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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

Well, we're back and we finally have some real questions, a real flake, and a real rant.

Thanks to everyone who resubmitted their questions after last week's mishap, and thanks again to Sandra McMullen for her awesome banner.

I've got a question regarding the anime series called, Beyblade. As you may be well aware of the series was a sucess in North America with much merchandise released besides the spinning tops. Despite this the series has never garnered a proper release on DVD, with only singles of part of the series being released by Geneon(At the time still Pioneer), Sony Wonder(In Canada Atleast), and FUNimation, with the movie being released by Miramax. Geneon and Sony released the complete first season with dub only audio tracks, the second season has never been released at all to my knowledge in North America, and the third season was released in 6 Volumes by FUNimation, this however didn't cover the whole third and final season, and Uncut Japanese Audio only became an option in Volume 5, the second last volume of the series released. Now my question is, why hasn't the series been released in it's entirity in Boxsets? I understand that this series was meant for children and that children don't have disposible incomes to use to pay for this, but the same could be said for Pokémon which recently got a boxset release of it's first season. So, why hasn't the series been release fully? Will it ever?

I never really understood why some people insist on believing that there's a serious market for shows aimed at very young children in their uncut, subtitled form, packaged in season box sets.

Beyblade was, to be frank, never that big a deal; the merchandise did OK for a short while and then promptly faded. The TV show has jumped around on various networks and timeslots. It was never a big hit.

Furthermore, the show is aimed at young children, and it's designed exclusively to sell them tops and plastic arenas in which to spin said tops. There's simply no reason to ever assume there's a market out there for complete season box sets of a series -
especially with the original Japanese intact - for a show like that. Box sets are primarily the domain of adult consumers - generally, shows like Beyblade are doled out in 6 episode discs, and are basically digital babysitters.

You mention that Pokémon recently had its first series released as a box set, but Pokémon was and still is a gigantic international success that has yet to be matched in terms of anime. Comparing it to something like Beyblade is a little ridiculous. Simply because one show aimed at children and designed to sell toys was released as a box set does not immediately justify releasing every other show like it as a box set.

Simply put, it hasn't been released 'fully' because nobody who's in the position to do such a thing thinks it would be a financial success. Given the franchise's age and its relatively quick fade into forgotten obscurity, I don't think it ever will be released completely, either.

Why is it that high school girls in anime are always inexperienced when it comes to boyfriends and dating? What I mean is, usually in an anime the heroine (and friends) will be 16, 17, even 18 years old, drop dead gorgeous, and popular in school, yet she not only never has a boyfriend at the beginning of the show, but usually has never had a boyfriend in her life, never kissed, and never had any sort of sexual contact. I find this very hard to believe, seeing as around 80% of teens aged 15 to 19 here in the U.S. have engaged in some form of sexual contact with another person. Yet in Anime girls are always portrayed as innocent, naive, virgins who are always experiencing their first real romantic encounter (crushes on much older adult men doesn't count). Is this a plot device to get the girl to fall for the hero, some kind of wish-fulfillment among the predominantly male anime writing staffs, or an accurate reflection on real life Japanese girls?

The short answer is "don't watch typical shonen anime for realistic depictions of Japanese women", but it's obviously a little more complex than that.

Basically, yes, the whole "smokin' hot high school virgin who doesn't know anything about sex nor has never had a boyfriend" is a wish-fullfillment thing. It's an archetype, designed to pull in male viewership. Given the sheer number of girls like that you see in shonen romance anime and anime based on dating sims, you have to assume it's a popular 'perfect woman' character type, so they cram 'em in to anime series left and right hoping to rope in fanboys who dig that sorta thing.

According to the (small amount of) research I did on the subject - mostly obtained here - there's nothing to suggest that Japanese high school girls are too different from American girls with respect to losing their virginity. According to the Japanese girls' magazine Anan - which you can check out at the link above (although be warned, there are not-work-safe Playmobil-esque illustrations), 21 percent of Japanese girls lose it by the time they're 16, while a further 29 percent lose it by 19. So I doubt walking into a Japanese high school will net you a gaggle of blushing virginal girls just aching for their first real romance with Generic Nerd #48475. Even if they were virgins, they're probably not going to act like mewling video game sex kittens.

It's generally a bad idea to assume that the depictions of Japanese people you see in most anime
are accurate or will give you a good idea of what Japanese people are actually like. Sure, you might get a handle on some basic cultural concepts, but that's about it. Think about it this way: would you tell someone to watch Kim Possible or Spongebob Squarepants in order to figure out how Americans act? Probably not, no.

Hey, Answerman, I'm going to be cosplaying for my first time this year at Otakon and I'd just like to know, is it okay to buy a costume. Since I have no sewing skills what so ever, if I want to cosplay, I have to buy the costume. And If I do buy a costume, would people notice and give me the silent treatment or the cold shoulder. I was also wondering if you've ever cospayed or you do regularly.

Unless there's a giant price tag on your costume, likely nobody will know that you bought it instead of making it yourself. If they ask, just tell them. There are people who will scoff at it, but simply wearing a costume to an anime convention isn't a competition. You're just there to have fun. Some bitchy clucking Cosplay hens will likely be assholes about it if you tell them, but again, walking around a convention hall in a costume you didn't make yourself isn't a crime. You're not competing for anything, nobody's officially judging your costume based on craftsmanship, and you're not trying to get away with anything, so ignore the hens and just do what you like. Most likely you'll have a blast and a lot of people will take your picture.

If you're not, though - meaning if you enter the costume into any sort of convention competition - that's where you're crossing a line. Those contests judge people based on a variety of categories, and one of them is craftsmanship. If you were to win a cosplay award for wearing something you didn't make, well, you'd be a phony, and people would be right to get pissed off about it (and they do, every year, when it turns out some chick didn't make her costume but won anyway).

