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Hey, Answerman!

by Brian Hanson,

Hi guys! It's me, the Answerman! My name is Brian and that's what I do, mostly; I answer your questions in a world that is cruel and unsympathetic. And yet I, bravely, extend that olive branch and say, “Hey, it's okay. Here is an answer to something.” Why I haven't gotten a Humanitas award yet is baffling, to me.

So let's dive right into this thing.

Ok so correct me if I'm wrong, but lately when I go on to forums discussing anime or manga I am appalled by some of the so-called fan's blatant stupidity or so I think, because lately i've been thinking that I may be the one in the wrong. So my question is: I thought that a series genre was determined depending on the magazine it was published in, is that right or do I have my information all wrong?

No, that's correct. That is, if we're going by the different ways that manga is categorized in Japan; shonen, shojo, seinen, yaoi, and the like. I don't think anyone can argue that any of Rumiko Takahashi's larger, more popular series are beloved by both genders and covers a wide age spectrum, but, from a demographic perspective, Shonen Sunday, the magazine that's printed all of her big manga stories since Urusei Yatsura, is written and advertised largely for teenaged-and-slightly-under Japanese boys.

I think the bigger issue here is that our representations of these “genres” are sort of skewed, due to the fact that the only big manga anthologies that we have here in the US are Shonen Jump and Shoujo Beat; thus, every “shonen” manga that comes out here is assumed that are in a constant state of either fighting or training to become stronger to fight better, and every “shojo” manga has some kind of unrealistic love triangle and whatever. Inu Yasha is a shounen series, published in Shonen Sunday and largely read by the aforementioned pre-and-post-pubescent Japanese boys, but its appeal as an action-comedy-historical-paranormal-teenage-romance-drama transcends those demographical boundaries. And there are dozens of examples like that, but because there's no American analog for it, those “genres” are largely meaningless.

So, yes. You're right! Mostly. And also: never let forum posts aggravate you personally. That's just what they want. You gotta be better than that, man.

Hey Answerman!

Why are the tracks for most anime soundtracks not in showological order? It seems that soundtrack elements are often a big part of anime shows. Specific tracks appear in such a way to colour the story appropriately. In order to get a listening experience that best matches the flow of the narrative more often then not one need to reorganize the tracks. It seems strange that the tracks are more randomly arranged in these albums rather than simply putting them in the order they most prominently appear in a show.

That's a simple answer. Because there really isn't one! At least, none that have really been published or discussed anywhere.

The reason you'll see, say, the soundtrack for a Hollywood movie in the correct “showological” order is because the score is recorded after the final cut and final runtime is locked; ditto with movies like Juno that assemble random songs from the director's iTunes collection.

I'm not sure if this is true for all composers of anime soundtracks, but I know that Yoko Kanno starts work on the soundtrack concurrently as the show itself is being written and animated. She confers with the directors and various executives on the kinds of sounds and themes of the show, and she goes off as the animation staff works on each episode for a few months, and then comes back with a full soundtrack of stuff, which the directors then listen to and apply whichever song or piece of music they feel is appropriate throughout the course of the series.

Of course, most shows aren't as lucky nor as flush with cash to afford Yoko Kanno and the dozens of wonderful songs she seemingly conjures out of thin air, hence why you'll end up with situations like Noir or .hack//SIGN; a few beautiful pieces of music in each of those shows, but they get repeated HUNDREDS OF TIMES in EACH EPISODE to the point that your hands have no other recourse but to angrily fly towards the top of your head and remove a giant thatch of your own hair.

Hey Brian,

In your apology in the Mar 27 column, you said that after seeing five episodes of Toradora! that you were wrong about the show. It now sounds interesting enough that I would like to see it. My question is, where did you see the episodes legally?

This has been a question that I have been wondering about, where can I see anime shows on the web legally and how do I find these sites. I have heard of Crunchyroll on ANN and I have seen TV ads for HULU, but what other sites are there. Some of the sites that friends have sent me to, I am sure are fansub sites which may not have legal rights to the containing shows.

Alright, alright, I'll cop to it; YouTube. I watched Toradora! on YouTube. I still (largely) stand by my assertion that fansubs are largely marginalized and pose more of a threat than a benefit, but for a smaller, low-key series like Toradora!, fansubs are still something of a necessary evil. US Anime companies are far, far less likely to license and bring over every series under the sun, especially if it doesn't have lots of fights or boobs in it, which Toradora! does not. The Japanese licensor that owns Toradora! isn't likely to spend a ton of money promoting it to US companies, which they view largely as an ancillary and risky market, so it needs all the word-of-mouth and underground promotion it can get for it to succeed across the pond.

