Hey, Answerman! - manga.exe

by Brian Hanson, Nov 23rd 2012

Hello peoples! Welcome to Hey, Answerman!

I was one of those sad, predictable individuals who grabbed a Wii U last weekend, and I gotta say - Miiverse is kind of the best thing in the history of video game network services. THIS WAS A THING THAT WAS MADE FOR ME AND ONLY ME, and the notion that other people enjoy it as well is bizarre to me. Who else, on the face of God's Earth, would need something like this, other than me? WHO ELSE would need a service where they could momentarily pause their Mario game in order to make a quick doodle of Mario picking his nose, and share that idiocy with the world???

But it turns out, I'm not alone on that. In other words, it's fantastic. I'm on Miiverse as "LordByronius" in case there's other Nintendo fanboys reading who wish to share in my silly joy.

Now, before I count how many more "Yeah"s my doodle in the Funky Barn Miiverse Community has received (what a sentence!), I do have some questions to attend to!


Hi, I read your column pretty regularly and I generally admire your position on contentious issues. You usually have thoughtful responses, understanding and inclusive of differing viewpoints.

So I was surprised at your one-sided opinion about honorifics needing to be dropped in manga translation. I might be sensitive to this issue because last week it came up as a discussion between fans and Viz's BL imprint SuBLime, but believe me, none of the impassioned pleas to retain honorifics had anything to do with the "coolness of Japanese"!

Evolving relationship dynamics, respect, age differences, subtle nuances of tone; all of these can be conveyed by honorifics, and lost when they're taken away. There simply ARE no english equivalents for these tiny little words that mean so much, and many of us hate to be handicapped by lopped-off honorifics! It might just be a fingertip or toe here and there, but it hurts like hell!

*sigh* TYFYT,
a BL reader

Huh. Maybe this is just my horrendous short-term memory loss, but I don't really recall saying explicitly that all honorifics need to be dropped in a manga translation. Because, like you said, that's a very specific cultural gulf between our language and Japanese, and there isn't a precise way to translate them with only a word or two.

Still, that doesn't mean that people shouldn't try.

Let me put it this way: honorifics make sense if the context in which they're used - i.e., one where it makes sense for the characters to be using Japanese honorifics - then I'm fine with it. If it's Hana Yori Dango, absolutely. That's a manga fully entrenched in Japanese culture, and the way the characters react to one another and their social standing - "sempai" and everything - is rather important to the context of the story. Characters with Japanese names in a Japanese school navigating the rigid social stratus of standard Japanese life. Plus, the whole crux of the plot revolves around the differences in Japanese social classes; it's a pretty important piece of the story, so using honorifics makes absolute sense.

Dragon Ball? One Piece? No way. There's no deeper cultural understanding in reading the words "Luffy-kun" that couldn't be worked around in some way during the translation. One Piece doesn't take place in Japan, doesn't really depend on specific Japanese words in order to understand the oh so complex character relationships, and so the only reason to keep any Japanese in there, untranslated, is either laziness or foolishness.

In the case of BL titles, I can see why you're upset that they're "lopped off." Most of them take place in boarding schools and classrooms - again, social classes and their respective disparities are typically the fulcrum of the story - so keeping the honorifics would probably help establish the characters a bit better, without resorting to exposition. The only reason I can think of why Viz got rid of them for their SuBLime imprint is to - hopefully, I guess - appeal to a wider market. A market that, for some reason, is OK with homoerotic manga undertones, but apprehensive about Japanese honorifics. (???)

So, that's weird, and I'm completely on your side in that situation. But otherwise, I do not think "lopping off" honorifics is necessarily an evil thing that ruins the story. My take is this: if I'm supposed to be reading a "translation" of something from another language, and occasionally throughout the book they leave in bits and pieces of the original language, I tend to think of that as laziness. Are there brief, one-word English equivalents of "-kun" and "-chan"? No, not really. But English is as diverse and limitless as any language, and there's always a way to translate any concept. We are all human beings, and language is the canvas where we paint and scrawl our ideas and thoughts and emotions.

"BUT BRIAN!!! WHAT ABOUT OBVIOUSLY FOREIGN WORDS WITHOUT ENGLISH EQUIVALENTS THAT WE USE IN ENGLISH ALL THE TIME? LIKE 'SCHADENFRUEDE'?" Fair enough, but "schadenfruede" is something of a naturalized English citizen - it was embraced and used by philologists like Richard Chenevix Trench in the late 19th Century, having something of a century's worth of use. Honorifics haven't had that. Most people understand what the suffix "-san" means, since that's a fairly easy one to translate into English. But... "kun" and "chan" and "sempai" and "dono"?

