Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

Man, you people really rolled out the responses to the Rant Rant Rant segment; I've got enough long-winded tirades to last me a year or more. I had no idea a soapbox like that would be in such high demand (although I'm saving some of the rants for Flake of the Week... some of you people scare me).

Anyway, let's get to it.

I know it's a bit of an indulgent question, but I was wondering about an issue that's not often discussed (at least as far as I've seen).
What are your opinions regarding buying used anime/manga goods on auction sites such as eBay? I've never heard of it being "frowned upon", and I myself use eBay very often for both buying and selling. Even though the items are paid for and are officially licensed, the buyer is not supporting the company that produced the item in any way. I, for one, would like to hear someone's thoughts on this.

It isn't really discussed because it isn't really an issue. It's your stuff, you can sell it as you please. Unless you're selling bootlegged merch, nobody's going to care or complain. It's not like second-hand auctions are killing the trinket industry or anything; as far as I can tell, that stuff easily outpaces standard DVDs and manga at big anime conventions. People always clamor to get the unique items.

I suppose you could argue that if you REALLY wanted to support the original artist you'd buy all your anime merchandise first-hand, but that's going a little overboard. At the end of the day, it's a pretty trifling issue.

Recently this week, I found myself in a rather...immature discussion about animation quality in anime. Of course by immature, I mean profanity tossed around, poorly used insults, and equally poorly thought out arguements.

Regardless, this event made me curious as to what goes in to animation quality in an anime. Our discussion was mainly focused on the new Disgaea anime series, with a majority of people saying the animation quality was terrible, and that was their only arguement. They couldnt seem to elaborate on that point. What actually makes animation bad? Is it the fluidity? The character designs? The colors? I look at the Disgaea anime and fail to discern what in particular makes the animation so disliked. So if you could tell me what exactly is "bad animation quality" and maybe give some examples of such, I would probably not be so confused...

Most anime forums will have "arguments" that descend into name calling and profanity; don't feel too bad about it, it happens to everyone.

While it's nice to think that literally everything on the planet is subjective and no opinion is ever wrong (which is a logical fallacy and generally an argument used by people who simply can't admit to ever being wrong about anything), animation has numerous technical qualities by which its pedigree can be judged. Now, anime, in general, is produced on the cheap, so the frame count - that is, the number of drawings that make up a single second of animation - is pretty low. Some animation studios can get away with a lower frame count because they have skilled artists who can make it work, but oftentimes (in the case of Disgaea), the low frame count is matched by poor character designs, overly simplified backgrounds and off-model frames. Take a show like Slayers, for instance, or its sci-fi counterpart, Lost Universe. Both of those shows had very cheap animation - that is, the frame count was very low - but they looked much worse than a show with a similar frame count because the characters were off model in every other scene. What that means is that Lina Inverse wasn't being drawn properly according to the model sheet every time; her eyes would change placement in relation to her nose, accessories would move around or disappear and the color would be inconsistant. After years and years of watching anime, you pick up on this stuff easier. Disgaea had similar problems, but most people probably think the animation sucks because the character designs are so simple, frequently off-model and the frame rate is really, really low. TV anime is all over the board in terms of quality, but it depends on the studio, the skill of the artists working on the project and the show's budget that determines how good the animation's going to be. When you have something like Fullmetal Alchemist, which had excellent animation for a TV series, and compare it to something like Disgaea, the difference in quality is astonishing.

Since the Anime version of Gantz finished. When are they going to release the Manga in America?

Boy, your guess is as good as mine; I really wish they'd hurry up, however, since it's been running so long in Japan and the show's long over. The comic is far better than the TV series (which had its good points, don't get me wrong), but it's also much, much more violent and sexually explicit so whoever licenses it may have a tough time getting it on store shelves. A representative from a manga publishing company (who shall remain nameless) informed me that one of the reasons nobody's touching Gantz is primarily because it's so adult; if you look at the top selling manga, it's all either aimed at girls (which Gantz is certainly not) or aimed at older kids and young teengers (also which Gantz is not). It's a tough sell to bookstores with already-crowded manga sections overflowing with unwanted books, and it's the opposite of what's hot right now. So basically, the Gantz manga is going to be an uphill battle for whoever decides to finally pick it up.

Don't give up hope, though. Anything can and will happen.

I actually have three mildly inter-related questions. I'll try to keep this short, but no promises...

Several months back, I heard word that a two movie live-action version of Monster was in production, based on Naoki Urasawa's manga, with the screenwriting being done by the same man who wrote the screenplay for "A History of Violence." Last I checked on IMDB, it was scheduled for release next year, in 2007, yet as far as I'm aware, there haven't been press releases or announcements about this project since the screenwriter was hired. Has there been any other information that you've heard about a director, cast, etc. that I may have missed?

My second question involves the licensing of the Monster anime (sorry, I know you're probably sick of these questions). In my opinion, it has a plot on par with Fullmetal Alchemist and Gankutsuou, and it's fairly popular among fansubbing groups. While the content may be targeting a more mature age group, I feel like it could still do very well in the States. Any information on this subject would be great, as well as any answer as to why the heck a French company has already jumped the gun and licensed/dubbed it before an American one has even considered it.

