Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Japanese Voice Actors: Subtitles vs Dubs

The question of subtitles vs dubs is a divisive one in the anime community. Many are quick to claim if you don't watch anime in subtitles, then you're not a real fan of anime. I won't go that far, but I will say that you're missing out.

Look, if your reading comprehension isn't the best, or if you have visual issues with reading and watching, or if you just don't want to be distracted from what's on the screen, then dub is an option. However, voice acting in the English speaking world is nothing like what it is in Japan.

Anime is an artform and medium that is as appreciated as any other in Japan. Right now, the anime movie for Yo-Kai watch is beating out Star Wars Episode VII in Japan's box office. Princess Mononoke was the highest grossing film of all-time in Japan until Titanic beat it. Anime's acceptance and prevalence in Japan means that the quality of actor for the original run of an anime is almost guaranteed to be better than the quality of actor that a dubbing company is able to get.

For that reason alone, the Japanese voice track is superior, and in an ideal world, we would all understand every language and you could just watch it in Japanese without having to read.

That being said, there's nothing wrong theoretically with a dub, if the dub is done well. For most anime series made in the last 15 years, the dub is done OK. Japanese still has the edge over the English-speaking actors and if possible, I choose to watch it in Japanese. For big release films, the voice acting is usually much better on both sides, and the English speaking actors are maybe not as good as the Japanese speaking actors, but they're usually good enough to give them the edge if English is your first language. It's also nice to be able to have anime on in the background and not give it 100% of your attention (which is necessary for subtitles). One other issue you may run into is bad translation, but you run into this with subtitles just as much as dubs. There have been many instances where I'm watching an anime and the subtitles translate something one way when it really probably should have been translated a different way or it lacks the subtlety that the original Japanese intended. With dubs, you also get the translators trying to get the words to match the lip flapping of the characters. It's a mess, but they do it a lot better since the 2000s than they ever did when I was growing up.

Before the 2000s, in the 90s and 80s, the English voice track is nearly always grating and unwatchable for adults. Children may be able to get past the terrible voice acting, but even if subtitles aren't your thing, for anime that old, having to pause to read the subtitles would be preferred to listening to the terrible, terrible, terrible voice acting done by English voice "actors".

There are exceptions, but generally those exceptions are by actor and not by series. As in, there may be one character that is voiced well, while the rest of the characters are shrill and annoying and will give you a headache if you listen to them.

So yeah, in summary:

80s - 90s: Japanese voice acting all the way.
00s - Present (TV series): If you struggle with subtitles, your language of choice dub is probably OK, but if not, then treat yourself to the Japanese voice acting.
00s - Present (Wide Release Film): Your language of choice dub

(of course, how many wide release films are there? Only 10 anime have ever been given a wide release in America, and of those, 7 were based on TV shows (and so the voice acting rules don't apply) and 3 were Studio Ghibli films. I included Princess Mononoke when I spoke about good voice acting above, but really, they were just good actors that were lending their voices; the reality is that you are almost always better going with the Japanese performance).

So yeah, learn to read better I guess. But I won't hold it against you if you like the dub and anyone that does is an elitist jerk. We should be trying to get more people interested in anime, not keep people from it.

What are your thoughts on the dub vs subtitles debate? I haven't really even touched on live-action dubs which are often unintentionally hilarious and even worse than anime dubs (although some are intentionally hilarious, the Raid movies and Battle Royale for example were just bad dubs).

Star Wars Spoilers — Review, Analysis, and Predictions!

Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars! Give me those Star Wars! Don't let them end!

Here's the long-awaited spoiler review of Star Wars, with my thoughts and predictions as well. Basically, this is you and I have both seen Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens and are now talking about it; at least, that's the idea.

Spoilers after the jump . . .

Friday, December 18, 2015

No Spoiler Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

To the extent that it is possible, I will do my best to reveal no spoilers in this review. To the extent that it is possible, because from a certain perspective, just saying whether I like it or not could be considered a spoiler, and my opinions on the trailers after having seen the full film could be spoilery.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Dragon Half — A 20 Year Late Review

Dragon Half! An anime made when I was 8.

