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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

I cannot tell you how happy I am that summer movie season starts this weekend. The dry months of late winter and early spring where there's nothing to see for weeks at a time are awful. It's not as good as awards season but it's something, dammit.

Also, this column is a little short due to scheduling. I've got something scheming for next week that hopefully y'all will like, though, so keep an eye out.

my friend who introduced me to anime told me I am not a real fan because I dont have any anime stuff or tshirts aside from dvds. If that is true then what is a "real fan".

Tell your friend he's an elitist idiot, firstly.

Secondly, not measuring up to some imaginary threshold of merchandise ownership no more discounts you as a "real fan" as any other silly metric, save one.

As has been mentioned in this space before, the only people who are involved in the anime fan community who I'd say it's safe to accuse of not being "real fans" are the parasites who have never and will never pay for their anime or even watch it in legal, free spaces. We've gone on and on about these people before, so it isn't necessary to keep on it now, but I don't think it's going too far to suggest that someone who partakes but does not support the community or the artist in any way whatsoever is not a "real fan".

That said, a lot of elitist anime fans are happy to denigrate other fans for not being "fan enough" based on some silly measurement system they came up with, and it usually isn't so much about actually gaging someone else's worth as a fan, but rather to boost themselves up as the "true fans" who "really get it". It's kind of a weird thing to pride yourself on in my opinion, but hey, to each his nerdly own.

I pride myself on having more Darth Vader action figures than most everyone else I know. And before you ask, as I'm sure this will come as a huge shock, ladies... I'm single!

Hey, Answerman.
I know you prefer to answer questions about group psychology over questions about anime and manga, but you have been known to do just that and it is possibly an journalistically interesting question so I'd like to ask: Is there any news about what's going on with Hellsing Ultimate? What do the english voice talents say?

First, "journalistically" is not a word. If someone pitched me an article concept and called it "journalistically interesting" I would pee on their shoes and then fire them. Maybe in the reverse order.

As far as I know, Hellsing Ultimate is still going in Japan. Volume 4 came out after some heavy delays, but the license is still in limbo after the collapse of Geneon, so as what's happening with it in America is anyone's guess. It seems like a no-brainer license, but the only four companies that seem to be doing much of anything at all these days - Bandai, Viz, Media Blasters and Nozomi Entertainment - haven't said a peep about it. I would imagine it's a pretty fantastically expensive license, so maybe it's just a money thing, or there's a bidding war.

I do expect it to be announced by another company at some point this summer. Funimation made references to the fact that they're apparently going after some of Geneon's titles; I can't imagine that Hellsing and Black Lagoon wouldn't be at the top of the list for any company perusing the remains of that company. But then, Funimation has been quiet for a while now.

In other words, I don't know, but we'll probably hear something by the time the summer's over.

Last week I got taken to task by several colleagues and companions of mine over what they called a "misleading" and "inaccurate" photo of what my workspace looks like, claiming I had clearly removed certain items they knew were indispensable to me to perform my job. I got enough emails about this to where I feel like I need to come clean; indeed, that photo was very misleading. Here, at long last, is a much more accurate view of my office.

I feel better now. The truth just sounds different, doesn't it?

God, this kid cracks me up.

u printed my email lulz i trickd u dumazz

u have now been 2x pwned by the masta

So this is what it feels like... ...to be 2x pwned

I'll see if there's space on my tombstone to add the "2x".

Foxes have been pretty much ruined by the furries but the baby ones can be cute.

Here's last week's question:

First, from Eleanor Wyllie:

It depends who you mean by "fellow fans". I enjoy online communities about specific shows, sharing fanart and chatting about characters. I'm also lucky enough to have a large group of real-life friends who share my interest in shows like FMA and watch Studio Ghibli movies, and we run an Anime Club together for the lower school, which is awesome.

But if you mean the entire anime-watching community in general, I'd probably have to say no. When I got into anime about four years ago, I naively assumed that here was something I could immediately bond over with a complete stranger. In the distant past that might've been true, but these days anime has become so big and so many shows are licensed and fansubbed that just being an anime fan doesn't necessarily give you a common interest. The other person may just be a casual viewer, or way more hardcore than me, or just like totally different shows for totally different reasons. When something gets bigger and more mainstream, I think it just naturally splits more into sub-genres and I'm not sure than something as general as anime is enough to base a community on.

On the other hand, whenever I go to the London Expo and see the long line of cosplayers from all different series and all the groups of fangirls running around going, "Omg Sephiroth! Omg pocky!" I do feel like part of a community. A community that sometimes feels like a huge, seething pit of idiocy and rage, but a community nonetheless.

I suppose that means I think anime still has something that sets us all apart/brings us together. From the outside we definitely still look like one group - the majority of people I know think all anime is "some weird Japanese cartoons with big eyes and tentacles". While I'm not supporting that stereotype, I'm gonna go ahead and say that the greater sense of community is because in general, anime is formulaic and features characters with large eyes and wacky hair that inspire obsessive followings.

