Hey, Answerman! Strike a Poser
by Brian Hanson, Apr 5th 2013
Hey guys and girls! Children and adults! Omniscient super-beings and protozoas! Welcome, all, to Hey, Answerman!
Seeing as how my fellow ANN compatriots are swamped in a deluge of stuff as they're prepping the Spring Preview Guide, I'll keep this brief. What, me? Run out of charming or clever things to say during these openings? Never!
I have a pretty beginner-level questions today:
I know this is a common question, but I couldn't find an answer to it - How does American, Modern Japanese, and Old Japanese animation differ? Because I think that the old Japanese anime, like Cowboy Bebop and Gundam, closely resemble Western animation during that time period. What are the names for these types of animation, and what made Japanese transition from Western-styled animation into the type it uses today?
Before I get into this, lemme just say that one of my most-loathed comments in the entirety of the internet is when people like myself, in their late 20s or early 30s, hear someone describe something like Cowboy Bebop as "old" and they freak out. OH MY GOD I'M SO OLD! I'M SO OLD YOU GUYS!! I STILL THINK OF COWBOY BEBOP AS "NEW"! AND IT WASN'T EVEN THAT LONG AGO FOR ME!!! O, FOLLY AND MIRTH! THE YOUNG ONES ARE TAKING OVER!!!
But, yeah. I don't really think Cowboy Bebop is all that "old," because I don't personally think that 1998 was all that long ago. Then again, you, person asking this question, I'm assuming that in 1998 you might've only been 6 or 7 years old at the time. Hm. Well, whatever.
Anime has a very storied history of copying rather liberally from Western animation throughout the years. If you want to go all the way back to the 1950's, Toei Douga's initial crop of short films - most of them directed by the legendary Yasuji Mori - were pretty blatantly inspired by Disney. And of course, pretty much every TV anime series ever made owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Osamu Tezuka, who was so clearly inspired by Walt Disney in his early career that, in the 80's, he had grown so much as an artist that he publicly remarked that it was "difficult" to draw some of his earlier characters, as his personal style had moved beyond his Disney imitations.
Of course, since the 50's and 60's, anime has largely mutated into its own strange creation. And, most importantly, it's incorrect to attribute "Western-style" to age. There were plenty of anime in the 60's and 70's that avoided Western influences, and in just the same way, there's a bunch of recent titles that purposefully attempt to capture a Western look. Sazae-san intentionally looks nothing like any Western cartoons or comic books I've ever seen. Meanwhile, both Zetman the anime and Zetman the manga are rather obviously copying the look and tone of contemporaneous Western comic books.
There's no specific "name" for it either. And in the two examples you mentioned in your question, I think the answers are pretty self-evident as to why the shows look the way that they do. Cowboy Bebop is a melange of Western movies and comics and music, seeing as how Shinichiro Watanabe is a big fan of Western sci-fi, pulp novels, and action movies. It's only rational that the show whose story and atmosphere is a distillation of Western tropes should look and feel like something a little more Western than the average anime show. Gundam, meanwhile, was an attempt by Yoshiyuki Tomino to elevate the "Giant Robot" cartoon show, which had up until then been dominated by toy companies and targeted towards kids, into something more adult - much like the Western sci-fi novels he was reading! So, the characters were designed to look a lot less like flamboyant Go Nagai cartoon people, and more like they stepped off of a slightly more exaggerated, animated dust jacket for a hard-nosed Western science fiction book.
Story and design go hand in hand. It's not a zero-sum game. Anime as it is today isn't any more or less "Western" inspired in its design any more or less than it has ever been in its history. As always, it depends on the title itself, the story its telling, and the people telling that story. Heroman is a goofy cartoon version of Western superheroes, so of course it looks like an American cartoon show. House of Five Leaves is a samurai drama, so of course it takes great pains to replicate the look of classic Japanese artwork.
