Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy, Feb 8th 2008


Some people put on music while they're working. Me, I tend to put movies I've seen on in the background. For whatever reason it's never distracting enough to draw me away from my work; I actually find it less distracting than music, and when I want to take a break, hey, there's a movie on. Naturally I wouldn't be able to get away with that in a standard business office, so I count my blessings that I work from my home office.

This random bit of worthless information was brought to you by my need to fill up space at the top of the column. Let's move on, shall we?

Dear Answerman,
How come you don't review hentai anime or manga or doujinshi on this website?

Normally I don't really answer administrative questions in this space, but I've been getting this question pretty frequently lately so I thought it best that I explain why our editorial coverage does not include hentai.

The answer is pretty simple: there's really no point to it. Unless we're trying to get some kind of comedy value out of reviewing hentai, there's just no point. Pornography has its purpose, a clearly defined purpose, and that purpose is not story or character - those things are there as window dressing for the sex scenes. Go on and on about some hentai that has a "really good story" all you like, it doesn't matter; the stuff is designed to get people off, and that's all there is to it. If you're not reviewing it based on just how good it is at achieving that particular goal - something nobody really wants to read about unless it's in an adult magazine that reviews porn - then what's the point? Reviewing hentai the same way we review regular anime would be like reviewing a toaster based on what sort of gas mileage it gets. It doesn't make any sense, and frankly, if we were to "properly" review hentai, I'd basically be publishing a bunch of articles that describe how quickly the critic managed to finish jerkin' it based on the relative "quality" of the sex scenes. No thanks. Not for me. Not even something I want to visualize. My inevitable work-related suicide would come much quicker, and frankly, we don't have a replacement lined up for me yet, so it's a bad idea.

Invariably someone will bring up the fact that my good friend Chris Beveridge reviews hentai over at Anime on DVD, as though somehow the fact that he does that invalidates my particular editorial policy on hentai. I have no problem with what Chris does over at AOD, but he and I simply have different goals and different editorial policies. Just because one site covers a certain kind of material doesn't mean all sites should follow suit.

So, to conclude, no, we don't cover hentai, and no, we won't be covering it in the future. I'm aware that Bamboo has covered one or two titles in the past in Shelf Life, but as I mentioned before, those were one-off reviews done solely for the comedy value and will not be reappearing. So there you have it. No porn on ANN.

Also, who in their right mind would review a doujinshi? What would the point of that be? "Welp, they sure did a good job drawing Nami's butt
in the rape scene on page 5!" Yeesh, who wants to read that?


So now that funimation is finally releasing One Piece do you think it will be successful in america?

I'm not sure, really. I hope so.

One Piece has had a really interesting and sometimes quite sad struggle in its attempt to cross the Pacific. The initial hope was that it'd take over as the giant shonen anime juggernaut Dragon Ball Z had become, bringing waves of new fans into the hobby, selling mountains of merchandise and posting great ratings on Cartoon Network.

As we all know, that never happened. Many factors were to blame; one, it was never clear whether or not a young American audience would take to One Piece's admittedly strange-looking, nontraditional art style. Two, the integrity of the original story was utterly compromised by 4Kids, not to mention nearly everything else about the series. 4Kids' One Piece dub is doubtlessly the worst, most misguided mass-market English dub I've ever seen, and I've seen Cardcaptors, for god's sake.

One thing the 4Kids version did bring us was what is the most hilariously terrible American opening theme for a localized anime series ever made. Have you forgotten about it? Well here it is!


GOTTA GO GOTTA GOOOOOOO

HU OH HU OH



HIS NAME IS LUFFY - YO DAT'S MONKEY DEE LUFFY

I cry a river of tears from laughter every time I watch this. It's just so utterly wrong in every way.

