Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

Finally, a chance to catch my breath. Con season's over, that whole lolicon mess (while unresolved still) is behind us, and now I can finally sit down and answer some questions.

So let's get to it.

Answerman, this is my first year going to both otakon and anime expo (i live in texas), i've been going to otakon for like 4 years but its my first year at anime expo and it seemed... different to me? i noticed that east coast otaku are different from the west coast people who show up to anime expo, like somehow they're more, i don't know, enthusiastic? they seem to be having more fun, like they're louder and stuff, where at expo everyone seemed quiet or whatever. anyway i know you go to these conventions so i was wondering if you noticed how different they are.

You know, I've noticed this same thing.

There is a fundamental - and very big - difference between the "mood" at Anime Expo versus Otakon, and I think that stems from the fans themselves, to be honest. West coast fans tend to be a little more casual, a little less invested in the internet culture that surrounds anime. I've been attending AX for like 7 years now and even though fandom has changed a lot since then, the convention is still less prone to glomping or screaming catchphrases or what-have-you. The cosplayers also seem to take themselves a little more seriously, and yes, the con is "quiet", so to speak; you won't get drowned out in the con center by loud music or screaming fans. Also, AX is more industry-driven, which probably contribues to the "trade show" feel of it all, not to mention the con itself seems a lot more focused on anime and manga.

Otakon, on the other hand, feels like much more of a big party; the fans are rowdier, the cosplay is.. let's say more revealing and a lot less serious (the sheer number of "costumes" based on old internet catchphrases was staggering this year), and you're more likely to be spoken to by complete strangers. The con center is really noisy; there's always music playing and it's very crowded. Otakon really feels like a totally fan-run convention. I mean, they still show fansubs and actually list them in the official convention schedule, alongside a whole lot of interesting panels (but, in some cases, completely tangential to anime and manga). It's definitely a big fan party.

If you asked me which one I prefer - and you didn't, but I'll opine on it anyway - I think in terms of the crowd, I prefer AX. These are both competently-run cons with similar programming schedules and I know the folks in charge of both of them are solid people (in spite of the sour-grapes mudslinging people on the internet are prone to). But simply for the fans it attracts, I have to go with AX. I find the people there - and this is probably the cranky old man in me complaining about kids these days - to be a lot less shrill and disruptive. I'd rather be able to walk through the con center lobby without having some girl in her underwear screaming SNAKES ON A PLANE O RLY?! in my ear.

That said, however, I can appreciate the fans who prefer the Otakon crowd. I think if I were younger and less cynical or easily annoyed I'd probably dig that vibe too.
But the differences between east coast and west coast fans are fascinating, I think.

Recently, I was able to see the first episode of an anime series called "Air". For some reason, I have no idea WHY, but I was really intrigued by
the series and I'd actually like to see more of it. So here's my question: What do you think the possibility is of it being liscenced for a US release?

You know, I think for shows like Air and Kanon and all those sad-girls-in-snow dating sim anime series, their chances of being released here hinge greatly on the potential success of Funimation's series Rumbling Hearts (also known as Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien), which is really the first of its kind to be released in the US - that is to say, the market here for serious dramas based on Japanese dating sims has yet to really be tested. It's hard to say if something like Air would really take off in America, given that it's directly aimed at a very specific, very hardcore segment of Japanese anime fandom. Also, the game is an unknown here so it can't be sold based on the popularity of the original dating sim. I understand that Rumbling Hearts has a bit of a different tone than Air does, but it's the same genre, and the same hard sell.

I guess Funimation will find out if these shows stand a chance this fall when Rumbling Hearts comes out. I know the industry will be watching that one with great interest, since there's a wealth of titles like it available
that have yet to be licensed.

I have a very simple/short question. Are there any plans for an american DVD release of the Death Note movie? If not, is there any hope for it to get released here sometime in the near future?

You know, Viz has a pretty good track record of releasing live-action flicks here so I'd bet good money that both Death Note and Nana will find their way to DVD here at some point. There's no release date yet obviously but you probably don't have to worry about it.

