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Monday, 4 May 2015

Shocking exit

The eviction of Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear was a bolt out of the blue. The show has millions of fans worldwide and his misdemeanour with a BBC employee was not taken lightly. There are news reports stating that Clarkson will be offered a job on ITV. The question is, will he take it?
His co-host, James May is rather upset about Clarkson’s exit, and has refused to return to Top Gear.  There are many contenders who are being considered to take Clarkson’s place. However, the future of the show is obscure.
There were rumours that Clarkson wanted to quit the show much earlier as he was dissatisfied with the producers. He doesn’t seem to regret his actions, but he does seem rather mellow and unperturbed about his future. But he’s made enough money to last for the rest of his life.
As a man in his fifties, close to the age of retirement, it doesn’t really matter if he gets another job, since he’s already financially secure.
This is not the first time that stars have misbehaved or verbally abused their co-workers or producers.
In 2010, British comedian, Jonathan Ross exited BBC and joined ITV. He had already been suspended for a scandal while he reigned late night television on BBC for 13 years. He was accused for using foul language, which went against many policies of the BBC. But, now, he has a hit show on ITV called, ‘The Jonathan Ross Show’, which features all of the popular celebrities worldwide.  
Ross is still successful.
In 2011, Charlie Sheen, the former star of Two and a half men was fired for abusing his producer, Chuck Lorre. Subsequently that year, Sheen starred in another sitcom called, ‘Anger Management’. The show received positive reviews and it will end soon. But Sheen didn’t go bankrupt as the reports claimed. He got roasted on Comedy Central, and bounced back after being sacked.
There are two things all three men have in common. They are undoubtedly famous, successful and rich.
They will always be offered another job. They will never be short of money.
But is that the case with women?
The late Joan Rivers was banned from the Late Night Show while it was hosted by Johnny Carson, out of envy, since she got her own Late Night show. After her show went downhill, Rivers struggled for employment since nobody offered the female comedian a job.


Another female comedian, Chelsea Handler, who voluntarily left ‘Late Night with Chelsea’, quoting that ‘interviewing stupid people was taxing’. In all fairness, not all celebrities are smart and can be interviewed. But surprisingly, she received a job offer. Times have changed. But nothing much has improved for women. 
But these three women have not been as popular or nearly as successful as their male counterparts. Despite their exit from popular shows, the men still have stable careers in their 50’s, but Handler and Rivers do not have a wide audience. They are known in the continent of North America. But they are not the most popular comedian’s or hosts on TV.
Whereas, Sheen and Clarkson are recognised worldwide, and Ross is the most popular TV show host in Britain. All three men have run off their mouths and always said something controversial, they still get to keep their jobs. But when female comics say something even slightly offensive, they are attacked and criticised more than their male counterparts.
It just goes to show that sexism exists all over the world, not just India. 


Monday, 2 February 2015

Manga

While talking about anime, manga cannot be left far behind. Actually, you can't talk about anime without talking about manga, since the source of most anime is a manga. Hence, they are inseparable.

Manga is the Japanese version of a comic, which has illustrations and is usually printed on cheap newsprint. Anybody in Japan can afford a manga. It's as cheap as a newspaper. It is said that in Japan, if a person is done reading a manga, they leave it anywhere, and another person will pick it up to read it. Cool right?

I'm even considering visiting Japan just to buy manga. Well, sadly, we won't find the English translations of the manga. So, just like everyone else, I'll have to wait for the manga updates.

I love manga, simply because it is a balance between pictures and words. A manga is not your average American comic, neither is not a novel, it combines the best of the two. But the best part is, its available online, for free!!

The amazing aspect of a manga is the artwork. Anything that cannot be described in words, is explained through art work. The hilarious expressions, the deep embarrassment, the anger and the thought process is entertaining.

That dark blush, those lovely irises, those long bangs and the amazing school uniforms, are the physical characteristics of our favourite characters. We all recognize them. We know them, and we love them. Manga is special. It tells us a story. A beautiful/ boring story. But its a story. You know what your characters look like. You see what they're feeling.

You know what they're experiencing right now. You see their facial expression. That's the beauty of it all. You don't have to imagine it. It's all right there. That's why its better than a novel. For those who aren't good at imagining things, manga is right up your alley.

Teachers say kids learn better without pictures, but actually pictures help explain a lot of things. If its the right picture that is. And manga is the right picture. Every page you turn, tells you a story. From the front cover to the back cover, the art work is amazing. The most arrogant man to the sweet, shy girl, we can see it all.

We don't know what to expect, or we anticipate what may happen in the next chapter, and we can't wait. The agonizing 7 day, (in our case, the agonizing one month) wait is worth it. The wait is killing us, but we still want to live. Just to read it. That's the power of the author. Their ability to tell a story doesn't end in the first chapter. 

My only complaint - it's printed on low quality paper. The colour of the paper is awful. It's like they've printed on a 10 year old newspaper. This ruins the whole experience. I agree white paper is expensive, but if you want better readers, print it on white paper. But since most of us read online and we get fine quality, it's not a problem.

