Hey, Answerman! - The Legend(s) Reborn

by Brian Hanson, Jun 3rd 2011

Welcome one and all! Before we begin, I would like to dedicate this week's column to Michael Ironside, because it has recently been brought to my attention that Michael Ironside has a cameo in the new X-Men movie. This is pivotal, because as an avid film-goer, I have been experiencing quite a drought of Michael Ironside in my film-going diet. With the release of this newest X-Men movie, the world of blockbuster filmic entertainment has experienced a 1,000-percent increase in Michael Ironside compared to years past. In my perfect world, my world of peace and prosperity, a world devoid of famine and war, Michael Ironside is the actor in every film, the voice in every cartoon, and the digital protagonist in every videogame. The power and the subtlety of his acting has led us to the apex of human existence, and the entire universe exists in a persistent state of euphoria and grace.

Anyway.


As a 33-year-old anime and manga fan, I find it surprising that many younger fans haven't watched shows like the original Evangelion, have never heard of Revolutionary Girl Utena, or, going even further back, have never read a manga by Osamu Tezuka. (And I'm obviously just naming the most glaring examples here.) Is the situation the same in Japan, or are younger Japanese fans generally more interested in the medium's past masterpieces?

This is a tricky thing, actually - one man's masterpiece is another man's, uh, confusing, jumbled mess. I mean, let's think about this for a moment; which anime and manga can you utterly, definitively describe as a quantified masterwork?

Discounting the entire Studio Ghibli catalog (and even some of that that is debatable as far as "masterpiece" status is concerned), and you've got a lot of shows that definitely made an impact on the industry - your Gundams, your Evangelions, your Macrosses - that, nonetheless, have left a great amount of many people cold and confused. I of course think that Neon Genesis Evangelion is an admirably ambitious work of pop-art, but I can't exactly fault people who think that it's just confusing and depressing.

And again we come to the problem that plagues most of these shows when compared to the cutting edge anime and manga being devoured by today's current crop of fans. They just look old. The newer fans have demonstrated, time and time again, that they're really only interested in the newest of the new, the titles that are technologically sophisticated that take cues from those classics that preceded them, but build upon them.

As for Japan? Well, I don't know for certain - but what I can say, is that they've obviously done a much better job at making these older titles somewhat available in case they might be curious enough to check them out. The original Mobile Suit Gundam was re-run on Japanese TV for decades, in part to sate the nostalgia crowd, but also to offer a nice companion to whatever new, flashier Gundam series would be airing at the time. Here in the states, it's a bit of a crapshoot. Unless Funimation decided to pick up an older series, chances are it's pretty much gone from the public eye. The DVDs go out of print and become exorbitantly expensive. Newer streaming sites have no interest in hosting them, because their audience doesn't really want them. And you can forget about a TV network ever picking them up again.

And on that note, A PERSONAL ANECDOTE:

One of my co-workers at my bookstore and I were talking one day about Rumiko Takahashi stuff: she had fond memories of staying up late to watch Inuyasha and then going to school the next morning, bleary and tired. I asked if she was familiar with Urusei Yatsura, and she wasn't of course. So! I offered to lend her my CPM DVD of Beautiful Dreamer.

Some months later, I start thinking about that movie, and all the cool stuff it did; how most movies based upon anime TV series are so dry and idiotic, and that Beautiful Dreamer was essentially an art film with the cast of a popular sitcom. I couldn't find it anywhere, and I couldn't remember if I still had it loaned out, or if I got rid of it during one of my many Random DVD And Video Game Shelf Purges. I check online to see what the disc is selling for; almost 100 dollars! Crazy!

The next day I ask the girl if she still has it; she does. I joke about how much the DVD is worth, and she ends up getting so freaked out about it, worried that she'll destroy it accidentally and ruin my potential R.O.I., that she brings it to me the next day, without ever watching it.

END PERSONAL ANECDOTE.

