Mail Desk

by Janet Crocker

Happy April and welcome again to another edition of Animefringe's Mail Desk! We received a lot of mail this month, so keep those letters coming in! Let us know what you liked, what you disagreed with, and everything in between! Contact us via email and we'll print your letter in May's edition. Onward and into the mail pile!

Dear Animefringe,
I have just recently discoverd your online magazine and I gotta say I'm impressed. You provide alot of useful and interesting anime information, for free. Your articles are easy to read and understand which is never a bad thing, so keep up the good work. I know I'll be back for next months issue.

An instant fan

Bonjour Instant Fan,

Why, thank you! Glad to have you aboard!


Dear Animefringe,
It's good to see that you also put the "prev / next" buttons on the bottom - it was always a pain to scroll back up to turn the page.

I did notice that the "prev / next" buttons on Pages 23 & 24 kind of run into the other text on the right. Is it because the right navigation bar is longer than the actual article? It's a minor thing, but it seems a bit odd.

Otherwise, another quality issue.

Anthony "The Spatula" Lopez

Dear Spatula,

Yeah, sometimes the longer articles play havoc with the navigation bars. It's a browser thing. We try to do our best to avoid those situations, but sometimes, the articles just need to be wordy.


Dear Animefringe,
I love this site and manga shorts !

This is a cool site and I was wondering, Is this site like a website magazine? It almost looks like a magazine with the articles in them posted on the web.

Hi anima16artist,

Thanks for the love. Yes, that's what Animefringe is: a website magazine, available on the Internet only.


Dear Animefringe,
I gotta commend you for your review of Eiken. Although it had a low rating, you still gave it a decent review and acknowledged there are people who love it. I would like to consider myself one of the heads of Eiken's American fanbase. I created a Yahoo Group for it before the animes release in Japan, and have been trying to spread the word of it before the American release came. And also, I have volume 1-16 of the manga, the series runs for 18 volumes, and as far as I know Media Blasters DID aquire the rights to it with plans for release later this year. Anyway, thanks again for a decent review, which is hard to find from people who aren't into the series.

Ryan Clark

Hi Ryan,

I passed your email over to Patrick, and he said:

"Well, I don't really try to soften the blow, so to speak, when I review something. What I attempt to do is show readers what's in a release so that they can decide for themselves whether or not it's worth getting. Maybe I'm not always as successful as I'd like to be, but when a fan of a show writes in to say that he liked my negative review of the show he loves, well, it means a lot to me.

Like I said, Eiken isn't for everyone, but there are certainly people out there who like it. Anime appeals to a very diverse audience, and it's simply not fair to judge everything by taking into consideration only a small fraction of the group."


Dear Animefringe,
I have been reading your column at Animefringe for awhile now, I can safely say that it is the one article more than any other that keeps me coming back to the website each month. Your last article, on RPGs hit very close to home for me, and summed up my feelings on the impact of RPGs in the West, and the direction the game industry is going in. Anyway, good job, keep up the good work, and thanks for the new ammunition to throw at Halo fans in my future arguments!

Sincerely, Matt Gayford (Techrobo@Animenation)

Hey Matt,

That's so nice to hear, since Patrick really pours his heart into his column. The man himself says:

"Hearing that always makes me happy, Matt. RPGs will always be near and dear to my heart, but I have to admit that I love Halo as much as anything else. Just like with anime, manga, and books, I'm easy to please when it comes to games.

I have to say, I'll never understand why the popularity of one thing seems to invalidate the quality of another for some people.

"Halo is the best game ever! So Final Fantasy SUCKS!"

"The PSP has some great games and it's really powerful - now the Nintendo DS looks like a mangy flea-ridden mutt!"

"I can't stand Rurouni Kenshin - Inu Yasha is far better!"

When will people learn? It's as if there's only so many "like" points that people can devote to certain things, and once you run out of those, you have to dislike everything else.

There's room for everything. Enjoy it all, if you can!"


