As I said in the previous post, I’ve officially sold out and got a Twitter account. Now, I’ve added a widget in the sidebar where you can read my tweets right from this blog. Nothing fancy yet, but we’ll see what becomes of this endeavour.…
Earlier today I set up a Twitter account (CheshireOcelot, if you want to know). I had created one four years ago for a couple weeks as part of a class on computer mediated communication (the same class that prompted the creation of this blog, in fact), but I deleted the account a few weeks later. Before I write or say anything, I always ask myself, “Is this worth sharing? Will my audience be informed, delighted, or moved?” In 140 characters, the answer is almost always “No.”
Now, even then I realised that those who get the most out of Twiter use it primarily to follow interesting people and share links to quality content, rather than to inform others that I’m currently eating lunch, going to bed, at the urinal, or otherwise leave people in despair by overdramatising meaningless statements. However, at the time, not many people used Twitter, making this somewhat theoretical. Four years later, now that everyone but me has an account, I figured I may as well hop on board, though it did take the catalyst of my little sister joining for me to follow.
Facebook presented a similar case. I joined in 2006, but deactivated my account after a couple months, and not having an account was a point of pride for me. By 2010, though, I caved in. Almost everyone I knew expected me to have an account, so much so that I missed a couple events that I’d have liked to go to because the invitation was sent via FaceBook. The specific catalyst was a friend’s birthday; for some other reason she had called me that January day, and happened to ask why I hadn’t shown up for her party. Of course, I hadn’t heard anything about it, and she said, “I sent the invitations through Face- oh yeah…”
I was similarly late to get my own cell phone, laptop, iPhone, and current-gen video game console (PlayStation 3), but I’ll save those stories for later. As for Twitter, I don’t know what I’ll do with it. I doubt I’ll post much, but I’m already following several other people, so probably I’ll just use it for news and such.
I do wonder, though, how many people besides me join these things not because they have a use for them but simply out of peer pressure.…
I’m currently creating a fansite for Kumeta Koji’s comic, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei. For now, it’ll be a fairly simple affair, with reviews and reference information about each volume. Since one can find most basic information about the series from Wikipedia and fanart on any of a number of fanart sites (e.g., Danbooru or Safebooru), I’ll focus on my own impressions of the series, and some more detailed information than what one finds on more general sites, like when different memes or characters are introduced, or how the different translators have dealt with the source material.
For now, here’s a draft of my overview of the series as a whole:
So, introducing Kumeta Koji’s Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei. Though much of what I’ll present on this site is plain, factual information, perhaps I’ll say up-front that I adore Zetsubou-Sensei. With the sole exception of Yotsuba&! (its spritual opposite, I suppose), it’s my favourite comic series, and the anime adaptation is one of my top five. So, though it’s not my style to go over-the-top fanboy, almost everything about the series appeals to me so much that I can only write from the viewpoint of a fan.
With that disclaimer, I’ll start with a few words on the series as a whole. The title means “Good Bye, Mr. Despair,” possibly a reference to James Hilton’s Good-Bye, Mr. Chips. That is a literal translation, so why the North American publisher, Del Rey, decided to use the Japanese title here confuses me. The fansub I have of season one of the anime uses the title “So Long, Mr. Despair,” which has a decent ring to it, I think, better than the unwieldy (in English) “Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei,” and gets the meaning across just fine. At least the average anglophone can look at it and know right away what it means. That said, Del Rey did mostly redeem themselves by adding the subtitle “The Power of Negative Thinking.” The twist on Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s classic The Power of Positive Thinking fits the tone of the comic very well. I don’t know if they consulted Mr. Kumeta, but I imagine he would probably have approved the addition.
Regarding the comic itself, Kumeta uses a satirical tone throughout the series, and almost every chapter revolves around roasting some societal problem or personality quirk, like shut-ins (hikkikimori), perfectionists, stalkers, media hype of all kinds, comic conventions – there’s even a page on TV Tropes dedicated to listing the tropes Zetsubou-Sensei undermines!
As one would expect, Kumeta definitely favours a dark sense of humour. The protagonist’s rampant cynicism is the comic’s hallmark joke, which leads him to attempt suicide multiple times per volume. He even tells a student in chapter four that the true love is best expressed by double suicide.
Kumeta also keeps up a frenetic pace. Text fills some pages like wallpaper, and jokes come fast and often, not only in dialogue but in the background art and text lists on the sides of panels. Luckily, the minimalist art style prevents the panels from feeling too chaotic. There’s no unnecessary detail, and no colour. Literally, black and white dominate the palette – even shades of grey are kept to a minimum. The art does its job well, though – the characters are distinct, the action is clear, and overall I find it quite stylish and appealing.
The series does have the fault, though, of falling into a pattern after the first two or three volumes. Most chapters begin in the classroom, a topic is introduced, Sensei declares that some aspect of that topic leaves him in despair, there’s some dialogue, then everyone goes into town and finds examples of that topic. Though the solid material usually holds up the unimaginative presentation, the series could use some more variety in its later volumes.
On a final note, I’ll mostly cover what’s available in English, and at least for now I’ll focus on the comic rather than the anime. Though both versions are excellent, the comic is currently more easily available, though once I get caught up with the comic I’ll probably look into adding a section for the anime, as well.…
An acquaintance of mine recently started a new blog of her own, and I wanted to welcome her to the blogosphere, but hesitated. My dear readers may be shocked to hear this, but my given name is not ‘Cheshire’, nor do I come from the ‘_Ocelot’ family. Though that is the pseudonym I use online, obviously nobody I know from the real world, this acquaintance included, would recognise me by that name. So, should I blow my online cover, so to speak?
I’ve never really hid my online presence from real-world acquaintances, so exposing myself in such a way would really bother me so much, though I do have some concern about random folk on the internet figuring out my real-world identity. Now that I have tied my name ‘Richard’ into this blog, it would be that hard to figure out who I am anyway. It’s just, what I do and the people I know online have always dwelt apart, and thrusting them suddenly together would seem strange.…