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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

Welp, the results are in from last week's Webcomic poll. I got a lot of submissions, so I'll just post the most common ones I got. Some of these might have NSFW content, you've been vaguely warned.

Errant Story by Michael Poe
From reader KZK:
"It's not about anime per se, but it is in manga format.  It also has much better artwork than most manga (that I've read anyway, which is quite a lot).  In any case it is my belief that it would make for a interesting animated show. "

Sodium Eyes by Alfred Lam
From reader Bluestreak2:
" It is a really new comic, only got started around November of 07 with 2 comics per week. It's not exclusively anime, but it is clear that the creator is a fan."

Mistakes of Youth by "Wildarmsheero"
From reader Barry R:
"Pretty much just a running commentary on anime, but I do appreciate a lot of the opinion."
I believe this one appeared on the back page of the first issue of Otaku USA magazine (and I've been told the author hates my guts, which is common).

No Need for Bushido by Alex Kolesar and Joe Kovell
From reader Ian S:
"Don't let the rather cheesy parody title fool you, once the comic gets going (about 20 strips in or so), the writing gets really good, and the art . . . well it takes a bit longer, but eventually it gets quite pretty.  Once it gets up to speed, great writing, quirky humor, surprisingly likeable characters, and a lot of anachronisms make this one of (imho) the best comics on the net."

Thanks to those who wrote in with their suggestions, and a mild scowl to everyone who wrote in saying "this has nothing to do with anime but this is my favorite webcomic!", especially the people who wrote in praising Dominic Deegan. Dominic Deegan, seriously. Good lord, people.

Do you have to be a fan to work in the US anime industry? How many people in the anime industry are fans? The majority? Is it expected that if you work at an anime company you are a fan?

You certainly don't have to be a fan, but if you appear at public events and work in the industry, you damn well better act like it.

There are a lot of fans in the industry; some of the biggest anime fans I can think of. People like Lance Heiskell at Funimation and voice actor Greg Ayres are two of the most enthusiastic and vocal fans I can think of. ADV was started by superfans David Williams and Matt Greenfield. At every level of these companies I've had exposure to, there are fans who incidentally also had the right qualities for the job they're doing. I couldn't say it's a "majority" because I don't have any numbers for you, but most of the people I work with directly inside the industry are certainly fans (then again, I usually deal with PR and marketing people, who were hired partially because they know how to deal with fans, which often includes behaving like one).

But then there are a lot of folks who aren't fans, and that they work with anime for a living is coincidental. Smart companies hire people with the right skills, not simply because they like Japanese cartoons a whole lot. And those people tend to not really show up in public to things like conventions, nor do they deal directly with the fans. The reason is simple: fans want to know that the people handling their favorite shows are also fans. This demand can be suffocating at times, and often unreasonable; I've seen some fans behave as though if the company rep they're talking to isn't a superfan, they must be an incompetent greedy shill who's going to ruin their anime. Sometimes, I've seen incredibly incendiary responses from fans online when they detect that the company rep isn't a fan; it inspires anger.

The result is that while most every company rep you talk to will come across like they love this stuff as much as you do, the truth is that for a lot of these guys, it's just a job. They don't watch anime for fun, they watch it for work. They talk about the show knowledgably not because they're huge fans, but because it's part of their job to be familiar with the product. There isn't anything at all wrong with that, no matter how much some fans might complain about it. I can't get behind the reasoning that it's always better to hire someone who really loves anime to manage a business rather than someone with really great business sense who's ambivalent toward the product but dedicated to selling it. I suppose ideally you'd have both, but I'm not certain how common people like that are.

Hey Answerman,
Why is there so much sci fi anime and not a lot of fantasy anime?

I couldn't give you an exacting breakdown of why sci-fi became a more popular genre than fantasy in both Japan and America in the last few decades (although it might have something vague to do with that time in the 1960's that we shot a tin can with a dude in it into the air and landed on this big rock in the sky) but your premise is correct - there's a mountain of sci-fi anime compared to a small hill of fantasy titles.

There are probably dozens of reasons, but the one that seems most obvious to me - at least when it comes to anime - is the early success of the Gundam franchise. It isn't called "The Star Trek of Japan" for nothing - it spawned a legion of sequels and wannabes, creating a giant market for sci-fi anime that continues to this day. There's never remotely been a fantasy franchise that's as successful as Gundam or produced so many copycats. Hell, the biggest "spinoff" (well, you can't really call it that - it's tangentially related) of what's probably the most popular fantasy anime series of the last 20 years, Slayers, was a sci-fi series called Lost Universe. Even that Lodoss War TV series was kinda ignored, probably because the animation was atrocious.

OK here is an easy one Answerman, who is your favorite anime character?

Eh, it's Friday, I'll take a softball.

It's been a long time since I've thought about anime in terms of "favorite characters", but a few stick out in my mind.

Although I think I admire the writing more than the character itself, Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist always struck me as a great character. Not so much because he had a particularly magnetic personality, but because his character arc was very deftly handled and delt with some surprisingly complicated and adult issues. His story was compelling and sophisticated to a degree, and that made him probably the most interesting character on the show.

I also have an obvious fondness for Alucard, if only because he's such a violent pervert and you rarely see that in an action hero.

I love this guy!

just got 2 say it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!







Here's last week's question:

First, from "Squeegey Bechenheim":

School is a time sucking bitch. so a show has to grip me the first episode. So one, unless it's an anime my friends REALLY want me to watch, then they'll force me through a few more.

I'd complain but hey, ef: a tale of memories was amazing!

