• remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

It's all business, all the time this week. Let's get to it.

Dear Answerman,

I'm a newbie anime fan, only been into it maybe 2 years but I love it. Recently I attended my first convention and I found a little section at the con called "artists alley", where people sold what looked like bootleg drawings of anime characters. I remember when I was a kid people would sell like bootleg simpsons tee-shirts and I have to wonder, how is this legal and why do conventions let people get away with it?

Well, while you're not entirely wrong, you're at least a little misguided.

First and foremost, you can't really draw reasonable comparisons between a convention Artist's Alley and some guy at a swap meet selling thousands of bootleg Simpsons tee-shirts for $2 apiece. For starters, while yes, selling fanart is technically copyright infringement, it's largely a tolerated practice, mostly because nobody there is earning enough money to bother with and it's assumed everyone there is doing it solely for the love of the art form rather than being motivated only by profit (although that's not always the case). I don't know of many fanartists who actually make a living selling images of copyrighted characters; they do it for fun, to get their art out there, and to potentially fuel interest in their original work.

There are a few fanartists out there who are a little too far up their own asses about what they do, and they get really uppity when you suggest that they're not really being very creative by just drawing Naruto, coloring it in with Copic markers and then selling it for $10. Some of them even try and drag out tired old (and completely inapplicable)
first amendment arguments when challenged, and there's a small contingent of them that feel they're master artists, even though they've never produced anything original. Those people tend to be a little vocal - especially when they're challenged, as they were last year when Otakon had all that controversy about the changes made to their artist's alley policy - but these folks are, by and large, in the minority. 99 percent of the fanartists I've met are decent folk who are doing it just for fun; according to most of the people I've spoken with, their sales at the Artist's Alley rarely even get close to covering the expense of attending the show.

So while you're not totally wrong, the spirit of Artist's Alley is in no way related to someone selling bootleg tee-shirts, and that's mostly why it's tolerated.

I'm kind of a newcomer to the world of anime, having only watched whatever dubs Cartoon Network/Adult Swim throws at me.  However, I have noticed, especially since reading around the Internet, how generally despised shounen anime/manga is by the community at large.  Now, I admit that at times, many of these shows are mockable, but I suppose my question would best be phrased:  exactly what embitters more "hardcore" anime viewers towards shounen anime?  Or am I at fault for watching a bunch of shows aimed at younger kids?

Well, there are a couple of things happening here.

First, Naruto and Bleach and their ilk are not as unpopular with hardcore fans as you may think. I know plenty of hardcores who love those shows, and aren't afraid to say it. They're some of the most popular franchises out there, so there are bound to be plenty of superfans who are really in to those shows, in addition to stuff aimed more at otaku (think Air, or Kanon, or Haruhi Suzumiya).

Second, this is the Internet, and any time anything becomes popular, you'll have a rush of obnoxious people who have to race to be the first to say they hate it and they've always hated it. Happens with everything; music, films, books, etcetera. You'll always have someone who thinks it makes them cool to scream about how much they hate something, especially if they think there are a lot of fans around to hear them scream it. It's just a fact of life.

Third, hardcore fans who have been in the game a long time will eventually start to feel like their hobby is being encroached upon by unwelcome mainstream fairweather fans who seek to drag it out of the underground, thus ruining their uniqueness. They cling to shows aimed at only the hardest of the hardcore, and scorn shows with wide popular appeal, in the hope that they can remain underground and retain that sense of small community. It's an understandable position, but they're not really attacking Naruto - they're attacking the notion of anime no longer being this big secret.

And then there are the folks who hate it because they think it sucks. C'est la vie. Either way, if you enjoy those shows, keep watching 'em and stop listening to the Internet.

I got a question about English dubbing. Why do they continue to use the same voice actors for anime? One example that comes to mind is that Johnny Bosch dude. I used to think that there were special divisions of voice acting, like for anime, video games, cartoons, and so on. Now I'm not so sure. Am I right or are the casting directors just lazy?