Dear Animefringe,
I'm a fan of Yu-Gi-Oh and have considered buying the uncut version, just in case I'm missing out on a lot of scenes.

What is the "sexual" content that was left out of this series? Since I've only been exposed to the cut version, I have a hard time finding a place for sex in this series.


Howdy JR,

Patrick, guru of Yu-Gi-Oh spaketh:

"Sex? In Yu-Gi-Oh? That would be interesting... But I don't think that's the sort of editing that went on. Typically, shows that are made to be squeezed into a prime time slot on television are cut for time, at the very least. Subplots might be removed to make the show's runtime shorter so that more commercials can be shown while it's on air.

In general, Japan is not as puritanical as the US (few countries are), and thus "mature" language, violent action (fights involving blood, for example), and any hint of sexuality (whether a single character is wearing a swimsuit or the more "extreme" Team Rocket's cross dressing escapades in Pokemon).

Editing is also performed by means of translation - words in Japanese like "kill" are softened to less threatening English words, such as "hurt." This happens often, though it's far more common on shows that companies plan on using as cash cows. Many publishers believe that dumbing down a show (or manga series) increases its value, though this way of thinking has little proof to verify its validity.

In some ways, it's better when an unknown series is released over here, because American companies aren't typically as eager to "fix" what they perceive as marketing problems when they handle something that they believe will slip under mainstream radar.

Let's just say I'm glad Viz's Vagabond (one of the greatest manga series in print today - virtually untouched) isn't as popular as TOKYOPOP expected Initial D (an entertaining but embarrassingly modified release) to be."


Dear Animefringe,
I read you're artical about Legal Drug, and have read the first volume of Legal drug. (You're artical is very well written, by the way.) I was wondering if CLAMP ever made a second volume? I can't seem to find anywhere to buy it, so...
Er, thanks!

Hi Nancy,

Patrick says that the newest volume of Legal Drug should be available right about now. "Typically, you can find information on new and upcoming releases by just checking out online stores that sell manga - they tend to be pretty accurate when it comes to listing releases." I'll add that we did a manga brief on the second volume last month, and the third volume is scheduled for June on the TOKYOPOP website.


Dear Animefringe,
First, thanks for your review: it was the first hit on google and it explained defect in the GITS: Stand Alone Complex OST CD. I no longer thought I was a) going crazy, or cool.gif the only person with a bad disc.

I did have one comment on your review that I hope will ease your mind...

"I love the funky music in the all-too-short opening theme, "GET9", even if my girlfriend tells me it sounds like George Michael."

I think she means George CLINTON. You know, since he plays funk and George Michael, well, doesn't. Liking George Clinton has never been a black mark on anyone's character.


Yo Packy,

I slid your letter over to Patrick, review guru on Fridays.

"Thanks for the comments.

As far as the George Michael comment goes, I don't think I was as clear in writing as I was in my head. I thought the opening was good and funky. However, my girlfriend, Lauren, wasn't as keen on it, claiming that it sounded less like funk and more like George Michael (with the high pitched vocalist it features).

Ironically enough, we're pretty well versed in funk lore. Lauren's brother is actually in a funk band. They're called Hazard to ya Booty (a quote from a P-Funk song, I believe) and they got us into all flavors of funk. They're probably my favorite band right now.

You're totally right about George Clinton - nothing is wrong with the man. If more people were like him, the world would be a funkier place."


Dear Mr King,

I read your article and found it interesting and fairly well written. Being an avid RPG fan myself (Chrono Trigger and FFVI are personal favourites), it was nice to read a piece about the games that will always light a nostalgic spark. I just take some issues with some glaring errors in the article. First of all, you credit Sony with implementing the music capabilities of the SNES.

Quote: "Sony built a very impressive sound processor for the SNES."

It should, of course, be Nintendo rather than Sony there.