What I'd like, though, is for fansubbers to stop subbing shows after a certain number of episodes. By just subbing the entire thing and tossing it out there for everyone, there's no more incentive for those die-hard fans to actually buy or legitimately watch the rest of the show, which then causes that enthusiasm to wane significantly. Once the show has run its course, those up-to-the-minute fansub-watchers have moved on to the Next Show They Love and something like Toradora! drops off the map. If my tune on Toradora! ever changes, which it is likely to, I won't be watching any more episodes on YouTube or bittorrent or wherever else; I'm either watching it at home on DVD or on Hulu or Funimation's own site, or I'm not watching the rest of it at all.

...So, your actual question was about where to watch anime on the web legally! Hulu, obviously, is the 800-pound gorilla in the room, along with Crunchyroll and of course our own video department right here on ANN. But did you know that most of the remaining American anime companies have streaming episodes available on their respective websites?!? Because they do! Funimation is currently leading the pack in this regard, as they've got dozens of both popular and C-list titles available free-of-charge on their webular inter-net; Bandai and Viz are starting to step it up a bit with some of the newer shows; crap, even ADV's sickly, bedraggled corpse has coughed up a few of their shows for public consumption via streaming video.

And really, even though there's a lot of room to grow in the streaming video market, my mouth nearly dropped to the floor when Viz announced that it was airing subtitled Naruto episodes simultaneous with its Japanese broadcast. Finally, I thought, somebody GETS it. The fans want new episodes of their favorite shows as soon as they're out in Japan, and until then they had no choice but to turn to fansubs for it. That's obviously not going to be the norm with every show, but it's the sort of bold and unprecedented move that makes me faithful that the American anime industry isn't an aging fossil, and is still open to experiment in inventive ways.

Somebody was kind enough to direct my attention to a post on, of all things, 4chan.

“The new answerman is f****** s***. Does he even watch anime?”

Here's a video that a friend of mine made almost two years ago that I'm in.

Here's the question from last week:

Once again, you guys knocked it out and I got some wonderful replies! So let's go.

Xander gets it goin':

This will be my first time responding to a question but since Fullmetal Alchemist owns half of my soul, I just had to chirp in. : )
I think that remaking certain shows is bad - for example, one of the only series I hate all together, One Piece, just needs to be hacked to death by a rusty hatchet ASAP and never be resurrected again. The anime could end this very day and the outcry from fans should never justify making even an ova for it. Of course, there are other, much less biased examples such as; Love Hina, if only for the fact its run its course and dosn't really have much left to offer, or Cowboy Bebop because it would be pretty hard to upstage THAT romp through space.

However, in other cases, I believe remaking a series by either making completely new content & story or making ova's/movies and or going back to redo the original story the creator intended when, during the first season, it hadn't been available is a very, very good thing. When I found out a second seaon of FMA was coming out I just about simultaneously crapped my pants, had a heart attack and experienced orgasm. All in all, it was a pretty interesting day in my life.
I was very thankful to see that they wanted to go back and animate the original storyline now that theres a lot more to work from instead of just 4 or 5 volumes of manga. Though, admittedly, part of that was greedyness in the fact I'm willing to kill for the chance to see more of Envy in any format available. XD

Now, that said, I would like to firmly assert that if ANY other series were remade, redone, revamped - anything - I would just about sell my soul for it to be Yū Yū Hakusho. Remember how I said FMA owns half my soul? Well, YYH owns the other half.

My reasoning is that YYH was very popular when it was being released and still has a very strong hold in many fans and, the last time I checked (which was, admittedly, sometime ago, so it could have changed) it was the only series to ever rival Dragon Ball Z in terms of populairty - and that says to me, especially considering how overall cliche and repetitive DBZ is, that YYH deserves a new series/ova/movie. I mean, the art was pretty damn good back then - imagine how amazing it would be NOW with all the special affects and fancy colors and whatnot.
Another series I'd rather like to see more of is Fruits Basket, no doubt about that, but no one seems to be all the interested in animating more of the manga which kind of sucks. I'd also be interested in seeing at least an ova for Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok, to finish the series off with the second manga series since they DID taunt us with that small glimpse at Spica in the last five seconds of episode 26. @_@
To name a few more that at least deserve an ova if nothing else, I'd say the likes of: Outlaw Star, Death Note, Sailor Moon (can't help it - it deserves some 2009, fancy new animation love XD ) Elfen Lied, Loveless (oh god, yes!) and even Spiral Suiri no Kizuma - after all, the manga ran its course and gave plenty to animate. : /

Series that should just be cut off now and never brought up again would be: One Piece (can't stress that enough), the Naruto anime (manga good, anime baaad), crappy spinoffs of Tenchi Muyo! (Tenchi Muyo! GXT? WHAT?) and, aside from the classics that just can't be furthered by more animation added to it, thats about it. I accept most anime, even the cliche harem and stereotypical shonen manga and even the the mushy lovey dovey girlyness of shojo - so theres not much for me to speak out against. : )

Bruce airs his doubts:

When I first heard about a second Fullmetal Alchemist season, I thought of it as a sequel, not a remake. Nonetheless I had my doubts about it. “How does one continue the story after the movie?” “Will Edward and Al still be the main characters?” If so: “Wasn't it impossible to get out of their current situation? (ending from the film that is)”. A lot of questions kept popping up like that. But overall I think I would've watched this second season, even if I had doubts about how good it would be compared to the first, which by the way I found to be fantastic.