Mink flying wallpaper

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" Christmas Carol Rant (Redux)

Disclaimer: This is a new version of an old rant; this one is written without as much inflammatory language so that the argument isn't attacked on the basis of language used.

If this song brings you joy, then maybe don't read this as it may make it so that you can never listen to the song without thinking of the arguments I'm about to bring up.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Batman v Superman - Official Trailer 2 Review

In one word: demoralizing.

The new Batman v Superman trailer dropped tonight and I've got to say I was pretty underwhelmed. Stop watching this trailer at 2:06 because the creators of this trailer went to the same school of spoilers as the people that made the trailer for the last Terminator movie.

App Review: Raid Brigade after 20 hours

I downloaded Raid Brigade as part of an offer for free kreds from Kongregate . . . $3 worth of free kreds (which was exactly how much I needed for a game I've been playing on the site). I didn't intend to continue playing, but after checking out what it was, it held my attention long enough to warrant a review.
Raid Brigade Cover - Art of Four Heroes Fighting

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Jessica Jones S1 Review

I voraciously consumed season 1 of Jessica Jones. 

It's just so well-written. The characters are so well developed. No character seems shallow or one-dimensional, and even the guy hopped up on Super Soldier Steroids had a fleshed out character arc, if a little demented.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

3 Episodes of Jessica Jones

Halfway through the first episode of Jessica Jones and I realize I'm ruined for Supergirl.

I'm not even going to attempt a review of Supergirl now. Something had been holding me back from doing a first impression review and then a 3 episode review and I realize now it's that the show is underwhelming. The promise of Superman style adventures was the only thing that kept my attention. I love Superman content and I love the idea of Supergirl, but the show was "ehh". I may write an article comparing it to Jessica Jones in the future, but I don't even know if I'll continue that show now.

Contrast this with Jessica Jones, a character I think I maybe have heard of in some Spider-Man comics, but otherwise have no exposure to. Within ten minutes I was riveted to the screen. Within a half hour, I was pissed off at every other superhero television show I'd ever seen for not being half as good as what I was watching, and within the space of one episode, I realized that Jessica Jones was something I'd never seen before.

Simply-stated, the show is stellar. Possibly better than the Marvel movies, let alone any of the television shows from Marvel or DC.

Monday, October 26, 2015

"Comet Lucifer" — A Jack of All Trades?

3 Episode Rule

I was really hoping Comet Lucifer would be amazing. It seemed to have the potential, but I got too annoyed after the 3rd episode to feel like completing this one I'm sorry to say.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

"The Martian" by Andy Weir

In anticipation of the recent Hollywood film directed by Ridley Scott, I decided to purchase and read The Martian by Andy Weir. I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. The story is basically a castaway on Mars story, but both the science feels real and the humor (mostly from the smartass character of Mark Watney) is funny and consistent throughout. It's one of the best sci-fi stories I've read in years, and I hope that both its publication and the subsequent movie will inspire the next generation to move off planet.

"Comet Lucifer" First Impressions

Comet Lucifer (コメット ルシフャー) is a very pretty, new anime this season that caught my attention straight away with its science fiction fantasy aesthetics. I wonder if it is a coincidence that something whose first episode begged a comparison to Star Wars is released in the current climate or if it was done deliberately.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Roman Holiday . . . maybe a little late with this one

Roman Holiday is considered one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time. It stars Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, and as someone that's always been a fan of Audrey Hepburn from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "My Fair Lady", I figured it was past time for me to watch such a seminal movie.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Star Wars Ep VII: The Force Awakens — The Trailer

The trailer for the upcoming Star Wars trailer came out last night to almost universal appreciation. If you haven't seen it yet, I'll include the embedded video:


Monday, October 19, 2015

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Movie Poster Review

I'm more than a little excited for Star Wars.

Tonight, they're dropping the first full-length theatrical trailer during Monday Night Football. In anticipation, they released the movie poster yesterday.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

On the Prevalence of Sexual Molestation in Anime — Motivated by Accel World Episode 14

So I just finished watching Episode 14 of Accel World and being thoroughly disgusted, decided to talk about a common portrayal of evil men in anime. This won't be a formal essay so much as a reaction to something I had to sit through just now.

