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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

We're back after a 1-week holiday hiatus! I came back after my vacation to a mailbox overflowing with letters and rants and obnoxious requests for animal pictures. So I'd better get crackin'.

Hey answerman, how come R1 packaging isn't as cool or good looking as R2 packaging? Every time I see a Japanese DVD it looks better than the Amerrican ones. Why don't the american companies just use the same artwork?

Before I answer this question, I'd like to point out that this has to be the most unintentionally hilarious box art I've seen in a long, long time:

There's no caption or word balloon I could add to that image to make it funnier than it already is.

A lot of anime fans out there tend to think the Japanese releases are always better - I'll admit that oftentimes the packaging is cooler. Sometimes the artwork is simpler, or more stylish, but you have to keep in mind, the Japanese companies releasing these DVDs - which nine times out of ten feature much smaller episode counts at twice or three times the cost of the R1 release - aren't attempting to market them to anyone but fans already predisposed toward buying them. So they can get obscure and sometimes downright bizarre or cryptic with their packaging, and while it might look cool, it doesn't mean anything or appeal to anyone who doesn't know what it is already.

R1 companies don't take those risks. Their packaging is usually designed to get across some idea of what the show is about or feature an image that's striking; not only to please the fans, but to catch the eyes of folks who might not be familiar with the show. The product does have to sell.

Recently, though, we have been getting more and more R1 DVDs with packaging that mirrors the R2 pretty closely. Take a look at Media Blasters' Ah! My Goddess TV packaging, or the myriad DVDs out there with reversible covers (like Right Stuf's Ninja Nonsense release or ADV's Full Metal Panic! release). Not every single R1 DVD has identical packaging, but many of them do. So hey, things are looking up, right?

I noticed that VIZ has been releasing a lot of fiction novels of popular shounen titles like Full Metal Alchemist and Naruto.  Were these ever released in Japanese for Japan or were they just released
in English recently to drain the pockets of rabid collectors like me?

All of them were originally released in Japan; to my knowledge, there have never been anime-related "light novels" written by Americans or published in English first.

There's a pretty strong trend right now of manga companies snapping up those light novels; apparently they sell pretty well and people like them. I can't imagine how many hurdles an American writer's original light novel - which would amount to basically professional fanfiction (not that the Japanese novels aren't, but at least they're officially sanctioned and considered part of the series' canon) - would have to leap through to get published and be embraced by the fans.

Over the years anime has been something i looked forward to, due to either the compelling story line or the wonderful fight scenes that impressed me. Other fans wouldve loved anime for Hentai reasons or they just love the art of anime girls. As anime evolved many got "addicted" to the art and taken their dedication to new heights. For example, there is a picture i saw on the internet showing a bunch of people with posters, pillows and pajamas all decorated with anime girls and on the top it said that they are a bunch of anime losers. It seems like hardcore anime fans are being some sort of target to people who just don't like anime. My question is, why are anime fans targeted for an art that interests them?

Anime fans aren't being targeted for liking anime, they're being targeted for waving their freak flags so high. Happens to everyone who openly displays behavior that most people consider abnormal.

That picture of those anime fans surrounded by moe merchandise, hugging those creepy body pillows... those guys set themselves up for ridicule by taking that photo in the first place. I mean, it's a
Japanese photo, so who knows - maybe they're considered heroes among otaku there, but here? That stuff doesn't fly. Even the anime community here will make fun of you for stuff like that.

Anime fans get mocked all the time, just like Star Trek fans and Star Wars fans and really any other pop culture phenomenon where people attend conventions, dress up and have a massive, extremely visible internet presence. It's simply human nature to laugh at what you don't understand (or what is inherently creepy and pathetic in some cases) and so that's how it goes. I mean, the anime fans who don't make such a big deal out of it aren't being "targeted" by anyone; people who manage to tuck it back and have some discretion about it aren't being ridiculed across the internet or having milkshakes thrown at them from passing cars at a convention.

I don't want to insinuate that there's anything really wrong with waving that freak flag as high as it'll go; knock yourself out. I'm of the opinion that crazy cosplayers and creepy moe dudes aren't hurting anyone and that conventions should be safe havens for these folks. But to be shocked that Joe on the Street thinks you're a ridiculous nerd and goes out of his way to make fun of you is a little naive, don't you think?

It's time to pick a side, answerman!! in one of the biggest arguments out there: Yuki Kajiura or Yoko Kanno?!?