To answer your last question there, I've never cosplayed and I never will. I don't have anything against it, but I attend conventions as part of my job. I'm there to get work done; I'd rather not be interviewing a Japanese guest or asking serious questions of the attending industry representatives
while wearing a Goku jumpsuit and giant yellow foam hair. Something tells me they wouldn't take me very seriously.

Hey, this question is tangentially related to the last one!

I was wondering, since you obviously have much more experience than I have, do you have any tips for people conducting interviews (particularly in the anime industry)? If possible, is there any non-obvious things I should look out for when interviewing an executive/president of a company versus a voice actor/actress? And, for example, I know there are tons of interviews with Vic Mignogna concerning his role on FMA, I don't want to ask the same question over and over, do you have any recommendations? (I'm not really interviewing Vic by the way) And just to throw this at ya', I know this may be a noobish question but, particularly interviewing at conventions (in a separate interview room), do guests mind being videotapes/recorded, or is the old pen and paper method best?

I'll try and keep this simple and answer your questions in order.

Generally, if you're trying to avoid asking the same questions over and over again, you'll want to do plenty of research before conducting the interview. Read as many of their other interviews as you can, and avoid the questions that get asked every time (when interviewing American voice actors, by the way, don't bother with the "how do you get into voice acting" question. They answer it many hundreds of times a year). Obviously it's hard to avoid questions that provide vital background information, but you can always obtain that information yourself and include it in the introduction. It also helps tremendously to be as familiar as you can with their production history; knowing their work beforehand means you're going to be asking educated questions.

The trick is to be confident and polite when interviewing these folks. Nine times out of ten it's a friendly interview and you're not asking any hard-hitting questions, so there's no need to be confrontational or pushy. If for whatever reason you are asking tough questions, remember, be persistant, but not rude. There's a fine line you have to walk there and you need to take your relationship with the person you're interviewing into consideration.

All in all, interviewing people isn't that tough, but coming up with decent questions is. Good luck with that.

As for your last question, you always ask first if you're using a video camera, especially with Japanese guests. Nobody will object to an audio recorder (at least not in my experience) or a simple pad of paper, but video is another thing. Make sure you ask permission.

This one makes me hurt inside.

hey answerman, me and my friends love anime a lot and we have japanese nicknames for eachother. we looked at a japanese dictionary and found words that fit our personalities, like i am neko-chan because i am a cat (i like to sleep and eat ^_^;;;;). but at high school we get made fun of for using our nicknames, i mean that is discrimination, why do people look down on us for doing this. were just having fun before we graduate.

"Before you graduate"? You're high school seniors and you're running around calling eachother "neko-chan"?

Here's a tip: that's really annoying. You're annoying.

Perhaps this tiger cub gnawing on someone's foot will make it all better.


This week's rant isn't a prize winner - I'm still waiting for something that totally blows away the competition - but it'll do for now.

It comes courtesy of Chris Gottschalk. 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 became an anime fan in the early 90s.  I wasn't one of the first by any means, but I can recall the days where club meetings were sometimes a couple of TV screens and anime was distributed more by fansubbers than commercially. Over time, I've seen the anime culture become more popular, weather the inevitable controversies, and eventually flourish. Now, I can go into any bookstore and view a selection of manga that takes up most of the graphic novel section. Best Buy and Suncoast have at least one aisle devoted to the genre.

However, I've noticed something about the anime titles that bothers me a bit, and that is the dropping off of some of the “classic” titles.  Ranma ½ is no longer available at any of the bookstores in my city. Nor is Dominion, Video Girl Ai or even Gunsmith Cats.  Similarly, you can no longer find the original Bubblegum Crisis at Best Buy, and Urusei Yatsura has faded away, too.  In fact, when Newtype magazine ranked its most dysfunctional couples, the earliest anime they referenced was Inuyasha!

Now, I'm not naïve.  One of the things I love about anime and manga is that the stories end.  They don't go on forever with a different creative team, like American comics, and I consider that a very strong point in their favor.  When a series ends, anime fans go on to the next one.  I don't expect stores to abandon new series in favor of older series, and I love a lot of the new shows that have come out.

I would, however, tell the newer fans to look up some of these older titles, ones that came out during the 80s.  At best, you can see how the shows you currently lover drew from the older ones.  At worst, you can appreciate how far art and storytelling have come.  If you like dark future stories like Ergo Proxy, check out the original Bubblegum Crisis.  If you were touched by Rumbling Hearts, Kimagure Orange Road will do the same.  The OAV Ultimate Teacher easily matches the insanity of Excel Saga or Cromartie High, and Gainax's Gunbuster OAV shadows their later masterpiece Evangelion.  For that matter, if Genshiken made you laugh, watch its predecessor in Gainax's Otaku no Video, which comes complete with live otaku interviews!

So many great older titles exist that it's hard to suggest only a few.  And yes, sometimes the animation might look dated, or the sound might have that synth-pop sound that was so cutting edge in the 80s, but like any good story, you won't notice it once you get sucked in.  As a personal example, my anime club showed some episodes of the original Macross series.  I laughed through the theme song (Ma-Cu-Ross!  Ma-Cu-Ross!) and cringed a bit at the animation, but still, by the end of the DVD I did want to see if and how the crew of the SDF-1 were going to make their way back to Earth.

One of the reasons anime is so great is because of its stories.  And new ones are being produced all the time.  New stories, though, and new artists, are influenced by old stories.  So check out the classics, even if it takes a bit of effort.  You're bound to be entertained one way or another, and you may have fun wondering if Bubblegum Crisis’ Priss could take Black Lagoon's Revy in a fair fight.

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 Dragon Ball 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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