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Episode #0045 – Anime Expo 2014 – Interview with Danny Choo of Culture Japan
Released: August 30, 2014

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Video #0016 – Cool Find: Air Video HD: stream your downloaded anime, with perfect subtitles!
Released: June 16, 2014

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OT: These printable models of the iPhone 6/6 Plus might help you decide which size to get! (Updated)

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 PlusUpdate: It has been pointed out to me that Ars Technica beat me to the punch with their own printable iPhone 6 mockups. Story of my life, right there. :-P Still, I can claim some superiority with the fact that, unlike theirs, my models are actually in 3 dimensions! So there!

People who’ve visited this blog/podcast before are probably doing a double-take right about now, and wondering if they managed to wander onto some other website by accident. Either that or they’re facepalming and wondering how on earth this has anything to do with the normal topic of this website. It’s true, I feely admit it. I could try and come up with some far-fetched means of justifying this as something worth talking about here (after all, we have talked about iOS apps and devices before.) But I’m not going to. Because, you see, this really is the only place I have to post stuff that I want to draw attention to. This is my bully pulpit. I do have my own blog but it’s pretty badly neglected (it’s been on my “I’ll get to it one of these days” lists for ages now,) doesn’t get nearly the same level of traffic that this site does, and (perhaps more to the point) doesn’t have the web ads and analytics infrastructure in place. Yes, I freely admit that I am a click whore, I won’t deny it. But, unlike, ahem, certain linkbaity news sites out there (edit: I certainly do not mean you, Ars!,) I intend to back up my linkbaitiness with some actual useful content (at least I hope so!) And, hey, who knows, maybe one or two of you will decide to pay us a visit again sometime. So if this ends up getting me a few new listeners… well, so much the better. (Welcome, by the way. Make yourselves comfortable, I think you’ll like it here.)

Anyway, enough jibba-jabba, on to the actual subject of this blog post!

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, or traveling in another dimension or something, you are no doubt aware that a certain fruit-flavored company held a little event yesterday in which they announced a few new products, including the inevitable iPhone 6. And, true to the rumors, they have made two different sizes available; the iPhone 6, which has a 4.7-inch screen, and the iPhone 6 Plus, which has a positively gargantuan 5.5-inch screen. (They also unveiled some sort of wearable thingie…)

As it happens, not only am I due for a carrier-subsidized upgrade (I didn’t get the 5S, even though I was seriously tempted) but my poor iPhone 5 is also on its last legs. So this announcement couldn’t have come at a better time. The problem though is, which one should I get?

The iPhone with its 3.5-inch screen has been the smallest of the smartphones for quite some time now. Still, that has never really bothered me. The smaller size makes one-handed operation simple, which is very important to me. But as apps grow more complex, their user interfaces tend to grow as well, and this UI growth has really started to push the limits of the 3.5-inch screen size. When Apple moved to the 4-inch screen of the iPhone 5, that helped significantly, without compromising the one-handed ease of use. (If I needed to tap something single-handedly at either extreme end of the phone, I would perform a maneuver I’ve dubbed “the iPhone shimmy,” where I sort of wiggle the iPhone in my hand which lets it slide up or down in my hand until my thumb can reach the desired area of the screen.) But, once again, the ever-increasing complexity of apps has really started to push the limits of the 4-inch screen too.

Meanwhile, my Android-toting friends have been mocking me, and shoving their 4.5-, 5- and even 6-inch behemoths in my face. So I mocked them in return. The “phablet” form factor never really appealed to me. Sure, the screen is big, but you would need the hands of an NBA all-star player to hold it, and putting something the size of the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey against your face when making a call just seemed… wrong. And forget about one-handed use! But then I hear people swear up and down, saying stuff like “no, it’s not really that big,” “you quickly get used to the bigger size,” etc. I’ve been thinking all night about how to solve this (admittedly first-world) problem when the answer (or at least a tool that might help me arrive at an answer) hit me: why not create mockups of the two new iPhones? Then I could play with them and experience how actually using them might feel. So, armed with this idea and a copy of Adobe Illustrator, I set to work. And this is the result.

