Hey, Answerman! - Get A Job

by Brian Hanson, Oct 8th 2010

Hello again, internet-at-large! It's been, what, a week already? O, the solemn vicissitude of time.

Formalities and SAT words aside, welcome back! Now, this week, there's something of a theme, here. As hardened readers of the column no doubt know, one of the most-asked questions of not just myself, but of anyone who has the good fortune to be in my sort of position is always, "how do I work in anime?" Usually this is asked with broken English by teenagers and Europeans who want me to somehow give them thousands of dollars to "make their own anime."

To put it bluntly I tend to ignore them, and the worst of them I use as fodder for the Flake of the Week. But this week? I thought I would be nice. I would work through the backlog of "HIRE ME TO WORK IN ANIME" emails and hopefully not have to deal with them for a little while.

Plus! It gives me an opportunity to talk about this.

dude, Brian, rockin' little animated piece that you put up on ANN today via youtube. that is so cool!

two questions: how long did it take to make that, and what software did you use?

my brother has been telling me the version of Painter that he put on my laptop can handle animation, and ever since Satoshi Kon died i've been brainstorming and keeping notes on little 2-3 minute pieces i might put together.

You have to bear in mind that the Parakeet-man cartoon was one of four roughly 30-second cartoons that would be featured throughout the last play I was directing. And that I had to draw and edit these cartoons while I was working myself into an early grave just to direct the damn thing. So, yeah. They're pretty janky. Out of the four I finished, I only posted the Parakeet-man one because it turned out the best out of all of them.

I literally, honestly drew that whole cartoon in a day. By hand, on paper. Then it took another day to scan, spruce up with GIMP, and then edit together in, no joke, Windows Movie Maker.

The lesson is: I made that cartoon in about two days with programs that are free on any old, crappy computer. If you've got two days' worth of time to kill, you can make a cartoon that is no worse-looking than the one I did. I would of course urge you to maybe, potentially, spend a little bit more time on it than I had, which was born purely out of necessity.

So good luck! Send me the link when you're done!

Hi, Answerman. Long time reader, first time asker-of-questions. I'm a self-taught translator with about six years of experience, stemming mostly from working as a translator for a scanlation group (please don't lynch me?), and I'm looking to dip my feet into the professional workforce using my experience translating manga as well as novels as my main selling point. The problem is, I have literally no idea how to go about getting a job translating for an actual physical company, and I hear it's pretty hard to get into the anime/manga translating scene without at least some contacts, the best of which I hope to accomplish someday is probably through a C&D. (Lawl.)

Any tips for a budding translator with no idea of where to go from here?

I hear this a lot, generally. "You only get ahead if you know people, but how the hell do you even start to know people?!?" Luckily, you can sort of force people to know who you are, if you start making a lot of noise on your own.

And by that I don't mean you make a big stink on the internet about how awesome you are and that whoever hires you as a translator is Super Rad; I mean that you can use your translating "skills" in other areas that are just as professional and build up a solid reputation. I can think of dozens of blogs, video games, websites, and others that are in need of talented translators. Some of which might even pay you! That's all about throwing yourself out there, making yourself useful, and in some cases, being a bit of a nuisance. But sometimes that's what you gotta do.

The one thing on your end that might be a bit worrisome is the "self-taught" part. Overcoming the face that you've taught yourself the language instead of a professor is going to be a tough challenge. With enough hard work you might be able to do it, but in all seriousness, it might also be worth it to take Japanese at a University. And language departments are also a wonderful way to network and build connections in and of themselves.

You got it? Work hard, build a name for yourself, get a degree in Japanese if necessary, repeat.

Hey answerman, I'm hoping you could give some insight.

What are my hopes of becoming a Mangaka? As in, an actual manga author, being published by a major manga publisher in Japan? Should I just leave this to the professionals over in Japan and quit my dream, with my best hopes of working somewhere with Tokyopop or VIZ as some nameless nobody?

I am of two minds on this subject.

The first mind, it sounds very positive. Upbeat. Empathetic. It says, of course you can become a Mangaka! You can become anything you want if you work hard enough! With the noted exception of Peepo Choo author Felipe Smith, as far as I've seen, and I've seen many things, I have not seen a prominent Western author enter into the major Manga market in Japan and really make a name for him or herself. That person could be YOU! You need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and other folksy things and get to work and make that dream happen!!

