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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

You know, coming up with an intro is the hardest part of writing this column.

So this week, I'm not even gonna bother! Let's get on with it, shall we?

I was wandering how long does it take for a series to be released in a box-set/ thinpack. I know it cannot be released too soon after the release of the final volume, but is there any time limit at all?
For example, I'm interested in purchasing Gankutsuou and when I contacted
therightstuf.com I was informed that they currently have no information of a future release of such box-set.

I'm actually starting to get a little tired of hearing every single anime fan on the internet go on and on about how they're always going to "wait for the box set".

I get that people like to save money. I understand that. I also get that it isn't our job to pay as much as possible for anime. Nobody wants to do that.

But I'm not sure where people get the idea that somehow, box sets are ALWAYS this magic ticket toward super savings that are released as quickly as possible after the final single volume comes out. They aren't. And believe it or not, if you really like a show, the best way to show your support is to buy the singles. I don't know why everyone also seems to think that buying the singles as they come out is a horrifying money sink that will drain your bank account instantaneously; folks, they aren't that expensive if you shop smart. Take advantage of Right Stuf deals and Deep Discount DVD and not only will you actually be able to watch the show as it comes out, you'll be getting all the nifty limited edition pack-in items and extra stuff that tends to come with the single releases. And it really won't cost you much more than the collected box set later (unless you're buying something that was relatively unpopular and/or 2-3+ years old).

Plus, it's a lot healthier for the industry. Besides which, if you paid attention to Geneon's box set strategy, generally they only do boxes for popular shows like Trigun or Samurai Champloo or even Texhnolyze that are collected versions of the singles releases and you don't save much. Hell, the Champloo box was what, $200? Gankutsuou - which just now barely finished its release here in the US - would more than likely be collected like that. You're not going to get the cheapskate thinpak for at least another year.

Also, there is no set time as to when a thinpak or box set comes out. It's different for every title out there, and it's different for every company. Initially they were releasing cheaper box sets almost immediately after the last volume came out, and now most companies have stopped that practice to promote people buying
the single release.

I mean, hey, do what you like - but I'm a little sick of hearing about how everyone is always going to wait for the box set. If everyone actually did that, we'd see a whole hell of a lot less anime coming out here (and we're already seeing less and less since the early 00's).

Hey answerman - i've been an anime fan for like 10 years now, and i started out in the mid-90's with stuff like ninja scroll and akira and all that super-violent stuff like Fist of the North Star. Back then i loved all that stuff, and now a decade later i find i don't really like the super-violent stuff anymoere. I mean, I still like some of it, but nowadays I watch more drama and stuff I don't think I would have liked in 1996. is this a common thing for anime fans? My taste has changed almost completely!

Yeah, actually, I think it is really common.

I've been an anime fan since around '96-'97 like you, and when I started out, there was nothing in the world that was better to me than Tenchi Muyo.

Yeah, believe it or not, I thought Tenchi was the greatest thing I'd ever seen. I bought the TV show as it came out on VHS and saw the OVAs and the movies and bought one of those then-ubiquitous Cabbit dolls and had soundtracks and posters and all of it.

Nowadays I pretty much can't stand Tenchi at all. It was the grandfather of all those godawful harem shows and it succumbs to most of those cliches still. I mean, I still kinda enjoy the show for purely nostalgic reasons, but I couldn't get through even 15 minutes of that new OVA that's coming out now; it's all just so familiar and played out.

Come to think of it, back then I almost exclusively liked shonen or shojo romance stories; I watched Marmalade Boy on crappy 3rd-gen VHS tapes, as well as Kimagure Orange Road and Fushigi Yuugi. The only adventure show I really liked was Escaflowne, and that's got a shojo bent to it as well. To this day the only one of those I can rewatch is Escaflowne; stuff like KOR or Marmalade Boy just send me right into a coma. And Fushigi Yuugi, which I used to think was really a sincerely great show, is now something I laugh at because it's so ridiculous and (in my opinion) poorly-written.

