Rantings and Ravings
  Joyful little columns by us.

The Best and Worst of 1999

By: CereCere

As we look back on the past year (arenít you glad I didnít say the past millennium? I swear if I hear Y2K once more I'm going to slap a straight jacket on and check myself in.) I decided to take a look at some of this yearís worst and best trends and events of 1999. This is by no means a complete list, but these were the things that stood out in my mind.

The Best

"I am a Pioneer"
The SM Movies are Released in English

(I couldnít help thinking of the Opening song to the second Tenchi OVA series for the title of this section.)

In 1999 Pioneer Animation surprised a lot of us by announcing it had worked out a deal to obtain Dic's rights to the three SM movies. A few more of us were even happier to find out the releases would include both English subtitled and dubbed versions of the movies. The three subs came out in August, and the first of the dubs is due in February. This might mean more good news down the road. Who knows? If Pioneer makes enough profit from the movies, maybe they will seek out another deal allowing it to release more episodes in English. This is about the only way I can see SMS ever being dubbed. Dic has moved on to other projects and Pioneer wont have to worry as much about censoring and cuts in SMS. They target the direct to video market rather than the Television market. A deal like this will also keep English fans who prefer the original happy because Pioneer usually releases both subtitled and dubbed versions of each series it carries.

"Pika Pika Pik-a-chu Pi-Pik-a-chu"
Translation: Anime hits Mainstream North America

Thanks to shows like Pokemon, movies like Princess Mononoke, and Cartoon Networkís Toonami, anime has grown out of it's cult status in North America and has entered into the mainstream. This hopefully will mean easier access to anime with more companies buying up titles and more stores regularly stocking anime. If anime continues to be popular for an extended period, we may also see the prices of videos drop and more series may even appear on TV.

Now everybody look at the little yellow electric rodent... give in to the cuteness... resistance is futile!

Fill it up!
Free Webspace Providers offer Unlimited Space

Last year, the major free webspace providers were going back and forth trying to top each other with the amount of space they could give out. The arrival of XOOM and itís 10 MB saw Tripod increase from 2MB to 11MB and eventually Geocities followed. This year XOOM has gone to unlimited space, (even though they did add the ad bar thing), and now Tripod also gives out unlimited space if you get over 100 hits a day. Plus there are the nice new sub-domain addresses. Then thereís Crosswinds, they have given out unlimited space for a while, and without ads! However, people stayed away because of itís slow speed. They still are not super fast, but they are getting faster all the time. I'd keep an eye on them. (Update: Crosswinds now has ads, and some annoying ones at that. As for XOOM, it's now closed, and Tripod's space is now set at 50 MB for everyone.)

The Worst

Your Stuff is our Stuff at Yahoo!Geocities
The Yahoo Takeover of Geocities

I should mention, no free webspace provider is perfect and I understand they all have to use advertising to survive. Hey they have to make money to pay employees and keep those servers running some how. The problem with Geocities has always been their plans and ideas for using advertising and how they never seem to consult their users. As a result, they have produced some pretty annoying ad schemes for both the users and visitors of Geocities pages.

Well when Yahoo took over Geocities this past summer, things went from bad to worse. The most notable thing to come out of the whole takeover was the wonderful new clause in the Terms of Service which claimed that Yahoo owned all rights to a user's site content. Yahoo finally caved in and dropped the clause after hundreds of users left, several Boycott groups appeared, and their biggest rivals started taking full advantage of it.

On top of all that there was also another clause which increased the age people could sign up for Geocities. This caused many younger users to lose their accounts, even if their parents had sent Geocities a consent form before the take over. Toss in the annoyance of logging in over and over while working on webpages, and how some long time users lost their user names because someone on Yahoo had the same user name.

Since the takeover, things havenít improved too much. Geocities featured sites were once awarded with a new, shorter address using their username rather than the huge, standard city/number address. The addresses are still used, but are coordinated by a poor redirect system that half the time says the page your looking for isnít available.

The icing on the cake is the recent addition of the new Yahoo!Geocities corner ad banner. You thought pop-ups were bad? You thought the watermark thing was bad? Well Geocities topped them all with this one. Not only is this thing harder to get rid of, it also often covers up part of the most important section of any webpage... the title.

To the Highest Bidder
Online Auction Scams

1999 saw the rise of Online Auction Sites. Which of course gave rise to Online Auction Scams. They say a sucker is born every minute, but at online auctions, I would say itís more like seconds.

Some anime fans, including SM fans, are being ripped off by other fans who use online auctions to sell copies of fansubs for profit. That is illegal because they are making a profit off someone elseís work. Most fansubbers are hobbyists who follow two unwritten rules to avoid prosecution. First, they do not sell for profit. Second, they do not distribute a particular video once a professional company buys the rights to it. Because of this, fansubs are either traded for other fansubs, or you only pay for the cost of shipping and the purchasing of a VCR tape. You do not pay them for their work or the material on the tape. Therefore, I would not buy from anyone selling fansubs through an online auction. Luckily companies like ebay have recognized this problem and often shut down auctions with fansubs whenever itís reported.

In addition to fansubs, SM Merchandise is being sold for overly high prices at these auctions. An Artbook for 100 bucks? Come on, you can order it from a store for much less. Heck if you live in North America you can even get a friend in Canada to try and track down the French version of the first Artbook and send it to you for around 20 bucks! To put it simple, buyer beware and shop around. These auctions are really only good if the bidding starts low and stays low, or the bidding is for a truly hard-to-get collectable item.

Have you heard the one about...
The Rumors of a Sixth Season

Itís been over two years since the last SM episode was shown and the last manga published. However, just about all through 1999 there were false rumors floating around about a new full series of SM being made. Part of this could be blamed on the SOS who reported late last year Naoko Takeuchi was passing out leaflets to people at an anime convention which said she was interested in doing a new series. Many are skeptical the story was ever true. Then there is how the SOS made an announcement about the Musicals being adapted into a manga series and then turned it into speculation Takeuchi might be returning to Kodansha to produce an all new series. The SOS isnít the only one to blame for this rumor though. Throughout the year, several web sites made up their own fantasy 6th season or created fake news reports.

Maybe I Donít Know When to Leave Something Alone
HentaiFREE

I couldnít leave them out, could I? HentaiFREE has been around before 1999, but this year people really started to notice them. HentaiFREE has cleaned things up a bit since we discussed them back in July, but they still have their problems. They still contain sites from anime/manga that are not suitable for children, but in their minds thatís okay simply because they do not contain X-rated material like tentacle sex or graphic sex scenes. Also consider how most HentaiFREE members place their HentaiFREE banners on the bottom of the site. By the time you scroll to it, you can already tell the site is free of hard-core sex material, thus, HentaiFREE serves no logical purpose other than to create a paranoia that every second anime site is going to contain hentai. If you want to rate your site for your visitors, then seek out a proper, professional rating service, not a group run by two people who determine by themselves what is right or wrong for your visitors and donít really help anyone.

  • December 15th, 1999
  • As usual any comment made on this page is that of "The Amazoness Quartet" or one of its members. Tripod has nothing to do with our opinions, etc, lalala...


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