It's never been a case of one specific era of anime owing more of an influence to one thing versus another. I mean, as a blanket statement. Currently, anime series are synonymous with dating-sims, light novels, and shonen manga, with a few stragglers here and there from other parts. It's par for the course. Anime is only a natural evolution of the current pop-cultural trends in Japan. At the time Toei Douga and Osamu Tezuka were getting started, Disney films were being introduced for the first time to an enraptured Japanese audience. At the time of Mobile Suit Gundam, there was a huge boom in sales of hard sci-fi literature in Japan. When Cowboy Bebop first aired in 1998, well, that was back when the good ol' fashioned Hollywood Blockbuster was in full swing. It's a natural thing. No more, no less.
IS there such a thing as a poser in Anime and Manga Fandom? I ask this question because sometimes I wonder because it seems in times people try to be more inclusive of others which is a good thing but it also leaves me thinking does this mean that anybody can just claim "status" for lack of a better word? And no one can question their credibility? Obviously I'd hate to see it turn into any kind of "fandom Guardian" thing but when does the line between fandom and simply being in it for ulterior motives get crossed? Thanks in advance
Pfuh! Only a POSER would get all worked up about being a poser. I'll remind the court of the landmark case of Shakespeare v. Methinks The Lady Doth Protest Too Much.
Besides, I know what you really wanted to say. It's fine, you can say it. I'm not afraid of it. Hipster. There we go.
This is a pretty common sentiment I've seen infect other areas of nerdery. Look out, the hipsters have invaded comic book fandom! They're not 'REAL FANS'!! See also: ATTRACTIVE GIRLS DON'T PLAY "REAL" VIDEO GAMES, LIKE BIOSHOCK INFINITE. THEY'RE JUST TRYING TO GET ATTENTION FROM AWFUL HORRIBLE NERDS LIKE ME-PUUGLUULHLGHHLGHLHG.
See where this leads? It leads in sadness. Sadness and vomit. Bloody, horrible vomit. Compared to other fandoms out there, I think anime has been pretty lucky so far to have avoided any sort of big nonsense on the topic. Mainly because, um, anime isn't as "cool" a thing to like anymore, especially compared to video games and comic books. Video Games have a patron (and patronizing) saint of coolness in the form of a girl with a cool name like ANNA ANTHROPY, who put out a book called "Rise of the Video Game Zinesters"! How hip is that? 'Zines! They're the hippest! Comic books have achieved a faux-nostalgic renaissance as trust-fund kids who raided their parents record collection learned about people like R. Crumb, and discovered the long history tying together independent comic books and vinyl records. And we all know that collecting vinyl records is the coolest thing of all time to do. I've been to an Amoeba Records, trust me. They kick you out of there if you're not cool enough. I had to steal a keffiyeh from some girl just to get in the door; when they started getting suspicious, I found the nearest dude with a longboard and stole his beard. The blood only added to my coolness!
All joking aside, look, I'm sure there's some small percentage of anime "fans" who are in it for all the wrong reasons. I've seen a few of them myself over the years; confused dudes wearing hip clothes who saunter away from their shared duplex in Los Feliz in order to gawk at the half-naked girls at Anime Expo, parlaying a passing fancy with Dragon Ball Z and Cowboy Bebop when they were kids in order to start a conversation. Sure, those people probably technically exist.
But they are an incredibly small minority of people. I'd have to hire a statistician to correctly calculate the exact percentage. Everyone else? We're somewhere on the spectrum of "big anime fan" to "dangerously obsessive and scary anime fan." You'd have to be, to put up with everything. The social mockery of the "tentacle porn" idea that permeates to this day, somehow. The outrageous price-gouging. The fact that every semi-mainstream outlet that once attempted to promote anime and its ephemera - the Cartoon Networks, the brick-and-mortar bookstores, the Best Buys, and the North American Video Game Industry - has all but turned its back on it. You kinda have to be nuts to be into this stuff. Unless, of course, you REALLY, REALLY like it.
