Snap Election: Vote Wisely

The UK’s current Prime Minister, Theresa May, has just announced plans to call a General Election on June 8th. Primarily claiming Brexit as the reason, this puts a bit of a slant on how to consider one’s voting.

I know there are people who will say “Don’t Vote Tory” and leave it at that. Personally, I think that’s how we got saddled with a Conservative Government in 2015, even though there was a strong anti-Tory sentiment. The Conservative Party got just over a third of the votes, at 36.9%. The remaining two thirds, though, was incredibly fragmented. And this is what I think a lot of the media speculators and unsure voters forgot to take into account. It wasn’t enough for “Not Tory” to be the majority, not if they still got the lion’s share of the votes. And people holding off on voting before they weren’t sure if their vote really mattered… well it could have.

Ono top of that, I think there are those who were put off from voting Labour because Ed Milliband seemed to lack charisma. Or who were out off voting Liberal Democrat because they got sort of scapegoated for decisions they made as the minority group of a Coalition Government when doing otherwise may have risked making things fall apart.

I think this time around, there are a few important things that people have to keep in mind when casting their vote.
The stakes are higher than in a usual General Election so the usual criteria have a few extras added into the mix.

Does Your Party Share Your Brexit Viewpoint?

Whoever is in charge is likely to be the main steering force during the next couple of years. It doesn’t matter when you want Hard Brexit, Soft Brexit, No Brexit or Liquid Brexit, you probably want to vote for a party that shares your viewpoint. The next couple of years are what’s going to shape the UK’s longer term future. Whether or not “your team wins” for the next four years is secondary to how your country fares for the next several decades.

What About Your Local Candidates?

I’ve maintained for a long time that what causes your local candidates stand for should be taken into account as much, if not more, that Party Loyalty. This is true now more than ever. If anything Brexit-related is put to Parliamentary vote, your MP is going to be voting on your behalf.
So like choosing a party above, choosing a candidate should at least have some thought put towards which local option is closest to your viewpoint on Brexit. Otherwise you really are just voting against you own best interests.

If You Can, Vote!

Make your voice heard. Even if you think the best option is merely “lesser of the evils”, do you really want to sit by and risk the greater evil winning?

Remember, a vote that isn’t cast for anybody also isn’t cast against anybody.

And if you’re young and a first-time voter (and reading the online wittering of a middle-aged bloke for some reason), don’t be put off voting. Your generation may well be much more affected by things done by the next Government than my generation or that of my parents. 

Forget Personality Politics

So, the candidate your considering voting for has either the party or personal alignment that most interests you but you really don’t like the current leader. Do you vote for someone else or choose to abstain?
This time, I’d caution against it. Again, this is bigger than just who’s the Government or Prime Minister for the next few years. This is down to whether you trust your MP or the Government to handle Brexit the way you want. If you vote against your preference just because you don’t like a certain politician, this will be counter-productive.

TL;DR

We’re on the Good Ship Brexit and we’re about to vote in our Captain and Crew. Regardless of where else they take us, you probably want to make sure that this particular trip is to your taste.

Vote wisely!

UK Labour Party: Crisis or Identity Crisis

There is a lot of talk at the moment about whether or not the Labour Party is in crisis.
and, if so, whether it is being caused by their current leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

I think that the (Parliamentary) Labour Party is looking at it the wrong way. There is a crisis or, at least, and identity crisis. I don’t think that Mr Corbyn is the trigger for it, though. If anything, his rise to leadership and the tensions it has brought are just symptoms of an issue that was already there.

The PLP appears to worry about being seen as too “left wing” and have concerns about being electable. As I mentioned in a previous blog, this isn’t all there is to being the major non-government party. They are the official Opposition Party. This has responsibilities that cover the current period following the previous election. Looking solely towards what kind of a government they would be in an election that isn’t even scheduled until 2020 is very little use in 2016.
If another General Election was called then this would be a different matter. But until such a time, they have to at least put some priority into being the Current Opposition rather than a Future Potential Government.

This is where, I think, the focus on being seen as moderate as opposed to left-wing starts to go a little off target.

Basically, it’s a lot harder to balance from the middle. And if you’re trying to seek a compromise, giving ground from the start isn’t useful. It feels too much like what Labour wants to be is the party that stands from the compromise position. But when you give ground form that position, you don’t get compromise. You become compromised.