First, the disclaimers. I really, really suck at Adobe Illustrator. Frankly I’m amazed that I was able to produce something even remotely iPhone-like. The only thing I can guarantee is that the dimensions of these mockups are the same as the specs that Apple has published, which, for the iPhone 6, are 5.44 x 2.64 x 0.27 inches (138.1 x 67 x 6.9mm), and for the iPhone 6 Plus, 6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches (158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1mm). Also, the actual iPhones will be much rounder than these mockups; both the edges as well as the front and back surfaces are subtly curved, and I couldn’t really duplicate this in my mockups. So these models will look and feel decidedly brick-like. Finally, the size of the screen, the app icons depicted on it (which are also decidedly box-like) and the size of the physical controls (home button and earpiece) are best-guess approximations. We only know the diagonal measurement (4.7 and 5.5 inches), and I suppose there is probably some sort of magical equation that would let me calculate a length and width based on that, but I haven’t the foggiest of how to do that. However, in spite of these caveats, I still believe these mockups will give you a reasonably close idea of what holding and using the actual device would feel like. (Oh yeah, one final caveat: since you’ll be walking around with what is essentially a slab of cardboard, and pretending to tap on it, talk into it, etc., people might think you are a little bit strange…)

To use these, simply print these out (preferably onto a heavy paper or card stock), cut along the outermost lines, and fold along all the other lines. Tape or glue shut. For added realism, find yourself a postal scale and, before sealing them up, fill them with small objects (paperclips, coins, what have you) to approximate the actual weight of the devices: in the case of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, that would be 4.55 ounces (129g) and for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, 6.07 ounces (172g).

Go download them now!. They’re available as both Illustrator (.ai) and PDF files.


Episode #0045 – Anime Expo 2014 – Interview with Danny Choo of Culture Japan

Podcast SymbolIn today’s episode, we bring you our 2nd (and final) interview from Anime Expo 2014. This time we speak with none other than Danny Choo, about his various projects, including the new Mirai Suenaga Smart Doll.

Today’s Sponsor: Listeners like you! Help us bring this podcast and website to you.

Today’s Theme: “Innocence” by Eir Aoi, 2nd OP to the anime “Sword Art Online.” Watch it on Crunchyroll. Get a Crunchyroll Premium Membership!

Links to stuff we discussed:

Help us bring this podcast and website to you
Amazon page at otakunopodcast.com
Danny Choo
Figure.fm
Mirai Suenaga Smart Doll

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Episode #0044 – Anime Expo 2014 – Interview with Peter Payne of J-List

Podcast SymbolIt’s been over a month since Anime Expo 2014, and thanks to an extremely busy schedule that just didn’t mesh up with the busy schedules of my fellow cohosts, we weren’t able to record our usual Review/Wrap-up Podcast of Doom until mid-July or so, and I haven’t been able to sit down and edit the thing until this week. Also, the video we took at con got mangled due to technical difficulties with my video camera, and I haven’t been able to sit down and go through it and see if any of it is usable (and in fact I may not end up with any usable video at all.)

So until I am able to finish editing our wrap-up podcast (which I hope to do this weekend) I thought I’d publish the two interviews that we managed to grab while at AX. In today’s episode, in what seems to have become a yearly tradition for us, we sit down and chat with Peter Payne, head honcho of J-List and J-Box about the latest goings-on in the J-List Empire. We also talk about visual novels/dating sims, including the awesome release of Steins;gate.

Today’s Theme: “Toki Tsukasadoru Jūni no Meiyaku” (刻司ル十二ノ盟約, “The Twelve Time-Governing Covenants”) by Yui Sakakibara, ED to the anime Steins;gate.

Today’s Sponsor: Listeners like you – Help us bring this blog and podcast to you.

