7 things I learned about business from watching anime

I’ve been working as a professional business dude for while now but not as long as I have been an anime fan. Looking back at all the anime I’ve watched I’ve noticed some correlations between key lessons I’ve learned in business and some of the things I’ve seen in anime.
1. You can have the best product in the world but if no one knows about it it doesn’t matter
If you created an amazing product, like calorie free ice cream or a kitten vending machine, but you only let people know about it by running ads on Myspace it might as well not exist.
When we first meet Usagi she’s a lazy, clumsy, whinny bun-head of a teenage girl. Who would ever suspect she would be the greatest champion of the Sailor Moon universe.  At first not the villians, the other guardians, or herself even.  Everyone thought Sailor Venus was the one to be the savior of the world. Tuxedo Mask had a good feeling about Usagi but that was as close to any insight on her power level as anyone had. Which was very lucky for him because that guy was totally useless.
Sailor Moons
2. The right team on a project can make the difference between success and failure.
To have the greatest success with a project you need to have the right people involved on it. If you are trying to find new ways to increase likes for your company Facebook page be sure to have someone who’s last claim to fame online wasn’t Live Journal.
In Steins;Gate Okabe wouldn’t have been able to find out all the wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff he did with out the rest of the Future Gadget Laboratory. Daru, Mayuri, Kurisu; all key pieces of the puzzle that lead them to find out all the truths they so were seeking for. Which turned out so well for them.
You know, on second thought…
3. Feedback (good or bad) is a gift. Be grateful when you get it.
Be happy when customers let you know via a survey, on Twitter, or in person what they like and don’t like about your company. This could help guide your next decision to make things better or stop you from going down a wrong path your business could be heading towards. If someone ever tells you to never start a land war in Asia, you should listen to them.
Kanada might have been a punk but he was really trying to help Tetsuo out all the times he was yelling his name and treating him like dirt. Sure, not the best approach but still he meant well with his feedback.  If Tetsuo had decided to take Kanada and everyone else’s advice to just chill out maybe Neo Tokyo would not be turned into the ultimate skate park it is now.
4. A problem well defined is already half solved
When tacking an issue it is very important to find out what exactly needs to be fixed before trying to repair things. Once you narrow down what needs to be done to make things better and you eliminate the items that won’t help with this, solutions will come easier and problems faster to fix.
When you wake up with no memory, a gun, and a cellphone standing in front of the White House naked you are most likely not going to have a good day. For Takizawa from Eden of the East this could have been the case but he quickly started to put things together. Once he was fully informed what the game he was playing was about he started to turn the tables on the people pulling the strings. Which is always a good thing when there is a beautiful woman with a cigar cutter and nefarious plans for your friend Johnny.
Eden of the East
5. Remember the 80/20 rule
20% of the people will be responsible for 80% of your revenue. Keeping your most loyal customers happy and informed goes a long way to help the bottom line and the future success of most new ventures.
How many saiyans does it take to screw in a lightbulb? One, but it takes fifteen episodes. Long running series are regularly known for having filler episodes. Those large chunks of non-main storylines reminds you of the good stuff when it comes around. Even little bits of story progression makes things better for everyone involved.  When Goku get’s his drivers license might be my favorite DBZ episode but the Truck saga is what makes the series legendary.
6. Perception is reality
If a stable bank is believed to be unstable people will start pulling their money out, making it unstable. What people think of a service can greatly effect how it actually performs. The pet rock, bottled water, and the emperor’s new robes all can thank perception for their success.
Vash the Stampede, the human typhoon. Nicest guy on the planet who just wants to eat some donuts and help people out. One person hears a rumor that the human typhoon is coming to town and everyone starts losing their mind. They don’t even believe Vash is the same guy from the wanted posters when meeting him. Sure, everything does tend to get blown up when he shows up, but that’s besides the point. Lesson to learn here: never judge a book by it’s cover. Especially if that book is known to leave cities in rubble after reading the last chapter.
7. Build something you believe it and others will follow you 
When you have a product you believe in beyond just a pay check it is easy to get others excited about it as well. When you can look some one the eye and say, “it’s dangerous to go alone. Take this” and mean it that is a powerful thing.
When living underground just digging around in the dirt it’s hard to think there could be anything else to life.  But tell Kamina that. He always believed he was the one to pierce the heaves and make it to the surface. The strengths of his belief of this drew others to find hope as well and push up beyond what they thought was safe and possible. Because you don’t have to believe in yourself. You just need to believe in the Kamina that believes in you.