Where the New/Blairite/Moderate Labour wants to be isn’t necessarily a bad place. It’s just that it’s more like the end position after a reasonable discussion and compromise. It’s not a good position to counter from.

The term “Red Tories” gets thrown about towards the main Labour Party. Although I think that’s going a bit far, I see where it comes from. The current political parties feel like “Variations on a Theme”.
Take McDonalds and Burger King. Both have their own style but both are fast-food burger joints. Then you get higher-end places like the Gourmet Burger Kitchen. Even then, though, it’s still just three different takes on “Burger, Fries and a Milkshake”. When sometimes, as a customer, what you really want is pizza and a coke. Or roast dinner and a beer.

Jeremy Corbyn’s take on Labour leadership is something different. It’s not the same old same old. He appeals to people otherwise disenfranchised with Politics. This is a problem with politics/politicians in general, not with Mr Corbyn. If a split is occurring, it started ahead of this. Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to power, despite the direction of the PLP, is a symptom of the cracks, not their cause. I don’t even believe in everything he stands for but I find him a very refreshing change to politics. And where I disagree with him, I still think he helps give a more rounded overall view to a discussion.

Parliamentary Labour want to chase people already catered for by politicians. Jeremy Corbyn represent a segment of the public who are used to (and sick of) being overlooked by Big Politics.

And this is where I think the PLP is risking a misstep. There’s a large section of their newer membership who, otherwise, probably wouldn’t give a damn about politics. Because, all too often, they feel like politics doesn’t give a damn about them. Finally it seems like someone actually wants to stand for them… and the Party just wants to ignore them as if their voice and opinions don’t matter.
And this is a Party that, still, claims to be “For the People”.

The “right kind of people” only, it seems.

Why I Voted to #REMAIN

So, I’ve just cast my vote in the EU Referendum. I’ve voted to Remain. In some ways, to me, it’s an obvious choice. Some of my reasons are political, some personal. They’re all long-term, though.

In or Out, the UK has problems. In or Out, the EU has problems. Remain or Leave, those problems won’t vanish overnight.

In my mind, a vote to Remain isn’t automatically agreeing with everything the EU stands for right now. It’s also not assuming that the EU can or will always act in the UK’s best interests.

Similarly, I don’t buy that a vote to Leave is a racist or jingoistic response.

There are short-sighted, short-term and selfish reasons to vote in either direction. There are plenty of spokespeople on each side of the debate whose arguments are based on those very reasons. Yes, it’s easy to point out pro-Leave supporters who have one or more or those traits but there are too many pro-Remain supporters with them as well.

I’m 39 years old. Not that old, not that young. I’ve seen quite a lot of change in my lifetime. This is not the world of my childhood. The fact that I’m writing something that could easily be read by someone almost anywhere in the world within minutes of me posting it and agreeing/disagreeing/arguing with me almost immediately it proof of that.

In some ways, the world has shrunk and borders have become less relevant. They still matter, but in a different way than they once did. I see them more like the lines in artwork. They don’t have to keep regions totally separate. You can draw something and colour totally within the lines and it work to enhance the big picture.
They can give shape, not separation.

Instead, too many people see borders as push-up bras. Lift into view and separate out. “We’re better than you!”

I know there are some who are voting Leave because they think the UK is better off fending for itself. There are some who are voting Remain mainly because of what the UK can get out of the EU, as opposed to what we can help put into it.

To me, though, the EU is about being a part of something bigger. Having our own identity yet feeding into and feeding from a greater overall entity. Working together with other countries and cultures. Learning how we can be better. Helping those who need it. And everyone banding together when it all goes pear-shaped.

Since I first really heard about the EU as a kid in the late 1980s, it always seemed so full of potential to me. I don’t think it has currently reached anywhere near its potential but that potential is still there. And it’s a potential the whole world needs. Cooperation instead of Conflict.

And that’s why I voted Remain.

I believe in working towards a world where maybe we can work through our differences. Remaining in the EU might help achieve that. Leaving the EU would be a step away from that dream. To be fair, I don’t think it would be a permanent one. But it would be more of a significant step during my lifetime. And if people are going to vote in either direction for selfish reasons, my Selfish Reason is that I want to see the world become slightly less crappy before I die. I want to see it in my lifetime, dammit!