The easy route is to just leave them in there. The trickier route is the more admirable one, I think - to find a way to accurately and truly translate the story to another language. It can be done, and it can be done well. Like, Ranma 1/2 is hardly a series with rich veins of deep characterization, but I was able to read that as a younger man, unfamiliar with honorifics or the Japanese language in general, and it all made sense to me.

So, I get what you mean, and in regards to BL titles, it probably makes more sense to leave in the honorifics than not. Mostly because the audience for BL is probably a tad more attuned and familiar to Japanese society than your average reader. But I completely disagree that you cannot accurately translate honorifics. You can, and it has been done. Not always well, but it has.


Hey Answerman,

I read in your previous articles that you feel that Neon Alley is something of a joke and in some regard I do agree with you. I do, however, very much want Neon Alley to succeed. In my opinion, the more dubbed anime that comes to the US, the better. So, my question to you is what should Neon Alley do in order to become a successful anime channel. I know that Neon Alley is still very recent, so this might be a difficult question to answer since their are still just starting. I thought that they should expand their service beyond the Playstation 3 to all of the other gaming systems any other devices, similar to Netflix, in order to gain more customers, but I know that just doing that alone is not enough to guarantee success. I would very much like to hear your opinions and ideas on Neon Alley and what decisions it should make so that, if nothing else, it does not end in failure.

I, too, wish for more dubbed anime as an outlet. That would be super. I would be okay with this.

There's a lot of obvious things Neon Alley needs to get fixed in order to work in a way that I would be comfortable with. It NEEDS to ditch the TV channel format. I made that abundantly clear a few weeks ago. To wit: a TV channel, over the internet, that's not connected to my DVR or any recording device, is useless to me. It's almost 2013. The mere notion of coordinating my own schedule to work around a set TV schedule in order to watch two or three things I want to see is asinine and silly to me. Because that's why I pay the monthly fee for Netflix and Hulu, to avoid that. That's why I have a DVR. They also need to seriously ante up on their catalog of available titles, and, like you said, expand beyond just the PS3. But that's all stuff that will come in time once the other, major problems are fixed.

But aside from all that, I can't shake this feeling that I have: considering the consumer base Neon Alley is hoping to reach, what reason would they have to spend ANOTHER monthly fee for ANOTHER video service? I don't know. And the more I think about it, the more skeptical I feel.

My own feelings on the thing are that it smacks of good intentions poorly executed, and when I posed a Neon Alley question to Answerfans a few weeks ago, nearly all the responses said mostly the same thing. People just aren't too excited, no matter the content, to sign up for YET ANOTHER streaming video service, on top of Crunchyroll and Hulu and all the other ways it's possible to get anime streamed to you. The only reason any of us are even talking about this is simple: we miss being able to watch dubs, and this is the first thing in a while that has tried to fill that void.

I'll need more than misplaced nostalgia and longing to justify adding another monthly 8 dollar charge on my nearly maxed-out credit card, though. We are all spoiled now. For that otherwise simple 8 dollar monthly charge, we demand an exhaustive amount of content - enough to cover virtually all spectrum of taste and discrimination. Neon Alley is meant to appeal to a very broad base of anime fans, but I'm not entirely convinced that Crunchyroll hasn't already eaten its lunch. And I'm not convinced that any "casual" anime fan would be into spending any extra money whatsoever if all they want to watch are some dubbed InuYasha episodes, since they'd probably rather watch them on Hulu Plus, which they're already paying for.

I just don't know, exactly, who or what the audience is for this thing. It seems like it would be people like me, but the more I look at it, why would I pay for something like this? That's the big obstacle for them, right now. Who or what is their audience? Until they figure that out, I don't see them going any further.

Even so, I wish them well. Go now in the Grace of God, I say.


Hey Answerman,

What computer software do most published mangaka use for their art? Is it available for me to purchase myself? I'd like to know because I'd like to be a manga artist, and I was thinking that I'd like to learn all the right tech. Thanks!

You know what? I'm going to be 100 percent honest here and admit this: I have no damn idea what computer software manga artists use. I'm going to assume Photoshop? Maybe?

Hey, y'know, maybe I should recuse myself from this question on the grounds that I don't know. But! Maybe I know someone who does - or at least someone with a faint idea.

I'm going to turn the floor over to manga scholar and comics creator herself, Deb Aoki!

Deb: Hooh! That's a very good question. From what I've seen in Japanese "how to draw manga" magazines, Corel Painter, Corel Draw is used quite often, as is Photoshop.

