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Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy,

Alright, let's do this thing.

Based on the new series that have been premiering for the fall 2008 season, do you think that anime is starting to move away from weak/moe depictions of female characters toward stronger, more realistic representations, or at least toward more diversity in representation? (Considering that shows like Kurozuka, Mouryou no Hako, Ga-Rei –Zero-, Skip Beat!, and Vampire Knight Guilty are all currently airing, and even shows that adhere to plotlines normally used for moe or male-oriented fan service, like Kannagi and Toradora!, also feature female characters who aren't weak, and actually have fairly strong personalities.) Or, do you believe that the current anime season isn't different from previous seasons, or it's just a minor trend that will only last for one season?

I don't think it's a trend or a temporary fad or anything; I think it's a coincidence. There isn't some secret cabal of Japanese artists who are in cahoots and decide exactly how females will be represented; it's likely that there were simply more viable titles that included stronger or more realistic females than we've seen previously.

Although I'm not 100 percent sure I agree with your hypothesis - there are plenty of moe-bait shows this season, with Clannad and ef moe-in' it up plenty. I don't think we've seen a statistically or even anecdotally strong movement away from the popularity of moe. As I've said in the past, it's still there, it's still hugely popular in Japan and with a segment of American fans, it just isn't the new hotness anymore so people aren't focused on it nor are they claiming it's 'taking over anime fandom' as was said in 2006.

You've noted that some manga series are much better than their anime adaptations, and I suppose the reverse is sometimes true as well.  I've always been pretty much either / or manga or anime, but this intrigues me.  In your (rarely humble)  opinion, what are some series where the anime is much better than the manga?  Or just a lot different?  Or vice versa? Also when is it ok to not follow the manga in an anime series based on a manga?

I've covered this topic before, but it's a slow week so may as well hit it again.

To my knowledge, most of the anime series I've seen that are "better than the manga" - which are few and far between - are simply "different but still good", kinda like how the movie Jurassic Park is a classic and a great adventure movie even though it isn't much like the book, which is considered a classic and a great adventure story. Fullmetal Alchemist comes to mind as a series that's not necessarily "better" than the manga, but it tells the story in a different and still competent and engaging way. I really can't wait for the sequel series.

The notion that a text is sacred and that any deviation makes a literary adaptation somehow inferior is a very close-minded way to view things. It's OK to want fidelity to the original text but being open to a new and exciting and even well-written - but different - interpretation of the story by an artist who knows what he's doing is great. Whether or not one is "better" than the others is almost a moot point, unless we're talking about wasted potential, which is what's really at the core of this issue.

Wasted potential is the worst. When Gonzo rushed out that Hellsing TV series back in the early part of this decade, they wasted a great opportunity. If only they'd waited for the story to flesh itself out, the show probably wouldn't have sucked so bad at the end. If they'd waited to produce Berserk, we'd probably have a show that ran 3-4 seasons instead of just one that ended on a cliffhanger that went nowhere. Hell, at this point you could probably complain that shows like Naruto and One Piece exhibit traits of wasted potential - the former ran for over a hundred episodes
of pointless filler that turned off huge numbers of fans. That's when it gets dangerous to deviate from the source material.

Is it natural for female anime fans to be overly obsessive? I have several friends in the anime-fandom at the moment that are almost scarily obsessive over their current crushes/guy friends. I think one of them has started ditching class to see (not even talk) to a guy during his lunch period, and one of my other friends is writing some sort of fantasy-anime-esque story in which she and the guy have sex at the end and have a child. I even mentioned to her that if I were a guy, I would probably find that a bit creepy. But I'm pretty sure she thinks that her entire life is right out of some manga or anime, and that everything ends up like Fushigi Yuugi or Ouran High School Host Club.
Are females in the anime-fandom naturally this obsessive? Or do I just have weird friends?

You have a creepy friend who writes erotic fanfiction about real people she interacts with in real life every day and another who skips class just to stare at someone.

God that is creepy.

I mean, really, creepy.

