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Hey, Answerman: The Confessional

by Zac Bertschy,

I got more responses to that silly "confessions" thing last week than I've ever had in response to anything printed in this column, in addition to people spamming the forums with such outrageous claims as "I don't like Evangelion!" or "I like pocky!". It was ridiculous.

So, with respect to the fact that so many people responded, we have a sort of "special" column this week. I'm going to do one question and then get right to the confessions, including a gallery of the lamest ones I received, and then we'll move on to Hey Answerfans.

is it me or is anime not as popular as it used to be? some of my friends have stopped watching as much and i dont see as many anime tshirts except for naruto. is anime fading away?

Anime is more popular now than it's ever been. There are more anime fans than ever before, a tremendous amount of product available, and con attendance continues to grow (although I have a sneaking suspicion that this year we're going to start seeing some decline in that area).

What you're experiencing is in large part also a solid reason why the anime industry itself is struggling; we don't have any big mainstream hits right now and haven't had one since Bleach came out. Death Note was popular and is probably the closest thing to a recent "hit", and both Naruto and Bleach remain evergreen franchises that maintain solid sales and ratings, but other than that, there hasn't been a big new smash hit that brought in new fans and got lots of mainstream exposure. So we're in kind of a lull right now in terms of walking down the street and spotting people with anime shirts or seeing piles of anime-related merchandise in stores. Hopefully right around the corner there's another big series with hit potential that will rejigger interest in the industry as a whole with more casual consumers, but until then, it's going to be a little depressed for a while.

Hey look, a tangentially related (and hilarious) flake!

heres my confession u r the worst

That's not a confession, everyone knows that.

This is the world's grumpiest hamster.

Okay, so last week I confessed to a bunch of embarassing stuff and then asked you to do the same. What happened was that apparently every single person who exists on the internet sent me an email with their confessions. There's no way I'd have room to print them all (nor did I remotely have time to read each and every one before this column was due in); consider this a random sampling of the non-lame ones, which have their own special section below.

Also, here is a rule that will be enforced: Please do not run to the forums to spam your "confessions" in the discussion thread for this column. It got so bad last week we had to lock it up.
So everyone play nice, OK?

Let's get crackin'.

Michelle Cantwell:
"The only good anime that is recent to the states that I think is awesome is Bleach."

Faye Elliot:
"Despite constantly agreeing with those who dislike "immature and stupid" shows with "plenty of lame, repetitive humour and little coherent plot", I adore Kyo Kara Maoh. I go so far as to hide the DVDs when my sister and brother-in-law come over to visit."

"I tell people that the reason I was disappointed by the ending of Samurai Champloo was because it was so abrupt but really I just wanted there to be some fluffy romance at the show's conclusion."

"When I first heard of anime back in 1997 I was spelling it amine like the stuff you see on the ingredients in shampoo. I was also pronouncing it "Ah-min" and using the username Amine Bill for a website I made."

Allen Thomas:
"Otaku are bad for the anime industry because they only want the same things over and over again."

"Kodomo no Jikan is one of the most emotionally genuine series in a while."

"About 2-3 years ago, I used to be one of those creepy fan-girls that would try and write "Japanese" using only a Japanese/American dictionary, give myself "Japanese-y" nicknames, and put in "kawaii/ kawaii-desu", "baka", "sugoi", "arigato" and the like whenever I would talk."

"I only watch Bleach for the vaguely homosexual subtext, but I still say I watch it for the ridiculous and hilariously overplayed fight scenes."

Mike Walko:
"I believe Serial Experiment Lain was put out as a test to see what was the worst possible piece of crap an anime studio can put out that people will staunchly defend as a masterpiece."

Rob Arnold:
"I get really really gushy and crazy about moé girls even though I have absolutely no interest in girls at all."

Anna Park:
"Edward Elric is one of the biggest assholes in the history of anime protagonists, and FMA only starts getting good once it moves away from him a bit and there's more military action."

Drew Bouncer:
"I hate Sharon Apple. I hate her looks. I hate her songs. I hate her fan base. I hate everything about her."

