Hey, Answerman!

by Brian Hanson, Jun 19th 2009

I know it's only been a week, but- it's good to be back. It all feels so comfortable at this point, very structured. I can ease into it gently rather than scramble around all week trying to think of interesting things to say and publish when I first started this, and now that confidence hopefully shows up in the work I'm doing every week. Hopefully this won't lead to me having a swollen, bloated ego that alienates my audience. But that won't happen! I'm so damn good at this and, dare I say, perfect in every other regard in my life.

I mean, as you can see, my perfectly constructed non-transparent lie is proof of my ability to sarcastically self-deprecate in lieu of anything to mention of substance in the introduction! Pretty brilliant.


Dear Answerman, why did you tell that person not to self-publish last week?

I don't know how to contact any publishing houses, and I think self-publishing is my only choice. My stories and art are "okay", but I know I'm not good enough to get published and be commercially successful. I was going to post my stories on a website and if I garnered a following, I thought I'd try to sell some character merchandise on CafePress. Is there something wrong with that plan?

I told the gentleman/woman/person last week NOT to self-publish because the context of the question was very different. He asked about how to get hired as a writer in the animation industry, which, as an increasingly important and profitable component of the entertainment industry, *requires* you to get published and be commercially successful. To that end, producers and executives that seek out new writers see self-publishing as a sign of vanity at best, and a sign of creative forfeiture at worst. It doesn't matter if you're channeling J.D. Salinger himself; if you're self-published, and you want to further your career and party on a rocket boat with Joe Eszterhas, self-publishing, aside from a few rare instances, is looked at as a complete joke. I'm not saying this situation is correct, because it isn't, but it is part of the sad and true ways of the world.

Now, back to what YOU'RE talking about: Yes! Go self-publish as much as you feel the need to. Go nuts, explore things, do crazy things, interesting things, all kinds of things that you wanna write about and slap them online for whoever you feel wants to read them. If you're just looking for a fun creative exercise, then self-publish everything you have. I strongly encourage that, because myself and other like-minded people love to read new, interesting things that normally wouldn't get within 10,000 yards of a major publishing house.

Just don't expect it to make you a millionaire, though. But who wants to be a shallow phony, anyway? Get out there and write to your heart's conceivable content!


Hey there answerman! A recent fiasco involving lolicon became quite a topic of discussion here. Not too long after that, the case of Christopher Handley came to a close. If you are not fully familiar with the case, he was caught with possession of lolicon ero manga that be ordered from Japan. In America, possession of lolicon material is criminal. The case came to a close and Handley now faces 15 years in prison as well as a $250,000 fine.

Now we all know your opinions on loli manga and we all know that in America it is illegal to have any depiction of children engaged in sexual activity. However, I wanted to know exactly what you felt about this case in particular. Just because you don't personally like loli ero or the lolicons that read them does not mean that you are ignorant, hopefully.

I had to really edit this question down because it went on and on, espousing the author's personal stake in this case to great and, honestly, disturbing lengths. Although I really like the way he frames the question, flat-out stating that if I respond a certain way that I am "ignorant." Cute.

Okay. Deep breath.

The ruling for this case is wrong, disturbing, and dangerous. The sad fact is that it's not at all without precedent; in fact, this is yet one more in a string of trumped up, bull**** "obscenity" charges stemming from the unjustified fear and anxiety from a group of people who are abusing one of the most nebulous, ill-defined letters of US law. Personally speaking, I think that having a law against "obscenity" is contradictory, BECAUSE WE HAVE THE FIRST AMENDMENT. Better men than me have fought and died to protect the notion of free speech, as it applies both to myself as well as things that I find disgusting, immoral, and reprehensible.

"Obscenity" laws have failed, time and time again, and their opponents ranged from Allen Ginsberg, Robert Mapplethorpe, and 2 Live Krew. The difference with this case, and why it's sad but not unsurprising to me that Mr. Handley was sentenced, is that it's a fairly easy argument to win that Ginsberg, Mapplethorpe, and even 2 Live Krew are "artistic works of merit." I can't think of any lawyer who's going to be able to convince a random US jury that a crate of loli porn is on the same artistic plane as Howl, The Perfect Moment, and Me So Horny. And because they couldn't charge the guy on actual Child Pornography laws, they resorted to the usual cheap trick of the obscenity trial.