The EU’s like a family. Families don’t always get along well. And even the ones that do, some achieve that with distance. I don’t have any family members “just down the road”. Even my immediate family, my parents and my brother’s family, are an hour’s drive away each. I’ve not live with my parents for a decade, and not lived with my brother for two.
I couldn’t live with them again easily. But they’re still my family. They’ve been there for me when i needed it. i try to be there for them when they need it. It’s what family do.

Family also squabble. The stereotypical Family Christmas is everyone getting a bit tipsy and having an argument over the dinner table. Well, that’s what the EU is for. It’s the dinner table we all argue around.

And those arguments are why we’ve not had a major punchup in the metaphorical pub car park since World War II.

The EU is far from perfect. But thats no reason to leave. All we’d be doing would be putting up higher walls and sending a signal out to the rest of the world that looking after your own interests first-and-foremore is all that matters.

The dinner table would break up. Arguments would escalate. And the next punchup would be waiting in the car park.

And that isn’t something I want to see in my lifetime. (Or anyone else’s to be fair.)

I Have a Mental Health Condition

The last week has been a pretty crappy one, with regards to violence and the news. Amongst other things, we’ve had the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Florida, USA, and the killing of MP Jo Cox in West Yorkshire, England.

In the former case, the shooter was a Muslim and, as usual, the term “Islamic Terrorist” have been thrown around. In the latter case, it was a white guy with far-right sympathies and the media seems torn as to whether to call him a terrorist or not.

There are some that say that if he were dark skinned and had uttered something along the lines of religious rather than nationalistic rhetoric then he’d also have been called a terrorist.

Personally, I think this argument misses the real point.

In both cases, the suspect’s mental health issues are one of the first things that get revealed in the media. As if this explains it all. As if mental illness makes someone a killer.

That’s about as likely as someone’s religious beliefs making them a killer. Or their political beliefs. Or what sports team they support.

Sure, sometimes these can be a contributing factor but I don’t think they’re ever The Main/Only Reason.

But the media loves a scapegoat. The Muslims. The Immigrants. The Mentally Ill. Basically, it’s always blamed on The Other. And all this really does is inspire hatred and fear of The Other. Which is often what will cause the next tragedy.

I can at least say one thing as someone with mental health issues, though. Which brings me to the title of this post. I have a mental health condition.

Having a mental health condition does not automatically make someone a danger to others. Hell, I’d say that my depression and anxiety means that I’m more likely to kill or harm myself than anyone else. And even that isn’t very likely.

And if this is true for one type of “Other”, it can be true of other “Others”, too.

Try to understand those who are different from yourself. It’s not always easy and I know I don’t always get it right. But don’t succumb to hate. Because all that ever does is extend the cycle of tragedy,

Why Assange Should Face Charges

This whole Julian Assange situation is one big political minefield, no doubt about it. It is unfortunate, for him at least, that there are multiple things at stake and one of them is big enough that maybe it shouldn’t be sacrificed for his political beliefs.

It all comes down to the rape allegations. It’s also related to, but independent of, whether or not the allegations are true. And this is where it gets messy. Assange is, quite understandably, worried that Sweden would use his arrest there as a pretext to extradite him to the United States over the whole Wikileaks situation.
Here’s the problem. People cannot be treated as “too important” to face rape charges. The disturbing amount of former celebrities now recognised as sex offenders should have taught us that by now.

There are those who, having read up on the public details on the allegation, think that he is basically being stitched up on false charges simply to give the US an excuse to get Sweden to extradite him. To me, however, this is an even bigger reason why Assange  absolutely must let this play out however it will. As I see it, anything else is allowing all those involved to trivialise rape.

  1. If Assange is guilty of rape, then he is using his status to try and avoid facing the consequences. This is not acceptable.
  2. If Assange is not guilty of rape, and this is all a pretext to get him to face different charges however important those changes may be, then it is saying that false rape allegations can be justified. Wrong!
    All this does is trivialise actual cases of rape. This is just as unacceptable. More so, in a way, as it makes it harder for rape victims to believe they’ll be taken seriously.

