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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

This is it, folks; the last column left until our 250th column! The big 249. It's a little early yet, but I think I'll take this opportunity to reflect on Answerman columns past.
Here's a question and answer from all the way back in January 2001, when this column first debuted!

You guys mention LOVE HINA as a preview?
Is there any chance of an R1 release of this series in the near future?

Peter Chodacki
Cape Town, RSA.

Well, a few of the usual American anime companies have mentioned Love Hina, and apparently, they're waffling on it because of the heavy digital fansub distribution. It's true; the show is all over the internet and very easy to get a hold of. It'd be rather hard to find an otaku with a high speed internet connection who doesn't already have this entire series and the Winter special. ADV in particular has mentioned this as one of the reasons why they haven't licensed the show yet, and I assume license cost is also an issue. The show is extremely popular among those who have seen it and regardless of fansub distribution level, I'd still expect an acquisition announcement by the end of the year, if not sooner.

Sweet Jesus, was I ever that young?

Let's get back to the task at hand.

Hey Answerman, Greetings from Kuwait! I really enjoy reading your column whenever it is released. I always hated the way you attack fansubbers, not realizing that most of them do abide by the law, and most people who download fansubs do so too. When a series isn't licensed in the States what is the harm of subbing a Japanese anime and uploading it online for people to download, the japanese producers aren't complaining, moreover they are rejoicing they are reaching a wider audience and making more sales on action figures, posters and special items. Most fansubbers (the one i like to download from) would stop subbing a series when it is licensed in the States, personally i don't like this because i live in  the Middle East and i wont be able to watch the series that get licensed. Moreover ordering and shipping any title from the States would surely bankrupt me in no time, i don't know the prices but the one time i orderd a computer game from the states for 19.95 i had to pay 42.99 for it to get to Kuwait. Some fansubbers are assholes i know, but give the guys who aren't some credit if it;s not for them the american companies wouldn't have started getting so much anime to the States in the first place, and conventions wouldn't have grown to be so big.

Most fansubbers don't abide by the law, they're breaking international copyright law. It's not like unlicensed shows are magically not protected by copyright in America. It's no different from ripping Japanese live-action movies from DVD and distributing them all over the internet. When something gets licensed, the R1 company is more likely to enforce the law, but unlicensed shows are still protected by copyright. They aren't public domain or anything like that.

Anyway, as much as I sympathize with your situation (sincerely I do), not having immediate legitimate access to something is not a valid reason for pirating it, just like not having the funds to pay for a luxury item isn't a valid reason to steal it. Nobody's going to damn you for living in Kuwait and using fansubs as a means to an end, but don't try and legally or ethically justify it. I'm not going to sit here and tell you what you're doing is terrible, but I'm also not going to tell you that you're justified and righteous for doing so.

Also, a number of factors are responsible for the explosive growth of anime, not just fansubs. Fansubbers like to credit themselves with the popularity of anime and anime conventions but there's a lot more at play there; early pioneers like ADV took risks where nobody else would, shows like Dragon Ball Z made anime palatable to the mainstream (thereby creating consumer interest that fueled the industry's growth) and so on. Fansubs played a pretty big role in making anime what it is today but they are nowhere near being the sole champions of the cause.

I read in your last column about how you dislike it when "fans" download and share entertainment without somehow paying for it. Now take a site like youtube, where people upload episodes and they are streamed for no cost - how does watching a streamed episode on youtube compare to downloading an episode with something like bittorrent?

See what I mean about the fansub comments? I swear, you even say the word and a whole can of worms opens up.

Although they're terrible about enforcing it, YouTube technically does not allow copyrighted work to be uploaded without consent from the copyright holder. A whole bunch of fansubs had been uploaded to the site and were recently wiped.

Essentially it's no different from using something like bittorrent, except YouTube actually has an administrative staff in place to make sure nobody's breaking the law.

