Hey, Answerman! The Man With The Power
by Brian Hanson, Dec 17th 2010
Hello hello, everyone! Welcome to Hey, Answerman! Christmas is right around the corner and 2010 is winding down, so hopefully your finals are all done and you've got your nice winter break ahead of you, and we can all sit back and relax and enjoy a nice cup of hot cocoa while debating precisely which part of the Tron: Legacy script is the worst.
Before I begin with all the questioning and the answering, last week I had a question about donating Japanese manga. I didn't have any answers then, but luckily, a lovely reader named Anne reminded me of the Kyoto Manga Museum, which was really cool of her, so check that out.
I've been noticing that in some recent anime, they'd do something like devote one entire scene where some character monologues about how manga's published, or how anime production works (a MIGHTY recent one comes to mind). I wondered if it was just anime producers/directors just "blogging" in their own work, or serving some newfound audience that wants to see something about the business itself, or maybe even a sad reality that writers are so pressed to write about something original, that they ended up having to write about the anime industry itself. What's your take?
I wouldn't say this is a problem, honestly. What's wrong with filling a little time with something self-referential and quasi-educational, instead of filling time with the usual, dull, standard stuff of filler that we all hate and bitch and moan about?
As to why, I would say it all comes down to the simple fact that there's often just not enough space, even in a 22-minute anime episode, to fill with a complete story. (With all due regards to Escaflowne, which is sort of the freaky exception to this.) So, the "why" this sort of inside baseball, behind-the-scenes bit of filler creeps in there is sort of a combination of all three elements you mentioned.
I would say that, yes, to a certain degree, everyone involved in a creative field enjoys discussing the cogs and the gears that drive the work that they do. I haven't met anyone that doesn't, so there's definitely a certain amount of pride in "blogging" about their work, to use your terms. As for the "newfound audience," well, that's certainly debatable. I'm the sort of crazy person who watches every special feature on the Blu Ray, but most people I talk to out in the real world (i.e. "not sad nerds") finds them sort of boring. Obviously there's enough of us out there to warrant the continued existence of special features, but its a small enough majority that I can almost guarantee you that they aren't making these behind-the-scenes things to cater to any mass audience.
To a point, I'd say your last guess is the most accurate. Although I take umbrage, sir (yes, umbrage!) to the insinuation that writing anime about writing anime is the signal of the death-knell of creativity. I mean, just watch Animation Runner Kuromi. That show is so very sweet and charming and fun, and wholly original. It told a story about making anime, and you could tell that it was being told from the point of view of people who absolutely loved what they were a part of, warts and all. A small aside into the realm of the creator's insight isn't automatically a sign of creative bankruptcy.
My take on it is that I don't mind it. In fact, I hardly ever really notice it, to be honest, with the exception of when the crux of the story is the creation of anime and manga itself (like Animation Runner Kuromi or Bakuman., et al). I say bring it on; I've always wanted anime to become a little more self-aware about how silly it often is, and so long as they don't devolve into a parade of disconnected Family Guy-style cutaways, I'll be happy.
Hayao Miyazaki is one of my favorite anime directors, up there with Takahata, and Porco Rosso is one of my favorite movies by him. I was reading about Porco Rosso on Wikipedia when It said that Miyazaki said that if Ponyo did well, he was going to make a sequel movie to Porco Rosso!!! Wikipedia is all well and good, but I know it is not always reliable I wanted to ask an expert if this was true or not.
Well, it's "true" in the sense that Miyazaki has in fact gone on record stating that, if he were to direct another project, that would be the one he'd want to direct. And should he want to direct it, there's already a concept for the film and an outline for a story. The studio, however, was quick to "clarify" that Miyazaki was only considering a Porco Rosso sequel as a "hobby." Whatever that means.
Basically, the odds are about 50/50 that it will either happen or it won't. Producing a direct film sequel, as opposed to a short film or a children's book or a theme park attraction based on one of his older films, is uncharted territory for Miyazaki, and it's sort of surprising news coming from the world's grumpiest animation legend. I don't know, though; predicting Ghibli's output, Miyazaki's especially, is always a form of folly. Miyazaki has threatened to retire since the mid-90's and every film that's not made by either Miyazaki or Takahata usually undergoes some tortured development where it switches directors mid-production and has its story completely re-written, and in general it's sort of maddening to try and think about which movies they're making until they have a release date and are actively in production.