Continue reading Episode #0044 – Anime Expo 2014 – Interview with Peter Payne of J-List

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Episode #0043 – Convention Survival Guide, 2014 Edition

Podcast SymbolSummer con season is upon us, and so we thought that it was high time that we brought back our famous Convention Survival Guide. These are the tips, tricks and techniques we’ve found to be extremely helpful in maximizing our con-going enjoyment while minimizing those two undesirable elements, Con Drama and Con Plague. We also take a look at some 11th hour Anime Expo guest announcements.

Today’s Sponsor: Listeners like you! Help us bring this show and website to you.

Today’s Theme: “Shin Sekai Kōkyōgaku” (新世界交響楽, “New World Symphony”) by Sayonara Ponytail, 2nd ED to the anime “KILL la KILL.” Watch it on Crunchyroll. Get a Crunchyroll Premium Membership!

Continue reading Episode #0043 – Convention Survival Guide, 2014 Edition

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Anime Expo 2014 preliminary schedule is now up in both PDF and Guidebook! (Updated)

AX 2014 LogoUpdate 06/20/14: The Guidebook guide has been updated, and now contains the complete schedule, as well as general info, event policies (weapons policy, code of conduct, etc.), GoH and industry guest info, and a transportation guide!

We have spoken at great length about the tips and techniques we recommend to ensure you have the best, least stressful and least-drama-inducing experience at con. One of the main points we drive home is that one should always research the con you’re going to. For one thing, read up on the Guests of Honor. That way, if you happen to be with a group of friends who decide they want to go to (insert random GoH)’s panel, you won’t have the pain and embarrassment of having to admit that you have no freaking clue who that is. Also, it always helps to know what’s going on, where it’s going on, and when it’s going on. In other words, peruse the con’s schedule just as soon as they make it available. Most cons put up a preliminary schedule 2-3 weeks before the event, with the caveat that, being preliminary, it is subject to frequent change (and often does indeed change frequently.) Still, grabbing the schedule as soon as it’s available and making note of the events that might interest you is always a good idea.

All of this long-winded rhetoric leads up to the announcement that, after a bit of a false start, the folks at Anime Expo have put the preliminary schedule online. It’s available in PDF form, which pretty much every computer, as well as most smartphones and tablets, can read without difficulty. Grab it, print it out, put it on your smartphone or tablet’s PDF reader app, and start planning out your schedule. We’ve only got just a hair over 2 weeks to go till AX time!

But wait! There’s more! Smartphone and tablet owners, pay attention! Rather than downloading the PDF, you might want to take a look at the Guidebook app instead! Because Anime Expo has, once again, and to my extreme delight, made their schedule available in the Guidebook app! This is by far the best way to view con schedules if you have a mobile device. Once you’ve downloaded the app and downloaded the Anime Expo guide, you can browse through all of the panels, workshops, main events, video screenings, and list of dealers’ hall exhibitors. As you browse, you can mark down events that you are interested in, and they will automatically be added to the “Your Schedule” section of the app, where you can see at a glance the events you’ve marked. You can even set alarms to warn you X minutes before a must-see event starts. Or you can use the handy search feature to quickly find what you’re looking for. The app doesn’t require a data or WiFi connection to browse the guide. However, if you do have a connection available, it will automatically check to see if there are any updates to the guide, which is awesome, especially at con, when schedules can (and often do) change from moment to moment. Note: the current version of the Anime Expo guide in Guidebook doesn’t yet have event information in it. I’m sure they’ll be updating it shortly to include that information, and when they do, your Guidebook app will automatically download the update! The Guidebook guide does have information on Guests of Honor and dealers’ hall exhibitors, so you can start looking at those right away. Update 06/20/14: The Guidebook guide has been updated, and now contains the complete schedule, as well as general info, event policies (weapons policy, code of conduct, etc.), GoH and industry guest info, and a transportation guide! Guidebook is available for pretty much all mobile platforms, including iOS (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad,) Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, etc.

iTunes

Get the free Guidebook app on Google Play

Get the Guidebook app on other platforms

Cdjapan Jazz_Fusion

Cool Find: Watch the classic Sailor Moon anime, uncut and unbowdlerized, on Hulu and Neon Alley!

