Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

We had a brief hiatus last week thanks to New York ComicCon, but we're back. I know you missed me.

Thanks again to Sandra McMullen for her kickass banner.

I was searching around on YouTube and I noticed there are a lot of "anime music videos" where someone takes footage from a show and sets it to a song they like. Some of them are OK I guess but a lot of them aren't very good or they all use the same song. I noticed that while fansubs get taken down all the time the music videos are left up. So my question is, are the music videos legal? What do you think of anime music videos?

Well, the short answer to your question is "No". Anime music videos break all kinds of copyright and intellectual property laws; they're not only infringing on the anime, they're also using someone else's music without permission.

That said, with few exceptions, most bands don't seem to notice or care about AMVs, and the Japanese don't seem to care much either, so generally they're left alone. Sometimes they get caught up in the random fansub sweeps YouTube does every now and then, but that's about it. No, they're not legal, but nobody seems to care about them.

As for their relative quality, I've always been of the (unpopular) mindset that AMVs, while they are occasionally fun to watch, aren't really all that creative. I mean, basically you're taking someone else's song and someone else's show and creating kind of a vague (or extremely obvious) emotional connection between the two and then it runs for 6 minutes or whatever. I've seen my fair share of well-executed videos, but most of them don't have any value beyond a gimmick that you pick up on within the first few seconds. How much real honest-to-god creativity does it really take to make a connection between "Heaven is a Place on Earth" and Ah My Goddess? Yeah, OK, it's kinda fun to watch I suppose, but these are very disposable things.

Since the advent of YouTube (and readily available pirated copies of expensive video editing software), there are now more AMVs than ever, which is to say there are now more terrible AMVs than ever. Any kid with a bootleg copy of Adobe Premiere and a Linkin Park MP3 can slap together a Naruto music video out of the fansubs he downloads and the result is usually unwatchable. For every one decent video there are thousands of terrible ones, which are almost uniformly angst-ridden emo rock set to fight scenes from shonen anime.

But still, people have fun making them and watching them and the video editing experience they get from putting these things together may one day benefit them down the road. So while I question their legitimate creative merit, they're harmless.

I've been selectively watching anime shows for a few a years now and there's something that I've never quite understood: Just what is it about anime (and Japanese entertainment in general) that drives even perfectly reasonable people to over the top, one way or the other? I can't for the life of me think of an another form of entertainment that people love or hate so obsessively. It can't be the general art-style or the overall level of quality (or the lack of thereof), because is American or European stuff really that different? The haters in particular baffle me, because their opinions are usually not even consistent; they'll gladly play Metal Gear Solid or Japaneses RPGs but absolutely refuse to give even shows like Stand Alone Complex a chance. Not that japanophiles are any better, but at least they reject all western entertainment as garbage.

Welcome to the internet, where nobody's allowed to have a moderate opinion and worthless blanket judgments are the order of the day.

Anime, like every other topic ever discussed on the internet, draws a lot of extreme opinions one way or the other simply because it's popular and people talk about it. Read any thread about a recent film or a popular TV show and you'll see the exact same kinds of responses - it's either the best thing ever or the worst thing ever created and if you're not on one side you're on the other. It isn't unique to anime at all.

The people who rant and rave about how all anime sucks are generally folks who are either trolling anime fans, haven't really seen much of it or are simply bandwagoning. The people who rant and rave about how anime is the greatest thing ever and all western entertainment sucks are usually obnoxious japanophiles who exist in a cloud of their own nonsense. It isn't worth your time to listen to either side of that argument because all it is is an echo chamber, people mindlessly repeating the same ill-formed "opinions" over and over again, refusing to listen to one another.

If you have friends that are constantly slagging off anime, my suggestion is to find a show you think might appeal to them - particularly something that was made with western audiences in mind, like Ghost in the Shell or Cowboy Bebop - and see if they enjoy it. Likely they'll continue saying all anime sucks (except the one they like), but it's a step in the right direction.

Or you could just make new friends.

I watch anime. A lot of it. And I've noticed that in some cases, parts in some episodes, the animation makes me wonder "..how did that even get on the air? Why wasn't there someone there to go 'whoa, wait a minute, this is CRAP.' I've provided two screencaps of said 'QUALITY". A part in Bleach that's both amusing and terrifying, and Naruto (the ever-popular filler arc) where they forgot to draw his head.

I'm not saying things like Gundam 0079 & Sailor Moon are perfect. Far from it. It's just, back then, we didn't exactly have all this tech around. With such technology, shouldn't 'QUALITY' like this be non-existent?

Those screenshots are priceless.

It's important to remember that making long-running shows like Naruto and Bleach - shows that have no production break, that run every week of the year - aren't produced with the highest possible quality standards in mind. A lot of the animation is farmed out to cheaper and often foreign (ie: Korea or the Philippines) studios and they're produced on a pretty small budget to begin with, so the daily grind of animation production runs a high risk of introducing mistakes or sloppiness into the show. Happens all the time; it's tough to find an anime out there that isn't rife with mistakes or bad frames (although KyoAni, the people responsible for Haruhi Suzumiya and the Kanon remake, have a pretty great track record right now).
I look at mistakes in the animation like I do typos in a magazine; regardless of the fact that we have sophisticated software that catches mistakes, it's still ridiculously easy for errors to show up in the publication all the way up until it's actually on the shelves. So while these animators likely have very high-tech tools at their disposal, human error will always seep through somehow.

