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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

So last week we introduced a new segment to the column, and I'm very pleased with the results; the response was absolutely overwhelming, and people don't seem to miss the old Rant section too much. I really couldn't have asked for a better outcome.

This week we have the first "normal" Hey, Answerfans! segment, which includes responses from last week's question, along with a brand new inquiry.

Let's get to it, then.

I don't know if you've answered this question before, but.. It's about the packaging used for DVD releases. I've noticed more recently that companies then to use packaging that seems wasteful and oversized for their releases. More specifically I'm refering to my copies of the Ah! My Goddess DVD in which they use the standard dvd case, and there's nothing inside except a 1 sheet little add in that has some art and an episode listing. When I got it I was a little disappointed because I don't see the need to use this format when it could have been sold in that "Thin-pack" Sized packaging that is becoming popular. Personally I'd prefer the Thin-Pack size cases for the simple fact that it'd save on space. It's not like they added anything into the regular release, so why have all this un-used space. The only thing I can think of is cost. I would assume that the cost to produce this standard (regular) dvd case and the Thin-Pack must differ.
Would I be correct in assuming this or is it that companies just don't care?

Your thinking is a little backwards; companies didn't just now start to include only the disc and an insert in a regular case. That's how it's been for years and years, both in the anime industry and in the mainstream film world. Hell, these days you're lucky to even get the insert.

Thinpak cases are a recent innovation; they're great for box sets, but from a marketing standpoint, they don't work for single releases. Most of the single-disc anime titles at your local Best Buy or Suncoast are arranged to be browsed by the spines. If those shelves were stocked with thinpak cases, you'd have an ocean of little tiny unreadable spines, and none of them would stand out at all. I doubt even using fancy foil or reflective paper would help catch the eye of someone scanning a wall of 1.5 centimeter-thick spines.

Remember, you always have the option of converting your collection to thinpaks on your own; I believe DVD guru Chris Beveridge over at AnimeonDVD.com did this with his unbelievably gigantic anime collection a while back to save on space and even provided a little tutorial on the best way to do it. You can then recycle your old standard-size DVD cases, if you're concerned about being wasteful.

I'm a big DVD collector myself, and personally, for single-disc releases, I prefer the standard case size, just because it looks better on the shelf and you can easily read the spine. Wasting shelf space never occurred to me as a real issue; I just buy more shelves.

Hey Answerman, why do some fans use random Japanese words in their English sentences and spelling things wrong so they seem more Japanese? I went to a convention this summer and I overheard some girls calling eachother "nekochan" and calling other people "baka" and saying stuff like "that guy is kawaii". What is the point of doing that? It reminds me of the people on anime forums on the internet who have to use the Japanese spelling or pronounce of things, like saying "rorikonu" instead of lolicon or "Bashu za stampeedu" instead of Vash the Stampede, stuff like that. Why why why?!?

Well, those are two different types of people you're describing there.

The first - girls who call each other "sutekii-chan" and "chibi neko" and what-have-you - are generally pre-teens or teenagers and it's got a lot to do being young and establishing a kind of "clique language". They do it because they think it's cute or quirky and it's something they can share with their friends. They're watching anime, which is foreign, and they're picking up random, easy-to-learn Japanese words, which is exciting, and their friends are watching the same things and picking up the same words, so they all start parroting it back at one another. Is it annoying? Yes, but not really any more annoying than other groups of teenage girls quoting High School Musical over and over again. Here's a tip: teenage girls can be pretty obnoxious when they want to be, and the whole pidgin Japanese thing is just another example of that. If it irritates you (and it irritates the hell out of me, so I'm with you on that), just do your best to ignore it. They'll grow out of it eventually.