Conclusion: um, sometimes?

From Rachel:

It's not really that I don't feel a sense of "community" with anime fans, but that I don't need to be a part of the "community" to fully enjoy anime.

I'm one of those people that doesn't feel the need to reach out and tell everyone about how disturbing some episodes of Shigofumi were or about how excited I am that Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei's manga is going to be published in America. I don't need to go and identify with others on a forum and see if they share the same views (or the complete opposite) of mine. Even though my brother is a somewhat obsessive anime fan I don't discuss my anime interests with him, unless he asks for some recommendations. I don't hunt for merchandise of my favorite anime online; I don't feel the need to project my fandom to the world, but I'm not ashamed of my fandom at all.

I suppose that makes me an anime "loner" of sorts.

From James Olsen:

You know, when I got started in Anime fandom some 15 years ago there was a real sense of community, we were a bunch of people dedicated to a very niche hobby trading tapes and stories, honestly for me and many others that was a golden age. Now, the times have changed…

Commercialization of Anime has brought about some wonderful advances [go to your local DVD store of note FYE, Fry's and you will see] but at the same time its caused the soul of the community to vanish.

One first has to understand what made the community what it was back 15 years ago, we were people that were interested in Japanese culture as much as we were the animation, there was an understanding that we were watching things that were as much a cultural window as entertainment. The problem with now is that the fans really don't have a clue where its all come from, they complain about the $30 DVD with 4 episodes, I remember paying twice that for VHS tapes with one episode on them! We never would run around calling each other “Chan” and “Sama” honestly, we would have felt that to be an insult to the culture not the least making fools of ourselves. For us it wasn't a fad so much as it was a hobby that we really didn't care if it was understood or not. Now, all you hear is people calling themselves Japanese names and glorifying series as the greatest ever without even looking at what came from the past.

I recently saw it first hand when I was in our local comic shop, one of the employees was there and I looked up at the screen and saw an AMV playing of Oh My Goddess! The Movie. He proceeded to tell me how amazing this show is and how it's the pinnacle of modern Anime, and wanted to know if I was interested in coming to the store's Anime night. I asked him what they would be showing and he listed the episodes of Naruto and Bleach along with Bubblegum Crisis. I politely declined, he asked why, I explained that for me, when I used to go to club meetings, it was to see something new, not the same stuff from the TV. He looked at me and said “How can you call yourself an Anime fan and not love Naruto?!” I couldn't believe my ears. It underscored to me how today there is far more activism in Anime than there is community, I shouldn't have to defend not liking Naruto to be a fan, but its more of a “Look at me I'm an Anime fan!” than anything else anymore. Call me old and jaded, but being told by a couple of kids how everything prior to Bleach sucked is more than a little annoying.

There is community to be found, but its in the smaller niche groups, Cosplayer's, Fansubbers etc. honestly I would love to see the community go back to smaller more focused groups without all the commercialization. Where true fans could really enjoy themselves and not be lumped in with the kids who don't know what fandom really is.

I would love to see community rise again, truly I would, I just don't see it happening anytime soon.

From Ruarke:

This deals with RL fans I have met, not people I have met over the internet.* I have been watching anime for 7 years, yet I am considered "old school" and that my experiences with anime aren't new enough for most of the people I have spoken to (regardless of the fact that whenever they want new anime they come to me). They constantly go on about Naruto like it's the holy grail of anime, and whoa unto you if you happen to mention that they could have maybe taken a break instead of torturing us with some of those filler arcs they stuck in. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Naruto, but having read the manga, the arcs were painful. This attitude seems to go across the board unfortunetely, with people getting hostile if I use the "wrong" name for a show, this seems to happen mostly for Bakuretsu Tenshi (Thanks to the local mag, forever known in this country as Burst Angel), which also typifies the other reason I get no community feeling from my fellow fans, I watch shows for the animation style, the story, not scantily clad females (If I wanted that I'd go to a night-club, the girls there are at least REAL). I also watch a lot of shows that get me wierd looks because they're considered "girly", such as Azumanga Diaoh and Ai Yori Aoshi, which I do enjoy because they're funny, but the story telling is also well done.
The only person who I can speak to anime about, is the last person I thought would ever watch it. My dad loves watching movies/series, but he went through my not inconsiderable collection of live-action movies and shows, and wanted something else. So I gave him Initial D, it being one of the few shows that actually had english dub as well as japanese audio/english subs. IT's know gotten to the stage where if a show does have english dub, he switches to the japanese, and he has even started recognizing voices (Such as Urahara from Bleach and Shanon from Scrapped Princess being the same voice actor). We know sit and talk about how a show could have ended differently, or what shows one character actors been in, since we recognize the voice etc.
In summary, if I am around people who are watching anime, or are talking about it, I will approach them, but most of the time I end up walking away from them due to their rudeness and general hostility, so No, I do not feel any sense of community from my fellow (RL) fans.

