Hey, Answerman! You Can't Always Get What You Want
by Brian Hanson, Jun 10th 2011
Ah, E3. Nerd Christmas. We get a tantalizing look at all the things we want to buy and waste our lives with, and then they lock them back in the closet for another year, and we all awkwardly shuffle away, attempting to douse our obvious arousal.
But that'll come into play later. Let's get into these questions, here:
I know you've been getting similar questions lately due to Tokyopop's closing, but I just had to get an answer to what's been nagging me for a while. Is there any chance of Tokyopop's pop fiction titles, such as The Twelve Kingdoms and Full Metal Panic!, of getting picked up by another company? I really love the books and it would be a shame if they were just dropped. Plus, I really want to know what happens in the end! Thanks!
Well, sure, I guess in theory, I can --
This is probably one of many e-mails focused on the discontinuation of a series by Tokyo Pop, which must get very irritating for our beloved Answerman to read.... but I'm going to write one anyway! I can dangle tons of different series names of manga/l. novels/etc. in the opening of this answer/e-mail/rant that have been discontinued by Tokyo Pop to try and make myself sound knowledgeable, but I won't try and pretend and just focus on a well-known (extremely under-rated in my opinion) light novel series that I am very worried about.
The Full Metal Panic! light novels by Shoji Gatoh are my favourite books.... Evah.
So here I am, finishing up the latest fourth novel of FMP!, loving it all, when I decide to look up the release dates of the remaining... seven novels? Oh! Look at that. Tokyo Pop has decided to ruin my dreams. They're shut down, right after enticing me to follow this series wholeheartedly. Quite cruel to FMP! fans, Tokyo Pop is.
I am currently struggling my way through rough, rough, translations of the latter novels in the series online, from forum based websites. Needless to say, it is not publishable quality in the slightest. Though, on the slight chance Answerman is a wonderful enough person to publish this, I would like to give a shout out to all the translators out there. Not just the FMP! ones either; to all the wonderful, dedicated, and very bored people out there who put in all the effort to keep us fans satisfied. I appreciate every awkwardly translated sentence with all my heart.
Anywho, I am very worried as to who will pick up the FMP! l. novel series, if anyone will at all. As well as the hope that if someone does pick it up, please for the love of Japan let them release it faster that Tokyo Pop did. I'm really wondering what the chances are of these novels getting released to the western audience, as they truly deserve to be.
...yeah, this whole "TOKYOPOP IS CLOSING MY FAVORITE THINGS WILL BE RUINED FOREVER GLAAAHGHGHH" thing is getting a little bit out of hand.
So! Twelve Kingdoms is seven novels total; Full Metal Panic! has twelve volumes, and a bunch of short stories, apparently. Yikes. For the sake of argument, let's just think about this rationally, for a moment. Even if, if Tokyopop were still around and Stu Levy didn't feel the need to dump his publishing business in order to pursue his dreams of being a skateboarding Yeti-Vampire rock star, who's to say they would've been able to publish ALL of the books in those series, anyway?
I mean, look no further than the end of this column for example after example of a light novel series being unceremoniously cancelled before its official English completion. That's just the nature of the publishing world. Sometimes, if sales aren't great, stuff doesn't get finished. And sometimes, even if sales ARE great, stuff STILL doesn't get finished. It's nutty, but true.
My follow-up to that, is... even if Twelve Kingdoms or Full Metal Panic! were rescued from Tokyopop's rustled, dishabille corpse, don't necessarily expect those stories to be published to completion, then. There's never any certainties, sad to say.
Logistically, though, there's neither a particularly good reason, nor a particularly bad reason, as I see it, for another company to take a crack at publishing The Twelve Kingdoms or Full Metal Panic! books. I wouldn't exactly say that their fanbases are particularly rabid (well, probably moreso in FMP's case) but they are part of two series that people generally are familiar with, at the least. And even without the hook of being part of a popular anime/manga franchise, both of those stories can be considered part of a well-established and popular young-adult fiction genre. If I were the one pulling the trigger at a publishing company, I'd probably take a shot with them.
