Tuesday, June 26, 2007

HardDoor--The First Anniversary

At this time one year ago, I first launched HardDoor, my premiere foray into the world of blogging. Focusing on my two favorite subjects, anime and boxing, HD was to be my own personal gateway of conveying my thoughts on them and as a venue for trying out new aspects of writing and the such. I wish I could have accomplished more of what I had in mind, yet, I am also very glad to have at least posted this much, and more. I do hope to do even a greater amount of what I have in mind in this second round, so that's another thing to be happy about. :)

Hmm...but what of this "HardDoor" name? Where did it come from and why exactly is this blog called as such?

Well, a while before, there was a certain fighter on a certain show promoting his upcoming match, where he said that the fight would be "Rated H for 'Hardcore!'" However, instead of "Hardcore," I thought to have heard him jumble his speech and say "hard door." I rolled at this, but wanted to check a few sites covering it to see if he actually said that or it was just me.

Apparently, it was the latter.

The misnomer stuck around my head for a while. I still found it pretty amusing and wondered what, if anything, would fit for "Hard Door." Down the line, thoughts of making a blog were ever present in my mind, and with it, a name had to be given to it. One of the first to pop up was, of course, that, and the moment I put two and two together, it stuck. And thus, upon combining both words (and eschewing the once-proposed hyphen), "HardDoor" was concieved...

And HardDoor's still going strong!

Another year and onward...


:anime: HardDoor’s Directory & Guide of Free, Low Cost, and Legal Anime on the Internet


(For the article, please click here.)

Psst…want some free, or cheap, anime on the Internet?

Well, you came to the right spot! A listing of streaming and downloadable content vendors all offering anime for no cost (or just a little one)—and all of it’s legal!

This directory is kept up to date as often as possible, though the layout might be altered in the future. Additionally, all sites are in English, unless noted otherwise.

--NOTE: HardDoor is not affiliated with or endorses any of the sites/services listed here. Please use discretion with anything involving downloading and pay content. HD is not responsible for any of the content listed on any of the sites/services or any issues concerning them. Please take any such problems up with the sites/services themselves.--

And with that…happy viewing!

:anime: The New Wave in Distribution:: On Demand, Online, and Legal

Fansubbing has long been an integral part of anime fandom. Arguably, it is the greatest portal available to those wishing to sample some of Japan’s animation works without the need of actually knowing the language in order to understand what the actors are saying. Over a decade ago, the translation of anime titles by amateurs was solely relegated towards anime clubs and special mailing lists that released tapes of subtitled shows to paying customers. However, with the advent of computers and the Internet, nearly all fansubbing operations have moved to the confines of websites, chat rooms (most notably, IRC), and peer-to-peer networks, where they are offered for free, are highly prevalent, and easy to find.

Monday, June 25, 2007

:anime: Introduction:: Free (and Low Cost) Anime on the Internet…and It’s All Legal!

Over one year ago, I posted a thread on the currently “hibernating” fan site AnimeX.Com on a couple of spots where one could find free (or low cost) anime available on the Internet in a legal manner—no fansubs, and no bootlegs. Back then, the use of digital technology was in its relative infancy in terms of use among the industry players. Bandai Entertainment, ADV Films, and Central Park Media, as well as a few broadcasters, were primarily the only ones actively posting content on the web, ranging from trailers and promo packets to actual, full-length episodes. Much has changed over a year’s time, as much of the anime industry on both sides of the Pacific have offerings over the Internet. Viewing video streams is usually free and the downloading of episodes normally are low in price ($.99 to $5). And while some past venues have undergone changes—Anime Village went offline for a few months before returning as Bandai Ent.’s online store; BandaiChannel now blocks foreign viewers from its video contents—the explosion in growth of digital distribution has lend to a boom in the number of places one can visit for their anime interests.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

:boxing: Hatton KOs Castillo in a (Short) War!

Finishing the prediction post just on the cusp of the fight, I watched the first round thinking to myself about what would happen if I had to turn back to HardDoor to write on a KO that ended the fight early.

And here I am.

