Hey, Answerman! - Hey, Censorman!

by Brian Hanson, Oct 28th 2011

Ah, hello there everyone and HAPPY (POTENTIALLY EARLY) HALLOWEEN!!!

I wish I had some fun Halloween-type questions this week, but sadly I don't - nevertheless! I can think of something incredibly scary and fun for all of you Southern Arizonites out there! You can... come to my panel and meet me in person! Gawk at my awkward frame! Die a little inside from my terrible jokes! SPOOOOOKY!

That's right, I'll be at the Tucson Comic-Con that's going on November 4th and 5th! I'll be part of the Journalism in the Anime / Comics / Sci Fi Industries panel, no doubt humiliating myself, so check it out if you're in the area. I'll also be hosting a panel, which I'll get to in a second...


My niece Alex is 15 soon to be 16 and she is in love with anime/manga. I'm not 100% sure on what the lingo or term for this is being that I have no part in it, but growing up I was very discouraged always being told by my parents I can't do something because its too hard or too expensive or the chances of me following my dream and becoming what I wanted to be was slim. I see a lot of potential in this girl. I want to see Alex follow her dreams or at least try and be encouraged and the only way it will happen is if I step in. She is a bright young talented student at her high school and I want to see her succeed in life. My question is where does she begin? Where can I send her work? What do I need to do? I know these are probably really vague questions but this is all really foreign to me. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I hope to hear back from you.

And yes, yes I will take this heart-rending question of sincerity as a chance for another plug! I'll be hosting a panel called "Get a Job in Anime and Manga" where I and some of my old anime club buddies will briefly discuss the ins and outs of professional employment in this industry, as it were!

And now to actually respond in earnest: I think this is beautiful. This is tear-inducingly great. Speaking as a failed artist, I can't think of anything more valuable to any young artist's development than the support of your family.

As to where to begin, well... there really isn't any one place to start if you'd like your niece to end up making her own anime and/or manga one day. That's the tricky part in creative fields; everybody who's made a name for themselves as an artist of any sort took a different path to get to where they are. But there is one thing they all have in common - they all worked their butts off to get there.

If she likes to draw, get her into some drawing classes outside of school. Make sure that she can develop into a well-rounded artist with a firm grasp of shading, anatomy, depth, construction, all of that. There's no shortage of free, community-focused art training classes around the country, and those are a fine place to develop essential skills. And if she's completely serious about it, art school is a good place to go, as it'll give her a nice, healthy portfolio at the end of it that'll make it much easier to achieve that dream of hers.

If she likes to write, same thing - there are also dozens of extracurricular writing classes that will also provide a relatively solid foundation to work from. And of course there's almost no college or 4-year University in this country that doesn't offer either a Creative Writing degree, so that's definitely something to work towards from that angle.

And once the schooling is done and all the work has been put into it, well... it's hard to say, really. Making it as a manga/anime creator in Japan obviously involves moving to Japan, and a whole lotta other risky endeavors. Let it be said that it won't be easy, but so long as she's willing to really put the work into it, everything tends to work out well in the end.

So don't worry about "sending out her work" or anything like that, just yet. Simply be the supporting and loving family member you seem to be already, and let her know, practically and simply, the hard steps it'll take to make this dream of hers a reality.

Ah, dreams. I had those, once. Moving on!


Answerman,

After reading Mike Toole's article a couple weeks ago about his local anime stores, I have found myself nagged by a lingering question: in the face of a multitude of online choices, why should one support their local anime store, if you are so fortunate as to have one?

I find this question of particular weight since I wonder if it is not so much about anime stores in particular, so much as brick-and-mortar retail in general. I can't remember the last time I physically went to a store and bought something that was not food, but I never lack broken down boxes to take out from items which I have ordered. Even simple things like school supplies, I find myself able to purchase in greater variety, at a lower price, and in less time online, rather than taking a trip to an actual store. Thoughts?

