Hey, Answerman!

by Brian Hanson, May 8th 2010

Hey guys! Good to be here and all that.

And now there's questions afoot:


Hey Answerman!

My question is regarding Chapter Summaries. As an avid Bleach fan (and being one of those 'young impatient types') I always need to know what the latest story is, for example I have a number of French volumes as they are released faster. As I strongly dislike scanlations, I have taken to reading summaries of chapters as they are released, however I'm starting to wonder if summaries would fall into the same bracket as scanlations. In your opinion, are summaries as much of a blight to the manga industry as scanlations? Or in the grand scheme of things are they insignificant.

No, no way. Chapter summaries are the internet equivalent of your friends giving you a plot synopsis for a movie they just saw. Not even in the same ballpark. If chapter summaries fell into the same legally dubious arena as scanlations, then every 3rd grader in history who has ever padded out a book report with a facile summary of the story would be ramshackled with a charge of Intellectual Property Theft.

Yes, they are very, very much insignificant, in the grand scheme of the war between manga publishers in the West and those seeking instant gratification. I could go on about how I think it's kind of ridiculous, the extremes some people will go in order to placate their impatience, as though retrieving that sort of information secondhand is at all comparable to simply waiting it out for the real thing, but hey, I remember when I, too, was young and impatient, and had to rely on hastily-written newsgroup summaries for Ranma ½. Ah, to be young.


Hey Answerman!

Last week, there was a bit of confusion on the forums – specifically, the one for Bang Zoom's "anime will die/is dead" statement – over how, exactly, companies get their anime put on the air in Japan, and exactly who is paying whom to get it up there (i.e., are the production companies paying the TV stations or vice versa?). Think you could shed some light on how all that works? And perhaps explain how their system differs from the American one?

Justin Sevakis explained all this quite well on ANNcast not too long ago, but to summarize, basically you'll notice at the credits of seemingly every anime ever is a "Production Committee." And that "Production Committee" is basically a conflagration of several Japanese companies willing to pitch in a certain percentage of the production cost of making a show, in exchange for ancillary profits associated with it. For example. the TV studio pitches in percentage of the budget and they retain all the profits from the TV broadcast, the toy company throws in some money and they get to keep the profits from the toy sales, et cetera. This is quite different from the way American shows are handled, where there's an extensive (and expensive) pilot process, where TV networks themselves will cover the cost of one episode of a show that was pitched to them earlier, and from the success of that pilot they'll decide to order a full slate of episodes, or scrap it.

So, no, it's not the production companies paying the TV stations or the reverse - they both put in a relatively equal share of the budget, and at the same time, assume a relatively equal share of the risk. The sole exception to this rule is with the deluge of late-night fanservice anime, in which the production companies actually PAY the TV stations to air their show. Think of it like paid advertising for cable networks in the early morning. This formula is why these shows are so narrowly focused on the lowest common Otaku denominator. The profits are so dependent on merchandising that the TV broadcast is so... almost incidental, really. The show exists solely as an advertisement for the uncut DVDs and the dakimakura pillows and the softcore-porn PSP game.

Of course, I can't really blame the fans for being a bit in the dark on how these shows are made, exactly - Japanese anime companies aren't necessarily known for their level of access and transparency in these matters. A little knowledge does go a long way, though.


Answerman! Hey!

If it's so easy to find illegal scans and fansubs, why don't the licensing companies do a quick Google search and send C&D letters to take down their licensed anime/manga? Are the companies oblivious to how people pirate their shows or are the fan groups just ignoring the licensors?

God no, of course not. The licensors know exactly how easy it is to come up with their copyrighted material with a quick Google search. Pretty much anybody over the age of maybe 11 knows how to pull up free copies of anything they could ever want, ever, with a minimal amount of effort.

Unfortunately, just throwing out C&D letters isn't all that easy. That's an expensive prospect in an of itself, essentially serving a website with a letter of intention to sue, and there're far, far too many websites out there with that same pirated content for C&D letters to be the only option. I mean, sure, Funimation will routinely find especially egregious torrent sites or streaming channels with loads of their materials and serve them with a C&D letter, but they can't possibly expect to shut down every fansub haven with letters.

