Anime Today - The Fans Are Listening!By Lisa Mariel, Anime Today Reviewer, March 2006
FINALLY SOMETHING FOR ANIME FANS!
Ever been driving to work, flipping through the radio stations and wishing that, instead of shows about the latest celebrity dish or political rhetoric, you could listen to something that spoke directly to you, the anime fan? An intelligent show that actually talked about the things you want to hear about: anime, anime and more anime!!
Well welcome home, because Right Stuf has unleashed Anime Today: the world's first commercial podcast dedicated to you, the otaku! It's chock full of anime and manga views, news, and reviews – and best of all, it's totally free! (Minus the cost of the computer/iPod, of course.)
A PODCAST? HUH..? IS THAT SOME SORT OF VEGETABLE?
Nope! Sorry, it's not edible. "Podcast" actually comes from a combination of the words "iPod" and "broadcast." As you can probably guess, the term is a result of Apple's trend-setting ability to market their iPod audio player, coupled with the millions of people rushing to create their own personal internet audio broadcasts. While an iPod is not technically required to listen to a podcast (in fact, just about any audio player will play podcasts these days), because of Apple's marketing of the iPod, the term "podcast" stuck.
So, basically, think of a podcast as a radio show, except that instead of tuning in, you download it and drop it on an mp3 player, or any other audio program on your computer. Just like radio shows, podcasts can contain both music and dialog, and are often broken up into many individual segments. This being the digital age, some podcasts (including Anime Today) also offer "enhanced" versions, which contain pictures and chapter stops between each different segment.
Unlike ordinary radio shows, podcasts can be made by just about anyone who has a computer and someplace to post a file on the internet, since it doesn't require access to expensive recording or broadcasting equipment. Naturally, this means that there are hundreds of thousands of podcasts being made by all kinds of people on all kinds of topics, ranging from Harry Potter to "Things I Have Recently Set on Fire" and (of course!) anime. Which brings us to Anime Today!
ANIME TODAY: FROM CONCEPT TO REALITY
The idea of putting together a Right Stuf podcast dates back to the summer of last year (2005). Rich Harms and Nick Tann of Right Stuf's Information Technology department were discussing how podcasts were becoming really popular. Why hadn't anyone in the anime industry made one yet? Fortunately, they worked in the industry. Seeing an opportunity, Rich talked to Shawne, Right Stuf's CEO, and got permission to put together the very first commercial anime podcast.
Of course, that was the easy part. Now, Rich and Nick would have to actually put together an episode. For over two months, they talked and mulled over various ideas. Not only did they have to develop a program line-up, but there were plenty of other decisions that had to be made as well, ranging from where to get the music (we were unable to reach Yoko Kanno) to what to call their new experiment (sadly, "Desperate Catgirls" just didn't fly).
Fortunately, Rich and Nick didn't have to come up with everything alone. After asking around the company to see if anyone would be interested in helping with segments, Rich soon discovered he had a line of willing volunteers. The production department had behind the scenes stories to share. Shawne was eager to talk about his upcoming sales and deals. Kris Kleckner and Judy DeFrieze, fresh from a trip to Japan, were more than happy to discuss their wild adventure overseas. All these were quickly added to the growing list of program segments. In addition, Chris Beveridge of AnimeOnDVD.com also graciously allowed Right Stuf to use some of his site's DVD reviews in the first few episodes.
So it was that on November 11, 2005, the very first episode of Anime Today was launched, and immediately proved to be overwhelmingly popular. So popular, that additional outside bandwidth had to be purchased to support the heavy download demand. A surprise, but also a very happy one for Rich and Nick, for all the hours they'd put in to developing the show had really paid off.
WHAT KINDS OF TOPICS WILL YOU HEAR ON ANIME TODAY?
• WHAT'S HOT?: Chad keeps us up-to-date on what's going on in the industry.
• REVIEWS BY MARIE: Is that anime you've been hearing about really worth all the hype? Marie gives you the straight talk about anime and manga, both new and old.
• THE BEHIND THE SCENES WORLD: Listen in as voice actors, directors, industry experts, and Right Stuf's own production team talk about the behind the scenes secrets that go into making anime.
• ANIME AND GAMERS' GUIDE TO JAPAN: What's the cheapest way to get to Japan so you can spend all your money in Akihabara? Where should you go when you visit? Kris and Judy share tips, tricks and stories from their own journeys to the Land of the Rising Sun!
