Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy, Feb 9th 2007

Another week, another slew of letters. It's amazing I haven't burned out yet!

Thanks to Sandra McMullen for this week's awesome banner.


The other day I was reading some new manga (bleach - my fave) and my friend whos a big fan of superhero comics like Batman and all that started in on me again about how much better american comics are than Japanese comics. He says there's more skill involved in drawing American comics and tried to compare one of his comic books to my manga. I have to admit that the art in american comics seems more complex but i like the stories in manga way way more. What do you think, is one better than the other?

It's kinda silly to even bother arguing about "which is better" when it comes to American comics and manga; the only people I see zealously defending one over the other are the "Everything Japanese is better" Japanophile kids who are so blinded by their single-minded bias you can't trust their opinion anyway, and the occasional "manga sucks because it's taking money away from American comics" people who post all day about how manga sucks on Newsarama. Neither of these people are credible or worth listening to, so why bother?

The truth of the matter is that Sturgeon's
Law - 90 percent of everything is crap - applies just as much to manga as it does to American comics. I read my fair share of both, and honestly, if someone is purposefully avoiding manga in favor of American comics - or vice versa - then they're missing out on a whole lot of good stuff. I will just as soon recommend Y The Last Man or Transmetropolitan to someone as I will Hellsing or Berserk. There's plenty of garbage on both sides of the fence.

To say that "the art in American comics is more complex" isn't really true; yes, your average glossy full-color page of Justice League will potentially look more impressive than your average Shonen Jump spread, but there are plenty of Japanese comics (take a look at anything by Oh! great, for example) that rival the skill on display in your average superhero comic. There's so much content and it's all so varied that trying to say one is "better" than the other is simply impossible. There's just too much variety.

Again, if you're not reading comics from either country due to some ridiculous dogma, then all you're doing is missing out on awesome stuff and denying yourself great entertainment.

I was just wondering, do you have any idea if Bandai will make more R1 DVDs of Galaxy Angel? Because they haven't announced anything about whether or not they will be doing the other half of season three, X, or Rune...

Also, do you think that Geneon will keep Suiseiseki's famous "~desu" line in Rozen Maiden when they dub it? I know Tokyopop decided to change it to "~yes" but "~desu" sounds better (even though some people hate it due to thefact that it became a meme on 4chan)

Anyways, hope you can answer these!

Bandai hasn't said anything about Galaxy Angel in a while - the show never really caught on here, and I can't imagine DVD sales for that show were through the roof, so I'd be surprised if it suddenly made some kind of resurgance. Who knows, though; they could be planning to release a whole slew of Galaxy Angel DVDs and just haven't said a word about it yet.

I wouldn't be too optimistic, though.

As for Rozen Maiden, considering that "desu" doesn't mean anything in English, I doubt they will. Maybe they'll include it in the subtitles, since it is basically a catchphrase. Geneon has been sending many of their recent titles to be dubbed in Singapore, though (like Zipang), and Rozen Maiden might be one of them (let's all cross our fingers and hope it isn't!). In that case, you'll be lucky if they hire more than one woman to voice the female characters
.


I am a relatively new animephile.  The relatively small amount of anime I have seen has been absolutely fantastic, but there is one problem:  really funny anime is next to impossible to find.  Sure, shows like Lupin III and most of the Ghibli movies contain some dosage of humor, but as of yet I have not found anything that is pure comedy.  Is it just that the
Japanese brand of humor is so far removed from the American form that it takes time to truly appreciate it or am I just missing out on the great anime comedies?  (If it is the latter, please make recommendations.

Actually, there are plenty of anime comedies out there; ADV's catalog is rife with 'em. In the past, many licensors may have been reluctant to pick up comedy titles since there is the issue of whether or not the humor would translate, but given the relative popularity of shows like Azumanga Daioh and Excel Saga (two shows you may want to check out if you're in the market for a comedy), more and more of them have been licensed over the years.

As for the "Japanese brand of humor", unless we're talking about obscure cultural references
(which many anime comedies are rife with), the comedy is pretty broad; most comedy anime I've seen relies heavily on basic slapstick, bawdy humor, puns and other lowbrow shtick. A guy getting nailed in the groin with a frying pan is pretty universal. In the past, the few anime comedies that did get licensed usually came with a giant stack of liner notes to guide the viewer through the lugubrious language used in the show; nowadays, they still include those liner notes, but generally the dub has been rewritten so it'll actually be funny to the average American viewer. Check out Right Stuf's Ninja Nonsense dub if you want a good example of this approach working perfectly.

In fact, I usually find the rewritten American dubs funnier than the Japanese version; I personally prefer American comedy (think Mr. Show, or The Daily Show, or The Office) to the broad slapstick found in Japanese comedies, so the American perspective added to the rewritten dubs appeals to me a lot more. But it's good that they at least include the liner notes for people who prefer the Japanese version.


What are your thoughts on the length of anime series. Personally I've found anime that run longer than 26 episodes tend to get repetative and follow a regular pattern.
 
The first five minutes recaps the previous episode, group/character finds new villian with brand new power and then they have to come up with some creative way to defeat them, then spend the rest of the episode explaining how they beat them. Then the next episode repeats this process sometimes with minor differences.
 
