Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy, Oct 16th 2008


I'm in serious need of a pick-me-up this week so what better than crankin' out a special edition Answerman? People who have been reading the column for a while know of my weakness for adorable animals, so every answer this week will include some variety of cute critter, be they related to the question or not.

DEAL WITH IT. No, I am not presently seeing a therapist.


Hey Answerman!

I, too, have always wanted to make my own anime series. Then I saw your February 1, 2008 article (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/answerman/2008-02-01) and had my hopes promptly dashed.

That said, if you had an opportunity to create your own anime series, what would it be like? What kind of characters would you populate it with, what genre would you mold it into, etc.

Also, and I hope I'm not being unfair by trying to sneak in a second question, but what would you do if you actually did get an idea that was, in your opinion, good enough for a show?


My attitude is this - if I had an idea for a good narrative, I'd choose my medium very carefully. I think it's a little false to specifically come up with good ideas for an anime series, especially since these days (after obsessively editing the preview guide for the last 2 weeks), constructing an average anime series seems to be about as difficult as assembling a Colorforms diorama - pick your personality stereotypes, your well-worn plot device and setting, and hit "blend". Bingo-bango, mid-range hit, first week special edition DVD sales hit 5,000, and you start all over again.

But to speak frankly, I'd probably create the sort of show I personally want to see more of - serious action shows with well-written serial plots that move along at a fast clip, have uniquely troubled characters and generally go for a "dark" tone, with a little sci-fi buggery as possible.
I personally am probably not capable of writing something like this with any degree of skill or competence - my speciality is being a snot online and speaking in a very specific voice. I also don't believe that I could come up with a remotely original idea for a fiction series without dedicating myself to it full time and spending years absorbing whatever books or television shows or films I could that were related to whatever my idea was.

To be frank, making "your own anime series" is basically impossible for your average fan, unless you're uniquely talented in Flash, have a lot of free time and don't mind not being paid for your work. If I came up with a concept that I thought would make a good anime series, I'd probably try to find a more accessible medium - maybe it'd also work as a series of novels, or something I could post as a serial online, or perhaps a webcomic. Something that's actually a viable venue for me to get my work out there.

And, to sum up, here is a bunny who looks like he's smiling.



I used to be a huge Berserk manga enthusiast.  Once I reached a point where I was caught up to the current chapter releases, however, I found out a terrible truth:  Kentaro Miura has an incredibly erratic release schedule.  It seems like every third chapter, he takes a month-long break (or in the latest case, a four month break). 

My question is this:  Are manga-ka required to sign any kind of contract promising X number of chapters per year?  Or are they paid on a "when we publish it" schedule?  I realize that the answer may simply be "it varies from magazine to magazine," but I'm curious as to how Miura can have such a light release schedule when authors like Kishimoto crank out something like 50 chapters a year.  I can only imagine what would happen if Naruto dropped to a quarterly publication rate...

Unfortunately I have to give you your simple answer - it depends on the artist, the title, what publication he's working for, what his contract is like and how many competent and reliable assistants he has.

Berserk is gigantic in Japan - a huge seller. The new tankoubons usually hit #1 on the book charts and stay there for a little while. Not only that, but it must be incredibly demanding to actually draw - the art is nothing short of insane. So it doesn't surprise me that after all these years, something like that takes its toll on the author and he starts flaming out a little, taking longer and longer hiatuses. I doubt Young Animal cracks the whip too much over Miura, given that his series is a giant cash cow. Note: thanks to Dormcat for the tip on this correction.

For someone like Kishimoto, he is likely paid out the nose by the biggest and most imposing manga publication in Japan, has a much simpler drawing style and likely also has a gigantic army of assistants, not to mention a more hectic publishing schedule. So while Miura needs a few months off every now and then, Kishimoto can keep crankin' out chapters, if not only because he's used to the crunch, but few artists likely defy Shonen Jump.


And now the heartwarming tale of a kitty who adopted a baby bunny. You've probably seen this before but WATCH IT AGAIN AND ABSORB THE CUTE.


Hi. I purchased Galaxy Angel X recently. I was suprised to find out that only the first disc of this 3-disc set is dubbed. The other 2 discs were in Japanese only with subtitles. Why did Bandai dub only 1/3 of the series and bother to put it out on DVD like that? Why didn't they just dub the whole series, or leave it all in Japanese?


Cost.

