Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy, Oct 10th 2008


Hey, everyone!

I was on hiatus for the last 2 weeks due to a handful of ridiculous events that all fell in line one right after the other, but I'm back now, and still crazy busy thanks to the back-breaking Fall Preview Guide. So I'm just going to get right to it.


This question just popped into my head a day or two ago, and I immediately wondered what your take on it would be. Most people who have been anime fans for any length of time are aware of the Sudden Girlfriend Appearance plotline; it's almost a genre in and of itself. More often than not, these girls have some special status in the world; the recent show Kannagi, for example, features a sacred tree spirit. At least, I think that's what she is. The Japanese also, however, have a notably different religious viewpoint than that of countries like America; their practice of Shinto, for example, with its myraid of soul/spirit-like entities. The question I have been leading up to is this: Do you believe that the relative popularity of the Sudden Girlfriend genre exists (despite incredible saturation) because at least some Japanese viewers believe it might actually happen?


No. Not at all. It has absolutely nothing to do with Shinto or religion whatsoever.

The "sudden girlfriend" genre exists because it fulfills a very basic fantasy for many a nerd: rather than dealing with whatever crippling mental or social issues you have, you will be assigned a girlfriend through some crazy fantasy scenario - like the magical MILF [and/or lolita] academy accidentally sent you an indentured sex maid without checking the paperwork - without you actually having to be an interesting, likable or socially skilled person. Your magical girlfriend will also be bound by whatever plot-device rules are necessary to tolerate your bullshit, love you forever, and find your revolting personal habits charming, even when someone better comes along, which they probably will around episode 9.

It's wish fulfillment. Just like a lot of people envision themselves as Bruce Willis running across a field of broken glass and then leaping off of a skyscraper, just as so many daydream of pointing a battle-weary gladius at the emperor of Rome and delivering a badass speech about his inevitable death, so too do many daydream about a world wherein a smokin' hot girl or guy is gifted to us through magical means, one who bindly, stupidly accepts our faults and never questions our judgment, regardless of how much of a gigantic goddamn loser we might be.

Pretty simple formula there.



I've got a question, with so much anime out there, why do people focus only on a few anime, that it widespread? Like Haruhi suzumiya, Chobits, Death Note, and higurashi? I understand Death Note's reason, but why haruhi suzumiya or Chobits that most anime fans know about and usually have watched? Is it because it's a good anime? Or is it because it got widespread and talked about succesfully? If It's based on how good an anime is, who's judging, I mean i didn''t really like Chobits, but adorded vampire knight and jigoku shoujo. And if it became spread, how did that happen. I'm asking this because i see alot of anime titles on your site, that few people have watched and aren't talked about, they just go unnoticed, although i think some of them are rather good and intresting.

Some shows are more popular than others. Some get better exposure. Some simply have all the elements today's otaku are looking for, and execute them in a polished way that fans respond to.

There is this notion that it's some sort of huge injustice when your favorite crazy "niche" title isn't as popular as Naruto, and I never really understood that. It's like complaining that everyone's reading Harry Potter but you're reading Artemis Fowl and why doesn't everyone also love Artemis Fowl as much? Is it not OK to just really love the hell out of Vampire Knight without needing the added validation that comes with mainstream blockbuster success?

I would argue that it is, madam.
It is, in fact, OK.


I am a longtime anime fan and I watch Macross almost every year. I also "marathon" Maison Ikkoku and every couple of years even Ranma ½. But I have noticed today's anime fans dont seem to have the patience for this. why is that? Are today's modern anime series not as good? I keep watching my favorite shows but the new anime fans I have met dont.


I get the feeling that actually rewatching series is kind of a foreign concept among a lot of modern anime fans - that you like something so much you watch it again and again over the years, to the point where it becomes "comfort food", something you pop in when you're feeling bad or just want to revisit a favorite show from years past that you still appreciate and enjoy as an adult. Anime has become this disposable medium where you watch it and toss it and never think of it again. Which is fine, but I've noticed that there are fewer and fewer series that people consider evergreen entertainment - that is, shows or even movies they'll watch again and again and come back to every year.