The sad reality is that a case can be made for Julian Assange to effectively be “sacrificed” to test the truth of the rape allegations. Because if he really is an innocent man being stitched up for an ulterior motive then this must be brought to light and those responsible held to account.
Anything else is just turning to actual rape victims and saying, “The pain and horror you experienced is insignificant enough for us to use to bait a trap for someone else.” That is a precedent that must not be set!

Oh, and Assange did skip bail. Which, as far as I am aware, is still generally frowned upon even if you don’t get proven guilty?  Whatever valid points the UN panel had, the message that “If you have powerful connections, using them to break bail conditions is fine with us” is probably not the point they’re wishing to make.

Viewster and OMAKASE, Focus on Video

I’ve blogged about Viewster, both specifically and when talking about anime streaming in general, multiple times now. I’ve also posted a vlog and a followup on YouTube.
Since then, though, I’ve been keeping an eye on what the more general opinions are regarding the OMAKASE service.

From what I can tell, on the whole it sees to be going down quite well. Especially in the US, as they lack the much higher shipping fees that Canada and the UK incur. The problem, from my point of view, is that the main focus of any praise for the service is the giftbox aspect and nothing else.

True, the HD streaming and the digital extras haven’t been implemented yet but it really seems that people are looking at OMAKASE as just an “Anime Lootcrate”.
Ironic, since Lootcrate themselves have recently announced an anime-specific offering.

I’ve seen OMAKASE mentioned as a really good giftbox service that just happens to be attached to a fairly good anime streaming platform and throws in ad-free as a nice bonus.
If that’s what Viewster are aiming for then fair enough. The problem for some of us, though, is that if your main interest in the anime streaming then you’re a bit of an afterthought, audience-wise.

So, here’s the problem. People who like merchboxes are completely catered for, as long as they’re in the right region for shipping. Fans of streaming video, which may possibly be some of the people following a video streaming company, are left out in the cold.

Outside of the US and can’t justify the higher shipping charges? No premium video for you.
Live in the UK and just want to see the exclusive simulcasts in HD and without ads legally? Sorry, out of luck.
Live in a region not covered by OMAKASE shipping at all? Sorry, premium video still not allowed.

And here’s where it starts to sting. Viewster are a European company with their Head office in Switzerland. Certainly here in the UK they’ve been a nice little addition to the video-on-demand scene and I would have to assume that the same applies in mainland Europe.
Similarly, their recent expansion into Anime simulcasts and catalogue streaming has been a much needed breath of fresh air over here. Again, I can only really speak for how it seems here in the UK but I would guess that the same applies elsewhere in Europe.

In the UK, at least, they were beginning to cover the holes not covered Crunchyroll’s licensing and were offering a much stronger service than alternatives like Animax and even Daisuki. Licensing by American companies was having a bit of an adverse effect over here. Funimation picking up the English language rights almost always froze Crunchyroll out of the running for a UK stream, as they are competitors in America. Viz picking up a show in America may put it on Crunchyroll over there but it also increased the chances of their European branch picking up the license as well. And that would mean Animax over here, as they’re the local competitor.

Viewster’s main strength over here was that they had a real passion for anime which they were showing to the local fanbases that were often overlooked by more America-focused companies. They just needed to improve a few things, like their queue, and have an ad-free subscription which enabled HD video. Which we were told was “coming soon”.

And in June 2015, having had a bit of an American presence for a while, Viewster opened its American subsidiary, Viewster Inc. It is at this point that their focus seemed to change a fair bit. Helped, in part, by the American CEO also being involved in their global strategies, like premium streaming.

Yes, the one thing that Viewster most needed as a European entity to stand equal with the American-focused companies was now being spearheaded by their own American subsidiary that was also tasked with expanding its American market.
Shortly after this, OMAKASE was announced.

Since then, their entire marketing push has been towards OMAKASE. Talking up their merchandising box with little mentioned about the video side of the service. Worse still, the HD video side of things still hasn’t appeared despite being much requested  (and hinted at)since before OMAKASE was even an official “thing”.

In various interviews regarding OMAKASE, it seems that they are wanting to go for the all-in-one offering to try and distinguish themselves as not being “just another anime streaming service”.
The problem is, it’s only really in America where they need to do that. Here in the UK, and likely elsewhere in Europe, there’s nothing wrong with being “just another anime streaming service”, especially when catering for titles that otherwise wouldn’t be legally shown outside of Japan or America.

