Hey, Answerman!

by Brian Hanson, Mar 12th 2010

Hey guys! I'm low on time so I'm not wasting any effort trying to come up with an intro today. There's questions afoot:


Hey Answerman! I have a question about breaking into the anime business: screenwriting. I'm interested in writing dubbed scripts for anime in the US, but where should I start? I'm still in high school, and looking to major in Creative Writing or English. Should I also study Japanese if I'm looking to write English scripts based on Japanese scripts? And when I'm looking for a job in the field in the future, what should I expect?

Wow, it's a new take on the "I want to work in the anime industry" question! And not one that I completely know the answer to, to be frank.

Mainly because, well... as I'm sure you may have noticed, anime dubs themselves have scaled back a bit as of late. There's simply not as many titles being released in general, and companies like Right Stuf and the newly-formed NIS America aren't too keen on spending the tens of thousands of dollars to dub certain titles that aren't guaranteed to turn a profit.

And that basically means that the specific number of jobs out there to write and adapt ADR scripts for anime dubs has waned significantly. And the other sad thing is, if you simply look at the credits, you'll notice that, with a few certain exceptions, there's no ONE person who is in charge of JUST writing the ADR scripts - those scripts are, by and large, written by the ADR directors or the producers, or both. And those ADR directors and producers - I'm thinking of the likes of Taliesin Jaffe, Jonathan Klein, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, et al - tend to rise from the ranks of the voiceover world.

So, sadly, no, Japanese skills wouldn't really help you to land a gig writing scripts for dubs. Japanese knowledge would certainly help if you wanted to write subtitle scripts, of course. But, I'm afraid that ADR scripts tend to come from the bevy of eager but overworked voiceover talent pool, who tend to look after their own. And I'm not condemning that, either - it's just the way that little cottage industry works. I can think of a few examples though of companies reaching out to outside writers to "punch up" the dub scripts, like the Studio Ghibli dubs or Shin-chan, but those are the exceptions that prove the rule.

Of course if writing dub scripts is still something you really, really want to do, then I think my best advice would be to look into doing some acting, because that's where the whole thing starts. If you stick with it and you work hard enough, you never know what'll happen. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?


Hey Answerman, do you think that the rest of the Haruhi Suzumiya light novels will be released in America? I first got into the franchise with them, since I like to watch the source material of a franchise before I watch more recent entries. Anyhow, Japan's got like, ten novels, and in America, the time between the release of the 2nd and 3rd Haruhi novels is going to be seven months, which concerns me a bit. Even if Japan stops at whatever novel they're on, that live-action Evangelion movie will probably be released by the time all of the Haruhi novels are released in English. I just hope Yen Press doesn't end up doing with Haruhi the same thing that ADV Manga did with Yotsuba&! a few years back, or fans will really feel like they're stuck in the so-called "Endless Eight". I'd also really like to know if these long gaps in the releases is normal, or if there's something going on that I don't know about.

Will we get all of the Haruhi Suzumiya novels? That depends on you. And by you I mean all of you, internet. Or to be less coy about it, it depends on how well they sell. Which, currently, looks promising; Yen Press seems pleased by how well the Haruhi novels are selling, so there's no reason to be too worried about the series being discontinued, at least for the time being.

And I know the wait seems long and pointless, but you have to remember that there's a whole bunch of marketing considerations that publishers have to negotiate with retailers when they're trying to sell a book to actual bookstores, instead of online retailers like Amazon. According to whatever nutty marketing mathematical juju the publishers and the retailers came up with, it simply made more economical sense to space the intervening novels out in that way.

Sometimes you gotta have patience, man. But so long as you keep buying them, they'll keep releasing them.


So, I've been warming up to the idea of watching anime again after a long time of not watching it. The problem is, I don't know what to watch since I haven't heard of any anime frequently recommended. So do you think there's an anime that can rekindle my interest in it?

I could list off a dozen or so titles just right now but it would be sort of folly - mainly because I have incredibly strange taste and I would make you watch something bizarre like Kemonozume. There are dozens of shows and movies and one-offs out there, even outside of the current spate of moe-fart garbagefests that comprise the majority of anime's output, that you might dig depending on if you're in the mood for it. But that's kind of hard to gauge over the internet.

