It's under 9,000? Review: Dragon Ball Z Kai

Thursday, August 12, 2010 Laura Fitzgerald

A lot of people are at least familiar with Dragon Ball Z even if they don’t follow the Anime industry closely. They’ll be remembering its censored Cartoon Network days. I loved Dragon Ball Z as a kid and I still have my Vegeta punching bag. I’ll be honest though, in the intervening years between middle school and my adult life, Dragon Ball Z got harder and harder to watch. DBZ was terribly flawed, but those were different days in the industry. The dubbing and translations were horrible. The filler was endless and the pacing was dreadfully slow. Did it really need to take five episodes for Namek to explode when Goku only had twenty minutes to make his escape? Why couldn’t this have been done in real time?

But now we have Dragon Ball Z Kai, and I am such a fan. It’s a reboot of the series using the original animation digitally cleaned up or redrawn in cases where the cells had deteriorated past the point of being useful. In the first 13 episodes the story already reaches the first exchange of blows between Vegeta and Goku, skipping the all that boring filler along Snake Way and the training episodes. There are a few things we miss out on. Some of my favorite filler didn’t make the cut. Vegeta’s and Nappa’s side adventure on the bug planet is not included. “Nappa’s Best Day Ever” is severely truncated, but sacrifices needed to be made for the sake of brevity (which was characteristically lacking in the original series). The action and story sped along and the sequences fit together well despite the cuts. Overall I was happy with a lot of the changes. And hey, they even redubbed the whole thing. The horrible pronunciations were fixed and in my opinion they got a marginally stronger performance out of the returning crew. The cast members that were replaced, were replaced for the better. Gohan actually sounds like a young boy now.

The first box from Funimation comes complete with 13 episodes on two discs. The exterior of the collector’s box has a much more modern and clean look to it compared to those god awful orange boxes that I hated (and yet still bought).

There is one last thing and I must applaud Funimation for even if it makes me mildly grumpy. They went so far as to change the most iconic line from DBZ so it would match the original Japanese broadcast. So now:

Nappa: “Vegeta, what does the scouter read?”
Vegetta: “It’s over EIGHT thousand!”

Damn, that’s attention to detail just doesn’t feel the same anymore. The moment is gone. The original meme is now...retro. In short: I feel old!

Where am I? What year is it? Gah! What planet am I even on?

Monday, August 9, 2010 Laura Fitzgerald

It’s embarrassing how long it’s been since I last posted. Where have I been all this time? I can hardly even remember the passing of the days, but I seem to have been productive. There are all these finished and unfinished craft projects all around me and even a few thousand new words on a new writing project that I’ve started. I’ve noticed the apartment waxing and waning through various states of cleanliness, but honestly, I have lost track of time.

At some point in the few weeks, a new season of books began. Now unlike the season’s of the year, this does not mean that an old season is all wrapped up neatly. In publishing, you generally work on several seasons at a time. We just got through the Winter 2011 Sales Conference and are now knee deep in Summer 2011. Meanwhile the Summer 2010 books are rolling out into bookstores.

At this point the general shape of the seasonal list is taking shape. Early versions of the manuscripts may be available to the marketing department for in-house reads. Preliminary planning meetings start happening between the departments.

All in all this is my favorite time in-house. Everything is new and exciting. There’s a lot of creative energy about. This is the time to dream big with your plans and scale back later if you have to.

And the winner is.....

Friday, June 25, 2010 Laura Fitzgerald

All right ladies and gents, it is the moment you've all be waiting for. Time to announce the winner of the Kick-Off Contest.  Can I get a drum roll please, Ritsu?

And the winner is:  LoonyMoonyy!  Congratulations! Check your e-mail or Twitter about it for further instructions.

I want to thank everyone who entered.  The warmth and welcome you shared with me was unparalleled.  And I had a blast reading through your responses. 

If you didn't win this time, there is always next time.  I do have future contests planned, so keep an eye out for the next round.   Have a good weekend everyone!

"The Big Six" and why I hate that phrase

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 Laura Fitzgerald

Buzz words are problematic.  While the phrases are easy to recite, they tend to also propagate misinformation in their simplicity.  Some processes and organizations are just too complex to be boil down to a handful of words or titles that will paint an accurate picture. 

Nothing drives me battier than the terminology "The Big Six", a phrase used often to refer to the six major trade houses in the USA: Random House, Macmillan, Penguin Group, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins.  I've always felt that this misnomer leads readers to think of the publishing industry as smaller than it is. 

"The Big Six," it reduces a publisher like Random House to one of only six publishers.  It addresses none of the variety or diversity of Random House as a collected whole.  Here is the Wikipedia entry for Random House, listing all of it's domestic and international imprints: Wiki Divisions and Imprints. I stopped counting at a dozen, but there are many, many more.  Every imprint is different and unique in pursuing their own publishing goals and opinion of excellence.