The second group of people - the ones who insist on using phoenetic Japanese spellings of words that have obvious English counterparts (I once saw someone actually say "Finaru Fantashii" on an internet forum without a trace of irony or satire) - those guys are making a concerted effort to appear more "pure" than other anime fans. Generally they're also Japanophiles, the kind of dudes who skeeve on the Japanese foreign exchange students at college, shop exclusively in Asian markets and grow their hair out so they can wear it as a topknot. You'll usually find at least one of these guys in your Japanese language classes or East Asian Studies courses.
It's misguided - I don't know why folks like this seem to think that purposefully using bizarro phoenetic Japanese spellings of English words based on kana makes you a "better" or "more pure" anime fan.

Dear Answerman, I don't exactly keep track of your column weekly all that much so I'm sorry if someone else already asked you about the content of most of the overated Animes' dialogues... So here's the question I always wondered when I start pulling my hair off after watching an episode of Bleach for instance: "Aaaw geez... Why the hell do these script writers have to make it sound so weak and corny?" If I had a nickle for everytime these shounen jackasses say "I won't forgive you", I'd literally have around 10$ and according to my low battery calculator here, that's alot of nickles... So I ask thou, are the japanese script writers close to having zero imagination or is it mainly the fan-subs' fault for not putting any effort whatsoever? Maybe it's both parties, but there's definitely people who aren't even trying anymore. The dialogues are the major thing that bugs me and I would also ask you about the shows' other repetitive content like how almost every Akira Toriyama characters have gigantic foreheads but I get the feeling that'll make you type for a while (if you do happen to respond at all). But for the record, I'm almost at the point where I'd rather be watching another Air Bud movie where the dog gets to play crocket or something.

This reminds me of a game I play with our managing editor, Bamboo Dong. In our best anime dub voice, one of us will say something like:

"Naruto, you'll never be the Hokage! You're too brash and undisciplined!"

To which the other will respond:

"Says you, Gramps! I'm gonna be the most powerful ninja ever! Believe it!"

To which Bamboo will usually say, in her best (and shockingly convincing) "anime dub where the girl is bratty and spunky" voice:

"Pft, whatever, Naruto!
You'll never be as strong as Sasuke!"

And this goes on and on, much to the dismay of everyone who happens to be around us at the time. The joke is, of course, that none of those are actual lines from the show, but the dialogue in Shonen Jump shows is so predictable and repetitive that we may as well be directly quoting episode #223, "Big Battle at the Jailhouse! Naruto Goes Down Fighting?!"

That isn't the title of episode #223, but it damn well could be and you know it.

The point isn't that the dialogue is bad per se, but it's all part of the genre; like everything else in those long-running shonen action series, the dialogue is repetitive and completely expected. People make the same comments about American action movies. How many times have you heard someone say "Lock and Load!" in an action movie? How about the villain saying "we're not so different, you and I?" to the hero? It's all part of the genre; either you expect it, and you dig it regardless of how many times you've heard it all before, or you're sick of it and are ready to move on to other genres.

Q&A this week is a little short thanks to the length of the new segment; we'll be back to the normal 4 questions next week.

Ah, the hated Manga Cow. I never thought I'd get a letter from one of them.

In case you're not familiar with the term, a "Manga Cow" is someone who sits in the comics aisle of a big-box bookstore, like Borders or Barnes & Noble, and reads manga all day, grazing like a cow in a pasture. You likely see these people every time you go to one of those stores.

why do people pay for mangas when u can just read them in the store. i read all of naruto in the store and they never yelled at me, i also read bleach and demon diarys. so this is a message to other people who like manga, u can just read it in the store, u dont have to pay.

Here's a message to manga cows out there: people hate you. You block the aisle, you bend the covers, you crack the spines, you put things back out of order and sometimes you even smell kinda bad. You turn a new product into a used one. I don't buy manga at Borders or Barnes & Noble for the sole reason that at least 5 greasy teenagers have likely read it beforehand and I'd rather not pay full price for a book with Cheeto stains on every fifth page. If you want to read things for free, go to the library.

Here is a fawn.

Alright, moving on.

I can't say it any other way: I - and my inbox - were both blown away by the overwhelming response to the question posed last week. Presented below are some of what I thought were decent answers; generally, many people expressed the same sentiment, so I tried to find responses that summed up those sentiments well.

