Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

There comes a time in every nerd's life when he decides whether or not he's too old to still be standing in long lines for product launches or midnight movie releases.

The last time I waited in a really long line for many hours to see a movie at its midnight release was back in 2005, for Star Wars Episode III. I decided after that that I was done waiting in impossibly long and endless lines for hours on end.

And now I find myself planning out how many hours I'm going to wait in line next Sunday to get a Nintendo Wii. I guess old habits die hard.

I was wondering what the average number of copies were that needed to be sold in order for a title it to be considered successful, or at least not end up putting the company in "the red".  For example, in one of your earlier your columns you mentioned that one of my favorite series, Princess Tutu, almost "didn't make it" and really needed fan support to keep the releases going.  Blockbuster titles like Naruto aside, I was wondering, on average, how many copies of dvds need to be sold in order for a company to consider a title a successful release.  I know there must be a lot of factors involved, like if a company adds a dub and how much the license cost, but still, is there some sort of general figure floating around out there?

The's really no magic number nor is there an "average unit sales for success" for almost any release. It depends entirely on the production and licensing costs for each individual titles. For example, I'm sure Super Gals season 2 needs to sell far fewer copies than, say, Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid to break even or head into the black. Bear in mind also that this is simply somewhat-informed speculation on my part; the anime industry keeps actual sales figures very close to their collective chests and it's almost impossible to get any kind of substantial sales data.

could you tell me where I can purchase subbed version of Tsubasa Chronicle. I'm having trouble finding it subbed. Please reply.

Yeah, sure, you can buy it when Funimation releases it in 2007. There's no firm release date yet (that I could find) but it is coming out.

Some pretty short answers this week, eh? Let's fix that.

I went to my first anime con a few weeks ago and i was a little surprised to see that the cosplayers werent just from anime - there were video games and movies like pirates of the caribbean and even like, people dressed up as jokes from the internet.

What is up with that? it's an anime convention!!

This is actually not a new phenomenon, but it did start after I went to my first convention.

It has a lot to do with the notion of a "group identity" and the fact that anime fandom has experienced the boom it has primarily due to explosive growth on the internet. Basically, you have a bunch of nerds who like anime who find other nerds online who also like anime. They form a community, they share in-jokes, they develop an entire group identity and they become a cohesive (if not totally comprehensible) group.

Over the years this group has gotten bigger and bigger and since most of the people in it can be classified as having similar tastes - meaning most people you meet at an anime convention will also be playing similar video games and watching certain movies - you're going to see a mixture of genres and mediums at an anime convention because the people dressing up as Strong Bad and Captain Jack Sparrow know their costumes will be appreciated by the nerds at an anime convention.

It's gotten even more insular lately with the incredible community growth you see on internet message boards, so now we have people who cosplay as internet memes, like Chuck Norris or Snakes on a Plane; they do it for the same reason people dress up as popular movie characters. They know the people in attendance will "get it" and they'll be appreciated, so you get this cross-pollinating of genres and mediums when it comes to cosplayers at anime conventions.

To be totally honest, the movie costumes - like Darth Vader or Jack Sparrow - don't phase me at all. The "internet joke" costumes on the other hand make me roll my eyes. Normally it's because people are dressing up like the O RLY owl or Chuck Norris months and months and in some cases years after what they're cosplaying as has ceased to be funny or amusing or even relevant. If it's one thing that gets to me about nerd culture on the internet it's that there are hordes of people for whom repetitive humor and catchphrases seem to be the highest form of comedy. What this results in is people repeating the same joke over and over and over again, beating it into the ground year after year, and still patting themselves on the back for being Komedy Kaptains after repeating some tired old internet catchphrase for the 9 millionth time. If they weren't doing it specifically to look like they're the "wacky" guy I wouldn't have a problem with it, but it's like someone showing up in a "Where's the Beef?!" or "Don't have a cow, man!" costume. Yeah, man, that is the height of comedy right there.

I mean, if you're sitting on your living room floor making an All Your Base Are Belong To Us costume, stop and think - how old and tired is this joke? Do you really still think people are going to yuk it up at how clever you are for repeating it in 2006? The answer is "no".

I know it might sound a little snobbish, but some anime cons these days seem to be more "internet culture" cons than actual anime conventions. The people who attend cons by and large spend a hell of a lot of time on the internet and it really shows, especially at larger cons like Otakon. It's not the end of the world, and I'm all for community growth and expansion, but the internet stuff gets a little tiresome when you're there for the anime.

But hey, if that's the way anime fandom is going, then we'd better get used to it.

Speaking of anime conventions...

For the last few years I have been attending Anime Boston; it was the first and, so far, the only convention I've been to.  The first years I attended were fun and exciting, as I was exposed to the American actors and producers for the first time and got to see tons of new anime series I had never heard about in the viewing rooms.  However, the last couple of years I've come away from the con with less of that jazzed-up feeling.  I have recently moved to a new city and will be attending a new con later this month, so now I won't even have a group of friends to pal around with while I'm there.  I was wondering if you'd have any suggestions for getting over this "hump" of lowered expectations fans can get after they become acclimated to the con experience and for finding new ways to experience a con.  For this year it's too late to volunteer to work at the con, so what would you suggest are ways to re-engage with a convention as an attendee?  How can a fan more fully (and politely) interact with anime distributors, producers, and actors rather than attending cookie-cutter panels where the same questions are asked over and over again?  Are there overlooked aspects of cons that fans who have only recently passed the newbie faze don't take advantage of?