From "Beefbowl":

Well, the only fellow fans that I really have any sense of community with are my friends in real life. I tend to steer clear of the online community when I want to have anime discussions. My reason is that the online community can get way too hectic with all the raging, sometimes immature, fans that blabber their endless comments. While there are some parts of the online community that have more intellectual discussions, I would have to really look to find them. Even so, within those discussions there will always be those 12-year-olds that will rant and make stupid comments.

So whenever I just watched some anime that is new and exciting, I would call up one of my best friends from high school and tell him all about it. Half the time he would check out what I recommended. Another friend that I met in college is also an anime fan, and fortunately we share similar tastes in anime genres and other hobbies. While we do enjoy a handful of the mainstream hits such as Bleach and Naruto, our hype for them isn't as much as it was a few years ago. Nowadays, I try to discover new anime titles like those mentioned in the Spring 2008 Anime Preview guide. If I find any that are potentially well done, especially those that are underrated, I'd talk to my anime buddies about them and try to get them to consider my recommendations. While we do have our occasional rants of stuff we don't like, we always sort out our differences and understand each other's views.

Even though my anime community circle is only comprised of myself, two of my best friends, and a few other individuals, I'm quite grateful with what I have. Only with them can I ever really discuss this favorite form of media in manners which I prefer.

From Katelin Primeau:

I feel a 100% sense of community among my fellow fans. If you go to a convention, there are thousands of people that like all the same things that you do, you can talk to them about anime and manga and games, and they won't look at you like you have three heads. When you have friends that like anime and stuff, you have something to do together. If you see a new anime or read a new manga you want to share it with your fellow fans. I love the sense of community because I don't fit in anywhere else, and the conventions and anime clubs give me a place where I can fit in.

From Hannah J.M.:

Yes—and I'm genuinely afraid of it. There's definitely an anime community, but I believe in recent years it's become so elitist and cultesque that it's really quite unwelcoming to someone who doesn't froth rabid over every new series available. I've been pretty big into anime for a number of years—I really, really love the medium—but as a new friend said to me not long ago, “It's nice being able to find normal people to talk about anime with.” The anime community I see today is too self-interested and too self-important for someone with any interests outside of anime to feel comfortable in. I'll admit, I did go through a fangirlish phase when I was about 14, but (a) most 14-year-old girls are pretty obnoxious anyway, (b) I grew out of it and (b) only expressed that level of obsession around my friends, and I still respected other people's opinions. From what I've seen of the rest of the anime community, that really isn't the norm.

For example, there's a local anime store I frequent; I go there to buy, and to converse with the store owner, who is a very nice man who can carry on a very normal conversation despite his occupation. However, whenever I go in there I'm accosted by one of two kids of people. The first kind are the Stalker Types—they follow you around the store asking you for personal information, invading your personal space, telling you WAY too much about themselves, and generally smothering you. They talk about voice actors like they're their close personal friends, and assume you've read/watched every series they have just because you also like anime. The second kind are the Holier-Than-Thous. These people ridicule every series you pick up (particularly if it is, god forbid, popular) and snicker to each other about how their tastes in anime are so much more refined than yours. They then usually go and pick up some very “adult” (read: originally ran in a boy's magazine but it has blood in it or something) series and discuss its finer merits, ignoring any flaws the series may have. This creates a very uncomfortable shopping environment, and if it weren't for the store owner, I'd probably just go to Borders.

This sort of socially inappropriate behavior carries over to most other fan-heavy environments, as well. My freshman year in college I tried to join my school's anime club, but felt so alienated and uncomfortable I only went to one meeting. At that meeting, I was yelled at for attempting to sing along to a themesong, told that my tastes were both abnormal and bad (apparently if you like Excel Saga you deserve to be shot, and Wolf's Rain is the greatest piece of art ever made, and watching anything dubbed is like killing thousands of adorable kittens), and one boy whom I had never met before told me he loved me. There was also a 35 year old man with a Bluetooth headset there, and I can attest that he most certainly was not a student.

I love anime, I really do. I have more manga and DVDs than I know what to do with; I draw fanart; I listen to J-pop; I've taken Japanese. But I also have interests outside of anime, and I don't always agree with popular opinion as to what's good and what isn't. I also have reasonable social skills. So while I believe that an anime community exists, I don't really find it very welcoming.

From Alex Bower:

Q: Do you feel a sense of community among your fellow fans?
A: I divide my fellow anime fans into two spectrums: those who bath and those who don't. I generally gravitate toward the latter.

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 hve 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!

See you all next week!

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