manga and anime, appropriated it from Snow White (which Disney designed to follow the Nordic fantasy style popularized in the early 1900's by folks such as Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, and Gustaf Tenngren). Incidentally, Ariel's EF Ratio isn't much different than the other Disney Princess (Mulan and Pocahontas notwithstanding), but it's her green eyes and red, RED hair that make her feel more anime-like to me.

    Josh commented about American companies hiring Japanese animation houses to animate cartoons for American audiences in the 80's. This actually started in the 60's with Rankin Bass. They hired a Japanese company called MOM Productions to create the stop-motion animated features Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, and a few others. As far back as at least ’68, they were using big Japanese animation houses to hand draw their specials. Starting in 1974, Rankin Bass used Japanese firm Topcraft (which eventually became part of Studio Ghibli) to hand-draw films; in 1977, they animated the original Hobbit and Return of the King, as well as The Last Unicorn. Incidentally, these were done in the same Nordic fantasy style I mentioned earlier.

    By this time, actual anime had already been making its way stateside, with Speed Racer, Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion (which Disney completely ripped off to create the Lion King), and others. By the 80’s, animated series such as Voltron and Robotech were appearing on American television, sometimes completely rearranged to fit the vision of the “localizers”. If you don’t know about the history behind Karl Macek’s (mis)treatment of Macross/Robotech, I highly recommend looking it up. At any rate, all of the titles I’ve mentioned in this paragraph could be justly called anime, since they were originally created in Japan for Japanese audiences.
    (continued below)

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  5. As the 80’s continued, it became common for a lot of Western companies to hire Japanese animation houses to animate Western cartoons. These companies were usually hawking toys, but not always: Transformers, G.I. Joe, Thundercats, SilverHawks, Tiger Sharks, M.A.S.K., Bionic Six, Rainbow Brite, Inspector Gadget, and many more were Japanese-produced cartoons for the sake of toys. But there were also cartoons like Kidd Video and Mysterious Cities of Gold, which occupied American airwaves, but never saw toy releases (which also might explain their relative obscurity). I would not call these cartoons “anime”, because although they were produced by Japanese animation houses, they were done specifically for Western consumption under contract to Western companies. Additionally, although these cartoons’ styles may feel more or less Japanese, in most cases, this is not intended. The character designs were often created by the customer; the “Japanese-ness” of the animation is a result of a few specific traits. Japanese animation houses tended to use thinner, uniform lines indicative of pens, whereas the American style favors the varied line widths of brushes. There are also differences in the way the two styles draw muscles and faces. Most apparent is the sense of motion; Japanese houses tend to have a more dynamic sense of movement, where the characters spend more time in the key frames at the beginning and end of an arc of movement. Non-Japanese animation houses tended to try and draw the characters all the way through the arc, which often ends up looking clumsy to me.

    Times have changed quite a bit. Emily, I really identified with your surprise to see all those kids’ drawings have an anime-influenced art style. When I started getting into anime, it was definitely a niche interest. Most of my peers drew in styles that most resembled Jim Lee and Scott Williams. At the time, when I tried to draw in a manga-like style, even my best efforts usually looked somehow off. The same was true for most of the professional comics of the time that were drawn in a “manga style”; there was something fundamentally different in the layout of the panels, in the balance and flow of the characters. It’s strange now to see American kids drawing stuff that looks authentically Japanese.

    It’s also strange to see how many non-Japanese graphic novels are out there that are being classified as manga. Some of it scarcely resembles manga more than the EF Ratio. Others are painful to read because it’s obvious that they’re drawn and written by Weeaboos. Of particular interest to me is the growing number of Korean graphic novels categorized as “manga”. What do we do with those?

    On the other hand, like Josh said, how does one classify anime which was farmed out to South Korea? What about The Animatrix, a collection of Japanese animated shorts set in the Matrix universe but intentionally hired because of their prominence and quality of output in the anime industry at the time? What about Tekkon Kinkreet, which was based off of an unorthodox-looking manga, directed by American-born Michael Arias(who also produced the Animatrix)? I think as more non-Japanese infiltrate the Japanese animated film industry, and more ethnically Japanese anime producers infiltrate the rest of the world, we will continue to see the line between ‘anime’ and ‘animation’ blur into obscurity.


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  6. Josh,

    The Transformers cartoon is an American invention based on multiple, unrelated Japanese toy lines made by Takara. American writers under the employ of Hasbro cobbled these toys together, gave them personalities, and wrote a story. The cartoon was drawn in Japan, and released here. Japan eventually also got the American cartoon, and Takara Reappropriated its own toys to align with the new story.

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    1. Also, the NEC PC-9801(aka PC-98) and its predecessor the PC-8801 (aka PC-88) have a history that's strongly intertwined with the Mega Drive. The PC-88 came out before the Mega Drive, and had a Yamaha FM chip and PSG capabilities, similar to the MD. For this reason, a lot of PC-88 developers did work on Sega's machine.

      Some important examples are Falcom, Renovation(Wolf Team), Compile, and Techno Soft. The similar sound architecture also provided a cheaper way to compose than on a Sega MD Dev Kit. Yuzo Koshiro composed all his 16-bit music on a PC-88; in fact, when you look up his music on iTunes, all the Genesis OSTs for sale are recorded from the PC-88. They sound very similar. There's even 2 versions of the SNES Actraiser OST: one recorded from the SNES, and the other from the PC-88. It's definitely interesting to compare the two.

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  7. Thanks for playing my Section Z selection. I'm glad you enjoyed the old artwork.

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  8. I know it was too early in the podcast, but I was totally expecting Haju to interrupt Josh when he was about to tell his most nostalgic story ever.

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  9. Oh, and I think Josh is dead. He must have died sometime early in the podcast run probably just before the first Dungeon episode. Rmember, Emily found him there along with Haju. Maybe their fates are intertwined. So I guess that also means Emily IS a necromancer. ;) The evidence is mounting.

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