These Orc Attacks are Bring Down our Property Value

Image: http://www.geeksofdoom.com/2012/04/10/the-simpsons-creator-matt-groening-finally-reveals-town-of-springfields-real-location
There are many worlds from many stories. Some full of dangerous creatures, others covered in frozen sheets of ice, even a few with little teddy bears with sharp sticks.
But do any of them have a skate park?
If you had to live in one of the worlds from all of those stories that we have all read, seen, and enjoyed which one would it be? If you had to live somewhere what would be the things that were most important? and I really mean live there. Not start on some random moisture farm to be whisked away to join a random old man on some damned fool adventure. If you had to spend the next 50+ years some where, where would that place be?
Let’s look at some options based on 4 key criteria most people would say are important to living some place.
  1. 1. Economic standards: Are there good jobs, is the economy growing, a total lack of goons coming around asking for protection money
  2. 2. Least likely to be attacked by bad guys: Is there an insurrection by the people every Tuesday or some galactic empire that comes a knock’n for new recruits regularly
  3. 3. Good place to raise kids: What kind of schools do they have, places to play that aren’t filled with turrets that fire lasers
  4. 4. Entertainment options and culture: What are their arts districts like, how is the local quidditch team these days, can you get froyo delivered by a unicorn
 Image: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Cloud_City
Cloud City
  1. 1. Economic standards: The gas mining business is pretty much the only game in town. But if that’s your thing, this is your kind of place.
  2. 2. Least likely to be attacked by bad guys: Well, there was this one time…
  3. 3. Good place to raise kids: Not unless you want them to grow up singing “Coal Miner’s Daughter” with a bit of a space cowboy twang to it.
  4. 4. Entertainment options and culture: Friday night is toss the droid parts with the Ugnaughts and there is that one guy with the ice cream maker. He’s really popular there.
 Image: http://venturebeat.com/2012/04/19/the-ultimate-map-to-the-entire-mushroom-kingdom/
Mushroom Kingdom
  1. 1. Economic standards: They live on the gold coin standard. There is always a need for new workers to help build towers, bridges, and pipes. So many pipes.
  2. 2. Least likely to be attacked by bad guys: I recommend moving into Toad’s house until the whole Koopa issue is dealt with
  3. 3. Good place to raise kids: The schools are lacking but the playgrounds are killer
  4. 4. Entertainment options and culture: Do you like shell games and sounds of whistles?
 Image: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2009/11/27/friday-in-the-city-of-domes/
The city from Logan’s Run
  1. 1. Economic standards: Now work, no worries. It’s all play all the time.
  2. 2. Least likely to be attacked by bad guys: Just don’t run and you’ll be fine
  3. 3. Good place to raise kids: Not really an issue
  4. 4. Entertainment options and culture: Every kind of entertainment you can imagine, the 18 – 24 demo is king, and you really should check out Carrousel. It’s like a sci-fi Cirque Du Soleil.
 Image: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2014/12/21/films/mysterious-evangelion-short-film-released/#.Vc1WX5NViko
Evangelion – Tokyo-3
Image: http://www.comicvine.com/forums/battles-7/vision-aou-vs-superman-mos-1665789/
  1. 1. Economic standards: Lex Corp is always hiring and the newspaper industry still exists
  2. 2. Least likely to be attacked by bad guys: Bad stuff happen but as long as big blue is there things should be fine. Well, as long as Zac Snyder isn’t involved.
  3. 3. Good place to raise kids: One hell of a great role model that’s for sure
  4. 4. Entertainment options and culture: Having a dull afternoon? Just look to the sky and wait.
Image: http://www.tvacres.com/cities_sunnydale.htm
  1. 1. Economic standards: Sunny California suburb with all the things you would expect. Your local main street stores, assortment of parks, and a subterranean mystical portal that attracts evil forces.
  2. 2. Least likely to be attacked by bad guys: 50/50 is not the worst odds
  3. 3. Good place to raise kids: A great training ground for some bad ass teens
  4. 4. Entertainment options and culture: Lot’s of choice spots to make new friends. Like dark alleyways, abandoned factories, and a variety of gothic cemeteries.
Image: http://www.comicvine.com/forums/battles-7/team-luther-strode-vs-attack-on-titan-1643640/
The Walled City
  1. 1. Economic standards: Trades a bit tight as of late. Might be a bad time to buy a house.
  2. 2. Least likely to be attacked by bad guys: It depends. Which wall are you most behind?
  3. 3. Good place to raise kids: They have this new ‘scared straight’ program that’s all the rage
  4. 4. Entertainment options and culture: Do you like running away from things?