Mainly because, once they send that Cease and Desist order, there's not much else to do except wait and see if the website removes the files, or wait and find the right time to sue. In other cases, the companies will simply speak with the pirates' ISP and have their service removed, And then those same files get moved to a different server on a different site and the cycle starts all over again.

Litigiously protecting your copyrighted property on the internet is a bit of an uphill battle; short of tracking down every last remaining digital copy of the leaked episode of Fullmetal Alchemist and deleting it from everyone's hard drive, there's not a whole lot you can do once that stuff gets out there. C&D letters are simply there to stop the hemorrhaging once the damage has been done.



And now, moving along to brighter pastures! It's Hey, Answerfans time! Last week's question was as thus:


Calvin begins this week's festivities by informing us of his radar range:

I am a card-carrying Dub watcher, but I will happily buy a series sub only if it is something that I REALLY want. I have all of City Hunter and Cat's Eye sub only. I am picking up Glass Mask's releases. I know I would jump for joy if Angel Heart was licensed and released in any form - heck, I am giddy that Dirty Pair TV is being put out.

But that is only for series that I am crazy over - and in case you couldn't sense a trend, those tend to be older series (or series based on older material) that I've been exposed to in some other form. Being a dub watcher I don't watch fansubs, so newer series that don't have connections to something I'm already familiar with fly right under my radar.

I'll check out unfamiliar/newer stuff if it gets picked up and dubbed, but otherwise I don't bother. Plenty of other stuff out there that has been dubbed and released through the years to enjoy already.

I will proudly MC the wedding for HopelessOsaka and Colleen Clinkenbeard's Voice:

When I was young, I would have said "dubs annoy the %@ out of me, subs YAY."

But that was when I was young, was intent on cursing my thirteen-year-old Quite-Possibly-Already-Rotten soul out, and was frankly an utter idiot.

Honestly, back at that age, I never thought that I would miss being able to change to the "ENGLISH (5.1 DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO)" to at least check out what kind of voice and which voice actor they decided to cast for differing characters. Now that I'm older, I have to say that I have quite an attraction to some dubs, am actually head over heels for a few voice actors' voices, and would marry Funimation's Shin-chan over the original any day (and I watched a great deal of the original when I lived in Japan as a child back in the early 90's).

Dear God if they ever create a Baccano! Love Sim game that should never actually see the light of day, I would listen to Firo and Luck trying to pick me up (or something) for weeks on end (finally coming to understand all the creepy yet surprisingly handsome otaku brothers of action protagonists everywhere). And Dear God how I secretly wish to have a romance with Colleen Clinkenbeard's voice.

(Dear God: I did not allude to shallowly falling in love with faceless voices, cartoons, and cold plastic compact disc things or worse for the six thousandth time in my life. No. I swear. I'm telling you I didn't.)

Anyway, I was damn disappointed to learn that Simoun was released without a dub after I put the first disc of the Endless Melody Collection into my DVD player (a perfect opportunity to provide the ultimate cast with at least one or two Colleen Clinkenbeard-like voices for my fangirl self to lovingly sigh after, ruined).

I've come to realize that this is happening more often these days. For my personal experience, as a girl who stopped buying DVDs at around thirteen, then began again last year (this time aiming for boxsets), it was a little jarring, as I had assumed in my preteen years that they would never stop producing "horrid dubs (e.g. All of Them)." And I can say, when placing that nostalgia filter over my eyes to look back at the early 00's, I will actually miss some of the nice dub work that came along with the growth of the anime industry.

But otherwise, you know...I, for years used to catching subs when the anime is first released...am perfectly fine with buying Subs Only, as long as the series is well-executed (engaging plot, engrossing characters, etc.) enough.

Stephen can read emotion:

Do I mind the lack of an anime dub? No, I do not. Very rarely do I like to watch the Anime with the dub on.

