Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy, Jan 26th 2006


So this half-hour promotional video for the Hellsing OAV aired on Japanese TV recently, and in my search for information on it, I noticed they were calling it "DIGEST FOR FLEAKS!".

Okay, we know they mean 'freaks' since the word shows up in Hellsing all the time.

Is it really that hard to hire someone who can write English so they can say "Hey, dudes, it's spelled with an 'r'."
I mean, I'd do it for free.


I was reading your column for the first time recently and read the past four or five months, and I noticed your dislike of fansubs, for various and probably accurate reasons.Have you ever compared fansubs to the 'official' translations for differences? 

I know that on my Ruroken box sets, the differences are pretty minor; simple phrases that mean the exact same thing, but I'm assuming one is slightly more literal than the other.  From what (extremely little) Japanese I know (if I were being honest, I'd say maybe first grade-ish), they do have some quirks, like adding a million and one meanings to "Hai" and other words, where the meaning behind the "Yes" is understood, but for some reason they think that we require it.

That said, I realize you don't watch fansubs, so why do you comment on their accuracy?  I'm aware that, for example, the fansubs for Bleach that come out by one fansub group aren't as accurate as the ones that come out five days later by another group, both of which I won't mention here.  If I notice translation mistakes, there's obviously a problem.  And while I've seen a few where they clearly added swear words, I've seen others where they chose not to, especially in Bleach and the use of "temee" which quite a few places translate as a swear, whereas other places leave it as "you." 

If I'm recalling correctly, 'temee' does mean 'you', but it has connotations that would be the same as addressing someone in English as a curse word. >On the subject of the morality of it, I agree that one should purchase anime they watch - at least if it warrants it.  I've purchased almost everything that I really liked that I watched, including box sets for several shows and around 12-ish movies. I know that this isn't very much compared to most people, and I've seen around 35 movies/shows, but I do purchase what I like - even if it takes me a year or two, as it was in the case of The Twelve Kingdoms.  I believe that fansubs are only bad when you never purchase shows.  Also, I suppose I should have a question, so what is your favorite anime movie, OVA, and TV show?  And favorite manga, for good measure.

Hey look, it's a question about fansubs. I love these.

Let me clarify something before I really get in to this: my previous rants about fansubs were regarding the people who only ever download anime and refuse to buy DVDs, citing ridiculous reasons or operating under some bizarre notion that "all anime should be free". I realize there's a big majority of fans who watch fansubs AND buy DVDs. I have no problem with these people. Heck, I'm one of them.

Yes, it's true: I do watch fansubs from time to time. Nine times out of ten it's for work; how do you think those season preview guides get written? Occasionally, some show will come along that I really like, and I'll watch it fansubbed until the license gets announced. Then I'll buy the DVDs when they come out. I think this is really the only ethical way to go about watching fansubs. A lot of people agree with me and do the same thing. I think that's fine.

To answer your question, however, I comment on fansub translation because I don't trust it. I realize this is the internet and everyone's an expert on everything and stuff like education, experience and knowledge don't really count for anything since all skills and opinions are created totally equal (insert rolleyes here), but I'm going to go ahead and trust the professional, experienced, paid translators anime companies hire instead of GOKU_83474 or whoever decided to do a rush job on this week's Naruto episode. Most of the fan translations I see are rife with grammar and spelling mistakes, excessive swearing and way too many untranslated words. There are some that are just fine, but honestly, I'm always going to prefer the professional product.
I don't think there's anything wrong with that; to me, it's the same thing as preferring your doctor's medical advice over whatever self-diagnosis you can perform using Wikipedia. Yeah, the information MIGHT be right, but you know, better to trust the professionals.

As for the last bit there, I'll make this quick: my favorite anime movie is Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind, my favorite TV series is Fullmetal Alchemist, I don't have a favorite OVA, and my favorite manga is Hellsing. Pretty basic stuff.


I'm writing in about a question I find repeating in my head lately. I've been a long time anime fan and have been watching for five or so years from now. Being exposed to manga three years within that coming I kinda ignored it and stuck to what I know. Besides that, I've never been much of a comic person. Ever since watching X and reading the manga, I've found that I much prefer the manga. I've invested a bit into manga now. But when I look into a new series I don't know what to turn too. I'm leaning more and more toward manga now. But I'd like some advise if you have any; please and thank you.

