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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

The clock keeps ticking, so don't forget: only 1 column left until our big 250th Column Spectacular! Scroll down to check out this week's contest (and make sure you take a good look at today's garish banner before doing so!).

Enough of this jibba-jabba; let's get to work.

I've recently become a fan of Honey and Clover.  I think it's a very good series and should be licensed, however I'm beginning to have my doubts.  Among other things, the show has no real, for lack of a better term, "hook".  While being a very funny show with a touch of poignant romance, it has no real "thing" that makes it sticks out like some of the other titles brought stateside.  For example, Negima has the Harry Potter angle, Strawberry Marshmallow has the quasi-moe tooth-rotting factor, and even Kamichu has the whole "oh by the way, I'm a goddess" thing going for it.  Am I just a pessimist or is there something to my argument?

Well, to be fair, Strawberry Marshmallow and Kamichu don't really have "hooks" in America either; neither of them are being sold on anything more than the cover art. From a marketing standpoint, although Honey and Clover lacks the stomach-turning "moe" factor, it's just as much a challenge as something like Strawberry Marshmallow or the considerably less nauseating Kamichu. While those shows might have popular hooks in Japan, in America they're basically all the same; unless it has the "hook" of a badass guy with a big sword and a trench coat, a tie-in to a popular game or it's "from the creator of Cowboy Bebop", generally the show is going to be a challenge to sell.

That said, there's hope on the horizon for you, I think. Honey and Clover would fit very well in the pages of something like Shojo Beat, and as we all know, they recently launched Shojo Beat video, with Full Moon. If - and this is a big if - Viz decides to pick Honey and Clover up, they'll undoubtedly consider the anime as well. The title is well-known among English-speaking fans now that I think a manga license is inevitable (if not by Viz, perhaps Tokyopop or Del Rey). The anime is less of a sure thing; shojo comics outsell shojo anime by a very wide margin.

The Paradise Kiss anime featured as its ending theme the song "Do You Want To" by Franz Ferdinand. 

1) With this use of a band with an American contract of some degree (I'm assuming), what are the chances that an American distributor will be able to pick up this series for domestic release without paying astronomical (moreso than normal) licensing fees? 

2) Will they be so big that it won't get licensed at all? 

3) Between Paradise Kiss and Nana, Is the name "Yazawa" so big in Japan these days that the music issue won't even enter the picture? 

4) And, finally, do you think the series is too "niche" to warrant a domestic release to begin with?

Music rights are always a sticky situation, regardless of the show. Paradise Kiss had the good fortune to close with Franz Ferdinand's last giant hit (and yes, they do have a very successful recording contract in North America...), but remember, the show can be licensed without that single. This has happened with plenty of other shows, like Kodomo no Omocha, where the rights to the opening or closing theme were unobtainable so they had to replace the song. So, to answer your questions in order:

1. If an American distributor wants the show WITH the Franz Ferdinand song, it's going to cost a lot more, yes. Odds are eventually they'll license it minus that song, however.

2. Not sure what you mean by this, but Paradise Kiss was a top-selling manga here in America so I'm pretty sure the anime will find its way over at some point.

3. Not really sure what you mean by this either, but the "Yazawa" name just means the series is going to cost a lot more to license.

4. Personally, I found Paradise Kiss to be massively entertaining and accessible, and it's also one of the few anime series I've seen that has the kind of high fashion appeal that would sell it to people who don't usually watch anime. I think the series would be pretty popular if they aired it on Bravo, for instance, which has had a history of success with shows like Project Runway and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Take a look at Bravo's lineup and tell me Paradise Kiss wouldn't be a great addition to their programming schedule?

first is Why is it when an american company lisences an Anime they change the intro from the awesome J-Pop to some crappy rap song? is it due to the fact that they don't have rights to use the song or is it because they honestly think that the rap intros are better?

my second question concrens the licensing of Tsubasa Chronicle. Funimation lisenced the first season but left the second season of the series unlicenced...why would they do this? Is it common practice in the anime buisness to liscence each season seperately or is this a special case?

