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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

And we're back
! The hiatus was long and difficult indeed, but also quite necessary, unless you had some strange desire to read incoherent, angry mumblings that had little to do with the question being asked. All is well now, however, and we (the royal we) are ready to move on and answer some mail!

So, as an apology - of sorts - this week's column is Super-Sized! That's right: more questions, more answers, and a revamp to the rant section that seems to be angering everyone oh-so-much.

Thanks again to the lovely and talented Sandra McMullen for her banner this week.

I've got a question for you that's been bugging me for some time. Recently, we've seen some new anime films come out that have been released in theaters here in the US. My question is this: How much does is cost to advertise and release a film like that in theaters? We've seen some high-profile anime films get theatre showings, but these are all brief and have limited releases. Films like Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shambala and Paprika were only shown in a few theatres. Why is it that anime distributors do this? Wouldn't it make more sense to show a film in more theatres to allow more people to see it so they could make more money?

Well, the short answer is that theatrical releases are insanely expensive and usually only serve as a promotional campaign for the DVD release when it comes to things like anime films; rarely does the company releasing the film have enough faith in its box office potential to spend enough money promoting the theatrical release to actually turn a profit on it. Advertising for your average big-budget box office winner is usually 50 million dollars or more. Most - actually I'd say all - anime companies do not have that kind of money to spend or are simply unwilling (a'la Sony or Disney).

Every film is different, though. Using your two examples, let's break them down. The Fullmetal Alchemist movie, when you think about it, has pretty weak box office potential; this is a fans-only thing, since you'd have to have seen the entire TV series in order for any of it to make an ounce of sense. Secondly, it's basically guaranteed to all of its business on DVD; what's the point in spending millions advertising a release that likely won't generate a huge amount of box office? Marketing is extremely expensive. Also, you have to take into account that Funimation does all of its releases using digital projection, which most theaters are not equipped properly for; so they're limited in the number of venues they can actually book. Theatrical releases are basically a losing proposition for a company in Funimation's position.

With Paprika - and other releases like it, a'la Steamboy - generally the cost of printing negatives (which will generally run you around $70,000)
is negated since they can simply subtitle the existing Japanese prints (still at a cost of around $3k for the initial print and $1k for the subsequent prints). That doesn't change the fact that the studio rarely has enough faith in any given anime movie (which is reasonable, given the box office history of anime in American theaters) to give it the proper marketing push it'd need to rake in the dough. So the theatrical screenings are basically - like the Funimation screenings - a promotional show for the DVD release. It lends a little more credibility to the video release, as well.

So while it would 'make sense' that the studios should be releasing these films in more theaters, the fact that they're going to be making their money primarily on home video is a foregone conclusion.

A month or two ago i read online that someone from Bang Zoom was pretending to be a fan on another anime forum and bashing other studios and promoting bang zooms work. Then i read on a different forum that they thought the studios were sending their employees to pose as real fans on internet forms to promote their shows. I have to ask why would they do this and how common is it, are people being paranoid, or do the companies really do this.

What you're talking about there is called Astroturfing, and while legally there isn't anything anyone can do about it, it is pretty annoying - and surprisingly prevalent, but it happens everywhere, not just with anime.

The incident you're referring to was - if we're to believe the official response from Bang Zoom's president, Eric Sherman (and I have no reason not to believe the guy) - basically an intern who worked there decided to register an account over on the forums of our dear friends, AnimeonDVD.com. He then proceeded to bash other dub production studios, all while praising Bang Zoom's work. It was pretty obvious the guy had an agenda and when they traced his computer, they found that it was indeed coming from Bang Zoom's offices.

Sherman apologized for the whole thing and let everyone know that it was simply an overzealous intern. That was one case, but it happens all the time, and it's a little tough to figure out exactly who's doing it and when. On our own forums, I'm extremely suspicious of someone who seems to register simply to post about how great company X is - I've had it happen a couple of times,and it really angers me. I always investigate to see where the posts are coming from and if they're coming from the same city as the company that's being promoted so heavily, I will always contact them and ask them what's going on. It's not fun, but it'd be easier if they simply didn't do it.

Basically it's a form of viral marketing, but in my eyes, it's pretty cheap and sleazy to pretend to be an objective, unpaid fan, and then go around banging the drum for whatever company is keeping your bills paid. Sony has been caught doing this numerous times, in a variety of different forms. It's really, really frowned upon when it does happen (and the perps get caught), but there isn't a whole lot anyone can do about it besides running the astroturfers out on a rail and damning that company's marketing department. As far as I know - and as far as I've seen - it isn't a particularly common practice among anime companies. I've caught some of them doing it (who shall remain nameless), but it's nowhere near as common as it is in, say, the videogame industry, or even the movie industry.