Basically, the stereotypical portrayal of an evil male in anime is one that licks the face of a female character and implies or commits further sexual molestation and rape (and I say further, because licking someone against their will is sexual molestation).

Noumi Seiji

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Accel World - A quick start!

Accel World is an anime that I really didn't need the 3 episode rule for thankfully. It had its hooks into me by the end of the first episode and now that I've seen the first 5 episodes, I'm pretty interested in where it's going. (I couldn't stop after just 3, which is a good sign).

Announcement: Reviews

There's a rule of thumb in anime that you should give a series 3 episodes before making a judgement. I'm not sure if this says more about the creators or about the fandom, but I've decided to begin doing this with all of the anime I can get my hands on. After watching a few episodes, I'll let you know my thoughts and if I'll be continuing the series, and after watching the entire series (or first season), I'll post reviews. If any particular episode is especially amazing, I'll also be posting reviews of that. Same thing goes for television series, but instead of "all", I'll amend that to the ones that look interesting.

This is all part of a new direction I'll be taking the blog in (while continuing in the other directions also). I'll add a section to the Apocalypse Designs website to archive old reviews, and will go back and populate it with the few reviews I've done already. Frankly, I don't have any reliable source of anime reviews, so it's something that I wish someone else had done before me. The TV series part will just be another excuse for content I suppose, not to mention something that I've been doing (and one of the most popular parts of the blog to be honest).

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Announcement: Zero Does Mathematics

Hi everyone,

As I may have implied or said outright, I'm no longer happy with the way Zero's Mathematics is turning out. I've grown so much as an educator and curriculum writer in the last two years that looking back at the first two ZAM are unsettling.

I will eventually return to ZAM and start over, making it bigger and better than ever, but in the meantime, I've been kicking around creating a resource for students that is entirely example problems from a variety of subjects, done the way I would do them, with discussion on problems and strategies on the fly.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Gate the Anime: C1 Review — Is this the end?

The anime known as "Gate" (by the way, what the eff were the marketers thinking on that one? Let's name our anime after a common everyday object so that we're guaranteed to be buried in any web search) is one whose premise is completely fucking awesome.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Doctor Who: The Witch's Familiar

This episode dovetailed with episode 1 of the series (Magician's Apprentice) and really reinforced my earlier opinion that they should have been a 2-hour premiere.

"The Witch's Familiar" successfully fixed most of the issues from the first episode and didn't suffer from the same pacing issues either.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Doctor Who Series Premiere

So, my trepidation over another episode of Doctor Who finally ended last night with my watching the DVR'ed episode.

It was alright.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

When a student gives up [rant]

I'm in the (un?)fortunate position of teaching a terminal level technical calculus course. I find the material very interesting, and it's nice that this course incorporates features from Calc 2, Calc 3, Differential Equations and Linear Algebra (because I don't usually get to teach Differential Equations or Linear Algebra), but it's bad in the sense that I'm not teaching the first technical calculus course and up until this semester, I wasn't teaching any precalculus courses.

Which means that my students are in no way prepared for the course they are taking.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Doctor Who Review delayed until Sunday

The title says it all, I know there is a new episode this week and I am super-stoked for it, but I won't be able to watch it on time, so I will be off the internet until I do and the review will be a day late.

Thank you for reading,

Monday, September 14, 2015

Successful writing

The way I see things now, I can start to strongly supplement my lifestyle with my writings.

My writing had already led to me getting the greatest job I've ever had, and even though it's ended, I feel that there is more I should take away from the incredible opportunity I earned. I currently am earning royalties on two books that I myself authored, have published and are available for sale. People all over the world buy my books. But all of those people combined aren't going to keep buying the same books over and over again just to give me a couple dollars a month. I need to continue to produce material for the people that do call me one of their favorite authors or for the people that my writing has positively affected.

Being able to buy pizza from my royalties or paying a bill or two is no longer something that I am happy about. To jumpstart my life, I've estimated that my goal should be to write the equivalent of 6 novels a year.

This is all writing mind you, including the writing you're reading at this very second, along with rewrites and edits and everything else. Everything helps after all, and if I'm not producing purchasable material, I am at least writing and practicing my craft.

