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Letter from the Editor April 2nd

Letter from the Editor April 2nd

Written by Ross Locksley on 02 Apr 2024

Many years ago, when the UK Anime Network was new and finding its way, I used to write editorials commenting on the events of the day. Of course, back then even the internet was new, fansubs and not companies brought you the latest magic from Japan, and conventions were, at their largest, 300 people strong. Much has changed in nearly 30 years, and there's certainly more happening, so I thought it might be nice to give the site back its voice away from reviews and articles, somewhere to ruminate on the industry and maybe drop a few hints about things in the pipeline.

Mecha Returns
Lots of lovely mecha!

March was certainly a month of mecha, with the excellent Gundam SEED Freedom (Dawfydd's review here, mine on our sister site Anime Independent here) doing gangbusters on the big screen and Bang Brave Bang Bravern tearing up the small screen courtesy of Crunchyroll. As a genre that's often accused of "dying out" it's refreshing to see two great mecha-driven series landing so well in terms of box office and positive fan reaction. I'm obviously a bit biased as a mecha fan with far too many Macross, Gundam and Transformer figures dotted around the office, but it's heartening to see more of what I love doing so well. 

It's been a bit harder to enjoy the gaming scene of late, the fanfare surrounding the official launch of "Gamergate 2.0" has drowned out much positivity from that side of the entertainment industry, though I'd caution people to avoid too much concern given the pretty limited reach most of these consultancy companies have. It's worth watching the Game Night! podcast featuring Ollie Barder, a man who has worked inside the Japanese games industry and a more informed commentator than most in this space. For my part, the only thing I object to is people claiming that "95% of games feature male protagonists". I don't know where that figure comes from, but having recently played Control, Horizon and Mass Effect on Steam Deck, I can't see many games that don't at least offer female options, or complete character customisation. Hell, Street Fighter 6 has a World Tour mode and my character is a redhead in fighting gear (partially based on my wife in fact). Looking at both Switch and Steam Deck, my most recent purchases all feature/offer female protagonists - Glimmer in Mirror, Mega Man X DiVE Offline and Blazblue Cross Tag Battle and Eastward (thank you Easter sales...)  The last game featuring a male character I bought was Final Fantasy Rebirth. I don't take my own library as the end of the conversation, but it's clearly not difficult to find games that cater to a wide range of tastes already. While it is a shame to see some games marred by political interference, I think the market will weed those titles out, and a list of games worked on by a certain company is only one way to appraise a game for most sensible people.

God Bless the Mistaken
God Bless the Mistaken from Yen Press

Swinging back around to more positive developments, I've been enjoying some manga courtesy of the Amazon kindle sales of late. While the implosion of Comixology has made digital comics a less appealing and approachable form of reading, it still has regular sales (accessible via this link) - I've managed to keep up with Nagatoro and sample a few new titles (often volume 1's are free) but a particular highlight I can recommend is God Bless the Mistaken, a book set in a world where the laws of physics change for brief periods of time - known as "bugs", these periods can make gravity irrelevant, accelerate nature or just reverse everything so that left is right and so forth. It's an entertaining slice-of-life with a fun cast and some interesting ideas. 

As for me personally, I've been handling the swathe of figures, vinyl and books that officially announced the end of Chinese new year, the factories pumping out the plastic crack I'm personally so addicted to. Both of the signature Gundam SEED Freedom units arrived in the premium Metal Robot Spirits line from Bandai, Takara outdid themselves with their excellent Missing Link Convoy/Optimus Prime and I finally got my hands on the beautiful SH Figuarts Yuzuriha figure from Hell's Paradise, because if there's one thing this office is short on, it's sexy female ninjas... I'm also extremely pleased to have the Cyberpunk Edgerunners vinyl sat in my LP box at last - the cover is beautiful, and the inclusion of an art card you can frame just puts the cherry on top! Outside of anime, I've been restoring a lot of G1 Transformers, so I'm delighted to have completed my G1 Needlenose (tailfin and Nebulon partners) and completed my Seeker trio with a mint Skywarp from the 2008 Takara reissues to make up my G1 display for the office. Ah, satisfaction at last!

G1 Transformers
Ah, happy childhood memories on a single shelf...

One sad piece of news regarding Gundam was the final performance of the Yokohama Factory Gundam. I was very lucky to take a detour into Japan last November on my way back from Korea to take in this monumental celebration of Japanese mecha, and it's such a shame that this iconic landmark is now closing its doors for good. Beauty is of course fleeting, and perhaps the fleeting lifespan of such an installation is what makes it so special, but I do regret that Covid prevented so many Western fans from experiencing this firsthand. 

On that note, we also lost something much more precious in a real sense, the incomparable Akira Toriyama at the age of just 68. I confess that I've never been a die-hard fan of Dragon Ball as so many are, but such was the cultural impact of Toriyama-san's beloved creation that not only am I aware of the story, characters and unique art style pretty much by osmosis, but I also have a replica Dragon Ball in the office, several of the games and an SH Figuarts figure of Android 21 (a design I absolutely love). It's not possible to think of the success of anime globally without including the series that crossed so many boundaries as to be universally loved by its fans, and recognisable to even those who don't watch anime. His enduring spirit will live on through the millions he touched with his work.

On that note, I'll wrap up this initial meandering post. Future articles will be a little more focussed, but given the huge amount of movement across the last month in all aspects of Japanese culture, I thought it best to offer my thoughts on a wider range of topics.

Until next time, ja ne.


Ross also writes on his personal blog, Anime Independent

Ross Locksley
About Ross Locksley

Ross founded the UK Anime Network waaay back in 1995 and works in and around the anime world in his spare time. You can read his more personal articles on UKA's sister site, The Anime Independent.

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