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Hey, Answerman!

by Brian Hanson,

Ah, Answerman. I think I'm finally to the point where I'm pretty comfortable with this whole scene, all around. It was a rough, janky, odd transition, but the ropes have been (almost) fully learned at this point. You can count on less frequent schedule interruptions and a decidedly lessened amount of nervous breakdowns and enraged, tear-filled, 3 a.m. phone calls to my editors!

Hopefully. So, questions!

Hey Answerman!!
9/10th of the anime I watch, I rent from a mail order service (the big "N"). If the anime is really good, I might then buy it, but for most titles, I do not. My question is this: Am I, as an avid renter, supporting Anime as an art form, or are DVD sales the only way?

I like a wide range of anime, but curiously, not the most mainstream stuff, like Naruto, or FMA. My mail order service has a good selection, even of titles I would consider obscure, and I think it is fair to say that my renting Anime has resulted in my buying DVDs I might not have otherwise, but still the vast majority of what I watch is rented. I think I buy about 4 titles a year, typically box sets, and I buy a lot of manga.

Oh, come now. What's up with all that guilt? Do with it what I do; compress it deep down within the darkest recesses of your soul, drown it with harmful substances, and release it at the proper occasion. Some examples include: a wedding, a circus, a funeral, a bus stop, waiting in line for a sandwich, et al.

Yes, in a very, very basic sense, you are supporting the many artists and individuals involved in anime by renting your stuff. Netflix copies of anime DVDs are purchased wholesale by the company, usually in surprisingly small numbers (say 10-30 copies for a really niche title and 100-300 copies for something that's clearly more popular). There's no rotating licensing fee or anything paid back to the companies beyond the initial wholesale purchase. Which is all very legal and you are still, in a sense, "supporting" anime, in that you're not obtaining it illegally. And besides, you really shouldn't feel obligated to buy every single thing that looks interesting; the average human wallet can't sustain such a strain. Renting things is just about the most perfect way that still exists to sample various shows and movies and other disposable entertainment what-have-you that is one-hundred-percent legal and sanctioned, at least in regards to physical storage media.

In essence, this is the way that things should be. You spend your hard-earned dollars on the few, specific titles that grab you by your lapel and shout “YOU MUST OWN ME!” while the rest you sample via a trifling monthly fee. Callooh callay!

My question is about music in anime, specifically the opening and ending theme songs. I've noticed recently that more titles from Funimation have been released with the opening song and sometimes the ending dubbed in english (Suzuka, Negima!?, and Ouran Host Club). And it's not something new, going back to the release of The Irresponsible Captain Tylor, Rightstuf dubbed the opening song on the DVD's.
So my questions would be, why do they do it? Does it cost extra money. Are the rights to the songs included when the companies get the rights to the anime, or do they have to go to the artist to get the rights, do they need the artists permission to dubb the song. What profit is there to be made? Will companies like funimation ever release a CD of the dubbed music, maybe along with the original japanese songs, that's the only way I can see them making a little extra $ off these dubbed songs.”

Why does Funimation do it, specifically? Because they feel like it. Really, that's about all it boils down to – they have the studio space, they have the talent (a good portion of anime voice actors have actually released studio albums, everyone from Vic Mignogna to Cam Clarke),  they have the rights to the original songs (which is sometimes one of the trickier parts of licensing anime in the US, and is why certain shows like Macross 7 will never, ever come here), and they feel like having dubbed music creates a more cohesive experience when watching a dub. There's certain instances where they're not allowed to, of course, such as Fullmetal Alchemist – that show had a bevy of artists owned by Sony Music Japan, whom they had hoped to use the show as a springboard to promote the likes of L'arc-en-ciel and Pornograffiti in the US.

As for a CD of dubbed music? I'm sure Funimation (and their stable of anime dub actors/songstresses) would love to, but I'd wager that an iTunes download would be more likely than anything. That is, of course, if they see any sort of business model that supports the theory that people would actually pay to own dubbed anime theme songs. Which, to be honest, probably doesn't account for that many people.

Dubbing anime songs, by the way, has a long and storied tradition far beyond Funimation's recent efforts – may I direct your attention to a wonderful edition of our very own Justin Sevakis’ Buried Garbage – Dubbed Songs FROM HELL ?

Just a general question: why is that many anime fans get so upset whenever someone calls anime "cartoons?" It honestly boggles my mind that their mentallity allows them to think that anime is exempt from being called a cartoon for whatever reason. I've heard reasons along the lines of, ‘Oh. Anime is too mature to be called cartoons,’ or other misguided answers like that and it honestly makes me upset hearing such trivial answers.

Ah. Here we have an instance of two opposing, completely ridiculous ideologies, ready to ram into each other at full speed, leaving destruction and nerd gnashing in its wake. Allow me to play the mediator.

I agree, mostly, with you, sir. I call anime cartoons all the time. Not because I equate all anime with chirpy, colorful children's animated programming, but because I've been watching cartoons my entire life, and have always referred to it as such. I'm watching animated characters move about on screen – yep, that fits my definition of cartoon. So it's a cartoon.

