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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

Thanks to Adam Modiano for this week's banner. I recieved an overwhelming amount of material for the banner contest, so we'll have a new one every week for quite a while!

I was reading the other day that Gainax is making new Evangelion movies and it made me mad. WHy do these companies have to milk everything for every cent they can get?! can't they just be happy they made a masterpiece and that's that, just let people enjoy it and don't ruin it with remakes. So why are they even making these movies? Why can't they just be happy with what they made?

I see this same complaint from a lot of fans, about companies "milking" their properties for every last dime they can possibly wring out of them.

It always makes me wonder a little bit as to why anyone is shocked or even concerned that an entertainment company would continue making sequels or remakes of popular series that the public seems to enjoy.

Anime - like American film, like any other form of mass entertainment - is a business. Yes, there is art involved, and yes, there are plenty of shows out there that are real masterpieces, but ultimately the bottom line is that these series were created primarily to turn a profit. They may be works of staggering genius, but they weren't made to lose money. Evangelion is just as much a work of commercial art as it is a work of personal art.

With that in mind, why in the world does it "shock" you that Gainax would continue making Evangelion films? They've been releasing a ridiculous amount of merchandise over the last 10 years or so; there's more Rei and Asuka merchandise out there than any other character I can think of outside of Sanrio stuff. They've been "milking" Evangelion for years and years and only NOW you're concerned because they're actually making new animation rather than just recycling the original series?

I think a lot of this attitude also falls into the trap of thinking that every new iteration of a franchise somehow taints the original (or whichever version you liked best). If you really loved the original Evangelion and are convinced the new films will be terrible, here's a tip: don't watch them. Nobody's holding a gun to your head; furthermore, I don't subscribe to the notion that a remake "ruins" the original. You have to divorce the two in your head and be open to new interpretations of a work.

Dear Answerman, I was reading Princess Ai the other day and I noticed it was written by someone called "DJ Milky". when I went back to the bookstore I saw his name on some other books too, so I looked around on the internet and couldn't really find out a lot about him besides his website which doesn't really tell me a lot. who is DJ Milky? Is he a real DJ?

Ahhh, DJ Milky. One of the industry's worst-kept "secrets" (although I'm not sure if it's even really kept "secret" anymore). If you go by his Myspace profile, DJ Milky appears to be a hip young dude who's responsible for Princess Ai and a few other titles; there's even some animatics from the upcoming Princess Ai movie, credited as "A DJ Milky Film". There are a few choice quotes on that page that kinda sum up the image DJ Milky is trying to project:

Funky ass beats so u can move to the groove

About me:
i create. i chill. i bug. i trip. so don't hate. word.

Who I'd like to meet:
the realest muthas out there.

There are a handful of photos there, but the personal information is all purposefully vague (like his age being "100 years old"). The fact is, if you scour most of DJ Milky's site, you'll never once see him cop to the fact that he's Stu Levy, founder and CEO of Tokyopop.

Generally when people find out about that a whole bunch of puzzle pieces fall into place.

Levy's projects - OEL manga like Juror 13, Karma Club, and especially Princess Ai, are all aimed squarely at the young adult market, and DJ Milky is a persona Levy created in order to more effectively sell these titles and indeed the entire "manga lifestyle" thing he's been pimping for a few years now.
There isn't anything necessarily "wrong" with it, but there are a few things about it that some fans may find a little irritating.

The whole "yo sup im just buggin here writin Princess Ai yall" thing is really transparent; it's obvious that someone of Levy's age and position in life doesn't really talk like that. He might be "sincere", but it comes across as an incredibly thick layer of marketing speak designed to reel in kids.