6 fantasy novels would be about 600,000 words on average (although novels in general tend to clock in around 50K, fantasy is regularly 100K+), so 600,000 words a year.

50K a month, which is NaNo's goal also.

For someone writing as their job, this should be nothing. 50K a month is about 1700 a day, which is no more than 210 words an hour.

Now, I know there is writer's block and research and everything else. But I think that's more than reasonable as long as you allow some days will be writing more and some days will be writing less.

For instance, if you subtract weekends right off the bat, then that leaves about 260 days in the year. That bumps us up to 2310 words a day and 290 words an hour.

And if we assume we can only dedicate 20 hours a week instead of 40? Then that's 580 words an hour, which is all of a sudden manageable in short bursts, but probably not consistently if you count research, marketing, editing, page design and all the rest that goes into writing that is not itself the act of putting words to paper.

But I've just written about 500 words in twenty minutes, so then maybe that's not too much to ask?

I've come out of a long tunnel and I am starting to see again. It may be that I will fail, but I won't fail from not trying. I will keep on.

Thank you for your support,

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Welcome back

Hi everyone,

Quick blog to say I'm alive and all the old article series will be starting up again this fall. Thank you for your patience and support.

Best Regards,

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Why does "Holy Knight" suck so bad?

Hi guys,

I've been playing around with restructuring this blog, and trying to refine it so that it's something that I would like to go to as much as I actually want to write for it. This is why I've been doing the WotA Weekly's and did a huge push of posts in February. WotA Weekly is going to be once a week (on Fridays), and I'm also going to do some sort of math post once a week, and for the last thing . . .

Well, the number one thing the internet seems to regularly fail at when I go to look for information is reviews and recommendations on anime. It's hard to find a source that you actually trust. So I figure, I can be a source that is at least consistent. So here's my first look at "Holy Knight", the dub is available on Crunchyroll if you want to check it out (although . . . well, you probably shouldn't support this kind of content)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What happened this weekend???

Hey everyone,

I didn't get a chance to be on my computer this weekend so I am only now seeing that Friday's Weekly WotA not only didn't post on time, apparently Blogger lost the draft. Not sure what happened there, but I've been having internet connectivity issues so I'm going with that explanation instead of something wrong with the hallowed Google.

I'll be posting at least one WotA blog tomorrow and possibly two, along with the regularly scheduled Friday blog on Friday.

Sorry for the inconvenience! and know that you can email me if something doesn't seem right on any of the sites. A lot of times I am focusing on writing new material or grading/day-jobbing more than updating the sites, so sometimes mistakes happen.

Thank you for your support!

So how was your weekend? I spent it running between family matters and grading an absurd amount of calculus papers. Comment below

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

News: Jon Stewart leaving the Daily Show

I guess with all the good news in my fandoms some bad news had to happen also . . .

Site Recommendation:

If you guys haven't heard of yet, here's my recommendation.

Each day provides 3 designs available as t-shirts, hoodies, posters, and . . . coasters(?) for some reason???

The designs are always a part of geek culture, be that anime, comics, movies, etc, and they're affordable also (as of Jan 2015, $11 for a t-shirt + an expected amount of shipping & handling). For instance, this weekend they had a couple Deadpool shirts, a Big Hero 6/Iron Man mashup, Attack on Titan, My Neighbor Totoro and a Neon Genesis Evangelion.

What really gets you is the fact that the designs are only available for 24 hours at the normal price, and an additional 12 hours at an elevated price (+$5).

WotA Weekly: Yggdrasil

Hi folks! Today we're talking about the World Tree, Yggdrasil.

Spider-Man coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Wow! What a great week for my fandoms. First, Netflix announces a Legend of Zelda series, and now SPIDER-MAN IS SAVED . . .


Monday, February 9, 2015

Value of Your Degree

This is a version of a lecture that I usually end up giving to the dead-eyed college students viewing math courses as nothing more than an obstacle to their eventual college degree-enabled successful life.

2014 Superhero Films in Review

So 2014 saw a great number of superhero films (although still not enough!); for fans of sci-fi or fantasy, superhero films are quickly becoming the highest-quality way to get your fix.

