Hey, Answerman! Back From Another Dimension
by Brian Hanson, Nov 5th 2010
Well! Hey there, guys and girls. Welcome to Answerman! I am Brian, and I have some questions here that you gave me, and as such it is my pleasure to answer them.
My question is about the lack of success that Anime based on Naoki Urasawa Manga seems to be having in America. Both Yawara and Monster were licensed and had first box sets put out in America but it seems safe to say that the remainder of both series will never see the light of day, as dvd sets. I understand that it has to do with money and sales so my question is, Urasawa Manga seems to do at least well enough to be released in its entirety so whats the deal with the Anime?
That's certainly the case with Yawara, I'm still not so sure it's "safe to say" that Monster will never see any subsequent DVD releases here. Viz is being irritatingly quiet on the subject, sure - but I'd argue that it's still a little early yet to completely write the show off as a complete failure.
But, yes, I'll agree with you that Urusawa's anime adaptations haven't had much of a break in the US. There's a few reasons for this:
Chief among them, is that Urasawa's stories are character driven, leisurely-paced affairs without much in the way of, let's say, violence or sex appeal or high-concept sci-fi and fantasy whatnot. (With the exception of Pluto of course, which is getting a Hollywood adaptation that will probably die a premature, unfortunate death before production.) His manga, especially his longer works, aren't exactly easy things to translate successfully into a 22-minute series of animated episodes. Urasawa's timing is so deliberate, that adapting it usually forces directors to rush through important information so quickly that it becomes stilted (Master Keaton), or so painstakingly matching the manga beat-for-beat that the story feels dull and listless (Monster).
So, the anime adaptations of his work haven't really held up too well on their own, but also remember that the demographics for anime and manga do, in fact, diverge in a few interesting ways. There *is* an audience for Urasawa's work in manga, just as there's always been an audience for keenly-written, well-plotted, intelligent graphic novels for adults. The beauty of something like Monster and 20th Century Boys is that they're one of the few manga properties that sort of breaks out of its little niche and into the wider spectrum of Approved Graphic Novel Reading. Having a pull quote from Junot Diaz on your book cover definitely means something.
Unfortunately, there still isn't an equivalent audience that exists in anime; or animation at all, for that matter. Releasing something like Yawara and Monster on DVD is quite the gamble, and both AnimeEigo and Viz knew the risk; these aren't "typical" anime shows by any means, and nobody was quite sure that the simple fact that they were based upon manga that were critically acclaimed would be enough to make people interested in them. And, as much as it sucks to say, it doesn't seem like it worked.
Anime has a tremendous image problem, which is why shows like Monster are going to struggle. It's a smart, thrilling show about complicated characters aimed at an adult audience, most of whom would probably love it if they ever got the chance to see it. Manga, at the least, is able to share some of the credibility and cache that graphic novels have, and something like Monster can reach enough of an interested audience to be successful.
I am noticing lately that older series of anime are being given new series (namely Haruhi). Does this mean that old titles such as Rozen Maiden (which was canceled while it was still ongoing-much for the cause of my tears) have a possibility of being granted a new season?
I think people often play some odd games with logic whenever they start to notice any sort of "trend."
"Fullmetal Alchemist and Haruhi were off the air for a few years. People wanted a new season. They got a new season. Therefore.... every old show ever could potentially get new episodes if I just wish hard enough!!"
I mean, sure, in theory, there's nothing to technically stop a production company from dusting off any old show they like and producing a new season. Except for the fact that they would all be disastrous failures. The important thing to note regarding Haruhi and FMA is that they are isolated incidents that spawned new episodes because of something odd in this industry, and undeniably powerful: they had enduring popularity.
With Haruhi, the TV anime series was so popular in Japan that it was aired in reruns - something that is incredibly rare for Japanese television in general. The DVDs were bestsellers, the books were bestsellers, and it was a merchandising juggernaut. There was never any real doubt that the show would end after only one season, honestly. It was as much a foregone conclusion as anything.
Has Rozen Maiden compensated for its years of being off the broadcast airwaves by selling boatloads of DVDs and books and manga and CDs and assorted merchandise? Nope. Sorry, no second season.
Sometimes the normal lapse in time for production of a second season of a series can be deceiving - by the time the second season began airing, it had been about three years, but the various producers and committees in charge of the property were smart in taking their time to flesh out the franchise with stuff like manga releases and the light novels in between seasons.