But the 4Kids dub wasn't the only botched thing - the merchandising was pretty uninspired and didn't get the kind of retail penetration it needed to be a success; shortly after it hit toy aisles, mountains of it wound up in the clearance bin. Although "pirates" as a general theme was ragingly successful at the time thanks to Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, One Piece didn't look or sound anything at all like that film, and so it wasn't able to capitalize on the success of the film. The video games never seemed to catch on, and neither did the trading card game. The show ultimately floundered on FoxBox, which eventually died off,
and the show found mild success on Cartoon Network, which kept it going for a while. Eventually 4Kids gave up the ghost and Funimation snatched up the rights to what they could, and the result is a much, much better dub. There are still some edits made to the broadcast version of the series - Sanji still can't smoke on TV (but at least he doesn't have that horrifying "Brooklyn accent" anymore), and there's still no drinkin' or shootin' or whatever, but it is a kid's show and they still have to release it in a kid-friendly way. Funimation is doing uncut box sets as well, a'la Naruto. I hope it works out for them, honestly - One Piece is a pretty good show, with a lot of heart and some great characters and storylines, but I don't know if it was 4Kids and a series of other unfortunate choices made for the franchise in the early stages of its release that made it fail, or if it honestly just was never meant to be popular with a young American audience.

Time will tell.

Hey Answerman, I reas reading internet forums including anns after all that ADV stuff happened. It seemed to me there were a lot of people who were really like, convinced that they knew everythinf and would tell me i don't know what i'm talking about. everyone is speculating so why do some people insist that they know better even when they dont?? I mean fans dont really know whats up, right so all we can do is guess, why is one guess better than another? I am not some kind of an idiot, why do people treat other people that way especially when they are just fans too!


I'm going to use this question to kick off a new series titled A Field Guide to Anime Fans: First Edition. Each time I get a question that's asking about a particular type of fan, I'll add another entry to the Guide, and maybe someday I'll publish it as a book nobody will read!

So, to get started, here's our first entry:

Species Name: The Indignant Armchair Quarterback

Sex: M, rarely F

Behavioral Traits: The Indignant Armchair Quarterback is quite easily identified on internet anime forums and in fact is surprisingly common. When any bit of news related to the general "health" of the anime industry is revealed, the Quarterback (or IAQ as they are frequently referred to in the zoological community) will usually be one of the first commenters in the resulting discussion thread and presents his opinions - usually based on "gut feelings" or strange, sometimes incomprehensible logic - as undeniable facts, shooting down anyone who might disagree, typically with a morose amount of angry indignation. A condescending tone is required; also, absolutely zero experience working directly in or with the industry he (or, sometimes, she) is analyzing. Any sort of experience or "insider information" obtained from direct and reliable sources instantly changes the IAQ's status, given that having sincere knowledge of the situation has been observed in many cases as the direct cause for said fan or professional calmly closing their mouths and stepping away from the keyboard. Additionally, IAQs have usually been self-described "hardcore fans" for over 5 years, and have spent a significant amount of time buying and discussing region one anime releases. A deeply held belief that purchasing DVDs bestows upon them reliable and appreciated insight into the business decisions and daily machinations of the companies that produce said product is also required. A vague sense of distrust toward any source that they themselves did not discover or conclusions they did not come to personally also permeates the behavior of this species.

Physical Characteristics: The Indignant Armchair Quarterback is rarely seen exercising his (or, rarely, her) most easily identifiable traits in the wild, thus making physical identification difficult. It is suspected that the angry-sounding, sometimes quite nasal kid who raises his hand over and over again to ask antagonizing questions at industry convention panels may be
linked to the Indignant Armchair Quarterback, but IAQ behavior is most easily observed online. The only thing scientists have agreed upon is that an unkempt beard, usually found in close proximity to the neck of the subject, is most likely a reliable indicator that you may in fact be in the presence of a genuine IAQ.

Sense of Humor: None observed.

Diet: Although no specific food source has been confirmed as the Indignant Armchair Quarterback's primary sustenance, the overwhelming amount of words they are known to spill onto internet forums have given prominent zoologists reason to believe that said prose is the result of routine IAQ defecation, and therefore whatever their primary intake is, it must be copious and readily available at all times.

Mating Ritual: None observed, presumed to reproduce asexually. Although a female population of this species is known to exist, no discernible evidence that the male and female genders have ever co-habitated has been discovered.

