Hey, Santaman!by Zac Bertschy, Dec 14th 2007
Welp, it's Christmastime again, which means it's also time to dust off the ol' Holiday banner. I might seem like a bit of a cranky old curmudgeon with a heart as black as pitch, but I love Christmas (well, okay, I love the secular version of it, which I refer to as "Santa Christmas", as opposed to the religious version, referred to as "Jesus Christmas", which is all well and good but really not for me). I even love doing Christmas shopping, believe it or not.
Regardless, we've got some questions to answer here and my egg nog is getting warm so let's make this snappy.
Hey Answerman, one thing I have noticed about anime fans is that they all seem sort of obsessed with "the anime industry" and are more interested in that than anime. More than fans of other things I think. Why is that?
Well, you've got to be careful when saying "I noticed this about fans..." because it can quickly turn into a blanket statement, and the only blanket statement that honestly applies to a group as diverse as anime fans is "they like anime, mostly".
Your observation isn't incorrect, though; there does seem to be a fairly large contingent of anime fans that slavishly follow every single business move "the industry" (a term I'm growing increasingly weary of due to all the hullabaloo about the problems with the R1 anime market) makes, in an attempt to analyze, dissect and even offer business "advice" to anyone working within the industry that might be reading their forum posts. Discussions about the R1 market, what's happening internally at companies like ADV or Funimation, what the whole industry will do about [problem X], and what the next best move to make is generally go on for pages and pages and pages, sometimes devolving into horrendous flame wars, and often can overshadow any discussion of the actual content itself.
It's all well and good, but I do agree that - especially lately - discussion of 'the industry' has really kinda overwhelmed any other sort of debate. A friend of mine who works at a major anime company mentioned to me that he wishes anime fans would talk more about anime and less about his company's financial situation or licensing decisions or what-have-you. I'm not sure I disagree with that; while some discussion about the business itself is healthy, an overwhelming obsession with what basically amounts to business decisions that have absolutely nothing to do with [Fan X] sitting on a forum picking apart a company's latest decision to fire [Company Representative Y] is tiresome and seems like a waste of time.
But, that's what a lot of people really like to talk about. As for anime fans being more inclined to discuss the business rather than the content, I'd have to disagree there - the real description for what these folks are doing is "armchair quarterbacking", which of course comes from sports fans who obsessively nitpick and question the judgment of thier chosen NFL coach. We haven't gotten to the point where, like some football fans, anime fans get up at industry convention panels and angrily shout business advice from the back of the room. Once we get to that point, we're in trouble.
Well, I'm not so sure that's entirely fair. I've played my fair share of licensed anime games - from the decent Naruto fighting games to an ocean of wretched One Piece titles - and overall, for games based on licensed properties, I'd say they have a better track record than, say, games based on Hollywood movies (or Hollywood movies based on games, for that matter).
While I don't think I've ever played one that really blew me away, you have to keep in mind that these are, ultimately, licensed products, and frankly there are very few licensed games of any kind that are decent. A Naruto game is probably never going to be the next Bioshock or Halo or Gears of War - it'll likely be a fun, potentially solid diversion, but it'll never really be a blockbuster AAA title. It's just the nature of licensed games.
They have been getting better over the years, I think. We didn't start seeing a lot of anime-based games here in the US until the peak of the Playstation 2, and then we started getting some pretty crappy fighting games (anyone remember that godawful Yu Yu Hakusho figher that was released a few years back? That thing was unplayable) but then, as the already-well-received Naruto games started coming out on the Gamecube, things kinda turned around a little. Sure, there are still plenty of assy anime games out there - most of the ones that are released on the DS aren't very good, in my opinion - but again, normally they're at least solid diversions. They're usually a hell of a lot better than, say, Shrek 3 for the Wii or Superman Returns on the 360.
They announced the Golden Globe nominations today and once again anime is shut out! I dont think anime has a chance at the oscars either! american animation always wins these awards, are the people who put them out biased or something? how come anime never wins!
I hear this a lot from anime fans, and every time there's an anime movie out there that has even a remote chance of being nominated for an award, there's always a group of folks that gets all riled up and behaves as though the anime always deserves to win regardless of its quality.
Aside from Paprika - which I believe was submitted for an Oscar last year and wasn't nominated, primarily because nobody saw it and Sony didn't put any money into promoting it to either Academy voters or the Hollywood Foreign Press Association - I haven't seen an anime movie in the last few years that deserved to win it. I'm a fan of all animation - American, Japanese, whatever, you name it - and honestly if there's someone out there who saw both Tekkonkinkreet and Ratatouille and determined that Tekkonkinkreet was a better film, I can only question their taste.
I think Spirited Away winning a while back gave people unrealistic expectations in terms of what to expect from the Oscars, and I also think some folks have an agenda and would rather see anime win regardless of quality. That said, the other issue here is that even if there were an anime film - as there was last year with Paprika (versus the mediocre Cars, the subversive but not brilliant Happy Feet and Monster House) - that truly deserved to win, it would have to be released by a company that's willing to spend the money to promote it as a contender. Unless it's a Miyazaki movie and Disney is pushing it for Best Animated Film, there really aren't any other companies out there that are releasing prestige anime films that's also willing to do the footwork and dump the cash into promoting it properly. The deck is stacked against anime for those reasons - but I won't be outraged until something that truly, honestly deserves to win doesn't (again, anyway - Paprika did deserve to win last year but due to the fact that it was a Sony release, it never stood a chance anyway). This year, that award belongs to Ratatouille, hands down. Anyone saying there was a better anime film this year is delusional.
I bet you can guess my answer to this one!
Answerman, bet I can write a column faster than you. Whoever wins gets to be Answerman.
I don't even need to write a response to this, really. Although this is technically one, I guess.
Okay, there's a problem with Hey Answerfans this week; the PC that the replies are on crashed and I'm in the middle of fixing it up, so there's no Answerfans this week. I still have all those responses, but I'll have to publish them next week.
See you next week! Happy Holidays!
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