I think that, to a degree, newer fans are often curious about the history of this medium, and the things that came before their time. Unfortunately, though, most of this stuff simply isn't available to them in a format that they're used to. Like I mentioned before, it's pretty rare to see anything available for legit streaming services that isn't part of the newest crop of content. It happens once in a while, but not enough for it to really make an impact. It's certainly been proven that older shows and movies and manga don't sell, but fans today aren't so completely disproving of older titles that they aren't at least curious about them. But because they don't sell, most companies don't release them, or make them available in some other format. I mean, I'd love it if some of these older titles came back around on Netflix or Hulu or Crunchyroll, because the potential is there to reach to a newer audience, but alas.


When I heard that Tokyopop was closing its doors in the US, my first thought was the Aria manga series. I know that it does not have a big fanbase and wonder if some other company would pick it up. Would a print on demand solution work in the anime industry basing it on royalties for the author, artist and translators. Would they have to kick the price up? Would a company even consider such a thing?

Well, sure, it's possible. That's not a bad idea at all in my book. But the problem is, I think - where, exactly, does print-on-demand fit within the business model and the M.O. of bigger publishers like Yen Press and Viz? The answer is, it doesn't.

Print-on-demand would be a great way for a smaller publisher to deal with their most ardent fans in a direct and tangible way. Ah, but there's the rub: most of those "smaller" manga publishers are no more. Go! Comi is done. Aurora Publishing is dead. And then you have companies like Seven Seas, which has (smartly, I think) decided to focus more towards digital distribution. Oh, hey, that's another problem - digital distribution! Now that's a good way to distribute smaller titles directly to the fans, but without the nasty printing and shipping costs. No overhead! Yippee!

And that's the way I see it. The bigger publishers - Vizes and Yen Presses - don't really have much of an incentive for print-on-demand, since the titles that they acquire are demographically vetted to be released to as wide an audience as possible. And the smaller ones seem more keen on publishing their smaller series digitally. Print-on-demand just doesn't quite fit within their business models.

But, you know, even as a man with the title of "Answerman," I am not impervious to being incorrect from time to time, when it comes to predictions. Aria is also a bit of a special case - it was first released by now-defunct ADV Manga, who got 3 volumes out the door before dropping it. Tokyopop snatched it up after that and took about 3 years to release 6 volumes before dropping dead, and that was only half the series, so in reality, it's kind of a two-time loser when it comes to American manga sales. It might have too much of a failure-stink on it to be attractive to any current publisher, but who knows? Maybe, I dunno, Vertical will read this column and, out of sheer spite, will license Aria and print it on demand for you. That would be awesome.


I know you used to get a lot of questions (and still do, sometimes) on how to make an anime, and I know one of the things you said was to write a book or make a webcomic, and if it gets popular it could be adapted into an anime series.

So let me turn the tables: what book or webcomic would YOU like to see turned into an anime series? Maybe there's a Howl's Moving Castle sequel I'm unaware of that's ripe for the big screen, or maybe you'd like to see Harry Potter get the anime treatment, or maybe have Sunrise at Penny Arcade or xckd?

Webcomics? Bleh.

Most of the webcomics I read (or at least used to read) have had the opportunity to branch out into other forms of media, like Penny Arcade for example. But, the creators of those things are perfectly happy keeping their creations they way that they are. The guys at Penny Arcade made a goofy downloadable RPG, and that was that.

Speaking for myself, I gotta say... I don't really want more anime based on Western things. Mainly just because of that awful, awful Highlander anime they made. Before that came out, I was all, "HOLY F*** YES, HIGHLANDER IS STUPID AND INANE AND VIOLENT, WITH A CONFUSING PLOT AND THREADBARE CHARACTERS, IT WOULD MAKE AN AWESOME ANIME" and then it came out and I was nothing but tears and rage.

To say nothing of the lame Halo anime, and the mediocre Batman: Gotham Knight. I know that Funimation is probably pretty damn excited to be producing their anime series based on the Dragon Age games, but I'm not so sure.