This is where, I think, attitudes in the UK start to sour a bit. Viewster’s biggest advantage was that it actually seemed to give a damn about our segment of the market, unlike a lot of the America-focused (or America-exclusive) services. They were covering some of the licensing gaps that the American companies were leaving in the UK landscape.
Now they just feel like another America-centric service concentrating on the American market with anywhere else just thrown in as an afterthought.

With no HD-only subscription option, premium video is either tied to a costly giftbox or frozen out entirely, depending on where you live. And if Viewster are the only people legally streaming a show in your region, you’re basically screwed.
Whilst they focus on the market that is already extremely well catered for when it comes to anime streaming.

Focus on Video

My hopes for the (near) future are that they ease up on the giftbox push and focus on the streaming side of their offerings.

  1. Offer an ad-free premium video option that is standalone. People have been asking for this for a while.
  2. HD video, The shows are made in HD, so that should be the next “big feature” in development.
  3. The website and apps need a bit more work to have proper sorting and filtering.
  4. Apps on the Sony consoles would be nice, too.

Gun Control

Thunder 9 Pistol

By TacoArgentino (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

“There’s been another mass shooting in America.”

 

Putting it this way sounds awfully offhand, and borderline flippant, but they are the exact words used by US President Barack Obama after the October 2015 shooting in Oregon. The way he uses this is rather “matter of fact” and “day to day” and I think thats sort of the point. It is becoming normal.

The way he delivers this speech is one I’m familiar with. It’s the parent disappointed with the child they thought had learned their lesson. It’s the headteacher giving the school assembly after its students got a bad reputation. It’s the boss, whether in an all-staff briefing or a one-to-one meeting, telling their staff that the current situation is not good enough.
Whether on the receiving end or as just an observer, I’ve seen all of these first hand before and this is exactly how President Obama comes across.

He’s tired, disappointed and verging on angry. As “The Man In Charge” it is his role to makes statements at times like these and, in a way, to accept the responsibility of “his people” for their actions.

Time after time, he’s had to stand up after one of these incidents and offer condolences. In other types of tragedy, the leader of their country will also be saying how they are going to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again. Yet, when it comes to gun crime his hands are tied. He wants to make a change but, instead, ends up having to be the public face of when it all goes wrong.

Again.

And again.

The guy looks tired.

“But we are not the only country on Earth that has people who have mental illnesses, or want to do harm to other people.”

This is probably the most serious and least discriminatory statement I’ve ever some across when talking about a link between mental illness and acts of violence. It doesn’t establish a causal link and it doesn’t assume that all mentally ill people are potentially violent, or that all potentially violent people are mentally ill.
It does, however, suggest that the problem lies with the intersection of the two.

It also goes on to outright state that other countries have people who fall into one, either, or both of these categories and yet do not have the same frequency of mass shootings. They tend not to have as relaxed gun laws, either.

Part of the complexity of the issue in America, though, is the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. It protects the right of the people to bear arms. It also states that these rights should not be infringed. And this makes it messy. “This is a right that should not be compromised” is a difficult thing to regulate.

19th Century Pistol

By AlejandroLinaresGarcia (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The thing is, though, that the world is a very different place now. I don’t even mean politically, I mean technologically. The Second Amendment was ratified in 1791. At the time, the majority of firearms were flintlock-based single-shot models. This is a far cry from clip-fed semi-automatic and automatic firearms available today.

Assault Rifle

By Burnyburnout (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Were weapons with that level of power something that they had in mind when creating the Bill of Rights?

 

 

The obvious and fair answer is “nobody knows”. It is something that ought to be taken into account, though. The world, the politics and the technology were very different back then. Many laws have changed, especially in terms of protecting people from others. Look at the age of consent, for one thing.

Times change. Societies change. Laws change. Except, it seems, this one.

As someone from the UK, I can only provide an outside perspective. Here’s the thing, though, the outside perspective is how each country is seen by others. The combination of easier access to guns and a much higher rate of gun fatalities doesn’t really paint the US in a very good light at times. And it’s a shame. Many Americans get tarred with the same brush as the few who spoil it for everyone else. I’ll also extend it to say that many gun owners get tarred by that same brush.
Seriously, if all gun owners were dangerous individuals then America probably wouldn’t exist in its current form anymore. The fact that the country hasn’t managed to wipe itself out in a hail of bullets tells me that the majority of gun owners can be and are are safe and responsible.