The other thing about this is that Levy's projects - especially Princess Ai - appear to get the biggest marketing push Tokyopop has to offer, with DJ Milky's name slapped all over it (most of the books also advertise "original poetry by DJ Milky!" as though he's already a well-known artist). Not only is the guy apparently using the company's best resources to pimp his own projects, he's also positioning himself specifically so if any of them are a success, he gains a whole lot of celebrity. In my estimation, it's all a little crass and transparent; if I were a teenager and I bought into DJ Milky's whole thing and then found out he was the middle-aged CEO of the company that publishes the book I'm reading who is A) not actually a DJ and B) nowhere near my age, I'd probably be a little pissed off and feel like I'd been duped.

But hey, maybe that's just me.

Hey, Answerman. I have a question regarding Berserk. Don't worry, it's not about a second season of anime (I know you'd love that), but about the manga. It's seems that some people are unhappy with the work done by Dark Horse. There are two main complaints... One, the translation is said to be too corny and two, the SFX boxes are said to be poorly positioned (somewould rather they weren't there at all). I own the first few volumes and nothing in the translation has annoyed me too much. So I suppose the question is, what do you make of Dark Horse's work on Berserk and manga in general?

I've been reading Dark Horse's Berserk translation for a long time now and it seems fine to me. "Too corny"? That's a completely subjective call if I've ever heard one. I'm not sure who it is that's making these complaints, but they sound like nitpicking to me (or the usual "my scanlations are more accurate" stuff).

As for Dark Horse, well, they release most of my favorite titles and I've never had a big problem with their translations. I like the fact that they don't do a lot of manga; they seem to focus on a limited number of mature titles for an older audience that wouldn't otherwise see release from companies like Viz.

I have a dilemma, My friends and I have started an anime club a few months ago and we're doing relatively fine. Usually we watch the first episode of series that are voted on by the members, just to avoid watching, for example, Naruto every single week. Not that I hate Naruto, I just feel like other series that I enjoy wouldn't have a chance of being seen. But I do not know much about how actual anime clubs work. I want to incorporate other activities outside of just watching anime like contests or such, but I am afraid they would be disinterested and leave meetings for other things. What do you recommend the best way of handling an anime club?

I was heavily involved in my college's anime club for a while back in the late 90's and early 2000's, and I have to say; in the days of VHS fansubs, it was much, much easier to retain members. Aside from the obvious social aspect of the club, people show up primarily to watch anime they can't watch at home; you're basically providing a commodity. As digital fansubs began to proliferate, however, we were no longer providing people with anything they couldn't just watch at home on their computers. So we had to change things up; we started doing raffles, showing older, obscure anime nobody had ever heard of, or showing old favorites not yet available on DVD (like the Ghibli catalog, which in those days was unlicensed).

Eventually we decided that in order to keep the club alive, we'd have to start doing more social events to keep people coming back. We'd organize picnics, go on trips every now and then, and most importantly, we'd organize a big trip every year to Anime Expo.

Now, this may be outside the realm of what you and your friends are capable of - I belonged to a very large club with older members who could afford to fund things like this - but as the years have gone on, there's been less and less of a need for anime clubs, so you really do have to keep it fresh and focus on social events. Consider organizing a mini-convention, where you have screenings and other events; encourage cosplay, or have fanart workshops, all of that. The more you diversify, the more people you'll attract.

To be honest, doing things like that is a lot more fun than sitting in a dark room watching fansubs.

I hate the internet.

I am trying to learn Naruto's move the "rasengan". I have been working on My Chi abilities and right now i believe I can clone myself. I know this is true because my friends who are also learning chi moves have seen me do it, so this is not a joke. My spirit animal is a fox just like Narutos so I should be able to do his moves. are there any websites out there where they teach you how to use your chi, i would like to learn how to do the ransengan. This is very important thank you.

Normally I'd think this was a prank but the internet is where deluded, crazy people get together so they can all sit in a circle and tell eachother that they're not deluded and crazy.

I weep for the future.

Something for everyone.

This week's rant is courtesy of Chris Adamson. 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.

Few anime fans refer to Hayao Miyazaki as the "Walt Disney of Japan", but this cliche is so pervasive in the mainstream media (those outfits that occasionally cover anime, anyways, like Entertainment Weekly), that I'd like to do my part to demolish this horribly unfair and trite characterization.

