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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

July kinda sucks if you work with anime at all.

Right now is the brief rest stop in between the myriad conventions that seem to all happen at once this month; just as I'm catching my breath from Anime Expo, it's time to prepare for San Diego Comic-Con; then about 2 seconds after that, I'm on a plane to Baltimore for Otakon.

Can't they space these damn things out a little more? Why are there no big conventions in June? Why do all three of the biggest events in this industry have to happen inside 30 days?

By the end of it all, I collapse into a heap and curl into the fetal position and swear I'm only doing one convention next summer come Hell or high water.

Naturally I'm always proven wrong.

As you know, this year CLAMP came to America at AnimeExpo.  Do you think this will help tokyopop finally start releasing Clamp no Kiseki regularly?  I know it doesn't sell well, 30 bucks a pop! ( at least that was what the tokyopop forum monitor said)   But do you think this will get them to get it out faster?  Do you know, or have heard of, any news on this?

It's hard to say, really, but personally I don't think CLAMP's US appearance is going to give a significant boost to sales of CLAMP merchandise. It did at the convention, that's for sure; a quick sweep of the dealer's room revealed that CLAMP stuff was selling better than it usually did (although it's always a hot seller regardless), likely to people hoping to score an autograph. Otherwise, this isn't quite like taking the band on tour; they only did one gig and they weren't really promoting any major new product. Someone who didn't attend the event isn't going to say "Wow, I heard these people were at Anime Expo! Suddenly this $30 magazine seems like a great deal!".

Clamp no Kiseki is really a specialty product anyway; while their manga titles have a mass appeal, Kiseki is really a superfan-only product. You get what amounts to a small toy, a big empty cardboard box and a magazine full of fluffy articles and interviews. It's got major appeal to people who consider themselves major CLAMP fans (as opposed to simply someone who likes Chobits or Card Captor Sakura)
, but that's kinda it. Hence the $30 price tag, since the publication has limited appeal.

I'd be happy it's being released at all, frankly.

I'd really like to see The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya anime get licensed and there's no doubt in my mind that it would wind up in my little anime collection. I'd gladly advocate for a North American release, but how far would a single vox populi letter go towards getting a licensor to pick it up? In other words, how important are the opinions of potential customers to these companies?

Whether or not the fans will buy something is, of course, always a concern, so it's important that R1 companies pay attention to chatter on the forums about what's big and what isn't. Of course, this has to be done in moderation; listening to the demands of the fans too much can lead to disaster, since sometimes you'll have a very loud, very vocal minority demanding an R1 release of some extremely niche title with a very limited audience. It might sound like crowds of people are clamoring for something, but in the end it's the same 20 people or so and maybe half of them will actually buy it.

The funny thing is that common wisdom indicates that if they were really listening to the fans, they'd be releasing more obscure, niche titles; but the fact of the matter is, if you look at anime forums and you check things like fansub download statistics (which most companies do), the most popular shows in those arenas are also the shows most likely to be popular and accessible here in America. Things like Naruto, Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist - these are the shows championed by online fans and they're the hot topic of discussion in most anime forums. So who's to say they're not listening to the fans because every single show based on a dating sim hasn't been released yet?

That said, Haruhi Suzumiya is a massively popular show in Japan with a devoted fanbase here in America and it is something of a phenomenon, but if you look at the show - and a lot of fans will agree with me on this - it doesn't really have broad appeal to American fans. The guys who watch Naruto and Bleach might wind up scratching their heads at it and there isn't a lot in it for the females. This was a series very directly aimed at Japanese otaku, with a ton of in-jokes and sly satire that would fly over the heads of the casual American fans. So if you simply look at its online popularity and say "Well, this is a sure-fire success!", you're making a mistake. I have no doubt that Haruhi Suzumiya will eventually make it to American shores, and it'll be a nice, high-quality, fan-friendly release, but it isn't going to set the sales chart on fire. The R1 companies most definitely know how popular the show is and are probably bidding for it right now (if it hasn't already been licensed).

One more letter telling them to snap it up probably won't hurt, though. It's never a bad idea to let 'em know what you want... but they're always reading the forums, so odds are they already know.