Basically, there's a seasoned talent pool that exists and most ADR directors draw from the same pool. New actors enter that pool all the time, but there's an established base of "name" actors that directors like to cast for very simple reasons; they know they're going to get a solid performance from them because they've worked together in the past, they have a body of work that suggests they're good for the role, and they might have a vocal fanbase - a'la Vic Mignogna (second time in a row his name's been in this column... next week will be 100 percent Vic-free, I promise), which may assist with sales or the title's popularity at conventions.

When you think about it, it's not completely unlike a major Hollywood director working again and again with actors they trust. Martin Scorsese obviously feels Leonardo DiCaprio is an excellent actor and they work together well, which is why Leo's been in so many Scorsese films. Sure, he could use an unknown, but he knows he's going to get the kind of performance he needs from Leo, so he keeps using him. It's really not that different from an ADR director - say, Taliesin Jaffe - continuing to use Greg Ayres in his dubs, because he's familiar with Greg and comfortable working with him.

Not that I'm comparing Taliesin Jaffe to Martin Scorsese.

As for your second comment there, voice actors will take work wherever they can get it (provided they don't personally disagree with the project or whatever other factors may keep them from the job). While I know of some actors who only do voice work, I don't know of any voice actors who only do one thing - commercials, anime, video games, etcetera. They all hop from one project to another.

Answerman, I have a question about socializing with otaku.

My local anime club is pretty popular. We have over 50 members who show up on a weekly basis to watch anime, trade fansubs and DVDs, read manga and talk about our favorite shows. Before when it was small I liked everyone in the club, we were all anime fans and I thought all anime fans were cool. Now that we have more people I find that I like less and less of them, you get these annoying guys with no social skills or who creep out the girls or smell bad. But my friends say i'm being a jerk when I say I don't want them around and tell me I should be nice to them all because we are all kindred spirits, anime fans should stick together. But I just don't like these guys.

I went online and read some Internet forums and it seems like if you have a problem with another anime fan everyone thinks you're a jerk because you're not acting like you like everyone. Is it just anime fans? Am I being a jerk?

It's not just anime fans that act like if you criticize one of them, you're damaging the herd.

There's an Internet-famous essay titled "Five Geek Social Fallacies" by Michael Suileabhain-Wilson that explains this phenomenon pretty well:

Geek Social Fallacy #1: Ostracizers Are Evil

GSF1 is one of the most common fallacies, and one of the most deeply held. Many geeks have had horrible, humiliating, and formative experiences with ostracism, and the notion of being on the other side of the transaction is repugnant to them.

In its non-pathological form, GSF1 is benign, and even commendable: it is long past time we all grew up and stopped with the junior high popularity games. However, in its pathological form, GSF1 prevents its carrier from participating in -- or tolerating -- the exclusion of anyone from anything, be it a party, a comic book store, or a web forum, and no matter how obnoxious, offensive, or aromatic the prospective excludee may be.

As a result, nearly every geek social group of significant size has at least one member that 80% of the members hate, and the remaining 20% merely tolerate. If GSF1 exists in sufficient concentration -- and it usually does -- it is impossible to expel a person who actively detracts from every social event. GSF1 protocol permits you not to invite someone you don't like to a given event, but if someone spills the beans and our hypothetical Cat Piss Man invites himself, there is no recourse. You must put up with him, or you will be an Evil Ostracizer and might as well go out for the football team."

Basically, these people believe that, if you're a nerd and you're in a niche and you make fun of or dislike some other nerd within that niche, no matter how awful they might be, you're a jerk and you're not being a proper anime fan.

While in some situations it pays to be a nice guy and just tolerate whatever godawful geek is following your club around, I've always been a fan of simply letting it be known that you do not want to socialize with said geek. If you have a giant creepy guy who smells like stale Doritos, hits on the girls, clutches his hentai manga and boasts of his creepy obsession with Osaka from Azumanga Daioh, it's really not that big a deal if you give him the cold shoulder or simply don't socialize with him. You're not a bad person, you're just selecting who you socialize with. Nobody can be friends with everyone.

