Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jump Bang and new Blu-ray recorder

The list of anime TV shows running in Tokyo is now up!

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Saki-yomi Jump Bang! has been running for 86-87 episodes now, having first started airing in April, 2009. In the English newspaper TV listings, it's simply identified as "Manga Info", which isn't very explanatory. For those of you who are big Bleach, One Piece or Naruto fans, there's a good chance that you've already encountered this show on one of the fan forums that you follow. As for me, I've had only limited access to the TV for the last year, and I'm only now able to sit down and watch what I want.

Another big recent change that's helped a lot is that I bought a Blu-Ray recorder at SofMap in Akihabara. It's a Panasonic DMR-BW200, which initially came out in 2006 at around 300,000 yen ($3,000 USD) but is now going for 37,000 yen used. There were two unfortunate elements upfront - first, none of the instruction manuals are in English (and no English manuals available online from the Panasonic site) and second, I was getting blocked from accessing digital broadcast TV.



Japan has long ago switched to digital TV signals, even for its regular advertising-driven channels like NHK and TV Tokyo; only one local station is still analog. When I bought the recorder, the clerk said something about it needing a B-CAS card, and gave me a flier with a phone number to call. Turns out that there are a number of different B-CAS cards, and they're required by law for digital TVs and recorders, even if you're not accessing pay-for-view BS satellite or CS cable channels. Apparently the cards are sold along with new equipment, but for used gear you have to call the phone number. Once I got the TV and the recorder to talk to each other, and to actually scan for the digital stations, I determined that I was being blocked from watching the digital channels for not having the card. We looked at the flier, and it mentioned that I could get the card from the reseller of the recorder, so I went back to SofMap the next day, and was told again that they don't sell the B-CAS cards, and I couldn't find them at other shops, either.

After going back home again, we called the number on the flier, and was asked "what size card does the recorder take"? Not knowing the answer, we called the Panasonic support number given in the user manual, and the customer rep we contacted didn't know either, but they promised to find out and would call us back later. Half an hour goes by and the rep calls back, saying "It doesn't matter. Just get one of the red cards". We call the B-CAS company again and relay this response to them. They take our info and say the card will arrive in the mail in 2-3 days, COD. The next day, the card shows up at the door. I pay the 2000 yen for it ($24 USD), and there's not even the expected COD postal service charge added on. That's cool.

I throw the card in the recorder, and it then takes another 30 minutes to figure out how to use the remote for programming the recording schedule (basically, pull up the TV guide available from the digital broadcasters, scroll to the day, time and channel I want, click select on the desired program to get the episode description, click select again, then choose whether I want to record only once, or weekly. Done. The 400 gig hard drive can store a whole bunch of programs, and I can copy them off to an SD card to watch them as MP3 files on my PC or MP3 player (haven't gotten that far yet, though).

After all of the mucking about, I've already grabbed 20 programs that I want to sample, and pre-programmed the recorder for another 6 for the week. Remarkably easy. I'm not even going to bother renting or buying Blu-Ray disks at this point, because I can keep busy with all of the other stuff I want to watch off the air.

This brings me back to Jump Bang. If you're not familiar with it, it's a fairly cheesy variety show hosted by a part-time voice actress, and the "comic" duo America Zarigani, who have also done some limited voice work. The key, though, is that the show has weekly guests that are related to the Shonen Jump franchise in some way, from artists to voice actors. The episode I recorded featured Masakazu Morita, who voices Ichigo Kurosaki in the new Bleach movie. Morita is a pretty interesting guy, and he went along with the stupid antics of the show's hosts (which included 3 "contests" - seeing if he could shout "Jump" for 90 seconds straight (nope), eat really spicy soup (nope) or defeat the show's hosts at a nerf sword battle (yep)). The show also has what they call a "vomic" (a very unfortunate choice of words) - being "voice + comic"; essentially a 5 minute short video showing manga pages with voice-overs. The vomic this week was for Hatekyo Hitman Reborn.

Now that I've got the recorder, I'm adding Jump Bang! to the weekly recording schedule.

Related links:

V-Jump magazine blog
V-Jump main page
Shonen Jump main page
Vomic site

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