But, you know, these two franchises are old now. They are so old. They came out, like, almost ten years ago. Those books are so ancient, they were printed on Daguerreotypes.(And so on.) Publishers are almost always on the hunt for new product first, with re-acquisitions from other failed publishers falling way behind. But, as I often say, never give up that hope; so long as there exists a sizable commonwealth of like-minded people, who are proactive about letting publishers know that if they print this series, they will give them their money, there exists a chance.
But, uh, seriously, don't be too surprised if they pull a dick move and drop the series midway through. That happens a lot.
I have been looking around the internet for a legitimate download service that handles jpop. I have seen that iTunes and Napster have a sprinkling of albums/artists/compilations, but overall I find them lacking. I also find those same services lacking in more recent songs. On the other hand, by typing in an artist or song (or both) in a google search I can easily find a song download free. I would rather not go this route for obvious reasons. On top of that, heaven forbid I can find a retail CD release anywhere in the US.
Do you know of any good sites or services that either specialize or carry a large selection of jpop?
JPOP AND DOWNLOAD CANNOT BE IN THE SAME SENTENCE
PREPARE FOR MANUAL RESTART IN 5...
Yeah. The problem isn't necessarily that there isn't any service for you to download these songs legitimately, it's that Japan's music industry is a crusty, bigoted old dinosaur, who grew old and fat during the bubble economy - so fat, in fact, that their bones started to wither and die, and when the 21st century came around, and suddenly people had these things called iPods that allowed them to listen to digital music, they felt no need to even consider switching to such obviously inferior methods of content delivery, when the Compact Disc is in fact the most excellent way to purchase and listen to music that currently exists. Suffice to say that a lot of record labels in Japan have been nothing but difficult about getting any of their music onto legit download services. Especially foreign ones.
I wouldn't say it's all gloom and doom, though. iTunes' Japan store is growing bigger by the week, it seems like. And, luckily, with a pre-paid iTunes Japan card and some know-how, you can download as many Jpop songs as you'd like. There's a bunch of import stores that sell them, and all it takes is a little fudging with some menus in order to pretend that you are an Actual Japanese Person who is therefore Allowed To Purchase Japanese Music.
I'd say that's your best bet.
Last week, when asked what you wanted to see more of, you said you wanted more original anime. I agree heartily. In my opinion, when a story is first set down in any medium by the original writer, that is the best representation of the story. This should go the same for anime, but over the years, it hasn't always done so. My question is about something that threatens to break the mold - the Anime no Chikara project. This effort to create original anime has only met with little success, mostly from Seikimatsu Occult Gakuen. When original stories like FLCL or Gurren Lagann succeeded incredibly, why hasn't Anime no Chikara? Have there been hundreds of other original anime works that have faded into insignificance, or has TV Tokyo simply failed to cater to its viewers?
Woah there, first of all, I wouldn't exactly count FLCL is an "incredible success." Here in the west? Absolutely. In Japan? Not a chance.
And also, how, exactly, are we measuring "success" here? Shows like So-Ra-No-Wo-To and Night Raid 1931 were never positioned to be bona-fide global megahits; a show about a bunch of teenage girls playing brass instruments in the post-apocalyptic future and a show about Japan's nasty imperialist spies? Where are the robots? Where's the fanservice? A show like Occult Academy certainly fixes that, as it was not only designed to be a popular, well-loved series, but luckily it was good enough to become a popular, well-loved series.
I mean, that's my simple answer, right there - So-Ra-No-Wo-To and Night Raid weren't simply as out-and-out entertaining as Occult Academy. (And if you ask me, not as good, either.) But that's never it, honestly. There's never any simple metric that you or I or anyone else can all point to as an example of "oh, this is why that is popular." It's impossible.
Because of that, yeah, actually, there have been hundreds of original anime series that have "faded into insignificance." They all failed for a number of reasons; some because they were never promoted, others because they were unable to compete with their stronger competition, and plenty of them failed because they outright sucked. That is why it's considered such a risk to do something original.
Look at the movie Inception. Everyone made a big to-do about the fact that it was an "original" script, and how much of a "risk" it was to make something that wasn't based on a book or whatever. But you know what? Bull****, I say. You want to tell me that people wouldn't want to see a big fancy-pants action movie with lots of cool guns and car chases starring Leonardo DiCaprio with the tag line "FROM THE DIRECTOR OF THAT BATMAN MOVIE EVERYONE LOST THEIR SHIT OVER" just because it isn't based on something that already exists? And sure enough the movie made money and I was proven right. But still! This is a common fear in the entertainment realm.
