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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

If some of the questions this week don't make your flesh crawl, well, you're a stronger man than I.

Thanks to Sandra McMullen, again, for this week's awesome banner.
Other people turned in banners too, but hers are just so cool.

For the last 2 weeks you've been getting mail from that kid who thinks he's Naruto or can use ninja chakra powers, and while I thought it was fake at first, i realized that this is the internet and people like that probably do exist. So here's my question: are there people out there who sincerely think they can use anime characters' powers in real life? Are they just kids playing pretend or what?

I knew this question would come one day and somehow I knew that flake would spurn it. I dread answering this. I don't even like knowing the answer to this.

The short answer to your question is "yes". The long answer is terrifying if you haven't heard of these people before.

Thanks to the internet, delusional people now have a haven where they can all get together and tell eachother that they aren't delusional. This bolsters their delusions and makes them self-righteous and in many cases, highly pretentious about their ridiculous "beliefs". Some kid can be "practicing" his fake "martial arts" outside after watching too much Naruto, pretend that he surprised himself by doing something "magical" like shooting ninja lightning out of his ass or something, and then go online and report it to his friends and SOMEONE else will undoubtedly hop on the attention monger train and say "Wow that same thing happened to me too!". Then it all turns into this big wank-fest where they make up stuff and agree with eachother and eventually start taking themselves really seriously. The kid who wrote in threatening to beat me up with his imaginary cartoon powers last week sounded like he had a little clique of friends, who probably all buy into his bullshit and have convinced themselves that they, too, have magic inner spirit animals that give them special abilities. They probably also draw anime-style fanart of themselves. There are a LOT of little cliques like this out there; they are all over the internet and infest high schools everywhere.

Kids like that aren't even really the worst of it, either; they're sort of the 'larvae stage' of an even creepier community, the "Otakukin". There's a small chance you've heard of "otherkin", people who believe they're actually dragons or foxes or faeries or whatever trapped in human bodies. Those people are bad enough, but Otakukin take it one step further - they believe they are the reincarnation of an anime character.

No, I'm not kidding. Yes, there are people who actually subscribe to this. Yes, they are completely bonkers.

The basic concept is this: someone goes on to the Otakukin message board - wherever it may exist, there are a few of 'em out there - and claims that they think they may have been Kagome or Goku or Duo Maxwell in a past life. How can they prove it? Well, they claim that when they were watching the anime series, they had specific memories of having lived those events, and sometimes the anime series gets it "wrong". That's right, someone will claim to be Inuyasha and then say that in episode #82, the events were "wrong", it actually happened "like this", and they know that because in a past life or a parallel dimension or something they actually were Inuyasha so they know better.

Here's a choice quote from the Livejournal Otakukin community to give you an example of how these people talk to eachother:

:Samurai X: The Motion Picture, on the other hand, was offensive to me. So poorly put together and so utterly pessimistic, it wasn't anything like me, especially at that time in my soul progression."

Obviously this person believes he or she is Rurouni Kenshin. See what I mean? Here's another couple of gems:

"Also, the recent anime portrayals of me in the filler arc of Naruto were so... Hollow. Almost kinda soulless and cheap. I'm definitely manga canon."

"I've had this sort of thing happen with soul bonds, and bonds that I've known on other's systems, even they way the 'oringal' artist designed the charatcers, I've been told they was slight off."

This person uses the word "original" in quotes, because Otakukin believe that the person who actually created the manga was simply "tapping in" to the alternate reality in which the anime character actually existed, and therefore is doing no more than recording a fictionalized version of real events. This gives them room to "disagree" or act violated somehow when they watch anime and decide they want to take issue with some scene.

Is your head exploding yet? I don't really need to harp on and on about how utterly ridiculous this stuff is, because it really does speak for itself, but it just goes to show you that even when something is so ridiculous and out there it seems like it has to be a joke, there are doubtless hundreds who take it gravely seriously. Take a cruise around the Otakukin sites (or read today's Flake of the Week), though; it will give you the very unique sensation of feeling really good about yourself as a person while simultaneously laughing and sobbing.

Hello, I have a few questions on voice acting and also on animes turned into games and visa versa. I would greatly appreciate if you could at least answer some of them.
  1. Are the companies that license the different titles also responsible for doing the voice-overs?
  2. If so, do you know if they hold anything resembling an open audition? Or just like any other job, all you have to do is send in a job application? 
  3. With the news of titles such as Ragnarok The Animation and Tales of Phantasia OVA coming out soon, I have to wonder if there have ever been a good transaction from game to anime or visa versa, that could maybe way up to other animes?

Okay, I'll answer these in order, then.