Our original question was "What would it take to get you to stop downloading fansubs?"

From reader Jason Francisco:

Honestly, all it would take is just faster releases (as in releasing it closer to it's original airing in Japan). I know simultaneous releases are hard, so the next best thing would be to do it as soon as possible, at least as soon as the Japanese dvds are available. My biggest problem is having to wait months, to a year or more to watch a series. I usually drop the subs when a series is licensed, but the temptation is still there. Should I watch Darker Than Black now, or wait until "sometime" in 2008 to watch it, and have it potentially spoiled on some messageboard in the interim? I'll probably wait, but I already tasted the fruit of the anime vine, so it'll be a tough wait knowing that it's already out there in some form. I have no qualms with anything anime companies do to the series itself (I kinda prefer dubs), and I think the prices and episode counts are just Jim dandy, but I hate it when they just sit on a series. Why announce the license if you won't do anything with it for another year. I would rather they announce it and then release it a month or two afterwards. That's why Chevalier's treatment was brilliant. The DVDs started coming out while the show was still airing in Japan; we need more of that! Compare that to Eureka Seven, which was licensed a few months before the show even started, yet DVDs weren't released here least until about a year and a half after that. There's just no excuse, if you prelicense a series, take advantage of that to make a speedy release. I wouldn't bother downloading a show if I knew the DVD was right around the corner, but when you're a few episodes in and already into the groove of the show, it's hard to stop abruptly and wait several months for the DVDs.

This was the most common response. Basically, you're used to having it now and it's available to you now, so why wait for the DVDs? They take too long. In order to get you to stop downloading anime, it'll have to be available much quicker.

Another, from TJ Condon:

I was at Otakon, a convention attended by 22,000+ people. There were Naruto, Bleach, and InuYasha cosplayers by the score, all packed into a few blocks of downtown Baltimore. Of those 22,000+ people, 21,998+ were just faces in the crowd. I saw two people cosplaying from Darker than BLACK. A series that did moderately well in fansubs, licensed months before the convention, with little to no press at the time of the event. 20,000 of the attendees at Otakon had probably never heard of the series. (Perhaps a couple dozen would recognize it as "That new thing Yoko Kanno's been working on," but that's a stretch.)

But there, standing before me, were Hei and Misaki. I was one of the few, the proud, the knowing. I praised them on their costumes and how nice it was to see some more bleeding-edge cosplay on the floor. I know that next year, there will be a great many more Darker than BLACK cosplayers at Otakon. I won't have the same feeling facing them as I did this year, though. It'll be "done."

I don't think anything could keep me from watching fansubs. No sum of money, threat of fines, or timing adjustment between Japanese and Region-1 release would capture this essence of... One hates to use the term "elitism," as that implies disdain for those not-in-the-know... "Higher connection," perhaps. The knowledge that somewhere out there on the floor, or on the internet, or in your own anime club, there will be someone with whom you can discuss the latest episode of Moetan (while justifying your viewing with the fact that Yuji Ueda's in a starring role and you owe it to yourself, as a Guilty Gear fan, to watch anything he's in), the mechanics of "Art School Twister" (as seen in Honey & Clover), or who's cosplaying as Setouchi-gumi Mermen-slash-Yakuza heavies.

A chunk of your readers will have no idea what I just went off about; a chunk of your readers will nod their heads, having also watched Moetan (again applying the Yuji Ueda clause), contemplated Twister violence, and recently finished their Shark Fujishiro costumes (once again, Guilty Gear.)

It is, then, for this sense of loose-yet-welcomed community between the bleeding-edge enthusiasts that fansubs will continue to exist wherever a devoted fan has a TV-Capture card, some pirated software, and a couple friends to coax him off the balcony when releases get behind.