You know what I want? Original stories. Original ideas. I want to watch anime that's not based upon a novelization of a video game, or a light novel based on a dating sim. I want more Wings of Honneamise.

Just thinking about how terrific that movie is just about breaks my brain. Here was a young company - Gainax - comprised of nothing but young, sincere, ambitious artists. And they got a budget bigger than Jesus to make a film that is wholly unconventional in every single way. It's set on a quasi-alternate-reality version of Earth, but without reams of bogus sci-fi hokum, and the screen is littered with wonderful art direction of a world that's sort of familiar, but wonderfully alien. Just look at, for example, the guns the characters use - they're not laser pistols or handguns, but these strange little things that still look like guns, but cleverly modified to fit within the rest of this wonderful universe that Gainax created.

And the story! Oh, man! It's not some spunky kid out to save the universe. It's not a band of merry adventurers battling an onslaught of demons. None of that. It's a tender story of a bored and broken man seeking redemption, pouring himself into a cause that he finds important that everyone else thinks is a laughable joke, and finding spiritual enlightenment in spite of his entire endeavor being twisted by corrupt politicians as an excuse to wage war. It's about one man coming to terms with himself. It's a story that's mature, resonant, and authentic. Every single thing in that movie is wholly idiosyncratic. It's wonderful. And not only is it unique, it is exceptionally well done. Every frame is teeming with detail.

That's what I want to see. That's why I love anime. I started watching anime for the same reasons everyone else did - to see robots blow each other up and of course the animated boobs - but it was films like Honneamise that made me love anime, that affirmed my own notions of the sorts of visual stories that animation in and of itself is capable of.

So, no, in other words. I can live without webcomic adaptations. I can live without anime adaptations of some of my favorite books. I think the world is probably better off without an anime version of Finnegans Wake. The sad thing is that I of course know that adaptations are practically the only way that anything is made into a film or a TV series these days, animated or not. That's just the way the market works. But if I had my druthers, there would be a lot more Honneamises and Cowboy Bebopses in the world. Wholly original creations made by ambitious, creative artists, who strive to tell a real story using the medium that they are masters of.

And before you point it out in the forums, yes: me using stupid pluralses in each of my answers was a deliberately stupid choice that I am aware of. It happened twice by accident but then I thought, "meh, I'll just own up to it so that I don't have to write anything else." This is why I get paid the big bucks, guys.



Sweet Mother of Mary! You all heard my complaints last week, and boy did you guys turn around and give me a ton of great responses to last week's question. I love you guys. So anyway, here is what I had to ask the last time I was here:


As we begin, I slyly pull my own rocking chair over and join Ahrem on the porch:

Ah yes those were the days. Let me recollect as I rock back and forth in my rocking chair on my front porch. (Just kidding! I'm really not that old!) Although this question was about anime, my answer speaks for animation in general.

I've always had a particular fondness for animation. Not just anime but animation in general though I am most fond of hand painted animation. This is the type of animation I grew up with and it holds a special place in my heart. When I saw cg animation for the first time I thought it looked incredible. Then when traditional animation and cg were combined I thought it looked amazing. Then when I saw a movie that was complete cg I was very impressed. However as digital technology and cg became more the standard of animation in America, my opinion started to change.

I used to draw cartoon pictures when I was younger and had wanted to be a comic artist, illustrator, or an animator, but once I got a full time job then I had less free time to draw and was eventually left with no choice but to abandon my dreams. This is one of the reasons for my love of traditional animation. I don't really mind the advances in digital technology and cg as I see these as another form of art, but when it causes another form of art to slowly become obsolete then I become upset. When I think back to how many works of hand drawn animation there were that I considered masterpieces it makes me depressed to know that this old form of art is being replaced. I considered Disney's Fantasia to be one of those masterpieces which even today the animation is amazing and that was made when digital technology was pretty much nonexistent. I am also quite fond of Miazaki's films and I think it was a very bold decision for him decide to go back to traditional hand-drawn animation and dissolving Studio Ghibli's computer animation department. One of my greatest wishes (which is likely never gonna happen) is to see Richard Williams' The Thief and The Cobbler completed as he had envisioned it as I thought his animation was very well done. Past works have shown us that amazing animation of high quality can be done without the need for computers.