So, let's all be cool and avoid having this discussion. Please. A "poser," much like a "hipster," can be easily defined as somebody who is trying to define the word itself in a way that excludes them from that description. It has nothing whatsoever to do with anything, other than flagellating the bizarre self-image issues of insecure people on the internet. Let's just talk about animation and cartoons and fun stuff. Let's not get in a tizzy arguing about who is in this for the "right" reasons, whatever those are.
Let's be adults, in other words. Even though most anime is targeted towards teenagers and children. Ahem.
Hey, Answerman! I've got a question about voice acting; but not exactly from this side of the pond. Basically, I was wondering: in the United States, there are three "main spots" for voicing anime (and western cartoons, and games): California, Texas, and the ever less seen New York. Thus, if a work is voiced in one of those spots, that means it's very unlikely that an actor from another "spot" is going to be part of the cast (and so when I hear someone saying they expect to hear Jamie Marchi in the upcoming Tales of Xillia, dubbed in California, it kind of baffles me). In many other countries, you can find the same situation, it's normal.
...So what about Japan? I can see that recasts do happen there, like the recent Berserk movies and Yu-Gi-Oh!, post-studio transfer. Do they have their "main spots" for voice acting as well? What are they? Is there a famous voice actor that works exclusively in one of them?
Well, recasts or no, what you see here in America isn't so different than it is in Japan. As a matter of fact, it's actually kind of worse; if you're gonna make it AT ALL in the entertainment industry in Japan, you gotta be in Tokyo.
I mean, that's where everything is. That's where all the major TV networks and film studios are, and more importantly, that's where all the talent agencies are. And you're going nowhere in the competitive world of voice acting in Japan without a good agent. And you're not going to find one unless you're in Tokyo. For the simple fact that they're simply not looking anywhere else. The directors of major Broadway plays aren't scouting for the PERFECT actor in Rhode Island or Massachusetts. An ad agency based in Burbank isn't going to go on a major talent search throughout the midwest in order to find the PERFECT person to act in an Oreos commercial.
That's basically it. You need to live in Tokyo, no exceptions. Unless, you know, you're a major name who already made your stardom in Tokyo and want to move elsewhere, and the studios consider it a worthwhile enough expense to record your lines remotely, using the internet and some software. That's obviously not as big a deal in Japan as it is here in the US - Japan isn't as massively expansive a country as the US, so it would obviously be a lot cheaper and easier to buy a train ticket to Tokyo for a day in the recording booth, as opposed to a 9-hour flight to bring someone on the East Coast to Los Angeles.
Another thing that happens a lot with US dubs but isn't so common on the Japanese side: recasting. That happens here all the time because it doesn't pay very well and actors typically rectify that by stacking up on their workload, and in some cases schedules conflict when it comes time to do a sequel and they, y'know, bail out of it. It's rather shockingly rare for it to happen in Japan. For Christ's sakes, Nobuyo Oyama did the Japanese voice of Doraemon from 1979 all the way until 2005; the only reason she stopped isn't because of a contract dispute, or disinterest. She stopped because of health issues. That seems to be the most common reason for actors getting replaced or recast in the anime world.
In a lot of ways, this idea that the Japanese world of voice acting and the American world of voice acting are in any way similar is purely fictional. I ran this question by Justin Sevakis, as I often do for some nitty-gritty industry talk, and he shared an interesting quote with me on this topic.
Justin:Insofar as being a voice actor in Texas: There is simply not much acting work in Texas, and frankly anime dubbing doesn't pay very well. If you're really serious about acting and you're good, you probably want to move to a city that will offer union jobs, many more networking abilities, and maybe opportunities to break into live action work. So quite a few of the bigger names to come out of Texas now live in LA or New York (which has a lot more theater than LA, but less of everything else).
