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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

Wow, what a week. I'm up to my eyeballs in questions and there's no end in sight. You people are insatiable.

Recently, quite a few live action titles have been picked up, including my personal favorite, Cutie Honey. I know that in NANA and Death Note's case, with fresh new anime, the likelyhood of thier anime counterparts being picked up is rather high especially with both of their manga forms doing quite well in the US, but Cutie Honey has a much older anime counterpart. There is of course the ADV released Shin Cutey Honey, but I was wondering if the Cutie Honey tv series' would have a chance at getting licenced once the Live Action movie comes out... To tell you th truth, even Re: Cutie Honey would be nice.

Good question; shows like Death Note and Nana are basically already in Viz's hands. Those are a no-brainer. But with something like Cutey Honey, you're talking about a completely different ballgame.

The live-action movie (which was maybe 1/10th as entertaining as Re: Cutey Honey was) was recently picked up after having been out for a pretty long time. I'd imagine that once that film is actually released and we see some sales numbers, it might persuade someone else in the industry that the franchise isn't completely dead and they might actually license the recent Re: Cutie Honey OVA. Hell, someone might even be negotiating for that title as we speak.

As for the older series? I wouldn't hold my breath. Vintage anime like that has proven to be a tough sell in the US and as the market focuses more on sure-fire hits to sustain itself, many companies are no longer willing to take a risk on older shows. Anything's possible, I suppose, and somewhere down the line you might see the original TV series released here, but again, I wouldn't bet on it for the time being.

I've been trying to find out whether a Fullmetal Alchemist boxset will be released in the near future. I see that come September, the last two volumes and the movie will be released and I'm hoping that that means a boxset will be availble for Christmas. I was wondering if you had any idea if I might be right, or if you know when one might be availble. I realize that volume 1 was released with a collectors tin, but I'm hoping to buy the whole series in one go.

For a short time there, a few anime companies were releasing budget-priced box sets mere months after the final volume of a given series hit the shelves.

Then the fans complained. So they don't do that anymore. Even ADV, the company who got the most heat for doing this, has announced that their thinpak box sets will be released no sooner than a year to two years after the final single volume ships. It's a measure designed to protect the investment of people who buy the show when it's first released, and to give the people who show up first to support the series a long head start on everyone else. Frankly, it's a good move.

That said, while Funimation hasn't really said anything one way or the other about an FMA box set, there isn't a snowball's chance in hell of anything like that being released before Christmas. You're talking about a massively popular top-selling show; why would they cannibalize the steady sales of single volumes with a box set so soon after they released the film? It's possible they'll do what Geneon does on occasion, which is release a box set that includes all the volumes, along with some extra material, for a premium price during the Christmas season, meaning you won't save a dime buying the box set over the singles. But if it's a budget-priced thing you're after? No way. Maybe in a few years.

I don't know if there is an answer for this, but if anyone could asnwer it, it would be you. After all the online press about Super GALS! season 2 getting picked up by The Right Stuf, I decided to check out season 1 via my favorite online rental service. What I found was a very entertaining show with a lot of laughs, some decent dramatic moments, and a solid dub. So my question is, why didn't this show sell? Compared to the amount of mediocre shows being dumped on the market these days, I can't believe this one wouldn't be more popular? Is there an answer?
People ask this question a lot; there's a sense of confusion and a little anger to it. It's the same response when there's a really smart, funny television show (like, say, Arrested Development) that gets cancelled because for whatever reason, people aren't watching it. The truth of the matter is, for the vast majority of the viewing public, if something doesn't click right away, they're going to immediately discard it - which alienates people with more patient and discerning taste. It's killed a lot of great series and it's a big part of the reason why oddball shows like Super Gals don't sell in the US. It isn't pandering to anyone in particular and doesn't have the usual earmarks of other popular titles, so it gets overlooked.

