Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

Wow. I wasn't quite expecting the response I've been getting to the rant contest. I'm getting so many in now I don't have time to read them all.

This week's banner comes courtesy of "Matt" . Just as a reminder, if you're going to submit banners, please try and keep them well under 2 megs in size (preferrably under 1 meg).

Now, let's get down to business.

When anime companies release English versions, one thing done to nearly all titles is the redoing of the credit sequences with English text (for the staff, cast, and usually the main logo of the series).Pani Poni Dash is one that springs to mind as not having this treatment, probably due to the complexity of the intro - instead the intro's credits were added to the end titles.

Is this done in-house by the English company or do they have it produced by the original studios (or even pre-emptively during original production)?

That's all done in-house by the American licensor. ADV does it a lot; they'll even animate the logos sometimes, in an attempt to completely recreate the Japanese logo in English. I think it's a nice touch, but a lot of people complain about it since they are in effect "replacing" the original opening sequence. Nowadays they generally provide the unedited opening sequence, so fans can watch it in whatever flavor they like.

I've never heard of a Japanese company dealing with English subtitle or credit production. It makes a lot more sense for the R1 companies to handle that, doesn't it?

I have a question involving anime and actual novelization of such.  For the longest time I have had a story that I have wanted to write and turn into a novel and perhaps even publish it.  During the course of many years I have been influenced by anime and as such so has the story.  Anime such as Street Fight, Fatal Fury, and (in large part) Dragonball all have contributed to its development.  However the story is there to and it isn't just a rip off of those shows.  My real question here is will the American people or any people in any case get it.  Or will they just blow it off as being a story that's ripped off the premise of those great shows.

It all depends on what you mean by "influenced". If you're taking story elements or plot points from any of those anime, then your novel will probably be considered derivative, if not a straight-up ripoff. If it's "inspired" by those shows - meaning it's similar to them but not simply a cheap lift of their various components - then I suppose people might respond positively to it. The problem is, all of the shows you mentioned are not particularly known for their unique or powerful storylines; they're all standard action anime. I can't imagine a novel "inspired" by any of those shows would stand out as being original or unique. But hey, I haven't read it; maybe you've created a masterpiece.

As an aside, I'd like to point something out about this letter. I get a lot of letters from people asking me about where they can have their anime-inspired novels published, or if their fanfiction is good enough to be bought by a major publisher. Almost all of them have bad grammar, poor sentence structure, spelling mistakes and sentence fragments. If you're "writing a novel" and you can't be bothered to use proper English when composing a letter, it makes me seriously doubt that your "novel" is any good. Language is important, people.
If you send me a letter that's written like this:

hey answerman i wrote a novel about a high school where kids have magicl powers i think its real good and should be published and put in bookstores who do i call to sell them the novel

Then that probably doesn't bode well for the quality of your writing, does it? Can you imagine reading an entire book written like that?

Dear Answerman, I am writing this letter in response to something you said in the forums regarding a discussion about Belldandy from Oh My Goddess. People were talking about how Belldandy is the perfect woman, and you said that she was not realistic and so you didn't like her. Then you said this:

I don't know about you but I don't watch anime so I can fantasize about being married to one of the female characters. I don't "fall in love" with them, I don't get "moe" feelings toward them. Maybe I'm in the minority around here (which seems to have become the case over the years), but that sort of thing isn't appealing to me. I don't want someone to specifically write a female character so she's making goo-goo eyes at the screen or acting in a way that I would personally find attractive; their personalities should service the story.

Now I myself have noticed that over the years, females in anime have become less powerful or warrior-like and more like you're supposed to want to love them. I know this is part of the "moe" phenomenon. I have to admit that I do find myself attracted to a lot of these female characters, and I like it when I can watch a show and pick a girl i like the best. But at the same time i know they are writing them that way on purpose and it does kind of bother me. When I think back to older anime series like Escaflowne or even Dirty Pair, the girls in those shows were heroes, and had "real" personalities.

So I guess my question is do you agree with this, has anime become so 'moe-ified' that we don't have realistic female characters anymore, and will that ever change?