Sam Murai:
"I think that Satoshi Kon's work is nothing spectacular. Rather, I think that much of them consist of very routine, predictable stories covered with overblown creative flourishes that act more as filler, unintentionally or not, for the more shallow content."

Brian Williams:
"I only buy manga on my lunch break because I'm wearing a shirt & tie and so the people that work at the store don't think I'm "That Guy"."

Christopher Bolanos:
"I cried when Ash turned to stone in Pokemon The First Movie."

"The scene at the beginning of Dragonball where Bulma wasn't wearing any panties turned me on."

Alright, that's enough of that. Now we move on to the dregs.

I'm keeping these anonymous for obvious reasons. Here we go...

"No matter how you slice it, anime is japanese cartoons."

WOW! What a revelation!

"I say I'm a fan of Fullmetal Alchemist, but I've never seen the entire series. I stopped watching at about 30. I just read the manga."


"I've never watched Naruto, Bleach, or One Piece."

Shocking. Just shocking.

Get ready, here it comes!

"I dislike Neon Genesis Evangelion. Why can't anyone in that show get over themselves? Shinji especially annoys the hell out of me. Plus I'm fairly positive that if Ikari just hugged him once, the seires would be drastically different."

"I've never watched Eva.  Ok, the first two episodes, but that's it. I really have no interest in seeing the rest."

"I think Neon Genesis Evangelion was the most boring,overly philosophical and overrated Anime series ever to be created."

"I think Evangelion is overhypped and that Rahxephon should get more recognition."

OK, I can't take any more, let's move on...

"For the life of me I can't understand yaoi.  I mean ... why?"

It's such a conundrum, I know!

"My Top Ten Anime list includes respectable titles like Samurai Champloo, Paradise Kiss, Twelve Kingdoms, and, erm, Bleach."

That's nice.

"Dragonball Z was my introduction to anime, and it will always hold a special place in my heart."

Running... out... of mean-spirited reactions... to lame confessions...

"I actually attend con panels, and chose them based on my interest in the topic."

Okay that's it, it can't possibly get worse than this one. I'm done. Moving on...

Here's last week's question:

First, from Duncan Stewart:

My favourite Miyazaki film is Kiki's Delivery Service as not only do I love the film, I gave a DVD to my four year old niece to try to steer her towards Anime and not only does she love it as much as me she has a Kiki outfit that she plays in. If a such a beautiful film like that can affect a four year old so positively then it must be doing something correct. She now also has My Neighbour Totoro and I look forward to her getting older and into some of the films aimed for older children.As much as I love the Miyazaki Ghibli films, I have to say that Isao Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies is my favourite Ghibli film as there is now way you cannot watch the film without crying at the ending. I never cry at films but that one had me in complete tears. Apologies for going slightly off-topic though.

From Leah Holmes:

For me it can only be My Neighbour Totoro. Maybe I'm biased because it's the first Miyazaki movie I ever saw, but however much I've loved all his other films, none of them have touched me like Totoro does, or felt as magical. It's such an unusual film - I know that Miyazaki made it, not because he had a story he wanted to tell, but because he just wanted to make something that was (for want of a better word) *nice*. And that's exactly what it is - there's no huge journey of self-discovery, no massive conflict, no heroes or villains as such... but while you'd expect a film like this to be nothing short of soporific, it's impossible not to be enchanted by Totoro. It's the film version of being wrapped in a warm blanket on a snowy day, one that makes you feel nostalgic for the childhood you never had (but wish you did).

But at the same time, Totoro's still waters run deep. The knowledge that it contains autobiographical elements - a setting similar to Miyazaki's own childhood, and the fact that Mei and Satsuki's mother is afflicted with tuberculosis, the illness that took his own mother's life - gives it a lot of extra weight. Miyazaki's "nice" film was clearly one that was not without its heartache (he's even said that the protagonists had to be two little girls or it would have been too painful to work on), and since Mei and Satsuki's mother recovers from her illness and is able to return home, you have to wonder if it was a form of release for the director. In any case, it's handled so gently that not knowing about these elements in no way impairs your ability to enjoy Totoro.

