Sporadic Sequential
Thursday, August 30, 2007
By reading this post, you are expressly and impliedly agreeing that this is the Best Bleach Blog IN THE WORLD

Thanks to Chris Mautner, here's another suggestion on how to pass the time between Bleach volumes once the release schedule starts to slow down: Play one of the many Bleach video games! (Of course, none of the games are available for my console, the old Xbox. Although it's a moot point, because so far the games are only available in Japan. Although come Oct. 9th, lucky owners of Nintendo systems will be able to play Bleach on either the Wii or DS. Lucky bastards.) Let's see: manga, anime (both episodic and feature-length), musicals, novels, and video games. Is there any medium Bleach isn't available in? (Please, if there are H-doujinshi for Bleach and I'm sure there are don't tell me about them.)

Of course, if you don't mind engaging in questionable moral / ethical behavior, there is another way to keep up with Bleach: keep reading it via scanlations. I thought most scanlators stopped working on a series once it was licensed, but apparently not. A Google search on "Bleach scanlations" turns up 484,000 results, and the first two links I spotchecked both offer scanlations of the entire series, so they're not even retiring chapters that are readily available for purchase. In fact, the first site even has scanlations through chapter 288, which I believe is the most recent installment published in Japan as of this writing.

I'm surprised to find so many scanlation sites up and running (searching for "Naruto scanlations" returns even more results), mainly because I would have expected the publishers to be much more aggressive in protecting their cash cows. Trying to chase after ever-changing BitTorrent sites and seeders might well be an excercise in futility, but these are sites dedicated to putting out bootleg versions of licensed material, and most of the sites I checked even ask visitors for money to help support their operating costs. Why are they allowed to stay up?

I attempted to find statements on several of the scanlation sites explaining their stance on the ethics / legality of their actions but couldn't find anything. I did find this, however, which I found hilarious:
Bleach7.com does not claim to be the creator of the BLEACH manga or anime series. We had absolutely no part in any creation of the series, and are just dedicated fans of this series who have taken their time to create this website. Although we did not create the BLEACH series, we did create this website to be as original as possible. We ask that you respect the originality of our work, and not take anything without expressed written permission by the owners.

Bleach7.com and all of it's original content and images are the sole property of the webmasters of this site. Furthermore, Bleach7.com is protected by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Unauthorized use of any original pieces originating from the Bleach7.com are subject to criminal and civil penalties. If it is found that you have taken original work from Bleach7.com, you will be asked to remove it peacefully within 24 hours, or risk possible legal action against you or your website.

Now, I understand that the work on creating and maintaining a website isn't trivial, so there's certainly some justification for feeling protective of the content of your site. But that entire site is built off the work of others, and somehow I really doubt they obtained the express written consent of Tite Kubo or his publishers when putting it together

[By the way, I like that background image you have on your site, so I think I'm going to take it and use it on my blog from now on. You're cool with that, right?]

I also thought this attempt at legalese to avoid criminal prosecution was amusing:
By not agreeing to these terms, you can not threaten Bleach7.com or any company hosting and storing any files related with Bleach7.com with legal action. You also may not prosecute any person(s) affiliated with Bleach7.com including, but not limited to, family, friends or individuals who maintain or visit this website.
You hear that, Viz and Shueisha? By not agreeing to the terms of this site, you forfeit the right to go after us! And if you do agree to the terms of this site, they expressly prohibit you from suing us as well! So either way, you're powerless to prosecute us! Burn!!!

(And I know Google is just providing links without making judgements about the content of those links, but I find it a little insulting that several of the links on their Book Search for Bleach point to scanlation sites. Way to promote book sales, Google!)

Finally, I caught this Bleach-related story by Heather Crabtree of the Corvallis Gazette-Times via Google News and wanted to comment on a couple things in it:

» Regarding how Ichigo gains his powers: I know this is nitpicking, but saying Rukia "accidentally transfers" all of her shinigami powers to Ichigo makes it sound like the whole incident was due to Rukia's incompetence. "Whoops! Silly me! I accidentally gave you all of my powers! Oh, well!" I probably would have phrased this more along the lines of: "Due to Ichigo's own supernatural abilities, he unintentionally absorbs all of Rukia's powers."