The one title I would recommend though, to just about anybody for any reason, would be Eden of the East. Just because the show is utter quality, through and through - it starts out strong, the characters are interesting and well-developed, the animation is great, the music is great, and even though it has a really strange and grotesque subplot in the middle that had me perplexed, it all ties itself up at the end. Eden of the East is definitely the most recent show I can think of, that and Baccano!, where I was watching it and thinking, "Oh, yeah, this is why I like this stuff."

So, run with that for now, and hopefully that rekindles some of that interest.




Sometimes I just don't know.

Brian Hanson's a ***, and so is Kayne West, shooting hot ***** on each others CHEST...!!!! Death to all but metal!





Is it time for Hey, Answerfans? Oh, good God, it is!

Here's what I asked y'all last time:


Rednal begins impatiently

I generally try to get things as quickly as possible... constrained only by my budget. The only thing that really slows me down is when the stores don't actually have things in stock, in which case I have to either wait for them to be in stock or order online. I know most of my purchases well before they're actually available, so it isn't usually too difficult to plan purchases out. My most random purchases tend to be at Conventions, which are almost always based on what's available there. If I were less lazy, though, and didn't have that general desire to check items out in person, I'd shop around for the best deals online for every purchase...

Whisper Doll enjoys her well-disciplined light:

Finding the titles I want at a good price adds to my fun as a collector, so I'm definitely patient when it comes to collecting. I'm lucky in that I live near bookshops that sell anime and manga either second-hand or remaindered. Sooner or later, the series I want shows up on their shelves at a lower-than-retail price.

I'm also taking the time to read/watch what I already have. I, uh, went a little crazy, at one point, so I have some catching up to do. All good deals, mind you, but I was collecting faster than I was viewing, so I felt like I wasn't really enjoying my purchases.

After presenting myself in such a well-disciplined light, I should admit that only one series I'm now following is in current release. I still exercise patience, however. I wait for the latest manga volume to come into my favourite comic shop, because it offers a good discount to its members. I also wait to buy the anime as a season's box set, rather than as individual DVDs, but that's more of a control issue: only I will decide how long I wait between episodes.

The aptly-named Safety promotes healthy spending habits:

I have had to learn to be patient, and to explain, I have to delve into some history (sorry, young people), and this is more of a manga story. When I first re-discovered manga several years back, I would go crazy trying to find the newest things – bookstore distro was sometimes hit or miss as the market was so rapidly expanding, and I remember running to three or four stores trying to find the latest volume of whatever I was passionate about at that moment. Eventually the sheer volume of what I was buying necessitated me to find a more economical solution. For a while I used a comic book store, I'm very orderly and enjoyed filling out those Previews forms, and that system with its fairly accurate delivery dates was really nice and sated my “GOTTA HAVE IT NOW!!” monster. But to keep the discount, I had to buy more books than I was reading, and that quickly became a less viable option.

For a while I split between a website, and buying a lot again at B&M stores – online for steady favorites but B&M for those books that I was just jumping to read and didn't mind paying full retail for to get NOW. But then… my options started drying up. Media Play closed. Waldenbooks started disappearing. The Barnes & Noble in my area never had a great selection and featured some of the most baffling shelving I've ever encountered, so Borders was my default. Then, after the market was no longer growing at astronomical rates, the number of titles was scaled back. Oh, sure, there were 10 copies of the newest Naruto, which is justified given its numbers. But for those “lesser” titles – Kaze Hikaru, anything from CMX? – gone! Sure, they offered some sort of online ordering but at full MSRP? No thank you. I'm not a business person, so I don't understand the decision to give up on the midlist stock store-wide when that's what a bookstore has to differentiate itself from Wal-Mart who pushes below-cost bestsellers – it seems like it's just giving a segment of the market over to Amazon et al.

