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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Obscusion Fighter: The Legend of the 6th Anniversary

"Hey, member December 1, 2010?"
"Ooh, I member!"

Yes, it's been a sexennium (look it up, learn new words) since I made the jump from a rather less-than-amateur one year attempt at doing YouTube videos & decided to start up a written blog, one that is named after a rather "silly alteration" of "Land of Confusion" by Genesis; the cover by Disturbed is rather good, too. When I started up The Land of Obscusion, back at the tail end of 2010, I was 24 & a year out of my student life, B.A. in Journalism & Media Studies framed on my wall, working a part-time job at my local Target. Now, six years later, I'm 30 with a full-time job with the benefits that work for me, but not much else has changed. I'm still the same shy, rather introverted, self-deprecating guy that I was six years ago, somewhat hesitant to try new things & push myself further. To this day, I still think of that day in 2010 as somewhat unlike me, yet here I am, celebrating the 6th Anniversary of The Land of Obscusion.

Maybe I have changed, hopefully for the better, but I just don't trust my own judgment in that regard. I have enough self-esteem to keep me healthy & away from any strong feelings of sadness on a regular basis, but maybe that's just what being a 30-year old single white guy from Central Jersey is like... Hell if I know. Did I go a little off-topic just now (damn my love of self-deprecation!)? Oops, back on track...

This time last year I was declaring that I was putting an end to my "full-time" status on this blog, feeling as if I had hit a ceiling that I just couldn't surpass. In that regard, I'm not sure if I really kept that promise, as I'll only be a few posts behind in terms of sheer number for this year when all will be said & done compared to last year. For the first half of 2016, I did keep that promise, averaging only 3 posts every month (minus that crazy Jump January & February I did), but then something happened: I surpassed that ceiling. By the end of July this year, I hit 13,675 pageviews for the blog, though it seems like that was mainly due to a Russian spam bot of some sort. Still, I had broken the 10,000 views ceiling that I felt I just couldn't get past, which admittedly kind of gave me a resurgence. This October & November proved that July wasn't a fluke, either, as I surpassed 10,000 on those months, as well. From the bottom of my heart, thank you; I no longer care about pageviews anymore, & I feel reinvigorated to continue doing this blog.

As for what came about from this year, I honestly had a lot of fun & I wrote a lot of cool (at least, cool to me) pieces in 2016. The two-month excursion that was The Ages of Jump was easily the most research-intensive & difficult project I ever did, but the fact that I got a nice amount of comments thanking me for doing such an effort, plus a mention on a couple of minor podcasts, really made me feel like it was worth all the work. I did my usual Masami Kurumada-related stuff by reviewing Indigo Period (easily one of his best short works) & Raimei no Zaji, as well as celebrated a double-anniversary for the B't X anime & Ring ni Kakero 1: Nichibei Kessen-hen (not to mention that giant guide to Saint Seiya I just put out yesterday), found some truly magnificent hidden gems via titles like Ozanari Dungeon: Kaze no Tou & B.B. Burning Blood, finally saw all of the 1969 Dororo anime (Thank you, Discotek!), gave G-Saviour the most complete rundown I could possibly give it, said farewell to both Otakon in Baltimore & Matchless Raijin-Oh, & even returned to reviewing a Super Robot Wars game, among many other things. In fact, I did enough pieces this year that I'll even be doing a "Twelve Favorite Posts" list in its standard two-part fashion, which I didn't think I was going to be able to do 366 days ago. Look forward to that on the final week of the year.

Really, I don't have much else to say here, but I do want to let anyone & everyone who reads this blog know that I appreciate all of the views, the occasional comments, & the feeling that what I do is liked by others. The entire concept of this blog, outside of giving some light & attention to the obscure & forgotten, is to be a place where people can learn, have a chuckle at my once-in-a-while attempts at being humorous, &, most importantly, enjoy themselves. In a world full of strife at this moment, well all know how rough 2016 has been at times, I try to keep The Land of Obscusion as apolitical, open-minded, & positive as possible... Even if I wind up torturing myself because I'm reviewing something terrible. I don't plan on changing that at all, so I hope to continually be a place where people can relax, read something different, & maybe even learn something new. As long as I feel like that's why people keep reading, then I'll keep on writing/typing, whether it's "full-time" or "part-time".