What To Do Upon Encountering: The IAQ is an easily enraged species and will attack any and all observers at any perceived sleight, or any insinuated disagreement with their conclusions. It is best to simply not respond to them unless directly provoked, and even then, it is recommended that any who encounter an IAQ respond by gently placating their anger by quietly and mildly agreeing with their conclusions, so as to not further provoke the subject, which may result in even more anger from the species. Some braver observers use what many are calling the "Mod Method", which is to provoke the IAQ into anger and indignation so vile and condescending that they are removed entirely from the community. All who attempt this method, proceed with caution.

This concludes today's lesson.





Sometimes I get these and I feel a little bad printing them but I just can't help myself. I took a screencap of the email so you can see the hilarious font used as well.



Sorry, MMA Ring Announcer Lenne Hardt, nobody's seen fit to put you in the encyclopedia yet. Maybe some intrepid fan will as a result of this great email!


This kitten will cheer you up.




Here's last week's question:




First, from Robert Frazer:

"Manga or anime"? Well, Answerman, I'll give you this - you're bold. You might as well have declared "Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war!". Assuming that there's a sufficient lull in between the incendiary barrages to emerge from my bomb shelter, though, I'll endeavour to answer your question!
 
Anyway, as to the conundrum of whether one is superior to the other, my response would be - "whichever comes first".
 
To explain, I am naturally leery of adaptations - I'll even tread cautiously around Shakespeare plays which aren't performed in verse with authentic period costume. Inevitably significant elements and qualities of character and mood will be lost in the transition between media, and a story must also bound over the additional hurdle of blundering directors and writers infatuated with their own swollen conceit of improving the original vision and more often than not end up corrupting it into bleak ruination (a prime example of Utterly Missing The Point would be a produciton of Waiting for Godot with female cast for the sake of "sexual tension", thankfully scuppered by Beckett's still-extant copyright, although admittedly that's outside the interest of ANN). Our cherished and beloved imports from the Nippon are especially prone to this, when you have the ren'ai romance, the visual novel, the anime, the manga, the video games, the figurine set, the export editions which have been edited with a rusty chainsaw... where do you begin to comprehend all of them?
 
This is a matter of personal preference, but I'm very keen on the integrity of continuity and this bewildering profusion of alternate versions is a source of obfuscation. With different events occuring at different times and character with different designs and incongruent personalities, the edifice of a franchise is not improved but rather bulldoze their way through it! Ironically, though, straight-up and uncomplicated retelling can in their own way be even more punishing, and in a tangible sense this time as well - mainly because it can be an expensive pastime with six-DVD animations and twelve-tankobon mangas, and you can be left feeling decidedly short-changed when one version is just a tepid reheat of the other.
 
Some adaptations can be successful when they share basic concepts with the source but present them in a radically different way, allowing your cash to go further when seeking new experiences (the Excel Saga anime for instance), or actually build on and contribute to expanding the canon with original stories (such as the Cowboy Bebop manga). I'll conede that there is the odd exceptional example of an adaptation genuinely improving on the source material (I always preferred the world rendered Fleetway Sonic the Hedgehog comics to that of Sonic X, for instance) Regrettably, however, most alternate versions don't follow this pattern, and so in their case I will plump for the pure, exact, unadulterated edition, whether it be a manga or anime. And if I've been watching the anime and there's actually an original manga series that I was unaware of... well, what I don't know won't hurt me, right? Or so my wallet tells me at least


From Megen Nelson:


I happened to be browsing around on the AnimeNewsNetwork site and found this article, and after browsing through it I come across your "manga or anime" section and go "hey, maybe I can say something!"

So in answer to your question I say Manga. Why? Because manga still has some semblance of quality to it.

Don't get me wrong, there are exceptions to the rule (A lot of older anime, Gurren Lagann and Wolf's Rain for me at least, haha) and I'm willing to give the anime versions a chance. I like both, but to me personally I think that manga has more heart. If you pick up a volume of D.N.Angel you can see just how freaking hard that artist worked to bring her story to life, and the same with Saiyuki. And don't get me started on the Death Note manga, because that's just insanely amazing.