Thoughts, eh? Well, it sounds like you've already made up your mind on this - shopping online is cheaper and more convenient, and local anime stores... aren't. That's a pretty cut-and-dry argument, right there.

Should you simply support your local Ye Olde Anime Shoppe simply out of guilt? Hell no. The only reason to do so, which is something my comic-book-fan-buddies do, is because you genuinely like the place and the people who work there.

For instance, there's an anime and hobby shop here in Tucson, which I will politely decline to name, that I never visit and never buy from. And that's simply because the owner is an aggrandizing prick that I can't stand. If he was a genuinely cool dude that I liked, I would probably go in there and sacrifice the insane price markup simply for the sake of supporting someone who is trying to make a living by selling stuff I like. But there's no reason for me, or you, or anyone really, to be guilt-tripped into spending more money than necessary on things I can find much cheaper elsewhere.

That having been said, if there are anime and other such related hobby stores in your town, it definitely behooves you to at least check them out. Local mom-and-pop shops that sell that stuff exist solely to relate directly to their customers. It's not like you can talk to Amazon.com about Berserk while you're adding stuff to your digital shopping cart. Well I mean, you can, but it'd be weird. If only the owner of said hobby store in my town wasn't a jerkoff, I'd be there all the time - they've got a pretty cool selection of a bunch of neat stuff, price-gouging or no.

I mean, the simple act of buying things shouldn't be some sort of moral dilemma. It really shouldn't even be much of anything, really. Basically you feel like you want to buy something, and your brain instantly tells you where to go - either online, or a store. That's it.


Hi Brian,

Recently, I've been watching certain DVDs and my head was puzzled about how certain scenes got past the TV censors. This reminds me of strange censorship practices that occurs in other places. For example, in Hong Kong, the government censor board tends to be very lenient towards sex or violence, but it bans shows/movies that is deemed to contained “political” content or slaps the equivalent of an NC-17 rating. Also, in the past, the UK tolerated guns in action films, but banned nunchukus (which made previous Bruce Lee flicks distributed in the UK practically unwatchable). In the US show Firefly, it was ok to use profanity, as long as it was in Mandarin.

You've probably heard all about the hilarious instances in the Fist of the North Star TV series, where after Kenshiro uses his ultimate technique, the victims' heads explode in either white or black blood (never red), so I won't go too much in detail about my beefs here. Discotek Media released the show unrated on DVD, but I don't know how much nudity or gore was shown when it was first broadcast on TV.

However, another DVD I have been watching, the Lone Wolf and Cub 1973 TV show (recently re-released by Media Blasters), also piqued my curiosity about what is permitted on Japanese TV. It seems that the broadcasters can show scenes where prepubescent children are completely naked, but adults only partially naked (and you can't show grown-up sex organs). In Kozure Okami, you can see several scenes of Daigoro's “little sword” while he's wearing a hakama (but no underwear) or fully nude (while bathing or getting publicly flogged). Several times, you can hear the use of the word “kuso” (the equivalent of “shit”) spoken by a thug, especially just before Ogami Itto sends him to his (or her) maker. Finally, the show shows an adult female breast here and there (during sex, rape or bathing), and of course, copious amounts of blood and violence. The show is live-action, so I don't know if there is a different standard of television censorship that applies in this case.

So, basically, I was wondering if you could explain Japan's TV rating system, how it relates to anime (in terms of depictions of animated sex, violence, coarse language and nudity), and how much it's changed since the 70's and 80's.

This is one of those questions where the answer is, well, all over the place. So, instead of watching me dance around the topic like an idiot, I'll give the floor over to resident wunderkind Justin Sevakis, who is about as far removed from an idiot as humanly possible:

Complicated question. Answer is a little tough.

Sort of like America, Japan doesn't really have a unified set of standards so much as community and PTA pressure, and what's been considered appropriate changes both with the era and different times of the broadcasting day, and even different parts of the country. Most anime, of course, is shown late night now, when the rules are pretty relaxed, so a late-night anime can get away with a lot more than, say, Naruto or One Piece. Some of the more risque late night shows simply can't find broadcasters out in the more conservative Japanese countryside.