I have a few series I tend to rewatch over and over again, things I break out when I want comfortable entertainment, shows I know I love and want to revisit time and again. First a foremost, Vision of Escaflowne, followed by Neon Genesis Evangelion, the first two seasons of Rurouni Kenshin, Fullmetal Alchemist, FLCL and Revolutionary Girl Utena - especially the movie, on that last one. I'd say I rewatch each of these every 2 or 3 years or so, and they remind me of the reasons that I came to love anime in the first place.




No flake this week, but this is better and you can't doubt it.



Please ignore the stupid word balloons and just focus on the bunny grooming the guinea pig.

Also, those weird squeaky noises you hear are all coming from the guinea pig. See, you learned something today.





Here's last week's question:


From Anton Sergei:

I'd say my proudest moment as an anime fan was when I finished one particular mecha anime series and felt that the mecha anime genre still lives on and is more powerful than ever. I think everyone knows what I'm talking about.
 
I'd watched several mecha anime series as a kid. Heck, mecha anime was what got me started in watching any anime in the first place. Where I'm from - the Philippines - this really old mecha anime named Voltes V was basically a theme song for many Filipinos, especially for some grown-ups who remembered this from the time of the dictatorship. Everyone in my class could sing the opening song for crying out loud, even my teachers (might sound weird to anyone who can't picture this in their minds).
 
Then, I moved on to the later ones. Gundam Wing, Gundam G, RahXephon, Dai-Guard... these were all fantastic, memorable, and proud editions to the mecha anime genre. Then several years ago, with a new Gundam series coming out, I couldn't wait what kind of epic it would be...
 
And at that moment, I felt freakin' horrible for a while. Don't get me wrong, Gundam Seed was okay... but Gundam Seed Destiny really took it in the shorts and after watching it I've never felt like trusting another mecha anime series again. Gundam 00 was better, but it just didn't live up to the old classics.
 
And then, like an act of divine intervention, a friend of mine recommended this one series. At first, I didn't want to. I mean, I couldn't even remember the whole title: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Sounds stupid, and when I saw the robots I almost chocked. They had faces in their chests and used drills! Drills!? What kind of mecha still uses those!?
 
Still, I reluctantly watched it. At first, I wasn't very impressed, though the quality was stunning. It gradually grew on me with it's uniqueness, characters, and hilarious display, and then... Episode 8, and anyone who watched this series knows exactly what I'm talking about. I've never seen anything so stunning and memorable, but it just got started. Then came the main character's manliest display yet at Episode 11, and it just totally blew my freakin' mind off. I didn't think there was anything more epic in a mecha anime series than the final move in Gundam G's final episode, but here it was!
 
By the time I got to the ending, watched the whole series from Episode 1 to 27, saw the manliest mecha in any series ever and saw the most heartbreaking (and manly) love story ending ever in the same episode... Holy. I felt like I'll never watch another anime unless they had faces on their chest and used manly giant drills. It was a series of epic proportions.
 
After watching that series, I felt sense of pride about anime in general; that with enough courage to try something new, it CAN break the boundaries anime cliches so often limits. But as the characters of Gurren Lagann proved, anime and mecha anime CAN kick reason to the curb and break through the heavens. I pity the foo' who hasn't finished that series yet, I really do.

From George Heffner:

There are a couple of times I have been VERY proud of being an anime fan (otaku) but my favorite is when I was asked to recomend a good TV show, movie, book, etc. I stood up infront of the class and said the following:
 
I know I'm the only one in 11th grade who watches anime, but let me tell you I am darn proud of it and these are my reasons:
Anime isn't just another animated media, like here in America were you get lame cartoons nowdays (I mention Nick 90´s toons like "Hey Anorld" and so on). Anime has a feel of it's own and great titles. My personal favorite is Rurouni Kenshin; drama, comedy, action, good story, what else do you need? For others who like intelligent stuff, check out Death Note it will leave you with your mouth open with it's cat and mouse chase. 
 
I talked about other anime and their details, I also talked about manga and all it's genres. Now if you go to my school and ask an 11th grader what is he watching, you will most likely get an answer like Code Geass, Fullmetal Alchemist. They are only watching mainstream titles now, but I got to convince 60% of my classmates to watch something new to them, and that makes me happy because it is anime they are watching and I am amazed by how much people watch anime just by telling them it has a good story.


