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Hey, Answerman! - The Tunnel of Time

by Zac Bertschy,

Well, it's been one helluva week. Most of the rest of the ANN crew are on the east coast this weekend for Anime Boston, so I've been left to my own devices here.

It all gets a little more complicated, though; shortly after last week's column was released, my email program severely crashed, and I lost months and months
of questions and rants! Doesn't that suck?

So today - while I wait for more questions to pour in - we're gonna take a little trip back in time! I'm going to revisit older columns and provide a little color commentary on days long since past. We've got a rant this week, but it's literally the only rant I had to publish; if you sent a rant to me in the last week, you're going to need to resend it. With that in mind, this week's rant will not be winning a prize, since that would be completely unfair to everyone.

So let's get moving shall we?
Original Answers are in Italics.

Here's one from way back in 2001. I can't believe this column has been around for 6 years.

thank again for all the help. My question is this, throughout movies, an even anime movies, sequels are usually worse, can you list a few sequels to anime movies that you yourself thought were good.

Sure I can. Patlabor II was a serious improvement over the first one. The first Patlabor film put me to sleep.. the second one was really well done. The Slayers franchise has a history of making sequels that are better than the previous film. Slayers Return is probably the best of those movies, being vastly more entertaining than the first. The second Urusei Yatsura movie, Beautiful Dreamer, is a masterpiece and substantially better than the film that preceded it. I preferred Tenchi The Movie 2 to Tenchi Muyo in Love, simply because it didn't have the creepy incest undertones. Tenchi Forever was even better than the first two, even.

Okay, let's point out what's wrong with this answer:

* I have never seen Patlabor The Movie. Wait, correction: I saw the first 10 minutes of it and passed out. Technically I suppose it did put me to sleep, but that's hardly fair.

* I've also never seen the first Urusei Yatsura movie, and in hindsight, Beautiful Dreamer is the most frustrating film in that franchise. Mamoru Oshii just has to lay on a thick layer of pretension no matter what he does, doesn't he?

* I'll cop to the fact that Slayers Return is probably the best of those movies, but I haven't seen any of them in years so it's tough to remember. They're all pretty similar, though.

* Tenchi the Movie 2 I believe had some new girl who claimed to be Tenchi's daughter and if I recall correctly there was a bunch of sexual tension in that film so hey, I guess both of those movies had creepy incest undertones!

Looking back on this question, half a decade later, I have to say I don't agree with what I said originally. I'd say 99 percent of anime sequels - which are almost always Shonen Jump-style "Naruto: The Movie 8" or whatever, tend to remain on a steady path of mediocre sameness. I couldn't honestly make a quality judgement between One Piece the Movie and One Piece the Movie 2. Neither of them are particularly good. I think that's a lot more accurate. Generally, it's the big-budget one-shots that define quality filmmaking when it comes to anime.

Although I did like The Cat Returns, and that's a sequel.

Hello! There seems to be a disturbing lack of classic anime available for us old-schoolers to watch. I'm talking about shows like Starvengers,Gaiking, Dangard Ace, and my own show, Grandizer. Ares, Winstar, and myselfare really hoping to make a comeback so our shows can be enjoyed by a whole new audience. Is anybody planning to help us? I'll grant you it's a relief to see the classics like the original Macross, Urusei Yatsura, Starblazers,and Battle Of The Planets being made available for their fans. But, whereare Voltron, Tranzor Z, and Macron 1?

-Johnny Bryant (a.k.a. Orion Quest)

Well, Aura Battler Dunbine and Giant Gorg are coming out soon enough, so you can keep an eye out for those. ADV's been releasing the original Dirty Pair lately, and I believe someone's doing a release of Windaria pretty soon. Voltron… well, the licensing for that show is mired in legal rumblings right now, so I wouldn't expect to see much regarding that. Remember, the market for older anime is very small. The only people who buy it are hardcore older fans, and they make up a minute portion of the market. Best of luck to you.

Okay, I guess I wasn't "wrong" about this, but Giant Gorg never actually came out. ADV kept releasing Aura Battler Dunbine even though it was pretty clear nobody on Earth bought that show (considering for about a year there every single ADV DVD and Newtype USA issue had a promotional card where if you so much as looked askance at ADV's corporate headquarters or made eye contact with Matt Greenfield, you'd get a volume of Aura Battler Dunbine for free), and obviously, Voltron is now available from Media Blasters.

It's funny, though; this question was asked back in 2001 and the answer would basically be exactly the same now, albeit with a few title changes.

I just finished watching the first season of Orphen and it seemed like a pretty definitive end to the main objective. What are the other two seasons about and how long are they?