Dubs are expensive, and Galaxy Angel X was likely being planned just as we saw the anime market start melting down earlier this year. It's likely they paid for the first 8 episodes to be dubbed, saw the writing on the wall and changed their plan for the show, instead releasing it as a brick rather than in singles, which is potentially more profitable for a niche title like Galaxy Angel X. So they probably just couldn't justify paying to finish the dub when sales expectations and the way the market was behaving didn't predict that they'd recoup their investment.

Admittedly it's a pretty sloppy thing to do and is only going to anger fans, but I have no idea how diehard the Galaxy Angel fanbase is nor if they've proven that they're going to show up and buy R1 DVDs, so hey, I have to assume they made the right decision when it came to their pocketbook.

And now, a dog sleeping on another dog.






I have a flake but I don't feel like ripping on someone after all that adorableness so here's A GIANT IMAGE OF AN AWESOME RED PANDA



That's a happy fella.



Here's last week's question:


From Charles Sadnick:

My wife always complains that I never try anything new.  That's very true to me – once I find something I like, I take the position of "why try something else when what I've got is already so good?"  This definitely applies to my viewing habits.  I've tried a number of new anime series, but there are those few that I keep coming back to year after year.  And though I'm not as warm to them as I once was, I still enjoy classics like Tenchi Muyo!, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Evangelion, and Rurouni Kenshin

But to even my surprise, a more polarizing series is probably the one I've watched most.  Call it the romantic in me, but the Keitarō/Naru relationship in Love Hina has led me to view the entire series at least a half-dozen times, and the Christmas special and other particular episodes even more than that.  And even though I abhor fan service and find Naru mildly annoying, I find myself coming time and time again to this series to fulfill my need for romantic comedy.  I now realize that it has taken the place of When Harry Met Sally… in my life, which was for the longest time my favorite film, and the one movie I could watch over and over and never tire of.

So, what is it about Love Hina that requires so many viewings?  Is it the crazy characters?  The warm animation?  The over-the-top comic violence?  Yes, it's all that, but it's more.  It's the feeling that Naru and Keitarō belong together.  They are severely flawed, Keitarō no more than Naru, whose pretty and smart exterior belie major emotional issues.  Keitarō, as much of a loser as he is, proves to be the perfect match for Naru.  But more than proving worthy of her, we find that in fact, she might not be worthy of him.  But Keitarō sees Naru for who she is and realizes that all of his dreams mean nothing if he can't be with her.  It also helps that the series has some of the most touching scenes I've ever watched.  The Christmas special can't help but put me in a great mood!

So for all of its shortcomings, Love Hina is still the most rewatchable anime I've ever viewed.  When it comes down to it, the most important part of any anime to me is the characters and their relationships – and Keitarō and Naru score perfect tens in this category.  What more could one ask for?

From Erik Frederiksen:

There's two shows I've watched more than twice that I really matter to me: Slam Dunk and Initial D.

Beside the tense matches and battles each show has, what really gets me are the characters.  There aren't any wasted characters in the shows - everyone has their own thread and they're each interesting in their own way.  The main characters, Hanamichi and Takumi respectively, get to grow throughout the series.  The growth is very organic and human, and it makes the characters infinitely likable.  With Slam Dunk, by the time you get toward the end of the series, you're standing up just like you would watching a real game. 

I guess I'll also mention Kaze no Yojimbo.  It's one of my favorite shows, I bought each disc the day it hit the shelves, and I still have no idea how it made it out here.  With its bizarre pacing, realistic visuals, and offbeat music, it's not the kind of show that sells well.  But it's a great detective story, a solid retelling of Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo, and there's just nothing else like it.

I'm really bad at this...

From Ian Harper:

There are a few series that I have seen more than once, and each for slightly differing reasons.
 
The first is Mobile Suit Z Gundam, I usually watch the movie trilogy first then Char's Counterattack straight afterwards. I know everybody goes on about Zeta Gundam, and it may be an unoriginal choice but for me it really is the best anime I have ever had the pleasure of watching and part of the best sci-fi story I have ever come across as well. It's dark, menacing and gritty, it has a great plot with enough twists, turns and skulduggery to keep you on the edge of your seat, it has brilliant, well developed and believable characters and (importantly for a mecha fan) it has a vast array of very cool looking mecha. It is one of those shows where I can't watch the next episode soon enough, and to me that is always a sign of a good, well written and directed show. For me Zeta Gundam is the epitome of the perfect mecha show.
 
