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Ms. Answerman

by Rebecca Bundy,

With the recent popularity of manga in the US, people have been wondering what makes it so popular. Many thought that it was the BESM style of art, but recent attempts by the US comic companies to tap this art form have proved that it isn't the style of art that makes manga so popular. So what exactly IS manga? And how are they different from comics?

The most noticeable difference I've seen between manga and comics are the audiences they target. Comics tend to target males or a general genderless audience, with only a few exceptions that target women. Manga, on the other hand, has an abundance of series that are made with a women reader in mind, and a lot of these series have made their way onto US shelves. If you look at the list of translated series I'm reading right now (a list which is fairly long and has overcome numerous bookshelves within my room), most of them are shoujo/shounen-ai series. The broad group of readers that manga targets is, in my opinion, one of the most noteworthy differences between manga and comics.

Some people might claim that the art style is what separates comics from manga. People are quick to generalize comics with the 'big breasts, bulging muscles' style, while manga sticks with the 'big eyes, small mouth' formula. This might be true for some, but many series (both manga and comics) become popular because they break away from the 'normal' style of art. Pick up a volume of Berserk and the only big eyes you'll be seeing will be on the faeries or assortment of grotesque monsters. Meridian, one of my favorite comic series, sports a main character that is built more like a young boy then a girl and features art that oftentimes takes my breath away. Other series stick to the generalizations but take it to a new level, such as FLCL (this style is so unique it's hard to miss) and Aria (one of the first that I saw in which the entire comic was like a series of paintings instead of drawings). If you think that the dark nature of certain manga series separates it from comics, I can point you towards other equally dark comics to indulge in.

If you really stop to think about it, there aren't a lot of differences between these two mediums. Both have their exceptional series and poor ones, both stick to generalizations as well as break away from them, and both explore the way stories can be told. For those who only read one and not the other (for whatever reasons you have), you're missing out on a lot of things that the other one has to offer.

With that said, let's roll out this week's questions!
Pictures for Ms. Answerman will return next week.

Dear Answerthing,
I was curious if Dark Horse's release of "Blade of the Immortal" is
unedited. I also wanted to know if they ever intend to release the first few
volumes in right-to-left format.

As far as I can tell, it's unedited. Blade of the Immortal, unlike manga from when this series first came out, uses a technique of cutting each panel out and pasting them in reverse order to fit the left-to-right format. This was to meet the wishes of the mangaka, Hiroaki Samura, who didn't want Dark Horse to use mirror images.
I haven't heard anything about re-releasing the series in right-to-left format, or anything about switching over to that format (since the series is still being published in the cut & paste format from left to right).

I have a few questions:) In regards to Kaze no Yojimbo,has that been picked
up yet?I loved the series fansubbed but was unable to finish it.
thanx a bunch

The anime hasn't been licensed yet. The series isn't that old, so there's still a chance that someone will snag it.


Hello there all you people in Answerman land. Do you know if the 14 videos (Together forming INTERSTELLA 5555) for Daft Punk's album Discovery are going to be released in the States on DVD? I am a huge fan of the techno-funk-pop-rock French duo and the first four videos were great when I watched them online. Leiji Matsumoto did a great job with them. I often use this as a last resort but I couldn't find anything through my own searches. Thanks very much Answerman.

The DVD for INTERSTELLA 5555 will be released by EMI in December, but I don't know if this release includes the US. For those of you who've never heard of INTERSTELLA 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, it was originally shown at the Quinzaine des Realisateurs festival in Cannes, France. A collaborated work between Leiji Matsumoto and Daft Punk, the 67 minute long movie focuses on an alien band that's kidnapped by an evil manager and brought back to Earth.

Ms. Answerman
I recently got into watching One Piece and i think its great! But I was wondering if you know if its still popular in japan because i know its still airing. I have seen all of the episodes that have come out on bootleg(i know bad) so far but would very much like to see more! thanks

It's still extremely popular over in Japan. Episode 167 recently aired, while the One Piece movie Dead End na Bokuren has just been released on DVD. This series (as well as the manga) is going strong so you don't have to worry about it ending anytime soon.