Sailor Moon charactersIn our recent episode that took a look at what’s coming up at Anime Expo 2014, we declared that this year’s Anime Expo’s “theme” is looking to be a cross between Sailor Moon and KILL la KILL. We also mentioned offhandedly that the original Sailor Moon was available for streaming at Hulu.

In fact, Viz Media has licensed all 200 episodes of the classic anime series, plus three feature films and assorted tie-in specials, for both streaming and physical media distribution. Currently, twelve episodes are up, and they will be releasing two new episodes every Monday (or “Moonday,” as they like to call it.) This represents the first time that Sailor Moon has been broadcast in the U.S. for over a decade. Moreover, this will include the first North American release of the final television series, Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars. They are able to do this thanks to having recently acquired the license from Toei.

Viz is releasing the series with the original Japanese audio and English subtitles. They are also working on an all-new English dub with a brand-new cast, and will start releasing those later this year. For you physical media diehards, they will also be releasing the show in DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo releases, in half-season sets, starting this fall.

Best of all, the show is being presented completely uncut and unbowdlerized. Content that was considered “questionable” back in the day and that was removed has been restored, and non-mainstream character relationships (i.e. yuri) have been restored.

The show is also being streamed on Neon Alley, which makes sense, since Neon Alley is Viz’s own service. (Incidentally, a lot has changed at Neon Alley since we looked at it back in 2012. They’ve switched away from the “broadcast TV station” model to the more mainstream “streaming on demand” model that everyone else is using. They’ve added computer/web browser-based streaming, but have sadly removed their PS3 app, instead directing people to use the Hulu Plus PS3 app. But Neon Alley is now a free service, so one can’t complain too much!)

So go watch it on Hulu or Neon Alley today!

Sailor Moon served as the “gateway drug” for many a current anime fan. Now it’s poised to do the same to a whole new generation of fans. And that’s a Good Thing.


Episode #0042 – Anime Expo 2014, Air Video HD and a Chat with Peter Payne

Podcast SymbolAfter a long absence due to some “interesting” (in the Chinese proverb sense of the word) medical issues, we are back! Sorry for the downtime.

Today we’re taking a look at the Anime Expo 2014 guest list. Anime Expo is our favorite anime con (and we’re not just saying that because it’s located practically in our backyard.)

We also take a look at a really cool app that I found that any anime lover should have on their smartphone or tablet.

Finally, we resurrect an interview that I thought I had lost, with Peter Payne of J-List, from last year’s Anime Expo.

Today’s Sponsor: Listeners like you! Help us bring this show and website to you.

Today’s Theme: “Gomen ne, Iiko ja Irarenai.” (ごめんね、いいコじゃいられない, “Sorry, I’m Done Being a Good Kid.”) by Miku Sawai, 1st ED to the anime “KILL la KILL.” Watch it on Crunchyroll. Get a Crunchyroll Premium Membership!

Continue reading Episode #0042 – Anime Expo 2014, Air Video HD and a Chat with Peter Payne

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Cdjapan Manga

Video #0016 – Cool Find: Air Video HD: stream your downloaded anime, with perfect subtitles!

Video Podcast SymbolIn this episode, we take a look at a really cool app for iPhones, iPod touches and iPads, Air Video HD. Air Video HD lets you stream video files over your home network from your computers, media centers, network attached storage, etc. It automatically transcodes the video if needed, and supports pretty much every video format under the sun, including MKV and Hi10p. It also supports all the common subtitle formats, including advanced subtitle features (SSA/ASS) such as fonts, text positioning, styles and more.

Watch this video on YouTube (higher quality)

Get more info on Air Video, and download the companion app here

Buy the Air Video app on the iTunes Store

iTunes

iPod touchiPod touch
-

Buy iPod touch at Amazon

iPad AiriPad Air
-

Buy iPad Air at Amazon

iPad miniiPad mini
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Buy iPad mini at Amazon

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Cool Find: Let Flix Roulette help you decide what to watch on Netflix tonight

Flix Roulette LogoAnime fans these days are truly blessed. Gone are the days when you had to wait months and months until the next DVD of (insert name of anime series you’re following) came out, which of course you’d have to pay $30 or more for. Today, with our fast Internet connections, wide variety of computing devices and on-demand streaming video services, there’s always something to watch right at your fingertips. One could argue, however, that this is a problem in and of itself: there’s just too much stuff to watch out there! How is one to choose? Well why not throw caution to the winds and let the fates decide for you? This is easy to do, thanks to a cool service I found called Flix Roulette.

