Hey, Answerman: CHICKS AND EXPLOSIONS!!

by Zac Bertschy, Sep 14th 2007


This is - believe it or not - the 300th Answerman column. There are 300 of these things now. I finally managed to outpace Kyle Pope, who stopped doing his column "The Edit List" at 295 entries. I suppose you could argue that I didn't actually write like 100 of these since Rebecca Bundy took over the column for a while there but hey, there are 300 of 'em now, and that's what I'm crowing about.

Last time I had a couple of forumgoers complain that the column was boring, so I'm not going to let that happen for my 300th column! If the global entertainment industry has taught me anything, it's that the best way to spice something up is to add hot girls and stuff blowing up. So welcome to Hey Answerman: CHICKS AND EXPLOSIONS!!


Hey answerman, what do you think of all these american movie versions of anime? is there any way they could be good or not? also what american shows or movies do you think would make good anime? personally I think they should make a Heroes anime, that is a good show and has anime-style stuff in it.

Of course they could be good; they could be great, even. There's no way of knowing right now whether or not any of them are going to pan out; the first one to hit theaters will be Speed Racer next summer, which definitely has the potential to be a fun movie. Say what you will about the Wachowski siblings, they know how to direct a decent action sequence. The cast is pretty solid and it sounds like they're aiming for lighthearted fun, which is exactly what the material commands.

The one with the most potential, I think, is James Cameron's Battle Angel project. Here you have a guy who has basically unlimited power and resources to make the exact film he wants, and has a rep for pushing the limits of technology every time he makes a new film. Battle Angel is spectacular source material, and it's in the hands of someone with a really great track record (and yes, I'm including Titanic in that, so you haters can go jump).

But then again, I'm not a cynic when it comes to movies like this - I don't follow the "everything Hollywood does sucks" mantra because it isn't true nor is it a fair assessment, and to me the "ugh they're going to ruin this" kneejerk reactions these movies tend to get are the product of lazy cynicism, something I've discussed here before. Healthy skepticism is one thing, but straight-up bashing something before you've even seen a single frame of footage is just internet hatemongering. The films that have been announced so far have solid talent and big budgets attached; at the best we'll get a bunch of impressive and entertaining action movies that respect the source material (without slavishly adapting them word-for-word just so the hardcore fans in the audience can nod their heads in approval while failing to entertain anyone else). So, I choose optimism on this one.

As for American stuff that would make decent anime, although it would never happen in a million years due to an ocean of red tape and licensing issues and what-have-you, I think if they made a 100+ episode adaptation of the Harry Potter series it would be a license to print money. I don't know if it would be any good per se, but it's a project that would bring in a boatload of new fans and in general be very beneficial to the anime industry as a whole.


Stuff I'd personally like to see adapted as an anime? It's hard to say - most of my favorite shows and films work just fine in their respective mediums and I don't think simply animating them with anime-style character designs would add anything significant. Although I have to say an anime-style TV version of Luc Besson's 1997 flick The Fifth Element, which remains the closest thing to live-action anime we've ever seen, would be pretty sweet if they did it right and expanded the story.

Oh and I should say I wrote this answer while jumping a turbo-charged motorcycle across the rooftops of Manhattan, evading the police who have mistaken me for a guy who stole the mummified remains of Abraham Lincoln's penis which has etched on its surface the secret original 11th Amendment to the Constitution in which the founding fathers admitted to actually being women, a secret that could destroy America if I don't find the real thief in time! That's pretty damn exciting!!



Could you shed some light on the apparent discontinuity between the popularity of manga and anime in the US.  The domestic manga scene seems to be booming, copies of Naruto Vol 11 Billion are showing up on best seller lists, and title selection seems to be diverse.  Anime DVDs, on the other hand, seem to be struggling somewhat.  More over, from a purely anecdotal standpoint, a lot of the Shelf Obsessed folks you see in the Shelf Life column typically have manga collections that out number their DVDs by about 10 to 1.  So, why are people buying so much manga but so little anime?  Do you think it has to do with the relatively scarcity of scanlations Vs. fansubs?
 