1. Not always. ADV and Funimation have in-house recording studios and a stable of regular voice talent that they use to dub all of their licensed titles. Bandai, Geneon and basically everyone else in the industry sends the work out to a dedicated contractor, like New Generation Pictures, Bang Zoom or NYAV. These companies work on a project-by-project basis and are not tied to any one particular licensor, although they will have lasting relationships built with them. Bang Zoom does a lot of Bandai titles, for instance.

2. While open auditions were likely held in the past, getting into that industry is largely about having talent and skill, living in the right place, being accessible and hardworking and most importantly, knowing someone inside who can help you get your foot in the door. If you aren't living in Texas, Los Angeles or New York... well, you're out of luck right now. Simply sending in a resume - unless you're already well-known talent or have a mind-blowing resume that will turn heads - isn't really going to work either. It's all about who you know.

3. Your last question is barely coherent but I think I get what you're trying to say.
Normally, anime based on video games kinda sucks. I've never heard anything more than mediocre notices, even from shows like Xenosaga or Ragnarok. Maybe the day will come when someone will make a totally kickass video game adaptation but that day hasn't really come yet.

Do you think Viz will acquire the Naruto fillers? I mean if they did wouldn't that make some people not want to watch Naruto on cartoon network anymore and not buy the Naruto DVDs either? Would an anime dubbing company actually not care what fans think? Like has Viz ever said anything about the fillers yet? Also if Viz does acquire the fillers how long would it take to acquire Naruto Shippuden? Also I have bought the Naruto uncut boxsets. But when they said uncut I thought they meant that they would leave the Naruto anime alone. I mean why do they have to redraw things like what Gaara is supposed to look like? Why can't they just leave the show alone? Also why is Viz releasing and edited version and a non-edited version. I think it is a dumb idea. I would just release non-edited versions with four episdoes on each disc.

Well, firstly, Viz doesn't have to "acquire" the Naruto fillers, they've already licensed the series. Secondly, I can't imagine that they'd just waste all that programming, but I wouldn't be surprised if they simply got to where the fillers started (surely their executives saw how the show's popularity suffered during those filler episodes), released those to DVD only and then simply skipped to the Hurricane Chronicles or whatever they're called.

As for your second thing there about "why can't they leave the Naruto anime alone", you're talking about studio Pierrot going back and touching up the anime to make it look better before it hits DVD. This is a very common practice. They don't "change what Gaara looks like", they're fixing mistakes or sloppiness in the animation and design.

Your brilliant plan to only release unedited Naruto DVDs would likely be a surefire moneymaker, too.

I stumbled on your column about a month ago and I've bookmarked ANN.com straight away.
Today, since I had some free time, I started reading your older posts from the archive. Well about that, I found some posts about the people watching the fansubs. And even if I know you're probably slapping your forehead right about now I'm going to ask you to hear me out. I totally agree with you that people should buy the DVD when it comes out, even though they saw the anime on youtube or whatever. However people who don't… well don't go labeling them as bad right away. I'll explain why.
Obviously, you talk about things from your point of view, the US point of view. For us people that weren't lucky enough to be born there, the fansubs on the internet is about as good as it gets (mostly). I for one was born in a second (?) world country. It's not the end of the world and I'm not complaining, but one thing does bug me: you can't find a manga or anime DVD to save your life. The majority of the kids/teen population doesn't really watch anime or read mangas – the otaku culture just isn't there, dammit! Furthermore no tv channel airs anime of any kind (at this point I may be lying but I'm 90% sure it's a fact).
So if you just now stumbled onto some anime on the net, it means you're somewhere around the age of 13-14 (and probably won grueling battles with elder and/or younger siblings over bandwidth). The net is pretty much your only source of anime/manga right then and there. Of course at this point you may be thinking “Dude, there this thing called air mail, it'll do the trick for all you folks.”. Unfortunately it's not quite so. First of all we have 2 things going for us: PayPal doesn't function in my country (and you have to be 18 or older to have a credit card) and the average monthly wage per person is about….$270, max $300. As you can probably guess, there's little chance to convince one's parents (who in total most likely don't earn more that $600) to buy you, let's say, all the Death Note volumes ($8*12+shipping volumes roughly equals $110 or more according to Amazon.com).
Basically, most kids here couldn't get the manga/anime dvd they want no matter what. They could always sell a kidney or smth…. But somehow I doubt any anime is THAT great. So don't hold a grudge against us, ne?

To be honest, I don't think anyone in the eternal "BUY ANIME" versus "ALL ANIME SHOULD BE FREE" argument are ever really talking about people in second or third world countries that flat-out don't have the means or the venues by which to legitimately buy anime.

The fansub arguments revolve generally around Americans, Europeans and Canadians, residents in highly developed, rich countries who have the means to buy anime but simply don't feel that it's worth anything. If you live in Kazakhstan or wherever and the economy there simply doesn't support luxury goods... I mean, the licensors probably don't even care about you watching anime for free online. Well, maybe they do, but their chief concern are the people who would buy it but simply aren't because they're getting it all for free. Generally that demographic does not live in Somalia.