You still hear them pop up on Funimation dubs from time to time, though, since software like SourceConnect (a plug-in for ProTools, the ubiquitous audio recording workstation) allows dub sessions to happen over the internet, provided the actor has access to a decent recording studio. And they'll sometimes fly in just to record a show as well. But sometimes it's just not worth the expense.
It's an expense to keep voice actors around for longer than necessary out here. In Japan, it isn't. Because, chances are, if they're a voice actor, they're staying in Tokyo.
Yowza! It's that time already - when I stop pretending like I have all the answers and open up the floor!
Last week, I wanted to hear my readers in foreign lands sound off on their personal tragedies and triumphs, and boy did they deliver!
Let's start with Dan, whose country of origin is making it VERY difficult to avoid making the obvious Simpsons reference:
I live in Montevideo, Uruguay and it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that 99% of anime down here is pirated. Why? In a few words, lack of availability. The only anime available locally for rental and/or purchase is whatever Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon air (Pokémon, Naruto, Yu-Gi-Oh! et. al.). Crunchyroll is a small step in the right direction though I believe it has, for the most part, gone unnoticed because they haven't done much of an effort to promote it. The only country that sells a broad selection of non-pirated spanish subbed or dubbed anime is Mexico and shipping/importing costs can be pretty high; sometimes it's cheaper to buy english subbed/dubbed anime from the US via Amazon. Unless someone comes up with a very out-of-the-box plan which includes DRM-free download to own high-definition episodes and movies, I doubt that anything will change in this regard.
On the other hand, there is a significant amount of spanish translated manga available in the local market and publishers expand their catalogue often. Since all publishers are either from Argentina or Spain, the prices have gone up considerable because of the economic crisis in Spain and Argentina's restrictions on imports and exports of all forms of printed matter. In Uruguay, there are many manga series that are considerably cheaper (shipping costs included) to import from the US via Amazon than importing them from Argentina. Taking in count that the distance between Montevideo and Buenos Aires (Argentina's capital) is only 130 miles, it's a bit ridiculous. In Uruguay we're benefiting greatly from the current exchange rate though the same cannot be said for other countries.
Let's hear from George, in Isreal!
Hey Answerman! Avid Israeli reader here, I love your column and thought to pitch in on the latest Answerfans.
Well, Israel is a fairly small country (population of 7 million), but the anime community is surprisingly large. In the "Glory Days" of 2007-2009 or so we used to number in the high thousands. We had an anime channel (even airing shows like Kino no Tabi or Juuni Kokki), 3 big stores selling anime products, and we even had several conventions a year, including 2-3 concurrent ones around Purim (the Jewish holiday of masks and costumes, which is classic for cosplay).
Sadly, there was a huge problem that exists to this day: The Israeli anime community is ridiculously young. When I used to walk around as a 16 year old, just "starting out" on the whole anime thing, people would consider me really old. As is natural with young people, their income was limited and legal anime was fairly hard to come by, combine that with the anime "fad" moving over for new "fads" like Reality Shows or Israeli Telenovelas, and eventually the whole thing pretty much collapsed. The channel shut down and the stores and conventions started closing down or downsizing.
I am not quite sure about the size of the anime community here today, but there is no store in Israel selling anime at the moment, and the ones selling manga are fairly high priced, going several dollars over the retail price. I am probably one of the few bothering to legally purchase anime, since I have a fairly high income, but the rates for importing are ludicrously high. Shipping rates from the US can go well over $30 for a couple of DVDs, and the shipping rates from Japan are even higher (last time I ordered something from Japan the shipping and costumes somehow doubled the price of the product itself).
Right now there is no choice for most fans but to pirate their anime, but the Israeli Association of Anime and Manga is working pretty hard on providing alternatives, recently opening manga libraries all around the country and organizing joint viewing in universities and such. There is still some hope for the future.
Off to Greece we go, with Nikos!