• LISTENER Q & A: Right Stuf staffers tackle the questions submitted by fans.
• Right Stuf CONTEST AND UPDATES: Get the latest scoop on Right Stuf news and contests that you can enter to win cool stuff.
• SHAWNE'S SPECIALS: Shawne talks about his latest specials designed to tempt your wallet.
…and a lot more! Anime Today is always evolving. New segments are constantly been developed, so be on the lookout for new programming, music and fun in every episode!
INSIDE THE WORLD OF PODCASTING
Looking back, a lot has changed since the début of that very first episode. The recording and editing of that first episode took two months. Now it takes only 3-4 days. But I'm already getting ahead of myself!
Just how is an episode of Anime Today made? Well first, and foremost is the content. The content of each episode is decided via a roundtable discussion, where everyone sits and tosses out ideas. Now – and this is a very important point – the biggest key to this stage is: picking someone who can actually write legibly enough on our giant whiteboard to be able to read it later! (A very difficult person to find.) After we're done wiping away the tears of laughter from all of our really terrible ideas, the good ones get jotted down for use either in the current episode or a later one.
For some segments, like the Anime & Gamer's Guide to Japan, that roundtable discussion may be all the preparation that's required before sitting down to record, but many other segments require a lot more time and energy. And although Chris Beveridge was kind enough to let us use his reviews for our initial episodes, we eventually decided to start up our own in-house reviews – which means that for every episode we do, a DVD must be watched or a manga read, and then analyzed. As one of the reviewers, this is basically my job so I can tell you they take quite a while to write. The then there's the other segments such as "What's Hot?", and information about the latest contests. All of that has to be written in advance by someone too.
Once everything has been approved, it's off to the recording studio! This is everybody's favorite part. For my part, I say this ironically because recording often involves fiddling with the microphone (which I'm not supposed to do), furiously crossing out phrases that sounded good until I tried to speak them out loud, and of course the required giggling over mispronounced words that I should have learned how to say back in third grade. All the while, a very patient Nick, who is in charge of recording, keeps an eye on sound levels and makes notes on which of my swear words will need to be edited out. Shawne, because of his busy schedule, is always recorded very last.
Once recording is finished, the editing begins. Each 5-minute segment of the show means over an hour's worth of editing for poor Nick - more if Kris and Judy were in the recording booth. Nick snips together the very best portions of each recording and strings them together to create magic. And, of course, with editing comes the one part Nick loves best: looking for the most hilarious bloopers to put on the end of each episode. Fortunately, this takes less time if Kris and Judy were in the recording booth.
When all of the individual segments are finally completed, Nick adds all the little bits that really connect the show together: the introductory segments and the in-between music. At first, Nick was composing and creating all of the music himself, which proved to be a very time consuming endeavor. Then, at a suggestion from one of the staff, we asked for help from a fellow industry member: Geneon Entertainment. They were kind enough to allow us to use excerpts from their extensive music library in each of our podcasts.
And what's audio without picture? The very last thing that Nick adds is the enhanced features which include pictures and chapter markers, and then it's ready for its big internet debut on AnimeToday.com! Putting everything together for each new episode every two weeks is a lot of work. But, it's worth it to hear the positive feedback we've been getting from fans who really love the show.
Select your listening style
• Goto the EPISODE INDEX.
• Style 1: Click the "Audio Only" button to download the mp3 version of the latest episode and play it on your favorite mp3 player.
• Style 2: Click the "Enhanced Podcast" button to download the m4a version for Apple's iPod (this version includes spiffy pictures and chapter stops) and play it on your favorite iPod.
• Style 3: Select the "Subscribe via iTunes" to have new episodes automatically downloaded when they become available! Play via your favorite iPod or on iTunes. New episodes of are available every other Friday!
If you've got a question for Anime Today's Q&A, or you'd like to leave a comment, please give us a call or send us an email!
Anime Today Hotline: 1-800-338-6827 extension 7424
FORWARD TO THE FUTURE!
As I write this, Anime Today's popularity continues to grow. With each new release, the staff gets a little more comfortable in this strange new pod-land. And, also as I write, the team is currently working to develop more new segments and fresh ideas for the future – a future that Rich hopes will be quite a long one.