The second unsound claim was made when you wrote:

"Microsoft doesn't have the financial power of the much-larger mega-corporation, Sony"

In my understanding, not only is Microsoft larger than Sony using most measures of 'largeness' used in business, its financial power is also not to be underestimated by anyone, even Sony. According to The Economist, citing data from the SEC as of March 2004, Microsoft is sitting on $56billion of Cash and/or highly liquid Short-term investments. Intuitively, this sounds like the largest cash reserves of any company in the world by a long way, although I admit that I have not verified this using any sources.

If your original meaning in the phrase "software development resources" was actually referring to the video games divisions within Microsoft and Sony, then perhaps parity may be closer. Although I do not know how much each company allocates to their respective departments, recent results seems to suggest that even if Sony has more invested there (again, not likely given the $4billion warchest given to the XBox from its conception), recent results would suggest that Sony is falling behind on flows as well as levels. In 2003/2004, Sony's video game division had a 40% fall in operating profits (Source: The Economist), with unit sales of the Playstation 2 falling. Meanwhile, sales of the Microsoft XBox had surged by 30% in that time (Source: BBC News). This is part of the reason why this year, Sony announced yet another round of hefty restructuring charges, of maybe ¥130 billion.

Please do not take this letter to be a personal attack on your professionalism. I only wish to point out some jarring errors/ambiguities. I have done some a bit journalism myself and I know full well how horrible it can be when some indignant reader (or editor!) with too much time on their hands start picking out every unresearched claim. As I said at the beginning, the few irregualrities in your article do not detract from its general tone or relevance.

Yours sincerely,

John Zhu

From the pen of Patrick King:

"Dear Mr. Zhu,

I'm glad that you took the time to write in, and that you read my article. It's always nice to hear from people - especially fellow journalists. And in no way did I feel that it was an attack - you provided an intelligent piece of mail, and I love responding to messages that make sense.

I probably should've cited some sources for what I believed was common knowledge, but after more than a decade of following the technical aspects of game development and system architecture, I guess I take a lot of the low-level information about game systems for granted.

Also, as a member of the IT industry, I think I made the mistake of assuming that my perspective as a designer/developer was one shared by everyone who enjoys anime and manga. That's not quite the right assumption to make.

I've been a fan of the SNES architecture for quite some time, though even before that, I was a fan of video games. You probably know that Sony was originally designing their CD-based gaming system for Nintendo. The legend goes that at the last minute, after investing both time and resources, Nintendo declined to use Sony's playstation design, citing the desire to work with something other than a CD-based architecture.

This is pretty much common knowledge. It's well documented even in the pages of simple gaming magazines such as Nintendo Power, though if you scour the pages of the now defunct (and sorely missed) Next Generation, you'll find more evidence of this. smile.gif However, it's significant background information, for it shows that yes, Sony once worked with Nintendo.

I guess the other giveaway would be the games Sony Imagesoft built and sold on the SNES. I think Skyblazer might have been one of them, but it's been a while since I pulled out the ol' SNES carts.

Thus, it should be no surprise to learn that yes, Sony did indeed design and manufacture the sound chip for the SNES.

This site provides an easy to understand explanation of the capabilities of the chip:

While it's true that Nintendo came up with the desired specifications, Sony built the core of the system's sound architecture, and I give them much credit for crafting such a nifty device. Many other manufacturers provided other elements of the sound architecture, just as IBM provided the Gekko processor for the Gamecube, but Sony gave the SNES's sound system its heartbeat.

Quoting the above site (grammatical errors in tact),

"The SNES' sound module consist of:

(1) the sound engine: SPC700 8-bit CPU above and DSP unit below, both designed and manufactured by Sony
(2): 9112 32k SRAM manufactured by Sharp
(3): D6376 2 channel 16-bit DAC manufactured by NEC
(4): 9124 32k SRAM manufactured by Hitachi
(5): 2904 Dual Op-Amp manufactured by JRC
(6): I/O connector to the mainboard - This device was designed by Nintendo and manufactured by Mitsumi. "

The reason why I mentioned the SPC700 was because I didn't think that many people were aware of the fact that Sony produced it. I was somewhat anticipating a "no, they didn't" response from at least a few people. Though, when you think about Sony's work on the MiniDisc standard (I love the ATRAC encoding algorithm) and other digital sound technologies they've developed over the years, it makes a whole lot of sense that they designed a sound chip for the big N.