I live in Greece, a part of EU (at least for now), and in most cases piracy is the only way to get new anime. In Athens there are a few shops with anime and manga titles and related merchandise. In the rest of Greece one must be very lucky to find anything anime or manga related. Today due to the economic crisis this is even more difficult.
I have a large collection of manga volumes (over 500) all bought from shops like amazon or achonia, due to the fact that there are no shops locally that sell manga or anime titles. And the price of each volume is rather manageable, from 7 to 10 euros in most cases. There is a Greek printing house which releases volumes of popular manga like Bleach or Naruto, but nothing else. The anime titles, on the other hand, come with a 20-30 euro price for each disc, with 2-3 episodes each, which is rather expensive. There are no Greek subs( too small of a market for the companies to care).
For 2 years I tried to be legal and had a subscription with Crunchyroll. I was very disappointed with the results. Most of the titles due to "licencing reasons" where locked, and I felt rather cheated from the advertising, which failed to mention that it was for US viewers, and the much fewer titles for the rest of the world.
Lets face it, the internet as it is now is mainly for the US, the rest of the world is an afterthought. The majority of titles in your site are Region 1, the Region 2 (EU) titles are less than half. I could buy a unlocked DVD player but technically it is illegal. I hate to hear that this or that title is not available in your region so you can't buy it, but you can wait..... if and someone picks it up. Most of the times I download something is when I try to buy is and I see that I will ever be able to l own it.
Piracy is, at least in my area, the easy way out. Most of the people I know download thee anime titles they want. The prices are an issue, but not he first, The main issue is that it is more convenient and easy to get a torrent than to try to find a legal way to own a title, which in many cases doesn't exist.
Off to Malaysia we go, with Wong! Kudos on the currency exchange rate there, dude:
I am a long time reader from Malaysia and this is my first time writing in.
Regarding your question of the week on the state of anime/manga piracy in my country, I could only say that it is BAD. The anime DVDs that you can in video stores and shopping centres are mostly, probably more than 95% of them, bootleg. To make matters worse, all of them have a little hologram-sticker-seal of approval from the National Film Censorship Board. You may wonder how I can be sure that those are bootleg titles since they managed to obtain approval from the government. Well, I know they are bootleg because you can usually find a DVD with a complete anime series less than 1 week after it finished broadcasting in Japan, and all at a low price of RM39.90 (~USD13.00). They sometimes even throw in the OST as well. This situation actually gives Malaysia a bad name because I have seen websites selling them as legal Malaysia versions, although they are clearly bootleg. As for torrenting fansubs, it's probably rampant as well because they are able to watch both English fansubs and Chinese fansubs. Most of the people that I know watch anime primarily through those two sources. When if comes to manga piracy, the situation is a little bit better as it just involves the usual reading of scanlation on the Internet.
Now that I had given a brief overview of the piracy situation in Malaysia, allow me present something on the legal means of watching anime in Malaysia. As you may recall from the preceding paragraph, less than 5% of the anime available from the shops are legal. They mostly consist of titles from Odex and the occasional anime movie that was released by local movie distributors. I guess importing anime titles from the US or Japan could be an option, but with the exchange rate at USD1.00 ~RM3.10 and 100 yen ~RM3.30, it is not really an affordable option for most. Furthermore, importing DVDs from abroad requires clearance from customs and you might find yourself in a situation where you can't get the necessary approvals for your legal DVDs but could easily get bootleg DVDs that have the necessary approvals. Another way of watching anime legally is through its native format, the television. Local terrestrial broadcasters actually show anime on a regular basis, although these consist mostly of long-form shonen titles such as Naruto, Fairy Tail and Detective Conan, or children's shows such as Doraemon and Chibi Maruko-chan. All of them are either in Malay-dub, Chinese-dub (Taiwanese version), or occasionally in English-dub. Apart from that we do get access to Animax Asia (and yes, my first exposure to Rurouni Kenshin / Samurai X was in the form of the infamous Animax Asia dub) and that's not too bad because they usually will have a new show every month, although they tend to be at least 2-3 season old. Animax Asia is improving though as they now offer VOD services, but I do worry about their business model because most of their target audience (those that watch anime and have a highspeed internet connection) would have already watch most of the titles offered elsewhere. And now on to Internet Streaming sites. Since Malaysia is located in the dreaded "Other Regions" we can't get access to American streaming sites apart from Crunchyroll, and even then could only get a very limited access to the animes available. There are other sites that a Malaysian IP address can get legal anime streaming such as Viki and Gundam.info, but overall not a viable option. Here's hoping that the new Daisuki site will grant access to everyone and not just those from selected regions. Getting legal manga in Malaysia is a lot easier than getting legal anime because you can get localised versions of manga in Malay for about RM4.80 to RM7.50 (~USD1.50 to USD2.50) or you can get English versions (American and Singaporean versions) from the local Kinokuniya. The Malay versions are frequently censored (kissing scenes, cleavage) but for such a low price it is tolerable, while for the US version I will end up paying around RM30-40 for each volume.