I know you just answered one of these, (I just read it) but the question made me remember my other question. Will the Maison Ikkoku dub cut off like it did when they first released the videos? And if so (as is likely) at which episode? Watching it, it's one of the better dubs I've ever seen, and I'm wondering how long it will last.
Thank you very much for answering my previous questions. In light of the fact that you did answer both those questions, I promise not to mind if you don't answer this one. (Another question I don't mind if you don't answer: Exactly how many questions do you get per week/day?)
Thanks again,

The Maison Ikkoku dub will include all 96 episodes, so you can start rejoicing in the fact that you won't be cut off early. As for the second question, we get a lot of emails but only a few of them can actually be used. We also have good weeks and slow weeks, so questions are saved for when the slow weeks rear their ugly heads.

(Ms.) Answerman,
After watching the fantastic anime, Gokudo, I was left with quite a bit of appreciation for the music and was interested in buying an OST or two from the series (Akira Ishida in a girl band!), but aside from some radio dramas, there evidently was never a CD for this show released in Japan; not in any major online store. Are you aware of the existence of a Gokudo-kun Manyuuki soundtrack and where I might find it?

I tried looking around for a store that might have this OST for sale, but no luck. Most likely one was never made, or if they did it had a limited release.

Dear Ms. Answerman,
I have some questions to ask, O Goddess of Anime Knowledge:
I absolutely love Vampire Princess Miyu. I have all of the TV series, some of the manga, and the first volume of the OAV. I saw somewhere that there is a second volume of the OAV, and I'm curious if that's the end of the OAV. I'm assuming it is, but it could be AnimEigo's amazing slow-ness, so I'm not sure.
Finally, I will ask a question that's a matter of opinion. I would like a list of shonen-ai and yaoi anime and manga that you think is good. I have found myself obsessed with this type of series, but the only ones I know of at all are Fake, Gravitation, Yami no Matsuei, Mirage of Blaze, Ai no Kusabi, Level C, and Boku no Sexual Harassment. The only ones I've actually had any exposure to are Gravitation and Fake.
Thank you for reading this!
Hitsune the Fire Kitsune

You've made a fairly complete listing of anime and manga that can be obtained in English. If you've only seen/read Gravitation and Fake, I'd suggest you buy the Yami no Matsuei DVDs as well. There's a lot of stuff that hasn't been translated yet, but if you're interested in those I'd suggest you try something published by Hana to Yume Comics. They publish a lot of shoujo and shounen-ai series, so you'll probably find something you like there.

Dear Answer Woman/Man/Cat/Person. As you may know, disc ten, the last disc of the Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO) series is due to be released September 16th. I have enjoyed watching the series and now have the nine discs that have been released so far and I plan on buying the last one. I was wondering, does TOKYOPOP have any plans to, or did they already, produce an artbox to store our complete GTO DVD collection? I'd appreciate a response if you can't answer this in the column.

They don't have an artbox for people who bought the DVDs as they came out, but they do have a DVD collection due out this December. It comes with volumes 1-5 of the anime, so if you can sell your copies to a friend for a decent price, you could buy this boxset and have a place for the DVDs. Otherwise, you're out of luck (for now at least).

Konichiwa Ms.Answerman
A few months back you stated in one of your responses that "if you think
it's anime because it's drawn by someone japanese you need to pull your head
out of the clouds." Now being a newbie to anime i was under the impresson
that if it was drawn and animated in Japan, it's Anime. I was curious if you
could enlighten me on the subject a little, so my question is "What makes
Anime, Anime?"
Also I recently started reading the Berserk and +Anima manga and am
thoroughly enjoying them both, is there another manga you can recommend? I
enjoy most genres so a particular style doesn't bother me as long as it's a
good read =)
Thanks for your time Ms.Answerman-senpai

The technical term ‘anime’ (in America) refers to animation made in Japan, so you're not wrong in assuming that anime is anything drawn and animated in Japan. In Japan, ‘anime’ is anything that's animated, but we don't live in Japan, and the word means something else here in the US. My comment was directed towards those who think that the Japanese are the only ones drawing the anime. A lot of the animation you see is done by Korean companies that are connected to animation studios in Japan. So to say that anime has to be drawn by the Japanese would result in most anime series losing their anime title.

For anyone who reads this column, you'll already know I love Berserk. I've also read +Anima and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I guess I have another series to add to the long list of favorites. For anyone who doesn't know what +Anima is, picture a series that's the exact opposite of Berserk and you'll have an idea of what +Anima is like. That aside, I'd probably suggest Naruto, just because it seems like a manga that would fall between these two series content wise. You'd probably like Petshop of Horrors as well.

That's it for this round of questions!

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