This is an easy one - reading books on your computer sucks.

Sure, that's not universally true, but most of the people I know who buy manga and books in general really appreciate having the physical object in their hands. It's less cumbersome, it's familiar, and you can do it anywhere. Reading a book does not restrict you to the computer chair or your iPod, and you don't have to worry about the battery running out before you can finish. As many a manga company representative has said in various industry panels, "manga fans appreciate actually holding the book in their hands". Electronic ways of reading books just haven't caught on yet and therefore piracy is kept to a relative minimum.

Now if only I can get to Sea World on time to stop the bomb that's been strapped to Shamu
by a crack team of international terrorists who want nothing more than to OH SHIIIIIIII----



Dear Answerman, I've been wondering, what's your opinion on manga to anime transition? I mean when a manga is made into an anime should the scriptwriters / directors / producers stick to the original work word for word or is it ok for them to take creative liberties (aside from censorship)? And of course, how do you think the quality of this transition affects the otaku community? I for one have realized that lately I enjoy reading the original work more than watching the anime version. (Not all the time, but often).

Personally, I've found that when an anime strays too far from the original source - whether they simply ran out of manga, or they have to depart from the storyline to allow the manga time to catch up, or the director just had a different vision for the storyline to go in - the results are usually pretty bad, with a handful of exceptions. What directors and producers "should" do is entirely up to them - their level of loyalty to the original work depends on the director himself and the demands of the author (or, likely, the publishing company that owns the work). Sometimes you get a maverick director who wants to take the material in a completely different direction. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Usually, it doesn't. I'm not sure why that is, really.

I don't think the "quality of the transition" affects the fan community. People can decide which version they like the best and then stick with that one. Some people get really wrapped up in it and complain angrily when the adaptation isn't 100 percent "perfect" by whatever measuring stick they're using, but you're going to get people like that no matter what.

Now if you'll excuse me, Jessica Alba and I are late for the Ferrari convention.








Damn, son.

OK here is my anime rule there are two kinds of anime fans people who love YU GI OH and SUCKA FOOLZ which one are you answerman this is important

I'm gonna go with SUCKA FOOL because Yu-Gi-Oh! is terrible.





I promised chicks, didn't I? I'm here all week, folks!






Our question last week was "What do you think of "moe" anime? Is the phenomenon a good or bad thing for anime fandom? "

From reader Aaron Huebert:

I would definitely say it's bad for the Fandom and more specifically, bad for the North American Anime Industry. My Reasoning for this is twofold. The first point can be summarized as such: Moe is not mainstream friendly. Moe pushes Anime further away from mainstream and further toward a niche market. Of all the various areas of Anime, Moe focused Anime has got to be pretty low on the list of Anime likely to appeal to more casual fans. It's not the kind of thing you're ever going to see on TV. It's the kind of thing that only someone already very familiar with Anime would watch. In fact not only does Moe not appeal to a mainstream audience, it potentially reflects badly on Anime. I personally find the concept strange and a little creepy. It doesn't exactly seem normal to me for people, especially men, to want to watch cute little girls who make you feel all protective and nurturing towards them. Now that may or may not be an accurate or fair view, but really that is irrelevant to the topic of whether it is bad for the fandom. A lot of Anime fans feel this way and more importantly, in the eyes of the vast majority of people out there who are not familiar or only vaguely familiar with Anime Moe definitely comes across as weird and creepy.

The other reason I don't think Moe has a positive effect relates much more to the actual Anime itself. I simply feel that Moe focused Anime is generally not very good. Moe is essentially a “fetish” based concept. I put that in quotation marks because I don't mean that in a sexual way as it is normally taken, but rather just an unusual attraction or affinity towards something. For that reason, Moe Anime can often be successful simply by appealing to this fetish while lacking in the areas such as story, characters, etc. on which other Anime must rely to succeed. It's easy to fall back to Moe allowing you to skimp on actual quality. I find it to be very similar to Anime that relies very heavily on Fanservice in this respect. This results in Anime being not as good from an impartial point of view, and also once again appealing less to your average person and rather only to the people who happen to be into Moe.