Super GALS is, essentially, a very hard sell. It's a show that's aimed squarely at teenage Japanese girls, which is admittedly a pretty small market in the US. So who bought it here in America? Good question. Apparently, not very many people did. The audience was limited to guys who were comfortable enough with themselves to buy it and female anime fans who don't require everything they watch to be swarming with bishounen.

Which, suffice to say, probably isn't that many people.

The show might have had mass appeal if it had been on television, but the fact of the matter is, given the show's look and subject matter, more people are going to reject it outright rather than give it a chance. As I said, it's a hard sell. Obviously, Right Stuf found a way to make the numbers work and they're releasing the second season
sub-only in a box set. Kudos to them for making it work (assuming people actually buy it), but the notion that the show will ever be a hit in America is basically dead at this point.

Hi, I have a burning question to ask. Do you know whether they are going to make 3rd season of Weiss? The second season ending is a bummer...What with everybody splitting up. I found out that Aya and Ken joined another group called Kryptoband..I don't think I like that either. I just wish the four of them would stay together. Will Youji be truly happy now because of his amnesia?

I'm pretty sure at this point that the whole Weiss Kreuz thing is over. They had 2 seasons, some OVAs, a plethora of albums and a metric ton of doujinshi, but it's old and it's pretty much over now.

Which, you know, I'm not complaining. Even the fangirls I know who loved it admitted it was poorly-written garbage.

That's basically all I have to say on that. Here's a kitten photo to stretch things out a bit.

Pretty sure I'm being trolled with this one but I'll go ahead and print it anyway.

how to get in the anime business

That's it. That's the whole letter.

Excuse me while I bang my head against the wall.

Here's this week's rant, courtesy of Matt Maruca. It's about fansubs. I know, I know, hate to open this can of worms again, but Matt put a lot of effort into this rant; it's very well-written in spite of the subject matter being a dead horse at this point.

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.

The website ICv2 recently posted a brief article about FUNimation's release plans for School Rumble.  The article also pointed out that School Rumble is one of the most prominent Media Factory titles licensed since Media Factory requested that fansubbing stop on all their titles, and that it would be interesting to see how well School Rumble fares on store shelves.  This brought back to me something that has annoyed me for years: the persistent, baseless claims of fansub apologists that fansubbing actually benefits commercial anime distributors by boosting sales.

On the off chance some of you may not have heard it before, the argument goes something like this: fansubbers watch new shows that other fans have never seen or heard of, talk about them and create a ‘buzz’ around shows that inspires other fans to buy those shows if and when they get released over here.  That same buzz helps guide distributors to shows that will sell well and thus serves as a form of free market research.  To support these claims, fansub defenders like to point out that shows which are popular among fansubbers are more likely to sell well than shows that don't generate much fansub interest.  This argument is about as logically airtight as claiming UFOs are the only possible explanation for crop circles.  Let's take a look a couple of those logical flaws.

Confusing cause and effect: 
The pro-fansub argument assumes that the only reason—or at least the primary reason—why shows succeed or fail commercially in the US is because of the buzz generated by the fansub community.  This is the great logical error of assuming that something which happens first must necessarily be the cause of what happens after, and ignores a whole host of other reasons why shows succeed or fail.  Full Metal Alchemist was very popular in fansub circles and has been a major sales success as well; Daphne in the Brilliant Blue on the other hand has been a mediocre performer in both arenas.  I don't suppose it ever occurred to any fansubber that the difference in both sales and fansub popularity could be due to the fact that FMA is an excellent show that appeals to a broad spectrum of anime fans, while Daphne is a cliché-heavy exercise in fan service that was niche marketed directly at a small group of anime fans.  In other words, it makes more sense to see the quality of any show as the cause which creates the effect of both sales numbers and fansub interest.

