Hey, Answerman!by Zac Bertschy, Nov 24th 2006
Ahhh, Black Friday. When man turns to beast and slays his brethren for a chance at $200 laptops and $4 DVDs. I don't know anyone who goes out on Black Friday with the intent of actually buying Christmas gifts; most everyone I know goes out to buy things for themselves or to stock up on something and resell it. Hell, I know I've done that a few times.
It is pretty miserable out there though, so if you decide to go shopping today, bring a bat and maybe some armor with you. You'll need to to fight off the little old ladies bum-rushing Sears at 7am.
You know, TV shows with well-written, nuanced social commentary are my favorite kind (which is probably why Battlestar Galactica is my favorite show). While I don't think Ghost in the Shell (or any anime for that matter... at least not any that I've seen) gets anywhere near being as excellently written or relevant as BSG, there are still a lot of great themes in there and plenty of stuff that makes you think.
Problem is, there just aren't a lot of shows like that out there. Anime is a lot like American film and television in that when it comes to conveying socially or politically-charged themes, they're either nonexistant or they beat you over the head with them like a baseball bat. Take a look at any one of Miyazaki's films; if there's a message in there, by god you will know what it is by the end, because odds are he'll spend 2 and a half hours telling you in the most obvious way possible. Don't get me wrong - obviously he is a master storyteller, but watch Princess Mononoke and tell me he isn't being at least a little heavy-handed with his message. Hell, his colleague at Ghibli, Isao Takahata, directed probably the most ridiculously over-the-top eco-movie ever, Pom Poko Tanuki. That movie is like 8 hours long and every second of it are designed to tell you that the ENVIRONMENT IS IMPORTANT, WEEP FOR THE TANUKI!
That said, there's at least one show I can recommend, and that would be the last 2/3rds of Fullmetal Alchemist. Obviously you need to watch the first third, but it's mostly setup and will feel a lot like a standard shonen action show, but once it gets into the oppression of Ishbal (not to mention the heavy religious themes) you really start to see how relevant the show is.
I'm sure our forum members will suggest a mountain of other shows like this (and then argue with one another for eight or nine pages) so make sure you check the talkback section for more recommendations.
what is a "graphic novel"?
is there a difference between manga and graphic novels?
A graphic novel is a fancy word for comic book that people use when they want to sound like they're talking about something legitimate and adult. "Comic book" sounds like it's for kids, "graphic novel" doesn't. Frankly I like the phrase; there are so many great comics out there that people dismiss out of hand the second you say "comic book". If calling them "graphic novels" gets adults to read them, great.
As for your second question, personally, I don't think there is a "difference". They're both comic books. Manga are graphic novels from Japan. That's pretty much it.
Countdown until I get 2,000 emails from picky fans explaining why I'm wrong on that one.
I'm with you there; I'm a fan of all forms of animation, from Disney to CG to experimental stuff. I've always been fascinated by it, and as I grew older my appreciation for cartoons turned into a love for the art form, and now I consider myself a hobbyist (when it comes to non-anime stuff).
In terms of the "state of animation and manga" I personally think we're in a really great spot right now. Animation for adults has been massively popularized by programming like Adult Swim and even most CG family flicks strive to appeal to both children and adults. Sure, we could be seeing R-rated, serious, dramatic animated films aimed at adults in theaters but I'll take what I can get for now; frankly I don't need animation to emulate live-action dramas, nor do I think it needs to in order to be 'legitimate'.
Furthermore, if you're looking for "mature" animation geared at adults, and you're already an anime fan, then what's the problem? Odds are you're getting mountains of it already just by watching anime.
Hey Answerman! Do you get free anime DVDs because you're a writer? How cool is that?!
I do get anime DVDs in the mail, and I don't pay for them, but they are not free. Nothing is free. Except free samples at the grocery store, and even then sometimes you pay for it later (albeit gastrointestinally).
When I get an anime DVD in the mail from some company, it's my responsibility to make sure we use it for the website; nine times out of ten that means I wind up mailing it out to the critic that's going to review it, and maybe 10 percent of the time I'll review it myself. Sometimes I'll review something and then give it away as a prize in a site contest, and sometimes they wind up in a big box that I take to Anime Expo every year, where they're given away as prizes to the folks who show up at our panel. Regardless of what happens to them in the end, they have to be covered on the site. That's how it works. And usually it involves at the very least a trip to the post office (and cracking the whip over one of our critics) or sitting down and cranking out 1200 words on the title myself. Any way you slice it, those DVDs ain't free.