:boxing: War or Bore?:: Hatton vs. Castillo

Junior welterweight champion Ricky Hatton has not had the most storied of journeys in the United States. Once a feared, vicious, unrelenting fighter, "The Hitman" has engaged in a number of battles that thrilled few and seemingly wiped away the venier that has accumulated over his 40+ fight career. Though victorious in every single one, an unexciting and slow beating of Carlos Maussa, and back-to-back struggles with Luis Collazo and Juan Urango have many questioning whether the 28 year old has past his apex. One can point to a good degree of issues that have supported this, such as his growing reliance on grabbing and "wrestling" tactics, his greater susceptibility to getting hit, the taxing brawler/heavy volume punching style that is his bread-and-butter, and his own publicized thoughts of retirement. On the other side of the ring is another big name fighter that has become known more for sleep-inducing waltzes than all-out, all-heart wars, Jose Luis Castillo. The veteran Mexican appears to be beyond the days of giving Floyd Mayweather, Jr. a run for his money and the late Diego Corrales the fight of the century. Rather, he has been listless in his most recent fights (Rolando Reyes, Herman Ngoudjo) and nearly sullied the aura of the first fight with his controversial victory in his rematch with Corrales and the infamous cancellation of the third, where a twice-overweight Castillo was fined and suspended for his transgression.

All things considering, one questions what the nature of this bout will be. If it were based on the past, it could potentially be capable of meeting that aforementioned "fight of the century" caliber. If it were based on the present, we could be on hand for a lower weight-class rendition of Byrd-Williamson. I'd gather that it will be in the middle, but more in terms of what we have been seeing from both fighters of recent. Hatton's costly style and Castillo's long fighting career (sixteen years and counting) are finally catching up to them, so while they may not fight with the fervor that made them beloved figures in the world of boxing any longer, we just might be able to see at least a few spurts from the past, tonight.

However, history dictates that the brawler does not fare well when being brawled against. Castillo is one who tends to fight the style of fight that his opponent employs and Hatton has not faired completely well against others willing to brawl with him.

Prediction: Castillo by late-round KO (10th-12th), or unanimous decision (in okay action).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

:boxing: Cotto Cans Judah...

As predicted earlier, welterweight champion Miguel Cotto would walk away victorious if Zab Judah did not bring his A-game and fight the "perfect fight," namely, outbox the champ, use his superior hand speed, and move around. I also insinuated that Kostya Tszyu was still haunting him all these years later, and well, that may have truly been a factor two Saturdays ago.

Judah started off well in the beginning rounds, rocking Cotto twice, but from about Round 3 or 4, and on, it was the champ's fight. "(Not-so) Super" Zab was trying too hard to land the money shot, waiting extended periods of time and missing prime opportunities to at least score some blows, while Cotto did what he does best--coming forward and grind his opponents down with body shots and persistent pressure. Judah barely threw any sort of punches for much of the fight and failed to utilize his talents to make it a more even-sided affair. Cotto, on the other hand, was game and mauled the Brooklyn native to an 11th round stoppage (not quite "mid-fight"...).

It definitely was not a classic or a "Fight of the Year" candidate that some were making it out to be (too one-sided and not as thrilling as other bouts earlier in the year) and Zab Judah surely didn't "prove/vindicate himself" with his performance. I don't want to sound too harsh, but truthfully, while he didn't meltdown like he usually does and managed to fire off some flurries in the latter rounds, he looked like someone trying to land the big KO and hesitant to make much of a fight beyond that. Perhaps that Tszyu KO was making him reluctant once again to go full out and engage a potential repeat danger like Cotto, and perhaps he just wants to create an impressive moment to mark his first victory in two years.

After that fight, I cannot see why that stretch would not reach past three.

P.S.: Those hideous low blows from Cotto and that headbutt may have taken the wind a bit out of him, but the outcome would have stayed the same, regardless...Judah is most likely still going through what other fighters have gone through after a career-changing knockout loss like the one back in 2001...

The Start of Something Big...

The first anniversary of HardDoor is only a week away! And with it comes...something big...

It might be one thing or it may be more than that, but regardless, I do have something very nice planned out to mark the occasion...

'Till that time...