After seeing so much cg animation being made over and over again I have started to think that it has a rather cold perfection to it. I always respected the slight imperfections in traditional animation. These imperfections made it look more human. This has caused me to become even more attached to hand drawn animation and I'm starting to understand why my brother who is a photographer uses only traditional film cameras in his work. It's true that Japan is far from going to complete cg, but here in America it feels as if traditional hand drawn animation is slowly being lost. I've also noticed that some people in America are saying that art is a worthless industry and schools are cutting their art and music programs due to budget cuts. Well I say art is very important! Art is the heart and passion of our civilization. Without it our society would slowly transform into a giant soulless conglomerate. Boy I went off topic a bit there and I'm starting to rant like an stubburn old person (I swear I'm really a young person!) I'm fine with new technology in art, but when it slowly starts to fade out older forms of art then my opinions of it change. I miss the beautiful and nostalgic feel of hand painted animation and I don't want the kind of animation that I grew up with dissappearing from our society even though it seems inevitable.

Whether its made in Japan, America or anywhere else, hand painted animation is always the kind of animation that warms my heart and soul.

Alexander misses seeing the sweat and the gristle in those quaint robots:

What I miss about older anime is a degree of detail in mechanical designs. Take Area 88 for example. The fighters were incredibly detailed, and the animation style allowed for a degree of detail unmatched with CG designs. In particular, the detail in the explosions of the planes gave the dogfights a brutality that you don't see elsewhere.

Look out, Noizi Ito, because B.J. will punch you in the face if he ever sees you in public:

I mentioned this a little with my response to the Spring 2011 anime season with my nostalgia for adventures of the 90's. If you want to talk about feel, I don't think we get the same kind of sincere epics we used to. As for the look, I admit I'm a sucker for 80's and 90's character design. The biggest sign of this is looking at the art style of Kosuke Fujishima in Oh My Goddess!, someone very influenced by the trends in anime. When you look at the first few volumes, the characters look very 80's, and I'm not talking about the clothes. Then you jump ahead to volumes like 15-20 and it's very 90's looking and jump again to the 30's and it's very different again, very modern. For me, his art style was the best in the 90's when Belldandy and company shared similar designs to the anime coming out at the time (Tenchi, Slayers, etc.). I admit that I still like Fujishima's artwork but lately I think he's been borrowing a little too much from the likes of Noizi Ito and it's been disheartening. (I know Ito has her fans but her style does very little for me.)

However, it's very obvious that anime has gained a lot in the way of techniques and tricks through advances in technology. Now studios are capable of such incredible and fluid animation only thought consistently possible with powerhouses like Ghibli and Mad House or for theatrical films (lot's of overlap there, I know). But, while it's nice to not have to see static faces shouting at each other as often, it also makes for taking the easy way out by letting computers do a lot of work in terms of coloring and aesthetic (how many times do I have to see a dusk-scene in a classroom filled with shades of burnt amber?). I think we're seeing much more cookie-cutter settings, scenes, and even character designs than we ever have in the history of anime simply out of sheer laziness and that's kind of sad.

I think I can get away from saying these kinds of things because there have been shows that use the modern technology to bring out the best from old-school anime, the prime example being Gundam Unicorn. Despite all the tech put into it, the feel of the show simply screams 80's and it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. And as best as I can tell, the Type-Moon stuff seems to carry on the styles of the 90's quite nicely (I really haven't seen anything yet, mostly because I avoid eroge). I really think that in terms of technology anime is at a peak unparalleled in its history, it's just being bogged down by lazy trend following, leaving very little that attempts to explore the depths of the human imagination.

Perhaps I'm just a nostalgic fan who's getting left behind by modern anime just as any other medium will have their loved-but-not-timeless scenes. Just with music, movies, comics and video games, anime must move on with its current audiences. Perhaps us older fans should feel lucky for the old-school treats we do get. Perhaps I've just been babbling for far too long, but I really think that the past is there to teach us from its experience and that modern anime could use a few of those lessons.