I know Nausicaa is considered by many to be the best Miyazaki film, and I know that many people (in Britain, anyway) have fond memories of seeing Laputa on TV when they were young. I know Spirited Away was the one that won the Oscar, and I know that Howl's Moving Castle was the Big Cinematic Release. But if I were told that I could only have one Miyazaki movie to watch for the rest of my life, I'd choose Totoro, without hesitation. It's an oasis of calm and beauty and gentleness in a world that is so rarely any of these things.

From Jerry Conner:
What's the best Miyazaki movie? You might as well ask me which one is my favorite child. If you force me to choose though, I'd probably have to say Kiki's Delivery Service.

Why? Well first off, it was the first uncut Miyazaki movie I ever saw, fansubbed, at a college anime festival that I had to drive to fifty miles through blowing snow each way (no, I'm not joking) to reach. A friend dragged me in, saying, "You have to see this", so with some trepidation, I followed him.

Up until that day, my idea of entertaining anime was the filmography of Leiji Matsumoto, or the Tatsunoko superhero titles. So, when I saw this movie starting with a teenaged girl lying in a field listening to her transistor radio, my first reaction was, "What have you dragged me into?" Using persuasion just short of hog-tying, he convinced me to stick around.

So, I grumbled under my breath, and settled in waiting for the inevitable serial killer, stalker, what have you. Of course, they never came. Instead, I got a sweet, but never quite saccharine look at the life of a young girl moving to the big city. She made a lot of friends, a few enemies, and created a life of her own.

Oh yes, and she was a witch.

That wasn't really important to the story, though. She could have been a dressmaker, a cleaning lady or a bicycle courier. Didn't matter. It was the story of a young woman making her way. At least until she hit a slump. Suddenly, after recovering from a nasty infection, she realizes her powers have left her. Her broom is only a broom (and eventually gets broken), and she can no longer understand the talk of her cat.

Then, when no one else could do what must be done, she borrows a broom, and in a voice barely above a whisper, says, "Fly." Of course, being the heroine of a Miyazaki film, she saves the day, just in the nick of time, regains her confidence and goes on to build the happy life she dreamed of in the big city.

Even today, a decade and a half after seeing it the first time, that whispered, "Fly" still brings a catch to my throat. In a world of antiheroes and cynicism, there's one magical place where a heroine can do all the right things for all the right reasons, and the result will be something wonderful.

In a world sadly lacking it, Kiki's Delivery Service gave me hope.

From BJ Waters:
Dunno 'bout best, but my favorite is Princess Mononoke.  While Spirited Away won the Oscar and Castle in the Sky and The Cat Returns are an absolute blast, Princess Mononoke has in my opinion the strongest characters, and I mean that literally as well as cinematically.  While I must admit I'm an action junkie and Mononoke is Miyazaki's most action-packed movie, I still think this movie is the best he's done so far.  And I say that because, no matter how many times he's retired, I don't think he'll stop until he's dead.  At least I hope not.

Finally, from Anna:

This is a tough choice for me. At first I am tempted to say one of the films that gets very little love is my favorite--namely Porco Rosso. But I didn't really like it all that much, so that would merely be pretentious of me. I think that my favorite movie of his would have to be Princess Mononoke. Yes, it is a little heavy on the environmental allegory--and that can get extremely irritating to me--but the characters and the story make up for that. You watch it, and you can't even tell that it's over ten years old because it looks just as beautiful (in my opinion, more beautiful) than Spirited Away or Howl's Moving Castle. The characters are well fleshed out for a feature movie, and I know I grew to care for the characters of Ashitaka and San as the movie went on. It isn't a movie that operates in the black-and-white, though it might seem so on the surface. I simply marvelled at the world that he had created in such a short space of time. This movie touched me the first time I saw it, and it is one of his movies that I refuse to make fun of, because it is too beautiful for that. I must confess, I have found reasons to mock some of his other movies, but this one remains untouched. It isn't too earnest, but the movie still has emotion. It doesn't hurt that it has a fantastic dub either.

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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