Really, really, really, really creepy.

Like "they'll use this as evidence
in her eventual trial" creepy.

Like "might be stealing his hair and building a shrine to him in her bedroom" creepy.

Solution: make new friends.

This email didn't even have a subject header.

where to downlod dbz movie


Moving on.

Here's last week's question:

From Derick Jones:

I've really got only one major pet peeve on the cliche's of anime. Billions of minor ones, but they go to genres that I don't follow as much.

My pet peeve is the pilot of a mecha who knows how to pilot it no matter what.
We've seen it in many mecha series, evangelion, gundam, rahxephon, anything with a super robot.

I know at this point it's a long standing cliche, starting with the first super robot mazinger z, but that doesn't make it any less annoying.

While I may not want to see 45 minutes of pilot training, I most definitely do not want to see someone fall into a cockpit and somehow automatically knows how to pilot this giant complex machine

From Patrick Spohr:

There are so many anime cliches that I would love to see abolished: the power of love, the impassioned death speech, and, shudder, the hot blooded Shonen Jump hero.  But there's one that grates on my nerves like no other.
Plot Armor.  I hate, hate, HATE Plot Armor.  It's existence, whether honest to God physical armor or some kind of abstract metaphysical construct, is an obnoxious tool used by writers to get their hero through a ridiculous predicament without being turned into a pulpy, bloody mess.  The most agregious employers of Plot Armor has to be Shonen Jump; how else you can you explain their propensity for having a protagonist rocked by energy blasts, cut, tossed off of buildings, thrown through cliffs, or hurled high into the sky without being killed instantly.  Yes, I understand that these action titles depend on a certain suspension of disbelief when it comes to the limits of the human body, but the most severe damage most of these guys walk away with is a torn shirt or a small trickle of blood.  This of course keeps the hero injury free until the final battle, where they have to lay it all on the line, their Plot Armor being put to the ultimate test, until they can save the day

From Sylvia Sakura:

One anime-cliche I hope ever to see again would have to children lolitas.  I think Nymphet really overstep a line. I'm pretty sure Seven Seas and Kaworu Watashiya decided to not release any more volumes on more then just culture differences. One subject they bought up in "culture differences" was incest, a marriage between two cousins. I mean come on! Angel Sanctuary made it to the States and Setsuna had more then brotherly love toward his sister. I'm not saying I like the series or anything I just don't want to see anymore of it or anything like this again.

From Jessica Wu:

FIVE MINUTE SOLUTIONS. I'm not kidding. Brilliant shonen series have been ruined for my just because of this one stupid cliche. There's this great story, right? Great characters, great plotline, etc. In comes the conflict that's just really, really hard to solve. And what do they do about it?

Main character: *Gasp* Oh no, I don't know what to do! I'll never be powerful enough in time!
Side character: Weeeell... I have this three day training program that MIGHT just kill you, but..
Main Character: I'll take it! (Wow, that was simple)

Of course, the main character NEVER dies. I mean, it's the main character. He/she will NEVER die in a five minute power gain situation. Never. We all know this. It just seems way too convenient. What happened to HONEST HARD
WORK these days? This is what turns brilliantly made characters into Mary Sues and Gary Stus. I think it's pitiful.

From Kenneth Thornhill:
The one cliche that should be erased from the minds of all writers in not only the anime genre, but all writers in general? AMNESIA. Do I even have to explain why?

From M. Silverman:

What I would happily see never come up again in either manga or anime is the classic shojo heroine and her predictable plotline. The girl who puts aside all other interesting characteristics to spend all her time wrapped up in the angst of which of the two guys who have shown interest in her does she really like. Mind you, neither guy has much to recommend him aside from his great looks and his apparent proximity to the heroine, though one is perhaps marginally nicer than the other. Inevitably she will end up with the bad boy, who not only revealed a host of personality flaws, but also has tried to rape the heroine sometime during the series, but-hey they love each other, right? Only the basis of that love seems to be a shallow physical attraction and a big dose of adolescent drama with little basis in interests, background or dreams. The romance genre would be improved by to geting away from the hackneyed stereotypes all centered around the classicshojo heroine prototype.

