Otaku Unite! documentary?

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mbanu
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Otaku Unite! documentary?

Post by mbanu » Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:13 am

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uORTAyrAlcM

According to the director:
Eric Bresler wrote:I began shooting Otaku Unite! in November 2000.
Production wrapped during the summer of 2003.
Its world premiere was held at the 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival.
It was released on DVD courtesy of Central Park Media in June 2006.
(http://ericbresler.com/otakuunite/)

Reviews for it at the time panned it for being too backwards-looking -- anime fandom on the internet was an interview with Jay Fubler Harvey of the Anime Web Turnpike, for instance.

Have any of you seen it? What are your thoughts?
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Re: Otaku Unite! documentary?

Post by davemerrill » Wed Jan 18, 2017 12:17 pm

Seen it? I'm in it!

The movie is a great snapshot of anime convention fandom circa 1999-2001; conventions were getting just big enough to look around and say "hey, we're getting pretty big!" and things were still growing, prior to that 2004-2005 industry contraction. A lot of the staff in the film has this kind of self-satisfied attitude, you can see they think things are just amazingly awesome... guys, you have no idea how big anime conventions will be in five or ten years, so settle down Dave.

The movie managed to get interviews with Peter Fernandez, who's no longer with us, and a lot of industry folks like Trish Ledoux and Carl Horn who are, but who aren't in the same positions, and fans like Fred Patten who was there at the beginning, more or less. For this kind of documentary work alone the film's worthwhile.

My nitpicks are that there's too much emphasis on cosplay and cosplayers; I know this makes for interesting visuals, but it's amazing how that stuff fails to hold up after years and years and years of samey-same photos of cosplayers. We get it, cosplay. Of course the Johnny Otaku material is priceless, so there's that.

I can't speak for the other shows they filmed at, but they had full access to every bit of AWA, and if they got any footage of the behind-the-scenes decision making or the actual work of putting a con together, it didn't make it into the finished film. Footage of anything other than cosplayers is hard to find.

Also, the Kaiju Big Battel stuff at the beginning is nice and all, but has nothing whatsoever to do with anime conventions.

It seems for a while every year we were getting requests for press passes and access from at least three documentary filmmakers. I've seen a lot of camera crews wandering around getting all up in everybody's business, but these movies never seem to actually get made. Props to Otaku Unite for at least finishing the dang thing.

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Re: Otaku Unite! documentary?

Post by DKop » Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:12 pm

I think I said this on a thread or post long ago, but I do have an idea on doing my own documentary, but I want it to be about how the fandom has evolved in the past 40 or so years. It seems that every day that passes, the more industry people well, pass away, especially the "old guard." I'll tell you one thing though, I plan on having cosplay be the LEAST AMOUNT of time on this film, and focus more on those in the fandom THAT DON'T DO DAMN COSPLAY! You guys on this thread hold my word to that, I mean it!

I'm aware of this documentary, but I haven't seen it yet. As far as Trish Ledoux, she and her husband Toshi Yoshida still show up once a year to Animazement to talk about what they're doing at Pokemon HQ and translation work in the past. That's about the only time I really see them and meet with them, and well, get stuff signed. I think that's the only convention they go to once a year, which is just them yearly going to Disney world or something.

For now its just an idea on paper, and i'll invest more time on it once im out of university (in about a year thank the lord!!!) where I can have that time to really focus on it. I already have idea's on who to ask for information or who to talk too to get to talk to someone I want to interview. But I think in reference I will look to this film in the future to check out to see how Eric did his film, as a reference of course.

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Re: Otaku Unite! documentary?