I'm not sure if this is official news, because it's been circulated through somewhat obscure sites (it bubbled up to Topless Robot, which is where I heard it) and the Wikipedia entry reporting the news looks dubious at best. The rumor started on Bleeding Cool.com, and the basic gist of it is that Shueisha has finally paid Akira Toriyama enough to come out of retirement and start working on a continuation of the Dragon Ball manga. Now, I don't expect you to know the definitive answer to this, because at this point, it's just a moderately-circulated rumor which some people are already jumping to great conclusions about. Rumors of new Dragon Ball have sprung forth since the days when people believed that Dragon Ball AF was in production. So, my question to you, Brian, is what do you think the likelihood of Toriyama going back to his flagship franchise is? The timing seems to be perfect, what with the recent reintroduction of DB to youngsters via Dragon Ball Z Kai and the newer video games, but in honesty, do you think this is enough for Toriyama to be swayed back into the pressures of working on a weekly manga series?
In my honest and debatably humble opinion, absolutely ****ing no way.
Toriyama worked long and hard for nearly 20 years at the biggest manga publisher in the world, cranking out three of their biggest hits ever, week after week, year after year, with no real break - the guy went from drawing Dr. Slump every week from 1980 until Dragon Ball started in 1984, and he kept that up until 1995. All throughout that time, Toriyama was drawing the most popular manga in the entire country, which meant managing the lofty expectations of his fans, and leveraging that with the insane demands of his editors and publishers, who were eager to exploit the cash cow that Dragon Ball had become.
Now? The guy has his own little studio where he draws video game characters from time to time with a few assistants who mostly draw the backgrounds. Occasionally people from Shueisha or a video game company will drop by to ask for a few notes on things. He lives a good life; he's active and drawing, but freed from the rigors of weekly serialization.
So my question is, why the **** would the guy go back to the rigors and constant stress of working on a weekly manga? Specifically, the most popular weekly manga in the entire world? I can definitely see the guy drawing another one-shot, one-volume manga story or two, but to jump right back in the saddle of Dragon Ball after all these years? It just doesn't make any sense to me.
Besides, Dragon Ball is still doing fine, all these years later. Between the newer video games and the rebroadcast of Kai and the simple fact that the individual manga volumes still sell like gangbusters all these years later, I just don't see why it's necessary for Toriyama to saddle up and take Dragon Ball for another spin. The franchise is doing fine, Toriyama certainly doesn't need the money, and I can't imagine why anyone would want to delve back into that much work after slaving away at it for over a decade.
BOY I SURE HOPE I DON'T GET ANY WEIRD QUESTIONS ABOUT HENTAI THIS WEEK
"Hi...I have been looking everywhere for the name of the sountrack in " Hentai- School of Bondage.
Can you tell me what it is...for all 3 episodes ????
Thank you sooo much if you can help me."
Alright everyone, this week it's time to wipe away those tears and get a little choked up, because last week I bombarded you with this emotional bit of puzzlement:
And to begin, Peangelia has three examples and wants us to think that she's "no crybaby," huh:
I've watched a lot of anime and read significantly fewer manga, and these are the three that have honestly made me think/get emotional/hanging on the edge of my seat:
1. Grave of the Fireflies. This holds much nostalgia for me because it's one of the first DVDs I ever bought for myself. I picked this up at FYE a few years ago on a whim after reading the synopsis on the back of the DVD (who does that anymore?). After watching it the first time and going through the bonus features (I have the collector's edition), I watched it again, straight through, no stopping for breaks or anything. I honestly cried at the end, but it's because I TRULY knew what was happening and I was looking in the POV of a young man (teenager perhaps?) and his little sister, forced to brave the world by themselves. It brings a new perspective to so-called "war anime", in that it takes the viewer through the eyes of the so-called "enemy". Throughout my American history studies, whenever I heard about World War II, Japan was always seen as the "big bad army of soulless baby-killers", but viewing this anime really helped me look past all the misinformed, propagandist crap and REALLY made me think, "These people were just like us: living, breathing souls with families and lives."
2. Baby and Me (or Aka-chan to Boku). I myself am a single mother who came from a single-family home after my mother's death at a young age. All of my "female aspects" of life were basically taught to me by my sister, who was only 16 when our mom died. So it only makes sense for me to feel sentimental whenever I read this manga about a elementary school kid being forced to raise his even younger brother under the same roof as a clueless (in my opinion) father. It has its funny moments, but I just can't help but feel inspired by virtue of a kid who still manages to hold on to some sense of normalcy despite his bizarre (?) situation.
And just to show that I'm not some crybaby,
3. I My Me! Strawberry Eggs. This anime strikes an emotion in me for a totally different reason (and not of the boo-hoo kind either). This is actually inspiring for me. Here you have a guy who's obviously intelligent, but society kind of threw him a curveball. The catch here is that he has to teach as a woman because of the fact that the school is a (again, totally my opinion) backward-thinking all-girls school where men are seen as Neanderthals incapable of being the nurturing teachers they need to be without degenerating into the perverts that hentai are made of. He shows dedication despite the awkward situations and misunderstandings he (she's) constantly thrown into.