I think the Naruto dub is great. The music's the same, there's blood, and they all have Japanese names and cultural references, like the original. In comparison, the 90s TV dubs, like Sailor Moon and DBZ, had bad music, bad VAs, 20 minute cut scenes, and Americanization to the max. Does this mean American TV is loosening up? I don't usually watch Toonami or Foxbox or whatever shows so I'm not sure, but it certainly seems like it. Are TV dubs changing for the better, or did Naruto get special treatment?

Of course they've gotten better. Back in the bad ol' days, anime was a totally unproven media and was prone to being licensed by hack shops like Saban who wouldn't trust the originl product and had to smear their "creative juices" all over it and change a bunch of it around to make it "more palatable" to American audiences. Of course, back then there was no big anime fandom, and it really was an unknown medium.

These days you have hundreds of thousands of vocal fans, several large companies who are all (mostly) dedicated to releasing uncut anime in America. They simply can't get away with it anymore, nor do they need to; anime is sold as being exotic and mature, and there really isn't any reason to hack it up anymore.
Plus, we now have more outlets for mature animation; Adult Swim and even Toonami can show stuff that the Saturday morning network channels of yore couldn't get away with. TV standards have relaxed a bit, yes, but primarily it has to do with mainstream culture accepting that anime is not necessarily for kids.

Another one. You knew it was coming.

Hello, I was wandering if you knew how to contact, Masashi Kishimoto, because i would like to send him drawings and a storyline for a new character. Thank you for your time, and please reply.  This is ergent, If you have any information i nould use to deliver/send my package.

Sure, here it is.

Masashi Kishimoto
123 Naruto Avenue
Tokyo, Japan

I guarantee you he will put whatever your idea is into his manga right away.
Make sure you write "ERGENT" in big red letters on your package so they know it's really super important.

Here's this week's rant, courtesy of Jeremy Roman. 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.

This week at Otakon, I attended many more panels than I ever had in the previous two years.  Because of this, I actually got to talk to many dub voice actors.  These people are very great, very friendly, willing to chat with their friends.  However, at this weekend, I saw one of the darksides of otakudom: the insane fan.

Now, I consider myself to be a pretty big fan of dubs, being the go-to guy among my friends when they need a voice identified.  If I am able to identify the voice (and I usually am), I can tell someone who they are and what other roles they have been in (heavy references to ANN being another useful tool).  This encyclopedic knowledge comes only from a deep passion for the subject matter, one which borders on an addiction or an obsession.  I'm an Otaku, I make no apologies.

However, at Otakon, there were fans that scared me.  Asking for weird things of the voice actors is very embarrassing for everyone who has to hear you ask it.  The major example of this was on Friday night at the Voice Actor Panel, when a girl came up to ask, in a quiet, shaky voice, Kate Higgins and Yuri Lowenthal (Sakura and Sasuke from Naruto respectively) to improve a scene in which Sasuke was in love with Sakura, but Sakura finds Sasuke annoying.  I half expected her to go "Would you read from this fanfic/fanscript I wrote and my friends all said was better than what was actually written for the series?"  Now, Yuri and Kate didn't seem to mind too awfully much, and they did their best to accommodate, but I found it quite annoying.  To me, it smacked of making them your personal playthings with which to act out your personal fantasies, and it seemed quite disrespectful.

The other fans who annoyed me were the ones who thought that the voice actors were their friends.  While they may be friendly, they are not your friend.  To treat them as such is extremely presumptuous, and, frankly, creepy.  Of course, they handle it like true professionals, and smile, shake hands, and try to exfiltrate from the crowd that literally has them cornered.  This is usually done by just taking the time to grip-and-grin like a politician during an election year, though presidential candidates get the Secret Service.  All Yuri Lowenthal gets is Otakon Staff, and they are hardly a force to be reckoned with.

To sum up, I just want people to act with common sense, and not allow yourself to be dragged so far into your own fantasy world that you cannot tell fact from fiction.  Have some respect for yourself, other Con-attendees, and the guests.  And have a fun time.

Whew. So what do you think? Does Jeremy 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!

Due to a freak email accident, I lost many of last week's caption entries, so please resend any entries you might have, and next week we'll (finally) have a caption up.

See you next week!

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