Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy, Jul 13th 2007


Alright, I've got too much work to do and not enough time to do it, so we're gonna get through this quick.

hey Answerman, last month I saw the Naruto movie and while it was OK it was basically a drawn out episode. I also saw one of the One Piece movies a while ago and it was the same. It seems like nothing really happens in the shonen jump movies, just once it would be nice if something big happened that was part of the main storyline. Why are the movies always like that?

Yeah, they're generally all like that. The thing is, they can't do anything to drastically alter the TV show's storyline, since normally when they're releasing a film, the TV show is ongoing. So they have to write a side-story, and usually they involve some one-shot character that they spend way too much time on and the principal cast becomes the supporting cast. Most Shonen Jump-style movies - even with things like Inuyasha - are like watching long filler episodes. There's never a lot of meat to them, and they're generally pretty forgettable.

In fact, the only kind of anime movies based on an existing TV show I genuinely find myself enjoying are the ones that "reimagine" the main plot; Escaflowne and Revolutionary Girl Utena are two great examples, and I suspect the upcoming animated Evangelion movies will be the same way. I've always liked highly stylized versions of popular characters and those sorts of films appeal to that sensibility, I guess.


Oh, what the hell, it's a slow week anyway.


I'm Lim Andrew James, a student taking up BS Computer Science Major in Information Technology at De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines. I find your site "AnimeNewsNetwork" to be very interesting and truly a work of art. It is thanks to you guys that such a well-maintained anime site exists. Personally, I also download and watch fansubbed animes as a hobby and I can say that there are a lot of good anime titles out there that I wouldn't have been able to appreciate if it were not for those great fansubbers (well except for those unethical ones such as Anime Junkies that were once pointed out in the many many articles in the site). One of my minor subjects, which is English Research and Writing Skills, requires us to write a research paper of at least 10 pages. I chose anime fansubbing as my topic since I find the issues there to be quite unique and interesting. I was required to interview someone regarding his/her opinions regarding the topic and since I can't find someone who's knowledgeable here in Manila, I decided to email you Sir regarding the said topic. I'd like to take this chance to ask you Sir some questions since I'm sure your opinions will be extremely valuable for my paper.
 
1. In your opinion, is fansubbing anime titles and distributing them online a form of piracy or worldwide promotion? Why?

Both. Yeah, it promotes the title's general awareness and has the potential to build an overseas fanbase before the show comes out, but it's also a form of piracy. You're taking a show, translating it and distributing it for free without permission from the original artist or license holder. Pretty cut and dried.
 
2. I am sure that you have downloaded and watched lots of fansubbed animes from the Internet. What can you say about the overall quality of the file (audio/video quality, translation accuracy, styles used such as fonts and colors)?

I used to but I have no time for fansubs anymore; I rarely watch them now unless I really need to a see part of a show before it comes out here for an article. I can say that over the years the video quality has gone up, but so has the use of gimmicky subtitle fonts, which some people love but I personally don't care for. Translation quality is totally a subjective thing and can only be properly judged by someone who speaks fluent Japanese and therefore has the credentials to argue with a translation. I don't speak Japanese (well, not past a second-grade level anyway) so I just trust the guy that's good enough to be paid by someone to do it rather than an anonymous stranger doing it for free who mysteriously seems to be adding "shit" and "damn" to every other line.
 
3. Regarding the issue of piracy, do you have any solutions in mind to alleviate the situation between fans/fansubbers and producers?

This is a giant can of worms and would require a multiple-page essay to answer (not to mention there really is no solid answer yet) so I'll just say that right now, with DVD sales as they are, the only way to "alleviate" the piracy angle is for fansubbers to either quit completely or simply stop subbing after one episode. That will never happen. Genie's out of the bottle; now we have to come up with a way to work with the current situation.
 
4. Anime has really blossomed in the Westerm countries these days especially in North America. Do you think it's solely because of the fans subbing anime titles and distributing them on the Internet?

What? No. Anime has "blossomed" in the west thanks to juggernauts like Pokémon, Dragon Ball, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Naruto, shows that brought the aesthetic and storytelling style to a mainstream audience and created new fans who took their interest in Pokémon and turned it into an interest in anime as a whole. Yes, fansubs have helped the hardcore market grow (meaning anime fandom grows by leaps and bounds every year but strangely sales don't, imagine that) but they're not "solely responsible" for making anime popular in the west.
 
5.Lastly, fans and fansubbers claim that most people upon watching fansubbed animes tend to buy DVDs of the said titles if they liked it (when it's available in
their country). Thus, fansubbed animes serve as a sample 'preview' for people out there since new titles coming from Japan rarely (but most of the time never) reach the ears of people in other countries. Do you support this claim?

No. Fansubs are not a "preview", they are the entire product, offered for free with no consequence. A "preview" would be one episode or a trailer. Making an entire 26-episode series available for free on the internet is not a "preview", it's giving someone else's product away for free. That's the way it is.

Saying fansubs are a "preview" is like if Disney decided to hold free "sneak previews" of Pirates of the Caribbean: License to Print Money all weekend and then decided to continue showing it for free to anyone who wanted to see it at any time. That's not a "preview", that's just offering the entire product for free all the time.

