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Hey, Santaman!

by Zac Bertschy,

Most people my age say that Halloween is their favorite holiday, because you're in your 20's and it's cool to say you like Halloween the most because you dress up and get drunk.

Call me sentimental or lame, but I prefer Christmas. I like the season, I like the atmosphere, I like it all. Which is odd because I'm not at all a religious person; I celebrate it as a secular holiday.

But enough about that.

Hi there, answerman. I love your columns, but I have a really unusual question from my friends to ask you.
For the past few days, we've been disputing about the manga-ka's authority over an animé's license. Does the license entirely belong to the company who produced it, or does part of it belong to the manga-ka. We've been questioning whether if they did, do they have any say over cancelling the series or anything else?

It depends on the production but nearly every mangaka I've ever asked that question responds with a "Well, I trust the director to bring my vision to the screen!", and they say they're totally hands-off with the anime and they're too busy drawing the manga to meddle much anyway.

I know I've heard of a few productions where the mangaka had a hand in the anime production - CLAMP, for instance, usually has approval on anime character designs, storyline, etcetera - but by and large most mangaka are hands-off, and will only step in when they disapprove of how the property is being handled. Case in point, Ken Akamatsu stepped in and told Xebec that they were all a bunch of screwups when he saw the original Negima! TV series; hence, the DVD version - now being released in the states - is a pretty major improvement, with better animation, character designs, and so on. But that doesn't really happen too often.

As for having control over the property, that also depends on the size of the property and who the author is. Yuki Nobody-san drawing Formulaic Adventure Team X probably doesn't have a lot of say when it comes to if and when his property will become an anime. But Rumiko Takahashi probably has to be offered a ritual sacrifice before even being approached about it.
So it differs from author to author, company to company, property to property. Generally, though, if there's a big name attached to the manga - Takahashi, Akamatsu, names like those - you can basically be guaranteed that they were at least consulted before they went into production on the animated version.

Can you recommend me a trust website where I can purchase Macross 7 DVDs. 

No. Unless you're interested in buying the R2 DVDs, which are massively expensive, there aren't any places to buy legit Macross 7 DVDs, and there probably never will be thanks to the show's ridicuous music licensing quagmire that scares potential R1 licensors off.

Which to me is a big shame; I'm one of the few who thinks Macross 7 is the best Macross series. People give me the stink eye when I say that, but I loved that show. Mostly I loved the incredibly silly but likable characters, the insane plot, the great music and the fact that at no point did that show ever really take itself seriously at all; it felt like a parody of the entire Macross concept. It really worked as a wry, subtle comedy, and there are very few anime that successfully pull of humor that isn't composed entirely of over-the-top slapstick or puns. I mean, the OVA series involves angsty and mercurial rock star Basara involved in a plot that includes a giant Zentraedi who's obviously supposed to be Captain Ahab hunting space whales.

Space whales. How can people hate this show?

But it was never very popular; I watched it all fansubbed back in the VHS tape trading days, and even then it wasn't easy to get a hold of. I try not to do this, but to be frank, you'll never get a chance to watch this show on a legit R1 DVD, so I'll go ahead and recommend you track down the fansubs online and watch those. It's the only way to see the show in English without paying some scummy pirate.

Hey Answerman! I'm currently in a journalism program at Washington State and I'm interested in entering the Anime journalism scene once I graduate. Now, you're probably thinking, "great, he's going to ask me how to break in or ask me for a job", but that's not what I'm going to ask so you can just settle down!

I noticed that you've worked as an editor for Anime Insider magazine and now you're working as an editor for Anime News Network. I'm considering my options and I want to know: which one do you prefer working for, a print publication or an online publication? Also, I'd appreciate any advice you may have for me!

Before I get to the real meat of your question, I should tell you that you shouldn't focus on just anime like that if you really want to be marketable once you get out of school. Focus on a broader range of topics; work on being AN Entertainment journalist, not just a specialized anime guy. You'll be able to get work at a huge variety of publications, rather than just anime magazines and websites, of which there aren't many that actually pay a full-time living wage outside of, say, ANN, Anime Insider or Newtype.

Also, if you're already in college and you're taking journalism classes and you're not already freelancing for a website or a magazine somewhere, hurry up and do that! You're wasting an incredible amount of time by not going out there and getting that all-too-valuable journalism experience if you're not working as a freelance journalist while you're in school. I started writing for websites and magazines my first year in college and by the time I got out I had 4-5 years of solid experience that made my resume way more valuable than someone who just had a degree. To that end, I had great success immediately out of school and was able to support myself entirely based on my freelancing rather than having to take another job. So get out there and get some experience! Time's a-wastin', lad!

As for your real question, well, they both have their advantages, but I have to say I prefer the flexible schedule that working at a website affords me rather than the sweat-inducing, backbreaking deadline schedule of a print publication. It's so much easier to simply say "Let's do this interview and post it tomorrow" than it is to have to plan everything out meticulously and decide which issue the interview will go in. So there's that.