A Porco Rosso sequel, though. You know, that movie ended so perfectly that a sequel, to me, seems unnecessary. I'm sure Miyazaki might feel differently, since he obviously has a rather strong and straightforward connection to the characters, but out of all his films that could do with a sequel, I think Porco Rosso and probably My Neighbor Totoro rank at the bottom. Really? You wouldn't want to take a crack at animating the pieces of Nausicaä that were only in your gorgeous manga? Okay.
So apparently Aniplex is planning on releasing The Garden of Sinners over here in North America for a whopping $398.98. Let me start off by saying that never in my life up till now have I said "F*** Yeah!" and "F*** you!" within same moment.
I like many others have been waiting a very long time to see The Garden of Sinners get a US release, and when I saw the news that it's finally getting one my hopes were immediately shattered when I saw the ridiculously high price tag on it. This has been one of the most requested titles by anime fans to get brought over here for the last two years, so there's no doubt in my mind that they're aware of the demand to see it. But do they honestly think this is the proper way to release it? To force those who want it to pay an arm and a leg? Most people, including myself, would have to rob a bank, or whore themselves out in order to afford it.
So I have to ask. Whats the strategy or reasoning behind this? Will Aniplex US go the way of Bandai Visual? It certainly seems so with the way they're doing things.
Well, would you rather pay 620 US dollars for the complete series, like the Japanese fans will be forced to do? No? Okay then!
Look, there's often a big disconnect between what the fans want versus what actually sells. Garden of Sinners (I haven't seen more than 15 minutes of the first movie, so I'm going on knowledge of the series I've gathered through fandom osmosis) is an oppressively dark, dense story filled with characters who commit suicide and murder and rape each other with a looming sense of dread and despair hanging heavily over every scene. Fullmetal Alchemist this ain't. Aniplex knows this. They are marketing this show directly to the small group of ardent fans who they know would buy it at any price; the fans who seemingly wouldn't really mind spending the 620 dollars to import the Japanese Blu Ray. (I mean, it has English subs!)
I think the situation between Aniplex USA and Bandai Visual is a bit different. Bandai Visual made the mistake of thinking that their exorbitantly-priced DVDs would actually sell in brick-and-mortar stores. Surprise! They didn't! Aniplex USA is doing online orders only. That means virtually no overhead, a minimal amount of advertising, boom; they take their small profit and apply that to releasing the next Aniplex title that Funimation doesn't want.
I kid, I kid. But seriously, once again it all comes down to the age old question: how much is too much? If the 400 dollar price tag is too much for you, it's too much for you. That's the price that it is, sad to say.
Nothin' this week! But here's a special holiday gift for all of you, from me.
Beans and grapes, what jokes and japes! It's time for another Answerfans iteration! I actually got a lot of responses this week, which rules. So, here was last week's question:
PmChivas begins the festivities with a laundry list of some of the biggest titles in anime:
As I prepare for this holiday season and take a look at my pile waiting to be watched. I seem to have a lot of DVDs in my pile of shame this year. I bought a lot of DVDs this year due to hype but I've not had to chance to sit down and see if they were worth the hype. I believe part of the reason is because a lot of shows that the fandom deem hype-worthy I've found utterly boring (I'm looking at: Haruhi and Excel Saga). Here they go in no particular order:
1. Death Note: Everybody and there Mom says I have to watch this -- well, I watched the first four episode a couple of years ago before it got legally release. Found it boring, but I'm still going to give it another chance.
2. Claymore: I just haven't found the time. I saw part of it but I got distracted by other anime.
3. Fullmetal Alchemist: I saw several episodes when it ran on Adult Swim but never have seen the whole series. I bought the DVDs from Right Stuf bargin bin last year still haven't made it past the 3rd disk.
4. Hikaru no Go: I tracked all the disks that were released only for them to sit in a nice storage bin.
5. Mushi-Shi: I've heard so much about it, and seen some stills of it, that went out and bought it and promptly sat it in the corner to be watched when I have "time."
Now, I've also got another section to my shame pile: DVDs I've started to watch the series but suddenly stopped.
