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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

Well, that was a long enough hiatus for me, don't you think? I'm ready to get back in the ring. But first, a few administrative details:

Win Answerman's Stuff is on hiatus until further notice. Yeah, yeah, I know you're all very disappointed, but we just have too many upcoming contests here to bother with it for the time being. Rest assured, it will return, I just can't say when.

And now, without further ado...

i like to watch naruto on cartoon network and sometimes i miss an episode and if that happens i watch it on you tube because to watch the rerun i would have to wait next saturday. Is it legal to watch it on you tube.

Er, technically it isn't legal to watch it on YouTube but that's YouTube's problem, not yours. As a site, they have some pretty serious problems managing unauthorized content there and there have been some pretty big problems regarding fansubs and licensed series being posted there (often in full). Cartoon Network or Viz will have to go after them in order to get them to yank the content.

There's been a big debate regarding YouTube and the many problems therein lately; I won't get into it all here, but suffice to say, expect to see either a major lawsuit or some pretty gigantic changes happening at that site in the near future. As with everything on the internet, we can't have anything nice at all; people will go out of their way to circumvent whatever rules exist or whatever honor system is in place, and it's virtually impossible to effectively police it. I'm not sure what they plan on doing to fix the problem, but it'll probably happen within the next 6 months to a year or so.

hay I was just wondering if there's a possibility that there will be more episodes of Tattoon Master in the future.

I know that it's been awhile but they just came out with the OAV it on DVD, and I have been looking everywhere to find if more are being made.

While I can't definitively say that there will be no more Tattoon Master since I don't know what's happening in boardrooms across Japan, I can give you an educated opinion.

Basically the odds that there will be more episodes of Tattoon Master are less than the odds that we'll have peace in the middle east by Christmastime. The show is old and basically forgotten (although Media Blasters did recently release it on DVD), and was never popular in the first place; it's just an old OVA. That's it.

Is it true that first week sales are often indicative of the overall performance of a product?  What I am referencing is a rather major mainstream DVD release, but I was wondering if the principle still stands.  Thank you.

Yes, first week sales are often indicative of a title's overall performance; most studios point to first-week sales as a very strong indicator of the popularity of a certain product, kinda like box office numbers. Sometimes, as it happens, you get something with strong legs, meaning it debuts OK and then goes on to make much more than that due to a steady rate of returns that don't suffer a massive drop each week. For instance, take Titanic; the film grossed only like $21 million in its opening frame, but obviously went on to make more than $600 million domestically. Opening week numbers are not the be-all end-all, but they are important, and in the case of most mainstream DVD releases, they are considered very important. A good example of an anime that has completely blown away first week sales is Funimation's Fruits Basket, which never made it very high on the sales charts, but has continued to sell reasonably well ever since it was released, long after most anime completely fade from the market.

Here's an interesting question. There's no way of denying it, but the general level of quality anime seems to have dropped over the last year. Western distributers are plugging a lot of re-releases of existing material, and quite a lot of the new aquisitions that can honestly be called high quality (Barefoot Gen, Gundam Seed, Samurai 7) are either classics that were produced almost a decade ago, or remakes of other classics.
In part, I think that this is mostly due to something of a lack of truly noteworthy anime that's being produced. At the moment, Naruto wins a lot of fans over here, as does Bleach, and I'm enjoying Monster. But there doesn't seem to be much in the way of the 'big classic' series that we all know and love (Cowboy Bebop, Kenshin, Witch Hunter Robin, and even the much overhyped Evangelion).
What are your thoughts? Are we presently in the middle of merely a dry spell, waiting for a new 'big thing' to re-infuse the industry with some real creative spirit? Or could the animation mileau have finally hit the point where there's no good stories left to tell?

Hold on just a second there. I'm pretty sure there is a way to deny that the general quality of anime has dropped over the years; in fact, I'll deny it right now!

I became an anime fan back in the mid-late 90's when shows like Fushigi Yuugi and Escaflowne and Cowboy Bebop and Evangelion were all the rage, and as the years have worn on, all of those series have become "classics", shows most people look back on as great examples of what anime can be.

Problem was, back then we only got the good stuff. Now we get everything, and to make matters more complicated, they're producing more anime than ever before.

Think about it this way; it's as if in previous years the only American shows Japan got were Lost, Battlestar Galactica and The Sopranos. They'd probably think that American TV is all very high-quality and that these instant classics are what to expect from them in the future. As years went on, more and more was being imported, so now they were getting Lost, Battlestar Galactica, The Sopranos... and also Dancing with the Stars and Two and a Half Men. It isn't that the programming got worse or that the new shows were all terrible and that no more classics were being produced, it's that now they're seeing everything, and like most things, 90 percent of it is crap.

I can point to at least 2 or 3 recent shows - like Fullmetal Alchemist, Gankutsuou, and even Beck - that are all at least as good as the stuff we were getting back in the day. There was never a golden age where the majority of anime being produced was instant-classic material; it's just that we're being exposed to more and more of it, especially with fansubs. So take heart - we're not in a "dry spell", you just need to be careful with what you watch.

Here's this week's rant, courtesy of Grant Goodmorrow. 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.

In a recent Hey, Answerman! column on ANN, Zac spoke about the recent increase in visibility of lolicon porn and its very boisterous followers.  He said something to the effect of, "Dammit, we've come too far in defeating stereotypes of anime to have these tools screw it up for us."

But have we really?  Sure, a plethora of anime in almost every genre are getting licensed anymore, but what percentage of those ever make it in front of people who aren't already fans?  Of all the titles licensed in the past couple years, here are the shows that have made it or will soon debut on TV: Bleach, Trinity Blood, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist, Samurai Champloo.  If you look at the lineup on Adult Swim, you'll see that all the action shows are from Japan, and all the comedies save one (Crayon Shin-chan) are from the US.

Where are shows like Kiminozo or Paradise Kiss?  What about Kodocha or Genshiken?  Aren't the networks showing what amounts to little more than updates of Dragon Ball Z, YuYu Hakusho, Trigun, Robotech, Cowboy Bebop and the rest?  For as much as people talk about the mainstreaming of anime, it sure seems like we're just getting more of the same.  I give hats off to Viz for doing the Shoujo Beat anthology, to ADV for launching The Anime Network and to the companies that are brave enough to license shoujo anime.  Good for you.  I'd LIKE to give hats off to a basic cable network that grows enough stones to see how something besides shonen anime would do on the air

We can talk all day about how far we've come since the days of multi-generation-old VHS fansubs, but that's only within the anime community.  There's still a long way to go in dispelling the myths and stereotypes of anime to the general public, mostly because the networks haven't bothered to branch out.  I suppose one can't really blame them, as those are the types of shows that have sold well in the past.  Until someone rolls the dice with a completely different type of show, I have a feeling all we'll ever see on regular cable will be more action.

But still I wonder, what's the difference between an anime like Honey & Clover and a show like Grey's Anatomy?  You've got a ton of characters involved in a ton of love triangles, every day life that's been amplified juuuuust the slightest little bit and great alt/indie rock as the soundtrack.  What? Is? The? Difference?  The obvious thing to say is that one is animated and the other is not, which-in the eyes of most people-equates to kids versus adults.  But really, if it were Calista Flockheart instead of a Japanese voice actress playing the role of Yamada in Honey & Clover, wouldn't everyone be raving?

Whew. So what do you think? Does Grant 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 next installment!

That's all for this week. See you next time!

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