Also, broadcast restrictions have become much tighter in recent years. Evangelion in particular caused a shitstorm with various parental groups (due largely to its high profile), so after that nudity became verboten, despite family-hour anime like Ranma 1/2 flashing tits on the screen several times an episode just 10 years earlier. And there's no way you could get away with exploding heads a la Fist of the North Star today.

Underage nudity never really showed up on the radar as questionable until recently, hence why you could spot little kid peen in everything from a Dragonball Z opening to old Toei Douga features from the 60s. But now with pedophilia becoming something that mainstream Japanese are starting to criticize anime for, I doubt you'll see much of it in newer productions.

The swearing is another matter entirely. "Kuso" might TRANSLATE to "shit", but it doesn't have the weight of a full-on American cuss word. Kids can say that in front of their parents and not really expect anything bad to happen. Japanese really doesn't have any expletives that I know of that rank above "kinda crude" in terms of rudeness. The REALLY bad words in Japanese tend to be insults or anatomical. (For evidence of a word that could not be said on Japanese television, please see Ebichu.)

Thanks, Justin. And really, if you wanna see just HOW FAR censorship standards on Japanese TV can go, you can do no better than Ebichu. Oh, that lovable, anal-sex-preventing hamster.




Now that I'm done answering stuff, I'll ask the questions around here! Last week's all-Funico-all-the-time column propelled me to throw the question to all of you out there:


Patrick chimes in echoing mostly my own sentiments on the matter:

I think the idea of Funico is a good one, and ultimately will be good overall for the anime community on both sides of the Pacific. Why? Well, for starters, as you pointed out last time, it will expose a LOT of anime that would otherwise wither and die to the West. Also, people will have the option to watch with whatever soundtrack they want. This pretty much gets rid of the sub/dub arguments. Also, we can finally get somewhat more accurate numbers on who watches what series. Those infomatics will be useful for creating other series.

But how will this benefit Japan, you ask? Well, the money will help. As long as they don't go crazy with fees, NicoNico looks to make a pretty penny. And, that might get people to go to their other services, potentially making them more money. But there is more than that. NicoNico has, at least from my observations, always been kind of a niche site. It's not a big as YouTube, even though many of it's videos appear on it, and it's not as loaded out as Crunchyroll. In effect, it's just the right size for Funi to partner with and try to conquer the world of streaming anime.

Overall, it will make things better by putting the power of one of the larger anime companies in the West behind a decently sized streaming site that has room to grow and, more importantly, adapt to changes requested by users and Funi. Plus, more places to see anime is good. So, bonuses all around.

Meanwhile, Joyce is the dissenting opinion:

Well, Brian, I feel like a small voice crying in the wilderness sometimes, because I hate subs. I want to watch my visuals and hear the dialog at the same time. Reading subs totally disrupts that process and I won't even mention the sometimes tin-eared sub. Currently there are way too many titles I'm interested in that are sub only (Blue Exorcist, anyone) and I don't see streaming helping that situation at all.

I understand the instant gratification thing that's going on with simulcasting and that subbing is a much cheaper and faster solution, but if a company is using streamed subs to gauge interest then they are essentially eliminating an already existing audience (me and others of my ilk) and placing a barrier in front of a potential new audience. The only streaming service I subscribe to is NetFlix but I buy a lot of anime and most of it is from Funimation. I have used the Funimation offerings on NetFlix to test series and buy physical copies of any that I finished and liked. I don't see the new alliance or any expansion of streaming helping me at all given the expense and time involved in a dub.

Short but sweet responses this week. But next week! I want to dig deep into your Shonen related memories:


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.

That's all for now, but remember to keep on keepin' on sending questions and answers my way over at answerman(at!)animenewsnetwork.com! And have a Happy Halloween, all you crazy dreamers!


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