You know, I used to think there were three seasons; One called “Revenge” and one called “Up and Down!”. I saw a spread for “Up and Down!” in a Newtype once, and I haven't seen anything else on it or seen mention of it anywhere since. At this point, I'm going to assume it doesn't exist. I hear Revenge deals with Orphen's past, his days at magic school and so forth. It's 23 episodes long. That's all I know.

There is no series called Sorcerous Stabber Orphen: Up and Down. I saw a spread called that in English in a Japanese issue of Newtype and assumed it was a new show. Turns out it was just a retrospective on the series.

Sometimes, I'm an idiot. But hey, we all make mistakes, right?

This might be a stupid question but here goes...

I recently borrowed and watched my cousin's Hong Kong DVDs of the show Flame of Recca, since he proclaimed it was "like DBZ only better... and shorter." It's an absolutely wonderful show, and certainly not new. Yet this show hasn't been released in the US in any form. There are other shows like it, shows that are not new and better than a lot of the stuff that gets released here... shows like Violinist of Hamelin and Kodomo no Omocha. How come these shows aren't getting licensed? They're certainly popular enough in Japan; Violinist saw an SNES game, Recca recently had a Game Boy ADVANCE release, and Kodomo ran for over a hundred episodes, I believe. What gives?
-Rurouni Trelane

Well, there's no specific rhyme or reason behind a lot of these decisions. Flame of Recca in particular boggles the mind. It's a lot like Yuu Yuu Hakusho, and would probably be very popular if given a chance on Cartoon Network. The show is about the right length and doesn't have too much objectionable material in it. I'm not sure why it hasn't been licensed yet. Kodomo no Omocha, well, that's an easier answer. It's incredibly long and until recently, the market viability of long-running shoujo series has been questionable. Now that ADV has had success with Princess Nine, we're going to see a lot more shoujo titles see release. Marmalade Boy got licensed, and so did Super Gals. Tokyopop has the Kodocha manga, so I'd imagine that they'll be snapping up the rights to the TV series any time now. Violinist of Hamelin… well… aside from the fact that it's hard to call it “anime” since the show is barely “animated”. It's mostly a series of still images with people talking over them. It's gotta be a cheap license, but I'm pretty sure the show wouldn't sell very well. Heck, you never know. It could get licensed.

There's a lot wrong with this answer but hindsight is crystal clear, so I'm not going to kick myself too hard for this one.

Flame of Recca did eventually come out and was all but completely ignored by the public at large; by the time it eventually saw release, Yu Yu Hakusho had already seriously faded in popularity, and there wasn't a lot of potential for another cheaply-animated shonen fighting serial that hadn't aged well since the 1990s.

As for the shojo stuff, well, none of that really came true. Funimation's doing a few shows - Kodocha did eventually get licensed, after all - but they're hardly setting the world on fire. The shojo genre is all but dead in anime anyway; generally, if something is considered "for girls" these days, that's because it's an action show chock full of gay supermodels. Sure, there are a few, but that "spark" everyone was expecting would blow up the shojo genre in America and we'd get countless genre series released here on DVD and broadcast on TV... well, that didn't happen, and it likely never, ever will.

It's been fun rooting around through old columns like a starving raccoon but I think I'm through for today. Keep those new questions coming so we don't have to do this again soon, OK? OK.

Sorry! No flake this week. Here's a photo of a baby chick instead.


As I said earlier in the column, this week's rant is NOT the winner of the contest. I need everyone who mailed in a rant (other than this guy) to resend it to me. Next week, presumably, we'll have a proper winner.

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

Alright, I've had enough.

A few weeks ago, I've been reading reviews about this new anime series called The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and I couldn't wait to go through and watch it.  I had to dig through a few torrent sites to actually find a subbed copy since it was already licensed.  (I'm cheap I know, but not because I want to, just because I can't afford DVDs.)  After a day or 2 of downloading I finally saw the series.  And I must say, I'm really disappointed...

I've not found a good non-biased review about this series and I think I may have been tricked into this over-hyped series.  Here, I'm wanting to tell everybody what this series is really about and tell what's wrong here.

Okay, lets review on what this series is... in simple terms.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is about a high schooler named Kyon (real name unknown) who happens to land himself a psycho girlfriend with god-like powers, Haruhi Suzumiya.  It starts out great, Haruhi is an eccentric character with wild ideas and dreams while Kyon is the down to earth person who unleashes funny internal quips and monologues against Haruhi.  She then starts a club called The SOS Brigade where her true goal is to find supernatural people.  Then (gasp!) those same supernaturals she's looking for come and join her quest, but only in order to study Haruhi.  Everything seems to center around Haruhis' first flight into the God-hood "3 years ago", something about her being bored and wanting a more exciting existence.  Nagato is a alien who think Haruhi is the next step to there evolution.  Asahina is a time traveler from the future who's here to find out why nobody can travel before "3 years ago".  And Koizuma is a esper who combats Haruhi's hissy fits that turn into giant fog monsters in a closed dimension.