Post by mbanu » Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:06 pm

davemerrill wrote:My nitpicks are that there's too much emphasis on cosplay and cosplayers; I know this makes for interesting visuals, but it's amazing how that stuff fails to hold up after years and years and years of samey-same photos of cosplayers. We get it, cosplay. Of course the Johnny Otaku material is priceless, so there's that.
DKop wrote:I think I said this on a thread or post long ago, but I do have an idea on doing my own documentary, but I want it to be about how the fandom has evolved in the past 40 or so years. It seems that every day that passes, the more industry people well, pass away, especially the "old guard." I'll tell you one thing though, I plan on having cosplay be the LEAST AMOUNT of time on this film, and focus more on those in the fandom THAT DON'T DO DAMN COSPLAY! You guys on this thread hold my word to that, I mean it!
I think high-speed internet has sort of put conventions in an odd place... I mean, anime cons not being the place you go for exclusive access to anime was already a problem by my generation (the pirate wave), and Ebay was starting to erode the role of the Dealer's Room as a place to get rare items. The modern generation of streaming fans has both these problems in maybe an even worse form -- you don't need to turn to grey area fansubs or have torrent know-how today to see shows at the same time as the Japanese fans, and between Amazon and Ebay the only real barrier anymore is language and proxy shipping issues when it comes to getting stuff. In addition, the widespread adoption of Twitter by the anime industry in Japan has given your average fan more access to the original creators than they have ever had before; the fan who in the past might have struggled to learn Japanese in order to watch anime that nobody was fansubbing can now use that same struggle to ask questions of the anime creators directly, turning every day into a panel interview session without having to smile through the more clueless questions that people always ask at those things.

I'm not a cosplayer myself, but cosplay has sort of been the answer to the question of how to unify fans who in the past might have been drawn together by access to anime or merchandise or question-time with Japanese creators.

It's always hard to gauge how these things turn out... it seems like for each generation of fans there is some key technology that changes the nature of the fandom, and I don't know how obvious it is other than in hindsight what that will be or what changes it will cause... For C/FO gen folks, it was the VCR. For 90s folks, I'm guessing it was the Amiga gen-lock stuff that made fansubbing possible. For the pirate wave it was peer-to-peer software. For the streaming generation, I guess it's whatever underlying technology makes streaming practical. What will it be for the next generation of fans? I don't know. It will be interesting to find out, though. (^_^)
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Re: Otaku Unite! documentary?

Post by davemerrill » Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:16 pm

I definitely think social media and streaming video have kept Japanese animation fandom (and anime conventions) alive and thriving.

If you'd told me in 1999 that pretty much every popular anime title would be available for everybody to watch in their own homes, I would have thought that it would be the end of anime video rooms (and video sales) at conventions- yet they seem to be doing all right. We still get crowds at screenings of popular titles and we can show some more obscure things and fill some seats. The dealers still show up every year and they still pay higher and higher rates for tables, so they must be making money on *something.* Ditto manga -there's an awful lot of scanlation of manga, but the physical volumes still sell.

I do think that the internets have had a tremendous ability to sell anime to fans, to educate fans about releases and upcoming titles, nobody's waiting for a monthly magazine or a Diamond catalog to tell them what's available. Also, nerds can find crazy old stuff and post screencaps and memes and get others excited about the show. There are two or three series that I only found out about due to somebody posting a particularly insane image on Twitter or Tumblr or somewhere, and then I can track that down and show it to more people at a panel at a convention somewhere, and then Discotek can release it on DVD eventually, or Crunchyroll can stream it, like with Charge Man Ken or Miss Machiko.

I think this is why anime conventions have continued to thrive; it's easier for fans to connect and to make plans to meet, it's easier to promote the conventions, it's easier for licensees and localizers to promote their own things in the crowd, and there's a whole galaxy of useless junk like shirts, bags, hats, plush toys, keychains, figures, etc that people can buy and sell above and beyond VHS tape or DVDs or BDs. It's almost like the pressure of being the ONLY PLACE YOU CAN GET ANIME is off and now the conventions can sort of relax and have fun.

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Re: Otaku Unite! documentary?

Post by mbanu » Sat Feb 04, 2017 12:14 am

I think one big positive of cosplay is that it can motivate otaku to focus on fitness to some degree, as many anime heroes and heroines lead active lifestyles. One thing that has really stunned me looking into anime fandom history is how young many superfans tend to die -- even though you can't really push organized fandom much beyond the invention of the VCR in the mid-70s, a lot of the founders of American anime fandom are already dead.

While it's very important not to encourage body images issues among young fans, it seems like there needs to be some way that this generation's superfans can remain true to their lifestyle without it meaning that they will be dead before they are 60; hitting the gym once in a while so that they can do a reasonable cosplay of characters from shonen fighting shows seems like a good compromise.

Maybe I'm being unfair on this, though. I suppose it could just be that fans with poor health are attracted to anime because it is something that is accessible to those with poor health in a way that other hobbies are not... I guess my thought process isn't really settled on this.
mbanu: What's between Old School and New School?
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Re: Otaku Unite! documentary?