I found this list online, but it's survey results are from 2010, so take it with a grain of salt:

What graphic programs do you mostly use to make artwork?
1. Adobe Photoshop (50 votes)
2. SAI (36 votes) -
3. Corel Painter (7 votes)
4. Adobe Illustrator (5 votes)
5. ComicStudio (2 votes)

Comic Studio is probably better known in US as Manga Studio: https://www.wacom-asia.com/casestudy/case/award-winning-japanese-manga-artist-talks-about-wacom-intuos3

I had never heard of Systemax Easy Paint Tool SAI until today. But i was intrigued enough by the article to look it up:
http://www.systemax.jp/en/sai/
http://paint-tool-sai.deviantart.com/

This forum topic in Crunchyroll elicited some interesting responses, many dated from 2012: http://www.Crunchyroll.com/forumtopic-749046/what-paint-software-do-you-use

Other frequently mentioned graphics programs mentioned that I had never heard of before include:

Intilinux MyPaint
http://mypaint.intilinux.com

GIMP
http://www.gimp.org/

Krita
http://krita.org/

Inkscape
http://inkscape.org/

I'd say the best way to get a real answer is to look at the most current issues of the numerous 'manga-making' magazines in Japan. I've read Comickers and Style School (SS) (Dark Horse published several volumes in English)

As several of the respondents in the links above have mentioned, it depends what you're doing -- some use a different program to generate b/w line-art, then another to do paint/color effects.

I hope that kinda helps -- I haven't picked up those magazines in a while, so I"m not sure what the current hot favorite is -- but my guess would be (judging from what i've seen out there) is Photoshop, Corel Painter, ComicStudio and Systemax SAI.

Thanks, Deb! If I could add just one thing though - it's neat to know what software these pros are using to make their art, but don't get ahead of yourself.

In the world of art, too many people trick themselves out of doing the hard work - creating art - because they feel like they don't have the necessary "tools" to do the job. And that's nonsense.

You don't need a full Photoshop software suite to draw comics. You don't need a Cintiq tablet, either. You just need an imagination, a hunger to create, and whatever objects are lying around for you to draw on. That's all.



Speaking of GIMP, welcome to Hey, Answerfans! The part of the column where I use GIMP to edit this forthcoming text box, because I'm a cheapass and also too lazy to use Photoshop!

Last week, I made a point to look at my calender to figure out there was a holiday of sorts coming up. I tailored a question around it. Let's begin!


Let's start with Jim, who brings the positivity hard:

As this Thanksgiving is coming up, I'm thankful that we still have anime here in the United States and that the good fans somehow manage to continue supporting it. Considering all the stuff that has happened in the industry the last couple years, it's a credit to the fans that keep this thing going in the face of self-righteous pirates, fansubbers and myriad other things that would force this industry out of North America. It's also a testament to the companies' tenacity and refusal to give up on this market. Let's take a look at what happened despite Bandai leaving us this year:

-NIS America didn't have to branch out into anime, yet they did, giving us titles like Ano Hana and Usagi Drop.
-Media Blasters is still hanging in there, giving us Strawberry Panic! and Fushigi Yugi, their first releases in god knows how long.
-Funimation just keeps getting better and better. They're the best in the United States for a reason.
-Aniplex, despite bleeding our wallets dry with high-priced releases, somehow manages to give us excellent franchises, like Bakemonogatari & Madoka Magica.
-Sentai Filmworks went on an incredible licensing spree, reminiscent of the glory days of ADV (although when we'll see those titles on shelves remains to be seen).

I guess the short version is that the industry seems to be on the rebound a little bit, and I couldn't be happier. I'm thankful for everything this industry does every single day. It's the big reason why I want to be a part of this industry as a career.

Jesse is thankful for... something, but I'm still not sure this is real or some hallucinatory stream-of-consciousness:

I am thankful to Sanrio for their upcoming Hello Kitty dolls that turn into food. That's right, just in time for thanksgiving Hello Kitty is being given the power to fold inside herself and become a cooked turkey. There is also going to be one that becomes a cheeseburger, but that's more everyday rather than Thanksgiving. Thank you bizarre merchandising gods, you crazy MF's. On a more serious note I am honestly thankful to you for actually printing my deranged, stream of conscious ramblings about TV shows made in other countries in the 70's, and killer train monsters. I am also thankful for killer train monsters, but isn't everyone?

Rojse's brief poignancy kind of cuts through the usual snark and malarky:

I'm thankful that I am able to afford to purchase anime.

Lastly, here's Ashleigh, who puts me to shame with her wordsmithery:

A haiku and tanka in thanks:

Anime Fandom,
Where would we be without you?
Less crazy, but bored.

Headcanons abound,
The Internet overflows.
Come as one to squee.
Honto ni kawaii, ne.
We love Japanese cartoons.

We do indeed. We do, indeed.

Thanks to all of you who responded, and now that Thanksgiving is over that means... HOLIDAY SEASON COMMENCE!


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.

Have fun, everyone foolish enough to camp outside of a Fry's Electronics for a slightly cheaper television! Don't forget to send me all your questions and inquisitive thoughts to Answerman(at)AnimeNewsNetwork.com! Happy Turkey Weekend!


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