Hey, Answerman!by Zac Bertschy, Jun 13th 2008
I just realized today that this column has been running in one form or another for seven years. From 2003 to 2005, it was written by my friend Rebecca Bundy. In the five years I've been writing this thing, I have moved seven times, held three different jobs, owned two cats and then a rabbit, and lived on both coasts.
And I'm still here answering questions about anime. I can't tell if that's an accomplishment or not.
Anime has "Gods" like Miyazaki, Satoshi Kon, Mamoru Oshii and Rumiko Takahashi. Do you think any of these people (or others not in that small list) don not deserve their "god" status or are overrated?
I don't consider myself some ultimate master arbiter of taste and worthiness, so it isn't at all my place to say that any of those people "deserve" their success. I have my personal take on their bodies of work, but if I like one more than the other it doesn't mean the other doesn't deserve their success.
That said, I have my reservations about some of them. I personally believe Mamoru Oshii to be tremendously overrated as a filmmaker. He has a singular inability to make a film without pouring hot, rich pretension all over everything he does. There is no reason at all Ghost in the Shell: Innocence was more or less 2 hours of Batou and Togusa wandering around quoting scripture against pretty backgrounds with 5 minute action sequence near the end that actually features the franchise's main character. To top it off, he fills the movie with self-indulgent references to his basset hound.
Frankly I was never a huge fan of the first one, and Angel's Egg - while it's an interesting experiment - is yet another example of "boring pretension masquerading as art". I don't really look forward to his new films and have really never personally enjoyed any of his work. But that's just my take on it.
Rumiko Takahashi created Lum and Maison Ikkoku and for that I will love her forever, but those are the only two works she's made that I found entertaining. Ranma was one or two tired gags and the same ol' "will they or won't they" "2 steps forward, three steps back" romantic plot that she's repeated in almost everything she's done minus the Rumik World stuff and a few other titles. Don't get me started on Inuyasha, either. I pray her next work is a serious departure from the formula she's been exploiting for decades.
As for other "Anime Gods", Kon and Miyazaki are unrivalled. I revel in the thought of a new Satoshi Kon movie just as much as I might be drooling with anticipation over the next David Fincher film (well, okay, that's going a little far)and I don't have to go on about Miyazaki because the film community at large (and John Lasseter) already do that for me. The man is so revered that I don't think I've even seen attention-hungry trolls try to argue that his movies aren't good. And these days, that's something!
Well, with reference to Metal Gear Solid, no, I don't think it would make a good anime, but then, I don't think it would make a good movie either. The Metal Gear games basically are movies already; the stories are already being told in the best possible respective medium, and they're so cinematic that watching a traditional movie version of them would feel pretty pointless (not to mention ridiculously truncated). Besides, I wouldn't want to sit through whatever an anime version of the Metal Gear Solid 2 ending would be like.
As for other video games that might make decent anime series, that's a tricky one - it's not like it hasn't been done before, with varying degrees of success (Ragnarok the Animation, anyone?). Most of the obvious fighting game franchises have been done, although I wouldn't object to a theatrical animated Soul Calibur movie.
I stand by my concept that Castlevania would make a great anime series that could probably run forever. I don't know why they haven't done this yet; it seems like a no-brainer.
Nice idea for a topic. Everyone has little secrets like that, stuff that when uttered around other fans gets you weird looks. I have lots of these, but obviously won't spill 'em all here.
Here are a couple, though:
1. Half of the episodes of Cowboy Bebop are pretty boring, and Ed is a really annoying and pointless character.
2. Fullmetal Alchemist is a great show but only in the second season.
3. I pretend I read Tenjho Tenge for the fight scenes, but nope, I'm readin' it for the fanservice.
4. Even after all these years, I still hold up Escaflowne as the best anime TV series I've ever seen.
5. I love, love, love, love, love both endings to Evangelion.
6. I watched all of Onegai Twins and I liked it.
7. I think Chobits has some really smart and sometimes poignant things to say about man's relationship to technology.
8. I appreciate Mushishi and I know it's a good series, but god damn it puts me right to sleep.
9. Pom Poko sucks. A lot. It's unwatchable.
Ok, now you. Pretend you're Catholic and confess! Send your controversial anime fan confessions to answerman [at] animenewsnetwork.com. The best ones will be printed here next week; there will also be a "Gallery of the Lame" so don't send me stupid stuff.
ok answerman i think u suck so i am going to start my own answerman column and i will take u down
If this email is any indication of your writing skills then I'll just get in the unemployment line now.
We call this "the flying V".
Here's last week's question:
First, from "ChibiBritt":
JimBob was always a bit akward. He was obnoxious, loud, and no one could stand him. In his first semester he pulled fire alarms, stalked one of our members, and did every little thing that he could to try to 'fit in' and make people laugh. We did not find it funny. At all. On our cosplay contest meeting he did something very stupid. For no reason that we could fathom he took his lighter and decided it would be 'funny' and 'cool' to light someone's hair on fire. Which he succeeded in. Needless to say, we banned him from the club. A year later he tried to come back thinking somehow we would 'forget' the incident. I ended up having to escort him out of the building after having a small argument with him since he clearly didn't understand WHY he was banned.