The big thing about working for an online publication is how close you suddenly become to your readers; it is often a blessing, and often a curse, and the days where it's a curse are sometimes unbearable. Working at a magazine - provided the magazine doesn't have a big web presence, which Anime Insider didn't when I worked there - means you're relatively insulated from the teeming hordes of fans. Now, while oftentimes the close fan connection online publications can afford a journalist leads to warm fuzzies from people telling you they liked your work or they start a really awesome debate or discussion based on what you said, sometimes it's like having a few hundred angry people sitting in the room with you waiting for you to screw up so they can scream about it in your ear all day.

Say like you work an office job in a cubicle. Now imagine doing your job while having a few hundred people all telling you how to do your job, or how bad your work sucks or whatever, and they're all anonymous and if you respond to them they'll call you "unprofessional". That's what it feels like sometimes; if I make a mistake, I will hear about it from not only my boss, but from some of the people on our forums (and other forums and in my email inbox), who often love to be as vicious as possible. Go ahead and go around to other forums and see how many people are attacking the editors and writers of the site, often in a very personal way, often calling for them to be fired or talking about how they could do a better job. It's pretty rampant, and it's pretty demoralizing.

Don't get me wrong; most of the time, that close fan connection really makes it all worthwhile. You do get constructive criticism from time to time and they can help you genuinely improve your work. Sometimes people like what you wrote or agree with you, and nothing is better than making the readers happy. But the anonymity of the internet breeds contempt and anger, because people can say whatever they like with little consequence; so there are days
where the anonymous masses will make you feel lower than dirt. And at a print publication, you don't really have to deal with that as much; the response isn't as instantaneous.

A lot of online journalists get by all of this by simply ignoring the forums and dismissing fan opinion, but for anyone who honestly gives a crap what the readers are saying, that's basically out of the question. Sure, you get used to ignoring the obvious trolls, but every now and then someone says something that really hits you where it hurts, and that sucks. But the inverse is also true - sometimes a reader comment will just make your day. It's a situation somewhat unique to online journalism, and is simultaneously one of its biggest benefits and biggest headaches.

But other than that? Online all the way. The flexibility of the publishing schedule is invaluable.

So I am sure many fans recently rejoiced upon hearing the news that 4Kids is no longer adapting One Piece episodes.  But I'm wondering, what does this exactly mean?  Saying that "there are no additional episodes being adapted by 4Kids" doesnt exactly tell us much.  Will another company be able to pick it up, or will 4Kids still have the license to let the series sit and do nothing? Thanks :)

The news that 4Kids is ceasing production on One Piece isn't really that big a deal, aside from the fact that the show obviously wasn't the Yu-Gi-Oh! sized hit they wanted it to be and decided it wasn't worth continuing to mercilessly butcher the show for the American market.

Which is fine with me - that was one of the worst dubs I'd ever seen. Sanji's voice alone was enough for me to want to run into traffic. I certainly won't mourn the show's death, but part of me thinks it's never a good thing when a big top-shelf superstar property like One Piece fails in America. If it had become the next Pokémon or Dragon Ball Z, we may have seen another Big Boom in the anime market. But who knows?

As for the fate of the license in America, 4Kids will likely sit on the license until it expires. I think some people are under the impression that 4Kids ceasing production on the dub somehow means now we'll get uncut subtitled boxsets with 50 episodes included in each for $10 from Funimation or something but that isn't the case at all; the show didn't catch on here, and neither did the videogames, so after this I'm not sure if any company - especially in a few years when the license runs out and the heat is completely gone from the show - will want to invest in a 300+ episode expensive juggernaut of a series that already proved it has limited appeal in the American market.

OK, so this guy has a legitimate question, but I still want to make fun of him for asking about this title.

Would you happen to know if there is going to be a Slutgirl dvd series?
If not would you happen to no the names of some companies that I can write to? 

So this is what it's like to not have any shame.

"Dear ADV Films,

I am bored of the porn I already have and would like to let you know that I would really love to be able to wring one out to the animated version of "Slutgirl", which if you didn't know is about a girl who is a slut, which is something that appeals to me as I enjoy girls who are also sluts. Please let me know if you plan on bringing this to DVD."


Ah, that's better.

Here's this week's rant, courtesy of Chris Li. 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.

Charles rant about fanservice in anime encouraged me to get this off my chest. I haven't been watching anime for all that long, but as the years go by, I find it harder and harder to watch anime in general. What disturbs me is the pervasive violence.

