Hey, Answerman!by Zac Bertschy, Apr 13th 2007
And we're back! The hiatus was long and difficult indeed, but also quite necessary, unless you had some strange desire to read incoherent, angry mumblings that had little to do with the question being asked. All is well now, however, and we (the royal we) are ready to move on and answer some mail!
So, as an apology - of sorts - this week's column is Super-Sized! That's right: more questions, more answers, and a revamp to the rant section that seems to be angering everyone oh-so-much.
Thanks again to the lovely and talented Sandra McMullen for her banner this week.
Well, the short answer is that theatrical releases are insanely expensive and usually only serve as a promotional campaign for the DVD release when it comes to things like anime films; rarely does the company releasing the film have enough faith in its box office potential to spend enough money promoting the theatrical release to actually turn a profit on it. Advertising for your average big-budget box office winner is usually 50 million dollars or more. Most - actually I'd say all - anime companies do not have that kind of money to spend or are simply unwilling (a'la Sony or Disney).
Every film is different, though. Using your two examples, let's break them down. The Fullmetal Alchemist movie, when you think about it, has pretty weak box office potential; this is a fans-only thing, since you'd have to have seen the entire TV series in order for any of it to make an ounce of sense. Secondly, it's basically guaranteed to all of its business on DVD; what's the point in spending millions advertising a release that likely won't generate a huge amount of box office? Marketing is extremely expensive. Also, you have to take into account that Funimation does all of its releases using digital projection, which most theaters are not equipped properly for; so they're limited in the number of venues they can actually book. Theatrical releases are basically a losing proposition for a company in Funimation's position.
With Paprika - and other releases like it, a'la Steamboy - generally the cost of printing negatives (which will generally run you around $70,000) is negated since they can simply subtitle the existing Japanese prints (still at a cost of around $3k for the initial print and $1k for the subsequent prints). That doesn't change the fact that the studio rarely has enough faith in any given anime movie (which is reasonable, given the box office history of anime in American theaters) to give it the proper marketing push it'd need to rake in the dough. So the theatrical screenings are basically - like the Funimation screenings - a promotional show for the DVD release. It lends a little more credibility to the video release, as well.
So while it would 'make sense' that the studios should be releasing these films in more theaters, the fact that they're going to be making their money primarily on home video is a foregone conclusion.
A month or two ago i read online that someone from Bang Zoom was pretending to be a fan on another anime forum and bashing other studios and promoting bang zooms work. Then i read on a different forum that they thought the studios were sending their employees to pose as real fans on internet forms to promote their shows. I have to ask why would they do this and how common is it, are people being paranoid, or do the companies really do this.
What you're talking about there is called Astroturfing, and while legally there isn't anything anyone can do about it, it is pretty annoying - and surprisingly prevalent, but it happens everywhere, not just with anime.
The incident you're referring to was - if we're to believe the official response from Bang Zoom's president, Eric Sherman (and I have no reason not to believe the guy) - basically an intern who worked there decided to register an account over on the forums of our dear friends, AnimeonDVD.com. He then proceeded to bash other dub production studios, all while praising Bang Zoom's work. It was pretty obvious the guy had an agenda and when they traced his computer, they found that it was indeed coming from Bang Zoom's offices.
Sherman apologized for the whole thing and let everyone know that it was simply an overzealous intern. That was one case, but it happens all the time, and it's a little tough to figure out exactly who's doing it and when. On our own forums, I'm extremely suspicious of someone who seems to register simply to post about how great company X is - I've had it happen a couple of times,and it really angers me. I always investigate to see where the posts are coming from and if they're coming from the same city as the company that's being promoted so heavily, I will always contact them and ask them what's going on. It's not fun, but it'd be easier if they simply didn't do it.