But then you turn around and look at the anime versions of these series' and what do you see? They just don't have the same emotion in them. It's as if the anime directors/writers/artists either don't care much, or they're being rushed to produce something in a short amount of time (which is most likely the latter, since I'm hearing that the anime industry isn't doing too well in Japan at the moment. Don't know if that's true--but that could be another contributor to the poor quality; the animators aren't getting enough money!). In Death Note the lighting and color schemes are beautiful, but the animation doesn't match that. I think there was one scene in the entire show that made me think—and that was the foot massage thing. Nothing else really stood out to me.

And then we turn to Naruto, (Sorry, have to mention it, I love Naruto!) one of the most popular series' around. The manga and the anime were almost on the same level until that giant filler arc (which you've probably heard about a hundred million times by now, haha). People were anticipating Shippuuden like crazy. And when it finally rolls around, the animation is just like it was in the fillers. Personally I love Naruto for the characters, especially in the manga, but after watching some of the animation for parts I'd been waiting to see animated I was severely disappointed. The only quality in the Naruto anime is the opening sequences, which are always animated beautifully (even during the filler arcs!). 

I know I've been pointing out mostly art points and animation, but most of the time the manga is better in story development as well. I think Death Note was much more enjoyable to read than it was to watch--the same with D.N.Angel, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, and xxxHOLiC. Probably because when you go into detail in the manga, things seem to fit better, especially flashback sequences. In the anime versions, you can sit there and watch a whole episode of nothing but two people talking about their pasts, or how badly they're going to face-smash someone/thing. Then after ten minutes of talking there's a cut right before the action that goes into a sudden flash-back of something that's already been replayed a hundred million times before (Naruto is notorious for this) just so that it fills in time for the episode to fill its time slot. And then when the characters finally get to cracking skulls, bang, next episode time!

A good example of the difference in development is the Tsubasa and xxxHOLiC series'. I adored how the manga was intertwined--both series' having the same things happen at different intervals. In Holic, I think it sort of gives you an idea of how time flows for a group of people traveling between worlds when they call upon Yuko in Japan. In almost every volume of Tsubasa they contact Yuko, but something that happens in volume 3 of Tsubasa might not show up in Holic until volume 5. It feels as if time is moving faster for the traveling group than for Yuko living her life in Japan.

But then you check out the anime versions. To start, in Tsubasa the characters don't seem to have much expression except maybe a widening of the eyes and those funky chibi things, and not much else. Tsubasa shows each of the Yuko-connection instances usually, but Holic only shows the first meeting and then boom, the Syaoran group disappears. The Holic anime doesn't seem to be connected to the Tsubasa anime at all--which I felt was a huge let-down, because I really liked the concept of two totally separate anime series' being connected like that. While I watched the first few episodes of Holic I was waiting to see instances where the two groups converse, but there are hardly any (I don't know if there is now--I stopped watching the anime versions a while ago). And Holic's animation isn't all that great either.

There are very few instances when the anime surpasses the hard work and emotion of the manga. Examples are Orphan and Fruits Basket (which I watched a total of three times through (nerd, haha) in English (awesome awesome dub)--the art, story, and emotion impacts more in the anime than the manga, which is really, really rare) but I do concede that the anime often 'ties' with the manga on enjoyment. Examples are Fullmetal Alchemist, Peacemaker Kurogane (though the Kurogane part of the manga was stopped), and Chrono Crusade (and a few more that I can't think of at the moment).

I don't condemn all anime of course--what I've seen of Eureka 7 is really well done, and of my current love Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (First DVD comes out at the end of the month, whoo!) as well as Wolf's Rain and Princess Tutu are really good. But I believe they weren't based on any manga beforehand.

In the end, Manga does surpass anime in a lot of things. Probably because the artists care a lot about their work, (Takeshi Obata, artist of Death Note and Hikaru no Go said to the writer of HnG that on the days he worked he only got 3 hours of sleep at night. That's commitment.) while animators and directors are probably more in it for the profit rather than a love for the characters and the story.

Well, I hope this isn't too late (or too long!). And thanks for reading all of this drivel, haha (if you're even still here!)


From Mitchell H.:

Wow, that's a tricky one.
That's like chosing between life or death, well I gotta go for Anime, but I don't dislike manga either.
 