A lot of reviewers out there get "comps", which is what we in the industry refer to screener copies as, and as I said, they are not "free". There's an expectation between the company providing the screener and the critic/website/publication that the screener will be covered in some fashion on the site. It's not like they're just handing over free stuff, no strings attached.
So before you decide to pursue employment as an anime critic, remember; you do get anime DVDs in the mail that were "free", but oh, you WILL pay for them. And if you don't, you won't be getting anything more and likely whoever hired you on will cut you loose pretty quickly.
You know, questions like these, "I saw this one show this one time about this one thing, please tell me the name of the show and where I can buy it thanks!" are perhaps my least favorite questions. When someone can't even write literate sentences and can't bother to even make sense, that's when I get cranky.
This girl's brilliant prose and elegant style are making it much, much easier for me to identify what the hell she's talking about.
I'm looking for a disc like the discription I wrote............................
It's this show where a girl who doesn't like her power and her cousin is happy that she got her power and are here to protect the city from danger. The girl loves this guy who is trying so hard to be famous and suddenly the company saw there music great. Not only that the girl likes him but it was almost time for the war to begin. no one can see them because they are invisiable.
Please write back to tell me if you know the title for this tv show!
Perhaps this will soothe my aching soul.
There, that's better.
After reading the rants for a couple of weeks, I decided to bring a certain issue that has been bothering me for awhile. For years, I have seen countless people talk about anime. The problem is...they talk mostly about popular fighting anime series that can be watched in either Cartoon Network or YTV. Naruto, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Trigun, Fullmetal Alchemist, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Rurouni Kenshin are just couple of examples. I have nothing against the animes I have listed. They are all very good. What really bothers me is that why do people always talk about fighting anime when there are other good animes from different genres.
All I hear is fighting, fighting and more fighting. Ever since Dragonball Z aired in North America, people seem to have an excess demand for fighting anime. For example, Cartoon Network announced that one of their new animes for Adult swim at Fall 2006 will be Bleach.
Is it because of ratings? I guess TV companies are afraid to take chances and just go with what works. After all, if it isn't broken, don't fix it.
Is it because of the culture differences? Sure, that seems to be a reasonable argument. If that is true though, how come there aren't other animes being shown that suits our taste? The only anime I can remember that didn't have actual constant fighting that aired in Adult Swim and YTV was Witch Hunter Robin. Ever since that anime aired, I haven't seen anything that remotely relates to other popular genres that dominates North America. ( i.e. Mystery, Humor, Drama, etc. etc.)
Is it because people see anime purely as entertainment? In most cases, the majority would go with that argument. I always wonder how people would react if they watched Honey and Clover in Adult Swim or YTV, an anime that tackles on real issues that deals with loneliness, self-discovery, and peer-pressure. Wouldn't you say this is an anime that would have an impact on adolescent teens or university students? NANA is another show takes the same approach as H & C.
Is it because of bad production and irresponsibility of American companies? Just look what happen recently with Pokemon. In one of ANN's special report, Chris explains how poor dubbing can irritate even hardcore fans who have been following the franchise from the beginning. More importantly, let's not forget the CMX and Tenjou Tenge controversy.
Is it because of censorship, FCC and CRTC (For Canada)? For those of you who don't know, Nevanna completely ruined Card Captor Sakura with revised script writing and horrible editing (revised it because they believe that Shaoran and Sakura's relationship seemed highly inappropriate). You can't just slap something together half heartedly and hope that fans will accept it. That is totally unacceptable. This can also tie to culture differences since Japan is more tolerant and disciplined than North America. However, Japan can be pretty brutal if you step over the line. In Canada, it took a couple of years for anime to actual start appearing in YTV. In the early years, Canadians choices were to either watch Spongebob Squarepants on TV for free or rent/buy anime dvds online from distributors.
It can be a combination of all the reasons I have listed. Cartoon Network and YTV can do a better job if they are willing to expand or make chances.
The point is that it wouldn't kill people to actual try watching other genres of anime. Why is it that many people seem to reject things that aren't mainstream or very popular? Does it have to air in YTV, Nickelodeon or Adult Swim in order for people to like it? All I'm saying is that with a little research and effort, you could actually find other animes (besides fighting) that can be entertaining. It's not like there is anythng good on TV. I mean, when is the last time you watch anything decent on TV? TV programming became so sluggish that I don't watch TV as much that I used to. (Scrubs, Sports programs, The Daily Show, The Colbert Repor and the Fox Sunday Lineup. ----> That's all I watch now.). I'm starting to get sick and tired of being the only one who wants to talk about anime shows that doesn't involve fighting.
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.
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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. Have a great Thanksgiving weekend!
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