As I said, though, the length of the series is a factor - you're more likely to see mistakes in shows like Naruto than you are shorter, 13-episode series or films where the scope of the production is much smaller and there's more attention to detail. Of course there are shorter shows that look terrible, but by and large, the 300-episode shonen epics run a higher risk of looking sloppy at certain points.

About The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: Given the strange episode numbering, should it be watched chronologically or anachronologically? And why were all the episodes aired out of order? Also, will Bandai be renumbering the episodes for the U.S. release and releasing it all chronologically or not?

At least part of the answer to your question was revealed at New York ComicCon this past weekend; while the standard edition Haruhi DVDs will be in chronological order, the ridiculous over-the-top special edition will include a second DVD that has the show subtitled only and in broadcast order, which is something Bandai had to fight for, since the Japanese DVDs are in chronological order only.

Everyone I've heard seems to prefer the broadcast order, since the ordering is apparently very clever (and that's also how people first saw it, so that's likely a factor). It's up to you which order you want to watch it in, but at least you'll be given the choice when the show arrives in May.

This "press release" had me in tears. Names have been changed to protect the terminally dumb.

For Immediate Release
22 Feb. 2007

[FAN-RUN RPG WEBSITE] to host Naruto: Shippuuden Episodes

          Orem, Utah – [FAN-RUN RPG WEBSITE], an RPG-centric news and review site with a touch of anime coverage, has announced that it will be hosting episodes of the new NARUTO series, SHIPPUUDEN, at least until the new series has an official American license.

The files hosted will be AVI files with Japanese audio, subtitled in English by renowned fansubbers, Dattebayo. 

“We've been told often by our readers that they enjoy us adding a bit of attention to anime on the site,” said Heath Hindman, [FAN WEBSITE] Editor in Chief.  “As you can guess by the domain name, it's not our main focus, but we do take pride in what we've got.  We're very excited to offer folks a direct download of a new, excellent anime series like this.  Hopefully our servers don't implode.  But hey, that's a risk I'm willing to take.”

Fans can download the new episodes at the following link:

Presently, the episode 1+2 combo is available, and episode 3 is uploading to the server as this press release is being written. 

Further contact:
[email protected] WEBSITE.com

I have to wonder what thinking went in to this; are these people under the impression that anime is public domain or something, and that it's totally cool for them to not only host the episodes, but to send out a press release announcing that they're hosting bootlegged content? I am completely, utterly baffled. This is like some torrent website sending out a release "POPULAR TORRENT SITE TO OFFER MAJOR FILMS FOR DOWNLOAD". Maybe I'll send out a press release next time I plan on shoplifting from the local convenience store.

Even these adorable baby animals have more sense than these people.

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

I've got a rant about copyrights and/or respect for them.  Firstly, what the **** is wrong with anime "fans"?  They crack me up because I consistently see the same people who download and abuse copyright get into a snit about their own "rights".

The little drama queens of fandom have no issue telling you why they're a-ok downloading mounds of copyrighted videos or how it's "fair use" to use music for AMVs or there's "nothing wrong" with making costumes of copyrighted characters.  But gawd-forbid you use THEIR material (even material TAKEN from other material) without THEIR sacrosanct permission.  AMVs are the best example of this.  So, you made a completely derivative work utilizing someone else's animation, and someone else's music.  I mean, a little credit if you at least own the DVDs and the CD for the material, but it's STILL all taken from someone else.  And now someone is using your editting "without your permission", OH NOES!!  I like AMVs, and a really good one should be appreciated and respected, but c'mon.  Where do you get off screaming about the guy who "steals" your video considering your source material.

The same is true about all the other little "possessions" of anime fandom that aren't really yours.  I mean, I understand it when other people are using your image to make fun of you, that's not right.  But if it's just about "credit" or "attention" or "acclaim", get over yourself.  You're not going to become an internet millionaire pimping yourself on YouTube and that other guy isn't going to become one handing out your "stolen" footage, and NEITHER of you is more in the "right" anyway since it's all copyrighted to someone else to BEGIN with.

Why is it, when "the man" is hassling a fanartist or writer or editor or whatever about "intellectual property", they don't understand the love and appreciation that's on display.  But it's a whole different ball of wax when you're the creator and someone else stands to gain, or even when you're not seeing full gains.  Suddenly "potential" customers/viewers/etc makes a lot more sense and those people need to be dealt with.  If they're stealing your bandwidth, that's one thing; but if they just have their own copy, you still have yours, so no harm, no foul, right?  But, I guess if the copyright law doesn't really matter, what's a little hypocrisy between friends, right?  Let me know if you can get the cops to shut that one fansite down while they leave yours alone, ok?

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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