As far as the size of Microsoft versus Sony, it really depends on how you look at things. Microsoft has a far-reaching influence, that much cannot be denied. They dominate the PC market, and no matter how many of us switch to Linux or Firefox, they'll likely always have a fair share of the PC pie. They're doing fairly well in the game industry, as well - despite being a first-time entrant to the arena. I wasn't trying to compare SCEA (The American arm of Sony which handles the Playstation line of products in the US) to Microsoft's entertainment division, however. I was in fact comparing the parent companies of both. I've included information below about both companies - taken from their respective websites - and it's pretty clear that Sony does far more than merely provide computer software, IT solutions, and video game hardware - which is what Microsoft is limited to.

You have to consider that Sony has revenue coming in from their general electronics division. For instance, they produce CD, MP3, and MD players, they created the Walkman, their VAIO line of PCs seems to do okay, they make Camcorders, Cameras, telephones, receivers (both car and home), speakers, televisions, headphones, blank media, media drives, and far more than that. Their motion picture operating group and their music label group (they have a pretty strong presense in the music industry) are both significant contributors to their success as a corporation.

Sony is right up there with Mitsubishi as far as being a major, diverse company. Microsoft is big, but its $36.8 billion of revenue and 55,000 employees does not match Sony's $72 billion of revenue and 162,000 employees for Fiscal Year 2004.

I'm not sure how much money either Microsoft or Sony is sitting on - or how much they possess in liquid assets, and I'll admit, "financial power" can mean quite a few things. However, to say that Sony is at a disadvantage against Microsoft in any arena except the PC would be an mistake.

Sony controls a large percentage of the current market share, as well as boasts a very strong image in the hearts and minds of the modern gamer. They are a force to be reckoned with, and as much as Nintendo is a pivotal player in the game industry, Sony and Microsoft far outweigh their formal rivals, Nintendo and Sega.

It's true that Sony may choose to allocate very little money to SCE, but they have the ability to dump quite a bit into their gaming division if they so desire, and with their efforts for developing the PSP and the PS3, I don't think they're going to back out of the gaming industry any time soon. It is encouraging to hear that sales of the XBox are picking up, and I'd love to see the same thing happen to Nintendo (I'll take all the games I can get), but even as a person who (if anything) is biased slightly against Sony (it's more fun to root for the underdog), I have to admit that they're doing a good job of selling their systems.

In any case, I hope this clarifies where I was coming from. First of all, Sony did create the SNES sound chip, and in terms of revenue and employees, Sony pretty much doubled the figures Microsoft generated last year overall, which to me is a healthy indicator of market strength. While Microsoft may have a significant sum of money invested in the Xbox, they are also going up against the incredible momentum fueled by two remarkably successful generations of gaming hardware.

It's almost guaranteed that things will change in the future (they always do) but for now, this is the way it stands, in my mind."


Dear Animefringe,
can u gimme some clues leading me to some websites that provide the coolest desktop wallpaper of Bremen's characters..................???????????????????or anything bout this thing..........onegai onegai puhleaseeeeeeeeeeee..........arigatou me a friend from Indonesia..............ja mata

Hello my friend from Indonesia!

Unfortunately, Bremen seems to have a small but very loyal following. I haven't found any wallpapers online, and I have spent hours looking. I'm thinking about making a couple myself and offering them online once I have webspace of my own. I think that the lack of good images for manipulation has played a major role in this severe shortage. Someday, this too shall be amended.


And that's our mail for this month's issue! Come back next month for another exciting round of Q&A, or just Answers, or better yet, contact us and participate! Our phone lines are now open for you!

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