Basically it's a form of viral marketing, but in my eyes, it's pretty cheap and sleazy to pretend to be an objective, unpaid fan, and then go around banging the drum for whatever company is keeping your bills paid. Sony has been caught doing this numerous times, in a variety of different forms. It's really, really frowned upon when it does happen (and the perps get caught), but there isn't a whole lot anyone can do about it besides running the astroturfers out on a rail and damning that company's marketing department. As far as I know - and as far as I've seen - it isn't a particularly common practice among anime companies. I've caught some of them doing it (who shall remain nameless), but it's nowhere near as common as it is in, say, the videogame industry, or even the movie industry.
So I wouldn't be too concerned with it, but if you see something suspicious - and you really have to build a case by making sure you're objectively looking at the user's entire post history - make sure you notify the administrators of whatever forum you're using. As far as I'm concerned, weeding out the people doing this and making sure everyone knows about it is pretty important.
"The animators" stopped producing Card Captor Sakura because it was over. They made two films that basically wrapped it all up pretty neatly. The franchise has since faded, being replaced (effectively) by Tsubasa, which features many of the same characters, albeit minus most of their typical personality traits.
I wouldn't be totally shocked if CLAMP one day returned to the Card Captor Sakura story, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Besides which, if it's "such a good story", why then do you need more? Sometimes it's OK for a story to end.
Not usually, no. Voice actors are paid for their time and unless they're huge stars who also have lucrative profit-sharing clauses in their contracts (think Peter Jackson or Tom Cruise), they get their paycheck for their recording sessions and that's that. Bandai could pay them $40 an hour for 8 hours of work and then gross $56 million from DVD sales and the voice actors wouldn't get another dime. Of course, if an anime DVD did actually sell that well, the actor would almost assuredly benefit from the series' popularity, which would result in more work across the board.
As for the flakes, I can generally tell when someone's purposefully writing me just to be put in the flake session. Usually they do some hackneyed fake "bad" typing and ask something that's been asked a million times. I got a lot of these after I printed the first Otakukin letter.
Remember, there are a lot of... let's say "special" people out there who simply don't think before they say or do something. There's always a new low that can be reached. While it'd be nice to think that everyone out there is incredibly intelligent and full of common sense, that isn't the case. Think about some of the things you read on internet forums - do you really think all the idiotic stuff that's being said is "ironic", or is it more likely that there are a lot of idiots out there? Call me a cynic, but I'm going with the latter. Besides which, if you're just perpetuating stupid crap for the sake of "irony", you're not really any different from the guy who's doing it unintentionally. The only difference is that you're self-aware and yet you're still posting stupid crap.
The Fox license for Vision of Escaflowne has expired (as reported at the time by ANN), so it is now available to be picked up elsewhere (channels like Cartoon Network (on Toonami or Adult Swim), Sci-Fi, and SpikeTV come to mind). While the series is quite popular (yet another box set was released last year), it is also quite old. What chance do you think it has of seeing another television broadcast?
You know, all these years have passed since I first saw Escaflowne (I originally saw it on 3rd generation VHS fansubs about 10 years ago at my local anime club) and it's still one of my favorite shows.
I'm not sure what's happening with the broadcast rights to the series. It's getting on in years, and I can imagine that Bandai is shopping it around to various networks, but it is an older title and I can't imagine anyone is jumping at the chance to air it. Bandai has released it and re-released it and re-released it again over the years, so it's likely found whatever audience it's going to find.
That's not to say it won't pop up again, but if it does, expect it to get that primo 4:30 AM on a Sunday slot that Cartoon Network uses to kill off Bandai shows.
Hey Answerman, simple question for you that may have a complex answer. Are anime fans more conservative or liberal in their political beliefs? I Ask ebcause it's almost split evenly among the people in my anime club, half of them are bush voters (i would guess based on their bumper stickers and what they say about iraq) and half of them seem to be either liberal or they don't even want to talk about politics. I think it's interesting because i would assume most anime fans are liberal, considering we are all abou sharing culture and that seems more like a liberal thing to me. So what do you think.