And great many more that would definitely earn me a place in the Hall of Shame. I see such great sales and I take advantage of them but I'm still after that elusive thing called time.
Brended missed Cowboy Bebop, which takes this "shame" thing to a new level:
While I've been using the term "Bin of Shame" to refer to anime that I have seen that I shouldn't have, I do have a number of shows that fall into the inverse category, the most glaring omission probably being Cowboy Bebop. It's not by a wide margin, though, since I also haven't yet gotten around to Ghost in the Shell, or Millennium Actress, or even Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (with the movies being particularly unforgivable since I actually own them all). And the neglect doesn't end there: Gankutsuou, Planetes, Twelve Kingdoms, Scrapped Princess, Crest of the Stars et al., and 5cm/s all have yet to be seen by me (I keep hearing good things about Eden of the East, too - I should probably give it more than the first episode). Fortunately, VOIP-enabled simul-views with some of my college club-mates (we all live in different states now) are chipping away at the pile (in progress: Noein, Beast Player Erin - coming up: Petite Princess Yucie, Irresponsible Captain Tylor), but we can only watch so fast, and not everything lends itself to group viewing (Sai-Kano and Grave of the Fireflies seem like they'll need their space.
Gotta hit the classics and watch original Yamato, original Macross (and Do You Remember Love?), and the original Gundam movies (so I can watch 08th MS Team); Gotta finish Aria, Emma, and Nadia; gotta watch REC, RahXephon, and R.O.D. the TV (and then the OVA again); Heat Guy J, Mari-Mite, World of Narue; Kare Kano, Porco Rosso, Castle of Cagliostro.. Martian Successor Nadesico... gotta finish watching Monster.... ::sob:: So much anime, so little time....
Jen's response is ripe with melancholia:
This week's question hit a bit close to home for me. My “Pile of Shame” is pretty large.
My anime-viewing habits generally start with sampling a series via online DVD rentals, and then purchasing any series that crosses that critical-mass “must own this” threshold. Unfortunately, once a title is purchased and safely ensconced on my shelves, I seem to lose any sense of urgency in watching it. The new titles coming from the rental queues always seem to take precedence, partly to get the most out of those monthly rental fees and partly from the lure of the new-and-different. Basically, my likelihood of completing a series seems to be inversely proportional to how quickly it establishes itself as “shelf-worthy”.
There are several high-profile series on the pile o'shame (Moribito, Maison Ikkoku, and GITS:Standalone Complex, to name a few), but I think the most egregious one is probably Irresponsible Captain Tylor. I've purchased the TV and OVA sets for this series TWICE (the “Ultra” and “Remastered” releases) on the strength of having seen the first 5-10 fansubbed episodes back in the mid-'90's… but I have yet to actually remove a disk from the case on any of them.
Caveat Emptor, Leanna:
Well, back in May I bought The Slayers: Evolution-R boxset, even preordered it to get the bonus coin. It's been sitting on my shelf since I got it. I'm a big Slayers fan, I bought the first three seasons twice and all...but I suppose I'm either not that interested in Evo-R (not a fan of the new characters at all) or I don't want it to end.
ZipZapZopTitania is going to have the epic-est marathon EVER:
One issue I have is that I don't actually finish animes very often. I start them, but it may be months until I actually get to the last episode, because I keep starting up new ones. Aside from that, though, I have to be careful with my anime time. I go to school. I do stuff outside of school that requires time. And then I have oodles of homework to do after that.
A few I've started but haven't finished: K-ON!, Eden of the East (I know, it's only got, like, twelve or thirteen episodes, but that's just how I roll), Kanon 2006, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha (I couldn't get past Nanoha's friend yelling "Urusai!" in the first episode of the ENGLISH dub...but I probably should get back to it), Utawarerumono, Darker than Black, Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist, Casshern Sins, Inuyasha, Black Butler...This is going to go on forever. Thing is, I love Casshern Sins. And Inuyasha. And Black Butler is just awesome. I just need to finish them...
