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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

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Ahhh, Black Friday, my favorite time of the year. There's nothing like knocking over grannies and shoving kids out of the way while blindly grabbing at the shelves, desperate to buy anything that might even remotely be on sale. The best part is, you're helping the economy out, too!

I had a former roommate who brought with him tons of Japanese cds, video, etc., to college.  Ten years later, he is 'somewhere' in the United States, and I am trying to track down the soundtrack that we used to listen to.  All I recall of it was that it was from a show called 'Pirates', he said, there was a black cat on the cover eating popcorn or something, (the cat with an iron stomach, he said) and that several of the tracks were in English.  The first song was called 'Danger on the Streets', and it was very much a kick butt tune.

Help??  What am I looking for?  Any ideas?

Yeah, sure, your friend was listening to the soundtrack to a really old, really obscure OVA series called "The Enemy's the Pirates!", which was pretty heavily distributed on VHS back in the ol' days of trading fansubs via mail, and was then mostly forgotten. "Danger on the Street" was the opening theme, and it looks like he was listening to the first OST; the show was a comedy that featured a wacky talking cat sidekick. If you'd like to purchase the CD, good luck. I checked all the usual places, including import shops and came up with nothing. If you have friends in Japan, ask them to hunt around in used shops; heck, if you have any anime stores in your area that have been around for a decade or more, they might have a dusty old copy sitting around somewhere still.

I'd completely forgotten about this show until you mentioned it; I wonder if it'll ever get licensed, considering it's older than the hills and hardly anyone remembers it anymore.

I was hoping to get an idea of the number of companies in New York City that is devoted somehow to Anime.  Companies that are either publishing firms, television networks, or just plain manga pushers.    I'm trying to get an overall sense of the interest New Yorkers have in Japan, focusing on Anime.

While it's true the west coast has a larger anime presence than the east (as evidenced by the sheer number of anime companies stationed here in California and the size of Anime Expo), there are still quite a few companies out there in New York. Central Park Media and Media Blasters are stationed there, as well as ImaginAsian TV, which broadcasts anime. DC Comics is there too, publishers of the CMX Manga line, as well as Wizard Entertainment, publishers of Anime Insider magazine. The city used to have a convention called Big Apple Anime Fest, which unfortunately isn't happening this year (or in the forseeable future, if I recall correctly), but now they've got New York Comicon, which aims to have a sizable anime presence.
The number of companies stationed in New York doesn't really mean much in terms of how much interest the state's citizens have in anime, which is a number you'd probably have to do years of research to come up with. It's the same as most other big coastal cities - interest is going to be higher there than it would be in Cornville, Nebraska simply due to the sheer number of people. I'm not sure what your goal is, but keep in mind that it's generally accepted that there are more anime fans on the west coast. Just don't try to start another convention here. We already have like four.

I purchased the "Gensomaden Saiyuki: Requiem" movie some time ago, and was interested to learn while listening to the commentary track that (according to voice actor Greg Ayres) the movie was one of the first to use nontraditional cel animation. This is the reason he gives as to  why there are no cels for "Requiem" available for purchase by fans (he mentions as well a rumor that faux cels of certain scenes in the movie might be in the works as yet another means to make money off the franchise). Could you explain what this nontraditional cel animation is all about and (if possible) its impact on the production of anime in general? Thank you!

Requiem was animated using the same technique as earlier digital shows like Love Hina, for which there are also no cels... but there are "genga", the rough sketch of the frame, and "douga", the color guide for the sketch. They scan in the line art and the color guide and then digitally paint the characters. You can find douga and genga although they aren't very popular or easy to find, mostly because they're almost always recycled by the studio. There's a small cel collecting market, so occasionally you'll see Company X producing faux cels to eke out a few extra bucks, but by and large the whole "cel collecting" thing is relegated to a very small group of people who collect mostly older shows.

As for nontraditional cel animation's impact on anime? Well, it's huge. It cut costs by an astronomical
amount, which is why there's more anime being produced today than there was in the past. It's changed the way anime looks and the overall quality of animation. Simply put, digital animation changed everything about anime; its impact can't be ignored. Watch a show from the mid-90's and then watch something that's airing on TV now. Everything you need to know about the impact it's had can be observed this way.

Here's a two-fer:

This is the first time I've ever felt the need to ask a question regarding anime licensing. I'm a huge Kino's Journey fan (I'm one of the twenty or so people who saw it), and after reading the plot summary of the movie Life Goes On, it seems like no fan should miss it. Since Kino's Journey didn't seem to be a huge success in America, is it unlikely that ADV will license it? If so, do you think that they would listen to request letters from fans? Come on, I figure that if they felt the need to localize the follow-up to Gravion, then Kino has at least some chance.

CLAMP's two latest series, Tsubasa; Reservoir Chronicle and xxxHOLiC are being published in the U.S. in manga form currently, but what about the anime? I know that both Tsubasa and xxxHOLiC have movies, and that Tsuabasa has serialized anime over in Japan. But are there any plans to release them in the U.S.? How soon, if so??

I'm kinda surprised that the number of "when will Show X get licensed" questions has dropped so much since I started this column so many years ago. I think people take for granted the fact that nearly every show will be licensed (even though that really isn't true anymore). It's an interesting trend.

That said, the answer to both of these questions is the same: I don't know, because there haven't been any announcements made regarding either title. I can assure you that Tsubasa will be a colossally expensive license, so the studio that snags that one is likely going to be the one with the most bidding power. As for Kino's Journey, if anyone releases that here, odds are it'll be ADV Films, but there's no guarantee. Unless there's an official announcement, which will appear on the front page of this website as soon as it happens, I've got no information.

Funny how much things have changed, though. A few years ago, nearly every single new anime series was licensed; now, in 2005, there are plenty of shows out there that have completed their runs and have garnered a decent fanbase and yet have no licensor in sight. The reasons for this are pretty obvious, of course, but the days of everything under the sun being licensed and released here seem to be over.

 dude, you have no idea how much I love seeing your kittens (a lot), but how come theres always a kitten in the "flake of the weak" spot?  Kittens aren't usually flakes, man!

I usually put kittens here because 1. everyone loves kittens and 2. I rarely get terrible questions anymore so I use this spot for the kitten photo. On the event that someone writes me another hilariously terrible question, you can bet you'll see it here. For now, though, it's kitten o'clock.

There's no contest this week, since it's Thanksgiving. Win Answerman's Stuff will return next week, with a winner for last week's SaiKano box set, and a chance to snag ADV's awesome Robotech: The Protoculture Collection for yourself.

See you next week! Happy Black Friday!