Hopefully Mr. Handley seeks an appeal, and hopefully fine organizations like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and others can find a way to stem this unfortunate tide of knee-jerk "culture war" nonsense. Let's use the First Amendment, not fight it.

It's too bad that I'm championing the good fight for a guy that collects icky disgusting loli porn, but that's how it goes. Not every "obscenity" case can be for honest heroes, like Lenny Bruce or whatever. Win some, lose some.


Hello-

I am the Special Projects Coordinator for the Robeson County Public Library System. We would love to continue to offer the children of our rural community fun and exciting reading materials, but due to recent budget constraints that is almost impossible.. Our community is the third poorest county in the United States making us the poorest in North Carolina, and with these tough economic times the children of our area are the ones who are suffering. Your books would be perfect for our collection giving the children something to look forward to when entering our doors. Would you ever consider donating any of your titles to help us? Any amount would help and greatly be appreciated..

Thank you for your time, consideration and the devotion to our children.

Man, talk about your odd transitions; going straight from loli porn to donating books to children. Think of it as a palette-cleanser.

Anyway, since we here at ANN don't actually publish anime or manga itself, I directed this letter to Evelyn Dubocq, Viz's PR person extraordinaire, because I know that Viz (as well as Tokyopop, Del Rey, and others) do a wonderful service to school libraries nationwide by donating truckloads of age-appropriate titles every year, and I thought it'd be neat to remind everybody about some of the genuinely nice things this little hobby of hours is capable of:

As a publisher of many children's titles, Viz Media has always been a strong supporter of all literacy campaigns and efforts. We have donated many, many titles to libraries and reading programs across the country, especially this past year, which has been a tough one for all. Most recently we began a program donating Volume 1 of the NARUTO Chapter books to libraries across the country with Saturday afternoon reading programs.

Often times, if we find we have a surplus of books and would like to initiate the donation we reach out to organizations such as the ALA for direction on what libraries might be in need, so it's always a good idea to speak with the ALA and other similar organizations to get information programs that publishers may have in place.

Best Regards-

Evelyn Dubocq
Sr. Director, Public Relations
Viz Media

Thanks, Evelyn! And now, back to less enlightening and incredibly trivial matters.




Hey wait a minute... are you really the same guy who used to do Win Answerman's Stuff? If so then you should do it again because that was cool. And put up better cute animal pictures because frankly your drawing skills suck worse than a black hole. If you're not that guy and really *are* a black hole, then I'm sorry. Please don't eat me.

Congratulations, son! You've just won some of Answerman's stuff RIGHT NOW! I had an idea for a stupid drawing that I was putting off for a while, but it was YOUR email that gave me the justification to do it. It's all yours!





It's Answerfans' time! Allow me to callously give up my throne for a brief moment and let the readers share their respective peace on this here issue:


Noah oozes this answer:

While music, style, and animation obviously each have their own place in an opening, what I need to see the most is to have the music and the animation work together. For instance, Code Geass switched up the opening about 4 or 5 times in the first season, and while I enjoyed the first one quite a bit, each one following it got progressively worse. The music didn't really sync up with the action on screen. Another problem with the Geass openings was also random sequences which is another problem in a lot of openings (in Geass this would be every shot of either Lelouche riding a horse or a shot of Jupiter, sunrises favorite planet.)

An example of an incredible opening to me is Bouken Desho Desho from Haruhi Suzumiya. First of all the song is catchy and fits with the show, but whats better is the fact that the animation works perfectly with the music. In the beginning Haruhi is walking in step with the beat of the music, and later on while she and Mikuru cheerlead to the lyrics Kyon is there to facepalm at the end of the line (although even Haruhi ends up with some random piano playing near the end of the song.)

I'm also going to have to give accolades to Higurashi no Naku Koro ni for the opening fitting incredibly with the show. Instead of having some random J-pop song it has a very creepy opening with very creep music which is the perfect setting for the show.