Okay, seems pretty good, a pretty original plot.  A nice cast of interesting characters to go along with.  Seems like everything is going smoothly right?  This will be a great series for generations to come and enjoy.

No, not really...

Okay, lets start off with what's wrong with the series.  First of all, the plot.

The Ana chronological\Chronological debate.  Who ever decided to air this series out of order and\or without a script rewrite to make this series flow better is an idiot.  Let me explain, a series needs to have a feeling of suspense as to what is going to happen next throughout the series.  Haruhi gains the suspense and reaches a climax at EPISODE 6!!  So what does this mean?  It means Episode 7-14 is mostly filler and doesn't have a big impact on the series.  When I first watched this, I was thinking "What the hell?!  Did who ever uploaded this screw up the ordering?"  The series didn't make much sense when it jumped around between the middle and end of the series but it did give a sense of suspense somewhat.  To sum it up, the series should have been rewritten to make it flow like the AnaChrono series but still make sense from episode to episode.

Next in line, the characters.

What can we say about Haruhi that hasn't been thought of before by Kyon himself.  Haruhi is selfish, stuck-up, spoiled and a sociopath.  She's also a criminal, her list being extortion, blackmail, kidnapping, and molestation to name a few.  Her powers really compliment her though as she can destroy a world like a Old Testament God if nobody goes along with her ideas.  She isn't a really likable character  The only time when I've liked her was when she was vulnerable or quiet.  She'd probably be a Mary Sue if she was more likable since she's already so great at everything imaginable and every guy wants to go out with her, I guess it makes sense to have her as a psycho bitch then.

Asahina..  I don't know why she's in the series except for being fan service and to up the moe factor (She's like somebody from Kanon or Air).  She doesn't seem to really study Haruhi but only to go along with her plans of using Asahina as a dress-up doll.  She always makes me wince a little whenever Haruhi is around because she usually acts like a molestation victim around her, which Haruhi usually does with the Bunny-Girl, Nurse, and Maid outfits.  Though she still wears those outfits with pride and serves tea with a smile on her face though, I kinda wonder if she actually enjoys this the whole time.

Now for Koizuma.  Ugh, this guy can make a philosophy professor scratch his own head.  He's the esper who works for The Agency (could we have gotten story arc on this?) who not just studies Haruhi but talks to her like she's his God.  Koizuma will take a long time saying something that can be summed up in a few words.  He's a nice character but annoying with his psycho babble speak, which I don't think a lot of people will understand, even Kyon didn't.  I wish he had more little jokes or quips like Kyon does but he's not the type to say things in short words.

Kyon and Nagato are actually the best characters in the series in my opinion.  Kyon's little monologues and backbites at Haruhi makes the series more funny.  Nagato makes the action scenes, what few there were, really exciting as she does it all with a straight face, even when stabbed 8 times with spears through her chest.  Even her little hacking scenes in Episode 13 along with Kyons' speech makes her seem more human but still kick ass.

But the biggest problem that I found is that the series feels incomplete like there should be something else after Episode 14.  We could have had a few episodes on The Agency, more aliens, more action sequences against some other supernatural entities, and even having Haruhi and Kyons relationship develop into something more natural instead of having it forced.  But instead of the 26 episodes that this series should have gotten, it's like the the writers just didn't care anymore after halfway through the series.  You'll be really disappointed with the last episode as nothing happens for the entire episode, only Kyon being the slave again and fetches a "free" heater.

Now I won't say that this series is bad, far from it.  It's original and written well from the main characters (Kyon's) view, though some of the plot outside of the school\natural life aspect will confuse anyone who isn't ready for something really deep (read Evangelion).  The animation and art for the series are excellent and shows that a very good budget was used, even during the final episodes.  The music was nice to listen too, a nice mix of shoujo themed songs are thrown in and it doesn't seem real sweet enough to rot out teeth.  It's still good but there's a lot left to be desired.  

If I had to give this series some kind of score, it'd be a 7 out of 10, I'm being generous here, and not the supreme 11 out of 10 most people seem to be wanting.

Don't believe the hype.

Note to the Haruhi purists, if you don't like my rant, come back in two years with a more open mind.  That's how I got off the crap of DBZ and Pokemon.

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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