Answerman
Quick Answers Part 2

by Justin Sevakis,

I wasn't intending to do another one of these so soon, but that's what the contents of the Answerman inbox seem to be pointing towards today, so... let's do this.

James asks:

Many Japanese media have transformation sequences, most notably mecha, super sentai, and the Digimon franchises, which can be visually impressive if used sparingly, but, if used excessively, can quickly becoming monotonous and boring and also waste valuable screentime that could be used for plot and character development. With that in mind, why do some series use transformation sequences ad nauseum rather than using that time for giving more substance to the story?

Padding out a weekly anime episode with a minute or two of "banked" (re-used) animation is a cost-cutting move -- that's time that doesn't have to be filled with new animation. It wasn't so noticeable when everyone was watching the show week to week as it aired, but American fans have mostly experienced anime through binge viewing until the last few years, so it was always a bit more noticeable to us.

Anonymous asks:

Why don't (or can't) streaming companies like Crunchyroll or Funimation (or even anime companies themselves) go after illegal streaming websites for streaming their licensed shows?

I have every reason to believe that high profile anime streaming sites are targets for potential or pending legal action. We might not be seeing it from our vantage point, and perhaps no action has been taken yet, but there's almost certainly something happening behind closed doors. Legal actions are very slow processes, and it can take a while to formulate a strategy. However, fighting pirate websites are like playing Whack-A-Mole: you can get Google to delist the site, but another one will just pop up in its place.

Many of these pirate streaming sites buy a foreign domain and claim to operate from overseas, but are not really fooling anyone. Many of these sites operate from the US, and the domain name is only a shield.

Matthew asks:

I've noticed on anime merchandise e-stores that some series, like last year's mostly ignored Hundred, barely have any merchandise available outside the episode sets. Given how important merchandise sales are, are some series considered to be flops before they even air, and what circumstances lead to that?

Generally, merchandise companies don't start producing licensed goods until a show starts airing and it becomes clear whether the show is a hit or a dud. Once the show is established as a hit, merchandise will start production, but due to long lead times and approvals, it can be a few months to even a year before these products actually show up on store shelves. (Some series, especially sequel series, don't require testing in this way, so merchandise will appear sooner.) Some products, like buttons and keychains and printed towels, require less lead time than others and appear first.

Kyle asks:

How come most kids anime don't get released on Blu-ray? Examples include, Pokemon, Doraemon, and Yo-kai Watch (And I'm not talking about the movies, I'm talking about the regular TV series). Are they just not produced in good enough HD quality that would warrant Blu-ray releases, or is there some sort of belief among home media distributors that kids don't care about watching their favorite shows on Blu-ray?

Blu-ray production is still quite a bit more expensive than DVDs. Young children tend to not care as much about video quality, so if a show is aimed at them exclusively, many publishers will forego producing the Blu-ray version. The thinking is that kids care more about portability and compatibility (i.e. being able to take a disc to Grandma's house). There is also pressure on kid-oriented disc releases to be low-priced enough to be an impulse buy for parents.

bittorrent bittorrent asks:

We all know that the creator for anime adaptation of manga/LN is the author of the manga/LN. For example, creator of One Piece is Oda while creator of Naruto is Masashi Kishimoto regardless of who involve in the production of the anime. However, when it comes to anime that is not base on any manga or LN adaptations, who are seen as the creator. Is it the director, series composition, script writer, the person that does story board or is there anyone else?

In cases where there's an obvious auteur of the work (i.e. Mamoru Oshii, Satoshi Kon), that writer/director will be considered the creator (gensakusha), and will have all of the rights associated with being an original creator (i.e. he or she will get to approve most decisions surrounding use of the work). For projects that were more of a team effort, the company planning the production (often but not always the animation studio) will be considered the creator. For example, Sunrise has a company pen name that gets creator credit on their original projects: Hajime Yatate.

Jonathan asks:

Some animes like Neon Genesis Evangelion publish a Director's Cut on some episodes after the show was released on the airwaves. But where does the new footage come from? Was it originally animated at time of release and cut for whatever reason? If the footage was there originally, why was it cut in the first place? Or does the director commissions new scenes to be animated to add them to the original to showcase his vision better?

Anime gets edited differently from a live action movie or TV show. Each shot is carefully timed out when the production is still at storyboard stage, and it's at that point where adjustments are made for time, and scenes are cut if necessary. Animation is a long and tedious process, and budgets are low, so it doesn't make sense to animate full scenes that may never see the light of day. However, if a scene seems like it could be added to the home video version of a show, the director may take that scene and record audio for it anyway, just in case.

Those director's cut versions will usually only get finished with the approval of additional budget to clean up and add to the show for home video release, and that will usually only happen if the TV series is successful. It's at that point where those scenes are finished and added to the show. Many directors are perfectionists, and will continue to tinker and refine things for as long as the budget and schedule allows.

Robin asks:

If the offer for an anime adaption presents itself, can the author make any real decisions that effects the anime? For the Love Stage adaption, the author picked her own brother as the voice actor for one of the main characters. But inside the story of Bakuman, it arose problems when an author wanted their fiance to play the heroine, since that would be favoritism. And in Oreimo when Kirino wants many different opening / ending songs they outright reject it. So how much can an author actually push their own ideas when it comes to anime adaptions?

It really depends on several factors: the biggest one is how open the show's production staff is to the whims of the original creator. Some production committees and directors come to the table with a pretty well-formed idea of what the show would look like, and aren't going to adjust much without a good reason, especially from someone that might be the creator but doesn't know how to make a TV show. Some original creators are reasonable, but many have no idea how hard it is to do what they're asking.

Other factors include the personalities of the creators, and how powerful they are. Famous and popular creators hold a lot more sway and wield a lot more control over their work, while neophyte creators are kept insulated from the show production. Japanese business in general tries to build consensus, so the production committee will spend a lot of time trying to make sure everyone's happy.


Do YOU have a question for the Answerman?

We want your questions! Send in as many or as often as you like. We can only pick three questions a week (and unfortunately I don't have ALL the answers) so if you haven't been chosen, don't be discouraged, and keep on sending.

However, READ THIS FIRST:

  • CHECK THE ARCHIVES FIRST. I've answered a lot of questions already!
  • If you want to be a voice actor, READ THIS.

  • I can't tell you if or when a show will get another season. New productions are closely guarded secrets until they're publicly announced, so there's nothing I can tell you that Google can't.
  • I cannot help you get in touch with any producers, artists, creators, actors or licensors. If you're trying to pitch an idea, you should read this.
  • I usually won't bother with questions asking if something is a trend. Maybe? It's impossible to know until it becomes obvious.
  • I take questions by email only. (Tweeted questions get ignored!)
  • I will not do your homework/research/report for you.
  • Keep it short -- like, a paragraph at most, and use proper grammar or punctuation.

Got all that? Great! The e-mail address is answerman (at animenewsnetwork.com). And thanks!!

Justin Sevakis has worked in the anime business for nearly 20 years. He's the founder of Anime News Network, and owner of the video production company MediaOCD. You can follow him on Twitter at @worldofcrap.


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