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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

You know, I understand WHY the videogame industry holds all their A+ titles until the end of the year; the holidays are coming around and they want their biggest, best games to hit right when people are launching into a sweat-drenched spending spree. But is it too much to ask that they release one or two of these A+ titles in the summertime or - gasp - the spring? As it is, there are no less than like 8 videogames out right now I'd love to sit down and actually finish, but for crap's sake, where am I going to find the time for all of them?

Recently though I dropped everything I was playing to check out Valkyrie Profile 2 for the PS2, and even though I'm only a few hours in, I can say this is a really entertaining RPG, even though the characters strangely resemble Dollfies. It has a really solid dub, probably one of the best I've heard in a videogame since Metal Gear Solid 3.

Anyway, let's get on with it.

As an anime fan, I am an anomaly, as I am a housewife in my mid 40's.  I discovered anime pretty late in life, when I bought a copy of "Spirited Away" for my kids to watch, and I became hooked on Japanese animation.  I've watched a variety of shows over the past four years, and for some shows I can't help but wonder who is the intended audience.  For example, I think that "Honey and Clover" would appeal to adults of any age. And while "Bokura ga Ita" probably appeals to teens, the subject matter is pretty mature (maybe best for an adult to watch and discuss with their teenage child).

So who watches anime in Japan?  Who reads manga?  All ages, or is it like the US where (I assume) most fans are preteens for the young stuff (Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh! etc.) and teens/ twenties for the rest?  (I'm referring to mainstream shows here; hentai is not an interest of mine.)

Interesting question but difficult to answer, really.

In terms of manga, it's extremely widespread in Japan; there's no social stigma attached to it, and as has been said many times before, it's postulated that manga is more popular than television there. There are manga aimed at almost every conceivable demographic, from toddlers to seniors to housewives to college kids, and generally, it works the same way it works here. Take for example something like One Piece; primarily it's kids and younger teenagers reading, but the series has a crossover audience with college kids and adults, as well. There's no hard and fast rule that "only girls read Ouran High School Host Club", even though that's the target demo.

Anime is kind of a different beast; only Miyazaki films are really considered mass mainstream events, outside of gigantic Shonen Jump properties like Naruto or Bleach. Anime on television is primarily aimed at either children, teenagers or college students, and most of the shows aimed at the latter are aired after midnight. There are a few exceptions though; a show called Sazae-san has been attracting major prime-time ratings for over 30 years now.

There's a huge otaku market in Japan, and this is the primary audience for anime there, outside of children. Granted, anime is far less niche in Japan than it is here; it isn't considered foreign or exotic, it's just a part of everyday life.

So when's the Naruto filler ending? Just kidding. So, a few years back,  Synch-Point acquired the rights to Tenshi ni Narumon (or "I'm Gonna Be An Angel!"). For a show with a harem anime premise (Guy falls on naked girl, who proclaims his love for him) the show was  funny charming and creative, not to mention, had what had to be the most awesome  anime-family ever.

Synch-Point released two volumes of this show around 2001/2002 and suddenly stopped. The show all but faded into obscurity. So what happened here? Bad sales? Did Synch-Point get over-whelmed with the work they'd done for FLCL? Did they loose the rights for it? I was always disappointed that I wasn't able to watch the rest of it.

Synch-Point has gone back and forth on this one a few times; they get asked about it at every convention and they always kinda hem and haw and don't really say much aside from the fact that they "want" to release it but apparently the company is extremely small and only has the capacity to release maybe 1-2 discs per year, and since Tennimon never sold very well at all, it's a pretty low priority. To my knowledge, they still have the rights to the series, and hell, who knows, they might release the rest of it one day. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

I vaguely remember an interview with some dub voice actors, which said that recording sessions generally happened alone. If you were able to record alongside another actor in a scene, it was very nice (and typically indicative of a higher budget), but that usually, all you were given is a voicetrack to act with.  Is this still the case in the dubbing industry?  It seems really sad that dubbing companies can't facilitate simultaneous recording sessions.  How can there be any chemistry between actors when all the chemicals are kept in separate test tubes?
You might be surprised to hear that this is the case with standard American voice recording, as well.

It isn't a matter of being "sad" or that they can't afford it or something, it's entirely a matter of scheduling. Actors are very busy people most of the time and it's virtually impossible to get them in the same place at the same time at the right time in the recording schedule to allow them to record together. Hell, on animated movies like Monsters, Inc and other Disney/Pixar flicks, they talk about how it's a really big deal when they can get two actors in the booth at the same time. They recognize that the chemistry is better, but thanks to the actors' busy schedules (and the production schedule itself), it's rarely possible.

It isn't just about the Anime dub industry; almost all voiceover work is recorded like that. It's just the way things are.