Manga
+ There much more manga's than anime's.
+ They usually tell more about the story and are longer than a anime.
+ The quality is much higher in Manga.

Anime
+ You don't have to read this, just listen.
+ Story's are much more understandble if they are in motion.
+ One eppi doesn't take hours to read.
+ Bouncing boobs look way better when they actually move!
 
So.. that makes 4 point for anime and only 3 for manga!
(Couldn't think of any other points. It's like 5:48..)

From "Rander":
Manga or anime?I think we all can agree that there is great anime and great manga. What makes each genre great can be/is different for each person. Anime or manga? I will take anime.
 
The combined music, art, and voice acting trigger emotions that manga or even a great novel never has. I have shed tears (Gunbuster), gotten up and cheered (Berserk), smiled evilly (when Eva-01 ate the S2 engine and then howled), yelled at the characters on the TV (Cowboy Bebop), air guitared at one time (Haruhi Suzumiya) or another while watching anime.
 
A recent example that I can think is when Haruhi performs with ENOZ, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya episode 11. You watch them slowly walk up to the and wondering, WTH?! with Kyon. They start to play and the music and the energy in the scene builds. You and the rest of the audience think, “Hmm, this is not too bad,” five seconds later, “this is pretty good” 30 seconds into it, “This rocks!” and launch into air guitar mode and the song finishes. What makes the whole scene even better is the sincerity and humbleness of Hauhi's tone when she speaks. It is so subtle, I do not think I would have imagined it that way when I read the manga.
 
I think it is less work to enjoy anime. I could pop in a DVD watch a three minute scene like the Haruhi example and that will put a smile on my face that may last a whole day or make a day of stress go away. Three minute of manga, I probably would have read only a few pages.
 
With technology making things smaller and capable of carrying tons of digital files, anime is now as portable as manga. I can watch a DVD almost anywhere with my laptop, watch an episode while I am working out on my video iPod, or even relive a scene or whole series in my head with a few pieces of music from the opening, ending or potpourri of background music.
 
The emotional content, a little less work and the portability is why I choose anime over manga.


From Keith Palmer:

I may be atypical by saying this these days, but I'm sticking with  anime. I suppose the wall that stands between me and reading more  manga than the handful of titles that I do is built of the "fear,  uncertainty and doubt" thrown up around the editing of various  moments to spare our tender North American sensibilities.

There may be more to it than cowardice and an overblown sense of  injury, though. My long-rooted tastes run towards the more kinetic  sort of science fiction including mecha, and no matter what that says  about me there I find that motion, colour, sound, and music can  indeed balance artwork that doesn't have to be farmed out to a team  and storylines not fitted to the demands of so many episodes. Often,  the anime even comes first, which turns the "adaptation" charges on  their head.

From Kari Itenogi:

 I prefer anime over manga. The reasons why are pretty simple and sometimes even stupid, so maybe I'm some kind of simpleton.

  For one, animation just makes everything come to life for me! I know in manga you're supposed to be imagining everything, but well... Maybe I'm just lazy!

  The voices also add more feeling. Face it, you won't feel a character's emotion as much just by reading a word bubble on a page. The same goes for comedy. A ridiculous, silly voice is more likely to get you to laugh than just words. Sure, manga lets you imagine your own feelings and voice for the character, but with anime you won't have to think about all that, and you can just sit back, relax, and watch how someone else interprets the character.

  Also, anime has color. Yeah, pretty stupid reason but I mean, the real world isn't black and white! Color adds life to the world within the series! It also makes it easier to tell what's going on, and makes things stand out more.

  This might just be a personal problem for me, but I sometimes get disoriented when reading manga, because of all the panels and the format... I don't have that problem with anime, but it's just me.

  You can be lazy when watching anime! All you have to do is sit down and watch.

  I will give manga some credit, however, since you can always skim through at the book store before buying, to see if you like it...

  Perhaps I prefer anime because I'm a lazy person... Ahh well!

Finally, from Dayton Williams:


Yes, please.




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!

See you all next week!


discuss this in the forum (104 posts) |
bookmark/share with:

Hey, Answerman! archives

Around The Web