A Shelf is Worth a Thousand Words

Do you have a shelf? I’m betting you do. I don’t mean just a regular shelf for regular things. I mean a glorious shelf of the amazing things. The shelf that when people come to visit look up and down to see what you’re into, what you love, and how you like show that all off.
We have a shelf, or, shelves like that in our house. We call it The Shelves of Great Nerdery. A place to keep all the little things we’ve collected over the years as a showcase of what we want people to associate with us. Totems of our lifestyle.
Donkey Kong
I’ve seen all kinds of shelves dedicated to all sorts of things.  Action figures lined up by release dates with each shelf a different toy line. Shelves made of old hard back books bought in bulk at an auction house. Anime DVDs bookended by anime VHS tapes.  All shapes and all sizes.  So what is it that makes us naturally want to build a shelf? We put things upon it like a trophy case where the ‘best in show’ ribbon came in a blister pack.  Be it one shelf or a dedicated room this seems to be in our DNA for all who collect stuff of some kind.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a nicely designed shelf can say a lot about what you want others to perceive of you. Row’s of Xbox games towering next to a large TV: “I’m a gamer”. A dedicated shelf overflowing with con badges and event pictures: “I like to go to conventions”. Some shelf obsessions go even further and more specific if that is important to that person. A shelf of one brand of tea containers, new and old, that sits over a breakfast nook that has bay window with space between each container for a book: “I like to have my favorite tea while I sit and read with the sun coming through the window.”
What is on a shelf, how everything is arranged, and why it was added are all parts of the story.  Let’s dissect one of my shelves as an example.
Shelf by number
  1. 1. A custom card with the text ‘you blew it’ in fancy lettering a comic friend of mine hands out at bars from time to time
  2. 2. 12” Boba Fett figure. One of the few remaining items from my Star Wars addiction days.
  3. 3. Issues 1-3 of Ranma 1/2. The only time the manga was ever in full color. My first convention purchase ever (1997).
  4. 4. A Buddha statue from the first time I visited the Ft. Worth Japanese Gardens
  5. 5. Voltron mini figures. One of the few items I didn’t sell off of my near complete Voltron collection
  6. 6. Stack of Yotsuba manga. Because if you ever need a smile just pick one up and read it.
  7. 7. A tea cup my girlfriend bought from the now closed Japanese Sakura Taisen Cafe
  8. 8. Panda-Z imported figure that was gifted to me by an old friend who had “too much shit that needed to find a new home”
  9. 9. Prinny fans from Anime Expo the year I was told about Disgaea. A game my girlfriend obsesses over.
  10. 10. Disney’s The Black Hole puzzle I’ve had since I was 5
  11. 11. The two way pager that I got from my first college internship designing websites at Motorola (Thank you HTML for Dummies!). This bad boy saved my ass multiple times in college. I don’t think the plan was suppose to go for an extra year but I sure was happy it did.
  12. 12. 5-Barrel rum bottle from the first vacation to Belize my girlfriend and I took together. My first vacation that didn’t involve me going to a Disney park, taking my daughter to a Disney park, or some random college spring break adventure.
  13. 13. What remains of my original Magic The Gathering collection from high school. Including cards I made up that for some reason my friends actually let me play in real games.
All these stories condensed into a 4 foot space. A level of efficiency Twitter should be envious of.
Your shelf can also acts as a timeline of your fandom.  The shelf you started in high school (an old wine glass rack I filled with anime VHS tapes in my case) can say just as much about you as your yearbook photo. As your fandom evolves so does your shelf.  You may have even changed out your shelf entirely. Big in to baseball as a kid, Gundam model kits in college, and now it’s Criterion Collection Blu-rays and rare 35mm prints of classic films. Like moving from a 6-pack of Bud Light to bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label, your tastes have grown with you.
Do you have a shelf? I would love to hear all about it and see any pictures if you got them. If the comments section below doesn’t allow pictures feel free to share them on my Facebook page or Tweet them at me.
Sailor Moon