Hey Answerman, I have a question. Why is it that Marvel (the american comic book company) and so many other anime companies feel the need to saturate the market with bad animation? Recently I caught the latest episode of Fantastic 4 the show and I was apalled at the poor quality that had gone into it. There was Lazy background work, character design was very shifty the whole time and dialogue was just all around bad. I see lots of animation like this that is main stream though. Another example would be Samurai Deeper Kyo, I liked the manga, but everything in the anime was poorly done and anti-climatic. The list of bad animation goes on; Trinity Blood, Baki Grappler, about half the Gundam series, Dragon Ball Z and GT, and many more. I am not saying these shows have bad stories or bad ideas, but If they cant put up a show with quality animation and writing then why is it even made?

First of all, I think you're being a little unfair. Many of the shows you mentioned have pretty standard animation for when they were created, and that new Fantastic Four cartoon is about on par with other recent Marvel animated shows. It's not perfect, but it isn't terrible, either.

I'm not really sure what it is you're expecting from animated television shows; normally they're produced on small budgets, and that shows in the animation. Hell, it isn't all that different from live-action TV; you can tell when a show is low-budget based on the sets they use, the lighting they have and even the scripts. You can't expect a masterpiece every time you sit down in front of the tube, and expecting every show you watch to have theatrical-quality animation is just ignorant. There are shows out there that get close to it - massively budgeted titles like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, but the vast majority of anime is created on a much tighter budget, and it shows in the animation.

Animation quality is only one of many things that make a show, though, and I fear you're putting too much emphasis on it. By your logic, if you have a stellar script but a low animation budget, you should just can the whole project because it won't be flashy or fluid enough. Personally, I enjoy a show more for the story than the animation quality; if the show has great animation, that's a nice bonus, but these days anime directors are getting more and more creative with how to deal with a small budget, and they're getting more clever at covering up shortcuts in the animation.

So I think you're expecting too much and being a little too judgemental. There's more to anime than just flashy animation.

I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate questions like these.

Doing a Powerpoint Presentation on Anime/Manga for my computer class!  What
I need is a listing of all types; Action, sci-fi, horror, etc.

You know what? Sure! Let me do your homework for you! Here are all the types of anime:

1. violent porn
2. rape porn
3. kiddy porn

And that's it! You're sure to get an A+ for this!

Here's this week's rant, courtesy of "Cave", in response to last week's rant by Herb Kirchoff . 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 is in response to last week's rant concerning how Bleachtards were whining about the dub before it came out.

Well, now it has come out, so I guess this gives the right for all fans to take up arms against it. As an outspoken critic of Viz, I'll gladly go into the reasons why I like and dislike the dub of Bleach.

First, there are many good aspects of the dub. One is the voices themselves. They fit the characters relatively well, even not being exact replicas of the originals themselves. For the most part, the acting is pretty well done.

That is an absolutely great thing in American dubs. Bleachtards are more than lucky to see that their favorite show got Special Treatment. Not all fans were as lucky. As in my favorite series, Prince of Tennis, done by Viz also. So the fans should at least be happy with the voices. Sure, not everyone is perfect, but there will never be an absolutely perfect dub.

In the rant, there's also talk about the translation itself. This is where a lot of what I dislike about Bleach, and Viz in general, comes into play. In my experience in reading Viz Manga, one thing they seem to forget about is 'consistency'. In a recent issue of Shonen Jump, they mentioned Bleach and couldn't decide if they were 'shinigami' or 'soul reapers'. If they don't mind using the Japanese word, why even change it?

I was just getting used to and accepting of the 'soul reaper' term. It actually made sense for them to use it. It was consistent with everything else death related - soul reaper, Soul Society, soul slayer, etc. Then I'm watching the dub and what do I hear?


...Waitwait, I thought we were trying to make a theme here. Soul reaper... Soul Society... zanpakutou?! Please, decide. Are we using the original Japanese terms or translating them? What criteria is given for the words that can remain in Japanese and those that must be translated? Why must shinigami be translated, but zanpakutou is okay? It's inconsistent and will only CONFUSE fans. Something Viz tends to have a knack for, it seems.

And lucky Bleach fans are getting a taste of the wonderful Prince of Tennis Americanizations! I just watched episode 3 last night and there goes Ichigo, calling Inoue by her first name. And godforbid Inoue show her brother some respect and call him brother at all times! And Ichigo's sisters. They don't need to show Ichigo any respect whatsoever and call him Ichi-bro or the like.

Respect is very important in Japanese culture and I can only frown when Viz decides to take that out as they have in Prince of Tennis, Hikaru no Go, and now Bleach.

I have no doubt that Viz went and took time and effort to create a completely comprehensive dub. However, they still lack in many areas. I mean, these things are beyond obvious. One has to go out of their way to edit the script and make changes, and the changes are just plain old completely unnecessary. There's just no point and it saddens me when people approach me saying Viz is the best when it comes to translation. Maybe their translations are fine, but their edits are horrible and that's all Viz does - edit, edit, edit.

I just know you would never see Tokyopop or Del Rey doing this.

Whew. So what do you think? Does "Cave" 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!

No contest this week; please check out our Naruto: Director's Chair contest. See you next week!

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