I don't know why, but there seems to be an odd monotone, a sort of emotional separation between many dub voices and their characters, a kind of characteristic artifice. The dub artists from Japan seem to be more in character, speaking with more personality, more variation in the tone of voice. I don't mind reading much of the dialogue, if I can understand the underlying emotion from the tone of the character's voice.

I think English dub artists need to relax a little, give the characters more "animation", so to speak, on the vocal end of things.

Just call her Squinty-Eyed Amanda:

While I am of the rare breed of anime fan that prefers anime dubbed in order to better pay attention to the action (not to mention most dubs are just fine, in my opinion), I'd also be all right with seeing a show in its original language. It wouldn't bother me so much provided I actually enjoy what I'm watching, which should be the most important factor in determining whether or not you should purchase the series. So yeah, I'm happy to just have good shows released at all. Bring on the nihongo!

The only downside to subs? Having to keep up with and squint at all the text.

Kinny, you caught that skull-pattern too? I was too busy reading:

Oh, hell yes it does. I may love Clannad to death, I may want to want to cradle Ghost Hound in my arms like the baby I can't have, and I may desperately wish I could be buried with my own copy of School Days, but there is no way I'm buying subbed DVDs. No. Thank. You. Already had those in .mkv for free, don't need to pay another company to give them to me again.

And honestly, it also hampers the chances of all really good, but obscure, shows to gain popularity among people who aren't die hard anime watchers. I know so many people that won't even watch the rest of Soul Eater's undubbed episodes on Funimation's website because they can't/don't want to have to read and watch pretty pictures at the same time. And though I find it better in most situations to witness the original as best one can, every person their has limits. If you can't read the banterings of Liz and Patty and catch the beautiful skull pattern in the smoke of an explosion, then you shouldn't try. No matter what others say, being distracted by subtitles WILL take away from the artwork that so many people tried so hard to bring to your busy eyes, so companies who bring anime to other countries should try their hardest to not let that work go to waste. Or at least give the rights to a company that can. Shoot...

Your prayers be with Patrick, for he has watched BAOH and survived:

Will the lack of a dub effect my decision to purchase an anime? No.

I guess I should elaborate; I'm not the type of viewer who likes watching dubs anyway, so the sub track is all I'm really looking for. My habit of avoiding dubs stems from years of sub-standard work that only serves as an annoyance, hindering my enjoyment of certain shows. I concede that there are some series with excellent dubs, such as Slayers and Those Who Hunt Elves, the latter being one of the few shows that I enjoy the dub more than the sub. On the flip side of that, you get dubs like Cromartie High School which just gets butchered. Occasionally you get the hilarious, old Manga and CPM dubs for trash like Angel Cop or BAOH that really enhance the experience, but there seems to be very little good or exceptionally bad dubs. It's not just the sub-standard acting that goes into most dubs, there was also the years of slice-and-dice dub scripting back in the early '90's when I first got into anime that turned me against them when subs finally became widely available with DVD's. So, to sum it up, I feel like most dub acting is tired and boring and, in most cases, can't hold a candle to the acting done in the original Japanese, so cutting down on the number of dubbed shows available is not a barrier to purchase shows.

Jordan urges for your support, damn it:

Would a no-dub release preclude me from buying a series? Not in the least, although I know it would be a deal breaker for many. While I love a good dub, there are more important things to a release. If the worst thing about a release is that I have to do a bit of reading, that's fine by me. I barely notice it anyway.

Allow me to use a non-Anime related analogy. Part of my perspective also comes from me being in the Power Rangers fandom for many years. Considering our shows are adapted over from the Japanese Tokusatsu genre, I know many fans watch the original version before its adapted. Just like the Anime fandom, we have sub providers. Power Rangers was a gateway drug into Super Sentai and furthermore, Kamen Rider. With Power Rangers now flickering away from public conscience, if a company were to announce tomorrow they would release Kamen Rider Double subtitled on Blu-Ray, I would buy it in a heartbeat.

Why? Because the fact a release doesn't have a dub doesn't exclude the quality of the series. If it is a quality show, then it should be supported. Now granted, we are talking about different genres here, but if Fullmetal Alchemist was released without a dub, would people still buy it? I would hope so, because it's a quality show. Releases with subtitled only, as long as you enjoy the show, should be supported.