Why Conventions Matter to Me

Sorry for the short blog post but I’m writing this the night before Anime Expo starts and everything is insane and wonderful at the same time. This leads me to the topic of today. Conventions and my history with them.
I first started going to conventions in 1996, AnimeFest in Dallas Texas. I was instantly hooked on them from day one. The idea of all the people that understood and loved all the things I did in the same place for a weekend was absolutely intoxicating. It seemed like a thing that shouldn’t exist. It felt like make believe when jumping from conversations of Tenchi Muyo, to screenings of Nadesico, to playing Power Stone all night with random strangers. I slept on a row of seats of a screening room, talked my way into using people I just met’s showers, and ran out of money for food way early into the weekend. And. It. was… amazing! I some how knew this was something I needed to be a part of for as long as possible. I had no idea this would still be a thing almost 20 years later though.
While in college a friend of mine and myself who while running an engagement event to recruit new members for our college anime club were asked my a former MBA business grad if we would be interested in starting a marketing firm to help promote local conventions. We of course jumped at this opportunity.  Our first client was Project A-Kon in Dallas TX. The biggest anime con in the state by a long shot. We handled the marketing for pre-reg tickets and their PR department. We did this all pro-bono (a fancy word for free) since we loved cons and wanted the experience.  We pushed the envelop here in in many ways. I slept on a cot in the PR room during the con since I didn’t want to leave until our job was 100% done.  We did great in our first year and stayed together to do it for a few years past this as well.
After graduating college I got a job as the the tour manager for the DBZ CCG at Score Entertainment. Which put me at a decent amount of cons nationwide. Including Anime Expo, San Diego Comic-Con, and the Wizard World circuit. For someone who had previously only done Texas anime cons this was quite an eye opener. I was off the reservation for the first time and couldn’t get enough. 12 -16 hours days mixed with booth work, industry mixers, and other random gatherings of industry people and fans was not uncommon. and I loved every damn minute of it. I mean, why not? I was in my mid-20’s and everything was on Score’s dime. The party never stopped. The work load for this was intense but the benefits well outweighed and of the long hours.
After this I moved over to FUNimation and got full reign to build and shape conventions for the company. This lead me to a whole new set of opportunities.  Booth designs, events, promotions, and all sorts of other madness. All for the sake of connecting with the fans on a very personal one-on-one basis. Which is one of the deepest joys I have with conventions and one of the bigger things that keeps me going. It’s the energy of the fans. When my feet hurt, I’ve said the same thing 100 times, and been hit by a backpack full of plushies on more than one occasion that is what keeps me going.
A good example of this happened one random Sunday morning at Wizard World Chicago back around 2002-2003. I was in line at the hotel mini-mart buying some water and a bagel. It was a long night the night before and I wasn’t in the mood for pretty much anything at this point. There was a kid in his late teens in front of me in line that was all but jumping with excitement. He turned to me and said, “I met Adam Hughes yesterday!” My cynical mind thought, “ I had dinner with Adam Hughes not to long ago.” A couple of seconds later it hit me. This kid was so excited that he got a few minutes with a comic icon of his he HAD to share it with a random stranger in line at 9 am. I say HAD since it was clear this was something he would be saying to anyone and everyone he came across for the next few weeks. Friend, family, 7-11 clerk. They would all know of this meeting with Adam Hughes.
This quickly reminded me why I went to cons and what I loved about them. Every time you talk to someone at a con you have a change to influence and change their life for the better.  This always reminds me about the time Michael Jordan was asked why he goes 110% at every game and he responded by saying that there could be a kid in the crowd seeing him play for the first and only time and he had one chance to to be a positive influence on them.
Every moment connecting with a person is a change to be a positive influence in there life, and I never want to miss a chance to make this happen. This is why conventions are important to me and always will.

A Brief Look at a Decade in Anime




For the past 10 and half years I have worked at FUNimation Entertainment in some capacity. Brand manager, conventions manager, digital marketing manager, and a slew of random projects in between.  I recently decided it was time to move on to the next big challenge in my life and have left the company. I’m not leaving the anime industry though since I am heading over to Crunchyroll to take on events and conventions for them.

Right now I am in between ending one thing and starting the next so I thought it would be a good time to take stock and reflect on my past decade working in the anime industry. 10 years might not feel like too long of a time in the grand scheme of things but when I first started at FUNimation single stick DVD volumes were king, Genoeon & ADV were expanding their market share, streaming anime was years away, and I had a VCR at my desk to watch dubbed episodes still in production. It was a different world.


When I first joined FUNimation they had around 10 shows currently in their catalog. It’s well over 350 now. I joined on as a brand manager and was given Kodocha and Tenchi Muyo OVA 3 as my first brands. Both of which I learned a ton from. I was also sharing an office with Lance Heiskell, who was in charge of brand management, so I was lucky to get a lot of good advice and help with these.

I also joined FUNimation to take on conventions. Lance had laid the ground work for this as well and I needed to grown the department. I learned the hard way that going back and forth between cons and working on brands was quite difficult. I managed to do both for a while but the success we were having with the growth of conventions meant less time to work on my brands. I eventually had to give up being a brand manager. Though not before working on the release of a good group of shows including Basilisk, Negima, Beck, and Shinobi.


Near the end of my tenure as a brand manager I got the opportunity/challenge of a life time in being part of the team that would bring CLAMP to Anime Expo. I was working both sides of this being that I was the brand manager for Tsubasa as well as had to set up all the convention items. This was one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever worked on. I more than once slept in my office to save time and not drive home at 5am.  If it’s not hard it doesn’t count right?. It was all worth it though after seeing thousands of fans lining up for hours to see them.