Chris is remarkably egalitarian about this whole thing:

It's hard not to have a nostalgic feel for cel based anime. Even the newer 2D CG shows add cel shading to mimic the appearance of older works. And the era of hand-drawn anime is much larger than that of CG; encompassing many more decades. However, the Cel vs. CG debate is often used as a way of comparing the relative merits of older and newer anime, to pit them against each other.

Comparing older titles to newer titles isn't even something that came about with the introduction of digitally manipulated anime. Streamline used to have an advertisement that would cut between the TV show “Prince Planet”, and their double feature of “Neo-Tokyo” and “Silent Möbius” with the tag-line: “That was then … this is NOW!”. The idea being that 1960s anime was lame, but 1980s-90s anime is rad. The ad could've cut in the fight with the monster fish from the 1968 movie “Horus, Prince of the Sun”, but that wouldn't of said the same thing.

From 2D CG anime, I enjoy the fights in “Blood: The Last Vampire” and “Sword of the Stranger”; the hyper-detailed backgrounds in “The Place Promised in Our Early Days”; the shocking, visceral gore of “Shigurui: Death Frenzy”, and the high-octane racing of “Redline”. But that doesn't mean that I think they are any better looking than well animated, effective, and beautiful cel works, such as the sci-fi serial styled “Crusher Joe”; ninja adventure “Dagger of Kamui”; mythic “Arion”; wistful, alternate universe “Wings of Honneamise”; dark, stylish “Neo Tokyo”; auteur-ish “Robot Carnival”; grungy, pre-apocalyptic “Akira”; long limbed, fantasy fashion model-world “Five Star Stories”; and the sand-blasted, war-torn, “Venus Wars”.

Cel or CG is just part of the style, look, feel, aesthetic, and technology that date works to the specific time of their creation. I love looking back through the over four decades that were cel based, but if I forsake all new, computer assisted anime, I'll miss out on great looking, interesting shows like “Mononoke”, “Casshern Sins”, and “Aoi Bungaku”; and badass action ones like “Mazinkaizer SKL”. I find certain aspects of the shows I like, endearing, and aspects of shows I dislike, detracting; but they can be from any time period and be made in cel, CG, or even stop-motion animation.

Daniel Jay misses those shortcuts and cost-cutting measures:

Back in the day as a new viewer, I always thought it was anime's artistry that separated it from other cartoons. More than just big eyes and stories that didn't talk down to its audience, anime had style. This was most visible in the long panoramic shots or frozen character silhouettes. I can still envision slow scans across a spaceship fleet, and many heart-to-heart conversations in the sunset.

Later, I realized these mood-setting scenes were done to save production costs. I don't notice these "cheap tricks" as often nowadays, and actually kinda miss them. I'm sure studios gladly welcome bigger budgets and advanced digital effects--both would make my life a lot easier, too. But strangely, it seems that under tighter limitations, artists actually do their most creative work. Just think of all those crafty indie folks we love to root for . . . and how they fizzle out when awarded a pot of gold.

Nicolas Zabaly has a big old Wall O' Text here touching on just about everything this topic allows, making for good readin':

I'm not exactly an old-timer, but I've been watching anime long enough to remember the day when the 'switch to digital' became apparent (it was Mad House's X TV series back when Pioneer/Geneon first released it). I've had very mixed feelings on anime going digital, not only from an aesthetic point of view, but also in terms of the way the production work is done and the kinds of art skills that are valued. I've also felt the digital switch has deprived fans and collectors of a significant amount of tangible original artwork (cels, and increasingly these days, hand-painted backgrounds) that helped make the animation process more relatable as an actual art form.