That said, anime fandom is huge. Hundreds of thousands of people attend conventions, post on message forums, write anime blogs and buy anime junk every year. It's a giant community, one with a hugely diverse populace. To suggest that you have anything more in common with Convention Attendee #7563 than you do with Random Stranger #4855 aside from your shared love of Japanese cartoons (which might not even be the same Japanese cartoons) is ridiculous. The notion that you are obliged to tolerate every single thing any anime fan has ever done and play nice to odious people simply because you both call yourselves anime fans is insane. I've never prescribed to it, and I don't think anyone else should, either.

You don't have to be an asshole to anime fans you don't like, but you sure as hell don't have to tolerate unpleasant people.

I picture this guy with a flaming pitchfork and a dunce cap.

hey "answerman" who always supports the english anime companys no matter what becuase you are PAID OFF please tell me this, how did that horrible english butcher company $$$$ADV$$$$ get the rights to SLAUTER and DESTROY ~AIR~ TV the most amazing animes ever made. all they do is ruin everything with english dubs and crappy subtitles (that you kno are wrong because the fansubs which are better say things differently). i will never EVER give them money to watch some horrible DESTROYD version of my beloved ~AIR~. they will rape it, of course you do not agree becuz your pockets are lined with BRIBES from $$$$ADV$$$$ teling you to tell people to buy their butcher versions

I'm not even sure how to respond to this, except to ease my pain by diving into the huge pile of money ADV left on my front lawn in exchange for telling people to buy Air TV.

Even this bunny rabbit thinks that's ridiculous, and he has a brain the size of a peanut.

No winner this week either, but here's a rant anyway.

It comes courtesy of "Abigail". 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.

Well, I suppose I should get this place off to a proper flaming start.  Let's discuss religion. 

Specially I'd like to address the Judeo-Christian religions as they are presented in some of the more current and popular series.  Now, I understand that when you watch an anime series that deals with or employs Judeo-Christian themes, you have to take it with an understanding of Japanese moral and religious values.  Beyond having only a six percent Christian population (from a 2006 survey...I believe the number was hovering more around 2% for awhile there), what can be considered Japanese religious values and rituals are so ingrained into their lifestyles that they don't always consider them religions.  I've asked Japanese college students what religious affliation they identify with, and they just look like deers in a headlight and say, "Well...maybe Shinto?"  Religion is something you can make fun of and doesn't have to be taken too seriously in the media.  The Japanese also have a history of taking what they like from Western cultures but leaving out the meaningful bits so that their culture doesn't actually become Westernized.  Christmas, for example, is loved for the bright lights and "giving" element (though nothing like the U.S.), but only a vague idea of the "Christ" part in that holiday is understood.  In this sense, Christianity is "cool" because it's foriegn, so wearing a cross or a shirt that says something weird about Jesus makes you a bit more worldly.

I'd like to continue my verbose attempts to show you what a well-rounded individual I am (so you'll stick with me to the end of this rant) by showing my sympathies towards the Japanese and attacking my own culture (a most effective tactic for Western audiences).  On a serious note, our Western pop culture pretty much does the same thing with Buddhism and Daoism.  How many Americas actually know the symbolism of the yin-yang or have a "big Buddha" statue hanging around the house?

So while I would like to chastize Japanese anime/manga creators for not doing their homework, the finger-wagging has to be brief and understood within its bounds.

Western distributors, on the other hand, need to shape up.  While I understand that Westerner=/=Christian, you have to live under a rock or be fairly ignorant of your politics and history to live in the Northwest and not have basic grasp of Judeo-Christian religions and what people consider decent by them (of course, this is assuming most people in this business care about the world around them and are educated).

