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Seiyuu-An Editorial on Kamishibai

by Rikki Hyperion

Seiyuu. [For those of you not up on your Japanese, voice actors.] What do you think of when you hear the word? I think of anime, bad American translations, good fan subbing jobs, and...

...Kamishibai???

Yes, until recently, no one had even thought of using seiyuu in a kamishibai. And for good reason! No one really needed the advent of a voice to tell their story. But now, some of the more popular authors are finding ways to further enhance the viewing experience.

But is this recent development good or bad?

Let's see. When I first saw the wonder known as Kamishibai, I remember reading, somewhere in there, that animations were to be used sparingly, and the main basis on the story itself. That main idea coming from the original kamishibai, way-back-when in Japan, when people would actually go around telling stories, with hand-drawn cards. I guess, for those of you that haven't read the 'about kamishibai' section embedded in the program, I could say the program was intended for a more 'manga-ish' purpose.

But some of the kamishibai up there on the list have plenty of flash and animation, and not a lot of basic storyline to hold those together. I mean, don't get me wrong. There are plenty of kamis with good graphics and good stories. But the file sizes can become-erhm, shall I say-inconvenient?

The largest story I know of as of yet is Grand Slayber 2, written lovingly by Kaze Neko. Kaze-kun, you win the award. That is the largest kamishibai that I'll never download. And the worst part is, it may be a great story.

The smallest story I've ever seen was Damn Parents!, written by Kara Ann Vortex. It was 72.1kb. And by meddling with the images, I was able to shrink it to 40 kb. Congratulations.

And that brings me to another topic images. Ohhh, such evils can be wrought with imaging programs today! You would never believe what I've seen...

There are some people who do not seem to know the basic size of images that the kamishibai program will display. Listen up, everyone, 'cause I'm only going to repeat this once. The basic image size is 200 by 112.Good God, I've seen every image size from 200 by 120 to around 300 by 130! Now that we've cleared that up, maybe we can get around to indexed color images.

Now I have sympathy for people with Paint, but for those with a program capable of reducing colors, learn how! It makes me want to scream when I see a kamishibai with a file size over 3 to 4 MB's. It may be the latest installment of my favorite series in the whole world, but if it's that big, I'm not gonna have the time to download it! And for those of you who can't or don't know how, or just don't feel like shrinking those images, send them to me, and I can shrink them for you! The people who don't know what they are doing, geez!

Now overall file size could be improved by using .zip files instead of .exe files. Damn Parents! was only 19 kb in a zip file. And it's also available with Winzip, which can not only handle .exe files, it can also handle .zip. So by using a different file format, we could take:

Armaggeddon Machine Yari
Original size when downloaded from Otakuworld; 908 kb.
Size with edited images and sound wavs; 612.kb.
Size with edited images and sound wavs as a ZIP file; 591 kb.

See what I mean?

But back to seiyuu. Clips can be hard to manage. When you try and reduce the size by editing the quality, it sounds like it was put through a metal tube. So for those of you who have seiyuu clips, it is hard to keep file sizes down.

Mmm...the results are...inconclusive.

Conclusion:

Seiyuu clips can be good. They can enhance the story, clarify a situation, and make a point. Used responsibly, seiyuu clips can be highly effective. BUT, abuse them and you'll end up like Teal-chan in TL-17G and the Secret of Green Beer...ahem...I think seiyuu clips are the secret, Shael-san...

Seriously, seiyuu clips can also be a major problem if used ineffectively. They can increase file size tremenously, and are hard to compress! With un-resized images, and too many clips, your kamishibai could be another Grand Slayber 2-one that half the people at Otakuworld don't have the time to download. (Gomen...) But with good file usage, you can keep your size at a mere 2 MB or so-like Sparkle Star, Episode 2 [Sword Test].

Actually, seiyuu clips are really just the surface skin of what I'm really getting at.

Think On It:

Have we forsaken what the kami program was intended for? Think of it-kamishibai back in Japan had no sound effects, no music, no seiyuu-the storyteller might even have to wait for months for used pictures. Was the kami program only intended to bring people a good story; without the high file sizes, sound effects, and music?

Have we forgotten what it was intended for?

Or have we modernized an ageless tradition?

Send feedback to RikkiMurasaki@aol.com




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