What I think was best about the original production processes was the organic feeling of the work. You could tell these were cels and backgrounds painted by hand. They had texture and little imperfections that stood out and made you think about the intense labor that went into making them. There also were certain kinds of colors, particularly dark colors, that you could only get with real paint exposed just right under a camera rig. A good example of this is comparing the X TV series (which was digital) to the earlier X movie (which was animated using cels). When budget was not an obstacle, cel animation took on a life and 'realism' unlike what's being made today (consider something like Akira). The pre-digital era also had interesting and unusual art effects that no longer exist, such as air brushing (for things like wind effects) and scratching the cels with razors (for falling rain). These kinds of effects are all observable in Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade. The lovingly hand-crafted feel of these films (and note that I'm giving film examples, as TV animation usually didn't experience all these benefits) is something that modern production in the digital era can't replicate. What the pre-digital era did was place more visual emphasis on (and thus increase the importance of) the final colored cels and backgrounds, versus the actual animation drawings themselves. There are lots of TV and film anime that were done with cels that have beautiful genga and douga animation drawings. But the artwork of great beauty from these projects is, more often than not, the finished cel set-ups. Ask any cel collector who has a full set-up from Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust or virtually any Ghibli film, and these will usually be the pride of the collection.

Modern digital production, on the other hand, I think empowers the animator to a higher status and reduces the paint and background artists. The reason for this is that the animator (and specifically the key animator who plans movement and complexity of shots) no longer have as many limits on doing things their way. In a complex action scene with lots of effects, for example, a cel-era animator would have to be careful not to have too many layers of animation (stacking drawings on top of each other, thus dividing up the imagery in a shot) since there was a limit on how many layers of cels could be photographer using an animation camera rig (not to mention, that could be painted by hand). Now, with drawings scanned directly into the computer and painted digitally, there are fewer limits on how many layers can be used. A complex effects shot in something like Evangelion 1.0 could have 26 or more layers, which would have been exceedingly hard if not impossible in the cel era. Note that this doesn't mean drawing the shots or coloring each layer is any less hard, just that there is no longer a mechanical limitation (the physical camera) holding animators back from doing this. Another factor that empowers the key animator is the movement of more and more painting and background jobs overseas. With these professions being delegated to people further and further away from the main production site, the animators have more and more sway over how shots will be rendered in the final production. And the ability of digital photography departments to use computer programs to add small effects that once would have been hand-animated (like dust and flying debris, or sparkles, all of which appear in the Gurren Lagann mecha transformation scenes) lets the key animators focus on capturing more difficult movements or stylization. This is all really good for the key animators, as it allows them full reign to dictate how their shots will look (no more bending to the limits of other departments), but at the same time, it forces key animators to be that much more creative in their staging, timing, style, and choice of animated movements in order to avoid looking the same as everyone else. That's why the digital age has been a blessing for animators like Yutaka Nakamura of BONES, who has shown himself to be among the greatest of current animators (who, perhaps not ironically, was trained in the cel era), but has shown a comparative lack of talent in many newcomers working in TV productions. One other key strength of digital is the range of colors that can be produced. While the range of rich dark colors is virtually gone, brighter and more 'electric' colors are the strong suit of digital. The first show I saw that really took advantage of digital coloring's potential was Gundam Seed (a show I've described as ushering in "the candy-colored apocalypse), and seeing the look that was achieved in that production is a fine example of the abilities of digital to make really arresting colored images. Dynamic lighting that couldn't be done with traditional painting or camera effects, seen in abundance during the climax of in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, are another strong suit that allows modern filmmakers to show off the key animator's skill in (quite literally) a new light.

