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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

You know, normally I hate procedual crime drama shows; there are so many of 'em, and they're all basically the same. The only one I can tolerate is Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and that's only because of Vincent D'Onofrio and his excessive weirdness. I think every show should have him in it; just think how much more interesting the news or Everybody Loves Raymond would be if D'Onofrio were there to screw around with their knick knacks and stutter a lot!

But enough of that; we've got work to do.

In media class, we learned about “culture levels” – basically, there's supposedly a way to chart all forms of American culture and media: high culture (opera, ballet, classical music, poetry, Shakespeare, etc.), middle culture (the Harry Potter books, Project Runway, The Simpsons, jazz, The Sopranos, Lord of the Rings movies, etc), and low/mass culture (Jerry Springer, Howard Stern, monster trucks, pro wrestling, Fear Factor, Scary Movie 1-3, rap/rock music). Whether or not you agree with the system is not the point, since we will all inevitably have issues with this compartmentalizing.

1) Where do you think manga and anime fall on this (American) system?

2)  If there was a chart like this specifically for anime and manga, where do you believe certain titles would fall? (Not counting movies, because comparing the Sailor Moon movies to, say, anything by Miyazaki would be far too easy.) Something like Naruto vs Cowboy Bebop vs Hellsing vs Dragon Ball (Z) vs Paradise Kiss, plus many, many more titles? (This is the one I've had the most debates about.)

Hey, good question. We covered culture levels in my media classes as well; I'm not sure I completely agree with the concept, but there is merit, at least academically, in recognizing highbrow versus lowbrow.

My answer to this is basically the same as my answer to the earlier question about anime not being a genre but instead a medium; you really can't classify anime or manga as a whole as belonging to any of those categories, because the subject matter, target demographic, relative sophistication, etcetera, varies so greatly from title to title. I think the majority of anime and manga titles would wind up in either "middle" culture or "low" culture, however. There are very few (if any) that achieve the greatness of revered historical classics. Miyazaki, Tezuka, or Oshii might come close, however.

If you asked me to categorize certain shows, I think that'd be a bit easier. I myself consider the Shonen Jump titles and their ilk - stuff like Naruto, Bleach, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon, to be "low" culture; they're fun, but there's no real depth there. They're the Nascar Racing of anime; wrestling would also work as an analogy. Fans do have a tendency to assign depth and sophistication to these titles, but I don't think anyone can honestly say that Naruto is a blisteringly highbrow show. They're mass-market entertainment. There isn't anything wrong with enjoying those series, but hey, let's call a spade a spade. Shows like Gankutsuou or Fullmetal Alchemist might populate the "middle", with films by Miyazaki and Oshii at the top.
It's impossible to even broach the subject of highbrow anime while excluding films as you suggested, however; most of the extremely sophisticated and respected titles are feature films rather than TV series.

Bandai was supposed to release the Bebop PS2 game stateside 2 years ago, and now has taken it off their site. What happened?

Well, if there is a god and he or she is merciful, they'll have cancelled it completely. The game (or at least the preview build I played a few months ago) was a train wreck.

Honestly, though, that it's been removed from the site with no press release announcing that the game has been delayed either means it's delayed indefinitely or they flat-out cancelled it. I wouldn't be shocked if either happened; the game's been delayed a few times now for retooling and refurbishing, mostly due to overwhelmingly negative early notices from game critics. You can only polish a turd so much.

My name is Roger and I am 15 years old, I have a passion and connection to anime, I read manga and to be blunt, I want to be a voice actor.  I have read forumns and articles about how to be a voice actor and what route to take, although I am in somewhat of a pedicament.            Because I am already in highschool, and am moving on to grade 11, currently, (I have heard that to take an early approach, would be to take drama through highschool) I face a problem because I have not taken a drama in grade 9, or this year, (un-aware of the problem that I May face) and now to take grade 11 drama drama I need a 9. or 10, which I do not have.          
This is a little besides the point, s! o I will be straightforward in my question.  Since I do not have a drama to take for experience, which I will try to fix, I want to know what my future options will be if I do not have a highschool degree in drama, and what course of action I can take to help this.  I will gladly listen to and pursue any advice you have to give, and would much appreciate it if you would be so kind as to give me some options or advice.  I will try as hard as i can to get a degree to set me for my chosen career, and will do anything to get there, even if it kills me.  My sheer determination and will, will set me to good boundaries, and I will use it to get me far in the acting world.          Please offer me some advice and give me some options and courses of action I can take to help me with being a voice actor.  Such as colleges and some courses that will introduce me to the world of ! acting (at a begginers level) so I may go on to take some of the more experienced courses. Thankyou for your time, much appreciated.

Well, you can't really get a 'drama degree' in High School, so I wouldn't sweat that part. Yeah, it probably would've helped if you'd taken a few classes in High School (and, apparently, it still isn't too late), but when you eventually go to college, you're basically given a clean slate to start your education all over again. My advice? Start focusing on what college you're going to go to and choose one that has a good theatre program. The best thing you can do is just focus on continuing your education and, once you have confidence in your acting skills, finding decent representation and auditioning for roles.

One thing to keep in mind; anime voice acting is fun and passionate work but it doesn't pay very well. Anime VAs routinely have to hold down 'day jobs' to pay the bills in between acting gigs. You're going to want to get a well-rounded education in theatre and explore other opportunities, like commercial voiceover work and American cartoons, rather than focusing entirely on working in anime.

One thing I have noticed that many anime series do is halfway through they show you the obligitory 'recap' episode.  I could understand this if the series had a particularly complicated story or if there was a long break between new sets of episodes, but when a show like Samurai Champloo shows one (where they are just them traveling with no great plot points in most episodes) it feels like a waste to me.  I'd rather just get a filler episode as opposed to being told what has already happened in a show I have taken the time to follow.  Could you possibly shed any light on this for me?

Keep in mind that the Japanese are getting these series one episode per week (which, unless you're watching it on Cartoon Network, isn't the case for you) and thusly they have more of a vested interest in letting new viewers know what's going on so they can pull more viewers in.

That said, nine times out of ten recap episodes are designed to give the staff a break during production. Making an anime series is hard work, and it's almost impossible to find time to relax given the hectic production schedule, so having a little time off thanks to an episode composed of recycled footage is a godsend. In the case of Wolf's Rain (which had a whoppin' 4 recap episodes), they literally had to compose new episodes with no new footage, since the show was being produced during the SARS scare and they literally couldn't be in production for a while. In short, if you don't like the recaps, just skip 'em. I know I do. They exist for a reason.

I think this guy is screwing with me; it's the same guy who sent me that Total Recall email a few weeks back.


Indeed they are! And you should consider taking whatever medicine that's been prescribed to you.

Anyway, here's a kitty to make everything better.

Unfortunately, I ran out of time this week to root through the hundreds of entries I got for our Creation Station contest; next week I'll be displaying four new runner-up prize winners.

However, I would like to direct your attention to our Naruto Build-A-Ninja Sweepstakes, which ends this coming Monday! You've got all weekend to come up with a brand new Naruto character, and there are some fabulous prizes at stake. So head on over and check it out!

See you next week!

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