Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Great Recap Episode, Part 2

Avid anime fans will know what I am talking about when I mention Sunrise Studio.

Sunrise is the studio behind your blockbuster anime hits like Gundam Seed (and its less watchable sequel Gundam Seed Destiny), Mai Hime, Mai Otome and the currently airing Code Geass. Sunrise's anime are populated by a huge cast of characters, all with particular quirks and very distinct personalities.

Sunrise's anime plots are also riddled with fantastical plot twists and one can expect intense emotion (sometimes) from the characters within. Whether it be mechas, magical girls or harems, Sunrise will manage to make any story seem like you're watching an opera (or space opera in the case of Gundam).

But for all its merits, Sunrise has this one huge flaw which is inexcusable: the cheap use of the recap episode. The typical Sunrise anime will be so full of plot twists that the studio despairs over its fanbase losing track of the shenanigans and exploits played out on TV. 'The fans cannot be left behind! They must be periodically updated on what has gone on!'

What spawns from this line of reasoning is the oh-so-often use of that bane known as the Recap Episode. After approximately 10 episodes, Sunrise feels 'obliged' to let its fans have the Recap Episode: its simply a rehash of already aired episodes, edited to look like a summary of the plot highlights, with a voice over to make it all uber-serious (and also to mask the fact that they reused images and scenes). The real fans know though that it is another Sunrise cop-out: the studio is just saving money and stretching the season for what it's worth.

In other words... a sell out (to the hardcore fans, at least).


Any blog that has been around long enough (and is read often enough) will have been trolled through a search engine, RSS feed aggregator or something similar. I guess my blog is no exception, and since I've started using StatCounter, I've been able to see the search keywords which have led unsuspecting readers to my blog.

Since a free account on StatCounter did not allow me to keep more than a hundred recorded 'pings', I've been diligently keeping a record of the keywords offline. Bloggers out there often have one of those posts where they 'exhibit' these keywords, make funny observations about some of them, and generally boast about their perceived readership (how they get such grandiose notions from the keywords that led to their site is a mystery).

For myself, I guess I am no exception. Therefore, like in any Sunrise anime, my recap post is meant to highlight some of those posts that inadvertently drew the most hits from search engines (the keywords are in italics; my comments are below):

1. The MarkStrat one

"secret of markstrat online"
- this one sounds like a kungfu manual

"how i won markstrat"
- future b-school bestseller if this ever gets written

"what can i apply in real world from what i learnt in markstra"
- in brief: nothing

"markstrat blog"
"markstrat cheat"
- tsk tsk tsk...

"secrets to be successful in the markstrat game"
- there are none: you already have them

"tricks for markstrat"
"hints for markstrat"
- how about hooray for markstrat?

"markstrat wisdom"
- wise indeed...

Sometime last year during my MBA, I did this elective called Market Driving Strategies that is really about all of us playing a simulation called MarkStrat. It proved frustrating to the losing teams playing it that most of us were looking for ways and means to turn things around. I wrote a couple of posts about it.

Little did I expect that there were others like myself out there who had little idea what was going on. But, unlike them, it never occurred to me to troll the blogs for hints on how to win MarkStrat. Some guys did though as is evident above.

In fact, I get most of my random one-time hits from people trolling the net for MarkStrat hints. These guys are quite desperate if they think anyone out there has the answer for them. What's little understood is that MarkStrat isn't about winning it: it's about learning from it (even while losing).

Link to MarkStrat post

2. The Ice Cream Case

"ice-fili what happened"
- you really want to know? You REALLY wanna KNOW???

"wtp ice fili"
- I'm not willing to pay a single cent, mind you. WTP = Willingness to Pay

"ice-fili mba case"
"strategy for ice fili"
- Sell, sell, sell... oh wait that was in March, Buy, buy, buy

"ice-fili advantage"
- phick... phock... phick... game, set, match, ice-fili.

Ice-Fili is this Russian ice cream company that is an interesting example of a former government-owned enterprise rising out of the ashes of the Cold War. The case was written with detailed data and enough information with which to teach a Strategy 101 course.

All your strategy concepts can be covered with the material: Willingness-to-Pay, Value Chain, Cost-to-Serve, Value Delivered, Competitive Advantage, Value Innovation, Five Forces, etc.

Being an oft-used case, I guess there are other b-schoolers out there who troll the net for any information they can glean about it.

That is, again, a problem: there should be no additional information needed to understand the case. The case is written to be self-contained. If any information were to be used at all, it should already be within the case itself.

Anyhow, for the Dec '06ers, Ice-Fili was a bad reminder of a badly taught course: our entire Strategy course was based on that ONE case, to the point where we even had our exam on it. Not one of us was interested in ice cream for a while after...

Link to Ice-Fili post

3. The Great Casino Debate

"seah chiang nee tragedy and the casino debate little speck"
- poor Seah Chiang Nee...

"IR parliament house balakrishnan"
"Vivian Balakrishnan"
- Singapore's favourite eye surgeon became Singapore's least favourite sell-out

- none at all I'm sure... your SAFRA clubs are safe because the uncles and aunties won't be able to afford the entrance fee

"chia teck leng"
"chia teck leng christianity"
- rotting in jail now...

"singaporeans spent at turf club"
- ... to see horses run in circles

"legalized gambling deontology"
- 3 words you'll seldom see next to each other

"Parliamentary speech by Khaw"
- hear ye, hear ye

"legal age for gambling on cruise ships"
- probably lower than the legal age to have sex

"casino AND integrated resort"
- Yes... one and the same, only in Singapore

"effect erosion in genting malaysia"
- not something a non-geologist like me will talk about

"social responsibility activities of genting"
- check back again in your next life

"IR debates in Singapore"
- now we're talking

The extent to which Singaporeans were interested in articles on the casino / IR issue surprised me, even when it is no longer a topic of discussion.

To put things in perspective, I wrote my Ethics essay on the Great Casino Debate in Dec 2006, a whole year and some since the debate raged in parliament and in the media. And prior to the debate, even, the idea was mooted by government leaders, there were hushed whispers about it happening, and there occurred the great hullabaloo about calling them Integrated Resorts (for political reasons).

In any case, I am heartened to find folks out there still looking for information on the IR debate. My own research was based on articles I trolled off the net (most were dutifully referenced and noted in the essay).

The strange thing is that, when the debate was at its most intense, it was already a moot issue: the powers that be had already made the decision. The post-decision consultation was just that: all talk. Hot air for the sake of respectability perhaps.

I hope the debate served as that point in Singaporean history where its people finally understood that they have been hoodwinked by a government that is, up till now, still unwilling to listen without first making up its mind. Things must change. Things will.

Link to Essay on the Great Casino Debate


Next week: Another recap episode! This time, I want to go into the funnier and less often observed keywords that have led to greyscalefuzz. Stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

and of course, now that you've highlighted those terms such as "markstrat" and "ice-fili" one more time, that just increases your relevance for those searching for the ultimate secret..., it's really too bad that you decided not to post the simple ten-second tip for winning markstat on here, after all--but I guess it's a good thing people can always email you if they want to learn it, right? :-D

greyscalefuzz said...


Thanks for dropping by. :) you're absolutely right: the relevance shot up right after the post and I've been enjoying a month of (somewhat) consistent statistics in terms of ice-fili or markstrat related searches. I shall refrain from such a cheap trick in the future - after all, I cheat: I just skim the surface of what these people look for.

There is, ultimately, no secret to winning that damn game. I found it more fun to focus on what I'd learnt out of it though. The 10 tips shall wait until I need to boost my readership again! :)