The team we had in the marketing department around this time was amazing. We all were working as hard as we could and had each others backs 100%. One person tossed the ball up and another would catch it with out missing a beat. We were firing on all cylinders and having way too much fun while doing it.


 When Navarre bought FUNimation I learned a ton about what it was like to work for a publicly traded company. I had only worked for private companies before then.  Shortly after this was when the economy started to drop globally and the anime industry was hit just as hard. If it wasn’t for Navarre I’m not sure what might have happened to FUNimation during that time. This still didn’t phase the lot of us. We had anime to put out, no reason to ease off the gas now.

We spent the rest of the convention year keeping fans informed and calm that anime was going to be fine and wasn’t going away with our “Don’t Panic!” campaign. The industry survived and changed into something new after all the smoke cleared. We needed to change with it as well. That’s the really cool thing about passion and drive. If you put hurdles in it’s way it will always evolve and adapt to keep moving forward.


We had a good influx of new talent coming into brand management around this time that was going to set the stage of how the department would be redefined. This was when shows like Ouran High School Host club, Hetalia, Soul Eater, and Panty & Stocking were starting to come out. This was also when we started to team up with American Cosplay Paradise for getting cosplayers for our convention events. The combo of great shows, unique promotional ideas, and the right people involved with each event made every day an amazing adventure. Everything was coming up Milhouse, even the Wall Street Journal was getting in on the excitement.

Oh, also I met the girl of my dreams while working the con circuit around this time!


In between cons we wanted to create more content to help promote product release and unfortunately due to budget cuts our video series ‘The FUNimation Update’ had been canceled. So this left Justin Rojas, Scott Porter, and myself to do some gorilla filming around the office. We were never told to do these, we just started making them. Justin and I were even filming and cutting these videos ourselves after hours to turn them out. We were able to do live casts, had voice actors saying dirty words, contest commercials, con highlight videos, a voice actor interview series, and even a live feed of Scott locked in a room watching 200 episodes of One Piece. He was never the same after that.  Luckily these did well which lead to the return of a video content series as ‘The FUNimation Show‘ a short while later.

At one point the opportunity came up for me to take on the marketing for the relaunch of funimation.com and I jumped from running conventions to digital marking. I was still working on events but now online instead of at cons. We had some great launch events that ended up so popular they crashed the site from time to time. …I had to slow those down a short while later. 🙂


FUNimation.com changed and evolved multiple times after that to what it is today. Streaming service, apps, an online store, and more. All things that seemed like a pipe dream when I first made the jump to take it on.

Now it is time to look to the future, to my next decade in anime. Which for me starts next week at Anime Expo with Crunchyroll. All that has happened before has lead up to what’s next and I’m excited to take that first step again. To have another turn with ‘beginners mind’ and still stay in the anime industry. It’s like seeing The Matrix again for the first time. I can’t wait to start up this crazy roller coaster again with all of you. Thank you all for being part of the past 10+ years with me and I’m looking forward to the next 10!