Huh. Normally people don't write in about things I've said on the forums, but this is a solid topic, so I'll go with it.

The original discussion there was about Oh! My Goddess; Bamboo Dong reviewed the latest volume of the TV series in her column, Shelf Life, which sparked some controversy in the forums. Someone claimed that Belldandy was the perfect woman (shortly before claiming that anyone who dislikes the series must be in a deluded minority), and that she embodies the ideal that all men fantasize about.

I took offense to that. I've always seen Belldandy as an emotional doormat; she's an unrealistic fantasy, written to appeal to men who apparently want to marry someone who's almost completely subservient and eternally patient. She loves to cook and clean! Her eye never wanders toward other men! She supports Keichi no matter how badly he screws up! Heck, she doesn't even argue with him!

To me, she's basically the idealized 1950's housewife stereotype, a hoary old cliche leftover from the days when gender politics were swept under the rug and females were still considered second-class citizens. I don't "fantasize" about being married to someone like that, and I'm sure there are a lot of guys out there who are with me on that. Don't get me wrong; Oh! My Goddess is a decent show, but I don't enjoy it because I'm secretly in love with a cartoon character.

The argument was then extrapolated to female characters in anime as a whole, and how they're written.
Sure, moe is certainly a phenomenon, and the Japanese are cranking out shows to appeal to that audience by the dozen. While that's definitely a trend - and shows like that are growing more and more popular as time goes on - there are a wealth of what I'd consider "decent" female characters.

Hell, just look at the heroines in common shonen anime - Nami in One Piece, Sakura or Tsunade in Naruto, any of the girls in Bleach - for an example of female characters who aren't written like mewling moe-bait. Escaflowne is a good example of a show with a solid female lead, as is the Ghibli film Only Yesterday. They may not be stunningly realistic portrayals of the struggle facing today's women (although Only Yesterday is brilliant), but they're generally strong, well-rounded, interesting female characters.

The moe trend will continue and likely get even more popular as time goes on, and it's all going to seem amplified because those shows are discussed a lot on the internet, but it's not like all anime being produced now is moe. If we see these blatant moe archetypes start creeping in to anime series that otherwise had strong female characters, then that's a cause for alarm, but there's no evidence for that yet.

Last night I watched "The Place Promised In Our Early Days" (in Japanese with the English subtitles). The guys in the anime have this airplane that was subbed as "Bella Ciela". Later on in the anime, this name actually appears in the airplane's control screen with alphabetical characters and is spelled as "Velaciela".

When I first read "Bella Ciela", it made sense to me because "bello cielo" would mean "beautiful sky" in Spanish, Italian and other similar languages. So, "bella ciela" would only be a variation of that and I found it reasonable to think that the people who subbed it thought along those lines as well (and there's no way to tell how it's spelt exactly from just hearing a name).

So I was wondering, why didn't they sub it as "Velaciela" if that is how it appears written in the anime? The only explanation I could come up with is that they realized this too late, as it only appears one scene before the major ending scene.

Because "Velaciela" is a misspelling. You see it all the time in anime - misspelled English words on signs, storefronts, in magazines, all over the place. Usually if it's an English term (or in this case Italian), and it shows up in the subtitles, the translator will correct it. There's no sense in using bad English just because the Japanese staff who created the show didn't double-check to make sure their English was correct.

I realize there are a small contingent of vocal fans who actually think it's tantamount to heresy if you change anything at all, and are OK with mangled English (or whatever other languages they're using) so long as the result is as "pure" as it can possibly be. But I think a lot more people would rather be able to understand what's going on or not be distracted by spelling mistakes while they're trying to be entertained.

People are so sensitive and angry these days.

I would like to know why people even write reviews, i mean why shove your opinion down everyones throat, we dont need to hear what people think of anime, just watch what you want to watch and that's it, why do you need someone telling you what to think. I think all reviews should be deleted because you never know whose feelings might be hurt by a bad review or who might disagree with a good review and really who needs all that. I just dont see why we need someone forcing their opinions on us. we the anime fans decide what is good and nobody else does so we should delete all reviews.