Another is Neon Genesis Evangelion, I can hear the groans now and I'll be the first to admit that it is seriously flawed in places but even so, it is really is still a masterpiece of writing and direction. When I first watched it I really didn't understand it, but the intrigue was there and deserved to be watched again and again until I did fully understand it, and when I finally did my appreciation for Evangelion went up dramatically, it was like a moment of clarity, it is such a clever show, and even now when I watch it again I still see or discover something new within it's complex layers.
 
For a general feel good series, I always turn to Patlabor: The New Files. Again it's another very well written series, but despite the title it isn't really a mecha show, the labors don't feature that much in some episodes, and as much as I enjoyed the original OVA and the TV series, I found that they couldn't decide what they wanted to be, but Oshii hit the nail on the head with The New Files and produced a very endearing slice of life anime. The characters by now are so well developed that you actually feel like you know them and it is genuinely funny (which is more than can be said for some other comedy anime) and there are some really touching moments in it as well. It's an easy, comfortable watch that that will always bring a smile to my face.
 
Finally there is Platinumhugen Ordian, now I can really hear the groans. Masami Obari, you either love or hate him, there seems to be no middle ground for the man. I personally think the bloke is a genius who doesn't get anywhere near the credit he deserves. Detonator Orgun, is probably my second favourite anime ever and I have seen it countless times, but with Ordian, Obari finally got the screen time to develop some ideas and themes that he had touched on in OVAs such as Orgun and Voogie's Angel. I really enjoy watching Ordian for a number of reasons, I love the complexity of the plot and how it develops, and it has some interesting characters as w ell, but what I really like about it (and Obari's works in general) is the way it looks, the mecha, vehicles and weapons are incredibly well designed and love the feel and atmosphere the visuals create, at times it can be proper eye candy.


From Jenny Lin:


There are a couple of anime series that I've watched more than two times, but to keep my answer short, I'll only be naming two.

First one: Yakitate!! Japan. Why? Because it's so hilariously ridiculous. The reaction they have to bread (you've got to love pierrot), all the parodies they've managed to fit in, the plain fact that the whole series is about bread...It's just too ridiculous. But it can always make me laugh, no matter how many times I've seen it.

SaiKano is another one of those series I can keep watching. As stupid as it sounds I love crying and SaiKano makes me cry every episode (well, almost every episode) and that the main reason why I like to watch SaiKano.

From K Wichacz:

I have watched a few anime series more then twice: Escaflowne, Sailor Moon (season 1, and 2), Gravitation, Cowboy Bebop, The Slayers, and Good Witch of the West.

Escaflowne and Sailor Moon are my comfort series, the series that take me back to childhood and fill me up with the same warm and fuzzy feelings that I had growing up and learning about anime. They can still make me laugh and cry  after all these years.

I don't even know how many times I have watched Sailor Moon or Escaflowne. My mom - who doesn't even watch anime - knows them both ten paces away with a stack of books covering her face, obscuring the pictures. That's how many times I have curled up and pressed play.

Gravitation was the first BL anime I watched and the first whole anime series that I ever bought. It was a bootleg, which I found out to my dismay years later, but I watched it diligently with crappy Japanese to Chinese to English translated subs. From there on I bought more and more series (not bootlegs!), with my meagre allowance. So Gravitation is my gateway anime when it comes to buying series, and a good anime to have a few laughs and share with other minded BL fans.

I think that more people should re-watch the shows that they love. Too many people watch anime and scarf it down in a sugary rush. Then they come down from their high and don't care about it anymore. It takes a few watches to catch everything and really enjoy something. Anime should not be the disposable medium that it has become. It makes me sad for the future of anime and wary about the future quality of programs if all people want is instant satisfaction.


From Daniella Orihuela-Gruber:

Princess Tutu. It's such a seemingly innocent anime, it pushes you away with its promises of floofy shoujo bubbles and un-manly ballet scenes. Even the most avid shoujo fan would probably brush it off for a talked up series like Vampire Knight.

When I first started watching this series in my anime club, none of us really knew what to expect. I was excited more because I love ballet than anything else, but it eventually blew away the ENTIRE club away. We even had fully-grown men, one with multiple black belts, squealing for Princess Tutu every week.

Why? Because underneath all the magical girl stuff lies a well-written, action-packed show, expressed through ballet's beautiful and precise dance moves and stories. It's a show that had everyone rising with it's ups and crashing with it's downs and laughing at all the zany characters that show up. The only other time I saw such a response from the club was at the ending of the week's episode of Gankutsuou when we were hit with another unbearable cliffhanger. Even the ending of the show was good. It did not leave the series to wrap up nicely in a happy, totally deus ex machina ending where everyone gets the things they've been dreaming of since the beginning of the series, but found a more realistic ending (well, for a fantasy series...) that tugs at your tear glands, but reassures you everything will be O.K.