How Goku Became My Homeboy

I recently had the pleasure of being part of Derek Padula’s book Dragon Soul: 30 Years of Dragon Ball Fandom. A new book revealing the personal stories about Dragon Ball from 108 fans and professionals from 25 countries around the world. Derek was kind enough to let me share with you one of the questions I answered in the book on this blog.  This is the story about how I first got into Dragon Ball Z. Spoiler alert: I wasn’t a fan in the beginning. Hell, I use to actively be against the series as you will read below.
If you enjoy this story and would like to read more from people like Mike McFarland, Christopher Sabat, or Sean Schemmel I recommend you picking up a copy today.
Q: When did you first experience Dragon Ball, and how has it changed your life?
I think how I first got into Dragon Ball Z will surprise most people.
I first collided with DBZ back in the late 90’s when it was getting its first run on US TV and I was still in college. I say ‘collided’ here since I heard about the show before I ever saw it. I was working at a local comic book retailer in Arlington, TX and would run into people regularly who would go on and on about DBZ all the time. I was the ‘anime guy’ at the store so naturally they all would be filtered my way. Which I wasn’t the happiest about. I disliked DBZ before I ever saw an episode.
A little backstory here. I have been into anime for as long as I can remember. Around this time I was getting a bit too high on the horse about anime being ‘art,’ and anything below that should be ignored. Not my proudest moment, and I’m so glad I got past this notion.  I kept this opinion on DBZ for a bit and wasn’t afraid to share it with my friends when outside of work. I railed on the series enough that I was even asked to sit on a few anime con panels to speak against the show. Over the next few years my negative opinion of the series lessened. Not because I finally sat down and watched it, but because I just stopped thinking about it and it wasn’t coming up as much as it used to.
It wasn’t until I got my first job out of college that I would collide again with DBZ. This was as the Hummer driver and Tour Manager for the DBZ Collectable Card Game. “You totally sold out!” one of my friends said. To which I replied, “Yes, but for a good price.” What I meant by that was that I was about to get paid to drive around the country in a Hummer playing card games and hanging out with voice actors. I would have done the same thing for Rainbow Brite if I were asked too.
I thought to myself I would just ‘deal with’ being surrounded by DBZ all the time. That it was all worth it. Little did I know that before the end of my first tour that I would forever have a strong bond to the series. My main job on the tour was going to a new city each week to promote a mall event that Saturday with voice actors, game demos, giveaways, and the Hummer right in the middle of the mall. The rest of the week was spent getting everything prepped for this and promoting the event that weekend. I would go to card shops and anime stores to make appearances with the Hummer, pass out free stuff, and talk to people there about the mall event. This is where things first began to click for me with DBZ.
It was an H1 military grade Hummer covered in Dragon Ball Z characters, so I totally understood their excitement. But they were also excited to see me as well, which was something I didn’t expect. I mean, I just drove the thing and talked about our upcoming promotions. I’ve always been good for pumping up a crowd, but this was still marketing 101 stuff I assure you. They were excited to see me even before I got a chance to talk with them about anything. This happened everywhere I went, no matter what part of the country I was in.
I soon discovered something about DBZ that had never crossed my mind before. That is, it has a sense of community. Being a fan of the show brought people closer together instead of driving them apart. This was unlike my snootier ‘anime is art and anything below that should be ignored’ days where things were more exclusive than inclusive. Seeing DBZ bring so many people together with such happiness was not only refreshing, it was exhilarating.
I’ll admit I was a little embarrassed that by this point in time I could count on one hand how many DBZ episodes I had actually watched. I was traveling 100% of the time and wasn’t going to be back home for 3 months, so there was no real chance to sit down and marathon the series. So I did something that’s popular now but was a new idea back in 2001. I crowd-sourced the information.
If you know DBZ fans, then you know they will be happy to tell you anything and everything about the series. The story, characters, what was the best fight, whose death made them cry, who they most idolized, or who was their secret crush. Everything poured out of them, no matter the age, with such passion and love. So what was a better source for information than the fans I was now surrounded with on a daily basis? Over the next few months I coyly asked questions about the series. I was afraid to straight up ask about the show and admit I didn’t know much about it. I didn’t want to make anyone feel bad that a representative of the show and card game they loved so much was a total phony. I was always waiting for a Holden Caulfield in a Goku shirt to call me out.Luckily if anyone did catch on they were kind enough not to say anything.
By the time the first tour ended I was well versed in the series. By no means an expert, but enough to know I was no longer talking out of my ass when asked how to do the fusion dance. I’ll leave you with the main thing I learned from this experience: Don’t be too quick to write off anything in your life until you have tried to experience it from as many sides as possible. You might find something unexpected and wonderful out there. Like I did, with Dragon Ball.