Another thing that bothers me about the use of  "The Big Six" is how it undervalues the roll small presses play in the publishing field.  Why is it only ever the actions of "The Big Six" that appear to be shaping the industry?  Digital technologies are leveling the playing field through e-publishing and advancements in print production and efficiency.  Every day, small and independent presses are making decisions that will affect their markets, authors, contracts, accounts, and consumers.  These decisions in turn create ripples in the community, slowly fanning out to affect a larger surface area.

Finally, and this observation may only be the result of the blog posts that I have read, I see the phrase "The Big Six" used frequently enough to imply that there is some secret society among publishers.  And it boggles my mind every time.  There are anti-trust laws in this country to prevent collusion between corporate powers against any one industry, retailer, or consumer group.  I'm not naive, people in this industry do talk with one another, but there is no roundtable secret meeting between publishing execs at which they decide how as one, they're going to move and position themselves around one another. This is a highly competitive market, with low margins, and an abundance of goods.  It benefits the large corporations to be closed lipped with one another.

I doubt it bugs very many people, but there it is.  I've said my peace.

/End of Line

Plot: &The Big Bad Wolf

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 Laura Fitzgerald

Yesterday, I came across a short series of tweets by writer, Audrey Taylor, that address a chronic problem among many writers.  She had the best anecdotal image I have ever seen for the problem of superfluous plot devices.  Rather than retweeting, I felt it would be clearer as a blog post.  Personal choice, but I've just never liked retweeting multiple inter-connected tweets.  (And hey in a blog post I can make it purple, WIN)

"Hubby has a phrase for writing that's all about the window dressing and not about anything underneath: Robotic Wolves. As an editor, he had a convo w/a writer like this..
D: You need plot here in the middle.
W: Hm. How about some robotic wolves?
D: A series of events that don't provide an arc are not plot. Having "robotic wolves" or mercorns will not make your MS either original or goodIn the end, it's your writing that needs to be good. You can write an entire novel about wallpaper, if you write about wallpaper brilliantly." ~ AudryT

Hehe, robotic wolves.  I love it.  The strength of your plot comes from more than a series of devices strung together.  Don't let the "robotic wolves" gobble up the good things that you have going for you in your work in progress.

You can follow Audry on Twitter here.

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Mythbusters: The Publishing Edition

Thursday, June 10, 2010 Laura Fitzgerald

One of the big gripes with traditional publishing these days is that due to the economic downturn, it is only a handful of books that receive -any- marketing at all.  That if you aren't Stephen King, you can expect to go it alone.  Here is the good news:  that's not all that true!  Most every book receives some marketing and publicity attention with few exception among all the major trade houses. 

What is true is that only a few books receive money for some of the bigger things such as ads in The New York Times Book Review, and that's okay.  It's only a certain kind of book that benefits from such things.  

Every book receives at least three big things: review galleys, a place in catalog, and attention from your marketing department and sales force at major meetings.  None of these are insignificant.  The catalog is a hugely important sales tools that goes out to booksellers, libraries, and reviewers everywhere to pitch the upcoming season of books.

The thing you should also know is that it is never all or nothing.  Between those big books that get those ads in USA Today and the ten city tours, there are a lot of other tiers.  Some books get a lot more galleys and advertising perhaps in lieu of author appearances due to the budget or an author's schedule and travel restraints.  Some books get a lot more of an online push with little to no print attention because that's just the best way to reach its target audience. 

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Kick-Off Contest: YA Giveaway

Tuesday, June 1, 2010 Laura Fitzgerald

Some of you may be old readers of my former blog, and hopefully some of you are new from parts unknown.  But to all of you, welcome! 

So how shall we kick things off? How about some free books to start you on your summer reading?  Does that sound good?

Well it better because check out the fabulous prizes I've collected for you:

One lucky winner will receive a dozen YA novels.  The prize pack contains a mix of both hardcovers and ARC's.  There is something for everyone in this prize pack; from paranormal romance to contemporary to dystopian.
How to Enter:

We'll be using a very simple point system in which each point gains you one entry ticket for the giveaway. 
+1 Answer one of the questions:  "Who is your favorite author?" or "What is your post-apocalyptic society survival skill?" (Or both if you like.  Points will only be awarded once.) 
+1 Link to my contest from your blog (provide link)
+1 Link to my contest from your Twitter or Google Buzz (provide link)

Please post your answers and links as a comment to this post.  

This contest is only open to residents of the U.S. and will end on Friday, June 18th.  The winner will be announced by June 25th on the blog and I will contact you then.  The winner will be chosen at random by means of 

Good luck to all of you.  And I look forward to getting to know you.  

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