Sometimes, as mentioned above, the licensor can't get the rights to the opening theme so they have to replace it; in the cases you're talking about, however, generally it's a marketing decision. Companies like 4Kids tend to think that for whatever reason kids will respond better to some rap song than the original opening theme (or a translation of the opening theme), so they replace the original song with whatever they come up with. Usually the result is some horribly embarrassing, written-by-committee piece of trash that ultimately detracts from the series rather than making it more palatable to today's youth.

I personally don't mind when they go with a basic instrumental song set to scenes from the show, a'la what they did with Naruto. It's a respectable way to have a generic opener that serves its purpose and then gets out of the way. Remember, opening and closing themes in Japan are designed to sell singles and CDs; they serve no such purpose here and generally just take up time that would otherwise be used by the meat of the show itself, so it makes sense to do away with them for the broadcast run of a popular series.

As for your question about Tsubasa, it depends on the show. Tsubasa had a break in between seasons and generally when that happens (or for a multitude of other reasons), the company licensing the title
will only announce the first season since that's what they have plans to release immediately. If the show sells well enough, they'll announce season 2 somewhere down the line, if they had an option on it in the first place. It really depends on the conditions in the original licensing contract, and that's different from show to show. Either they only licensed season one, or they licensed the whole thing and only announced the first season, or whatever.

Frankly, I'm not sure why this is always the first question when a new license is announced. The exchange always goes like this:

Company A: "We licensed Super Ninja Love Squad!"
Company A: "Well we can't announce anything yet but..."

I remember the 90's, though, when that conversation was a little more like this:

Company A: "We licensed Super Ninja Love Squad!"
Fans: "Hooray!"

Ah, the good ol' days.

After writing my question up, I realize that it might be better suited as a rant, due solely to its length.  However, I'd still like to hear your response, so do with it whatever you feel like.  Just playing devil's advocate, by the way, I'm a big proponent of actually paying for anime (and not that big of a proponent of Naruto).  Here goes:

This last week, some Naruto fan wrote in, inquiring about the current state of the show in Japan.  You responded, with characteristic vitriol, that he should stop stealing the show.  Now, ever in search of moral enlightenment, I'm hoping you could be a little more clear about your ethical objections to his question, and what precisely characterizes the "theft" of an episode of Naruto.  I'll try to illustrate my confusion with a few hypotheticals:

Suppose that I, an exceptionally-scrupled young man, have decided to wait the 3 years or so until they air Naruto episode 180 on Cartoon Network. Now, suppose that I feel like watching the adventures of my favorite boy-ninja at some time other than when it airs, so I tape it on my VCR. Have I just stolen Naruto?  Can't be, right?  I mean VCRs are still around after a couple of decades, and I don't think many people would make the case that recording a show is theft.

Now, what if by the time Naruto 180 airs, the VCR has become a relic of the distant past, and so I record it, digitally, onto a hard disk for my future perusal? Have I stolen Naruto now?  I sure hope not, otherwise the folks at TiVo are in for a nasty shock when they get to the Pearly Gates and St. Peter tells them that Heaven's got no place for those who
facilitate Naruto larceny.

Ok, so what about if I've been away all weekend, and I just have to know what plucky antics Naruto's gotten into this week.  I call my friend, who also tapes the show, and ask him to borrow it. This must be where I've become a thief, right?  I mean, I'm not using my TV at all any more...  I've cut out the middle man, I've broken out of the box, I've shifted the paradigm.  Not only will Cartoon Network feel the negative pressure I'm exerting on Naruto's ratings, but I won't be watching the commercials, thereby defeating the entire point of
television, from Cartoon Network's point of view.  This must be it, then: The point of no return...  I'll just have to settle into my new life as a delinquent.  I was such an exceptionally-scrupled young man, too...

But wait.  I don't have a Nielson box.  My effect on Naruto's ratings (and therefore Cartoon Network's wallet) is precisely zero.  Besides, thanks to my trusty DVR (which we'll assume, for simplicity's sake, does not report usage statistics), I never watch the commercials anyway.  So, err, what's changed?  At what point did my morals travel south out of legitimacy-ville and into the slums of piracy-berg?  Would it be any different if I borrowed the episode from friend over the internet instead of from a
friend in person? I can't see how...  The net effect of my actions is exactily the same:  Nil.  What if I rented it from Blockbuster?  Second verse, same as the first.