And the ones I need to start in general: Texhnolyze, Prince of Tennis, Fate/stay night, BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad, Basilisk, Arjuna, .hack//, Eureka Seven, Durarara!!, Yumeiro Pâtissière, Full Moon o Sagashite (the great debate: read the manga or watch the anime?), Kodocha, Claymore, Macross Frontier, El Cazador de la Bruja, Ergo Proxy, Hetalia - Axis Powers, Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Save Me! Lollipop, Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ (I am TOTALLY not done yet, hahaha!), Venus Versus Virus, Soul Eater, Arakawa Under the Bridge, Angel Sanctuary, Blassreiter, D.Gray-man, The Legend of the Legendary Heroes, Fairy Tail, Dragonaut - The Resonance, Gankutsuou, Gakuen Alice, Shangri-La, Bokurano, Gintama, Kobato., Tamayura, Tails of the Abyss, Valkyria Chronicles, Tears to Tiara, Munto, Tytania (um, it's my username, I'm kinda obligated to), and freaking Avatar: The Last Airbender. Blame my mom for not letting me watch it when it aired because she thought it was too violent. (Hey, I was, like, eight or something!...um...you didn't hear that.)
...Damn. I didn't realize how long my list was until I wrote it out. That, my dear Answerman, is the very essence of failure. Imma go have an anime marathon now.
Caleb has his shame in handy-dandy list form:
My "Pile of Shame" has been slowly growing over the course of several years. It's rather embarrassing to look at it now, knowing how much of it I desperately need to see, but here it is, my list of shows not yet watched.
1. Neon Genesis Evangelion
2. Elfen Lied
3. The second half of the original Fullmetal Alchemist
5. Giant Killing
6. The last episode of Paranoia Agent (I don't want it to be over!)
7. Any incarnation of Dragon Ball
8. Eden of the East
9. The second half of Soul Eater
10. Perfect Blue
Danny's list fulfills the ANN Heat Guy J reference quota:
Great question. Unfortunately, my "Pile of Shame" fills a book case. Here are just a few titles I'm eager to watch, but haven't taken the time to open up the DVD case:
This list doesn't include all the other shows I've seen once, but would like to sit down and enjoy again (RahXephon and Last Exile are two).
I blame my growing Pile of Shame on on-line bargain blitzes (thanks, Right Stuf!) and my recent marriage--both VERY good things but both detrimental to my anime viewing habits. I'll take the trade-off.
Eric looks through the half-cracked mirror of regret to cull his Pile:
My 'Pile of Shame' is mostly stuff that was really popular back when I was a younger (both in age and fandom) fan, mostly watching Dragon Ball Z and Yū Yū Hakusho. So I missed out on a lot of greats while I was too young to have a job to afford much more than what I knew I liked from TV. Many such gems I still haven't gotten too sadly.
A first example would be Neon Genesis Evangelion. Granted, I've seen the 1.01 film, but I have never yet seen the original series that started it all. It's been on my list for a while now, but I've never even yet looked at how much a full boxset of this would run me, despite constantly hearing that I need to watch this one just to see what all the hubbub is about.
Another example would be the comedic hijinks of Azumanga Daioh. I hear a lot of talk about the pervy teacher, and the cuteness of Chiyo, but I've never seen it for myself. From what little I know of it, I do think I'd like it, it seems like it'd fit right next to School Rumble and Pani Poni Dash! on my shelf, but I've never gotten around to getting a set, despite seeing it used at Hastings often enough.
The main other one that comes to mind is Grave of the Fireflies. I keep hearing how depressing this one is, and from the sounds of it they're not lying. It's been on my list for a long time too (though originally I thought it was just another Ghibli film. Glad I know better now for when I do get to see it), but I just haven't gotten around to ordering it.
There's lots of other stuff I hear talk of to, but it's newer stuff, so I hardly call it neglected even if it's been on my list for a while.
Kathleen sighs, sighs and sighs again:
My pile of shame? Oh dear lord, where do I start? Let me just preface this by saying that I've only been into anime and manga a few years now and I'm just starting to watch more and more of it, so don't kill me please. With that being said, I have never gotten around to watching Ghost in the Shell, Evangelion, or anything of the Gundam series. And I'm kind of ashamed to say this too, but the reason why I've never watched any of them was because I just didn't want to, well no that's a lie, because I do want to see them but I don't at the same time.Two conflicting notions keeping from watching, what I hear from everyone, to be insanely good. Sigh.