But after hearing it would be a remake, I wasn't to sure if I would give this a view anymore. I found FMA to be quite complete, and wouldn't know what a remake could possibly add that makes me enjoy it more. Except for trying to make more money out of it, I wouldn't know what drove the makers to make such a thing.

In general I think remakes can revitalise certain (mainly older) shows, or please some fans who got disappointed by some turn of events, or something like that. Fullmetal Alchemist doesn't need revitalising. It is still popular, was an excellent show for those who were interested in the concept and story, and is still in recent memory of everyone. Commercialising of success is something I hate to see, and I am disappointed to see a great show like FMA becoming a victim of this.

I'm not sure why Patrick here gives himself the nickname "Patches" in his email, but maybe his response has a few clues:

I'm gonna answer the first part of your question directly, and then take a bit of a left turn on the second, but please stick with me. Here we go:

I think the effectiveness of a remake hinges on whether any of the original content deserves new treatment. For example, the multiple resets of mai-HiME seem to be reasonable, because the original series was really about the characters. As such, a change in plot and world content didn't really cause a thematic disjoint. In this case: reasonable (and maybe even a good idea? I haven't seen much of My-Otome). The more quirky and complex the story gets, the worse I think a remake would fare. Erogo Proxy? Bad idea. Anything by CLAMP? Sure (except maybe for Angelic Layer, there's really only one story to tell there... at least I think, watch, we'll get a mecha-based re imagining). I actually think that, as an industry, anime is doing a better job of giving a fair shake to things that never really got off the ground these days. Ghost in the Shell's TV shows turned out a lot better than the (original) movie (I haven't seen the second one), I thought, because the entire approach was changed.

In this vein, I'd offer up an OLD series for remake: Dominion Tank Police. I know you said new and popular, but bear with me. Reading your responses to the "hated anime cliche" question, I realized that the least-known of Masamune Shirow's works has vast potential to be a fresh and subversive anime if given a genuine treatment. The original anime didn't really do justice to the complex and real character of Leona Ozaki laid out in Dominion Tank Police and Dominion Conflict 1: No More Noise. In the pages of the manga, Leona struggles to win respect and find her place in a male-dominated workplace (the titular Tank Police Force). She struggles with gender stereotypes, office politics, political corruption, and even ponders romance a little--as a working woman. The comics are humble affairs, filled with more characterization than high-minded philosophy (in a Masamune Shirow work? are you kidding? No. No, I'm not).

If it were my project, I'd make the thing a straight-up procedural. The lack of an overall explicit plot and focus on a realistic female lead would be a welcome respite from a culture that seems to be consuming itself (to my eyes, Lucky Star and Penguin Musume Heart are cries for help that NO ONE LISTENED TO). The best part about a procedural is that you can develop characters without a lot of Deus Ex Machina plot bits (see: Law and Order: SVU) and they can run FOREVER (see: Law and Order). The CSI series have demonstrated that you can make ANY aspect of police work engaging and Dominion could always fall back on insane tank set-pieces when it needed some intense thrills. I also feel that the political aspects of the manga could offer a better platform for critique of Japan than the convoluted story lines of GitS: Standalone Complex.

In my mind, a lot of the recent stuff I watched and liked was confection. Anything with real content seems to be too tightly composed (Ergo Proxy again comes to mind) to offer any truly NEW opportunities in remake. Why not use a re-launch/retcon as a chance to take a risk?

J.C. shares some optimism:

I'm actually very much looking forward to this new Fullmetal Alchemist remake. Specifically, I believe it's a great idea simply because it's telling an almost completely different story. That, in the end, is the only reason why I agree with remakes in the first place. No one wants to see a remake of the same story told in a different way.

That said, look at how well the Hellsing Ultimate OAVs turned out; they run circles around the original TV series. One of the reasons for this is that it follows the celebrated orginal manga storyline very closely, which (in my opinion) is arguably better than the plot of the TV series.

Back to the main point, I don't particularly think it sets a bad precedent for anime. As long as the story turns out to be mostly original to the anime or (more preferably) finds a way to return to its manga roots, a remake is an excellent way to introduce new fans and entertain old ones.

