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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

July was, perhaps, the longest month of my life. 3 conventions, 3 cities, 4 plane flights, 4 airports, and a whole lot of exhaustion later, I'm back and I'm ready to answer some questions.

This week's banner was submitted by someone who requested to remain anonymous. Personally, I love it.

dear Answerman, this year i attended my first anime convention, Anime Expo in long beach. i had a great time. then last weekend i was at San Diego comicon and i noticed that anime seemed like it was all in the back or pushed to the side and all the panels were in really small rooms. i only saw a few anime cosplayers. is comicon just not a good place for anime fans to go? I noticed ADV and Viz were there and a lot of manga publishers like tokyopop but anime just felt like it was not as important. why is that?

Before I get in to this, there's an easy, short answer to your question:

One of the conventions you attended was called Anime Expo. The other was called Comic-Con. Which of those shows, do you think, will have anime programming front-and-center

That said, after attending anime conventions like AX and Otakon, Comic-Con in San Diego definitely makes an anime fan feel a bit left out. You can't blame the show itself - when you have massive Hollywood studios showing up with A-List celebrities, exclusive footage from next year's big movies, everything feels like it's overshadowed. Let me put it this way: it's San Diego Comic-Con, and both Marvel and DC are overshadowed by Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. It's not just the anime, which I'll admit feels very marginalized at that show, but there's still a presence; ADV had a decent booth (though half of it had been co-opten by ADV partner Best Buy to sell an exclusive version of 300), Viz had a major presence and Square Enix brought a boatload of anime-related stuff. Del Rey was there, as well as Seven Seas and a multitude of other manga companies. Sure, they may have been drowned out by the noise from the Sony Pictures booth, or New Line's ridiculous Golden Compass display (not to mention Disney's massive "welp we made this for Showest so we may as well get another convention out of it" museum/booth display for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End), but they were there. There were also multiple anime theatres, and the usual panels from Funimation, Viz, Tokyopop, and ADV, among others.

You also have to consider that roughly 140,000 people show up to Comic-Con, and yeah, you're going to feel adrift in an ocean of anonymous nerds. If you're looking for that tight-knit anime experience, then stick to anime cons; personally, I like Comic-Con because it's a very well-run show and they have a lot of things aside from anime that I'm interested in. It gets pretty overwhelming and tiresome by the third day or so, but there's enough cool stuff to see to keep you going.

1. With Ouran High School Host Club and Welcome to the NHK now licensed, when will Meine Liebe, Monster, NANA, and Honey & Clover finally be picked up? It'd be a crime NOT to at least license Monster, Honey & Clover, and NANA seeing as how Viz already has their respective mangas, so why haven't they been licensed yet?
2. Is it just me, or is there some law requiring fansubs to have karaoke subtitles in the openings and endings? It seems you can't run into a single fansub anywhere that doesn't have them.
I'll answer these in order. Bet you weren't expecting that one, were you?

Your first question smacks of the extremely bizarre "logic" a lot of fans use on anime forums; "Well they licensed series X, so when is series Y coming?" when the two series in question have absolutely nothing to do with one another. I don't know why Ouran High School Host Club or Welcome to the NHK being licensed makes you think Meine Leibe or Monster or any of those other series you mentioned will get picked up; it's all a matter of what contracts are getting signed when and for what reasons.

Some fans keep a list of shows they want, and so when series 1 and series 2 get picked up, they wonder when the other titles on the list will be licensed; this lends itself to the bizarro-world logic that "well, these got picked up, so what about these?" as though they're related in some way. They aren't.

To get down to brass tacks, though, NANA and Honey & Clover have been picked up by Viz. Monster is a long-running show aimed squarely at adults and unless someone wants to take a big risk on it, it'll probably remain unlicensed.