My top recommendation for solving or at least alleviating the piracy problem in Malaysia would be to educate both the public and the authorities on the fact that what they thought were legal copies of anime are actually not. Perhaps this will then prevent them from being sold in shops. However, this could be a losing battle as blatantly pirated DVDs could easily be found and bought. At the very least by educating them on this issue it could be a first step on the right direction. My other suggestion would be for legal streaming sites to open access to people from the "Other Regions". I would gladly pay the subscription fee to Crunchyroll if I can get access to all of their anime, and not to only a handful every season. This is why I am pinning my hope on the new Daisuki site. Nonetheless, freeloaders will be freeloaders and access to legal streaming site will probably not dissuade them from watching fansubs, but at least it will give them the option to do the honourable thing.
Thank you Answerman for taking your time to read my long and somewhat rambling e-mail. I just wanted to put in my 2 cents (~RM0.06) worth.
So far, Mario, you're the only dude from Mexico chimin' in, so, kudos!
I'm probably not going to be the only Mexican answering this question, but because I've been an anime fan since I was ten (I'm in my late twenties now) I can give you a comprehensive historical overview of the extent of anime piracy just across the border.
I'm not going to beat around the bush with this issue: anime piracy has been rampant in Mexico for the last 15 years. Just to give you an idea of the extent of this problem I will tell you a personal anecdote. When I was in middle school, I found a guy in a flea market that sold anime VHS. However, these were not fansubs. Oh, no. It was even worse than that. These were poor quality transfers from R1 DVD's. In other words, this guy was ripping ADV, Geneon and Bandai DVD's and then selling them for a profit. Since Internet service and fast PCs were particularly expensive at that time, every otaku resorted to buy pirated VHS or DVD's simply because it was the only available option to get your anime boobs. For a while, Mexican anime cons were filled with bootlegs and pirated DVD's. As you can imagine, when the Internet became more accessible everyone simply gravitated towards free fansubs.
Even though Mexico is the closest Latin American country to the US (not counting Cuba, obviously), importing anime is still hard and expensive. Exchange rates between dollars and Mexican pesos are really variable, shipping rates are expensive even through Amazon, and the Mexican postal service is notoriously slow. For instance, although I'm relatively close to the US-Mexico border, my order can take up to a month and a half to arrive to my door.
Thus, fansubs now are the way to go. They are fast and easy to get. It was the only available option and everyone was doing it, so why feel guilt or remorse? It was until I started listeting to the ANNcast that I've really gained a deep understanding of the effects of piracy in the anime industry (Thank you Zac and Justin!). With a lot of effort, sweat and tears I slowly acquired a respectable collection of R1 DVD's and I feel proud of that achievement, but I can't really say the same for all my otaku friends. Fansubs are more popular than ever, but I believed that things are starting to change.