Tuesday, June 12, 2007

:anime: First Impression:: Sci-Fi Channel's Ani-Monday Block

The Sci-Fi Channel shot off its first salvo at Adult Swim with its Ani-Monday program block--their first foray into anime in over a decade. A hodgepodge of stylized caricatures accompanied a J-Pop-inspired/skewered anthem promoting a rather stereotypical view of Japanese animation (mainly focusing on the violence and "coolness" factors) before going into their premiere feature, the broadcast premiere of Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society. This was very much in the spirit of the promos being shown. Commercial breaks were reasonably placed and lengthened, not interfering with the flow of the movie, and were normally introduced after a quick eyecatch showcasing an aspect of anime (e.g. a clip of the cloaked suspect from early in the original Ghost in the Shell movie shown gyrating his legs in the air in on a "broken record" sort of loop, appearing to looking like a breakdance move, until it shows his ankle getting twisted, leading to a caption reading, "Ani-break"). These were actually more humorous than eyeroll-inducing.

The primary mistake Sci-Fi made in their return to anime broadcasting was their apparent decision to show GITS:SSS in a Pan & Scan format--that is, in a 4:3 standard TV format rather than the 16:9 widescreen viewing ratio the movie was in. A normal practice for many stations showing movies, it not one that is very beneficial for an animated film, as much more of the picture is reliant on the visual aspect than a live-action work. The result led to a number of incidents of characters having parts of their heads (or the whole thing) cropped out of scenes and the movie as a whole having a sort of cramped look to it. Thankfully, this did not hamper the enjoyment of GITS:SSS itself, arguably the better of the three Stand Alone Complex works.

So far, a good return outing by the network in anime. They chose a very good title with name recognition and a big following to kick things off, though it would be for the best in future Ani-Mondays that they lessen its stylings (i.e. the voiceovers and the anime characterizations), which give it a bit of a dated, corny feel, and retain each feature's original screen aspect. Overall, very good, but not yet at the pedigree of Adult Swim. They do have a good line-up in Macross Plus and especially Noein, and possibly the original Ghost in the Shell movie and fan favorite Ninja Scroll (as seen in the promos and eyecatches), so it is at least a start in the right direction.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

:boxing: Cotto-Judah - Big Fists vs. Big Mouth

Miguel Cotto squares off against Zab Judah in defense of his WBA welterweight title in New York City's Madison Square Garden on the eve of its big annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. Judah has long been claiming that his friend(?) Felix Trinidad said that he (and himself, included) could take down the highly-respected prospect. Cotto, in spite of his undefeated record, has not looked completely invincible in a number of his recent bouts, as he has had his moments against fighters that he was supposed to handle with ease in the ring, such as Demarcus "Chop Chop" Corley in his native Puerto Rico and Paulie Malignaggi. On the other hand, Judah was too entrenched in his "thug life" (and his tendency to shirk in the face of growing opposition) to pull it together and beat Floyd Mayweather, Jr. last year. And lest us not forget that he has technically not won a fight since May 2005.

Friday, June 01, 2007

:anime: School Rumble Site Goes Live [Again]! The Dub Lives! So, FUNi's Production is Still Alive?!

Part 1 - School Rumble Site Goes Live [Again]! ::FUNimation's School Rumble site is made live yet again! A clustered, Flash-based design featuring the characters and a trailer (decent, though it simplifies the plot a bit oddly) grace the site in place of the "Coming Soon" promo pic.

Part 2 - The Dub Lives! ::Speaking of the characters, there are "hidden" audio clips of most of those featured being played by their English voice actors, all part of a prize-awarding guessing game for the cast. Said VAs did not sound too great or accurate, but another listen or two gave two impressions. One, being that they didn't seem as horrible as initially thought and that it could very well be one of those "take getting used to" sort of dubs, and two, the given clips sounded more like audition takes than actual rips from the finished product (meaning the end product may feature more polished performances).

Part 3 - So, FUNi's Production is Still Alive?! ::Great to see that FUNimation was apparently not neglecting or sitting on SR and its license. It's not in their nature in the first place, and telling by their current trend of license-->long wait (doing the whole production en masse)-->quick release schedule (and no broken promises--Media Blasters & GaoGaiGar), it seems very likely that the company was handling all 52 episodes and both OVAs at once in order to avoid VA scheduling conflicts, get the show finished and out of the way for other ones, and give the many devoted fans a brisk flow of DVDs. You do chance losing momentum from the initial licensing announcement, but the release schedule and renewed word-of-mouth should help regain ground.