A few months after we finished the show, I found the entire series for sale online and snapped it up. (And I can tell you now, I rarely buy anime due to all my money being spent on manga) Since then, about two years ago, I've shown the series to about 5 different friends and watched most of it, and sometimes all of it, through with them. They all absolutely adored it and the show hasn't gotten old for me yet, I still feel my spirit's lift along with Ahiru's and feel Mytho's pain as he regains the painful emotions inbedded in his literally shattered heart. It's inspired me creatively in many ways and makes me wish I had stuck with my ballet lessons as a little girl.

Sure, Princess Tutu does not have Kamina-esque displays of manliness, ninjas, samurai or giant mechs, but it's a solid fantasy/action anime that is passed over for the more popular shows.


From "DarkSheWolf":

Well lets see I can start off with Eureka Seven which I have watched over 3 times, once in Japanese and twice in English. I loved the show, it had a great mix of action, mecha and romance. 

Fullmetal Alchemist about 3 to 4 times, I'm a huge fan and own both the TV episodes and the movie.

Marmalade Boy. Its a great love story with lots of comedy and had a good amount of drama.

Robotech. I'm currently rewatching it, this will be my second time. I'm watching it again because it was the first anime I watched as a kid and I wanted to relive my youth(guess that makes me one of the older crowd).

Fruit Baskets. Because my sister had me buy it for her for her birthday and now I have seen the whole show about 4 times. I like the story line and can never seem to get bored of the show.

Aquarion. I have watched twice. I borrowed it from a friend and then ended up buying it for myself. The mecha fights are good and I love the comedy aspect of it.

D.N.Angel. Hummm, I just like it.

Please Teacher!.  Its just to funny for words.  I had to watch this one twice just to see all of their expressions.

Well thats a few of them, there are a lot more anime out there that I watch over 2x each.  I'm one of the otaku who enjoy watching the same anime twice.  I even enjoy watching the shows in both Japanese (with subs) and in English.  I feel I gain even more by watching the shows in both languages


Finally, from Chris Rivers:

I'll actually relatively often watch a full series that I've seen before or at least watch certain episodes again of series I have on my hdd or on DVD.  There are the shows on [adult swim] that I've seen multiple times just caused they've been replayed so many times such as, FLCL, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Trigun, Ghost in the Shell, FMA, etc, which doesn't bother me cause all those are great shows.  FLCL being my absolute favorite which I love to rewatch every now and then and a few months ago I bought the Anime Legends edition of Cowboy Bebop so I've rewatched a bit of that on DVD.  Most recent one I've rewatched was Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid.  That time I had stayed home from work cause I was sick with the worst allergies I had all season.  I ended up lieing in med and cause I had just recently bought the season box set on dvd I put in disc one and ended up watching the whole season straight through.  I've seen NGE, Full Metal Panic!, Rurouni Kenshin, Please Teacher!, ROD OVA, Elfen Lied, Inuyasha each multiple times just to name a few.  Then there are the shows where I haven't rewatched the whole season, but I come back to it every now and then and rewatch either a few episodes or maybe a specific arc.  I've rewatched the last 4 or 5 episodes of Beck a bunch of times as well as a couple episodes of Ouran (even rewatched those specific episodes of Ouran the day after I finished the whole series cause they were that good).  Or occasionally I'll hit up the Sasuke Rescue Arc of Naruto since I consider that to the best arc of all of Naruto

Most of the time I rewatch one of these it's either cause I'm just bored and have nothing else to do or want to watch something I know is good.  Same reason why I'll rewatch a few episodes of Family Guy every now and then.  Sometimes that's a bit easier to do since there isn't a cohesive narrative in Family Guy like a lot of anime, but still the same idea.  Or it may just be a series that I haven't seen in a long time.  A few years back I kinda randomly decided to rewatch the entire first season of Digimon.  Before that the last time I had seen it was probably 4+ years.  I remember it being pretty good, and the only good Digimon series (at least more towards the second half).  It was part nostalgia cause I remember watching that on Saturday mornings with the rest of the Saturday cartoon lineup.

Most series that I watch tend to just be put off the side for good once I'm finished with them cause they either weren't that great or just not something I would want to watch again.  Then there are my favorites that I just know I'll still enjoy it just as much the 2nd or 3rd time around as I did the 1st time I watched them.


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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