In my eyes, there are about 5 superhero films that you can talk about; in order of release: Captain America: the Winter Soldier, Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy, Big Hero 6.

Some people would include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but I haven't seen it so it's off by default. 

So let's break down the best and the worst, best films, best acting, best heroes, best villains, etc.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


So John Oliver usually gives out a lot of good information in his weekly show.

This week, he brings the website to our attention, which tells you exactly how much your doctor has accepted from pharmaceutical companies and what it was for.

Hope you found it as enlightening as I did!

News: Legend of Zelda on Netflix

If you haven't heard, Zelda is on Netflix! Link to the scoop at the end.

To say that I am looking forward to a Netflix produced Zelda TV series is an understatement:
This is the dream.
Since the 1993 Mario disaster, Nintendo has been awfully protective of their properties, even going so far as to state that they would NEVER license Zelda.

There were some rumors a few months back that Nintendo may be going the route of Marvel in making their own cinematic studio, but apparently their research into this undertaking meant they decided to go ahead with the licensing.

Netflix is poised to be, if they aren't already, on top of the TV/home movie market along with HBO, and Zelda can help them get there. A Netflix representative has said they want this to be like Game of Thrones but family-friendly.

If it can capture a fraction of the heart of Zelda and the spectacle of what Game of Thrones is, then this could be the best show ever.

Here's hoping!

If you want to read other articles I've written on the Zelda franchise, check out the Zelda label, and if you want to watch the Zelda Wii U videos Nintendo has put out, check out my Zelda Playlist. Here's the original scoop from the Wall Street Journal.

So are you excited for a Zelda TV show? Or do you think it's going to be a hot mess? Who do you want to see in the cast of Zelda? +1, subscribe, and comment below. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Check Out: John Wick

John Wick is an interesting one. I never even heard of this film until about a month before its release, but as soon as I saw the trailer it piqued my interest. It looked like sheer awesome and early reviews were promising. So did it meet expectations?

Friday, February 6, 2015

WotA Weekly: Enchanting

Hi guys!

This week I'm discussing the magick of enchanting.

If you want to catch up on WotA Weekly entries, please click here: WotA Weekly. Starting Friday the 13th, WotA Weekly will be posted every Friday. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Narrative: Hunger

When you don't know any better, hunger is a bad thing.

The ache is sickening. It's the ache of failure. It rises up and attacks your conscious mind, beating you about the head. You're too poor to eat every night, or maybe you're too busy, and going to the store hungry is a good way to miss a mortgage payment.

Going to bed hungry is failure.

When you don't know any better.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

WotA Weekly #3: The Creation of the Multiverse

The creation story for WotA parallels classic mythology that usually start something along the lines of "in the beginning, there was darkness". The WotA creation story starts something like,

Before the beginning of time, there was magick.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Check Out: Old Man's War by John Scalzi

Old Man's War by John Scalzi is the series that made Scalzi. He published his book online free and asked readers to send him money if they liked it. It worked and he got a successful deal with Tor.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Make it better: Hyrule Warriors

© Nintendo

I've been a fan of Dynasty Warriors for years. I got my start with the franchise in Romance of the Three Kingdoms 3 for the SNES. So I leapt at the chance to play one of my favorites with the cast of one of my favorites. I mean, I have two Zelda tattoos for crying out loud (Triforce and three-and-a-half hearts if you're curious).

And as predicted, it's super-fun and addictive. But no one is clamoring for it to be named game of the year or even talking about it as more than filler between main adventures. So here is a list of things they could have done (or could do in an expansion/sequel). Some are more feasible than others and I really don't think would require much in the way of programming while others are more of a wish list:

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Thoughts on . . . Football

To say that football and I have a tumultuous relationship would be an understatement to say the least.

WotA Weekly #2: Space Demons

Ready for another WotA Weekly? This week, I'm tackling the "world" offworld.

Friday, January 30, 2015

WotA Weekly #1: Fae-Killers

Hi folks, here's the first of my new blog series. I decided to focus on WotA's versions of leprechauns and redcaps as it illustrates how WotA digests old myths and legends.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

2015: WotA, short stories, mathematics, consulting,

You may be questioning a 2015 blog on one of the last days of January but you'll be OK, manage your inner naysayer.