I was thinking that of all the people in the world you would be best suited to answer my question. I know you know a lot about anime and I just wanted to ask if you have heard anything about when the Naruto fillers end. Also could you also tell me when the next uncut Naruto dvd is going to hit stores as well? Thank you
I don't keep up with the Naruto fillers (obviously), but the scuttlebutt I've heard around the internet is that the show has completely jumped the shark.

For those of you who don't really know what "jump the shark" means, it's a reference to an episode of Happy Days that signaled the show's downhill climb into utter stupidity when Fonzie jumped over a shark on waterskis. Since then it has been a catch-all phrase to describe something - usually a TV series or a comic book or a movie franchise - that's rapidly gone downhill from when it started.

Normally I chide people for watching fansubs of distant episodes of shows that are being released here but I'm actually getting sick of hearing myself talk about fansubs so I'll just go ahead and say "shame on you" and also "good for you for buying the uncut DVD box sets" in the same sentence and get that all out of the way at once. So let's get on with it, shall we?

From what I've heard, Naruto fans are getting increasingly upset with the quality of the show. Most recently, there was an explosion of laughter and disappointment at an episode of Naruto that features the lead character turning into a girl and then peeing all over Ino in an extended "comedy" sequence that was basically just gross and a total waste of time rather than being actually funny or interesting.

Everyone is apparently praying that the "fillers" will end soon and the show will jump back on track and start reconnecting with the superior manga storyline, but there's really no end in sight apparently and the third Naruto movie is just around the corner.

Frankly, there's no way to tell exactly when a show like this will return to the source material, and I personally think Naruto fans have a lot to worry about if they simply take a look at what happened to Rurouni Kenshin.

The Rurouni Kenshin anime series caught up with the manga in relatively short order as it was being written; what happened was, the show's writers had to come up with original storylines and they wound up being totally awful, all while the manga trundled along with a vastly better story. They couldn't start animating that next manga storyline until they had enough material to burn through without having to stall in the middle of it all to wait for more manga to be released. So they waited... and waited... and Kenshin wound up fighting stupid looking bat dudes and Germans with tin ears and evil guys who fought with rulers and eventually went out with a whimper, the ratings declining thanks to the terrible storyline, and the final arc of the manga never being properly animated. It was a shame, really; had they just put the show on hiatus for a year (or, god forbid, went into reruns for a few months at a time like US TV shows) they wouldn't have gone spiralling into stupidity like that.

Apparently, this is what's happening with Naruto right now, even though the manga has about a year's worth of material ready for animation.
I won't pretend to know when they'll knock it off and get back to the real story, but I'd be a little worried that this is all leading to a Kenshin-like fate.

Also, Viz hasn't announced a release date yet for the Uncut Box Set 2. I'd imagine they're waiting to see what sales are like for the first one... so for god's sake, buy it if you're a fan of the show. I can't stress that enough.

Whatever happened to the english release of CasshernDreamWorks had the rights and was supposed to release it last year, but it never happened.

Ask Paramount. They bought DreamWorks (although their animation studio, DreamWorks Animation, remains independent) so the entire film library now belongs to them.

Paramount hasn't yet announced what they're doing with Casshern; I'd imagine the logistics of dealing with the entire DreamWorks film library is a bit time consuming so we don't really know when we might hear about the fate of the Go Fish Pictures catalog.

Here's this week's rant, courtesy of Andrea Gehringer. 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 truly believe anyone who reads or views a series and likes it is a fan.  The fact that people are willing to participate in a site like Anime News Network proves manga/anime fandom is widespread and virile.  But there are still things regarding the fan population that cause me to cringe reflexively, no matter how hard I attempt to suppress it.  Namely, the emergence of self-declared know-it-all newbies.

I have been a fan of manga-and to a lesser extent, anime-for six years.  For many this is nothing; others have been familiar with and involved in the manga and/or anime scene much longer.  I have read over 70 titles, viewed a few dozen anime series, witnessed both an industry boom and decline, created an Excel file cataloguing which books I own, from title and author to ISBN and price, joined forums to share my thoughts, and even attempted launching my own manga review and fan site.  It could be said I am an obsessive fan.  Or it could be said that I have barely begun the foray into true obsession, "otakudom."