But for those who buy the original manga, it must be hard if you aren't used to reading low quality print. Sometimes, the words are hardly legible, because of the awful paper colour.

The manga websites host the best quality images, and their translations are excellent. However, some manga are rarely updated, so it gets annoying. Unlike the weekly update in Japan, manga websites do not update on a regular basis. They just update whenever they feel like it.

The problem is, there are very few translators who are fluent in Kanji and English. Hence, it takes a while to get the job done. However, if the manga is great, then it's worth the wait. Sometimes, many amazing mangas are left abandoned, due to lack of translators. This is one of the hurdles which we manga lovers have to overcome.

Some manga like One piece, Naruto or Dragon Ball Z are too long to read, so I prefer to watch the anime. In sports or action manga, I prefer to watch everything happen 'live in action', rather than wait for it. To me, action on a page is different from the fast pacing action on screen. But for those who can't wait for the next anime update, manga is your next best option.

I know its not the same, but its worth it. Something is better than waiting!

Just as I am writing this, I'm eagerly waiting for a manga update!

Happy reading!

Manga forever!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Anime

Anime has taken the world by storm and won the hearts of people worldwide. It is no longer directed at a single demographic. There are very few countries in the world which do not air Japanese anime.

With that, I would like to analyse the content of these animated shows. There are popular anime in every genre, be it slice of life to dystopian fantasy, every genre has been covered by the anime world.

But the question is, what makes it so popular?

Anime is unconventional. It doesn't belong to the TV soap opera category, neither is it a cartoon. Its different. It has formed a category of its own and is a trail blazer for anything different. It has provided animators employment. There are translators, voice artists and even scholars who are required to make an anime.

From character design to voice acting, from hair colour to facial expression, everything is evidently expressed. It is not abnormal for an anime character to have pink hair, violet eyes and dog ears. We may see certain unique physical traits in cartoons, but the character design for cartoons cannot be compared to the design made by the Japanese animators. While anime started airing in HD long ago, cartoons and soap operas have just started this trend.

Both male and female characters are designed in such a way that the audience pays attention to their every move. What's more surprising, is that due to excellent character design, even antagonistic characters have gained popularity. Anything that deviates from the normal is what the audience accepts, simply because 'normal' is boring. That's why cartoons, which have crazy plot lines, but repetitive episodes, are only popular with children who can't grasp higher level ideas.

Soap operas waste time by extending a simple 2 seconds to 2 minutes, whereas anime is quick paced with fast dialogues, instant facial expressions, and action. Missing even a single episode can mean loss of vital information in order to follow the anime. That's not the case with cartoons or soap operas. There is a recap in anime and soap operas, but during soap operas, the conversations will reveal what occurred in the previous episode, so it's not like you missed much.

But sports, psychological or action anime, missing an episode is inadvisable.

While watching anime, there are certain noticeable aspects which almost all anime have:

1. Sexism- There are very few animated shows which do not portray sexism. There are scenes of rape, sexual abuse, voyeurism, and molestation which are made to appear acceptable. This maybe acceptable in the Japanese society, however, that's not the case in other countries. Ukraine has banned all anime, for this very purpose. Many women have voiced their dislike for anime due to this reason. Most of the female characters are weak, idiotic and act as fillers with no major screen time. There are constant jokes about their breast size, underwear colour, and groping is as normal as breathing in certain animes.

2. Plot line - Some anime have astounding and unexpected plot lines, other anime are mostly the same. These are called 'formula' stories. Soap operas follow them, and so do the anime. The top 5 worldwide loved anime all have the same plot line. A new adventure begins, and with determination, the main character overcomes all obstacles and emerges victorious. Ex: One Piece, Naruto, and Dragon Ball Z.

3. Portrayal of male characters- Surprisingly, the male characters do not have any depth. Their surface and source traits are as transparent as glass. Goku, Yusuke, Inu Yasha, and Naruto have only one goal in mind. To 'protect' their loved ones and defeat evil. The good vs bad never gets old. Hence, the old hero with new enemies makes it rather repetitive. Whereas in cartoons, it the old hero vs old enemy.

The complexity of the human mind, or the emotions of a normal man are not captured. Their strength, their agony and physical pain are palpable, but their emotions aren't addressed appropriately.


4. Clothes- For girls remaining in school uniforms throughout the day is very common. Short skirts is not uncommon either. Very little effort is put in for clothes in most anime, and the characters never seem to change their clothes. True, this is the anime world, the laws of Physics don't work, but stylish clothes are  important. In certain anime, circumstances and plot lines do not allow characters to frequently wear different clothes, while some other animators just never bother to put in the effort in designing good costumes for characters, even when it's necessary. Hence, their clothing and personal style is usually ignored.


Despite all this, there are hundreds of anime communities in every country, with Otaku's taking their life long pledge, and some others entering the field of animation due to their love for it. Whether you're a 13 year old  or a 25 old year old, there is bound to be an anime which you like or did like as a child. Whether it's Inu Yasha's dog ears or Sasuke's chakra, we love it all. The plot line has you hooked for life.

Otaku forever!