Post by Akage » Sat Feb 04, 2017 1:06 pm

mbanu wrote:I think one big positive of cosplay is that it can motivate otaku to focus on fitness to some degree, as many anime heroes and heroines lead active lifestyles.
The majority of cosplayers that I know do not go to the gym. They cosplay at whatever weight they're at. There's a whole subset of cosplayers who do so purposely because they don't feel that anyone should ever be shamed for not having the right shade of skin, gender or body type to cosplay. If I had a nickel for every time I've seen a very overweight Sailor Moon cosplayer, I'd have, like, a ton of nickels. The only people who really work out are those that are already motivated to do so, or those who are either aspiring or already established professional cosplayers. The notion that the majority of cosplayers look as great as those whose are shown on Spike TV Comic Con news reels is pure fantasy, especially at an anime con. The majority of cosplayers also do not spend months on their cosplay; For everyone person that does, that are several that realized they could easily cosplay L from "Death Note" by putting on blue jeans, a long white shirt and messing up their hair.


Regarding the unhealthy weights of adults of the fandom, the majority simply don't understand what a "portion" is. They also do not like the taste of veggies unless drenched in a vat of ranch dressing. Those that I hang out with conventions are all very much overweight, with some easily weighing 300 & 400 lbs. Fried foods, fatty meats, sugary beverages/alcohol and huge portion sizes are a part of their daily diet. The same goes for those anime friend fans who are at a healthy weight - Years of Cup of Noodles and McDonalds have done a number on their blood sugar and cholesterol levels, yet they still eat the same junk they did when they were 20. It does sadden me that the people that I hang out with at conventions will likely not be around in a decade or two. But unless they want to work on their weight, the only thing I can do is remain supportive and offer them healthy snacks while waiting in line as a better alternative to the junk they want to consume.

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Re: Otaku Unite! documentary?

Post by davemerrill » Sun Feb 05, 2017 6:30 am

I see cosplayers of every body type, myself. It may be a motivating factor for some to keep fit, but when it comes to people wanting to lose weight to look good, that can move right into anorexia / bulimia territory, and that's really unhealthy too.

A lot of the SF writers and fans of the 1930s and 1940s were people who were infirm, bedridden at some point with scarlet fever or otherwise now-cured diseases, or in some way were prevented from participating in outdoor activity. SF fandom has always had this little history of being, I dunno, contemptuous of exercise or sports, I guess you could say.

By the time our generation of fans came around, the kids who were knocked out by Star Wars and wanted more, illnesses weren't locking us up for months at a time. But there was still this disdain for competitive sports and exercise.

I don't know which came first, the chicken or the egg - I don't know if my generation of fans were bad at sports or outdoor games and that's what made them become fans, or if they got interested in fandom topics and that took up all their spare outdoor time (see: 1982 Graffiti Of Otaku Generation)

(Of course when I was a kid, we didn't have today's computers or tablets or phones. We couldn't immerse ourselves in something like World of Warcraft for hours on end. All we had was Atari and MTV. Still, we killed many hours. I'm not a big sports person myself, but I grew up rambling around the outdoors, walking and hiking and riding bikes, etc., and I still do that whenever I can.)

On the other hand I don't want to generalize. There are veteran anime con staffers I know here, my age, some of whom are immensely unhealthy people who eat bad food & get zero exercise, and others are serious cyclists who will take weekend trips cycling hundreds of miles, and then turn around and spend weekends binge-watching anime.

But I have seen that attitude of looking down one's nose at physical activity my entire time in every sort of fandom. I don't know if it's so prevalent among the younger fans. I would love to see one of those online fandom surveys find out the attitude of the 16-21 year old fans towards sports and exercise. Hopefully they don't share our prejudices.

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Re: Otaku Unite! documentary?