That being said, the commercial ramifications of fansubbing have to be taken into consideration. For the pro-fansub audience, the standard distro-channel known as "Cable television" is passe, as it typically threatens the one-two punch of Dubbing and Editing. For a fan who has seen the show subbed, probably prefers it that way, and will not tolerate any molestation in any way, shape, or form, it hardly seems appropriate to use such means - be they on-demand, linear, or otherwise - to convince said fan to discard his/her DVD full of DIVX AVIs for 3, 4, or 6 DVDs which will, all told, run him/her for $90-$180.

The nature of fansubs - specifically, how they play toward the "elitist" in the audience - is a powerful force that will not go away. That being said, the Region-1 distributors should do well to turn from the path of litigation and authoritarianism and concentrate their efforts on getting some of those fans who enjoyed the fansubs to buy the commercial DVDs.

So you feel like you're a different kind of fan for watching fansubs and being ahead of the curve.

From "Ronin":

The answer that immediately sprang to mind when I read this was "if I got into trouble for it". I know it sounds cynical, but that's probably the only thing that could make me stop downloading them completely. The mere threat of a lawsuit would be enough to make me run screaming from fansubs for the rest of my life (I hope to God ADV isn't reading this).

This was an extremely common answer. You wouldn't believe how many people sent this in; "if I had to pay some kind of consequence for doing so, I'd stop".

From Nathan Copeland:

I would stop if there was some kind of free service or channel that offered subtitled versions of anime shows, that ran simultaneously or after a short delay (a week or two) with the original Japanese version. I realize there are channels like the Funimation one, but even if I lived where it was available, they don't show the anime I download. I want to know what Naruto is up to now, not in a few years. And most shows aren't as "lucky" as Naruto, to be shown on TV on a non-premium channel. The Japanese get to see D. Gray-man and Kaze no Stigma free, so one way or another I will too.

Another very common answer. A lot of people said that anime would have to be available basically in fansub form on cable TV, and since the Japanese get it for free, so should they.

This one summed it all up almost perfectly. From "Slacker Magee":

While we've all heard the 'stick-it-to-the-man' and 'I'm communist' rhetoric before, there lies a simple reason why many of us will never be able to give up fan subs.

1. Free
2. Instant gratification (actually depends on your download speed, but near enough)

This boils it down, I think. Thanks to everyone who sent in a response; I got so many incredibly well-written answers, I wish I had space to print them all. We're still working out the kinks in this segment, so the method of posting responses may change over time.

We're not done with the fansub discussion, not by a mile, but this next question is one that fascinates me, so this week, we've got a new topic:

Now you've got this week's question, and it's time to get answerin'.

For those of you new to Hey, Answerfans!, I'll explain the concept.

Believe it or not, I'm genuinely curious what you think.

That's right; as much as I love the sound of my own voice, I do love to listen to what other people have to say on a subject. I'm finding that over the last few years, the attitudes, reasoning and logic that today's anime fans use eludes, confuses or astounds me; I have so many questions for you, and I'm dying to hear what you have to say in response.

Welcome to Hey, Answerfans!

Basically, we're turning the tables. Each week I'm going to ask you a question, and I want you to email me your answer. Be as honest as you can. I'm looking for good answers; not answers I agree with or approve of, but good, thoughtful answers
. People feel passionately about these subjects and I'd like to see that in the responses I get. I'll post the best answers I get, and maybe some of the crappy ones. Sometimes there may only be one or two good ones; sometimes five or more. It all depends on what I get in my inbox! Got it? Pretty simple, right? Start writing those answers and email them to answerman [at] animenewsnetwork dot com.

We do have a few simple ground rules to start with.

Things To Do:

* Be coherent.
* Be thoughtful.
* Be passionate.
* Write as much or as little as you feel you need to to get your point across in the best possible way.

Things Not To Do:

* Respond when the question doesn't apply to you. For instance, if your email response starts with "Well, I don't do whatever you're asking about in the question... " then I'm going to stop reading right there and hit delete.
* Be unnecessarily rude or use a lot of foul language.
* Go off-topic.

So check this space next week for your answers to my questions!

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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