Because of this repetative, predictable process I find I can't really enjoy many popular anime like Naruto, Inuyasha, Kenshin, etc... Am I just overanalyzing things? I feel that anime that keep to under 26 episodes tend to seem like a long story, and don't try to drag things out. There are exceptions of course, but I find most of the time it keeps to this pattern.
 
What are your thoughts on this?

What you're complaining about is basically the shonen action formula, and people have been bitching about it for decades.

Those long-running action shows are generally based on a manga that's also designed to run forever and rake in a load of money. They're generally aimed at kids, and follow a pretty predictable formula; it's like eating comfort food.

The reason most 26-episode series seem 'better' is because they're limited in where they can go with the story, and thusly are (usually) forced to actually focus on a cohesive, arching story rather than playing out episodically. Shows like Naruto and Kenshin have their moments of brilliance, but that generally only happens when they're following the manga closely and sticking to a cohesive serial story. Eventually, most (if not quite all) long-running shonen shows dive into monster-of-the-week territory; you can't keep a show like that going forever without eventually relying on formulaic scripts and repetitive plots.

There are a few exceptions to this; Fullmetal Alchemist began as a somewhat-typical shonen show and eventually became a really involving series that eschewed most of the cliches associated with the genre. There were a few throwaway episodes, but once you hit the second season it's all gravy. So not every single shonen action series follows the whole "300 episodes, 275 of which are formulaic tripe" thing. But if you're looking for that kind of serial experience, you're right in that you are much more likely to find it in shorter shows.







He's back! I can't believe this!

Excuse me Answerman or "Zac" as you call yourself but last week when I wrote in asking about serious places where I could learn to focus my chi and control my fox spirit to learn Naruto's ransegan (which I have now learned no thanks to you) you published my letter in "flake of the week".

Well let me tell you something I am no "flake". My question was serious and as i said I do have a fox spirit inside me, and he is dangerous. My friends can prove this, they have seen me when I get angry and my chi aura glows red (my girlfriend who has a falcon spirit inside her has a blue chi, she is gentle unlike me, do you understand or are you too dense to grasp spiritual things like this) and I have taken down many peoploe who thought they were stronger than me. So you can laugh at me but if you ever see me in a dark alley you better run. Because my fox spirit and my ransegan shows no mercy to fools like you.

Oh crap. I'm in real trouble now!
This guy might kill me with his ninja powers.



Maybe these baby bunnies can protect me.






This week's rant is courtesy of Teya Stephens. The following is in no way representative of the opinions of Anime News Network, Zac Bertschy, or anyone else save the person who wrote it.

Hello, peoples.  This is just something I think about voice acting…

All right, if any one reading this likes the original Japanese versions of things, they most likely already know what I am going to say.  Here it is, Japanese voice acting suits anime better.  There!  I said it; it's out in the open now.  However, don't get me wrong, there are good dubbings out there!

Here is my reasoning behind my thoughts:

Japanese vocals suit anime, because the lip flaps and the lines were originally designed for Japanese in the first place.  Now, I truly have absolutely nothing against English voiceovers, or voice actors.  It's more just that sometimes the voices just don't suit the characters that they are voicing.  I won't give any examples of characters directly, but some older anime just has HORRID voice acting!  Take shows like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! and even newer shows like Naruto.  Anyone that has seen a decent dubbing will tell you that they're poorly done.

Now, I do suppose that I have to justify my comment and prove that I'm not just a bias little *bleep*.  As you may remember, I said that there are well done voiceovers among the piles of tripe that take up so much of our time just because we were loyal to the Japanese versions.  Most of these dubbings are the English versions of Studio Ghibli films, such as Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky and Kiki's Delivery Service (all of which are licensed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment and Disney).

Now, those are only three of many series that are well dubbed.  In fact, I'll admit that I'm bias; I love the subtitles as opposed to the English dubbings.  Now, I have a question to licensors, etc, or anyone that works for them (hint, hint), why don't you put the original version of the shows on the discs?  They're very well done, and more people might actually buy them instead of just downloading them (uh-hem).  That, in turn, may decrease the number of people that are “busted” for illegal downloading, and even raise the amount of anime purchased per year.

Well, in the words of Forest Gump, that's all I have to say about that.

Whew. So what do you think? Do they have a point? Sound off on our forums and let the discussion begin!

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I sat down to write the column last week and decided I was pretty sick and tired of staring at Howl. So I cracked open Photoshop to craft a new banner for Hey, Answerman!, but the inspiration just didn't come!

What's the obvious solution? Ask my readers to do it for me!

Here's the deal. You take this banner:



And, using those same dimensions, make something crazy or creative or funny and submit it. Each week I'll pick a new one and post it. You don't have to use any specific anime character (in fact, you don't HAVE to use an anime character at all); go wild! Animated banners are A-OK, too.

A few rules:

1. Don't use real people in the banner, no matter how famous they may be.
2. No profanity.
3. The banner must have the Hey, Answerman! logo in it featured prominently, although you may change the font to whatever you like.
4. Submissions must use the same dimensions as the current banner, in terms of pixel width and height.
A little bigger or smaller is OK, but don't go overboard.

Every week a new banner will be chosen and posted at the top of the column, along with a credit so the creator can bask in his or her amazing fame and glory. What's the prize for winning, you may ask? Well, every week a new banner will be chosen and posted at the top of the column, along with a credit so the creator can bask in his or her amazing fame and glory!

Email your submissions to answerman (at) animenewsnetwork.com. Good luck! Have fun!

See you all next week!


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