Lastly the perfect example of the ultimate blend of style, animation, and music has to go to, of course, Cowboy Bebop. Samurai Champloo comes in at a close second but Bebop takes the cake. With a song that basically defines the series, the music is spot on. The animation was simple but effective, showing off all the characters exactly as they are. Finally, style. Style just oozes out of the opening for Bebop. Each segment is a carefully orchestrated string of animations which just makes you think "Damn, this show is cool."

As a final note I'm going to throw out props for Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei and Trigun for also having outstanding openings, and I'm out!

Bettina is the best, around, nothin's ever gonna keep her down:

I would have to say it's mostly about the music.

Sure, some seizure-inducing background stuff is good, too. But when it comes right down to it, you're not actually watching the intro, are you? I never do -- I've seen it before and I know I'll be able to see it again, so I generally browse some blogs and hum along with the song.

Years later, I can still hum out a few bars of "Inner Universe" ("Ghost in the Shell SAC"), contribute the occasional "oli, oli!" to "GO!" (second Naruto opening) and the only part I've really liked so far about FMA2 is "Again." Also, who CAN'T at least begin with, "I want to be the VERY BEST, the BEST there EVER WAS..."?

...On the flipside, get a earful of the "One Piece" English opening dub.

Going back to sane territory, the opening does say a lot about the anime. Whether or not it's a lurid collage of cool images with some nice metal (Death Note opening 1 (and 2)) or a peaceful piano-and-vocals melody (Fruits Basket, or maybe Princess Tutu), the opening really says whether you'll like it or not.

Veers enjoys his tunes:

Since most anime OP are essentially AMV, the music is what ultimately seals the deal one way or the other. Even if it's a show I really love, even if the style and animation are cool, even if the music "fits", if I can't stand the tune, I won't watch it. Good examples here are Mushishi, K-ON, and some of Soul Eater's intros. On the other hand, if the music is good but the visual side doesn't stand out, I'll still let it play to hear the music, such as with Haibane Renmei or the recent Phantom's intro. And of course sometimes there are those that combine a good tune with nice visuals to create a memorable package, like Ergo Proxy, Tweeny Witches, Cowboy Bebob, Baccano!, Dennou Coil, or Eden of the East.

Personally my favorite type of intro is the kind rarely employed by shows and more often used by films--the kind of intro that isn't a dedicated modular intro; the kind that you can't really skip because it's integrated into the feature itself. Good examples of this are the intro to Karas and the intro to Kara no Kyoukai's fourth film, an almost two minute segment that introduces, establishes, serenades, intrigues, and leads into the rest of the film in a streamlined manner, all without a single spoken word.

ARIA also did something along these lines with its intros that were essentially part of the actual episode, often even with dialog as the intro credits breezed by with the opening song. Bonus points are awarded for intros that gain more and more meaning as the story progresses; I really love an intro that I can continue to find little details in that relate to the story as it moves along (Dennou Coil again is a good example of this).

So, while a stylish intro with nice animation and a tune I like is going to be my favorite kind, it's the music, regardless of language, that decides my tolerance for any opening segment of an anime.

EyeResist isn't quite right in the notion that the series director "chooses" the opening song, but this isn't supposed to be my segment so I'm shutting up now:

When I watch an anime opening, I do so with an eye to gauging the quality of the series as a whole. Given opening sequences are usually created by different directors and even different studios, the visuals are only of limited use here. The music choice, however, is (ultimately) made by the series director, and usually is a strong indicator of his attitude to the show. A bland, unmemorable pop tune shows a lack of imagination, indicating a bland, unmemorable show. A catchy, original song indicates that the director has good taste, or at least takes these "minor" matters seriously - either option bodes well for whatever commences when the opening credits end.

I now know how to seduce Troy if I ever get the chance:

I often read your column, and find the answerfan questions an interesting part of it, but have never felt compelled to write in on a topic before. This time I think I will, however, because the opening of an anime is often the only part I will watch before judging a show as worthy of my time investment. To me, the opening must be spot on in both capturing the spirit of the show, but my attention. Usually, it's the music. A lot of times, when I am checking out a new show, I visually tune out the openings, turning my attention to other tasks. However, if the opening has amazing music like Cowboy Bebop or a fun, catchy song like Stellvia of the Universe, it can snap my focus right back to the show.