From Neil Ford:

I'm one who generally enjoys anime cliches, particularly in comedies - I'm just hanging out for the inevitable beach outing, so I can see the regular cast paying to eat ice, having romantic misunderstandings, getting sunburned and bitten by crabs, and maybe fighting a mecha that emerges from the ocean. In action and drama, not so much. "Cool" characters who smoke and wield massively large handguns seem like they're trying too hard to me, and same for beautiful tragic widows.

The thing that really gets my goat is endings. I'm sure you're bored of complaints about bad anime endings; the thing that really annoys me is Fudged Mystical Endings. You know, where there's some sort of plot-solving magical transformation, that doesn't really make sense in terms of the story so far. ***SPOILERS*** Big Name examples: In Chobits, Chi does a Pinocchio and turns into a real girl at the end, but this kind of invalidates the issue the show was previously addressing, which is how people emotionally relate to Artificial Intelligences. Last Exile - they find what seems to be an ancient spaceship (the "exile"), and then... I don't know, what DOES happen? Then there's Rahxephon, Scrapped Princess, Texhnolyze, and of course EVA, plus probably some others I've forgotten. (Oh, Lain, of course, but that's a "special" case.)

I haven't yet found anyone who agrees with me on this, or who even understands what the hell I'm trying to say, but there it is. For me, the most annoying anime cliche is the Fudged Mystical Ending, as a substitute for actually tying the plot threads together in some sort of logical way.

Finally, from Daniel Koehn:

Anime, as a whole, has a lot of cliches to start with. The differences is how they're presented. Martian Successor Nadesico, for example, takes every mecha-cliche in the book, and makes them seem utterly interesting (not to mention realistic...or, dare I say, human?). Meanwhile, Zegapain takes a whole bunch of cliches...and...well, did I mention it has cliches?
Now, I can't take many cliches at all, but one cliche I'm sick of are the typical shonen 'romances' I keep seeing. I'll make it easy and name a few examples: Rosario+VampireMagikano; Shuffle!...
Love Hina, Tenchi Muyo, and Saber Marionette J gave us stories about guys with varying levels of unluckiness or ineptitude (from Keitaro's 'abysmal' to Otaru's 'just a little unlucky'), threw them in a house with several stock-characters, and showed us what happened, all while an underlying romance plot unfolded. (As a side note, I think Saber J did it in the best way, but that's just me).

R+V and it's ilk try...but they don't seem to remember that they're romantic comedies...that, or the defenitions of 'romantic' and 'comedy'. We just see plain old inept...piles with girls just throwing themselves at them for no reason. I mean, at least in Love Hina, the girls all hated Keitaro for a while before warming up to him--the girls in Magikano try to bed the poor guy from episode one!
Their 'comedy' also leaves much to be desired. Saber J had plenty of reasons to be funny; the girls were a little...'over-enthusiastic' at times, and like to cause random bouts of destruction, not to mention that there was a gay neighbor involved (note: no disrespect is meant towards the gay community--Hanagata's one of the funniest and loveable characters I've seen, even if he's pathetic). Sure, there was T&A--good T&A, I might add, but not the random panty flashes that R+V features every two seconds. Seriously, in the world of 'sexy', less is more, and I'm not talking about clothing.
The last thing that irks me is that the main characters are so unlikeable. Keitaro Urashima was a human failure...but he was a failure with a heart (at least he tried, right?). The third-rate main characters of R+V, or Magikano....they don't even try, and they've got ten girls fighting for the right to get in his pants.
I might be a little unfair, comparing some of the best shows with the worst, but I still find that this is one cliche we can all live without. Maybe on some distant planet, utterly talentless slobs are awesome and panty shots are the epitome of entertainment, but to me....that's just time wasted that I could have used watching or reading something better.

So here's the question for this week:

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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