Ms. Answerman: A Triumphant Return

by Rebecca Bundy, Mar 9th 2004

Yes, I'm back for real this time! A lot of things have been going on these past few months, so the column should return to its regular weekly broadcast. I'll be making my rant quick so that you don't skip it outright. PLEASE use common sense when writing your emails. A question like “Hw do u brake in2 teh aniem biz?” are not only going to be met with a sigh and rolling of my eyes, but will be deleted to make room for other people who could at least take a few extra seconds out of their busy days to type out the word ‘you’. A few spelling and grammatical errors I can understand, but blatant disregard for the English language will be met with scorn and perhaps public ridicule if you include your name with the email. You've been forewarned.
Onto the questions!


Dear Ms. Answerman,
I hope this finds you in health and good spirits!
If you would be so kind, I have two questions you might be able to answer for me.
In several anime series that are set in current or near-current Japan I have heard a light, glassy ringing sound in transitional scenes. The culprit, if you will, seems to be a small glass bell. The ones I have seen tend to be of a smallish size and have a small strip of paper attached to the clapper. A good example is the bell that is given to Ayato in ‘RahXephon’. What might be the significance of that bell? In some instances I think I have seen writing on the paper strip and am curious as to what might be written there. Might you have any information on that as well?
Second, in series ranging from 'Dual!' to ‘Love Hina’ to ‘RahXephon’ among others there is a popular snack that I have not been able to identify. It appears to be a white triangle about the size of one's hand with a square black center. This snack seems common enough to have specialized serving trays made up for it that carry 4 pieces. Not having seen this “in the flesh” so to speak, I have no idea what it is or what it is made of. What can you tell me about this?
Many thanks for any help you are able to give!
Dan

In ancient times I'm sure these bells, or wind chimes, were used to either ward off evil spirits with the pure ringing sound or alert those within hearing range that a spirit is nearby. From a practical standpoint, the paper's needed for the bell to work since the wind needs to pull on something to make it ring. Using a charm instead of a plain piece of paper was probably an added bonus to help ward off spirits.
I'm pretty sure you're talking about onigiri, or rice balls. The square black center would be seaweed, which is the most common form (to my knowledge) that they come in, but the wonderful thing about onigiri is that there a limitless number of things you can add to them, such as sweet centers or bits of meat. The Japanese have been making onigiri for hundreds of years, either as their lunch or a snack. In anime, I'd have to say that the onigiri pop up the most in Fruits Basket. There's a wonderful part where they make onigiri for the school festival, and if you bought three you got a mystery onigiri that was filled with either a tasty or nasty center.


I am a student who has recently got into anime but is unsure as to what
ones to watch. I have virtually no information on the who medium and I was wondering if you had any ones to reccomend. The only one I have seen to date is Akira and I merely wish to know more.
Thankyou,
Mark Taylor

I haven't answered this question in a while, so I figured I'd put this up again for those of you (and I know there are a lot) who don't look at previous Answerman columns. For starters, I'd recommend you get your hands on any, if not all, of Hayao Miyazaki's movies such as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and My Neighbor Totoro to name a few. Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind and Porco Rosso will be hitting the shelves this year, so you should keep your eyes out for those too. Not only are Miyazaki's films honored as the best anime has to offer, but they are geared towards audiences of all ages. They're also particularly useful when you run across those people who think that all anime is bad.
If you're ready to dabble and see which genre(s) of anime you like, look for series like Rurouni Kenshin, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Boys Over Flowers, Utena, Dragon Ball/Dragon Ball Z/Yū Yū Hakusho, Gundam Wing/Full Metal Panic!, Berserk, and Card Captor Sakura. I'm sure each recommendation list differs from person to person, but I think that the series listed above are some of the best and most recognized series within their general genres. After this, the best advice I can offer you is to talk to other anime fans, see which series they like, and watch as many series as you can. You'll learn your preferences through trial and error.



I have a question that I hope you can help me with. Why in so many anime series do they speak English phrases in the Japanese version. I thought maybe there was certain phrases that didn't translate into English, but the series were meant for the Japanese viewer to begin with. Shows like .hack//SIGN, GateKeepers/21, and R.O.D all have english phrases,(just to name a few). I have a hard time believing that the Japanese can't say "the Paper" in their own language. Just wondering.
Thank You

Japan is a country (like many others) who value languages and make sure that their people are familiar, if not fluent, with at least a second and/or third Language. Fluency, and the number of languages you're familiar/fluent with, are a sign of intelligence. It also sounds more interesting when a word/phrase or title is in English, in the same way that some Japanese words sound better than their English counterparts. Would you order ‘raw fish’ or ‘sashimi’, even though they're the same thing? ‘Sake’ or ‘rice wine’?



I'm curious as to whether or not Dreamworks is
planning to dub Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, or
are they simply subtitling it like their previous
release, Millenium Actress. Also, why would a studio
choose not to dub such a major film? That would help
the marketing and make it eligable for an Oscar.

They haven't announced it one way or the other as far as I know, so you'll probably have to wait until we get closer to its US release date (fall, 2004). As for the choice between subtitles and dubs, there is no clear way of telling which one sells better than the other in theaters. Obviously if the dub (or Japanese voices) is horrible, then sales will suffer. But the presence of subtitles isn't going to scare away an adult audience, as proven previously by movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Passion of the Christ. When it comes down to Oscar time, it could still be eligible for Best Animated Feature, Best Song (if it has one), or anything else that the academy deems it acceptable for, so long as it was originally released in Japan and America in the same year.



There seems to be quite alot of confusion recently surrounding the possible licensing of Maburaho, ADV Films have not actually stated that they have licensed it and nor did they announce their acquisition of this show at Kamikaze Con.
As a member of several fansubbing groups, one of which who "used" to subtitle Maburaho, I was wondering whether this show was licensed or not?
Alot of groups have dropped the project now and AnimeSuki has stopped listing it until (As They Stated) they see evidence proving otherwise.
I was just wondering if you could tell me whether it is licensed or not.
Many thanks,
Ket.

To clear up the confusion, yes Maburaho has been licensed, but the company with the rights to it has not come forward to make their claim official. This normally happens when a company is waiting for the right moment to announce it (usually at a large convention) or is waiting so that they can display pictures and an initial release date along with the announcement. Give it time and someone will come forward.


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