Call me jaded but I'm not buying that "most people" who watch fansubs all the time run out and buy DVDs if they liked the show. These days mostly you hear people complaining nonstop about R1 DVDs as a means of justifying never paying for anime (not to mention that DVD sales are down across the board; sales are slowing, but fandom's growing). It's partially because in certain segments of anime fandom, the product itself has zero value; so many people have spent so many years getting everything they could ever want from the medium completely free of charge. I know if I was let into the movie theater for free every day to see any film I wanted ever for 5 straight years and then suddenly someone said "Welp this time you have to pay $10.50", I'd probably balk because at that point seeing movies isn't worth money to me.


Believe it or not, the wholesale free distribution of everything animated that comes out of Japan isn't really the greatest thing since sliced bread. I'm not saying everyone should drop their fansubs completely and just open their wallets to the R1 industry; the American companies have to adapt to the changing marketplace and realize the challenges of dealing with a generation of consumers who simply don't feel like paying for anime and don't have to. But I'm afraid we're so far down the rabbit hole on the "anime is completely free for everyone" that it's really going to be an uphill climb.

Let the ridiculous circular multi-page forums argument begin!

Oh wow! It's my old friend, the Berserk question! I haven't seen you in ages! How's it going, old friend?

Hey Answerman! I was looking around again for any updates on berserk and couldnt find any, and have always wondered if they would ever continue animating that series. So I figured since your called the answerman you might have an answer for this question. From what I heard the anime wasnt continued because of a dispute between the Director and the writer. I love this anime and its story so much that I ended up reading the manga just so i can know whats going on. If your able to find anything out about this for me or know of anyway I might be able to sway them to producing it again please let me know. Thanks.

I used to get this question so often I even made an image for it.


The answer remains the same: NO! No no no. There is no news about a new Berserk series. None. Never. Kaput.

Read the manga which has a buttload of volumes available from Dark Horse. It's probably better than a new anime series anyway.


This question is regarding Bandai Entertainment's licensing of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.  I was wondering if there's any chance that it will be released on DVD in its original broadcast order.  I know volume 2's boxset includes episodes 1-5 in the broadcast order, but is spending an extra $20+ on some extra crap(so-to-speak) going to be the only way to get the episodes in their broadcast order on DVD(well, legally)?

Barring some incredibly bad business decision by Bandai, yeah, the only way to get the episodes in broadcast order is to buy the limited editions. I can't see them releasing a third version of the show just to cater to an extremely small audience that's hardcore enough to know the difference between chronological order and broadcast order who also doesn't want to buy the limited edition. That's a pretty small audience right there.





Sigh.

dear answerman which animes are the best animes

This is the best anime:



Happy now?






No winner this week either, but here's a rant anyway.

It comes courtesy of Sarah Maynard. 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.


Recently, I watched a mini documentary on the birth of Studio Ghibli on the Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind DVD. There was one film that stood out to me, and I immediately went to find out more. The film was Only Yesterday, and after consulting Internet Movie Database and its Wikipedia entry, I found out that plans to release it were shelved indefinitely. The reason? Apparently, Disney felt uncomfortable with two scenes, one where a family bathes together and another where schoolchildren discuss menstruation. Now why does this bother me? Because people seem to think that those two scenes will cause Disney to be seen in a negative light, and they can't cut them out because of a deal made with Ghibli. It basically comes down to censorship.

We live in a day and age where it seems like children need to be protected from everything. “The children! Won't someone please think of the children?” Too many times have we heard from parents who say that their children have been exposed to some inappropriate material. My question is, well, then, where were you? It is not the job of the company, the vendor, the local library, or whatever medium the media is published to make sure that your child isn't exposed to what you deem ‘inappropriate.’ But this practice of making sure that things are ‘appropriate’ for younger viewers has sadly become the norm. Which means that sometimes scenes of great significance in some anime or manga are ultimately edited. Or even fan service is toned down. Tengho Tenge is a great example. It's a manga chockfull of fan service, things that, yes, children probably shouldn't see at a younger age. So the publisher decides to cut things, and censor others. Again, my problem with that is that it's not the publisher's job to protect the children. It's the parents’ job. As a better example, Lionsgate recently released a 25th special edition DVD of The Last Unicorn, which is, in my opinion, a great film. However, because of pressure from parents and Wal-Mart, Lionsgate decided to censor a few curse words, most notably the word ‘damn’ during Molly Grue's speech to the Unicorn. My argument is that her speech is an emotional point in the movie. Looking back, even some of Disney's animated movies contain curse words (my best example would be Hunchback of Notre Dame).

Some anime shows are not for younger viewers. But I believe that anything by Ghibli has a general appeal to audiences of all ages, and to completely disregard a film because of two questionable scenes is, for lack of a better word, stupid. Many times we as a general people underestimate the intelligence of children. They can handle certain subjects, if discussed appropriately. I've sometimes been led to think that the reason anime and manga are full of questionable material in terms of American standards is because parents in Japan don't talk to their children. Now I believe that we are the ones that don't talk to ours, to protect them from the things that they are ultimately capable of understanding.

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 protected], 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!


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