Anyway, look forward to this month, as I finally get to Reviews #199 & (the dreaded) 200, which will be the two Nora OVAs released back in 1985. I have something special in mind for Review #200 (Twinkle Nora Rock Me), but no guarantees that I'll actually do it; I'll have to push myself once more, after all. There's also Volume 8 of Demo Disc to look forward to, which will be a single series piece on Episodes 1-13 of Geisters: Fractions of the Earth, a.k.a. everything Anime Crash ever released, & the aforementioned Favorite Posts list. In the meantime, however, here's a quick shout-out to five of the most obscure anime & manga that I have reviewed so far on this blog, if only to remind you (& myself) of how crazy dedicated I am to this concept:

-Star Dust-
This was a review from this past September, in which I wrote about the most unknown & forgotten anime to have ever been directed by the celebrated Ichiro Itano. Why is it so obscure? Because it was seemingly directed during his ternue as a teacher at Yoyogi Animation Academy & features next to no visible violence at all (shocking, since Itano is known for hypr-violence). This was essentially a student film that was directed by a pro, featured professional voice work & music composition, & was even sold as a commercial product. Truly, this 1992 anime could very well be the final release of the OVA boom era.

-AWOL Compression Re-MIX-
An early example of modern-day late-night anime, 1998's AWOL -Absent WithOut Leave- is not just pretty bad, but one of the most annoying anime I have ever seen in how long it took for anything of note to actually start happening in the story; it was Review #150 for good reason. What's most interesting, though, is that North America was the only place in the entire world to ever receive AWOL as it was seen on TV on home video. What did Japan get? A "compressed" re-edit that excised four episodes worth of footage, which included the third episode in its entirety, and wound up being surprisingly enjoyable. Not a lost gem, since it still had some of the other flaws the original TV edit had, but I was amazed in how improved it actually was in OVA form.

-GAINAX's Early OVAs-
While the studio is nowhere near as iconic as it once was, Studio GAINAX was one of the biggest names in anime from the mid-90s to the late-00s due to anime like Nadia: Secret of Blue Water, Neon Genesis Evangelion, & Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Still, the studio had to make money in its early days, which resulted in a trio of OVAs from 1989-1991 that next to no one has heard of (& GAINAX doesn't list them on its website)... For good reason. Horny golf OVA Beat Shot!!, racing manga adapted Circuit no Ohkami II: Modena no Ken, & stock market thriller Money Wars -Nerawareta Waterfront Keikaku- are all essentially the lowest of the low when it comes to GAINAX's catalog, ranging from below average to outright boring. Money Wars was the best of the bunch by being somewhat enjoyable, against all odds, but even that wasn't going to earn an audience of any notability by being based on the stock market, of all things.

-Pachislo Kizoku Gin-
It's a character drama series about people who play pachislot against each other in a secret competition organization called the Slosseum. If that alone doesn't tell you why no one's heard of this series before, then I don't know what will. Still, the sole anime featuring A-Line as lead animation studio managed to become much better than I had any idea it could be by delivering some well done character development for both the lead & his newfound rival, as well as by featuring some memorably zany pachislot opponents in the second half. Annie Kisaragi, you shall never leave my memory, & I never want you to.

-Para - The Parabiotic Guy-
From the magazine that brought us Basilisk came the story of a young carpenter yankii who winds up with the ability to possess (parabiose? Yeah I'm bringing that gag back) nearby women after climaxing & becomes a CIA agent to fight against the not-Iraqui government & not-really-Saddam Hussein! Once again, this is actually the actual synopsis of an actual manga that actually exists in this actual world, because even I can't actually believe that such an actual concept could be actually told without actually becoming an actual hentai. Now that I've finally driven that gag six feet under, I was honestly surprised in how this seinen manga managed to tell such an absurd & ridiculous concept in a way that wasn't indecent, voyeuristic, or filled with fanservice, but instead had a lot of heart & humor about itself. This manga is so obscure that there's not even any real info on it in Japanese, but I think this manga honestly doesn't deserve that kind of absolute obscurity.
Once again, thanks for reading these past six years.

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