So I learned to love delays when saving enough money. RightStuf now supplies 95% of my manga. The only thing I beat a swift path to Borders for is something that's popular enough for them to carry – Fullmetal Alchemist, Fruits Basket - that I just don't want to wait on because I love the story so much. I tend to try volume 1s there if it's something I wasn't familiar with back during pre-order time. Otherwise, I wait. I make orders as smart as possible during studio sales, but sometimes, I am caught waiting out the 45 days between shipments thing but hey, where else am I going to find some of this stuff? Being a manga reader in 2010 versus 2005 means being patient, but at least I'm saving a nice chunk of money, even if I don't get to read Nodame Cantabile out in the parking lot outside of Borders anymore. It's a trade-off, but at least I can still get the books. After the contraction in the market I'm glad for that, at least. At least that's what I tell the “GOTTA HAVE IT NOW!!” monster. ^__^

Otaking09 is droppin' rhymes and droppin' mottos:

"Patience is a virtue" Can't tell you how many times I've heard that! But when it comes to niche merchandise, you're gonna have to drop that motto... Especially since NIS America will release series for a "limited time"(!?) Considering how things were since I started this fascination(Summer 2007), compared to how different stuff is now, one can only feel... nostalgic. I wish, that I knew what I know about anime everything back when I started, because not only was I under the impression that anime would always be available like DVD movies, but I also believed that they dubbed everything that was released here! I know. I was weak... "...the money I could've saved...", "...the shows that I could've collected..." are some thoughts cross my mind whenever I think back to when Geneon and ADV was still around (God bless their souls...)

However, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and knowing that these treasures won't be around forever on both DVD "AND" the Internet, I've rounded up all my exp. into this practice purchasing: The 4 criteria: Hype, Reception, Price, and Me.

Knowing how much series has been released, how much has still stuck around, how much still sells, AND how I rate anime series themselves, has prompted me to develop this method of biding time until necessary. An example: Viz released Death Note in 4 ep-vol. The show has "good" hype, appreciative reception, a bit pricey on the vol., and I liked it alright. How long do I wait? I wait for a compilative release. Why? The hype/reception ensures that others will buy despite the price, and all I have to do is wait it out. An opposite situation was when I purchased 1st Gundam Vol. 1, back when copies were affordable. Had I known that it wasn't the most hyped Gundam available in the US, I wouldn't have a lone vol. crying out for it's siblings. This last Christmas, I went with my feeling that Sgt. Frog won't be around in it's entirety, and subsequently purchased both sets for a great deal @RightStuf!

While this method isn't perfect, it has been working well, for the past months. Side-effects include paranoia over series that I like, that I still haven't purchased the entirety of, that are not selling well in the U.S. (Kodocha, and Marmalade Boy are prime examples of this). Ultimately, it isn't too hard for me to predict which shows will stay and survive long enough for me to get my hands on it. As long as I remember the criteria, I'm fine.

Jean is a great person who donates to the library:

For manga series, they're divided into two categories: the ones that I buy and the ones that I borrow from the library (budgetary concerns). If I buy them, they have to be bought immediately. If they're the ones I borrow, I don't usually mind waiting a few months, unless it turns out there's one copy in the system and 25 people ahead of me, in which case I have been known to go ahead and buy it and then donate it to the library in the hopes that it'll shorten the wait for at least a few people.

Anime series is a bit more complicated. I tend to buy things that I want to watch, but then not get around to watching it for months, sometimes after which the cheaper thin pack version has come out. So sometimes season one will be individual discs and season two will be the box set, like Tsubasa. Or I'll have two single volumes plus the box set, like Shonen Onmyouji. Sometimes I'll have bought the single discs because of the extras, even after the box has come out, because apparently (from the description) the extras aren't in the box discs, like DNangel. (If anyone says that the extras with Irino Miyu and the rabbit are in the box set version, I probably still won't buy it since it'd be duplication, but I'll be ticked.) Nowadays, when so many series come out as sets to start out with, it's a lot easier to decide to preorder the series as soon as I see it offered. Not like before.

And then there's the series that I bought because they were on sale or likely to be discontinued, just in case I wanted to watch them in the future. Cyber Formula and Law of Ueki are in that category. Fafner would have been, except the discs went out of stock before I got around to buying them when they were on sale. That would be the example of having too much patience.