The second mind, it sounds very dour. Indifferent. Callous, even. It says, man, you can always try, but do you understand how UTTERLY SMALL your chance of success is at this? You could fill an entire island around Japan with people who are actually from Japan who are desperate to become Manga artists and authors. But it's such an insanely competitive field that only a small trickle of the torrential wave of talent actually gets a chance to be published. And you, a foreigner, wants to try your luck at this rat race?

And then! THEN! Then I sit down and I say to you, dude, why do you want to be a Mangaka anyway? Putting aside the glamor and the glory of following in the footsteps of the artists who most inspired you, wouldn't it be, like, more... I dunno, fulfilling, as an artist, to simply... Um....

Make your OWN comics? Using your OWN style? Your OWN style that YOU invent that no one else has seen before? A style that suits YOUR specific tastes and tells your OWN story?

I think that would be more interesting, really, than reading a story on the Wall Street Journal with a big headline that reads "WHITE GUY MAKES JAPANESE CARTOON-BOOKS." And it would be a lot easier, too.

Whenever an e-mail starts with the alarming introduction "Dear Company," I know that I am in for a treat.

Dear Company:

Now I have lately saw about those pictures for clips about centain anime titles, but I have no idea about which show did they came from, so please help me by putting the title of the anime near the link about the show:


That was on my mind for now, thanks for cooperation

Now... doesn't that strike you as kind of, sort of, a little bit... odd? That somebody would post a collection of links featuring anime girls swimming underwater? In fact, isn't it also odd that the user who uploaded all these particular clips of seafaring anime women has uploaded nothing BUT clips of anime girls underwater?

I suppose in the grand history of gross things I have been sent by confused perverts, this is by far the least disgusting. And it's also Safe For Work! Fancy that, having a fetish that's Safe For Work!

But I am still puzzled.

So, ahem. This week's Answerfans. Last week, I posited this here question to all of you, eager for a thunderous response:

And, uh, in sadder news, I only got this one response. Just one! And it's from Nicholas. Luckily, it's fairly long and detailed:

Simply put, the optimal release schedule (particularly for anime, but manga would apply too) should be dictated by the production schedule. In other words, in a perfect world release schedules shouldn't affect the production of the series, but rather should revolve around it. This might not please fans who are eager for a quick fix of whatever series they are following, or the publishing companies that want to release product regularly, but in terms of actually creating a quality product, it would make sense to me to release it when it's ready. Think about it in these terms: if you don't have to rush things, you can avoid filler episodes, or poorly drawn or plotted manga chapters, and instead take the time to focus on getting everything right. If it takes six months per volume, then really, this should be fine if the quality involved warrants it. Something like the Evangelion manga, which at least in my opinion has always been top-notch in terms of artistic and plotting qualities, takes a year between volumes. Do I mind the wait? Not at all, since I know I am getting something good. I wish that all long-running series would take this sort of approach and therefore raise the overall quality of the product and story.

As for existing long-running series that have already finished production and are just now being released outside of Japan, I'd like to see a regular installment plan of volumes. The one-per-month rule seems a good one if the series is exceptionally long; otherwise, a bi-monthly release makes a lot of sense. This leaves people plenty of time to pick up a few volumes if they've fallen behind, and it's not too condensed of a schedule to overload viewers or readers who are following more casually. I am assuming a legal, physical release (as in, physical media) in this scheduling. Otherwise, if it's an internet-only release, given the interests of people streaming things all at once, it would seem to make sense releasing blocks of episodes / chapters together so that people could have decent sized bunches of content to enjoy between releases.

I personally do not like being inundated with a massive amount of material all at once. It's overwhelming and makes entry into long series inaccessible to newcomers. Finally, having too much content available all at once destroys appreciation for the time and effort put into it by the artists. If you consume voraciously over a short period, how able are you to think about the work required to make each episode or each chapter? These sort of consumption-focused tendencies, I think, sap the abilities of many fans to realize that the content they're enjoying is art made with dedication and heart, not disposable entertainment made without feeling. Any series that runs a long time requires serious commitment from those involved, and while it's easy to forget about the people making these works, to do so is to run the risk of devaluing their labors, which they perform for our benefit.

Rather than angrily shout and rant and spew forth bile and venom about why nobody answered my question... I'm going to take the high road, here. Thank you for your lovely response, Nicholas, but apparently this question didn't really speak to most everyone else. So we'll try a new question for next week. 'Tis:

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 I'm all out of tricks and surprises, so I'll see you all next time! Don't forget, though, to pester me incessantly through the wonders of e-mail technology! Just enter answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com into the place on the webscreen where it tells the computer who to send your ele-mail to! And of course don't forget to respond to Answerfans this week, especially! Have a week that is filled with joy otherwise!

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