It’s just that there’s the occasional dickhead who spoils it for everyone else, usually at the cost of dozens of lives at the same time.

My own personal view, even as a Brit, is that I’m not totally anti-gun. We have very heavy restrictions on all kinds of weapons over here. That doesn’t always make me feel very safe as, yes, it does mean that criminals still have guns. Or knives. Or whatever. Only the “bad guys” are armed. I don’t like this.
Oh, and the police. But even if they do shoot a suspect, if they have to make a snap decision and get it wrong (in either direction) they get raked over the coals.

That doesn’t mean I’m a fan of unrestricted gun ownership, though. In fact, if the UK ever did ever make it legal to bear arms then I’d hope it was bloody well regulated. And licensed, kind of like cars.

The Car Analogy

Think about it. Certainly here in the UK you have to have a license to drive. This requires reaching a minimum age and going through a testing procedure. Owning a car also has its own requirements. You have to license the car against its registered owner, or have it registered as off-road. You need insurance. A car has to be regularly serviced and pass its MOT to prove that it is roadworthy. Your driving license will cover you for specific categories of vehicle, and you can get additional categories through appropriate training.

If you are careful and responsible, you will be able to drive as long as you have a valid license. And it will be likely that you will stay licensed.

If you’re a dick, you lose your license. Here in the UK it is points-based, so some driving offences are less severe than others but either way if you rack up past a certain amount then that’s it.

I don’t see why guns should be any different.

The other thing about how driving is regulated in the UK, at least, is that things like old age and certain medical conditions don’t always necessarily mean you’re automatically excluded from driving. They do, however, require additional and more frequent reapplications for your license. A similar regulation on guns would make sense, including mental health conditions.

As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, and who knows people with varying levels of mental illness, I obviously don’t subscribe to the idea that all mentally ill people are dangerous. I do, however, think that it would be sensible if mental health issues were among conditions that required more frequent license application, or restricted from certain categories of firearm.
In my case, I do not think that I am likely to become a crazed killer the moment I got my hands on a gun. I would, however, say that when my anxiety gets particularly high it can impair my judgment and I get very twitchy. If that meant that, in a world where the UK allowed more open gun ownership, I had to reapply more frequently for a license, had restrictions on what categories of firearms I could use or it put me into a higher insurance bracket then so be it. Yes, it would be annoying but it would also mean I would have to think a little bit harder as to if I really wanted or needed a gun.

In Summary

I just feel, as an outside observer, that the current state of things is likely to lead to further tragedy and that, in response, one day there will be a knee-jerk reaction leading to a widespread ban on firearms. And I don’t think that would really work too well. Going straight from allowing something to complete prohibition is rarely a good solution.

Some level of regulation is needed, though. The statistics speak for themselves. Some things require proof of capability, responsibility and ownership. Driving is one of those things. I don’t see why guns shouldn’t be another.

OMAKASE @Viewster – Another Thought

I’ve still been thinking a lot about the upcoming OMAKASE service over the past few days, as well as reading various opinions on forums and social media. The whole situation has got me to thinking.

I’d be interested to see how good the takeup rate of OKAMASE is in the UK and whether people really are put off by the high price and non-optional extras or if that’s just a few of us online. Not just to know whether I’m “right” or “wrong” either. At least, not exactly.

Viewster obviously have a plan and an idea of what they’re doing. I’m just wondering if they know (or guess) something about the UK market that some of us fans don’t. Have Viewster really misjudged the UK market, and potentially soured the goodwill they’ve accrued so far, or have they spotted a genuine opportunity that others just can’t see?

Time will tell. Some of us think they’ve taken the wrong turning, Viewster themselves clearly don’t. The coming months will be interesting.

Hell, this month will be interesting. Viewster will be at MCM London Comic Con in two weeks’ time. I don’t know if they’ll have a panel there but I do know that they’re bound to get questioned quite directly about things at their booth.

More on UK Anime Streaming

Last year, I put up a quick comparison chart of the various Anime streaming options available here in the UK. Since then some things have changed but the overall view doesn’t really seem to be that much better. Not yet, anyway. Things are moving forwards but the current state-of-play looks like this.