It should be obvious I've completely overlooked CG animation as a factor. This isn't an accident. CG, in terms of animation, is in a separate category and is best treated as such. This becomes most obvious when one considers the range of possible CG goes from amazing to awful (much like hand-drawn animation). To that end, I'm pleased to see CG improving to be better integrated into hand-drawn productions (or able to stand on its own in 'CG anime,' though there's still little of it), but on the whole CG hasn't improved significantly enough across the board to signify a true positive step for anime collectively. Using CG to animate cars or background characters, for example, stands out in some shows and detracts, while in others it is key to filling in the expansive visuals. In the past before digital, these things would have been done by hand or, more often, not included, and sometimes the simplicity of image composition was more interesting and meaningful than the overstuffed tendencies of a lot of modern anime. The best of the productions that push CG/hand-drawn integration are, of course, the big budget films where scenes can be refined and retakes afforded in order to make everything perfect (like Evangelion 2.0). When it works, you can look back even on an older production (like GONZO's Yukikaze) and still be amazed at what was created. Still, what I ultimately find most interesting about some recent high-profile productions is how the creators want to go back to hand-drawn methods while still taking advantage of what digital can provide. For example, the BONES film Sword of the Stranger was 85% hand-animated, with CG used only for moving backgrounds that would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, to animate any other way. Both Ghibli's Ponyo and Mad House's REDLINE were entirely hand-animated. All these films, though, use digital painting processes and photography department tricks to enhance the animated images. Even Miyazaki, purist that he is, isn't willing to go back to cels for something like Ponyo; no one would want to paint 180,000 of them by hand, nor would it be easy in this day and age to acquire that much suitable celluloid (although stories have long existed that Ghibli stockpiled a cel supply with just such a return to traditional processes in mind). The traditionalist in me laments that I'll probably never see another cel-animated film (or be able to collect the artwork from it), but from a practical point-of-view, I can understand how digital enables modern anime studios to try things they might not have otherwise (like the wild stylization of Gurren Lagann, or the atmospheric coloring and lighting of Kara no Kyoukai). Each method has its unique advantages, and in a perfect world, I'd like to see both disciplines continue toward greater artistic perfection.

Alright Joanna, close us out with your mannered and measured opinion on old things:

Being twenty-five years old, by some American accounts I am an "old timer." At least, when I cosplay nowadays all my fellow cosplayers tend to be ten years my junior. I was aware of the gradual progression from cels to digital. In that crazy transition period in the mid 90's or so that seemed to have a little bit of both in the animes I tended to watch the quality changes used to drive me bananas. Slayers Try had a habit of having random bits of anime become suddenly *way* more vivid in color--sometimes dayglo-- that was terrifically off-putting to watch. I knew these were the digital bits thrown in and I hated it.

Anyway, I feel like some of the more subtle color nuances like the shadows on people's faces and clothes that I used to see in cel animation has vanished from newer shows. Take a look at the 1993 version of Oh My Goddess! and then look at the Ah! My Goddess TV series in 2005. Everything is a teensy bit more flat and that's because there's a certain level of dimension that's missing without those extra shadowing effects. Don't get me wrong, the show is very pretty and I'm absolutely not bashing it. It's just a little bit different. I suppose that, for an art major like me, that's simply more noticeable.

Another thing I've noticed is that some of the character designs in newer shows are less detailed in general than before. I was a huge fan of the anime Birdy the Mighty. The 1996 anime had tons of detail that seemed to be washed out and lost in the 2008 Decode reboot. Birdy's hair had more individual strands blowing about, her coloring was more pronounced, and her suit had various little seams and detailed bits that vanished from the newer version.

I know in my two examples I'm dealing with OVA's versus TV shows and some might say it's because the budgets needed to be stretched further. However, even shows like Tenchi Muyo! have the same differences as well.

Is it a bad thing? I say yes, and no. I don't like the washed out color schemes of newer shows and the lack of shadowing detail. But, I do like the absence of film grain in the digital works and I enjoy the consistency of color.

Well lookit that. And here I was earlier saying that old things don't sell. Which they don't, but people still like the look and feel of it all. That's endearing and wonderful.

Anyway. Next week, I'm asking those of you heartbroken super-fans of particular series out there to tell me your thoughts on this:


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.

Stick a fork in me, I'm done! I'm off to whatever it is I do with myself after I'm done writing this thing. Something that has yet to be determined. In the meantime, make sure to get those nagging questions and wonderful answers my way by emailing me at answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com! Adios, amigos!


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