I guess the only factor in this hypothetical that still hasn't been addressed is time.  It's not three years in the future, it's right now. But I'm still watching Naruto from the future.  That must be what's immoral...  It's no fair for me to see future-Naruto battle a post-apocolyptic ocelot while all of you plebes from the past have to settle for the same-ol' same-ol'.

Or maybe not.  What do you think, Answerman?  It's obvious that you think it's wrong to download episodes of Naruto online, but can you tell me why?

Alright, I read your entire essay and I think I know what you're getting at, but I'm not sure you understand my position on fansubs.

I don't have a problem with someone taping Naruto or recording it on their DVR and taking it over to a friend's house to watch it. That is a fundamentally harmless situation and it is completely different from going online, downloading 50 pirated episodes all at once and sharing them for free with as many people as you possibly can (generally in the hundreds of thousands).

I realize that fansubbers like to point to what they're doing as being similar to taping things off of television and taking it over to a friend's house, but in reality it's more like taping something off of television, providing your own translation, copying it onto 500,000 VHS tapes and then giving them away to everyone you see. One is harmless, the other is not.

You seem preoccupied with morality, as though you're trying to figure out what I think you should "feel bad" about; it isn't that simple. I am a very, very firm believer in the notion that entertainment should be paid for. When you want to be entertained, you pay the entertainer because that's how he or she makes their living. It's about personal integrity and having the stones to actually support the art you love. That's the only "moral" issue here; I'm not a religious man at all, so this doesn't have anything to do with "Thou Shalt Not Steal". It's about support, feeding back in to the system you're taking advantage of. If you like Naruto, show the creators of the show your support in the only way that really matters in the long run: financially. Help the show grow by buying merchandise and DVDs. This is a really basic concept that seems to fly right over the heads of people who argue that anime should be "free" or that fansubs are "harmless". It's not exactly a new concept - this is how cinema has worked since it was first invented. Hell, it's how virtually every consumer industry operates. Why do they think anime is different? I don't know.

Truth be told, I get that there are a lot of people out there downloading Naruto every week and keeping up with the show religiously, and on a certain level, I think that's okay, so long as they keep it very far underground and - and this is the most important part - they support the show financially by buying legitimate DVDs and manga when they become available. You want to be a hardcore fan? Great, pay for the show. Real fans buy stuff, because they want to show the company releasing it that they love it and they want more. We start having a major problem when self-proclaimed "hardcore" fans consider themselves so specifically because they do not ever support the show they claim to love. The guy who wrote in last week had his head so far up his own rear end that he thought it was appropriate to call up the Japanese studio and tell them that the American fans who are flagrantly pirating their show are unhappy with the recent quality of the episodes. What planet is that guy living on?

Let me put it this way: say like you want to see a film that isn't playing anywhere near you in theaters. So you find a bootleg copy online and download it. Before you watch it, you go on Fandango or any other online ticketing service, find a theater somewhere in the country playing the film and you pay for a ticket. Then you watch your bootleg and delete it. That, to me, is the most honest and reasonable way to go about doing it, if you must. Nobody does this, of course, but if they understood how the entertainment industry works, then they would. Likewise, if the guy downloading brand new fansubbed episodes of Naruto every week took the 5 minutes to go across the street and buy the new manga volumes and the uncut Naruto DVDs, then I have no problem with what he's doing. He's supporting the show. He's a responsible consumer, a real fan who knows that in order for Naruto to be a success, he has to pay back into the system. The problem is that most of the kids who call themselves "hardcores" are the last people you'll see doing anything like this at all. Mark my words, when that Naruto uncut box set comes out, the first thing that'll happen is that someone will bitch about the subtitles or something and suddenly all the "hardcore fans" will have an excuse not to buy it and lo and behold, we're back to square one. That's my problem. That's what annoys me. That's what I think is wrong.

Real fans support their favorite shows financially, period. It isn't so much the piracy as it is the refusal to ever actually support their favorite shows.