And as such, because they see it as a "risk," they sometimes won't promote it properly, or they'll slash its budget, or anything else, really. And the other thing is that sometimes, these projects need time to grow and gestate. You can't build a brand overnight. These things take time; Aniplex and TV Tokyo need to keep the quality high and ride these Anime no Chikara shows for another couple of years for it to really sink in. And sometimes that time commitment is something that these companies can't make.
"Success," for what it is, is all relative anyway. You can be a popular success, but a critical failure. You can be a critical success, but a popular failure. Any combination of the two. But I personally think that it's kind of naive to assume that there's something wrong with either the audience or the broadcasters when shows that are just a bit off the beaten path, like Night Raid and most of the Noitamina block, aren't pulling in blockbuster numbers. These things take time, and care, and if we're lucky, they'll blossom into a beautiful butterfly.
It's time for that sweet, sweet smell of Answerfans to come wafting by. Or maybe that's just the cheese sandwich I threw behind the bed. Either way. Welcome! Last week, I wanted to open up some old wounds and let people share their abandonment issues regarding titles they loved but lost:
To begin, we all need to give Doug a wondrous slow-clap for his excellent pun there at the end:
I can say with utmost confidence that my favorite manga title of all time is Devilman by Go Nagai (rivaled only by Ken Ishikawa's Getter Robo series). For those who are unfamiliar, it's a (very violent) story about a human boy, named Akira Fudo, who, in order to save the world from a vicious onslaught of demons, takes control of the body of Amon, one of the most powerful demons to have ever existed, and fights them all head-on. It's a fantastic series, but what's really disappointing to me, however, is the lack of exposure it's had in the states. Some Americans know the character of Akira Fudo, and his eponymous alter-ego, from his association with the Devilman Lady anime adaptation, which was released by ADV Films, or the Shin Devilman comic book spin-off released by Glenn Danzig's company, Verotik, or maybe even through the live-action movie from a couple years ago (which, any fan will argue, wasn't faithful to the source material in any way). However, it seems that most Americans who are familiar with Devilman know him from his infamous OVA of the same name, which was released during the 80's, but unfortunately was never finished.
Manga Entertainment's release of the Devilman OAV in America was once very well-known for its intense, gory demon violence and its (unintentionally) hilarious, profanity-laden English dub. The first episode, which covers the first manga volume, introduced the main characters, gave the audience a glimpse into the demons' origins, and showed how Akira became Devilman and slaughtered a room full of clubbers-turned-monsters (set to the music of one of Japan's greatest heavy metal acts, Anthem!), while the second episode (covering the second manga volume and the first half of the third) depicts Devilman's fights against Silene, the demon bird, and Jinmen, the soul-stealing turtle monster. All things considered, the two-part Devilman OAV was pretty faithful to the original story (English dub dialogue aside), but it remains unfinished. It only covered the first half of the overall saga, which had a completely different tone from the latter half, and was when it could still be considered a somewhat formulaic, monster-of-the-week story. As much as I love the stories contained within the first half, they weren't what cemented Devilman's status as a masterpiece. In the manga, immediately after the story arcs which were adapted into the OVA, the focus shifts pretty drastically. What was once a story about one man's fight against hordes of demons becomes an apocalyptic tragedy on a global scale, in which the audience is shown the true horrors of a world at war with itself, the evil that lurks in the hearts of mankind, and how things are not always as they seem.
It's nice that anime fans in the states have been able to get a glimpse of what Devilman is really like, but when all that's available is the very simple first half, the entire premise can come off as a well-animated, run-of-the-mill exploitation-fest (and the dub really doesn't help, either). The story's not complete without its amazing second half! In an autobiography, Go Nagai said that the director was putting off finishing this adaptation until he could secure a bigger budget, which, I suppose, hasn't happened yet. Also, since the second episode made its way to the shelves of video stores more than 20 years ago, the only significant features starring the great winged-one to come out in Japan have been the previously-mentioned live-action movie and a separate OVA based on a spin-off manga. I think it's time we payed the devil his due.