I have been reading the past few columns, and have noticed the "dilemmas" of certain people with Naruto releases. I have also read your posts, and found myself confused at one point. I completely understand that if you love a show, support it. But in that same respect, I think that by supporting it too much, you're actually hurting the show. Don't take me wrong, I feel the same way about at least making the effort to pick up the manga you scanlated, or the anime you watched fansubbed. But in one specific case, the support doesn't seem to be helping.
I'm talking about Evangelion. Don't get me wrong; I love the show, I think it's wonderful, but I've already bought it twice. Not only do I have the original box set of DVDs and movies, but I also went out and bought all the Platinum DVDs when they were released, and before that, I got director's cut DVDs. And you know what, I'm sure there are people who love it more than me who have the Laser Discs, the VHS, the DVD boxes, the movies, director's cuts and even the thinpak. Now the 10th anniversary box is coming out, which is supposedly loaded with extras, all the DVDs and even a jacket (like the kind you wear).
I'm as excited as any other "hardcore" Eva fan, but the $250 price tag makes my heart skip a beat when I think about it. Why would I want to pay that much (or as it's been speculated, even more) for something I already own two copies of? I love the series, and know I'm going to get this, but I cant help feeling that somehow I'm being ripped off. Am I still just supporting the series I love, or am I helping Gainax and ADV Films milk Eva for every cent it's worth?

In all fairness, I think you're trying to make a generalization here that doesn't work.

Evangelion is absolutely a special case. Gainax (and ADV) proves to us over and over again that they will continue milking Evangelion until the cow has literally imploded.
Fans keep buying the stuff, though, and if you don't want to see them release any more Evangelion stuff, here's a tip: stop buying it. If you feel like you're being ripped off, nobody's holding a gun to your head forcing you to buy the 10th Anniversary box set. It's your choice.

That said, taking Evangelion as an example and using that to warn fans "not to support their favorite shows too much" is basically wrong. Evangelion is clearly a special case - here in America, few shows see as many re-releases, and frankly, if you disagree with whatever the company's doing with the title, just stop buying the merchandise. It's that simple. I think the road you're heading down is providing yet another justification for not supporting your favorite shows, but the fact of the matter is, Evangelion's situation is unique to itself; buying the re-re-re-release DVDs isn't really "supporting" the series so much as it is an expression of your fandom even 10 years and 8 different releases after the fact. Evangelion obviously doesn't really need your support.

Also, it's important to bear in mind that not every anime purchase you make has to be some bold statement about yourself or the company releasing it. It's cool to just buy something because you want it or you'd like to see it; it doesn't always have to be "Well, I'm buying this Media Blasters DVD to show ADV Films that their subtitles suck!" or "This proves I'm the biggest Evangelion fan in the world!" or whatever. Buying anime doesn't always have to be some massive political crusade where every dollar spent is a vote in your favor. Buy as much or as little Evangelion merchandise as you want and don't worry about what kind of message you're sending to the company.

It's in the case of smaller and newer shows where it's important to support them right out of the gate. Evangelion is already a massive success story; your purchasing habits in regards to that series impact only your own desire to collect and whether or not ADV will release a 15th Anniversary box set.

Me and my friends are very talented artists and cosplayers and we were thinking about starting up a small business type thing (more like just a hobby thing) where we sell cosplay accessories, like Hellsing badges for costumes, and maybe hats based on popular anime characters (like Al from Fullmetal Alchemist!). We would sell our stuff mostly in artists alleys at conventions and maybe online. Do you think people would be interested in buying stuff like that?

Well, here's the problem; as cool as it would be to start a little fan-based collective where you dream up new anime products, the problem there is that you're basically just producing bootleg merchandise.

People point to Japan as being more lenient toward this kind of thing, but the fact of the matter is, Japanese companies already produce cosplay artifacts; you can buy official Naruto headbands and Hellsing patches and Steamboy monocles and whatnot to go with your costume, so fans don't usually have to make them themselves. You can get these items at most conventions, as well, but they're not as widely available as they are in Japan (and even there, they're limited run items).
They're lenient on doujinshi, sure, but when it comes to character merchandise? Forget it.

There's a line to be drawn between "making an item myself to use with my costume" and "producing as many as will reliably sell in artist's alley". Once you cross that line, you're profiting from sales of unlicensed merchandise, which is basically bootlegging. It might seem like fans helping fans, but in my estimation the only way to be honest about it is to either "sell" the items at-cost down to the penny or give them away for free. Making a profit doing that sort of thing is unethical. As a fan you have no right to profit from sales of unlicensed merchandise.