There are a list of series that can fit these categories depending on your level of tolerance, religious zeal, and understanding the belief systems of the religions used.  ADV's Chrno Crusade would make even the most lax Catholic blinked a couple of times, whereas FUNimation's Trinity Blood makes one wonder if the creator started researching Catholicism and then gave up after he got to "requirements for bishops and popes."  And I'm sure even Studio Ghibli's Laputa has bugged Christians with its take on Genesis.  Obviously the distrubutor has to decide how offensive they're willing to go and what their audience will tolerate.  And based on the typical demographics of the anime community, mostly anything is the limit it seems.

This is especially the case with the release of Hellsing.  I personally am very squeamish, and so I didn't really pay attention to this series when it began its release quite a few years ago.  But upon hearing about its religious background, I began to read articles.

This series actually has the problem of perhaps understanding a little more about Christianity than it should. Western civilization has had enough problems between Catholics and Protestants without a series that so blatantly bashes one in favor of the other.  One can forgive other series for simply being ignorant about what they were writing, though this still brings up the question on how much of this ignorance should the Westernized distrubutors put up with (personally, I find the portrayl of nuns in Chrno Crusade highly offensive, but that'll be covered later).  However, Hellsing obviously has intentional Catholic bashing written into it and portrays the religion and its adherants in a false and negative light.  Despite that in the manga, Alexander Anderson is given a gentler side (a side that is apparently absent in the anime), he is still shown as a religious zealout that has no sympathy for innocents as long as he achieves his goals (which, based on the repertoire of this series, probably has something to do with anti-Catholic Crusade rhetoric).

As far as ignorance goes, some series can be taken with a grain of salt.  Some could probably have been chosen better.  As I mentioned above, Chrno Crusade is one such series.  Once again, I understand and was told that Daisuke Moriyama didn't care about the religion he was using (I mean, Sinners in the series refer to demons who betray the giant demon club in Eden...there are, like, ten things wrong with that one sentence).  Once again, I'm yelling more at ADV than Moriyama.  Ignoring all the errors, the portrayl of nuns is completely disrespectful to everything nuns are and attempt to witness in the world.  The sexual jokes strike me as especially problematic in this area, as the sisters of this order are suddenly reduced to gossipy teenage girls who don't mind showing a little leg and just happen to wear habits in the meantime.  Real nuns pray constantly for help and struggle with real temptations to maintain their vows of chastity and humility.

My final beef (for anyone still reading) is with the translations.  The Japanese do not have an 'Oh my G-d!'  I've only seen two instances of this being used in the original Japanese series, and one was by an American character and the other by the son of a priest (in which case the Japanese creators didn't realize that this was actually against the character's beliefs but thought it highlighted them or something).  When this is used, the translators are emphasizing expression.  In which case, better words could be chosen.  I've written very long arguments about how, despite this phrase being common in American media, it's not as harmless as people seem to think (but fortunately for you all, I don't have the space to repeat these arguments).  Besides offending various religious groups, it also shows the ignorance of the people who use it.  Words have meaning, and when you use them in meaningless ways, you're showing the ignorance of the power of the words you use.  Frankly, there are plenty of movies and shows that effectively capture emotion without using offensive language.  Why translation companies do so, especially when the original Japanese context is usually not nearly as offensive, is especially annoying.  My Japanese teacher has often frowned at the translations, and there was a point where certain shounen anime were even getting too much for me (it seemed like the translators had a bet on who could put a swear word in every sentence and then some).

In the end, I'm sure many people are saying, "If you don't like it, don't buy it."  In which case, logic follows that Amos 'n Andy should be released on DVD because it doesn't do any harm to the community if only the people who like it buy it.  I wouldn't write a rant if I wasn't concerned about the impact such things have on our minds at large, the prejudices they can sow, and the people they can degrade.  I'm not asking for converts, just a bit more respect and care being put into the choices we make and the impact they may have on our own perceptions and those of others.

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!

discuss this in the forum (296 posts) |
bookmark/share with: short url

Answerman homepage / archives