OtakuAnime.org > Otaku Web Resources
Anyone can edit any page of Wikipedia, making it an ever-expanding, incredible repository of common culture, to say nothing of their more traditionally academic content.
Not exactly Japanese culture, but when you're stuck in Michigan (or trying to get un-stuck), this may be the next best thing: listings of local events of interest to otaku, information on travel to Japan, and links to other informational sites.
Anime Music Videos
AMV.org is pretty much the place for AMVs on the 'net. They maintain an extensive database indexed by series, song, creator, and ratings, and offer AMVs for download. They require you to register on the site, for free, before you can download. And the site uses a staggering amount of expensive bandwidth each month for AMV hosting, so you're encouraged to donate, which is quite sensible. A valuable resource for AMV fans.
Michigan's first (exclusively) anime convention was held in Troy in November of 2005. Location will be changing for 2008, so check out the website for up to date info.
Anime Central is the largest convention in the Midwest, held in May in the Hyatt O'Hare hotel and Rosemont Convention Center in Chicago, Illinois. It's just huge, and is a fun con.
Not a convention but a dedicated group of convention-goers who post stories and pictures from cons around the Midwest, as well as collecting news about upcoming cons.
AniDB is a database of Japanese animation (excluding manga and/or live-action shows). They specialize in fansub listings, user ratings and reviews, and their “mylist” feature, for keeping track of your anime collection. They also have basic facts about each series: years aired, genre, plot teasers, and prequels, sequels or other related series, though this information is generally not as comprehensive as AnimeNewsNetwork’s. Happily, they also have links to ANN and a couple of other databases.
AniDB maintains exhaustive fansub listings. They track which fansub groups have subbed or are subbing which series, every digisub file that has been released for any given episode of anime, and specials, parodies, or other strange, anime-related files that an AniDB member has found and catalogued. Well… not every file, but a staggering number. They don't link to downloads, only catalog their existence, but a quick trip to AnimeSuki or the fansubber’s website will usually remedy that.
Members can contribute to the database, rate and write reviews for shows and for the quality of any particular group’s fansubs. These ratings are very helpful when looking for a new series to watch or deciding which subs to download. Additionally, once you’ve rated a few series, the database can recommend other shows you might be interested in.
The mylist tool will help keep track of your anime collection, what you've watched, and how much you liked it. They also provide the AniDB O'matic, a program for automatically catalog digisubs and adding them to your mylist. Because of how AOM identifies each file, this can be a bit slow, and the program is still in beta and therefore a bit unstable, but it is a handy tool nonetheless.
They track less information than AnimeNewsNetwork, but this less ambitious approach, coupled with their cleaner graphic design, also makes the site somewhat easier to navigate. Jon finds it useful for very quickly checking to see if an anime has been licensed in the US or not.
(TODO: harvest/explore all the sites in the links that AnimeSuki maintains)
Media Players, Codecs, etc
The Combined Community Codec Pack - a package of free media players and audio/video decoders. Assembled and maintained by dozens of fansub groups and designed for maximum compatibility with digisubs. Their website also has excellent troubleshooting and technical information.
VLC Media Player - Generally a very capable media player, available for several operating systems. VLC uses it's own internal audio and video decoders, which is adventageous if you're using something other than Windows or don't have administrative access to your machine (and therefore can't install the CCCP). OtakuAnime currently uses VLC for digisub screenings, though this will probably change as Jon experiments with the CCCP.
Licensed Anime Lists
uLTraCarL's Fansubbing Comparisons - Screenshots of fansub releases arranged for side-by-side comparison. Pretty neat.
When you want digisubs, you either wait in the queue of an IRC download bot, hope someone on a traditional P2P network has a very stable connection and leaves their computer on, or turn BitTorrent loose and take advantage of the reliability of hundred's of peoples' collective bandwidth.
AnimeSuki maintains a list of torrents for unlicensed anime, along with links to many anime databases' entries for each series.
Rather than duplicating a lot of effort in an area where we are not necessarily experts, check out Wikipedia's BitTorrent software comparison. (Jon uses Azureus, which he rather likes, thought it's oft quoted at him that the program is more complex than many users need.)
Computer and Web stuff
Generally more secure and intelligent than Internet Explorer. (TODO: a writeup on nifty, obscure features like keyword searches? Upload a set of importable bookmarks for quicksearching various anime sites?)