To a great extent, the purpose of all these actions was to find others like me.  People with similar interests who were enthusiastic about sharing their experiences and their passion.  The Internet proved the closest thing I had to a connection with fans for a few years.  Upon entering college I discovered the campus' anime club and have been a participant (later member) since.  It's a good feeling, finding a group of individuals who enjoy the same types of entertainment as yourself and offer opinions regarding what's good, what's not, where the industry is going, which creators have sold out, and whether subject "A" is better than "B," and why.  This aside, it also feels good to belong to a community of people you feel comfortable around outside anime marathons and club meetings, a little geeky corner of the universe to call your own.

Because of the time I became interested in manga, compounded by the fact that the people I know to be manga/anime enthusiasts from real life relationships are college-age, often times I forget that both mediums are continually growing in popularity, reaching to out new target markets, and appealing to younger audiences.  Ones even younger than high school acquaintances and myself when we began spending $15.95 for the average manga tankoban.  It could be considered the "pre-Revolution" period, before Tokyopop set a new standard with scaled-down, right-to-left reading series for $9.99.  It seems that now consciousness of anime/manga fandom is higher-more average people have added these words to their lexicon.  It's easier to introduce younger audiences to either form of entertainment utilizing the Internet, broadcast of anime at key times, or the availability of free access, as in browsing bookstores or libraries.  A few months ago while looking over potential purchases at Borders, a girls no older than eleven appeared and disappeared from the manga shelves at regular intervals, snatching up a copy of Fruits Basket, replacing it later with one of Loveless, etc.  And that's great.

Allow me to make myself perfectly clear: I do not harbor unbridled rage toward every person younger than myself who takes an interest in manga or anime.  I don't believe that older, well-versed fans are inherently superior.  It is encouraging to see newcomers from middle school enter into the geeky arena reserved for anime and manga appreciators, because fresh perspectives and enthusiasm are encouraging.  Personally, I like attempting o answer the questions of curious people who request assistance on message boards or formulating recommendations for friends who ask.  Why not share the object of our enjoyment with people who show interest?But here's what I hate.  Browse any forum or large bookstore and you're likely to find it.  The individual going by oO:otaku-san159:Oo whose posts rant on and on about how "series X" is the best thing ever, bar none, its creator is a genius, and every other work is abysmal by comparison.  Possibly there will be loud, angry complaints of how the American licenser/English translation and adaptation are horrid and intolerable.  But oO:otaku-san159:Oo has only been exposed to two or three other series.  Or take the store lounger who sits on the floor with a stack of only one creator's work at their side, reading voraciously but rolling their eyes if somebody picks up a different manga-ka's series because "series Y" is lame and stupid: "XX-sama" didn't write it.  People such as these admittedly generalized examples have read and seen so little they are only vaguely aware diversity exists (yes, I exaggerate), yet feel perfectly justified in touting the specific titles they love as the only ones that matter.without trying much, if anything, else.  By all means, express your delight over that which you love.  But what of the fans who have been consuming this stuff for decades, using Japanese texts with translation sites, VHS exchanges, and minimal self-teaching methods as their means?  Or even we fans who caught on just before both industries went boom?  Anime and manga fandom did not begin with you, with me, or even with the vets who loved comics and animation before we youths were aware of Japan's existence.  Yet these veteran fans' experience deserves at least a nod of recognition, if not respect.

This is not to suggest older fans are perfect.  People who have been around longer are by no means gods, omnipotent, infallible, or intrinsically deserving of appeasement.  But rather than believing you know it all, stop and consider how much more you could discover about the thing you love before declaring an undying allegiance to how unsurpassable any one series is.  It might turn out you can learn more and like others, too.

Lesson learned: Yu Watase's Fushigi Yugi drew me into manga AND anime.  It is special as a result and I'll never forget it, but there is so much more out there worth getting into.

Whew. So what do you think? Does Andrea 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 our last contest winner "nocturnal nau". This is a painting by my favorite artist.

The painting was Max Ernst's "The Beautiful Season ":

You can read more about Ernst and the Surrealist movement here.

Check this space next week for a return of the weekly caption contest!

See you then!

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