Missy opines on the nature of bangs vs. bucks:

What can I say, I am all about getting the biggest bang for my buck. I am not going to go out and spend $20-$30 per volume of an anime when within the next year you'll be able to get the season set for around $50. I'm also too impatient. I don't want to watch 3 episodes and then have to wait another month for the next volume. I want to watch it all straight through!

When it comes to manga, though, I buy each volume the moment they are released. I've found that Buy.com has some great deals, often listing titles between $5 and $7. They had a weird fluke in their system at the beginning of February though, and all titles released on 2/2 were not showing up in their system. Their customer service was no help so I rounded up some Borders coupons and some friends and had them help me buy the volumes I wanted in store. (Although distributing the volumes that did not have "racy" covers that they were comfortable taking up to the register was quite amusing!) Of course, I just checked and all those volumes are now listed on Buy.com's site again. It was worth paying an extra $2 per volume though, because I just couldn't wait to read them!!

Mr. Tallman has a method, and it is shrouded in mystery:

I diatribe about how I am a diehard collector to put it simply. However, how I get these gratuitous amounts of manga and anime has confused my peers for the past 10 years. I patiently wait a whole year, and then some, for the biggest east coast anime convention of otaku generation, Otakon! Why? Besides from the rumor that manga is priced to steeply there, I find that saving up cash for a backpack of pure enjoyment is like the holidays in the summer. Just doting on book stores or retailers to drop their prices is similar to waiting for Half-Life 3 to come out. For me, it's not how you get it, its how you buy it. For example:

Most places at Otakon have deals where you can essentially buy a bunch of manga or anime for a lower price at the cost of paying for those extra items. Travelling around the Dealers Room to look for items of interest is another time consuming, patient, and much more rewarding way is to look for anime/manga. An FMA watch caught my eye at $30, but using this method, I was able to buy it for $15! For me, the wait makes your experience better because it roots out the passing fads of the genre and really hits home with the series you want on your shelf for life! Baccano! And Cowboy Bebop Complete Seasons, here I come!

Seth has his logic and his reason:

The allocation of money is always the main factor in when to buy; if I'm going to buy a series or movie eventually, I may as well get it when it's most cheap. While most items are universally more expensive when initially released, a price reduction isn't guaranteed. One must predict if an anime will sell even half decently, and judge whether or not its price will sky-rocket as its production ceases.

If I hadn't bought 5 Centimeters per Second last year, at an even then inflated price tag of 60 dollars, I'd have to pay roughly double that now. As much as I loved that film, I simply did not see that movie being reprinted all too much. On the opposite end, holding off for a few years for Gankutsuou to cost a sixth of its initial price was well worth the wait. I reaped the same success with most every show that seemed like it would sell well.However, one can make mistakes. I never imagined Right Stuf to rerelease Ninja Nonsense in thinpack form, so I lost a bit of money by jumping on the series immediately, though I did get a few nice extras from the initial release.

For me, all it really boils down to is "Can I comfortably wait for a rerelease or price reduction," or "There is no way this will be in stock for long." With no other money eating interests, if I want an anime, I will get it eventually, and in order to maximize my returns, I have to scrutinize each series individually to know if waiting will hurt or help my funds.

And closing it out tonight, Paul remembers the good old days when stupid, huge artboxes with lame tchochkes therein:

Back in '01 I would always get the limited edition vol.1 DVD that came with the artbox. Then I would get each DVD as they were released. For some older series I would just get the boxset. Then in about '06 I started to see thinpacks in stores for a lot cheaper than the boxset or each separate DVD. I remember buying the Gundam Wing boxset for $200 back in '01 then a few years ago I saw that they were rereleased in two separate boxsets for almost 1/3 the total price. Since then I haven't bought a single DVD or boxset since companies will just release the thinpack. Manga on the other hand I get them as they are released. Besides the really popular ones like Bleach, I have never seen a boxset for manga. I used to be impatient with how companies would take so long to release everything but now I just sit in my chair waiting patiently for the day when the thinpack would come out while cursing at them for taking so long with the manga.

I've got a new question for next week, of course.

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...

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It's right here:


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 have 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.

As always I look forward to all the great questions and responses, so make sure to send 'em all my way, along with any other crazy cake recipes at answerman (AT!) animenewsnetwork.com! See you later!


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