Another, from Michael Brehm:


I don't necessarily think Moe is the best thing for anime, but I believe, ultimately, that the moe concept will have virtually no impact on Anime fandom in the west. 
 
I'll admit, I don't really pay more than passing notice to moe anime; as a genre, it seems to largely consist of slice-of-life stories about preteen girls. By itself, there is nothing inherently wrong about that, it's when you take into account that it's target audience is primarily young to middle-aged men that the creepy factor begins to set in.
 
I don't think there is much of a market in the West for moe anime. Mature shows similar to Hellsing and Ghost in the Shell would attract larger Western audiences; Shows about little girls acting cute is a niche genre at best. So barring the unlikely (yet possible) event of some muck-raking journalist making it a bigger, more negative phenomenon than it really is, it will, most likely, run its quiet course in the West. 
 
That being said, I do think it will have a somewhat negative impact on anime's creative diversity that will effect Japan directly and the West indirectly. I think the popularity of the moe genre in Japan will cause Japanese studios to greenlight more moe anime, possibly at the expense of other genres. After all, if the otaku, the market segment that will watch the shows religiously on TV, buy the deluxe DVD releases, and collect every scrap of memorabilia that comes down the pike, wants moe, why would you give them something else? Even if the alternative series would appeal to a wider audience, it is unlikely that they would support it as fervently. If more moe anime is produced in Japan at the expense of other genres, it stands to reason that there will be more moe anime and less of the other genres available when western licensors come calling.

From "TMH":

I decided to give this one a shot because unlike most lovers of 'moe', I am an 18 year old girl, and the person who loves it even more than me is my 15 year old sister. The two of us have always been fans of cute things, and moe is no exception. My sister owns not only the original Moetan Metholodoloy Of English: The Academic Necessity joke english phrase-book, but also a large, detailed figure of the moe heroine in her transformed state 'Pastel Ink', some small pins, and small trading figures of moe characters designed by the same artist. We both follow fansubs of the anime, rather aware that it's likely it will never see a release in the western market, although I'm sure she would love to add the R2 DVDs to her collection someday. Some ask what two girls would find appealing about a show such as 'Moetan'; the name alone is a clear indication that it only really exists because of the 'moe' phenomenen and its clearly targeted towards older, male otaku. The reason we love it is because its just so adorable. The character Ink-chan may ride the thin line between 'moe' and 'loli' an awful lot, to the extent that we often joke to eachother that it's a good thing we arent male or we could be accused of being pedo for liking it. However, the bottom line is that Ink-chan is absolutely adorable, petite, and often acts scared; it makes you want to hug and protect her.

I think 'moe' is a word that is frequently missunderstood; often misdefined as being no different to 'lolicon'. The important thing about moe is that the desire it aims to invoke is that to nurture and protect the girl (or boy, which is starting to become more common); not sexual urges. (of course many fans of moe series fit into this latter category, but...)Visually I find moe extremely appealing, and its one of my favourite, if not most favourite, style in the wide range of styles of the anime spectrum. Some feminists may get all uppity at the popularity of these girls being presented as apparently submissive and in apparent need of someone to 'protect' them; but I, being female, find their petite innocence appealing; I actually wish I could be like that, to an extent.As for what I think of it as a far as how common it is in Japan now; my opinions are a mixed bag. There are some genuinely nice moe shows out there, but it seems lately too many people are trying to cash in on 'cute girls doing cute things in cute ways'; many of the newer shows seem 'empty' or like pale imitations.

From "Rednal":

Clearly, it's a good thing. Let's look at the facts, shall we? In any realm of business, the idea is to sell as much as you can to make the greatest profit. Anime fans might have a lot of fun making and selling the animated series we all love, but the general idea is still to get money from us. Moe is a term that has recently come into use, and its basic definition is "something that turns an anime fan on". A catgirl maid with glasses is moe, just as much as Louise the Zero and Mikuru Asahina are. Moe Anime, then, is a series specifically designed to appeal to the most common fetishes of anime fans. In short, something most fans will love. This equates to selling more DVD's and making a greater profit, which in turn allows more anime to be created. It's a cycle that creates what fans want to see.