As its name implies, you’ll need a Netflix account to take advantage of Flix Roulette. But, with plans starting as low as $7.99, and with Netflix’s vast catalog of available titles (both anime and non-anime,) having a Netflix membership is definitely worthwhile.

Anyway, the next time you have trouble figuring out what you want to watch, just head on over to the Flix Roulette website. Click the “Spin” button to spin the wheels of fate and let Flix Roulette pick something random for you to watch. If that’s way too random for your tastes, you can filter by genre (only choose from titles in a certain genre, such as anime, sci-fi, comedy, action/adventure, etc.); type (movies and/or TV shows); rating (titles rated between X and Y stars, to filter out the crap – or to specifically zero in on crappy shows, if that’s what you want); and by director, actor, or keyword.

Once you click the “Spin” button, Flix Roulette will think about it for a bit, then it’ll come up with a random title for you. It’ll show you the show’s title, rating, a brief description of the show, the director and cast, and a thumbnail (usually the DVD/Blu-ray cover or poster art from the show.) Click the “Watch on Netflix” button and you’ll jump straight to the Netflix website and begin streaming the chosen title. It’s as simple as that.

Flix Roulette is a fun way of solving that age-old problem of “what are we going to watch now?” Try it the next time you have a group of friends over. Check it out today!


AMV Spotlight: Fate Matrix and Fate Network

Video Podcast SymbolWhen crafting up an AMV, you have two choices. You can either create an AMV based on a single anime, or you can make one based on a compilation of multiple animus. This latter option is, by far, the hardest way to make an AMV. Think about it: if you’re basing a video on a single anime, it’s pretty easy to come up with a storyline for your AMV, because with only one anime involved, you have only one set of characters and one plot to deal with. But when you are working with many different anime, each with its own set of characters, its own storyline, etc., weaving all of those into a consistent, plausible story for your AMV is really difficult. Which is why I give mad props to anyone who even attempts such a feat. And when I see a video that just “nails it,” its creator deserves legendary status.

One such video that, to this day, remains one of my absolute favorites is “Fate Matrix” by Shin (AMV.org profile, YouTube page) and GuntherAMVs (AMV.org profile, YouTube page) of PixelBlended Studios. Drawing from an amazing 27 anime, including Angel Beats!, 5 Centimeters per Second, Ore no Imouto, and K-ON!, this AMV tells the story of the “Little Sister of Fate,” played by Alice of Heaven’s Memo Pad, who sits in her ethereal headquarters, manipulating the “Threads of Fate” that bind various characters together, causing them to find their true love, avoid disaster, achieve happiness and so on.

I absolutely adore the concept behind this video; it really spoke to the heart. In addition, it is a very well put together video from a technical standpoint. The editing is flawless, and the creators did a great job of blending the various anime, with their different styles, into a single cohesive vision. Finally, the music they chose, “Tell Me (Clock Opera remix)” by Au Revoir Simone, is a perfect fit.

I first saw this video during Anime Expo 2012 where it was a finalist in the AMTV Pro category. Unfortunately it didn’t win. This made me very sad, since I felt that it was better, both from a storyline and technical standpoint, than the other videos in its category, and that it really should have won. However, I am happy to learn that it did win Best Drama at Anime Boston 2012.

In addition, the creators are working on a follow-up video of sorts, “Fate Network,” which expands on the Fate Matrix universe.

Watch Fate Matrix and Fate Network on YouTube or via the embedded players below the cut.

Bravo, creators! Well done!

Continue reading AMV Spotlight: Fate Matrix and Fate Network