Wait… that’s it!?! (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

This is the end... right?
When Mad Men ended a few weeks back the final episode was something that had many people talking, myself included. Some loved it, some hated it, some didn’t quite know what to make of it. I’ll admit I had to run it through my head for a few days to solidify my final thoughts on the episode and the series as a whole. No matter what you thought about the ending it does bring a thought to mind about how much endings matter to a series. TV series, book trilogy, album discography, etc. How much does ‘sticking the landing’ effect everything else that happened before?
I’ve been an anime fan for a long time and not getting the ending you want, or one at all for that matter, comes with the territory. I’m actually surprised half the time when I get closer on something here.  Deadman Wonderland leads you to read the manga to complete the story, the third season of Rurouni Kenshin was basically bad fan fiction, and then we have a great ending with Space Dandy which was unexpected for how sporadic the series was overall.  I share this to say that my overall perspective on how important ending are is a bit skewed. If it’s 98% done well they can still count me in for liking the series. Similar thinking to when working on Jaws Steven Spielberg told Peter Benchley, the author of the original book, who was saying that you couldn’t blow up a shark by shooting an air tank in it’s mouth and making it explode, “I’ve had them for 118 minutes, I can have them for 2 more.”
I think this question stirs a wonderful debate because there really isn’t a right answer. It all depends on your expectations, how well the series lead up to the finale, or how much story ‘Kool-Aid’ you’ve drank before its over. I would like to say I’ve found some semblance of a trend over the years but it seems less a venn diagram and more spin art.  I’ve picked a few titles to talk about that’s endings are normally as much a part of discussions of the series as the series itself is.
So so Lost
I’m betting you thought I was going to lead with the end of The Sopranos right? I didn’t finish watching the series so going with something that seems to have just as much popular dislike for the ending.
I liked the first few seasons of Lost, then it became a delicious train wreak up until the end. I do know people who loved the series all the way through for not-WTF factors as well so there is plenty of room to debate the series on the whole of course. From my perspective the series finale jumped shark (which was hard to do since jumping the shark had been a staple for a few years now so I came to expect it by now) on the last episode. The people I talked to about the final episode who loved the series still were a bit miffed by it’s ending. This didn’t seem to sway them from enjoying the series as a whole though.
Stephen King’s The Dark Tower
The Dark Tower series took Stephen King over 20 years to write. 7 books that seemed to get thicker as the series went on. I started reading these in high school and can highly recommend the first three books in the series if you are looking for a fun action packed post-apocalyptic story to read. The series mellows out as it progresses. By the time I got to the final book I was mostly reading to see how the story would end. For anyone who has read this series just bring up the ending can make the hairs on their neck stand on end.
I’ll keep this to the minimum of spoilers here in case you haven’t read the series. When you get to the end of the book there is a conclusion to the story, but not everything you want answered is answered. Very similar to the ending of Mad Men. King has a brief chapter after the book ends that he wrote for people who have to have a full ending of a story. King leads in to this chapter with a page basically stating “you really don’t want to read this so I recommend you stop here.” This alternate ending gives you more closer but also makes you want to throw the book at the wall afterwards. I of course read this ending but don’t consider it the main ending of the series since King is clearly trolling people who can’t live with not having all the answers to a story. I ended up being satisfied with the original ending overall. Would have liked to have been given more but can live without it none the less.
LCL smells like OJ
Neon Genesis Evangelion
I can already hear a lot of you saying, “which ending are you referring to?” so let’s talk about both the TV series ending and End of Evangelion. Neon Genesis Evangelion was a ground breaking anime series from the mid to late 90’s that is still talked about today. The final two episode of the TV series went from epic giant robot battles and the internal struggle of teenagers at the end of the world to something that looked like it was produced by a 32-box of crayons and a script written on the back of napkins. After making it through all this the ending felt so different from the rest of the series it was hard to adapt to such a juxtaposition. The studio that produced the series seemed to feel the same way, basically pretended these didn’t exist, and made a movie to end the series.
The end of End of Evangelion had all the wonderful feelings of global annihilation and school kids singing. To say it was a trip is like saying the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey was ‘colorful’.  I personally love this movie. It’s one of my favorite anime films of all time. I do see though how the film, and ending of the film, have lead many people to discuss the series as a whole. Overall I don’t see many people not liking the series because of either ending but it sure is something brought up from a WTF perspective from many angles.
I do enjoy the debate that comes from endings like this. How much of the internet is devoted just for these sort of debates? If anything this puts out a conflict discussion that’s just silly enough to get heated over but has little to no real consequences.
Chuck Jones is a god

“I may regret the way we ended, but I will never regret what we had.”
― Drake (not the rapper)

Which series finales stand out most to you as departing from what lead up to it? How did these endings effect your perceptions and enjoyment of the full series?  I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below or feel free to hit me up on Twitter at @neumaverick.