As for your second question there, it's just what fansub watchers prefer, I guess. I've gone on record a number of times saying I find them irritating, but diehard fansub watchers seem to love 'em. It's all a matter of taste, I guess; frankly I don't need three different kinds of light-up animated swirling flourescent text to tell me which words I don't understand are being sung at that exact moment.
There's also a bit of a pissing contest between certain fansub groups to see who can do the most advanced text effects in their subs. Which makes me sad inside.

What exactly makes a certain anime/manga a part of the "seinen" genre? I've heard on sites like Wikipedia that it is aimed toward 18-30 year old males and sometimes even older, but it makes me wonder when I look at series like Azumanga Daioh, ARIA, and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, which are categorized as seinen manga/anime. I haven't seen Haruhi but I have seen Azumanga and ARIA. Do 30 year old males really like reading about cute girls and schoolgirls that much?  Does it have something to do with the whole moe idea? I'm only speculating, but I feel like a 25-year old American male might get bored by series like those. Maybe it's just a difference in Japanese and American cultures?

You answered your own question there; it's all part of the moe phenomenon. They're classified as "seinen" because that's the target demographic the author or publisher had in mind. A lot of those shows air after midnight, and their manga counterparts are serialized in magazines aimed at college-aged men.

And yes, 30 year old males do like reading about cute girls and their escapades. It's mostly a Japanese phenomenon, but there's a growing fanbase for shows like that here in the US. Why? Well, that's a tough question; it's really a product of the growing moe culture in Japan and the subsequent American emulation of said culture. I'd need another 10 pages to even begin to try and explain the whole moe thing, but you're exactly right; those shows are classified as seinen because in this day and age, that's who shows like that are aimed at.

Dear Answerman,

Please tell me how to pronounce Vic Mignogna's name.

Oh god, another question about Vic Mignogna. For whatever reason, these have been pouring in lately. I have no idea why. Other Vic Mignogna-related questions include "What is Vic's next role?" or "What is Vic's favored deodorant?". I wish I were kidding, but I'm not. For all your Vic Mignogna-related questions, you can probably find all the answers on his website, which also includes pro-Republican photoshops and bible quotes in Spider-Man font.

Vic Mignogna's last name is pronounced like "Lasagna" or "Mañana", the Spanish word for "tomorrow". Most people just call him "Vic". He has frosted tips.

Frosted tips.

I'm thinking of inventing some kind of ratings system for Flakes, in which they get a ranking based on how funny and/or disturbing they are. This guy would rank somewhere near the bottom.

you are dumb, anime is better than american tv, just watch any anime no american tv has ever been that good, admit it and correct your biased journalism

It's been a long month, so is it OK if I just post an animal photo and get on with it?

Cool? Are we cool?

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

It comes courtesy of Lauren Chicoine. 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.

Driving home the other night, I had the radio tuned to a show I never seem to catch the name of, but which features two amiable guys talking about sports, firstly, and their seemingly humorous lives, secondly. I was only half paying attention when one of the hosts began a long-winded tale about his weekend trip to Baltimore, which from his tone and delivery promised to culminate in a witty demand for listeners to call in and commiserate with him. Of course, "Baltimore" and "weekend" should have set off red flags in my head, but like a lot of anime fans, I tend to forget that "normal people" live in the same universe as we do and might occasionally run into the same anime experiences. I was therefore completely floored when the host summed up his trip by demanding what in the world was going on that wouldn't let him get out of the city around mid afternoon. "It was like an adult costume party!" he raved angrily.

Ding ding ding! Other than anime conventions, I can't image too many other events attended by tons of people all jammed into a (relatively) small city area that the public would be completely baffled by. It baffled ME somewhat that he didn't know a cosplayer when he saw one – or a few thousand of them – though he picked up on the fact that this wasn't a Harry Potter fest or a Star Trek gathering. Being so baffled, I began to suspect that this man was just pretending not to know what the event really was, until a few minutes later a caller informed them in a delivery and voice that just screamed OTAKU that it was an anime convention. They hung up on the poor kid while I gnashed my teeth over the fact that of all the people to enlighten them, it HAD to be someone who sounded like he'd just crawled out of an Evangelion sleeping bag after an all-night mecha marathon. This is a topic for another time, but please please PLEASE if you're going to try and "enlighten" the public about anime, pay attention to how you're coming off.