It's nearly impossible to find a show in which someone doesn't get wounded or killed violently. Even anime targeted at children have acts of extreme violence (repeated punches, strikes to the head with furniture, people getting stampeded upon). Rarely do these anime show the real impact (no pun intended) of violence characters badly bruised in one shot appear magically unharmed in the next. What will children learn from this? That violence is acceptable and has no permanent effects? It's okay to whack each other on the head with chairs? The dangers of such actions are often under-, or even unstated. Why do we accept cartoon violence even during prime time, but scream in indignation if such violence was portrayed using real humans to our children?

Another terrible situation is when violence is inflicted by children. On one hand, we have children forced by the circumstances of war to kill. I'm sure there are some calloused viewers who enjoy shows like Evangelion, Gundam Seed, Gunparade March, or Full Metal Panic! where children pilot giant mecha to kill. Don't let the use of machines fool you - it is still children killing or maiming, whether it be with robots or guns or fists. Even if it's against a non-human enemy like in Hoshi no Koe or Sokyu no Fafner, children should not be forced to take part in the atrocities of war. I'm deeply saddened every time I see a news story with a picture of a child carrying an AK-47 and instructed to kill. What are we doing to the innocence of these children? Do we want our children to be like the hardened Kirika from Noir, or the cold-blooded killers in Gunslinger Girl?

What's worse is when there is fighting without reason. Utena, Ikki Tousen, and Tenjou Tenge are fine examples of this senseless violence. Rival gangs fighting in schools? What are the teachers doing about this? Superiority is not all about who is stronger and the media should not portray violence as the solution to any problem. And to think that this is coming out of Japan, where I'd imagine the school jock culture isn't as strong as it is in the US. People are up in arms about the content of the video games Bully and Rule of the Rose. Little do they know about the kinds of anime and manga there are finding their way to the hands of the young impressionable ones. While I don't want to stir up indiscriminate hysteria over anime and manga, I do wish that the public be made aware of this malevolence. For those of you in the US, I encourage you to write a carefully worded letter to your senators, making them aware of such trash on the shelves, while also making it clear that not all anime  and manga are evil.

Violence has become such an accepted part of culture. I don't think we'd ever see violence disappearing totally from anime and manga, despite the promising pacificist themes present in some of them. I encourage all of you to boycott this tidal wave of violence. There are still some great non-violent anime to choose, such as Hikaru no Go, Haibane Renmei, and Spirited Away. Show your support for these anime and maybe we can make the anime industry give non-violence a second thought.

Okay, so I'm not writing so much against violence but against this hypocrisy of complaining about excessive sex but neglecting to mention the violence. Society seems to have double standards when it comes to violence and sex. Yet, these often appear hand in hand. Just take a look at the high school fighting anime I've mentioned above.I enjoy fan service and violence (and all of the anime mentioned above. Well, maybe except Noir and Utena) as much as any hot-blooded male. I've just finished watching Speed Grapher, and for the lack of anything good lately with both sex and violence, I think I'll re-watch Kite for the third time.

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!

To go with our new Christmas theme, I've decided to include this temporary new segment in Hey, Answerman!: Gifts for People You Hate!

Now, it's the holidays, and everyone's frantically looking for the perfect gift, and thusly, everyone's publishing gift guides to help you shop for the people in your family or in your circle of friends.

Personally, I always find those guides a little dry. Nobody really likes reading a product catalog, right? So I've decided to put a different spin on the subject; each week, from now until Christmas, I'll include an outline of someone who might be among your family or friends, and suggest the perfect anime to confuse, horrify or downright offend them!

So let's get crackin', shall we?


Fig. 1: Uncle Bob

Target description: Uncle Bob has heard of anime and when he's in your room awkwardly trying to make conversation with you during Thanksgiving he looks with confusion or disinterest at your Cowboy Bebop wall scrolls. He refers to it as "that Jap-anniemay pokeyman stuff" and suggests that you should go out for sports. Every time you see Uncle Bob, he casually offers up a question about a major sports team in the hopes that you may have magically gained an interest in football over the previous year and he can have a conversation with you about something he knows, but it never works, and you can always tell he considers you a disappointment. If the subject of anime is ever brought up, you can tell Uncle Bob checks out immediately and rolls his eyes a little.

The perfect gift for Uncle Bob: Geneon's release of Strawberry Marshmallow!

Strawberry Marshmallow
is a conundrum even to many hardcore anime fans, mostly because it's about the oh-so-cute and kinda creepy exploits of a bunch of elementary schoolgirls, but the show isn't aimed at elementary schoolgirls, it's aimed at college-aged single men. Sure, the show has its charm and all - fans of stuff like Azumanga Daioh will probably dig it - but to someone like Uncle Bob, not only does this show reinforce the notion that anime is for and about schoolchildren, the obvious fetishy overtones the show has will only serve to further terrify and confuse him. He'll dislike you for giving him anime for Christmas in the first place, and boy will he be steamed if he ever actually watches it!

So if you're looking to stick it to Uncle Bob this holiday season, look no further than Strawberry Marshmallow! It's available in most stores now from Geneon!

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

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