I've gotten a few letters like this, and while my response may be brief, I wanted to print
one just to give these people a voice and express the fact that the fansub argument doesn't really include people like you. Nobody's going to condemn you for watching fansubs.

Why are there always more of them?

Dear Mr. Bertschy,

My name is Luna Starbright and I am imploring you to apologize to the young man who wrote you last week about his abilities. While this may surprise and even shock you, there are many of us in this world who have the same kind of powers you see in anime shows. That young man obviously has the same powers as Naruto does, while I myself believe that I have the same abilities as Sailor Moon (transformation, etc). Now you may call us crazy, but it is the truth (as the young man said, we can prove it), and one day you may be enlightened. If not that is sad, but persecuting our kind is not the answer. I would ask you to look upon the lessons taught us by the defeat of the Nazis before continuing to rail against our kind. It is a form of racism.

For the time being I ask that you publically apologize to the entire 'kin community. We are people who deserve respect, and our feelings should be considered.

Sincerely and with great hope that you make the right decision,
Luna Wishcatcher Starbright

How's this for my public apology: your name sounds like a My Little Pony and your letter makes me want to wretch. "Racism"? Give me a break. The notion that a bunch of idiot kids who watch too many cartoons compare being made fun of (and rightfully so) on the internet to legitimate real-world discrimination issues makes me so very, very sad. All you're doing is trivializing real racism. You're a moron with no perspective on the real world.

Are we done here? I'm going to stop printing letters from you lunatics. I'm only giving you the attention you so crave.

Sheesh. Not even these kittens can cheer me up after that nonsense.

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

My rant is about anime reviews/reviewers.  I will firstly admit that I don't scour around and read dozens of reviews and honestly reviews practically never influence my decision on what I buy anyway.  However, I do feel a bit aggrivated when I happen to casually read a review I sometimes come across.  This happens in the majority of the few reviews I do end up reading.

What bothers me the most about what I too often (in my opinion) read in so many anime reviews is one simple thing.  The word "cliche" and/or the phrase "something we've all seen before".  I just can't stand to see that in practically every review I come across.  I understand it can give an idea of what people who've seen these "cliches" before over and over what to expect but I find that more often what accompanies such description is low scores, heavily opinionated/subjective writing, and (overly) harsh statements about the show/volume.

I realize it can be difficult, really impossible, to give an unbiased review of something, but come on.  Not everyone has seen all these "cliches" that are constantly mentioned and often times causing a review to be written in a direction of bias.  And even if they have, their experience with them may vary.  I realize (and have been told) that I am easy to please, and I find just about all the anime I watch and own (which is hundreds of dvds/series, and nearly six years of interest in anime) to be quite enjoyable and I end up disagreeing with the harshness of a review just because of cliches. 

I don't mind so much when someone says the animation is not amazing, or the voice actors could have been better, and stuff like that.  It's just that I hate to see someone immediately berate a title for being similar to something else and calling it bad because of it.  i.e. something like "Such and Such is just another crappy harem show.  Same old cliche - high school guy meets alien girl, girls fight over him and several live with him, blah blah blah. Story: C-"  If the reviewer can make his points well and explain why in the case of that title the cliches don't work, that's not so bad.  Problem is I often times don't find that kind of reviewing done and it ends up just a padded version of the example above. 

In my opinion, cliches are done so much, hence becomming cliches, because not only can it be difficult to be unique and completely original but it's also because it becomes something that works.  I've seen dozens of harem shows, which I find to be the biggest targets of the negative cliche reviews, and I'm not at all tired of the same formulas over and over.  These shows wouldn't be so cliched if nobody enjoyed them.  In my opinion that's the key point a lot of reviewers neglect.  I also think most of them, conciously or subconciously, write their reviews with the idea in mind that most people feel the same way they do.  I think this is a wrong way of doing it.

Basically, what I'm saying is I would love to see less biased reviews and see more of them written in a one-on-one objective focus on what the show brings to the table.  Try not to be personal and when writing a review examine it as if it were the first time you've encountered it.  It's kinda funny when I think about it - often times a reviewer themselves can become cliches in the very ways they often despise by constantly berating titles for the same things over and over.  When I think about a show I think about that show and only that show, so maybe that's another reason I can enjoy most of what I watch more than most people who write reviews apparently can.

So please, I'm not desiring that reviewers enjoy everything and call everything good, I just want to see better written reviews based on the quality and use of the content of a title.  Not mostly on how the title's cliches/content compares to something else.  There is nothing wrong with a little comparing, but don't forget the title on it's own.

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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