But on another level, certain movies or shows I'll really hesitate to call a cartoon. I just saw Waltz With Bashir, the Israeli film up for the Foreign Film Academy Award, and it's such a harrowing and intense film that calling it a cartoon really doesn't do it justice. So, really, there's an argument to be made for certain anime that transcend such glib categorizations and deserve to be referred to with more respect than the implied silliness of the word “cartoon.”

So in essence, I personally hate it when people get uppity when I talk about “Japanese cartoons” to refer to anime at large, but I sympathize with those who cringe a bit when people refer to the latest Hayao Miyazaki “cartoon.” However by and large this is kind of a pointless argument that's been done to death over the years starting way, way back on the old rec.arts.anime.misc Usenet boards by nerds with nothing better to do with their lives, because really we should all just shut up and enjoy our animated programming and not care whether somebody posting on the internet calls it a cartoon or anime. And of course, I contributed to this, so I am not exempt. Self-loathing is an expertise of mine!

Somebody took umbrage to my ghetto-ness:

Please don't say "we tight, dogg" again...it made me shudder...

I ain't mean to say that we tight when we ain't. Sheeeeee-it. Ah'll remember this next time, fo'reals.

Here's the question from last week:

From Noah Rowntree:

Long time reader, first time answer...er. Anyways I usually don't respond to the Hey Answerfans section but this weeks question I really had a good specific answer for so I figured I'd give it a shot. So I have a two instances in mind here, starting first with one of my favorite shows, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. While I find the entire series to be great, its specifically the last episode that will make me feel good no matter what. I remember one instance where I was having a bad time at school and was having trouble with my friends and I had no way to feel better; and so, on a whim, I fired up the last episode of Gurren Lagann. I had forgotten the wonders of that  episode. I suppose there are possible spoilers up ahead but I'll try and keep them out of it as much as possible.  Seeing Nia and Simon fight side by side, watching everyone pour their heart into the battle, and seeing the culmination of spiral energy that is Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, well, that simply did it for me. I literaly cried with tears of  joy. The episode is so epic, so incredible, so well done, so manly, so beautiful, that I simply forgot all of my troubles. Despite the melancholy of the final minutes of the episode, I was just comforted by not only by finale of the show but also by the knowledge that great, original shows of such epic quality could still be made. The second show I want to talk about is The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, specifically episode 12. I'm pretty sure a lot of people consider it the best episode of the series; and, while I'm not sure if I even consider it the best episode it definitely is a comfort show for me. What I love about the episode is how it focuses on Kyon's interests and  decisions rather than Haruhi's antics or Mikurus clumsiness. You see Kyon behave as a normal high school guy would, by visiting the booth with all of the girls in maid outfits, you also see him follow his friends around, showing little interest in most of the booths, also like a normal high school guy. It's towards the end of the episode, when he decides to go see the music show and falls asleep that I really start feeling better. When Haruhi takes the stage and sings her  heart out for everyone and you see Kyon's actual enthusiasm and enjoyment of the performance, I really just lose it.  Haruhi isn't acting crazy and controlling, she's genuinely helping out her classmates and enjoying herself with a normal activity. Kyon goes and finds Haruhi and they have a moment of normalcy for the couple. I suppose what these two shows have in common is the connection that the main couples have in each episode. It truly shows the love between the characters in its' most beautiful form. Hopefully I'll find other "comfort episodes" in the future because they can really help out  in a fix. I'm glad anime can have the depth to really touch me when I need it; and, assuming I made it, I'm glad I made it onto hey Answerfans!

From Dee:

For me, Wolf and Spice is my batch of chicken noodle soup...

Why Wolf and Spice?

I think Horo and Lawrence are interesting characters, the production values of the anime are good, and the dialogue between the main and support characters can be fairly witty. Plus whenever the pair of them arrive in a new town, Horo tends to live it up, like sailor on shore leave.

From Strike Man:

For me, personally, it would have to be two properties from Kousuke Fujishima, "You're Under Arrest" and "Ah! My Goddess". For better orworse, neither series has really evolved all that much over the past two decades, which can pretty much make them some of the definitive anime and manga equivalents of comfort food. The relatively slow plot pacing (which is likely a turnoff for some) and slice of life style allows the viewer or reader the ability to jump back into them at almost any point in time, without missing much of a beat.

The thought of comfort food is probably a foreign concept to some, who demand something new and fresh every time they turn on their TVs or crack open a book, but I can get my cutting-edge or thought-provoking entertainment elsewhere. If I'm just looking to relax on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I'd be hard-pressed to find another anime I'd rather sit down with some pizza to watch a random episode of. Comfort food indeed.

Runner-ups would have to go to the woefully under-appreciated Princess Nine (which I still commend ADV for their excellent localization of) and Azumanga Daioh.

From Mel Hall:

This is probably the first Answerman question I've been able to answer without thinking.But first, a short explanation.