From Abby Allman:

My proudest moment as an anime fan, was when I went to my first con in June and I saw an older African-American gentleman dressed in nothing but sheepskin underwear, and trailing behind him was a middle aged 6 foot tall man dressed as Princess Peach. It may not seem so special, but it put alot of things in prespective for me. I realized that the otaku generation may in fact, be completely insane. But if you go to a convention, (most of) the people are there are so nice and fun to be around, where else do you find such kind-hearted people? To think that the only thing you have in common with over 2,000 people in the same building is that you're an anime fan. And yes, we're all nerds, but why try to deny it?

I'm an anime fan. And damn pround.


From "Yuukichan's Papa":


I'd have to say that my proudest moment as an anime fan was at Fanime in 2000. If you've ever heard of "They've Got Some NERV" or the dancing Seele boxes, I was in that group (specifically box number two). After being cheered off stage with chants of "Box! Box!", we found out that Takami Akai and Hiroyuki Yamaga from Gainax were in the front row at the masquerade and were laughing so hard they were in tears. After the audience had cleared out, Yamaga was milling around the stage with his assistant, and I was able to personally hand him a copy of an Evangelion parody fanfic my brother and I had written.

I'm a huge Gainax fan and Evangelion is still my favorite anime, so being able to not only make him laugh but also talk to him - however briefly - in person just made me glad to be a fan.


From Logan Caputo:

I almost thought I didn't have a story for this week's question but I realized that I did.

One of my happiest moments as an anime fan was when I discovered the series Fooly Cooly (or FLCL if you prefer) for the first time. Unfortunately I started watching the series around the 3rd episode and didn't think too much of it. I watched it till the end of the series and re-watched it when it was re-aired. After seeing it from start to finish I felt, personally, that it was one of the greatest animes I had ever laid eyes upon. I even went as far as buying the first OST and a Canti character figurine, both of which I no longer own (The OST was lost when my car was broken into and my CD's were stolen. The figurine was broken while moving back home from a friend's place).

This brought me to one of my "unhappy" moments as an anime fan. I discovered, shortly after watching it all the way and waiting for more episodes, that it was only 6 episodes long. Since then I've rode the anime emotions roller coaster between "meh" series that I could barely stand watching, and watching series like Paranoia Agent or Gundam 00 that have left me wanting.

I know all anime can't be Fooly Cooly, I just wish that there were a few more series out there like it.


From Amy Behrendt:

My proudest moment as not only an otaku, but perhaps as a student, was writing an eleven-page paper on Ghost in the Shell for my media theory class freshman year of college. I have never been more hellbent on an essay before, writing for two days straight, pouring over my GitS DVDs and manga and turning my knowledge of all things Ghost inside out to produce the most sublime thing I've ever written. Imagine my elation when I received an A+... 100%!


From Ryan Newberry:

My  happiest moment as an anime fan was the first time I experienced what continues to be favorite anime, Gundam Seed.I typically only watch 3 or 4 episodes of a show in a sitting. However, after twelve episodes of Gundam Seed, I became unable to stop, cramming in as many episodes a day as I could get in, watching 13 in a row at one point. This probably isn't so impressive to the anime community at large, but no show has ever again compelled me to watch that many episodes at once.

Gundam Seed had it all. The tragic and intriguing concept of two friends on the opposite sides of a war. J-pop flair best exemplified by the third intro song "Believe" sang to perfection by a then 14 year old Nami Tamaki interspersed with spots of Gundams flying through space cut between shots of the young, brooding cast. Teenage romance as the young hero Kira fell into a destructive relationship with his crush Flay. And like all shows in the Gundam series, SEED showed the politics and costs of warfare as the Earth and its colonies fought with one another to the point of mutual destruction. For someone who had only watched 4 or 5 complete anime's before seeing Gundam Seed, Gundam Seed wasn't just another good anime. It was a revelation. Gundam Seed was the kind of story that made me thank the world for having artists that could create something so great and wonderful.

To this day, I still love Gundam Seed and wish I could once again watch it for the first time. Its characters and story brought me a joy that I am unsure any other anime will ever surpass.


Finally, from Alex Price:

My proudest moment as an anime fan was definitely when I simultaneously got a half dozen of my friends into anime by showing them some Cowboy Bebop. Nothing's more satisfying than including more people in your interests.


So here's the question 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!


See you all next week!

Howl's Moving Castle © Nibariki * GNDDDT

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