A year or so later we had our next 'that guy'. Luckily this story ends in a happy ending. After the previous 'that guy' my club made it a mission to do our best to help the 'that guys'. We realized that a lot of those 'that guys' were basically raised on the internet and didn't understand HOW to socialize. So my next story is about a guy who I shall call Jeff Jeffington. When we first met Jeff he introduced himself as 'Hi I'm Jeff, and I'm bisexual!" Well, most of us were just confused as that wasn't the best way to make an introduction. As weeks went on we noticed Jeff causing issues. At meetings he was the guy yelling internet memes and random stupid phrases at the viewing screen. When he actually had a face to face conversation he often would ask really awkward questions that would make everyone uncomfortable. So one day we took Jeff aside and explained to him what he was doing wasn't quite right. We told him the best thing to do is to simply watch the people around you and make mental notes on how people behave and react. Jeff took this to heart and the next semester we hardly heard a peep from him. After our summer break Jeff comes back as if he was a new person. He stopped being the 'that guy' and actually was himself. It turns out Jeff was a pretty intellegent and funny guy and most people enjoy his company now.
So all I can say is, give your 'that guys' a chance. You might just be surprised. But if they stalk a member or catch them on fire...ban them for life or at least help them find medical help.
From "Sid Warrious":
From Jason Hendricks:
Not only have I run into "that guy," I usually see him twice a week. However, I don't see him at an anime club, but at my work place. I work at a Library and every Tuesday and Thursday this man in his 30's who lives with his parents and has about 5 cats comes in and will follow me around telling me about either his latest Gundam model or the latest volume of Gundam Seed Destiny. Imagine Michael Moore with Michael Jackson's voice and you'll pretty much be able to picture what he looks and sounds like, its really creepy. The reason he follows me around was that I was sitting at the reference desk once and he wouldn't shut up about giant robots. So I made an off-hand comment about being a mecha fan because I was trying to be nice and I was hoping it would satisfy him enough to leave me alone. Bad move, now he actually follows me around the Library when i'm trying to put books away. What's worse is one time he brought in some posters of Rei Ayanami in a bikini. I like Eva, but I reallu have no desire to see that. Now whenever he comes in I usually try to hide so that I can avoid hearing about his latest Gundam Model, because I really don't care, and it interferes with getting my work done.
We were watching Shigofumi, and Wolf and Spice, and had been since the start of the semester. Obviously, we had nearly reached the end of the series.
Now, you would -think- someone with half a brain could realize that if you jump into an anime series near the -end- of it, you're not going to understand all that much. In fact, I'm not quite sure why you'd bother, and if you did, you could at least have the sense to maybe read up a little on the series before going to see episodes near the stories conclusion. After all, its pretty much the effect of walking into a movie theatre when the movie only has half an hour to go, and expecting it to make perfect sense to you.
So what does That Guy do? Complain, with the foulest mouth you ever heard, and as loudly as possible. "What the sh*t? What's going on? This doesnt make sense!" Also, referring to Horo in Wolf and Spice when she bared her fangs, "What the f*ck, is that chick a vampire or something?" (If you couldnt figure out what she was from the title, you must be kinda thick) In a part where Horo started laughing for a while, he yells out "SLAP HER! HURHURHUR". He obviously thought he was hilarious.
Then when Shigofumi came on, the usual little text appeared at the bottom of the screen, in japanese, that reads 'when watching anime, brighten your room and sit away from the screen.' That guy yells out, "WHAT THE F*CK, I CANT READ THAT SH*T", as if it really mattered.
Does one honestly need to be so obnoxious? It was all I could do to stop myself leaning over and whacking him with my bag. Our screenings were normally PEACEFUL...
From Kimberly Naff:
My then-boyfriend ran the anime club that formed at the local Media Play store. I often helped out with getting us free things to give out or to watch. However, there was one guy who showed up a lot... "That Guy". He went to conventions, but only if they gave him a press badge since he'd post pictures on his website and write a little blurb. He'd buy things almost constantly, but only the things that no one else had really heard of. I knew he was a fan of a series, but as soon as it got licensed and people starting sounding excited about it? He hated it and gave away all of his merchandise from it, calling it "promo crap". Lame!
Of course, the then-boyfriend is also "That Guy". Only, he's a different one. He has a bit of the same problem of being an elitist... if too many other people like it, then it loses its appeal to him. He also made a point to collect an anime that started with every letter of the alphabet, with a secondary collection of anime that had an alternate title which started with every latter. I remember him saying, "See, then I can go ahead and list Excel Saga under 'Q' for Quack Experimental Anime Excel Saga!" He also kept a Space Channel 5 lunchbox filled with Pokemon cards and toys under his bed.
Finally, from "Eos":
I've heard the “that guy” label used to describe many notorious club members, but when I first read the question, one individual came right the front of my mind. My senior year I acted as president of the geeky interests club on my college's campus, the same year that this “guy” transferred in. At the all-school club fair, he introduces himself then decides to become the official spokesperson, scaring passersby with “we're all crazy otaku!” This kid unfortunately has a knack for getting on people's nerves, referring to me as “Pres.” For some reason, he's of the mind that all females are inherit yaoi-lovers, and would often start conversations with me by asking in an embarrassingly loud voice “why do you girls like to watch to men do it?” Or more puzzlingly, “why do guys like to watch two girls doing it?” Obsession with homosexuality aside, he had problems with personal boundaries, going to far as to grab my face with both hands to “punish” me for not wearing green on St. Patrick's Day….while I was at work in the campus library's front desk. What made this guy especially annoying was that as president, I tried to be civil and not to outright ignore him, which became increasingly harder. He still attends the school, opening up his usual canned rants about his ex-girlfriend during his presidential candidate speech. Some things never change.
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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