CaptainFalcon, you are making me want to make a lame and outdated Falcon Punch joke and you are hurting my insides because it goes against every fiber of my being but I MUST MAINTAIN STRENGTH but anyway here is your response:
I have to say, I have some pride among my friends for being acknowledges as, what they say, the Otaking around where I am. But I have some confessions to make.
I have yet to watch quite a few anime that I know I definitely should.
I have yet to finish Princess Tutu, despite all the talk I hear about ninjas dueling with guitars in the second season (well, figurative ninjas at least) I have yet to power my way through the first season.
Second, I have never seen the original series of Neon Genesis Evangelion, I've seen the movies, the rebuilds, but I have never seen the original series.
I have also put off reading all of Hayate the Combat Butler's manga, simply because I'm much more of a fan of the anime. Which I am pretty depressed about since I love the series so much.
I also haven't seen a majority of any Gundam series, which I am pained to admit.
Now I know this isn't many, but I do feel really bad for not seeing them or reading them when my friends all treat me like some sort of Otaking.
Gundam series seems to be a common theme here, as B.J. can attest:
Wanna see my insane spreadsheet? (Seriously, not kidding, it's huge)
Yeah, I've got a list, a huge one, but I'll give some of the highlights. My "to-watch" list ranges all over the place from comedies (Excel Saga, Love Hina), to classics (everything by Leiji Matsumoto), to the critically acclaimed (Ghost in the Shell: SAC). However, probably the biggest pile of shame I have is the sheer amount of Gundam I haven't watched. Being a self-proclaimed mecha fan, this has always bothered me and I'm finally started to remedy this. I've taken it upon myself to watch everything Gundam in production order (sort of), starting with the original and moving all the way through to 00 and Unicorn. However, I finished Zeta Gundam (number two on said list) and have recently stalled in my quest. I did watch the first two episodes of ZZ but the sudden tonal shift has kind of destroyed my motivation (despite thinking that ANYTHING would be better than the angsty melodrama that Zeta became). I still wish to finish my quest but circumstances and a lack of current interest seems to have pulled away from it (I've mostly been re-watching Gurren Lagann and another title that has been sitting on my pile-o-shame for a long time itself: Lucky Star).
Fortunately, I don't have such a list when it comes to manga. I've had a very helpful local library who had been willing to pick up all sorts of titles, from the big names (DBZ, Naruto, CLAMP) to the more obscure stuff (Phoenix, Tekkonkinkreet, all of Iron Wok Jan!!). They've pretty willing to grab series I've suggested, too (You have no idea how happy I was when they decided to pick up Hoshin Engi on my recommendation!). If anything, the manga pile-o-shame would simply be series that I just don't have access to at the moment, such as other works by Osamu Tezuka and unlicensed titles like Fist of the North Star or the new Embalming-Frankensteiny thingy by Nobuhiro Watsuki (why hasn't Viz picked this up yet?).
So, yeah, I still have got a lot of Gundam to work through. But I think I'm interested in spinning the question around to Brian (and perhaps other ANN celebrities). What titles have THEY been putting off, despite being the anime and manga connoisseurs we believe them to be?
For our last response of the night! Leeleekins hasn't seen Fullmetal Alchemist, and must wear a scarlet FMA on his or her sweater:
I have quite a few anime that could be put into the "Pile of Shame", but I'm pretty sure the biggest one has to be Fullmetal Alchemist. Everywhere, all the time, all I ever hear about it are its praises. I watched a couple of episodes and really like it I just...I dunno it doesn't call to me like some other anime do. Story is great, art is nice, but I just can't really seem to care about it enough to actually finish. I'll get around to it some day, but right now I could really care less. Maybe because everyone makes such a big deal about it? ALL THE TIME? Also Berserk. I call myself a huge Berserk fan (probably my favorite manga right now) but once again, I've yet to finish the anime. Perhaps when the new one comes out I'll be able to finish that one?
Whoo dang! That was quite the explosion of answers. A much-needed one, considering last week I had only three responses. Next week, though, I figured that I'd start prematurely announcing the demise of 2010 with this question 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.
And now it's time for my pithy closing sentence! Good night and adieu, and remember to send all those juicy, delicious questions and answers to answerman(AT!)animenewsnetwork.com! Toodles!
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