Ohayo, Copyright Infringement

Some of you might be aware that anime has been a part of my life for as long as I remember.  Some of the things I did to show my love of anime in those earlier days make me want to facepalm sometimes. This is a story of one of those times back in high school when I thought I was smarter than everyone else and it almost got me in trouble.
I was in high school in the mid 90’s, I was also deep into “OH MY GOD (because OMG wasn’t invented yet), anime isn’t just a cartoon!!” part of my life. I was watching anything remotely related to anime on TV, using any extra cash I had to buy Ranma 1/2 VHS tapes, and buying random Japanese import magazines that I couldn’t read whenever I found one.  I had accumulated a small stack of Japanese NewType and Animage magazines and would look at the art from them regularly. A few shows I knew but many I didn’t.
During my senior year our class was asked to submit art designs for our senior t-shirt. We would wear this shirt during pep rallies and other events where we wanted to represent ourselves as a class.  I naturally had the thought that it would be super cool if the t-shirt art was anime related so I decided that I would submit something.  I could barely draw a circle so I hatched the brilliant idea of trying to copy one of the images from the Japanese anime magazines I had. I found an image of two kids in school jumping large on the page from some anime I had no clue of. If I didn’t know what it was I’m betting no one else at school would either.
I first tried to draw these free hand by looking at the picture and then drawing what I saw but these turned out more …lets call it ‘abstract’ than what I was going for. I gave up on this pretty quick and went to straight lifting of the artwork in 3 easy steps:
  • Lay some wax paper over the image
  • Trace the art with a black pen
  • Use copy machine to transfer art to regular paper
I didn’t copy everything on the page, just the two characters so I added a scroll in the middle and wrote something about being a senior. I did actually write this part, but I’m betting it was pretty terrible. I don’t really remember any more.  I do remember that my first draft had a vodka bottle saying ‘Absolute Senior’ instead of a scroll to mimic the Absolute Vodka ads that were popular at the time. I had 40+ of these ads ripped from issues of Entertainment Weekly on the ceiling of my room at the time. I changed this out after coming to my senses and realizing the school wasn’t going to put a bottle of alcohol on the back of our office class shirt. I submitted the art the next day. I felt a little bit bad for submitting art that I didn’t draw later that day. I calmed myself by saying, “They probably won’t pick it any ways. I’m sure there will be a lot of submissions and why would they go with some weird Japanese styled art anyways?”  Little did I know I was either the only submission or one of very few. They choose my art for the t-shirt.
I will add that I was extra surprised that they didn’t ask to see the original artwork or for any updates or changes. They used the copied piece of paper I submitted for their master screen print. Bonus, my ‘artist signature’ on this was an anarchy symbol with a small ’s’ squeezed into bottom. Because I was totally hardcore back then with my binders of dot-matrix printed anime info sheets.  When the shirts were first passed out a few students questioned why this symbol was on the shirt but I never really owned up to drawing it to anyone outside of my circle of friends to play it safe. That’s the weird thing too, they never made an announcement on me suppling the artwork for the shirt at any point. Maybe they knew it was a copy or they didn’t really get it but had to choose something and thought it better to just slide it out there without any pomp and circumstance. Which was fine by me.
After the first week of the shirt being out there any questions or issues about it seemed to waver. Hell, some people even liked it. I was in the clear. No one in the school knew or cared that the art was lifted and that I drew it. The only people who might be able to recognize this art would need to be Japanese school kids. It wasn’t like we were every going to have anyone from Japan come to our school in small town Seekonk, MA. Population: Not Boston.
About a month later we got the announcement that a Japanese school was visiting the US and choose to spend part of the day at out our high school. About 200 kids of different grade levels coming to our school. There would be a big assembly. We were asked to wear our class t-shirts. …oh crap.
You may dream
I spent the next few weeks talking myself off the ledge about being ‘discovered’. I first was telling myself that they might not know the characters since they weren’t from any anime I knew. Because clearly 17 year old me who had access to dial-up internet via the school library knew more about anime at the time than a school of Japanese teenagers. I started to think of the worst case scenarios that could take place if I was ratted out.
Top scariest ‘worst case scenarios’:
  • I would have to apologize on the local news for my crimes and forced to leave town after graduation due to the looks I would get from everyone and the shame I would bring to my family.
  • The Japanese would be offended that we copied a beloved characters and I would be expelled to save face for my city, state, and country.
  • The FBI would be brought in to take me away for forgery of copyrighted foreign art and eventually sent to Siberia for life after a lengthy OJ Simpson styled TV trial.
  • They would take my anime away and I would be banned from ever watching it again!
Sent to Sing Sing
The day came and everyone excited to show all the Japanese students our school. I should have been as well. A chance to interact with kids my age who have direct access to the art form I was currently obsessed with. I was too nervous to even bring up the question of anime to anyone. American or Japanese. As I walked through the halls I saw different Japanese students point at our shirts with excitement. They knew exactly who the characters were on the shirt. Most of them couldn’t speak that much English was the odds were still not in my favor that no one would bring this up or at least politely comment on it. Clearly I was doomed. I might as well turn myself over to the authorities. Anyone got the number for the White House?
To my surprise no one brought this up in any langue. The Japanese students seemed to just be happy that an american high school was wearing official t-shirts with anime on them. After the fog of fear dissipated I started to notice how nice everyone was. We even had an assembly for both schools to meet each other where some of the Japanese students even sang a very heartfelt rendition of ‘To Be With You’ by Mr. Big. At the end of the day everyone had a good experience and I was still free to come to school for the foreseeable future, finish watching Tenchi Muyo, and not added to any watch lists.
I’m betting by now you are wondering what art I used for this shirt. So am I actually. I never did find out what show it was from, I’m pretty sure I don’t have the magazine anymore, no clue what happened to the ‘original’ art, and the t-shirt might be buried in a box somewhere in our shed but I have no clue.
I may have not been sent to Alcatraz after all this but I did learn not to copy other people’s works ever again. Between the stress of getting caught and missing out on the chance to talk with kids from Japan about anime the whole experience was more than enough of a punishment to get me back on the straight and narrow.