Mexico (and Latin America) as a potential market of anime is interesting. Like your example of Knights of the Zodiac's success in Colombia and South America reveals, sometimes an anime that completely bombed in the States turns out to be a major success in Mexico. For example, sports anime (Slam Dunk, Captain Tsubasa; and more recently, Eyeshield 21 and Inazuma Eleven) is always a safe beat, with sizeable audiences either in public broadcasting or cable. More surprisingly, however, is that in many cases, obscure shows that are never licensed by R1 companies become mainstream classics. Many World Masterpiece Theater shows are fondly remember by many people that are not hardcore otakus. The most notorious example is Nobody's Boy Remi, which has always been a perennial favorite (even my parents and uncles watched the show!). Thankfully, movie and DVD distributors took advantage of this situation. Now show like Remi, Heidi or Marco are available on accessible and cheap DVD sets that preserve the original Spanish dubs. Also, other independent companies recently took a shot in this market of nostalgia, so now we have lavish limited DVD editions of Sailor Moon and Candy Candy.
There's obviously a lot of work to do. In 2011, Mexico was in the fourth place of the top countries that buy and consume piracy. Still, I feel optimistic. For instance, a few years ago a lot of Mexican and Latin American otakus would react angrily to manga or anime artists that dare to imply that piracy was killing the anime industry. In contrast, now many Latin American fansubbers work for Crunchyroll and the site is even advertised fansub websites. Change is difficult but not impossible. To me, these two examples show that when tastes are divergent, consumers trends are the same both in Mexico and the States: fans want their entertainment cheap, fast and accessible, while collectors need an added value for their hard earned money.
Obrigado, Marcelo, from Brazil!
E aí, Answerman?!
This one is from Brazil. Wow, I think this is the question I've been waiting for all my life and never knew. Okay, I may be overreacting. Anyway *cahem*
Piracy in Brazil is rampant. Finding stores that specialize in selling crappily recorded DVDs of movies and TV series is probably easier than finding a legitimate movie store. The situation is even worse with video games -- since games are rarely (if ever) officially released here, and their main buyers are children and teenagers who want their games and want'em cheap, probably 80% (minimum) of all games sold in Brazil are pirated. The situation with anime is no different -- few anime are licensed and, out of those, few are officially released on video; fansubs exist in all styles and flavors, and there is nothing simpler than googling "anime episodes in Portuguese" to find hundreds of websites dedicated to reencoding and offering those episodes to whoever wants them. The situation with manga, however, is a little better -- I mean, sure, scanlations are rampant too, but the manga market...well, it's standing. It's probably not making anyone rich, but titles are constantly being announced and released, so, yeah. It's not exactly "healthy", but it is active.
The main reason for that rampant anime piracy is, all together now: "prices are really high", though some people overblow it. Anime DVDs are usually sold for the same price as most movies: around 40 reais (20 bucks) for disc. That is somewhat expensive, yes, but not nearly as insane as people claim it to be (and not nearly as insane as games: since they're mostly imported and import taxes, as explained further on, are crazy, they usually go for 180 reais -- circa 90 bucks!). No, the main problem with the anime market is... well, everything else. Let me take, for example, the release of Ashita no Nadja around here: Nadja (somewhat obscurely) aired on Cartoon Network, and thus a certain company decided to release it on DVD. However, each disc had only four episodes and no extras, costed 30 reais, were practically not advertised at all, were terribly distributed and hard to find, and the company released three discs all at once with no plans to release the rest, from the start. The quality of the discs themselves were also very unimpressive. Add to that the country's trademark rampant piracy, and of course it bombed. Similar stories can be heard from a number of other anime DVD releases. Thus the official anime market (and movie market, for that matter) doesn't go forward, and so digital piracy marches on.