Ohmygod DJTB I totally remember Ninja Cadets. I would always see it on the clearance rack at my Hollywood Video and argue with myself if it was worth the $4.50:
When I was getting really obsessed with anime back during the late 90s boom, I was interested in just about anything that was available at the time. An OVA series called Ninja Cadets was one of my faves back then and the action was pretty cool when I first saw it. Looking back, the 2 episodes seem pretty average compared to what I've watched since then, but they're still okay to a degree.
The plot went as follows; in feudal Japan, an evil ninja clan makes an attack on a royal family late at night. The highest ranking bodyguard of the family is entrusted with the life of the infant princess and makes his escape. Many years pass and the bodyguard is the leader of a small ninja village while the evil clan has evolved into a full blown empire. Six teenage members of the village are ready to graduate and become full fledged ninja and one of them is the princess, but no one knows her identity (any viewer with enough foresight could tell it's the plucky ambitious one). Their final mission before graduation is to infiltrate the castle that once belonged to the royal family and retrieve a scroll to prove they returned successfully. During the trip, a trio of empire lackeys are on their trail the whole time and manage to hypnotize two members of the group to help fight the other four members. In the climax, the princess finds the scroll room and uses a spell scroll to defend herself; as a result, her hidden powers are unleashed and she ends up blowing away the whole castle. She awakens to find her two mind controlled allies were unfortunately caught in the blast as well and she is also concerned with what happens next. And from there…the whole series is over.
During the time Ninja Cadets was released, OVAs survived on profit. I'm not sure if this business model still exists but it's pretty basic. If an episode sells well enough, future episodes are produced. If the series isn't making money at all, the series is just dropped. Classics like Tenchi Muyo! and Key: The Metal Idol followed this structure and were obviously successful enough to see completion. Ninja Cadets clearly wasn't cutting it and I was pretty disappointed when I realized nothing else was going to happen. I always figured with everything left wide open in the series, something could have been done to give these characters a proper send off. And there were certainly a lot of unanswered questions left to deal with: how does the clan advance in attacking the evil empire, what are the fates of the two allies who are either missing or dead, how does the princess cope with discovering who she is, how does everyone else handle it, just how powerful is she anyway, how does the master/student relationship change between the princess and bodyguard once she discovers he saved her life all those years ago, who's in control of the empire and does the princess defeat them all by herself or does she rely on the power of friendship to get the job done? Sadly, like a compelling TV concept that doesn't even make it past the pilot episode, Ninja Cadets became nothing more than a footnote, if it was even lucky to reach such a high status as that. One of my art professors always preaches that good ideas are a dime a dozen and while it needed a little polish, a lot of support could have made this good idea turn into something really great.
Mike is a fan of Alien Nine:
At 46 , I'm an older anime fan, so, I have seen a lot of stuff come and go. Your question this week could have generated at least a page of "if only" for me. But if I HAD to pick one thing, and one thing only, then my vote would have to be for the 2001 adaptation of ALIEN NINE. Of course I'm aware that its not a commercial thing to do anymore - the character design is not typical, there's not enough fan service, product placement, or vampires, etc, to make a buck on it. And, yes; I know that everyone involved with this has moved on to bigger and [occasionally] better things, but to stop at roughly a third the way through is just wrong. Give it the twelve episodes it deserves dammit, and do it now!!!! If your going to have your typical group of Japanese school kids fight aliens, then this is the way to do it...
Dear Brandon: My "resolution" for Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is that Bo-Bobo invents a time machine that runs on moonbeam farts and goes so far into the future that he essentially creates a singularity that is, in fact, the start of the Big Bang and the beginning of the entire universe, and also he screams at a carrot:
The anime I wish that would have the proper resolution is Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo. Sure it was stupid and random (or randomly stupid), but nonetheless, that anime always had me rolling on the floor in stitches. Even though it poked fun of the show getting canceled on the last episode aired, I still think that there were much more to be fulfilled story-wise and visual wise (I actually prefer the anime over the manga). The anime just simply left off in the middle of the current arc it was on, and that really irks me, turning to the official release of the manga to be released monthly, bi-monthly, or whatever the manga schedule may be.