Nathan, meanwhile, bats a solid four:
Anime and manga that move me? I expected this to be a difficult question, because there have been so many touching scenes. But when I really started thinking about it, four titles jumped out at me, so those are the four I will list.
I'll start with Kimi ni Todoke, simply because I just read the latest American installment today, and found myself getting misty-eyed yet again. This series has captivated me from the very first chapter. Whether it's a character beginning to be accepted by her classmates, or someone crying after the final ending of an unrequited love, every volume has something special. And I do mean EVERY volume - six books so far, and I have yet to be disappointed.
Next is my all-time favorite anime, the severely under appreciated Chance Pop Session. It starts out slow, but then at the end of episode five, we suddenly begin to realize that there is something deeper going on - a scene that never fails to send a shiver down my spine. From there, it just gets better. Some scenes are disturbing, some are uplifting, and some are pure tearjerkers. People may complain about the predictability of the storyline, but when you watch a series multiple times, surprise fades quickly; emotion stays with you.
Magical Project S (Pretty Samy TV) is another. In this case, the show packs an extra punch for me because of one of the main characters, Misao Amano/Pixy Misa. Frankly, I am a "Misao:" quiet, shy, often sad, but with a deeply-hidden wild side. Everything that happens to her I can easily feel as though it were happening to myself. So not only do I cry at her tragedies, but her triumphs make me feel good about life.
Finally, I have to list a title that gets a lot of criticism, Sailor Moon. This was the first shoujo anime that I ever saw (a decade and a half ago), and it brought more tears to my eyes than every other anime I had seen up to that point combined. Death, heartbreak, loneliness - this series had a lot of sorrow for something that is often derided as a kids' show. In particular, the last quarter or so of the Sailor Moon R movie was an emotional roller coaster. But in addition to the obvious, Sailor Moon had one emotional quality which, to this day, no other anime or manga has ever matched for me: the characters truly feel real. This show makes me feel as though I genuinely KNOW these people, that they are my neighbors, my friends. Because of that, this is one title which I think will always remain close to my heart.
Neal answers my challenge with gusto:
RahXephon is arguably my favorite series and one of the few I've seen that I think ends absolutely perfectly. One of the many emotional moments is a small scene at the end of episode 8 where Ayato, the lead, thanks Haruka for a gift of gloves during a Christmas party. Haruka's expression is not only sweet but clues us in to three other points revealed in the episode between spoken dialogue, shots and actions. If you put all those points together as I did at that point it casts Ayato and Haruka in a whole new light that's both very sweet and very sad. (And always, always makes me cry with the very last shot in the entire show!)
Serial Experiments Lain is a rather horrific show about our inability to make connections with people which makes a pivotal scene between Lain and her best friend Alice in episode 12 so sad. At this point, Lain has broken down barriers between the Wired world and the real one but has left Alice alone facing the horror around her. Lain explains why she did it and why she left Alice alone. And Alice shows her that this is not the way humans connect to each other with a simple touch to her face. "You're wrong," she tells her. Not only did the moment work for me but I think I finally understood what that show had been trying to do from episode 1.
Finally, another show with a slow burn culminated in an amazing reveal that felt like a punch to the head. The show was Madlax and it's ultimate reveal of the connection between the titular assassin and the damaged school girl, Margaret Burton. The connection they revealed should not have worked. In fact, in the early part of the show I threw out a wild guess as to what was going on. It turned out I was partially correct but I couldn't think of a way to make it logically work. These creators proved me wrong and I still get chilled and awed thinking about it.
Emily gives Maison Ikkoku its proper due:
I'd have to say that my top "emotional" manga, and manga overall would definitely be Fruits Basket. I realize that a lot of people see this as a sappy, over-hyped, typical shoujo fluff, but it's honestly much better than the critics give it credit for. Admittedly, it goes a little overboard on the drama/abusive past sometimes, but mainly it's quite touching. (I mean, I cried like a baby when the curse broke. Wait, is that a spoiler? Should I not type that? Well, if you feel that you must, you may censor this bit out.) It deals with a lot of psychological things - being accepted, needing a parental figure, wanting to protect someone - in very human, beautifully drawn ways. Yeah, so I'm a sucker for that kinda thing. But you must admit, it is extremely well-done drama with the occasional "awww" moment... with sexy male characters. Sorry, but it had to be said.
Number Two. Bleach. This is not quite so "emotionally wrenching" as Fruits Basket... actually, most of it isn't at all emotional. (Epic, twenty-chapter battle scene, anyone?) But the things in it that got to me were a bit varied. Mostly, I believe it's the thing of following a darn good series for a long time, anxiously waiting each week for a new chapter, that you really start to care a bit obsessively about the characters, and when something big happens to them (they die, get some sort of new power, etc.) you can't help but feel it too. And there's the thing that Kubo is just a plain excellent storyteller. Many people will disagree with this, but... He knows how to spin a tale, give him that. Yes, there are many plot points that have yet to be followed up on, but he knows how to hide things, how to make fans and keep them. Even if he might be a slight bit obsessed with over-endowed female characters.... and, again, sexy male characters. Not that those are emotionally important to me in a plot, or anything. No, sirree.