Unfair, because it demeans both Miyazaki and Disney.

Disney had to create an industry where none existed before.  He and Ub Iwerks took massive personal and financial risks setting up their own studio in Kansas City, and then moving their families out to Los Angeles, all in pursuit of a nascent industry that could have well seemed like a passing fad in 1920.  Miyazaki, on the other hand, benefitted from coming of age in a mature animation industry, where he could work his way up a well-established career ladder in Toei Doga, starting as an in-betweener, and eventually working up to directing TV episodes before finally getting a shot at directing a feature.  Contrast with Disney, who invented the idea of an animated feature with Snow White.

Disney, it has to be said, was never much of an artist.  Only hardcore animation fans know that Ub Iwerks, not Walt, drew every frame of Steamboat Willie.  Compare this to Miyazaki hand-drawing
10,000+ frames of his own films, up to and including Howl's Moving Castle.  Disney is better understood as a Producer and businessman, while Miyazaki is truly a Director.

The two could not be more different in their attitudes towards technology.  Miyazaki's wariness for technology figures heavily into the plots of Nausicaä and Princess Mononoke, and he's famously known for resisting the use of computers in his films until Princess Mononoke.  And even there, the most prominent use of CG is in representing the unnatural corruption of the animal gods, such as the blood-worms writhing over the boar god in the opening sequence.  Disney, on the other hand, was a famous technophile, being the first to adopt sound (Steamboat Willie), full color (Flowers and Trees), and surround sound (Fantasia) for use in animation.  His fascination with technology and the future is also evident in the "Tomorrowland" areas of the theme parks, and the original concept for EPCOT.

Miyazaki was a labor leader while working at Toei.  Disney loathed organized labor, and implicated former animators and labor leaders as Communist agitators in testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Disney built his company into a vast media empire, producing live-action features, television, theme parks, video games, travel, etc.  Miyazaki's company, Studio Ghibli, has been content to keep its focus almost exclusively on feature animation, putting out a new movie every couple of years

The idea of calling Miyazaki the "Walt Disney of Japan" only conveys the idea that they're both involved in animation.   It's a remarkably shallow and inaccurate metaphor otherwise, and we should dissuade its use by writers who don't know better and are too lazy to do research.  If this gets published, then at least there will be a potential Google hit for future writers to come across.  You know what would actually be an accurate analogy?  Calling John Lasseter the "Hayao Miyazaki of America".  Like Miyazaki, Lasseter came up through the system (at Disney), and has been the first and most significant director at a small, features-only studio that is seen as the absolute class act of its era (Pixar).  Appropriately, Lasseter and Miyazaki are friends, and Lasseter was key in getting the Ghibli films released in North America.

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 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!

I sat down to write the column last week and decided I was pretty sick and tired of staring at Howl. So I cracked open Photoshop to craft a new banner for Hey, Answerman!, but the inspiration just didn't come!

What's the obvious solution? Ask my readers to do it for me!

Here's the deal. You take this banner:

And, using those same dimensions, make something crazy or creative or funny and submit it. Each week I'll pick a new one and post it. You don't have to use any specific anime character (in fact, you don't HAVE to use an anime character at all); go wild! Animated banners are A-OK, too.

A few rules:

1. Don't use real people in the banner, no matter how famous they may be.
2. No profanity.
3. The banner must have the Hey, Answerman! logo in it featured prominently, although you may change the font to whatever you like.
4. Submissions must use the same dimensions as the current banner, in terms of pixel width and height.
A little bigger or smaller is OK, but don't go overboard.

Every week a new banner will be chosen and posted at the top of the column, along with a credit so the creator can bask in his or her amazing fame and glory. What's the prize for winning, you may ask? Well, every week a new banner will be chosen and posted at the top of the column, along with a credit so the creator can bask in his or her amazing fame and glory!

Email your submissions to answerman (at) animenewsnetwork.com. Good luck! Have fun!

See you all next week!

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