Bring me my music, my songs, my audio and you can get away with a lot. I recently watched through the series One Outs, a show where I was not too fond of the character designs, I found parts of the story laughable and normally would have dropped it after a few episodes. I stuck with it though, because it's opening song was a blast to me. Sung completely in Engrish, I often found myself singing along with it for no discernible reason then I found it fun.

My point in this rambling diatribe is that the music makes the opening for me. A show can be highly tauted, commercially successful and highly popular, but if the music doesn't catch on with me, I have zero interest in the show. An example of this would be Death Note which I watched until the overly dramatic scenes with Light writing while people die. The music was so over the top that I lost all interest, lost in the ridiculously poorly placed music.

Bring me in through music and I'm yours baby.

Kitty, I should let you know that "Blobbish Box With the Lop-Sided Bow" will be the name of my autobiography:

What makes for an interesting anime opening? Hhhhmmmm… I will say that you were right in the three suggestions that you picked (music, animation, style) but really it's not one over any of the others but a combo of the three, and it's when you get the right combo that you make something that people won't be skipping with their right shoulder buttons. (Or whatever dvd player button does that) I remember as a younger child watching mid 90's anime like Escaflowne, Utena, Evagalion, even Cardcaptor Sakura when I was able to get my hands on the subbed DVD's and really being captivated but the melody while at the same time being bombarded with the more poignant pieces to the stories overall theme. Especially when the theme is written for show that it's opening. Anime show of today seem to take their openings from the popular J-rockers of the same general genre. Which is all fine and dandy, but it kind of seems impersonal as the characters just slide across the screen is a pose or fight none descript baddie in a sunset covered backdrop. With the music being the focus the balance is lost and soon you lose the audiences interest, much like when you have to listen to the same song being played on the radio over and over. So really it comes down to how well does everything fit together and make the wrapping that will lead me into the present I'm about to rip open. Yes the blobbish box with the lop-sided bow will more than likely have a wonderful surprise inside full of someone's hard work and love, but really I will probably go for the brightly wrapped box with the articulated ribbon work and detailed little name card first.

I'll be damned, Ian. Wait, no- SIR Ian:

Openings are about conveying theme and tone. I would say this is best done with a smart piece of music and a good stylish design. Less can be more, we (I'll be royal here) don't need some high end animation that will put the rest of the show to shame; we need to know that this is going to be cool and hip or dark and sorrowful ... whatever. In the end those shows that take a K.I.S.S. approach to openers are generally my favorite.

Don't stop and pause in front of Alcina:

Being a fan of anime, openings are important to me because

a. they catch my attention, and can sometimes hook me into a show I had no intention of watching
b. they provide great listening material afterwards

I don't speak or understand japanese, so lyrics don't do much for me, and I rarely look them up. The biggest issue I have with openings is that some fall into using the same imagery. The FMA openings are great- but the only one I remember is the one that goes with "READY STEADY GO" by L'Arc-En-Ciel. Why? It's catchy, the imagery is great, and it won't get irritating even if I listen to it a lot. Other memorable openings include Gurren Lagann OP1, and the first opening to Detective Conan. Some shows I always watch the openings, others, I skip after the first time.

I really don't like when they do the stop-pause thing, like when a character is, say walking, and then there's a close-up of their face. This does nothing for the watcher if it is used too many times.

So, for me, creative sequences that are not cliche, good music that won't make you puke after the third episode, are paramount. Style for me is irrelevant- it's what they're trying to convey about the story that is.

Chaz has succinct input. A little too succinct, actually; extrapolate, man!

The best openings have something that changes in an interesting way so I want to watch it rather than just skipping it to save time like I often end up doing.

Alright! Good responses from you folks, and one that I was kinda tempted to write in and answer myself under a fake name. But that wouldn't be very professional and ultimately pointless.

Moving on, here below in this little .jpeg-y boxy thing is the question for next week, O humble Answer-fans.




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.

That's it, then! I'm out! Normally I would purposefully leave on a low note with a self-consciously lame joke, but I chose instead to simply leave with just the self-conscious part. See you next week!


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