I'm gonna hand Three to Maison Ikkoku. Actually, maybe this deserves the number two slot. It's just so... so amazing! It's one of those tried-and-true classic love stories. Hilarious plots, believable characterization, and nail-biting love triangles. What more could you ask? Whenever poor Godai is scorned yet again, or Mitaka gets stuck trying to fend off Asuna, his unwanted fianceé, you can't help but empathize with them, and pray desperately for them to be happy. Especially Godai, when he gets in one of his lovestruck moods. And who hasn't wanted, upon reading it, no matter how fleeting the thought, to live at Maison Ikkoku? Ridiculously well-done. Yeah, let's go with Number Two for Maison Ikkoku and Three for Bleach. All three relatively mainstream, but - and I say this to those wannabe-indie people who always insist "mainstream is TEH_DEVIL" - it's gotten so popular 'cause it's GOOD.
By the way, Whitakker isn't kidding about his Spoiler Warning, so skip ahead if you haven't seen the following shows:
Oh, Brian, what a cruel man you are for making us only pick 3 or 4...I instantly thought of at least a dozen when I read the question. Nevertheless, I'll attempt to pick out the cream of my crop of anime/manga scenes that elicited an honest emotional reaction from me. These aren't in any order, just the best that I have. (((SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD)))
1. Rock and Revy's argument, Black Lagoon, ep. 7
After six episodes of getting pushed around by Revy, Rock simply and finally puts his foot down, and boy, what a sight it is to finally see him grow some balls. This exchange between the two is the the climax of emotions that had been boiling for a few episodes prior. Rock is a breath away from being blown to hell by Revy, and all because he finally can't stand her attitude, constant violence, abuse of him, and her outlook on life. Revy can't stand the way he's been sheltered all his life, and can't begin to imagine the hell her life has been, thereby taking offense to his judgment of her actions in the episode. I honestly thought that this was the end for ol' Rock, but when he actually grabbed Revy's Cutlass and started chewing her out, I was about to fall out of my seat with anticipation. The dialogue really reveals so much about each of the character's outlook and motivations, and it definitely belongs up there as one of the top scenes in all of anime/manga, period.
2. The Death of Asahina Hiroko, RahXephon, ep. 19
This is the first time I ever truly cried during an anime. The whole episode deals with Hiroko's attempts to adjust to the new world that has opened up before her, all because of Kamina's kindness and concern for his friends. However, she simply can't handle her "inner self" that has arisen as as result of her leaving Tokyo Jupiter. Her heartfelt confession to Kamina in her notebook, and the horrid realization Kamina comes to once he realizes what Dolem he has just killed, and what he has done to the one he cares for is truly heartbreaking, and seeing her words in the lights of the city is both beautiful and powerfully emotional. This event radically changed Kamina foreverafter, and it sets his character up for some serious development in the climax of the show.
3. Love Hina, vol. 12
I like to refer to this volume as "The Great Chase", as it has Keitaro and the gang pursuing Naru to the ends of Japan (literally!), with Naru wrestling over her budding emotions towards Keitaro that have reached a boiling point. Keitaro had returned to the Hinata House a transformed man after spending time away with his mentor, and Naru simply didn't know how to deal with her feelings at that time. Not only that, but the pair are fighting a charm which guarantees that it'll be nigh impossible to be together. But when they reach the end of the road (again, literally), Naru's ultimatum, "Don't come closer, or I'll jump off this cliff!" doesn't faze Keitaro in the slightest, simply responding, "Go ahead...I'll be right behind you". I was amazed at his resolution to never give up on Naru, and it paid off in the end with one of the best love scenes in anime/manga.
4. Elfen Lied, ep. 13, Lucy's farewell
Kohta remembers his tragic past, and confronts Lucy before she faces the security team's guns. Lucy's tear-filled lament of her role in his tragedy is full of sorrow and regret, and Kohta's declaration of his steadfast affection for her, despite the pain she's caused him, is genuinely heartbreaking as they embrace for the last time. I really got the feeling that they never wanted to let each other go during that scene, and seeing her face the firing squad was simply too much for me. The ending of the series didn't help my nerd rage either...(what the hell, you can't end it on a cliffhanger like that!!!). Still, its one scene that always got a reaction out of me, simply for the raw emotion on display there.
That's it for your weekly dose of Answerfans... this time. Take a peek below to see what I've got in store for next week!
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.
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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 so, farewell and adieu for the duration of the week! I will be back next time with more stuff and things, provided of course you provide me with the necessary ingredients over at answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com. So long!
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