So I wouldn't be too concerned with it, but if you see something suspicious - and you really have to build a case by making sure you're objectively looking at the user's entire post history - make sure you notify the administrators of whatever forum you're using. As far as I'm concerned, weeding out the people doing this and making sure everyone knows about it is pretty important.

Pls tell me why animators stoped making Cardcaptor Sakura series?? It's such a good story and people still want to watch them, are you positive that no one can ever continue the series!!

"The animators" stopped producing Card Captor Sakura because it was over. They made two films that basically wrapped it all up pretty neatly. The franchise has since faded, being replaced (effectively) by Tsubasa, which features many of the same characters, albeit minus most of their typical personality traits.

I wouldn't be totally shocked if CLAMP one day returned to the Card Captor Sakura story, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Besides which, if it's "such a good story", why then do you need more? Sometimes it's OK for a story to end.

Yes, I do have a question about voice acting, but not one dealing with how someone goes about becoming one. Mine is about royalties. Say "The Meloncholy of Haruhi Suzamiya" becomes the big seller that I think it'll be and they (the U.S. licensors, but I can't recall who) make a killing off it. Do the voice actors see anything in the way of royalties? Or are they paid whatever they got at the time of recording and that's it?
  Also, many times I just shake my head after reading the Flake of the week and wonder how can some people be so vacuous? Do you think this is really the case, or are people just messing with you?

Not usually, no. Voice actors are paid for their time and unless they're huge stars who also have lucrative profit-sharing clauses in their contracts (think Peter Jackson or Tom Cruise), they get their paycheck for their recording sessions and that's that. Bandai could pay them $40 an hour for 8 hours of work and then gross $56 million from DVD sales and the voice actors wouldn't get another dime. Of course, if an anime DVD did actually sell that well, the actor would almost assuredly benefit from the series' popularity, which would result in more work across the board.

As for the flakes, I can generally tell when someone's purposefully writing me just to be put in the flake session. Usually they do some hackneyed fake "bad" typing and ask something that's been asked a million times. I got a lot of these after I printed the first Otakukin letter.

Remember, there are a lot of... let's say "special" people out there who simply don't think before they say or do something. There's always a new low that can be reached. While it'd be nice to think that everyone out there is incredibly intelligent and full of common sense, that isn't the case. Think about some of the things you read on internet forums - do you really think all the idiotic stuff that's being said is "ironic", or is it more likely that there are a lot of idiots out there? Call me a cynic, but I'm going with the latter. Besides which, if you're just perpetuating stupid crap for the sake of "irony", you're not really any different from the guy who's doing it unintentionally. The only difference is that you're self-aware and yet you're still posting stupid crap.

The Fox license for Vision of Escaflowne has expired (as reported at the time by ANN), so it is now available to be picked up elsewhere (channels like Cartoon Network (on Toonami or Adult Swim), Sci-Fi, and SpikeTV come to mind). While the series is quite popular (yet another box set was released last year), it is also quite old. What chance do you think it has of seeing another television broadcast?

You know, all these years have passed since I first saw Escaflowne (I originally saw it on 3rd generation VHS fansubs about 10 years ago at my local anime club) and it's still one of my favorite shows.

I'm not sure what's happening with the broadcast rights to the series. It's getting on in years, and I can imagine that Bandai is shopping it around to various networks, but it is an older title and I can't imagine anyone is jumping at the chance to air it. Bandai has released it and re-released it and re-released it again over the years, so it's likely found whatever audience it's going to find.

That's not to say it won't pop up again, but if it does, expect it to get that primo 4:30 AM on a Sunday slot that Cartoon Network uses to kill off Bandai shows.

Hey Answerman, simple question for you that may have a complex answer. Are anime fans more conservative or liberal in their political beliefs? I Ask ebcause it's almost split evenly among the people in my anime club, half of them are bush voters (i would guess based on their bumper stickers and what they say about iraq) and half of them seem to be either liberal or they don't even want to talk about politics. I think it's interesting because i would assume most anime fans are liberal, considering we are all abou sharing culture and that seems more like a liberal thing to me. So what do you think.

Wow, interesting question.

For the longest time I, like you, assumed most anime fans were either left or politically ambivalent; generally, anime fans tend to be young, and the rule of thumb states that young people tend to be liberal and older folks tend to be conservative. But in the maelstrom of American politics, nothing is really for certain. I've run in to more and more conservative (even Republican) anime fans over the years; we have a number of active members of our community here that are openly Republican. At first, I was a little shocked (and maybe that's unfair of me); I am, after all, left as left can be, and I assumed since I'd never had a serious political run-in with anyone either in the industry or with the fans that most people generally were on the same page. Even during an election cycle I would make a comment favoring the Democratic candidate, and I'd get nods and agreements from those around me.