If you can't even read a review of a cartoon without acting like you're somehow a victim, then do yourself a favor and don't walk outside. The world beyond your computer is far, far too harsh for you.

Here's a Kiwi bird.

That's right, a Kiwi bird. Do something about it.

Well, we still don't really have a prize winner. My standards are pretty high, so keep trying. I've been getting some good rants, just nothing that's blowing me away; keep in mind, however, that so many are coming in, I simply don't have time to get through them all. Eventually I will, and I suspect a winner is somewhere in my inbox, but if there is one, I haven't found it yet. So keep at it!

This week's rant actually doesn't follow the rules to the letter, but it's been a little while since people have had something kinda juicy to respond to, so here you go.

It comes courtesy of Jeremy Roman. 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 have to wonder at the state of otakudom these days.  As members of a rapidly growing minority group, many of my fellow anime fans have given in to the persecution complex, and have taken to feeling as if everyone is out to get them.  These complaints run the gamut of scale and importance.

I was miffed myself when there was no anime on April Fools (replaced with a badly "fansubbed" block of Perfect Hair Forever).  However, the reactions like those I read on the ANN message boards were just insane.  People were asking extremely asinine questions like, "Why is it that they cut out the anime, but left Futurama intact?!"  Simple answer: because the anime, like April 1st, started at 12:00 am.  Someone responded to that logic saying, "No, they both started before midnight."  Simple answer: 12:00 am Eastern Standard Time.  I always imagined that my fellow otaku would be able to understand the simple concepts of time zones and when a day officially starts.  However, logic was further ignored, with people being convinced that they were specifically targeted by Adult Swim (who, if one pays attention, makes fun of everyone who watches Adult Swim).

For this last weekend, people on the message boards used the edited openings and endings as evidence, PROOF!, that Adult Swim was insulting us once again with the cutting of the Eureka 7 finale, and could not have been an accident.  This ignores the fact that it is the anime companies, not Adult Swim, that edits the series' for TV.  Of course, it's easier to berate the ones they view as their persecutors rather than thinking things through rationally.  Someone continued the argument saying, "But it wasn't that way on Adult Swim Fix (which streams shows online), therefore it isn't Bandai's fault."  However, this proof does not hold as the edits for the Fix and for broadcast on television are completely different.

On a much smaller scale (and getting off the Adult Swim topic), I got an earful from a young girl the other day in the manga section of my public library.  Apparently, some titles had recently been removed.  I took a look, and, indeed, some titles were missing.  These included Planetes, Inu Yasha, and Ai Yori Aoshi.  The manga section is located on the same block of shelves as the Young Adult (i.e. 13 – 17 year old) literature.  The titles that had been removed contain nudity (and in the case of the last two, underage nudity).  When I pointed this out to the girl, she ignored me, and insisted that anime fans themselves were being specifically targeted.  My response was simple, "Why, then, didn't they remove all the manga?"  She said that it was only a matter of time before all anime and manga were banned in the United States.  I grabbed Kare Kano and got out of there.

By a strange twist of fate, I saw this girl again today at the mall looking at the meager manga selection at Suncoast.  Again she went on about how the manga section was too small.  I told her that the nearby Borders had a huge manga selection, but she insisted that she shouldn't have to go to another store to buy manga. 

This is a problem that only serves to hurt otakudom as a whole.  When people start feeling as if everyone is out to get them, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  By opening their mouths (or posting online) without asking if there is a logical explanation and just assuming that they are a  target, they only serve to reinforce a negative perception of anime fans.  This makes people more apt to make fun of anime fans.  We are in a very precarious place right now.  With the popularity of anime growing, we are in the position to become a major part of the mainstream.  However, if we appear to be an ungrateful group who play the victim at the drop of a hat, we only make it that much easier for people to insult us.  Maybe people have forgotten that there was a time when we did not enjoy anime on TV every night, or when the library did not even have a manga section, or when mainstream bookstores didn't have an eighth of their floor space in the front of the store devoted to anime and manga (that's about the size of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section at the Borders I mentioned). 

We are not being persecuted, we are on the rise, but only as long as we don't give people an excuse to dislike 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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