Another anime I wish that would have a proper resolution is D.Gray-man. Though the anime moved at a slow pace, it didn't get very exciting until episode 56 and boasted potential even in the final animated arc. Even so, the anime simply left off with the main antagonists still alive and well and many unanswered questions. I don't know about everyone else, but that is an improper way to end an anime series, especially one that shows no sign of returning.
Swirling Vortex DOESN'T want to watch Paul Bettany kill bad CGI vampires? What gives?
Well, one of my favourites (Rebirth) went down with the ship at Tokyopop, but I could follow it to its conclusion if I just finished that intensive four-year degree-level programme in Korean, so I'll drop that one.
The big one which got away for me: Priest.
* Very distinctive art style-- front covers which could have competed with the typical over-the-top American 'dark evil hero' comics of the time (Spawn, The Darkness, etc...), but a very harsh, jagged style inside. It fit well with the mood and backdrop.
* Interesting premise which could actually ask some deep spiritual questions and poke at cultural models.
* Unusual setting carried off just well enough to avoid huge credibility gaps. No sakura blossoms and bishonen here!
So what happens? It dies after sixteen volumes and apparently inspires an incredibly bad movie which has nothing to do with the original series.
To be fair, since when has a CLAMP series ended well? I'm just sayin', Katie:
Probably one of the worst possible scenarios for any anime fan is to have a manga or anime they've become attached to be cancelled. For me, there is only one manga that has me dreaming about an ending, praying for it every waking moment, and just all in all having this immense amount of false hope that now, eight or so years after it's proclaimed hiatus, there will be something done to finish it: CLAMP's gruesome and beautifully apocalyptic X/1999. I have read many of CLAMP's works, from the cute and sweet Card Captor Sakura to the dark (literally) and bizarre xxxHOLiC. I have read from their earlier days of Magic Knight Rayearth to the newer creations of Tsubasa. Out of all the works I have read, I have to say X/1999 is by far their most incredible and beautiful series to date. This series shows quite clearly why I will always adore CLAMP's manga, no matter how often they drop one or how convoluted a storyline gets.
In X/1999, the wonderful ladies of CLAMP did what I used to think was impossible: they blurred the lines between shonen and shojo. X/1999 has all the intensity, action, and grisly fights of a shonen manga, while having the gorgeous art and beautifully delicate relationships of some of the best shojo manga. Name a recent shojo manga that shows, in exquisitely beautiful (and gruesome) detail, a character's body being torn apart, or their head being cut off. Name a recent shonen manga that has the character's wearing expressions of extreme emotional pain and empathy while trying to kill their opponent in battle. I have no doubt that there is possibly one out there I have missed, but the truth of the matter is none have done it so well as CLAMP did in X. Unfortunately this manga was halted in 2003, and has never received a proper ending. The X TV series has an ending, but I can't put that ending to the manga since, as most fans know, there are many differences between then anime and the manga. Every time I re-read X/1999, I can't help but hope that CLAMP will one day finish it, even if it is in a series of doujinshi, side stories, or even just one final volume. I know it will probably never, ever happen, but the part of me that truly loves this manga will always have hope.
If Matthew doesn't get more Unbalance x Unbalance, he's likely to become... unbalanced!!! *gunshot, slump, bleeding*
I am probably alone in the world in this sentiment, but one of my favorite manga (though it's originally a manwha) of all time, Unbalance x Unbalance, used to be released by the now-defunct Infinity Studios. The two volumes I have are very treasured, especially since Inifinity Studios released top-notch quality when it came to the physical release (especially the color slipcovers). The worst part is, the Korean magazine it used to run in went under as well shortly after Infinity Studios, though luckily it was recently picked up again by a Japanese magazine. Still, my prospects of seeing a rescue in NA at this time is decidedly low.
And finally, BEHOLD ANDREW'S LIST OF DISAPPOINTMENT IN DENOUMENT:
When I first read your question, I thought that it would be trivial for me to list a dozen or more anime series that had been abandoned and that I really wanted to see finished, and that it would be difficult for me to choose between them. For whatever reason, my sense was pretty similar to what you state in the question: this sort of things happens to me all the time.