But the problem with piracy, I think, goes deeper than that. Piracy is so normal around here, so widespread, that the mere idea of paying full price for the actual-official-genuine product sounds insane nowadays. Even the richest people in the country probably have a few dozen pirated copies of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Putting it another way, even if a company were to sell, say, all episodes of Cardcaptor Sakura in a shiny set with everything fans could ask for for an affordable price, it would probably still bomb. "Why should I buy it if I can get it for free/buy it for a much lower price"?
Anyway, that's the answer to the first part of the question (I guess I got over myself, heh), so, on to the second. Exchange rates. Yeah, we're royally screwed by exchange rates. As I mentioned before, 1 dollar equals 2 reais (more or less), which is pretty brutal. But we have another big problem: importing taxes. Here's the thing: all products bought from another country (especially electronics, exceptions to books) are subject to a minimum (MINIMUM!) 60% tax price thing, including shipping. So, let's say I decided to buy a Nintendo 3DS system that, shipping included, costs 200 dollars: I'd actually have to pay 320 dollars for it -- and that if customs were in a good mood that day. Taxes can actually go up to 100%. I know because it happened to me once: I decided to buy a bunch of some-new-some-used Gamecube games on GameStop -- they were 200 dollars total (a big chunk of that was shipping: GameStop's infamous US$60 international shipping fee. Yes, I know there are better options to buy games, but I was young and foolish back then). However, since customs were particularly mean that day, that price jumped to 400 bucks (did I mention some of them were used?), and the package was being held in a government-place until I paid that value in an incredibly unsafe way (scanning my credit card, front and back, and sending it through email). Interestingly, when I called them to get the...."transaction" done with, a lady on the other side of the phone immediately felt the need to defend the insanity of taxing 100% over the price, even though I haven't expressed my outrage in any way. The only... comfort (?) to be had here is that products under 50 dollars sold by a natural person (say, people at eBay) are not subject to Brazilian taxing (that is not 100% certain, though), which allows me to harvest a small-but-growing collection of Anime DVDs and video games. It is frustrating, nevertheless -- to this day I'm waiting for a kind soul on eBay who'll sell Fire Emblem Awakening for a low price, and for the price of Funimation's Steins;Gate DVDs to drop.
Now, for what can be done. In my fantasy world of purple dragons and pretty rainbows I like to believe that anime DVD releases can work, if the company releases accessible titles, for accessible prices, that weren't reaired on television ad nauseum and with good quality, buuut that's probably never gonna happen. As I said before, piracy is just too strong -- it already went way past "problem" status and became an actual aspect of our society that is nigh-impossible to remedy. But I agree with you that streaming is the future: if even a small portion of the insane amount of people that watch anime through fansubs is willing to pay (a low price, I should add!) for Crunchyroll (and Netflix), I can see it working, big time.
I also believe that companies tackle piracy in a really silly and ineffective way. Most anti-piracy ads boil down to "RAWR! PIRACY IS EVIL! IT'S RELATED TO MURDER AND DRUGS AND PAEDOPHILIA AND YOU ARE FINANCING THAT, YOU MONSTER" -- I think that'll go nowhere. People just need to know (and by "know" I mean "have rubbed on their faces as much as necessary") that buying the official product supports the industry and, most importantly, the people who created the work they love so much. Or maybe all people do know that already and I'm just a gullible fool. Oh well.
Yow. That's some painful stuff to hear. Hope all of my fellow Westerners take it to heart; we've got it pretty good, for the most part. Paying 600 bucks for Gurren Lagann is kind of ridiculous, but at least that's not how much it costs for EVERYTHING.
So while we all chew on the fact that I feel guilty for living a spoiled life in a first-world country, hey! I've got a new question for next week, as the Spring Preview Guides cast a shadowy pall over everyone's life here at ANN!
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.
I'm out of time, as usual, friends! Don't forget of course to send me stuff via email! Answerman (at!) Animenewsnetwork.com! You can send me questions to be answered here in the column, responses to Answerfans! that might get published, or whatever! Until next week, I'm outta here!
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