Wakanim/Anime Limited

Wakanim’s UK experiment has come to an end. I get the feeling it wasn’t doing too well. They had some definite technical issue to sort through but it sounds like they decided to just focus on their home market back in France.

Anime Limited are still picking titles up for streaming, though. For a while they were operating through Vimeo but are now using the existing streaming options.

Daisuki

Daisuki are still a bit of an odd bunch, in my opinion. They are still, currently, primarily web and mobile-app powered. They don’t have any real connect-to-TV options, which is a major failing in my personal opinion. They do have plans for console apps, apparently, which will help a great deal.
For anyone who mainly watches content on a phone, tablet or web browser, though, this is not going to be a drawback at all.

They appear to be ad-supported, with no current subscription option to watch ad-free. Again, for me personally, this is a dealbreaker. For other people, though, this isn’t much of a stumbling block at all. it’s all down to personal preference.

On the flip-side of things, they are now a part of Anime Consortium Japan. Comprised of several Japanese companies, including Bandai Namco and Aniplex, this gives them direct links to companies involved in Anime production. In addition to this, ACJ sits on the production committee for some shows directly.
As a company specifically involved in international streaming, this means that some upcoming shows automatically have an official outlet outside of Japan.

Crunchyroll

Still currently, the heavy-hitter in Anime streaming, Crunchyroll‘s presence outside of North America has had its fair set of ups and downs.

On the plus side, they have now rolled drama and manga into their basic Premium package, with the higher-tier “Premium Plus” give some additional benefits. However, as some of the benefits aren’t quite as useful outside of North America, this means that there is still a good value method of international subscribers having full access to the basic media content.

Recently, they have finally been able to get their apps onto Sony’s Playstation platforms. So the PS4, PS3 and Vita are all covered now. They now show up on all major consoles and quite a lot of streaming boxes. Their app platforms now also give access to the ad-supported free subscribers, rather than being premium-only.
On the other hand, they are currently moving away from Smart TVs to the dismay of anyone who was using them.

For the UK (and anywhere outside of the US and Canada, to be honest) their catalogue is still a bit of a mixed bag. Some shows have their international streaming rights with other countries and some shows just don’t have English-language streams anywhere outside of America.
This still causes a bit of friction as UK premium members are paying the same (technically fractionally more) for the same actual level of service, but there’s no getting around the fact that we have access to a smaller catalogue.

Animax

Animax UK occupies an interesting niche in the UK Anime fandom. A lot of us dislike them. On the other hand, they are still around and still adding (slowly) to their service so they clearly can’t be a complete flop as they’d’ve closed down by now if they were struggling badly.

They still operate with the two-week ad-supported free access to their simulcasts with the paid subscription giving ad-free access to their complete catalogue. They have also recently added iOS and Android to their supported platforms, and the PS4 joins the PS3 in terms of console access.

However, their less-then-perfect reputation isn’t exactly unfounded. They often seem to aquire (or at least announce) their simulcasts partway into the season and their uploads aren’t always the most punctual. This combined with a lack of queue/watchlist (which, currently, only Crunchyroll sees to have) means that they’re not exactly great value when it comes to simulcasts.

I suspect that their main strength at the moment would be in their back catalogue. If a show’s been available for a year or more, it hardly matters at that point if it went up on time or a few weeks late.
Plus, they do still have some shows that just aren’t available on any other service at the moment. Also, unlike Viewster (see below) their back catalogue is available ad-free to subscribers.

Viewster

Speaking of Viewster, they’re a fairy recent entry into the Anime side of things. They’ve been around a few years as an ad-supported free video on demand service but have recently expanded to include a hefty Anime back-catalogue and have also had a healthy selection of simulcasts in recent seasons courtesy of Anime Limited.

Based in Europe, although recently expanding into America, they definitely cater for the UK audience pretty well. They also have apps iOS, Android, several Smart TVs and set-top boxes (no AppleTV as of yet) and have started to enter the console app market on the Xbox 360. Hopefully with more platforms to come.

The currently have no ad-free subscription available which, to me, is a dealbreaker. However, for those who don’t mind watching ads, it does mean that they have a very large catalogue of TV show, movies and Anime all available to watch for free.