I know I said I'd stop printing letters like these but instead I'm just going to start dumping them here.

Me and one of my friends are writing a anime script and we were wondering how do we send it to get produced. we know a few sponsors like anime works,adv films, bandai,ect... but what we was wondering is do we just send it to them or is there some procedure.

So in your head, this is how anime gets made:

1. Teenager writes "script"
2. Teenager mails it to ADV
3. Profit

Your grasp on reality is nothing short of staggering.

Here's this week's rant, again courtesy of Jen Parker, in response to last week's discussion about yaoi. Originally, Jen apparently thought I wrote the rant, so she addressed all this to me and every instance of "Clockwork Butterfly" or "CB" used to be my name. Thank god for search and replace. A reminder: the following is in no way representative of the opinions of Anime News Network, Zac Bertschy, or anyone else save the person who wrote it.

I am a 22-year-old woman who has enjoyed yaoi and slash for a long time— but I've never considered myself to be a "yaoi fangirl" for reasons similar to what Clockwork Butterfly expresses. The term has the implication of this rabidly eager 13-year-old attached to it that I've never identified with. That aside though, I've long since learned to live with— and even appreciate —the classic fangirl.

CB is simply going to have to face a fact that I pointed out to another male yaoi watcher (a rare breed indeed) the other day: the yaoi/shounen-ai genre exists for women. It is created by women, and the vast majority of its audience consists of women. In Japan as well as America, these women are often on the younger side. The ones who are active in the fandom— convention attendees, community members, etc. —are often the most vocal / "into it" fans. And CB is surprised that he comes across young, excitable fangirls?

Maybe I can explain this better with an analogy. Say a young (maybe late teens/early 20s) girl gets into traditional western porn (as in watching, not starring). She starts trying to find online communities of fellow porn fans. And she is horrified to find that a large number of these fellow fans are actually middle-aged men who tend to objectify women and wank off a lot! "Well, duh," you'd say. "That's who porn is MADE for. What'd she expect?"

So: well, duh, CB. Those young, eager fans with disposable cash are exactly who Gravitation was made for. What'd you expect?

That older and even male fans exist is immaterial— they still aren't the majority demographic that the audience is seeking OR getting. I'm sorry you find young fangirls annoying (I often do too), but they're the reason that anime and corresponding manga (and slew of other merchandise) exist, and that's something that you just have to deal with— it comes with the territory.

Additionally, what's so "seriously wrong" about 13-year-old girls watching Boku no Sexual Harassment? No one's ever surprised to hear about a 13-year-old boy catching a few pornos online— even lesbian pornos. Girls have their own sexualities (surprise!) and on average, their sexual development starts earlier than that of boys. Yaoi is another outlet to let them experiment with their sexual identities without them actually having to go out and have sex, which I would say isn't a bad thing.

Oh, but there is good news for you, CB. Those young, over-eager girls are a large part of the reason why shows like Gravitation, Sukisho, and Loveless (not to mention Getbackers, Kyou Kara Maou, Yami no Matsuei, and other 'slashable' series) make it over to North America. And many of them grow up into more mellow and open-minded fans— and cool friends to have —in the end. I promise.

So what do you think? Do they 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!

Congratulations to last week's contest winner Tamiko Honda. Apparently it was a really tough one, since only one or two people actually got it right.

The painting was Gustav Klimt's "Music I",

You can read more about Klimt and his work here.

Didn't win last week? Want to grab some glory for yourself? Here's the rules, all over again:
To countdown to the 250th Answerman column, we have a brand-new contest for you!

It's simple: every week for the next 2 weeks, Hey, Answerman! will have an all-new banner at the top of the column. In the background of each new banner will be a famous (or not so famous) painting. The first person to email me with the name of the painting and who painted it wins!

So what do you need to do this week? Just scroll up and take a look at the banner, and tell me what the painting behind Lum is, and who painted it.

Easy, right? So what's the prize, you might be asking?

This week's prize is:

It's Animeigo's final Urusei Yatsura box set ! Five volumes of Lum plus an art box, and it can be yours FREE if you can guess the painting!

See you next week!

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