Now, a whole lot of people will disagree with me on this, I'm sure; a similar issue came up last year when that scuttlebutt about fan art at Otakon (although nothing really came of it). It sparked a discussion about what's appropriate to sell in the artist's alley and what isn't; it seemed like an unsettling number of the people on the "fan" side of the argument wanted a blank check to produce whatever unlicensed merchandise they liked and sell it at a profit. Their justification? They're fans.

I really didn't get that; liking a cartoon doesn't suddenly entitle you to profit from that cartoon's popularity. Make your own cosplay accessories, use them yourself, give 'em away for free or have the person pay for materials only, but the second you step into "profit" territory, you're doing something unethical.

Another one. You knew it was coming.

Hi I am a student at James Hargest high school in Invercargill I am want to draw anime for a career is there any information you can give me so I can achieve this goal plz reply when possible.

I'm all tapped out of sarcastic responses to questions like this so instead I'm just going to go back to publishing kitten and/or bunny photos. Maybe both!

There we go.

Here's this week's rant, courtesy of Patrick Castleberry, again in response to last week's discussion about yaoi. 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.

There's been a lot of ranting about yaoi these past few weeks. I have nothing against homosexuals, in fact, I'm a fan of yuri, but I have three major problems with yaoi (fanfiction, in particular).

Number one is how it seems to have taken over the internet.  There is such an abundance of it out there, it is impossible to explore a fandom without stumbling over it.  Sure, the amount of yaoi out there is great for yaoi fans, and obviously there are a lot, but that's not so great for someone like me.  I suppose a good analogy would be the following: I'm walking down the street, and suddenly someone drives by in their car, windows down, rap blaring from their stereo.  Hey, just because you like rap doesn't mean the rest of us do.  Yet with your windows rolled down and stereo at maximum volume, I can't help but hear it.  You're practically forcing it on me. 

My second major issue is the overflow of yaoi when compared with the relative rarity of yuri in comparison.  Whereas there is so much yaoi it impossible to avoid, I have to search my butt off in comparison to find some good yuri.  I've been told “oh it's out there, it's just in hentai.”  So I have to search through tentacle rape, bestiality, incest, and who knows what else to find some yuri?  That doesn't sound fair to me at all.  Why should I have to search through stuff I'd rather not go near, such as the aforementioned tentacle rape, bestiality, incest, etc., to find what I'm looking for? I've also been told “well you're just too picky.”  I don't think I'm being too picky for wanting my yuri materials to contain characters I'm familiar with, but even without that, I'd be willing to bet the yaoi would far outnumber the yuri.

Finally, I have an issue with how so many of the pairings in yaoi seem to involve characters that are archenemies and/or related.  Not only that, some will go so far as to make up the most bizarre excuses for these pairings.  I've heard some defend a pairing of Ginji/Dr. Jackal by going “Well Jackal's really flirting.”  Let me tell you, cutting people up is a major turn on for me, oh yeah.  How can people possibly expect pairings like Ginji/Dr. Jackal to make any sense whatsoever?  How can they even justify pairings involving characters who are related, such as Vash/Knives?  It boggles the mind.

Now I'll be honest, I've seen some incestuous yuri pairings, as well as some yuri pairings that don't make sense, but that pales in comparison the amount of incestuous/just plain ridiculous yaoi pairings, but maybe that's due to the overwhelming amount of yaoi.  Furthermore, both yaoi and yuri have the same principle; they are two sides of the same coin.  However, a coin is supposed to land on both sides an equal number of times when flipped.  Guess what, it's not. 

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 Crystal Fernandez. This is a pretty popular and well-known painting.

The painting was Edouard Manet's "A Bar at the Folies-Bergères",

You can read more about Manet 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 Haruko is, and who painted it.

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

This week's prize is:

It's ADV's Those Who Hunt Elves box set! Both seasons in a convenient thinpak, and it's yours free if you can tell me what the painting is.
See you next week!

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