On closer inspection, this turns out not to be the case. The list of series that I care about that were abandoned mid-stream (or had an obviously rushed and unsatisfying conclusion tacked on) is actually much smaller than I expected it to be. The contenders are:
Shakugan no Shana we can eliminate from the list because a new season has been announced. Kaze no Stigma is partially a sentimental entry, since the author of the light novels passed away without completing the series-- I liked the show, but not as much as the rest of the contenders. Ouran Host Club was so episodic that the lack of a real ending doesn't bother me much-- I'd be happy to watch more episodes, but I don't feel a void inside me where I wish a definitive conclusion was. The stakes in Kekkaishi-- be it in battle or in romance-- were never high enough to draw me in too deeply, and overall the tone and content was just a bit too childish for me to get too invested; in any event I can read the manga to find out what the manga-ka intended. Chrome Shelled Regios is a recent enough production, with an ongoing light novel series, that I can still hold out some hope that another season will get made; if it doesn't, I'll be disappointed, though not exactly bereft.
That leaves Full Metal Panic! and Banner/Crest of the Stars. In both cases it really bugs me knowing that the story has continued on in light novel form, but that I don't have access to what happens. If they had been original works that just got cancelled, I don't think it would bother me as much. It's the difference between knowing your bank account is empty, and knowing it's got money but your ATM card is broken: both situations leave you without money for the weekend, but the second one feels more frustrating, since a solution is tantalizingly out of reach. (To this end, I would feel mostly satisfied if I could just read a translation of the light novels, which I don't think is an impossibility at some point before I die, what with the advent of digital publishing and all.)
Both are special anime to me, but it's a surprisingly easy call for me to say that I want to know how the story of Jinto and Lafiel ends way more than I need to know what happens to Chidori and Sousuke. I would attribute this to two factors. First, the overall more serious tone in the Stars Chronicles leaves me with more anxiety about what happens: with Lafiel aging at half the rate of Jinto, it's hard to see a truly happy ending, and a premature death or lengthy separation doesn't seem out of the question either. In contrast, I just can't imagine anything too awful happening to Chidori, Sousuke, or even Tessa. Second, I like Jinto more than I like Sousuke, so I get more invested in his fate and identify more with him; Sousuke is a fun character, and his flaws are exploited to brilliant comic effect, but that also keeps me from really wanting to be in his shoes.
I'm pretty sure if I had just picked a single series without trying to be systematic about it, I would have picked Banner/Crest of the Stars, but it was a fun question to think about!
Thus! We end this week's Answerfans. But next week! Oh, next week! I just can't, uh... I just can't help myself. The internet, during E3, should just change it's name to VIDEO GAME NEWS WEEK, because that's all I read. It's a sickness. And the only prescription... is next week's Answerfans.
Now you've got this week's question, and it's time to get answerin'.
For those of you new to Hey, Answerfans!, I'll explain the concept.
Believe it or not, I'm genuinely curious what you think.
That's right; as much as I love the sound of my own voice, I do love to listen to what other people have to say on a subject. I'm finding that over the last few years, the attitudes, reasoning and logic that today's anime fans use eludes, confuses or astounds me; I have so many questions for you, and I'm dying to hear what you have to say in response.
Welcome to Hey, Answerfans!
Basically, we're turning the tables. Each week I'm going to ask you a question, and I want you to email me your answer. Be as honest as you can. I'm looking for good answers; not answers I agree with or approve of, but good, thoughtful answers. People feel passionately about these subjects and I'd like to see that in the responses I get. I'll post the best answers I get, and maybe some of the crappy ones. Sometimes there may only be one or two good ones; sometimes five or more. It all depends on what I get in my inbox! Got it? Pretty simple, right? Start writing those answers and email them to answerman [at] animenewsnetwork dot com.
We do have a few simple ground rules to start with.
Things To Do:
* Be coherent.
* Be thoughtful.
* Be passionate.
* Write as much or as little as you feel you need to to get your point across in the best possible way.
Things Not To Do:
* Respond when the question doesn't apply to you. For instance, if your email response starts with "Well, I don't do whatever you're asking about in the question... " then I'm going to stop reading right there and hit delete.
* Be unnecessarily rude or use a lot of foul language.
* Go off-topic.
And that is all, if I'm not mistaken - and I'm pretty certain I'm not. Remember, though, to stop by with a question or an answer or two over at answerman((at))animenewsnetwork.com! See you all later!
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