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Ms. Answerman: Look at All the Pretty Bubbles

by Rebecca Bundy,

This week, one of the emails I received included five questions of varying topics so I decided to use the entire column to answer his/her questions. While it isn't uncommon to receive more than one question in a single email, this is the first time there were five completely different questions within one. I've split up the letter to make it easier to read. Don't worry, next week I'll be back to answering questions from a variety of people.

Hello -
Great column... I've even read the entire archive :-)
Here's a few questions on assorted subjects, for you to toss in the hopper...
I'm a bit confused on the Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X OVAs... I recently bought the Director's Cut of Trust and Betrayal (ADV DSX/005), which plays as a single two hour movie. The store also had a box set of Trust, Betrayal, and Reflection as three separate dvds (ADV DSX/001, DSX/002, and DSX/004), which I have heard described as a collection of six half-hour episodes. Is the director's cut dvd basically the first four episodes cut together into a single movie?

Originally, both here and in Japan, the four episodes in the first Kenshin OVA were released straight to video. The quality of the animation and the popularity of the OVA encouraged a “movie” version (called “Rurouni Kenshin: Reminiscence”) of the OVA to be created for release on the big screen. In the US, this movie was released as a Director's Cut and gave fans the choice between buying one DVD or two, assuming of course they hadn't already bought the two DVDs since they were released first. The differences between the two are minimal, so unless you're a hardcore fan and want to see the first OVA in its original version, don't bother buying the two separate DVDs. The second OVA, called Reflection, is just a visually stunning piece of work that takes the second half of the Kenshin manga and destroys it. Your money would be better put to use as kindling for a fire than wasted on this final OVA.

I've seen the word "no" used in a lot of japanese titles (ie: Otaku no Video), and I'm gathering that it's not the negative that it is in english, but is some sort of possessive. Is this correct? If so, which direction does japanese grammar flow? Does Hikaru no Go translate as Hikaru's Go, or as Go's Hikaru?

“no” is a possessive particle similar to “of” in English. The most literal translation of Hikaru no Go would be “Hikaru's Go” or “the Go of Hikaru”, both of which sound awkward (imagine a book called “Joe's Tennis” and you'll see what I mean). Thankfully, they decided to not translate the title. There are a lot more specific rules as to when you can or cannot use “no”, but if you'd prefer not sitting through a few years of Japanese classes then this is the easiest way to go.

The local anime club I've recently joined tends to show entire 26 episode series, one episode per week. I've also heard of clubs that show 6 to 8 episodes of a series, then drop it to start something new. Do you have any perspective on which is more common? I can see benefits either way.

I'm not sure either practice is more common than the other. It really depends on what the club is trying to do and how often they have screenings. If they're trying to give American audiences a taste of the newest series in Japan, showing 6-8 episodes of a series is a great way to get people excided about a series. It encourages them to buy the rest of the series once it comes out here since they'll want to know how the series ends. The low episode count makes it easy to cycle through series as well, so clubs can continuously show the newest stuff as it comes out every season. Clubs that show entire series do so because they don't want to make people wait to see these great shows. Obviously though if you're showing so many episodes, you're not going to have as large of a variety since a lot more time is required to show entire series. Let's not forget too that some series like Naruto, One Piece, and Inuyasha have so many episodes, it'd take years to show the entire series if only one episode is played every week. So it really just depends on what the club's goals are: introduction or completely showing a series.

I've heard a lot about the various Gundam series, and would like to start at the beginning, but I'm not sure which one is the first, or in what order they appeared. Is there a list of Gundam series, in either order of production, or within the Gundam timeline (preferrably both)? Are any of the series must-see or must-stay-away?

I'm not a huge fan of the Gundam saga so I can't say for certain that none of the events from one series cross over into the events of another Gundam series. They all deal with war, piloted mecha, and people being humans while killing other humans. There was an original Gundam, called Mobile Suit Gundam 0079, which was aired from 1979-1980. ANN's encyclopedia has a nice listing of all the Gundam series here, but I'll list off a few of the major ones with the date they aired.

Mobile Suit Gundam 0079 – 1979-1980
Z Gundam – 1985-1986
G Gundam – 1994-1995
Gundam Wing – 1995-1996
Gundam X – 1996
Gundam SEED – 2002-2003

If you've never seen any of these, I'd suggest you watch either the original, Wing, or SEED. Give one or two a try and see if you like them. If not, then it's probably not for you. Also, I'm quite aware that there are probably hundreds of readers who know a LOT more about Gundam than I do and have their own opinions as to which one(s) are the best and worst. You might want to head over to the message boards and see if people start debating the merits of the different series.

A member of the local club recently brought in a dvd of Fruits Basket that had all the episodes on one disc, among other bad signs. She wouldn't believe me when I said it was probably a bootleg, and was pointing to the Funimation credits for the english dub as "proof" that it was a legit US copy. Are asian bootlegs of official US dubs becoming common?
Once again, thanks for doing the column.

In the hierarchy of bad things an anime fan can do, buying the bootleg of a series that's already been completely released in the US puts a person at the bottom of the list. Now it seems like your friend was pretty convinced that they bought a legal copy that just happened to be shipped to them from Hong Kong, but they still should think twice whenever they see a deal that's too good to be true. The fact that it's Fruit's Basket, heralded for its stellar dub, one of the highest episode-per-disk count out there, and being a superb anime in general, makes me wonder why they couldn't spend the 100 or so dollars for the real deal. It's not like they can complain considering they'd pay twice as much for any other series out there of the same length.

That aside, bootlegs are all about making money off of other people's work. Bootlegs for series that do not have English translations require time (albeit very little considering the quality) to translate them. If a bootlegger can sell an already translated version and not have to put ANY time into it, they'll be even more eager to make fast cash off of people.

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