Well, like anything else, anime conventions as an experience are going to get pretty stale after you've been enough times. If you ride the same roller coaster 900 times, you will eventually get sick and tired of riding that roller coaster.

A lot of fans these days experience con fatigue or boredom, and it's hard to blame 'em; by and large the con experience doesn't change all that much. They might have new events or an exciting guest, but you're still gonna be sitting in on panels, waiting in line for autographs, shopping in the dealer's room, watching movie premieres and drinking heavily late at night. The convention climaxes with the Masquerade and then everyone kinda waits to go home after that.

That isn't to say that anime cons have some bizarro responsibility to reinvent themselves every year; con attendance has been on a steady uphill climb for years and years and years with no end in sight, so obviously they're bringing in plenty of fresh meat and repeat business. It is what it is, but you can only go so many times in a row before you realize "Hm, these are basically all the same with few differences and I've experienced this 10 times before... it's getting kinda boring!".

That said, I'm not sure how much advice I can really offer you in terms of spicing up your routine convention experience. Most people go with a group of friends and yeah, it's the same every year, but you're relaxing and hanging out with friends, which is probably more fun at an anime convention than it is in some guy's apartment or at someone's mom's house. It's the social interaction that happens at conventions that keeps people coming back again and again, and long after the thrill of seeing your favorite anime director in person or buying Japan-only trinkets in the dealer's room has worn off, you'll keep going back to see your friends.

As for interacting "more" with directors and producers, what you see at an anime con is what you're gonna get unless you decide to try and get a job working in the industry somehow, which is a good way to experience a convention in a totally different way (but also one that saps the fun right out of it because you're working!).
In terms of activities most people don't take advantage of, your mileage at any given anime convention will vary based on your interests. If you find yourself bored with voice actor panels, go watch a fan-run panel about modeling or manga writing or those creepy Japanese socket dolls with the haunting, soulless eyes. You might pick up a new interest and make some new friends, and in the meantime, expand your convention experience in a meaningful and fun way.

Let me help you with your fansub problem, my lad!

Hello mr. Answerman, when do naruto the real shit start again? :D

Unfortunately never. They leaked a plot outline for the next arc of Naruto episodes, that will run well into 2010, and mostly they involve Naruto opening up a used car dealership and going into debt. It all seemed pretty uninteresting to me, but hey, I bet the Naruto fans will love it!


Oh, I just can't get enough of these cats with headphones on.

Here's this week's rant, courtesy of James Clark. 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.

My Rant has to do with Censorship, Editing, and overall Americanization. Over the past few months I have become irritated with the American distributors of Anime and Manga. Not too long ago I started reading the Manga Basilisk. I was intrigued by the story and art, but one thing that really stood out in my mind was the use of honorifics. I was intrigued because most other manga I've read and anime I've watched in English, they eliminate 95% of the honorifics with some exceptions. With every honorific intact I believe the manga's tone is a lot different than it would have been. Simply by attaching -Dono to Oboro it expressed the respect and high esteem she was kept in despite other things the characters may have said. Without this tone I believe I would enjoy the manga less and it got me to thinking about other changes and edits that take away from the overall enjoyment of anime and manga.

Basilisk is very graphic in ways of blood and human nudity. While it has more style than Berserk which consists of only "Blood and Boobs," it is something that most people will not be exposed to. The relative lack of censorship pleased me, but also had me wondering about other favorites of mine and how they are edited. I can't read any Japanese language and my mastery of the language is limited to some nouns and verbs. Because of this I am a slave to manga and anime distributors and scanilators.

A link on ANN alerted me to a change in volume 8 of the fullmetal alchemist manga, changing the cross Greed was on to a rounded slab. While I understand the reason behind the edit, I am very annoyed with it. The cross is a powerful image and that imagery is completely lost with a random slab. If manga like Berserk and Basilisk can be released in America with little to no change at all, why cant series like Fullmetal Alchemist? Fullmetal Alchemist is not a kid's show and its audience should be old enough and mature enough to handle seeing a cross. The same can be said for Naruto, which is wrongfully being aimed at younger viewers. I wonder how they will censor out the cross Kakashi is crucified on while under Itachi's assault.

I myself am a mediocre artist, and mediocre artist, but I still appreciate the good story and artwork of Manga and Anime more than most and it makes me sick to see this media, this art form, censored just because of cultural barriers. When you look at pieces of artwork like Reuben's or Picasso and see graphic and grotesque images, they aren't censored by edits; they are viewed like they are meant to be. That's why I sometimes prefer scanillations to American release just because of the unedited art even if the language translation can be less than coherent. It isn't even the most graphic anime and manga either. Berserk and Basilisk are to my knowledge completely intact. Yet the "mild" anime and manga are often the victims of the most editing.

Whew. So what do you think? Do they 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!

We're still on hiatus, sipping Margaritas and watching the sunrise atop a giant pile of anime DVDs we refuse to give away. See you next week!

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