» It's Hollow, not Hallow. (Only misspelled once, but it's still sloppy.)

» It's Tite Kubo, not Tito Kubo. (Although I'll admit the idea of a manga-ka named Tito is intriguing.)

» I'll admit, I assumed that the shinigami concept had its roots in ancient Japanese mythology / folklore as well, but according to Wikipedia, it was "imported to Japan from Europe during the Meiji period." Upon learning this, Crabtree writes that she was "sadly disappointed at this little discovery," which struck me as odd. Why does it matter how long the concept has been a part of Japanese culture? "Oh no, the concepts I'm reading about in this fictional manga featuring superpowered teens wielding mystic weaponry aren't authentically Japanese enough!" It's like being crestfallen upon learning that Christmas isn't "really" a Christian holiday because it borrows so much from earlier pagan rituals. (To be fair, Crabtree does go on to say she's impressed by how effectively Tite Kubo integrates the "borrowed" shinigami concept with things that are essentially and exclusively Japanese, like sharp swords.)

» Usage question: "Episodes 64 through 109 divert from the manga with original story specific to the anime." Shouldn't that be "diverge from the manga," or is that an acceptable use of "divert"?

» Regarding the anime, Crabtree writes:
Some of the English-version season-one episodes are available to rent. The episodes are being released as volumes instead of seasons; episodes one through 21 are out on DVD. The last disc with season-one episodes will be released Sept. 25.
Again, this is nitpicky, but:
  • All of the English-version season-one episodes are currently available to rent (or buy, for that matter). The first season (really, more of a story arc than season, but still) lasted 20 episodes and all of it has been released on five DVDs as of July 31st.

  • Episodes 1 through 20 are currently out on DVD. Episode 21 won't be available until the sixth DVD (which starts season two note the different DVD coloring scheme!) comes out on Sept. 25th.

  • Although the anime is being released as individual DVDs containing only four episodes per disc, it's also being collected in a season one box set coming out on Oct. 30th.
» Finally, to tie it all together, the article ends with a note that to learn more about Bleach, readers should visit not Viz's official Bleach site or the official Japanese site or even the Wikipedia entry on Bleach but www.bleachexile.com, a fansite that offers, among other things, (you guessed it) Bleach scanlations and fansubs. It's a nice final touch to cap off such a shoddy, slapdash piece of writing. "I know I couldn't be bothered to mention the name of the company that puts out the English versions of the Bleach manga and anime, but here's the website where I cribbed most of my information from."

After years of witnessing the "mainstream media" get things wrong whenever they'd cover comics, you'd think I'd be indifferent when it comes to this sort of thing. But it still irks me that someone can get paid to write such a poorly-researched piece and have it see print. Crabtree even admits that all of her sources are the same online sites any poor blogging schlub could cite. "Shucks, I was unable to locate any scholarly reference material, and my deadline is looming. What to do?" This is what passes for journalism nowadays? Leave the lazy online research to bloggers like me and get out there and pound the pavement to drum up reputable sources! I can look up Wikipedia; I certainly don't need a paid journalist to tell me what it says.

OK, to leave things on an upbeat note, starting tomorrow today you can download individual episodes of the Bleach anime from TotalVid or Direct2Drive. (Well, at least you can buy the episodes from TotalVid today; it looks like Direct2Drive is waiting for the officially announced 8/31 launch date.) Personally, I plan on renting the DVDs through Blockbuster Online, but I do think it's nice (not to mention smart) to see companies like Viz offering their fans legitimate means to download digital content. (I also think it's funny that TotalVid lists three pages of Bleach anime downloads but there's nothing on page three. There is no page three!!)

(Yeah, I totally stole that image from the TotalVid site. It's my new blogging M.O.! Unattributed image theft!!)

Labels: , , , , ,