The radio show continued for another minute or so with the hosts debating what anime was. At one point, they couldn't decide whether Pokémon was anime, but I figured they were on the right track, if not the best one.

The next caller opened the floodgates to this rant. He seemed sincere – I was still extremely suspicious of the proceedings – and claimed to be average Joe Schmoe Baltimore resident. Every year "these people" descended on the city, he railed, and he found out what they were up to by visiting the Otakon Web site. Rather than explaining this, or mentioning anything about the convention itself, the caller shot right into a list of things "these people" were being reminded to do, including washing regularly, not wearing costumes 24/7 for days on end and making sure to use soap in the shower. He probably could have gone on (I can think of a lot of rules on convention Web sites that would raise eyebrows) but this was quite enough to lampoon anime fans everywhere with a huge "dirty, immature, disgusting" label. The show hosts, of course, took this and ran – I'm not sure how far because I lost my radio signal and that was it for me. I've never really considered calling in to a radio show before, but I truly was right then, that's how mortified I was.

What's interesting is that I wasn't upset at the radio hosts or the caller for their ridiculing. I was furious at the fans out there who necessitate such juvenile admonishments and also at convention staffers who publish these stupid rules so prominently, despite the fact that anyone who has to be reminded to use soap in the shower is hardly going to be prodded into it by a low-brow statement that he/she needs to practice normal hygiene, even if it's against their modus operandi. Can you imagine a staff member walking up to a particularly fragrant individual and asking them if they read the attendee guidelines page on the Web site that clearly promotes cleanliness? Not going to happen, so don't put it there in the first place. It embarrasses the rest of us and is probably NOT going to do one bit of good. Most fans know all about these kinds of convention attendees and take care not to become one, do we REALLY need to elevate the unclean otaku into a necessary part of the convention experience, a joke that's no longer a joke? To the point where we must mention it (again, to no good) on a Web site frequented not only by fans, but obviously by the general public? Would a convention be only so-so if everyone behaved like normal people and didn't have to be reminded about personal hygiene?

Now, I realize conventions are generally run by volunteers, and as such there may be a serious lack of professionalism in certain quarters, but this kind of ludicrous, ineffectual, pointless harping on the habits of certain bad apples in otakudom is only slandering the rest of us. Ok, anime fans tend to be a juvenile lot anyways, but would a cosplayer showing an unacceptable amount of flesh and kicked out of a convention honestly not know, in the back of their minds, that if they're in public, then all the normal rules of conduct and deportment still apply? Are they going to argue that, because the convention rules did not explicitly state that wearing only pasties and a fig leaf was completely out of line, they had no right to be given the boot? I'm sure someone would try, but again, I can't believe they aren't aware on some level that their attire and behavior is completely unacceptable – I mean, they are a part of society and have been bred and raised on its rules.

Anime fans are not idiots, we're not societal blemishes and we're not above or exceptions to the accepted patterns of behavior everyone else is expected to comply with. Convention staff going out of their way to remind us all of this is extremely insulting and is NOT helping to cast fans in the best light possible when the startled public gets a peek at our pastime. As far as the cleanliness clause goes, again, what possible fraction of offenders is actually moved to reform their hygiene habits based on a few choice words from the convention Web site? Yes, there are many, many standing jokes about the convention experience, but raising some of them to such a high level of visibility is taking it way too far. Obviously, as evidenced by one radio show caller, it's easy to take as a very broad statement about anime fans – one that's completely false. And even if it's accepted as a warning for the few, that still leaves a very bad taste in one's mouth for the people running the event that see nothing wrong (and indeed think they're doing everyone a favor) by taking this small bump in the road to a wonderful convention experience and turning it into a major pot hole that swallows us all.

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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