An argument that they've seen the show subtitled from subtitle group PReciOUs_Nakama would preclude them from buying the show because they have a copy of it. Well, people buy American shows despite seeing them on TV. Why should Anime be any different?

Laura turns this into an economical thing:

Allow me to be frank. The lack of an English language dub track doesn't deter me in the least from buying anime as I usually prefer it to be subtitled anyway. To me, an anime loses some of its charm when dubbed into English and I feel that this is in part due to the same voice actors being used for every single new series. Some of the jokes (like the cultural references and various parodies in Lucky Star for example) are lost in the English dubbing. Some things to me just need to be left alone. Now, I don't know about other anime fans but when I hear the English dub track of certain anime series (Ouran High School Host Club for example,) I cringe. The voice actors did their best to portray the characters but the voices didn't suit the characters in the least. Tamaki to me was the biggest failure on this front as he sounded like Edward Elric had just inhaled helium. Some of the English VA's really suit the roles they are given (Vic Mignogna as Edward Elric, Kirby Morrow as Trowa Barton) while others don't.

That isn't to say however that there aren't good dubs out there but they are few and far between in my opinion. A shining example of English dubbing done right would be Gundam Wing. Yes, back in the early days of North American Anime Fever. To me, thanks in part to anime being a new and shiny develop in my teenage years, the English for GW was perfect. In fact, I am so used to the English Dub Track that I can't watch the Original Version. When I hear Heero Yuy, I don't think of Hikaru Midorikawa, I think of Mark Hildreth. The same follows suit for the rest of the main characters as I've already mentioned. The same thing goes for the first series for Fullmetal Alchemist but I cannot say the same about Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

Honestly, this is one of those Your Mileage May Vary questions but to me, I don't see the loss of English Dub tracks other than the fact that it's bad news for economies that are still recovering from the Worldwide Recession of the past few years.

Mike says it's situational:

To me it really depends on the show and how I first saw it. A good example of this is the recently announced 2nd season of Hell Girl. I first saw that show dubbed and now I cannot possibly imagine anyone else as Ai Enma(despite loving the Japanese voice actress who plays her). Now being that Sentai is releasing it I will be buying both sets however I WILL NOT be watching them. I am hoping that if enough people show support for the show sentai may eventually dub it and perhaps bring back Brina Palencia as Ai Enma. It may be a ill placed hope however it's the only thing motivating me to buy the show.

Other shows however I would just be happy to see. Shakugan no Shana Second for example I have seen in Japanese and despite loving the English dub for the first season I would take getting a sub only release if I had to.

I guess when you break it down it would depend on if I had seen the show in dub form first and how good the dub was. If the dub was something that I held dear and a 2nd season was released obviously it would impact my intent to purchase the show. However if it's a show I had not seen yet and as such didn't really have a opinion on a English dub version I would be happy just to see it released. There really isn't a simple answer. It really does depend on the show and my past history with it.

And finally, Laurel abhors something. Abhors it!

To be completely honest, I abhor subs. The squeaky, ill-fitting voices, the little lines of text on the bottom of my screen, and the… ugh… reading… No, sir! I don't like it!

That being the case, I would definitely not buy a show if it were available as sub-only, no matter how much I loved it. Money is a precious commodity that I don't get a lot of, so I can't afford to use it up on something that will irritate me. If I, even for a moment, think of delaying on watching an anime (that I purchased), just because I can't stand the formatting, then it really wasn't worth it. So sorry, Japanophiles, fan-subbers, and sub-fans alike, you can keep your crummy reading, and I'll get to watch all the action! Because subs may be for you, and you, and you, and you, but they're not for me.

Good job, everyone! Next week's question is about everybody's FAVORITE topic that I'm sure NOBODY is SICK OF TALKING ABOUT YET: Piracy!


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.

And that is all! I'm off to join the summer movie nerdery that is Iron Man 2, lest I have to give up my Nerd Badge later. See you next time! Send all your questions and answers and stuff to answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com!


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