Your English is a little shaky but I think you're asking me "When I find a new series, I don't know if I should read the manga or watch the anime!", right?

What a lot of people don't really tend to realize when it comes to manga and anime is that the relationship between the two is actually quite similar to the relationship between Hollywood movies and the books they're based on; anime series (at least, the ones with manga counterparts) are adaptations, so they have to make changes, tone it down, simplify the artwork, shorten the storyline, or whatever it takes to bring the manga to the small screen. What this means is that nine times out of ten, the manga's much better than the anime series.

...Okay, maybe that's a little hyperbolic, but all of my favorite series - Hellsing, Berserk, Tenjho Tenge - the anime series is pretty vastly inferior to the manga, and this is a pretty common trend. Not to say that the shows aren't good in their own right; in most cases, they're fun, competent adaptations that double as great ways to get people to read the manga. But I'd be hard pressed to say that I didn't enjoy the manga versions far more than their anime counterparts. The artwork, the character development - all of these things have more room to breathe in the manga format.

What it boils down to is that if you're interested enough in any given series, you're probably going to both read the comic and watch the show anyway so it doesn't really matter. Just get used to liking the manga versions more.


I have been wondering something. Why is that anime that are supposedly aimed at kids, have so much blood. For example, the characters in bleach at times have blood flowing out of them like fountains and Detective Conan aka Cased Closed, which I have heard was considered a family show, have scenes of murders in which some of the victims were decapitated. Are the Japanese just more accepting of violence then America or is it for the sake of realism?

The short answer to your question is "yes".

The long answer is that among the many cultural differences between Japan and America, one of the most commonly observed is that what the Japanese consider acceptable entertainment for children is a lot less tame than the American standard. In Japan, kids' shows routinely have a lot of fairly graphic violence in them; there's blood, stabbing, decapitations, you name it. Generally, the violence isn't very graphic, and a lot of it is simply implied rather than shown, but it's still there. In America, the standards are quie different; we really don't tolerate a lot of violence in kids' shows (witness the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles use their weapons for basically everything except actually hitting the bad guys), so our Saturday morning cartoons are a lot more innocuous. There isn't anything wrong with that; it's just a cultural difference in the way we raise our kids and what we feel is acceptable. One isn't "better" than the other, no matter what otaku on the internet might think.


Hi, I was reading the Sound Decision column and I wanted to ask, do you hink they'll release some of the live-action Sailor Moon and Utena anime musicals here? I know me and my friends would buy them!

Nope.

Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly as the case may be), the whole Sailor Moon trend is basically dead. Today's anime fans don't really care about it anymore; it's just too old and has been out of the spotlight for too long. This is the same reason I don't get questions about when Sailor Moon Sailor Stars is going to get licensed - nobody really cares anymore (or they've given up hope).

Licensing and releasing the live-action Sailor Moon and Utena musicals is like asking to lose money. Sure, people on the internet like to talk about how "they have friends who would buy it!" but I'd say maybe one out of every 10 people who claims they're going to buy something if it gets licensed actually do buy it once it comes out. Given that you're talking about incredibly hokey and silly live-action versions of two shojo shows that are way, way past their prime, I'd say basically nobody would buy these. Which makes it a waste of time for someone to license them.

If I were you, I'd consider importing them from Japan, downloading a translation, laughing through it and then forgetting the entire ordeal.



Maybe it was the change of format, or the extended contest time, or just the love in the air, but you guys really whipped out the funny for last week's Sudden Death round. I got a ton of comics that really made me laugh.

But, there can only be one winner, right? So let's all congratulate Alison Wilgus on her winning entry:


The following runner-ups made me nearly die of laughter. WARNING: One of them contains a potentially offensive image of the President giving you the finger. Just deal with it:










This one gets a special Judge's Award (which consists of an awesome feeling of accomplishment!) for making me laugh AND referencing Dada!:

And that's it. Our very own Bamboo Dong is running a new Shelf Life contest this coming Monday, so there's no new contest this week for Answerman. Thanks again to everyone who played!

See you next week!


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