Turns out that blanket generalizations like that are a waste of time! Imagine that.

While I have to admit I believe - based on personal experience - that anime fans trend toward the left side of the political spectrum (and likely outnumber the conservatives by a decent margin), there are plenty of conservatives out there as well, and over the last few years I've seen more and more of them. While it might seem like anime in general appeals to people who aren't so conservative in terms of what they watch, there's so much of it and it covers such a broad spectrum of topics and genres that it really does have something for everyone. So I suppose it's not all that bizarre that your anime club has a bunch of Republicans in it.

This one's pretty self-explanatory.

Dear Sir/ Madam,
I have an offer that might interest you, since you people are specialized in catering for toddlers'  needs and experts in publishing.
I have a picture story book that has lovely characters suitable for little ones. This story is the beginning of a series which tells about how the island children have fun with the limited resources available. The story has captured the culture, mood and ambience, of the islands untouched by modern development.  

These books are worth putting on your site or your bookstores. I would also like to have these books translated to Japanese.

 Thank you

At first I thought this was spam, but no, this guy sincerely thinks we can help him out with his children's book.

Maybe we should change the name of the site to Toddler News Network! It'd totally fit with the rising popularity of lolicon anime!

These are baby Snow Leopards, which I saw recently on the awesome "Planet Earth" series on Discovery HD. If you haven't been watching that show, I highly recommend it.

Okay folks, we're switching up the Rant Rant Rant section. This week we're publishing a standard rant, but please check out the new submission guidelines below before submitting a new rant. There are prizes to be won!