As the years went on, and anime became my job in addition to my hobby, my tastes changed almost completely. Nowadays I prefer darker stuff aimed at adults - Hellsing is my favorite, with stuff like Berserk and even ridiculous stuff like the Tenjo Tenge manga capturing my attention. I get squirmy during drawn-out shojo dramas and harem stuff like Love Hina or Ai Yori Aoshi makes my stomach turn. But I probably would've loved both of those back in the day.

I hesitate to call it a "natural maturation", because taste is so subjective that it's irresponsible for me to say I have "better taste" now than I did then (not to mention send a legion of Tenchi and Love Hina fans screaming for my blood), but my taste in anime is very, very different. I changed both as a person and a fan over the last 10 years, just like anyone would, so it's completely understandable that the things I liked when I was 17 aren't the same things I like now.

I can't imagine your situation (or anyone else's, for that matter) is any different.

What is your opinion on Saban's "dub" in 1990-91 of Kyattou Ninden Teyandee aka Samurai Pizza Cats? For me, I think it's hilarious that the few people in the otaku culture who remember or know about this absolutely abhore it. Clearly written in the form of a parody, the show was lightly censored and left off 2 recap episodes. This is the battle-cry I tend to hear. But alot of the humor was so intelligent, (like in episode 1 where neo-facism and greenpace are included in punch lines) it just makes me that much more irritated when I hear that the show was dumbed down by said otaku obsessives.

I believe you've been watching anime as long (and most likely longer) than I, so I was really curious about your opinion on the matter.

There are people out there who hate Samurai Pizza Cats? Tell me, who are these humorless, soulless heathens whose days must be filled with gloom and rain?

If there are so-called "purists" out there who sincerely think the Japanese version of that show could possibly have been better than the hilarious English dub, I pity them. I watched the show as it aired way back when, and I've routinely called for a dub-only DVD release. Even now the show is still hilarious, and the jokes really hold up.

Normally I'm not big on pointlessly excessive editing, especially in the case of something like Cardcaptors or One Piece. But Samurai Pizza Cats was something else entirely. The dub was so well-done that I'm not sure I even care to see the original one; what's the point? The people whining about the uncut Japanese version astound me as well; this is a kid's show about a bunch of superhero cats who deliver pizza and fight a crossdressing rat. Why act like screwing with it is akin to shredding the Mona Lisa?

While I'm sure any online petition will be met with failure, here's hoping the cheap-to-produce TV DVD gravy train eventually gives us Samurai Pizza Cats. I'd settle for just a best-of collection or something. I mean, they're releasing The Super Mario Brothers Super Show and Captain N: The Game Master; surely the Pizza Cats are right around the corner, right?


I noticed that your icon thingy for your column is of Howl from Howl's Moving Castle.
I was wondering, is that one of your favorite anime? I, personally, love it. Made my sister buy it for me for my birthday when it came out on DVD here in America. It's amazing.
And, how you put anime in the plural?? Is it animes or anime's or just anime (refering to one or more)???

My reaction to Howl's Moving Castle was a little odd. I saw it at an advance press screening in early 2005, and walking out of the theater I was convinced I hated it. The narrative was sloppy and poorly constructed, with the last half turning into a messy allegory and the entire "war" subplot being wrapped up with one of the most ridiculous deus ex machina mistakes I'd ever seen.

Then a few months later I was invited back to see the film's dub, which I feel drastically improved the quality of the narrative by adding in some key dialogue that helped tie things together. It also helps that I have a strange man-crush on Christian Bale. He's great in everything.

The dub helped me piece together what Miyazaki was actually attempting to say with the film and now I think I have a pretty solid grasp of it. I can honestly say it's among my favorite Miyazaki films, bested only by Nausicaa and Porco Rosso. I acknowledge that it is a deeply flawed and strange film and if I were asked to objectively place it among his works, I would place it near the bottom; but something about it draws me in.