Oh boy. I don't know what it is about this squabble that gets people so up in arms, but I've seen people nearly come to blows over this one. As far as I know there isn't any real feud between the composers themselves, just hardcore fans who apparently live to fight about it.

Personally, I'm a Yoko Kanno fan myself. Everything she touches turns to gold and she has a musical range like I've never seen before; who else can so competently and completely pull off authentic jazz music and then a few months down the road write a great pop song and then follow that up with a sweeping orchestral score? Yuki Kajiura can't, that's for sure.

I'm not even sure what it is people see in Kajiura's music; sure, it's OK, but it all sounds the same. It's always high-pitched strings and wailing female vocals; her scores for .hack and Noir and even Madlax all sound really similar to me, and what's worse, it seems like she only does 5, maybe 6 pieces for each show, and they wind up being repeating a zillion times over 26 episodes. Watch Noir and you'll see what I mean; by the end of the third episode you'll wish they would stop playing that blasted watch theme.

I'm sure I'll be flamed to hell and back for saying that about Kajiura but hey, I'm used to it! Bring it on, fanboys!

What we have here is a truly sophisticated anime fan.

why isnt there more nudity in anime, lots of blood but not enough naked girls, whats up with that

In honor of this charming lad, here is a kitten.

That cat needs a little detective hat or something.

Here's this week's rant, courtesy of "The Wyrd Sisters ". 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.

Why does everyone think that girls are obsessed with fashion, make-up, and all things pink? When "Shojo Beat" first came out it seemed to look beyond this and embody the range of interests of the female of the species without making girls sound like boy-obsessed fools. We rejoiced. At last, a magazine that had it all - heroic historic cross-dressers, Victorian intrigue, sports, and just enough cute factor to make it marketable. Sadly this only lasted for about six months.

Then it happened.

With a palpable drop in IQ, the two most intellectual series, "Godchild" and "Kaze Hikaru", were dropped from the magazine. A hideous mascot that looked like a reject from "South Park"'s trip to China was introduced, and articles about fashion and make-up invaded spaces previously filled by history notes and cultural facts. Apparently "choosing the right school uniform" was deemed more important cultural information than the history of the Shinsengumi.

Then came the replacement stories. We have few complaints about "Vampire Knight"; the primary one is that it does not serialize well and each issue takes a moment for you remember exactly what the story was. This a marked difference from the seamless transition between issues of "Godchild", which is a bit overwhelming in graphic novel format. However, "Backstage Prince" fails miserably as a replacement for the drama and history of "Kaze Hikaru". First of all, it is not about kabuki. This may be a good thing, as kabuki in no way replicates the excitement of samourai warriors; however soppy romance is hardly a replacement for an adventure story. While it is nice to see a hero with a legitimate reason for surliness (Ryusei has a clear social anxiety disorder), it is a bit grating to read the same 50-60 page story over and over again.

Perhaps the biggest issue with the inclusion of "Backstage Prince" in the Shojo Beat lineup is that it tips the balance of the magazine to make it primarily a romance anthology. We do not live in Japan. Most of us do not have the luxury of deciding whether to pick up an issue of "Shocomi" or "Wing" depending on our moods. This is the only shojo manga anthology available, and we were given the impression that it was supposed to run the full gamut and appeal to all tastes. If we wanted fashion tips and romantic advice, we'd go get an issue of "Cosmo" and watch a Cameron Diaz movie.

The only exception to this strange and annoying trend would appear to be "Baby and Me". (We say this because even "Crimson Hero" is taking a turn for the annoyingly soppy at the moment.) May we ask what this story is doing in here? While it is a nice change from romance and more stylized art, it's inclusion simply does not make sense. What role is it supposed to fill? Is it the cute factor? Should it appeal to our latent maternal instincts? Or is it simply there for the shota-lovers to gaze lustily upon Takuya's bare legs? We just don't know.

What is the destiny of this magazine? Will they shape up, or will they continue to assault us with fashion spreads, fashion contests, fan art that is clearly traced or copied, and garish ink? Or will they replace "Backstage Prince" with a more meaty story, cease to assume that "Nana" is everyone's favorite piece in the magazine, and bring some intelligence back into our lives? Since we're stuck with it until our subscription runs out this summer, we may see. Or we may instead send it as a gift to all those cousins we hate and work on learning to read Japanese.

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.
5. If you send me something that's already been published on your blog or on another site, I'm just going to delete it. Likewise, requests that I link to your blog or another site if I print your rant will also result in your email being sent straight to the trash.

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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