I don't really like mecha. Sure, Neon Genesis Evangelion is cool, and I watched Transformers with the best of them, but for the most part, it really isn't my thing. In addition, when I discovered my comfort food, I wwas very busy and beginning to think I wasn't as interested in anime anymore. So imagine my surprise when, after a really, really, really bad day, I went home, disregarded all of my work,crawled into bed, and watched six straight episodes of Gundam Seed, which is odd, because I was never even aware I liked Gundam Seed, much less was into rewatching it. But hey, whatever helps.

From Briana Arielle Roop:

Let me preface my answer with this: I'm a college student. I have little time to watch anime, as well as little space to store it. My options are very limited, with no money (literally.)

I have both parts of Ouran High School Host Club, just because it is such a great series. Being a shoujo fan, it's hard not to fall in love with the characters and get involved in the stories. It's been one of my favorites since 16 or so. I can find something new with every episode, all of my favorite voice actors are in it, and it is just. Plain. Funny.

My other go-to anime is Fullmetal Alchemist. With me, I have the disc with my favorite show on it ("The Flame Alchemist, The Bachelor Lieutenant, & The Mystery of Warehouse 13") and the movie. It makes me reminisce staying up at all hours of the night with my little sister to watch Ed and Al's latest pursuits, laughing and crying with every episode.

Also, on those lonely Saturday nights when I'm homesick and nobody's around, I head down to the commons to turn on adult swim. When I hear the tell-tale Cowboy Bebop opening theme, I flashback to Cartoon Network's glory years, those years just before middle school when I would set my alarm for 3 in the morning just to watch Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, Gundam, and Inuyasha. Saturday evenings during high school that when everybody else was off partying, I was with my little brother and sister fangirl/boying over Toonami with the latest episode of IGPX, Teen Titans, Naruto, and Zatch Bell. I remember the night I introduced my family to anime and made them watch Toonami with me, "A Month of Miyazaki" when my entire family crowded around the TV to watch the Miyazaki film of the week, and my brother glued to the TV during "Giant Robot Week."

Those really were the days, when I was stuck with dial-up and not much money, which translates to being stuck with whatever was on TV. Since the introduction to manga and high-speed internet, my knowledge and breadth of anime has been expanded, but I still fall back on the same oldies but goodies over and over again.

From Maegan Peeples:

I've just started rereading the Kare Kano (His and Her Circumstances) manga now that it's finished and it's just moved to the top of my comfort list. The same goes for the anime version! I'll let it sit on my shelf for months or years at a time just because I think I've watched it to death, but then I pull it out to share with someone new and without fail, I'll get sucked into the heart-melting gooey mushy love fest and I squeal like I'm fifteen again. The characters are so real I feel like I'm visiting old friends. There are no bad guys, no cliches. The writing's excellent, the humor's excellent, and it's just the best damn manga-to-anime adaptation I can think of. If only Gainax had kept it going...! It's sweet, sweet escapism and I adore it every time.

From Brenden Hengeveld:

Anime as a comfort food? The moment I read this question, a series snapped into my mind. I never thought of it as a comfort food, but it really is to me. I've got enough shelf space dedicated to my Excel Saga’s and my Full Metal Panic’s, but the one series that always makes me feel better, the one that really snaps me into a good mood, is Beck.

Beck is the series that pops up when I think of anime, the anime that re-affirmed my love of the medium. The story of this little, milquetoast being finding something that fuels his soul, and uses that new passion to take himself to realms he could have never seen before. It could have been anyone, and it could have been anything, and the message would have been just possible to convey. The sheer ability to relate to Koyuki draws me into the story, making it feel like you're along with him during his maturation, making you feel like it could just as easily be you.

I first found Beck in a friend's compilation of fan-subbed data disks, and marathon viewed the series, unable to stop it seemed. The series doesn't just unfold before the view, it comforts, giving a feeling that anyone can turn around bad situations through tenacity (and yah, I know I'm a sap). Beck is one of those series that knows just how and when to pull at just the right heartstrings, and with the sheer power of message and emotion in the story, it'll always be my comfort series.

And finally, from a gentleman who wishes to be known as CowsAteMyElbows:

Maybe I'm strange (and at 57 I'm a good bit older than the average anime fan), but I keep coming back to three series even though they all have their problems: (1) Stellvia of the Universe (hideous loli character designs, but a great sci-fi plot, the world gets saved three times, and the characters must struggle as much against their own immaturity as the forces that threaten them), (2) Nadia: Secret of Blue Water (one of the greatest, most imaginative children's shows of all times), (3) Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, the original OVAs (great plot, fascinating characters, enormous and mysterious backstory, and wonderful quirky music), (4) Super Defense Fortress Macross (the original that was coopted for Robotech; it's better and more believable in its original form, and the brilliance of the space battles and mecha design more than makes up for the stinky artwork), and (5) Aishiteruze Baby (high-school playboy is forced to care for his abandoned pre-school cousin, and he succeeds most admirably; not afraid to touch on tough contemporary issues; an occasional tear-jerker, but ultimately upbeat at the end). And yes, I lied about there only being three. So sue me for being indecisive.

Here's next week's question:

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.

Well, that's the end of me. For now. I'll be around next time for more of what the Swedish refer to as “fun”!

Thanks to Phillip Harrington for the Hey, Answerman! banner. We are forever in his debt.

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