And would I like to remake a certain anime? Absolutely. This may not be the most popular opinion, but I would LOVE to remake the Chrono Crusade anime. It may just be my pickiness, but I can't stand it. I know that many people laud the TV series as a wonderful work that's sad and dark and action-packed. But the manga does it so much better. I think that in the transition from page to screen, the majority of the characters lost their depth and became rather one-dementional. That, and the rediculous religious iconography? Please, just throw out the entire anime ending and animate the original Manga ONE. It's by far better written, more poignant, and more bittersweet.

Andy seems unsure:

In the case of Fullmetal Alchemist, I am all for the remaking of the series with one main point in mind: They follow the manga completely this time. This is the only acceptable way to remake any series I believe. Any anime that has become popular but moved away from the manga because the anime got farther ahead would be great. For one, you already have a fan base and you also then show the storyline that the original creator is making for the manga.

Overall, I personally liked the original Fullemtal, mainly for the fact that they didn't do a Naruto or Bleach and say, "Let's put in a bunch of random episodes so the manga can catch up and make non-canon things happen that will never be seen again" which is what turned me away from the anime to just reading the manga.

Then again, there is also many unknowns around the new version, like how long the series will run and how much longer the manga will go. If they do only 50 some episodes for the new Fullmetal, then they will probably have to make another movie to create an ending from the manga.

As of right now, I don't know of any other series that didn't follow the manga that are popular now and have the option of being remade. I am a firm believer that keeping with the original work is best, so remaking a series so it follows the original work is always an ok by me.

Katrina says it's awesome:

While I'm a little freaked out about the upcoming FMA second series (can they *really* make another series of such perfection? really?), I think that this from-the-start remakes of series is an awesome idea. Too often a series is picked up early, and dropped before the manga finishes, making for bizarre or just weak endings (Inuyasha, Vampire Knight, Full Metal Panic!, to name a few). However, why they couldn't backtrack to half-way or the first season and re-make from there, I don't know. For slightly older series, I'd love to see remakes where the animation quality was upped a little (and perhaps a bit of closure to the romance elements? please?). I really think, although these are sacred classics, to be sure, that Rurouni Kenshin, Trigun, or even Fushigi Yuugi could benefit from updated animation. They have compelling stories with great characters... the one downside being that I don't know if I could live without the original voice actors in each of those series.

So yes, overall I'd love to see remakes of anime series done - I'd watch them even if I knew what was coming next - but the only point in it would be to make something 100% true to the spirit and portrayal of the original, with updated design and perhaps some story tweaking...

Another, different Patrick has something to say:

I don't think it sets a bad trend, so much as it is a bad idea. Sure, the anime series didn't follow the manga. So? Does that mean we have to have a, "Purist" cut of the series? They are remaking Evangelion, one of my favorite series, as a set of movies. They're changing Asuka's last name. (Sadly, I haven't watched them, because I am horribly unemployed and cannot afford to get my hands on them.) Do I rant and rave and demand that people be shot? No. But back to what I was going at. It's not a good idea to remake something so soon after it gained popularity. I mean, FMA's only been out here in the States, what, a few years? I mean, it's still being broadcast on [Adult Swim] many times over. Remaking it will likely anger those who liked the first series, because they are being told that what they watched and liked isn't the real thing, and ha ha on them. Purists who wanted the perfect manga adaptation will probably be angered by the fact that it took the "false" series getting so popular to force the remake. Overall, I don't think it will fly, but hey, what do I know.

Do I think more shows should be remade? No. Perhaps have their graphics updated, but not remade. I would like to see a version of Macross done with modern CGI, I think it would make some of the scenes more visible. But most recent series don't need it. I think the rule should be that a series needs to be at least 15 years old before it gets remade.

Zoey rounds it out:

The last thing the anime industry needs as a whole is remakes of ANYTHING, let alone popular series that haven't been off the air for more than five years. (Really, come on! Can't they wait even a decade before needing to have it back on the air? The manga is even still running!) It's a stale enough market as it is, we don't need to make it worse by going on some sort of remake bender. Unless you have some sort of fresh new take on a classic show (IE Re: Cutie Honey), you probably shouldn't be making a new version. Sad to say the Fullmetal Alchemist remake isn't even the first to come out in recent years! There's the Evangelion "remake", and even more recently the remake of Birdy the Mighty (I can't believe anyone would need to see that show TWICE). PLEASE can we start trying to at least make more things like Toradora!, if not more Kaibas or Kemonozumes?

So, here's next week's question. Because I'm still getting responses to the anime cliche question from last time, I'm gonna try it again, but with a different twist:

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.

I suppose that's that, I guess! I'll see you guys around next time, next week, so keep sending in questions and answers or any combination of the two, and I'll keep doin' what I do. Bye for now!

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