Should all anime be highly Moe? No. Obviously not. I mean, imagine a Moe Gundam series. I don't mean SD Gundam, since that wasn't really Moe, I mean an actual Moe series where the pilots were ten year old girls with poofy hair. It just wouldn't work; Gundam is great, but doesn't lend itself well to Moe. Is it fun seeing shows like Moetan and Lucky Star come out, though? Most definitely. Moe Anime IS a good thing for the anime fandom, because it is designed to appeal to the fans. That's really all there is to it.


Finally, from Daryl Surat:

Moe. The dread spectre, the immortal enemy, the defiler which taints all that it comes into contact with. The scourge of moe has hordes under its banner, which reads "WAHA!" in reverence of their so-called supergirl. True otakudom is impossible to achieve without being tempted by the strong temptations of the Dark Side, the Moe Side, but far too many have succumbed to it over the years rather than overcome its illusory promises. The legions of moe worshippers that will fight to the death in defense of their dark gods posing as little sisters are innumerable.

These legions deserve nothing less than the purifying light of the Getter Beam, but the heretic Big Brother Brigade is strong in numbers and highly resistant to external attack thanks to a series of powerful *chan barriers. No, they are best obliterated from the inside out, but with only one successor to Hokuto Shin Ken at any given time the menace is poised to multiply without end, extending its vile tendrils in all directions and corrupting all that it touches such that even a devil may cry and be forced to make weekly sacrifices to the moe altars. Not even Optimus Prime was able to escape defeat at the hands of Moetron, but some still have the touch. Some still have the power.

Only those who have reached Super Seinen Level 3 or greater can hold off the oncoming wave of nekomimi maid gothlolis, but the Koikes, Saitos, and Nagais of the world are aging rapidly and cannot spearhead the fight against this Pedophile Posse for much longer. The time is nigh that chapters of Adeptus Gekigartes be formed to purge this heresy and put the "man" back in "manga" once and for all. Like John Matrix who came before us, the Anime World Order shall fight for love and smite the moe demons, banishing them back to the NHK depths from which they came, lest anime fandom be devoured whole by the Suzurins, Sakuras, Type Moons, and Keys of the world. The battle will be long and arduous, with our only ally being that American anime fans are by and large still interested in romantic relationships with other human beings. Yet without the tenets of the ACME Triangle of Excellence--vigilance, dedication, courage--it will only be a matter of time before the allures of the 2D girlfriend prove too mighty to withstand.

Endure. In enduring, grow strong.


Here's our topic for this week:





Now you've got this week's question, and it's time to get answerin'.

For those of you new to Hey, Answerfans!, I'll explain the concept.


Believe it or not, I'm genuinely curious what you think.

That's right; as much as I love the sound of my own voice, I do love to listen to what other people have to say on a subject. I'm finding that over the last few years, the attitudes, reasoning and logic that today's anime fans use eludes, confuses or astounds me; I hve so many questions for you, and I'm dying to hear what you have to say in response.

Welcome to Hey, Answerfans!

Basically, we're turning the tables. Each week I'm going to ask you a question, and I want you to email me your answer. Be as honest as you can. I'm looking for good answers; not answers I agree with or approve of, but good, thoughtful answers
. People feel passionately about these subjects and I'd like to see that in the responses I get. I'll post the best answers I get, and maybe some of the crappy ones. Sometimes there may only be one or two good ones; sometimes five or more. It all depends on what I get in my inbox! Got it? Pretty simple, right? Start writing those answers and email them to answerman [at] animenewsnetwork dot com.

We do have a few simple ground rules to start with.

Things To Do:

* Be coherent.
* Be thoughtful.
* Be passionate.
* Write as much or as little as you feel you need to to get your point across in the best possible way.

Things Not To Do:

* Respond when the question doesn't apply to you. For instance, if your email response starts with "Well, I don't do whatever you're asking about in the question... " then I'm going to stop reading right there and hit delete.
* Be unnecessarily rude or use a lot of foul language.
* Go off-topic.

So check this space next week for your answers to my questions!




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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