They are on the verge of entering the paid-subscription model, too. At the time of writing this, they are heavily promoting their upcoming OMAKASE service which is a combination of ad-free streaming and a Lootcrate-like giftbox.
As of yet, there are no concrete details about the video side of the service. So we don’t know if there’s a gift-free version, whether the same apps will work or if they use new ones, or anything further.

New AppleTV

Not a service in its own right but the recent announcement of an upcoming revised model with an App Store means it warrants a mention of its own. If for no other reason than the same information applies to all services so far.

Currently, none of the Anime streaming services have announced tvOS apps. I would be very surprised if none of them had them at least in the planning stages, though.

Crunchyroll features on the current AppleTV and has iOS apps. Animax has recently added iOS apps to its repertoire and has a very limited TV-connected selection so far. Viewster has an iOS app and has openly stated that they are planning to expand what platforms they are available on.

Other Services

Other VOD services such as Netflix and several paid video platforms such as iTunes do also have a selection of Anime available for streaming and/or download.

A new era in Labour leadership?

I try not to get too political on here.
Case in point, you have no idea how many unwritten posts would’ve started with that very sentence.

However, as today saw the Labour Party (UK political party, currently in opposition) elect their new leader and deputy leader, I figured there were a few comments I wanted to throw into the ring.

To the delight of many, and the dismay of many others, Jeremy Corbyn was elected as the new Labour Leader. His policies seem very down-to-earth and he comes over as being a “real person” with strongly-held convictions. He also seems to resonate very strongly with those who’ve become disillusions with politics in recent years.

His critics, for weeks, have been implying that Labour under Corbyn would be “unelectable”. Right or wrong, I think this misses the point entirely as to why him being Labour leader can be a good thing.

Being the Opposition is more than just being “that bunch trying to be in power next time around”. Labour MPs are still, as the title implies, Members of Parliament. The same goes for all MPs not part of the main governmental party. Yes, looking forward to 2020 and the next election is important but that doesn’t mean that the next five years aren’t worth anything.

Having a main Opposition party is one of the checks and balances that we have in UK politics. At least, I think it’s supposed to be. When all the main political leaders look and sound largely the same, it can be hard to tell. Everyone wants to run in a similar direction and nobody is really throwing out a dissenting voice. It mostly comes over as name-calling and blame-shifting. “Why you’re wrong” instead of “Why we’re right”. A small but significant difference.
Having a strong leader with a strong purpose will help drive the Labour Party (or any party) in a definite direction. As a part of parliament, this is important. Even if Mr Corbyn’s views aren’t what some would call ideal, they’re ideas that’ll get spoken. Out loud. In parliamentary debate. As he seems to be wanting to represent some viewpoints that are often brushed aside, this is no bad thing.

To be honest, though, the main advantage is bigger than just the Labour Party. His involvement in the leadership elections inspired a lot of interest from those who are usually disinterested in politics and who think their opinions aren’t worth raising. Jeremy Corbyn looks to have the potential to at least partially shrink the perceived gap between “politicians” and “normal folk”.
He’s got people interested in politics. He’s got people realisoing that, if enough people participate, you can vote in someone different than the normal crowd. Right now, I suspect we’ve got a fair few more people paying attention to politics than they usually would. Regardless of which side they’re on, this is no bad thing. Politicians have power, so we need to make sure the people actually give a damn about politics,

I don’t agree with everything that he stands for, but I agree with a fair chunk of it. And even the bits I disagree with, it’s a breath of fresh air to have those viewpoints actually being aired by our political leaders. Hopefully, he wil inspire debate both within parliament and about politics.

As to why I think “unelectable” is missing the point…
If political debates get more “real” and more average people start to take an interest and actually bother to turn up to vote in 2020, does it really matter who gets in as long as politics begins to gain the trust of the public and people think that votes matter? Does it really matter which group is “in charge” as long as we can start to trust the whole lot of them to at least engage in serious debate about the matters that you and I actually give a damn about?

Labour under Corbyn looks like it could be interesting. And I don’t think it matters whether that party can be in government (as nice as that would be) as long as it’s in parliament. Whoever’s in charge, we need a decent Opposition to keep things balanced and to inspire debate in the next five years’ worth of parliamentary decision making.