Ignoring the competition:
The pro-fansub argument has never really adapted itself to the 21st Century.  It still assumes that it is 1995 and the principal way that other fans learn about interesting new shows is from fansubbers at their local clubs or on old-fashioned BBS.  Fansubbers tend to ignore the fact that there numerous ways fans in the Internet age can learn about new shows.  In the channels frequented by hardcore fans, fansubbers are competing with news services like ANN, blog and forum postings from fans who have seen the original broadcasts instead of fansubs, show-specific websites that often post trailers before a show even begins to air in Japan, the availability of the translated source manga in the US before a show airs in Japan, and ready access to both English language and Japanese print magazines.  The best anyone can realistically claim for fansubs is that they may well be one source among many that contribute to the buzz surrounding new shows within hardcore fan circles.  Among the less dedicated casual anime fans (who represent the real reason behind the breakout success of shows like FMA and Samurai Champloo), fansub influence is even dodgier.  Few such fans frequent the places where fansubbers hold court, and are likely rely on more readily accessible sources of information like newsstand magazines and manga or TV broadcasts.  When you consider the fact that it is a truism in the current anime market that a show must reach the casual fan (precisely those fans least likely to feel the influence of fansub buzz) in order to achieve more than middling profitability, it becomes harder to sustain the argument that fansubs contribute greatly to the sales success of any show.

The elephant in the room:  This is the part of the equation fansubbers hate to acknowledge: fansubs cost legitimate distributors sales.  We all realize that there are the upright few who always buy everything they download, and at the other end of the spectrum are the jerks with twisted moral codes who refuse to ever pay for their anime.  In between the two lie the vast majority of fansubbers, folks who buy some but not all of the shows they download, for any number of reasons, valid or not.  Within this large middle group there are inevitably people who would buy some show or other if they hadn't already seen the whole thing via fansubs.  Whether because they lack the funds to buy everything they download, or only choose to pay for shows they really liked, these fans actively avoid purchasing commercial anime that they would have bought if they didn't have access to free fansubs.  How many more DVDs would fansubbers buy if they didn't have access to dowloads?  Aside from the fact that the number must be substantially larger than zero, it is hard to say.  Is that number larger or smaller than the number of sales that can legitimately be attributed to fansub buzz at the exclusion of any other influences?  Again, it is hard to say, but the question itself is highly revealing and pretty much never acknowledged by fansub apologists.  Even if fansubs generate sales among fans who don't download themselves, it is possible that those sales don't compensate for the sales lost to the fansubbers themselves who don't end up buying shows they download.

It should be obvious by now that my personal opinion is that fansubs do not in fact contribute much of anything to the success or failure of commercial anime releases, and in the final analysis probably hurt more than they help.  However, as my last point above illustrates, I can't really prove that.  Why?  Because no one has ever done a single statistically and scientifically valid study of the subject.  Until someone does a valid study of the buying habits of regular downloaders, or sorts out exactly how much of the buzz around new shows is genuinely attributable to fansubs, or does a statistically broad study of the sales of different types of shows and can compare the figures for shows that were aggressively fansubbed against those that weren't, no one can say with any certainty that fansubs do or do not help boost commercial sales.

The real point of my argument, therefore, is not to prove that fansubs don't boost sales, but to pull the teeth of those self-righteous fansubbers who claim that they do as if it were already an indisputably proven fact.  The fact is that their arguments are shabby, anecdotal and logically flawed, and to my eyes seem to be aimed as much at an egotistical effort to place themselves at the center of the otaku universe as at justifying behavior that is, at its core, pure piracy.  It's about time we stopped letting them off the hook by refusing to contest their claims.  Fansubbers, download all you want, as it is no business of mine.  But until you can provide genuine proof that your behavior benefits the anime industry, stop pretending that it is anything but self-serving.

Whew. So what do you think? Does Matt 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!

Well, we finally have a winner this week. Thanks to Moon Reilly for this bit:

Unfortunately - and it's been a bumpy ride for Win Answerman's Stuff lately - we need to put the contest on hold again; thanks to a million applications flooding my inbox due to our recent hunt for a new staff reviewer (see the front page for details on our staff openings), any captions sent at this point would be lost in the storm. Come back next week for a brand-new contest; this time, there might actually be something to win!

See you next week!

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