Post by PinkAppleJam » Sun Feb 12, 2017 12:20 pm

davemerrill wrote:The dealers still show up every year and they still pay higher and higher rates for tables, so they must be making money on *something.* Ditto manga -there's an awful lot of scanlation of manga, but the physical volumes still sell.
TBH I am upset at Japanese companies and entangled publishing contracts involving print and digital rights not enabling the global translation and thus not licensing as many ePubs as they could've at the time. Many authors lost income and it's not like mangaka are time-free! They have not been compensated by torrenting and it has hurt incomes of artists and creators for so long. It is getting a bit better now but it will take more time to help patch the damage caused.
DKop wrote:I think I said this on a thread or post long ago, but I do have an idea on doing my own documentary, but I want it to be about how the fandom has evolved in the past 40 or so years. It seems that every day that passes, the more industry people well, pass away, especially the "old guard." I'll tell you one thing though, I plan on having cosplay be the LEAST AMOUNT of time on this film, and focus more on those in the fandom THAT DON'T DO DAMN COSPLAY! You guys on this thread hold my word to that, I mean it!
I'm trying! :D I do leave as many comments and thoughts around as I can, and encourage younger artists. I try to be as black and white with my advice as I can, So much of what reality is in fandom and in creator-land is hidden away behind smoke and mirrors. I also try to make as much original content as I can as a creator and fan (see website!).

Regarding the comments on this thread about weight - it's not always about overeating because of habits, I'm sure we can agree it is far more complex. Physical health issues, neurological issues, environments, financial and time poverty, so many factors why people are big or small. You can be as thin as a rake but be unhealthy inside - an "eclair". On a personal note I have to take injections and they bloat me when I do. I have arthritic joints stopping the exercise levels I used to do. No lifestyle choice chose my chronic illness :) So I am hoping the injections will help my problems and I can go to the gym, ride my bike to work again. It is a privilege to be able to walk, clean the house thoroughly, and so many people don't even know it :) I've gained weight in the past but also lost it, I will try again when my body allows me to. I am very aware that many people won't be able to go to the gym even if they want to. I am hoping to be able to be active again. In the UK the NHS helps me but I know my meds cost *$1800 each injection* in the US, so people with the same illness could not afford meds to help with the exact same troubles because of where they live, healthcare and so on. Problems are problems, not often choices.

Regarding anime fan groups (and sports), here's a BBC piece about autism and manga =
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30nfka8J8Y0
The "hey I fit in here!" thing is very important to so many young fans, we have a huge shaming culture in the UK (just look at the Daily Mail paper, awful) - if you are a young person whose social skills are impaired by a neurological disorder/difference then the "we can do it!" shonen spirit and huge excitement generated by a fun show you're *really* getting into, making friends with other fans is just the best. I never fitted in because of my hobbies and many other things so enjoying anime then finding other people who were really into the same thing was a lifesaver :) I have often wondered if I would have be more sporty as a teen if I had really got into a sports manga! But alas none were translated at the time. Young fans are lucky! :)

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Re: Otaku Unite! documentary?

Post by llj » Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:15 pm

I'm skinny through heredity, but as far as fitness is concerned, I went through several phases when it came to fitness/sports interest. I was an active kid in elementary school, played baseball/street hockey/hoops and was "okay" at them not to embarrass myself. As kids started going through puberty and my physical disadvantages compared to other kids when it came to size/strength/stamina became more prominent, I started to go from "passable" to "pretend not to care about sports." For a time I completely lost interest in sports/fitness. I started to get interested in sports again only after I graduated from high school, and that was mostly watching professional sports. I started to see sports as art, and athletes something like artists. Some athletes are better than others, but the ones who reach the highest levels have a combination of talent and work ethic that is just like that of a master artist. This perception of athletes as artists has sustained the way I watch sports for the past 16-20 years. Of course I also care about winning and losing too, and want my teams to win. There is still that primal level of watching sports. :lol:

For my own physical activity, I had been looking for things I can do solo, but still fun to do. I cannot go to a gym and lift-weights/run on a treadmill for 1 hour staring at a wall or looking at some timer. It's boring and it feels like work. I'd rather go outside and see the scenery. For this I'd taken up a mix of "go" related activities like cycling, distance walking, and, in certain parts of the year, rollerblading. Rollerblading, while considered out of fashion socially, is interesting to me in that it functions both as a "go" related activity and a skill-building one as well. There are many techniques and skills associated with rollerblading that is interesting for one to learn to master. I'm not so concerned about looking good so much as making my body *move* regularly to keep "fit" and "active", so building a "sexy" muscular body isn't my goal as it is with some guys out there I know who want to look like The Rock.

As far as the fitness of geeks/fans are concerned, while I am sure lifestyle plays a big part in the lack of fitness in this particular community, one must also consider that sports/fitness/weight has been a lifelong challenge for them to, which drove them to non-sporty social communities. I know a lot of people with weight challenges who are NOT lazy. They do try. It's hard, because their bodies are conditioned a certain way already, especially as an adult, and it's not as simple as exercising more or eating less for a year or so.

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