Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy, Nov 21st 2008


Welp, it's been one heckuva long week and I am ready to waste my weekend escaping from zombie hordes in a totally safe, completely electronic environment. Let's get this over with so I can crawl back to the warm glow of my Xbox.

I was reading through your latest column, or ummm, the one with nothing but Answerfan responses, and I kept noticing something people were saying that just irritated me.  It's something I've seen many times before as well.  Basically, when talking about Fansubbers, several different people were talking about the quality of various fansub groups and how some are much better than others.  Specifically, they made mention of how some groups are doing a really good job and are very accurate in their work, translations, and/or how they accurately reflect how the character is talking, etc...

I'm sorry, but I have to ask...  Just how do these people know if the Fansubbers are getting it right or not?  This has been bugging me for a while and I figured I'd send this email to you to see what you thought.  When people say fansubbers are good at translating, or in some cases, they are even better than the companies...  How do they know this?  I can't imagine very many people at all know enough Japanese to be able to effectively back-up this claim.  I just don't understand how/why they can say this in their arguments.  I understand if you like a particular fansub group or think they are doing a good job, but unless you yourself have taken many, many years of Japanese, it would be impossible for you to know for sure if they are actually doing the good job you think they are.

Sorry to get so riled-up about it, I just don't think people should be arguing that point unless they can actually back-up what they are saying with experience and proof.  What's your take on this?

It's just annoying fanboy posturing. They want to seem elite and appear as though they know better, so they complain about something like translation quality even when they don't speak a word of Japanese. I've asked people complaining about translation quality if they spoke the language, and when they inevitably reply 'no', (or more commonly 'I've picked up a lot of Japanese just by watching anime!', which is bullshit - yeah, you can pick up a little, but not near enough to be considered a credible judge of translation quality) they tell me it's just a "gut feeling" or "instinct". I'm sorry, translation is a fluid and technical skill - it isn't something you can judge either positively or negatively based on a gut feeling. You either speak Japanese and are qualified to tell me whether or not the translation is accurate or you're not and you can only judge the grammar and spelling of the English used. Which, to be fair, is what some are actually complaining about, but mostly it's a generic 'the translation sucks!' complaint that has nothing behind it besides a bunch of elitist fan posturing.

It's funny, really. A lot of younger fans will complain about commercial subtitles when they're not loaded up with swear words or untranslated names and locations (ever try to get through a midseason Bleach episode fansubbed? It seems like half the dialogue is untranslated), and claim that they're inaccurate as a result. I'm convinced this is all part of a defense mechanism that protects the meme that 'these shows are really for adults!' because the fans subtitling them have filled the translation with phrases and words that teenagers think 'mature' people say. So basically, they're not watching a show for kids, you see, about a plucky ninja who learns life lessons about friendship in between magical ninja battles, because someone drops an F-bomb
every few sentences, and if the commercial translation doesn't have all that stuff, that means the American companies don't know what they're doing and don't understand the show blah blah blah yadda yadda.

    I am planning to host a panel for the first at an anime convention on yuri. Part of my presentation will be showing clips of shows that are examples of yuri. When I choose which clips to show, should my clips only show yuri, or should they show the entire gist of the show (so that fans can tell which show might appeal to them more outside the yuri). That aside, do you have any tips for general panel hosting?

Honestly, don't clutter your panel up with a whole lot of videos - average panel length is around 50 minutes or so which really isn't much when you think about it; I'd only use clips that directly illustrate the point you're trying to make. If all you're doing is trying to sell the audience on a handful of yuri titles then you'd be better off just running a trailer reel rather than actually giving a presentation on the genre.

Running convention panels is a ton of fun, provided the audience is having a good time and you show up prepared, which is the most important thing. Make sure you have an outline of how you want the panel to progress, and have a variety of topics to touch on that will fuel the discussion. Showing up expecting to "wing it" is going to blow up in your face and you'll wind up sitting on stage in an awkward silence with an increasingly bored audience wondering what they're doing there. So be ready.

You also want to engage the audience as much as possible - encourage questions, and give detailed answers. It also helps if you're as friendly and loose as possible - I've watched panels before where the panelists all seemed like humorless nerds with sticks lodged somewhere unpleasant and the result was a very stuffy, boring panel that people slowly filed out of. So keep it loose; remember, these people are there to have fun and maybe learn a little something.

Always make yourself available after the panel, too. If you did a decent job people will want to speak to you afterward and maybe ask questions; be sure to guide whoever you're talking to out of the room so you're not disrupting the panel that's on after you, but do make the time to talk to anyone who wants to ask you some post-panel questions. All it does is generate goodwill and will make them want to come back and see what you've got to say next time.

Oh, and don't get stage fright. It's just a bunch of like-minded fans and you; generally you're not going to speaking to more than 50 people, and it's not at all a hostile audience, so just relax and have fun.

And now for a softball!

Just out of curiosity, what is the typical number of responses you get to any single question of the week?

Depends entirely on the question.

If the question's too complicated or requires too much explanation, I'll get tops 40-50 replies. If the question can be answered with a list, or a simple 200 word reply about an anime they like (or dislike), between 100 and 200 responses.

If I ask a question that involves any sort of creativity, or lengthy personal stories, or opportunities to brag a little, I'll get upwards of 500 replies or more. The most popular questions flood my inbox for a week solid and then some. I could probably publish a book just using the mountain of unpublished Answerfans questions.



You spelled my name wrong there, churchy.

Mr. Bertchy ,

I read your "answer" to the third question last week where you wrote a very violent story about the "anime apocalypse". I am writing to you to say that I was offended by that and you should not make fun of the bible. you need to be more careful about what you write in the future and I will not be reading this article any more.

Sincerely, Ned Flanders.



This bunny is channeling my emotion right now.





Last week for whatever reason people missed the line right above the question that said that I knew it was a repeat question and I'm asking it again because people really seemed to enjoy writing on the subject.

What I got instead was a flood of people telling me I'd already asked the question as though I'd made some hideous blunder and was not aware that I'd already asked the question. Here's a little tip: if you're going to complain about something or offer corrections or tell me I'm a huge dumbass, make sure you've actually read the entire article before doing so. As a result of that incredibly annoying outcome, I'm skipping last week's Answerfans and we're starting over again. Here you go:




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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