From "billyarnie":

The number of episodes of a new anime series I'll watch before deciding if it's worth my time or not is the same number for any new series I watch:  three.  Usually, if it's a show I want to give a fair chance, three is the magic number.  Good series like Witchblade grab me from the beginning, so 1 is all it takes in those cases.  I watched the 1st subbed episode of Gurren Lagann on The Anime Network's online player & I'm still undecided.  I missed the 2nd episode when their player had problems & when it was fixed, the series had been removed.  I'll give the dub a fair shot when it finally appears on Sci Fi; since I'm a dub fan, maybe I'll be hooked from the beginning again... or not...

From Kyle England:

I have watched many anime series, and the thing is, I really haven't ever watched one that I didn't think was worth watching. Not yet, at least. I have watched a few that took a little while to start off, but I watched those until the end. Another thing to note I suppose would be that most of these series have the normal 24-26 episode range that I think is the best length to have a great story in an anime. The number of episodes in a series may effect if i watch it or not, I think the longest series I watched all the episodes from start to finish was about a 50 episodes anime. For instance I have been wanting to watch Bleach and Naruto all the way through as I never really watched them that much, but I am overwhelmed by their sheer amount of episodes that I have been holding off for later.

I have stopped watching a couple series about half way through, though. With those, I was watching the episodes real slow, maybe one every day or so, and I just wanted to watch something else and come back to them, because I do plan on finishing them. I'm not sure how other people choose what animes to watch, but I have a list, and if I read about an anime and find it sounds interesting, or if someone recommends it to me, I put the anime on my list. Then, when I want to watch a new anime, I just randomly choose one from my list, or sometimes I just watch them even if they aren't on there. I don't think I'll ever finish the list, it's got 100+ series on it and I am always adding more. Maybe I have just been lucky enough to so far not start watching any animes that I haven't liked. Or maybe I just enjoy a broader range of content. But in the end I will probably watch the entire series to determine if it is worth watching or not.

From BJ Waters:

I'm a complete-ist by nature.  That means I like to finish what I start, especially with anime, which is why I was so upset when Story of Saiunkoku disappeared with Geneon.  Not that I haven't dropped an anime series, but it usually takes a while before I decide this really isn't worth my time.  I guess it's because I'm willing to stick to something because it may turn out to be awesome later.  For example, Fullmetal Alchemist doesn't get interesting (to me) until episode 18/19 when the brothers discover secrets about the philospher's stone.

Because of this, I'm willing to give shows quite a bit of attention before I judge them.  I gave up on Kyo kara Maoh! at episode 19 and Inuyasha at episode 81 (heaven knows why I waited so long).  This also means that if the anime is shorter (13 to 26 episodes), I might as well watch the rest once I've watched the fourth or fifth volume.

Not that they aren't exceptions to my tendencies.  I'm loving Code Geass and Gundam 00 and what little I've seen of Gurren Lagann (Bandai is going to get a lot of my money).

And speaking of money, rarely am I likely to buy an anime series unless I've seen most of it, if not all.  This is why I think companies should do more in getting anime available to watch on TV and the internet.  Putting titles straight to DVD for sale makes me feel cautious and unwilling to buy something unknown.

From Kaylyn Dicksion:

The quick answer to this question would be approximately five.
To elaborate, I want to say just why I would pick this number.  Five seems to be a good handful of episodes to determine whether or not the show appears to be enjoyable.  Of course, in order to use this logic, you have to know what you're looking for in a show.  You will sometimes have some expectations that you want to have met.  For example, I personally am looking for these certain elements - interesting character development, good music, a formula that doesn't repeat itself from episode to episode, and an overpowered main character that doesn't actually accomplish anything from his own will power or his own personal abilities.  Those are personal, mind you, but five episodes is usually long enough for me to determine whether or not a show has these elements.  Maybe I'm too stubborn, and maybe I'm just looking for things I don't like, but it also gets me personally finding stuff that's new and refreshing and allows me to kick all the other stuff to the curb so that it doesn't bog down the stuff that entertains me!

Finally, from Dave Raphael S. Beltran:

One episode. that's it. And I would know right there and then if a show is worth watching or not. well, for the most part, that is.
Take Samurai Champloo. from the hip-hop music to the spectacular fight scenes to the well executed cinematography, everything about the show told me that this was one show that I'd be stupid to miss. it had me at episode one.
Monster was somewhat different. the pace was slow, I know. I've known people who dropped the show after a few episodes because nothing interesting was going on. But in my case, I saw that the art was good. exceptional, in fact. and something about the dark, gritty and cold atmosphere the show's art featured made me watch it long enough to appreciate the equally dark and tragic story. The show's atmosphere had me at episode one.
And then there's Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei. I was looking for a good comedy series, and I happened to stumble upon this one somewhere (ANN, most likely). how hard is it to love a story about a cynic who wants to die, but actually doesn't? apparently, very for some. I started out looking for a few laughs but instead, found a show with a unique and delightful sense of art direction. Time and again I find myself tempted to steal the art style, the colors, the cinematography. The comedy was good, but there were funnier shows like Lucky Star. in the end, it was the art that stood out. it had me at episode one.
Speaking of Lucky Star, the first few episodes were notoriously unpopular with viewers. But then I did not drop this series, simply because it was done by Kyoto Animation. it dragged on for a while, but something told me that KyoAni would do something about this, seeing how much they love their fans. It may have sucked, I couldn't tell. I was blinded by the fact that KyoAni made it. this show had me before I even started watching it.
But in the event that the show's quality drops below unacceptable levels, I would not think twice about dropping it. Soul Eater has but a few more episodes to bring back the pace of the first episode, or else I'm dumping this one.

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!

Howl's Moving Castle © Nibariki * GNDDDT

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