Lastly, a simple question about fansubbing and licensing (oh boy!). How much is an anime's popularity among fansubbing groups taken into consideration by licensing companies?

What I've heard about the Monster live-action film is the same thing you've heard: virtual silence for a while now. I assume they'll put out another press release once they have more information. I don't think the film is in development hell or having serious production issues, so it's probably just a matter of time before we learn a little more.

As for the Monster anime, I hear that a lot from anime fans who think it'd do well in the states, and as much as I like Monster, I have to disagree with that. The show is a relatively slow-moving, dialogue heavy drama starring a middle-aged surgeon. There's not a lot of action; basically, it could very easily be a live-action American serial, except for the fact that it's animated. I don't think it really has much of a market here in the states; were it to have a TV run, I'm not sure it'd find much of an audience. I mean, Master Keaton didn't exactly burn up the sales charts or really generate much of a fanbase here, and it was aimed at the same general market. I think you have a better chance of seeing the show adapted into a regular primetime drama for a major network than being shown on television; it might get licensed for DVD, sure, but beyond that, eh. I just don't see it happening. The show's demographic is closer to Law & Order's than Naruto's, which is going to keep it far away from any of the channels that normally even consider showing anime.

Most anime companies worth their salt will at least look at the fansub numbers when considering what shows to license, but there's no universal truth about that; most shows these days are financed by American companies anyway so they've already got their hand in the cookie jar before they even have a chance to look at fansub numbers. In terms of their importance or weight in the decision to license a series, they aren't a major factor; the people downloading the show are a barometer of how popular the series is, but not how many people will actually buy it. If you have 10,000 people downloading a series once a week, there's absolutely no guarantee that you're going to come anywhere near selling 10,000 units; it's a useful number but the major players in the anime industry are too smart to rely on it.

Our first rant comes courtesy Jason Draksler, and man, has he got some harsh words for you. A reminder: the following is in no way representative of the opinions of Anime News Network, Zac Bertschy, or anyone else save the guy who wrote it.

I've been pondering UGLY Otaku. It can be said that the overwhelming majority of the “New Generation” of western anime/manga fans are simply crude and lazy, and things are simply getting worse.  The new generations of anime fans are a product of the age, all the gadgets that encourage self-absorption and a demand for instant gratification. Some Otaku wanting to pick a fight, or one who stand blindly by his views will always interrupt coherent and intelligent debate on the net.  The often mindless prattle at Anime Conventions, kids simply making stuff up to be heard or doing the most ridiculous thing for a simple stick of Pocky. 

This is the Anime fan that can't even go for a walk without their I-Pods, and their over priced Final Fantasy key chain.  They shut themselves in their room to watch the next Anime series he or she just pirated off the net while stealing the next one, all in the name of “Supporting” the show in its “True” form.  This effectively isolates them from the world around them; all of which contribute to a breakdown in civility. And the situation is made worse by parents who don't care and/or won't take the time to teach their offspring good manners and mature behavior.  Anime and manga to some make for a very effective babysitter, however what does it lead too?  The idolization of characters that include those that often celebrates this crude and anti-social beha! vior. T o be courteous and social isn't for the non-Otaku, it's simply civilized.

The first generation of anime fans have seemed to lived its prime.  I like so many others were before the mainstream indoctrination of the art form.  In our time it was the few that followed such unmannered anti-social behaviors and it was the majority that still held decent character and morals.  We all strived for the day that anime could become commonplace, however was it worth the sacrifice made.  The culture of the Otaku has become ugly, it is a backwards go-no-where cesspool that will lead stagnate and ignorant to the world.  With civility, one would understand that anime isn't a life style, but merely a form of entertainment, and when viewed in this form, it isn't ugly at all.  

Whew. So what do you think? Does Jason have a point? Sound off on our forums and let the discussion begin!

If you have a rant of your own and would like to see your work in this space, just follow the rules below and you could be the next featured fan in RANT RANT RANT!:

Welcome to the newest segment in Hey, Answerman: RANT RANT RANT!

What I'm looking for are your best and brightest rants: no shorter than 300 words, on any topic you like related to anime. I'm expecting decent writing, and a modicum of sensibility. Send me a well-written and thoughtful rant that's a decent length, and I'll print it in this space, regardless of whether or not I agree with it, with no further commentary from me. The goal is to provide a more visible and public space for those of you with intelligent things to say about anime, the industry, anything you like related to the subject; discussion in our forums will surely follow.

The rules? Well, here they are:

1. No excessive swearing. "Damn" and "Hell" are fine, anything stronger than that needs to be excluded or censored.
2. Personal attacks will not be tolerated.
3. The word "Rant" must be in your email subject line.
4. Your rant must be at least 300 words, and use proper spelling and grammar. Internet speak, like 'lol' or 'u' instead of 'you' will not be tolerated.

Remember, your editorial doesn't have to be negative at all - feel free to write whatever you like, so long as it's on-topic. We're looking for solid, well-stated opinions, not simply excessive negativity.

Send your rants to [email protected], and watch this space next week for our first installment!

We're still on hiatus. Remember, if you've won an Answerman prize in the last month or two and haven't received your item yet, email me with your name, mailing address and the prize you won and I'll look in to it.

See you next week!

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