It isn't one of my favorite anime, though. Howl is in my logo just for the hell of it. Originally I'd planned on changing the banner every week with a new character, but that proved to be too much work; just writing this thing eats up an entire work day already.

Also: the plural of 'anime' is 'anime' and when people say 'animes' it makes my blood boil and I'm pretty sure a unicorn dies somewhere.

No flake this week, so I present to you the final groovin' headphone cat.

Yeah! Hup hup!

Next week I swear I'll move on to some other animal gimmick.

Here's this week's rant, courtesy of "Charles". 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.

As I grow older, I have more and more difficulty watching anime.  I still enjoy the animation, the themes and the way the Japanese tell their tales; however, I've become unnerved at the amount of fanservice, and because of that, have stopped watching some of my favorite series.

While I don't know if, and neither am I insinuating that the amount of fanservice has increased over the years, I know that I'm no longer ignoring it or passing it as just part of the experience.   I used to just feel uncomfortable when fanservice was on the screen while my wife or a friend of mine watched.  Now, I feel uncomfortable with fanservice even when I view anime by myself.

I believe that fanservice has no positive function in anime.  Beyond that, I think that it's a hurtful device.   As when women are objectified in media, so are they through anime.  However, there are particulars about fanservice that go beyond what we see with real women in U.S. media.  Here's the biggest difference – fanservice normally objectifies minors.  What harm this can bring!   Just as the media seeps into our minds and gives our society a collective idea of what is okay to believe, a person watching countless hours of anime can't help but think of women as objects.   And they can't help but think that underage girls aren't all that different from adult women.  After all, 14-year old anime girls are drawn as shorter, skinnier versions of their sexy, older counterparts.

Hopefully, the typical otaku will differentiate a 14-year old from a 19-year old.  But that doesn't stop the fact that an anime viewer is watching a girl, written as a teenager, who is often being shown as a sexual object.   When we feed this material into our minds, we can't help but be infected by these terrible ideas.  Our society is only as good as the hearts of its people – are young men who have been fed these gross ideas really the ones who are to become the leaders of our society?   Will these young men enjoy watching minors portrayed in such a way in private, while openly condemning the same ideas involving real girls in public?   Its hypocrisy, and it mars who we are.

Beyond the objectification of minors, anime objectifies women in general.  No woman can live up to, say, Evangelion's Misato Katsuragi.   I read that Misato is 6'3.  Add to that the fact that she has a large bust and wears a size zero, and you can see that less than 1% of real women exhibit those qualities.   Maybe no women exhibit those qualities!  As an Asian American, I've had many female Asian friends and none of them have been both over 6'0 tall and a size zero.  

But we're lured into being attracted to Misato.  And as our minds form the kind of women we want to spend our lives with, we create a mental image of a girl that can't possibly exist.   We also begin to see women as the sum of body parts (tall + long beautiful hair + big bust + small waist + wears few clothes = perfect woman) instead of seeing them as the whole, imperfect human being they are.   We pass these ideas through the media (which shows us what we want to see – magazine covers, television, anime, advertising) and through our relationships.   What a travesty it will be when we teach our children that women are objects that are most useful and worthy when they are physically perfect (after all, children will pick up what we believe and do, not necessarily what we say).

While anime will likely never rid itself of fanservice (supply naturally follows demand), I hope that we'll at least consider changing some of our viewing habits.   I hope that we'll realize that when CN puts digital bathing suits on Ryoko and Ayeka, it's not so bad after all.  I hope that we'll choose to buy "My Neighbor Totoro" instead of the next installment of "Negima."   And please, please I hope that you'll skip that Hot Springs Planet Tenrai episode and go straight to Cutting the Galactic Leyline.

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 Daquiris and watching the sunset atop a giant pile of anime DVDs we refuse to give away. See you next week!

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