Wow, interesting question.
For the longest time I, like you, assumed most anime fans were either left or politically ambivalent; generally, anime fans tend to be young, and the rule of thumb states that young people tend to be liberal and older folks tend to be conservative. But in the maelstrom of American politics, nothing is really for certain. I've run in to more and more conservative (even Republican) anime fans over the years; we have a number of active members of our community here that are openly Republican. At first, I was a little shocked (and maybe that's unfair of me); I am, after all, left as left can be, and I assumed since I'd never had a serious political run-in with anyone either in the industry or with the fans that most people generally were on the same page. Even during an election cycle I would make a comment favoring the Democratic candidate, and I'd get nods and agreements from those around me.
Turns out that blanket generalizations like that are a waste of time! Imagine that.
While I have to admit I believe - based on personal experience - that anime fans trend toward the left side of the political spectrum (and likely outnumber the conservatives by a decent margin), there are plenty of conservatives out there as well, and over the last few years I've seen more and more of them. While it might seem like anime in general appeals to people who aren't so conservative in terms of what they watch, there's so much of it and it covers such a broad spectrum of topics and genres that it really does have something for everyone. So I suppose it's not all that bizarre that your anime club has a bunch of Republicans in it.
This one's pretty self-explanatory.
These books are worth putting on your site or your bookstores. I would also like to have these books translated to Japanese.
At first I thought this was spam, but no, this guy sincerely thinks we can help him out with his children's book.
Maybe we should change the name of the site to Toddler News Network! It'd totally fit with the rising popularity of lolicon anime!
These are baby Snow Leopards, which I saw recently on the awesome "Planet Earth" series on Discovery HD. If you haven't been watching that show, I highly recommend it.
Okay folks, we're switching up the Rant Rant Rant section. This week we're publishing a standard rant, but please check out the new submission guidelines below before submitting a new rant. There are prizes to be won!
This week's rant is courtesy of Daniel Mitchell. 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.
Whew. So what do you think? Do they have a point? Sound off on our forums and let the discussion begin!
That said, we've had a lot of complaints about the rant section lately - generally, we're getting rants over and over again based on the same few topics: fansubs, dubbing, lolicon, and "I hate anime fans who do [X]". I'm just as sick of those as you guys are, so as an incentive to write better rants, here's what we're doing.
What I want are rants - or essays - or whatever you'd like to write, really (please don't get hung up on the dictionary definition of "rant" while you're writing) - that are about subjects OTHER than one ones listed above. I want well-thought out, careful writing. I want subjects we haven't covered a million times.
Here's what I don't want:
* Responses to previous rants about lolicon/dubbing/fansubs/anime fans who suck a lot
* 200 words about how awesome Dragon Ball is
* New rants about lolicon/dubbing/fansubs/anime fans who suck a lot
* Anything that's really, really boring.
The next rant I publish will either conform to these guidelines or we simply won't have one that week. Rather than always publishing a rant - which I've been doing in the past, even if the rant was awful - I'll simply skip the section. Sound good?
Well, there's more. The author of the next rant to be published - which will only happen if it's good enough and follows these guidelines - will receive a prize box chock full of anime and manga straight from my own collection. I won't announce exactly what the prize is, but suffice to say, it's an incentive to do your best.
The rules as they are won't change:
1. No excessive swearing. "Damn" and "Hell" are fine, anything stronger than that needs to be excluded or censored.
2. Personal attacks will not be tolerated.
3. The word "Rant" must be in your email subject line.
4. Your rant must be at least 500 words, and use proper spelling and grammar. Internet speak, like 'lol' or 'u' instead of 'you' will not be tolerated.
5. If you send me something that's already been published on your blog or on another site, I'm just going to delete it. Likewise, requests that I link to your blog or another site if I print your rant will also result in your email being sent straight to the trash.
Send your rants to email@example.com, and watch this space next week for our next installment!
I sat down to write the column last month 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!