This week's rant is courtesy of Daniel Mitchell. 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 would like to bring up the difference in manga companies translation and editing practices.
In my opinion, there are now three main manga companies, and several that are starting to get going. I'll work through each, with positives and negatives.
Tokyopop: My first 3 manga were all from TP, and I have fond memories of starting series like Chobits, Love Hina, and GetBackers. They probably release the largest library, but due to this, and the increasing size of their library, the release time between volumes of certain series continues to grow. Whereas once upon a time, series like GetBackers and Samurai Deeper Kyo used to be bi-monthly releases, they have been pushed now to a four-month wait between releases. I can only assume this is due to them not being as popular as some of their other series, seeing as how SDK is finished in Japan, at 38 volumes. I like that they put a glossary in Saiyuki for the SFX, which helped me in learning katakana/hiragana, and what the sounds actually mean. But that I recently saw a comment from Peter Ahlstrom about how and when they leave honorifics in the translation (ONLY if the series is about blatantly Japanese people, in japan, in modern times, and no fantasy/sci-fi elements), I was extremely disappointed. Add to this the fact that they excuse the horrible massacre of the translation of Ikki Tousen (i.e. Battle Vixens) because they wanted to use a 'big name' to draw in an otherwise ignorant demographic, all I have to say is, I've never heard of Keith Giffen, and the reason I picked up the book was the artwork, not the editor. At first, I had no idea what I was missing, but after seeing the anime, and reading some online translations of the manga, I realize what a horrible job was done with it. Luckily, Battle Club is not as pain-stakingly destroyed, but it's almost as bad. A little too late come series like Mai-HiME and Welcome to the NHK, both wonderful series, and for the most part, faithfully adapted. But after seeing other companies attitudes towards their product, I'm becoming increasingly disillusioned with TP.
Viz Media: Viz seems to hold the rights to practically every series from Japan's Weekly Jump, as well as every other Jump magazine, so, obviously, they release a lot of HUGE shounen series. My main complaint is their insistence with typesetting English SFX over the original Japanese in every panel. I find this very annoying. The Japanese SFX add to the overall page layout and feel, while the English SFX seem only to muddy the artwork. Yes, it's done very professionally, I'll admit, but it's an eyesore. I'm reading something that is from another culture, and in keeping the feel of that culture in the manga, I prefer my SFX and honorifics left intact, something that Viz is also very bad at. See the first volume of Bleach, in which they gave Inoue's brother a name, Kakei, while in the Japanese, it simply read Onii-chan, which translates to big brother. They could have translated it "Brother", but no, they had to give him a name... why? To not only Americanize it, but to remove the cultural aspect of respect when addressing others. Only later did the author specify the brother's name was Sora. And don't forget the editing to I"s. The original author used stars to cover some partial nudity in the first volume, so Viz decided to cover up the ALL the nudity in EVERY volume. They even used the excuse that the author did it himself to explain why they were doing it. However, the author only did it once. Though, they have corrected this, finally, by shrink-wrapping, leaving the artwork uncensored, and slapping an 'Explicit Content' label on the front of each volume from 11 on. But now, you also have the strange edit they did to a certain scene in a volume of Fullmetal Alchemist. The homunculi were executing Greed, one of there own, and had him crucified on a slab of rock shaped like a cross. Viz altered the cross-shaped slab, filling it in so it looked like just a large piece of rock. They claimed to do this to avoid offending anyone. Um, simply by doing this, they offended a large amount of the series' fans. All it needed was a disclaimer, and it would have been fine.
Del-Rey: Still relatively new, but my current favorite publisher. They announce the next volume release date at the end of the one you are reading. They include the Japanese honorifics, as well as explain what they mean. They made a press-release about editing Negima, then due to fan response, decided to leave it unaltered but shrink-wrap it, and it is one of their best-selling series. They pretty much learned from everything other companies were doing right and wrong, and have done everything right. Currently, the bulk of my manga buying is of Del-Rey titles, including Genshiken, Negima, Pastel, Suzuka, Basilisk, and Air Gear.
Then you have the smaller companies. Go! Comi and NetComics both seem to release a lot of online comics. I'm not quite sure, because as much as I look at the titles being released, most of them boast about being the graphic novel edition of the popular online comic, or, the art/content just doesn't appeal to me. Then there is Seven Seas. Still kinda small, they've got a few good series out, and it looks like they are getting bigger. Hopefully they'll keep getting better. Also, you have Infinity Studios and Dr. Master, who seem to have picked up a lot of ComicsOne's series when they went bankrupt. These two release a lot of Korean manwha, which I thoroughly enjoy, especially series by Park Sung-Woo, such as Peigenz, Now, Chun Rhang Yhur Jhun, and Zero- Beginning of the Coffin. Infinity Studios in particular, I must applaud. They are going through the trouble of re-translating the first five volumes of 'Now', previously released by ComicsOne, as well as continuing the series from volume 6 onwards, simultaneously.
CMX: The bane of Oh! Great fans everywhere. What they did to Tenjho Tenge was, and still is, unforgivable. However, due to an understanding and persuasive forum-goer, I decided to give them a second chance, and was pleasantly surprised at the lack of gross edits to Testarotho. If they can continue to release series with treatment similar to Testarotho rather than TT, they may just have a future.
ADV Manga: Not much happening here. Luckily they finished Full Metal Panic and Chrono Crusade before they dumped their licenses. And what little they still release is sporadic. But I've got Ray, Steel Angel Kurumi, Those Who Hunt Elves, Taimashin, Tactics, Mythical Detective Loki RAGNAROK, and Vaizard, to name a few, that will probably never be finished by them. Except, TP has picked up and is soon re-releasing (or already has) Tactics, so, I might just pick that up.
The entire point of this 'rant' being, that manga companies need to have more faith in their fanbases. Do they really still think that everyone buying manga doesn't know what it is? Do we all need to be babied and have everything dumbed down, so our tiny American minds can understand what's going on in the series we read? Give us faithful translations, not bastardizations. We can figure out what '-chan' means, if you'd let us...

Whew. So what do you think? Do they have a point? Sound off on our forums and let the discussion begin!

That said, we've had a lot of complaints about the rant section lately - generally, we're getting rants over and over again based on the same few topics: fansubs, dubbing, lolicon, and "I hate anime fans who do [X]". I'm just as sick of those as you guys are, so as an incentive to write better rants, here's what we're doing.

What I want are rants - or essays - or whatever you'd like to write, really (please don't get hung up on the dictionary definition of "rant" while you're writing) - that are about subjects OTHER than one ones listed above. I want well-thought out, careful writing. I want subjects we haven't covered a million times.

Here's what I don't want:

* Responses to previous rants about lolicon/dubbing/fansubs/anime fans who suck a lot
* 200 words about how awesome Dragonball is
* New rants about lolicon/dubbing/fansubs/anime fans who suck a lot
* Anything that's really, really boring.

The next rant I publish will
either conform to these guidelines or we simply won't have one that week. Rather than always publishing a rant - which I've been doing in the past, even if the rant was awful - I'll simply skip the section. Sound good?

Well, there's more. The author of the next rant to be published - which will only happen if it's good enough and follows these guidelines - will receive a prize box chock full of anime and manga straight from my own collection. I won't announce exactly what the prize is, but suffice to say, it's an incentive to do your best.

The rules as they are won't change:

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 500 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.

Send your rants to [email protected], and watch this space next week for our next installment!

I sat down to write the column last month 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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